On the 23rd we had a sleep in and in the afternoon explored Domfront which is an ancient walled village and was very pretty. The next day we went to Arromanche to see where the artificial floating harbour was constructed by the Allies and we also visited the 360 degree cinema which provided an insight into how tough it was for the troops. We went on to see the American War Cemetery and the futility of war was clear with the number of crosses which commemorated lost troops by name, and those known only to God. It was an excellent day and we will definitely need to go back to see the rest of Normandy. The 25th we had lazing around Adele and Ian’s house which was a welcome break and gave us a chance to sleep in and unwind in the fresh country French air. Howard picked us up in the afternoon and we had a delicious dinner with Carole and Howard and their friends.
On the 26th Howard dropped us of at Flers to catch the train to Paris and then we mastered the metro to get us to our hotel without too many wrong turns! We had a bit of a rest before heading out again on the metro to visit the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysee. On the 27th we went again to the Eiffel Tower, this time to go up, it was so busy but the view was worth it. We then walked to the Rodin Museum which was really lovely and then caught the metro to the Catacombes which was pretty creepy. The catacombes were a lime stone mine but were converted to a graveyard in the 1800s for hundreds of thousands of Parisians when the cemetery was full. The 1.7km of tunnels are stacked with bones arranged in macabre patterns which was a bizarre tribute to the dead.
On the 28th Stuart and I decided to venture out to visit the Palace of Versailles (or Ver-silly as Stuart pronounced it). We waited for about 2 hours to get through the tiny entry doors and were royally sick of queues by the time we got inside and had to queue for the audio guides (10 minutes), the ladies toilets (20 minutes) but of course there was no wait for the hommes (or homies according to Stuart). The rooms were spectacular but the grandeur was a little lost due to the over crowding. For Sally’s birthday on the 29th her French friend Audrey came up for the day to visit and we had a great day, despite the rain. We visited parts of the Louvre and luckily avoided the enormous ticketing queues by buying our tickets elsewhere (the French are more helpful to the French!) After that we had a delicious lunch in the latin quarter, finally a traditional French bistro meal Stuart was after. We aren’t sure what we ate, even Audrey didn’t know what was on the menu, but we know it was an entree of foie gras something and then a chicken casserole with potato gratin. Audrey was quick to inform Stuart that pate is for the country people and foie gras is best. After lunch we went to Montmarte and much to Stuart’s disgust, traipsed up the stairs to Sacre Couer instead of taking a perfectly good lift.
On our last day in Paris we visited Notre Dame and went shopping where we bought Stuart a new suit which he plans to wear to work occasionally (show off). We had dinner on a budget that night because we only had a few euros left and didn’t want to withdraw anymore. We went wandering around off the beaten track and managed to stumble across the male gay bar district. Stuart couldn’t get out of there quick enough! We eventually found a nice looking Chinese buffet (seemed that way through the window) which was really cheap so we went inside and sat down, before noticing that people were heating the buffet food up in the microwave. I don’t think that would pass a food safety inspection in Australia but we didn’t get food poisoning!
Early the next morning we caught the train to England and were glad to be leaving Paris, where when you are wandering the streets with a crepe in your hand you need to be careful of the puddles on the footpath because you are unsure if it is water or pee. We were so glad to arriveat the hotel in London as the bathroom was spacious and tea and coffee were provided in the room with UHT milk! How exciting! We didn’t have a lot of time in London so we dumped our bags and headed out to catch one of the double decker buses around the city. The weather was great and we saw sights such as this and this and went shopping on Oxford St. Sally was excited to visit the places on the Monopoly board! That night we caught up with one of Sally’s friends and had dinner at Southbank which was great fun. The next day we got back on the bus to finish the tour before heading to Waterloo station for what we were expecting would be an easy trip to Heathrow. We originally only had to change trains once but due to a train being stuck in a tunnel somewhere the direct line to Heathrow was blocked and we had to go back up and down millions of stairs to catch another 3 trains. It took us 3 hours and Stuart was buggered after carrying what we found out at the airport was 50kgs of luggage. Not fun, but cheaper than a AU$130 cab ride!
The flight on Singapore Airlines was excellent, we still didn’t manage to get an exit row but Stuart had just enough leg room so was reasonably comfortable. Our time in Singapore was very busy, our hosts, Stuart’s friends from uni, didn’t disappoint and we saw a lot of sights in a short amount of time, and managed to avoid the tourists. The first night we had dinner at the best crab restaurant in Singapore and we had way too much food. Stuart went to a nightclub that night and paid AU$40 for a jug of rum and coke and was flabbergasted! The next day he slept in while Sally had coffee with a friend and tried egg jam, which was a specialty. That afternoon we went electronics shopping with our local tour guide and were blown away by the 7 floors of electronic stores. We then went to ‘Little India’ where the locals were celebrating their new year. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to see the sights but we did have delicious curries for dinner. After that we went out to the Singapore Zoo for a night time safari which was excellent. No need to go to Africa now, we have seen elephants, tigers, giraffe, flamingos and hyenas in Singapore! We went for ‘supper’ after that which is a normal Singaporean thing to do which basically meant having a second dinner at midnight. It was another feast where we tried stingray, sugar cane juice and some really different ice desserts. The Singaporeans were great hosts and it was a lovely end to our holiday.
Now we’re back at work! 🙂 Was a crazy 5 weeks and we really enjoyed ourself! 🙂
We have been in France now for a couple of days but are finding it hard to get internet access so this will be a writeup for England and we’ll get to France at a later stage.
We arrived at Heathrow on the 18th and were collected without any dramas and then drove to Glouscester. We had a quiet afternoon with Nev and Jo because Stuart and I were exhausted so we visited Stuart’s Nan and Pop in the afternoon and then went to bed early! The next day Nev and Jo took us for a trip around Glouscester and into Wales to visit the Forest of Dean, Symonds Yat and Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 but was disolved by 1536 as part of King Henry VIII’s policy of abolishing religious life. It was an impressive set of ruins nonetheless! On the 20th we spent the day with Stuart’s cousin James and partner Fil and they took us for lunch at an English pub, then we went sightseeing in the Cotswold’s and had tea and scones at Burford which was a really pretty little village. We obviously watched the rugby grandfinal and Stuart took great delight in stirring the pot with the disappointed English! On the 21st James took us to visit a grand estate, Highnam Court, which was renovated by a family friend and we had a walk around the gardens. We also had time to visit Glouscester Cathedral which was spectacular and we were lucky enough to have a tour of the crypt. The cloisters in the cathedral were used during the filming of the first and second Harry Potter films. We then had a beautiful lunch at Stuart’s Nan and Pop’s with the family. We didn’t have a lot of time in England but what we saw gave us a taste and we will be able to further explore it when we move there in a couple of years.
On the 22nd Nev and Jo drove us down to Portsmouth to catch the ferry to France and we were able to stop and take a photo of Stonehenge over the fence. The ferry crossing was smooth and very enjoyable – eating, drinking, reading and sleeping until we arrived at Caen in France where Adele and Ian were waiting to collect us and drive us back to their place.
We’ll give our France update in a few days! 🙂
Hope everyone is well and we will be back in touch soon! 🙂
Stuart and Sally
We left Hawaii at 1am on the 10th and we soon made our minds up about flying Air Canada – definitely not recommended! Air Canada clearly rents the gates at that time of night to save money. The same gate was used for arrivals and departures, the microphone didn’t work to announce boarding, the lanes don’t look as though they have been upgraded since they were built, and to top it off, the air temperature inside the plane was probably not much different to outside which was no doubt to save fuel. Sally was wearing a jumper, jacket and scarf just to try and keep warm.
Stuart’s Grandad picked us up and then we drove back to his house in White Rock. In the afternoon we went for a walk down to the water. We have been very lucky on this trip and every day has been sunny and warm. The next morning we departed very early to drive to the train station and begin our Rocky Mountaineer journey. The train started off travelling from Vancouver and headed out through the desert, following the Fraser River and past lakes like this one. Travelling first class (thanks to Stuart’s Grandad) meant that we were kept well fed. We arrived in Kamloops that evening after a long, but enjoyable journey.
The next day we were travelling all the way through the mountains and Bamff, concluding in Calgary. The train had an amazing domed roof which made the mountains even more spectacular. I will just link to a few of the better mountain photos here, here and here as there isn’t much description necessary!
We had a day in Calgary before flying back on Saturday afternoon so Stuart and I went up the Calgary Tower (the highest one in the world above sea level – unfair advantage we think given the location in the Rockies!) This is a photo of downtown Calgary with the Rockies in the distance.
We went to a hockey game on Sunday night and it was great. It was a juniors game played by guys in senior high school but it was fast, rough and exhilarating (even better than the Mighty Ducks!)
We went out for dinner afterwards and this is Stuart with his ribs (note the new shirt that Sally found for him in Hawaii).
You can look at the rest of our photos by clicking the Canada link at the top of each photo to return to the Canada album. We are heading into Vancouver today and Murphy’s law, showers are forecast.
Sally and Stuart
It is our last day in Hawaii today so we are in the middle of packing and preparing for our midnight flight.
Our first day in Hawaii was pretty much written off as we attempted to check in at 8.30am when we arrived but the best they could offer was to hold our bags and told us to return at 3pm. We wandered around Waikiki for a few hours but we were hot and smelly in jeans and sneakers so we headed back to the hotel at about 1pm to wait it out. We were finally allowed to enter our room at 2.30pm and went straight into the shower and then had a nap. Dinner was at a diner/coffee shop down the road and we immediately learnt that unless you know the size of the meals, order one and it will suffice .
Yesterday we went on a hike up to Diamond Head Crater. We were told by one shuttle company it was too hot to begin hiking at 10am but we went anyway and it was well worth the view. After we returned we went for a swim on the beach… on advice we didn’t bother going down to Waikiki beach but instead waltzed into the Hilton across the road and used their beach instead. Much better idea!
Last night we went to a luau which was enjoyable, but it was so Americanised and rehearsed it lost it’s charm although there was some pretty good fire twirling (movie pending). We still had fun though as you can see in this . We also got a photo of Stuart’s new hairstyle and the sunset on Paradise Cove.
We are heading to Pearl Harbour today and then will go shopping this afternoon and plant ourselves at a bar on the beach this evening and spend the last of our American dollars before heading to the airport at 10.30pm tonight.
We will update you from Canada!
Stu & Sal