Monday, May 28, 2007

Loire Valley or the Valley of the Kings

I am in Brive now, a small city south of Tours, where I've just visited opulent, gimongous chateaux. The French aristocracy really knew how to live, although I wonder at whose expense. As I deboarded the train in the Tours Gare (station), I walked up to a kiosk and found a man only too happy to sell me two afternoon tours of the local chateaux. Since I still cannot find a place to download my photos, go on the web to find Chambord, Cheverny, Amboise and Chenonceau. In Amboise, there is a place completely dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci...I actually took a photo of the chapel and name stone where he is buried. Amazing architecture, grounds only fit for a King or Queen.

Yesterday, I rented a car and used my daughter's GPS unit to find my way around the French countryside. Quite amazing the way the scenery is no less beautiful than all the postcards put together. The old farm houses, fortresses and rolling green hills are beyond descrition. History shouts out loud at every turn. It has definitely given me a greater sense of historical perception, especially the way we view it in the U.S. So very different than in France. We are mere babies!

There are no Internet cafes in the town I'm in, so the Hotel (Chapon Fin) manager has been kind enough to let me use the office computer for free. I have found the French quite lovely, really. Although, I'm a little surprised at the high prices of everything, yes, even a coke is about 3 dollars.

Off I go to Rocomadour and then to Provence in southern France....till then my lovelies!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ahhh, Paris!

Seems like only a day or so since I last posted, yet since I've left Belgium and spent a few days in Paris it feels a bit longer. Maybe it's because I've seen so very much; the wonder-filled art museum's of the Louvre and the Orsay (pre-Impressionists to post Impressionists). I've seen the beauty of Notre Dame Cathedral and St.Michele. I have watched boats going along the Seine and walked over the many Ponts (bridges) romantic. I have taken the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the view was positively...lofty. I have walked and walked and WALKED the streets of Paris, watching the people, eating the bread and drinking a bit of wine. Personally, California wines are better, but what do I know...I favor my home state.

I think the Parisians are nicer than they are made out to be. The men are dressed to perfection, no beards, black suits and shoes. The women wear dresses, scarves and fatties here. The cars are all small and I have found that we don't really appreciate the bumper the way the French do. I've seen more bumps on bumpers than anywhere else...but no bumper gauche!

There are fountains and statues and gardens everywhere....a historical paradise. I hope to find a way to download photos to share soon. Hang in there till I figure a way. I must leave Paris, hoo. But, the Loire Valley calls me...all those opulent Chateaux and the Chartes Cathedral to explore. A tough job, I know.

Stay tunes for the rest of the adventure...hopefully, I will be able to find Internet places along the way. Au revoir!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Belgian Countryside

I won't bore you all with the torture of jet lag, but the extra two hours sitting in the plane before take-off in Washington DC made the twelve hour flying time into fourteen. By the time I got to Brussels at 9am the next morning my body didn't know day from night. But, now that I've had a couple of days to adjust, I'm starting to feel almost normal. Sitting still in one place for that long goes against all things natural for a body. Let's just say I was a wee bit exhausted by the time I arrived. A terrible price to pay for two months abroad, heh.

My daughter, Kellee and her husband David have been wonderful to me. Their house is like a castle and seems my two grandsons, Taylor and Gavin, have adapted to life in Belgium without much trouble. They enjoy the space they have here and find living without television makes life more interesting. Their imaginations are growing along with their boy bodies.

The Belgian countryside is lush and green this time of year. There are fields of grain and newly sprouting vegetables, cows and sheep dotting the hills. The buildings are mostly old with red brick the standard building material. Yesterday,Kellee took me into Mons, a small city in the south of Belgium where we walked around the Grand Place (city center where there are no cars and people are sitting outside eating and drinking beer). The flower market was big and the variety of flowers and potted plants and vegetables was impressive. I had a for real Belgian waffle and man oh was to die for. (nothing like we have in the states)

I will be leaving for Paris tomorrow. Taking the train and trying to locate my first hotel by myself!

Friday, May 11, 2007

First Time for Everything

This is it! My First Big European Adventure begins in just a couple of days. I'm starting in Belgium for a couple of days with my daughter and her family. Then off to France, Spain, Italy and Austria. I've planned and schemed. I've struggled with balancing my Grad school responsibilities with my out of control anticipation. I've probably spent at least a hundred hours on the Internet, chasing the right hotel in the right location, searching air and land travel schedules. I've poured over stacks of travel books, DVDs and watched Rick Steves and Rudy Maxa on the travel channel more times than I'd like to admit.

So, stay tuned. If you want to see where I've been, then log onto this blog. I'm about to explore all the places I've only dreamed about until now.
Hang on to your hats, because it's gonna blow your mind! Anyone with travel tips, must-see places, or anything of interest, please feel free to add a comment. I will be posting and checking in whenever I have a chance to visit an Internet Cafe.