Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 1 - Paris on our Own

Once we were oriented to our new home by the pleasant concierge...all in French of course...we began our usual routine of searching out the grocery stores and shops.  We set up the two extra beds and reorganized things a bit to make as much room as possible for us all.  The apartment is located in a high-end part of Paris is the 15th city district, about 30 minutes south of the city center.  The shops are mostly organic and high priced so we were careful about what we purchased for our first few days.  $120 USD dollars later we had enough to cover dinner and a few lunches...LOL.  We settled in nicely, with a good meal and enjoyed the views from the balcony.  Later that evening we were joined by our dear Ivan Mercier (Frenchy), our adopted French son who we met five years ago on the Silk Road trip and who has since visited us in Alaska two years ago.  He joined up this evening and will be our eyes, ears, and mouths as we travel the Loire Valley over the next several days.

Day 37 - Our UK Adventure Ends...Off to Paris

With four HEAVY bags and an hour commute by bus and metro, we opted to spring for a taxi to take us to the international train station.  It was a great ride with a very nice driver and we got to see the streets of London one more time before arriving as St. Pancras Station.  It has recently been renovated and everything was fresh and modern...including those trains!  The train was lovely, new and fresh.  The seats were comfortable and the windows were huge.  What we did not expect was the
364.4 kph (227 mph speed).  We left the station and traveled about an hour before entering the "chunnel."  On the other side it was about another hour and we were in Paris.


Arriving in Paris was a bit of a culture shock.  The Gare du Nord station is old and dirty.  The place was swamped...and it was over 90^.  The Hertz car rental counter was staffed by the stereotypical gruff and poor service oriented frenchman...who had to be warmed up at bit before we got served and finally found our car.  Figuring how to get out of the underground -8th floor of the basement garage was quite a task...and then that famous Paris 5:00 PM and the end of the workday!  Bobbie, Andi, and George got their first view of the famous Montmarte district.

And yes, this is the famous night club.

We wound through the center of the city and finally settled into our really great 10th floor flat where we will spend the next two weeks.  Small but it works for four.  The view is awesome it is still VERY HOT!!!

Day 36 - Chislehurst Caves and a Night at the Theater

This was our last day before heading on to Paris and we decided to get outside of London.  We traveled by regional train to the village of Chiselhurst and their famous chalk caves.  The caves were first dug by the Druids over 4,000 years ago.  Next came the Romans around 50 BC, followed by countless Britons and Normans.  Eventually they were taken over by country folk who used the chalk as fertilizer for crops. Napoleon III had a turn as well.  During WWII they were a bomb shelter and hospital.  There was a concert venue there as well with former performers like David Bowie, Hendrix, Joplin, Beatles, Dave Clark Five, etc., etc., etc.  Very cool indeed.

Our tour was about an hour, wandering around 5KM of the 220 KM system.  There were mockups of the WWII usage and a few Druid altars.  It was VERY DARK and all we had for light were kerosene lanterns.  The guide was a young fellow with a very heavy cockney accent.  It was a GREAT tour and the trip out to the village was fun.

From there we headed into London for a evening at the National Theater.  We had dinner at a local pub, The Duke of Wellington no less, and then got great seats for a performance of "The Majority."  It was an interesting one-man show that incorporated audience participation using voting devices.  The script changed based on the vote of the majority.  It had a political aspect and there was both humor and gravity.  It was a great way to end our UK Adventure.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day 35 - A Theater Day on the West End


Today was a "ME" day and Bobbie particiapted.  We headed into the city for the National Theater Backstate Tour.  We were taken throiugh the Olivier and Dorfman auditoriams.  Huge and really cool stages.  We went backstage for an hour tour of the set and prop departments.  Enjoyed it throughly AND we now have tickets for a unique performance tomorrow night.

The tour included the new section of the workshops dedicated a few years ago by the queen.

One of the coolest things for me was seeing the revolving drum stage.  Here it is being constructed years ago and below all set up.  Make sure you watch the links to see how it works.  The elevator floor goes down five levels to store sets and such and is split into two parts so that one side and go up while the other comes down.  Watching it in action is quite an experience!

Here are the videos of it in operation:

National Theater Drum Revolve I

National Theater Drun Revolve II

After the tour we wandered around the South Thames Theater District, visited the street market for a bit of lunch, and then headed back home.