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Technical issues

The original intention here was to store photos using Google Picasa because I have no scrapbook space left on LJ.  So I learned how to use Picasa effectively - and about 2 days into the trip I get an e-mail saying they're shutting down Picasa and it's all moving over to Google Photos - which is a pain to use.  The last two posts have broken pictures becuase I forgot to put the photos in a shared album.

I may get around to fixing it during the holidays - I may not.  In the meantime I'll be posting random things on Facebook and Tumblr (mostly in the Band of Brothers tag - all tagged "Bayeux to Bayou" as well), because both of those website do their own photo hosting.

Best hotel award

We are staying at the Merceny Motel in Bastogne.  Yes, this is a motel on the side of the road but don't think for a moment that it's dodgy.  It's obviously very new and very modern.

First, you can park for free right at the door like any good motel.  No stressing out over where to park or how much you're going to pay for it like in Bruxelles.  Downstairs is a convenience store with food available.  There is Wi-fi.  It's a short walk from the main town square.

And the ROOM.  It's large, there is a vestibule/foyer area, we finally have a fridge and coffee/tea making facilities.  A wardrobe, an area for a suitcase.  A desk and a small table with two chairs to eat at.  The beds are basic but comfortable.

And the BATHROOM is just luxurious.  Very modern finished concrete, with a large shower cubicle with a massive shower rose and hand sprayer.  You can also switch to mood lighting in there and it feels to me like the kind of shower you'd have outside in a dense garden in the tropics.  I don't have to worry about water going everywhere because it's fully enclosed.  The water sparkles on the floor in the mood lighting and the shadows of water ripples show up on the ceiling.  It's lovely.

I really wish we were here more than two nights.  I'm glad the allies managed to hold Bastogne, so far it's been quite lovely.

*hums Band of Brothers theme*

Well the last two days have been the Normandy tours, the first focusing on the landings at Omaha and Utah beaches, the second focusing on the 101st Airborne (and the 82nd a little).

Amazing to actually SEE these places.  A lot I recognised on approach.  I will try to do some nice posts about places, but at the moment it's so go-go-go that I don't have time.  So I'm uploading everything to Google Photos and hoping to edit and annotate over time.

Wish me luck!
Ugh I am tired.  Lee is very, very late and we're a bit stressed out. :/


Today we visited the three big museums in Bayeux as well as the cathedral.  So I learned a few things -

- The cathedral is almost 1000 years old!!!!  And it has 250 year old graffiti on it.

The Bayeux Tapestry (which is actually an embroidery) is also almost 1000 years old (the cathedral features in the story told on the tapestry).  It has survived amazingly well considering the abuse it has had to endure over it's lifetime, it was once used as a tarp to cover a cart (hundreds of years ago) and hung vertically for a while, which stretched and stressed the fabric and threads.  Somehow they managed to ferry horses across the English channel in boats not much larger than a dinghy.  I don't have any photos of the tapestry because these days they do their utmost to preserve it - thus no photography is allowed.

Bayeux managed to get through WWII without suffering any damage, like 99% of the rest of the towns in Normandy.  It was one of the first cities to be captured by the allies and became the administrative centre of France until Paris was liberated.

"Lucky Strike means fine tobacco!"

The ring road around the walking city centre of Bayeux was constructed during WWII because the streets were too narrow for tanks and trucks to pass easily.

For an Australian, stuff over here is just unbelievably old.

See, it's a toilet that empties right into the river.  No doubt it's now plumbed but it's fascinating. (Nice finger in that photo).

Walking tour of Bayeux

It started with me walking to a nearby park I had identified on Google Maps.  This took me alongside a small, slow river for a bit then I crossed a campground, followed signs back into the city, then took a wrong turn and ended up at the egde of the walking city part of town.

I got some new birds, Chaffinch, Common Moorhen, Collared Dove and a White Stork soaring high.  Apparently White Storks are becoming quite rare in western Europe.

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God bless the walking city

I just returned from a walk around Bayeux - I got a little lost because the blocks here are triangles not squares, so when I think to myself "oh I'll just go down here and then take the parallel street then join up on the next one that intersects the road I left" it doesn't work like that because triangles, and before you know it you are further away than you intended.  When I got to a large roundabout heading into open space with modern looking buildings I figured I had gone the wrong way (we are right near the town centre), but I made it back and in the end I hadn't even walked 4km.

I am finally starting to feel normal again, Bayeux is much more peaceful than the hustle and bustle of Paris, much cooler, much smaller.  And the main drag is a two minute walk away so food is never far away.

We are staying at a B&B and it is the epitome of cuteness.  There are plush toys everywhere and just lots of lovely little decorations and two bookshelves full of books (they are in French, but whatever).

Dodo et Tartines (our B&B)

My bed (the brown one, not the cot)

Desiree's bed

Front room - there are VHS tapes in this bookcase as well as a cassette player.
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So many photos of Paris.  You can't just take one photo of the front of the building because there are decorations EVERYWHERE and it's not like it's the same decoration repeated.  A lot of the time they're all DIFFERENT.

We ended up jumping on an open topped tour bus which took us to all the major sites around the city so I have around a million photos now.

So our first priority was the Palais Garnier.  The Eiffel Tower is actually pretty meh as far as Parisian buildings go, but the Palais Garnier is SPECTACULAR.  I would have been happy just seeing the outside but we did the guided tour and wowowowowowowowow.  I seriously got choked up when I saw the grand staircase.  It's amazing seeing that these places that you've seen in movies and books and read about are REAL.

The front entrance - where the social elite would enter.  That is a bust of the architect Charles Garnier out the front.

Masquerade - paper faces on parade
The grand staircase.

Goddamn look at this everything in this building is exquisite.

The box right next to the stage was intended for Napoleon III, he never ended up using it.  The box beside it is the legendary Box 5 - reserved for Erik - the Phantom of the Opera.

Hark!  She is singing to bring down the chandeleir!!
Yes, this is THAT chandeleir.  It never actually came down, but a counterweight did once and killed a woman.

One of the many costumes on display.  This one I particularly liked because it was a shade of blue but it's hard to get a lock on exactly WHAT colour it is.  It just glows.

"Little Versallies" - this was a holding room for the public while the gas lanterns were relit.  Another familiar area for fans of Phantom of the Opera.

The view from the balcony.  All the buildings around here were built to match and they are all heritage listed.

I am a bit in love with this room.

This much shiny should not be allowed on a building.

Meet the sharks

You'll see a lot of these guys in photos over the coming days so here is an introduction -

This is Webster. He is named after PFC David Webster from Easy Company. David was into sharks - so much so he wrote a book about them.

This is Joe. He is named after T5 Joe Liebgott, also of Easy Company (and a friend of Webster's).

This is Geoshark. A late addition to the shark contigent. I found him in a cache a few days ago and he had to come with me. As you can see he is actually a finger puppet.


Just went on a brief reconnaissance mission. Got Blackbirds, and Sparrows, and Feral Pigeons. *yawn*  This feels like Adelaide.
And then I looked up - the official first bird of B2B is the COMMON SWIFT. The second is Wood Pigeon.
No magpies yet.

Long haul fights SUCK

Honestly we were as comfortable as we could have been on an economy flight - but the dry, pressurised air in a plane means I CANNOT sleep properly. I functioned for 24 hours on just resting and snoozing for maybe half an hour at a time (and waking up gasping).

We were lucky that both flights had plenty of empty seats, so on the first one we had two seats each across the aisle from one another - right up the back, I don't know why people don't like it there - there is more space and the loo is RIGHT THERE if you need it. On the second flight we had three seats to ourselves - that was unfortunately directly over the wing obscuring the view and causing annoying vibrations, but we were right by the toilet again. (Hey, it's priority with me okay!)

We followed a setting full moon out of Perth and it turned RED as it set. I may have been a nerd and looked at it with my binoculars - spectacular.

While I didn't manage much sleep - I DID manage to watch Gone With The Wind, now I am totally ready to look at pretty plantation houses in Atlanta and New Orleans.

I started handwriting notes, but as the day wore on I stopped bothering.

Couldn't see the Burj Dubai due to a dust in the air, but I did note that Dubai suburbs are neat and sparse and constantly threatened by the desert. Roads in neat squares with roundabouts at all the corners, but a corner of the suburb might be disappearing under sand. Occasionally a rich person's property shows up - green lawns and large pools of water.

My first glimpse of the desert from my window had be a bit overwhelmed. I am over the Middle East!! This tumultuous, but still beautiful part of the world. It's unfortunate not everywhere is 'safe' or easy to visit, but then again, I'd want to go EVERYWHERE and it would make decisions really hard.

The plane out of Dubai was first delayed by a runway closure (probably the dust storm), and then a child had to be evacuated from the plane because they were too ill to fly (how this came on suddenly and the parents didn't realise beforehand I have no idea), but after about 1.5 hours delay we were in the air.

Paris was still 34C when we arrived. And the air-con at Charles De-Gualle seemed faulty as we waited in the loooong line at customs. While in the line however we got chatting to a guy from Melbourne. Later on we came across him at the train station and he informed us that the train wasn't running due to an accident! There was a replacement bus though. It was now about 10:30pm and we were all buggered so we decided to share a taxi as his hotel wasn't far from ours. I think it was worth the extra cost.

Ah, you know that delirium that sets in when you haven't slept properly. After checking in and dumping our stuff in the room we went downstairs to get some food - it took bloody long enough to arrive but it was good! Then showers and sleep around 1am. With a CPAP, in moist, warm air, blissful.

And of course, now it's 6:30am and I am awake. I can hear birds outside!! The sun is up. Eeee eee eeeeee!!