Thursday Trios – Random Trios From Our Vacation

….scrolling through my photos I discovered there were a few trios that I had forgotten about

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A happy trio from the top of the Royal Amboise Chateau
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A trio of actors at the Royal Amboise Chateau
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A trio of rocks from the Stonehenge Exhibition at the British Museum
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A trio of soldiers on the War Memorial near St. Paul’s Cathedral

If you have any trios you’d like to share just copy my link from this post and paste it into your post. I’ll get a ping back and I’ll be sure to leave a comment. Have fun.

Last Minute Shopping in London

….today was our last full day in London

Tomorrow morning an Uber driver will pick us up at 8:00 am and take us to the Heathrow Airport. All week I wanted to return to Liberty so that I could browse through this amazing but expensive department store.

Today we took the Victoria South train and headed towards Oxford Circus. When we got there I wasn’t disappointed. When you first arrive you are greeted by the most wonderful flower shop attached to the Liberty store.

As you enter the store your senses are accosted by the smell of perfume and the bright colours of the fashion display that is currently featured.

I was hoping to find a nice Liberty scarf for a friend’s birthday but the sticker shock may have sent the feint of heart back onto the street. I proceeded to the elevators and headed for the floor where the Liberty fabrics were on display. I knew that on this floor I would find something that fit into my budget. I wasn’t disappointed.

Kevin was walking around the floor while I went through a bin of fabric ends. When I selected a couple of pieces he assured me there was nothing else to see. When I peaked into the next room I found plenty of things that caught my eye. At the far end of the room there were some cosy chairs so Kevin settled in while I browsed some more. He quickly engaged in conversation with a couple of middle aged American women and I could hear them laughing half way through the store.

After making a few more purchases I picked Kevin up and we made our way to the basement where the men’s wear resides.

One of the things that Kevin has wanted for many years is a Barbour coat. Sure enough they had them there but unfortunately or perhaps fortunately they didn’t have one in his size. I say fortunately because we walked over to Carnaby Street and there was a store devoted to only Barbour clothing for men.

Not only did they have Kevin’s size they also had it in the blue colour that he really wanted, The best part, however, was that it was £90 cheaper than the same coat at Liberty.

We continued to walk through Carnaby Street and throughly enjoyed being tourists.

It was a great way to end our trip. After returning to our flat we started to pack up a few things and brought some of our leftovers over to our daughter-in-law, Azadeh, and we had a couple of new picture books for Sevin. Azadeh made us a wonderful farewell dinner. Unfortunately our son, Brendan had to work late tonight. He will drop by early tomorrow morning before our Uber arrives to take us to the airport.

Good-bye London. We had a great time and hopefully we’ll be back soon.

Castles in France – Part 3

….a visit to Blois to see Chateau Royal de Blois

The interesting part of this castle is that it has four wings from four different eras and in four different styles, arranged around the same courtyard.

From the Outside

On the right side is the original medieval château built by the Counts of Blois beginning in the 9th century

Inside the Courtyard

This is the Louis XII wing built the Flamboyant Gothic style between 1498 and 1508
The Francois 1 wing was built in 1515 to 1519 inspired by the Italian Renaissance
The Gaston of Orléans wing was constructed between 1635 and 1638. This wing was one of the first masterpieces of Classic French architecture

Inside the Château

Decorations over one of the two fireplaces in the King’s room
A throne with a fleur-de-lis canopy is where audiences were ranted by the king
The music room
The Queen’s Chamber dedicated to Queen Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II
The Oratory, a private space for prayer
The Estates General Room built in 1214 and used as a courtroom
One of many fireplaces found in almost every room
The vestibule of Gaston of Orléans giant construction project which was brought to a sudden stop

The wing remained an empty shell covered by an impressive oval dome…..the wing now houses temporary exhibition rooms

In the next post I will share the gardens and the views from the château.

Castles in the Loire Valley

…..as of today we managed to take in two castles, the Amboise Châteaux Royal and the Château Royal de Blois

Visiting both castles required taking trains from Tours. The actual trips took about 30 to 40 minutes unless the train was delayed because there were too many bicycles on board. Yes that’s a thing apparently. The conductor refused to let the train continue until some of the bikes were removed or properly stored. Our last trip back to Tours took an hour. I’ve never seen so many people run as they left the train trying to catch their connecting train.

We have been very lucky with the weather since arriving in Tours. Our first castle trip was to Amboise and it felt like summer. We started out in an outdoor café got a bite to eat and then made our way through the old town to the entrance of the Château Royal.

The caste’s foundation was started in the 4th century by the Celts and over the medieval period the rights to the fortress was disputed between the counts of Anjou and Blois. In the 1400s the château was confiscated by the crown and became a place for all the Valois and Bourbon Kings to live, play and raise their families.

The style of the castle was greatly inspired by the artistic vitality of the Italian artists of the period. They were invited to Amboise and together with French tastes the Early French Renaissance was created.

Queen’s bedroom and nursery
Sitting at the top
View of the Loire from the top of the castle
Making our way to the gardens

One of my favourite parts of the Château Royal in Amboise was the garden.

Looking down from the top of the château

The Gardens of Amboise…..to be continue

Priority Admission at the Louvre

…..walking with a cane has it’s advantages

When we travelled throughout Italy in 2016 with our 9 month old granddaughter we found that museums, galleries and restaurants bent over backwards to accommodate us. Six years later in France we’re finding the same thing except now it’s walking with a cane take gets us priority admission.

Back in April Kevin needed an emergency hip replacement and even though his recovery was remarkably fast he occasionally has balance issues. As a result and playing it safe he brought his cane with him on this trip to France.

On the day we went to the Louvre Kevin brought the cane, knowing that there would be a lot of walking. We preordered the tickets, thinking that would get us into museum without having to line up. We booked for the last time slot of the day and ended up in a line with hundreds of people in front of us. Our son was visibly upset. I asked him him if there was priority admission for people with mobility issues. He asked us to stay in line while he investigated.

Upon his return he told us to follow him and we walked directly to the entrance where security waved us through. This is something that all travellers with babies and mobility issues should know. Once inside I can’t say that the Louvre was easy to navigate, as there are lots of stairs but fortunately my husband was able to go up and down without too much difficulty. Had we investigated a bit more we would probably have found more elevators.

Foto Friday #49 – Return

….thanks to Rag Tag Team for hosting Foto Friday

Of all the places I’ve visited the place I’d like to return to is Venice. I loved everything about it.fullsizeoutput-6f42
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London – Day 6 – Palace of Westminster to Gordon’s Wine Bar

….day six continues along the River Thames

After leaving the Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey we continued walking towards the River Thames. Right behind the Abbey lies the Palace of Westminster which holds both houses of Parliament for the United Kingdom. It was originally built in the eleventh century and rebuild in the 1800s after it burned down.

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As you can see from the photos the structure was under quite a bit of construction. The one big disappointment was that Big Ben was also under construction but we knew this before we arrived in London. What I didn’t know was that the entire tower would be covered in scaffolding. The refurbishing is scheduled to take three years to complete and during the renovation the clock bells have been turned off.IMG-8945

From many parts of London one of the sites that stands out above many of the building is the giant Ferris wheel called the London Eye. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames in London and is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually.IMG-6999
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As we continued along the River Thames we came across the Golden Jubilee bridge built in 2000. It is a steel truss bridge located in Lambeth borough.

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From here we headed over to Gordon’s Wine Bar but on the way we passed through the Courtauld Institute of Art. At the time we had no idea what we were looking at but we liked the sculptures and the architecture.IMG-8961
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Gordon’s Wine Bar is located on the Strand. It is thought to be the oldest wine bar in London having been established in 1890. The bar is very much a family affair, owned by Wendy Gordon who is the wife of the late much loved Luis Gordon, and now overseen by Luis’ eldest son Simon. The building itself was a warehouse built in 1790 and in 1880 it was converted to accommodations.

We entered through the cellar doors. You need to stoop to get to your rickety candlelit table – anonymity is guaranteed! If the sun is out you can also sit outside in Watergate Walk and enjoy watching the world go by. The bar is loved by many and seems to be a place where time has stood still. It serves only wine, sherries and port and simple food, ranging from homemade pies to mature cheese. If you’re in London you should definitely check this place out. You can find more information here.

A word of warning. If you do go into the cellar watch your head because the ceilings are low and it takes awhile for your eyes to adjust to the dark. I hit my head three times in the space of a minute making my way to our table.

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London – Day 6 – Westminster Cathedral vs Westminster Abbey

…..I had no idea that they were two different churches

The main difference is that the cathedral is Roman Catholic and the Abbey is part of the Church of England. Also the cathedral is much newer. It was built in 1903 and is the largest Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. One of the things that struck us as odd about the interior of the cathedral is how dark the ceiling in the main part of the church is. According to the guide at the entrance, the ceiling is almost black because the main lighting source when it was first built consisted of candles and the soot from the them has darkened the interior. I thought that was odd, considering how wealthy the Catholic Church is but according to history churches built in the early 1900s had to be debt free before they could be consecrated. The interior of the cathedral was never completed but it was consecrated none the less in 1910.

The cathedral is built in the Byzantine style.

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The Abbey on the other hand is much older. It was first constructed in 1245 and was originally Catholic. Henry VIII changed that when the Catholic Church wouldn’t grant him a divorce and he formed the Church of England. In 1560 Queen Elizabeth I re-established Westminster as a “Royal Peculiar” – a church of the Church of England responsible directly to the Sovereign, rather than to a diocesan bishop.

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We didn’t get in line to see the inside of the Abbey but my cousin in Germany has convinced me that when we go back we need to take the tour. It sounds fascinating and worth the money. It is certainly rich in history.

In the next post I will continue with day 6 and describe our walk along the Thames River.

 

London – Day 4 (Harrods, Hyde Park)

….day four was another busy day with lots of walking

Today my Andrea, Josie and I headed to Harrods and Hyde Park. We left Kevin at home to rest and agreed to meet up later in the afternoon.

Harrods is probably one of the most famous stores in London. It is not centrally located and is about a mile from Kensington in the area known as Knightsbridge. Knightsbridge is a very exclusive area, one of the wealthiest parts of London where some of London’s most expensive hotels are situated. Needless to say that we didn’t go there to shop but merely to look around. The food hall was most interesting and beautifully set up with gorgeous display cases of chocolates and pastries and the seafood was displayed on mounds of ice in the most  attractive way.

While we were there we were told about the Egyptian escalators that were built in 1998 to reflect the Edwardian style of the building. Harrods built the first ever escalator in the UK in 1898. Nervous customers using the contraption were offered brandy when they reached the top to help them recover from their “ordeal”.

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From Harrods we walked over to Hyde Park and walked along the Serpentine Lake. People actually swim in this lake along with the local ducks, geese and swans.IMG-8686
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The installation art that you see in the lake is from the world famous artist, Christo, who unveiled his work The London Mastaba (2018) earlier in June. It is a 20-metre-high floating sculpture on London’s Serpentine Lake, constructed from 7,506 oil drums.

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Stay tuned for part 2…….

On Vacation

….I’m leaving tonight for London, England

I’ve scheduled a few posts ahead of time so you’ll see some activity on my blog until Oct. 2. I’m not taking a laptop with me and I’m not sure I can post from my iPhone. I’m sure I will take a ton of photos but you might have to wait a couple of weeks before I can share them with you.

I’m very excited about this trip. It’s my first time to England and I’ll finally get to see where our son and daughter-in-law reside. My husband and I are travelling with our oldest daughter and her wife and we’ll be staying together for the first eight days. After that Andrea and Josie are taking the train to Scotland and we’ll stay in London.

The only thing that we’ve booked so far is a tour of Buckingham Palace and on the second of October we’re going out to a nice restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday. There are lots of places we want to see and and things we want to do in London. I expect that we’ll take some bus tours and definitely walking tours and of course we’ll check out the art galleries and museums.

We haven’t booked things ahead of time because of my husband’s condition. He never quite knows when he can leave the house safely without having to rush to a bathroom. With the time change and jet lag the first few days could be tricky. We’ve done this before and it’s not ideal but spending time with our son and his wife is more important.

The only thing I’ll miss when I’m away is being able to spend time with this sweetie:

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