Prague - 'City of the Week'

photo: group, l->r, alena, eva, laurent, dinny

The almost tilted 'Group Photo of the Week' - with
Alena, Eva, Laurent and Dinny.

Fuzzeled by the 'Drink of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 6. December 2001:- Monday's weather forecast for this time of the week was partly right and partly wrong. It got sunny a day early - today - and has stayed mild, but the new prediction is for temperatures about half as high as forecast - 5 degrees instead of 10.

There is no reason to complain about this because it is December, and nice weather in this month is welcome because it can be rare. Being a little chilly will just put a bit of snap into our strides - but it is not for today, so who cares?

On the way to the club I leave the métro at the Cité station. Some weeks ago I was told the skating rink front of the Hôtel de Ville would be in operation today, but I want to verify this with my own eyeballs.

It turns out to be true, and a few people are twirling merrily around under a cloud-checkered blue sky, avoiding a couple of damp patches.

Le Parisien tells me this skating rink has opened a day late, which is news to me. Also news, isphoto: mobiles, cigs, glasses, bottle, trash the paper's claim that there is another, covered, skating rink at Stalingrad, opening today - and one to be in front of the Montparnasse station, opening on Saturday. In sum, three spots for free blade-running until Sunday, 3. March.

Later in the meeting, we all witnessed the horrid 'Trash Pile of the Week.'

Skate rental costs a bit more than being free. Le Parisien has offered the prices in euros, so I will give them in the still legal currency of the realm - 32.50 francs for adult sizes and 13.12 francs for kids.

I imagine if you get one of the euro-kits that are supposed to be available from banks on Saturday, 15. December, you can pay either 5euro 3 sign for adult skates or 2euro 3 sign for kids' sizes.

Despite the weather's brightness and mildness, there are no idlers on the Quai du Louvre's terraces when I get to it. There are no bright-spark members waiting in Le Café Lodi for the club meeting to start either.

However I don't get more than my scarf off before Alena arrives with a very bright smile, almost straight from Prague in the Czech Republic. Since Prague is the club's first city 'east of the Elbe,' it becomes the 'City of the Week.'

Alena tells me there are 30,000 Americans in Prague, all there to get their passports stamped, since this seldom happens in the western part of Europe anymore. All things being equal, my guess is if you ask for an entry stamp around here you'll probably get deported.

As we are circling around to sit down in a small group of two, club member Eva Lee reappears from Tranquility, New Jersey, without any stamps in her passport because she's arrived in Paris from Nice.

Dinny Moyer arrives a few minutes later, towing a large guy named Laurent and a couple of moon-landing-sized motorcycle helmets. "My computer blew up, so I decided to join a motorcycle gang," she says.

Laurent looks over the disarray - none of us have managed to choose either chairs or tables yet - and orders a whole big bottle of Alsatian Gëwurztraminer, to kind of bridge the organizational gap.

After 'howdies' all around, Dinny says she knows somebody named 'Alena' in Prague too, but it is not the same Alena as the new member Alena, who is with us. From thisphoto: cycle lids, laurent, dinny I gather there is a lot of action in Prague these days, so it is not too soon for it to become the 'City of the Week' which it has already has become, earlier during today's meeting.

Count them - not one but two 'Lids of the Week!'

Although club chat is never about the Internet or geek subjects like computers, Dinny says hers was full of a club member's hair - member will surely remember that Cobia, Dinny's handsome but aging dog - became a member.

But it wasn't the hair that stopped the machine. It was the French guy 'putzfrau' who decided to blow the hair out of it with a hair-dryer.

Now I recall that I was in a bad mood last weekend, when my ISP's mail-server went blooey - no doubt caused by Cobia's hair flying all over Paris!

Another technical subject comes up - but what can I do about it? This club only has one rule and it is 'no rules.' I must remember that Gëwurztraminer is probably behind this, and try to get it banned when La Corona reopens.

Dinny has a mobile phone she got for free, and its pop-up aerial fell off after she dropped it on the Tour Eiffel. Using a coathanger with it didn't make it work any better - it didn't work at all.

So she went to a mobile-phone store with 483 different models and asked to try one out. The salesman told her she would have to buy it first. Apparently, once you touch one of these things they become 'used' and mobile-phone stores in Paris are not in the business of selling 'used' mobile phones.

This prompts everybody present except the club's secretary to toss their mobile phones on the table. For good measure cigarette packages are added, along with all available glasses. This move becomes the "Asozial' Gesture of the Week.' I must remember that Gëwurztraminer is probably behind this too.

Alena has a good question. "Is taking photos in the métro forbidden?" she wants to know, because she was told not to do it by a RATP agent.

The general answer to this is that it is illegal to take photographs of anything in Paris or in France except the inside of your own house, and your own face if it is inside your own house. Everything else has been copyrighted by the state, except for people's faces, which have their own copyrights.

I suggest she get herself a little tiny spy camera, and quit waving her huge hulking Canon around.

Laurent, who has been listening to all of this in addition to side- conversations, finds himself joining in the ambient 'club-mood' and decides it must be 'Hat of the Week' time, and puts on his super-spacy motorcycle helmet backwards.

Dinny gets cajoled in doing the same thing, resulting in a true club 'first' of major proportions - two club members wearing motorcycle lids backwards! It is no wonder sane people come all the way from Australia to join this club.

"Les fumeurs!" Laurent snorts. Eva says, "This must be the smokiest club meeting of theyear!"

Continued on page 2...
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