Location: Paris, France
Arrived back in to Paris last night as we were finishing dinner. Once again the weather is kind to us and the conditions continue to be much warmer that we had anticipated. There was a shooting incident yesterday at Notre Dame but it not dampen the enthusiasm of anyone to go out on the Paris walking tour today. After being dropped off at the Place de la Concord there was a walking tour of the Tuileries, the up market shopping district and ending at the entertainment quarter and the Opera.
At the conclusion of the tour we decided not to take the coach back to the ship but to remain in the city area and in due course make our way back to the ship on foot. After a stop for a cafe latte, and then lunch, passing the Eiffel Tower we arrived back at the ship. All in all the walk took about 4 hours but it was a slow pace. As we passed the Place de la Concord on the return 2 plan clothed police officers were wresting a young man to the ground. We did not see what caused the incident.
The area between the where the ship is moored and the Eiffel Tower is grotty. There are many African appearance men selling trinkets asking tourists to bet on where the thimble is. Around this area of the river there are many old barges which are used as houses.
The 2 cruises are now all but completed except for tonight's dinner. Tomorrow morning we all leave the ship and head off to various locations. Our pick up is 3pm for a 6:30pm flight.
Singapore - here we come.
Location: Conflans Sainte Honorine, France
We have both been interested in Vincent Van Gogh for a long time and we visited the winter Van Gogh exhibition in Melbourne before we left on this holiday so the opportunity to visit the area where he spent his final days was not to be missed. He died in a tiny hotel room in the town of Auvers-Sur-Oise. He clearly had a troubled mind and the conventional wisdom is that he shot himself. However recent research by some American journalists has cast some doubt on the theory. It was suggested by these researchers that he was shot by two teenagers who had recently harassed him. Whether the shooting was intentional or accidental is obviously unknown.
Auvers-Sur-Oise is located just a little more than 30 km from the centre of Paris.
Van Gogh painted furiously during the 70 days he lived at Auvers-Sur-Oise. Many of the paintings were of the wheat fields and surrounds. As in Provence there are a number of sites and views where he painted identified with a copy of the painting standing at the point where he actually did the painting. It is a great experience to stand in these places and in the room where he died.
Our ship arrived in Conflans Sainte Honorine overnight and during the afternoon we took the opportunity for a brief walk around parts of the town. The town gets its name from where a tributary of the Seine joins the river. The vista of the river here is spoiled by the number of old and sometimes decaying residential river barges which are permanently moored here
Location: Omaha Beach, France
I thought that we had arrived on the set for a new series of Foyles War as we arrived at Omaha Beach. All of this week there are activities to make the D Day landings of 1944. Our arrival here at this time was just fortuitous but it did add to the experience. At this time of the year many enthusiasts as well as veterans come here to remember. The enthusiasts have old US army jeeps and a small number of military vehicles. Most of the drivers and passengers are dressed in military and period costume.
Our first look at the stretch of beach encompassing all of the landing areas is 8km in length was at Arromanches. The sand and the broad aspect has a lot of the features of the beach at Lorne looking back to Aireys Inlet.
After lunch we moved on to Omaha Beach but first to the US army cemetery there. Here there are almost 7000 soldiers buried. The Americans do war memorials and cemeteries well. The gardens are pristine. Shortly after arriving there was slow level fly over of 8 US military aircraft. This was all part of the celebrations and it certainly added atmosphere to the occasion. Also while there the American national was played over the loud speaker at the memorial centre, everyone stopped walking and men took off their hats in the most respectful way possible.
The visit concluded with a brief walk on the beach itself. It was a great day.
Location: Mackay, Australia
Time to pack up and head off home.
Mackay will be remembered as a windy place and not much else to recommend it. There were two place we found that are of some interest. The marina area adjacent to our hotel. We did not eat there but there were several restaurants that on the surface looked interesting. The other being the Eimo hotel - it would be a pity to come to Mackay and not visit it. The view is magnificent and on a warm and balmy night it would be enjoyable.
Location: Mackay, Australia
This is all new country to us and that is why we decided to take the trip. So far it has lived up to expectations. Each stage from Port Douglas to Mackay was designed to be around 4-5 hours each day. There are some marked differences in the terrain. From Innisfail to Airlie Breach it is clearly sugarcane territory. However it goes from tropical around Cairns to dry around Innisfail back to reasonably moist around Mackay.
The road is quite flat for all of the trip. There are however a range of hills/mountains to the right almost all of the distance.
Along the way we made 2 deviations. First to Mission Beach and the second to Airlie Beach. The latter was somewhat of a surprise. The town was much larger than expected. A cosmopolitan shopping and eating area with steep hills rising from the Whitsundays full of apartments that would have magnificent views of the water.
Location: Townsville, Australia
Grey overcast skies and the occasional shower of rain was the order of the day for the drive form Port Douglas to Townsville. All up, including some brief stops the total time take was about 6 hours.
Stops were made in Mission Beach and then Ingham. In both cases they were short. Mission Beach has changed a little since we were last there which is approximately 4 years ago.. Since our time there a cyclone went through and effectively destroyed many of the buildings. The small shopping area which includes some eateries looks like they would be a good place to enjoy a lunch.
The only town that is actually on the water is Cardwell which is the launching point for Minchenbrook Island. Cardwell is an attractive well kept town.
Cane fields dominate the landscape from Innisfaill to Townsville. Many of the rail carriages were fully loaded and I expect in the next few days they will be taken to the refinery.
The further south we travelled the landscape clearly changed. Near Townsville the undergrowth is dry and the trees do not grow as tall and green as they are in Cairns and beyond.
On arrival I am surprised at how big Townsville is. Accommodation tonight is the Quest on Palmer St in Townsville
Location: Port Douglas, Australia
After 6 days at one of our favourite locations, the Peninsula Hotel its time to pack up and move on. But before that a farewell dinner is needed. Another favourite was chosen and that was Harrison's. The ambience is really good and near Nautilus standard but not quite there. The meal and the service were good but we did not think right up the standard they have set in the past. Nevertheless still a good way to finish up in Port Douglas
Location: Port Douglas, Australia
Well here we are again in the great getaway from Melbourne. Weather not perfect but the air is warm.
First night dinner at the Tin Shed. Tonight dinner in the balcony at the Peninsula Hotel.
Must head off now for pre-dinner drinks
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne is cold and often bleak at this time of the year and so therefore why not head off to Port Douglas and other parts of FNQ.