A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

London pics

sunny 20 °C

Written on August 19... (actually, started then, but finished on Sept 11 !!!)

I’ve already been back home for over a week, but though I should really end this thing somewhat properly.

On my last day in London, I tremendously enjoyed a free walking tour, with a "oh, so" knowledgeable (and cute to boot) guide. What was supposed to take a little over 3 hours ended-up taking almost 5!! hehehe, but the tour was filled with anecdotes, and bits of history. I'll see what I remember from the pics I took (baaad me, should have done this much earlier!!)-End of section written on August 19...

I really should have done this MUCH MUCH earlier, hehehe, but I just couldn't be bothered. The exercise of writing this blog was further delayed by the fact that, on Aug 19, I processed some of my London pics (to reduce the resolution for ease of upload on this site), and DELETED!!! the ones left (in high resolution) on the memory card!!! I thought I had transferred them to my PC, but hadn't! F'in great!! I was so pissed that I put everything aside until further notice (aka: today). The worst part is that I emptied the memory card to have more space for a wedding I was going to on the weekend of Sept 1, BUT I FORGOT MY CAMERA at home !!!!!!! AND THEREFORE DIDN'T END-UP TAKING A SINGLE PIC!!! What a massive waste of time and energy and great way to raise the blood pressure!! Anyway, I then moved to Mtl, and school started, so my time has been spent reading...and reading some more! I'm now mostly caught-up (actually procrastinating a little, but I have a class in 1:30 hour, so doing this entry is a great way to relax the little grey matter a little.)

Back to beautiful London, ....the pics you'll see are all the ones I have left from this leg of my trip! arrgghhh!
I'll try to go in order of the tour.
This is "The Monument", which was built to remember the great fire that almost completely burned London in...a long time ago. It is, however, thanks to this fire that the plague was eradicated in London! A bit of history: back then, all the building were made of wood. When the plague hit (fact then unknown: caused and spread by rats), the great men of the time tried to figure out how to stop it. They started by killing all the cats (!), then the dogs, then the Catholics (hehehe), but none of it worked. The population was dying faster than I can type this and, unfortunately, or fortunately, one night, a baker didn't extinguish the fire of his oven properly and started a fire which spread through all of London, thanks to joined wood walls. In the process, it killed rats and population, thus marking the end of the great plague!

We then visited the London bridge, which I didn't take a pic of because it's a very simple boring concrete bridge. It's well known because it was the first bridge in London (originally built of wood, burned, rebuilt of wood, burned again, then built of rocks of some sort).
It did however provide a good vantage point of the well known Tower bridge

We then visited St-Paul's Cathedral, which is one of the very few monuments that wasn't destroyed in either World War, despite it's location on a hill, and it's impressive height. Of course, some thank a Divine intervention, but others remark that at the time of these wars, plane radar and visual indications weren't exactly as they are today, so pilots needed to keep landmarks as to know where they were and where to drop bombs....

We then went to the Millennium bridge. Designed by a Sir "something", big local name who has also designed several other landmarks of London. Anyway, he was asked to design this bridge for, you've guessed it: year 2000. The budget was 10M pounds. Anyway, as with many projects, it went like 2.5times over budget, and on January 1st, all the media was there, and several hundred people were waiting to be the first to walk on this wonderful new bridge. As they got on, and got further toward the middle, the bridge started to sway quite a bit and people started to get sick, so the media, instead of getting shots of wonderful happy people on a wonderful bridge, got pics of people pucking from each side!!! hehehe HAHAHAH!!!The architect in question ended-up saying that the problem was not his design, the problem was “how the people of London walk”!?!?! He didn't exactly make friends with that one, and another few million pounds were spent to fix the bridge. It's now called "wobbly bridge" by locals! hehehe

We then went to Covent Garden. A market that it for tourists (undeniably), but nevertheless fun to see. It has some historical relevance that I don't remember. I had a Cornish pastry (typical traditional meal for miners) which was quite good. It's essentially a layer of dough filled with (traditionally) beef, but (today, almost anything you can think of) and folded over to make a little pocket of food in dough, with a bit of dough folded together to hold-on so that the miners could eat it with their dirty hands. I had a veggie one and it was very good!!

The famous Big Ben. Quite nice indeed, and tall. Apparently 2 double-decker busses can fit (height-wise) in that clock! wooo! It is the most precise analogye clock around...apparently.

Now, it's important to mention that the entry fee for each of these monuments/buildings was AT LEAST 10pounds!!!! No need to say that I didn't visit any. Crazy!!!

I don't know the exact name of this park, but I call it Protest park. It's located in front of the Parliament (attached to Big Ben). The story is: People went there to protest..I believe the Vietnam war... and set up camps and stuff. At some point, the city made it illegal to set-up camp there, but didn't make it retroactive, so the people already there could stay. The result it that they never left (I suspect there were shifts and rotations of people, but nevertheless). There is actually 1 man who's made it his life dedication to protest and has been there fore over 20 years!!

The tour then finished at Westminster Abbey... not exactly sure why it's important, but it is...I think most monarchs and well known figures are buried there...

At that point, WAY behind schedule, I had to run to get the

and go meet my cousin and his new
little girl.

That was that of that day.

The following morning, day of my departure (at 5pm), I went to Buckingham Palace hoping to see the change of the guard (big thing apparently), but because of all the deployments at war and stuff, they only do it every other 2 days, and I was on an "off" day...oh well!

I then went to visit a nearby park, and was told a while back, that there wasn't really any wildlife left in Europe...even squirrels. I didn't really believe it until I noticed that people were marvelling at the squirrels in the park!! heheheh They should come to MTL!!
I saw pretty swans (what's the plural of swan?)

I then went to have a fish and chips (couldn’t possibly go to the UK without eating it). It was MASSIVE!!!
and I must say, the first time I ate a fish and chips and didn't feel yuky at the end (despite serious amounts of grease on, in and around it!). Nothing beer didn't wash away! hehehe

Let's finish with a couple of pics from the wonderful hostel I stayed in:

and London landmarks:

And the sign I was most happy to see in a long time:

The picture is kind of shitty as I realized a bit late that I was maybe not supposed to take pictures while waiting in line to get through customs! hehehe

I have to go to class, but there will be a last entry, as I think that the trip really ended here in Mtl, and I like the idea of finishing an 80th entry (no better way of ending things than with a round number)

Posted by Mistrale 14:37 Archived in England Comments (0)



sunny 20 °C

Written on August 8th...

hehehe, yet another keyboard with different key locations!!! hehehe, and I though these things were pretty much standard (aka US standard!) oh how wrong was I! hehehe
Well, I made it to London today and got to walk around a little, went to Picadilly Circus, Notting Hill, and just walked around. London is freaking busy!!! I thing I will tremendously enjoy a visit here, but understand the many people who told me that they would never live here. Well, tomorrow a long day is planned, from a free 4hrs walking tour of "everything to see in donwntown London", to a visit to my cousin's, to a potential visit to the Beer Festival (entry is 6.5£, but can I really miss this?? I don't think so!! hehehe -anyway it'll probably be the only thing I visit as everything else is out-of-this-world expensive).

Well, my time is up at this free hostel internet, but more news soon! I had forgotten why I booked this hostel, but remembered as soon as I saw it: it's an authentic colonial (aka old looking) house and it's absolutely gorgeous. I wonder why it's a cheap hostel and not an expensive hotel!!


Posted by Mistrale 11:29 Archived in England Comments (0)

Lyon, with pics

overcast 20 °C

Written on August 7...

Today was my last full day in France and I must admit that I'm glad my time is almost done. I'm honestly completely fed up with travelling and sightseeing and out of money, so I've spent the last 3 days just walking around town (I must have seen all "the nice places" at least twice), my feet hurt, I'm tired and not hungry, but not well fed either (mostly munching and eating sandwiches, I haven't sat down for a proper meal in a restaurant yet, too $$ and no real interest in local food as it inevitably involves meat (and yuky parts of it too, like the stomach, nose, etc, although I know I could get chicked or duck at most places). On top of it, it started to rain yesterday and today, although not raining, it's freaking cold, so I burn time (and keep warm) here at the internet cafe.

On a brighter note, I went to see a really good french movie yesterday, called "Conversations avec mon jardinier", it was delightful and this morning I went to visit ruins from the Roman time, with the largest coliseum found in the region. This part was quite interesting, as the walk through a very nice park to get to the Basilica was also quite nice, so was the basilica itself. I then had a drink with a friend of a friend, who currently lives here, and it was nice to speak with someone other than a fellow traveller (I litterally cannot stand the "traveller conversation" that we always have at hostels, where are you from, when did you get here, for how long, where from, where to, etc arrggghhh so boring and repetitive!! I've turned a bit antisocial, and avoid people there-to avoid THE conversation. I'll go through the motions when cornered, but always seek an escape route asap. hehehe, man it's time to go home! Throughout this trip I didn't want to complain, so I tried not to, but not I'm officially done...les carrottes sont cuites! the fat lady has sung.

hehehe well, not sure what to end this, overall quite boring entry..pics...why not.

Let's start with a few from Paris (the ones that were on my memory stick)

The artwork around that door was amazing, although probably not very antique...

Cathédrale Notre-Dame, centre of Paris since before it was called Paris!

It says "Point zéro des routes de France" (Point zero of the French roads)

Charlamagne. Tthere's a song in French that says that Charlemagne invented school as we know it...I resisted the urge to throw him a few rotten eggs. hehehe

It was higher than I expected, and due to my own fault and somewhat lazyness, I didnt' go up, but still admired it.

This, on hte other hand, was smalle rthan I expected... The lastnames of ...fighters I guess... were carved everywhere on the structure, but despite looking carefully, I didn't see any that I knew...to bad.

Now Lyon
This is the centre-ville (downtown). it brings me to something I noticed in Paris and ever since, but never mentioned. Cities here (that I've seen) rarely have highrises, everything is 4, 5 sotries max. Probably due to the history of the place, but the contrast is strilking here with the 1 highrise! hehehe Generally churches, and mostly cathedrals are the highest thing around!!!

Vieux Lyon, where the hostel is (on top of the hill), but you cannot see it here.

The roman coliseum, well a small portion of it at least. Thse ruins are quite large and were mostky buried until the 80's when they were dug up. Today they have theatre and music shows there. It's quite the location!

Sketch of the structure "back when", the dark grey portion is what remains and has been restored today. The structure could seat 11,000 people (!) and but did not have a solid roof (due to engineering issues), but rather a velum "fabric" roof to protect from the sun and rain.

and last pic:
Taken right in town, pretty cool! We are in the Rhone region after all (well known for it's wines).

SO that's that, I may post from London, but it will be price dependent... in any case, I'll post some stuff upon my return to CANADA!!! HHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! :=)

Posted by Mistrale 08:02 Archived in France Comments (0)

Grenoble, with pics

sunny 30 °C

Written on August 5...

I arrived in Lyon last night, but despite the absolutely georgeous day today, I've decided to hold off on visiting the town too much until tomorrow, as today is Sunday (combined with the summer holiday) and EVERYTHING is closed. Litterally! So far I had noticed that approx 75% of the shops were closed on Sundays, making it quite the quiet day. But now, approx 60-70% of the shops are closed for the month of August, so Sundays are deader than ever!!! It was even difficult to find this cybercafé!! (which are normally always opened 7/7).

Anyway, Lyon looks quite nice nevertheless, and I was initially delighted to end-up in a famer's market this morning. They were selling everything, from fruits (in large quantities mostly, i.e 3-4lbs of grapes, or peaches, or abricots, or apples for 2€) to cheeses, via bread and meats (raw and cooked). It was great at first, but quickly only further exacerbated my annoyance at not having a place to store this food and inability to bring anything back home. Indeed, I'm flying to London, and the baggage limit is 15kg, but my bag is already at least 17-18kg, so I got to find a way to reduce the weight, and can absolutely NOT increase it (they charge 5€ per extra lbs...), and the hostel has the most ridiculous fridge I've ever seen for a place like this, it's a small fridge that one would normally find in a university residence room, or small studio (5cubic ft or so)!!!! for over 100 beds!!!! I opened it yesterday only to have stuff fall all over, stuff was exploding out of it....how ridiculous!!! So I was faced with endless amounts of reasonably priced, great quality food and could not enjoy it!!! arrgghh I ended up buying a small cheese, some bread and 2lbs of grapes (for 1€!!) as my lunch and had to pass on everything else...oh well, we have farmers market too in Qc, so I'll catch up there I guess...but still

Ok, back to pics from Grenoble!
This is a pretty good angle, as it shows one of the 3 mountain range that surrounds the town, this one is called Vercors...
The little bubbles are gondolas that bring us up to La Bastille, a fort built to protect/prevent access to the town, and which was for a long time the only point of entry/exit fo the town...I unfortunately realise that I forgot to take a pic of the Bastille... oh well, it looks like any other fort...

This gives a bit better image of the size of the town (it's not large, but not tiny either), still with the Vercors.

This is the last one with the Vercors, but the interesting this is the "accélérateur de particules", the oval structure, built to ccelerate electrons...there are only a few in the world, and for some reason, there's one in Grenoble (it helped that it's such a "scientific" town thanks to the U's and research done there.

This is the Alps, with the massif called Chaîne de Belledonne. It's quite impressive in real life. The three towers you see were, for a long time, the highest in Europe (28 stories) and are made of concrete. The region is well known for it's concrete, as it was the second place where it was mass produced...something weird to be proud of, considering how few people like the look of concrete, however, no one can deny it's importance and use in today's society.

This last one is the Massif de la Chartreuse, and although you can currently only see 1 peak, it's quite large. We actually went up the highest peak of this Massif, a mountain called Chamchaude, with an elevation of 2087m.

Pic of the Chamechaude:

Pics from the top:

Maëlle and Julien, who so kindly welcomed me in their respective homes!! and then dragged me up a mountain! hehehe ;-)

We then went to a Monastery, where they -to this day- control the making of an alcohol called La Chartreuse. It's made of over 130herbs and was originally developped to be an Elixir de Vie, and eventually became alcoholic. I tried it and it's very stong (it comes in 40%, 55% and 71%) but quite good. We visited the caves where they make it and I got 2 samples to bring back (yay!!). I would have loved ot buy an actual bottle, but the freaking weight restrictions I mention above prevent it...(that and the eternal budget of course!)

Anyway! Pretty architecture of Grenoble...

And last but no least, pics from the Musée de Grenole, where they have exhibitions of art from the Middle Age, Renaissance, modern art (blablabla, the first two are paintings of religious stuff, interesting but not breathtaking, and I could have done most of the stuff of the thirst category, not exactly impressive), but also ancient Egypt stuff, which I found quite remarkable.


The colours were just so bright that I wonder if they haven't been restaured...it didn't say so on the info stuff, but I should have asked. However, Maëlle told me that she had been awstruck at the colours inside the different pyramids and tombs when she had visited Egypt, so it might still be original. In any case, even if it was re-done, the level of detail was great too.


Well, that's that for that!

Posted by Mistrale 05:34 Archived in France Comments (0)


I could live here...

overcast 26 °C

Written on August 2nd...
Ah finally August, and thus the completion of this trip...I'm anxious to be able to settle somewhere, even if it's only at my mom's (not my own space yet, but close enough), and be able to unpack and relax for a while. I look forward to home-cooked meals, to spending a day (or many days) in my pjs reading in the garden or watching TV... I look forward to my shoes, necklaces, varied clothes, jeans (!!!), hairdryer... I look forward to picking up exercice again, to sleeping-in without guilt, to reconnecting with old friends, to not have to worry about my next load of laundry and mostly to preparing the next phase of my life (the dreaded for most, but anticipated for me, return to school)...

I had been feeling like this pretty much since arriving in Europe, but living at Julien's in Paris, and now Maëlle (the famous -and oh so nice and helpful! "friend of a friend" hehehe) here in Grenoble is only exhacerbating this feeling. Being able to buy food and keep it in a fridge, cook a meal and eat it in nice clean plates, keep left-overs and eat them the following day, be the (almost) only one to use a bathroom/shower, quietness, cozyness... ahhhh. It also doesn't help that the vegetation here in grenoble strangely resembles that of Vancouver (blackberry bushes, a kind of hedge tree that I dont' know the name but is everywhere in Van, nice fresh air, gorgeous mountains...ahhh how I miss Vancouver....snif snif)

On a brighter note, Maëlle has unveiled a bit the "mysteries" of French eating (my favorite sport in the whole wide world!! hehehe), how to choose the cheese, eat it with bread and wine (at the end of a meal), different kinds of cheese (how I LOVE cheese!!). I've loved every kind I've tried so far except for the Roquefort (aka blue cheese), which is awful and soo strong! yak!!. Tonight we'll be having a maigret de canard... not sure what to expect, but I know it'll be good! Not eating red meat is a bit of a pain for her (the French are NOT veg'ies), but I think she's being very nice and accomodating about it and I try to help as much as I can around her place. It's SOOO great to be in a home, SOOO great!!

The city of Grenoble is mainly a student city, with several lycés and Uniersity, lots of research and stuff here. it gives the city a great feel, combined witht he gorgeous mountain scenery. I'll post pics soon and comment then.

Posted by Mistrale 05:29 Archived in France Comments (0)

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