A Travellerspoint blog

Hey the wine is cheap in Paris,

Queues,queues and more queues- just how many people really live here?

sunny 24 °C

Well, our group finally reunited in our Paris appt on Easter sunday in Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, 9th Arrondisment (district that is…somewhere between the Moulin Rouge in Montmatre and the Louvre on the Seine!)

We greeted our weary compatriots (lisa, Clare and Robyn had trained it over from St Malo on the Brittany coast) with some fresh baguette,local fromages and a home prepared meal…..well, we bought it fresh and served it up- Biggest damn chook I ever did see and some freshly cooked veggies…almost like home!

And speaking of home, at last we have a place with a comfy couch,3 bedrooms,2 bathrooms and a bit of space! Its lovely travelling with friends but you do need a bit of your own space at times….we were right opp the Metro line directly into Concorde (next to Louvre, Musee etc) so once we got our bearings and got a carnette of tickets( we bought 20 at a time…and we can each use x 1 ticket for each journey- very easy!)

We spent our first full day together walking up thru Montmarte firstly checking out the famous Moulin Rouge….( it was only a few blocks away!)…pretty disappointing to say the least…but its pretty tired and has been going for so long It deserves to have a bit of history behind it!)…
We walked around the corner to the Montmartre cemetery where we all split up in search of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wildes graves….amongst many others….and what a spectacular place it is….incredibly old mausoleums up hill and down dale!...It looks like the set of a horror film complete with black cats and rather horrid looking crows!...after wandering around for ages Clare started chatting with the cat man there- he feeds them! We found out we were in the wrong bloody cemetery!! Shhheesshhh!
Continuing up the hill toward Sacre Couer church- the highest point in Paris besides the Eiffel tower, we meandered up through great little curvy cobblestone streets discovering interesting shops,cafes etc.

Once we hit the church (so to speak) we all split up and checked it out…quite beautiful with a wonderful view of Paris….smog et al! Mahony did her climbing thing again and scaled the 350 spiral steps up into the dome of the Cathedral! There she got a 360o view of the city!

So with blistered feet and sore knees we decided to descend the hill by finniculi ( always wondered where that 60s song came from !) it cost 1.50euro and descended all of about 100metres!......hardly worth the trouble really but put it down to experience I guess.
From there we did a spot of shopping, had lunch- (gallettes…a buckwheat crepe with savory filling) and got the Metro to see the Musee D’Orsay….all to discover it isn’t open on a Mon! …..hey, we are the mighty travelers! So we wandered around the beautiful Tuillerie gardens near the Louvre then finally made it home for tea…

Its been really warm in Paris with some quite hot days so we thought it appropriate to do the River cruise again…at night! Its so lovely, easy thing to repeat… after that the others ( not me with heights!) scaled to the top of the Eiffel Tower again….and what an exquisite thing it is at night…..not so the 100s and 100s of annoying hawkers underneath constantly hassling to sell bloody mini Eiffel tower souvenirs!

Each night we’ve been in Paris we’ve had the pleasure of fantastic wine, cheese ,baguette and of course those fabulous macaroons (Lauderee!) ….so of course, when in Rome….well, at least Paris…that’s what you do! And so we have indulged as we can…and given our starts aren’t as early as they could be…well, I think the rouge,blanc and bubbly might have something to do with it..
Shopping in St Germain is fantastic but purely the window type…as shops such as Dior, Armani etc were in abundance…so Clare, Mahony and I stopped at Bonapartes café and enjoyed a nice bottle of red…(well, actually I needed to go to the loo and thought it the only way to find a decent one! Quite xxy at 30euro…but a nice chance to people watch all the same!)
That night we had more wine, macaroons and meringues (violet,lemon and pistachio!!)
What a nice way to spend a night in Paris!
On Wed we all got up early (albeit with sore and slow heads!) and headed off for the Palace of Versailles which is about 40 minutes out of Paris by train…so we joined a few thousand of our dearest travel mates to the mighty palace of King Louis 14,15 and 16th!!

Mon Dieu!! Have you ever been there? The gold was sparkling as we walked up the street towards the main gates!!!! Gold, gold and more gold…the French Govt are restoring the original roof which is nearly complete and gilt edged completely! Not only is the palace ridiculously huge, ornate and completely over the top….it goes on for miles and miles of exquisite gardens beyond! Too big in fact for our sore and bruised legs…so we hired golf carts to get around the estate….heaps of fun….and in fact, Lisa would’ve preferred we hire Segways…but didn’t get organized in time..and not sure Robyn would’ve been seen dead with us on those gizmos! Down at the back of the grounds is Petite Trianon…the home of Marie Antoinette…quite a modest little chateau by comparison but quite beautiful with her self contained lifestyle and lovely garden out the back of the big joint!

We got a private tour of the kings private chambers – quite revealing and astonishing- he had a red velvet toilet seat! And an exquisitely mosaiced bidet! Massive gold clocks in every room, enormous tapestries, silk drapes, and in the stables even the bloody horses had their own orchestra..such was his affinity with music.
An 8 year old Mozart was summoned to court to teach him piano! And every room had gold gilt moulded ceilings!

No wonder the people revolted!

A fantastic day but exhausting once again- can we keep this up?
Tomorrow we pack up for a few days in Loire Valley….need to get our beauty sleep!
Cheers x

Posted by Escapees 13:37 Archived in France Tagged paris versailles montmatre Comments (1)

"I love Paris in the Springtime......."

but you have to keep off the grass apparently!!

sunny 27 °C
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Well, our first full day in Paris....
you'll have to wait and hear how the other intrepid travellers went after our split. Clare, lisa and Robyn all left us to our own devices in London for a couple of days while they toddled off down to the south of England...then got a ferry across the channel to St malo...they'll meet us on Easter Sunday when we all move into our Paris appt together!
In the meantime....here are some of the things we did up to then...well, Mahony took one look at the magnicifience of the Eiffel Tower and couldn't resist the urge to get to the top...and i mean top....about 375metres up in the Parisian sky....god, how brave is she scaling up to the 3rd level...moi, je prefer terra firmar and I stayed away from as much vertigo as I could. She very kindly took a small photo of Immy with her as Immy is a confirmed francophile and cant wait to get her herself...so we thought we'd help her up and up she went....apparently, quite a novelty for all the high achievers up there wanting to help and take photos for Mahony!!
We took a tour around Paris on the off/off bus and that was greast to get your bearings.....Actually, Paris is pretty easy to navigate once you get to the Seine....its all pretty close together and doing the sites is relatively easy....the Metro( like the London Underground) is also really efficient....
We got to see the Louvre,Musee D'Orsay, Jardin de Tuileries,Grand Palace, Tocadero,L'arc de triomphe, Champs Elysees and I can go on....and its all as fabulous and impressive as I'd seen in books,etc...
We did a lovely and relaxing sunset cruise along the Seine.....and so beautiful as the sun sets over Paris....the Eiffel Tower lights up and intermittantly goes into sparkle mode and the whole city seems to go......whhhhhooooooooo! tres jolie....

On Easter sunday morning we met up with Max Veljanovski...( Lupco and Antoinettes son living in Paris).I'd bought him a few essentials from home...eg tim tams, milo etc...you know the kind of stuff! he was so helpful and lovely to us...we went to a farmers type market under the railway station and got some basics to move into the appt....being a public holiday it would be tough to get to a supermarket...or supermarche!....
he gave us some useful phrases....
Desolee, je ne parle pas Francais- sorry, i dont speak french....
Ca ecoute combien? -how much is that....? a french essential!
Quel direction pour le...... what direction is the .....?

have tried in vain to use these when we can....but thankfully, most people know inherantly we 're not french ( wonder how!!)and help out with their broken english.....! and contrary to what most people say....they're not rude or arrogant, sometimes a bit indifferent-they're french and we need to respect their culture /language and just try as best we can....Max told us they like us to try..but they dont expect us to be fluent of course....just be willing to have a go....and a go we have had!...with some hilarious results...poor buggers...!
I nearly bought some lovely fresh cherries thinking, how cute in this little wooden box....and unwittingly got them bagged up and totalled to 55 euros.....!!! cant read it or speak it!! ssshhhhessshhh!
Max helped us over to Rue de Notre Dame de Lorette- in the 9th district where we took over the appt...2 floors up in a typically,tiny,meandering french st not far from everything really....great location and lovely appt chosen by Clare!
By the time the other 3 had negotiated x 3 trains from the Brittany coast...Mahony and i had filled the elusive fruit bowl( sans cherries!!) and perpared a meal fit for a Roi!!!
They were tired and weary travellers and after dragging their heavy luggage up 2 flights of very steep steps were more than ready for a nice glass of wine...and some crunchy baguette with cheese....

And I reckon baguettes are better than sliced bread!
cheers for now- Moy x

Posted by Escapees 14:28 Archived in France Tagged paris eiffel tour seine Comments (0)

Day 14- I am no madamoiselle!!

Dont you know the meaning of the word 'NON"!!!!!!

This blogette is from Mahony- we like to use French colloquillisms here!!

Currently knocking back another glass of La Croix De Marbuzet, day 14 feeling good.

Departed London 1132 on the Eurostar. Very smooth, comfortable trip into France- this form of transport is to be thoroughly reccommended. I needed to go to the toilet, so set off to find the nearest loo. After trying to follow directions in French to go to the toilet I was forced to ask some-one for assistance only to be told in no uncertain terms "I dont speak english". I found the toilet only to discover that I needed some form of euro centime in order to access it. As I didn't have any the next option was to put it on the woman in front of me to squeeze through the turnstile with her. Call it paranoia but I felt like I'd broken the law 2mins after I'd arrived in Paris. When I got back to Moy she informed me that she'd been accosted by a gypsy so we hightailed it out of that station before anything else untoward took place.
Got a lovely cab driver who took us to our destination very near to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately our room is on the opposite side to the tower so we have been robbed of a view which we are a bit sad about. The tower it has to be said is so incredible, but alas we feel its beauty is marred by pushy sellers of eiffel tower crap, that outnumber the number of tourists. Okay slight exaggeration but they are everywhere and we think it is a real shame- hence the subheading on this blog.
We then wandered along the Seine, absolutely beautiful, eventually returning to a local restaurant for dinner and a drink. Moy experienced real French vanilla ice-cream along with tarte tartin. She said it was to die for but you know Moy- she talks so much shit. I had an omelette which went back to the kitchen- won't be ordering that again. Who said French food was good, even I can cook eggs!!
We then walked back home, under the Eiffel tower all lit up, just beautiful- but such a terrible waste of power. Moy and I tried to find the powerpoint to turn it off, but to no avail.Sorry for poor attempt at humour- the french wine is indeed very good.
Tomorrows plans are for the off on bus, then on to the Musee D,orsay. Perhaps a liitle Parisian shopping if time persists. Have had a few text messages from Clare who tells me they are having a fab time. Have spent time at the Brighton Beach, shopped, then boarded ferry. Ferry trip was luxurious all the way, calvados had with the captain,( those girls are turning into real floozies), into St Malo and headed straight for the creperie.
Hopefully when we hook up with them on Sunday they will enlighten you more with news of their travels.

( Moy here again!)Ok its now 10.30 pm....really hot and so Mahony and I decide to go and see what colour the tower is now...we can see it reflecting madly on the Mercure Hotel wall ahead of us- so I told her we should wear our scarves ( with a french accent!) and Mahony decides to wear the Hotel scuffs instead......! we are such a glamourous pair of Aussie chicks here in Paris!!!

First night in Paris in alL my life and I am sleeping in a queen size bed with Moy .OMG

ps. from moy here again....well, you know you bitch! It wasnt exactly the way I dreamed it either baby!!
hope the snoring doesnt disturb you too much...you know how this cold has upset my nasal passages! ha

Posted by Escapees 14:51 Comments (3)

A few days in.....

Heading from Chester-Bath-London!

sunny -19 °C
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Well, we`re a bit behind the blogging schedule unfortunately....Its a hard job touring around the English countryside, walking up hill and down dale then collapsing at the end of a long day- buggered and hitting the sack pretty early. Then the day starts again...
So to summarize the last few days and get us up to date...I`ll dot points our movements!

We left Viv and Anns place on Thurs morning- then headed off southish,westish (Cheshire and beyond!)...but wherever we were it was brilliant green English countyside. I drove ( thats Moy here!) while Lisa navigated the trusty google map directions- expertly we got ourselves successfully down to Bath .
What a stunning place Bath is... quite different to Chester with its magnificent Georgian architecture and absolute postcard perfect landscape everywhere.
We couldn`t check into our B and B until later so while Lisa, Clare and Robyn wandered around on foot to see the Royal crescent etc Mahony and I ducked into to see the Jane Austin museum.
About 5 pm we finally checked into our beautiful BandB called` Friary Wood` about 10mins out of Bath- 150 yr old home loveingly restored by a nice couple- John and Deb. We had an attic appt overlooking typical English wood complete with pool and masses daffodils and bluebells everywhere- We still have to pinch ourselves at the beauty of this place!
There is one small issue that the 5 of us seem to have...and that is our luggage is really maxxed out...and we have to lug all these heavy suitcases up flights of stairs...including here we had an extrememly tight fit staircase up into the attic! Ugh..we need to watch our backs!

John suggested a meal at a local country pub and arranged a taxi for us...so we were picked up and driven to a 700 year old pub called the George Inn- in a place called Norton St Phillip- this pub has remained largely untouched and is still decked out with original fittings-
very picturesque and was used in `The remains of the day` with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins ( correct me here Ken!)

This pub was the site of the Monomouth Rebellion in 1610 - Britains last civil war!-

Day 7- Friday
awoke to misty country morning...Friary Wood has squirrels,pheasants, black faced sheep and birds of all kinds- abundant on their grounds.
Our day was already booked up with
1- Full morning tour in the Roman Baths- incredible interactive display around the baths( wonderful audio commentary by Bill Bryson too!)
2- magnificent3 course lunch in the Pump Room above the Baths
3- late afternoon session in the Thermal Spa!!!
What could be better than that eh?
Needless to say...it was fantastic and we ended the day exhausted but exhilerated at the same time!

We learnt lots that day....but interestingly that the bathing process of the ancient romans was quite involved and after oiling themselves, they`d have steam baths( multiple) then have their skin scraped to assist in cleaning before plunging themselves into the warm springs- Well, these scrapings of dead skin, sweat,stray hairs and copious other bodily fluids were collected and if the bather happened to be a celebrated gladitators- were made into a face mask for the lucky woman (usually) who collected it!!!!

Day 8- Saturday
Off to London via....Salisbury plains and Westbury first where we say one of the famous White Horse carved into the chalk hills- 1000s of years ago by the Saxons- Quite an impressive site¬!
Lacock was our next stop ...its a veritable visit back in time going to this village...its where they film many period pieces here. `Pride and Prejudice`, Emma, The Cransfords,
The Abbey there is beautiful and was used in a few of the Harry Potter films....looking like Hogwarts- particularly in some of the darkenend rooms!
After Lacock and pub at the Red Lion- we moved onto Avebury- another amazing place where the famous Stone Circle surrounds the town.
The stones date back to the Bronze age 4-5000 years ago

Stonehenge was our last stop before London- Incredible and very well organized tourism there! It was verging on late afternoon and what an imposing site it is on the horizon as you come upon it on the landscape.

2 hours later we finally got into London thanks to Lisas navigation¬!And what a huuuuge place it is!

more soon!! ( cheers Moy x)

Posted by Escapees 13:57 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london chester bath stonehenge Comments (4)

London is a bloody big city

people,people everywhere!

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Day 9
Staying at Natalie and Jays place in Hatchend, Harrow we decided to get up early and get into London by tube. Took tube from Rayners Lane into Knightsbridge and got out at the Victoria and Albert Museum…..what an entry into London…busy, hustle and bustle of a fantastic museum…. After a couple of hours there we had lunch at Harrods food hall and marvelled at such a fantastic place to shop!....things we’d never imagined possible all rolled up in this foodlovers mecca!
Harvey Nichols was close by with terrific window displays….From there we ventured to Hyde park for a Sunday afternoon stroll with a few thousand other people all lazing about enjoying the unseasonally hot London weather….I reckon I could do a English toilets guide with my middleaged frequency….something which is problematic with 5 women tourists! (well, me particularly!) and facing endless queues for everything makes it all a little trickier at times….( apols to my fellow eurogirlies!)

London is amazing, huge, historic, interesting, quaint and frantically hectic- all rolled into one..and not for the faint-hearted if you don’t like crowds! I guess with the Royal Wedding next week, Easter and local school holidays its even busier than normal-

So to finish our first night in this great city we had a few drinks at “Bunch of Grapes”pub
( such fantastic names for places here- or maybe the owner has a haemorrhoidal problem!) and headed back…I reckon we walked our legs off that day! Stuffed and ready for bed and and prepare for another day…

Day 10 – Hey, its Lisas birthday!! She’d planned on spending the day with her brother Andrew and family so Robyn, Clare, Mahony and I got on the tube again…we got a 26pound on/off bus ticket and did a couple of hours on top of a double decker bus…we saw all the major sites and with an open topped bus…you really feel the perspective and size of the city…Nelsons column in Trafalgar Sq,Tower bridge,Westminster Abbey,Tower of London,Big Ben and the houses of Parliament…after a quick lunch stop at the National Gallery we took in an hour or so of culture( fabulous,free and easy to get around!) we got back on the bus, got down to the Thames and caught the ferry back to Westminister by water.What a way to see the sights of London!
Quote of the day-
Whilst walking across Westminister” and under the incredibly huge and ornate Big Ben….Clare asked ‘has anyone got the time…?.”
To which Mahony replied ‘Just a minute I’ll get out my phone to see”

Pardon the logic…but I couldn’t help myself….Big Ben is the biggest bloody clock in the world…so I said… ‘ why don’t you look up ! ha!

We found a great little pub- The Victoria at Victoria station and had typically stodgy English pub meal….Roast beef and Yorkshire pud!
I gotta say…most of the food here is rather stodgy and the coffee is pretty crappy…but I think tea is the best way to go…it seems to taste a whole lot better in England!!
And speaking of all things fantastic here…..the Underground was brilliant for us…

  • Easy to navigate (once you get used to the map!)
  • Feels safe…always full of people
  • Cheap..
  • Incredibly quick and efficient
  • Swiping on with our Oyster card(like our Myki)but at least this one works everytime!

Day 11- Tues 19th April
Last full day at Natalies and Jays- they’ve been wonderfully hospitable putting the whole lot of us up for these few days! Very, very kind of them and we loved their gorgeous kids, Arthur,Oscar and little Ruby….I think they enjoyed having us there but I’m sure they were glad to get their house back to normal!
Lisa had rels and friends to visit the the rest of us set off again…this time in another direction.. we went to northwestish…and got ourselves to Richmond where we planned on spending the day at Kew gradens- but first we got ourselves to Petersham nursery where Clare really wanted to visit-
It’s the home of Skye Gyngell- an aust chef living in the UK and running a Michelin star restaurant in the middle of this gorgeous rustic little nursery right on the river Thames…apparently, Mick Jagger et al live around here…a beautiful area,seeming like rural England but very close to town by tube….not that Mick would travel by tube I’m guessing!

Mahony and I left Robyn and Clare to the nursery where they enjoyed a sample of her beautiful cuisine …we got ourselves onto the walking path along the Thames and walked into Richmond….beautiful setting and postcard perfect from every angle…punts on the river with gorgeous little pubs, cafes along the rivers edge.
Richmond is a pretty town/suburb with great shopping. We found a pub had x 2 brandies! and could’ve spent the entire day there…..but had to meet the others so hopped a bus and met them at the main gates of Kew Gardens-
Kew Gardens is a great place to visit….especially when you’re coming down with a dreaded London lurgy…so while I had a very relaxing snooze beside the glasshouse and lake the others explored these beautiful grounds.
After a few hours there we got back to t and met Lisa, her brother Andrew,Rita, Lucia and Sasha,Lisas cousin Mark and Clarissa, Natalie and her boys- at an Italian eatery called –Ask- very nice dinner too!
We got home and packed up our gear again for our next leg!!!

Day 12

Early start to the day, Lisa dropped Moy and I off at Pinner Station, whilst she, Robyn and Clare prepare for their jaunt to Hampton Court and Great Dixter.
We got off at Baker St and after initially heading in the wrong direction made it to our hotel, the Sherlock Holmes Park Plaza. Settled in- must say Moy and I are grateful for our own space, (a slight reprieve for leaving our dirty undies lying around is sometimes necessary), and unfortunately Moy is feeling pretty lousy and doesn,t feel up to doing much, so this way she can have a bit of valuable time out.
I leave Moy in peace and set off to Oxford Street with a view to reach Leceister Square and purchase ½ ticks. Four hrs later I return, having shopped till I dropped and ticket to see Dirty Dancing in my purse. My god, what an experience Oxford Street was, I’ve never seen so many people shopping in one place and I’ve never walked so far when I’ve shopped in my life. Rob will be pleased to know I am spending all his money!!
Moy is feeling a bit rested- poor old love,- so she and I go for something to eat, then Moy had a bit of a wander while I go back to the hotel and make myself beautiful for this evening.
Show starts at 1930, leave about 1815 as I am to negotiate the tube. Won,t bore you too much with the ins and outs of this but was pretty relieved when I got there and even more relieved when I got back seeing as how familiar train travel at 2200 is not high on my agenda much let alone unfamiliar train travel. Show was fantastic and the theatre was gorgeous, so very pleased with this experience.
Moy is feeling a little better so into bed after a lovely day in anticipation of further experiences hoping Moy will be back on track tomorrow.Lisa, Robyn and Clare hopefully had a lovely day at Hampton court and The Great Dixter gardens…then staying at a pub in Rye- they’re travelling over to France on the ferry and we’ll meet them in our Paris Appt on Sun….hopefully, they’ll get to blog their travels asap!

Day 13-
Got up, feeling much better and the 2 of us got ourselves in Buck Palace….quite a to do there with mega preps for the Royal Wedding next week….we had hope that we’d see the changing of the guard but for some reason it was cancelled….maybe the new guards had taken sickies…and the old ones had to stay there….boy, they sure know how to stand still and now I know where the term- straight as soldiers comes from!
Did you know that if they feel faint…they have to fall directly forward even at risk of breaking their noses….if they don’t faint correctly they can be charged with not following protocol!!?>??? what the??
We were a bit underwhelmed by the whole palace thing and very disappointed that Liz didn’t show her face to her colonial constituents!! However, we took a few snaps and off we toddled to the Tate Modern!! And wow, was I impressed there>?
Such a fabulous gallery on the Thames and was surrounded by my very favourites…and all free ( gotta love the freebies!)
Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Klimt, Klee, Kandinsky, Warhol, and Lichtenstein!! Talk about wow factor- I got all overcome at being in the presence of such masters! Art heaven!
From there we hopped another bus up to Covent garden….fantastic place to explore and shop…had lunch at ‘the Marquis of Anglesea- fish n chips with mushy peas…mmmhhh!
Then continued up to Leicester square…We split up and I visited the British museum, then took hours to make my way back up Oxford st to the hotel…lots of fantastic shopping to be had there!!!
we had a really quiet night....feet really sore....and had an early on!! up early to get the Eurostar to
Look our Europe here we come!

Posted by Escapees 13:40 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london palace museum garden british buckingham modern tate covent Comments (1)

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