A Travellerspoint blog

Paris to London

6 September 2015, Sunday

sunny 18 °C

Sunny but cool in Paris this morning, and sunny and mild in London this afternoon.

A bit of a sleep in this morning, much needed after last nights excitement at the Moulin Rouge, as we were leaving the hotel at 8:45 for the drive to Paris Nord station to catch the 11:13am Eurostar train to Paris. We had to pass through French and British passport control at Paris before catching the train, and as usual with the fast trains, the platform is only announced about 20 minutes prior to departure. Of the 30 colleagues on the tour, only 5 of us, plus our tour director, are returning to London, with many finishing the tour in Paris, and either going on to other tours, or going directly home (the return to London is a tour extension). Most of the group who were staying in Paris came down to say good bye to us.

Europe is a single time zone, so we haven't had to adjust our watches since leaving London a month ago. Today, the watch was put back another hour. The train trip took 2.25 hours. We arrived at the hotel at 1:30pm, and immediately were checked into our rooms.

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I took the opportunity to empty my bags and reorganise them, and had a leisurely afternoon in the hotel, and obtaining an Oyster card for the local trains.

Was going to have dinner at a local pub, but met the other 4 memebers of our tour group in the bar, and we ended up having a late light meal in the hotel. I'll start touring London tomorrow.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 12:45 Archived in England Comments (0)

Paris

5 September 2015 Saturday

overcast 19 °C

Weather today was overcast and cool. Since arriving in Paris, I have worn a jacket for the first time since arriving in London a month ago.

I was concerned that we wouldn't have time to see much of Paris today, and that was the case. Many of the main sights are still unseen, but I've got to say I had a great time!!!

This morning, we had a city tour with a local guide. Saw the basic sights, but didn't get much opportunity for photos, due to the moving bus, trees etc. However, part of the tour included a 2 hour visit to the Eiffel Tower, where we had acess to the 2nd level. Loved it, and whilst the weather was overcast, the views were superb. Took the lift up the the second level, but walked down to the first level, and eventually ground level.

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From the Eiffell Tower, 16 of us had opted for the optional tour of the Palace of Versailles (or more correctly, the Chateau de Versailles). This included a one hour tour of some of the rooms, and an hour or more in the gardens. The palace is extremely large and opulent, and the Hall of Mirrors is stunning, with windows down one side, mirrors on the other wall, and masses of chandeliers hanging from a painted ceiling. The gardens (which are now only a fraction of the original size), are beautiful. The photos don't do the gardens justice.

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Returned to the hotel in time to freshen up for our last optional tour, being dinner and show at the Moulin Rouge. Wow! What a show! Of the 30 people on this tour, 28 of us opted for this show, and we all agreed it was spectacular, and a high light of our time in Paris. Words can not explain the detail and spectacle of the sets, the outfits, or even the acts, but its OK, I bought a DVD of the show. It is not a cheap night, and is fully booked for quite some time (Globus has a permanent booking arrangement for its tour groups). There are 3 shows a night, and it is open every day of the year except new years day. I would recommend that any-one visiting Paris visit the Moulin Rouge, and its not all scantily clad girls (although they are an attraction). Even the women on our tour loved the show. We got back to the hotel about 11:30pm, and some of us have to catch the train to London tomorrow morning.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 09:51 Archived in France Comments (0)

Bordeaux to Paris

4 September 2015, Friday

overcast 22 °C

Today was an early start, with a wake up call at 6:00am, and a 7:20am departure from the hotel to the train station to catch the 8:24am TGV fast train to Paris. Like the Eurostar, for security reasons they don't announce which platform it departs from until 20 minutes before departure, so all passengers then had to make a dash for the platform and board the train. Whilst we are travelling on the fast train, our luggage will be going to Paris on our coach, which should reach Paris by 4:00pm. Our train arrives in Paris at midday.

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It was light overcast during the morning, but when we reached Paris, it was a heavy overcast, and cool.

From the station, we boarded a local coach, and taken to the Louvre where we had a quick lunch before those of us doing the optional Louvre tour were met by the local tour guide. We only had just over an hour for the actual tour, but our guide was able to show us the highlights, including the old fort found during excavations for the coach park and new entrance, the inverted pyramid, the Venus de Milo, the Revolution painting that was the inspiration for 'Les Miserables', and of course the Mona Lisa. The Louvre actually allows photography, so had a field day. The crowds around the Mona Lisa were packed, but our local guide assures us that today is a quiet day. On a busy day, the entire room is packed.

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After the Louvre, we went to our hotel and checked in, and were pleased to find that our coach had arrived with our luggage. Tonight is our formal farewell dinner (tomorrow night is the final night for those finishing in Paris), but as most of us are going to the Moulin Rouge tomorrow, our farewell dinner is tonight.

Our dinner was at a parissian restaurant called "Les Noces de Jeannette", where we had a private room, a 3 course meal, and unlimited drinks. My entree was 'Escargots de Bourgogne' (yes, 6 snails, which I managed to eat with plenty of wine in between), followed by "canard l'orange' (leg of duck in orange source), and finished with 'nougat glace' (ice cream nougat). A great night was had, and a few of the opened wine botles managed to find their way back to the hotel where 6 of us had finished them off in Graham & Sue's room.

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I am a little concerned about how much of Paris we will get to see tomorrow, but will see what happens.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 08:34 Archived in France Comments (0)

Biarritz to Bordeaux

3 September 2015, Friday

overcast 24 °C

Weather initaially was cool and overcast, buth the overcast cleared in the afternoon and the temperature improved to 2C.

Today was an easy day, with a 7:00am wake up call, and bags out by 8:30am. However, we weren't leaving Biarritz until 1:00pm, so had time to wander the town in the morning and grab some lunch. Biarritz is beautiful. I walked to the main beach before following the coastal paths past mini islands accessible by bridges, as well as the boat harbour, and smaller beaches and surfing beaches. Although overcast and a nit cooler than yesterday, the town and coast were beautiful.

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At 1:00pm, we left for Bordeaux. Today was our driver (Stephano) birthday, so we had a stop for afternoon tea and celebrated his birhday with red wine and Rose (obviously, Stephano couldn't have a glas as he is driving).

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Got to Bordeaux by 3:30pm,and were dropped off at the old section of town for some free time to wander the old section. Picked up at 5::30pm, and taken to our hotel, to prepare fore our group dinner. Unfortunately, this was the extent of our sightseeing in Bordeaux as tomorrow is an early start as we are catching an early fast train to Paris. However, I did get to see a tram being towed. Our hotel tonight used to be a large warehouse for storing wine barrels.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 22:14 Archived in France Comments (0)

Madrid to Biarritz

September 2, 2015 Wednesday

overcast 23 °C

Weather was overcast, varying from heavy to light and back again, although it did rain overnight. The temperature has dropped from the low to mid thirties back to the low twenties.

Today was a relatively easy travel day. Bags out at 7:00am and departure at 7:45am. Morning tea and lunch stops were at toad side cafe's. Along many of the roads in Spain there are large metal silhouttes of the bull located on crests where they can be easily seen. Crossed the Pyrenees Mountains again.

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In the afternoon, we vistited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a musem of modern art. All I can say is that I don't get it! I can see better quality graffitti on Sydney trains, and the art seems to be reused advertising, sculptures of balloon animals, and a room dedicated to erotic images and stautues of the Italian porn actress who became a politician. That's 1.5 hours of my life wasted!

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From Bilabao, we drove another 2 hours to Biarritz, an old fishing village which is now a major resort on the Basque coastline. After checking in, I did a quick walk to the headland and back before dinner, and decided I loved the town. Fortunately, we have a free morning to explore the town tomorrow. This area is known as the Cote des Basques.

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My room is a large corner one, with ocean views. After a group dinner in the hotel, a few off us adjourned to the roof top bar to enjoy the scenes, and a drink, at night.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 07:17 Archived in France Comments (0)

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