Today the final of the Tour De France is on. Sharon and Paul left early to get a good spot while Steve and I decided to do some shopping and visit the Rodin Museum. However it would appear that nothing in the central district is open on Sundays! Oops. So it was off to the Rodin Museum instead for the day.
Works of Rodin are housed inside a lovely building but the most interesting stuff is in the gardens which are spectacular. On reflection I would suggest paying the 1 Euro for the garden entry and don’t bother with the museum. That is just my personal opinion as I have decided I really am not a Rodin fan. I will admit though that the sculpture “The Kiss” is rather cool but not worth the extra 5 Euro to view it. Maybe I just don’t get his work but many of the models and poses seem to come across as being quite tormented and uncomfortable. On a positive note, the gardens are spectacular and we spent the day lounging and snoozing in the garden chairs in the sun. It reached 28-29 degrees today so it was perfect for a spot under a tree out of the sun. Well worth a visit to see the gardens.
Yesterday we visited Montmartre and found the restautrant that we love La Relais Garcon. The salads from here are phenomenal. Thanks Axel for introducing this place to us. We look forward to it every time we come to Paris. At this stage, we are now incredibly tired, feet are sore, spending money is getting low but we have enjoyed Paris yet again. This city, the culture, the lifestyle, the people, food and the ease of the metro totally rocks! As we have said before, smile, use what french you have to try to communicate (don’t be obnoxious and expect everyone to speak english, you are in their country) and many great experiences will unfold before you.
It is now Saturday and over the last 7 days we have seen and done so much.
Although we didn’t see too much of Geneva I don’t think it has met my expectations. I thought it would be a architecturally rich city using interesting modern design but this did not appear to be the case.
Chamonix surprised me to no end as to the beauty and quaintness of the region. Very Swiss in look and feel but still french through and through and very proud of this. The people here were always friendly and willing to help, even going out of their way to assist us on occassion. Nestled in the valley surrounded by towering mountains, Chamonix has all the aspects that you would imagine for an alpine, sporting region. With incredible casual walks, full on hiking, climbing, skiing, ice climbing, canoeing, paragliding, mountain biking the list goes on as to all the sports you could get into here. The price of food is significantly more expensive here but if you are clever, shop around using the supermarkets and use the kitchen if you have hired an apartment then you can still save some money.
Grenoble again was a surprise. Surrounded by hills it is a bigger city with a smaller town feel. I really enjoyed this place but would still probably pick Chamonix over all of them. The cable car was great fun and the river (Isere) wonderful to watch as it flys by. It doesn’t seem to be a place though that people use as a base for sports like in Chamonix.
Finally, Paris. We love this place. Currently it is warm, sunny and great summer concerts are on along the Seine, with music, dancing, petanque, fencing, “beaches” that have been created along the Seine river walls, people eating, laughing and watching the world go by. More on Paris later as we have to get going. Off to Montmartre today.
Another spot in Chamonix that we went to was Mer De Glace (sea of ice) called so due to the bands that seem to look like waves on the sea on top of the glacier. I think this is the 2nd largest glacier in France? Something like that. Anyway, here are some more photos. My favourite bit was the caves cut into the glacier.
We are sitting here in the sun next to the Office de Tourisme in Chamonix, France writing this to you. It is a free connection and the number of travellers here sitting around in the sun is great to see. We are all frantically checking emails, blogging and calling home on Skype.
On Saturday, after an hour and a half delay our Easyjet flight finally took of to Geneva. We thought we might miss our connection from Geneva to Chamonix but it appears that others were running late as well.
What can I say about the countryside and Chamonix but magnificent. The mountains are as spectacular as the South Island yet more accessible. What I mean from this is that you can climb, ski, walk, mountain bike, ice climb etc etc all with ease in this area. It caters for all levels of fitness and ability.
The favourite things so far – Mer de Glace and the train ride up to this glacier. The walk out to the glacier was nice but more spectacular was the ice cave carved into the ice. The cable car was stopped midday due to high winds so this meant quite a hike up to the top, but we did it!
Today, Monday was the trip up to Mont Blanc. The weather wasn’t looking that great but as we got higher we cleared the clouds and were on top of the world. Incredibly breathtaking.
The cable car up to Aiguille du Midi is well worth the 38 Euro. Tomorrow we head for Grenoble. Photos to be posted soon as this battery is about to run out.
p.s. finally got another internet connection although briefly so here are some shots so far…In addition to the above. We all suffered from altitude sickness in one form or another. Myself experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath, slight headache and a feeling of nearly passing out. Cool!
Can you believe that this is the second carnival we have attended at St Pauls. I can’t anyway. We did this on Saturday last weekend but I had forgotten to do a blog about it. Anyway, the weather was miserable but it stopped raining in time for the parade. We managed to get some photos before the parade of everyone getting prepared but they seemed quite scattered this year so we didn’t know where to go to get the main photos of the main groups preparing. Anyway, this is a small sample of the colour and vibrancy that is the St Pauls Carribbean Carnivale. There was a rather large police presence this year due to some unfortunate incidents including alcohol and knives last year but we found the mood to be fun loving and happy. Welcome to England.
We are back from house sitting and had a lovely day in London to meet up with another friend from Australia.
Penelope was only in London for one day so we drove down on Sunday, parked at Kew and navigated the London rail system to Hampstead to meet up with her. It was a rather miserable day so we chose to sit in a cafe, Carluccio’s, for a coffee. After having placed our order Steve noticed that the barista had an Australian accent so he was quick to change our order to flat whites! We miss flat whites! The Aussie (from Brisbane but lived in Sydney for 10 years) was happy to make them and little did we know that it would create a huge debate amongst the italian staff wanting to know what a flat white was. Very humourous indeed. They were convinced that what we were asking for was similiar to an Americano. NO WAY! Next they believed it was similar to a macchiato. Close but not quite.
So what is a flat white? 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk which has been volumised (therefore it is a bit thicker in consistency but def. NOT frothed) then served in a small cup (215-240ml size) so it is a relatively strong coffee.
Anyway, we ended up having 2 of these each. Bliss.
It was great catching up with Penelope and felt like we had seen her just yesterday not over a year ago. We then went for a few photos up on the heath before we departed. The Hampstead area is pretty nice, obviously a rather wealthy area judging by the homes and cars parked around the place. Steve is now convinced that the Maserati is his car of choice!