A Travellerspoint blog

Institut de Francais, Villefranche, France

I decided to return to this school for the ninth time and was prepared to continue at the intermediate level. But with the encouragement of former classmate Susan Beckman and her help over the month before coming I am now in an Advanced class. After having completed the first three weeks I am very satisfied with my progress, like and feel very comfortable with my classmates and all is well. From previous posts, those who read my blog will already know how highly I think about the Institut, its methods and routine so I won't repeat myself except to say it attracts so many interesting people and spending a month on La Côte d'Azur is always more than a pleasure. And I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 85th birthday in Nice with good friends Roy and Carmelita Tucker and Samara McCarthy.
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I am adding a few pictures including some taken at the Maeght Gallery in St Paul de Vence. Here in France the signs showing how fast you are driving change into either a smile or frown depending on your speed. I included a photo since I have been enjoying them.

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Posted by douglasw 11:00 Comments (0)

Passage to Eastern Europe on the Viking Embla

Starting a new chapter

overcast 5 °C

This was my first trip since Heather and I parted ways after her summer trip to Vancouver. So after almost four years of happy adventures I had to, as they say, get on with my life.

And after reading about how great it is to cycle in Belgrade I decided to go there. My regular lunch companion Eric suggested we travel together, so we did. This caused a few funny situations. One being when we were told our hotel room had only one bed but which was soon enough changed to a room with two beds and a magnificent view of the parliament buildings in Budapest and the Danube.

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Some of my readers have asked for an explanation of the picture of the shoes. It is a Holocaust Memorial at the spot on the Danube where Hungarian "Nazis" killed Jews....men, women and children and dumped their bodies in the river.

One day I picked up Eric's passport by mistake and when I needed to exchange currency in a bank I simply acted as though it was mine. They examined the passport and me and after I signed Eric's name proceeded with the transaction. Eric is ethnically Chinese.

Our trip on the Danube was from Bucharest through five countries.....Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary. Apart from Serbia and Croatia which were in Yugoslavia the others were in the Soviet Bloc and all of them have now been admitted to the European Community. At this stage they still all have their own currencies. I won't attempt to explain their different histories but will give my impressions and a few highlights of our journey. Firstly they were all occupied for two or three centuries by the Ottomans and they were not all on the same side in the Second World War. Their progress since the advent of capitalism after the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia has been uneven. Unemployment is the single biggest problem and older people especially are having trouble adjusting. But tremendous efforts have been made to rebuild after the devastation of the Second World War and especially since the breakup of Yugoslavia and its brutal wars.

Highlights for me were:

Ceausescu's lavish "palace"(the only bigger building in the world is the Pentagon)

The rocks of Belogradshick in Vidin, Bulgaria

Cruising the Danube through the Iron Gate and through the huge lift locks.

The beautiful city of Belgrade and my cycle ride along the Danube

The amazing rebuilding of Vukavar, Croatia which suffered so much in the Serbia/Croatia war. Over eighty percent of it was destroyed.

And then last but not least we arrived in Budapest. It is a lovely city, but everywhere you are reminded about man's inhumanity to man. After Hungary attempted to change sides at the end of the Second Word War their people were subjected to the worst abuses by the Nazis and the Communists. The fact that it is such a welcoming, beautiful, tranquil place now is amazing.


Posted by douglasw 15:58 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Taking a bite out of The Big Apple

Visiting New York City with my daughters

semi-overcast 20 °C

Following up on a suggestion from my daughter Heather, I asked her sister Melinda how she would feel about going to NYC with Heather and me. Melinda had never been and I had the impression she wouldn't want to. Well to say I was mistaken is a real understatement. So I made the arrangements and off we went.

Heather drew up a suggested four day plan. She wanted Melinda to get a real idea of how marvellous the city is. On Wednesday October 1st Melinda flew from Quesnel, B.C and Heather and I met her at the Vancouver Airport where we lunched with Heather's husband Jim (it was his birthday). Then foot loose and fancy free off we went to New York. Although we arrived around 2 am we stopped at a wine and cheese bar before walking to our hotel by way of Times Square. I guess the idea was to show Melinda the city really doesn't ever sleep.

We stayed at The Hilton Midtown where we had a great view of Central Park and, over the next two days, had marvellous weather, saw the World Trade Centre site, walked across Brooklyn Bridge and along the new High Line Park walkway and in Central Park, had very nice lunches and dinner both evenings in Remi Restaurant near our hotel. And we went to two Broadway musicals......Mama Mia and Jersey Boys. They have been running for a long time but we enjoyed them thoroughly.

It rained Saturday but we walked to Central Park anyway, had brunch at Sarabeth's facing the park, and went to Radio City Music Hall for their very interesting tour before heading to the airport and home.

The whole trip was exciting and for all of us a chance to spend quality time together. 180_IMG_0809.jpg
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Posted by douglasw 12:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Visiting Vancouver from Quesnel, British Columbia

semi-overcast 22 °C

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My Daughter Melinda, Granddaughter Andrea and Great Granddaughters Kenzie and Erika came to visit me and see the sights. The kids had never seen the ocean so first stop was Third Beach in Stanley Park, followed by The Vancouver Aquarium for the Beluga Whale, Dolphin and SeaOtter shows among other things. Then we met my Vancouver family.....Daughter Heather and son in law Jim, Grandson Michael and his girlfriend Krissy for dinner at my favourite restaurant. The next day we went to Granville Island by way of the ferry from my complex after a swim in the pool and headed for The Science Centre before going to Heather and Jim's for dinner. Today we finished up at the Planetarium which was delightful to say the least. Michael and Krissy joined us, we went to lunch and that ended a wonderful three days.

Posted by douglasw 16:28 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Heather's summer visit, August 9-25, 2014

semi-overcast 22 °C

We have had a busy couple of weeks and the highlights were trips to Sackinaw Lake on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast and to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Heather's sister Jean and her husband Ivan have a cottage on a small island in Sackinaw Lake which Heather and I swam around. Tofino is known for its long beaches and wild weather. Fortunately it was very pleasant while we were there and the drive and ferry from the mainland were great. Some of our pictures show the magnificent Cathedral Grove which is en route and has some of Canada's oldest and most impressive trees. 87842869F8F4C4A5FFF3F7E42B42A025.jpg
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Posted by douglasw 10:38 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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