A visit to London in the rain

In the morning, a bit earlier than our booked time slot, our shopping was delivered. Quite easy and well worthwhile. I put a meal in the crockpot, chicken breasts, onions, potatos and capsicums.

We had a very wet day for our trip to London and kept waiting for it to ease off before setting out. It would ease off briefly, then rain heavily again, no point waiting. Only the fact that Stephen needed to pick up his pouch from Eurail Lost and Found motivated us to go. It’s expensive travelling to London from here, even with the two-together discount. About AUD32.

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At Eurail Lost and Found

After locating Lost and Found, Stephen was able to get his pouch back with our Eurail ticket diary and his passports. Although it was found yesterday it was still a relief when he actually had it in his hands.

We went to St Pauls Cathedral nearby, couldn’t bring ourselves to pay aabout fourteen pounds each for entry. A few years ago we went to a service at Westminster Abbey rather than pay the steep entry price and have decided to go back for a service. They have a Choral Evensong at 6.00 p.m. each weekday. We thought of staying in town for it and walked over to the Tate Gallery for coffee and toilets. Stephen was feeling a little unwell and the gallery was very busy and it just didn’t feel like somewhere to stay for a couple of hours.

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Walking over the Millenium Bridge with St Paul’s in the background

The warmest part of the day is usually around 4.00 p.m., so with the rain it felt a bit steamy on the journey home.

Despite the online shopping there are still many items needed – some shopping may take place today. I’ve done some washing and ironed some of my tops which were looking a bit crushed from being hand washed.

 

Eurail Travel in Europe: lost and found

France: Paris (3 nights), Albi (4 nights), Lyon (1 night). Switzerland: Brig (1 night), St Moritz (1 night), Lucerne (6 nights). Austria: Vienna (4 nights). Germany: Dresden (3 nights), Weimar (4 nights) = 27.

Yesterday coming home we caught four trains all up. We were travelling with three items each and it was easier than travelling with our mobile pantry bag. In one break we had time to get some lunch at station shops to eat on the train. There is always the option of buying food on the train with the long distance trains, and sometimes staff actually come to your seat to offer coffee.

We hadn’t been able to book 1st class for the Eurostar going home and noticed immediately how cramped the seats were. Stephen had to man spread – his knees were up against the seat in front. It was better for me, being short. Other passengers had the same problem, and when walking the corridors we had to step over legs and feet. You couldn’t blame people, it was worse than cattle class on an airplane.

Over the four weeks I have lost a lens cap in Brig (not too much of a problem as the camera travels tightly in a small bag) and a small makeup bag in Albi. On the last train of our last day, disaster struck. Stephen left his pouch with me when he went to get our tea on the Eurostar. When he came back we were focussed on eating the food and forgot about the pouch, which is normally housed in Stephen’s shoulder bag. It must have slipped onto the floor. The pouch contained our Eurail pass, with diary, and both his passports (British and Australian).

Stephen didn’t realise until we were at St Pancras Station in London. He maintained his cool and I felt guilty because I had a hand in it being lost. When we got back to the apartment in Croydon he contacted Eurostar Lost and Found and had an online chat. Today he has spent time getting in touch, they didn’t open until 10.00 a.m. Eventually, this afternoon, he had word that it was found. I was amazed as I was convinced that it must have been stolen. He was always optimistic, and hadn’t reported the loss. He said the fuss involved in having his passports cancelled and getting new ones wasn’t worth it unless he knew for sure that they would not be found.

We go tomorrow to St Pancras to pick up the pouch.

The top photo is of the Weimar Belvedere. There were quite a lot of buildings – it seemed almost like a small village. The Orangery (a sort of elaborate greenhouse) is beautiful. There was a New Holland section with some Australian plants.

New Holland sign (1 of 1)New Holland tree (1 of 1)The Orangery (1 of 1)

Our visit was on Sunday and we realised that local people visit for the beautiful parklands and very nice cafe. Only tourists would go into the house itself. We spent most of the day there enjoying the gardens and parkland.

We thought we’d be too tired to do anything today, but after morning cups of tea in bed we have done quite a lot. Stephen has followed up on his pouch. He went down to our closest small shop to get food for our lunch. I did two big loads of washing, some of which is almost dry. I had a applied for a Waitrose card before we left and it arrived whilst we were away. This meant that I was able to place an order for groceries online. They are due to be delivered tomorrow morning. Because we don’t have a car it is difficult to do much shopping – we have to do it a little bit at a time, hauling the trolley home. It will be interesting to see if ordering online is a good option.

We both went down to the little local store again before dinner to get a few more items. It is busy in the late afternoon with people coming home from work by tram, car, bus and on foot. We have to be really careful crossing the roads.

 

The Hastings of Hobitton

The image at the top was taken yesterday in Vienna as we walked through a park.

Today we got up early, for us, and travelled by train to Dresden. We felt anxious each time we boarded a train because we didn’t reserve seats and knew there would only be a few left over. We caught two trains and were lucky both times to find seats together.

We came through some interesting scenery, especially just over the border from the Czech Republic. The area is the Saxon Switzerland National Park, which has karst formations similar to those we have seen in China. We were travelling along the Elbe River. Of course, we could only see a little part of the National Park from the train.

We napped on the train, but have arrived here very tired and ready for an early night. We had lunch in Prague as we had enough time between trains to find a proper restaurant, but have only had a light supper of things we had in our food pouch, plus bread, milk and butter that we bought at the station before boarding our tram. We are located out of the city in a tiny home at the side of our hosts’ house. It’s delightful, and I will take some photos in the morning. With low ceilings and lots of wood we really do feel that we are Hobbits.

Our food pouch. Stephen carries it over his shoulder when we are travelling. It can contain all,sorts of little treats, as well as basics such as bread and muesli.

And just a couple of photos of our tiny home.

We have travelled from Vienna, through the Czech Republic to Dresden today. We are not sure of the distance, but it must be a few hundred kilometres. Perhaps that is why we feel so tired.

Some better photos of our little Hobbit house. The only place for a couch is in the bedroom, which is larger than the living room. I haven’t included a photo of the couch, it is where I’m sitting to write this update.

Coffee with Wagner

Our plan yesterday was to walk over the covered bridge and to visit the Wagner museum. We achieved both of these things. We had a leisurely waking up and didn’t leave our little apartment until about 11.30 a.m. After wandering around and going over the covered bridge, we had a healthy lunch at a cafe, very expensive, and then set out for the Wagner museum. It is in a house he lived in for about 5 years, now in an outer suburb of Lucerne.

The house is beautiful and although I didn’t go through the museum I did get to go inside to the WC and noticed how lovely and gracious the rooms were and how easy the stairs were. They had a very gradual gradient which would have made living in the four story house very easy.

I stayed outside in the courtyard where there was a kiosk and tables. One coffee and my book (on iPad) kept me happy until Stephen finished. We decided to walk back to the town centre along the river. There were little signs of humans with backpacks or help us follow the path around yacht clubs and parks.

Back near the station we found celebrations of the Swiss National Day (which is actually today) in progress. We had a beer and sausage and sat back to enjoy the proceedings.

Later, we walked by the river and up to the battlements to enjoy the view. We found our way to the nearest bus stop and got home by about 9.00 p.m.

Just a few more photos from the day, including the motorhome called ‘Home Car’.

A cure for museum legs

In the photo, a cup of black coffee with cream at the museum kiosk.

We began our day with a dilemma, whether to move to another location near Lucerne or stay where we are. When I tried to book for nights here on AirBnB there weren’t any vacancies, so we booked somewhere else. I had a couple of long winded communications from our new host that were a bit off putting in terms of rules and conditions and unclear instructions on how to get to the house.

We spoke with our host here who said he always has a couple of rooms free for people who want to stay on. He went away and we thought about it. Was the ease of staying in our present location where we know our way around worth losing one night’s fee, the cost of a late cancellation.

Our host then disappeared for a couple of hours and only got back to us around checkout time of 11.00 a.m. We packed up in case we had to leave, which worked out well because we had to change rooms. In the end, we weren’t ready to leave for work (museums) until midday.

We had lunch at a small bakery in a shopping centre near the Lion Monument. They don’t just have bread, but rolls and salads.

The following quote from Wikipedia explains the significance.

‘The Lion Monument (German: Löwendenkmal), or the Lion of Lucerne, is a rock relief in Lucerne, Switzerland, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris. It is one of the most famous monuments in Switzerland, visited annually by about 1.4 million tourists.[1] In 2006 it was placed under Swiss monument protection.[2]

Mark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”[3]

The above is my photo, not one from Wikipedia. I agree with Mark Twain, this is a very moving sculpture.

We had our museum pass from the previous day and visited the museum near the monument. This was when I had a first bout of museum legs for the day.

My score card for the two days. Not bad.

Our next museum of the day was the Bourbaki Panorama. Once again this was war related, this time a celebration of Swiss humanity and the beginning of the Red Cross organisation.

Our third museum for the day was the Transport Museum. It was fantastic and full of children. I wished I was a child myself as there was so much that was interactive.

Afterwards we walked along the lake to the Bahnhof where we found an open supermarket to stock up a little on food for the next couple of days. We bought a lasagne and salad for tea, plus a cake to share. Yesterday was Stephen’s birthday and we were celebrating in a modest way.

The day was cloudy and cool enough at times for jumpers. Very good for sightseeing.

The swimming pools on the lake provide another way to swim. We saw a couple of middle aged men swimming in the lake as we walked along.

Even though our new room is two floors lower than the other one we still have a glimpse of the mountains.

Looking out and looking in. You can see our bed in it’s couch phase, a section pulls out, one of the mattresses is transferred to it and we have a double bed.

19,000 steps: getting lost in Paris

We weren’t so much lost as having difficulty finding places we wanted to see. But, we managed to take in Notre Dame Cathedral in all it’s mess, still very impressive/

We had a morning coffee during our morning ramble and liked that chairs at cafes face outwards to the street to take in the views. It was sunny today, warm by the middle,of the day, but still very pleasant to be out.

We had lunch locally at a small restaurant and had Thai food this time.

Then we had an afternoon rest until 5:00 pm when we set out for the Eiffel Tower. We fell into conversation with someone at the station. He told us our planned route on the subway wouldn’t work and we had to go another way. That was helpful.

When we arrived at the station we still had quite a walk through a park and there was quite a lot of dust being blown up. Not quite what we had expected. We had a cold drink before tackling the final part, walking close to the foundations before going up to the Trocadero and around to the next metro.

It was a long and complicated journey on busy trains to get home. As we had a proper lunch we bought sandwiches at our local supermarket, plus small containers of crepe caramel and took them back to our hotel, it was quiet in the breakfast room, so we had our simple meal washed down with a beer.

Then back to our room for the night/

These photos are a little out of sequence.

Breakfast at our hotel this morning was lovely. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cereals, fruit, pastries, pancakes, toast, coffee and all sorts of extras. Just what we hoped for. We spent some time planning how to get to Albi. We had to book the first train, and that includes a change of train on the way. Then we have one more train to catch. Our host can pick us up and take us to our AirBNB for the night, rather than having to go by bus for the last leg. When our planning session was over we set out on the metro, and got lost, more or less.

Are we ready for this?

We haven’t been out the last couple of days as we finish off watching the Wimbledon finals and plan for our rail journey in Europe. We have two nights at a hotel in Paris and two nights at an AirBNB in the southern French town of Albi.

Today we booked our Paris museum tickets online, resulting in e-tickets for our entry.

We have only booked our first train trip on the Eurostar to Paris. We hope that after that we can just catch trains, but may sometimes have to book, e.g. for scenic train trips in Switzerland. At this stage we are thinking of roughly three weeks of travel, but will see how we go. If we get tired of this type of travel it may be a shorter time. If we love it and want to go further we have time to do so.

We are not used to having to book accomodation when we travel and being locked in after Paris is a bit of a pain as we might want to stay longer. However, accomodation bookings can be changed without penalty if we give notice. We are just now deciding to stay another night in Paris, so I will see about changing our bookings.

We have done most of our packing and Stephen has been very good about preparing meals the last few days. Here is my house husband at work.

I shall crack on with bookings.