Saturday, January 12, 2013


OMG, it's now day four of Paris, well three and a half to be exact, and I still haven't updated! I just keep running out of time. 

I arrived around 11am at Orly and took two trains and three metro's and found the hotel easily. The street that it's on, Rue des Abbesses, is gorgeous. It's classic romantic narrow cobbled Montmartre street. the whole area is beautiful. 

I spent the first afternoon just wandering around the local neighbourhood. Sacre Coeur is just down the end of the street, and Montmartre cemetery at the other end. Along the way I found many pieces of street art, and this area is a positive gallery of this type of art. First up a piece of humour that is also a defacement of a public sign.

Then a classic piece of stencil work, and in the world of street art this includes their "tag".

The first night I went out to a gay bar for a drink, but that will be a whole other post. However after two visits now I can summarily say I do  not recommend La Champesle.

Tuesday was a late start, as in I didn't manage to leave the hotel till after 1pm, so my sightseeing that day was Galerie Lafayette. When I got there I found that the saldes (sale) started the next day, so I treated my visit as a reconnoitre mission. That evening I discovered even more exquisite food shops in my 'hood so didn't leave. My pre dinner snack consisted of the below.

The internet here is an arse, this is the third time I have tried to finish this and load images, but will give up and put images in when on a more stable connection.

Wednesday I marched off down to Galerie Lafayette to get the t shirt I yearned for, and stocked up on lingerie. I then walk over to the Pompidou centre, which took a while as the streets are covered in shops with the Saldes sign in place. Everywhere is on sale! I spent several hours in the Pompidou centre od'ing on modern art. The images are on facebook, it would take me a year to load them on here! 

That night I again researched gay bars and went over to a small wee place in Saint Michel. It turned out to be gay friendly, and the advertised jazz music wasn't on until much later, so it was one drink then back to Montmartre for dinner then bed. I had a plat du jour at one of my locals, only 10 Euro, simple food but the beef was divine.

Thursday was a roaming day. I again walked down to Galerie Lafayette, to get more lingerie and to look at boots. From there I walked for hours and hours (in the drizzle) slowly heading to the left bank and a particular patissier there. I finally found the shop full of sweet creamy badness, and had a chocolate eclair as my reward. Finally the rain cleared and I wandered back to the right bank and thought I'd stop in at the gay bar mentioned above for a drink. Once again I was ripped off, so Never Again. Dinner again was a plat de jour in the same place, this time a salmon lasagne. 

Friday I went to Versailles. What a stunning over the top amazing place. I spent hours and hours there and did the three main buildings. The gardens look like they will be amazing but as it's winter the beds are dormant and the statues all wrapped up. It started to rain as I was doing a last wander, so headed back to the train and the city. The next time I go I am going to take my running gear as the gardens are free and you can run for miles in beautiful surroundings. 

When I got back to the city I had one more hunt for boots and had success, yay new ankle boots with little buckles. With the prices at the moment I am tempted to buy more shoes. 

I was going to try another gay bar last night, but had drunk too many bubbles before dinner, so ended up staying indoors. I may attempt that bar tonight.

It is now Saturday morning and I have just navigated my way around a Parisian laundromat, so now it's off over the road to rescue my clothes. Au revoir.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Again a delayed post, but c'est la vie. Berlin was hard. My flight was delayed which meant getting there in the dark and trying to sort out trains, but thankfully a kind Spanish girl helped me, and we got through on a mix of languages. It was cold and drizzling when I got there. 

I found the hostel fairly easily, but it was Not Nice. I guess for the average backpacker it was ok, but not of the standard I am used to staying in. 

On my first day I had a big walking plan mapped out, but the rain, wind and cold curtailed that, plus I was starting to succumb to some germs. After walking around as much as I could, I ended up taking a bus tour so managed to see most of the main sights. Not a lot of pictures as it was all out a rainy steamed up window.

I missed getting a picture of the last standing bits of the wall, but below are pieces that have been transported to around checkpoint Charlie.

I found the blue and purple above ground pipes fascinating, they are in quite a few areas including Alexanderplatz.

There was masses and masses of construction everywhere, both above and below ground. Huge new metro lines and stations being put in.

 I was staying in East Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg so it was an interesting area history wise, and to see how much transformation has been done in the 23 years post unification, as in other parts of Berlin. It was my sort of suburb, a mixture of offbeat, arty, and gentrification. One little highlight was below.

Time got swallowed in Berlin. I went to the ballet, a modern version of Peer Gynt, and spent time chatting with the man next to me about how avant garde the production was. At one point the stage was covered in sand. 

On the second to last day after brunch I was taken on a wee road trip to Potsdam. It was nice to get out and see a another place, and to go on an autobahn. The driver however was annoyed as it had a 120km limit, which I noticed he ignored as did the others that passed us. I had dinner that night with a group of eight people, and had many fabulous discussions and conversations. It was nice talking with such an eclectic mix of people, which such different outlooks on life and the world due to their mixed upbringings, travels and education. 

The last day was very tiring as I had had very little sleep. I had booked a hotel near the airport and went there as soon as I could and just chilled. 

I woke too early, but that ended up being ok. My last memorable experience for Berlin was the Dr Seuss breakfast in the morning.

You know, if you are going to serve green eggs, then you should at least have quality ham to go with it! 

I do like Berlin, just wish I could have seen it under more favourable circumstances. It really is an intriguing city.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sagrada Familia

A bit of a delayed post due to too much travel, bad weather and fighting germs, but Sagrada Familia - nothing else to say but goosebumpingly stunning. The visit was on 31 December, so I do like that it is the last thing I did for the year.

The food and wine finale for the year was a wee Catalan cava and tapas bar in Barceloneta, my favourite eat/drink experience in Barcelona. 

I had one more day in the city which I spent visiting Ms Gotlucky and wandering the city. 

Since then I have been to Berlin and fought germs, and now I am in Paris. 

To be continued....

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