Been somewhat slow in starting this time. Already in France a week. Starting in searing hot Paris where to one point we saw a temperature of 43 degrees. Being dry heat, it was slightly more bearable and after some of our travels in India with temperatures that stayed relentlessly 40 + for days on end we took it as it came. Lovely Airbnb on Île de la Cité that despite having no air conditioning (not common in northern Europe) we didn.t suffer badly at all. From our rear window we could see Notre Dame, which was very close to us but sadly shrouded in scaffolding as they rebuild from the disastrous fire there in 2019.
It was lovely to walk out the door and see the Seine in front. I was surprised at the size of some of the barges that sailed down. It was a lovely scene. We had no real tourist plans and were happy to stroll through the streets and people watch in restaurants in the evening. However, this being probably the 6th time in Paris, I still had never visited the Palace of Versailles. Getting there proved to be more challenging than I thought given it is one of the most visited places on the planet. The easy method would have involved a straight through train but we were informed that line was shut and we needed to take the Metro with three changes to reach the town of Versailles. The London is a bit more user friendly than the Paris variety and there was a fair wait for interconnecting trains too. When we did reach the town of Versailles there was limited signage pointing to the palace. At one point they just ran out and I had to ask a local newsagent to point the way. You have to book a time slot and we had a bit of a quick march to get there in time for ours. The place is pretty impressive. Not just its size and gardens an=but the endless artworks, sculptures and the rich historical background. You could easily justify spending two days to have good look at it but tiredness took its toll. A great place but it felt like ticking a tourist box going to see it. After three days in Paris it was time to go to Nice to see our friends.
The airport wasn’t too bad but the plane ended up being two hours late. This caused confusion with the care rental and as the company had given away our car and we were stung for an extra 150 euros to rent a flashier model. I don’t know if they were being completely honest but that’s the game they play. There is dread in my heart about travelling this August in Europe, but fingers crossed.
What a fabulous time we’ve had in Claviers with our friends the Edwards. Their hospitality has been amazing and lending us their house in September and October has made the whole trip possible. Much lovely eating and plenty of drinking has been the order of the day and all against the wonderful beauty of the countryside. It has been hot but also made bearable by large quantities of cold beer and a swimming pool.
It is strange to be collecting stamps in our passports as the we are no longer part of the EU. British passports are pretty useless these days except for getting into the UK itself. So sad to see what was once a respected nation in these parts slowly flush itself down the toilet. The election of the gormless Liz Truss seems to be a foregone conclusion so that is good in a way that the Tory government in the UK will continue to be run by a clique of twits. It will hopefully be their final downfall. We are probably a long way off doing something sensible like joining the Single Market or re-instituting freedom of movement given the gutlessness of the British left in standing up for it.
While the plane from Nice ended up taking off nearly two hours late – a feature of post Covid travel, summertime Europe and the never-ending nonsense that is Brexit – it was on the ground that we had the biggest hassle. The baggage took over an hour and a half to emerge! One of our fellow passengers kept saying how embarrassed he was to be a Romanian and groups of other passengers were berating airport staff and even the police. The upshot was that our rental car company put us down as a no-show and cancelled us. After endless phone calls we were able to sort it out and ended up not bothering to rent in while in Bucharest.
We are staying near the Old City which is lovely and chock full of bars and restaurants. There are some really gorgeous old buildings and most of our time has been wondering the streets despite the heat. We are staying in an apartment that is reasonably new but located on the top of an old communist era building that is a bit grim when you enter it. It has its eccentricities but not to worry. Things don’t always work smoothly here but not to worry.