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The International Writers Magazine: Paris:

A Surprise in Paris
David Russell

On a business night in Paris, I chose to take associates to dinner at the famed La Coupole restaurant, which I had no way of knowing was now a nightly yuppie mob scene and so upscale I couldn’t recognize it from the La Coupole my wife and I had eaten at 30 years earlier. Now all chrome and glass, at our visit, it was certainly a lot less New Age. Former L.A. Time travel writer, Beverly Byers, had written a guide book which my wife and I used as our bible, because at the time, it was so us.

Titled: "Guide to the Small Inns and Hotels of Europe", it suggested a stay at the Scandanavia Hotel and try to book room ? (I’ve forgetten the number), but that was the room Casanova preferred when he visited Paris. Booking ahead, we succeeded in securing that very room, but blushed when we saw what we had booked. The walls and ceiling were all mirrored. All sizes and shapes of mirrors, except for two nature scene murals, which did little to mute the effect.

Our 30 years ago amazement was soon swept away by the story of Casanova and our imaginations ran riot with what was purported to had occurred in our very room. We spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening enjoying the view, followed by a refreshing slumber.When we awoke hungry as bears, it was after nine o’clock. Quickly dressing, we opted to celebrate our afternoon with Casanova’s ghost at famed La Coupole. Almost empty, we wondered why the waiter had chosen to seat us in the rear, as if our table was an add-on. At the far wall was an upright piano. I wish I could report on the meal, but it’s been long forgotten, though I recall that our shared bottle of red wine had mellowed us to the point where we splurged on a dessert. A typical chocolate mousse, but this mousse on a 1 to 10 scale, scored a perfect 10. As we mmmm’d our way through the shared, two spoons mousse, a stout gentlemen in evening clothes seated himself at the piano and competently performed a Chopin Etude. When finished, he was joined by an extremely large woman who spread sheet music the length of the music stand and leaning over the pianist to read it, belted out the "Bell Song" from the opera "Lakme". No sooner had she accepted a round of applause from the few of us there, then a young tenor rendered us Pavoratti’s favorite aria from Puccini’s Turendot.

While we nursed our remaining wine, other singers and musicians joined in. When leaving we learned this was the famed French Opera Company unwinding from their evening performance and singing for their supper. For us, a day and night that would never see its equal.

© David Russell October 2008

The Best $5.00 Meal I Ever Had In Spain
David Russell
In the middle of the tables sat a huge bubbling cauldron, positioned over burning wood logs. I learned that fire never went out. And the fish soup in the cauldron never stopped bubbling. On one wall was a chart in color with exes, he said, marked the fish he caught.

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