Lake Como a wonderful place to visit

I am two weeks out from losing my dear dog, Mac.  I am still sad but I am doing better.  So I thought I would start to catch up with the adventures in our trip.

We spent two days in Lake Como.  lake como hill netIt was really lovely and because it is the end of the season there were less people to contend with.  We used the all day ferry pass to visit small towns on both sides of the lake.Lake Como ferry netThe second day we took the hydrofoil ( fast boat) to the city of Como because if you do not it takes two and a half hours by regular ferry.  Como is a lovely small town with a cathedral.como cathedral altar netThe late afternoon brings a light fog over the lake.Lake Como hills netThe last sunset over the lake was stunning.Como sun clouds net

I will be putting up more blogs as we are going home on the Celebrity Reflections across the Atlantic.Lake Como dark sunset net

Good bye Paris we leave with a gift of a nasty cold

 

Well, you have not heard from me in a while. We are home in California now and I need to catch you up on our travels. The last four days in Paris, I came down with a nasty cold. Really bad words, I wasted most of four days in bed trying to get better before we had to travel to Barcelona on a 6.5 hour train ride. I did not think that our train companions would enjoy hearing me coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose for all 6 hours.
We got to Barcelona at night and had the next two days to see the Sagrada Familia basilica and Montserrat before boarding Norwegian Epic to sail home to Florida.

So let’s start with Paris; I loved this city. I went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and many other stunning works of art. louvre mona lisa 5x7 netNot to mention the architecture of the Louvre, the glass pyramid and all the other buildings that have been there for centuries (the Louvre was formerly a palace).Paris Louvre pryamids 5x7 net

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Medieval work of art at the Louvre

I also went to an exhibit of a turn of the century dress designer called Fortuny. He created dresses from tiny pleats that could be rolled up and shaken out and worn.fortuny dress 5x7 net

We visited two of my favorite, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house his relics from the Holy Land. The royal chapel upstairs has an amazing set of medieval stained glass windows.sainte chapelle 5x7 net

 

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Angels holding the crown of thorns

Notre Dame is a famous and wonderful medieval church. We were able to go to Mass there on Sunday.Notre Dame outside 5x7 net

We took a river cruise on the Seine. It is a tourist thing to do, but worth it to see Paris from where the city began 1,000 years ago.Seine boats 5x7 net

The last night I pulled myself out of bed and we went to have a French dinner under the Eiffel Tower. It was so romantic to sit at the base of the tower and see it shining  in the night.Eiffel tower lights 5x7 net

 

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Linda eating dinner in Paris

 

The next day we were packed and went off to the Gare De Lyon train station to catch our TGV (very fast train) to Barcelona. I will talk about our two days in Barcelona and the ship in the next blog.

Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris; graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde

We had an afternoon to spend in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery here in Paris.  It is a remarkable city of the dead.  We will be going back before we leave because 2 hours was not enough time to take some of the photographs that I wanted to take.  This cemetery was founded in 1804 when the city of Paris needed more room to bury the dead. Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris.  Père Lachaise Cemetery has more than 3.5 million visitors, making it the most visited cemetery in the world.

 

Many famous people who died in Paris are buried here.   The most famous and the most visited  is the tomb of Jim Morrison of the Doors.

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Jim Morrison’s grave, died 1997 in Paris

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Edit Piaf, famous Parisian singer

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Oscar Wilde’s grave  

There were many French Jewish families that were sent to German concentration camps when Germany occupied France during WWII.  There are several memorials to these innocent French citizens in the graveyard.  Here are a couple of them;

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Memorial to the children killed by the Nazis

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memorial to the people killed in concentration camps

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And on a much lighter note; here is the grave of Victor Noir.   He was a French journalist who is famous for the manner of his death and the sculpture that lies on top of his grave.   I could not think of a good way to word this description so I will let Wikipedia do it for me.

“A life-sized bronze statue was sculpted by Jules Dalou to mark his grave, portrayed in a realistic style as though he had just fallen on the street, dropping his hat which is depicted beside him.

The sculpture has a very noticeable protuberance in Noir’s trousers. This has made it one of the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life.”  As you can see from the wearing away of the crotch area, many women have taken up the idea since he died in 1870.Pere chaise Victor Noir 5x7net

Over one million people have been buried here and there are many famous French politicans, inventors and artists who are scattered among many family mausoleums.  It is a cemetery that has many monuments and statues to commemorate the dead.   Here are some of the more interesting photographs that I took.

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Pere Lachaise statue 5x7 netPere Lachaise mother and child 5x7 net

And we found one live woman practicing her clarinet in the middle of the monuments.  The music was enchanting.Pere Lachaise girl clarinet 5x7netMore views of Paris to follow.

Battle of Hastings re-enactment 2017

We went to the town of Battle to see the Battle of Hastings re-enacted on the original battle field that it happened on in 1066. It was an exciting piece of theatre that put you into the time and the event.  I took lots of photos of this event that happens every year around the time that William the Conqueror from French Normandy beat King Harold of Saxon England for the crown of England in 1066.  I had known about this battle that changed the course of the English nation from my history books in school.  But it was an entirely different experience to understand the story and see where and how it unfolded.  If you are ever here in South Eastern England in October you should try to go to this pageant .

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Actors that told the Battle of Hastings story before the re-enactment

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Re-enactors come from all over Europe to camp for the weekend of the battle

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Lady Liz from Wales

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Battle supplies

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English King Harold on his horse before battle taking a last drink

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The English troops line up

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Time for a last chat with a friend

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The bishop gives last minute confessions

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King Harold gives a battle talk to his troops to inspire them

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Duke William has brought horses from France and they charge the English shield wall

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Half way through the battle William falls off his horse and the men thinks he has died.  He quickly finds another horse and rides in front of his troops to show that he is still alive.

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Unfortunately, late in the battle, King Harold is hit by an arrow that goes through his eye and he dies. The English troops lose heart.  Duke William’s troops overcome and kill all the English on the battle field. William goes on to London and is crowned the new king of England on Christmas day in Westminster Abbey.  We enjoyed this event and give the English Heritage organization a good review for organization and presentation.

We are off to Paris tomorrow for 16 days of sight seeing, then Barcelona for 3 days and on to the ship for the cross Atlantic voyage home.

Monastery Ruins at Glendalough, Ireland

We drove south to the Glendalough Monastery ruins, which lie in a glacial valley in County Wicklow, only about 35 minutes from “home”.  It is a lovely peaceful valley with two rivers and two lakes.  Just about the perfect place to worship God and build a monastic community.  It was founded by St. Kevin in the  sixth century.  It flourished as a place of learning and prayer until the English destroyed it in 1398. After that it still hung on as a place of local importance until Henry VIII pretty much knocked it down in 1539.

It is so thrilling for me to be here where people have worked , prayed and died for so many years . The round tower, a staple of Irish monastic building, is still intact.  It was in about the 12th century of mica-slate  and granite rock.  It is 30 meters high with a doorway that is 3.5 meters from the base.  It was used as a beacon, bell tower and place of refuge in case of attack.  The wooden ladders were pulled up into the tower.glendalough round tower 5x7 net Here is part of the cathedral walls still standing with a square stone over the doorway.glendalough cathedral door 5x7 netThere is another smaller church next to this called St. Kevin’s kitchen because of the smaller round tower that is incorporated into the building.glendalough st Kevins kitchen netThere is a graveyard around the ruins that is still in use today.  It was considered good luck to be buried by the bones of a saint.  This was a particularly touching stone that states that these two people ( I have removed their last names) were betrothed in 1923 by this stone of their ancestors . betrothal gravestone 5x7 netThis is an artist’s model of what the monastery might have looked like in its heyday.  You can see the round tower.glendalough monastery model 5x7 netBut the best part was meeting Daphne the great Dane and her kind owners.  She is so beautiful and friendly.great dane netAnd of course, coming home to our sweet kitties.cat Panndy 5x7 net

pet & house sitting in Lisdoonvarna, Ireland

We are here on the Western coast of Ireland to spend about 10 day pet and house sitting with 2 lovely dogs;  Cassie and Bella.  And two affectionate kitty cats; Midnight and Pipsiecassie the dog net.bella 5x7 netPipsie 5x7 net_edited-1midnight the cat netWe have been making some short trips in the interesting places near here.  One day we went to Doolin ( a small Irish fishing village) . doolin houses 5x7net  We stopped for lunch at the O’Connor Pub which is know for its excellent Irish music.david at o connors pub netlinda at oconnors 5x7 net  It was a very windy day as you can see from my hair.    Afterwards we drove down to the harbor and saw a small island called the Crab Island.crab island 5x7 net.

After lunch we drove down to the Cliffs of Moher.  We were there 17 years ago and it was a field that you walked out on to look at the famous cliffs.  Now it is an amazing tourist center with a visitor center and shops.  I could not believe how many people were walking around.cliffs of Mohar shops netO'brien Tower 5x7 net  The Cliffs were still stunning. cliffs of Moher 5x7 net  More will come in my next blog entry.

Amsterdam a city of flowers and canals

We finished our cruise in Amsterdam and had 3 days to visit this interesting city in Holland.  The first day we went on an hour cruise of the canals.linda david Amsterdam canal cruise netAmsterdam lovers cruise net Then we went on a tour that took us to see working wind mills, a working cheese factory and a working wooden shoe manufacturer.  Amsterdam windmills netAmsterdam cheese factory net  Here is an old pair of wooden shoes made into ice skates; Amsterdam wooden shoe ice skates net  I almost forgot to add this photo of the wonderful young woman who served us a warm cherry waffle. Amsterdam waffle server net  Needless to say, it was gone very quickly.

The next day we went to the Keukenhof Tulip and flower gardens.  Every year they plant over 7 million flower bulbs and make this place into a wonderland of color and fragrance.  keukenhof landscape 5x7 netkeukenhof pink tulip 5x7 netkeukenhof 3 white tulip 5x7 netKeukenhof orange tulips net  I could have stayed taking photographs for hours; it was heaven.

The last day in Amsterdam was cold and overcast so we went indoors to see Our Lord in the Attic church.  My dear friend Alison recommended that we go see this stunning church that was built in the attics of 3 side by side houses.  Catholics could practice their faith in Amsterdam in the 18th and 19th centuries but they had to do it in a concealed church.  They were tolerated if their place of worship was not seen by people on the street.  This was true of any faith other than the official state church of Holland.

This lovely petite church was an amazing revelation when you entered this house Our lord in the attic house net  Up stairs in the attics you find this beautiful church;Our lord in the Attic church net  It was a fun and whirlwind tour of Amsterdam that we enjoyed very much.

We flew to Cork, Ireland that night and then drove up to Lisdoonvarna on the West coast of Ireland to start our 10 day pet and house sit in this lovely village.   More on that topic to follow in the next blog entry.