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devil duck

Paris on the Fourth of July

c. 23€ lunch, c. 31€ dinner

We returned to the Louvre to see some halls that had been closed on Monday.  After at least half an hour of "I can see it, but I can't get there from here" through the labyrinthine corridors, stairwells, escalators, and elevators of the Louvre, we found an employee who explained that most of the halls we wanted to see were closed again (although they'd been open the day before).  However, we saw Mona Lisa, a bunch of Renaissance Spanish paintings, a bunch of other medieval and Renaissance Italian paintins and the Winged Victory.  After lunch, we sat down in the gardens in front of the Louvre to release the frustration and watch old Frenchmen playing baci.

A perennial problem over the past few days has been the inability to use ATM's to get cash: they keep saying "Non autoriseé" otr "Your bank has not authorized this transaction."  So I wanted to call the Credit Union to straighten out the problem.  I had an 18-year-old memory that the phone system and the mail were run by the same quasigovernmental monopoly, so we started looking for a post office.  shalmestere was extremely tired and frustrated, however, between the Louvre, a minor altercation with a fromager this morning, and our general difficulty making ourselves understood.  When we found a post office, there were long lines and no obvious sign of pay phones, so we returned to the hotal.  On the way, I asked a travel agent in bad French how to make a phone call to the U.S.; she replied in bad English that I would have to go to the post office.  So, while shalmestere recuperated in the hotel room, I returned to the post office, explained "Je voudrais appellez aux Etats-Unis," and had somebody behind the counter trying to sell me stamps before pantomime cleared matters up and he sold me a phone card instead.

After half an hour or so of trial and error, I reached what I thought was the MCU's phone number, and heard the familiar three tones and the English message "The number you have reached is no longer in service."  So I tried calling New York directory assistance and couldn't get through.  So I called my mother, told her voicemail we were alive, asked her to call New York directory assistance.  Back at the hotel, shalmestere pointed out that our ATM cards have a phone number on them, so I traipsed back out to the pay phone, called the number, and discovered what I should have realized long before -- the bank was closed for July 4.  But no matter: I knew how to call them, with onlly 36 keystrokes.  I called my mother back, told her to ignore the previous message (which she hadn't heard), and returned to the hotel.
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