Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More Paris

Our day started out at the Musee D'Orsay - a former train station housing many wonderful works of art - including numerous Impressionist and post -Impressionist works. We had no trouble getting in - we noticed the previous day there were huge lineups..I think perhaps because the museum had been closed the previous day.

After filling our souls with artwork it was time to fill our tummies...we had read about "Vegan Folie" in Veg News..so we set out in search of it...

 It was an adorable little place and the sales clerk was very helpful..we chose a savory and a sweet cupcake...the savory was a hummous/mediterranean and the sweet a lavender and apricot..there were other interesting savory flavours as well....
Everything is so artfully decorated and presented.

 We enjoyed our treats in the Luxembourg Gardens - gorgeous. Apparently many Parisiens have a fond memories of this park as it has a history of many children's activities.

After this respite, we were re-fuelled and ready to take in more art - this time at the Pompidou Centre in Le Marais....

The outside of the building looks like the inner workings, I know...apparently when it was commissioned it was requested that the design be ultra modern. It's a fun trip up to the galleries...

Fraser and some modern art

Between two Kandinskys - our favourites of the museum

Some cool sculptures outside in the courtyard...

We wandered a bit through Le Marais at this point and had a quick Middle Eastern meal and with one more sleep it was our final day in Paris...we went up to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur and enjoyed a lovely lunch at "Pousse Pousse" a cozy little veg place - mostly raw. The owner was a lovely woman - we had also read about this place in Veg News - the staff were very helpful. It was kind of interesting listening to the chef in the kitchen - she was obviously from North America and speaking English..it's probably difficult to find raw food chefs in France..

Squeezing into the tiny elevator at Hotel Levesque with my bag
Travelling on the great Metro system.

So onto Montmartre to hike up the stairs, bien sur as Fraser always likes to have a high viewpoint. After all that hiking it was time for lunch at Pousse Pousse..

Our Paris adventure "finis" we departed once again from Gare du Nord and back to London for our next adventure...

Friday, October 26, 2012


What can I say that hasn't been said or sung about the City of Light, La Belle Ville? How enchanting to view it at night from atop La Tour Eiffel, stroll along it's streets and boulevards, gaze into the Seine, mangez un petite quelque chose...

That being said I didn't have a great attachment or longing to go back I was expecting..but while we were there we certainly enjoyed ourselves and most everyone was nice.

Our street at night
So yes, I use this typical tourist shot of the Eiffel Tower...it is impressive. That was what we did on our first evening in Paris....oops, sorry about the perfume reference..couldn't resist.

We took the Eurostar from London's St. Pancras station to Gare du Nord and easily figured out the Metro system - as long as you know where your stop is and the end destination of the line you're good.  The train was super quick and easy.

We stayed on Rue Cler - thanks to a recommendation of a friend of ours. It was a charming street filled with shops, cafes, grocers and very close to the Eiffel Tower and many sites. The closest Metro stop was Ecole Militaire. Our hotel was the Grand Hotel Leveque - the yellow sign on the left of the picture and it was a very cozy place to stay - the staff was all great - no attitude and obviously used to dealing with a lot of anglophones.  There was even a bit of joking around with Fraser asking for his room key in French (coached by me).

One of the wonders of Paris is not necessarily trying to cram in as many tourist sites as possible but just the joy of strolling amongst the people and taking in the buildings and many parks - and checking out the latest fashion.

We did decide to check out the Rodin Museum - which has sculptures on the grounds as well as inside...our favourite though was that of his muse and student, Camille Claudel. I highly advise you to check out the movie, too with Gerard Depardieu. Claudel's emotional investment in her pieces is arresting.

Continuing along we saw many of the "ponts" or bridges over the Seine, including this one which I think is Pont Neuf - locks attached to the railings by lovers. Apparently the local government tried to remove them at one point but there was a huge outcry. You can even buy locks from some nearby vendors..

Then to view the iconic Notre Dame...here's an interior shot.

After all that walking we were hungry and had a lovely lunch at nearby "Le Grenier de Notre Dame"..

It was Middle Eastern influenced and I believe macrobiotic - all in all it was delicious!

Back along the river, crossing to check out the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysee and the outside of the Louvre...

We had a rest and a snack back at the room and then it was time to go up the Eiffel Tower...along with several hundred other people...but it was worth it!

The mechanics of how they get all those people to the top..

If all that wasn't enough we went over to Le Marais to hear some jazz - a fantastic trio at La Cave du 38 Riv...

 A great first day - the next day - Musee D'Orsay  some vegan cupcakes, parks and the Pompidou Centre...

Monday, October 22, 2012


How enchanting this medieval town is..we stayed just outside the walls and a short walk later we travelled back in time..

There was some big to-do going on which we later found out was National Police Services Day - recognizing those fallen in the line of duty with a ceremony at Yorkminister Cathedral..alas we did not get to see the inside...but there was lots to explore anyway..including another delicious veg dinner.

We came across a flea market and there was even a food festival going on..

Plus some buskers named "Buffalo Skinners" who did everything from early Beatles to traditional folk music and they were really good..

Intriguing streets of York
They had been hit a bit hard by all the rain - there were no tour boats going along the river as the river was too high to be able to go under the bridges safely...

Here are a couple of photos of our scrumptious dinner at "El Piano" - we had leftovers - ordering too much food!

Tapas style..I will include a photo of the cathedral from the outside...

The next morning we had to get up bright and early and return the car, go into London and catch the Eurostar to Paris...that's next.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Our hotel - The Walton...

Fraser was delighted there were stores named after him...ha ha.

Veg haggis - at Henderson's Bistro

I confess I really fell in love with this city..we were staying in the "New Town" - well, new for that part of the world...it's mostly Georgian era. The planner was a young man who won a competition for a planned city and this part of Edinburgh is laid out on a grid, like New York or Edmonton...fun.

Our tour guide Fergus, and no I am not making that up..
As you will note on the left, another great discovery was Henderson's - a veg institution in these parts and only a few blocks from where we were staying at the Walton Hotel. Henderson's has a quieter bistro, a shop and take away, a cafeteria style place and a wine bar - which features jazz in the evenings all on the same block!

In my distinctive pink Modrobes jacket walking up on Edinburgh castle....

Fraser at Cadenhead's Whisky shop...so much whisky so little time.

We took a bus tour around the city too just to check out all the monuments and places of note including the new Parliament buildings, very modern and a little controversial..and of course did some shopping on the Royal Mile.

I think we at at Henderson's four times, one of which I recall was in the basement of a church just down the hill from the castle...

The wonderful singer Freddy King and his daughter Nikki who just happened to be home visiting from New York! Talent definitely runs in this family. He had one of the most beautiful bass voices but also an incredible range..plus he sang "My One and Only Love" ...sigh.

Before we left Scotland we visited Craigmillar Castle - which had yet another association with Mary Queen of Scots..

Too soon we had to bid farewell to Scotland..until next time and head back down to England..our first stop there was Newcastle where we had a lovely room just outside of town and a delicious dinner at the Sky Apple Cafe. A yummy curry, some kibbeh and soup plus a Summer Berries kind of pudding. The place was hopping and one disgruntled dinner kind of spoiled things for a bit..he objected to a table bringing a baby to the restaurant and told them so as he left...our waitress gave him what for and told him not to return..of all places a vegetarian restaurant..perhaps he was not a regular customer. Of course the father explained what had been happening earlier and the rude customer's comments - everyone was on his side and cheered after the nasty man had left.

On a blustery late afternoon, as I'm sure it would have been for many a Roman soldier - we visited Hadrian's Wall

Doing my Roman sentry duties...

The sheep stand guard...

The next installment: down to York then a race to London to return the car and take the "chunnel" aka Eurostar train to Paris!