Sunday, August 30, 2015

Paris-Amsterdam Day 9 - Promenade Plantee, Cat Cafe, and Pompidou Center

Day 9 - Promenade Plantee, Cat Cafe, and Pompidou Center
(Continued from Day 8)

Our next-to-last day started at a hip breakfast place called Lockwood.  They open early for breakfast, and stay open late for dinner and drinks and music.  

I started the day with pancakes, which immediately put me into a sugar coma.

Next we were off to the big department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, but we realized that there was no need to go shopping in Paris when we have the same shopping grandeur right here in New York.  So we didn't stay long.  Galleries Lafayette had cool lights outside.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 8, Part II

Paris - Day 8, pt 2
(Continued from here

This morning, we spent the day in a suburb of Paris, looking at the graves of beloved pets in the Cemetery of Dog and Other Domestic Animals.  This afternoon, we explored the opposite of suburbia.  We checked out le petit Manhattan.  In other words, La Défense.

Although Paris keeps its historic center sky-scraper free, this district affords tourists the view of Paris most don't usually see: that of a modern-day economic superpower.  La Defense was first conceived more than 60 years ago as a district that would accommodate the business needs of the modern world.  Today, it is a thriving commercial and shopping center, home to 150,000 employees and 55,000 residents.

The centerpiece of the area is the huge La Grande Arche de la Fraternité.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris - Day 8, Part 1 - The Cimitière des Chiens (or, I DO Wanna Be Buried in a Pet Sematary)

Day 8, Part 1 - The Cimitière des Chiens (or, I DO Wanna Be Buried in a Pet Sematary)
(Continued from Day 7.  Day 1 starts here.)

Our eighth day in Paris started with a long train ride to the Northwest of Paris, to a suburb called Asnière-sur-Seine, for what turned out to be the highlight of the trip.

Paris is well known for her celebrated cemeteries, most notably the Père Lachaise, which is home to the graves of such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison.  On my recent trip to Paris, I had another cemetery in my sights – the Cimitière des Chiens, the world’s oldest public pet cemetery.

The cemetery has a rich history.  In the 19th century, although animal welfare had been steadily improving in Paris, the options for what to do with the remains of a deceased pet were still crude and limited.  More often than not, the remains were tossed out with the household garbage, when they were not dumped into the Seine or in the moats around the fortified city walls.  However, on June 21st, 1898, the Paris city government declared that dead pets could no longer be discarded in the trash or dumped in the river.  Deceased pets had to be buried in hygienic graves that were located, at minimum, 100 meters from the nearest dwelling and in such a way that “the body will be covered with a layer of earth to be at least a meter thick”. 

At that time, the suburb of Asnière-sur-Siene, in the northwest of Paris, was a Sunday destination reserved for Parisians in search of greenery and distractions.  This stretch of the Siene happened to face L’Ile des Ravageurs (the Island of Destruction), a small island occupied only by rag merchants who gathered old fabric, metal and other abandoned objects for retail.  Attorney Georges Harmois and journalist Marguerite Durand sought to profit from the new law authorizing the internment of deceased animals by conceiving, on May 2, 1899, the “Anonymous French Society of the Cemetery for Dogs and other Domestic Animals”.   On June 15, 1899, the society purchased from the Baron of Bosmolet half of L’Ile des Ravageurs, which met the requirement of being at least 100 meters from the nearest dwelling. The first zoological necropolis of its kind, the cemetery was officially opened to the public at the end of the summer of 1899.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 7 - The Marais, Saint Germaine des Pres, and the Museum of the History of Medicine

Day 7 - The Marais, Saint Germaine des Pres, and the Museum of the History of Medicine
(Continued from Day 6)

Le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine is one of my favorite finds in all of my time in France. I'd never even heard of it 'til an American friend posted a link to it on my blog, asking me if I'd been there. I sure hadn't, and I made plans to go right away! I've always been a huge fan of medical museums and sought them out in all my travels (my favorites so far being the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum in Berlin), and I'm pleased to report that le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine did not disappoint! It's a relatively small but absolutely fascinating museum if you're into creepy medical stuff. The place only takes about 45 minutes or an hour to see, and it's delightfully weird.

The Musée is full of things like scary old medical instruments, creepy medical models, strange prosthetic limbs, and more. One of the strangest and coolest items, which you'd totally miss if you're not looking for it, is a small circular table right by the staircase to go up to the second floor. At a glance, the little table doesn't seem too noteworthy, but take a closer look. It's got an intricate design under the glass top, which is made entirely of human body parts, with a real human foot as the centerpiece. Seriously:
- See more at:

Today started out nicely, with breakfast at Frenchie to Go, a well-known place not far from our hotel. Their main restaurant, Frenchie, is next door.  Reservations can be tricky to get.

Frenchie-to-Go's signature dish is their bacon breakfast sandwich.  Reviews make it sound like it's the most amazing thing ever.  Good, but overrated.

After breakfast we tackled the first item on our busy itinerary: explore the Marais.  When the Ile de la Cite became overcrowded in the 17th century, it was here, the Marais, where the wealthy Parisians moved.
Over the years, it became the center of the city's Jewish community, although today the gay and lesbian community have adopted the area.   In this nabe, you find hip boutiques, busy cafes, trendy art galleries, narrow streets, leafy squares, Jewish bakeries, aristocratic chateaux, and real Parisians.

Our walk starts at Place de la Bastille.  This is where the famous Bastille fortress stood. Though virtually nothing remains (you can just make out a faint cobblestone outline of the Bastille's round turrets traced in the pavement where Rue St. Antoine hits the square), it was on this spot where history turned.  On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille and released its seven prisoners.  This dramatic triumph of citizens over royalty ignited all of France and inspired the Revolution.  Over the next few months, the Parisians demolished the stone prison brick by brick.

The fortress is gone, but the spot remains a sacred spot for freedom lovers ever since.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Reader Question: A Gastrointestinal Cat Query. Is it Feline Colitis; a Colon Infection?

My 18 year-old cat has very foul smelling, watery diarrhea.  Occasionally there’s red blood in the diarrhea, and you can actually hear noises coming from her stomach.  She has a big appetite but is losing weight. She does have a thyroid problem.  Any advice about the diarrhea?

Thank you,

Dear Terry,

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 6 - The Canal St. Martin, Belleville, and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Day 6 - The Canal St. Martin, Belleville, and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery
(Continued from Day 5

Our first full day in Paris began with a walk up the Canal St. Martin, and then a visit to the newly hip neighborhood of Belleville. To get to the canal, you take the Metro to Place del la Republique. This is where the rally for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo killings took place. Flyers and graffiti from the rally were still present at the statue in the center of the square.

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