Winter Takes a Spring Break

photo: cafe terrace, rue st antoine

The sun was on time, but it was a little early for lunch
on this terrace.

The Tour Eiffel Is Muddy

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. March 2000:- As a pause from late winter weather last week Paris enjoyed 36 hours of spring, starting a day after the Equinox, as if it had been planned. After its time was up, the program has returned to normal.

This involves periods of rain, some hail, some calm overcast, short periods of weak sunlight, a few breezes, and about 'normal' temperatures 'for the season.'

'For the season' does not mean spring; it means what is normal for Paris at this time of year. It is called whatever the season between winterphoto: smart convertible and spring is called. It can definitely last until well after Easter and has no respect for Easter's date, which is on 23. April of this year.

Spring-like weather made topless 'Smarts' pop out last Wednesday.

We can blame it all on 2000 being a leap-year. Having the extra day throws everything that comes after it out of whack. On top of it, on the continent we still have change-the-clocks time, and this we did at 02:00 on Sunday morning.

I have been told that offshore islands declined to be in step with this nonsense, and they will do it next weekend. For this week, they are not in any timezone.

Although foreseen for days if not months or years, Italian train workers decided there was too much stress involved with the time change so they shut down the rail system in Italy on Sunday. This was little appreciated by skiers who wished to return from skiing on grass in the Alps.

Mainly, the Italian trainworkers wanted to see their red cars win the Grand Prix which was run somewhere on Sunday, sometime. The red cars won, so I expect the trains are running today in Italy and the skiers are now getting home.

The Tour Eiffel

On Friday, I took a ride up the Eiffel tower to its second level. For some reason the top level was closed. Last Tuesday, when I saw it from Trocadéro, I could see elevator cars going right to the top.

It has been a couple of years since I've been on the tower. The last time was on a very clear day and the whole tower - all of its beams and girders, all of its cables and wheels, and all of its paintwork - seemed shiny and new.

This was not the case on Friday. The old lady, whatever she is, seemed to be covered in mud. I don't mean simple dirt, I mean flat-out mud. Although there were storms in Paris, they did not leave the streets full of mud.

The company that operates the tower likes to say that as soon as its painters finish it they start over again from top to bottom. But my impression on Friday was that they must have skipped a cycle.

This could be on account of all the new lighting that has been attached to the tower - a little bit like leaving your Christmas tree up all year around.

On account of wind, the new lights - and there are many of them - involve a lot of cables and brackets to hold them on. These could make the hard job of repainting impossible.

The mud is not dangerous and if you visit the tower it won't rub off on you. But if you only visit the tower once and you see it as it is now, you will not see it as it usually appears.

On the various levels there are some displays - such as one showingphoto: trocadero cafes, old bus how much the top of the tower moves around. After seeing this, I recommend that you go right up to the very top before you look at this display on the first level.

The last rays catch the last cafés at Trocadéro, and an old bus, last Tuesday.

Another display shows a sample of the different colors of paint that have been used on the tower. If you see old photos of it you may think the colors of the print have changed, but it is more likely that the color of the whole tower was different.

One of the best things about the Eiffel tower is the souvenir shop. I always think that the souvenir Eiffel towers they sell are a huge joke; the world's champion souvenirs. I don't know how much they cost, but taking the elevator up to get one will set you back 44 francs for the ride.

There are guys down on the Pont d'Iéna with various-sized souvenir Eiffel towers set out on little mats. In front of them they have chalked '5 F' on the pavement.

I do not know if these are authentic souvenirs or merely fake copies. One thing is sure, somewhere there is a sizeable factory that does nothing else except make miniature Eiffel towers.

To All Readers With Strange Email Addresses

Last week I mentioned here that some readers are apparently not getting responses to their email messages. I specifically mentioned those who are writing from South Africa but I do not think the country of origin has anything to do with the problem.

I don't know what causes the problem. According to the 'returned' email's header, my reply reachedphoto: scare coeur, montmartre the proper machine, its sub-domain and its domain in South Africa. It said, 'Unable to deliver to 'username.'

This happened with an old pal in Australia too. If I sent a message it bounced back. If I had the server-lady Linda Thalman send it through her connection, it went through. The short-term solution was for my pal to use a 'freemail.com' account.

For this particular reader in South Africa, sending the message via the server-lady got the same result: 'Unable to deliver to 'username' - after five days.

Montmartre's Sacre Coeur on Tuesday.

Luckily I have found my first edition version of the 'Internet Starter Kit' - now in its third edition - and it may contain a solution for this problem. But I don't know what it is because I haven't looked it up yet. Any tips from readers will be welcome.

Café Metropole Club's 24th Session

The 24th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' came off with less than no excitement last Thursday. You can read what I invented about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

Last Thursday's meeting 'report' would normally be re-run on this week's 'Club News' page. This is still not a good idea again this week, so something - anything - else will be occupying this page in this issue.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.13 - 29. March1999 - The Café Metropole column was headlined: - 'Terminal Drowsiness and Leadfingers.' 'Au Bistro' had 'The Total Flop of the Euro.' This issue had one feature, but unlike last week's - entitled 'SAGA: 13th Engraving and Print Show' - which was the Salon du Livre, part II.' This issue's 'Paris' Scene' had 'The Incredible 'Clovis' Boo-Boo.' The server-lady Linda Thalmanphoto: le pavillon de la reine wrote about a 'pedestrian rallye,' which is not happening this year. There were four 'Posters of the Week' as usual and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'How You Spell Dunno?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.13 - 30. March 1998 - The Café Metropole column was headlined 'No Burning Hurry For You.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Political Turmoil Continues.' This issue had three features, entitled 'Cleaning Up the Book Ends - Salon du Livre, Part II' - again! - 'Exclusive: 'NAO' Weather Affects Europe' and 'Walking and Biking Around Paris.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned ''Alo! 'Alo!'

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

If I was a reader instead of 'Ed,' I would write to 'Ed' to say this whole notion is moronic nonsense. What I don't understand about this new countdown is readers not objecting to it. What's the matter with you? Here is the 13th issue of the year and I haven't received any tut-tuting complaints, yet.

This new countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 72 days already gone. The official reason for doing this is to give the Tour Eiffel a new chance to 'get it right' - and for a leap year it ought to. So many count-down fans missed shouting 'Zéro' on Friday, 31. December 1999 when Paris' countdown clock gave up. The 'unofficial' reason will be revealed in due time one of these days.

There are about 287 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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