26 January ’06, Thursday. Yes, I know who suggested it, and yes I am the one who wants to go because I’m wiped out… This all started when I suggested that we walk from the bus stop, on up the Avenue des Champs Elysees to the internet café we’ve been using. From there we continued under the Arc de Triumph, down to The Grand Palais.
Now we had heard that the Palais was open to the public after going through a 12 year refurbishing. Well, if it was open, we couldn’t find the way in, but across the street was the Petite Palais and it looked like it had just re-opened (and the lines were coming out of the door and down the exterior and cold as hell stairway.)
At this point, we quickly made a decision that we were going to pass and continue our walk towards the Place de La Concorde and the Tuileries, across the Seine and into the Musee D’Orsay. Not that this was a long walk for us, and not that a frigid wind was blowing into our faces, it came down to the fact that we were going to walk the many halls and staircases of the museum on top of all that…that was why I was crying… I know Louise suggested that we catch the metro to the D’Orsay, but I just hadn’t thought it through. We joined a small group tour going through the museum and then we went out on our own. I guess with lunch and all the viewing of the art at the D’Orsay, we were there about 4 hours. It’s amazing but, you could spend 4 or 5 times that to see it properly. When I heard that there was a large display of “period” furniture, I put that into my “don’t bother with that” category, but fortunately we walked into it… Now I would put this as a “don’t miss” collection…it was wonderful. At this point, I was sitting down, crying, and trying to get some attention…it worked. I was just about grabbed by the scruff of the neck and led out of the building. Fortune was on my side, as we found that down the stairs of the museum was the way to the train. I paid for the tickets with a smile and we were on our way back to “Bumble Bee”. Yes, it was a great museum, and yes, I had to promise to save my walking for the next museum…Tomorrow…Delft, Netherlands (Holland).
25 January ’06, Wednesday. Cooolllllddddd !!!! Paris in the winter can be, and is, COLD. I really don’t know just how low it got last night, but the report said it was -10 C. Fortunately we are somewhat ready for this, with layering of clothing, and extra blankets and leaving the heater on all night, we stay pretty comfortable. It’s just the same ole thing, it’s when you have to go out in the morning and head for the shower or just go potty is when it really hit’s you. I start thinking about how “Bumble Bee” is taking all of this…you know, the hidden stuff that doesn’t show up until later…like when you are half way in between no-where. Today was “Eiffel Tower Day”.
One last chance on this trip to go to the tower and one last chance to go up into it. Unfortunately, the top of the tower was closed for “construction”, so as far as we could go was to the second platform. It definitely wasn’t the top, but it was a ways up there.The views over Paris were spectacular,
but very cool. The pollution was very evident, as the winds have been fortunately slight. Paris is a “Special” city, and we both feel the same way about being here. It is big, it is noisy, it is French, but it is Paris… We caught the bus to the metro and the metro to the Eiffel Tower. The transportation systems here in Paris, work, and are pretty reasonable as well. On top of that, just about everything is reachable by a little walking, which is what we did after our visit to the tower. We wanted to take in a movie this afternoon, so we walked to the theatre. This movie theatre was located just a block from the Arc de Triumph. On our last visit here, we saw Aviator when it first came out, and this time we saw “Madame Henderson Presents” with Dame Judith Dench. Because of a few scenes, and a couple of words that were used, it probably won’t be for the kids, but being “senior citizens”, we really enjoyed it. Oh yes, prior to reaching the theatre, we walked past a shoe store…”They Are On SALE”…Yes we went in and Yes, I bought a pair of shoes…in Paris, I bought a pair of shoes, who’d have thunk it??? Back with “Bumble Bee”, we sit with the heat on and looking forward to one more day in the big city. The campground posted a sign that the electricity will be off from 8am until noon tomorrow, so we have a new challenge to look forward to in this coming COOOOLLLLDDD morning. Tomorrow…”Musée national d’ Orsey”, and “The Grand Palais”
24 January ’06, Tuesday. Yesterday morning we woke to find that we had a heavy frost. As I stepped out of “Bumble Bee”, I stepped right onto a very cold and slippery step. Our first night with our rear window being broken out, and the temperature dropping below freezing was enough to make sure we made some repairs now !!! Our drive to Limoges would take about 3 hours, so taking a little more time this morning to get things in line was worth the effort. Unfortunately when we went to the local “handyman” store, we couldn’t find a thing to help with our problem. On to Limoges, with hopes of finding everything we need there.
Our drive was wonderful, new territory to see, rolling hills and mountains, a number of stunning chateau’s, sunshine, and a fairly short trip…what more could you ask? Just as we pulled into Limoges, we found a new “Home Depot” type of store, so we jumped at the chance we might find something to help cover our broken window, and make it waterproof as well. We couldn’t find what we wanted, but we did find a second option that we were sure will help…a carpet remnant. Now onto our campground in Limoges. Down the highway about 2 miles, we swung into this area next to a lake were the campsite was to be. As we pulled up to the open gate, we saw a note that told us something that we didn’t want to hear….WE ARE CLOSED!!! I yelled at thin air (because there was no one to hear me…) “YOU CAN’T BE CLOSED, OUR NEW CAMPGROUND GUIDE BOOK SAY’S YOUR “OPEN”…” When there isn’t anyone there to listen to reason, you just have to reason yourself…their closed… Now what? That’s traveling in the winter for you because there are so many campgrounds that are closed. We can’t go back, and to go forward is to go all the way to Paris, and that is another 4 to 5 hours away, and it will be late and dark if we go all that way… Well, tucking our tailpipe between the rear tires, we head off for Paris, and just knowing that when we get there that we will be two tired little puppies. We arrived in Paris just after 8pm, found our “Circle Route” around the city, made the right exit and the turn off of the round-about, and then on to the campground without a hitch. We were a little concerned that we might be so late that they had the gates closed, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. We were in Paris, tired, cold, and ready for an early night to bed…that is, not until after I made the small repairs on the window. Last night we put another blanket on the bed and left the heater on so that we might sleep with out shivering too much though the night. It was cold outside this morning, but inside we were comfortable. Louise made a wonderful breakfast of sausage, toast and eggs while I made coffee. A short walk over the bridge next to the campground (over the Seine River), to a grocery store, then back, another short walk to the bus and we were on our way to another day in the city of Paris… First we went looking for the internet café that we used last time we were here, after a couple of false starts, we finally found it. We had 42 emails, of which 35 were “junk”…it’s disgusting, it’s annoying, it’s... Just around the corner from the internet, is the Arc d’ Triomphe and the metro station that was to take us to the Hotel de Ville.
As we walked to the street level in front of the hotel, we were greeted by a beautiful ice rink. It was filled with skaters of different levels of proficiency and all having a great time in the sun and cool of a beautiful winter’s day. After watching them for a while, we searched out a good place to have our “first day back in Paris” lunch. We found “Paul” (a restaurant), and settled in. First off, you have to decipher the menu (any idea of what that is???”), and then do a little better than just point and say “this please”… As it was, we both received a wonderful treat. Louise had a quiche and salad, and I had hash brown potatoes covered with a seasoned cream cheese and a very thinly sliced piece of slightly broiled salmon that sat on top of all that, plus a salad. Splitting a half liter of Rose and we had a great meal for under $25. I know, that’s not Spain’s prices, but after all, “this is Paris”. Now to walk all of this off… Across the street is the bridge that takes us over to the island that the historic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris sits on. From there, we walked up the boardwalk over looking the Seine until we walked past the Louvre. We have always enjoyed the Gardens of the Tuileries, so we walked into see them once more.
From this point we could see the Arc de Triomphe sitting way off in the distance in a perfect line with the Louvre, so off we went to enjoy this famous and beautiful walk. About ¾ of a mile on the other side of the Arc, is our bus stop, so we made that our final destination…I think we did justice in walking off our lunch today…tomorrow, well that could be another story…
2 November ’05, Wednesday.
Like it or not, because of the closing of so many campgrounds at this time of the year, it only leaves us with some of the campgrounds we have stayed at before. We have just left Nimes, and the campground there is one that is open all year. We have been there in February, September, and now in November. I think this may be the last time, but I can’t count it out yet. We traveled the autostrade for about the first 2 ½ hours, and then drove off to find a grocery store. We found what we were looking for, and we also found what we weren’t looking for… We found food and all the other goodies, but we also had someone that thought they would be funny and put a knife into one of our new tires. We didn’t really notice the tire was flat until we had gone about a short block, and then it went flat enough to let me know. We were really lucky, because we were able to pull into an area that was set up for handicap parking. There were 3 places, so I took one. I opened up the side door and the back door, took out all the materials that we have placed in the “traveling mode”, and placed them on the ground. I took out the jack, and dropped the tire from the bottom of the van. While I was working on the drivers side (away from the side door), a young man thought it would be the right time to explore what we had in the van for himself. Fortunately, Louise was watchful, and caught him half in and half out of the door….”WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING !!!”. He pulled himself out and said something in French, and beat it across the street. I wasn’t aware of what was going on until Louise came around on the other side of the van and told me. About that time, the van started to roll and rolled off the jack…not good timing… I was getting a little hot. I’m probably lucky I didn’t have the opportunity to meet this young man !!! Anyway, we continued our way to Spain, our new campground, and will start looking for a new tire. Tomorrow…I’ll probably crash right here for a second day.
1 November ’05, Tuesday.
We said our goodbyes to Theo and Mairead, and then headed up to the office to pay our little tab for the stay at the campground. When we checked in, we were met at the desk by Rebecca, who is the young lady that has been checking us in at Antibes for the other times we had been there. Now I guarantee you, she has seen a lot of people check in, but when we walk into the office we were met by “Why Hello Mr and Mrs Goodman”… Well anyway, we had to go say good-bye to her as well, but unfortunately it was her day off, so…if you happen to read this Rebecca, “Thanks again for the hospitality you provided us”… As we passed through Boit going to the Autostrade, we found the cemeteries still filled with people paying their respect. The ride onto Nimes was easy, with little traffic on the roads and the sun shinning. The colors have really started to change on the grape vines and the trees. The Mountains along this route are interesting as well. The first group, the rocks are a deep red, and the second group the rocks are an off white. The air was crisp and clear as we had a thunderstorm come through early this morning for about 45 minutes, but when it was time to get up, the sun was out and looking good. After arriving in the Nimes campground, I pulled out the barbeque and barbequed a beautiful pork filet. In the morning we have one thing that we must do…get to an internet café…it has been too long since I’ve up-loaded the journal and checked our emails. After that, we head into Spain and look for our next campground in Figueres.
Halloween Wasn’t The Only Thing To Scare Us…
31 October ’05, Monday.
Halloween 2005…they do a little celebrating here in Europe as well as we do in the states, but in some of the countries it is more of a celebration of “The Dead”, “All Souls Day”, or “All Saint’s Day”. For instance in France and Italy, it is a day to visit the cemeteries and drape the graves of their loved ones with flowers, particularly chrysanthemums and candles. This is what we observed yesterday and this morning. This morning we drove to Midas Muffler here in Boit (next door to Antibes), to see if they could fix our exhaust problem. As always, going into a garage to have anything done is like going into a government office. They want every possible paper you have on the vehicle and then some. Then after all that, they find that what they are looking for just isn’t on any of the papers we have. Anyway, we wanted an estimate before any work was to be done, so after going through 4 different parts books and searching a little on the computer we got our estimate…$866.30 Euro or about $1000 US dollars. For this we were going to get a couple little pipes that would measure about 3 feet each and a little over 2 inches in diameter, new screws and bolts, 2 small gaskets, and $320 Euro labor….NO THANK YOU !!! Apparently they really didn’t want our little job. We’ll put up with the little additional noise for the next 21/2 months without a problem. Halloween is also a “Bankers Holiday”, so most of Europe is on a 4 day holiday. So far most of the roads are pretty free of traffic, so apparently most are staying home. Tonight we are planning a lazy night at the van, with popcorn and a movie. Tomorrow…we head for Spain, with our first overnight stop in Nimes, France, which we have stayed at twice before, and is about a 3 to4 hour ride away.
30 October ’05, Sunday.
Well we have started day-light savings time, and I found it hard to get out of bed this morning. For me, it is like a mild case of “jet lag”. We went to catch the train to Monaco about 11:30, not thinking that it was a Sunday schedule, so we had about an hours wait. The station is right across the street from one of the many beaches, so we decided to go across, get our feet wet and sit in the sun for the remaining time. We knew that we wanted to go to Monaco, but the beach sure felt good to us. Hopefully we will have lots of beach time left as we head into Spain and Portugal. After 45 minutes on the train, we pulled into a very nice station in Monaco. As we walked down the walkway towards the marina, we found a carnival in full action. What fun walking through the carnival, people watching, smelling the great carnival foods, enjoying the kids laughing and screaming on the different rides, and hearing the “barkers” of the different game contests calling out. It was also amazing at how many winners that were carrying around the huge stuffed teddy bears. Changing course a little, we went across the street and walked the slip area of the big yachts of Monaco. They are amazing…some so big you would think they were a commercial cruise ship. Enough day dreaming of yachts…we found the walkway to the Palais du Prince, so up the hill we went. The Monaco Palace is nice, but more like a chateau to me. We walked around and looked at the usual tourist areas on the exterior, and then headed over to see the Cathedrale de Monaco.
The grave of Princess Grace, Prince Rainier, and other members of the royal family since 1885 are here in the cathedrals crypt. Further down the street we found the Musee Oceanographique. This is a large museum of oceanographic items and a wonderful aquarium. We spent about 2 ½ hours in the aquarium watching all the amazing fish. There were many in the tanks that we have never seen before. Oh yes, we did find time in there somewhere to have lunch along the boardwalk. I had a real good plate of veal in a gravy sauce and wild rice, while Louise had a gorgonzola cheese pizza (yes Ann, she could eat another pizza..). With the daylight fading, we headed up the hill to the place du Casino. Between the yachts, the very expensive high-rise condos, the high powered cars, the “beautiful” people, and now the finest of the finest casinos…it’s almost too much, but it is something to see. We were able to walk into the first entry of “The” Casino, but that was as far as they would let us go. Angled across the street, is another smaller casino that was open for us to enter. Of course Louise had to try out a couple of games there, but it was very short lived. Speaking of short lived, the day flew by and we had a train to catch. As it was, we had a long walk back in the dark once we got off the train…like Halloween…”Spooky”…
8 September '05, Thursday.
Here we go again...It's raining, it's pouring, the "ole man" has been snoring... Well what else is there to do when the rain has set in with so much intensity? Louise just raised her head from reading her book, and speaking to the rain, "come on now... give it up"... We have had a few days like this overall, but it never has been an exciting event for us. Looking for the good of the moment...well, it is getting closer to bed time...4:30 in the afternoon. I guess when I look back on the earlier part of the day, we did get a load of clothes washed and dried, and Bob and Mary joined us for a walk to the grocery store. OK, I forgot to tell you about Bob and Mary... Last night Louise and I were sitting in the van. I was doing my journal and Louise was playing a game on her computer, when Bob came up to the door and made a statement like "so are you from the states ??? All I had to do was hear his voice and we knew that they were. Boy, talk about a couple of travelers...they make us look like beginners. Now for our first time, there are 3 couples from the states camping in the same campground...OB and Kris, Bob and Mary, and us...as strange as it sounds, it was great to have some Americans around us that are living the same dream...camping and enjoying themselves through Europe. We knew it was going to rain, so it was a quick walk. We have been listening to the radio (fortunately we have a good english speaking station in Monaco) and they have been telling us that we are going into another "ORANGE" alert...we're happy to hear that... As I look out the window now, the roadway around us is completely submerged and getting deeper by the second. Unfortunately there was a landslide on the major freeway just outside of Nice. It came down yesterday afternoon and has had the only road along the Riviera from France to Italy completely blocked. Even if we wanted to, we couldn't continue onward to Italy anyway. As I look out, I see a lot of empty camp spaces...it seems that those who wanted to head north got in their rigs and took off...I hope they have found sun. Oh yes, I do have some good news....I GOT MY BATTERY !!! It was stupid that I hadn't noticed it missing, but I'm not going into that now.. If you happen to come across a couple of oars, please send them this way. Tomorrow...hope for better weather so we can move on.
6 August '05, Tuesday.
With no plans for the day, we ended up having a full schedule... This morning we decided to take "Bumble Bee" into Antebes to see what we could find at the "Farmers Market". As we were getting ready to pull out, OB and Kris (the couple from Colorado) were just getting ready to headout themselves. I'm not sure just where they had planned to go, but they opted to ride into Antibes with us. As it was, we spent the day together. After finding a parking place we headed right for one of the internet cafe. We both had some work to accomplish there so it worked out great. After a little walk through the alleyways and doing some "window shopping", we ended up at the market. I think I was the only one who actually bought something. I'm a nut for the olive vendors and I found what I was looking for...the big green and black with a special brine...mmm-good. I did find a stall that was selling socca, which I found last time we were in Nice. Socca is that pancake made of chickpea and oilve oil. Apparently this is the only place that it is readily found in the world. It was close to the time that I had to take "Bumble Bee" in to see the mechanic, so we went looking for the parking spot we had left her in...not as easily as I had thought it might have been. I know we had come as close as 1/2 block to walking directly to her, but as it turned out, it took us at least 20 minutes in a small town to finally put the key in her lock. Luckly we still had plenty of time left. OB wanted to go with me to the mechanic. Upon arriving, the mechanic told us he could only spend 30 minutes on her and hoped that would be enough...yaaaa.... Well 30 Euros and 20 minutes and we were out of the lot and finally idling just fine. Pray for us that we have left all the problems behind now. The OB wanted to go to the grocery store, so when we got back, we all piled in and went shopping. We found some very interesting and tasty meatballs at the deli that we decided to bring back for a dinner we could enjoy together. Enjoy we did. Everything was very tasty and especially the "meatballs" (which I usually don't care for) were something I would buy again. We headed off to bed about 10 and by 10:30 we were asleep. THEN, about 3 in the morning we (the whole world !!!) were woke up by one of the biggest thunder and lighting storms any of us had ever seen...the thunder and lightning was intense and constant for at least 30 to 45 minutes without a pause....the rain was steady and at sometimes very heavy, but the thunder and lightning...WOW !!! They called it an "Orange" alert...orange hell, it was "Bright Red in my mind...
anyway, we all survived (at least here in this campground). The forcast is for more to the west of us for the next 2 days..."stay west".... I did make contact with the manager at the store I bought my computer from, and he is sending my battery out sometime today. Keep your fingers crossed that it arrives soon. Tomorrow...it depends on the battery delivery...
5 September '05, Monday.
Still in Antibes and I'm sure it will be at least Thursday before we will have a chance to move on. Yesterday we hungout around the pool and "Bumble Bee, did a little swimming and reading. I finally finished reading Hillary Clinton's book "Living History". Louise read it first, and seeing as how I had just finished reading "King Henry VIII", I decided I needed another big book to read. Both of these were good reading. Today being Monday, we jumped into "Bumble Bee" and went down to see the mechanic whom we used the last time we were here and had our carburator problem. One busy man...we wont be able to see him until Wednesday, and then he can only just do a little "adjusting"...better than the others we saw offered. While in town, we also got a little internet time accomplished. Louise picked up this newsletter at the internet cafe. In it we found this article that kind of fits together with one of my recent journals...
An American tourist in London decides to skip his tour group and explore the city on his own. He wonders around, seeing the sights, and occasionally stops at a quaint pub to soak up the local culture, chat with the lads, and have a pint of Guinness. After a while, he finds himself in a very high-class area. Big, stately residences...no pubs, no shops, no restaurants, and worst of all...NO PUBLIC TOILETS. He really, really has to go, after all those pints of Guinness. he finds a narrow side street, with high walls surrounding the adjacent buildings and decides to use the wall to solve his problem. As he is unzipping, he is tapped on the shoulder by a London Bobbie, who says, "I say, sir, you simply con not do that here, you know". "I'm very sorry, officer", replies the American, "but I really, really, have to go, and I just can't find a public toilet". "Oh, yes," said the Bobbie, "Just follow me". He leads him to a back delivery alley, then along a wall to a gate, which he opens. "In there", points the Bobbie. "Whiz a
away sir, anywhere you want." The fellow enters and finds himself in the most beautiful garden he has ever seen. Manicured grass lawns, statuary, fountains, sculptured hedges, and huge beds of gorgeous flowers, all in perfect bloom. Since he has the cop's blessing, he unburdens himself and is greatly relieved. As he goes back through the gate, he says to the Bobbie "that was really decent of you...is that what you call "British Hospitality?" "No sir", replied the Bobbie, "that is what we call the French Embassy !!!".
Well it looks like we may have a night like lastnight...a thunderstorm with just a little rain to freshen things up a little....Tomorrow...No big plans yet..