A Travellerspoint blog

Day 15 - Walking in Paris

Yes we walked ..... and walked .... and walked!

Starting out from our apartment in the Marais we headed for the Eiffel Tower. We called in to a local bar/café for a coffee and croissant. The place had 2 sets of prices - one if you had it at the bar, and a dearer one for sitting at a table.

Early in the walk we spied the tower in the distance and set forth confident we were on our way. Along the River Seine the stall holders were setting up their stalls - these are green boxes which open up to provide a small display case. The contents are books, old posters, paintings, records and a few souveniers.

Along the way we passed other shops setting up including a stall of fresh lobsters and crabs - yummo!

Walking onwards we eventually made the tower - over 5 kilometres later - but don't tell Channe she walked that far!!

A massive queue was in place to get through security and then to get tickets. The upside was that whilst we waited the top level went from being closed to being open. Lucky! It was overcast with a biting wind which only got worse as we went up the tower. Up to the second level in an elevator that goes up the legs at an angle. Then across to another elevator which goes straight up. OMG that is one very high tower! The upper platform is 276 metres above ground. In the elevator there was a young African American lady whose reaction to the height was "F**K I AM NOT DOING THIS EVER AGAIN" We saw her later with a almost empty glass of champagne and she said she needed a "glass of courage" to go out onto the viewing area. We looked around both the top level and the lower 2nd level. By this time we were frozen - it was soooooo cold! We got off the elevator at the 1st level and went to the restaurant. After being told it would be a 30 minute wait we hung around and were soon seated! Beautiful meal with pretty good views.

Once back on the ground we set off for the Arch de Triomph. A short way along we came across a push bike taxi and decided that this was an experience worth the chance. Mamma Mia - we wove in an out of traffic with the driver peddling like crazy. He dropped us about half way along the Champs Elysses so we walked up to the Arch. We avoided the long queues for tickets to climb to the top and instead went up and looked at the underside of the Arch and the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Meanwhile across the road a demonstration had commenced. We went back to the Champs Elysses to find a big group of chanting (mainly) men with a phalanx of soldiers in full riot gear including shields. We found out that the demonstrators were football (soccer) fans who had been banned from games so they were showing their displeasure including using some hand held flares. The demonstration lasted about 10 minutes but provided some great viewing!

Off there via the Metro to a stop near the stalls alongside the river to see if any more had opened. But alas no new ones so we walked for about 15 minutes back to our apartment stopping to pick up baguettes and pain au chocolate for supper.

In the distance

In the distance

Getting up close

Getting up close

DSC00319

DSC00319

Top views

Top views

Up the river

Up the river

Tomb of Unknown soldier

Tomb of Unknown soldier

Posted by JHarman 08:45 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 14 - In Heaven

Nous aimons Paris, à la fin

We end a long day in Paris - no matter what went before all is now right in the world!

We left Venice by a special water bus to the airport. We were told it was a great way to go but could take over an hour. So in typical Jenny fashion we left with plenty of time to spare. Time to make sure we got tickets ok, found the right spot, waited for a bus to come along and to be able to get one. So it took about 10 minutes to do what I allowed at least 30 minutes for!!! The bus was crowded and after our stop did not pick up any more passengers. As they came aside each stop they yelled out to the waiting passengers - "we are full - get the next bus". It was a quicker ride to the airport with no stops for passengers. So we were now about an hour earlier than my best arrival time for the airport.

After some shuffling between Air France and Alitalia counters being told by both our flight was with the other airline we finally convince the Air France people that it was a code share and we should be there. So we got our boarding passes and luggage tags but had to wait for over an hour to drop our bags - WTF??? Eventually when we dropped our bags we found out the plane was an hour late. About 1.5 hours late we board and the pilot says they were having a long day due to fog in Lisbon. The upside is that they still did the sector - Qantaslink would have just cancelled it!

Arriving in Paris we got to our street to be met by the apartment agent. It appears that these companies pay young people to let guests in to apartments as not only have we experienced it but seen others being greeted around us. The apartment is modern, clean and on the second floor but as the buildings around are 6 or 7 floors we will take the 2nd as ok! As well as a double bed in a separate room there is a sofa bed in front of the TV which, after 2 nights in a single bed sharing a room with Jenny Channe is very keen to try out!

Around the corner is all we need: boulangerie; fruit shops; supermarket; cafes, wine bars. So like the Parisians we are we have tucked into our first baguette with lovely butter. The boulangerie is baking its evening supplies for workers to collect on their way home from work. Warm fresh baguette!!!!! No wonder bread in Australia is a lost cause! The upside is that with walking and stairs we will be able to eat bread, crossiants and chocolate eclairs to our hearts content!

Out our window

Out our window

Up the street

Up the street

Bliss

Bliss

Posted by JHarman 10:44 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 13 - Island hopping

After a light breakfast at the motel we went down and bought day tickets for the water bus. What a great idea - it meant we could hop on and off as we wanted, making snap decisions, changing our minds and not being stuck in one place.

To get to the glass making island of Murano we got a bus to the railway station and then another straight to Murano. We had a great time first up visiting a glass making factory and watching a couple of master craftsmen. The main demonstrator first made an open necked vase or large tumbler and then made a horse. Whilst he was mid stream the owner of the factory came blustering in with a piece of red hot glass on the end of a long pole. There was much gesturing and excited talking, they did some work together and the boss man went back to the back of the factory. The guide told us that he was making a chandelier and the piece was a complicated leaf section that was just one for the final piece.

We then spent time wandering around the various shops and outlets which had a magnificent range of glass of all types, sizes and prices. Up on alleyway was a small craftsman's studio where the owner was making his own pieces. Jenny came away with a very unique piece of bling to add to her collection. Channe picked up some gifts and souveniers.

We then caught another bus to Burano - the island famed for its brightly coloured houses and lace making. We stopped off for a cool drink at a local cafe which had pokies out the back. Some local elderly men were gathering and it was all loud voices and hands waving about - along with beers in hand. We walked around for awhile longer but eventually had to stop for lunch. Seafood is the speciality of the island and we started with mussels cooked in a tomato base and then Crab spaghetti for Channe and sole with grilled vegetables for Jenny. Watching the waiter remove the bones and plate up a fillet of fish is a sight worth seeing!

Some more sightseeing and shopping after lunch and Channe navigated us back to the bus stop. We decided to take the bus to San Marco stop rather than the railway station. A storm was brewing and a bitterly cold wind followed us into the square. In keeping with tradition we went to a coffee shop with musicians to take afternoon tea. A surcharge of 6 euros per person is charged for the music and yes it is the most expensive cup of coffee in creation!

Burano houses

Burano houses

Down the canal

Down the canal

Houses

Houses

Out to sea

Out to sea

A little garden

A little garden

Alleyway

Alleyway

Posted by JHarman 09:15 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 12 - Venice

So farewell to Florence and the nosiest but most spacious and well appointed apartment. We decided to get a taxi to the railway station as pushing luggage over cobblestones whilst dodging cars, vespers, pushbikes and people is a difficult way to travel. We arrived in plenty of time and spent some it in the railway café. A great place to hang out - not busy, room to keep our luggage close by and a chance to chill out. The platform for trains only goes up on the board minutes before your train is due to leave so we had to keep an eye on the board and then go to the platform. The train wasn't crowded and there was one service of free drink and snack. They came through more often but only the new passengers each time! Again it was a very fast train but didn't seem to reach the speeds of the one from Rome. Not lots of views as most of the trip was through a series of tunnels but at times there was some great views. Lots of old farm houses and outbuildings - kept expecting to see a Grand Designs modern take looking out of context but alas no!

We got off in Venice making our way to the 'bus' station. Here we bought tickets to the nearest stop to our motel and waited for the boat to appear. Piling in we had about a 10 minute trip up the Grand Canal to Rialto stop. Off we hopped and walked the short 120 metres to our hotel. Unlike other places which were privately rented apartments this a motel room. 2 single beds, a small bathroom and a TV that hangs from the ceiling - the best position to watch it from is flat on your back on your bed! The hotel building is from 1496 and is kinda quaint. We are on the first floor and the nice man carried our bags up for us - gotta love chivalry!

After a brief catch our breath we went walking - first down to the Grand Canal to get a late lunch snack - best coffee so far on the trip! Then we found our way to St Mark's Square - perhaps one of the most famous squares in the world. It was raining so we walking around the edge under cover, looking at the various shops and listening to the live music at the restaurants. We did a quick look in the Cathedral hoping to see the fabulous altarpiece but the Cathedral was closing up shop and we will need to go back. We then wandered up some streets and did some shopping in areas less expensive than St Mark's Square. We found our way home after stopping for dinner and going around in circles for a couple of circuits - bloody Google maps.

So now to our first night of sharing a room - something Channe is looking forward to!!!!!

Cruisiing the Canal

Cruisiing the Canal

Street views

Street views

Bridges

Bridges

Side street

Side street

St Mark's in the rain

St Mark's in the rain

Posted by JHarman 10:29 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 11 - Pisa day trip

We walked down to the railway station and got a train to Pisa today. The trip took about an hour and went through some amazing countryside. We got a really good snapshot of the rural areas and in particular the little communities on the way. There were small back yard gardens with people doing everyday things - a woman burning rubbish at the end of her garden, an old man with a walking stick out for his morning walk, a man watering his garden with a tin watering can and so on. One amazing site was a long thin backyard which was no more than 20 metres long with 3 round bales of silage which had been obviously baled on site ... no doubt with the world's smallest baler!

Arriving in Pisa the train station is the opposite side of the city to the Tower. So we walked through the city up and down the streets lined with old buildings. As we approached the Tower we had endless opportunity for unique bargains - umbrellas, Rolex watches, Chanel handbags, selfie sticks, scarves etc etc. Interestingly there were women selling the scarves but all else is a male domain.

The Tower and its associated buildings are quite a site - so different from all that surrounds. The site is a world heritage site with all the protections that entails. Whilst Channe sat and enjoyed just looking, Jenny took time to go through the Cathedral (another Holy Door!), the Baptistry and Campo Santo.

Following this we went to outside the old city wall and got some lunch and then wandered through the many stalls. We then started our way back to the station, stopping to window shop, visit market stalls which were not just touristy trash and to have a light refreshment. Arriving at the station there was a train leaving in 10 minutes so the timing was perfect. The trip home was the 'scenic' route - completely different to the way we had come to Pisa and twice as long!!!! The upside was it took us through completely different countryside with high hills, buildings and even villages perched on tops of mountains and all manner of market gardens, flowers and nurseries.

The Tower leans

The Tower leans

The Tower

The Tower

Baptistry

Baptistry

Campo Santo

Campo Santo

A reliquary cabinet

A reliquary cabinet

A rose for a change

A rose for a change

Posted by JHarman 10:39 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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