A Travellerspoint blog

When a Man is tired of London ....

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....said Samuel Johnson, he is tired of life. That may be true but touring this great city can nonetheless be very tiring, especially with kids!

Yesterday we walked from our hotel across Green Park to Buck Palace to see the changing of the guard which despite the crowds was a great spectacle. No sighting of any royals though.

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Afterwards we took in an open top bus tour which though touristy is the best way to take in the sights we have found. As we approached Knightsbridge the girls were keen to alight at Harrods (who could have guessed?) ? Olivia was impressed by the ornate Egyptian staircase complete with tacky shrine to Diana & Dody erected by the latter's father who owns this monument to retail Mammon.

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It even has it's own Disney themed restaurant complete with pizzas in the shape of Mickey Mouse! ?

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After stocking up on the ubiquitous carry bags and other knick knacks it was back onto the bus to continue our circuit of the city before returning to the hotel for takeaway pizza and an early night (did I mention how tiring travelling with kids can be?).

Today dawned with the start of that very typical London event, a (partial) Tube strike, ? which luckily didn't really impact our planned trip to Salisbury to catch up with Bronnie's second cousin Anne. A spritely octogenarian, Anne happily showed us the sights of her hometown, including the magnificent 14th century cathedral which has one of the best preserved originals of Magna Carta amongst its prized possessions.

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It was great to see Anne after so many years and B found it hard to say goodbye when it was time to hop on the train to zoom through the picturesque Wiltshire countryside back to London. ?

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Before we headed back to the hotel, we decided, given that the showery weather had made way for the sun, to take in a rotation of the London Eye. The views from the top of the wheel were amazing. I got all nostalgic gazing down at County Hall where I worked for 3 years back in the late 80s:

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Highly recommend it for all visitors to this grand city. Our last day here tomorrow has been (unilaterally) set aside for a trip to the shopping strips of Regent and Oxford streets (Oh joy...). ?

Posted by Melbinman 14:20 Archived in England Tagged london eye_salisbury Comments (0)

From Paris to Londres

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Fell behind in updating the blog so will squeeze 3 days into this entry! Friday saw us having a farewell breakfast with our Melbourne friends Tayla & Jan, joined by their friend from London, Lucy Ansell, who were all heading off to Normandy for le weekend. As the weather turned a bit damp we caught up with an old pal from Oz, Jade MaƮtre and hubby Bertrand, now fortunate enough to be living in this beautiful city.

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Luckily for us Jade brought her camera along as she took some wonderful family shots of us! Some you may have seen on Facebook but here's a sample:

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J & B, ever the artistic entrepreneurs, actually run a nifty business snapping folks on vacation: http://tripshooter.com|. Great idea, huh? We had a fun afternoon hanging around the Marais district, stuffing ourselves with luscious cakes and then trying to walk them off. Thanks again guys for the wonderful photographic memories of our last day in the City of Light!

The next day it was up early to pack up our goods and chattels (the bags were a bit fuller after visits to the grand magasins of Blvde Haussmann!) and fang it to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar to London.

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What a fantastic way to travel, less than 2 hours station to station! On arrival at St Pancras, the girls were thrilled by their first ride in a London cab, complete with genuine Cockney driver, to our hotel in Mayfair. Walking distance to all the great shopping of Piccadilly and Regent St, to which Olivia dragged me without further ado (as others have observed, the retail apple doesn't fall far from the tree!).

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We then met up with our old pal Monique Mullins, having a great Italian feed in the West End (washed down with a few wines as we caught up on each other's news).

Today we enjoyed a sleep in and a late breakfast at a nice local cafe (overlooking the Ritz Hotel, which looks, well, ritzy!) before heading onto the Tube to Westminster to take in Big Ben and the Thames embankment.

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We took a bus to Tower Hill where we met up with Bronnie's cousin Steve and his lovely wife Cath who had kindly travelled down from Cambridge to spend the afternoon with us. After a scrummy lunch at Wagamama, we checked into the Tower of London for a very entertaining tour by a beefeater guide, who provided a very graphic but amusing rendition of the Horrible Histories of Tudor England in a booming RSM voice:

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After the tour we had a look at the Crown Jewels (the girls were agape, even the big ones!) before wandering the castle grounds to soak up the history.

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After we bid Steve & Cath farewell (great to catch up guys!), we wended our way back to the hotel for a lazy night of room service dinner in front of the telly!)

Posted by Melbinman 16:26 Archived in France Comments (1)

Eurodisney!

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The day the girls had dreamed of for so long finally arrived! It was up at 'sparrows' to catch the bus to the Enchanted Kingdom a la Francaise.the overcast weather did nothing to dampen the spirits and the smiles on arrival were as wide as Eurodisney's Main Street.

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First port of call for Liv was Space Mountain 2 and she managed to drag me along for the ride!

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And as you can tell from my face, it was certainly hair-raising!

There was a lot of queuing for rides but it was worth the wait. Gotta hand it to the folk at Disney for getting the entertainment ambience perfectly. Lucia got into the party atmosphere early with a purchase of a Jasmine outfit which we couldn't get her out of for the whole day!
Liv got a pair of ubiquitous Minnie Mouse ears as her outfit for the day and much time (and money) was spent in the souvenir shops.

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The highlight of the day was the Disney on Parade with floats featuring all of the Disney characters. It went down a treat with kids & adults alike.

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After a huge day of fun it was back onto the bus to Paris for a pizza dinner and a big sleep. Lucia didn't wake up until almost 10:30!

Posted by Melbinman 13:21 Archived in France Tagged eurodisney Comments (0)

Shop til you drop...

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Yes, much to the delight of the menfolk (not!) today was a designated shopping day for the girls so off to the Grand Magasins we went! ? Galeries Lafayette was the first port of call so it wasn't long until Jan & I left the girls to their work and retired to the cafe. It overlooked the amazing dome and atrium pictured here:

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The pastry was delicious!

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After a big morning of retail therapy we had lunch at a local restaurant and then caught the Metro back, shopping bags in hand.

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It's a fantastic way of getting around the city once you work out all the different lines and directions. Very easy to get lost down there! We enjoyed a ramble through the Tuileries gardens in the spring sunshine with plenty of other people having the same idea.

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After a rest back at the apartment we hit the Marais to find a restaurant serving snails as the girls wanted to try them. We didn't have to look too hard but the girl's enthusiasm waned a bit when the plate of escargot landed on the table.

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All three girls braved the 'slippery little suckers' but only Lucia was prepared to admit a liking for them!

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After dinner it was home to bed as we hit Eurodisney tomorrow!

Posted by Melbinman 14:05 Archived in France Tagged paris snails Comments (2)

L'Tour Eiffel and Monet's garden

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I have to fit in two days of adventures in today's entry as was too shattered to report in yesterday. We spent Easter Monday bateauxing (?) along the Seine on the 'Batobus' (ferry). We jumped on at Notre Dame and cruised our way leisurely past all the main sights such as the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and up to the Eiffel Tower.

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After collecting our 'skip the queue' tickets we ascended to the first level where the view was pretty impressive.

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Even looking up!

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We then took the lift up to the top where the entire beautiful city of Paris was laid at our feet.

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Here's a collage of our impressions of L'Tour:

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On reaching the bottom again the girls celebrated with a gelato from one of the many stalls.

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We then jumped back on the ferry and disembarked to wander around St German du pres, having lunch at a nice little brasserie named Du pres de Clerc. Many frites were scoffed!

On the way back we walked over 'Love Lock Bridge' where thousands of couples have professed their love by fixing locks with their names. Quite a sight!

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We all crashed pretty much on our return to the apartment after a very busy day!

On Tuesday we met up with Olivia's school friend Tayla and her dad Jan over brunch and after a wander around the left bank we jumped on a bus trip to Giverny to see Monet's garden which was in glorious bloom.

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A passing storm set off the frogs with a chorus of croaking on the famous lily pads.

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After arriving back in Paris we grabbed some dinner in St Germaine and jumped back on the Batobus to cruise past the Eiffel Tower lit up like a Roman candle before heading back to the apartment for some kip.

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Posted by Melbinman 23:56 Archived in France Tagged paris france eiffel Comments (0)

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