We’ve left Paris and headed into Austria. I don’t mind admitting one of the mountain passes we came over left me shitting myself! There were sheer drops of over 2000 feet, with flimsy wooden barriers. Yet as we drove down the hairpins there were lorries overtaking us and speeding their way down the road. How? I don’t know how but they were. It left me feeling so inadequate. 

Then further on we came toward Grossglockner glacier and we had to drive up a similar pass, almost all the way in first gear. A memory that sticks with me is that as we drove up I spotted a rucsac by the side of the road and a rifle leaning against the rock. There was a man about 50 yards away bent down over some animal and my instant thought was ‘fancy leaving a rifle just leaning against the rock on a busy road.’

Anyway, we finally got to a kind of reception/gift shop which apparently was the entrance office to the glacier itself. It turns out they have tunnelled into the glacier edge so you can walk through it. We did that of course and it was bizarre. We were inside a glacier and you could hear noises constantly coming from it, pops crackles and cracks, some quite loud. You could see also where the access path made of wood and metal had been moved many times to keep up with the movement of the glacier itself.

The colour inside the glacier was amazing, a blue that was almost like gemstone. Oddly it wasn’t that cold even when we felt the ice walls of the tunnel. We tasted the water where it runs off the glacier and over the steep mountainside and it was very cold, but the purest water ever. 

We stayed the night in the car park and were the only ones there, directly across the road from an enormous hotel!


More French fun

Our French tour continues, with some new and some old.

This was my first visit to Sacre Coeur and to be honest if it wasn’t beautiful from the outside and sitting at the top of a hill, it would be uneventful visiting it. It was nice enough but not outstanding and visitors are corralled into a roped off area and forced to walk a large circle within the building. You can’t explore at all. I suppose they might do that to ensure crowds are controlled but it’s the only cathedral I’ve ever seen do that. 

However Montmartre in general is a lovely place and the artists all still crowd the squares, although now they are of a modern type. The cafes are expensive and the streets are steep but this is authentic ‘old’ Paris which people like to visit. 

The busiest area were the steps in front of Sacre Coeur. The view of Paris from there is amazing and it’s nice to stop and relax for a few minutes and enjoy the views. There were plenty of excellent street artists here including the best Charlie Chaplin I’ve ever seen.

Of course no visit to Paris would be complete without a visit to the mighty Louvre. This is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s a global, historical education and after several visits I still haven’t seen it all.

Beautiful day, beautiful place, and here’s some photos

French fun

Here we are. In France. Using what little French we know. Having an amazing time. Why has it taken me til now to do this!

I’m no stranger to France, although my French is poor I have been here many times. But I never get tired of seeing the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre. We hope to go to the Louvre tomorrow.

We visited the mighty Arc de Triomphe. I remember some years ago I had parked my car in one of the many underground car parks. However while at the top of the Arc de Triomphe I noticed the traffic police with their illuminated batons and how tiny they looked in 13 lanes of traffic that circled the roundabout. The entire area of 13 lanes of roundabout and the monument itself is known as Place Charles de Gaulle after the famous general.  12 roads feed those 13 lanes, and watching the policemen from the top of the monument it looked like sheer traffic madness.  So I resolved then and there to go and get the car and drive in it myself. I wanted to experience it. So that’s exactly what I did. 
What a barmy idea! Actually once you understand the rules it’s not that difficult. Everyone is just trying to get where they’re going.

Notre Dame never fails to impress and you can’t help thinking “The bells!” when you see it. Of course Victor Hugo who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame is immortalised all over France but also by having one of the 12 streets leading to Place Charles de Gaulle named after him. There are a lot of street artists operating around Notre Dame and they are very well worth watching. 

Many do not realise that Notre Dame simply means Our Lady in English and there are hundreds of Notre Dame cathedrals and churches across France. Hence the full name of the cathedral in Paris is actually Notre Dame de Paris.

We also went up the Eiffel Tower and the views over Paris are amazing. I took some photos which I am going to try and stitch into a panorama. I found out today that the Eiffel tower is not the tallest building in Paris. I felt a bit deflated and wished I did not know!

It’s fabulous to be here but we continue on…

As ever…some photos

European tour

It’s on!!!!!!

We are planning a month long European Tour!!!

I’ve looked into everything including internet for which we can get an internet card for from Vodafone. Van insurance covers Europe, we’ve checked for jabs we might need and looked at some campsites here and there to be used in emergencies. 

We’ve booked time from work and we’re going to do it!