Posts Tagged With: train

Choo, Choo, Here Go I.

P1490517

I am trying hard to fight the romanticism of what I am about to embark on. I’m going on a train ride. A very long one. 16 hours (and 10 minutes). On Amtrak, which isn’t the Orient Express or anything close to it. Before that I have to take a commuter train (Metrolink),  for an hour and a half. And before that a 45-minute car ride to Riverside, CA train station. In between, a 5 1/2 layover in Los Angeles. Oh, and then a 3-hour car drive from El Paso, TX Depot Station to Carlsbad, New Mexico, my final destination. All in all, about 27 hours of travel. Is it crazy that my enthusiasm and gushiness have not subsided?

After the 45 minute car drive I arrive at the Riverside Amtrak Station. I buy my ticket at the machine on the platform since on the Metrolink commuter train you can only purchase it on the day of.

As I approach Los Angeles the old bridge studded with graffiti seems to ask if I really want to leave. The answer is a rotund yes. I’m due for a road trip even if it is on a train!

At one of my very favorite old train stations, Union Station, I take a seat in their waiting lounge where a friend I haven’t seen in a while agreed to meet with me to make the wait before my next train shorter. It’s 5:00 pm and the rush hour commute is full on as well as a sea of blue that arrives to go to a Dodgers game.

A while back I toured a space in Union Station that housed the Harvey House which closed in the late 60’s. It was a stop to men returning home from war and those going off. It was also famous for its “Harvey Girls” which were the subject of a 1946 Judy Garland film of the same name. I often wondered why such a magnificent space hadn’t been used. Well, about a year ago the Imperial Brewing Company went in and it is there where my friend Jon and I head to. There truly isn’t anything better than a friend to the rescue, good conversation, oysters and beer.

My friend leaves and left alone I walk through “my” station. Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States and is widely regarded as “the last of the great train stations.” Inaugurated in 1939 I consider it a Grand Dame and give it the respect that entails. I love everything about it, including the characters in it. This group was singing loudly as they traversed it.

An Amtrak employee befriends me and chats with me until my time to board. Such a nice man, the kind that saves Amtrak from any criticism. He has been with the company for over 20 years. I think his name was Cyro or something like it. Thank you sir. And before I know it the time comes. I’m boarding!

I’m really glad that I checked my baggage because not having had to lug anything through the 5 1/2 hour layover was such a relief. And the storage on the train is minimal. Besides, the stairs going to the second floor on the train are so narrow people with any luggage or disability were having a rough time. I started helping people going up. As a result I was on a first-name basis with a lot of them in my wagon. I became fast friends with a retired gentleman going to Louisiana that was seated in front of me and another young man who had never been on a train, also going to Louisiana (I think they both had about a 2 day ride). The older one takes this trip 3 times a year and knows the train very well. He takes us on a tour. We settled in the observation car and chatted non-stop for hours. I now know what a lot of expressions in Louisiana mean and how to make gumbo from scratch. They were both great cooks.

We stop in Palm Springs and, with the lights, the landscape is eerie.

It’s around 2 am and we all head back to sleep a bit. I sleep soundly and quite comfortably. At 6:30 am Steve is up and looking my way. Want to go to breakfast? I say yes and off we go. He with a steady step, I bumping into the sides of the aisles. My equilibrium has never been good. At breakfast I forget my Keto diet and eat pancakes with syrup. The seating is cafeteria style and I smile inwardly when I think there’s a sense of intimacy to breakfast which I am now sharing with strangers. Train rides have a tendency to make total strangers into friends that tell you their life story.

Then to the observation car again where we claim the same seats we had last night.

As we cross Arizona we can observe the Cochise Head in the Chiricahua Mountains. If you look closely you’ll see his head, nose and chin. He’s face up.

Then we cross New Mexico (where I will backtrack to, once I “land” in Texas).

Train tracks all the way. The landscape is arid but I am most enjoying it.

I can’t believe almost 16 hours have passed since I boarded this train… 27 hours since I left home, but it must be because the conductor announces that our next stop is El Paso. I’m excited to see my friends at the station but I also am sad leaving the train. I kind of want this trip to continue on. Maybe forever. My friend tells me that I should buy burritos from this lady on the platform. They are tasty, really big, he says, and cheap at $2 each. But my friends will be picking me up and I’m sure we will eat on the way, which turns out so. We stop at a local mom and pop restaurant with fantastic service and that has their last name. I have a menudo. No. I am not keeping to a Keto lifestyle.

We have 3 hours to get to Carlsbad and as we drive we pass a checkpoint that brings back memories of 9 years ago when doing a cross country from Los Angeles to Orlando I was stopped and was questioned about my nationality and status. But that’s a long story that will be told another time.

We pass Diablo Rock where it is said that people have died on its trail from heat exhaustion. It does look quite imposing.

The sun sets, my eyes can barely stay open. Guess it was a long trip after all.

I have said that I would end my blogs with a song. One that reminded me of something or one that touches my heart in some way. I haven’t done so but I do want to, so this one ends with a video of a forever friend that just happened to have written a “little” song that Pat Benatar made famous and that forms part of many lives: We Belong. This song is one of my favorites of his, Arrows, of maybe a relationship lost but friendship gained. Dan Navarro is truly a folk legend.

Advertisements
Categories: California, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

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

“N’oublions jamais l’Australie”

We are on the road again…  We are off to Villers-Bretonneux a little town that experienced the first world’s battle (in World War I) between two tank forces (the British and the Germans).  The Germans took the town but the Australian Imperial Force recaptured it a few days later.  1,200 Australians died in the process.  A few miles from the town is an Australian Memorial and a cemetery where 770 are buried.  That is where we are headed.

Initially we were to take a bus to the Amiens train station but it is such a beautiful day that we end up walking.  In front of the Amiens station I spotted the cutest of buses.  I still get a kick out of how little cars are – even traditionally big ones as the Range Rover and Mercedes – in Europe.  Seems that they miniaturize buses too!miniature bus, Amiens, Fance

At the station train station, Amiens, France we buy our aller-rétour (round trip) ticket to Villers-Bretonneux.  We are lucky that the train departs about 15 minutes from when we arrive.  train workers, train, Amiens, France In one hour we will be there. The train is pretty comfortable SNCF, train interior, Amiens, Franceand I settle in with my espresso.  train, SNCF, Amiens, France  To my side, a reminder that I am in France: a baguette a main part of a traveler’s luggage.  Luggage, train, baguette, Amiens, France

We arrive.  station, sign, Villers Bretonneux, France  train, Villers Bretonneaux, France  Villers Bretonneux, France, train station, gare

We are two of only few that exit here.  No signs guiding us to the memorial so we decide to follow the only person that is on foot. Villers Bretonneux, France  Should we take the path unknown?  dirt road, Villers Bretonneux, France, Australian Memorial  The Franco-Australian Museum  comes up (the first thing that attracts me is the tiles on the floor)  Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, Franceso we go in Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, France   Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, France  Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux, Francefor info on how to get to the Memorial.

They tell us that the Memorial is a couple of miles out of town and that it’s walkable.  So we continue. I am loving the stone houses. Villers Bretonneux, France. stone house,  Everything in this town has something Australian on it. Villers Bretonneux, France. kangaroo

We are leaving the boundaries of town. See the sign with a diagonal red line on it?  sign, leaving town, Villers Bretonneux

I promise not to go more than 50 km per hour (31 mph) in the construction zone.  In fact I don’t think I can walk that fast. Villers Bretonneux, France, road, road signs, km per hour   Though I may have to because that memorial looks quite far…Villers Bretonneux, France, countryside

The walk is long, the day is hot so I extend my right thumb in good hitch hiking mode and… nothing happens. So we continue on.  It doesn’t seem to be getting any closer yet suddenly we are there. Australian Memorial, Villers Bretonneux, France No one around.  We are alone. I fall silent.  Villers Bretonneux, France  Villers Bretonneux, France

Words of the mayor in 1919: “Soldiers of Australia, whose brothers lie here in French soil, be assured that your memory will always be kept alive, and that the burial places of your dead will always be respected and cared for…”

Villers Bretonneux, France Villers Bretonneux, France Many tombstones engraved with the one date they all died.  All so very young. Fighting someone else’s war. But the people of Villers Bretonneux are grateful, for, according to Wikipedia, on top of every blackboard in the school there is an inscription “N’oublions jamais l’Australie” (Let us never forget Australia.)

P1180639  P1180653  P1180649

There are stairs to go to the top of the memorial and I decide to go up disregarding my fear of heights. Villers Bretonneux, France, memorial  Going up. P1180656 The door to the outside.  P1180660  A few more steps and I’m outside.  The wind assaults me. I am quite high but vertigo does not take over and I am able to enjoy the view. P1180663 P1180665 P1180666  The markers have some names with significance to me. Amiens, London, Berlin, Paris and Villers Bretonneux.

 P1180675 P1180674 P1180673  We are not alone any more and as I climb down Dean remains upstairs and chatting with a fellow Aussie that thankfully gives us a ride back to Amiens where they are also staying.

We walk through town  children playing, fountain, water,  to meet with Lydie for us to have a mini table read.  The pastry shops are going to be the death of me.  This one has the dessert that I so loved: Paris-Brest (I know there is a joke here but please refrain.)P1180697 P1180696 Casa Crepes which kind of joins my culture with theirs, don’t you think? P1180700  But not all is food.  I’m taking my door photos too.  P1180710 P1180708  And windows.  P1180714  And buildings. P1180712 P1180711 Okay, back to the table read. Amiens, France, outdoor café  These are the remains of sorbets that our réalisateur (director) has devoured while we work. P1180717  Think I’m back to the food subject.  We leave.

I am now starving.  I get cranky when I am hungry.  I can’t concentrate when I’m hungry.  I need to eat now!  And when I’m this hungry even a McDonald’s will do.  And this one holds some surprises.  It is manned by smiley, cute people and it’s more in the vein of an upscale café than a McDonald’s, with comfy chairs and cool decor. Amiens, France, chair, McDonald's  And a sauce for the fries that is more on the mayo side which I like. Amiens, France, McDonald's. fast food A chicken wrap with a package that you can stand it up in.  P1180719 Amiens, France, McDonald's. fast food Prices are also a surprise: not cheap at all.

Now that I’ve been fed I have energy and will to have a walk around town.  We find a gem of a square.  Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square

I find the building that I would like to own.

 Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square Amiens, France, Amiens Square

The day is done.  We have mentally wept for those gone, honored them, taken a step back in time, taken a step forward to filming, fed our minds and our bodies, and fantasized a bit about what we wanted.  Pretty full day. I smile and sleep once more.

Categories: Amiens, Amiens Square, Australian War Memorial, Franco-Australian Museum, Villers Bretonneux | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rudeness, Pickpocket and Scam Alert!

The dreaded day is here.  The day Soleil  7th arrondissement, péniche, houseboat, Paris, France, River Seine 7th arrondissement, péniche, houseboat, Paris, France, River Seine and we part.  The day we leave our smurf bust. Soleil, péniche, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, Eiffel Tower, paradise found The day Fifi stays behind.  She certainly has made herself at home.  Soleil, péniche, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, Eiffel Tower, paradise found, Fifi, cat, black cat The last day when I look out the window or off the deck and will be reminded by the Eiffel Tower that I am in Paris.  Eiffel Tower, 7th arrondissement, péniche, houseboat, Paris, France, River Seine, window, room with a view
Eiffel Tower, 7th arrondissement, péniche, houseboat, Paris, France, River Seine, window, room with a view

I didn’t want the day to come but it’s here.

I very unwillingly pack.  We cross the plank with our luggage and place it in the garden.  One step further from our beloved péniche.    Fifi huddles behind it, probably because of the shade, but I am sure it is because she wants to come with us.Soleil, péniche, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, Eiffel Tower, paradise found, Fifi, cat, black cat, departure  Soleil, péniche, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, Eiffel Tower, paradise found, Fifi, cat, black cat, departure Soleil, péniche, River Seine, 7th arrondissement, houseboat, Eiffel Tower, paradise found, Fifi, cat, black cat, departure

I pick her up and go to our neighbor in the boat next to us and ask him if she is his and what her name is.  Fifi is now Yaya.   I think Fifi fits her better.

Up until now we have felt nothing but safe and have been on the receiving end of helpfulness and courteousness.  We walk to the station of Passy Paris, France, metro, Passy where in one swoop all that changes.  We are carrying substantial luggage that can only pass through the gate so I show our ticket and our luggage and ask the attendant how we can go through the gate.  He says it’s not free. I continue to smile and say I understand but how can we input the ticket for the gate (it has no slot)? Not free.  I know. How? Validate through the regular entrance and he’ll open gate.  I do.  He does not.  He is rude, nasty and unhelpful.  Had it not been for a passenger on the other side who opens the gate from the inside we would still be there.

Onward to the train (metro).  Two young women enter our wagon and stand at the entrance. Plenty of room behind them, but as I go in, one moves towards me. In French I ask her what she is doing.  Arreter!  Stop. She continues forward.  I avoid her and go towards the back.  They exit at the next stop and I look down and the zipper of my bag is open.  Fortunately nothing in that compartment for her to take, but it frazzles me a bit.

Onward to the Gare du Nord where we are going to buy tickets to our destination: Amiens.  Gare du Nord is a sea of clashing currents of human flesh.  Busy at all times.  A bit overwhelming to most.  No information booths are manned and we can’t find where to buy the tickets so we go to the machines.  A tad confusing and we must look it because we are approached by a lovely young lady who tries to help.  No, thank you.  Move onto another.  She follows and when we are about to put our credit card in she says that it  doesn’t accept foreign cards and we can pay her and she’ll put hers in.  I don’t think so!  We safeguard our credit card and move far from her.  It’s a well-known scam that has been going on for years.

We finally get to a ticket booth for SNCF but can someone figure out this billboard for me please? Gare du Nord, scam, confusion, train station, SNCF

Gare du Nord, scam, confusion, train station, SNCFThe train has little stars on the floor and I am ready to go into bliss zone again.

The countryside train travel, France, Amiens, Gare du Nord, countryside  train travel, France, Amiens, Gare du Nord, countryside shows up and in no time (about 2 hours) we arrive at the Amiens, SNCF, train station, France Amiens station. Amiens, SNCF, train station, France   Amiens, SNCF, train station, France  Bigger than I thought it would be..

Amiens, SNCF, train station, France

We are close to city center so after checking in we walk to town.  It’s about 8 pm. Amiens City Center It’s still light outside on a still mild night and no one is out.  Amiens city center, France The city seems deserted, yet it is beautiful and quaint.  Our stomachs (okay, really just mine) is clamoring for food so we sit at a pizza place Amiens, pizza place, Via Pizza,  and the entertainment comes to us.  A local theater group is walking through the plaza where we are, with the audience in tow. Theater, French theater, France, Amiens, entertainment, street theater Theater, French theater, France, Amiens, entertainment, street theater  They stop with the police blocking the road Amiens theater as the actors perform. Amiens theater Theater, French theater, France, Amiens, entertainment, street theater

My pizza arrives and yes, that is an egg in the middle.  Via Pizza, Amiens, pizza with egg, France More than one pizza is served like that.  I avoid it and eat around it.  I accompany it with my favorite drink:  Schwepps tonic which is not that commonly available in the States in restaurants but is here.  Schweppes, tonic water, Amiens, France, Via Pizza

I decide to not remind myself that it has more calories than a Coke and enjoy every drop.

Amiens Cathedral, France, church, cathedral The cathedral is ahead.

We will walk there after dinner. Amiens Cathedral Through the side streets we go ’cause that is the way where many a surprise has been had and today is no different.  Australian Bar, Amiens, France, Aussie bar in France An Australian bar to satisfy my partner’s craving for his country though this one has Latino music blaring and a soccer match showing.  Is it crazy that I find this perfectly normal?

And then the cathedral, which is quite a beauty, intricately adorned with sculptures on the outside, The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church, and quite huge.  The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church, The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church,The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church,

The plaza it is in is not bad either and the side streets are charming.  The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church, plaza

The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church, plaza   The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church, plaza

 The carousel is closed and the streets are empty.  The Cathedral of our Lady of Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, cathedral, church, plaza

It is time for us to go home.  Amiens  Amiens

We will explore more tomorrow… or maybe we will just chill.  🙂

Categories: 7th Arrondissement, Amiens, Amiens Cathedral, Eiffel Tower, Gare du Nord, Paris, Port Debilly | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Scouting Locations in Rainy Paris

Today is more location scouting.   Work, work, work…  🙂  Well, not really work when it’s in one of my favorite cities in the world.  It’s rainy but rain in Paris just makes it shine.

We are headed to Pere Lachaise. Pere Lachaise map Over 1 million people have been buried here.  Many unknown to most, many very well-known to the French, and some famous around the world.  panoramic, cemetery, Paris, France

Oscar Wilde is buried here.  “A kiss may ruin a human life,” Oscar Wilde once wrote.  His tomb, defaced by women kissing it (no one can quite trace the origin of this tradition – complicated as the man himself) may be the proof that it may ruin it in death as well.  Now it is surrounded by plexiglass, a plea in writing to respect his grave, and a fence around it just in case someone disregards it.    Pere Lachaise, Paris, France  Pere Lachaise, Paris, France

Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P.

 

The cemetery has cobblestone streets, trees and pathways where the trees meet in the middle.  Some tombs are in decay.   Others give you a burst of color.     tomb   Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P., tombs, graves

Then there’s Edith Piaf’s tomb, surprisingly sedate and unassuming.  A tourist came up to us and asked us where it was when he had just passed it.

Pere Lachaise        Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P., Edith Piaf

 

And speaking of unassuming there is Pere Lachaise, Jim Morrison, grave, R.I.P., tomb, The Doors, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery Jim Morrison’s (The Doors) grave.  Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P., tombs, graves, Jim Morrison  Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P. tombs, graves, Jim Morrison, The Doors,

People cross the fences to place flowers, photos, notes in all languages, and just to get close to him.  Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P., tombs, graves  Pierre Lachaise, 20th arrondissement, Paris, France, cemetery, R.I.P., tombs, graves, Jim Morrison

Dean did a documentary on the 40th anniversary of his death in Paris in 2011.  Really good documentary even for those that aren’t fans.

The Doors – Not to Touch the Earth – 40th Anniversary Celebrations at Père Lachaise

Pere Lachaise is closing.  It is close to 6:00 pm.  An attendant with a bell rings it incessantly herding people out.  Time to head over to where “our” houseboat will be.  Dean is filming tomorrow so he wants me to know the area where the boat is so I can tell the taxi driver.  Plus, we still need a bridge for the shoot.

It stopped raining but those are pretty dark clouds!  20th arrondissement, Paris, France, rain, cloudy day, clouds

Into the metro we go.  20th arrondissement, metro, Paris subway, subway, Paris, France  And guess where we are going first?  Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, sign

It started to rain again which doesn’t drown its beauty.  Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Carrousel, Paris, France, Eiffel Tower  There’s a lonely wet carousel as we approach.   Carrousel at the Eiffel Tower

As hard as it is to leave we must go to the boat which turns out to be only across the river.  River Seine, Paris, France, Eiffel Tower, quay, houseboat, bridge

And here she is: Soleil, the houseboat that we will call home for a bit.  houseboat, Soleil, River Seine, Paris, France  houseboat, Soleil, Paris, France, River Seine, Eiffel Tower  I want to see her from the bridge  bridge, train, architecture, River Seine, Paris, France so we go to it. houseboat, Eiffel Tower, France, Paris, quay, River Seine There we find a monument “La France Renaissante” monument, Eiffel Tower, River Seine, Paris, France  La France Renaissante, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, River Seine

Another few glances at the Eiffel Tower…River Seine, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France  River Seine, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France and off to dinner at an Italian place Pizzeria Fiorentina(I find that Paris has pretty good Italian food.)  Seafood pasta for me.

Seafood pasta, Italian restaurant in Paris, pasta, yummy, comfort food   And then a crepe sucre (just a basic sugar crepe) that reminds me of my mom.  dessert  Though I must admit to tasting a bit of this…ice cream

And now back into the subway metro, Paris, France, subway  Just in case the map isn’t reminder enough of where you are…Eiffel Tower, subway, metro, Paris, France

subway, metro, Paris, France

As the train departs it gives me this view which almost feels like it was pasted there for the tourists but no, it’s the actual thing.   subway, metro, Paris, France

   Going to bed now.  I’m tired.

Categories: 20th arrondissement, Eiffel Tower, France, Paris, Pere Lachaise | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Going 298 kph (186 mph). Today Je Suis Parisienne!

We arrive at the St. Pancras International Station in London (railroad) from where the Eurostar departs.  I am super excited to go on it. The waiting area is ultra modern St. Pancras International, London train station, Eurostar, London, England while the upper area, train, train station, St. Pancras International, London, England from where the train actually departs, gives you an “I’ve been here longer than you.” feel.  Customs/immigration is a breeze.

Our destination (another reason why my inner child is doing somersaults):  Paris!  I so love Paris.

The Eurostar Eurostar is set to depart at 3:31 and it leaves at… (drumroll please) at exactly 3:31 pm!!!

Tutu wants out and promptly takes over what is supposed to be my seat.  koala, train

I promptly put him in the front seat’s pouch.  He’s not too happy about this.  koala, train

The Eurostar goes up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph).  Super fast. Eurostar speed, mph, kph, London-Paris And takes the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France.  I find the speed mind blogging but the fact that we are underwater also blows my mind.  It will get us to Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Oh but wait, I blinked and we are here!!

Gare du Nord, Eurostar, Eurostar station, Paris, France

We get into the line (queue) to get a cab.  We are headed to the 19th arrondissement (district) to an apartment in an area that is very un-touristy and where we will probably become locals for the next 6 nights.  Love the woman in black. Very Parisian chic.  Paris, France, Gare du Nord

I am still hesitant to practice my French so I ask our taxi driver (in French) if he speaks any English.  Nope, sorry madame, I do not. (In French) And so my journey of embarrassing myself in French begins.  🙂  We manage to understand each other and actually have a bit of a conversation.  So engrossed am I in my French that Dean has to point out the taxi’s sunroof which is all glass. Paris, France, taxi, sunroof

We arrive “home”.  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th Arrondissement, 19 district  It’s tiny but charming, quaint and cozy. Worth the climb up two stairs.  Paris, France   “Tres charmant!”  We seem to be in a red-mode here, as in London.  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement

It is a beautiful day. The first, it seems, according to the owner, -who came to greet us- in a while. We settle in.  Check out our view (and our neighbors) who have two of the cutest and biggest Newfoundlands I’ve seen.  sunset, Paris, France  Newfoundland, Paris, France,

British Flag  London, I will miss you but Paris… je t’aime!  Our first sunset in Paris is divine.  sunset, Paris, France

Categories: 19th arrondissement, France, Gare du Nord, Paris, St. Pancras International | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: