I'm now accepting submissions for a travel tale contest. Entering is easy. Go to the Quepasa website and join my Sacred Ground travel writing community, then post your story as a comment. The author of the best tale gets a copy of Sacred Ground & Holy Water. Here's our first entry:
A Martini in Paris by Boyd Lemon
During my stroll down the hallways, I spotted the Hemingway Bar. I thought they might serve Martinis. Back in the United States, I enjoy a Martini every now and then. There are few places in Europe that have them, mainly American bars, and I had had only one since coming to Paris eight months before. In case you don't know, a Martini (as drunk in the U.K. and U.S.) is gin with or without a little dry white vermouth, strained through ice and poured into a Martini glass, then garnished with an olive or a lemon peel.
The bartender gave me a menu, and I looked through the long list of drinks. Sure enough, there was a classic Martini. I smiled to myself, until I looked at the price, and then I almost laughed out loud - 30 Euro - about $40.00. That's for one drink. I almost fell off the stool. In the U.S. the nice bars (and this, most assuredly, is a nice bar) usually charge between $9 and $12 for them. That would be 7 to 9 Euro. I hemmed and hawed to myself, saying I can't pay 30 Euro for a drink. You can get a nice meal for that. That is a week's food budget for some people. But I'm only going to be in Paris for three more weeks. Do you think I had one?
I did, and thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as the people watching in that amazing place. In their defense, I have to say they have a unique method of making them that provides the customer with more alcohol than the typical Martini. Of course, they use the finest gin, Hendricks. They have a freezer in the back, where they keep the gin and the glasses. The world's coldest Martini, the bartender said, and I believed him. So, there is no reason to strain the gin through ice. They just pour it in the glass and no water is added, as it is when the gin is strained through ice. What you get is undiluted 87 proof alcohol.
I only had one. Two and I might not have been able to find the Metro station. I savored it for about an hour, then went out and had a falafel for dinner at the nearest stand for 4 Euro and took the Metro home for the usual 1.20 Euro fair. I bet nobody in that bar has ever been on the Metro. Aren't people strange? What? You say I'm strange?