Category: Travel

Paris

Let me make something perfectly clear. France is fantastic, but I can’t stand Paris.

Bienvenue à Paris!

Bienvenue à Paris!

I first visited Paris as a high school freshman, and I was 14-years old. It was a high school trip, my first trip abroad without my parents. Actually, that trip went fine. I liked it so much, I returned on a high school trip for my sophomore year. That’s where the animosities with Paris begin.

Bridge Locks

The new thing in big cities, you can buy a lock, latch it to a bridge, and leave it there.

French girls are Amercian

... and all the pretty French girls were American.

Nothing bad happened to me personally, but the trip was full of negative events. My chaperone (and good family friend) had his pocket picked on the metro. A trip friend had his pocket picked at Le Place de la Concorde. He actually ran down the culprit and got his stuff back. There was another student, who was swindled out of $500, while waiting in line to exchange money at a train station.

Notre Dame

A walk along the Seine is well worth it.

The Center of Paris

This marker is in front of Notre Dame, and it marks the center of Paris. All distance measurements are taken from this point.

Front Door

Pssst...He's standing on that little guy's back.

We saw two traffic accidents. One happened right in front my chaperone. A car ran a red light, and hit a taxi. I heard my friend as he rushed to help, “Ça va? Ça va? ” The drivers leg was bleeding a bit. A horn from one of the wrecked cars blared on and on. Soon enough, firemen arrived, and they did everything they could to get the horn turned off.

The Facade

The facade catching the light.

Garoyles

Garoyles

Back to more current time, my family and I made a 2-night side trip to Paris. I was reluctant to go, but it was the kids’ first chance to see it. We drove to Marseille and took a fast train to Paris. One of my current travel mates thought we were crazy to go, and I agreed with him actually. He warned me of the “Romanians.” I don’t think he really meant Romanians. Perhaps he was making a derogatory reference about Gypsies. In any case, he was referring to hooligans, French or non-French, in general who move to Paris to take advantage of full-pocketed tourists.

pretty statue

A statue outside of Le Ping Pong Nu Salle de la Renommée de la France

Our hotel was on Rue St. Germaine, only a few blocks from Notre Dame. It was August, so there were very few French people in Paris. I kept saying, “All the pretty French girls are American!” The city was full of Americans, Brits, Italians, and Asians. The only people that spoke French were the frustrated waiters. In La Louvre, the Mona Lisa was mobbed by Americans, and the statue of Cupid and Psyche was swooned over by Italian girls.

Boo!

Boo!

Alas, Paris is still the Paris I recall from my highschool sophomore year. Our first morning there, we were crossing a bridge to Notre Dame where 2 “Romanians” apparently cased me for a mugging or more likely a pocket picking. I was out in front of my family, and these 2 guys approached from the other way. One specifically, stared me in the eyes as he walked at me. If I altered my step to the side, he matched me, and I knew he had a buddy. I knew he wanted bodily contact to rough me up while his buddy fished in my pockets. When we were almost nose-to-nose, I pulled a good ol’ fashioned spin move, which would make Bill Belichick proud. Looked over my shoulder, and the “Romanians” went on their way.

a fish

The French see to like these funky fish.

Of course Paris is not all bad. It is one of the loveliest cities in Europe. Cities in Europe ooze with art and sculpture out on the streets in a way that’s practically impossible in the States. We walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and back). The blend of Gothic, neo-Classical, and Art Nouveau laid before us was literally 850 years in the making.

Montmartre

Didn't make it to Montmartre. This is as close as we got.

I will say that my meager French served me well. I made honest attempts to speak French at every encounter, yes with varied success. But on every encounter, the person I spoke to appreciated the attempt. Often broken French was answered with broken English as we strived to get our concepts across.

Eiffel Tower

Why would anyone go up into a tower built by a guy named, "I Fell?"

Paris in August is like Disney World. No, no, no, it’s not like Disney World; it’s turned into Disney World. Yes, places like Paris are fill with the “Real Thing,” while Disney World is just a facade. The tourists turn the Paris into Disney World. The gift shop at Sainte Chappelle actually sells figurines of Disney characters, mostly from the Hunchback movie. But it’s the lines, the ques. People are willing to spend a morning or an afternoon to stand in a line. The line for the towers of Notre Dame stretched the length of the whole church. It was relatively short, but it was the slowest. Max and I wanted to go up, but we only had the one day in Paris.

Eiffel Tower again

Eiffel Tower again

We walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and back). The lines of people wanting to go up the Eiffel Tower swirled and spiraled their way from as far away as Portugal (I swear!). Those not waiting in line reclined on the grass mall along with the litter of paper, plastic bags and bottle caps.

Bouillabaisse

Okay, let’s start with Bouillabasisse. You can get bouillabaisse in most restaurants in Southern France. It’s a lovely mix of sautéed vegetables then simmered in a tomato, brothy sauce. It’s often served as a side dish, yet not in a crepe or noodle.

Bouillabaisse Lane

Allee de la Bouillabaisse - AKA - Bouillabaisse Lane

But, I’m not really talking about Bouillabasisse the food. I’m talking about a place. First you have to get off the main coastal road, and go down a side road called, “Allee de la Bouillabasse.” That’s French for “Bouillabasses Lane.” That illustrates a key difference between French and English. French, by default, almost always uses more words to mention the same thing than in English.

Mimosas Lane

Not likely to get a glass of Mimosa here.

The other thing you have to remember when you translate from English to French or back again, is that English is a rough language. Always speak English with a rough grumbly tone, especially American English. When you speak French, be light and airy. Envision yourself as Audrey Hepburn when speaking French. In fact, I downloaded a French vocabulary app. I plugged it into my car sound system. The English word would be given in a very masculine tone “FISH,” while the speakers voice involuntarily turned feminine when giving the French translation, “Le Poisson.” Also, note that it takes one word to say “fish” in English, but two in French.” It’s just the way French is.

Sadly, you don’t go down Allee des Mimosas (3 words), which means Mimosas Lane (2 words). I was just very recently asked if they serve mimosas there at the Allee des Mimosas, and the answer is most likely not. A mimosa is, of course, orange juice with a champagne floater. When you see the sign, avoid the temptation, and look for a little dirt path on the left. That will bring you to Bouillabaisse Cove.

Bouillabaisse Cove

Bouillabaisse Cove

The cove is small. There may be beach goers there seeking and intimate, less crowded setting. I’m told there’s good snorkeling and plenty of fish.

Bouillabaisse Cove Mermaids

Complete with mermaids

There’s also a path that leads back to the big beach at the Baie de Cavalaire. Well, it’s not a complete path. You see that photo with the stairs way in the background? Well, somewhere from the vantage point of the photograph and those stairs, the path ends. You have to crawl over rocks and through some mild surf to get to those stairs where the trail resumes.

Steps

Get to the steps

Many of the following photo may remind you of the Caribbean. It’s not. It’s the Mediterranean, which is also difficult to spell. The water of both seas are not merely blue. Rather they are aqua marine, yet either tone of aqua marine is different.

Along the Path 1

Along the Path 2

Back to the beach at trail's end

Back to the beach at trail's end

View of Vermont

Where we stayed

Where we stay is a family cabin near Bethel

It needed to be dug out a little.

It needed to be dug out a little.

Cozy

It's cozy and warm inside. Christmas had already passed, but we turned the candles on anyway.

Do Nothing

Nice place to stay and do nothing.

One of the neighbors.

One of the neighbors.

Then in the distance...

Then in the distance...

... are the mountains

... are the mountains

Bear Brook State Park NH

Bear Brook State Park NH

Pond at Bear Brook State Park in NH. Taken during a camping trip.

Views of Montreal

I’ve been doing a lot of adventuring lately. I haven’t had a Sunday to sit and up date stuff here. So, here’s some catch up on the Montreal trip. These are from the Old City and the Olympic Park.

Ladies in Bronze

Ladies in Bronze

Rich Color

Rich Colors

Up on the roof

This restaurant is on the roof

No Roof

This dining room has no roof.

The Dome in the Old City

The Dome in the Old City

Woof

Woof

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Tower 2

The tower fits around the trees.

Montreal: Chinese Garden

This was my second visit to the wonderful city of Montreal. One of my favorite stops is the The Chinese Garden, which is only part of the Public Gardens. The Public Gardens is a good duo stop with the Olympic Park.

Pagoda and Bridge

Pagoda and Bridge

The Chinese Garden full of lots to explore: pagodas, ponds, and flowers. There are Chinese themed gifts shops. Don’t be surprised if there’s a live performance on traditional instruments.

This Blue Heron took center stage among the lily pads. I think he caught and ate one of the koi.

Blue Heron

This blue heron was not shy.

Pagoda with Heron

The heron played the role of crane in this shot.

Main Pagoda

The Main Pagoda

Big Ben, Jollyoldengland

During our overnight trip to London, Jollyoldengland, I had the opportunity to take this picture of the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster. The Clock Tower is not Big Ben. Big Ben, as I am told over-and-over again, is the big bell that is housed inside the Clock Tower.

Here’s how it works. Big Ben is the bell, named for Sir Benjamin Hall, Baron of Llanover and member of Parliament. The Big Ben bell is in the Clock Tower, so called because there’s a clock in the tower. The Clock Tower is part of The Palace of Westminster, because that part of London used to be the City of Westminster, Jollyoldengland. The name has nothing to do with the fact that UK Parliament meets there, to give the members opportunity to yell at each other.

Big Ben Clock Tower

The Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster that houses a bell called Big Ben in London, Jollyoldengland

Now remember, the place is called Jollyoldengland, because, even though everything there is olde, it’s all jolly. Just so you know, “jolly” is an Jollyoldenglish word for “happy” or “really pleased.” And “old” is spelled “olde” in Jollyoldengland and in New England, too. Notice that New England is not jolly.

Now that we have that all cleared up, one thing that’s never clear in Jollyoldengland is the sky. You see, the sky in Jollyoldengland is, well, old. Don’t get me wrong, it’s jolly, but it’s old, like everything in Jollyoldengland. Since the sky is old, it’s always gray. The sky so jolly there, that it often cries with joy.

frigate bird

A frigate bird enjoying a cheerful Caribbean sky

Hey! Then I remembered that I had taken a picture of the Caribbean sky, not jolly, but cheerful and blue. So, I had the Clock Tower (the one that house the bell named Big Ben) moved from the Palace at Westminster to St. Thomas USVI. That way UK Parliament gets to meet in the Caribbean. And, I got to take the picture all over again.

Big Ben Caribbean Sky

Aston Martin Rapide

You know, the original James Bond drove an Aston Martin.

Aston Martn Rapide Front

Aston Martn Rapide Front

Here’s an Aston Martin Rapide just parked at the Airport in Leeds, England.

Aston Martin Rapide Rear

Aston Martin Rapide Rear

Canals

These canals were built during the English Industrial Age. They cross Great Britain from Liverpool on the West to Leeds on the East. Canal boats carried goods from inland to the cities for manufacturing and export.

Skipton Canal

Skipton Canal

Today, the canals are more for pleasure boating. Most of these boats run tours. Some people buy their own boats, and ride the canals – even live in their boat.

The canals also have paths on one side (sometimes both sides). Before motors were developed, draft animals or even people would pull the boats. I’m told you can walk the length of the canals to this day, but you can’t go where the pathway is under maintenance.

Skipton Canal

Skipton Canal

Unfortunately for the image below, I don’t remember the name of this town. Dad and I went off to do some laundry at self-serve laundry mat. I took a walk during the spin cycle – kind of thing.

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

Okay, in the next image you can see where the grassy/muddy path changes to a stone walkway with a stone wall railing. The stone part is a bridge. The canal crosses over a small creek below.

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

Botlon Abbey, England

I visited Bolton Abbey on a typically foggy English morning. The Abbey was originally built by the Augustinians in the 12th Century. As you can see, much of the structure is in ruin. The other side of the building is still in tact, and it’s maintained as a functioning Church.

The grounds around the Abbey are large enough to contain miles of hiking trails, and the woods will open up (in season) for small and exclusive hunting parties. All of this land is the property of the Duke of Devonshire. That’s one thing I could not quite get over. That, some of the places we went to were the property of Royalty, yet most of the grounds were open to the public.

Spooky View of Bolton Abbey

Spooky View of Bolton Abbey

Arch in Ruin

Arch in Ruin

Portrait of the Abbey

Portrait of the Abbey

Cottage on the Grounds

Cottage on the Grounds

Walled Trail

Walled Trail

The Duke's Cottage

The Duke's Cottage

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