Location: Brisbane, Australia
Even though I am home now this is my travel journal and I'm going to add in the last couple of days that I was too lazy to do before......
Firstly on friday morning I went to the Invalides which is a former army hospital turned museum and it's attached to the chapel that houses Napoleon's tomb. If you have ever been to Paris and seen a big gold dome roof building, that's the chapel. The tomb though, is huuuuuge. The chapel has a below ground lower story cut out in the middle and it's open and when you look in that's the casket. It's massive though, probably at least four meters high and way wide and long for just a little guy. Napoleon wsn't that big a guy. I wonder though, he was well out of power and favour and actually in exile when he died so it' surprising that he was given such a spectacle of a tomb. I guess while he was on top though, he did alot for France.
So then it was still early in the day so I went to the Musee D'Orsay which is a gallery with works starting from about 1850 to the early 1900's. I wasn't too impressed with the collection, for two reasons. It was impressionist, which is not my fave, and also while they had some big names, I am the kind of person who knows just by looking at the painting whether or not I like it. So there were monet and rodin and manet and van gough, but they just weren't my cup of tea. Actually there was one I did like though, which is called Whistler's Mother, if you have heard of it, and I kind of liked it, at least better than all of Van Gough's flower arrangements and Monets water lilies!
Then after that I accidentally went shopping........on purpose!!!!!!
There are a couple of faves that I have found. I really liked Zara for clothes, it had some really nice little dresses, then there is this store called Sephora which is just like a cosmetics, perfume etc store. Sounds boring but it has all the make-up brands that I love like nars and stila and make-up forever (hard to find at home), so I just had to make a couple of purchases there.... After that then I was ready for one last museum, called the Pompidou, and this was right up my alley, for sure! It's all modern art, so has everything from Picasso and Dali and Joan Miro and a whole room of Philip Stark stuff and all these bright and colourful peices that I loved. I would prefer something that looks like it was done by a kindergarten student than a boring landscape, as long as they used plenty of colour!
So Saturday was my birthday, which was fun, so I decided to go out and have breakfast first of all. I hadn't yet had a hot chocolate for the whole trip, which are meant to be very nice so I tried one. Big mistake!! It was literally like drinking a cup of melted chocolate. Too much for me.... Then I went to the markets to see what I could find. I was hoping for bits of jewellery and scarves and a couple of antique stalls but it was mostly clothing, for guys. I did find one scarf though, so not a total waste of the morning. With lunch I just had to have a birthday cocktail so tried a kir royal, which was very nice :)
Then I had a brainwave of exactly what I could do fun for my birthday. Perfect idea.....The new Sex and the City movie!!! I found a cinema that screened it in original english, just with french subtitles, so I got my popcorn and malteasers and it was just awesome! Funniest movie for sure. The whole cinema was packed out with not a spare seat and everyone was cracking up the whole way through and then at the end everyone clapped and cheered!!!!
So, meanwhile back in Australia my brother and his wife had their new baby girl, on my birthday! Best present ever! I have suggested a fantastic middle name, Hannah, of course.
Unfortunately I had to leave early the next morning, but at least this flight wasn't delayed. Got back to Mum and Dad's and then for my last full day we went to Switzerland for lunch. I love saying that. Oh yes, we just popped over to Switzerland for a coupe of hours. It was only about just over an hour on the train I think, so that was handy. And how awesomely awesome, I got me a swiss army knife, from switzerland!!!! How many peope can say that now huh!!!!
I finally managed to buy some shoes while I was on holiday too, a pair of gold sandals!! I couldn't go home without any new shoes, I don't care how many cute dresses I got!
The flight was fine, and I even got to sleep for about 6 hours in Japan in my hotel, which made up for the lonely hour I got in all the flying....12 hours and then 9 hours.....sigh!
Aaaaanyway, am all back now and couldn't be happier with how the whole trip went. I didn't get sick, I saw heaps of stuff, ate heaps of different things and met some cool people. I am already thinking of where to go next.......
I'm going to have a go at typing on this funny french keyboard, but if my a's are q's and my m's are commas.....I tried.
So when I arrived here on Sunday I couldn't check into my hotel straight away as it was still too early so I wandered down to the Islands in the middle of the city and had a look around. I went into this church that used to be the official royal church. It was bizarre, in that at the bottom there was a whole chapel, mosaic and stain glass and all, which was just for the servants. Then, go upstairs to the proper church and it's basically an entire huge room with stain glass covering every wall, if you can imagine that. It must have taken a couple of years to build back then. Apparantly there are something like a thousand little pictures, each in a set telling a story.
So after that I was tired so when back to the hotel and checked in and had a nap. I think I mostly had a nap because I haven't had the opportunity to just do that staying in hostels..... so nice.
Sunday evening I went to the Eiffel tower. It probably took me about at least two hours by the time I started lining up til I got to the very top. It's actually two elevators, one to the second level, then another to the very top. I thought I was done lining up but when I got to the second level and went to take the next elevator..... another half an hour line-up. The lift was a little nerve wrecking. It creaks and some guy was making stupid comments like what's that noise and going ooooohhhh.
Aaaaaanyway, it is a pretty awesome feeling looking down from the very top. Being so high up and all.....You can see all over Paris. The one thing though, it was freeeeezing!
So, Monday I went and took a cruise on the seine, and got to check out everything from the water, which was pretty nice. It was still miserable weather though, so I tried to find places to go inside. I went to the Notre Dame and checked that out too.
On Tuesday I went to Versailles, which took up the whooooole day. It was freezing again, so all my photos I have my brolly and rain hood on, but it wasn't going to stop me. I have thought about it though. I think Schonnbrunn was better in terms of presentation and conservation, but Verseilles is so famous you have to se it anyway. Tha gardens were very nice in versailles though. Some highly manicured bits with hedges and trees and then out the back in what they call Marie Antoinettes Domain it's a bit wild as that is how she wanted it, but it just makes it all the nicer, with different flowers and trees growing all amuck. The whole place though, was massively crowded, so I bet it would have been a whole lot more interesting if you could have had the opportunity to check everything out a bit more??
I did like like all the clocks though. There was this one from the original furniture that was a planet revolving thing at the top, then a clock face, then the date and year and day displayed, then a phases of the moon thing, all ornately displayed of course. The incredible thing is that it was entirely accurate, including the revolving solar system planets (minus a couple of planets) back 200 years ago!
Yesterday I put my walking shoes on and went to the Louvre. This is some undertaking, for those who have been there. 300,000 items displayed!! I took about 5 hours I think. Partly because I wanted to see alot, and partly because I couldn't find what I wanted to see!!!!
I saw Mona Lisa as well, and you know what? Right outside the very busy room that she is in, are a bunch more portraits by Da Vinci, I think just as nice, but that for some reason havn't become as famous??? I liked the Egypt and ancient history displays though. I saw a mummy laid out, and a whole bunch of different animals mummified as well. Everything from cats and birds to an entire alligator!! The crypts were pretty interesting too, with all the paintings and designs all over them.
Then yesterday afternoon I went to the Arc Di Triomphe. AND I managed to climb the 250 stairs to the top! And that was an undertaking, let me tell you!
I guess it prepared me for today when I climbed to the top of the Notre Dame, which is over 400 stairs to the very top!! You can't stop either as the whole thing is a very narrow winding staircase, and there are people behind you as well. My legs won't be thanking me tomorrow I don't think!
This afternoon I went to see the catacombs. I don't know if it's because they want to amp people up, but firstly you have to walk along about 500 metres of dimly lit quarries before you get to just corridors and corridors lined with bones. Some of the stacks even have patterns made with the skulls! Some of the skulls were all shiny too, and you could tell it's from all the people touching them.....gross. There must be half a million skeletons down there, at a conservative guess, from them exhuming cemetaries full and relocating the corpses all there about 150 years ago. At the start, before going in, there is a big sign saying that people caught removing bones would be handed to the police, and by the number of gaps where skulls used to be I guess it must have happened alot. At the exit there was a guy checking bags and he actually had a little pile of bones behind him on a bench so I guess they cought a few people today?? Who would want to take a skull home is beyond me. I like to see the gruesome stuff, but not even touch it let alone souvenir it! I was not pleased though at the end when it was yet another winding staircase to get back above ground..... :(
And now? I'm off to get something for dinner.
Location: Paris, France
Boujour from Paris. I am afraid to say this french keyboard is making me crazy with all the keys in the different spots so I'm not going to write much.....
But! Have already been to:
Eglise de la Madelaine
Arc di Triomphe
Cruising up the Seine
And have discovered a new treat!
Crepes with..... wait for it......Nutella!!!!
To die for, so good they qre giving the traditional style belgian waffles a run for their money!!!
Am attempting to catch up with pics though so hopefully have managed to attach some.... crossed fingers!
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Hello it's me again!
Just had my last lovely day in Belgium, as I am off to Paris tomorrow.
Yesterday I went to Brugge (Bruges) which is like an hour away on the train. It's very different again to anywhere else I've been. The buildings and streets are all very much intact from the 1600 and on, a couple older. I guess unlike alot of cities it must not have been damaged too much in either of the world wars, which is what ruined alot of european old architecture.
It's also on canals. A bit like Venice but not as extreme. There are no gondolas but you can go in a little boat and see most of the town. The city centre is quite small, and it's easy to walk through the whole thing. I walked around and looked at stuff for a while. There is a church that thinks it has a relic of christs blood, and in flemish or dutch (I'm not sure which) the church is called the bloed basilik. Pretty macabre sounding eh? They actually bring it out once a year and parade it around town and have a festival and stuff, and have done for a couple of centuries!! Crazy stuff. I also so a beguine village, which is a world heritage listed group of little houses which used to be where a bunch of women lived after their husbands all got killed in war etc. They sort of formed a commune and became nuns. It's really nice in the middle of all the houses though, a big old garden, and you can see in one of the houses which is still like it used to be. There are no more of the beguine nuns left today but their equivalent is a benedictine nun I think?? I still want to take a picture with a nun for novelty but haven't got the guts up to ask one to pose yet!!!!!!
I also did a brewery tour, but I have to say, it didn't hold much stock against the Cascade tour in Tassie. It was sort of the old stuff they don't use anymore, so you can see all the machinery and equipment, and they tell you how it would have worked, but in Tassie you get to see the whole thing in action which was much more interesting. The brewery though, caled the Half Moon, does a bear called Brugs Zot, or in english the Idiot from Bruges. Only in Belgium!!!
I also saw a Michalangelo sculpture, by chance. In this ugly old church apparantly many years ago someone was in italy and bought this Madonna and Child sculpture and brought it back and gave it to the church in Brugge, where it remains. Out of the way huh??
Last night I thought when I got home from Brugge I was tired, but that was until these crazy Canadians and some crazy spaniards and \i all started playing this drinking game here in the hostel. I hadn't played it before but it was alot of fun. Long story short it's with cards and you take turns and each card you pick means a different thing like how many shots you have to do, how many you can make someone else do, social chug, waterfull chug, sevens counting, this thumb on the table thing etc etc. The funny part was the spanish guys really didn't get the rules, so that was a crack up!! And, as we were drinnking here I still got to bed at a reasonable hour!
Today I wandered around and did some shopping. If anyone likes Tintin I saw a plastic model of him and snowy for 1250 euro. Spare change eh??? There must be some serious collectors to have that sort of thing in a shop!! Did you know also that the Smurfs are from Belgium??? They are actually called the Schtoumpf. I learned that the other day in the comic book museum.
This afternoon in the main square in town there is the Brussels Jazz Marathon. It's actually three days of concerts, with 250 gigs all around the city in different venues and clubs. It was pretty good, but it was starting to rain and I was cold so I came home.....
Heeeaaaps of people though. Brussels is pretty into it's jazz...
Anyway, I have to pack etc as tomorrow I am off to Paris!!!
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Helllloooo from Brussels.
I have made it to Brussels today, train trip not too bad. Kanye kept me entertained most of the way. Love my ipod on this trip! So Marseilles ended up being alot of fun. Perhaps too much on the night out that a few of the people staying at the hostel and I had..... Tad hungover yesterday, but you get that!! It was actually alot of fun. The hostel had a really nice bar so we started there and moved down to Port Vieux and to an Irish pub then a bar. I think my thing I liked most about Marseilles was that is was just so chill. All the people and the different activities I did, all very laid back. Annnnyyway, that has already changed here in Brussels. Tomorrow I am going to sightsee and then the day after that I'm off to Bruges for the day, and then I'll do more sightseeing for all the things I miss on the first day!!
I will try to see if I can't get some more photos uploaded too, but not many computers seem to have usb access :(
til next time...