Tag Archives: France

La Loire a Vélo

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It’s official: after Kathy finished law school in April, we’ll be taking a celebratory vacation in France for 2-1/2 weeks in May.  We have tickets from Edmonton to Paris departing on May 11 and returning on May 29.  We haven’t gotten to do a lot of traveling while Kathy’s been in school, so we’re both pretty stoked to be headed back to Europe.

Booking wasn’t a great experience, unfortunately.  We’ve been saving up our air miles in hopes of saving some money on this flight.  Unfortunately, when we went to book, Air Miles wouldn’t offer us any single connection flights.  They all involves at least 2 connections (Edmonto-Toronto-Frankfurt-Paris, or more ridiculously, Edmonton-Vancouver-Montreal-Paris), and several of the routes had cash prices – we only had enough points for one ticket – high enough that we’d be saving less than $200 to take those flights.  So we ended up having to just bite the bullet and pay cash.  We’re hoping to use the points that remain on a trip to Cuba next winter, but we’ll see how that goes.

The plan so far is intentionally vague.  We’re planning to bring the bikes, and head straight from the airport to somewhere in the Loire valley, which is a famous bike trip, and part of the Eurovelo 6 cycle route that goes all the way from St. Nazaire on the French Atlantic coast to  the Danube Delta on Romania’s black sea cost.  I’m currently leaning towards Angers as a starting point for our trip, and then we’ll see how things go from there.  The hope is to see a bit of rural France and have some time to relax.  The route is advertised as using primarily low traffic roads and separated bike instrastructure, so I’m hoping it lives up to its promise. We’re not sure that we’ll only visit the Loire.  There’s been talk of Provence, and Midi-Pyrenees, or maybe somewhere north of Paris – neither of us have much idea what there is north of Paris – but these aren’t the sorts of things we’re going to plan to obsession.  If we want to go somewhere else, we will.  If we’re enjoying the Loire, then there’s no reason to rush off just for the sake of something different.

It’s good to have a holiday to plan again.  I always enjoy this part.

A Couple More Days in Paris

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We spent a couple more days in Paris after my last update. We took the time to visit Versailles and the Musee d’Orsay. Versailles, naturally, was overpriced and packed, but I enjoyed the Musee d’Orsay, though Kathy seemed less interested in it.

Quite aside from the sites that we went to see in Paris, it was the experience of staying there that was interesting. Staying at Andrea’s apartment was a very different experience from staying in a hotel, as I’d done on previous trips to the city. It was quite a cramped apartment, and the kitchen consisted only of a 2-burner hot plate and a bar-sized fridge, equipped with a few utensils, and for cooking in, a kettle, one pot, and one small frying pan. Obviously with those tools, the cooking potential is limited, and I get the impression that Andrea eats out most of the time, but we did make a couple of attempts – a stir fry one night, fried chicken another, and fried beef on another night. It was fun to go out and get groceries. Paris is jam-packed, the second densest capital in the world, after Tokyo, and there were several food stores within a few blocks, but none completely stocked the way we’re used to in Canada. So we would take a trip to the baker, the butcher, the produce stand, and the ingredients all seem to be much higher quality (and admittedly more expensive) than what we could buy at Safeway.

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Rocketing through the sky, Only to go back underground

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Once again, a busy few days. After spending a not-so-restful night at the Budapest airport, we continued our journey at much increased speed, hopping in just a couple of hours over half of Europe, and landing in Paris. Quite a change after four and a half months of slowly winding our way over more than 6000km. It was quite fun, really. I always forget how much I like flying. And despite our worries and going crazy making sure we packed everything that might be considered a liquid into our checked baggage, they didn’t even ask us to give up our water bottle.

Andrea and her boyfriend, David, were kind enough to pick us up at the airport. When we found them, they were searching the arrivals screens to try to find our flight. Apparently, as far as airport systems are concerned, our flight actually didn’t exist, as it wasn’t listed there, and additionally, when we’d checked in, we were just guessing as to which lineup to go to, since the screens didn’t indicate that they were actually checking anyone in at all. Leaving the airport was also a bit of fun, since the police had found an abandoned bag, and had to detonate it. We were waiting in a lineup of cars for about an hour before things finally got moving.

So far, we’ve been enjoying Paris immensely. I’ve been here a few times before, and Kathy had passed through and done the three hour, whirlwind minivan tour on her first trip to Europe. We’ve spent a fair bit of time going around to the major, can’t miss sights. So our first day, we visited the API Call ErrorLouvre. It seems really busy when you arrive, but it turns out that if you’re not heading for the Italian Paintings section, the crowd thins out really fast. We debated renting an audio guide to do the DaVinci Code tour, but decided that was a little hokey, and ended up spending most of our visit in the Objets d’Art section, including API Call ErrorNapolean III’s apartments, which were amazing, and then visiting the API Call ErrorNorthern European paintings section, which I didn’t find so interesting, but definitely beat the French paintings that we walked through to get there. We’d also walked through the “Oriental Art” section, which turned out to be near-east antiquities, which might have been interesting, had we not already seen similar specimens before in the Egyptian, Syrian, and Greek museums that we’d visited.

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