I had wanted to put on my tefillin at the Eiffel Tower and take a “telfie,” but my wife nixed that idea and she was right. I take telfies at the beach, at triathlon starting lines and even on Alcatraz Island. So, I woke up early on our second day in Paris, walked onto the rooftop patio of our hotel and took my telfie there. I had been warned not to wear my kippah in public in Paris. I have traveled across the U.S. and never encountered anything but curiosity from non-Jews … but this was not the U.S., so I wore a baseball cap in Paris. I must admit that as I said my prayers, I kept one eye out. I kept picturing the Gestapo from the Indiana Jones movies pulling up in a 1940s Mercedes. Magically, once I packed away my prayer stuff, the fear was gone. After breakfast, we met the tour bus under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. It is almost impossible to not see the tower from every street corner in Paris. The tour bus took 30 minutes to reach the Palace of Versailles. Converted from a château to a palace in the late 1600s, this had functioned as the seat of government for Kings Louis the 14th, 15th and 16th. This was the site of the famous “Let them eat cake” comment that Marie Antoinette never said. The rumor is that when she heard that people were starving due to a bread shortage, Marie Antionette said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” Brioche is not bread and the source of the quote is Rousseau’s 1765 book of philosophy, but I kept thinking of the Mel Brooks movie “History of the World Part 1.”
(The peasants are revolting!)
I had some reservations when I booked this tour. Would my 10 and 16 year old sons be excited to look at the home of a beheaded, dead French monarch?
My 16 year old who had professed to his father, the social studies teacher, that he “has no interest in history,” filmed everything as we followed our guide from room to room.
My 10 year old had me film his impressions of visiting ”a real palace” for his buddy Noam who was back home in the U.S.A.
It’s funny to listen to a 10 year old give over their impressions because the response at this age can be truncated and “matter of fact” or they can be “encyclopedic” and unending in their assessment.
(You got the “encyclopedic” didn’t you?)
No, I’m the only one in this family who doesn’t know how not to be didactic when responding to a simple question.
(You didn’t run through the palace to do a workout … did you?)
No, there were way too many people.
I did a one and a half mile run through the palace gardens. I was hoping for a 5k run but my wife called me to say that I had better hurry, or I would have a much longer run if I was late because the tour bus would leave me behind.
(Hey, it was only a 13.1 mile run back to your hotel. That’s a half marathon.)
With the tour over, it was back to Paris and then back to London by train in less than 48 hours after we first departed.
Once back in London we passed the streets of James and Bond on our way to Reuben’s Deli. Kosher food in England tastes different, we all noticed that. There’s less sugar and more vinegar.
(Fish ‘n chips?)
Maybe next time.
Metaphorically speaking because...
(You are never doing this again?)
Anyway...after dinner I decided to take a walk with my 16 year old, Eric.
We were staying near the Paddington Cemetery, so why not locate the headstone of the Paddington Bear author Michael Bond?
(I don’t see this ending very well for either of you.)
This is a gated cemetery, surrounded by English homes, some old, some modern apartments.
There was a warning sign as you entered the cemetery:
“Cemetery closes at 7:30 p.m. Gates will be locked promptly at 8 p.m.”
It was 7:45 p.m.and there were other people in the cemetery. I guess they don’t really enforce the rule.
(They did, didn’t they?)
With sunset in England at 9:40 p.m., we kinda lost track of time and…
(You got locked in?)
We got locked in.
(Did you panic?)
No, as a teen I used to climb fences and walls all the time. I was sure that we could “scale(d) these city walls.”
(Nice U2 song reference, but how did you get out?)
Each section of fence was crowned with pointy metal spires and each section of concrete wall had been topped with shards of broken glass.
(So, there was no way you were going to climb out?)
Not unless I wanted to get cut to ribbons or impaled. With my phone battery dying it looked like we were going to spend the night in Paddington Cemetery.
David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.
By David Roher
He can be reached at [email protected]