Today Versailles, what a phucking shit show. We got there early hoping to beat the buses and the crowds. The place opens at 9:00 and we were there at about 8:45. You then get to wait about an hour to get in and once inside you are literally crushed by the crowds. Can’t stop to enjoy anything and can barely breath. The crowds cancel your ability to enjoy any of the beautiful stuff that I tried to capture in the pictures. We quit the tour about half way to go and try our luck with the gardens at which point we find that it costs extra for the kids to go see the gardens. At 25 Euros per persons absolutely NOT worth it in August, maybe during low season, if I could I’d ask for my money back.
So from L’Arc de Triomphe we actually walked to the Eiffel Tower, down by the fountains (we stopped to soak our feet) and up to the tower. The line ups were too long to actually go up and we were too damned tired to climb that mother. After a rest we dragged our assets to the nearest Metro and went home to pass out. We did come back later that night to see the tower lit up. They also have a light show every hour on the hour which lasts for five minutes each time.
After a fantastic lunch at the McDonalds we walked to the Arc de Triomphe, turns out you can climb to the top to get a great view of downtown Paris, totally worth it. You do have to climb up 50M worth of stairs however, not as easy as it sounds.
On our second day in Paris, it’s @#$%king hot, 37C hot. Turns out most Parisians traditionally leave town for that reason. The only people left are the tourists, the service industry, and some die hards. We walked the Champ Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe then later to the Eiffel Tower. The stores along the Champ Elysees were pretty impressive, almost every major auto manufacturer had a outlet with their coolest cars along with branded restaurants such as the Mercedes Cafe (for real). And yes we did have lunch at McDs as part of Natalies Social Studies assignment for school.
After our train ride we arrived in Paris and were greeted by our friends who took us in during our stay. After we freshened up we went for a walk near Momtmartre and Sacre Coeur which are near where our friends live. The area was packed with tourists but also packed with great shops and street performers.
From a North American point of view the distances in Britain should be negligible. The distance from Morchard Road to Exmouth (see the fishing trip pictures) is just over 40KM, nothing, this is the distance I have to drive cross town in Calgary to take my daughter to visit a friend, a mere 25 minutes of driving.
In Britain, for a variety of reasons, the same distance takes about an hour and a half. My father in law drove us and here are my observations from that journey.
The roads in Devon are narrow, usually single lane with no shoulder, and quite a bit windier. Nothing like our straight line of sight roads in North America. Consequently, you can never really open up the throttle and achieve the speeds that one can on North American road. Clenching my teeth and death gripping the dash I checked dad’s speed and it never exceeded 90KMH and usually averaged much lower as you had to slow down passing through the numerous towns along the way. There are also few passing lanes and even then passing is challenging as the traffic is generally heavy in both directions.
Passing though Exeter took a majority of the time, although we never got stuck the way we do during rush hour in Calgary there were numerous lights and traffic circles where we had to wait our turn to go.
My overall impression is that it takes significantly more concentration to drive in Devon than I have ever had to devote to driving in North America with the wide open spaces and practically straight roads. The result is that at the end of the journey in both directions I find myself as exhausted as if I’d driven from Calgary to Vancouver rather than a mere 40 kilometres.
The alternative is to take the train which overall I have found much more enjoyable and stress free. On the way back from Exmouth Shareen and I took the train back and I’d say it wasn’t faster but much more relaxing.
My father in law states that the service has improved dramatically in the last few years, the result of which is that so far the trains are clean, run on time, and have courteous staff. Completely worth it.
Fishing in Exmouth, just down/up the coast from Budleigh Salterton, we’d booked a two hour tour with Tiger Charters and went to do some Mackerel fishing (Jeremy caught four to my one). Total tourist town with lots of amusement rides including donkeys on the beach. Great fish and chips as always but you’ll wait forty five minutes for a sandwich in one of the ritzy upscale restaurants.
Today we visited Dartington Crystal, I’m told it’s the only place in the UK that still blows their glass by hand. The produce about 1700 pieces per day, all beautiful but a bit pricey for my wallet and I find a bit heavier than I like. Gorgeous stuff however and watching the skill of the glass blowers is a treat.
If you’re not fishing in Exmouth you can always go for a ride on your ass for 2 pounds.