A Travellerspoint blog

PARIS,AIX-EN-PROVENCE & BARCELONA MARCH 30-APRIL 21, 2011

SPENDING MORE QUALITY TIME WITH HEATHER

sunny 15 °C

I flew to Paris via Chicago and spent the first few days in Heather's apartment in the Marais. Then we travelled on the TGV high speed train to Aix-en-Provence where our apartment was on rue Gaston de Saporta, a narrow pedestrian street in the oldest part of the city. The apartment like the one in Paris is on the top floor of a four storey walk-up. Some climb, but well worth it with the great views of roof tops, a bell tower and steeple. You wake up to church bells and look out at a cloudless sky. Then you go down to the street to buy a baguette, croissant or pain chocolat. What a lovely start to the day. The flower and vegetable markets are open daily and only a few minutes walk. At the corner is the thirteenth century cathedral so to say the least it's wonderful. This city has so many squares and fountains and there are people eating and drinking all day long.

When you are craving the delights of a big city Marseilles is a short bus ride away and if you are a senior the fare is one euro. Buses leave Aix every ten minutes. Founded by the Greeks in 600 BC it is a vibrant, beautiful and very interesting place indeed.

We visited Lourmarin for a few days. It's where Peter Mayle, the author, lives and is in the middle of a wine producing area so there are lots of grape vines, pretty scenery, chateaux, etcetera. There are markets in the neighbouring towns as well and the one we visited was maybe the biggest I've ever seen.

Then we went to Barcelona by bus. The high-speed train doesn't go there yet and the bus ride was about eight hours and enjoyable too. Our hotel room was on Las Ramblas.....what a street! Absolutely the busiest, noisiest few blocks of solid humanity with music, food and entertainment. Oh if you want to buy a bird, rabbit, cat or dog you can do that too. Our room with a balcony had a separate living room including a piano so you can imagine our surprise and pleasure. We visited museums, galleries and churches, ate at some great restaurants, walked our legs off and all in all highly recommend it to anyone. There is one proviso though. It is the capital of pick-pockets and Heather even had her purse snatched. A man came up behind her grabbed her purse and ran off. She screamed her lungs out and ran after him. When the thief encountered a group of young people and with Heather close behind him he threw the purse down with everything intact. But don't let that deter you...just be careful and keep anything of value inside your clothing!
When am I returning to France? Keep reading my BLOG to find out.

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris   March 31, 2011 006

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris March 31, 2011 006

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris   March 31, 2011 004

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris March 31, 2011 004

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris   March 31, 2011 003

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris March 31, 2011 003

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris   March 31, 2011 001

Apartment on Rue Jarente, Paris March 31, 2011 001

Aix-en-Provence apartment     April 3, 2011 014

Aix-en-Provence apartment April 3, 2011 014

Aix-en-Provence apartment     April 3, 2011 012

Aix-en-Provence apartment April 3, 2011 012

Aix-en-Provence apartment     April 3, 2011 009

Aix-en-Provence apartment April 3, 2011 009

Aix-en-Provence apartment     April 3, 2011 008

Aix-en-Provence apartment April 3, 2011 008

Aix-en-Provence apartment     April 3, 2011 005

Aix-en-Provence apartment April 3, 2011 005

7]
Barcelona, 2011. #22

Barcelona, 2011. #22

Barcelona, 2011. #19

Barcelona, 2011. #19

Barcelona, 2011. #13

Barcelona, 2011. #13

Barcelona, 2011. #10

Barcelona, 2011. #10

Barcelona, 2011. #7    Quatre Gats Restaurant

Barcelona, 2011. #7 Quatre Gats Restaurant

Barcelona, 2011. #5

Barcelona, 2011. #5

Barcelona, 2011. #4     Joan Miro

Barcelona, 2011. #4 Joan Miro

Barcelona, 2011. #3

Barcelona, 2011. #3

Barcelona, 2011. #2

Barcelona, 2011. #2

Cezanne's garden, Aix-en-Provence, 2011

Cezanne's garden, Aix-en-Provence, 2011

]

Posted by douglasw 17:24 Archived in France Comments (0)

PARIS, FEBRUARY 10TH TO 24TH, 2011

VISITING HEATHER IN THE MARAIS AND GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER EVEN BETTER

overcast 10 °C

What kind of travel blog is this with three trips to France in a row. Well forgive a man who is in love. Anyone who visits Paris without using the Velib bike system is really missing something. If you keep your trips to 30 minutes each it's even free after paying 5 euros per week. The idea is to pick up a bike at any stand and leave it at another. Of course you need to use a credit card in case you decide to steal the bike, but that's it. And what fun it is. Heather and I rode up the Champs Elysee and around the Arc de Triomphe although I wouldn't recommend the latter. But there are all kinds of safe rides. We ate out, didn't have a mediocre meal and forgetting my usual reticence to make recommendations I would encourage anyone to go to Le Petit Colbert in the 3rd Arrondisement for an outstanding, memorable meal.

Staying in the Marais makes walking to the main sites easy and although the Picasso Museum is closed for renovations the Pompidou Centre has a great art gallery with many of his paintings along with a lot of other major artists.

Shopping is a must so we went to the Galleries Lafayette where Heather bought me a great sweater and scarf for my up-coming 81st birthday. Then we dropped in to a number of small shops where I spent too much for a shirt and sweater I didn't need. But what fun and I love them. Having someone to help me makes buying and receiving something for myself so much better.

A highlight of this trip was visiting the Sunday market on "rue Mouffetard". On the square near the church accordionist Christian sets up his equipment, song sheets are handed out and a succession of female singers entertains the crowd with mostly old songs. Everyone joins in and lots of us danced as well. Then we had lunch with the performers and there was more singing around the table. The second week France Dupuy invited us to her home for crepes and cider along with her sister Mireille and friends Guy and Isabelle. What lovely people and what a marvellous time.

The whole trip was superb and I can't wait to return.

Paris, 2011

Paris, 2011

Paris near  Les Halles, Feb 2011

Paris near Les Halles, Feb 2011

Paris  2011

Paris 2011

Dinner at Le Petit Colbert, Paris, 2011

Dinner at Le Petit Colbert, Paris, 2011

Paris apartment on rue Michel le Comte  2011

Paris apartment on rue Michel le Comte 2011

Doug and Heather, Paris February, 2011

Doug and Heather, Paris February, 2011

Centre Pompidou, Paris, Feb. 2011

Centre Pompidou, Paris, Feb. 2011

1]Paris, Feb. 2011 with a dancer

Paris, Feb. 2011 with a dancer

appartement le comte

appartement le comte

rue Mouffetard

rue Mouffetard

rue Mouffetard 2

rue Mouffetard 2

PARIS, 2011

PARIS, 2011

Mireille and France Dupuy

Mireille and France Dupuy

lunch at rue Mouffetard

lunch at rue Mouffetard

France's apartment  2

France's apartment 2

France's apartment

France's apartment

France and Heather, 2011

France and Heather, 2011

Christian, Doug and Heather

Christian, Doug and Heather

Chanteuse extraordinaire

Chanteuse extraordinaire

Paris parks are everywhere

Paris parks are everywhere

From the Pompidou Centre

From the Pompidou Centre

[]Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Champs Elysee

Champs Elysee

Picasso's girl skipping

Picasso's girl skipping

Posted by douglasw 21:11 Archived in France Comments (0)

PARIS JANUARY 5-12, 2011

DOUGLAS WILLIAMSON AND HEATHER DONALDSON GETTING TO KNOW ALL ABOUT EACH OTHER. (AS THE SONG SAYS)

semi-overcast 10 °C

My previous blog entry left some of my friends perplexed. I announced that I had fallen in love, had studied French for another month and come home. Well, as we all know, life isn't always simple, is it? Heather is in France for a year studying the language. But she hasn't settled on just where or how. So when she told me she would be in Paris for 10 days or so I sensed an opportunity and being impetuous, very much in love and in hot pursuit I asked if she wanted some company. SHE DID. As a result I hopped on a plane and we had an absolutely marvellous time for a week in Paris. We visited the main sites, went to a reading at the Shakespeare and Company book store on the left bank, had many great meals, ate oysters on the half shell and toasted our week with a bottle of champagne. Oh this romance is just what I needed! And I will keep posting on my Blog.
One of the three Rose windows in Notre Dame, Paris 2011

One of the three Rose windows in Notre Dame, Paris 2011

Pere Lachaisse Cemetery,   2011

Pere Lachaisse Cemetery, 2011

Paris,  2011

Paris, 2011

Montmartre, Paris, 2011

Montmartre, Paris, 2011

Montmartre,   2011

Montmartre, 2011

Heather, Paris, 2011

Heather, Paris, 2011

Heather,  Eiffel Tower, 2011

Heather, Eiffel Tower, 2011

Heather and Doug, Paris, 2011

Heather and Doug, Paris, 2011

Heather and Doug in Paris, 2011

Heather and Doug in Paris, 2011

Posted by douglasw 10:14 Archived in France Comments (0)

VILLEFRANCHE, FRANCE NOV 22-DEC 17, 2010

AM I EVER GOING TO BE BILINGUAL?

all seasons in one day 10 °C

I left Vancouver Nov 20th and was in my studio apartment the 21st (the same one as last year only a minute or two from the Institut de Francais). And I was promoted to Intermediate #4. Wow my fourth month here and I have moved up from Intermediate #1 in three not so easy stages. I had wonderful and considerate classmates and our professor was Stephan who was also my prof in Intermediate #2. Hard work, great lunches at the school thanks to chef Nathalie and lovely dinners in the Vieille Ville filled my days. There were pupils from more than 20 countries which sure makes things interesting. And you get to know them all at Chez Betty's for a beer and at tea break at the end of the day. The school arranges various outings like wine degustation, an all day tour and group dinner. I love them all and also walking into Nice close to the Mediterranean all the way. But unexpectedly at the all day tour I met Heather Donaldson and fell in love. At this stage I don't know how this is going to work out but it has been wonderful for me.
Unfortunately the weather in Europe caused many problems one of which was flight delays so I spent three extra days in a hotel at Nice airport, had my flight switched to KLM from British Airways and got home on the 21st. Just in time to get to Quesnel, British Columbia to be with my daughter and her family for Christmas where I am writing this entry for my Blog.
Sunrise Villefranche, 2010

Sunrise Villefranche, 2010

Classmates France Dec 2010

Classmates France Dec 2010

img=http://photos.travellerspointvisiting nice pebbles 2010

visiting nice pebbles 2010

Professor Julien

Professor Julien

Heather and Doug

Heather and Doug



Thought I'd add a few Christmas pictures of son-in-law Wayne, daughter Melinda, granddaughter Andrea and greatgranddaughters Makenzie and Erika. A terrific, noisy and happy time.En famille Xmas 2010 #2

En famille Xmas 2010 #2

En famille Xmas 2010  #5

En famille Xmas 2010 #5

En famille Xmas 2010

En famille Xmas 2010

En famille  Xmas 2010 #4

En famille Xmas 2010 #4

En famille  Xmas 2010  #3

En famille Xmas 2010 #3

Melinda, Makenzie and Erika

Melinda, Makenzie and Erika

Grandma and Grandpa with the kids

Grandma and Grandpa with the kids

Doug and Wayne

Doug and Wayne

Posted by douglasw 15:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

MAZATLAN, MEXICO WITH A COUPLE OF TERRIFIC GIRLS-NOV 5-12/10

A WEEK OF INNOCENT DEBAUCHERY WITH MY DAUGHTER, MELINDA AND HER DAUGHTER, ANDREA

sunny 35 °C

When Granddaughter Andrea asked me if I would go to Mexico with her Mom and her I jumped at the chance. Andrea is a single Mother with two little girls two and four. Apparently Melinda thought it would be good for her to have a break and when Melinda's husband Wayne didn't want to go I was recruited to keep them safe and out of trouble. To make this possible Andrea made arrangements with her ex's parents to go to Quesnel to take charge of the kids. Weren't they great to agree? Actually the logistics weren't that easy since the grandparents and I live a long way from Quesnel where Melinda and Andrea live, but it all worked out like clockwork.

So I met them at Vancouver airport the night before the flight to Mexico, had dinner there with them and Andrea's brother Michael. NICE! Then we arrived in Mazatlan with perfect weather etcetera and checked in to our resort. (One of the RIU chain's properties and absolutely perfect.) But our suite which had a separate bedroom and bathroom for me didn't have much of a view. So we switched for a room with two beds and only one bathroom, but with a spectacular view. I was required to sign a legal paper guaranteeing not to complain about the downgrade and promise not to ask for any compensation. Now what you have been waiting for! What was it like for an eighty year old to share a room with two party girls? IN A WORD, WONDERFUL but also hilarious. Our bedtime conversations were priceless as those of you who continue to read this epistle will find out. I'll attach a couple of pictures in our room to show you bedlam mixed with order. Steaming showers, girly smells, clothes thrown all over and when they were getting dressed up for dinner it was worse or better depending on one's point of view.

Our routine was for me to get out of the room in the morning, have breakfast alone, work out in the gym and have a walk on the beach. Then meet them for coffee. So far I might as well have gone on the holiday alone. BUT we then went to the beach bar for Bloody Marys and a walk followed by helping Andrea fulfill something on her "Wish List" or bucket as she called it. So, one day she parasailed, another she went horseback riding and she and I took Salsa and Merengue(?) dance lessons on the pool edge. OMG! Do you think we missed going shopping? Lunch was at a buffet restaurant on the beach. LOVELY! Then reading, sunbathing and watching CRAZY GAMES in the pool. Also we swam around 4pm, dried off and had a drink called a Mexican Flag. This drink is served several ways but as you will see it is made up of the colours of...you guess...and is followed by a beer. You might think that was enough for an old man but then we had to get ready for a fancy dinner and a show. It's not Broadway but it's fun and they have a different show every night. Then ONE NIGHT, AND ONE NIGHT ONLY ,WE WENT TO THE DISCO. I had never been to a disco and it wasn't on my wish list either. Oh yes we went to the Sport Bar regularly and Andrea was propositioned regularly too! She explained that she was on a family vacation and behaved herself but loved the attention.

Now comes the bedtime talks after the lights were out......I hope my Institut de Francais friends are still with me. At the Sport Bar I met Katie McNabb. She was with her boyfriend but Melinda and Andrea got the totally mistaken idea I was lusting over her. So trying to be a good sport I suggested she would be a good match for me. Katie is 21 so if I married her Melinda would have a very young step-mother and being young Katie was bound to have children who would be very young brothers and sisters for Melinda as well. Also Andrea would have Katie for a grandmother. And the fun and laughing went on and on.

We really had a terrific vacation and were very sad to part at Vancouver airport.
theirs #1

theirs #1

his  #1

his #1

theirs  #2

theirs #2

his #2

his #2

Sport bar

Sport bar

Out for dinner

Out for dinner

Mexican flag

Mexican flag

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 043

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 043

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 004

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 004

Learning the Salsa

Learning the Salsa

Disco

Disco

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 041

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 041

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 035

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 035

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 034

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 034

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 033

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 033

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 022

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 022

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 010

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 010

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 009

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 009

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 007

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 007

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 019

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 019

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 020

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 020

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 019

Mazatlan with Melinda and Andrea November, 2010 019

Mexican flag, Mazatlan, 2010

Mexican flag, Mazatlan, 2010

Fun and games in Mazatlan, 2010 #3

Fun and games in Mazatlan, 2010 #3

Fun and games in Mazatlan, 2010

Fun and games in Mazatlan, 2010

Dance lesson, Mazatlan, 2010

Dance lesson, Mazatlan, 2010

Great dinner in the Steak House, 2010

Great dinner in the Steak House, 2010

Posted by douglasw 16:00 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

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