In July 2007, I flew from Chicago to Paris to visit my girlfriend Margot, who was studying French there over the summer. Together we then flew to Freiburg, Germany to see some of my old friends and favorite places, and then back to Paris to see some of hers.
Here are some pictures that I took on that trip. As always, click on any image to see a larger more detailed version.
Our story begins in Chicago. On the day I was due to leave, I was running late...
My new camera had arrived the day of my departure. Hurriedly I tore open the box, threw in some batteries, and took a test shot as Kathy waited patiently outside to drive me to the airport. I chose as my subject a geranium I had bought for Margot, which was living at my house while she was in France.
I don't know what I would have done if the camera hadn't worked, but it did, although clicking to view the large version of the picture will reveal how I had not yet mastered the auto-focus, something which wouldn't happen until my trip was almost over.
Finally, all was ready. I locked the apartment and ran downstairs.
And only a dozen or so hours later I was in Paris with Margot. Thank you Kathy for being so patient and not driving off without me!
The first order of business was to make a passport-sized photo of my face so I could use a public transportation card that Margot had procured for me. In one of the subway stations we found a machine that would make a print from my camera's memory card, so we used it to print this picture, as well as one of the geranium, since Margot wouldn't have the real thing for a few more weeks.
Something had gone wrong with my transportation card and we needed to buy a new one, but everything was closed. We wandered around for a long time looking for someone who could be helpful in any way, but eventually we gave up and just jumped a couple of turnstiles. Sorry, Paris!
It was getting late and we had to find something to eat. We wound up at this place "Le Chien Qui Fume", near Notre Dame (as I recall). Margot did most of the talking, overcoming her natural shyness.
If you try to travel to Europe from the States, almost every single flight will leave in the evening and fly overnight across the Atlantic. If you're like me and can't sleep on airplanes, you will be exhausted when you arrive and it will be around 7:00 in the morning. The next few days will be a living hell of jet-lag readjustment.
But if you try very hard you can find a flight leaving the U.S. early in the morning. Now when you arrive you're still exhausted, but it's almost time for bed. You can spend all your time enjoying yourself abroad instead of wandering in a sleepless daze.
I couldn't find any direct morning flights from Chicago to Paris. But I did find one from New York, so I flew there first and spent the night before leaving the next morning for Paris. It worked like a charm and I don't know why more people don't do it this way.
Anyway, I was a little tired at Le Chien Qui Fume, but everything was delicious.
Margot had to go to class that afternoon (a Thursday) so I wandered around a little bit by myself. I liked the way these wooden steps looked, and was getting ready to test my camera's zooming abilities on the guy sitting down way in the background on the top step, when the batteries died. I had bought some rechargable batteries and assumed that they would come with a full charge, mais non! N'etait pas vrais! So now I had to figure out how to buy AA batteries in France. But my pee-wee league French was up to the task, and soon I was back in action.
New batteries installed, I wandered into the "Jardin des Plantes
". Near the entrance was this fire-breathing dragon with a skin made out of aluminum foil and old aluminum cans.
A close-up of the Dragon's claw reveals what he's made of.
A shaded boulevard in the Jardin des Plantes. Had I been a fraction of a second quicker I could have gotten the shot before a couple to my right pushed their lousy baby carriage into it.
Interesting branch structures in the Jardin.
More branches. Again I feel that these aren't quite in focus.
A young Parisienne in the Jardin. Or actually I don't think she was. I seem to remember her parents speaking to her in English.
I do like these tree-lined perspective shots. No baby carriage this time.
One of my better ostrich pictures. I photographed him from the outside of a bestiary that I was not allowed access to. I poked my head around the corner of the entrance only to have a smarmy Frenchman waggle his finger at me in the contemptuous manner for which his people are justly famous.
My wanderings took me to the "Place St. Michel" and its famous fountain
A close-up of the statue...
...and the plaque, which reads "Under the reign of Napoleon III, emperor of France, this monument was erected by the city of Paris in the year 1860."
Margie and I weren't in Paris very long. Her schoolwork done, we went back to her residence to pick up our things, and left for the airport. One very short flight later we landed at the airport in Mulhouse, where my old friend Andreas picked us up. That same evening we were already sightseeing in my old hometown of Freiburg. Here's a shot from below of the iconic Münster cathedral
. The temporary skirt at the base of the steeple masks the construction going on above, which will continue for several more years.
Margie and I in front of the Münster.
The super-zoom powers of my camera allowed this close-up of one of the figures adorning the outside of the cathedral.
Here you can see how far away from the figure I actually was.
One of the humorously designed rain spouts along the roof of the Cathedral. Andreas told us that this one points toward the meeting house of a guild that did not contribute any money for the Cathedral's construction.
Another rain spout.
The next morning Andreas (pictured left) rode the cable car with Margot and me up to the top of the Schauinsland, a famous lookout and sightseeing destination for native Freiburgers and tourists alike. It was very misty that day and occasionally raining a bit - hence the pink umbrella.
Andreas was just getting over a bout with the flu and was still feeling a little worn out, so he stayed below while Margot and I scampered to the top of a lookout tower at the top of the Schauinsland.
Some cows as seen from the top of the lookout tower. These seem to be in focus!
Me in front of what would normally be a spectacular countryside panorama. The mist not only blocked our view, but made things quite chilly at the top of the tower. We were still having a blast, however.
Margie with a little bit more of a view behind her.
Up on the Schauinsland is one of my favorite spots.
We hiked around a good bit on the Schauinsland and enjoyed a delicious lunch at a restaurant there. We rode the cable car down again and on our way back to the car found some more photogenic cows.
A German tries to interest a cow in some grass. I don't know why the cow would be interested in eating grass from this man's hand when there's already grass growing all over the place, and there's not much for a cow to do all day except eat it. He would have been better off offering the cow some jelly beans or something.
Another very nice cow.
And one more, caught munching.
Back from the Schauinsland, Andreas dropped off Margot and me and went home to take a nap while I showed her some of my favorite places. Here she is atop the Schlossberg, an old fortress built on a hill that overlooks the town. When I lived in Freiburg I used to love coming up here to enjoy the view and also the nearby beer garden. I must get Margot drinking more beer!
On our return trip we came around the back side of the Münster.
Along the top of a door frame near the cathedral was this chalk inscription, which is seen often over doors in Germany and I think other European countries. The numbers on the left and right combine to make the current year, and they surround the letters "C", "M", and "B", which stand for the three wise men "Caspar", "Melchiorre", and "Balthazar". I can't remember why people write this over their doorways, however.
That evening at 8:00 we were able to attend a concert of the troubled Freiburg Russian choir that had given rise to my own Russian choir in Chicago. I was able to surprise Petra, the director, with some complaints about how we couldn't hear her in the back. Then she invited me on stage to join them for a song, "Sidel Vanya", which luckily was one of the few remaining that is both known to me and still in the choir's repertoire. Margot managed to get this picture of me singing with the group, though in the back row I'm half hidden by an alto.
There's some story missing here. After this concert, we went to a party in the outskirts of Freiburg at the house of my friend Willy, who sang in the choir with me when I lived here in 1996. The party was for the other half of the tragically splintered Freiburg group, which underwent its own personal Great Schism in 2005 due to a critical mass of personal strife, hurt feelings, and inflexiblity. Hence the small size of the choir singing in this picture and the even smaller size of the splinter choir. Incredibly, I forgot to take any pictures at the party, although Margot and I both had a very good time. We took care not to mention that we had been to this concert, however.
At the end of the party, around midnight, we got a ride back into town from an older gent whose name I forget at the moment. He dropped us off in front of a bookstore where the final volume of the Harry Potter books had just gone on sale. Margie and I waited in line with excited readers of all ages to buy a copy (yes, in English - the German translation wouldn't be available until October). Reading Harry Potter was to be my primary occupation while Margot was back in school in France.
The next morning (Saturday), we ate a delicious breakfast with Andreas and Ina, who always have breakfast meats, juice, coffee, jam, and fresh bread (they were unfamiliar with the concept of the Pop-Tart and immediately made fun of me when I explained it to them). Afterwards we visited the weekly outdoor market in the Münsterplatz. I wanted especially to buy some of the local fancy honey on sale here. Here are some delicious Brombeeren (boysenberries)
Another local fruit seller.
Fresh baked bread is the norm here. No wonder Andreas and Ina made fun of my Pop-Tarts!
The Saturday market.
I love this combination of the long skinny sausage in a ridiculously ill-fitting bun. Definitely one of the silliest foods I know.
I was trying to bend the silly sausage into a smiley face, but found that I needed three hands.
Today we would actually go inside the Münster, but here's another nice shot from below.
My camera's powers of super-zoom allowed me to get in close on this detail of a hanged, disemboweled Judas Iscariot.
The complete frieze from which the above detail was taken, diretly over the main entrance to the Münster.
My only shot from inside the cathedral. Along with the auto-focus, I hadn't figured out how to adjust for dimmer light levels. You can just make out the form of a boot in the stained glass window, a reminder that the boot guild sponsored the building of this window when it was constructed.
I don't know why, but I really wanted this shot of Margie standing next to these flowers. It seemed to take forever as we waited for a moment when nobody else was passing in between us.
A fountain in Freiburg near some local vinyards located in the city only a short walk from the Münsterplatz.
Margie and I in the vinyard.
I asked Andreas for a portrait orientation.
Some very lovely vinyard grapes.
Later that day, Andreas and Ina drove us to the Tuniberg, a hill in a little wine-growing region in Breisgau that is popular with hikers, bikers, and people like us who just come to enjoy the view.
Here's one of me and my girl.
Andreas and Ina, four months pregnant in this picture.
Andreas and Ina
A view out over the vinyards
The vintners plant different sorts of flowers at the end of each row that act as a sort of plant early warning system. If unhealthy changes take place in the temperature, soil, or anything else that can affect the health of the vines, the sign will be noted first in the more sensitive flowers, so that countermeasures can be taken.
The same flowers in better focus
The four of us then drove to one of my all-time favorite places, the Eugen-Keidel-Bad
I didn't even know about this place when I lived here. I only came here in 2005 when I came to Germany to go on tour with our Siberian friends. During their stay here, the Germans took them to this place, which they called a Schwimmbad, or swimming pool. At the time, I was not so excited about it, since I'm not a big fan of swimming pools, although the sauna sounded nice. Ach! How foolish I was! But at least I had enough sense to go try it out...
As an American, when I think of an indoor swimming pool I think of a big echoey tiled room lit by flourescent lights and smelling unpleasantly of chlorine. The pool itself is a rectangle with floating ropes that mark off lanes, and there are probably some diving boards and some kids, and some middle-aged people with swimming caps lumbering slowly in and out.
I should have guessed from their clear superiority in bread, cheese, and beer that the Germans would do it better.
If you click here
you can see a plan of the whole facility. This is not the YMCA! The tan sections on the left side of the plan are the sauna, which has steamy rooms and dry rooms of all different temperatures. You sweat out your toxins in the 140 degree Turkish bath, and when you can't take anymore, you sprint (carefully!) to reset in the cold outdoor pool. If you want you can get a drink at the bar and relax in some lounge chairs, but Margie and I were more interested in the swimming pool area.
The blue parts on the right side of the plan are the swimming pools. Some are inside and some are outside. Some are cold, or cool, or warm, or hot. Some have currents that pull you around in circles. You can take a position at some of the jet massagers around the wall of the pool, position yourself under a hot or cold cascade, or pick up some floaty tube things (there's one in the background of the previous picture) and just hang out with your girlfriend.
Like I said, I've never really been crazy about swimming, but I would come here as often as I could if I lived in Freiburg again. Well, it's more fun if you have someone to go with. The first time I came here was on a January evening, which was really fantastic because even though the outside air is very cold, they keep the pools terrifically warm. The result of this is that huge plumes of steam are constantly billowing up from the surface of the warm outside pools, and swimming around in the fog is an amazing, otherworldly experience.
It's really part water-park, part swimming pool.
Margie and I in some of the interconnected pools. Andreas took these pictures of us, by the way. Then he put the camera in a locker so he could go swimming himself.
We finally towelled off and went home. The next day, Margie's last in Freiburg, we got up early for some more adventures before Margie had to go back to Paris. Here she is looking up at me from the ground floor of Andreas' apartment building, fabulously located right in the center of the city.
A statue of Aristotle outside one of the entrances to the Freiburg University, where I was enrolled for a semester in 1996.
Part 1 of a series in which this child climbs onto Aristotle's lap. By the way, the inscription on the side says "all men by their nature desire to know."
This time, Margot and I ascended the Münster tower as high as they would let us go, although this wasn't to the very top because of the construction.
The shadows cast down below
Margot in the bell tower. I took this a mere fraction of a second before the huge bell behind her started ringing thunderously. If only I had waited just a tiny bit longer!
Back at the bottom again.
Andreas rejoined us for one last hike up past the Schlossberg and into the black forest beyond. This sculpture commemorates the Schlossberg's history as a fortification, however.
Someone actually carved this smurf into the historic stone.
Margie and Andreas in the forest.
This observation tower is new since I lived here.
A view from the tower. The tower has a little mini tower on the tip-top that's only big enough for two people, and Margot and I had waited for what seemed like forever for this one guy and his girlfriend to clear off. Eventually we lost our patience and climbed up the stairs anyway, crowding in uncomfortably close behind them. Finally they decided to go down again and let us take some pictures.
The view from the observation tower in one of those panorama shots that never links together as smoothly as you would like.
Me with Andreas. I think this is the only shot from the whole trip of just the two of us together.
As we hiked up into the forest, we came to this hidden lookout.
A weird leaf-eating mushroom on the side of a tree.
There was one last classic type of traditional German food that I wanted Margot to try before she left, and that is, erm, Turkish food.
It was important for Margie to try a Dönerkebap before she left. The real ones are very greasy and delicious, but sadly I let Andreas talk me into going to a really high-quality Döner establishment. The food was very good - too good actually! It didn't taste like the real thing to me. Well, there's another reason to go back. At least Margie wouldn't be hungry on the flight to Paris.
The unstoppable dream team of tourism. After lunch, Andreas kindly drove Margie back to the airport at Mulhouse, where she caught her flight to Paris. Our adventures would continue there the following weekend, once Margot had gotten through the intervening days of school. In the meantime I stayed in Freiburg to visit my friend Renata and to read Harry Potter.
They were doing repair work on the streetcar line that runs right outside Andreas' apartment. The work was noisy, but with the windows closed it wasn't bad at all.
A workman sends sparks flying
My favorite shot of the work on the line.
Margie flew back to Paris and I spent the next several days at leisure in Freiburg. I met with Renata for lunch, I think, but spent most of my time reading Harry Potter. After a day or two of straight reading, however, the isolation started to get to me, and when Ina said that her job (she is a television reporter) was sending her on assignment to cover a traveling circus that had set up camp about an hour outside Freiburg, I asked if I could go along for the ride, and she said that I could!
So here are Ina and her camera crew at the entrance to the "Busch Roland
The big top.
After some greetings and coffee, the circus folk introduced us to the animals.
I don't think this puppy dog was part of any of the acts, but he was very cute. Click here
to watch the puppy introducing himself to me.
We spent a lot of time with the llamas.
We took the llamas out for a stroll in front of the cameras. Click here
for some of my own action-packed footage.
A boy and his llama. This little kid was actually kind of a dickhead. I was observing while he played a game with two little girls - let's call them girl #1 and girl #2 - who were also children of the circus workers. In the game each child would pick an animal, although they wouldn't tell the others what animal they had picked. Then they would try to get the other children to guess by telling them attributes of their animal. So, for example, "my animal has long ears," might be a clue for a rabbit.
They were supposed to take turns, only this little dude got impatient and totally took another turn when it was supposed to be girl #1's turn, then lied about how it was his turn, and refused to speak to her. Girl #1 ran off crying while this kid sat like a pasha on his patio chair and let girl #2 run messages back and forth between himself and girl #1, since he refused to address her directly.
I told him in German, "you know, a real man speaks for himself if he has something to say," but he didn't give a s**t. His life must have seemed pretty sweet to him at that moment.
The pigeon coop.
A man and his vulture. The man, the kid's dad, seemed nicer than his son, and so did his vulture.
Face time for the vulture on German television.
A very nice cockatoo. But again, the focus was defeating me!
Ina was more than a little nervous about the Irish wolfhound. He was big, but he wasn't going to hurt anyone.
A nearly in-focus picture of a lovely blue parrot, shot between the links of his cage by squeezing right up next to it.
I really wanted a shot of him spreading his wings, but I couldn't get him to face me at the same time.
This is the head man of the circus, and he was only around 25! He works very long hours every day and doesn't really get a vacation, but it's nice that he doesn't have to wear a suit.
A Russian acrobat warming up. Click here
to see her in action.
Cramped quarters in the big cats' cage.
A nice shot of the tiger. I didn't want to get up close to his cage like I did with the parrot.
Never have geese walking around been so exciting. Actually, they're not very exciting here either, but click here
for a short movie.
Everybody agreed that this lady and her poodle were the best, and certainly most bizarre, part of the show. Click here
to see some of their zany antics.
A Russian acrobat. The ensemble was a real mix of nationalities. Just the languages I heard being spoken were German, Russian, French, Italian, and English.
This was probably my one chance to stand in the middle of a circus performance ring, so I took it.
The next day I got together with my old friend Renata, now a mommy, for dinner. I won't relate her entire heartbreaking story here, but will say only that the child's father is no longer in the picture.
Renata's son Sven-Lars, a nice boy with a tendency to run out into traffic.
Andreas and Ina joined us for dinner. Here they're trying to imitate my water-dripping noise.
As we walked down the street, Sven ran out ahead of us and boarded a street car. Luckily I ran after him and was able to pull him off before the car pulled away. I took this picture after returning him to his mom, but he still seems to be thinking about that ride he didn't get to take.
Dusk over Freiburg, just after I put Renata and Sven on their train back home.
A last meal in Freiburg with Renata, in my favorite beer garten on the Schlossberg. The Bockwurst looked so good I just had to take a picture.
My friend Renata, who is one of the smartest people I know, and who refuses to pose for pictures.
Sven clowning with his mother's umbrella.
A nice one of the boy.
Having spent the week alternately reading Harry Potter and hanging out with my friends while trying to avoid hearing some snatch of conversation on the street that would spoil the ending for me, I flew back to Paris to spend the weekend there with Margie. She got all dolled up to meet me at the airport.
Some examples of the neo-classical façades of Baron Haussmann
, a French urban planner who leveled the old city of Paris to give it a whole new look in the 1850s under Napoleon III.
As we ate dinner on our first night together in Paris, Margot looked at her watch and told me I should walk up the street to the Place de la Concorde
and turn left and then look over to my right for something exciting. She couldn't come with me because she had to stay and keep our table. Also I had to hurry or I would miss it.
Margot had thought I would immediately know what I was looking for, but I had no idea. I got to the Place de la Concorde all right, and started looking around, but didn't see anything really obviously exciting. I wandered for what seemed like several minutes but finally, through the trees, noticed the Eiffel Tower
all lit up, which they apparently do for about five minutes at the top of the hour every night. It looked great! But this was the best picture I could take of it; at least, I didn't know how to make my camera do better. I hiked up and into a part to try for a less obscured view, but soon the tower went dark again.
I was gone much longer that Margot expected, and by the time I got back to the restaurant she had run off to look for me, fearing that I was wandering alone and linguistically challenged in a strange city (she left our bags in the care of our waitress). When she eventaully came back and found me safe and sound, she was much relieved.
The next day we were to visit the Palace of Versailles
. On the way to the train, however, I was very excited to discover a place selling orange Calippo, a delicious frozen treat I had not enjoyed since I lived in Spain. It was just as good as I remembered.
To see a picture of a dancing, partying Calippo, click here
Margie outside the entrance to Versailles. She was surprised and disappointed that a large portion of the buildings were under construction (tarps are visible over her shoulder) as there had been no construction going on when she was here with her family only a couple of weeks earlier.
The chapel royal, for the private use of the royals. As Margot pointed out, it's easy to see why the lifestyle of the nobility rankled with the general populace.
My camera really came through here - a very nice close up of a detail of a tapestry showing Napoleon crowning Josephine.
Margie and I took a break to eat some sandwiches on the steps outside the palace. She didn't understand why I kept pointing my camera at her while she was eating.
Eating the sandwich became increasingly difficult.
Finally she agreed to look up.
Of course, we had to shoot "The Play" at this famous historical site. Margie decided to take on Hymnoo Koo, while I slipped easily into my old role of Joseph Thomas. Act I: "Ta Maman"
Act II: J'accuse!
Act III: Les jeux sont faits
Act IV: Pardon, Signeur
Act V: fin
One of the main attractions of Versailles is of course the gardens. As you can see, the day was somewhat overcast, but at least it wasn't raining, which was a stroke of luck since Margot said that her France experience had been pretty much one never-ending downpour since the day she arrived.
So after we finished lunch we got in line to rent a little golf cart to drive around the very extensive gardens with. The line, although short, was moving very slowly however, and at first it looked like we would not reach the front of it before they closed at 3:00. There were only so many carts available, so we had to wait for one to come back before the line would advance.
However, as we were waiting, something happened ahead of us. Two Spanish teenagers, who were first in line, had run into trouble because neither of them was old enough to legally rent the cart. However, there were only two of them, so the cart manager asked the others in line if there was another, slightly older, party of two who wouldn't mind sharing the cart with them. And so it transpired that we were able to jump the line to join the Spaniards, and all four of us were able to ride the golf cart. Some French who had been in line in front of us were upset, but to hell with them! We were off before they could lodge a formal complaint.
Here you can see the windshield strut of our little cart.
Our little cart rocketed along at what must have been well over 7 miles per hour, and brought us soon to one of the gardens' most distant points, the Grand Trianon
Margie in the courtyard of the Grand Trianon.
The two of us in front of the Grand Canal.
Here we are with our two new Spanish friends. The boy's name was Peter, and was the English version of the name (i.e., it was actually "Peter" and not "Pedro") and the girl had a strange Catalaunian name that Margot and I remembered for a while, but then forgot. She was very cute, but had wicked crooked teeth. They both smoked constantly.
Me in the courtyard of the Grand Trianon.
We raced back to the palace, driving the cart for all she was worth to make it back within our 45 minute time allotment; on the way we passed the Bassin d'Apollon (the fountain of Apollo).
...and the Bassin de Cérès.
Then our trip to Versailles was over, and we took the train back into Paris.
One of Paris' most famous landmarks, the cathedral of Notre Dame
Margot told me an interesting story about the main circular window, visible here, which I'll have to ask her to remind me about so I can update this caption.
A weird piece of art that seemed to me could only be presented in France with a straight face. The label reads "the solitary one".
Wandering down the street, we found two lovely kittehs outside the restaurant "casa pepe", on guard no doubt.
prosh kitteh #1...
...and #2. They had lowered their defenses, and we could have entered the cafe easily, but we moved on.
My other favorite shot from the trip, a reflection from a large dusty sheet of mirrored glass that was leaning against the side of a building.
Only in Paris could you have a shop that sells only mustard. I was of course thrilled and spent a long time working out which varieties I wanted to bring home. Luckily, Margot offered to bring them back to Chicago for me, because later at the Paris airport they confiscated my German honey, and they would have taken my mustard too if they could have gotten their hands on it.
Eventually, in Chicago, the mustard made several successful appearances at porch barbeques at my apartment.
You too can shop for Maille mustard without going to France by clicking here
. The more exotic varieties are only available in Paris, however.
and a close-up of the frieze on top. Again, my camera's zooming abilities showed their worth here, as the frieze is about 70 feet in the air.
We visited the Basilica de Sacré Coeur
on my last day. The street hawkers were more agressive here than I've ever found anywhere. One African guy came right up to me and actually put his hand on my chest, which I considered way out of line. "Ne touchez pas, s'il vous plait!" I reacted instinctively and slapped his hand away, at which point he started cursing me and I wondered if things might get ugly. I probably shouted at him more than discretion would have suggested, but Margot looked at me imploringly to leave him alone and follow her, so I did.
A shot over the city from the Sacré Coeur. It took forever to get this shot while this family of fat Russians debated on whether they should go up or down the steps. In the meantime I kept my eyes open for the crazy African hawker, in case his sense of personal honor was going to compel him to jump me, but apparently he had other things to do.
I realize that I have no concept of how hard life must be for a guy selling crummy necklaces to conceited foreign tourists, but I really think uninvitedly touching his prospective customers is not in his best interests. Even Margot was shocked, saying she had never even seen that in Paris before.
Anyway, the fat Russians finally moved on, and we got the picture.
We weren't supposed to take pictures inside the basilica, but I snuck this one because Margot said that the stained glass window of which this panel is a part so reminded her of one in her high school back home that she wanted to know if it was the same artist. I don't know if she ever found out.
A very cool trompe l'oeil
on Ave. George V that we passed on our way to dinner. The tarps with the paintings on them are meant to distortedly reflect a real building across the street.
here.'>A close-up of the trompe l'oeil. There are some more very good pictures of this (not taken by me) here
Of course my last meal had to include a crème brûlée.
A full moon over Paris on our last night together.
When I returned to my apartment in Chicago, Margie's flower had grown a whole second stalk, and thus ended my trip to Germany and France. We both had a great time together and it feels good to know that whatever else happens, we'll always have Paris.