Posts Tagged With: rain

Versailles and Toto in One Day

We wake up early (this is becoming a pattern it seems) and head to the metro that will take us to the RER train which we will take.  Looking through the window, and past the bars in the wagon, I see a flash of an image of a weeping willow that will be forever ingrained in my psyche and my heart for it is under it that our péniche, Soleil, resides.  The dark clouds, the drizzle outside and the quickness in which we pass it do nothing to dampen the happy feeling had.

I take a quick photo and it is a bad one but here it is.   péniche, Port Debilly, 16yh Arrondissement, Paris, France, houseboat

After catching a glimpse of my little haven in Paris, a houseboat I considered my palace, we are going to Versailles, a palace with much greater notoriety, grandeur, and appeal. A fine drizzle does not cease for the full half hour the train ride takes. I wonder if it will dampen our visit. RER Versailles-Rive Gauche, France  Map, Versailles, palace, FranceI will soon find out since we are here.  We are promptly directed to cross the street for tickets which isn’t quite the truth since it’s a tour company where you buy a tour/ticket combination.  But it has headed us in the right direction and we follow the crowd.  It’s around 10:00 am and even with the bad weather and being a weekday, there is a huge amount of people as we approach the Chateau de Versailles.

Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,

Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, There is a huge, interminable line to enter The Palace so we decide then and there, as we wait in line to buy the tickets, that we will visit the gardens first, rain and all.

I entertain myself with how they have chosen to decorate Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, the area where you wait in line, or as my Brit an Aussie friends would say: where we queue up.

We get our tickets Versailles tickets and as we walk to the gardens I find it a bit unsettling that there are guards/army guys with rifles all over.  I laugh internally because these very official looking guys were merely on a break and heading to the cafeteria.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,   This I don’t find unsettling at all… the gardens flanked by the palace are impressive, the dark skies and rain not being able to lessen its impact.Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,

escargotsBut just in case I have forgotten to look down Dean points to what at first glance looks like little colorful buttons on the fence. On close inspection they are little snails which are probably just loving this weather where no one stops for them. Suddenly escargots in butter and garlic (a dish I actually like) doesn’t seem so appealing.

Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate,

Yo dude… look up!

So after this demand from the little cherub above I concentrate more on the statues we pass as we walk.  Le Printemps (Spring) Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Printemps, spring  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Printemps, spring is in the right time of the year, since summer hasn’t officially started, but it feels like fall -cool and rainy.  But perhaps daybreak, Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Matin, daybreak represented here Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, statue, Le Matin, daybreak may bring a sunny day.

The gardens cover such a huge expanse. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, Versailles gardens

They are impeccably manicured and for now a bit deserted for not many want to walk under the light rain.  I’m not cold yet so I am truly enjoying the semi-solitude it gives us

P1190102

P1190107 P1190112 P1190110 Lonely paths. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate

The plants and flowers in the garden are beautiful.  You can also find flowers of the inanimate kind. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, garden, sculpture, flower

Though I have a green thumb I lack the skill of shaping a tree to do this:  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, shrub, tree I can only imagine how incredible the water fountain show is coming out of these.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate This path just charmed me. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, gardens, The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette's Estate, path, trees From nature we go into The Grand Trianon.  “A little pink marble palace with delightful gardens” is how Mansart, the architect, described it in 1867.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon We find Empress Marie-Louse’s bedroom.  Originally it was Louis XIV’s bedchamber but she is the one that furnished the place as it is today with the exception of the bed which belonged to Napoleon.  It’s a little too pink for my taste. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  Empress Bedroom The Room of Mirrors, the furniture was sold during the Revolution and replaced by Napoleon. The archduchess Marie-Louise, Marie-Antoinette’s great-niece, whom the emperor married after divorcing Josephine used it as her drawing room.  I rarely carry a mirror in my purse.  Don’t think I’d like a room where I couldn’t avoid looking at myself!  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  The Room of Mirrors, mirrors  Don’t remember if this was in it but since we are on the subjects of mirrors…Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  Room of Mirrors, bust This is the family room. Doesn’t seem too cozy to me. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon,  yellow room Even all this opulence does not stop me from diverting my gaze towards the outside.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Grand Trianon  To have a peek of Marie-Antoinette’s private life we go to her estate which, compared to The Grand Trianon, is almost rustic in feel. At least the hamlet is.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Starting with the Queen’s Garden.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate

It’s The Petite Trianon Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate, Petite Trianon is beautiful inside and is impressing me more than The Grand Trianon. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Perhaps because it has a music room with a harp and a theater (which we did not see).  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate  And a billard room with the biggest pool table I’ve ever seen. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Her bedroom sitting room. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate

Once outside, the light rain is no more. It’s graduated to a Rain with a capital R.  There’s a little shuttle bus/choo-choo-train that shuttles people for an additional fee between The Grand Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s Estate and the Palace which we decide to wait in line for rather than walk the miles in between under the rain.  In back of us in line is a family from San Diego who we chat with. P1190168 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, Marie Antoinette's Estate Arriving to the Palace we find the line has dwindled to nothing and silly of us, thought the crowds had too. Nope, once inside it feels like there are a million people which makes it a bit harder to enjoy. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

I think if this guy, Henry D’Aguesseau, – a French Chancellor -says to stop, I definitely would. Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace But for now I have another window to look out of.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace What’s this?  A souvenir shop in the middle of the Palace and among antique statues? Me don’t like.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, souvenir shop I’m sure that Michel de L’Hopital, a statesman from the 1500’s, would not approve either.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, statesman,    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, Hall of Mirrors This is what I had to battle with to take the previous photos.  Ugh, claustrophobia may be kicking in soon.

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds

 Without the crowds.

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

With it.  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace    Beautiful with or without people.

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

Without crowds.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace,

With crowds.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace,  That was the Mars salon which is a planet and also a God of War. A bedroom.    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace

Probably the most famous room of all:  The Hall of Mirrors.  Merely a passageway and waiting room and an over the top feast for the eyes. 357 mirrors adorn the 17 arches in this room. A paradise for those who like to see themselves reflected.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, Hall of Mirrors    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors

I like the figure of a goth girl strolling through it looking ahead, not much interest displayed.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors

This is me, bringing you yet another photo. 🙂  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, The Hall of Mirrors  And now to the Queen’s Antechamber where the family had its meals.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, The antechamber of the Grand Couvert, Queen's Antechamber, Can someone show me how to fold napkins like this please?  Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, The antechamber of the Grand Couvert, Queen's Antechamber, What a beautiful door.  One that may lead me outdoors and even though the rain hasn’t ceased it is starting to look really like paradise just to be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of the thousand of tourists swarming around.   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds,

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds    Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds  Yes, I want to be out there!  So a sculpture later, which clearly depicts a lung,   Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds, sculpture and we are out.  Yay!

 Versailles, Ile-de-France, France, palace, The Palace, tourists, crowds

I’m hungry (Isn’t that rare?) so again I do not complain when we head into the first fast food we find which happens to be another upscale McDonald’s where a few Americans are talking and saying that these Frenchies are going to feel very disappointed if they go to one of our McDonald’s.  Yeah, they probably would but they would like the prices.  McDonald's Into the RER we go.  It will take us back home. This one doesn’t want to let us forget where we came from. Seems that it is trying to be as ornate and over the top as Versailles.  🙂  P1190240 P1190241 P1190242 We get to the apartment,      quickly change and off we go again for we are going to see Toto! concert, 35th Anniversary tour, Zenith Center, Paris, France

We take a cab and follow the people. The Zenith Center (Le Zenith) is one of the most important concert halls in Paris.  P1190246 P1190248

What a fabulous day and what a way to end it.  We dance (we were practically on stage) to the tune of songs like: Rosanna, Africa, Hold the Line and I’ll Be Over You, taking me back in time!!  Zenith Center, Paris, France, concert, 35th Anniversary tour

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Categories: 19th arrondissement, Chateau de Versailles, France, Ile-de-France, Zenith (Le Zenith) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Very Bad Trip 3 and Other Musings

The afternoon (since I missed the morning) is rainy: at times drizzly, at times pouring, and at all times briefly so.  Our Rue de la Liberté is sparkling.  19th Arrondissement, Paris, France, street  Just as quaint, street, Paris, France, 19th Arrrondissement or even more so, when crowned by overcast skies and soaking wet by the previous downpour.

We have come to Paris to film a movie.  Well, maybe that wasn’t the only reason, but it was one of our motivations and we are going to meet with the cameraman that Dean will be working with.  He is going to the movies and will meet us outside the theater.

So we take the Metro for the first time.  Paris, Paris metro, France

I get a kick out of the fact that Hangover III (a movie that two good friends are in) is called Very Bad Trip 3 here.  A Very Bad Trip 3, Paris metro

Paris It’s almost 8:00 pm and it’s still bright outside.

We have dinner at a restaurant that seems to be part of a chain:  Hippopotamus.  I would probably compare it to a Marie Callender’s (for my American friends).  It’s back to drizzling so we don’t walk far when we separate and go into the next Metro station (Denfert Rochereau) that we find.  Metro Denfer  Each station has its own personality.

 This one had sayings and signatures projected on the wall.  As I took the photo I got the reflection of a rider on it, giving it a ghostly feel.  Paris, France, Parisian Metro, metro

Ad  Another billboard reflection just made me smile.

A transfer.  Paris, France, Parisian metro, metro Did I mention that there are tons of steps in the Paris metro?  I shouldn’t complain; they are a good workout for me.  Which I will probably need since there are vending machines in the metro just in case I have a sudden urge for unhealthy snacks.  Paris, France, metro, vending machine

I am starting to be quite enthralled by the subway.  Parisian Metro

But I must awaken from my trance since the exit sign is ahead.  Exit, Paris, France, sortie

And we come up to our neighborhood once again.  Parisian Metro night, Paris, France      Paris, France, metro, night metro

Nighty, night.  Tomorrow will not only be another day but one that will bring us some iconic images of the City of Love.

Categories: 19th arrondissement, Denfert Rochereau, France, Paris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sleep, a Move and Eric Clapton Sings!!

Flat Departure  We wake up (if you can call it that) and hear the rain fall.  Great reason to go back to sleep.  There’s the excuse of jetlag  -which we don’t have- but I will go with the fact that a lazy day was in order and that the weather provided the perfect excuse.

I’ve been wanting to see The Great Gatsby in 3D so once I get cabin fever we bus it rainy day, London, double-decker bus out to Covent Gardens to see it.  Turns out we had the wrong theater but ended up seeing it in a huge screen but not in 3D.  I wanted to love it.  I didn’t. But I didn’t dislike it.  It had good and bad.  A bit disappointed in the visuals.  Not an explosion of color and movement as Moulin Rouge was.  Some elements were a bit overused.  Leo did a great job.  Bit slow and then rushed on a resolution.

Next day is moving day and the weather still a bit yucky.  It has been unseasonable cold in this part of the world, or at least in London.  I take a walk around “my” neighborhood of Fulham and buy some things that will keep me warm.  By the time I arrive at the flat it’s check out time and the cleaning lady is already there.

Off we go to The Gore, our next residence in London.  We chose The Gore Hotel because it is a block and half from The Royal Albert Hall where Eric Clapton is playing and whose concert we are attending twice.  More on that later.

Our room 208 (Miss Ada) is not ready yet so we wait in the Green Room, not the anteroom before a performance but a much civilized tea room.  The Gore, Green Room,  A coffee table book of Jimmy Choos’ shoes and a cup of tea entertains me.  MsAdaSo does my computer.  The hotel is 150 years old, the building it is housed in is 200 years old.   We are in old London, in Kensington and a residential area.

The room is a corner room.  The Gore, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 All is old The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 except for the double pane windows which shields us from any traffic noise.  In the bathroom a surprise.  The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 A “throne” for a toilet with pull chain and all.  throne, The Gore, pull chain toilet,   The Gore Hotel, London, throne, toilet I laugh when I use it the first time (and do so every time thereafter).  The room has such a proper English feel to it.

Tutu finds his spot. TutuRoom

We get a handwritten welcome along with a tray of fruit which I devour. The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208  The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208

The weather hasn’t improved by the time of the concert but I still wear my highest heels, get a hotel umbrella and off we go to see Eric Clapton!  A snack in one of the RAH’s bar sets the mood for the night.

The Royal Albert Hall is a grande dame.  The Royal Albert Hall, Eric Clapton, London  Beautiful and plush in red and gold.  The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London, Eric Clapton  So much has happened within its walls. Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

And then there is Eric!

 Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

Tears In Heaven.  I’m in heaven.  Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London  Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

An acoustic set that was to die for! Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

The departure Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London and the short one and half block commute to the hotel where I have desert, a creme catalane (basically a creme brulee), that was really good.  Tea from the green room and upstairs we go.

I am liking London much more than I have ever liked it from my previous trips.

Nighty, night.  Come with me tomorrow… we are going to be kids all over again and the day after we will have more of Eric Clapton.  We’ll have fun.  You’ll see.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Kensington, London, rainy day, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oi Goi Oi!

Again my eyes open early though I can’t capture a sunrise on my lens due to the fact that the hotel is in a very busy area of Ho Chi Minh City.  Not much of a sky to see here.

After our morning ritual of coffee, breakfast and climbing on the bus we are all set for our day-long trip to Chau Doc via Cantho.

A few hours in, most on the bus need either a coffee or a bathroom  break so we stop at the Vietnamese version of a Starbucks.   Much more relaxed atmosphere than the chain, with much better coffee!  They use this aluminum coffee filter and place it on top of a glass, one-third filled with condensed milk.  They pour hot water on the filter of ground coffee beans and when the condensed milk and freshly brewed coffee meet, the result is heaven to the taste buds! Don’t know how these people remain thin!     

There are hammocks all over and when you order your coffee they will bring it to your selected hammock.  We congregate around some low, small tables so we can chat.  Again, Vietnam unexpectedly is providing me a flood of memories of my childhood and my country.   Hammocks are a standard in Paraguay.  Rarely will you see a back yard that doesn’t have one.  The shade from the trees they are usually tied to, providing a perfect setting for a siesta and shelter from the brutal sun, while the hypnotic side-to-side swing helps keep the flies away and you sound asleep.  But no time to sleep now.  I do not waste the chance to go back in time and space and lie on one, nonetheless.  I recall, while I do so, that it takes a bit of balance to climb on!  

After a few more hours (observing daily life alongside my window)  

and a stop at a lotus plantation

we arrive to Cantho   and it’s time for lunch near the river.   

Lunch of vegetable soup,  steamed shrimp with mango sauce,

stuffed pumpkin flower   and crispy pork with mushroom sauce, is divine.  Heavenly coffee, divine lunch… there’s an out of this world theme in this post. 🙂

There is a market on the side and I buy yet another scarf and t-shirt.   Our guide has taught me to say “Oh my god!” in Vietnamese and when I exclaim:  “Oi gioi oi!” when a vendor quotes me the price, I get a look of total surprise and the most charming  of giggles  as she calls the other vendors and has me repeat it.  This was me just before I said it.  They are having a ball.  Didn’t get me much of a discount but it did make for fabulous interaction.

A short distance from there we climb on scooters for another of what my tour company calls UFE’s (Unforgettable Experiences).  Scooters and drivers wait for us to take us to a bird sanctuary at the other end of the town, Banglang.    Didn’t spot many birds.

They leave us and we walk through town.  My “inside quietness” surfaces as I photograph their faces, their houses, their town.   


Back to bus.   Karaoke or Internet anyone?  

Long Xuyen is our next stop where we visit the Cao Dai Temple.  Not a promising start…  

Then a surprisingly pretty building…  

Then puzzlement when I see the monument in front with a reverse swastika embedded. Turns out that the reverse swastika, which happens to have a Buddhist influence, is sacred to many Vietnamese.  The swastika (a Sanskrit word) is also a tantric symbol to evoke ‘shakti’ or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness.

Cao Dai is a religion that aims “to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being, whatever our minor differences, in order to promote peace and understanding throughout the world.  Cao Dai does not seek to create a gray world, where all religions are exactly the same, only to create a more tolerant world, where all can see each other as sisters and brothers form a common divine source reaching out to a common divine destiny realizing peace within and without.”  May get my vote on that premise.   I am mesmerized by its colors and by its principles.  About 2 million people practice it in Vietnam.  Persecuted by the communist rule, it gained in the ’80’s its acceptance.

Back on the bus.  Am really liking crossing the countryside.  We are taking this route so as to be near the Cambodian border.  Tomorrow we are cruising from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Pnom Penh, Cambodia on the Mekong River.

On the way we view a bit more of daily life.  School is out and some girls are in the traditional ào dái dress, used as uniforms in the school. They are heading towards the local ferry which will take them home.  A lot of life takes place on the river; they are so dependent on it.  

We arrive to the Dong Nam Hotel in Chau Doc.  I take a shower and again get on the bus to go to dinner at a local family’s house.  It’s actually a bakery by day and at night she hosts small dinners for tourists.  I try taro and rice soup –purple in color with what to me was a pretty strange taste.   Egg noodle with seafood –great.  Stir-fried morning glory (a plant not the same as the one in the US which is not edible) –delicious!   Catfish cooked in a clay pot –good.

When we arrive it was pouring. First downpour in almost 20 days of travel. It reminded me so much of the storms that hit Asunción and used to scare my mom so much. Ay Vietnam, what are you doing to me?  You have generated so many memories!

The rain brings in a visitor that was not invited to the table.    Mom did not like them; I liked them less.  She got accustomed to them; my aversion got stronger.

Back to the hotel.  The rain is steady and strong and turns into the prequel of dreams of times long gone.

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Cantho, Chau Doc, Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, Long Xuyen, Ramblings, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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