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ITALY97 #1 Concorde to Paris
INTRODUCTION: These Diarios were originally written as simple notes of our trip that I made in my new Palm PDA calendar which I bought in June of 1996. They were not very extensive in the beginning. I also wrote a few short emails with a photo or two to our kids and family. These became more extensive on subsequent trips and later included many more photos. After problems with AOL during the Iberia trip in 2001, Vince Daukis distributed them for me in the US. After doing this for Scandinavia and France, in 2005, he helped me set up this website, and since then I must have completely forgotten about working on this first Italy trip. I discovered why. There were no digital photos!
Starting out now and looking back from 15 years later, there is no resemblance to what I am doing now. I have decided to create this one as best I can. I had to dig out the old paper photos and get their negatives scanned to digital. I also wanted to get photo clips from the video tape I had taken with the SONY camcorder. A problem arose when I tried to find chargers or cords to get them to work. That took over six weeks to solve. I was doing primarily video in 1997 and very little photography. Marcia took most of the SLR camera photos.
Any new notes based on present day will be in this font. KJH October 2012
[All photos with a black border are those taken from elsewhere, the rest are our photos.]
AIR FRANCE CONCORDE: NY to PARIS
I gave up flying airplanes and started taking Amtrak trains in November 1974 and fell in love with American train travel. I stayed in the US and raised my three children instead of traveling the world. I was waiting for our youngest child to leave home and then planned to see Europe with Marcia like few Americans have ever seen it. To get there, I needed to fly, so I chose the shortest flight there is - the Concorde.
This trip was 25 years in the making. After our Honeymoon, I knew that I wanted to explore Europe but did not want to do it the usual American way of "If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium." I wanted to see ALL of Europe but did not want to make hundreds of flights across the Atlantic to do so. My thinking was that it would be better to spend more time and concentrate on one country at a time thus becoming saturated in one language and one culture. Having grown up with Italian-Americans in Troy, NY, I knew Italy would be the first place to try this out. I originally planned to do it every summer but Marcia objected to being gone for so long every year so we compromised to do it every other year. Not that she loved being gone from home for three months, but she did it for me.
I really hated being crammed into an airplane but I knew I would have to to get over there. I have been on cruises and have learned that I don't like sitting on a ship eating all day long. I don't get what I paid for eating one meal a day as I do. My other pet peeve is that I hate being in a tour group following someone around holding up a flag and listening to fellow travelers ask inane questions while I stand in the hot sun. On our Honeymoon in 1970, we just winged it; we rented a Toyota and just drove wherever we wanted and things turned out wonderful, and that was traveling in Communist countries during the Cold War.
When our daughter Kristin (our youngest) went off to college, I knew it was getting time to think about this trip. I always found my very busy practice, research and teaching a good excuse to keep putting it off. Then one day in 1996, I saw an ad in an eye journal for a meeting of the Society of European Ophthalmology (SOE) coming up in Budapest, Hungary the week of May 30, 1997. What timing. This would be on our 27th wedding anniversary and we had promised each other in Budapest, that if we remained married for 25 years, we would return there. I hung the ad on my home office wall and it kept staring back at me every day. I was really dreading the 12 hour flight from LA to Rome, when I met a commercial airline pilot in our Red Lion Pub in Carmel who recommended I think about the Concorde which would be a much shorter flight. Do I want to be 60,000 ft in the air? Long story short, we booked the Air France SST from NYC to Paris roundtrip and it wasn't cheap. Thus I would take Amtrak to NYC and Marcia would fly there (she gave up taking the train.)
The timing was perfect. We were told not to got to Italy in August because everything is closed and all the Italians are on vacation for the whole month. Therefore the three months would have to be May, June and July. I also had to attend and give some talks at the ASCRS Meeting in Boston being held the last week of April. The timing was perfect.
It took a lot of preparation for this first trip in trying to figure how much stuff we each needed to take with us. As I have since learned, I packed more clothes than I really needed. So did Marcia. I also bought electric and telephone line converters for the countries we would be in. Marcia and I took Italian lessons and I then spent three months studying every day, every Italian lesson book I could find. I learned a lot of words.
For transportation, we had been recommended by Gianni Paoletti (see about him at ) to purchase a new BMW from their European Delivery Program which would be far better than taking buses, trains, cabs or renting manual transmission cars there. We went to Center BMW in the Valley and ordered a white BMW 320i (the smallest model.) We would have to go to Munich, Germany to pick up our new car but when the trip is over, we can drop it off in any major city in Europe and it will be shipped to Center BMW by the Harms Shipping Agency. The price of the car is paid in advance of travel and includes the registration in Germany, three months of 100%-coverage German insurance and the shipping. Also, since the car is kept out of the State of California for more than 90 days, we pay no CA sales tax (a big savings.) This is really a deal and though we have to pay for gasoline and tolls, we won't have to rent a car with manual transmission and we can come and go as we please. We really thank Gianni for this fabulous recommendation.
I didn't want to carry a lot of cash with us so I opened a bank account with the Italian bank, Credito Italiano, [In 1998 the bank was taken over by the UniCredit Group] so that we could withdraw cash from local branches as we traveled throughout the country. On our 1970 Honeymoon, Marcia carried all our cash in her bra. That was OK for two weeks but wasn't going to work for three months. We had to officially open the account personally and had a choice doing it in Milano or Venezia, so I chose Milano because it seemed closer to Munich (where we get the car.) That was incorrect but it turned out to be fortuitous (see below.) We also both got an international driver's permit at our local AAA office, something we highly recommend.
April 17 to May 3, 1997
April 17-20, 1997
[Since I have extensively reported on the Amtrak train trip from Los Angeles to Boston on several of the later trips, I have made this train trip rather short.]
Thursday, April 17, 1997
I did my run earlier in the day. Marcia drove me to downtown LA to the Amtrak Union Station and the redcap loaded my bags onto the Southwest Chief, Train #4. I got a Deluxe bedroom #A in car #431. I didn't wait long and at 8:30 PM, we departed Los Angeles. I ate dinner in the dining car, worked with my computer and went to bed. Below are stock photos of the Southwest Chief.
Friday, April 18, 1997
I enjoyed a very pleasant sleep while we trained through California, Arizona and then New Mexico. It always makes a long stop in Albuquerque for refueling and restocking supplies. We arrived at 3 PM and I did my usual run along the train and the station and a little into the downtown area. Back on the train, I got my computer out and worked on my talks for the eye meeting I would be attending in Boston. I had a pretty good dinner of a baked half chicken with baked potato and vegetables. I then worked on the computer in the lounge car until the wee hours and went back to my room to sleep.
Saturday, April 19, 1997
I don't know what got into me but I decided to get up really early and I did my run in the Kansas City station at 7:30 AM. At 10:00 AM Marcia's United flight took off from LAX. At 3:15 I arrived in Chicago. I had a cappuccino in the station while waiting for the next train. At 6:00, Phil, my Chicago redcap took me and my bags onto the Lake Shore Limited, Train #48. I was given Deluxe bedroom #A in Car #4810.
At 6:15 PM, Marcia arrived at JFK Airport in NYC and took a cab to Manhattan and checked into the Gramercy Park Hotel [21st & Lexington Ave, +1-212-475-4320.] The hotel is fully described in the UK 1999 Diario #1 . Click to view it. It was a semi-shabby hotel when we stayed there.
[Gramercy Park hotel was bought and went through a huge renovation and room rates are through the roof now (August 2012.)]
I got settled in and again I was on the computer as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and New York rolled by. In the evening I enjoyed a nice dinner of a NY steak with a baked potato and vegetables. I went to bed late as usual.
Sunday, April 20, 1997
I asked the car attendant to wake me earlier so that I could get my run in at the Albany, NY station. It stays here awhile so they can break the train into two parts; one goes to Boston, the other to NYC. At 10:00 AM I did my run in the station alongside the train. I'm not far from Troy, where I grew up.
We took off on time and I worked and relaxed as we rolled alongside the Hudson River south to our arrival at Penn Station in Manhattan at 1:25 PM. I got my bags off the train, took the elevators to the street, caught a taxi and got to the Gramercy Park Hotel to join Marcia. I obviously missed Mass today but it couldn't be helped. At 8:00 PM we went for dinner but have no memory of where.
April 21-30, 1997
Monday, April 21, 1997
As I mentioned above, our daughter Kristin had gone off to college at NY University (NYU) at the Tisch School of Arts. We were in NYC so that we could see her. I did my run around Gramercy Park (see .)
Kristin came and met us at the hotel and we went together to dinner at 8:00 PM at Paolucci's Restaurant (right) [149 Mulberry St, +1-212-925-2288] in Little Italy. We enjoyed a good Italian-American dinner and went back to the hotel by cab.
[The building was subsequently purchased and they moved the famous restaurant to Staten Island. Mr. Paolucci later died and the restaurant was closed. This piece of Little Italy history is now gone forever.]
Tuesday, April 22, 1997
We spent the day wandering around. We explored Union Square and browsed through the gigantic Barnes and Noble store they have there. I did my run in Union Square. At 8:00 we had dinner somewhere in the neighborhood. After we returned, we got ourselves packed up for tomorrow's trip to Boston.
Wednesday, April 23, 1997
I got up early so I could catch the 12:50 Amtrak train to Boston. Marcia would later take a taxi to the airport to fly to Maine and visit her mother. I loaded all my bags into a cab to Penn Station [7th Ave & 32nd St.] The redcap helped me with my bags onto the coach car. There are no bedrooms on this leg of the trip. I relaxed in my Business Class coach seat for the three hour trip and arrived in Boston South Station at 4:10 PM. I caught a cab and checked into the Sheraton Boston [39 Dalton St., +1-617-236-2000] at 4:30. I got unpacked for the six day stay to attend the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) meeting.
The hotel is located in the Back Bay and conveniently next door to the Hynes Convention Center where our meeting will be held. Below are stock photos of the hotel.
At 8:00 I went alone to dinner at a nearby place called the Skipjack [199 Clarendon St., +1-617-536-3500] (above right) at the corner of Clarendon and St. James St. I had lobster, etc but it really was No Good. I doubt I would go back and try it again.
[ Perhaps they have improved over the last 15 years.]
Thursday, April 24, 1997
The reason I had to come to Boston earlier than usual for this meeting is that I had been invited to be a Film Festival judge by my colleague, Dr. Spencer Thornton. Eye surgeons submit films (videos) on all aspects of cataract and lens implant (IOL) surgery and there is a panel of judges that select the best in each of several categories. The night of the awards is a gala tuxedo affair where real "Oscars" are handed out. ASCRS obtained permission from the Academy of Motion Pictures to use the Oscar image (right.) It is a grueling task to spend two full days sitting and watching all these videos and deciding on which is best.
I awoke early and walked to the Hynes Convention Center nearby and found the film judging room at 8:00 AM. I spent the whole day except for a short break for everyone to have lunch (except me) and then at 5 PM a two hour break for dinner. I used that time to do my run. At 7:00 we started the evening judging session and finished at about 8:30.
This was just about my dinner time so at 9:00 I went for dinner at Legal Seafood alone. I had a beautiful lobster dinner and then I went back and to bed.
Friday, April 25, 1997
I again had to wake up and get to the judging at 8:00 AM and did so all day. At 1:00 Vince and Lisa (technicians in my office) arrived in Boston to man our EyeLab booth at the meeting where we sell the Hoffer Programs calculators and computer software for surgeons to calculate accurate IOL power for their patients. I was free at 6:00 PM and went and did my run.
Now here is the story that changed our lives.
I was eagerly wanting to be a US FDA investigator (surgeon) so I could implant the first posterior chamber IOLs to correct nearsightedness in the US. By performing the first radial keratotomy (RK) in the Western US (4th surgeon in the US) in 1979, I helped usher in the era of corneal refractive surgery but later decided that these lenses were a better alternative. I had called John Wolff, the President of Staar Surgical (the company that had licensed Fyodorov's idea) because they were starting the implantation study in the US. Staar made all the lenses I have been implanting for many years and I was a prominent loyal "customer." Also, I had known John Wolff since he was a rep for me for another company many years earlier. His response to my request to be an investigator was an absolute "NO." I didn't ask why and said good-bye. I was very disappointed.
Later that year at the fall American Academy meeting, I was giving my usual two hour IOL power course and mentioned that someday we will need to calculate power for these "implantable contact lenses." A technician raised her hand and told me they were implanting them in Cincinnati. I asked her to see me at the end of the course and she told me that her name was Diane Hatsis and that her boss was Dr. George Rozakis. He had applied for and received FDA approval to begin the surgical implantation of a different similar lens from a company called International Vision, Inc. (IVI) located in Cincinnati. As it turns out her brother Alex was an eye surgeon in NYC and he was implanting them also - he had implanted the very first one in the US on June 26, 1996.
I can't express how excited I was learning this news. When I got back home, I called Dr. Rozakis and we talked for quite some time. I had remembered meeting him years earlier discussing IOL power. He knew who I was and told me there might be a chance to become an investigator. He told me there was a meeting being planned at the upcoming ASCRS meeting in Boston and that he would definitely notify me later of the specific time and place. HE NEVER DID! And I forgot all about it.
It was getting late and I decided to get a beer at the counter in the hotel restaurant. At 10:00 PM, a large heavyset guy came rushing in rolling his bags and plopped right down in the seat next to me taking up half my space. He wanted to order dinner at this late hour and they accommodated him. He was crowding me a little which was annoying. I looked over at him several times and then suddenly recognized him. It was George Rozakis! I immediately introduced myself and asked what happened with the meeting he was going to call me about. He told me it was being held tomorrow night and in what room. He had no explanation as to why he never notified me but I was invited to come. After he ate, he invited me to his room to look over the slides he was going to present at the meeting. I finally excused myself at 1:00 AM and went to my room and to bed.
[This one coincidental incident had the most profound effect on our future lives.]
Saturday, April 26, 1997
I got up late but had to be ready to give a lecture so I worked on getting my slides ready. I walked to the Convention Center at 2:00 PM for Session 1-H and at 2:52 gave my lecture entitled "Welch Profile Injector" for 7 minutes. Dr. David Welch, of Florida, had come up with a new way to cut the plastic injector tip for the Staar lens implant so that it would fit through a smaller incision. I was excited about it and was trying to get Staar to supply them like that and gave this lecture everywhere I could.
[It worked because Staar ultimately did make them and supplied them to surgeons.]
I then headed to the 5:00 PM Mass at the church they have in the convention center, knowing I would be too busy to attend on Sunday. After Mass I went excitedly straight to the meeting of the IVI company in the Alcott Room at the Park Plaza Hotel (right) [50 Park Plaza, +1-617-426-2000.] The company was mainly looking for investors and I had just learned about it from the accidental encounter with Rozakis. I really wanted to use this lens they were making.
As I walked in, there was a greeting line for introductions and I was introduced to this gentleman I was told was Dr. Dimitrii Dementiev (left, with Tania who was not there.) They said he lived in Italy, so from my recent lessons in Italian, I said "Como stai? Dove abito in Italia?" ["Hello, how are you? Where in Italy do you live?"] He had just met Dr. Hatsis who went to medical school in Italy and he had said the same thing to him. Dimitrii looked at me perplexed and asked if everyone in the US spoke Italian. He then told me he lived in Milano. I said "Fantastic, my wife and I will be going to Milano very shortly on our trip to travel all over Italy. We have to open our Italian bank account there." He responded by giving me his mobile phone number to call him when I get there. Later I was told he was the person who brought the ICL from Moscow to Italy and was implanting them there with great success for over ten years. He also helped develop it while at Fyodorov's Moscow Eye Institute and was very involved with the new IVI company. I was determined to see him in Milano and learn as much as I could from him. I also hoped to see some surgery and long-term patients.
[Little did either of us or our wives know what a momentous day this was for all four of us.]
I left after the meeting presentations and the pitches for investing and at 7:00 I went to the Hynes Center for the ASCRS for the Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall. I left there and got back to the room and changed and by 8:30 I was doing my run. At 9:30 I went for dinner at Legal Seafood again and of course had a beautiful big lobster. By 11:00, I was back in my room working on my slides for tomorrow and then to bed.
Sunday, April 27, 1997
I had to get up at 6:30 AM and then get over to the meeting rooms at 8:00 to give a lecture and be part of a UCLA Course headed up by my colleague, Dr. Kevin Miller. It ended at 10:00 and at 10:30 I had to then give my own course on IOL power calculation and talk for two hours straight. After that I went to the Exhibit Hall for awhile and at 2:00 went to listen to the talks in the IOL Power Lecture for 30 minutes. Marcia had arrived from Maine in the afternoon. I went back to the room, did my run and at 6:00 Marcia and I caught a cab to go to an invited party at the Harvard Faculty Club Party (20 Quincy St., Cambridge) and we had a good time. Back to the room I was working on slides until I fell asleep.
Monday, April 28, 1997
I got up early again so I could attend the 7:30 AM session on ICL Lectures. At 2:00 I had to be a Co-Moderator with my Houston friend, Dr. Jack Holladay, for a lecture session. At 2:52 I gave my 7 minute lecture entitled "The Holladay/Hoffer Databases." When the session was over I sat and started editing my Diarios. I went back to the room and then did my run. I had to get dressed into my tuxedo to attend at 6:00, as a film judge, the ASCRS Film Festival in the Sheraton Grand Ballroom.
After that was over, at 10:30 we went to dinner with Marcia's brother Charlie and Cathy and Vince and Lisa at a Hungarian restaurant called Cafe Budapest in the basement of the Copley Square Hotel [90 Exeter St.] We had a wonderful dinner of Hungarian food. My Hungarian grandmother was a great chef and taught me how to enjoy and Marcia how to cook Hungarian food.
ASIDE: When we were there, the restaurant was run by Livia Hedwig ("Hedda") Rev-Kury, a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor who became a physician Pathologist and escaped Communist Hungary during the 1957 Revolution. She emigrated to Boston and took over the restaurant as a promise to her sister Edith who founded the restaurant and died in 1988. The place ultimately closed in 2000 and on March 31, 2003, her and her pathologist husband George were both found dead in there home, victims of a murder-suicide. To read the whole gripping story in Boston Magazine click on the link. What a shame.
Tuesday, April 29, 1997
I got up pretty late on this day. I guess all this meeting has worn me out a little. I went and did my run and then walked over to the convention center and attended part of the meeting. Then at 7:30 PM we attended the ASCRS "Bravo Broadway" party at the Westin Copley Place (right) [10 Huntington Ave, +1-817-333-5105]. There we met Michael McGuire who will be singing at Lisa and Vince's wedding at our house when we get home. Then at 9:30 we went for dinner with Jack and Sharon Holladay and Lisa and Vince at Legal Seafood. We went back to the hotel and to bed.
Wednesday, April 30, 1997
This was our final night in Boston so at 9 PM we took Lisa and Vince out to dinner at Nicole's in the North End. It was a very nice place and we had a fun time. We then got back to the hotel and prepared ourselves for leaving for NYC tomorrow and then to bed.
[ I can't find Nicole's on the internet, so it may no longer exist.]
May 1-3, 1997
Thursday, May 1, 1997
We had to get up very early, pack up, check out of the hotel and take a taxi to the Amtrak Back Bay station. The train departed at 9:00 AM and we arrived in Penn Station in NYC at 1:25 PM. We caught a cab and at 2:00 we checked back into the Gramercy Park Hotel. I did my run in Gramercy Park (see UK 1999 for the story of this truly unique park.)
At 9:15 PM, Kristin picked us up and walked us to Union Square. She took us to her favorite restaurant near here called Chat 'n Chew [10 East 16th St, +1-212-243-1616.] We enjoyed dinner there and being with Kristin. (See more about the place at .)
Friday, May 2, 1997
I woke up late and did my run again around Gramercy Park. After changing, I went back out and did some shopping in Union Square. At 6:00 PM, I bought some TDK DV tapes for my video camera at Altik on 18th St. I will need plenty of them since my main recording of our Italy trip will be using my SONY camcorder to videotape it all.
At 8:30 we had dinner with Kristin in Little Italy at Joey's Paesano [136 Mulberry St., +1-212-965-1188] .
[Today, it is called Paesano's of Mulberry Street and the reviews of the place are horrible (frozen pizza as "oven baked.")]
Since we were flying tomorrow, at 11:30 PM I called Lisa and Vince, my son Kevin, my brother Gary, and my old friend Jim Pulaski. We then went back to the hotel and to bed because tomorrow is the big day of our first flight on a Concorde.
Saturday, May 3, 1997
Marcia woke me at 4:00 AM so we could get packed and check out of the hotel by 5:30 AM. Boy, that was rough. At 6:00 we caught a cab to JFK Airport and arrived there at 7:00 AM to catch the 8:00 flight. I wanted to sleep on the flight so I took a Xanax before I got on the plane (recommended by a colleague.) We got on the Air France Flight #1 and sat in seats 9C and D. All seats on this plane are called First Class. Since I love this airplane, I want to show some interesting stock photos of Air France Concordes.
Here are examples of the flexion of the nose of the plane during takeoff.
Above right is the ceremonial flight of four Air France Concordes in formation. Below are some stock photos of the inside of an Air France Concorde.
As you can see First Class is not so first class because of the size of the plane. But I was asleep so it didn't bother me.
We arrived at JFK and went straight to the Air France First Class Lounge.
They had an array of free eats and drinks which Marcia partook of. I wasn't very interested. They announced our flight and we made the long walk to the plane.
[As you can see I hadn't yet started to wear a suit and a tie on my plane trips; I was dressed a little casually.]
We were both excited getting on this amazing plane we had only heard about.
It really was just a tiny tube with not a lot of room.
The steward was impeccably dressed.
I woke half way through the flight and they were offering menus of what they would be serving (below.)
Below you can see the steward serving Marcia and the other gentleman carrying a tray to the passengers.
He was selling various items such as little models of the Concorde (which if I had realized, I would have bought one,) cigarette lighters, key chains, perfume, etc (below.)
I got up to use the restroom and with the big mirror there I took a self-portrait.
It's hard to believe I am traveling this fast and standing still. They have a monitor at the front (below) which records our speed, not in mph or Kph, but in Mach, which is the speed of sound; 768 mph (1,236 Kph.) We were now at Mach 2 which is 1,536 mph or 1 mile per 3 seconds. Unbelievable!
From this high you can see the curvature of the earth. We are way above all the cloud layers at 60,000 ft (18,288 m.) I tried several times (below) to record it but it was difficult through the double-paned glass.
I fell back to sleep again and woke up about 20 minutes before landing. At 5:45 PM (CET) we landed in Paris at the Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Airport. The whole flight was only three hours and twenty-five minutes long. I was really happy to be on the ground again after not having flown in 23 years and excited with this very thrilling experience of being almost in outer space at 60,000 feet up and at a speed of MACH 2. As I was walking toward the front exit, I could see the pilots in their seats. The stewardess, seeing my video camera, asked if I wanted to video the cockpit.
I jumped at the chance and walked into the cockpit and up to the pilots and told them "Merci beaucoup!" for a wonderful flight. They invited me into the cockpit to take some video. They were very nice (above.) Below is a stock photo of the cockpit.
[Can you imagine this happening after 9/11?]
We climbed off the plane by way of the gangplank (below) and as I walked along the inside corridor I got these shots of the plane. The first one is the shot we got with the camera.
The rest below were taken from the video tape.
Here is a little about the airport, which is also known as Roissy Airport. It is France's largest airport and is located 16 miles (25 Km) to the northeast of Paris (CDG on map of Île-de-France; City of Paris is 75.) Below left is their logo.
Below is an aerial view of the whole airport.
Below is an aerial view of just Terminal 1 (circle above) which was built in an avant-garde design of a ten floor-high circular building surrounded by seven satellite buildings, each with six gates. You get from the terminal to the outside buildings by underground walkways.
Here is the check-in area in Terminal 2 and the board listing arrivals.
[Terminal 2E had been inaugurated in 2003 after some delays in construction and was designed by Paul Andreu (who also designed Terminal 1.) It was a daring design with wide open spaces and was CDG's newest addition. On May 23, 2004, not long after its inauguration, a portion of Terminal 2E's ceiling collapsed near Gate E50, killing four people (two were Chinese; another a Czech.) Three others were injured. Andreu also designed Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, which collapsed while under construction in September 2004. Is there such a thing as architect malpractice? Terminal 2E reopened completely on March 30, 2008.
In November 2005, a decision was issued, relating specifically to Charles de Gaulle airport. It prohibits photographs being taken for private use of anything moving (e.g. aircraft) or not moving (e.g. buildings) within the "zone reservée," the restricted area.]
We waited for and collected our luggage (below left) and then went through passport control without a problem and had our passports stamped (below right.)
Below is Marcia just outside the terminal as we tried to figure the best way into the city. We looked at the travel options and decided to catch the more economical (than a cab) Air France shuttle bus (below right) to the central city. We could have gotten the train but didn't know how to do it.
It was a smooth ride into town and it dropped us off right at the taxi stand near the Arc d'Triomphe.
From here we took a short cab to our hotel. At 6:00 we checked into the Le Parc Hotel Paris [55-57 Avenue Raymond Poincare, +33-87-066-2570.] We will be staying here for three nights at a cost of 1670 French Francs ($289) per night. We allowed ourselves to go a little overboard on this our first time in Paris. From the maps below you can see we are ideally located between the Arc d'Triomphe (which is the circle at the junction of Avenue Foch and Avenue Victor Hugo) and the Eiffel Tower at the end of Raymond Poincare, across the Seine river.
These stock photos show the exterior entrance to the hotel.
The lobby was very plush and the room was also, if not a little on the small side.
[This Le Parc hotel has changed hands many times over the past 15 years including being run by Sofitel (our Accor Hotel chain.) Today it is called the Marriott Renaissance Paris Le Parc Trocadero Hotel. It was completely renovated in 2011 and the room rates reflect that today.]
When I got to the front desk, I immediately called my colleague, Dr. Danièle Aron-Rosa (right) and told her we had arrived. She told me she would be there to pick us up in less than an hour. I certainly did not have time to do my run so I decided to put it off until later which meant I would be running after eating a full dinner - yeouch!
ASIDE: Dr. Aron-Rosa (click link above) is a Parisian ophthalmologist who invented the YAG laser for cutting the cloudy posterior capsule membrane that forms behind the lens implant after cataract surgery. This allowed us to do this in the office instead of requiring a surgical procedure in the OR. It was a major breakthrough in eye surgery. She performed the first YAG posterior capsulotomy in January 1979. Because the laser could also put pits in the lens implant, the Hoffer Ridge lens became extremely popular throughout the 1980s and early 90s. Obviously, I am very grateful for her inventiveness.]
We hadn't really got all our bags from the front of the hotel when Danièle and her husband, Jean Jacques Aronhe (Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology) (above left) pulled right up on the sidewalk and to the front door to get us. We quickly stashed the bags in the lobby and got into their car. It was a nice little drive to the outskirts of the city to Versailles and their La Boulie Golf Club [Route du Pont Colbert, Versailles, +33-13-950-5941, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
At 7:30 they treated us to our very first meal in a beautiful place. After dinner, they drove us back to our hotel. How could we ever forget this experience and this wonderful hospitality?
Here are some stock photos of the club including this old one.
Now, with a stomach full of food and wine, I had to change and by 9:30 I was on my run down Avenue Raymond-Poincare (above right.) It was still light at this hour. At the end of the street is an area called Trocadero with a large traffic circle and many surrounding cafes with outside seating as well as a cemetery. I ran through it and then between the opening in this huge monument called the Palais de Challiot (below,) down a huge set of stairs and cross the busy Avenue New York.
Above right is the view of the Palais Challiot from under the Eiffel Tower. Below are the stairs I had to run down. It was a little precarious.
Here is my path over and back from the hotel.
The original Trocadero Palace (below) was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1878 by the architect Gabriel Davioud and was also there for the 1889 Universal Exhibition. It survived until 1937, when they tore it down and built the current Palais de Chaillot (named for Chaillot Hill that it was built on) for the Exposition Internationale des Arts and Techniques in 1937.
Here is a view of it from the Eiffel Tower (left) and a photo of the immense theater inside (right.)
Here are stock photos of the statues I ran by.
Below are stock views of the large fountain system I ran past heading to the Seine.
[An architectural museum (below) called Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine was opened in the Palais in 2007.]
After crossing the Seine River, I arrived on the Champ de Mars (park, below left) and there was the Eiffel Tower in front of me.
The tower is 986 ft (301 m) tall. As I ran directly under the tower, I must admit, as I looked up from below the tower (above right) for the very first time, I jumped up and down and yelled out "I made it! I made it! I made it!" It was really a thrill for me, even on a full stomach.
I continued the fast walking back to the hotel but wound up going by the de Passy Cemetery (map above) [2 rue du Commandant Schlœsing] (below left) and saw the beautiful statue of Ben Franklin (right,) which I was surprised to see until I remembered how much time he had spent in Paris. Édouard Manet (1832–83,) the famous painter, is one of the many French notables buried here (below right.)
He ushered in the era of Impressionism and was very controversial early on. Below are some of his most memorable works; "Olympia" (left) and "Lunch on the Grass" (right.)
When I was finished with my run, at 10:30, I stopped and had my first European cappuccino at Cafè du Trocadéro (below) [8 Place du Trocadero, +33-15-626-0713.]
I sat at the outdoor patio seating area as it got darker.
The inside (below right) is very nice and I think they serve decent food.
I discovered that the name comes from the Battle of Trocadéro, fought on August 31, 1823, which was the only significant battle in Napoleon's French invasion of Spain when they defeated the Spanish liberal forces and restored the absolute rule of King Ferdinand VII (left, by Goya.) The fort at Trocadéro (gray square, right,) protected the Spanish city of Cadiz in the south of Spain. When Ferdinand was finally released from the prison in the fort, he promised amnesty to all his enemies but in the following years, an estimated 30,000 liberal rebels were executed and 20,000 imprisoned. Nice guy. And he's handsome too.
There are several other cafes I could have chosen here. There is the L'Ancien Trocadéro (left) [2 Place du Trocadéro, +33-89-969-0621,] the Café Kleber (center) [4 Place du Trocadéro, +33-14-727-8665] and the Café Le Malakoff (right) [6 Place du Trocadéro, +33-14-553-7527.]
I relaxed and watched the Parisians walking by and just sucked in the atmosphere of being in France and the "City of Lights" for the very first time. I think I'm going to like this place.
[A little aside, which I often like to do. The Cafe Trocadero in Hollywood was a famous place in the heyday of the Hollywood era of the 30s and 40s. It was named after this place in Paris I was having a cappuccino at. It was opened in 1934 by W.R. Wilkerson (left) (1890-1962,) the founding Editor (in 1930) of the The Hollywood Reporter and the "Man who invented Las Vegas" by building the Flamingo Hotel with Luciano gangster, Bugsy Siegel who ultimately scared him and caused him to hide out in Paris for several months. This led to his love for all things French. He also was the first to publish the Hollywood Blacklist of communists in the Screen Writers Guild and Hollywood Reporter. This link is a fascinating read of a balanced story about what really happened. Wilkerson also invented the "velvet rope line" outside nightclubs. Before he came to Los Angeles, in 1929, He invested all his money ($45,000) exactly 45 minutes before the stock market crashed and left the brokerage house penniless. That is $606,260 in 2012 dollars. His life story is quite amazing. The book is available at Amazon.
Below is what the club looked like when it was opened. Jean Harlow is sitting next to Edith, Wilkerson's wife.
It was THE place to go for Hollywood actors and movie people. In 1937, after midnight, in the Trocadero parking lot, the famous Oscar winning actor (for "The Champ",) Wallace Beery (below left,) along with two others, beat to death Ted Healy (below center) who was the manager of the Three Stooges since Vaudeville days (below right.) the next day MGM sent Beery to Europe for four months (documented) and trumped up a cover story that four college students had attacked Healy. No one was ever convicted.
The Trocadero was rebuilt and looked like it does below in the 1940s.
The "two others" who killed Healy were noted mob boss, "Lucky" Luciano (below left,) gangster Pat DiCicco (who was married to heiress Gloria Vanderbilt at age 17) (below right at wedding) and his cousin, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. Sound familiar?
It should; Albert Broccoli (below left) was the guy (along with Saltzman) who produced all the James Bond movies. After 50 years (10/5/62) his descendents still own the franchise.
Above right, L-R: Ian Fleming, Saltzman, Broccoli
You might wonder about the name Broccoli. Interestingly, his ancestors in Italy are said to have invented the vegetable by merging cauliflower with kale. This has been judged a highly dubious claim by most experts. I didn't know the vegetable was that young.
As for the Trocadero, it was taken over by Bugsy Siegel and didn't succeed. Later it changed hands and closed. The new Trocadero was moved to 8610 Sunset Blvd (below.) Marcia and I went in there by chance in February 2012 because it is nearby the famous hotel, Chateau Marmont (where Jim Belushi died) [8221 Sunset Blvd, +1-323-656-1010] where I took her for a three day Valentine's Day.]
You can't make this stuff up.
I leisurely walked the three blocks back to our hotel and got a very sound sleep. We are not touring France, but we decided to see a few famous things during our short stay here.
[As an aside, a little on the fateful first-time ever Concorde Crash which occurred on July 25, 2000; three years and four months later. Below left is a photo of the Concorde in flames as it was taking off from De Gaulle Airport. It was carrying a German tour group. Everyone perished.
After that day, all Concordes were grounded and a later investigation revealed that the plane struck some debris left on the runway (below right) by a previous plane that took off earlier. The debris ripped up the tire and those fragments tore open the fuel tank which then caught fire. They worked on plans to protect the undercarriage (right,) but ultimately both the English and the French decided to end the era of the Concordes in 2001.]
[Today is my birthday and I am now in my last year of being in my 60s. I wonder what the 70s have in store for me?]
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #2
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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