June 2017
  • Day11

    The Homeward Road

    June 23, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    A pleasant if somewhat noisy (riotous revellers outside) night but deliciously cool. Lulled into a false sense of security since it climbed up to 36 degrees C in Paris today when we left the hotel! Our first task was to avoid the over zealous, determined to be jolly, innuendo-constant joke cracking and frankly, a little annoying concierge Arnaud! This was impossible because, yes, there he was laying in wait for us at reception. Left our bags with him and tried for the minimum of conversation whilst edging towards the front door! So full of advice was Arnaud that he completely failed to inform us that today was "Save the Environment Day" or something similar which meant one could purchase all-day, unlimited journeys to anywhere on the Paris Metro for a mere 3 euros something per person. This we duly did and made our way to Montmartre, choosing to take the furnicular up there which the metro tickets were also good for-a bargain all round! It was extremely hot but we toiled up the steps and took a selfie in front of the basilica but did not attempt the queue up to go in. People had umbrellas up to protect them from the sun and it was still only half past 10. Had breakfast in a cafe overlooking the main square but skilfully avoided the artists who want to sketch you. So, 35 years ago was the last time we were in Montmartre together for our honeymoon and we had a meal (included with the package tour at the time) at a restaurant called Auberge de la Bonne Franquette..... lo and behold, there it still was although now called just La Bonne Franquette and looking very smart! After this trip down memory lane, and again being a little disconcerted by seeing an army presence again, we actually walked back to Place de La Republique, near our hotel, in the boiling heat! It was soon time to retrieve our luggage from Arnaud (yes, he was lurking in reception awaiting our return!) and we retraced our steps on the Metro for the second time today to Gare du Nord. The Eurostar back was quite enjoyable although our seats were again backward facing! Had a pleasant meal at St Pancras before trotting along to grubby Euston for the last grinding bit of the journey to Preston, from where it was the replacement bus service to PLF! Home Sweet a Home.Read more

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  • Day9

    And so .... back to Paris

    June 21, 2017 in France ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Second breakfast watching the funicular go up and down and then re-packing and check out of Hotel du Theatre. And .... my goodness was it hot at only 10 am! Almost up to 30 degrees I'm sure but, time to waste so a coffee, and tea for Ted, was in order watching the world, or more correctly, the trams go by from the cafe outside the HBF. Then platform 15 for the 11.34 to Paris, Gare de Lyon. A little disappointed with our seat reservation which had a very small amount of window and a large amount of wall, not good for the view. Intrepidly, we decided to go back a row as these did not have the red reserved sticker on. We further decided to then move the red reserved sticker to our new seats so that the originals were then free for poor fools who had obviously not had the forethought to make a reservation. This seemed to have gone well until a pushy American couple got on at Basel and said our seats were theirs! What could we do as there were the red reserved tickets on them .......! Fortunately for us, the "poor fools" who had been sitting in our original seats had got off at Basel so we were able to retake our original seats, although the American couple obviously thought we were "poor fools"!!!!!! I must say I was also disappointed with the TGV buffet which is not well set out and nothing very appetising on sale. I ended up having a glass of wine (standard!), a bag of honey roasted peanuts and a piece of fruit cake. Not a patch on OBB's Munich to Zurich run. Arrival into Gare de Lyon was like getting into an oven .... it was baking!! We took a taxi to Horel Le Mareuil. The room is lovely-standard but modern, colourful and blissfully cool! In fact, I almost felt too cold! We walked to Place de la Republique which is not a place I have been to before, as far as I can remember. We ate in the Cafe de Republique and the whole place was buzzing. Lots of people, lots of traffic and lots to entertain us. The recently broken foot is swollen as usual at the end of the day so time to put it to bed!
    PS temperature forecast is 36 tomorrow!!!
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  • Day8

    An afternoon in Zurich

    June 20, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    1pm- so now time to join our Zurich City Highlights tour booked through Viator with whom I have previously booked tours in South Africa. Bus full of various nationalities and personalities which is almost more interesting than the tour itself I always find! The lady tour guide had a quaint way of speaking English which made us quite giggly at some points. However, a tour around Zurich and more information about various places we had seen in the morning. A short walking tour around the old town and churches but did not go into anywhere, followed by the whole tour bus going onto the ferry and traversing the Lake from the "Gold Coast" to the "Silver Coast" and thence up the cable car at Felsenegg. Could not have had a more beautiful day for this and the views of the Lake were stunning. Had a nice cup of tea in the cafe after a walk through the forest and then down the cable car again and back in the bus to Zurich. Still very hot and although the people at the back of the bus were complaining about the lack of air conditioning, our lady guide told them waspishly that it was much hotter at the front of the bus as there were more windows and that it is so cold here in the winter they should all be glad to see a bit of sun!! Not a bad tour all in all when one has only a short time to see a city. Out for dinner which cost another kidney-glad we are going tomorrow as couldn't afford to stay longer!Read more

  • Day8

    A morning in Zurich

    June 20, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Decided to take up the offer of breakfast at the hotel as, judging by last night's dinner price, we may have to sell a kidney each to partake of breakfast in the touristy bit of Zurich! Our breakfast window looks out onto the funicular which transports people, especially students, up to the university buildings (famous ex-students are Einstein and Roentgen, he who invented x-rays). So of course it was a must to board the funicular and go up there ourselves straight after breakfast and partake of the views. This was followed by a stroll along the river, through the cobbled streets of the old town before crossing over to the smart shops of Bahnhofstrasse. Lunch was at a branch of Nordsee, actually at Zurich HBF itself, where anything fishy can be had. In our case this was prawn and cucumber crusty rolls but the choice was amazing-anything from grilled fish to scampi or salmon or a fishfinger sandwich.Read more

  • Day7

    Zurich

    June 19, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    First train of the day was 09.35 from still sunny Kitzbuhel for us but, by this time, James, Jodie and Dexter had been in the air half an hour, having set off at the unearthly hour of 04.15 ! We seamlessly transferred from Kitzbuhel to Worgl, to Kufstein, to Munich and finally arrived in Zurich at around 17.30. We had coffee and a pastry at Kufstein in a local Backerei and chatted to a pleasant German couple who thought Brexit was a very sad state of affairs. Bit of a rush at Munich with not much time to reacquaint ourselves with this grand station but found the delightful restaurant car on this final train (4and a half hours) and partook of alcoholic light refreshment! Lots of interesting people to survey on the train and an irritating, unsupervised child who was hanging off the red emergency stop handle at one point until Ted took it upon himself to tell the parents! It was bakingly hot on arrival at Zurich-about 30 degrees C at least but it only took us about 5 mins to google map ourselves to the Hotel de Theatre. Budget room but adequate for our needs. Very noisy as next to the main road but couldn't bear to shut the windows-too hot. Went out for a drink by the river and thence pasta meal which was megally expensive but then we are in Switzerland! James and Jodie have put some great photos on Facebook of the triathlon and they are home safe and sound.Read more

  • Day6

    Triathlon Sunday

    June 18, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Alarm set for 6.30 and Dexter, barely awake, dropped off by Jodie at 7.20 am so he had breakfast with us at the hotel before we trekked up to Schwarzsee. By this time James had completed the swim and was on the bike. The weather was hot and sunny, not good for triathletes but lovely for spectators. Able to catch a glimpse of James as he left transition after the bike at the start of the run and he completed with a sprint against an Austrian who left him for dead! He was not expecting to do well due to only about 10% of usual training completed because of the job and house moves in the last 6 months but he completed the course, wore the GB kit and received the finishers' medal so was well pleased with himself! We were proud to have been there and been part of it. This is a tough sport and its demands should never be underestimated. Ted and I got talking to a lady whose 39 year old son had come off his bike, badly grazed his back, elbows and wrists and who had gone to hospital as there was so much grit in his wounds. We caught up with the whole family in the car park opposite the hotel where, on return from the hospital, his legs buckled and he collapsed. Ted and his father tried to get him up but he went down again and had to be partially carried over by another 2 blokes to the hotel. We saw them all later in town as we were having lunch and James knew him. The bloke in question still looked wish-washy but was so annoyed with himself for his non-finisher status-berating himself even! The atmosphere up at the lake was great and heartening to see so many nationalities and age-groups coming together and participating in the sport of their choice. Great also to meet other GB participants and their supporters. We were at breakfast with a Geordie couple whose son was competing in the same age group as James and whose daughter actually worked at Fishermans' Friend in Fleetwood! Small world.Read more

  • Day5

    Kitzbühel Saturday

    June 17, 2017 in Austria ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    Love this hotel-The Sporthotel Reisch, which dates back to 1912 and has wood everywhere especially downstairs in the breakfast room and reception, although the bedrooms are modern with a balcony and splendid views. Great buffet breakfast with lots of French triathletes about. Ted and and I explored the town which is lovely and Saturday seems to be market day with stalls selling cheese, fish, artisan crafts, samples of different booze etc. James and Jodie came to our hotel around lunchtime as James had to "set up his bike". After lunch we all walked to the large Sports Centre at the end of town where James had to register at 4pm taking his GBR triathlon suit with him for some reason. Ted and I then took Dexter with us, leaving them there to register, and went swimming at the Aquarena which is within sight of our hotel. Great facility with proper 25 metre laned pool, outside slides for the over 8s, and large leisure pool with separate baby pool. Dexter enjoyed it but was tired afterwards, had a tantrum and hard to settle. We ended up walking around with him until he went to sleep in the pushchair and managed to get ready for the evening whilst he recharged his batteries! Met J and J at The Glockenspiel again for the evening meal although James didn't arrive until around 8.30pm after he'd been to take his bike up to Schwartzsee, got his electronic tag and labels etc. An early start for us all tomorrow!Read more

  • Day4

    Kitzbuhel!

    June 16, 2017 in Austria ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    So ..... Ted and I checked out and strolled across the road to Munich Station where we partook of the "farmer's breakfast" x 2! Soon time to board our train to Kitzbuhel via Wogl and an uneventful journey although the weather completely changed from 29 degrees yesterday to rain! James, Jodie and Dexter met us at Kitzbuhel and we saw where they were at the "Q" team Hotel before booking into the Sportsreich Hotel which is just right for our needs! The scenery from our room is picture postcard Austria. We trecked (and it is a trek so the former broken ankle took some stick!) up to Schwarzsee (the lake where the swim is and coincidentally the name of our hotel room!) and spent the afternoon watching the elite women ( Jessica Learmonth first and Sophie Coldwelll second GBR). Quick wash and brush up before dinner in pretty and smart Kitzbuhel centre! Here we met Pieter, a Flemish Belgian who was meeting up with Evi, his Dutch friend. How lovely to meet two young Europeans and talk with them.Read more

  • Day3

    Exploring Munich

    June 15, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    In an NH hotel, Munchen Deutscher Kaiser, right opposite the train station and on 9th floor so have a great view of the train lines coming into the station. With just one day here we walked towards the main square, the Marienplatz, and realised today is a sort of bank holiday with a bit of a religious gig going on there. Had a great breakfast then took the city tour bus and did all 3 tours of 1 hour each during the course of the day. The "red" one was the city sights, the "purple" took us out to the site of the 1972 Olympic Park, the Nymphenburg Palace and the BMW factory, and the "blue" tour which was the cultural part where one of the universities is and the various museums of which there are many. It got up to 29 degrees C today and at one point we wimped back to the hotel for an hour's respite from the sun-must be getting old! So, all in all, we feel we have had snapshots of most of Munich and it's surrounds. Pleasant spaghetti meals al fresco at L'Osteria a few minutes' walk away, served by a nice young man who came to this country from Afghanistan when he was a year old and has relatives in Nottingham.Read more

  • Day2

    Now in Munich

    June 14, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    What a great night's sleep in the Ibis! Convinced it would be noisy but never heard a thing and even Ted didn't wake up until nearly 9 am (admittedly 8 am at home). Up, shower and out, walking towards Notre Dame with breakfast on the way. Again, somewhat startled yet ? reassured by a group of 4 soldiers, in full battle gear (helmets suspended from the waist) patrolling the streets near our breakfast stop, taking up the stance of "watching each other's back" when crossing the road, as if on the streets of Kabul. Saw several groups of these during the course of the morning and again later at Gare de lEst. Many police (often unmarked cars but with a blue light on top) vehicles screaming up and down the streets also, making me wonder if there were more than the usual emergencies or whether they were just being over zealous. However, the tourists were plentiful as we walked down past the Pompidou Centre to Norte Dame, along by the Seine into the Gardens of the Tuileries, past the Louvre and then stopped again for some liquid refreshment before making a return meander back to the hotel. By this time the temperature had risen to 28/29 degrees, collected our bags and made the short hop to Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Munich. An elegant station, although they did charge to visit the Ladies, with an old style bit and a modern shopping centre with escalators-the first shop being an M & S Simply Food! Soon time to board the double decker train (yes, top floor for us!) and off we went precisely at 15.55. Very comfortable and rigidly on time at every stop (Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Ulm and Augsburg). Having booked forward facing seats, and having travelled backwards on the Eurostar, Ted and I were more than a little disappointed when, having entered Stuttgart station forward facing, we then exited it with our backs to the direction of travel and so we remained for the rest of the journey. The bar was a little minimalistic to say the least as we had planned to "have dinner" on the train, arrival time being 21.40. This, coupled with the fact that the sparkling French wine had run out, led to our decision to abandon the plan in favour of a Coke Zero for me, a couple of cans of Kronnenbourg 1664 for Ted and a shared packet of M & S chipsticks bought at St Pancras yesterday. C'est la vie!Read more