We're not getting on very well with completing our 2010 blog diary are we? Xmas was a bit of a challenge for us this year, Barry's mum was very unwell and we spent the early hours to mid-afternoon in the hospital with her. Luckily her daughter Jenny came a couple of days later from Australia to help out - we'd already rented our house from 28 December to 2 January and went camping 'up the coast' whilst we both continued working - there's no phone coverage there ...
Freedom camping, East Coast style, on Pouawa Beach
She was discharged on 30 December (shortage of beds!) and is recovering slowly at home now, so fingers crossed that will continue.
We welcomed in 2011 from the campsite, playing 'six handed rummy' until midnight. No loud music and partying for us, we left that to the 25,000 youngsters who'd been in town for a few days for the 'Rhythm and Vines' music festival!
We're back in our house and sorted again now, so able to continue blogging - Happy New Year to all of our readers, and may 2011 bring you much love, happiness and less need to acquire anymore unnecessary 'stuff' - let's all learn to live more simply and appreciate the good things that life has to offer us.
Talking of which ...
Wednesday 29 September 2010
Having only got until 2100hrs tonight in Paris we wanted to make the most of the day, but still didn't manage to get up and dressed until 0830hrs!
After filling up on a continental breakfast and securing our bags once again in the hotel, we walked to Gare D'est to find the open top bus stop - it still took us a while to find it but having discovered a leaflet about it in the hotel at least we had an address for each stop now, lol!
We dug out our tickets and caught the next bus but weren't able to get settled for long as after one stop we heard on the commentary that there was a canal nearby the following stop - Barry's face lit up! Oh no, thought I! We've only just found the bus and now we'll have to get off again! The whole idea of these tours is that they're a 'hop on, hop off' excursion, despite it being rather frustrating when we have so little time and the buses only stop every 25 minutes on the route - so of course we were obliged to exit and discover the delights of a French Canal.
We were incredibly lucky that there was a tourist boat just coming to the lock when we arrived, there were two staircase locks then a tunnel which takes the boat back to the River Seine. It was interesting to compare the canal and lock to the British versions - I think that most locks are manned in Europe, which is one of the reasons why it's not appealed to us to experience them, but who knows what may happen in the future ... After our little excitement, we jumped back on a bus and carried on to the Louvre, walking a distance and making a detour for a coffee on the way - once again it was very expensive but some things are truly priceless - Tom and I love good coffee - he chose one with vanilla and a caramel flavour which was wicked.
I was trying out my schoolgirl French in the cafes and shops, hilariously getting a tad confused when I said 'Bonjour' instead of 'Au revoir' in one place, but the French people are always appreciative if you attempt to converse in their language - and rightly so!
Reaching the Louvre, we left Tom in the queue, and continued to do a walking tour of Notre Dame (with Discover Walks). The tour was facilitated by a vivacious 20 year old Parisian student who hopes to become a famous musician, and was really interesting - we heard lots of snippets of details about the Cathedral and it's surroundings.
Quaint side-streets where we found a cafe for a lunch spot
These gargoyles disguise the drain pipes!
Not just a cathedral tour, but the back streets surrounding it were full of stories from the past brought to life by our enthusiastic young guide
The cathedral is on the side of the Seine
Beautiful French louvered windows
The famous Flying Buttress of Notre Dame - Gothic architecture at its best
Some of the house boats on the Seine
A bridge of love - supposedly if you but a padlock on the bridge with you and your lover's name carved/etched/written on it and each have a key your love will last forever - bless!
The epitome of Paris - artists line the river
A tour boat passes us by ...
...and the ring of a very large boat from days gone by - and an alternative view of Notre Dame
Autumn in Paris
Notre Dame - and a 'blind' man?
Following our walk we returned to the front of the cathedral and considered going in to have a look but didn't have much time before we were meeting Tom there - at that point there was just a small queue of people, but by the time Tom arrived it had grown to humongous proportions so we had to give it a miss - another opportunity lost!
We'd been told by the guide that there are often beggars outside the cathedral who prey on tourists consciences - and we saw one with our own eyes. The 'blind' man in the photo above looks genuine enough, but after someone gave him a note we saw him looking down at it before putting it in his pocket - checking what number was written on there no doubt!
Returning to the open top bus once again, we did the 'orange' route, then completed our sightseeing by strolling to the Eiffel Tower to see it in it's daytime magnificence and walk through the gardens ...
Typical Parisian scenes
A very cool shot of a woman taking her
bike dog for a ride
Pavement cafes at every turn ...
... and the old blends in with the modern
A city of art and artists - this being an exhibition of toilets from around the world ...
... as well as breath-taking buildings
Always bustling with locals and tourists
'Hotels des Invalids' - the Military Hospital, ornately decorated and guarded
Reaching the Tower we stopped for a few photos before walking beneath its vastness incredulously - and we discovered that it's only just over 13 Euros to make the ascent, which sounded very reasonable and I so wished we'd had a chance to go up; it's a good reason to return one day. Maybe Tom will treat us to a trip for my 60th birthday, which will be two days after our 10th (UK) wedding anniversary - he's got nine years to save up, lol!
Le Tour Eiffel from the 'Parc du Champs du Mars' ...
... and looking back over the River Seine from the 'Palais de Chaillot'
We caught the Metro back to the hotel with just enough time to nip into a local store and buy some French wine, collect our bags, then return to the Gare Du Nord.
We had a fantastic time, and Tom was so enthralled by the experience that he decided he now wants to live in Paris at some point in the future. Amazingly for most British people, it was the first time he's visited a country where people don't speak English.
Our trip back on the Eurostar was a little subdued after all the excitement, then we jumped on the underground and arrived back on Northern Pride around 2300hrs, totally worn out!