VRBO Changes The World (Paris Edition)

The kitchen at chez Josette

So, I’m in Paris, meeting up with Richard to spend a week with him as he moves slowly through Europe and soaks up what the continent has to offer.  Rather than spend a ridiculous sum on a hotel, and be squirreled away in some sterile tourist area of the City of Lights, Kish and I decide to try VRBO.  We end up renting an apartment in the Latin Quarter.

When I arrived today, I had some trepidation about what I would find.  Things can look good on the web, but sometimes the reality falls short.  That did not happen today, fortunately.  (Bon!)

The TV room at our apartment

Here is what I found:

*  A surprisingly spacious apartment with two well-sized bedrooms, a TV room with cable TV and a collection of hundreds of DVDs, a full kitchen with every utensil and cooking appliance known to man, a full shower and bathroom, a separate toilet room,  a washer and a dryer, a desktop computer as well as apartment-wide, free wireless, and a dining room with a table that seats six.  And, the apartment is decorated with style and stocked with fresh baguettes and chocolate rolls.

*  An incredibly helpful and accommodating hostess (merci, Josette!) who explained every appliance, computer, TV remote, and key, provided suggestions on restaurants and bistros to frequent, gave us her apartment number and cell number, and encouraged us to call if we had any problems or questions.

A look down the Rue Val de Grace

*  Windows with iron railings that open out to an iconic Paris street with a view like this.

*  A central location on Rue Val de Grace near the Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon, located in the heart of a student housing district in the Latin Quarter (District Five), within easy walking distance of the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre, and other sites in central Paris and (perhaps most importantly) directly across the street from a wine shop with an excellent selection and very moderate prices.

All of this, for a price that probably is about half of what we would pay for a decent hotel.  This is why VRBO is changing the world.

In The Midwest, The Civil War Is Never Very Far Away

The recent commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War brought that horrible conflict back into the consciousness of many Americans.  In many of the cities and towns of the Midwest, however, the reminders of the Civil War are ever-present.

I was in Indianapolis recently, and the gigantic Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at the heart of Monument Circle is a good example.  Although the monument recognizes the contributions of soldiers and sailors from many conflicts beginning with the Revolutionary War, the portion of the monument that deals with the Civil War is the most memorable.  The devastating statistics of Indiana’s contribution to the Civil War effort, noting the hundreds of thousands who served and tens of thousands who died, are set forth in simple, precisely carved numbers on the facade.  The statistics appear under the heading “War For The Union.”

As one Hoosier mentioned to me on my visit, it is no accident that the numbers appear on the side of the monument facing due south.