Tuesday, 28 July, 2015 – Day 3 -Travel from London – Dover – Calais – Amsterdam, The Netherlands- (Day 49)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015 – Day 3 – Travel from London – Dover – Calais – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (250 miles/400 Kms) – (Day 49)

Early wake up call at 6.15, as had to have case outside door by 6.30.  Down to a very light breakfast as feel as though that is all I have been doing – eating.  We boarded the coach driven by Luigi from Milan and met our tour guide, Britt from Amsterdam at 7.45 and left at 8.00 to pick up other passengers from a couple of other hotels. Finally we were on our way at 8.30-40.  The traffic was quite slow as workers were around.  We passed Harrods, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben etc. Crossed over the River Thames and we were on our way to Dover.

After leaving the centre of London, we had a good run down to Dover  and arrived about 11.15.  We all got off the coach and had to present our passports. Our ferry did not leave until 12.30ish. Was quite a rough passage and it was blowing a hefty gale out on the upper deck. Was frightened my IPad was going to blow out of my hand.

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It was magnificent seeing The White Cliffs of Dover from another view as I was up on the cliffs in the second week of my travels looking down into the Port of Dover.

We arrived in Calais, France after almost 3 hours and we then boarded the coach once more.  We set off and saw lots of farmland, cows, horses, windfarms and fields of corn. The countryside was quite flat. At about 5.00ish we crossed into the Belgium.  We passed near Brugge.  The countryside now changed into lovely green pastures and saw some lakes. At times the windmills were quite close to the road.

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We arrived in Amsterdam. Amsterdam  is the capital city with a population of approximately 17 million and 18 million bicycles. 

Famous Amsterdam residents included Anne Frank, the diarist, the artist Vincent van Gogh, artist and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.   Its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee coffee shops draw more than 5 million international visitors annually.

We booked into our accommodation at the Holiday Inn Express Arena Towers. After dinner, it was off to bed for a reasonably early night. Today we were actually in four countries – United Kingdom (Dover), France (Calais), Belgium (near Brugge) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands).  Amazing how this is so accessible –  In Australia, one can hardly move from one state to another in one day unless of course, you are near the borders of two states.

 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 – Day 7 – Eze and Monaco

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 – Day 7 – Eze and Monaco

This morning after breakfast I got picked up by Thomas for tour to Eze and Monaco. 5 other people were picked up and then we set off on a very picturesque and steep drive to EZE.  Stopped at a lookout to take photos of Nice and surrounds.

Our next stop was at the Fragonard Perfume Factory.  Since 1926 Fragonard has been producing perfumes, eau de toiletries and perfumed products in their laboratories using the traditional methods of French perfumeries.  We were given a guided tour and saw some of the employees working.  We then were given samples to smell and then had the opportunity to purchase if we so wished.

After our visit to Fragonard, it was a short drive to MONACO.

Visited the cathedral where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III are buried.  Headed along to The Palace and at 11.55 saw the Changing of the Guards – a very short ceremony and these are held every hour.  Just had time for a quick wander down some alleyways – lots of products promoting the Grand Prix before it was to our meeting place at the yellow sub outside the Oceaneanic Aquarium.  Then it was off to see the famous Monte Carlo casino building.  I opted for a cool beer and some olives and crackers as it had reached 36.  Thomas then picked us up and we did a lap of the formula 1 Grand Prix that had been held a fortnight ago. There was a lot of steel scaffolding that was being dismantled. Took them 6 weeks to assemble.  The only way one could see the race was from a hotel or had a ticket as they blocked off all the free viewing spots.

It was then back to Nice.

Monday, 9th June 2014 – Day 5 -Train from Paris to Nice

Monday, 9th June 2014 – Day 5 – Train from Paris to Nice

Wakeup call at 6.30 for taxi at 6.55 for the Paris railway station.  Found platform 15 and carriage 8, seat 81.  Departed at 7.45.  We went via Lyon, Marseilles and Blamcombe at 11.00.  We went off the fast track for several kilometres as vandals had cut the electricity wires for the copper that they sold.

The countryside was lovely –  fields of lavender and vineyards – and as we climbed higher and travelled along the coastline through Toulon, Cannes and Antibes until we arrived at Nice the views of the ocean were spectacular. There were many swimmers.

I caught a taxi to my accommodation at the Little Palace.  Had a wander up to the restaurant area and had a pasta dish and a couple of beers as it was still quite warm. Met an Irish couple with their little baby.  It is amazing just how many people have dogs and they allowed in the restaurants.  Headed back to the hotel to retire after a very pleasant relaxing ride in the train.

Saturday, 7th June 2014 – Day 3 – River Seine Cruise and Lunch at Eiffel Tower

Saturday, 7th June 2014 – Day 3 – River Seine Cruise and Lunch at Eiffel Tower and Montmartre

Received a wake up call at 7.00 and into breakfast before my taxi arrived to take me to 2 Rue de Pyramides to join my Tour. We boarded a coach for a city tour.  Paris has some wonderful buildings, monuments, museums, bridges, restaurants and shopping centres. We passed many of these – The Pyramide du Louvre, Tokyo Palace, Trocadero, Chaillot Palace, Concorde Square, Institute of France, National Library, the Bastille, the Conciergerie and too numerous to name. We drove  along the beautiful tree lined Ave Des Champs-Élysées , through the Arc De Triumphe and of course there was The Eiffel Tower –  The Iron Lady.  I was a little surprised that it wasn’t taller.

I then went on a cruise on The River Seine until we came to the Eiffel Tower stop.

The Eiffel Tower is universally recognised but it nearly disappeared.  It was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1889, the highest tower of its time.  It is 324 metres tall.  It was meant to be demolished but was saved when it was taken over for military use as a watch tower. Later for the radio, and television since 1957 (today it still functions as a giant aerial.  There is reconstructing of the first floor which will be entirely redeveloped by August 2014. In the meantime, the monument remains open to the millions of visitors.   Pictures of the project can be seen on www.eiffel-tower.com.

We were able to have direct access without joining the enormous queues as we had tickets. Into the elevator to the first floor The restaurant 58 for a delicious meal. I sat with Heidi and Tony, a couple from Australia. After lunch, it was time to enjoy the sights of Paris and look through the glass floor to below.

At 2.00 said goodbye to Heidi and Tony and I got a rickshaw to MONTEMARTE 12 Kms away.

Was lovely and relaxing travelling along the tree lined streets and taking in the sights. Montmartre is a buzzing place with thousands of people enjoying the party atmosphere – many restaurants, bars, painters and musicians. By this time, the temperature had risen to about 34 so after climbing several stairs, I enjoyed a Heinekin before more steps. Met Marlene and her son from California. I then hopped on Le Petit Train de Montemartre – was good to give my feet a rest. Was a good way to see the area – saw Moulin Rouge theatre, St Peter’s church one of the oldest churches in Paris and passed the Magnificent Sacre Coeur Basilica, a pilgrimage place.  After the train ride, I came back to the Sacre Coeur and went inside the basilica.

Once outside, took in the exceptional views of Paris –  the highest point in Paris.  I then had the short ride on the funicular.  Did it the wrong way around as it would have been better had I ridden it up the hill but I kept asking where was the cable car and could not make myself understood. I then wandered along the streets until I got a taxi back to my hotel. I had dinner at a nearby restaurant – Chez Mimmo and then went to bed after a wonderful day in Gay Paris.

Thursday 5 June & Friday 6 June 2014 – Start of my overseas trip

Peter and I left for the Canberra airport at 4.15. Checked in my 18 kgs of luggage and went through Immigration. Boarded my Emirates flight 5737 for Adelaide and left at 5.55. Arrived in Adelaide at 7.15.  Went through Immigration and then Customs before boarding Emirates Ek441 and left at 9.50.

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The flight was really smooth. Served a meal and then it was a 12 1/2 hours to DUBAI. We arrived there at 5.35am on the Friday.  Another lot of formalities before boarding Emirates EK73 for departure at 8.20.  Was another 6 1/2 hours until we arrived in PARIS Charles DeGaulle Airport.  Collected my luggage and waited for my transfer to Hotel Rue de Paix.  Had 3 stops for other passengers and finally got to my hotel about 5.00 as delayed because of an accident on the motorway.

I was quite tired as only catnaps on the flights so it was an early night.