Thursday, October 30, 2008

DISC Golf Video

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On my travels this week which I will detail on my weekly update I happen upon a DISC golf course in Mechanicsville, Virginia. It is behind the New Hanover Presbyterian Church. While there, a band called Moped was filming a music video. They seemed to be some good guys and gals, the one issue is they called it Frisbee Golf rather then DISC golf. Frisbee is a trade name and can not be used when referring to DISC golf, some legal issue many years ago. Anyway besides that I though the video might show some of you folks what DISC golf is all about and Moped was a decebt band so maybe they will get some press.



Monday, October 27, 2008

Week of October 20th, 2008

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The only real news this week was Margarite hurting her foot on a long run. Let me fill you in. As I had mentioned before I have been training for the Philadelphia Marathon. When in France, Margarite decided she would also run the Marathon. The one difference is she entered and I did not. Since that time the Marathon has sold out, so I will not be running but Margarite will, as long as we can get her a visa into the United States.

On Sunday while on a long run Margarite developed an early stage stress facture. With the right care she should be fine for the race. It has been nice to see all the kids in the orphanage helping Margarite while her foot gets better.

The next two weeks for me will be very busy. I will be heading back to the U.S. early next week to meet up with an old family relative. She has an awesome fruit cake recipe it might be the best in the world. I have agreed to help her make the fruit cake in exchange I will be getting several cakes and also getting the secret recipe.

The following week is my trip to Puerto Rico for “Z” my nephews 18th birthday also my Brother “L” just got engaged so we are going to have an impromptu Bachelor Party at the same time.

Most of my time this week was spent on Poker Play which was a BIG mistake. If I could play wrong this week I did. I played bad poker and that is all there is to it. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I did it anyway. This is a great example of what separates an ok / good poker player from a great poker player, one that allows their discipline to break down is not a great poker player and that is what I allowed this week. I played too much and very badly. Here are my statistics which are just awful.

I played over 36 hours, with this much play I should just get a regular 9 – 5 job.

I played more then 5,000 hands which is the second most I ever played in one week. I lost over $1,000 with an hourly rate of negative $28.00 an hour. Which is also the second most I have lost in one week.

The only good news is I ended up moving to higher (more expensive) tables, where I did recover some $206.85 in 6 hours of play, at $34.86 an hour.

The bright side it this is my first losing week in 8 weeks and I am still up for the year.

Here is an interesting fact:

I have played over 70,000 hands of poker since October of 2005 and this week was the first time I got a royal flush. A royal flush is the best hand you can have in poker Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten all or the same suite, unfortunately for me the other guy did not have much money or a good hand so I did not win that much from him. (see picture above)

POKERSTARS GAME #21347253713: HOLD'EM NO LIMIT ($0.50/$1.00) - 2008/10/20 - 11:07:38 (ET)
Table 'Pegasus III' 9-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: THappens ($100.50 in chips)
Seat 2: Chrisinjo ($44.50 in chips)
Seat 3: Hudson40 ($23.80 in chips)
Seat 4: DUG ($100 in chips)
Seat 5: callierayms ($54.45 in chips)
Seat 6: mondela ($34.35 in chips)
Seat 7: tartanic ($35.25 in chips)
Seat 8: SirinNabokov ($161.50 in chips)
Seat 9: super cinese ($20.75 in chips)
Chrisinjo: posts small blind $0.50
Hudson40: posts big blind $1
super cinese: posts big blind $1
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to DUG [Qh Js]
DUG: raises $2 to $3 Going for a steal in early position.
callierayms: folds
mondela: folds tartanic: folds
SirinNabokov: folds
super cinese: calls $2 Guess not.
THappens: folds
Chrisinjo: folds
Hudson40: folds
*** FLOP *** [Th Kh 2d] I have a straight draw maybe I can get a free card.
DUG: checks
super cinese: bets $2 Not free but cheap
DUG: calls $2 Worth 2 bucks to see another card.
*** TURN *** [Th Kh 2d] [ Jh]
DUG: checks Now I have a flush draw any heart and a straight draw any 9 or Ace.
super cinese: bets $6 The pot is 10 dollars so I am almost getting the right odds.
DUG: calls $6
*** RIVER *** [Th Kh 2d Jh] [Ah] Royal flush.
DUG: bets $1 I want to go to show down so I only bet a dollar because he has to call that amount. He is getting 17 to 1.
super cinese: calls $1
*** SHOW DOWN ***
DUG: shows [Qh Js] (a Royal Flush)
super cinese: mucks hand
DUG collected $24.30 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $25.50 Rake $1.20 Board [Th Kh 2d Jh Ah]
Seat 1: THappens (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Chrisinjo (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: Hudson40 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: DUG showed [Qh Js] and won ($24.30) with a Royal Flush
Seat 5: callierayms folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: mondela folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: tartanic folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: SirinNabokov folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: super cinese mucked [Ks 6s]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

France 2008 Day 14, 15 Saulieu, Versailles

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
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DAY 14 and 15

Saulieu is situated on the edge of a French National Park for that reason it has become a local tourist destination being only 2 and a half hours from Paris. We awoke at 7:30am to the sound of bugles playing, yes, at 7:30am on a Sunday a group of elderly men were playing a form of taps out side our hotel, why? We will never know. Once we got up we walked around town, and then headed to our finally destination of the trip Versailles. We arrived in Versailles in the late afternoon we found a great boutique hotel called Hotel de French it was situated directly across from the place of Versailles. The hotel originally was the home of the minister of Finance for Louis XIII.

Versailles (pronounced [vɛʀsaj] in French), formerly de facto capital of the kingdom of France, is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and is still an important administrative and judicial center. The city of Versailles, located in the western suburbs of Paris, 17.1 km (10.6 mi) from the center of Paris. The population of the city according to 2005 estimates was 86,400 inhabitants, down from a peak of 94,145 inhabitants in 1975. Versailles is made world-famous by the Château de Versailles, from the forecourt of which the city has grown.

Before we retired for the evening we visited the local church called Notre Dame, not the same Notre Dame as in Paris.

DAY 15

Since the Château de Versailles is closed on Monday our plan was to walk the grounds and view all the fountains, lakes, and gardens. I woke up and went for a 7 mile run to scope out the day’s route. We ended up walking most of the grounds and some of the city in a 7 hour time period from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. We had a fantastic dinner at a restaurant Au Carre, just a few blocks from our hotel, much less expensive then the restaurant from 2 nights before, but almost as good. Tomorrow we head home so for now that is my trip to France.

Additional Notes:

Smoking – it seemed like 60% of the French population smoked, most smoked Lucky Strikes filter-less cigarettes.

I had to assume this was a legal way to allow for human euthanasia. I took a non-scientific study on my 13 mile run through Paris and found the ratio of smokers was 2 women smokers for each man. Smoking is not allowed in indoor public areas, though outside it is very popular, I felt after my run as if I had smoked a pack myself. I am fairly sure the government endorsees smoking as a way to reduce healthcare costs. An average human smoking the amount that a French person smokes must cut 20 – 50% of their life expectancy, thus reducing down the medical expense for the reduced number of years of lost life, a person that lives to 50 no matter how sick they are must spend less in medical care then a person that lives to 90. I guess that is how they can afford socialized medicine.

Beggars – In Paris there was not a lot of begging / homeless but what there was, was very well organized and very creative. I truly believe they were all members of the Beggars Union (BU), at least the ones we saw the BU is one of the strongest unions in all of Europe. A few examples of their creativity:

1) A guy sat in a wheel chair out side Notre Dame in Paris his real legs bent back and tucked under his seat (like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places) sticking out from the wheel chair where 2 fake legs that were so mangled they looked like they had been run though a garbage disposal. How many people exiting the church do you think walked by and did not give this guy a Euro or two he was raking in a fortune.
2) Another guy sat on the floor of the metro station head shaved and silly putty stuck to his head to look like brain tumors on the outside of his scull. The silly putty looked so real, it was very hard to look at. He had a sign that said “need money for operation”. Clearly he was working the tourist section of the metro. The sign was in English not French also any local would know they have socialized medicine in France and thus he would not need money for an operation. I bummed a lucky strike from a passer by and gave it to the bum and suggested he take up smoking to solve his issue.
3) The last 2 I will mention were not as creative but were effective. One woman had a baby with her, maybe 6 months old. Begging with a baby now that is the cat’s meow in begging. A man had 2 puppies with him. How many people can allow a baby or puppy to go hungry? Both did very well on the sympathy side of begging and were raking in the funds.

Gas – The price of gas was about 10 U.S. Dollars per U.S. gallon if you do the conversions from liters to gallons and Euros to Dollars. I have said for many years the U.S. Government should put a minimum $10.00 a gallon gas tax in place as a solution to the perceived high price of gas in the U.S. The reason I say perceived high price of gas, as far as I can tell from my travels the U.S. has the cheapest gas in the world. I think if any American traveled in Europe they would agree a $10.00 a gallon tax is the solution. The cars in Europe get more then twice the gas mileage as in the U.S. The public transportation system if far superior then in the U.S. with most trains traveling at close to 200 miles per hour and almost all cities have great subway and bus systems. They cluster residential and commercial areas together so commutes are substantially reduced compared to the U.S. So if you want to see the price of gas come down and see the quality of the U.S. economy go, and lastly a huge reduction in the funding of terrorism, please write your congressman and senators and ask them to immediately enact a $10.00 a gallon gas tax. Just an FYI in Botswana, gas is about $15.00 a gallon, but since no one but the very rich own cars it is not a big deal.

France 2008 Day 11,12, 13 Crillon le Brave, Pernes, Saulie

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
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DAY 11,12 and 13

Thursday morning judgment day! Bebe and “The Rock” are flying back to Botswana early Friday so I will take them to the train station today, in order to be at the airport in Marseille for their flight. So the question that will be answered shortly, will Margarite go home with Bebe and “The Rock” or will she stay with me in France for a few more days.

We left for the train station around 11:00am. Margarite had suggested we have lunch at a restaurant she had seen the day before. The restaurant is situation on the banks of the Rhone opposite the Papal Palace. Lunch was good but dessert was great. “The Rock” and I had to indulge ourselves, Flan with a fresh peach, scoop of ice cream surrounded by fresh whip cream. After lunch I took Bebe, “The Rock” and
Margarite to the train station, great news Margarite decided to stay.

On the drive back to Bédoin Margarite suggested we visit a town just a few kilometers away from Bédoin, Crillon-le-Brave, as we drove to the town we ran into the rest of the group they had hiked to this village for lunch and were on their way back. We continued on our way as they head back to the villa. Crillon-le-Brave was a fortified medieval village built on top of a hill. There is a lovely hotel in Crillon-le-Brave, Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave. It is an old monastery and town houses that opens onto splendid views of Mont Ventoux. The hotel had many terraces that over look the surrounding vineyards. Directly next to the hotel is the original church which still functions as the town church.

Like many of the older villages in the region, it was built on a hilltop for defensive purposes and to provide more farmland on the plains below. It is a very small town, with only one paved road running through the middle. The origins of the village date back to Roman times, when it went by the name Crillonium, and later Crillon, but one could say that its modern history begins in the 14th century when a leading Avignon family acquired the feudal rights to the village. A long line of dukes ruled Crillon throughout the period leading up to the French Revolution.

The village takes its full name of Crillon-le-Brave from the most legendary of its dukes: Louis des Balbes de Berton de Crillon or "Le Brave Crillon" (1541-1615) was one of Henri IV's fiercest and most valiant generals during the French Wars of Religion in the late 16th century. The same Crillon family also gave its name to the famous Hôtel de Crillon in Paris.

Like most of the buildings surrounding the church at the top of the village, the houses that form the core of the Hostellerie have their origins in the 16th and 17th centuries and played an important part in village life.

At the end of the 19th century Crillon-le-Brave was a prosperous and lively village of 800 inhabitants served by several cafés, bars and stores. There was even a local philharmonic society. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, the village began a long slow decline. Two wars and a failing water supply left the village almost abandoned and many of its houses fell into ruins. But since the early 1970s new inhabitants have brought new life to the old stones, so that today Crillon-le-Brave has once again become a charming and beautiful village.

On our way home to the villa we ran into the group, they were still in Bédoin, we bought cheeses, pate and some bread to have finger foods for dinner.

DAY 12

Margarite and I got up early to run I figured my legs should have recovered from the mountain by this point. I ran 6 miles from Bédoin to Crillon-le-Brave. Margarite ran 11, while Margarite was finishing her run I did yoga in the town square, I got some interesting looks from the locals. When we returned to the villa the Unknown Women said the pool was warm so I jumped in. The air temperature was 70 degrees the pool temputure was 55 degrees. No sooner had I hit the water, I was right back out of the water, and it was COLD! What the Unknown Women said was the water looks warm.

Testa Rossa and Mobe left for a drive sight seeing the area, G d’B and the Unknown Women want for a walk to the church in Bédoin. Matalin went to town to do some shopping. Margarite and I hung out at the pool for a bit and then headed into town for lunch. We also bought some biking jerseys as souvenirs. Everybody ended back at the villa around 4:00pm.

We all went to dinner to celebrate our last night together except for Margarite and I, everybody was heading to Paris for flights home on Sunday.

DAY 13

Saturday morning Margarite wanted to do a 14 mile run, I recommended that she run the route that Mobe and I biked on Wednesday. I found a mountain bike and rode along, while Margarite ran. It was a perfect morning for a run a little cold for a slow bike ride, my hands were frozen after just a few kilometers, but it was worth it to be with Margarite.

We had to be out of the villa by 10:00am so everybody packed up and cleaned up. The owners of the villa told us about a festival in a small town south of Bédoin, the town was Pernes. We all decided to go to the festival for an hour, then head our separate ways. The festival was neat, many people dressed in old fashion clothes, also a parade with antique cars, motorcycles, bicycle, and horse carts.

After the festival Margarite and I drove for 5 hours toward Paris our goal was to get close enough so we could easily get to Versailles the next day. Margarite picked a small village Saulieu 270 km away from Paris. We stayed at a Hotel Spa called Bernard Loiseau.

The front of the hotel looked like any other hotel in a small French village as we entered we saw the hotel catered to the rich and famous we were a little out of place. It was clear we over looked one obvious indication of the type of people that frequent this establishment. While in line to valet park our car, the three cars in front of us were a Ferrari, Massarotti, and a Bentley, we should have seen our Opal did not fit in with the cars as we did not fit in with the other guest. To our shock the room rate was reasonable at $140 Euros per night (2 single beds). When we checked in the receptionist asked if we needed dinner reservations, Margarite said yes and made them for 7:30pm.

The restaurant was very elegant, when we arrived there were only a few tables occupied, it was clear we were the worst dressed in the restaurant. At first they put us at a terrible table right by the kitchen door. I am sure they expected us to leave once we saw the prices. When we order they moved us to a much better table. As more people arrived we remained on the worst dressed list, in fact as the night got later the dress code seem to get more and more formal. The food was out of this world not the worlds best, but close, it was the most expensive dinner I have every had. I will need a few good winning poker sessions to pay for dinner. I was shocked Margarite had requested reservations, with what we spent on dinner we could have feed all the orphans in our village for a very long time. I think 2 weeks with me has corrupted Margarite.

France 2008 Day 9, 10 The Mountain, Avignon

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
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DAY 9 and 10

Mont Ventoux is a mountain with its base in Bédoin. The top is 1909 meters high (6,000 feet) Bédoin is at 324 meters (1,000 feet) so from bottom to top is a climb of around 1,600 meters 5,000 feet or 1 mile.

The road from the bottom to the top is 22km about 13 miles. That means the average grade is 8%. I challenged Mobe that I could beat him to the top, under normal conditions he could crush me, but with the way I have seen him drinking wine and eating pastries over the last few days and with me in the middle of my marathon training already having some long hilly runs under my belt I was confident I had a chance. I knew he was stronger, but felt if I could get the lead early my endurance would out last his strength.

“The Rock” made us a huge breakfast of eggs and toast to fuel the ride. I was hesitant to eat a meal that “The Rock” prepared after he tried to poison me, but I needed the food/fuel for the ride.

We headed out at 10:00am I figured I needed 2 hours to get to the top.
That is what it takes me to run the same distance in a training run on a hilly course.

The ride turned out to be the worst bike ride "OF MY LIFE". Margarite took the lead in the first kilometer so I followed, G d’B and Mobe hung back. The only way I had a chance to beat Mobe was to have a huge lead, at least a kilometer at the halfway point so Margarite breaking away so early and pulling me up the mountain was perfect.

I had never ridden a bicycle on a road this steep and this long. The first 5km were not that bad 4% grade I was able to keep up with Margarite and we made good time 15-20 km/hr. At 5km the grade increased to 6% I no longer could keep up with Margarite she would take short break every few kilometers and I would catch her, but as soon as she started again she would blow by me. At 10km the grade increased to 10% I expected Mobe to pass me at any time. Ten kilometers to 16km was absolutely brutal, the absolute worst 6km of my life. At one point Margarite stopped to take a break and it was so steep she had a hard time getting started again. At 16km Mobe had not caught me and I knew I might beat him to the top. At 18km the grade had dropped to 7% but I was "OUT OF GAS". In endurance sports the term out of gas is used when your body is depleted of nutrition and possible water in this case I was out of both. I still had 5km to go. I had not consumed any nutrition or water as I was afraid if I reached for my water bottle I would fall over and there was no way I was going to stop to get water as I would not be able to start again. I had not seen Margarite for sometime it was now over 2 hours into the ride. I started praying Mobe would pass me so I could stop. As long as he was behind me I had a chance to win so I had to keep peddling, but once he would pass, it would be over since he was stronger I would never be able to keep up with him once he passed me, so I prayed for him to pass so this hell would end.

Over 2 hours of non-stop peddling the last 5km was above the tree line the wind picked up and the temputure dropped. Even though I was working so hard I was getting colder and colder the ride just hit a new level of awful. Other riders were passing fairly consistently. I feared and hoped that the next rider to pass would be Mobe. Feared because being this close and having gone through so much pain already I really wanted to beat Mobe while at the same time I hoped Mobe would pass so I could stop and end this misery.

I had less then 5km and less then 300 meters in elevation change to go. The tower at the top looked deceivingly closer then it was. With 1km to go I caught Margarite she had taken a short break, with the tree line gone I could see back a few kilometers and Mobe was no where in sight. I knew now I was certain to beat Mobe, at the same time I was done, cooked, out of gas, no more. I knew I would not make it to the top, but when would I stop or would I just fall over and die on the side of the mountain, seconds seemed like minutes, minutes seemed like hours. Margarite was back riding and passed me like I was standing still. I passed a memorial for Tom Simpson an English professional rider that had a massive heart attack and died at this very point riding up this DAMM Mountain. I pushed another 300 meters, I tried not to think that I could be the next Tom Simpson. I was ready to quit when a spectator on the side of the road yelled out, "500 meters to go." I figured pure heart should get me 500 meters. I gave one last push just as the grade increased from 7% to 9% I gave it everything I had. I made it 300 meters and dropped half falling over and half consciously stopping. I was riding at 5km per hour I figured I could walk at 4km so it was not worth the pain so I walked the last 150 meters, my time 2 hours 27 minutes. Not bad for a guy that had not been on a bike for 4 months the best part, Mobe was no where to be seen. I crushed him!

Neither I nor Margarite had any money, dumb thing but we had just not thought about it. There was a little shop at the summit but without money it did us little good. Cold, hungry, and thirsty we waited for Mobe and G d’B, hoping one of them brought money with them, the minutes ticked by as we waited in the cold. We felt they could not be more the 10 or 15 minutes behind. After waiting 30 minutes we started getting worried. Either they stopped, took a lot of rest breaks or they joined Tom Simpson. At 40 minutes Margarite and I started heading down to see if we could find them. Just a few minutes into our ride down we saw them coming up a full 45 minutes behind us. Margarite and I turned and headed back up to meet up with Mobe and G d’B and find out where the hell they have been.

Here is the Mobe story as he tells it. He claims he did the ride in
2:19 and thus beat me. He said the reason he took so long is he had to sample pastry at the 4 pastry shops on the way up the mountain. As far as I was concerned from the bottom to the top for me was 2 hours and 27 minutes for Mobe it was 4 hours 12 minutes so I won.

The best news about finding Mobe and G d’B was they had money and we could now get water and food. Mobe bought these great fresh baked cookies he bought 2 dozen and the 4 of us devoured them in minutes. We hung out at the top for another 15-20 minutes. At this point Margarite and I were getting very cold we had now been at the top of the mountain for over an hour. Our clothes were wet from sweating from the ride up and with the wind blowing it made us very cold. We really needed to head down.

The way down was hairy, the good news no peddling. In the first couple of kilometers there was a herd of sheep. I had passed them going up but at 6km per hour it was not a worry, but going down the mountain at 40km per hour if you hit a sheep, it can kill you. It was freezing! At 5km there was a ski chalet we all stopped Margarite was shivering so bad we all told her she had to have hot tea. We were concerned her hands would not be able to work her brakes if she did not warm up. She said no at first we insisted and she finally agreed. We all had hot drinks and warmed a little. Thirty minutes later we headed the rest of the way down. No pedaling just controlling your speed with your breaks. At 14km it warmed and the rest of the ride down was somewhat pleasant. So out of 44km of riding only 10km was bearable, the rest was just miserable. Thirty-eight minutes to get down 2 hours 27 minutes to get up. Once back at the villa we just hungout or should I say vegged out. Shortly after we arrived at the villa the rest of the group returned. They had gone to town for lunch. Once we were altogether the whole gang vegged out for the rest of the day.

At 7:00pm we headed into town for dinner. We found a great traditional French restaurant. The waitress spoke no English and the menus where in French only. What that meant is we had an idea of what we were ordering but not 100%. As usual the food and service were great. Bebe and Matalin ordered what they thought was a fish dish. To their surprise they had ordered clams called razor clams. The clams looked like something you would see a contestant having to eat on fear factor. They both ate them and said they enjoyed them. Either they were both very hungry or had a lot of pride. After dinner most of us were bushes so off to sleep we went.

DAY 10

When I woke, Mobe was up and getting ready to go on a bike ride, I told him I would join if it was flat. So we headed out for a 25km ride with rolling hills 500 feet elevation change nothing compared to the 5,000 foot elevation change from the day before. We did stop once at a pastry shop which had the best cream puff I have ever had, maybe the best in the world. The ride took just over an hour, 15 miles total more respectable and enjoyable then the day before.

The plan for the day was, return the bikes and then head to Avignon a town about 40 minutes south east of Bédoin. In 1309 the city was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence from 9 March 1309 till 13 January 1377 Avignon was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome. Avignon belonged to the Papacy until 1791, when, during the disorder of the French Revolution, it was reincorporated with France.

We arrived in Avignon at 1:00pm I was able to convince Margarite that we should head off on our own, separate from everybody else. The next day Bebe and “The Rock” would be leaving so in the next 24 hours Margarite would need to decide if she was staying in France with me or going home.

We toured the main square which was like many quaint European cities the square had a few street vendors a 2 story carousel and many sidewalk cafes. After touring the square we took an audio tour of the Papal Palace. This was very interesting tour. The period from 1309–1377 — the Avignon Papacy — was also called the Babylonian Captivity of exile, in reference to the Israelites' enslavement in biblical times.

The walls that were built by the popes in the years immediately after the acquisition of Avignon as papal territory are well preserved. As they were not particularly strong fortifications, the Popes relied instead on the immensely strong fortifications of their palace, the "Palais des Papes". This immense Gothic building, with walls 17–18 feet thick, was built 1335–1364 on a natural spur of rock, rendering it all but impregnable to attack. After being taken following the French Revolution, it was used as a barracks and prison for many years but it is now a museum.

Avignon, which at the beginning of the fourteenth century was a town of no great importance, underwent a wonderful development during the time the seven Avignon popes and two anti-popes, Clement V to Benedict XIII made their residences there. To the north and south of the rock of the Doms, partly on the site of the Bishop's Palace, which had been enlarged by John XXII, was built the Palace of the Popes, in the form of an imposing fortress made up of towers, linking one to another, and named as follows: De la Campane, de Trouillas, de la Glacière, de Saint-Jean, des Saints-Anges (Benedict XII), de la Gâche, de la Garde-Robe (Clement VI), de Saint-Laurent (Innocent VI). The Palace of the Popes belongs, by its severe architecture, to the Gothic art of the South of France. Other noble examples can be seen in the churches of St. Didier, St. Peter and St. Agricola, as well as the Clock Tower, and in the fortifications built between 1349 and 1368 for a distance of some three miles (5 km), flanked by thirty-nine towers, all of which were erected or restored by the Roman Catholic Church. The frescoes that are on the interiors of the Palace of the Popes and the churches of Avignon were created primarily by artists from Siena.

The popes were followed to Avignon by agents of the great Italian banking-houses, who settled in the city as money-changers, as intermediaries between the Apostolic Chamber and its debtors, living in the most prosperous quarters of the city, which was known as the Exchange. A crowd of traders of all kinds brought to market the products necessary to maintain the numerous court and of the visitors who flocked to it; grain and wine from Provence, from the south of France, the Roussillon and the country around Lyon. Fish was brought from places as distant as Brittany; cloths, rich stuffs and tapestries came from Bruges and Tournai. We need only glance at the account-books of the Apostolic Chamber, still kept in the Vatican archives, in order to judge the trade of which Avignon became the center.

During the Great Schism (1378-1415) the antipopes Clement VII and Benedict XIII returned to reside at Avignon. Clement VII lived in Avignon during his entire anti-pontificate, while Benedict XIII only lived there until 1403 when he was forced to flee to Aragon.

Next to the papal palace Notre Dame, the Avignon Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d'Avignon) it is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument of France, located in Avignon, above the Palais des Papes. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Avignon.

The cathedral is a Romanesque building, mainly of the 12th century, the most prominent feature of which is the gilded statue of the Virgin Mary which surmounts the western tower. Among the many works of art in the interior, perhaps the most beautiful is the mausoleum of Pope John XXII, a masterpiece of Gothic carving of the 14th century.

From the church we toured the gardens which were more like a small park that over looked the Rhone River.

We regrouped at 5:00pm and headed back to Bédoin, on the way home we detoured and stopped at a little hotel restaurant that the owners of our villa had recommended. Mobe and Testa Rossa chose not to join us.

After dinner it was home and sleep, 12:00am a long day. Just as I was falling asleep I heard a loud shriek, at first I thought it must have something to do with “The Rock” but it was Testa Rossa. She had found a spider on her bed and was yelling for Mobe to come kill it. Fortunately Margarite was in the next room and being from Botswana she is used to bugs so she quickly caught the spider and released it into the wild.

France Day 6,7,8 Travel to Bedoin, Visit Bedoin, Bedoin Market, Tour Area

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
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DAY 6,7 and 8

I got up at 6:15am I had to get my 13 mile run in get packed and ready to leave by noon. Off on my run, I headed toward the Seine. Once at the banks of the river I headed east toward Notre Dame. It was the strangest thing every metro station I passed had hundreds if not thousands of people exiting, what was up, it was 6:45am on a Saturday morning. Everybody was heading in the opposite direction as me, I felt like a salmon swimming up stream. At one point I noticed I was on one side of temporary barriers and all the people were on the other side. The running got much easier when I noticed there were police officers about every 15 meters and they were yelling at me in French. As I had mentioned before I speak almost all languages situationally and in this situation it was clear they wanted me on the other side of the barrier. Finally I found a break in the barrier and got to the correct side and was back swimming up stream. All of a sudden my heart sank I realized what was going on. I was running on the route the Pope would be taking, he was in Paris and giving an open air mass this morning. The reason my heart sunk was a wacky thought passed through my mind was “The Rock” involved in a plot against the Pope. At this point there was nothing I could do except finish my run and check the news when I returned. Once passed Notre Dame the volume of people died down I continued another half mile then crossed the Seine heading west toward the Louvre I entered the Louvre Gardens then straight out to the Arch de Triumph running the full length of the avenue Champs-Élysées, I ran directly under the arch and continued straight out another mile then headed back toward the river and directly under the Eiffel Tower. From there it was a fairly straight shot back to the hotel. In two hours I had hit almost all the sites we had seen in the last few days.

Today we are heading to Bédoin to meet the rest of the crew. We have all chipped in and rented a Villa in Bédoin. I have not met any of these folks, they connected with me through the website, but now I think they might be connected to “The Rock”. We are taking the TGV (high speed train) to Avignon. From there we will have a rental car to get around. The train was very smooth and very fast, nothing like the rough and undependable train rides I have taken in Africa. We traveled 400 miles in just over 2 hours.

Once we arrived in Avignon, we got the rental car and attempted to leave the train station (30 min) at one point we were in area that looked like Beirut, Lebanon, very scary, I made a U-turn and found another exit. The directions we were given from the train station to the villa were awful I need to give Bebe and Margarite credit on navigating. This area of France is known as Provence, as we left the train station the area was very industrial and commercial as we got closer to the villa (45 minutes) it was more farms and vineyards clearly wine country.

The first thing we noticed while approaching Bédoin is the huge, imposing church of Saint-Antonin, with its Spanish-looking style so different from any other in the Provence region. In fact, the style is Jesuit built in 1702 and restored in the 19th century. In spite of the strangely different style the church does have a wrought-iron belfry (campanile) so typical of the region.

The houses of this compact old village look small compared to the church, and are clustered up against the hill. At the top of the village hill, above the houses and church alike, the tombstones from an abandoned and vandalized graveyard are scattered about in the tall grass.

The ruined graves evoke a bit of sadness that tempers the incredible view from this high spot. The hilltop village of Crillon-le-Brave is visible across the fields to the southwest, while the 1900m-high Mont Ventoux towers high above Bédoin to the northeast.

Once at the villa “The Rock” introduced us to the rest of the crew. I could not tell how he knew these people or how well
he knew them.

G d'B - is a great guy, always having fun has never found an activity he does not like golf, disc golf, softball, cards, music, biking, rafting, skiing, hiking, camping, etc. He always wants to hang with family and friends. G d'B lives in New England and has been married to
An Unknown Women for 25 years they have 2 adult children.

Unknown Women - G d'B's wife her whole focus in life is family and keeping everybody happy. The Unknown Women is a level 3 reike healer. She has had somewhere around 186 jobs the longest lasting 7 months.

Testa Rossa - is from England another animal lover maybe even a fanatic about animals. Testa Rossa is married to Mobe. They have one son, Bentley. Testa Rossa claims she trains animals but she really trains the owners of the animals to spoil them. It is all about the love of animals.

Mobe - is a professional bicyclists, his focus is on climbing. He was on Lance Armstrong’s team 3 years in a row and won the polka dot jersey 2 times. When Mobe is not biking he is either spoiling Bentley or talking about biking. Mobe has a huge sweet tooth, it is rumored that the small village in England he grew up in had a pastry shop at the top of a very steep hill and every day Mobe would bike to the top of this hill to get a sweet. The rumor attributes this training at an early age to Mobe's great success as a climber.

Matalin - is the CEO of a small pharmaceutical company. She is known as one of the strongest women CEO's in the world, her company continues to set record profits, year after year. She lives in southern Florida and commutes to northern New Jersey via her company jet that she pilots. In her spare time she travels the world looking for new business opportunities. When not working she hangs out with friends looking for great adventures. She is currently dating Remy who lives in Switzerland, and could not join Matalin on this trip.

When we arrived at the villa the group had already gone shopping and was preparing dinner of chicken and salad. This was a perfect way to be welcomed to the villa. After dinner we had caught up on our trips. The other group had been to Monte Carlo and Niece.


In the morning we all woke up about 10:00am except Margarite. She was up at 7:30am and went on a 13 mile run and a short swim after the run, which was impressive since the air temp was 60 and the water temp 55.
She was only able to get a few laps in before hyperthermia started setting in.

Mobe made awesome eggs for breakfast. At 11:00am most of the group went into town, a 15 minute walk. I stayed back, after Margarite did her run and swim she went back to sleep. I figured this was my chance for some alone time so I hung back and waited for Margarite to wake.

It was a gorgeous day sunny low 70's but very windy, the wind made it feel cold. When Margarite woke she wanted to walk into town and find the others, so much for alone time.

Off to town we went. This town is very popular with bicyclist both road and mountain. The town is situated at the bottom of Mont Ventoux which is a famous mountain often featured in the Tour d’ France. With the town so small we quickly found the others much to my disappointment so much for alone time. The group was having lunch at a sidewalk cafe. We joined them and Matalin offered us her appetizer Goat cheese and honey on toast. I accepted, it was very good but I would later learn this was a big mistake. Margarite declined as she is allergic to dairy. We went to order some food and found out the café was finished serving lunch for the day so Margarite and I left and found a nice little sandwich shop. After lunch Margarite and I walked up to the church (alone time). This was clearly the older part of town the streets barely wide enough for a car to fit. At the church you could look down on the whole town. The church was locked so we could not get inside. As we got back to the main part of town we re-met up with the group (end of alone time). We all started heading back to the villa. We passed by a cemetery and a few of us decided to take a stroll through. It was much like the cemetery in Paris where it appears the bodies are in tombs above ground. There was one tomb of an 18 year old that must have been a bicyclist as the head stone was shaped like Mont Ventoux and had a bike rider on it.

It was at this point I started feeling ill unaware of why. Once we got back to the villa everybody was hanging out. I’ve been keeping my eye on “The Rock”. Everything was fine with the Pope, according to the news he was safely back in Rome so I was still curious as to what “The Rock” was up to. I noticed “The Rock” and the Unknown Women had spent unusual amount of time talking quietly to each other. It was clear most of the folks on the trip knew “The Rock” I could not tell if “The Rock” had planted any of his under world associates on this trip and they are using my travels as part of their cover. As the day went on I felt more and more ill. At first just chills, then nausea and lastly my hair started falling out. When my hair started falling out I knew what was going on. “The Rock” must have suspected I was on to him and he wants to get rid of me. So at lunch he must have sprinkled some radioactive isotopes on Matalin’s appetizer knowing Margarite was allergic to dairy and would not have any. The question; Is Matalin in on the plot to get rid of me? If I live through the night I will need to figure this out. What do I do about the radiation poisoning? Luck was with me, the week before this trip I was camping in the Grand Teton Mountains and needed water purification tablets I was fairly sure these tablets were loaded with iodine a cure to radiation poisoning. I took the whole bottle of tablets and then went to bed not indicating to anybody I knew what had been done to me and not knowing if I would ever wake up again.


I made it through the night. My cure worked! In the morning I was feeling just a little sick to my stomach I was sure that was caused by the high level of iodine in my system. When I went down stairs, no one was around I am sure they did not want to be around when my body was found. When they return I will be able to tell who is in on the plot to kill me by who is surprised to see I am alive.

Slowly members of the group would drift in. Every Monday morning from eight to noon there is a market in Bédoin. It is a combination flea market with things like leather goods and knickknacks, and farmers market with fresh meats, fish, fruits and vegetables.

As each person came back I would say, "Look in to my eyes and tell me what you see" not one person from the group had any look of surprise on their face, most just looked at me like I was a nut. At this point I concluded “The Rock” must be working alone.

At 1:00pm the group announced they were going to visit some other villages. I choose to stay back and hang out as I was not fully recovered yet my stomach was still doing flip flops. I also needed to do some laundry.

I was told Matalin also hung back but I never saw her. Maybe Remy showed up and they disappeared for a little romp in the hay. It was very cold in the morning but warmed up nicely and I was able to lie in the sun for a few hours and got in a short swim.

The group got back at 5:15pm. They had toured the country side (driving) visiting towns in the area. It sounded almost like the Paris tours switching driving for walking. A lot of driving and little sight seeing.

We had reserved bicycles for Tuesday and Wednesday. As I had mentioned this is an area that is used in the Tour d’ France so biking is very popular. “The Rock” drove us to the bike shop to pick up the bikes. Only G d’B, Margarite, Mobe, and I are renting bikes. The bike shop was well equipped with high quality equipment.

Once back at the villa Mobe made a fantastic tilapia dinner with green beans, Matalin made an awesome salad with a home made salad dressing that was out of this world. Clean up was done by the Unknown Women. I was still recovering from the radiation poising and I had a big challenge for the next day, "beat Mobe up the mountain" so off to bed I went.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Week of October 13, 2008

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We had a major incident in our village this week. I will try to explain but if you look at the picture I have posted it is a great example of a picture being worth a 1,000 words. As you might expect in Africa there are wild elephants, over time some of these elephants that live near our village become domesticated. Not like a pet Dog or Cat, obvious they would not live in ones hut, but they do become friendly and very docile.

This week one of these elephants was hanging out near Margarite’s orphanage. Some of the children had left there toys out. We are still not sure why but this particular elephant ate several of the toys. I like most people might assume that if the item (toy) fit in one end of the elephant it should be able to fit out the other end. My thought was to wait and check the stool and eventually the kids would have their toys back.

The fact is elephants have a very sensitive digestive system, and eating items that have plastic in them could kill them. So you must retrieve the items as quickly as possible. In our village there are no doctors or veterinarians, and to get one to come from a near by village would be very expensive. Since I am still trying to score points with Margarite I volunteered for the job of extracting the toys for the kids. I read up on the internet on how to go about retrieving items from an elephant’s digestive track. Rather then describe the procedure please just look at the above picture.

That was the big event for the week, I did get some time to play DISC golf with Nami, as usual Chuata had some excuse as to why he could not play. Also this week I went to see an Agatha Christy play “The Hollow” that our village was putting on. Nami’s wife likes Agatha Christy and she had invited us all out.

I had a very interesting week playing poker. I had huge swings in my winnings from down over $200.00 to up the same amount. I ended up wining $187.00 for the week, but my hourly rate was rather low at $8.83 an hour. I need to really analyze my play to figure out why I had such swings, at least 5 times this week I had swings or over $400.00 in just a few hands.

I played over 21 hours which should have netted me closer to $400.00 or $500.00 for the week and I played over 2,700 hands.

I thought I would show two hands that have to do with bluffing and why bluffing is an important part of the game and why the set up is more important (past play at the table) to the bluff then the actually hand you are playing. I am not a big proponent of bluffing, but I understand it is a tool you must use in your play to mix up your game and to mix up your opponents. As you will see in the first hand I got the player to fold, which is what I needed to happen to win, and in the second hand I got the player to go all in or raise my bet which is what I needed to happen to win more. I hope you enjoy.

The key to this first hand is I have been at the table a while and have not played many hands, so I feel I have a tight image, that is an image of a player that only plays when he has very good hands. I have not bluffed at all and I have bet high on a few hands got called and won because I had the nuts (the best possible hand).

PokerStars Game #21211726234: Hold'em No Limit ($0.50/$1.00) - 2008/10/15 - 09:20:43 (ET)
Table 'Skat V' 9-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: clivi ($50 in chips)
Seat 2: DUG ($100 in chips)
Seat 3: dlehel ($50 in chips)
Seat 4: kevyk81 ($82.80 in chips)
Seat 5: Mask1n ($100.85 in chips)
Seat 6: kinkin24 ($46.50 in chips)
Seat 8: bottomset ($103.15 in chips)
Seat 9: Pippozzo ($100.25 in chips)
Mask1n: posts small blind $0.50
kinkin24: posts big blind $1
supercohen: sits out
clivi: posts big blind $1
DUG: posts big blind $1 I had sat out a few hands so I had to pay to get back in
dlehel: posts big blind $1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to DUG [Kd 4d]
bottomset: folds
Pippozzo: folds
clivi: checks
DUG: raises $3 to $4 I hate paying the blind so my plan was to just steal the blinds back.
dlehel: folds
kevyk81: calls $4 Not what I expected.
Mask1n: folds
kinkin24: calls $3 Not what I expected.
clivi: calls $3 Not what I expected.
*** FLOP *** [6c Jh Th]
kinkin24: checks
clivi: checks
DUG: bets $12 If I was new at the table I would just check, but with my tight image I think I can get the others to fold.
kevyk81: folds
kinkin24: calls $12 He must have something like AJ. Or even a flush draw, anything better then that would have raised me.
clivi: folds
*** TURN *** [6c Jh Th] [4s]
kinkin24: checks His check shows weakness.
DUG: bets $15 This gives him not exactly the right odds if he has a flush draw at this point I want him in. I am ok with getting one more bet from him, knowing my plan is to go all in on the river unless a heart hits, or a card that might fill a straight draw, like a Q if he had AK or an Ace or nine if he had Q
Kkinkin24: calls $15
*** RIVER *** [6c Jh Th 4s] [Tc] This is a good card for me. He would not have been calling my bets with middle pair. If he had JT he would have raised with the flush draw on the board. He should fold now, which is the only way I will win unless my pair of 4’s is good enough.
kinkin24: checks
DUG: bets $69 and is all-in
kinkin24: folds So I won $68.50 with a nothing hand.
Uncalled bet ($69) returned to DUGDUG collected $68.50 from pot
DUG: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***Total pot $71.50 Rake $3 Board [6c Jh Th 4s Tc]
Seat 1: clivi folded on the Flop
Seat 2: DUG collected ($68.50)
Seat 3: dlehel folded before Flop
Seat 4: kevyk81 (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: Mask1n (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: kinkin24 (big blind) folded on the River
Seat 8: bottomset folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: Pippozzo folded before Flop (didn't bet)

With the following hand I have been a little looser then normal at this table, also about 5 hands before I lost a big hand where I had KK and the other guy had AQ we were all in before the flop so I was the favorite to win, but lost. I felt people would think I was on tilt.

POKERSTARS GAME #21242501760: HOLD'EM NO LIMIT ($0.50/$1.00) - 2008/10/16 - 13:18:37 (ET)
Table 'Haffner III' 9-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 2: siIver11 ($55.90 in chips)
Seat 3: zecke79 ($96 in chips)
Seat 4: AcesFull113 ($98 in chips)
Seat 5: DragonSpy23 ($85.90 in chips)
Seat 6: DUG ($128.55 in chips)
Seat 7: imoo88 ($99 in chips)
Seat 8: Russchampion ($181.70 in chips)
Seat 9: Bluesman ($118.60 in chips) imoo88: posts small blind $0.50
Russchampion: posts big blind $1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to DUG [8c 9h]
moatzart has returned
Bluesman: calls $1
siIver11: folds
zecke79: folds
AcesFull113: calls $1
DragonSpy23: folds
DUG: calls $1 Worth playing if I hit I could win a lot.
imoo88: calls $0.50
Russchampion: raises $3 to $4
Bluesman: calls $3
AcesFull113: calls $3
DUG: calls $3 Worth 3 more dollars with the odds, but more importantly the implied odds.
imoo88: calls $3
*** FLOP *** [Qd 6s 7h] I have a straight draw and no flush draw on the board. So if a T or a 5 show up I have the nuts (best hand).
imoo88: checks
Russchampion: checks
Bluesman: checks
AcesFull113: checks
DUG: checks Cool a free card
*** TURN *** [Qd 6s 7h] [Ts] I hit the nuts and I have a loose reputation.
imoo88: checks
Russchampion: checks
Bluesman: checks
AcesFull113: checks
DUG: bets $30 What I am hoping is someone will feel this is a bluff and they will bluff me. No one in there right mind would bet 3 times the pot with the best hand.
imoo88: folds
Russchampion: folds
Bluesman: folds
AcesFull113: raises $64 to $94 and is all-in Perfect.
DUG: calls $64 Have to call since I have the best hand.
*** RIVER *** [Qd 6s 7h Ts] [Qc] Hope he did not have a QT.
*** SHOW DOWN ***
AcesFull113: shows [5s 4s] (a pair of Queens) This is interesting, He had a straight draw which would have lost to me, since I had a higher straight, and he had a flush draw which would have beat me. If I had AQ, his play might have been good. But instead by me making it look like I was bluffing I won all his money. In this case if I was really bluffing I would have lost all my money. That is why it is so important to think about what the other players think of you before you bluff.
DUG: shows [8c 9h] (a straight, Six to Ten)
DUG collected $205 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***Total pot $208 Rake $3 Board [Qd 6s 7h Ts Qc]
Seat 2: siIver11 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: zecke79 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: AcesFull113 showed [5s 4s] and lost with a pair of Queens
Seat 5: DragonSpy23 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: DUG (button) showed [8c 9h] and won ($205) with a straight, Six to Ten
Seat 7: imoo88 (small blind) folded on the Turn
Seat 8: Russchampion (big blind) folded on the Turn
Seat 9: Bluesman folded on the Turn
So the point I am trying to make is when you bluff you really need to understand how the other players at the table think of you and your play, and you need to try to narrow down the hands the other players might have to make sure they do not have a hand that they can not fold.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

France 2008 Day 5 Montmartre, Saint Pierre de Montmartre, Sacre Coeur

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
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Got up at 6:30am and met Margarite for a run. I ran 9 miles total 2 mile warm up out to the Louvre then ran 5 miles at sub 8 minutes miles doing loops around the gardens and then ran an easy 2 back to the hotel for a total of 9 miles. I am not sure about this marathon training stuff.

We met Bebe and “The Rock” at 10am and went to our normal haunt for breakfast we did not even need to order, at this point they know us by name and what we eat. Gregory our waiter is heading to New York in a couple weeks so I gave him some contacts to look up when he gets there. In return he did some art work for us.

The plan for today is take the subway out to Montmartre. Montmartre is a hill (the butte Montmartre) which is 130 meters high, giving its name to the surrounding district, in the north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the Right Bank. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded. Many artists had studios or worked around the community of Montmartre such as Salvador Dalí, Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.

Since Montmartre was outside the city limits, free of Paris taxes and no doubt also due to the fact that the local nuns made wine, the hill quickly became a popular drinking area. The area developed into a center of free-wheeling and decadent entertainment at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the popular cabaret the Moulin Rouge, and at Le Chat Noir, artists, singers and performers regularly appeared including Yvette Guilbert, Marcelle Lender, Aristide Bruant, La Goulue, Georges Guibourg, Mistinguett, Fréhel, Jane Avril, Damia and others.

The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was built on Montmartre from 1876 to 1912 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation after the defeat of 1871 in the Franco-Prussian War. Its white dome is a highly visible landmark in the city, and just below it artists still set up their easels each day amidst the tables and colorful umbrellas of Place du Tertre.

Once we arrived we followed a tour map that Bebe and Margarite were using. The tour / route stated to be an hour and started at one metro and finished at another. As we passed a particular shop for the third time within 20 minutes I took over as tour guide. I knew this was a huge risk and could blow any chance I had with Margarite but I had to do it for all of our well being. I had just run 9 miles and did not need any extra walking. With Bebe and “The Rock” getting up in years their bodies were breaking down and any extra walking was just going to wear them out faster.

Once I took over you could cut the tension with a knife but I know everybody knew it had to be done. This area had some interesting an eclectic architecture. We went by the town museum but only visited the gift shop. The central square was very busy packed with tourist. The center of the square had tables you could eat at, they were serviced by the restaurants that lined the square. Circling the tables were street artist and performers there was lots of excitement and activity. A man stopped Bebe, right away I thought another underworld rendezvous for “The Rock”, no! The guy started sketching Bebe he did not even ask permission every time she said no he would just speak French, and ask her to tilt her head and keep sketching. In the end Bebe had a portrait of herself or should I say a portrait of someone that might have been a distant relative. The artist said the portrait was 30 Euro “The Rock” gave him 20 Euros and we walked away. It had been a few hours since breakfast and Margarite was hungry, for such a skinny person she’s always hungry and eating. We figured lunch was in order and another sidewalk café. I see a theme forming again the service and food was good.

There were two churches to see the first was Saint Pierre de Montmartre it was built in 1134. Saint Pierre de Montmartre is the lesser known of the two main churches on Montmartre, the other being the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur. Historically, however, it has the greater claim to fame, since according to the earliest biography of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the church is the location at which the vows were taken that led to the founding of the Jesuits. Though according to its traditional history, it was founded by Saint Denis in the third century, only scattered signs of Gallo-Roman occupation have been detected at the much-disturbed site, where Theodore Vacquier, the first municipal archaeologist, identified remains of walling at the Temple of Mars, from which Montmartre took its name. In 1657 the antiquary and local historian Henri Sauval was shown remains in the priory garden that he associated with the templum Martis. The early church that was a stop in the ninth century for pilgrims en route for the Basilica of Saint Denis, belonged in 1096 to the comte de Melun. Louis VI purchased it in 1133, in order to establish in it a Benedictine convent, and the Merovingian church was rebuilt; it was reconsecrated by Pope Eugenius III in 1147, in a glamorous royal ceremony where Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter, Abbot of Cluny acted as acolytes.

The Benedictine community moved downhill to a new priory in the 1680s. Saint Pierre de Montmartre was ruined during the French Revolution. It was rebuilt in the 19th century, and today is visited by numerous tourists who tend to notice, among other things, the pillars of Roman origin used within the nave.

This church was very plan when compared to other churches in Europe. The second church Sacré-Coeur was built in 1919 and is much grander, larger, and more ornate then Saint Pierre de Montmartre.

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, "Basilica of the Sacred Heart") is a Roman Catholic basilica and popular landmark in Paris, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre (Montmartre butte), the highest point in the city. The purpose of making a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, with its origins in the aftermath of the French Revolution among ultra-Catholics and legitimist royalists, developed more widely in France after the Franco-Prussian War and the ensuing radical Paris Commune of 1870-71. Though today it is asserted to be dedicated in honor of the 58,000 who lost their lives during the war, the decree of the Assemblée nationale, 24 July 1873, responding to a request by the archbishop of Paris by voting its construction, specifies that it is to "expiate the crimes of the communards". Montmartre had been the site of the Commune's first insurrection, and many hard-core communards were forever entombed in the subterranean galleries of former gypsum mines where they had retreated, by explosives detonated at the entrances by the Army of Versailles. Hostages had been executed on both sides, and the Communards had executed Georges Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, who became a martyr for the resurgent Catholic Church. His successor Guibert, climbing the Butte Montmartre in October 1872, was reported to have had a vision, as clouds dispersed over the panorama: "It is here, it is here where the martyrs are, it is here that the Sacred Heart must reign so that it can beckon all to come".

In the moment of inertia following the resignation of the government of Adolphe Thiers, 24 May 1873, François Pie, bishop of Poitiers, expressed the national yearning for spiritual renewal— "the hour of the Church has come" that would be expressed through the "Government of Moral Order" of the Third Republic, which linked Catholic institutions with secular ones, in "a project of religious and national renewal, the main features of which were the restoration of monarchy and the defense of Rome within a cultural framework of official piety", of which Sacré-Cœur is the chief lasting monument.

The decree voting its construction as a "matter of public utility", 24 July, followed close on Thiers' resignation. The project was expressed by the Church as a National Vow (Voeu national) and financial support came from parishes throughout France. The dedicatory inscription records the Basilica as the accomplishment of a vow by Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury, ratified by Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert, Archbishop of Paris. The project took many years to complete.

Sacré-Cœur is built of travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne), France. This stone constantly exudes calcite, which ensures that the basilica remains white even with weathering and pollution. The basilica complex includes a garden for meditation, with a fountain. The top of the dome is open to tourists and affords a spectacular panoramic view of the city of Paris, which is mostly to the south of the basilica.

Margarite and I decided to climb to the top of the dome over 300 steps. Bebe and “The Rock” sat out, they felt it was to much for folks of their age. The views from the dome were great similar to the Eiffel Tower but from a different perspective.

From the Sacré-Cœur Basilica we traveled down the hill via the funicular. The Montmartre funicular is a funicular railway serving the Montmartre neighborhood, in the Eighteenth arrondissement (district) of that city. The funicular is an automatic two-cabin railway that allows passengers to ride directly from the base of the Montmartre butte to the top, near the base of the Sacré-Cœur basilica, and vice versa. It is operated the Paris Transport Authority, and was first opened on July 13, 1900, although the current funicular is a much more recent renovation

Built by Akros, the current funicular is electric and entered service on June 1, 1991. It includes two independent cars with a capacity of 60 persons each. It can move 2,000 persons per hour in each direction. A trip in either direction, which covers a vertical distance of 36 meters and a track distance of 108 meters, requires somewhat less than 90 seconds. The funicular provides an alternative to the multiple stairways of more than 300 steps that lead to the top of the butte.

The stations of the funicular at each terminal incorporate multiple transparent elements and were designed by architect François Deslaugiers. The cars, which feature large windows, were designed by stylist Roger Tallon . The roof of each car is partially made of glass, which allows passengers to admire the basilica as they are transported.

The technology of the funicular is derived from that of standard elevators, which allows each car to function independently, with its own hoist and cables. This allows one car to remain in service if the other must be taken out of service for maintenance.
The original funicular was water powered, using a system of cisterns of five cubic meters each that were filled or emptied in order to move the cars and as a function of passenger load. In 1935, the system was converted to electricity. The funicular was completely rebuilt in 1990-1991.

The funicular was shut down due to a minor accident during tests in December 2006. It reopened in July 2007.

I was very happy I had taken over the tour my gut says we saw more and saved a few hours. The metro was just a few blocks from the funicular. Once back at our hotel (5:00pm) we decided we would nap and regroup at 7:00pm.

Bebe has a friend (Judy) that lives in France that will be joining us for dinner. We took the metro to meet Judy for dinner. Judy has lived in Paris for 20 years, since she was 23 years old. Judy is a very nice lady with a colorful life. At first I thought she was “The Rock’s” handler but it was clear they had never met. Judy is the friend that had told Bebe about the falafel place, so we asked her which one was the best she said she did not know she thought they were all real good. Dinner was excellent I had lamb chops (“BAH BAH”) and the others had fish. At one point Bebe’s phone rang, this was so funny she answered in case it was an emergency something with the animals back in Botswana. It was the folks we were meeting the next day in Bedoin. They were drunk and the connection was poor. Bebe at first tried to cover the phone with her hand so her voice would not bother other dinners, when that did not work she turned her head and talked to the wall. The wall was a mirror and it just allowed her voice to amplify and travel further. She was louder then when she announced to every body on the plane Margarite was in the bathroom. Once off the phone the other diners stop giving us looks that could kill. After dinner I suggested walking back it was a cool night with a full moon. I was hoping the walk would be too much for Bebe and “The Rock” and Margarite and I would be alone. Unfortunately I think Bebe knew my intentions and made “The Rock” walk with us, so much for romance. That kind of through ice water on my last night in Paris, plus I have a 13 mile run in the morning so once back at the hotel it was off to bed for me (alone), the others headed to the hotel bar.

France 2008 Day 4 Musee d'Orsay, Musee du Louvre, Church of ST-Gervais-et-St-Protais

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We meet at the same place for breakfast as the first day and received a very warm welcome from both the host and waiter. I have always heard people say, “Parisian are not friendly”, but so far we seem to always make friends with people we come in contact with. We are not sure if it is our personalities or our tipping habits. Most Europeans tip 0-5% while we tip 15-20%. In Botswana most people would tip 10%, but the 4 of us tip closer to 20% as it is a way to give some of the villager’s money without them feeling like they are taking handouts. Since we are accustomed to 15-20% that is what we have been doing here and we have been making/buying lots of friends. Breakfast was as great as the first day, both the food and service.

Bebe mentioned the weather forecast said it would be nice today and rain for Friday and Saturday. Up to this point we have had great sight seeing weather high 60s to low 70s and clear skies. I suggested we do outside stuff today and the museums tomorrow. My thought was museums would be a good rainy day activity. My idea/plan was met with an emphatic “NO!". I should have known better then to make a suggestion about what to do when I am a card carrying member of the 100% wrong club. So the plan was to visit the d’Orsay Museum (Musee d’Orsay).
This is the same Museum we tried to visit the day before but was closed. Off we went the plan was to take a taxis or subways most of the day Bebe and “The Rock” were sore from all the walking we had done the prior days.

As we left the cafe heading toward the metro station we ran into the same Frenchman that had helped us with direction the first day. He asked us where we were heading. He then explained we were heading toward the wrong metro station. He saved us again! We thanked him and introduced ourselves. His name was Tom, and is an international travel guide. He gave us the directions we needed and again we were off to the museum.

The Musée d'Orsay is on the left bank of the Seine. It holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography, and is probably best known for its extensive collection of impressionist masterpieces by popular painters such as Monet and Renoir. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986.

The museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d'Orsay, constructed for the Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans and finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle to the design of three architects: Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux. It was the terminal for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.

By 1939 the station's short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains that had come to be used for mainline services. After 1939 it was used for suburban services and part of it became a mailing center during World War II. It was then used as a set for several films, such as Kafka's The Trial adapted by Orson Welles. In 1977 the French Government decided to convert the station to a museum. Architecture (Renaud Bardon, Pierre Colboc and Jean-Paul Philippon) were the designers and the construction work was carried by Bouygues.
The work involved creating 20,000 sq. m. of new floor space on four floors. The new museum was opened by President François Mitterrand on 1 December 1986.

The museum is beautiful the center has a vaulted ceiling giving the museum a very dramatic look and personality. It was clear Bebe and Margarite enjoyed the art more then “The Rock” and I. Next on the agenda was the Louvre one of the largest collection of art works in the world.

We could walk from the d’Orsay Museum to the Louvre just half a kilometer away across the Seine. The Louvre has a large park in front filled with wonderful gardens. In this park are a couple garden cafes so we stopped for lunch. What a great setting. Our waiter was wired either on too much French coffee or something illegal, he was moving at well over 100 mph. We ordered and realized the chef must of been on the same substance because no sooner had we ordered our food we had our food, all prepared perfectly.

After lunch we continued onto the Louvre. The ladies promised “The Rock” and I if we were good they would get us ice cream later.

The Louvre Museum (French: Musée du Louvre), is the world's most visited art museum, a historic monument, and a national museum of France. It is a central landmark, located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the neighborhood of the 1st arrondissement.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre), which began as a fortress in the 12th century under Philip II; remnants of which are still visible. In the 14th century Charles V converted the building into a residence and in 1546 Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style. The 460-metre (1,509 ft) Grande Galerie, used today to display paintings, was begun by Henry IV in 1594. Under the Bourbon dynasty the building increased in size and was renovated frequently by a string of architects. The Grand Louvre Project added the Pyramid and La Pyramide Inversée, finished in 1989 and 1993 respectively.

The museum officially opened to the public on 10 August 1793, during the French Revolution; the exhibitions' core was primarily drawn from appropriated Church property and royal collections. Holdings increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon's armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was augmented through the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings grew steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, although growth slowed during the World Wars.

The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Paintings; Decorative Arts; Islamic Art; Near Eastern Antiquities; Prints and Drawings; Sculpture; and Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities. Roughly 35,000 pieces are displayed, exhibited over 60,000 square meters (650,000 sq ft). The broad collection spans from the 6th century BCE to the 19th century.

In 1983, President François Mitterrand proposed his Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building, and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid for the central courtyard that, he argued, created a "strong symbolic element ... delicate and stable, correctly proportioned so as not to overwhelm the architecture of the Louvre, but rearing its point there... “The pyramid and its underground lobby, which enclose the entrance area, were inaugurated on 15 October 1988. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), was completed in 1993.As of 2002, attendance had doubled since completion.

The entrance is very dramatic and contemporary compared to the rest of the buildings. You enter the glass pyramid which is 40 feet tall, the pyramid is in the center of a court yard surrounded by older more traditional buildings. Once inside the pyramid you descend a stair case that is three stories tall. You are now in the under ground lobby. From here you can choose what wing you of the museum you want to see.

Bebe wanted to see the Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda is a 16th century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. The work is owned by the French government and hangs in the Musée du Louvre with the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. The painting is a half-length portrait and depicts a woman whose expression is often described as enigmatic. The ambiguity of the sitter's expression, the monumentality of the half-figure composition, and the subtle modeling of forms and atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the painting's continuing fascination. Few other works of art have been subject to as much scrutiny, study, mythologizing and parody.) “The Rock” wanted to see Venus de Milo (Also known as The Aphrodite of Milos, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created some time between 130 and 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite (called Venus by the Romans), the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (6.7 ft) high. Its arms and original plinth have been lost. This contributed to the mystery of the sculpture. From an inscription that was on its plinth, it is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch; it was earlier mistakenly attributed to the master sculptor Praxiteles.) So we routed our path based on those two pieces. The interior of the Louvre is spectacular and the detail and size of the art work is unreal. Well worth the visit and we only saw maybe 10% of the museum.

Next on the list for the day was the church of St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church a friend of Margarite’s had told Margarite about this church. Services were daily at 6:00pm. Music during the service was provided by Georgiana Monks that Margarite was told she could not miss. Since it was 4:00pm we decided to walk the 4km from the Louvre to the church. “The Rock” and I were hoping we would find a gelato or ice cream shop on the way. It had been 36 hours since we had had either, withdraws were starting to kick in. Fortunately for us we found 2 shops and indulged ourselves at both.

We made it to the church thirty minutes early. The St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church of Paris sheltered one of the most famous dynasties of French musicians during more than two centuries since 1653: the Couperin family.

On the side of the church still remains the house of the famous harpsichordists, organists and composers as well as a plaque commemorating their address. The organ of Louis and François Couperin exists still today inside the Church. Built by the most famous organ builders of the time, it is a fine example of the French Baroque.

This church is one of oldest of Paris. Its existence is mentioned at this place starting from 4th century. Dedicated to Gervasius and Protasius, it was formerly the seat of the powerful brotherhood of the wine merchants it took its present appearance starting from 16th century. Its frontage would be completed much later, about 1620, testifying to a perfect control of traditional esthetics.

The square located at the foot of the staircases of the church was for a long time called "Crossroads of the Elm" since the Middle Ages a centuries-old elms grew at its centre. The inhabitants of the neighborhood would exchange money there. Several pictures of this elm still remain, in the stalls of the Church and on some nearby buildings.

The side of the church is skirted by François Miron Street, where two of the oldest medieval houses of Paris remain, at numbers 11 and 13. They date most likely from 14th century. One can see their structure of exposed wood, which was prohibited at the time due to the risk of fire.

On March 29, 1918, a German shell fell on the roof of the Church, killing a hundred people. (My Birthday not the year but the day)

The St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church was a beautiful church for a local neighborhood church. The description we got of the music sounding like Georgian Monk chants in French was not exact, it was more like a church choir. We enjoyed it but nothing real special. “The Rock” said the best part was being off his feet for an hour.

After church we decided to find a sidewalk cafe to have a drink and relax. We walked over to Ile Saint-Louis which is an island in the Seine River. In the heart of Paris and near City Island, the small Ile Saint-Louis (Saint- Louis Island) is one of the loveliest districts of Paris: nice and romantic river banks, 18th century houses, village like life. The whole island retains its 18th century outlook. Recently, the Ile Saint-Louis has become very fashionable and expensive. Look for Bertillon, the best French ice-cream maker, at 31, rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile. This always crowded shop is a nice stop a few hundreds meters away from Notre-Dame. Unfortunately since “The Rock” and I, did not behave in church the ladies forbid us from getting ice cream.

As we hung out at the café clouds blew in and a good hard rain storm formed. So we moved inside for dinner. After dinner we decided we would take a taxi home. To get to a taxi we had to walk about 10 blocks. Luckily the rain had let up at this point. Our walk took as right by Notre Dame, which at night is even more elegant and dramatic then during the day.

The pope was coming to town so there was quite a bit of activity getting the church grounds ready for his visit. It was interesting seeing all this going on at 9:00pm. The taxi ride home was uneventful except he took a very long way back to the hotel we think he was running up the meter and not lost. The fare was 12 Euros I gave him a 20 Euro bill and asked for 4 Euros back. That is a 30% tip. He handed me back some coins and we left. There are 1 and 2 Euro coins so I figured that is what he gave me. When I got to the hotel he had only given me about 75 cents. Lessoned learned count your change before you tip the taxi.

France 2008 Day 3 Arch de Triumph, Ave Des Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tower

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Had a great nights sleep need to assume the jet lag is over or walking
9 hours after a 5 mile run makes for a good nights sleep. Got up and ran some intervals 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,600 meters, 800 meters,
400 meters, with a 2 mile warm up and down. All part of my marathon training. This type of interval is called a ladder you go up 400 - 1,600 and then down 1,600 - 400.

We met for breakfast at 9:30am. The plan for the day was to take the metro to the Arch de Triumph (Arc de Triomphe) then sight see our way back to the hotel. Previously I had mentioned I felt “The Rock” had shady past, it got even more mysterious today. As we got on the subway myself, Bebe, Margarite, and behind me “The Rock”, all of a sudden as the subway doors close we hear a bang on the doors. The three of us look over, just three because “The Rock” is on the wrong side of the doors, yes “The Rock” did not make into the subway car. The bewildered look on his face as we pulled away was simply hilarious I do not think I have laughed so hard in my entire life. Though I did not know it at the time this is when I realized what a great actor “The Rock” is. Bebe was as calm as could be I would soon realize she knows a lot more then she lets on about “The Rock”. I later found out Margarite was not concerned since “The Rock” had bought the metro tickets, she figured he knew where we were heading.

I was the only one of the three of us worried, so I got off at the very next stop I figured “The Rock” would get on the next train after ours. The trains come every 5-8 minutes. So I would hop on the next train and find “The Rock” and make sure he knew where to get off. “The Rock’s” train was 6 minutes behind ours. When his train got to the station I boarded and snuck up behind and gave him a little pinch on his butt. He was having a conversation with a very attractive blonde. When they noticed me their conversation changed to the women helping “The Rock” with directions. Also a man joined in acting like the woman’s boyfriend. It was clear to me I had interrupted some type of clandestine meeting. At this point I realized why Bebe did not react to “The Rock” missing our train, she must have known about the meeting. Since “The Rock” acted like all was normal I acted the same, I did not want him to suspect I was on to him.

The couple said they were from Germany, although it was odd that they knew Paris like the back of their hand. I asked them how they knew Paris so well. Their answer was quick and sounded rehearsed. They claimed they spent an hour that morning studying the area so they would get the most out of their sight seeing. I did not buy their answer it was clear something was up.

“The Rock” and I finally met up with the ladies and they acted as if all was normal. This is when I realized Bebe was aware of “The Rock’s” rendezvous. Any other wife would have a conniption if her husband missed a subway train when he was only 18 inches behind her.

Our first stop for the day was the Arch de Triumph (Arc de Triomphe). The Arch de Triumph is a monument in Paris, which stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the Place de l'Étoile. It is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The triumphal arch honors those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought. Underneath is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

The Arc is the linchpin of the historic axis (L'Axe historique) — a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace to the outskirts of Paris. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail and set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant nationalistic messages, until World War I.

The monument stands 49.5 metres (162 ft) in height, 45 metres (148 ft) wide and 22 meters (72 ft) deep. It is the second largest triumphal arch in existence. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919, marking the end of hostilities in World War I, Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured in a newsreel.

What an incredible structure! I had not realized it is also the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tomb looks down the avenue of Champs-Élysées which is a wide avenue the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is the most prestigious avenue in Paris. With its cinemas, cafés, and luxury specialty shops, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as $1.50 million a year for 1000 square feet (92.9 square meters) of space, it remains the most expensive strip of real estate in Europe. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed in Greek mythology.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is known in France as La plus belle avenue du monde ("The most beautiful avenue in the world"). The arrival of global chain stores in recent years has slightly changed its character, and in a first effort to stem these changes, the Paris City government decided in 2007 to bar the Swedish clothing chain H&M from opening a store on the avenue. Because of the high rents, few people live on the Champs-Élysées; the upper stories tend to be occupied by offices. Rents are particularly high on the north side of the avenue, because of better exposure to sunlight. The splendid architecture of the grandiose "Champs-Élysées" is admired by many people. The avenue is located right next to the Palais de l'Élysée, the presidential palace, with its rounded gate, and the Grand Palais that was erected in the late 19th century. While walking among the gardens and tree-lined promenades one could even encounter an open-air marionette theatre for children, a French tradition popular through the ages.

Finally, the avenue is one of the most famous streets for shopping in the world. Adidas, Benetton, the Disney Store, Nike, Zara,Cartier, Bel Air Fashion, continental Europe's largest Gap and Virgin Megastore as well as Sephora occupy major spaces. Traditionally home of luxury brands, the Avenue des Champs Elysées confirms its world-class appeal as a prime real estate location: it has lately seen the opening of new big upscale shops such as the biggest Louis Vuitton department store in the world, which even hosts an exhibition room.

For anybody that is into bicycle racing this is where the Tour de France ends. At the bottom of the Champs Elysées is the Seine River. We stopped for lunch at a sidewalk cafe. After a nice lunch we walked along the river toward the Eiffel tower.

At one point on this walk I drifted several meters away from the others as I was taking some pictures. As I caught back up Margarite and Bebe blocked me from walking over to “The Rock”. “The Rock” was speaking to a man that was dressed like a college student, but was much older then a person you would expect in this style of clothes. I could not hear the conversation, but I could tell the man had a Yugoslavian accent.

When the man saw me approaching, he quickly ended the conversation and rapidly walked away. I asked “The Rock”, “What was up with that?” He made up some cock and bull story about the guy asking “The Rock” if he lost his wedding band and wanted a finder’s fee for finding it. This was crazy since “The Rock” had his wedding band on his hand. I am now convinced “The Rock” has many international ties and maybe ties to the underworld. I believe Bebe is involved, though she might not know what she is involved with. What really surprised me is Margarite might also have a role in this plot, what ever the plot might be. I shall continue to keep my eyes and ears focused on “The Rock”.

As we continued along the Seine we came upon a monument that was plastered with all kinds of pictures and mementos of Princes Diana.
The monument was a replica of the flame from the statue of liberty (Flamme De La liberte) which coincidentally sits directly over the tunnel in which Princes Diana was killed, thus the conversion to a grass roots Princes Diana monument.

We continued along the Seine passing monuments and museums until we reached the Eiffel Tower. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, what a magnificent tower built over 100 years ago the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris. More than 200,000,000 people have visited the tower since its construction in 1889, making it the most visited paid monument in the world. Including the 24 m (79 ft) antenna, the structure is 325 m (1,063 ft) high, which is equivalent to about 81 levels in a conventional building.

When the tower was completed in 1889 it was the world's tallest tower — a title it retained until 1930 when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m — 1,047 ft tall) was completed. The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France and the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse (210 m — 689 ft) (next to our hotel), although that will soon be surpassed by Tour AXA (225.11 m — 738.36 ft).

The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tons while the entire structure including non-metal components is approximately 10,000 tons. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7 in) because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6–7 cm (2–3 in) in the wind.

The first and second levels are accessible by stairways and lifts. A ticket booth at the south tower base sells tickets to access the stairs which begin at that location. At the first platform the stairs continue up from the east tower and the third level summit is only accessible by lift. From the first or second platform the stairs are open for anyone to ascend or descend regardless of whether they have purchased a lift ticket or stair ticket. The actual count of stairs includes 9 steps to the ticket booth at the base, 328 steps to the first level, 340 steps to the second level and 18 steps to the lift platform on the second level. When exiting the lift at the third level there are 15 more steps to ascend to the upper observation platform. The step count is printed periodically on the side of the stairs to give an indication of progress of ascent. The majority of the ascent allows for an unhindered view of the area directly beneath and around the tower although some short stretches of the stairway are enclosed.

Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tons of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. In order to maintain a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground, three separate colors of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the color of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-grey. On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the color to use for a future session of painting. The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower are Emile Nouguier, Maurice Koechlin and Stephen Sauvestre.

The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but those responsible at the Barcelona city hall thought it was a strange and expensive construction, which did not fit into the design of the city. After the refusal of the Consistory of Barcelona, Eiffel submitted his draft to those responsible for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where he would build his tower a year later, in 1889. The tower was inaugurated on March 31, 1889, and opened on May 6. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable staging’s, guard-rails and screens, only one man died.

The tower was met with much criticism from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. Novelist Guy de Maupassant — who claimed to hate the tower — supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where one could not see the structure. Today, the Tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.

One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to 7 stories, only a very few of the taller buildings have a clear view of the tower.

Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years, meaning it would have had to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiration of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne, and it therefore became a victory statue of that battle.

At the time the tower was built many people were shocked by its daring shape. Eiffel was criticized for the design and accused of trying to create something artistic, or inartistic according to the viewer, without regard to engineering. Eiffel and his engineers, as renowned bridge builders however, understood the importance of wind forces and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world they had to be certain it would withstand the wind.

Margarite had some issues with the height and got anxious in the elevator as it was climbing to the top well over 1,000 feet high. Up to this point I had not been that impressed with Paris compared to other European cities I had visited I could not put my finger on the reason why until at the top of the Eiffel Tower. As I looked at over Paris seeing as far as one could see it hit me. Most European cities have a vast array of architecture each building giving you a different era in European history and culture. Paris has an area with modern buildings other then that 90-95% of the architecture was the same, not very spectacular except for the churches, most building were even the same color, an off white.

We stopped at each observation deck on the way down from the second to the first we took the steps down so when we reached the first level we stopped and rewarded ourselves with a beer and rest. As it approached 6:00pm we continued our sight seeing the ladies wanted to visit a small museum it was located along the Seine to the East 3km away so we took the metro. This time “The Rock” stayed with us. When we arrived at the museum it was closed for the day. Our next stop ice cream, there was a famous French ice cream shop not too far away, or at least that is what the ladies thought. An hour later we arrived 7:15pm the shopped closed at 7:00 pm. Strike 2. We decided it was time for dinner even with the subway rides we had done a lot of walking, we were all starting to have aches and pains. Guess what, another great sidewalk café. After dinner we walked back to the hotel 2km we arrived at 9:45pm. I guess our jet lag was long gone. We retired for the night and decided to meet at 9:30am the next morning.