Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Germany and the Wedding

The real reason for the trip was a family wedding in Germany. The couple tried to combine the best of Canadian and German traditions, and had most of the ceremony translated to save those of us with very poor German skills.

It was a beautiful wedding, followed by a reception in a castle, the outline of which I captured at sunset the night before. And to follow, were fireworks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strasbourg and Zurich

I spent a couple of lovely days in Strasbourg - I was going to try and make it to London, but it was going to be too crazy and too much stress. I hadn't had a holiday off work in a year, and really needed some time, so I spent a couple of very relaxing days in Strasbourg. The hotel that I booked was right next to the Galaries Lafayette food store, so I picked up some bread and cheese for dinner one night - so yummy!

After that, I went on to Zurich, where I met up with friends. I picked a mid-morning train, and much to my surprise, the promotional train for the latest Harry Potter film was at the train station. There were a surprising number of people dressed up
(especially for 10am on a Sunday morning) and they had the owls out in full force. They surprised me by taking me to the mountains. It was beautiful there, but like the rest of Europe, it was wet and cold. So much so that it actually snowed. Snow - in June! Not what I had expected!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The gardens of Giverny

I hopped on yet another train to Vernon, and from there, headed out to Giverny by tourist bus. The busses meet the train, and also timed to get back to the train just in time so that everyone can board. Where I live does't have trains, so I think it's a bit stressful to catch trains - in larger centres, the track that the train is on often isn't posted until just a few minutes before the train leaves, and I'm always afraid that I'm going to get on the wrong track or catch a train going in the wrong direction.

Giverny is home to the house where Monet painted, and his house and back garden are open to the public. The house was beautiful, but the gardens were spectacular - just what you think of when you imagine a Monet painting. Giverny is also home to the Impressionist Museum which had a Monet exhibition open for the summer. I didn't manage to make it to many of the museums which had Monet paintings in Paris, so I was glad that someone had arranged to transport them to Giverny for me.

When I got back, I spent the next day visiting two of the smaller museums in Paris - the Marmottan, which houses a huge collection of Monet paintings, as well as other impressionist painters, and the Cluny Museum, also known as the Museum of the Middle Age, themes of Cluny. The Cluny Museum has the famous Cluny tapestries of the "Lady and the Unicorn" displayed. I'd visited both museums on recommendations, and would definitley go back again - the museums were smaller than some of the better known museums, but without the line-ups and the crowds of other places.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ah.... Paris!

After visting Vimy Ridge, I spent the next day (and one of the only nice days on my trip) doing some sight seeing. I also took a break for a coffee and some macarons, which are small almond/merangue cookies, filled with icing or jam. There was a bakery a few blocks from my hotel which had the most wonderful flavours - the one's pictured are pistachio, salted caramel and rose, but they also had passion fruit, cassis, and chocolate. Dinner in Paris is usually served late, and many restaurants don't even open until 7:30. I'd usually finish my sightseeing day in the early evening, and then pick up some of these delicious treats to hold me over to dinner.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pictures - Vimy Ridge

I'm back, and have finally found a few moments to write about the trip!

I arrived in Paris, and spent the first day exploring the flea markets. I had printed off some instructions on where to find good places to buy beads in Paris, and managed to scoop up some gorgeous vintage glass, buttons and other treasures.

The next day, I was up very early, and climbed the hill near my hotel to the Sacre Cour. It was so nice to be up before everyone else, and snap off some pictures when everything was dead quiet.

I then headed for the train station to catch my train to go out to the Canadian war memorial at Vimy Ridge. This is a particularly significant monument for Canadians, as it was one of the first times that Canadian troups fought together, and they were able to capture a particularly difficult position held by the Germans. The monument contains the names of all of the Canadian soldiers who died during the first world war.

Vimy Ridge isn't particularly easy to get to - an hour by train to Arras, and then a taxi ride up to the memorial itself. Fortunatley, most of the taxi drivers know what tourists (particularly Canadian tourists) want when they indicate that they'd like to go to Vimy Ridge. There is direct service between Paris and Arras several times a day.

The female figure in the last picture represents Canada, as she mourns for those who were lost in battle.