Three weeks in Europe have re-charged our batteries for the coming season. Rock Sand kept the B&B going in grand style and looked after Casey, Eske and the chooks while we were away.
We spent 4 days in London staying near Hyde Park near Paddington and Queensway Tube stations but we mainly went via Shank's pony walking about 10hrs a day. We did all the usual things, but also enjoyed a boat trip to Greenwich and the Observatory Museum.
The train then took us to Paris under the English Channel where we picked up a small car. We then drove 230km SE to Vezeley. This was the beginning of a 14 day adventure as I followed Pam's nose to vineyards and chateaus through the cutest little villages and stunningly picturesque countryside of rural France. Each morning Pam would get out her maps and decide on destination and route, but sometimes we just went in a general direction, particularly when she ran out of map.
Pam's navigation was immaculate and every now and then she would yell at me to get on the right side of the road. Only once did we get lost trying to get out of Blois, and that was not her fault as the map was not accurate. I only went through 3 red lights and had to barge my way through a few intersections, but otherwise enjoyed being Pam's chauffeur. Missing two turnoffs from a major freeway was one of my mistakes and meant an extra 70km but we saw some very interesting things on that bypass so it did not matter. Luckily Pam could not see the speedo as I was often doing 160kph keeping up with the traffic on these freeways.
We went east via Dijon into the Jura near Champagnole, then west through Limoges and up via Blois and finally back to Paris. We became experts in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, even visiting the town of that name. We used a book on the B&Bs of France and a Lonely Planet guide to chateaus, but also used visitor centres to book accommodation for us and get road maps. We found some lovely B&Bs in out of the way places. However, breakfasts were never a patch on what we serve here. Coffee and croissant mostly, some other bread and jams if you were lucky, and some yoghurt and cereal in two special B&Bs. These were run by a German lady at one, and a well travelled Frenchman at the other who had lived in England for 10 years.
Dropping off the car at the Gare du Nord railway station was the highlight of Pam's navigation skills. Our friend Nigel Wells found us a lovely hotel right near two different underground rail lines on the Left Bank, a short walk to the Louvre. These were St Germain de Pres and Mabilon, however, just like in London, we walked ourselves silly.
Paris was lovely but we quickly were museum-ed out. The Louvre, Versailles, Orangery, Museum of Middle ages, Eiffel Tower etc knocked the stuffing out of us. Pam also wanted to do some shopping, but Bon Marche, Printemps, Lafayette were in the look-don't touch category and she soon tired of that. H&M had 20% off quite reasonable prices so we did buy a few clothes made in China.
The Metro and train took us relatively painlessly to the airport (except for lugging suitcases up and down innumerable stairs) and 24hrs later we were back home. Next day I was back in Margaret River but Pam was still in Perth with her teaching. That night however, I woke up about 2.00am thinking I was in a chateau, and then unable to get back to sleep again for ages, and the same thing happened to Pam. Wierd.