Change of Pace in HK

  Oh boy. Overload. I arrived in HK at 6.05 and made my streamlined way to a hotel I booked on the island. I usually stay in the Salisbury ( former YMCA- singalong!) I decided I had a whole day to explore but like having a room to come and go from when it’s s late flight. Next time I’m back to the Salisbury. It’s right next door to the Peninsular. It has classy neighbours. Has views, is near a huge shopping centre….. Where I was had no where you could easily walk to but offered shuttle buses. Now there’s a story! 

Also the island feels s little disjointed. Or it did to me. Very spread out and big roads to cross. I like the feeling on Kowloon. 

Anyway I got to the hotel at 7.45am via express train and said shuttle bus. They upgraded me to a suite! For a day! Very …… Chinese. 


Two rooms in a lovley shade of purple

 I showered and thought I have a nap but that didn’t work so I got the shuttle down to explore Causeway Bay. It’s very bright and shiney and most shops were closed, so I went to Victoria Park for a walk and mixed with all the amahs – the nannies of the working rich. It’s their traditional day off on Saturday so as they have no home to return to they meet in the parks. Most are  from the Phillapines so they hang together in the parks. They do each other’s hair, paint nails, laugh, eat buns of some description,  it’s so interesting to watch.  

Lovely park with the nannies in view

By now I was pretty hungry. I only had a banana for breakfast on the plane because everything was flour- pancakes, frittata, Bircher muesli. So I  had to wait for the breakfast places to finish so I could have lunch. I didn’t want a hotel buffet and the local restaurants were jam packed with locals. So I found a place on’Eat Street’ and they did smaller dishes of ‘street food’. I had some satay and a a delicious soft shell crab salad. Yum. Washed down with a mojito. Non alcoholic. 

So after lunch I wandered the shops but they are either high end labels or slightly tacky local shops. Was looking for Chinese pjs for Clare’s little Jack and Zali but couldn’t find them before my energy ran out. Next time! 

Streets scenes here are fascinating. Especially when it rains which it did. And the noise of Jack hammers. They must be rebuilding everything. 

Back to the hotel to enjoy my suite before showering again for the flight home. The traffic looked bad so I got the early shuttle which was late and so crowded with our bags piled high. I regretted not getting a taxi to the express train which is great. 

So now sitting in the lounge sipping a bubble or two looking forward to seeing everyone and feeling very blessed. Seeing my sister in Sydney tomorrow for her grandchildren’s 1st and 2nd joint birthday party. Steve’s flying to Sydney so we return home Monday. Rob and Jordan have been messaging in transit from Singapore and Pete and El are in Cambodia. The only ones working at the moment. 

Watching planes come and go with names like Wow, Scoot, Polar, Skid, and feel pleased to be flying good old Qantas. 

See you soon friends 



Last Day in Strasbourg 

I treated myself to a slower start today after my last few days of journeying into the countryside. I packed most of my things. Thank you Steve for taking some of my things home for me. 

Then headed out for a last exploration of streets I hadn’t visited and a freshen up before lunch. 

To my delight Bernadette V , Jill’s friend had emailed me to arrange to meet for lunch today. This was despite the fact her husband is retiring from his position as a Judge on the Eurooean Court, her adult children were in town visiting and they are off to Rome tomorrow for a farewell with Colleagues. I really appreciate Bernie making time to meet me. 

We met at 12.30 and she led me through streets I hadn’t been,  past a restaurant called La Crocodile (a  restaurant where her family had dined last night) to a lovely cafe over a Foie Gras specialist boutique. We had a lovely Foie Gras salad with asparagus, beans and baby prawns. With a glass of Pinot Gris it was my kind of lunch. 


Maison de Foie Gras

 We chatted for ages and have many things in common. She’s a Brisbane girl but married a European man and has now lived in Strasbourg for 30 years. Like me she swims…. And reads. And she is living my dream life. 

Tales of her children’s weddings this year were fascinating especially her daughter’s wedding: married into a family with connections to the famous Armani label. What a dress. What a wedding. Thank you sharing Bernie. 


I might have my after vino here?


I nearly joined the kids for a quick run under the sprinkler


A quick goodbye to the girls.


A last walk along the river

    After lunch I did some last minute shopping and ventured into areas behind the Cathedral. I’m sitting in one of the Cathedral’s deck chairs with a cool breeze to head off the heat of the afternoon, watching children play in the spraying water, young people meeting and air kissing, oldies holding hands sitting side by side on the deck chairs, buskers playing decent music, dogs being taken for their afternoon airing and  cyclists avoiding the pedestrians. Locals have learned to live with tourists and don’t seem to be too annoyed by the strolling picture snapping hoards cluttering their cobbled paths.  It’s a wonderful street scene. And it’s all over. 


A selfie of me relaxing in a deck chair.

I stopped for a drink, people watching as I sipped. It’s interesting. Nobody here appears to drink too much. That could be because the waiters are generally so slow! They sit on one drink and smoke at least 3 cigarettes. Lots of chat and smoke. They take their kids to drinks and to dinner and I didn’t see one children on an iPad or iPhone. They were either joining in the chat or playing nearby. It’s safe in piazzas/ plaza. 

Back to the hotel to pay the bill and get things organised for the morning. My train to CDG airport leaves here at 7.45. So I’ll be having to get going. 

It’s been a wonderful week of independent living. Lonely at times but really peaceful and recharging. 

I’ll be pleased to be home but oh how I’d love to live in Europe for awhile. Perhaps as a ‘your tour guide’. I could plan your next holiday! I’d have to live here to get it just right! 
See you all soon and thanks for coming along on the holiday  with me. 

Summer Camp with the Germans 

Today I took a trip to Germany. I thought a visit to the grand Baroque town of Baden Baden would be a change of gear from the cuteness of yesterday’s wine villages of Alsace. I know Germany also has cute villages but Baden Baden is renowned as a spa town and I thought I might take to the waters and get nude with the Germans! 

So off I went on the train,  having to change trains as we hit Germany. I was then squashed like a German sardine with the holiday campers. Oma and Opa and all the kiddies were taking all the seats. The parents must be working.  The little German princes took most of the seats and their rather large Omas and Opas took the rest. I had to stand squashed with the left overs as they sang and chatted all the way to Baden Baden.  


Just a small selection of the happy campers. hundreds more were on the train as it pulled in.

   Not a great start. Then I had to get the bus and once again super crowded and standing for 15 mins. My poor feet were already tired. I had to recover in  the nearest cafe with coffee. 

Headed straight to the mountain look out and fortunately had done my internet homework as the tourist office was not to be found. I knew which bus and about the combined bus and funicular ticket –  even the bus driver had to make a call to find out how much it was. But Trip Advisor had me all informed and it was a smooth trip to the funicular and up the top of the mountain. The views were magnificent. 

 A dear little Oma took my photo after snapping about 106 of her little prince. She was very sweet though and offered when she saw me standing looking out.  Up the mountain there was sun baking and hiking ( with sticks of course). I chose looking. 

A beautiful sunbaking spot

After returning back to Centre Ville I went to the day spa. There are 3. I toyed with the idea and went in and collected the brochure. It all looked very smart. Modern and very blue and white. But it was a mixed day all nude, and I wasn’t sure I could cope with all those German bodies male as well as the females  ( or if they could cope with me) I decided I’d be too lonely on my own and went and had a nice lunch nearby and watched people coming and going from the spa. For 40€ I could have an hour and a half moving through a series of ‘stations’ hot shower , steam, hotter shower, scrub, hot shower, plunge and so it went , through all 12 stations till the final plunge and lay in the sun. I thought it would be fascinating and certainly I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew ( no Jann Scott I know you think I always know someone). But I decided no! 


The Spa. modern temple of indulgence.

Still the lunch was delicious. And it did me for dinner as well. 

I wandered around the town and it’s beautiful parks and gardens. Went to the Casino and window shopped ( very expensive). Missed Steve…….. And went to the Faberge museum. More expensive trinkets.  

Then for the return! I was hoping for a seat on the bus and two trains as by now my left foot was aching! Bus -tick a seat. First train fortunately the happy campers were missing but the workers were on it.  Imagine. Hot summers day , hard workers, crowded train = BO. Though I did have a seat. Then a change of platform ( which involves a 7 min walk to another train station, in the middle of nowhere.  Well it’s hardly a station. Just 1 line,  no seats, and confusingly called 9!)  Blaring sun. Train didn’t come. I’m on the platform with an assortment of men. Tourists, bike riders, some who looked like refugees, and me! Train was 15 mins late. Uncertainty is a bonding experience as after 10 mins when our train notice had disappeared from the board most of us started to chat. I was the only English speaker. Finally limped back to the hotel for R&R by 6.15 and rested up till I went out to a concert at 8.30.  

Steve , I know you’ll be sad when you hear how good it was. A trombone concert in the Cathedral. Great program. Great sound. Great seat. Four great trombonists. Enough said. 

Had a glass of chanti at an Italian wine bar on the way home and now ready for bed. 

I have some great photos but they won’t all load. I’ll try tomorrow. 

Winding our way down the wine route

Would there be anyone there at the designated meeting place? I hoped so.I decided to shower there to save time

 I booked on the Internet and was hoping Trip Advisor had got it right. Sure enough Florence, ‘Call me Flo’ arrived with her big blue van at 9.30, with headset in place and off we went. We didn’t really get to say hello to the other day trippers till we were away. There were Nancy and Tony from Southern California ( he was Welsh) Brian and Jessica a young couple from Pittsburgh, and Linda and Bob from San Francisco ( he announced he knew lots about wine and really only liked sweet wines ! Right! and Hansito ( not sure of the spelling ) a very nice courteous young man from Japan. 

We hit the road and I was sitting in the back row bonding with the young couple in probably the worst seats but yeh we are the young ones! Well I wasn’t but …….


Jessica, Brian and I happy in the backseat.

Flo was a font of knowledge on all things to do with Alsace and made a very enthusiastic outline of our day. First stop was a vineyard with Mariette our winemaker host. It was a small family vineyard producing about 35,000 bottles a year. Whites,  Reislings, Pinot Gris, Cremeant which is their name for Sparkling ( they don’t like the idea they can’t use Champagne as a name)  we had 6 tastings and Bob kept pushing for sweet wines  – a theme that continued for the day. There were some very drinkable whites. The Reislings are lovely in this area as are the Pinot Gris. 


You can even camp at this vineyard! Check out the grapes. 

Then onto Lucy and her son Maxime. Very professional tasting of some very nice wines. 

serious business

Then lunch  – a free hour in the most lovely small village. It was alive with wooden buildings , flowers and jaunty outdoor umbrellas. 


Beautiful lunch spot , the one with the white umbrellas

I thought by now the group would have bonded and we would eat together but no the couples scattered and lovely Jessica and Brian the young couple asked me to join them. Brian even paid for me which was embarrassing but I repaid with a bottle of Rose sparkling they enjoyed at the tasting at the next vineyard. 


Another lovely village

After lunch we faced the no nonsense super knowledgable Martine, a former engineer. They are a big winery producing 2 million bottles a year and export to Australia. Very good wines. 


outside our next stop. appropraitely named Louise Sipp with Tony, Nancy and Jessica

Our last stop was the one probably most like Australian vineyards. We stood at the bar and didn’t have much import from the winemaker. The only thing I bought was a wine cooler. So I can be a poser at home as I chill my wines. At this winery I particularly liked the the Rose Cremant. 

We event finished our buying and headed back to Strasbourg. The weather was beautiful and it was a fantastic day. Great wines. 

I went back to my Vietnamese restaurant tonight for a bowl of prawn and noddle soup. Yum. Tomorrow off the Germany. Baden Baden. 

Train Journeys

Ive recovered from last night, the non dinner companion man, the never ending music, the late light show and a few blisters. Ready for more today………

I was going to stay in Strasbourg but the weather fined so I hot footed it to the station and caught the train to Colmar a half hour away. It’s reportedly a gorgeous Alsace town and fairly central in the wine region. Hope it quieter being a Monday and overcast. 

I’ve been enjoying the wine. This is a white area. Mostly Reislings and Pinot Gris. I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow as I’ve booked whole day wine tour. Small group of 8 in a van. This could be interesting. Lots of different people. Hope they are interesting. It’s English speaking so probably Aussies and English. Maybe American. 

I arrived in Colmar and walked the 12 mins or so through a lovely park to the Centre Ville. 

Then it started to rain and the Tourist Office had moved to another unsign posted place so I jumped on the little train. Yes I was amongst the old , worn out, young and wet people. In my little row there were the only other English speakers. An older couple from Canada. They thought I was English and I thought they were American. So we corrected ourselves and got along well. He was interesting because he told me he’d designed and driven a solar panel car in the first race across Australia in 1990. He was from Vancouver University. Most interesting. 

The little tour was a good orientation to a beautiful town. If you haven’t been to this region I really would advise it. It’s beautiful, good food, great wine, easy to get around and close to Germany to be able to get there as well. 

There is a charming Little Venice complete with boat ride. Too wet for most though. 

I walked back in the rain to the station only to get splashed by a car driving through a puddle. Shame on you French driver. 

At the station I went into the ticket office and booked a ticket to Baden Baden in Germany. Going there on Wednesday. Hope the weather clears. I haven’t been into Germany for ages so a little taste will be a treat. 

Back to hotel for R&R then Out to dinner. I can’t wait for the Vietnamese restaurant to open tomorrow night. Tonight a very quick meat and veg at a busy cafe near the carousel. Tonight I took my book! 
Tomorrow the wine tour. 

Who can guess what this is a statue of? It’s a copy of a famous one. 

It’s funny eating by yourself. 

I was off to a concert but needed dinner, so chose a place not far from the hotel and the Cathedral. When I arrived there were only 2-3 tables occupied. So he sits me on a long banquet, with six little tables,  next to the only other single person! A man. 

How embarrassing. He  looked not too exciting, in fact he looked a bit odd but I can’t really say why because I didn’t want to look at him. 

So I remained composed , but we stuck out like a sore thumb and for a change people looked ( when on your own you are often invisible), wondering if we were a couple at adjacent tables – not talking – only he was talking – to himself. I was very careful not to get eye contact in case he engaged me in conversation. When my meal arrived I heard a voice say ‘ Bon Appetit’ I snuck a quick look and said Merci. 

Thank goodness he didn’t speak English. Anyway it was a nice meal  – duck with veggies. 

I’m writing this to distract myself! 

Whoops , another couple have arrived as I’m leaving. Hope they don’t think I’m with this strange man! 

It’s now after the concert and the saga continued. 

When I left the restaurant to walk in the drizzle to the cathedral, my strange dinner companion came walking past me! He was on his way to the concert. We took a slightly different route but I arrived at the door just behind him. “Please don’t see me ” I thought, but he engaged the doorman in some conversation that had only him laughing and I snuck I behind him. The cathedral was almost 3/4 full and the concert was great. 

It was an ensemble called Balthasar. There were 10 male and 6 female singers. 2 violinists , 4 cellists, 3 trombones, a sax and an oboe. Unusual mix but absolutely perfect sound in the lovely cathedral. The conductor a Frenchman, a lookalike for Robbie Williams,  in a beautifully fitting suit was fascinating to watch.  Only problem was it went on with no break for 1 1/2 hrs. 

It ran up to 10pm so then I went outside for the 10.15pm light show. Unlike Bayeux where the show was on the trunk of a huge tree this one was on the whe side of the cathedral. It was wonderful. It reconstructed the building of the cathedral. Wonderful. 

This photo doesn’t do it justice. It was beautiful. It had figures climbing scaffolding, bricks falling, mosaics being installed. 

So I staggered home with my blistered toe just before 11 

Off to Colmar tomorrow. 

My view in the restaurant with the stranger on my left. 

Might have take away tomorrow ! 

A slow Sunday in Strasbourg

The French slow down on Sundays. Everything is closed, so it’s all about eating,  drinking and meeting friends. No shops except the touristy ones. 

So I started with Mass in the Cathedral and it was so lovely and peaceful. I was so judgemental towards the tourists who thought they could just wander around! . Particularly the Asian variety who slipped through the barriers and wandered down the aisles taking photos. The ushers made quick work of getting rid of them so the 4 priests, several servers, the choir and someone dressed in what appeared to be a religious army uniform could get on with the Mass. 

 This photo was taken after the Mass finished! 

When I left the church there were a group of traditionally dressed people outside being accosted by a rather inappropriately dressed lady who insisted on a photo with them. See if you can spot the inappropriate outfit. I wonder who bought it for her!  Or perhaps it was her I her younger years. There is a resemblance. 

After all the singing – the head priest had a very good voice despite the amount of smoke being thrown around, it was time for coffee at a nearby coffee place. Believe me there is no shortage of places to eat and drink. It’s quite a touristy place here but you can escape the hordes as I did by crossing the river. 

Here’s the coffee I had. Ginetta and Wendy check out the sugars! One for each of you.  I was thinking of you both wishing you were here with me   
Then it was exploring time. I found:

The Sunday cyclists: John, Marg, Jenny, Andmc0 I was thinking of you

 Old postcards 
 Views from a bridge. The way to arrive for lunch 
More beautiful scenes  
And when I stopped for a gorgeous salad for lunch the guards arrived. Someone important was around. They moved off in a little group after about 1/2 hr 
After lunch I headed off for a tram ride to experience Sunday in a big park. Parc de l’Orangerie. Beautiful only half an hour after I got there  it started to rain! 

Back on a crowded train and I got off too early and had to walk further. So now in the hotel room writing and catching up before dinner and the concert. 

Enjoy your weekend I hope? 

Paris to Strasbourg

Oh my. I’m all alone. After all the wonderful company of the past few weeks now it’s just me. I had a lonely dinner last night where I had free wifi along with my Italian salad and wrote my previous blog. 

I slept late then walked as you do in Paris. The morning light was lovely on the river and I headed towards one if my favourite areas. The Marais. It’s always interesting. Great shopping. Great people watching. Just wandering. Anyone visiting Paris , this is a great place especially on a Sunday when most of the shops etc are closed on Sunday. I’d recommend the Carnavalet Museum. It tells the history of Paris and is in a wonderful building. 

It was a quick taxi to Gare de l’est and onto the TGV for. 2 hr 20 min ride to Strasbourg. I’m not sure what I expected from Strasbourg but I was delighted to find a really charming city dominated by its Cathedral which is celebrating the Millenium of its foundations. So it’s summer time , party time. 

All alone the streets near the Cathedral there are statues of people all doing everyday things 

 i even made some new friends

There are deck chairs and fountains to play in

And a light show each night. I thought I might have gone tonight but by 10.15 when it started I was too tired and headed for the hotel. I did go on a river cruise for an hour. It circles to old town and you can see the building from the 1600’s restored and looking beautiful. 

The boat ride was great. Full of German, French and Asians and I swear I was the only one listening to English commentary. The boat goes through two locks and it’s fun to travel along at a leisurely pace and see the wonderful buildings. As you move around the city you get to all the important buildings. The European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights. All very stylish new buildings. 

I was hoping to meet up with a friend of Jill Wilsons’.  But as it turns out this is a super busy week for them. Her husband is retiring this week! He’s been a Judge in the Eurpoean Court and his term is coming to an end. They are caught up with celebrations. So I doubt very much if she’ll have a minute to spare. It would have been interesting. 

I had a great dinner after coming off the boat cruise. It was at a Vietnamese restaurant ! It just looked so lovely and fresh and clean that I thought I’d give a different type of food a go. And was it delicious! Yes. I really wanted the rice paper rolls but thought it would be too much so settled for the prawns in a light curry sauce with vegetable. Yum. After all the frites it’s nice to have wok veggies. I got talking to the owner who was the only waiter. His mum was in the kitchen and they only have 30 seats and it appeared to be all booked out. So as he said to me ” you are lucky” I also had a lovely Pinot Gris.  I was lucky and I’m going back. ( I saw him in the street today and he remembered me!) 

So off to bed to plan the week. So much to choose from. Poor Steve will be sad to hear there is a trombone festival. I’ll go to the concert in the Cathedral for him 

I’m also planning Mass tomorrow – a music one. All sung 

A concert tomorrow night. 

A trip to Colmar on the train. Apparently a beautiful town. 

I booked a wine tour for the day. Small group of 8 visiting the Alsace wine areas doing a bit of tasting and visiting a couple of the charming villages and having lunch. Hope I get a nice group! It is in English so we’ll see! Also might take a train to Baden Baden in Germany if I have the energy! 


My new friends invited me to afternoon tea! 

Our walk to Montmatre


  Past the meringue……. 
Through the passages……..  
Smell the flowers  

 Spot a bride  

Lust after the Rose  

Admire Moulin Rouge

 Drink the wine. Eat the food.  

Admire the view  
 Smile contentedly  
  Leave the Teressa Hotel and Restaurant behind me as I roll down the hill. A lovely afternoon

Paris: sigh! Walking the streets of Paris. 

You all know I love Italy …….. But Paris tests my love for that other great city. Roma!  

We arrived later than we thought and found our little hotel with its lovely but little rooms. This time I choose Hotel St Honore in Rue Honore near Rue Rivoli and Les Halles. It’s very nice in this area and quite convenient to lots of things. 

We walked around having our first drink near the Seine,  then found a not too bad restaurant and had a nice meal but I’m over frittes. Still the wine from Burgundy was lovely. I had tried to book a few restaurants before we left home but quite a few of the smaller ones are closed for the holidays. Disappointing. I’ll have to come again! 

We slept well in our little shoe box ( big by Paris standards) but small compared with our lovely riad in Tarifa. We’re also missing the company! 

We had our usual breakfast. Though not much for me ! It sucks being gluten free when they offer bread and pastries. Sometimes I have eggs but not this morning. Juice and coffee! 

Then off we set. We walked and walked. Up Rue Montgrueil with its markets and delicious food shops 

  along the coveted passages, finding Paris’ only gluten free bakery called Noglu. I think I’ll franchise it. I bought a small brioche. 

Noglu tarts. Yum!

The Galleries La Fayette. Gorgeous but so expensive! I did receive a new watch from Steve. Thank you Stevie. Mine got water in it and the glass fell out. I got another Skagen. It’s got a white face this time. Lovely. Thanks 

This beautiful ‘Grand Magazine’  – Department store is mostly serving Asian  tourists. On the designer floors they were the only shoppers we could spot. 

I also bought some sandals. Mephistos. Very comfy. 

We walked all the way to lunch. I had booked Terasse. It’s a small roof top restaurant above a very smart hotel in Monmartre. It was great. Lovely views of the Eiffel Tower and great food. 

  Gravlax. Yum.   
Delicious fish and sweet potato three ways. No FRITTES! 

Combined with lovely wine and a happy lunch companion. It was lovely. 

We then walked most of the way back down to Rue Rivoli and I bought my tickets for the train to Strasbourg. 

We walked along the Seine and I was sad Steve was leaving. 

Tomorrow I pack and cart my bag in my own to Gard Est bound for Strasbourg.