Posts Tagged With: vertigo

“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

I Have an Eye on London and a Golden Ticket

After the rainy and cold two days we have had, I firmly believe we are due for a wonderfully sunny day.  Do they exist in London?  Yes! They do.  Though the cold has not left, the  morning shows no clouds with the sun actually out.

The hotel is on Queens Gate which leads to the Queens Gate entrance to Hyde Park. only half a block away.  Queens Gate, Hyde Park, London

I have grown used to the the red double-deck buses but this old one in a gray that reminds me of and Airstream makes me smile widely. Double-decker bus, London, England

Destination today will be Portobello Road Portobello Road, London, England where there is a world famous market on Saturdays and Sundays. Portobello Market, Portobello Road, London, England

It gives me a bit of nostalgia to see all the antiques. Antique market, Portobello Road, London, England  Antiques, Portobello Road, Portobello Market, London, England I used to have an antique store and I found much joy in discovering treasures to sell.  Today I am not a buyer.  I am one of the thousands who visit from all over to listen to music, to browse and, if lucky enough to get good weather, to enjoy the sun that so rarely comes out.  bicycle, mews, London, England

Back on the bus double-decker bus, London, England because again the weather rules our steps and there is not day better than to visit the London Eye.   First Big Ben welcomes us.  Big Ben, London, England Big, bold, beautiful, regal, imposing and so very iconically London. Big Ben, London, England

There are seas of yellows and red everywhere.   Two German soccer teams are playing the final game in London today.  You see them all over catching the sights before the game.

German soccer team

 And here is the London Eye.  London Eye, ferris wheel, London, England  A huge ferris wheel where I will put my fear of heights to rest so as to be able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of this city.

First, a look back at old Big Ben.  Big Ben

And after the tickets are bought an hour wait before going to the line (cue in Brit English) so a walk around, seeing performers perform and kids and adults enjoy, is to be.  Street performers, bubbles, London, England

The London Eye has little space-like capsules London Eye in which it takes you up to give you an incredibly wonderful view of the city.  Vertigo does not hit me at all.  The capsule is stable and they don’t pack too many people in London Eye  so no claustrophobia either.  It’s a well run machine.  Don’t think that even Disney could do better.  And now I will quiet so you can savor the view.

But first, let me introduce the competitor of the Eye:  The Shard.London Eye, The Shard  And now I really am going to let you enjoy the view. P1170106

Hey, they are higher than me for now!  London Eye capsule   London Eye, London Eye view, London

London Eye  Big Ben from London Eye  London Eye  Back into the tube (Westminster Station) and to a very industrial feel.  Westminster Station

All sorts of transportation are used today.

I am now going to hold my breath, make a wish, count to three and be a child again.  I want to view paradise so I will simply look around and view it.  Does chocolate give away were I will be next?

I present my Golden Ticket Willy Wonka,  at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  Royal Drury Lane Theater, Charlie and the Cocolate Factory  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Magic it was.  So well staged and engrossing .  Funny, sweet and the vessel through which I regress to a time where only a few things matter.

Dinner at an Italian restaurant -continuing our Italy themed English vacation- and headed back to The Gore where a warm four-poster bed will cocoon me until morning.

Tomorrow will be epic so please come with me.   Would love to share.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

P.D.R.

I do not want to leave Luang Prabang and am seriously considering letting my inner child take over and let her stomp her feet, throw herself on the floor, little fists in a ball, face streaked with tears and yelling: “I don’t want to gooooo!”  But the adult in me knows that it won’t go well with the rest of the group and primarily, that it will do me no good.  So my bag is packed and out the door.  I delight myself in some local flora and pretend I’m here to stay.  

Laos P.D.R. is the full name of the country.   P.D.R. stands for People’s Democratic Republic though it is also an acronym for the country’s way of life:  “Please Don’t Rush”  I don’t want to rush in its discovery.

But then comes a tuk tuk ride to the bus.  A daylong bus ride to Vang Vieng is ahead of us.  We are warned that most of it will be on a windy, bumpy road.  We are going to stop for bathroom breaks and to visit hill tribes along the way.  Noon will find us at a “pretty for pictures” mountain-high restaurant.  I mistakenly wrote I was on the “death road” yesterday.  Well my mind got things mixed up and it was today.   It is going to take us –on a good day- between 6 to 8 hours to get to our destination.

At the beginning, the road offers the usual scenery.  Fields along the way, houses, sky, mountains in the distance.  Then I doze off and awake to this…     

Suddenly the words “bumpy”, “windy”, “hill”, and “mountain-high”, connect!  I add “death-road”, “vertigo”, “ouch”, “Can I get off now?”  Later I would read that the road was “not recommended for nervous persons”.  There are few to no barriers separating the bus from a vast ravine.  Someone asks if I had fallen asleep because I was too quiet.  No, I say.  I’m just too queasy to talk!

No wonder my head hurts.  It’s been bouncing against the window.  Sort of like the head of those dogs they use for good fortune (the ones that their head bobs on any movement.) Fortunately, my palpitations will be reduced by a walk in the hill tribe village we stop at. 

We are the local entertainment.   

A protective older sister wraps her arm around her sibling and as I press my shutter gives me a look of  “don’t you mess with my sister”. 

We are invited by a local to visit his home.  In all the villages and homes we have visited there is a television and satellite alongside abject poverty.  But these people do not live in misery for they are content with who and where they are.

Kitchen at entrance.    

Our host lives in this home with his wife and 11 children.  He answers all our questions and I see in his eyes wonderment and disbelief in some of the things we are curious about.

There is a strange flickering noise in back of me that is a bit unsettling (Is something alive there?) but I don’t want to be rude, turn and potentially run out screaming if I find a strange animal resides in that corner.   

Other kids join us or come in.   

And we leave.  We are still the entertainment.     

Can you tell who will be the gang leader from this photo?  

After a few hours –many more than I like- we arrive at the restaurant for lunch.  Mr. Peng laughs as he sees my expression of horror as he parks the bus head first, facing the precipice.  Lucky me is in the front row.  Okay, you are close enough, please stop the bus, stop please, STOP, NOW!!!  

We go to “happy place” (local speak for bathroom) first.    

Then a little walk uphill towards the restaurant.  To my left a view of the road. 

To my right, a scene that could be labeled many ways.  My whole being quiets and settles.  

A view of where we came from.  We are at approximately 5,000 ft.  

Reaching the restaurant, a little figure, advertising god-knows-what, seems so out of place that we all gawk at it and name it “little happy laughing girl Buddha”.     

We eat.  Wash our hands.  Explore the surroundings a little more.  and back to the bus for another couple of hours till we stop at a mountain food market.  You aren’t tired already, are you?

We are instructed not to point our cameras at any of the dead animals that are offered (head and all).  Seems that these vendors are fully aware of Facebook and that a photo may go up that will force authorities to come in and fine or confiscate.  They sell some animals that are not supposed to be sold.  Fortunately I see none with a face to it.

There are a lot of “normal” selections of fruit and vegetables. 

Bamboo shoots.  

Banana blossom. 

Taro.  I would later have taro soup and then taro ice cream. 

And something that is nowhere near common or normal in my book.  Our guide points out what looks like a stalk of something and says that it is a delicacy in his country.  I am leery.  Delicacy = very odd, strange, gross, inedible, retching-induced!

Our vendor starts the process.

She peels.  

Almost done.  

And out comes the yuckiest of worms.  It has been cooked in the stalk but that doesn’t make it any more appetizing.   Our guide repeats it’s a delicacy and proceeds to eat it.  Amazingly, so did one of our group who told everyone it tasted like chicken.

Ohhh, the Americans ate the worm!  

Back on a bus that, at this point, nobody wants to be in.   Another hour and another stop at another happy place where, believe it or not, they sell Kit Kats and Snickers. I buy them and eat them both in a nano second!  I don’t even like chocolate but somehow it was appropriate and satisfying to do so. It didn’t stop me from trying the local taro ice cream, either.

A million years more of a bus ride (or so it seemed) and my sore bottom and me arrive in Vang Vieng.  The bus is too big for the city streets so we shall walk to the hotel.  Vang Vieng has the reputation of being a backpacker’s paradise and it lives up to the fame with advertising for tubing, zip-lining, trekking, parties, etc.  I get a kick out of one that is none of those.

Are you over seacall?  Busticker anyone?  

Sign with all the familiar breakfast (at least for the Brits) 

We had seen an ad for a balloon ride in the plane and wanted to do it but once we saw the balloon and how incredibly close he got to that building we change our minds.   

The ever-present temple along the way.  

As I look towards a street vendor, I capture her expression right before she gives me the thumbs up signal.  

Graffiti in Laos? 

Then a road that becomes indicative of the type of resort we are staying at. 

Though it hardly matters where we sleep for this is the view before us.       

We eat well.

Pumpkin soup.  

Remnant of my tilapia.   

After which I dive, literally dive onto my not so soft bed.  Lots of excitement to be had tomorrow!

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Laos, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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