It was with great delight that Vanessa and I discovered only on Friday that Monday – today – is a public religious holiday in France. So Vanessa suggested that we take advantage of the extra day to the weekend by doing something a little adventurous on Sunday: To take the train to Metz to be amongst the first visitors to the new Pompidou Center in Metz.
In the end, however, the day ended up being an extraordinary adventure of a different kind, a comedy of errors and plans foiled by strange twists of fate…. Here is a timeline of our day :
10:20 AM: After quiet evening at the movies the night before in order to arise early, arrive at Gare de l’Est to buy tickets on TGV for Metz. Arrange ticket for Metz, but machine says that sales of tickets for return to Paris from Metz that night or even the next day, are suspended. Cannot buy a return ticket. Seek out ticket sales desk, but find it closed on Sunday. Try machine again but no matter what we do, no way to buy return ticket to Metz. Give up on idea of going to Metz and Pompidou Center, figuring all weekend workers have decided to go to Metz and no space left on train.
11:00 PM: Eating breakfast in nearby cafe, Vanessa discovers period has begun. Rushes across street to Franprix to buy tampons. Finds that all women who went to Metz stocked up on tampons so none left in Franprix.
2:30 PM: Eat lunch of hot dogs – four times as big as what we can stomach – and decide to spend afternoon swimming in local pool near Vanessa’s to burn off the calories. Queue of 500 people waiting outside pool, families, teenagers, little children. Look through fence to see poolside grass and pool itself overflowing with people on holiday weekend soaking up sun. Give up on idea of going to Vanessa’s pool, figuring all weekend workers who did not go to Metz decided to go to Vanessa’s pool.
3:00 PM: Having walked over to the Canal de l’Ourq near the Stalingrad Metro we decide to take tourist sightseeing boat that goes from there to Bastille. Make our way through the crowds soaking up the sun and arrive at mooring for cruise boat as boat hands and cruise captain lift anchor and untie ropes to take boat on cruise. Ask ticket person when the next boat leaves. Learn that there is only one cruise in the morning and one in the afternoon, we missed the boat – and anyway, we are told the boat had far too many passengers anyway, with some sitting on stairs to observation deck. Give up on idea of going on cruise, figuring all weekend workers who did not go to Metz and who did not go to Vanessa’s pool took the Ourcq cruise.
3:35 PM: Having strolled around the viaduct arrive at rental place for tiny electric dinghy boats for sightseeing. Decide to rent one for half an hour. Bingo! Get boat and take a little electric float around the pond.
6:30 PM: Having decided to go to sing at the Pop In open mic, we find ourselves after a short rest – to heal aching bodies from all the sun and hours of walking – too be too late for the 7 PM sign up at the Pop In. Give up on Pop In as it would not be worth going late to sign up, as figure on holiday weekend all workers who did not go to Metz and who did not go to Vanessa’s pool and who did not take the Ourcq cruise decided to go to the Pop In. Decide to go to the Styx restaurant open mic instead. A very relaxed open mic where there are hardly any performers, it seemed the best way to go out, eat a meal, sing a couple of songs – relax.
8:00 PM: Walk the 30 minutes to the Styx to discover that it is closed for the day or the weekend, exceptionally, because of the holiday weekend. Give up on the Styx as all people and employees who did not go to Metz and who did not go to Vanessa’s pool and who did not take the Ourcq cruise and who did not go to the Pop In did not go to the Styx either.
8:30 PM: Decided to drop in on Earle at the Mecano to eat dinner and talk to Earle, but Earle was not at the Mecano.
9:15 PM: Found an amazing Thai and Laotian restaurant and ate dinner.
11:30 PM: Decide to go visit friends of Vanessa at the Feline bar in Menilmontant. Arrive to discover that only a bartender and two clients are at the Feline. None of Vanessa’s friends are present. Give up on idea of the Feline because all workers who usually go to the Feline were on the cruise, or in Metz or at Vanessa’s pool or wherever Earle was or wherever the Styx people were – gone.
Midnight: Decide to go and smoke chichas at a chicha bar on Oberkampf in order to forget our day of moving and missed targets.
Final note: This morning woke up to finally have time to finish reading yesterday’s Journal du Dimanche and discovered that there was a bug in the French train system computer over the weekend and that maybe we could have taken that train back from Metz after all, and for free as did so many others of the holiday weekend revelers in France….