A Travellerspoint blog

I love Paris in the springtime

semi-overcast 17 °C

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After the Somme we headed for Paris. We had a tip from a website that a particular park area had free parking so we headed that way and found a great spot right next to the park near the zoo. We arrived late but decided we might wander into the city and just look around a little anyway, partly to see how far a walk it was and partly just to feel like we were in Paris.

The rain decided to kick in and it seemed we were a solid 40 minute walk from the centre so we turned back and not to be daunted took advantage of a break in the weather to picnic in our park before dashing back to the van once the rain started up again.
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The next morning we bought a bunch of metro tickets and headed in to find the tourist office before having lunch on the sidewalk – the rain preventing us from finding a nice park – before heading for the Orangerie.
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Though we’d both been to Paris before neither Matt nor I had ever actually made it into this little impressionist gallery. It was lovely. By far the highlights though were the eight Monet’s painted especially for the space. They were beautiful scenes of the lily pond in his garden. You could stare at them for hours and never get restless.
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The weather seemed to have cleared a bit and we decided to chance it and head over to the Eiffel tower for a picnic as planned. We were rewarded for our faith with a lovely sunny evening so we drank wine, ate cheese and enjoyed the sight and each others company.
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After a lazy morning in the park and a breakfast of croissants with camembert and raspberry jam (amazing!) we headed into town to check out the Musee d’Orsey. We wandered around the many masterpieces and talked about our favourites (often Monet and for me at least Pizarro). Several hours later we headed back to the van for a quiet glass of wine.
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The next day was a big one. We headed in to visit Notre Dame, always beautiful and a little awe inspiring. Then into the Latin Quarter and St Germain to wander the small and beautiful streets and soak in the Paris feel. We spotted some brilliant deals at some restaurants and adjusted our plans to picnic and decided to come back here for dinner instead.
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We headed over to Luxembourg gardens for lunch and decided to split one of our bottles of wine, as we wouldn’t be needing it for dinner that night after all. After a thoroughly enjoyable lunch we wandered the gardens a little before walking up to Mont Martre.
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Sacre Couer was as beautiful as ever and the view of Paris was lovely. We strolled around the square full of portrait artists, sorely tempted to get ours done and found a gorgeous little square with a wall overlooking a rather overgrown block and some very Parisian apartments. We set ourselves up on the wall and shared our second bottle of wine. It was gorgeous and fun and felt very Parisian.
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Once we’d finished our wine we caught the metro to the Arc de Triomphe and walked the length of the Champs Elysee on our way back to the latin quarter. We strolled across Pont Neuf and settled in for a lovely dinner looking up at a gorgeous old church and watching the world walk by on the pedestrian street.
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We crossed Pont Neuf one more time, looking at the lit up Eiffel Tower in the distance and headed home.large_DSC07543.jpg

Posted by Addy21 03:51 Archived in France Tagged paris eiffel_tower Comments (0)

Setting off on our continental adventure

Dover to Calais and onward

overcast 17 °C

We were off! Finally! The registration papers and my UK licence had arrived while we were in Scotland and after a few days catching up and sorting out final bits and pieces for the van we were ready to go.

We booked our ferry crossing and headed to London to pick up our Egyptian and Moroccan souvenirs from Tom and Becs. After a quick cup of tea and catch up we headed to Dover where we parked up for the night near the port.

We woke up early to make sure there were no dramas getting the ferry and promptly discovered a flat tyre. Panic stations people! After a lot of struggle, Matt had to kick the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts and there was no obvious place to set up the jack, we had it changed and headed to the ferry with only 30 minutes to spare. Thankfully there is very little in the way of passport and customs checks from the UK to France and we got on the ferry with no more dramas.

We drove down to the Somme admiring the countryside and stopping briefly at some Australian WWII monuments before parking up for the night next to a field.

The next day we found the major monument to the Australians and a beautifully kept graveyard with far too many “unknown Australian soldier” headstones. It was beautiful and sad. This was the area Matt’s great grandfather had served.

Our European tour had begun.

Posted by Addy21 02:21 Archived in France Tagged wwii dover somme calais Comments (0)

The van saga

Why is English bureaucracy such a nightmare!

semi-overcast 19 °C

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We arrived back in Bristol and started van hunting. It turned out finding the van was not the hard part. We tracked down a great van up north being sold by two guys who recently did a very similar trip around Europe. It was set up brilliantly for us. Long beds, lots of storage, captain's chairs that spin around, two burner hob, sink with working tap....everything we could want.

Next came the drama that is English Bureacracy and some other minor hiccups. I'll be brief because this was dull as dishwater to do and I imagine worse to read:
1 Insurance (let's just say just because you can buy a car in the UK does not necessarily mean you can easily insure it, 47 calls and two false starts later... including two 5 hour round trips to the van, we got our insurance sorted.... I hate insurers!!)

2 UK Licence (this is the insurer's fault [plus it technically would have been illegal to drive on my Oz licence once we got back from the continent], anyway, there are no DVLA offices and everything is done by post. That's right folks three week's with my passport and licence...that is all my photo ID, in the hands of the English bureaucrats.... so scary!).... Weirdly enough it's totally legal to drive in the UK without these while all this documentation is with the DVLA... or at least that's what I was told by the post office worker, cause again, they don't have a DVLA office where you can check!!

3 Here's my top tip for new van owners: you should always learn where your lights are as soon as you buy a new van. Otherwise you can accidently switch your lights on without realising and therefore not turn them off when you leave the van to its own devices for 2 days. However, the upside is after pulling out and testing both the leisure and main batteries turned out they were shot anyway, so it was maybe a blessing in disguise... a very stressful, time consuming, worry inducing, blessing in disguise.

Now for the main event. Presenting Bessie our lovely, most reliable, absolutely glorious, van. Dad these photos are for you....
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Driving Bessie in the Lake's District

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Here she is again!

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Bessie at Loch Ness

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Bessie chilling on the Isle of Skye

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Bessie watching the sunset in the Curraing

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Bessie driving at St Andrew's (get it... driving)

Posted by Addy21 11:35 Archived in England Tagged van Comments (0)

Final night in Dublin

Music and fun

overcast 14 °C

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We had one final day in Dublin and went to a service at St Patrick's to see the church without paying and listen to the choir. We then headed into Temple Bar and went to the famous Temple Bar to have a few drinks and listen to some more live music.
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We had a great night. The music was great and the beer very tasty. It was a great final night to cap off Ireland.

Posted by Addy21 10:30 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Belfast

The North

overcast 14 °C

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We made our way to Belfast via Dublin and spent our first evening pretty quietly.
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The next day we had organised a day trip out to the Giant's Causeway which also included stops at a rope bridge over the ocean, a castle and a whiskey distillery.
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The rope bridge was at a beautiful spot but was £5 just to walk across so we skipped that and just walked around the cliffs and took in the scenery.
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The Giant's Causeway was amazing, it really doesn't look like it can be natural. It's all hexagonal blocks that look like a path leading to the sea. It's very cool.
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Belfast itself was interesting. We checked out some very cool undercover markets and got ourselves some typical Belfast snacks, then wandered over to the streets best known for the murals. There weren't as many as we were expecting but the interesting thing was how up to date they were. There were a few referencing "The Troubles" but many more talking about current conflicts around the world. It was quite cool.
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The next day we made our way back down to Dublin for the last couple of days before heading back to Bristol.

Posted by Addy21 09:32 Archived in Ireland Tagged belfast giant's_causeway Comments (0)

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