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Paris Thanksgiving

November 25 , 2004

(Written November 28+)


Dear Families and Friends,


We enjoy the approach of the holiday seasons in Europe, but still miss the truly American season opener, Thanksgiving. In the past, we have gone to Budapest for a family celebration but this year it would be Paris, with friends. Marianne had a four-day weekend, since she is a genuine U.S. government employee, and I combined a vacation day and a Friday in our company's Paris office.

Our host for the weekend was Ramu, a friend from the American side of my company, whom we had met when he did some work in Frankfurt. For the traditional Thanksgiving meal, Ramu made reservations at "Breakfast in America " an authentic American diner in the heart of the Latin Quarter. The dinner was completely traditional with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie. This may not be the food Paris is famous for but, for us, it was just right.

On Friday, I went in to work but Marianne rode the Metro in, stopped at the Louvre (shopping only) and then spent much of the day at the Museum D'Orsay, a former train station. Her lunch sounded and looked elegant, as the pictures show, and the afternoon wandering the museum was her special treat. I worked, but I have to admit my meetings were pleasant and informative, a reminder that it's sometimes hard working in foreign environments, but almost always interesting.

Later, Marianne met our friend Joyce, a teacher who had featured prominently in our Kyiv diaries five years ago. Joyce and husband Patrick left the Ukrainian cold for a five-year stint in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in West Africa. She's temporarily studying French in Paris while Patrick runs the school in "Ouaga" and loves it. Of course.

I joined them after work and we all waited for Jean-Loup, another friend from Kyiv. He spend an hour-and-a-half in typical Friday traffic but finally made it. The four of us went to La Closerie des Lilas for dinner, his recommendation and an excellent one. (Also, one of Ernest Hemingway's old spots.) Thus our second holiday meal continued the American holiday practice of dining with friends but, this time, with a traditional French dining environment.

The rest of the weekend went quickly. Sunday was a lost day because I had to get back to Frankfurt in time to catch a flight to Finland for a Monday meeting. Saturday was a breakfast at Joyce's, a few hours in the Pompidou Center, sampling SOME of the modern art, and one more meal. (It seems to me that our highlights are becoming our meals -- a dangerous development!) We walked in the evening lights as long as our feet lasted, but had to call it quits, early by Parisian standards I'm sure.

So, that's it -- except for for our pictures of course.

For YOUR holidays, visit friends and, if you can't visit, write.(hint, hint)

John and Marianne

All aboard the train to Paris, Gare L'Est.


The coffee was a little late in coming, but it was freshly brewed.

In Paris, we had an hour or two to look around and managed Notre Dame, a little outside and a little inside.
Dinner really was at the Breakfast in America Diner. They managed to squeeze 8 or 9 tables into the place and served three rounds of American traditional turkey-dinner-and-all-the-fixins'.
We walked off Thanksgiving dinner through the hazy Paris evening.
On Friday, Marianne passed through the Louvre, on the way to the Museum D'Orsay. The huge, ornate clock was a reminder of the Orsay's original train station function.
Marianne likes meals, especially elegantly set ones. This lunch of lightly seared tuna in the Museum D'Orsay met her standards.
The D'Orsay has a wonderful collection of Art Nouveau furniture and almost everything else from that period almost a hundred years ago.
Saturday morning we had breakfast in Joyce's 29.2 square-meter (292 square-foot) apartment. It was small, but quite elegant -- and it was in central Paris!
Pompidou Center is perhaps more famous for the modern exterior as for the Modern Art Museum inside. Reportedly, Parisians have adopted the unusual building, but if only to demonstrate their tolerance of anything artistic.

Inside the building, there were works showing the outside (left) and photographers like us enjoying the settings. (At one point, a museum guard warned me for having such a big camera lens. She claimed I was about to cause damage when I was at least 15 feet from the nearest piece of art.)
Two works, in contrasting styles, by Georges Braque.

Marianne likes this stuff but maybe can't understand it all.

Soto's "Open Space" (Espace ouvert) changed before our eyes - and cameras.

Back in the lobby, we looked at the crowds and I tried to use a black balloon as a"fisheye" lens. Fun.
Walking after dinner, we caught the Eiffel Tower in the hazy evening, showing off the City of Lights.



Breakfast in America: http://www.breakfast-in-america.com


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