Australia and Oceania, Asia, Europe · 52 Days · 49 Moments · August 2017

Alan's tour through France


19 October 2017

Trip on harbour

26 September 2017

First photo is the Douro river in Porto last night as we strolled to our tour farewell dinner. Lovely night but too much food as usual. Out for a stroll this morning

25 September 2017

Woke up in a magical place this morning and the spent an hour on the Douro before travelling down to Porto. Haven't had much of a chance to explore the city yet.

24 September 2017

Tonight we are in the most amazing country hotel La Quinta Nova in the Douro Valley one of the more beautiful places we have ever been. We have just returned from a tour of the vineyard and the ubiquitous wine tasting and recovering in our room in preparation for dinner tonight at 8pm. It was the scariest trip along the hillside with almost vertical drop on a narrow road with Margaret having to close her eyes most of the time. We had lunch today at a small cafe overlooking the river with lots of local Portuguese families out for Sunday lunch. The food and wine here is really cheap. The lunch was wonderful. Marg had roast veal with potatoes and cabbage and veggies and I had roasted kid goat which I don't think I have eaten before and was delicious. All together too much and about to get punished again tonight. A
Our highlight of the day so far climbing the 686 steps to the Santuario Nossa Senhora Dos Remedios. Margaret thought I would have a coronary and declined and took the bus but we made it a bit puffed and sweaty but with a great sense of achievement. Every 51 steps is a different level and view and a wonderfully tiled image on the next not of stairs - fantastico

23 September 2017

Had a great day today starting off with a visit to Ville Alegre a beautiful porcelain factory museum with most incredible pieces. Then off on an old fashioned bateau trip in Aveiro the little Venice of Portugal. Back to the hotel pictured at night and then a quiet hour or two by the pool before going out to dinner at a spectacular cafe high above the river at Coimbra. Tomorrow off to the Douro meant to be the highlight of the tour. A

22 September 2017

At the end of a longish day we have arrived at La Quinta Lagrimas an old country hotel in Coimbra. Today we visited the site of the Apparitions of Ou Lady of the Rosary at Fatima which is its proper name. We had expected to bit a bit overcome by the kitsch that you usually find at these places like Lourdes but surprisingly it was actually quite a moving place. These three children who at the ages of 6-9 saw these apparitions of Mary who also gave one them some secret premonitions and then came back each month for 6 months by which time their fame was far and wide. It was in 1917 in the midst of the war and great poverty and by the end of the monthly visitations 100's of thousands were with them all Imploring the children to intercede on their behalf. Enormous pressure on these little kids and two of them died within 2 years with the Spanish flu and Lucia the eldest had to be hidden from the public for her whole life. We got there early so the tourist numbers were fairly light. A

21 September 2017

Busy day today heading up north and staying at a very nice modern hotel in Batalha next to a world heritage monastery. A very ornate and spectacular building with monuments to many of the kings of Portugal. We stopped in a beach town today where they have those massive 100 foot waves in winter but very a tame sea today. Heading off to Fatima tomorrow and staying at a Quinta tomorrow night

20 September 2017

Good morning. Today we say farewell to Lisboa and it has been a surprising city, very nice feel to it, the people are friendly, excellent level of English (taught from 4yrs on at school) and very eager to please. Louis our guide says that 35% of the GDP is from Tourism. It was of a challenge to find good food at night, lot of menus touriste but last night we had a beautiful simple meal just near the Hotel. Our hotel Heritage on Avenue Liberdade was really nice, very intimate and friendly. The city seems very vibrant, lots of young people and a very optimistic mood. The university students have joined st gone back and they are obviously in O week , running round the streets chanting and singing. The nighttime is very well lit and the buildings are very decorative with lot of tiles on the exterior which is a substitute for painting. It would look ridiculous at home but here it looks wonderful. Yesterday we bused up to Sintra to see an amazing castle which looked like Disneyworld.

19 September 2017

18 September 2017

Had a great day in Lisbon. Very romantic city beautiful, wonderful light with the sun setting. Great views over the city.
We had a very weird funny and tiring night on the train from Madrid. It was a really crappy old sleeper train with lousy service and poor facilities but you have to laugh. After we went to bed around 10:30 the bogans on the train started partying with screaming smiling and lots of booze and continued until 2:30am At 3am there was a loud banging on the doors and it took us awhile to realise that was the police searching for drugs and illegals with sniffer dog in tow. I think Marg slept for an hour the whole night. So it was with great relief we found our way to the Heritage hotel this morning where they welcomed us with free breakfast and our first Portuguese tart. Bellissimo. A

17 September 2017

We met up with Julie, Chris and her mother this morning for breakfast with J and L and we stuffed ourselves silly with breakfast for an hour or two and then we've spent the next couple of hours walking around a magnificent park where half of Madrid was at play
Out for an early morning walk this morning. Very strange hours here in Madrid. Sunrise at 7.30am and sunset at 8.30pm. Chris and Julie and her mother Bea are all coming in for breakfast in the dome room this morning. John and Llyanne walked all over the city yesterday while we were having lunch with Julie's parents. It's another beautiful morning a bit chilly and then warm in the middle of the day. We have time for a big walk today before we catch the overnighter to Lisbon

16 September 2017

Buenos Dias We reached Madrid yesterday evening after a day in the train from Paris. Long day but enjoyable. The Spanish renfe train was unbelievable comfortable and fast We had breakfast in our Hotel The Palace westin which is probably the nicest hotel we have ever stayed. Just beautiful and very popular Just returned now from the Reina Sofia Museum where we finally saw Picasso's famous Guernica. It's a huge work and very moving. I could almost understand it. LOL. Now off to meet Julie's parents for lunch and hopefully a relaxing afternoon.

14 September 2017

Our afternoon at the spectacular Castle Fontainbleu. Lots of gilt. No wonder they let their heads. A

13 September 2017

Sitting on the bus back to Paris at this moment and it's pi....g down with rain. We had the obligatory farewell dinner with the crew last night and all the girls were quite taken with the assistant capitain. (He's the tall one and his name is Jocelyn). Good group of people on the boat and all strived to get on well We are stopping at Castle Fontainbleu on the way back and hopefully it stops raining. Tonight in Paris and then off to Madrid tomorrow on the TGV for 10 hours. Weather in Madrid looks sunny and 25deg. Need some warmth now. A

12 September 2017

Docked at Besancon tonight and visited the Citadel this afternoon which overlooks and protects the town. During the WWII the Nazis took over the town used as a place for imprisonment, torture and execution of the resistance fighters. This is our last night on the boat tonight and I suspect that there might be a serious gastronomic affair - as if we need it. The cruise has been a very friendly affair. A

11 September 2017

10 September 2017

We had a relaxed day today travelling to Beaune which we had visited a couple of years ago. We had a wander around the walled city for an hour or so and then came back to the boat for yet another gourmet lunch. - incredible cooking but eating far too much. Luckily doing lots of walking so only feel half as guilty. We left the canal today and entered the Saone river and pulled up tonight at St John de Losnay a port for the Bargies. Pleasant town and ate out tonight with everyone at a local cafe
We have had a good day today with quite a bit of travelling on the canal and briefly on the Saone river. We've stopped tonight at a picturesque village called Dole (yes like the Simpsons) Did quite a lot of walking ahead of the boat and catching up at each lock when you want to get back on board. Colds are gradually clearing thank goodness. We have another couple of nights in the vessel before return to Paris. A
Beautiful morning on the canal mist riding in the distance looking like an Infiniti pool

9 September 2017

Marg has made a very recovery from the medicine provided by Le french docteur. We had a beautiful dinner tonight consisting of a ham in parsley aspic followed by a sea bream swimming in a field of peas sitting on a bed of polenta. Finally a desert of Stewed fresh fig smothered with a raspberry cream. OMG. Luckily I walked aways along the canal bank this afternoon in preparation for the evening meal. Tomorrow the boat travels all day but we are going to Beune on the bus for the morning. We have been there before and it is a beautiful place. A
Had to take the missus to the Dr this morning. Nasty UTI and very charming dr. It was a major drama to get to the clinic as there was no transport and no UBER and an 60 minute wait for taxi. Needless to say we are walking back and we have stopped at a little cafe for an urgently needed caffeine. Marg not allowed to have anything for 2 hours after one dose sachet Do we missed the first excursion this morning but that's ok. This was urgent priority and according Le charming docteur not a moment to soon The canal bateau is very charming and actually above our expectations. Food last night was lovely and staff attentive This afternoon we have leisurely cruise along Le canal. A

8 September 2017

Various shots around d the beautiful city of Dijon
Today we are traveling down to Dijon by bus to join the barge trip. Bus is comfortable and Carol our guide is packed with information. We are about an hour out of Dijon We went to a very old restaurant last night called Le Procopal and had a rather nice meal. Marg, John , and Llyanne had Coq Au Vin which was an old fashioned dish. Eating on the barge tonight. A

6 September 2017

John booked the restaurant at the Eiffel Tower last night and besides Marg almost having a panic attack going up in the lift it was actually a good night. We walked up to the Trocadero afterwards to take the ubiquitous photo of the the tower and watch it go sparkly on the hour. It's an incredible brand icon and millions of scammers around selling loads of tourist crap. Gotta watch your bags.
J and L enjoying the morning cafe crime

5 September 2017

We've had a big couple days of walking in Paris yesterday. John keeps up a cracking pace and we knocked up 24km yesterday which nearly killed us. We took to a park in the northern part of Paris which used to be a quarry. Lots of hilly tracks interspersed with coffee to fortify us. In the afternoon we went on a walking tour of Le Marais, stood outside Marion Cottillard's house but she didn't invite us in. A night we had a little very meal at a little restaurant called http://bistrotdhenri.fr/en/services which only had about 15 seats and mostly filled with locals. Very nice. Today Marg organised the day and we took a train out of Paris to a medieval market town called Provins. Lovely little village. Well preserved but still a living town. The local product is anything to do with Roses. Just having a rest after the trip and out for dinner soon. Bon soir.

4 September 2017

Early morning wake up. Sill a bit jet lagged
Finally arrived at Relais Saint Jacques , cute little hotel near Blv St Michelle. Long journey tired out but Johns reared to go.

3 September 2017

Concert at San Chappelle
Waiting for our connect to Paris. Plane delayed overnight. Booked us into novatel for a few hours

2 September 2017

Currently somewhere over outback Australia and the air quality is fabulous incredible view across the landscape. It's a big place A very nice flight so far and I think Marg is quite relaxed. We are on a Boeing 777 and although it's probably a few years old it's good. Staff very attentive Just about to come up over another huge salt pan.
Well started off with a drama last night with a text message saying our flight was delayed and we were going to miss the link in HK. They were putting us in a diversion thru Stockholm and then a connection to Paris with a delay in HK for 8 hrs Meanwhile I texted John who didn't see the message and when i rang him the next day we discovered he was going to have a 1 day stopover in HK and then onto Air France. Three long phone calls later we got changed to Air Singapore and Thai Air which is a straight thru 1 stop. Phew. Now having to have a restorative whisky

31 August 2017

Nancy said to go to the Mulot bakery in st Germaine in 76 Rue de Seine

29 August 2017

Sitting down here in Eaglemont having the morning coffee thinking about the events over the last few months and looking forward to our holiday starting on Saturday. It's been a very traumatic year making decisions about retiring and then caring for Marg's sister Helen through her illness since April. It take a toll In lost sleep and worry and having to manage Helen's affairs with care and respect. We are looking forward to a break