A Travellerspoint blog

April in Paris

I am back in Paris staying in the Left Bank in the 5th Arondissment in Saint Michel...and I love it!! I am very "at home" in this area I know it well now and can find my way without having to consult the map every five minutes.
Hilariously I find myself commenting quietly on the antics of the tourists...as if I am a local!! Ha ha

The weather...Oh my...beautiful days of 20 degrees, blue sky and endless sunshine! I have walked and stopped at sidewalk cafes, lunched in Bistros and had "happy hour" wine watching the world go by...wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to go back to work!!

I ventured back to the Luxembourg Gardens and sat in the green metal chairs while people around me relaxed, sailed toy boats, read or snoozed in the sun.

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Yesterday I wandered along the Seine and took my time picking through the pictures and old photographs for sale at the vendors.
The Pont des Arts with the Locks of Love was overflowing - helped on by the sale of locks at every streetside vendor along the river!!

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Last night I had dinner at a local Bistro surrounded by french speaking locals...a young couple on a date...a son and his mother...3 girls out together...and families out for the night. The restaurant was full, a good recommendation I think and dinner was delightful. I loved watching the connections going on around me.

As I am strolling its easy to forget where I am and then a view will take my breath away...a beautiful historical building or a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower between the trees!

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Lots of people have commented on me returning to Paris once again but it is hard not to come back to a place that feels so much like I belong!

Tour Eiffel
A trip to Paris must include a visit to the tower. Today I walked up and down streets the wrong way then the right way...I stopped off for a Chardonnay and a read of my book along the way always heading in the direction of the tower in a round about kind of way! My plan was to arrive at dusk to see the tower lit up but with daylight saving time it doesn't get dark till about 9pm. I finally arrived at Champ du Mars at 7pm...my first thought when I saw the 20 tour buses lined up was "Oh No more tourists!!" Then I sat on the grass to wait for sunset and what do you know it began to rain!! It started to get quite heavy so I gave up on the lights this time and headed home.

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My last full day in Paris had a lazy start and then a final full day/evening of walking and shopping was had! Montmartre...Opera...St Germain...then in the early evening a glass of Rouge on the Place St Michel to say farewell to one of my favourite places.

My last morning and Paris must have been sad I was leaving as it was raining heavily and very grey. I waited for the rain to stop and headed to my favourite Boulaingerie to get hot crunchy croissants for my last breakfast...just delicious!

Now it is time to head home...hug everyone and plan the next adventure...

Posted by thewoodsies 05:38 Comments (0)

A Flying Visit to Brussels

I learned my lesson when I arrived in Bruges so arranged a taxi to take me to the train station to travel to Brussels. It was a 1 hour journey in comfort as the train was much less crowded than when I arrived on Friday.
I got a taxi to my B&B from the station and I was very glad as it was a bit further than I had anticipated on the map!!
I had a lovely room, lots of light and a VERY comfy bed! Unfortunately being Easter Sunday nothing much was open so a forced fast was encountered which was a good thing I think after the delicious eating found in Bruges.

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I decided to take things slow this morning as my knee was letting me know it didn't want to walk too much today! Breakfast was included and as I ate I worked on the blog.
Now my only problem was where to catch a taxi to the train to head back to Paris??
I walked a little and hailed a taxi...I asked how much to do a tour of the city...we negotiated a deal as I had a couple of hours till my train left...we headed off and my guide Varsak was delightful. He laughed at me because the main piazza was just behind my hotel! He parked and locked my luggage and took me off to walk the sights. His english was very good and he showed me the City Hall and of course the "Pee-pee Boy" as he called it...it was hilarious crowds of people taking photos with this tiny peeing statue!!

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We then hopped back in the taxi to head out of the city to the Kings Gardens...People were everywhere on the streets as it was a delightful day and The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken were open...they only ever open for 3 weeks in Spring.
We then drove to Brussels equivalent of the Eiffel Tower... The Atomium and Mini Europe Park underneath...it was quite spectacular and huge!!

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Then it was time to head to the train station as my hour was up...we chatted easily on the way back and he even discounted my price for my entertaining company!!

Posted by thewoodsies 04:58 Comments (0)

Picture Perfect Bruges

Arrival in Bruges...
the guidebook said it was a leisurely 20 minute walk to my hotel so armed with a map and my bags off I went!
I was doing well except I mistook the Strand and the Cathedral for the Market Square and I quickly became lost!
The cobbled streets made dragging a trolley case quite challenging indeed...but as the sun was shining and I was in Bruges I decided to make the most of it...I slowed down, enjoyed the sights, asked for directions and found my way.

My Hotel was right on the canals so I assumed all the rooms would have good views and some do but as I found out they are more expensive than mine and I ended up at the back of the hotel in a room with a beautiful view of a wall...at least I had the fire escape if I needed it!!!
BUT...I had a comfortable bed, breakfast included and I was in a perfect spot just a few minutes from everything!! I got settled...had a 30 minute power nap and headed out to explore...
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The view from outside my hotel...
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I took a canal boat ride to get familiar with my surroundings.
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Easter is a very busy time in Bruges - chocolate heaven - so masses of tourists everywhere! I hadn"t planned specifically on being here for Easter as when I booked I didn't realise Easter was so late this year and it was only by accident that I arrived at one of the busiest times of the year!

I wandered some of the streets and then got a hot chocolate and a Belgian waffle for lunch - as you have to do...Delicious!
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Some of the sights around Bruges...
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I walked till late afternoon then I headed back to the hotel and looked up some reviews for a dinner venue and found that the restaurant next to the hotel had some good reviews so that was my choice. Erasmus was a delicious choice indeed. Steak that was melt in your mouth, mushroom sauce with loads of real mushrooms in it salad and of course...fries! One of Belgium's claims to fame is the invention of the frite...you can buy them everywhere and they serve them with everything...they even have a Frite Museum!!

After dinner the sun had just set so it was a photographers delight! I hit the streets for a few hours of wandering and taking pictures of the lighted canals and surrounding buildings - just beautiful!
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And of course the beautiful shop windows...
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Look closely at this one...it was next door to my hotel..
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I chanced upon an Easter parade to the church square, they carried fire torches and white crosses for all the unfortunate people in the world that are in need of prayer. I walked with them and they stopped in the square otside the church and the choir sang as the flutes played. It was a surprising but delightful encounter on a Good Friday evenng.
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I have to say Bruges is a city that I felt very safe in wandering at night alone and it truly is a beautiful place.

Saturday dawned with sunshine and a chill in the air. Armed with my camera and my walking shoes off I went for a day of expolring. Little laneways lead to fabulous piazzas off the main streets with less tourists and just as many spectacular cafes and shops.
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The Strand where I arrived yesterday was a HUGE Saturday market with everything you could imagine for sale. By 1pm it was all packed up and gone! I sat and people watched in the piazza while sipping a Belgian beer!
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I wandered with no real intention and no map and I came to the Old Hospital buildings outside a busker was playing a cello' inside was a Picasso Exhibition and a free concert due to start in 30 minutes. It was a celebration of the harp. I had seen it highly rated on Trip Advisor so I went in, got a front row seat in a small auditorium that seated about 30 people. It was magical. He played two different traditional harps as well as others from around the world. He also incorporated the singing bowls and a drum/percussion instrument called a Hang. A truly lovely way to spend an hour in Bruges.
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I continued to walk and travelled a little further out of the centre of town and to my relief, the further I went, the less tourists there were!! I thought Bruges was busy on Friday, but I was mistaken - thousands more arrived today!!!

Friday evening wandering the streets the city was clean and very pretty but unfortunately tonight it was not the same picture...there are many take away shops selling waffles etc on paper plates and the city was overflowing with rubbish!! The rubbish bins were full but also a lot of people just dropped their plates when they were finished...very sad for this beautiful place.

Easter Sunday - I was awoken by the church bells ringing loudly through the town and this continued on and off throughout the day. The bell pullers playing songs that as you listened you began to recognise.
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The weather was cloudy and overcast for my last day so I took a ciy tour bus that took me through some areas I had missed and also showed me how much I had managed to see in my 2 days of walking!

Now off to Brussels...

Posted by thewoodsies 03:12 Comments (0)

A Wicked time in London...

What a fabulous week...
Some of the old favourites visited like Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and lots of walking through familiar areas and some new ones as well this time around.

Trafalgar Square London

Trafalgar Square London

The Blue Rooster Trafalgar Square London

The Blue Rooster Trafalgar Square London

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

I loved Covent Garden and found myself there on more than one occasion listening to an impromptu opera or classical ensemble, watching the human statues and of course lunch at the Thursday Markets! YUM...

Covent Garden London

Covent Garden London

Concert Covent Garden Piazza London

Concert Covent Garden Piazza London

Living Statue Covent Garden London

Living Statue Covent Garden London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

Covent Garden Market London

I spent an afternoon wandering the streets with Karen Selvey (nee Bagshaw) which was delightful indeed.

Carnaby Street, Mayfair, Regent Street, Oxford Street and of course Soho kept me busy on the shopping front. I also managed to squeeze in Kensington High Street and that was a wonderful find and so close to home!

Carnaby Street London

Carnaby Street London

Selfridges was very posh, full of the designer stores with some very pricey goodies to tempt us all!

Selfridges London

Selfridges London

Some days I took the bus, some days the tube and others the ferry ... the weather was absolutely amazing the whole time I was there.

Putney to Blackfriars Ferry London

Putney to Blackfriars Ferry London

I found Harry Potter's secret entrance at Platform 9 3/4 and a shop full of Hogwart treasure at Kings Cross Station.

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Sarah , the Nanny, had the kids every day and Tris and Dan were extremely busy ... although I expect this is more than normal in their corporate lives! The time we did get to chat was delightful and of course I got to hang out with Hugh and Ella every morning and afternoon!
So much fun! I shall miss their energy, laughter and smiles when I leave.

A theatre date is a must while in London so this time I saw Wicked for an amazing price with a ticket from the Leicester Square ticket booth and the show was wonderful!!

Wicked West End London

Wicked West End London

Easter is coming and my time with the Smith's is drawing quickly to a close ... so I figured some pics of Hugh the Fireman and Ella the Builder were a good way to finish this visit...

Ella

Ella

You do it!

You do it!

Ella

Ella

Hugh n Dan

Hugh n Dan

Angelic High

Angelic High

Baby in Pushchair

Baby in Pushchair

Fireman Hugh

Fireman Hugh

Ella Bella

Ella Bella

Fireman Hugh

Fireman Hugh

My Hair

My Hair

Emergency! Fireman Sam to the rescue.

Emergency! Fireman Sam to the rescue.

Ella

Ella

Beautiful Hugh

Beautiful Hugh

Chaos at the train station!!!
The day before my travels to Bruges, Easter Thursday, there was a major hiccup on the Eurostar line. There were massive delays causing hundreds of travellers disruption to their Easter travels through Europe. There were delays of over 4 hours and of course lots of people on later trains had their trains cancelled! I was a little concerned but all the online information said to check in normally for Friday trains.

So my last night with Tris and Dan we had delicious Japanese food, Champagne and wine, a perfect end to a great visit. I got packed and ready early to head to the station just in case there was still any delays. When I arrived there were Police everywhere directing everyone and guiding disgruntled passengers from the day before to find the correct lines for reimbursement or new tickets. They sent us through to departure lining us all up through the station through roped off queues. I got stamped and ready to go.

Now off to Belgium for Beer, Waffles and Chocolate!!

Posted by thewoodsies 11:08 Comments (0)

Off to London

I packed my bags and locked the door to my little studio apartment and set off to catch the Eurostar to London.
It still amazes me that a 2 hour train ride can deliver you safely to another country!!

After I arrived I found my way to the underground without any trouble and headed out to Earls Court for the train change to Putney...the station was full to overflowing as there had been a delay on the line and of course it was Saturday and there was a football (soccer) match on in Fulham and all the supporters were on my train!! My timing has been better but after a wait for them all to head off after getting off the train I walked the short distance to the Smith's house - my home for the next 6 days.

It was lovely to see Tris and Dan again and of course reintroduce myself to Hugh and Ella and what an absolute delight that was!

Hugh is so grown up at 3 and a half and Ella melts your heart with her smile every time! Hugh's english accent is totally enchanting and Ella with her "baby in the push chair" can't help but make you smile!

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A Lazy Sunday at Harrods.

Tris, Dan and the kids headed off to the gym and creche for a couple of hours so armed with my credit card I decided to spend the day wandering around at Harrods. Unfortunately I arrived at 10am and they don't open on a Sunday till 11.30am! This forced me to find a cafe to update my blog as I sipped another morning coffee.

Harrods was such fun...all decked out for Easter including a handcrafted exclusive Belgian Chocolate 1 metre egg for only 1,149 pounds!!! A bargain!!!
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I shopped and lunched and walked in the beautiful spring weather before heading home to my holiday family.

Posted by thewoodsies 04:35 Comments (0)

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