Saturday, January 22, 2011

Be Prepared: It's Not Just for Boy Scouts

Let's say you were planning to take a trip to some place you'd never been before. And just for example (because it is my favorite example) let's say you were going to The City of Lights, Gay Paris! One of the first things I'd tell you is not to forget to call your credit card and ATM companies to inform them you will be in Paris from "X" date until "Y" date because otherwise when you go to make your first ATM withdrawal right there with the Eiffel Tower in view, the message on the ATM will be, "Girl, we're going to have to shut you down." Then you'll be in a fix. No baguettes, Louvre, or chocolate eclairs for you so you may as well have just stayed home. Be prepared.

You'll also want to read as much about your travel destination as possible, watch movies that have been filmed there, and google, google, google until you've reached the end of the internet. It would be a shame to get all the way over there, find yourself at the Louvre standing in front of Gericault's "The Raft of the Medusa" and not have any idea what in the world it is. Trust me. (Talk about art and social commentary. This painting wrote the book. Read The Wreck of the Medusa by Jonathan Miles)

Or you'd really be missing a great story if you walked up on this children's playground at the Lycee Charlemagne and didn't know that the wall that these little tappers are bouncing the ball against is actually the largest visible preserved portion of Philippe Auguste's city wall from 1190-1209. I can't believe they let them shoot baskets against this wall.

Paris has always suffered with problems down at the city water works. But if I were busy building Notre Dame Cathedral, planning a revolution, or testing cake recipes for Marie Antoinette, I guess I'd not be thinking about such things either. If you read ahead though and then walk up on this, you'll immediately recognize it as one of Paris' 60 or so Wallace Fountains provided by English francophile Richard Wallace who after the Franco Prussian war was distressed with the lack of fresh drinking water for Parisians. Each fountain had a little metal cup that hung on a hook. So much for the germ-free aspect of this noble idea.

You might just want to know about these Wallace fountains so that when you're walking along the river in New Orleans, LA right here in the USA and you come up on this you'll already know by George, that's a Wallace fountain!
P.S. The New Orleans fountain is right next to the giant statue of Joan of Arc that looks exactly like the one in the Place des Pyramides in Paris. But then you already know that because you're well prepared. Tres bien!

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