Home again

Melbourne, Australia

More details of the Singapore stopover later…enough to say that the St Regis beds / pillows are the best in the world. We also had a pleasant surprise with Mum / Dad and Todd/Kate and boys all in Singapore this week


Last day in Barca

Barcelona, Spain

Well it had to come – last day in Barcelona. We settled into the local custom of sleeping in…til 9am. Then off for a day at the Musee of Picasso…no photos allowed. It was amazing to see what he did at ages 10-17…absolutely incredible. The cubism stuff appeals to me much less

Lunch at the Musee at 11:50am…much to the disgust of the girl serving us. It cannot be lunch this early. but she served best coffee in all Europe.

Then quick pit stop at home and then a bus ride adventure to Parc Guell – Gaudi special place

On bus back home at 6pm…we decided that if we went home before we went out we may not get back out. So we had early tapis / Sangria

Now to pack!!

Last day with the the car

Tossa de Mar, Spain

Last day with our C8 MPV and so Sue plotted out a day on the Costa Brava coast. Her research was spot on and we ended up for breakfast at Tossa de Mar (albeit at 10am). Gorgeous beach and easy parking just beating the rush. By the time we left (after a long swim) beach was packed. Sandy even did as the locals and bared her top half – v v v v v v briefly and only to me. I tried to take a photo but only got one of the locals…..oh well

We then headed back to town to drop off the car…no real dramas other than v heavy traffic.

We then went on to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral – that was started in late 1800’s and only has 25-30 years to completion. Amazing place. Full concrete factory inside the church and spending around 1 million euro per month on construction (but bringing in 50M Euro pa from tourists)

Sitting on the balcony now having caviar, beer and cheese with my sister and wife….does not get much better than this for our annivesary!!!

Before I forget

DSC02551Barcelona, Spain and Canary Islands

See photo in previous blog page of fuel consumption from the great Citroen C8 MPV. Its diesel and been great

Also see photo below of a small ‘incident’ that occurred en route. Sue made a phone call while we were stopped and then got back to the car 25 metres away…and no phone. See photo of the unloading of the van. Found it after some real tests of the language skills

Also below is the photo of our v narrow street – fortunately I did not have to drive that one!!

See photo of Sandy and Sue with the local gendamerie trying to find best restaurant

BIG day

St Jean d’Vedas, France

Well what a 24 hours we’ve had

Dropped Allen and Deanna at Avignon but we had a quick pitstop first at Chateau Bas next to where we had been living for a week. Amazing that it has been there since BC days…see Deanna’s blog for more details

Then on to Nime (famous for being the home of deNIM) and then Montpellier. Plan was to stop at the Tourist Bureau there and book our accom at Perpignan. Problem 1 – they would not do it. Problem 2 – Restaurant 2 that had free wifi had NO TOILET. Problem 3 – Festival for photography on in Perpignan and so no accomm.

Solution 1 – a room at some place that had 3 single beds…not happy
Solution 2 – a hotel room with one room that had a double and 2 single beds…in an area like Osborne Park. V industrial but cheap. Hotel goes into lock down at 1030pm and so you need to be in bed by then or else!! In a place called St Jean d’Vedas

Really good news is that we looked out the front gate and a pom said to us “looking for a restaurant…” Long story but he told of of a really expensive restaurant (not really). It was on a marina like Mandurah in WA and was sensational. At a place called Port Ariane in Lattes. They had just lost one of the key staff to the top French restaurant in Melbourne!! Sandy drank the local drink of Pastis (like Pernod) – well she had one glass tipped on her by a big gust of wind and then drank the other. With many thanks to Allen’s GPS we got back in time for curfew

Off v early (no brekky available) and we had a date with the apartment person in Barcelona. Was a bit complicated and more v narrow streets but we got here. Got settled and then off walking and drinking / eating. Apartment is fantastic

A day in Arles

Arles, France

We had a late start as Deanna finally succombed to her sore ear and went to the local doctor. A great decision as her ear was infected and the medicines will allow her time to recover before flying on Sunday. It also meant we finally managed to get to the local Boulangerie and florist – both were pleasant surprises. We bought our cleaning lady / local French adviser some nice flowers and a wind chime…she was very embarrassed but pleased Jenny and Bruce – some Oz friends then headed off (after the photo shoot) Then off to Arles and some old Roman ruins

The day in Aix proper

Aix-en-Provence, France

We headed off to our nearest big town yeterday – Aix – population of around 150 000. Has a clear ‘old city’ and ‘new city’. Since we were going to the markets we headed to the old city. Unfortunately for me driving in this area is a bit hairy…but fun. I decided to follow a taxi to get out but he was a slightly better driver than me. At one stage we had beepers going on 2 corners of the car (ones that say you are too close to something). No scratches on the car…all good.

The market was only “OK” but the shops were good

Deanna was unwell and so stayed home with Al. Dont forget to read http://deanna58.livejournal.com

There was also an unsubstaniated report of natation au dénudé
Deanna’s birthday today and Ronnie the chef will be here!!

A visit to Lacoste and Baux (home of bauxite)

DSC02259Aix-en-Provence, France

Had a couple of great days – the countryside is much drier than I expected but spectacular. Many narrow winding streets (maybe the others did not notice but the bus driver (me) did).

Went thru Bonneaux (amazing), Lacoste (largely owned by Pierre Cardin) and other surrounding towns. Next day to Baux, where we saw v interesting castle and lots of good shops

A few photos attached

1. Dinner at local restaurant
2. Porsche I cannot identify type?? Nathan – help?? Back of old style but v new??
3. Dessert for one on Saturday night
4. Sandy
5. Thru the key hole to the Secret Garden

On the rails again

Aix-en-Provence, France

Well we are on the train to aix en provence. Hopefully we will have full net connection and I can stop doing this on my phone (with the full BHPB footer). Had a big party last night as it was last night in paris and we finished our booze supplies. One of the girls was dancing on the coffee table!
This morning we were out of apartment at 10am and a few sets of stairs at the metro and we were quickly at Gare de Lyon. Now on board
Hopefully photo comes thru for Annie – they have a Blue Train Cafe here !
I encourage all my readers to look at http://deanna58.livejournal.com And leave her comments

More later

Bike day

Paris, France

We pushed the bike system today. You can use bikes for 30 mins for free and only 1euro for an hour. They have bike stations every 500 metres all over the city and you ride for 20 mins and then find next station and swap for another bike for new 30 mins. Of course when you stop, you grab a coffee or shop.
Sue, Sandy and I rode for many hours. In between went to a cool coffee shop, musee d’orsay, panthenon, jardin de luxembourg and more. We got in trouble from gendarmerie for riding too fast in the park. We simply said merci
Off to provence tomorrow

Aussie war cemetary

Amiens, France

We had a big day yesterday. We trained to Amiens from Paris (90 mins trip) and then another train to Villers-bretonneux. We then had a casual walk of 60 minutes along a country road to the war memorial. Met some other young aussies…very interesting but a tough walk.  Video clip is here

Then back to Paris and wait for Jane to arrive from London…and she got there at midnight, with our last train leaving for our apartment at 12:30pm. A bit tight

This morning Sue and I went for a bike ride. Lived on the edge, no helmets, wrong way up one way raods…

Lots of fun

Paris in the summetime

Paris, France

Brief reminder of first couple of days

1. Long flight via Singapore..met Sue there
2. Taxi from airport was great – Sandy’s Frnech already paid off. The Cambodian / French driver was v impressed (so was i)
3. Apartment is great..but no bread knife
4. Yesterday…went to Sacre Coeur / Cafe d L’homme…thanks Nikki was sensational
5. V Long walk home