Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday November 10

Home sweet home. It was wonderful to put on my flannels, sleep in my own bed, and have a nice hot bath.

Leaving Paris was oh so French. On our way out for coffee before heading out to the airport we passed our Metro station only to discover that it was closed...you guessed it, a strike. It made leaving the city a bit more complicated, but we managed. The Air France flight was excellent. Excellent service, good food, and personal TV's. You can tell that I don't get out much.

We took the Go bus to Richmond Hill, and then the Viva up to Aurora. We were looking at it from a completely different perspective, that of a non-english speaking tourist. Let me tell you it would be tough . We complained occasionally in Europe but it would be a heck of a lot tougher for someone coming here. This is one of the areas where Toronto falls down as an international city, one of many unfortunately.

The cost of living has gone up since we left. We see it in the food prices, the cost of transportation and even in the price of a cheap movie. We have come back to the stresses of Canadian living. We see it in the faces of the people in the community, the rage of the drivers on our streets and the headlines in the newspaper. By tomorrow we won't even notice these things we will be so aclimatised, but for today the differences are glaring.

At the end of the day however, we are happy to be home amongst family and friends, as much as we loved the European countries that we visited, particularly Spain. And so the adventure continues. I will up-date you periodically.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday November 8

Our last full day in Paris. It has been a lazy Sunday here and we have felt it too. Stores for the most part stay closed and the city is pretty quiet. We headed out in the morning to see a couple of photography exhibits. One was by the winner of the Beaux Art prize...black and white photos of animals. To my eyes it just didn't sing. They all looked like he couldn't keep his camera still. Then off to another exhibit...Thirty Years in Iran. The pictures were marvellous, but there was no english at all, and no english audio guide so a lot of the history was lost on me. Then lunch and another big walk.

It is so sweet to see all the children out scootering along the street dressed to perfection. They all look like a million bucks. Europeans all dress their children beautifully.

We went to the Canadian Bar for a beer after the boat cruise and it was full of Americans watching American college football. Lots from Louisianna...go figure. Then it was off to the The Academie of Biere for some mussels. We had a great conversation with a french couple. We were commenting on how slim everyone is, and she said, not as slim as the Italians. I said what about all the pasta. Granted she said, but they eat only three raviolis and then just have coffee for dinner. We had a good chuckle about that.

Last note from abroad. Tomorrow we will be back in our own bed. It has been a great ride. Talk to everyone soon

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday November 7

We are really down to the wire now. Only two more sleeps and we will be home. I am getting tired of being a tourist as wonderful as it was, and am ready to get back home.

Today we wandered aimlessly and found ourselves back at the Orsay. Gerry wanted a second look and so in we went. It was as wonderful the second time around..As much as I love the AGO, I wish that the Orsay was in Toronto. Then more wandering and looking in shops. They have really lovely clothes, shoes, glasses, well everything. And so much of it. Beautiful pastry shops, endless cheese stalls, and bread as far as the eye can see. All you need is gobs of money!! We stopped in at a creperie for lunch..delicious.

After this we are heading down to the Seine for a boat cruise. The lights will be beautiful, but it is awfully cold here. Good prep for home. Then we will head out for a bite and get ready for our last day in Paris tomorrow. See you all soon.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday November 6

We seem to have had some eating problems in Nice. The restaurants do one sitting at lunch and then close the kitchen. We always seemed to miss the one seating and so were stuck with fast food, Nice style of course. Dinner turned out to be a bit of a headache as well. The restaurants that we could afford we could never get a table, so it was back to bread and cheese. Bread ,cheese and wine are cheap in France so that was an easy solution. No complaints.

Yesterday was sunny and warm in Nice...what a difference a day makes. With the sun shining it really is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen. People, well two people, were actually swimming, it was that nice. We took a very long walk up to the Matisse Museum. I am glad that it was free, because the operative word was museum, not much art to be seen. Oh well, always good to explore a new area of the city.

Today we are back in Paris. Paris too has been sunny and lovely. It is nice to have our bearings, being back at the same hotel again, in the best location ever. Today we walked to the Louvre, down the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triumph, across town to the Eiffel Tower, and back to our hotel. We will go out for dinner at a restaurant that we visited the last time we passed through ,that has great food priced reasonably...I just hope that we can get a table on a Friday night.

I am sure that it will be another busy day of walking tomorrow. Until then.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday November 4

We arrived in Nice last night after an easy flight and were picked up by the the owner of the b and b. Very kind.

Spent the morning exploring the city. The water is amazing, the most georgous colour of blue. We are back in France so things are expensive again. Even computer time is a fortune. This afternoon we went out to Monte carlo for a look around. We visited the casino that you see in the movies, and unbelievably, they let us in...but the clincher was a ten euro charge. We took a pass, that was more than we would have bet. We went to the poor mans casino where they let the plebs in for free, gerry bet five euros on some blackjack game, doubled his money, and we left, thrilled. Monte carlo is just banks, shopping, casinos, hotels and thousands of security cameras...lovely nevertheless. We are heading out to find something to eat. no plans yet for tomorrow but it is so nice to sleep in our own room.

A bientot

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday November 2

The weather has turned. There is a chill in the air and it is windy. We walked our tushes off again yesterday. I wish that I had a pedometer to measure all the steps that I have taken in the last 50 days. People say they go to the gym to get healthy...baloney, if they wanted to be healthy they would eat fruits and vegetables and drink wheatgrass...but they don´t. They go to the gym to lose weight. Save your money people. Nobody has walked more than I have in the last seven weeks...and yes my legs are stronger, and maybe my cardio has improved minimally, but my clothes fit the same way they did when I left home. It just isn´t fair. Rant over.

Today is our last day in Barcelona. We fly to Nice tonight and the husband of the bed and breakfast owner has agreed to pick us up at the airport. Very kind. We are going to the Gaudi museum today and I am not sure what else. All I can guarantee is that it will be a lot of walking.

We made good old fashioned spaghetti with meat sauce last night and it was delicious. No kitchen in Nice, so we will have to take our meals out once again.

Next time it will be greetings from the south of France. Bye for now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday November 1

Big day in Barcelona. After going for local coffee, a particularly good cup, I might add, we headed downtown. Thought we would start at the Picasso but the line was far too big, so off to the history museum. Very interesting. Good to get a handle on the local history. Then down to the beach and the Olympic Village. Passed by tons of soccer fields where teams of all ages were lying on the ground faking injuries.

Then a big hike up to the unfinished Gaudi church. It is wild and whimsical, and worth a look, but a bit over the top. Goodness knows when it will be finished...some say 30 and others 50 years. It will certainly be a masterpiece when completed.

Off to lunch in the Ribera. A bit off really good tapas and a glass of read wine. We decided to give the Picasso another crack. As it turns out-the first Sunday of the month is free-hence the line-ups. We decided to line up. It was definitely worth the wait. The early Picasso was typical portraits anbd very well done. Then he moved to the country and did landscapes similar to the group of seven. After was caricatures, he seemed to have a sense of humour, and finally the Picasso we know. His abstracts were his interpretations of some of the old masters. I would say about 50% of the pictures were donated by Picasso himself in 1970. Very interesting.

Back to the hostel and dinner in. Rice and stir- fried vegetables. Not very exciting, but pretty darn good after a big day of walking. We will see what tomorrow brings. Early to bed and early to rise. Until next time.