A Travellerspoint blog

We could get used to sleeping in

… another fairly relaxing day at Leiwen

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We had another slow start to the day and set out fairly late in the morning for the town of Trier, about 37 km away.

Our location here in Germany is in a valley that follows the Moselle River (sometimes spelt Mosel) which is a wide river that seems to be used as a major transport route in it's own right. We have seen quite a few long barges – some carrying what looks like coal and also a cruise barge with heaps of cabins on it.

Getting from town to town involves driving along beside the river and it winds it's way along, so you end up traveling a lot further than the real distance between towns. Then, as you drive it is generally only a couple of kilometres between each town.

The region has a heritage going back to at least the Roman occupation – which peaked in 3rd to 5th centuries. And today's main destination (Trier) is actually Germany's oldest city, with it's history dating back to 1.300 years before even Rome when it was founded by the Gallo-Celtic Treveri tribe who had it seized from them by the Romans. It also has a much more recent claim to fame, being the birthplace and home in his early years of Karl Marx. We saw the house he was born in – there were lot's of tourists taking photo's of it, but we didn't bother with going into the museum.

When we first stopped in Trier we were looking for an open supermarket (which was an impossible dream) and found a flohmarkt (flea market) and it was interesting to see that these are very much the same as we see in Australia with a mixture of junk, through to some reasonable bargains and a few food stalls. At least we were able to get some fruit and veges, so it partly made up for the supermarket not being open.

We found our way to the centre of Trier and ended up at a Christmas Market. This one was a bit different to the others we had seen so far, with the stalls/shops being decorated (and coloured green instead of white) in some cases with large reindeer on their roofs but there were still lots of Christmas and craft items for sale – and lots of people around.

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We were also trying to find internet access and thought a Macca's in Trier would have it – but we were out of luck (Simon, you'll have to speak to your bosses about them fixing up their wi-fi globally!). Then as it turned out, we found we can get it at the restaurant & entertainment centre here at the resort.

Posted by thomastour 11:09 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

A chance to relax

... and recharge the batteries.

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It's so good to be in one place for a week after so much traveling! We both slept in till 8am this morning, we must have needed a catch up. It felt great! After a very leisurely start we made our way into the little town of Leiwen, we'd hoped to visit the tourist information but discovered noone would be manning it till Monday. So we strolled around the town enjoying the lovely German houses, many with stained glass features or copper pictured doors. With the hillside vineyards and pine trees behind the town and the river Mosel in the valley this place is just a picture.

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After a cappucino and hot chocolate at this lovely little cafe we discovered we spent the afternoon driving/walking through several of the delightful little towns along the banks of the river. They all seem to have a tall steepled church and houses gathered around it and most of the places were sooooo quiet!

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We decided to go to the supermarket so we could do some of our own cooking but as we walked in at 2pm they told us they were about to close. We hot footed it back to Leiwen to use the supermarket there only to discover they closed even earlier. This is such a change to France, Belgium and The Netherlands which seemed to really start charging up about that time! Never mind we continued our travels in the opposite direction to the lovely town of Trittenheim. All these towns have histories dating back to Roman times around the 1st to 4th century AD, the Romans later being defeated by Germanic tribes.

Making our way back to our lovely bungalow I decided to look further around the complex and discovered they have lots of deer here. Yay! I love seeing wildlife and enjoyed watching the little fawns and majestic stags with the backdrop of rolling hills dropping down to the winding river in the valley. How amazing is our creator God!

As we hadn't been able to buy any supplies we decided to have tea at the cafe we had discovered earlier. Yummo! We had a delicious meal, very filling, in beautiful surroundings and it all cost a lot less than we've been paying lately. I think we'll go there again!

Posted by thomastour 08:02 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

One day – three countries

… and still time to get lost!

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Cathy really wanted to see the genuine Dutch Windmills close up so we did a short trip north of Amsterdam to a place called Zaanse Schans to start off our day. This is actually a tourist village with shops and demonstrations of such things as cheeses and clog making, but the part that was of interest to us was the 5 working windmills.

Getting there was easy, but the GPS didn't hold the name, just the co-ordinates, so to make sure we got there we used the street name Cathy had in the guide book. What we discovered was that the street started at the other end of the line of windmills and became a bike track only as it went past the windmills then entered the tourist village. So we almost drove down a bike track in search of the 'perfect' photo.

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That aside, we got some good views of the windmills, with one having it's sails on and actually turning.

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Then it was off on our 400km drive to Leiwen in Germany where we were to stay for the next week. Most of the drive was in the Netherlands, but then we passed back through Belgium and finally into Germany. And off course it couldn't all go smoothly, we had two hiccups on the way.

First the GPS got itself a bit confused around the Eindhoven exittelling us to keep right when we should have kept left, so we headed into Eindhoven (no big deal), but then to get us back to the A2 the directions took us to a piece of road closed for roadworks and no matter how we tried to go around it the GPS kept trying to take us back to where we had no access. In the end we drove to the next town and picked a couple of smaller towns as way points to get us back onto the A2 at a point further south.

Then when we neared our destination for the day (Landal Sonnenburg Resort) the GPS thought the fastest route was to go the last couple of kilometres on a dirt road over the hill instead of following the tarmac for another 6km. We thought better of that and instead navigated to the nearby town of Leiwen.

Leiwen is a beautiful little town that has a history dating back to at least the Romans, with it's name coming from the name of Livia – wife of the roman Emperor Caesar Augustus who had a summer residence there. It is a wine region and has hills covered with grape vines – which we zig zagged up through to get to the resort.

The resort itself is huge, with over 250 bungalows (ours is a 3 bedroom one and is numbered 235), a number of apartments and a camping area. It has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, solarium, bowling alley, volleyball & basketball courts and a soccer pitch. It also has a restaurant and bar – that was where we had tea tonight and has activities every day for all ages. We are a little worried about some of them because the English translations are 'interesting'. At the indoor playground – 'children can exploit themselves whereas the parents can enjoy a drink...' & on the forest hike the guide (Mister Dupre) 'knows the nature here as its trouser pocket'.

We don't have internet access in our bungalow, so the blogs may not be appearing daily for a while – but they will be there eventually.

Posted by thomastour 08:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Starry, starry night.

Paint your palette blue and grey, Look out on a summer's day, With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.

overcast 10 °C
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The above words from Don MacLean's song 'Vincent' are a brief summary of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, and today we found out a lot more about him after visiting the Van Gogh Museum. To get there we caught a tram from our hotel to the city and then walked around a little bit (I'll talk about that later) and then hopped on a Canal Bus/Boat to take us to the museum.

It contains around 200 of Van Gogh's known output of 800 paintings and at the moment has a special exhibit of a number of letters between Vincent and his brother Theo and between Vincent and some of his contemporaries.

Van Gogh started working in a book store but had to give up the job after he 'found' religion and started interspersing everything he wrote with Bible quotes. He then decided to become a painter (with no real training) taking his influences from some of the well known painters of time. His early work was fairly dark and focused on portraits or scenes of peasant life. His brother Theo was an art dealer in Paris and acted as his muse - funding his efforts in return for a lot of his paintings which it would seem rarely were sold. Contact with his contemporaries led to Van Gogh changing his style to one using bright colours and included such famous works as 'The Sunflowers'.

It would seem one of the common things of the time was for artists to offer to swap paintings with their contemporaries and Van Gogh did this quite a bit. His own work was distinctive with it's broad brushstrokes and vivid colours and after seeing his paintings you realise how many copies are around (like all over our current hotel's walls).

Van Gogh suffered from mental instability (various psychiatrists have had a go at diagnosing it from information available and they have come up with over 30 different types of illness) and even admitted himself into an asylum. His famous cutting off of his own ear was related to all this and in the end he shot himself in the stomach and died 2 days later.

Also showing at the museum were paintings by Alfred Stevens who was almost the antithesis of Van Gogh - Stevens a Belgian and was a successful seller of paintings and quite well off as a result of his art. His paintings tended to focus on character studies of ladies with a lot of intricate detail of their clothing and surrounds - but even more so in their expressions. we both really liked his paintings and you could really pick up the emotion of the subject.

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Our wandering around Amsterdam before and after the Van Gogh museum took us to Dam Square in the centre of the city - a large space that late in the day was full off bikes. In this city the pushbike rules!

We walked through various old regions and saw a wonderful way to get uni students in for the start of the day - someone stood at the gate of the Uni with a megaphone calling out something & all the students headed inside! We wandered down Albert Cupd Straat and it's market (it went for quite a few blocks) and found the Bloemenmarkt - hoping to see lot's of flowers for sale, but were disappointed that it was more a series of nursery type stalls.

A walk to Neuwmarkt and Waag was followed by us actually walking through the red light district to get back to the main street. It's really a bit sad that Amsterdam seems proud of it's sex industry and marijuana freedom and make these major selling points with the souvenirs available. It seems to go hand in hand with a generally secular approach to life - they claim that 30% of the people are Catholics, 20% protestant and 6% muslim - which leaves a lot who don't claim any faith at all. Also all the churches we saw seem to be mainly focused on secular activities (shops, non-fiath related museums etc.) than on presenting the Word of God.

So that was it for the city - dinner and a tram back to the hotel finished the day off. The weather was a lot milder today (I think it got to 10 degrees) and certainly felt a lot warmer than yesterday, even if there was a little bit of rain later in the day.

Posted by thomastour 11:54 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Another day - another country

.. this time it's the Netherlands (or is it Holland?).

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Leaving Brussels just after eight we managed to get caught in a couple of traffic jams on their ring road before we made it out of town! At the other end we caught a couple of traffic jams on the outskirts of Amsterdam! We passed lots of lovely green countryside and some industrial areas on our way through Belgium and Holland. Geoff had researched the Park & Ride stations for parking the car and the GPS lead us straight there. Although I had read that most people speak English unfortunately their signs are not in English and we were unsure how to use our parking ticket for a free ride on the bus. After a bit of mucking around I asked at the supermarket near the carpark and we were directed to a booth at the front of the carpark that we hadn't seen on the way in. Arming ourselves with our bus/tram tickets we were hurrying to get across the road to the bus stop when I slipped on the damp road and fell heavily. I think my left shoulder took the brunt of it, at least that's the bit that still hurts! I was a bit shaken up but O.K so we hopped on the bus and I checked my left arm moved alright as we traveled. Praise God, I'm a bit sore but nothing broken.

We got off at Central Station and found the tourist information, bought a map and paused to have a hot drink while we decided our next move. We bought 24hr passes on the canal boats and set out to explore Amsterdam. A nice relaxing way to explore. Amsterdam has taken us to a new level of cold and the heated boats were lovely. We travelled past many tall narrow houses, people were allowed only very small allotments of land and so the way to go was up! Our boat commentary mentioned that often the houses are built leaning forward! For 2 reasons; to make the house appear bigger and to make it easier to hoist the furniture up from a hoisting platform creatively included in the exterior design of lots of the buildings. Originally houses were built with layers of wood foundations in the water but they discovered when the water retracted with the seasons it allowed oxygen to deteriorate the wooden foundations and houses began to sink! They now have cement foundations but you can see many houses at peculiar angles leaning on their neighbours.

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Bikes of course are also a major feature of Amsterdam and I particularly like the `wagon seat' at thr front of a number of bikes, saw one lady with 2 children in hers! Bikes seem to have right of way over pedestrians that's for sure. They have red marked bike lanes but sometimes pedestrians hardly have anywhere to walk and that tiny little bit is full of poles or signposts!

On our first canal boat we passed a number of Amsterdam's significant buildings; Rembrandt House, City Hall, The Hermitage, Albert Cuyp Market, the modern Holland Casino and Leidseplein. We also saw many houseboats, some with gardens and one made made of bricks! At the House of Anne Frank we hopped off and were very moved at her story. The House is the actual hiding place that Anne, her family and several others hid in for over 2 years. It was actually a warehouse owned by Otto Frank and he passed the business onto a colleague so that the front and bottom of the warehouse was still run as a business while the Franks and others hid away at the back and top. They couldn't talk, run a tap or do much at all between 8.30am and work finishing for fear someone would realise there were other occupants in the building. no fresh air, blue skies or freedom for all that time and then someone betrayed them to the Nazis one month before the war ended and of all those people only Otto Frank survived. Seeing the actual hiding place and viewing photographic images of the occupants, quotes from Anne's diary, film footage of friends of Anne and the family confiding their memories of Anne you couldn't help but be moved.If Anne had survived she would have turned 80 this year.

We went for a short walk and caught a different canal boat back to Central Station. After finally locating where to get a return bus to the carpark our next challenge was to recognise the stop! Fortunately between the 2 of us we succeeded! We bought some supplies at the supermarket and had an easy tea at our motel. Talked to Mum & dad via skype. Good to talk to loved ones from home.

Posted by thomastour 10:48 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Brussels - home of the waffle

... and other terrible things like chocolate.

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An early start from Brugge had us on the highway before the street lights got turned off (but it was after 8am!). Brussels is less than 100km from Brugge so it was a bit like a morning commute from Wollongong to Sydney, lots of traffic but a good speed until we hit a series of rolling traffic jams about 35km from Brussels & couldn't not see any reason for them. But we still made it in less than 1 1/2 hours and by chance into a multilevel car park just on the edge of the historic region of the city.

Christmas time in these European cities seems so much more special than it does in Australia with the decorations and Christmas Markets, and Brussels was no exception. Our first point of call was the Grand Place Grote Markt - effectively a town square surrounded by some fantastic buildings. One that seemed like a town hall became the focus in the evening when it was the canvas for a light show involving lights set up init's windows and on it's tower and also lights shone on it from the building opposite. The lights changed patterns and moved with the music, with all sorts of wonderful images and colours. Not surprisingly there were lots of people there watching them.

We did a big walk around a triangle that covered most of the older significant buildings (each leg of the triangle was about 1km). some of what we saw were:

    part of the old city wall (age unknown)
    Place de la Chapelle Kapelliemarkt (a church)
    Palais de Justice (law courts)
    Synagogue
    Music Conservatory
    Musees des beaux arts
    Palais Royal
    Parc de Brussels
    Palais de la Ntion (Parliament)
    Cathedrale
    St. Huburtus Galleria


Brussels is a real mix of old and new, with the old being of various ages, but it does have some of the 'old town' characteristics of a number of the othr cities we have visited.

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The walk around the highlights brought us back to our starting point. Then it was time to browse the shops and Christmas Markets. Such fun seeing all the things that we don't get to see at home.

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Chocalatiers were all over the place, one street had about 7 of them all within about 20 metres.

We tried the famous Belgian waffles - covered with hot chocolate - yummy but messy!

Finding our accommodation proved a chore - the GPS didn't recognise the street name & when we phoned for help the cross road given by the manager wasn't recognised either. As a last resort we tried the GPS that had played up in the UK and it worked, thankfully.

Posted by thomastour 11:02 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

We visited Brugge

… but it was closed for the day!

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We were beginning to wonder........reading about Brugge as we drove towards it we discovered that most museums/ churches are closed on Mondays! We really weren't too concerned, we're fairly museumed out and as we discovered upon arrival the Christmas markets were open!

Brugge has a great set up; you park your car at the train station( just outside of old Brugge) and your parking ticket costing 2.50 euros for all day entitles you to free bus travel in the old city. First stop if you like is the tourist bureau where you can pick up a map of Brugge for 40 euro cents and your set to go. Great idea! Brugge is just beautiful, Geoff said Brugge has become his favourite place ahead of Prague now. I loved it too. Gorgeous architecture, different to what we have seen so far in Europe, darker brick homes, some painted in white, yellow or pale pink. High pitched roofs and herringbone patterned roof fronts. At night lots of the buildings facing onto the major squares are all framed with lights, add the Christmas lights strung across the roads and the lights from the Christmas markets and you have a beautiful scene. The old town is ringed by a canal and lots of locals get around on bikes on the cobbled streets. There are several gorgeous churches and of course the tallest steepled church had plastic around it (to hide restoration work) nearly all the way to the top!

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We loved wandering our way around the town discovering beautiful scenes around every corner. Brugge being in Belgium is full of Chocolateries selling Belgian chocolate and Lace shops selling Belgian lace. We also found a delightful shop selling everything `Christmas', beautiful nativity scenes, ornaments, revolving scenes under candle heat driven wooden fans and much more. Horse driven carriages are very popular and are lined up ready for business in the Markt where there are more Christmas markets and a mini ice skating rink set up. Bridges over the canals, white swans, ducks and water hens add to Brugge's beauty.

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In the afternoon we walked to Minnewater Park, another lovely spot surrounded by elegant buildings, walking lanes in the park and benches to rest on. Continuing our walk we discovered the windmills along KruisevesStraat before we headed for the Jerusalem chapel and the Lace Centre. The Chapel was a surprise behind it's unpresumptuous exterior. Inside it is filled with ornamentation including stone work of skulls! Lots of statues, lit candles, large altar, stairs to an upstairs large organ, etc, etc in a small space! Behind this scene you entered another smaller room with another alter and some more chairs but there was also a very small doorway open, about half the height of a normal door, and as I peered into this tiny room I discovered it housed the sarcophagus of a man and lots more lit candles! Spooky! At first we thought the chapel was a synagogue but all the crosses changed our minds, I can only think it was a Catholic church. At the Lace centre a group of ladies hand make lace. We watched fascinated as one elderly lady's hands flew using over a hundred bobbins of cotton making intricate lace work.
After more exploring we had a delicious dinner and found our way to our hotel almost without a hitch. It seems very quiet here yet close to the expressway so should be easy to find our way to Brussels tomorrow.

Posted by thomastour 10:58 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Fooling the enemy when you only have one cannon

... that was Lille fooling the Germans in October 1914.

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Well it bye bye to Paris and hello Lille today. A simple 230km drive on a Paris ring road & 195km of the A1 Autoroute had us in Lille in less than 2 hours.

Lille has a history as a town/city dating back to the 7th Century, but it may have been inhabited as early as 2,000BC - and amongst the races who have inhabited Lille are the Gauls, Vikings &Saxons. It has been everything from an independent kingdom to part of others such as Flanders, Netherlands, Belgium and France - of course it is now part of France, having been so since Louise XIV laid seige to it in 1667.

In more recent history it was taken by the Germans in WWI - the story of holding them off with a single cannon comes from then, but it wasn't really a triumphant stand-off because the German shelling destroyed over 2,000 buildings and then when they reallised the deception they burnt down a whole section of the town.

Anyway - our entry into town today was far less auspicious and we found street parking not far from the town centre, Walking up there we discovered a delightful Christmas Market set up in the centre of the town. Lots of little cabins/shops each selling something different ranging from crafts to clothes, to jewelry and of course food (including hot wine).

We browsed the market for a while and then had a look round the area referred to as the Old Town - seeing Le Palais Rihour (formerly a Gothic palace built for the Duke of Burgundy in the 15th Century, but looking more like a church. We also saw the Theatre Nord, the Opera House (not sure if it has a fancy name), St Maurice church.

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After a break for some lunch we continued the wandering saw the Hotel deVille (Town Hall) with it's associated 104metre high tower tthat is listed with UNESCO - the building and tower were built after WWI. Next to it was the Porte de Paris - and if it really is the 'gate to Paris' they certainly put it a long way down the road from Paris. It was erected between 1685 and 1692 and it features figures of Mars and Hercules symbolising War and Power. There isa drawbridge which crosses the moat garden. And in reality, I think it's name means that it the gate to Lille when you come from Paris.

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We also saw the Palais des Beaux - Arts, but didn't go in to see their collection of art. We also drove a short way to see La Citadel, a 5 cornered fortress built by Louis XIV as part of his defences after he conquered the area. There is an inscription on the main gate lauding Louise XIV and referring to him as the Sun King - he certainly had tabs on himself! We couldn't go into the main area of it because it is a currently active military base and used by France's rapid respoinse force.

A bit more sightseeing and photo taking by Cathy and then it was off to our hotel to relax - this is our last night in France and it's over the border to Belgium tomorrow.

Posted by thomastour 10:41 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Escargos....

and other French treats!

rain 10 °C
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After checking out just how far we were from Versailles we decided it would be just as easy to drive as catch the train and driving worked out well. We arrived there fairly early which judging from the line up as we were leaving was a good idea!

Versailles is an amazingly opulent palace which started out as a hunting lodge. When Louis the XIV came to the throne he decided to abandon Paris and the civil disturbances going on there and turn Versailles(20 km south west) into a splendid palace worthy of the splendid sovereign he wished to be! From beautifully painted portraits and the hall of Mirrors to the suites of the King and Queen the palace is rich in history and decor. It amazes me that up to 3,000 people lined up to see the King each day to ask him something, the Queen had to give birth in public ( to make sure the heirs to the throne were the real McCoy ), the King and the people believed in the Divine right of Kings! Apparently King Louis was quite religious attending Mass every day, at least later in his life. At the same time he fell in love with his wife even though it was an arranged marriage and then fell in love with not one but two of her ladies in waiting! Apparently he often took the three ladies he loved out for drives in his carriage together! Apart from that he was quite gifted musically and loved the arts, thus the palace. Following on from the palace we wandered through the gardens, the formal gardens with hedges, conifers and fountains all looked lovely but the maze of bare trees I'm sure would look awesome in the warmer months.

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Returning the car back to the parking station we caught the train to Invalides. Les Invalides, originally designed as a hospital for injured soldiers under Napoleon, now houses three museums related to the army and military.The church of St Louis-des-Invalides is a splendid gold domed structure and houses the body of Napoleon. From there we walked down towards La Petite Palace and La Grande Palace both of which house other museums. Then looking for the metro station we walked along the Champs Elysees again. Rows of small white `cottages' line the street with lots of Christmas wares, hot foods and crafts for sale. There are beautifully decorated Christmas trees lining the street and old fashioned merry go rounds, trains and even life size toy soldiers and pretend snow! Geoff and I decided to try some roasted chestnuts but were a little dissappointed. I don't know if we didn't get a good lot but some were burnt, some half raw and occasionally a good one, so we won't be rushing to buy more!

Finally locating the metro station we caught two trains to Montmarte and walked up lots and lots of stairs to see the Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart) church which stands upon Mount Montmarte. The four small domes and large central dome look almost oriental, we walked around inside and as it was just on dusk enjoyed the lights coming on over the city from the great view point up there. It was also raining so we didn't hang around too long but made our way back to St Michel for tea. Geoff decided to have escargos and I tried not to look while he ate them! We like the St Michel area, full of restaurants, small shops and character. There is ceratinly still more to see in Paris but we have had a good taste of it and are ready to move on to somewhere a bit quieter.

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Tomorrow we head to Lille.......

Posted by thomastour 11:53 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

We walked for miles

... and didn't even leave the Louvre!

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First the good news - I was able to retrieve my debit card from the Post Office Bank in just a matter of minutes (proof of identity and a signature was all it needed) - we didn't find out why the card had been swallowed because of language difficulties in asking the question, but got the impression it was a common enough occurrence for the staff to know exactly how to handle it.

Then it was onto the Louvre - I had 4 hours (& then had to do my trip to move the car) and Cathy had 5, so we split up to do our own thing. Cathy decided to to take it slowly and concentrate on some areas while I decided to just slowly move through as much as possible stopping where anything caught my interest.

Cathy looked mainly at the antiquities surrounding the Mediterranean region (especially the ancient Biblical areas). This covered the Near Eastern, the Greeks, Romans & Etruscan's. These are some of her random thoughts about it all:

    She thought it amazing that they had 60,000 pieces of Egyptian heritage of which only 6,000 are displayed at any time.
    Some of the pieces where huge much larger than a person and make you wonder how they were moved and shipped to France, let alone set up within the Louvre.
    They have also managed to decipher a lot of the ancient writings.
    Some of the early pre-Christian societies were very advanced with sewerage systems, water supplies etc. - something that got lost through the dark ages.
    Much of the Egyptian section was created by a cryptographer who arranged for the items to be bought back for study (most people think of them as Napoleon's plunder - but this is wrong).
    Egyptian tombs changed over time - they are not just the one image we generally get about pyramids.


Cathy's biggest problem was she just didn't have enough time to see everything and wanted to go back, but we ran out of time late in the day.

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I thought I'd go and look at some of the art first, including the classic La Joconda (Mona Lisa) and then wander from there, so here are my comments:

    It took me over an hour of walking before I actually saw the Mona Lisa.
    It's amazing how much interest there is in the Mona Lisa & the crowds around it - yet it actually looks quite insignificant compared to other works of art near it.
    Another much hyped piece is the sculpture of Aphrodite (Venus de Milo) which while being an example of how sculpture changed to incorporate the twisted body pose does not to me seem any better than much of the other sculpture displayed - yet again there were crowds of people around it.
    It is rather daunting to come into a gallery of Italian paintings from the 13th to the 18th Centuries and see that gallery stretch before you for over 400 metres. And then get to the end of it and find a maze of smaller spaces.
    Rather amazing to see seveal paintings that are literally the size of the side of our house.
    The room decoration in some of the older rooms that are part of the original palace decor.
    The Napolean III apartments still set up much as he had them.
    An amazing travelling desk designed by the Duke d'Orleans whiich as well as having beautiful inlaid timber and decorated legs was set up in such a way that the writing surface, chair and wings all slid in to make a final size of around 1m diameter for travel.
    I could say so much more about what I saw - but time doesn't permit it.


After I got back from sorting out the car park - we set off to walk the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe & then onto the Eiffel Tower (distance of over 6 km as I found out afterward).

Walking up the Champs Elysees we were greeted with a great long line of stalls operating as a Christmas market and selling all sorts of things, many related to the season. Also there were a couple of towers with Santa's Sleigh strung up on a wire between them. And there were a huge number of people walking along - this is supposed to be the off season!

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We got to the Eiffel Tower abefore 5pm but it was after dark before we got to the head of the line and went up to level 2 (they weren't letting people go to the top yesterday) so we got views of Paris after dark - amazing and well worth the wait. It was also bitterly cold up there with a cold wind, but we could put up with that to get the view. Then we had to line up again to come down.

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A quick train trip back to the Left Bank area for tea and that was another day completed. We got back to the hotel worn out and needing some rest ready to tackle some more of the sights the next day.

We commented to each other about it being rather cool today (11 degrees maximum but generally sunny) but then realised that this may be as warm as it gets for quite a while, especially as we head further north for a while. Before long we will probably think of 11 degrees as warm!

Posted by thomastour 08:09 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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