Paris, Let’s Get It Started!

Bonjour mes amis! Before I send this repost I’d like to say America has been reset. I can feel it in my heart and soul.  We applaud the BIDEN-HARRIS TEAM and our hearts are especially happy with Oakland’s own MADAME VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS.  I’ve been praying for brighter days this past 10 months and now even with a lot of work to be done, I can see a light.
Our Paris tour has been moved to APRIL 21-28: 2022 and with that we’ve had some cancellations.  That being said, there is some space available. .  By next year Paris will have opened her borders and will again toll out the red carpet for visitors.  If you want to join us, please inbox me at rivoli98@yahoo.com

Thirty-six years later and Paris is still beautiful and to top it off, no matter the weather forecast in March or April; we still manage to bring the California sunshine. The weather has been gorgeous.     It was my first inclination not to blog this trip because I have been blogging this Paris program repeatedly  but my Durham, NC friends planning to come in 2020 put in a request so here we go.  Just as I continue to threaten “This is my last tour” , it seems I just can’t stop.  2020 is already in place for May 7-14.  Even though my love affair with Paris which was a “Love Supreme” at one time has been replaced by the likes of The Maldive Islands, Fiji, Egypt, Vietnam and Colombia; in my heart there still remains a special place for the “City of Light”.

When checking in for my nonstop United flight, I was surprised with an offer to upgrade to Polaris Business Class for a small amount. It was an offer I could not refuse.  To have the ability to lay flat on long flights these days has proven to be a health requirement for me.  To arrive feeling refreshed without puffy ankles is just what the doctor ordered.  An added plus is the new Polaris dining room at SFO for Business Class Travelers where you are seated and served complimentary from a very interesting menu.  I chose 2 Crispy Shrimp Cakes, Pasta with mushrooms in a creamy Sauce, a Cobb Wedge Salad and of course my tonic water.

There are 18 in the group of which 7 are repeat travelers, some I haven’t seen in a few years and I was excited to be reunited with them again:  Willie and Gwen Tabb of Michigan, Glenda Stone of North Carolina, Tammie McClendon of Chicago;  Sekilati Kodilichi, Deborah Lewis and Steven Portlock from the Bay Area.

Words cannot express the feeling I had upon my arrival at the hotel when the bell staff greeted me with the traditional Parisian embrace with a kiss on each cheek. Reception, chamber maids, and the back office staff all make me and the KATTRAX GROUP feel right at home.  The Elysees Regencia has been a favorite for at least 8 years.

We were picked up by our private bus and taken to Babylone Bis, a French West Indian restaurant for dinner, a regular since 1994.    It was good to see Chis and the Babylone family and as usual the food and service never disappoints.  I noticed they now have 3 of my photos on their walls of fame, right along with Snoop, Marvin Gaye, Sean Paul and other celebrities.

The following morning is always a great kick off with Ricki Stevenson’s Black Paris Tour. Kattrax does it by private bus.  This year we had the pleasure of being guided by one of her very knowledgeable assistants, Miguel.  The group learned historical facts directly related to our heritage. After a delightful lunch in Neuilly-sur-Seine, they paid a visit to the Black Madonna. All in all it was a wonderful morning and afternoon.

Friday is always a full day and night.  Our music scene would be at JAZZ CLUB ETOILE located in the lovely HOTEL MERIDIEN ETOILE.  The evening performance was Rossitza Milevska, who hails from Bulgaria and is one of the best jazz harp players in the world today.  She was teamed up with KRISTEL ADAMS.  I cannot say enough good things about this sista songstress who resides in Marseille.  Her mother is Vietnamese and her father West Indian, this young lady who was one of the early contestants  on THE VOICE, performed soul, jazz and gospel  in 10 languages and knocked it out of the box.  She has an unbelievable range and believe it or not, an uncanny resemblance to Whitney.  We all loved the performance.  This classy club has been around since 1975 and it’s been my favorite since ‘83 when it was called The Lionel Hampton Jazz Club.  It’s since been totally renovated. The sound system has always been outstanding and the cocktails and food remain to be on point.  When planning a year in advance, we never know what music will be available until a month, sometimes 2 weeks before we arrive.  Robin Bates and myself always strive to be able to offer something “soulful” and this night was magical.

Saturday and Sunday are leisure days.  Some take off to experience London, Amsterdam and Versailles on their own.  Our program resumes on Monday and I just might blog again.  Whether or not I blog then, you can expect VIETNAM when we take off the first week in April.

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