Sunday, 30 October 2011

That Was The Week That Was.

This last week, I was lucky enough to be able to choose what to do as being a teacher, it was Half Term break.

I really enjoy my job and you won't find me grumbling too hard about our present conditions, (though of course, I feel pretty differently about having our pensions stolen).

Much as I'd like to pretend I was working hard, due to staying as late as the caretaker would allow me for the two weeks before the break, I didn't really have too much to do.

The week started well with the previously reported on 4-0 win over Carlisle.
Sunday was pretty laid back with plenty of coffee, toast and favourite sounds to listen to.

On Monday, I trotted over to St Pancras station to join the Eurostar train to Paris.
I've travelled Eurostar on quite a few occasions. I still enjoy it and marvel at the engineering of the tunnel, along with the fact that it is now not much over 2 hours before you can be sitting in a 'Paul' with a nice sandwich or cake and an espresso.

I love Paris and I've seen most of the tourist sights many times. For this reason I didn't go charging around with an itinerary, I just ambled around, propping up bars, sitting in cafes while taking in the life of a city geographically very close but culturally very different.

I do enjoy visiting the Tour Montparnasse for the wonderful panoramic view of the city. It has the benefit of rarely being busy and never having the long lines of clueless tourists that wreck a visit to the more famous Tour Eiffel.
From the top the view is spectacular.

In recent years the roof terrace has had glass added around the edge which is a bit of a shame, as part of the 'fun' used to be nearly being knocked off your feet by the wind as you opened the door to climb the final few steps.

I only spent a short time at the top, though I did make use of the excellent cafe a few floors below.

Despite actively not wanting to be a 'tourist', my  iPhone was out of my pocket like greased lightning to take the above snap.

Over the next few days I enjoyed ambling about, kicking my heels by the side of the Seine, though I particularly like the atmosphere around Pont Saint Michel and Saint Germain.

I can kill an afternoon here, just doing absolutely nothing. A cafe, a newspaper and I'm as happy as can be.

Unfortunately, I had to take refuge in an Irish Pub when the heavens opened.
(Poor me).
The rain came down so speedily that being outside was just impossible. The ancient streets were quickly deep enough to lose your shoes, as happened to an unfortunate girl who had stepped out in a variation on the flip flop.

My favourite place to be in Paris is at Montmartre, especially in the evening when the sun goes down.
I love heading up to Sacre Coeur to see the lights come on over the city. It is most definitely a feel good moment for me.

Again, I just couldn't help reaching for my iPhone to take some pictures, almost identical to all the others I've taken in just the same place.

On this particular trip I managed to find my current 'best salade Nicoise in the world'.

Along with my permanent quest for the best coffee, the best beer (real ale), I will nearly always choose a 'SN' when one is available.
The one I had at a fine eaterie in Montmartre hit all the notes, including good quality green beans, not skimping on the anchovies and the most perfectly 'just so' slightly runny eggs.
I also detected some basil oil had been used.
It was perfect.

I started to walk back to my hotel, passing through the seedy Pigalle area (with the coach loads of tourists all arriving for the Moulin Rouge) before hopping on the Metro as it started to rain.

I had a very enjoyable rest of the evening listening to Charlton put Wycombe to the sword through the online commentary.

A great result away from home. (2-1 win).

The next morning I sat at a pavement cafe, reading and thinking how happy I was.
 Easy Life.
I spent most of the morning at the ultra modern la Defense region on the western extreme of the city.

I particularly like the Grande Arche, (it's huge!) and how it is perfectly lined up so you can stand under it and also be looking through the Arc de Triomphe way off in the distance.

The Arc de Triomphe is in the distance, I promise!

My journey home to London was event free.
 Even when a young mum, carrying crying twin babies threatened to sit near me, it didn't change my blissful existence.
(Luckily, she'd got the wrong seat).

On Thursday morning I got up and drove South in order to enjoy my dad's birthday. He had requested we all visit the Still and West Portsmouth.
My dad was born at Southsea, Portsmouth and this particular pub is a place of pilgrimage for our family.
It's a great pub that my gran, (his mum) and her sisters used to frequent in the 1930's and after.

We always comment and nod as we pass 'grandma's chair' where she would spend time in a bygone age.
What she'd have made of customers (me) asking for the WIFI password and the Gales Ales now being Fuller's I don't know but it's always special for us to visit.

The family enjoyed a fine meal while watching the ships going past the window.

Portsmouth has changed a bit over recent years but we weren't going to visit Gunwharf Quays or the Spinnaker Tower, we spent the afternoon going around HMS Victory.

It's many years since I went around the Victory and it was great to share the experience with my nephew Jack.

I stayed with the family until Saturday afternoon when I drove home, arriving just in time to listen to Charlton stuffing Hartlepool 4-0.

Back to work tomorrow and for once, I feel I've used my time off constructively.


ChicagoAddick said...

Great post Marco. I have being thinking about France a lot lately and will try to coerce to force the other half into making a tri0p next summer.

Sounds like a really enjoyable week off.

Becky said...

You must be working undercover for the French tourist board! I think Paris in Spring is on the cards..

Becky said...

And by the way , you take a good picture! Love the one at the still and west !