Welcome to new blog post #8!
Quick announcement! Please join me on my new Facebook page called: Allison Lund – writer and leisure traveler. I’ve had the idea for quite some time to go public, and today was the day to jump in the new social media pool! I want to share my journey, words and photos with more people and I welcome you to invite others who may be interested! Merci!
So, grab a beverage of your choice and meet me back here for this ‘catch-up’ blog! ‘Catch-up‘ is also code word for: it’s a bit of a long entry.
Where are you heading in this blog? Rouen, France, Freiburg Germany, Basel & Dornach, Switzerland, London, England – back to Paris and lastly to Essen, Germany….and a little update at the end.
In November, I visited a good friend from University in Rouen, France – her new home! Rouen is about 45 minutes away from Paris and has many beautiful sights to behold including the spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral. It’s facade was painted often by one of my favorite artists, Claude Monet. It is there that he spent much time painting the ever-changing colours of the sky and its effects on the Cathedral. You can find some of these famous paintings in Paris at the Orsay Museum.
As a side note, many of the churches, cathedrals and the abbey in Rouen have funny visiting hours so check ahead! But what Rouen is particularly known for is the site marking Joan of Arc’s pyre. What a thought. This sectioned off little garden and tall cross has a way of immediately stimulating the imagination about what happened so long ago.
We visited the Fine Arts Museum, enjoyed a leisure lunch at a fun creperie, wondered and chatted, and ended the day with a visit with her new friends. We ate delicious raclette and drank yummy wine. Raclette is a cow milk based cheese that is melted in a raclette grill, where you then luxuriously pour melted gooeyness onto anything you want! (especially potatoes, among other things!). Our host happened to be renting an apartment across the street from the Cathedral – what a sight! Check out the photographs on my new Facebook page!
Shortly after that journey, I was off to Sierentz in Alsace, France to visit ‘Ma famille francaise”. What a great pre-Christmas trip! Upon arriving, we immediately drove to Freiburg Germany to visit the famous German Christmas Market. (I had made a short bucket list for this return trip and they were so helpful in making it all happen!).
It was a windy chilly evening, but how can you not smile when seeing people enjoying themselves, perusing and admiring the amazing artistry of the merchants, drinking and eating traditional delicacies, and enjoying a cup of hot mulled wine!
The following day, I took a solo trip to reunite with Basel, Switzerland after 15 years! I visited two Christmas Markets there, and strolled around almost all day, enjoying the pulse of the town with fresh eyes.
The following day, we (almost the whole family) went to Dornach, Switzerland. We had a quick visit in the Goetheanum! It’s an architecturally curious building designed by Rudolf Steiner. It houses a concert hall, a library, a bookstore and there are many conferences that are held annually in this unique building. Care for a virtual tour? Follow this link: Goetheanum and surrounding buildings in Dornach Switzerland. After a lovely walk around the neighbourhood buildings and homes all inspired by R. Steiner, we visited the ruins of Dorneck Castle a short car ride away. As you will probably discover in the photographs from that day, there are barbeque pits around the castle. Now, who wouldn’t want to hold a BBQ party against the ruins of an old, old castle, I ask you!
Within a week, it was time to go to LONDON, England!! After flying through London Airports a few dozen times, I finally saw a little bit of London up close! It was also my first Eurostar voyage!
First on the agenda was Buckingham Palace where coincidentally dozens of paparazzi photographers were capturing royal guests (I’m assuming for tea) entering the Palace property. They took pictures of gorgeous cars and dressed up people. I was kind of hoping to see Queen – but you can’t have it all. After walking around a bit it was time to visit the famous Harrods and have a spot of tea, crumpets and scones – seriously…. heaven! Although tea time was a decided activity, getting my haircut at the Harrods salon was a spontaneous activity. Off to the salon I went where I was offered….tea, and after I had already reached my 2 liters quota moments before, I kindly declined. Some bubbly water, a scalp massage and a great cut later – oh happy day! I’m thinking, great, I found someone awesome to cut my hair and where is she?…London. I guess I’ll just have to go back to London for my next hair cut. I am chuckling to myself as I type that out. If I happen to be in London again exactly when I need a hair cut – I know where to go.
Fighting with the clock a little, only arriving 5 minutes late (I didn’t quite know how long it would take to get to the venue), I had the pleasure of listening to friend from University perform in Handel’s Messiah – the one night I happen to be in London. Very fortuitous indeed!. The concert was held in Greenwich at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel. After being swept away by the magic of Handel’s music performed by Trinity Laban Choral Scholars, local volunteers with the Southern Sinfonia UK (conducted by Ralph Allwood), I had a short, record breaking visit with my old friend from Uni (as the British say!) during a smidgen of the intermission and a tad at the end before we both had to dash! (I’m becoming more British by the minute). I took the subway/tube back where I would spend a cozy evening attempting to fall asleep at my cute hotel located near Nottinghill. The next and final day in London consisted of a ton of walking outside – which is how I like to visit new places. I make it a soft rule to stay/play outside as much as possible when I am traveling especially in usually rainy locations. All those wonderful museums and galleries will have to wait until next time!
I walked across the famous London Bridge, then went to Westminster Abbey (which was closed inside for the afternoon as they geared up for masses for Christmas), admired and heard Big Ben strike 12, got my dad a few gifts from the Parliament gift shop, walked around Trafalgar Square and saw levitating street performers (and had fun watching the faces of children look in awe!), all the while listening to a hardly dressed, what looked like a true Scotsman play the bagpipes like no one’s business! Then off to Covent Garden area (yet another Christmas market) and around and about Picadilly and ended up somewhere on route to Oxford and Bond Street. That kind of walking drums up a bit of an appetite! I know what you are wondering: “..you had the tea, what about the fish and chips?” Excellent question. Prior to leaving, I hardly managed to finish this gigantic “one” piece of glorious fish and could not (although I wanted to) finish the mound of chips pipping hot from the frier on this huge plate! All in all, a fabulous first trip to London. Less than a week until Christmas now!
It was my first Christmas season abroad. Paris of course was stunning around the holidays with millions of lights everywhere! I celebrated Christmas with my housemates with a lovely meal together. I did make my traditional smoked salmon pate as an appetizer (I had a little left in those vacuum packs from BC!) Oh how I miss Salmon (in all forms) from BC…I digress. Although I am used to a German Christmas cold meal, we enjoyed a warm dinner with turkey, delicious red cabbage with apple and other German specialties! Dessert was a homemade French log cake and very tasty!. We managed to stay up until the wee-hours of the morning listening to music and chatting the night away!
It was also around Christmas eve that I was struck with bronchitis that lasted a couple/few weeks. As soon as I was feeling healthier, feeling optimistic about the new year, the tragedies in Paris hit this city hard. It was a somber and extremely sad week of scary events. My heart went out to all those affected not only here but also around the world. Paris continues to be on high alert, although it has been for over a year now. Yet, I do feel very safe and love this city more and more as time goes on.
Finally, almost two weeks ago I returned to Essen, Germany where I visited my good friend (also from University) and her family, now including 3 month old baby girl, cutie patootie! I spoke about their summer wedding in Essen in blog #6. I enjoyed playing with this sweet little girl and acting a little silly myself! Upon returning home, I greeted the 14 year old arthritic dog with the same upbeat kind of cute-like sounding voice. It took me a moment to readjust!
So here we are…with exciting travel plans ahead. In April, I will visit family in Naples for Easter (I’m still amazed it worked with my work schedule), and then two weeks later, I will fly to Santiago, Spain to walk 120 Km of the Camino. I also have much to share about Paris (had to keep this blog short-ish) and some exciting news regarding some personal (travel) projects!
Until next time, I hope to see you on my new Facebook page!
So, Go to it, go for it, and go live it! (Allison-ism continues)
Your go to girl!