Year: 2018

and finally…Amsterdam.

We arrived in Amsterdam at about 4pm after an eventful train trip from Bruges which was delayed by almost an hour due, sadly, to a suicide on the system, and a mad dash to catch our connecting train in Brussels which thankfully waited for us! The trip from there was super quick courtesy of the brilliant fast trains that run throughout Europe, thundering along at breakneck speeds. Mmm, any thoughts Australia? Welcome to Amsterdam for the next three days… Dope capital, and proud of it! How convenient, 20 metres from our apartment is a bar! We did the Heineken tour and got a special bottle for Specks, who was always calling out for “UNE HEINEKEN” on the TMB! The weather was diabolical, cold windy and pouring rain, but that didn’t deter the brave souls for experiencing the Heineken Experience. On to the Rikjmuseum, the most famous museum in the Netherlands, and one of the finest in the world, cataloguing the history of Dutch art. The most famous piece, ‘the night watch’, by Rembrandt wasn’t hard …

Two days In Bruge

Our time in Paris is up, on to Bruges…but not before one last look out the window, then down 4 flights of stairs for the last time! Metro to Gare du Nord and off via Arras & Brussels to Bruges, a trip of about 3 hours. Bruges is a beautiful medieval town, some may say a reproduction as most of it was flattened during WW2, but hey, it’s still very lovely. We are staying in an outstanding B&B about 10 minutes from the centre of town, and it’s there we set off from after downing suitcases. Surprisingly, we found a brewhouse, and partook of said products! The belfry is the most obvious landmark, and site of the most memorable scene in the movie, In Bruges. Dinner at a hamburger joint, then maybe a G&T or two in a fantastic gin & whiskey bar. They have over 230 gins to choose from, and when you do, they are presented in the most unique way. Rachael loved the glasses so much we bought two for home, plus …

Last day in Paris

Our last full day in Paris started with Rachael running along the Seine, and me not! Only because my runners passed away a few weeks ago, of course?! I spent my time looking out the window. Breakfast done we headed off by metro to the Canal St Martin, which runs for about 2kms, with a series of locks holding water levels stable, as it drops quite a bit as it heads downstream. It’s a pretty cool spot, with a different feel to the rest of town. From there we metro’d(?) over to the swish side, the 6th and the boulevard St Germain with high end boutiques galore, and overpriced Parisian cafes dotted everywhere. Stupidly, we thought this was a good place to do a bit of shopping!! Mind you, we found a great bookshop and bought a TinTin & Asterix comic book in French, of course. Time for a final walk around, and what better area than across to the Louvre, through the Jardin des Tuileries with its multitude of street hagglers… Trinkets everywhere… Then …

Light and Colour in Paris

Some months ago I read, in a French blog I follow, about an impressive new visual arts show and subsequently saw some initial, glowing, reviews for it…so today we get to judge it for ourselves. Atelier des Lumières is an immersive exhibition of the works of Gustav Klimt plus a shorter exhibition by an artist working under the pseudonym, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and an even shorter contemporary work called Poetic_AI. Images are splashed onto the walls and floors of a huge old warehouse, with a soundtrack mix of classic and contemporary music thundering in the background. The whole experience is mesmerising, images flashing before you, changing shape and form, swirling to the music. Light and shade. Washing over and around you. The room is so large the crowds seem to just blend in, people standing, leaning on walls, or just sitting on the floor letting the scenes before you play out. It really was incredible, lasting about 45 minutes, on a continual loop. Stunning Back in the light we caught the train back into the centre …

Street art and The Panthéon

It’s another beautiful day in Paris, perfect to finally visit one of Frances most revered sites, Temple of the Nation, the Pantheon. Once a Christian basilica, Napoleon 1 decided to honour the great servants of the state in the crypt, while the nave was reserved for worship. Victor Hugo was the first interned upon his death in 1885, the huge basilica seeming to be the only place worthy of holding his remains. Honours were thus granted according to criteria that has evolved with changes in the regimes. Nowadays, French men and women are honoured here depending on the desires of the President of the French Republic: politicians, authors, scientists, Resistance fighters, etc. With many having been moved here from their original place of burial. Its quite humbling to be walking amongst some of the most important members of France’s history; Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Louis Braille, and Emile Zola amongst the many. Even the heart of Leon Cambetta gets a special mention! A local street artist, Christian Guemy, who goes by the …

Downtown Paris by day, Montmartre by night.

I’d like to say we were up and at it today, making the most of the beautiful weather, but, non…we slept in. Oh, and Rachael was very keen on checking out the washing machine. So, a bit slow out of the blocks, but finally after croissants we headed towards the river Seine. We wandered past a flea market then on to Jardin du Palais Royal, a typically structured park lined with elegant trees, brushed stone paths and a lovely central pond with water feature, surrounded by Parisians reading and relaxing. Rachael does Parisian quite well! On to the Palais Royal with confusing queues, and a fancy metro entrance, Past the Louvre, with spectacular dressage posing, …and ridiculous(ness) from those that should know better! Past the little Arc de Triomphe thingy, with the quick entry to the Louvre on each side which no one uses… …past a naked women or two! …and first port of call, on Cards recommendation, is Musée de l’Orangerie which houses works of art from Monet with his water lilies, thru to …

On to Paris

Our time in Chamonix has come to an end, a fascinating town filled with shops, cafes, hotels and a bit of ritz. Even a small casino Specks managed, surprisingly, to spend some time in! One last walk around town while Rachael, Amanda & Leeanne went for a run… Breakfast, then a quick look at the local market. We took a wide berth from this cheese stall after Lucy informed us that a cocker spaniel had jumped up, licked the rind of the cheese then ran away. Not to be perturbed, the owner simply wiped the rind with a tea towel and continued selling his fromage. What dog???? There it is!!! Here’s something for Dan, St Bernard owner! Then we all slowly drifted off to various points of the globe. Amanda, Paul, Rachael & I are on the same TGV train from Genève to Paris, a fast train which only takes 3 hours to travel the 450kms between the cities. Who would have thought a fast train could work? Food for thought, Australia? Our train left …