Travelling mercies in St Malo.


It started off so well! I arrived in Saint Malo at 9:45 pm, after a super quick TGV ride from Paris. ( Farewelled at Paris Montparnasse by the ladies!)

A taxi took me to my next Airbnb, in the home of Anne, and her 2 sons, Paul & Kevin. Sound English, don’t they? But they weren’t! But they were very welcoming and had a tea tray waiting for me!! Paul, especially, was eager to practise his school boy English!

A comfortable bed meant a great night’s sleep, but, alas! I woke up to a bad CFS day. Oh well! C’est la vie! No visiting Mont St Michel this trip! I spent the day sleeping, reading ( finished my book club book) and dozing, with intermittent water and tea! I was very thankful for the comfortable bed, and the lovely outlook from my third floor window.

The next day dawned and I awoke, much restored! Leaving my luggage to collect later at 1 pm, I set off in the direction of the old, fortified town. The Boulangerie that I soon passed smelt heavenly, so of course I popped in to buy breakfast! It was heavenly! Next stop was for a coffee, taken like the locals….A noisette! ( See first photo)


The Old town was wonderful to explore, and I had time to walk around the ancient walls. The sun was shining, the views superb and I had a taxi ordered to take me ‘home’ , collect my luggage, and then return me to the ferry Port, by 1.30-1.45. the ferry left at 2.30pm. Thus organised, I found a little van selling fish’n’chips, and had a wonderful lunch overlooking the sea.


And then the wheels fell off my well thought out plan!!!! The taxi didn’t come!! I rang and rang but kept getting a recorded message in rapid French that I couldn’t interpret!! So I popped into the tourist centre next to where I was waiting (thankfully) and shared my problem with the lovely lady there. She rang the taxi company and told me the message was that they were overbooked and over capacity because of public holiday the next day, that they couldn’t return calls. So I’d got lost in the rush!! The tourist guide showed me which 2 buses to get back to my accommodation, and sold me a ticket. Once again, thankfully the bus stop was right there! I caught the buses, ran up 3 flights of stairs, collected my luggage and proceeded to walk/run with my suitcase on the cobbled streets to the ferry Port!! Thankfully, once again, I knew where to go, but knew it was about 30 mins walk. Did I dare look at the time? It was 1.50 pm!! Oh no! The ferry people rang me twice to see how far away I was , and said that they could only wait for so long , so I kept running/walking, praying very hard all the way!! ………

I ran, red-faced and panting loudly into the ferry terminal at 2.24 pm, but the ladies at the barriers had to tell me I was too late!!! (Having boarded the next day, I see why!) Because of adrenaline rushing in my body, the physical efforts I’d been through, or maybe because I’m a sook, I immediately burst into rather noisy tears!!!!

The staff kindly pointed me to some seats, brought me a glass of cold water and assured me they could reschedule me on tomorrow’s ferry! It took some time to calm myself, and then they did indeed book me onto the next day’s ferries.

The next job was to find new accommodation….But I needed fortifying first…. Over to the drink machine, put in appropriate € for 1 can, and out came 2!!! Thank you, Lord! Then I got a message from a friend in Orroroo , wondering where I was, and how I was going. What wonderful timing! Thank you Lord, again!! Having had a ‘conversation’ with someone I knew helped me get everything back into proportion! All was not lost, it was all part of the adventures of travel!!

I decided on a hotel in the Old Town, and slowly wandered there. The man on reception was aghast at my tale of woe, so he assured me he would organise my taxi for the next morning, and that it WOULD turn up, which it did!

So it turned out that I had a lot more time to explore the Old Town itself, and to have a nice early dinner, before sleeping very soundly between crisp, white sheets!! That very helpful receptionist recommended a place to eat my last French meal for this holiday, so I took his advice, and did!!


A whole baby chook, on delicious mash, yummy rolls( could only eat 1) with very yummy French butter and a very creamy crème brulée! Bon appetit indeed!

The next day dawned, the taxi turned up on time, and I arrived at the ferry terminal early!!  The staff all welcomed me warmly and wished me a good journey, relieved to see me smiling!! The hour crossing went well, and I found myself on Jersey, at St Helier Port, with 8 hours before I needed to board the ferry to Guernsey. On my previous booking, I was only going to be on Jersey for an hour, now I had the best part of a day to explore the island. A great outcome from a missed ferry!!! I’ve always wanted to go to Gerald Durrell’s conservation Park( the Jersey zoo) , so here was my chance! Yay!! All I had to do was find somewhere to leave my luggage…..No madam, we can’t store your luggage as it’s a security risk! ( Condor ferries)….No madam, we can’t store your luggage, security reasons….( At every other counter I asked !) Not sure why luggage that had gone through 2 security checks to get on the Ferry was suddenly a security risk, but such is today’s world!

I stopped to talk to a young, pierced, tatto-ed young lady running the cafe at the ferry terminal, to ask  if she knew of somewhere in town I could leave my luggage and she said no, but after hearing my tale, she offered to lock it up with her stuff in their storeroom. She was about to finish her shift, but would be back about when I needed to book in for my next ferry. She said only she had a key so it was secure! But not to tell the boss coz she wasn’t supposed to! So thanks to this kind young lady, I could see the island of Jersey, and in particular, the Jersey zoo, but that’s another story!!

Mother’s Day 2017. 

No, I wasn’t with either of my “boys” this Mother’s day, but I was spoilt by them both, nevertheless!!

My first Mother’s day treat was with Patrick, when he was “in town”!!


We donned our ‘glad rags’ and went out, Paris Style! We walked to a little restaurant, ‘A la Biche au Bois’, only 10 minutes away. This restaurant, as our bilingual waiter explained, is in the traditional style of French restaurants and cooking. It had, thankfully, as many French customers, as international ones! 

We dined well! 3 courses & the cheese board. I complimented this with a champagne cocktail & an espresso! ( I think the waiter felt I needed more wine!!) 


Escargots first! Yummy in parsley, butter and a tiny amount of garlic!


Sticking to Super traditional: I had Coq au Vin next! Mmmmmm! 


Then we could sample as much of this cheese as we wanted, or in my case, as I could fit in!!


And lastly…My favourite…Dessert! A wonderful concoction of a madeline, icecream, berries and Chantilly cream! OoLala!

We then went on a long walk to wear it all down! 


Ahhh! Paris by night!! Makes all the Paris icons look magical. Then we caught Le Metro home, and fell asleep almost before our heads hit the pillows! What a special Mother’s day treat! Thanks Patrick! 😘

My next Mother’s day ( “with” Lachlan) consisted of two parts…

Whilst I have been swanning around Paris, Lachlan was beavering away on the task of selling my dear little campervan. And he did! Very quickly. And for the price we’d hoped for! What a Mother’s day gift! 

But wait! There’s more….In my account appeared money to spend on another Paris eating experience….Le Bistro. A small, less traditional approach to French cooking, often with a set menu of the chef’s choice. 

So, once again I wandered about 10 minutes from my apartment, in the opposite direction from last time and had a wonderful Mother’s day lunch…At Quartier Libre! 


The sun was shining, so I sat out the front! This way I could spend time people watching whilst I ate! Once again, the waitress was bilingual, ( a leetle engleesh!) so that made it easier to get the food I wanted! Accompanied this time with sparkling water, and finished off with an espresso, I dined on the chef’s set menu..


Salmon , croutons and yummy light sour creamy stuff! And bread! Always bread! Delicious bread! 


Steak, with blue cheese sauce, a divine potato bake ( forgotten the French name!) and salad greens! Yum!


A slice of heavenly, delicious, kind of bread and butter pudding but with a very elegant name( which I’ve also forgotten) ! 

Perfect! Amazing! And all the other customers were French, and quite a few were regulars. It would only fit about 20 customers at the most! Wonderful! And once again, a long walk was the order of the day!!! Thanks Lschlan, Susannah and family. 😘

So, as you can see, I was very spoilt this Mother’s Day, and I am very thankful for the 2 loving sons God has blessed me with! 

Footnote: these were the only meals I ate on    the 2 respective days. Just in case you were wondering!!!!!! 😋

Paris with Patrick… The next Part! 

So! On we walked, and walked and lo! We found the Eiffel Tower! Yay! Once again, we didn’t go up it just then, but I’ve seen it!!! 

It was only 7 kms that we had walked, Google maps says we could have done it in 1.5 hours, but we took 3times that…And we enjoyed every minute of it!!  When we got home on day 1 we both went straight to bed at 7:30pm and slept like logs!!!

The next day proved sunny also, so after a lot of fiddling around , we set off for our next walk. I had read of a disused elevated train line that had been turned into a green walking space years ago , which started near  the Bastille, called Coulée Verte, so that was today’s expidition! Once again, the bright sunshine meant it was a perfect walking day….And the Coulée Verte was wonderful! Green , lush, with early spring flowers, and seats and vantage points from which to admire the surrounding architecture. It even had train type things like old track in spots, old signals and a couple of ex tunnels. Perfect! When our tummies rumbled, we popped down off the walkway and bought The most delicious chicken and salad baguettes ever!!!! 

Following the track almost to its end , we left to catch Le Metro to L’Opéra Garnier, where I had a 3 pm tour to attend. This is the old and beautiful Opera house that features in the Phantom of the Opera story. These days, Paris has a modern Opera house at the Bastille, but this lovely old gem is mostly now used for ballet. 


The guide was not only informative, but interesting and amusing , and she filled us in  about the history of the Opera house, it’s architect( Garnier) and builders, but also about the society at that time. Fascinating! Tour over, Pat ( who had a quiet  drink in the sun by the Seine) & I caught the train home! 

After  a rest and a shower, I returned to L’Opéra Garnier that night to see 3 short ballets set to  the music of Ravel! I sat in a box near the stage ( once a royal box) with only a partly obscured view , and enjoyed the next 2 hours! Beautiful! What a pleasure! 

That night, like kids on a school camp, Patrick and I stayed awake until 2 am talking!!!!!! 😁 No early starts or long walks for us tomorrow!!!! 

Paris with Patrick! 

Five months after he left Adelaide for adventures in the northern hemisphere, Patrick arrived at the Bastille Station for 3 days/nights in Paris with me!! It was great to have a hug after all that time! We had a quick ” welcome to Paris ” breakfast, before heading to my apartment. Due to the fact that he’s 6 foot 3 inches tall, Pat needed to do a lot of ducking and crouching in my place. But he managed!! Once he unpacked, and with much talking, we set off for a very long walk….

We walked from Bastille through the busy streets, then along the Seine, admiring the sights and sounds of Parisians going about their lives. It was a beautiful, sunny Spring day, and everyone was making the most of the sunshine. There were cafés, bars and pétanque players , readers and lovers and playgrounds. Marvellous! We found a little café that had it all…,baguettes, drinks riverside chairs and toilets! 

Much revived, we kept on going until we came to Le Louvre….At last! I may not have the time or energy to go inside, but at least I’ve seen it up close…Walked through the arch, admired the grand, old buildings and marvelled over the glass pyramid. We kept on walking, through the Tuileries garden, by the Seine still, until we crossed it on Alexander 3rd bridge. (Pont Alexandre lll)

We then wandered along some wonderful little streets where we refueled at a bakery, and occasionally caught tantalising glimpses of the Eiffel Tower!

Tune in for the rest of out exciting adventures in the next post!!! Can’t post photos anymore ( what have I done!?!) So I’ll start again!!

 

Mon appartement à Paris! 

Behind this gate ( if you know the code) is a lovely little cobbled court yard…

And then, behind this blue door…..

Are a set of winding stairs, which you climb to the 3rd floor…..

And finally…….You open the little purple door….

And ….Voila! You have the cutest little attic apartment one could wish for!!


The bed was a sofa too, but I’ve chosen to keep it as a bed! It’s even comfortable!! The kitchen is well equipped with a microwave, stovetop, and a little fridge, and there’s a washer/drier too! Although I haven’t used the drier, I just hung my washing all around the apartment, European Style! 

Whilst it is small and slopey roofed, I love it! I’m on a little Street, in the busy, 11th arrondissement, not far from the Bastille station. There are so many interesting lanes and streets to wander through and many, many eating places that would suit any palate, and lots of shops!! It’s wonderful!

These are the views from my window! So very……. Parisian!! 

Hong Kong Park. 

My check out time from the Dragon Hostel was 12 noon today and my flight to Paris leaves at 5 minutes past midnight tonight so I had plenty of time to spend in the interim! 

Hong Kong has a wonderful service for people like myself….Called “In City check in”. All I had to do was catch a train to Central station, walk along many corridors, catch a couple of lifts and….dadaa!!! I could check my case in for my flight there and then! No lugging the case around for 12 hours. Yay! 

I don’t know about any of you, dear readers, but I find the process mentioned above quite exhausting!! So the first thing on the agenda was a coffee and a sit down!! Hong Kong does not lack huge shopping complexes….So it was easy to find a suitable spot! The view out of the windows was quite impressive, too.


Suitably fortified, and after a great chat with 2 women from the UK, I set forth on my wander. Back to the station, a quick train journey and  …..following a series of escalators up the hill side I arrived at Hong Kong Park. 

This Park fascinates me….It’s nowhere near as large as Golden Gate Park ( San Francisco) or Central Park, NYC, but it is still an amazing haven, an oasis in a very populated, built up city. And today was a perfect day to be there. I walked around, admired the plants, looked out for tortoises, and eventually settled on a bench to have a good old “people watching” session. Wonderful!! 

Yes, I did go under the above fountain! A great way to cool off! 

Having whiled away a few pleasant hours, I had 1 more treat in store! A ride on 1 of these cute little double decker trams..A great way to see more of the city, from the top deck, of course! 

Now I’m drinking a cup of tea and writing this blog….Quite remarkable to write 2 days in a row!! Can’t imagine that will happen very often. I think it’s finally time to go to the boarding gate…. yippie, tomorrow I’ll be in Paris! 😊

Another adventure begins!

It started early on Friday May 5th, 2017, this adventure!! I was kindly taken to the airport at 4 am by 1 son in pyjamas! (he was back in bed by 5am!)

But for me, the early start didn’t matter! It was exciting to be able to board an aeroplane bound for overseas destinations once again! 

If you can bear it , please come with me on this journey of mine! It’s so much better when shared with others!  My posts aren’t necessarily regular, nor do they usually last ’till the holiday ends, but I hope you enjoy the offerings as they appear! 

At this stage , I’m in Hong Kong for 2 nights. I can’t manage through flights from 1 side of the world to the other! Today I explored Mong Kok, ate yummy food and rested much! Here’s a few photos! 

Happy Christmas!

      

Unbelievable as it is, it is nearly Christmas Day! It’s December 22nd here in California, but of course already 23rd of December in  Australia! Eek! Where did that time go?

Those of you who know me well, know that I love all things Christmas….the Carols, the decorations, the lights , buying gifts, Christmas trees,  but most of all, I love the “reason for the season “.

 I’m continuously surprised and thankful that God loves us so much that He gave us the most indescribable gift on that first Christmas Day. His son, Jesus, became human so that He could then die on that cross 33 years later, taking the sins of the world with him, before rising again to show He had conquered death as well. We can therefore live in peace and freedom. Simply awesome!!

This Christmas, we are spending it in Las Vegas. Not a place that I’d normally associate with Christmas but I’m sure we’ll have a blessed time there. There’ll certainly be plenty of lights!! 

I’d like to finish off my Christmas ‘message’ ( who do I think I am, the Queen?) by sharing a few photos of Christmas trees that I’ve gathered along the way on this trip. 

May you all have a happy, peace filled and blessed Christmas! 

  Tijuana,Mexico

  By the polar bear enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

  An antique porcelain Christmas tree in New Orleans.
  Riverside, New Orleans. 
  The Rockerfeller Christmas Tree, NYC. 
  Bryant Park, NYC.
  New York Public Library. 
  Christmas trees for sale, Upper West Side, NYC. 
  Radio City Music Hall, NYC. 

Walking Holly. 

  
Whilst housesitting in Galena, Illinois, I had the pleasure to walk this lovely dog , Holly, every day. We went for 2 walks a day, for at least 40 minutes each walk. ( up to 60 if possible)  Normally, I would keep the doggies on their leads, to ensure I didn’t lose them; but Holly was so well trained that this was not an issue. In fact, when she ran ahead she’d always turn around and check I wasn’t too far away and trot back if I was!!! 

 
We would drive out of town slightly to one of her many favourite walking spots, park the van, ( much to Holly’s squeals of excitement!!!!!) and off we’d go! As well as being essential to both her , and my, wellbeing, the walks were a feast of beautiful views, autumnal trees, trickling brooks and occasional glimpses of deer and squirrels.

   
    
    
    
    
    
 Our most favourite walk of all was a little way out of town, along Blackjack Road, up to Horseshoe Mound.  A great place to walk with amazing 360° views over 3 states: Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Stunning! I used to make this our afternoon walk so that I could watch the sunset! What a blessing! 

   
    
    
    
  

A quick word from NYC! 

 I’m sitting in this comfortable little nook in one of my preferred cafés in New York.
It has everything…..a clean restroom, plugs to recharge my phone and most importantly, good coffee! The food is yummy too but quite pricey so I don’t eat here often. 😀

This is my last complete day in New York City. Tomorrow I catch a series of trains from my Airbnb to the JFK airport, then fly to N’Orleans, where I meet up with the L Mackay family again. ( Yay!) Two of them are  a year older than when I last saw them!!

You’ll hear about New York in detail in various future blogs( it’s hard keeping up, even the other bloggers in my family find it tricky to find time!) but suffice it to say that I’ve enjoyed my two weeks here.

The first 5 days, I stayed in Brooklyn with the family,

 then I shifted to Queens to Housesit Coco and Clarinet(& occasionally a nice teenager called Christian)

  
And now I’ve having 3 nights in Astoria, on the edge of Queens, in a lovely Airbnb with a PRIVATE bathroom!

Well I’ve recharged both myself AND the phone so it’s time to move on…to the subway, to catch the E train and change on to a B or D train to my next venue!

Bye!