Friday, 6 June 2014


We stayed for a couple of days with Yannick's grandmother in Lille before making our long plane flight back to New Zealand. We were going to spend half a day in Paris with Yannick's cousins Gregoire and Charlotte, and then drop off our rental car, Clive, before heading to the airport. 
On the drive from Lille to Paris, I was trying to finish all the cans of iced tea I had bought and stored in the car. I missed having tea, and it wasn't often that I could brew up a cup, being on the road and all, so cans of iced tea was the next best thing. (Too sweet and cold in my opinion, but I digress. At least it was tea.) This was the worst time to drink a load of tea, I would soon discover. I needed a wee, but there wasn't a petrol station for many kilometers. Not only that, but there were also road works which slowed traffic right down. 
It was the worst thing. I thought I was going to wet myself and soil the car just as we were about to return it to the rental company. And being the motorway, there was absolutely no where to pull over. 
I waited. It was excruciating. But finally, finally, we made it to that petrol station and for the rest of the car trip to Paris, I felt immensely relieved. Been put off iced tea for a good long while. 

Paris, France 

Metropolitan in Paris, France
Not wanting to navigate Paris, we parked in the first parking complex we found that was near a metro stop, and took the underground into the centre. Many of the metro stops had beautiful Art Nouveau signs. 

mFontaine Saint-Michel in Paris, France
We lunched with Yannick's cousins and after, Gregoire took us on a brief walk where we saw the Fontaine Saint-Michel. When it was being designed and built, it went through several different ideas, but the final fountain depicts the Archangel Michael celebrating the defeat of the devil (at his feet). 

Notre Dame garden in Paris, France
Once Gregoire had to go to his university lectures, Yannick and I wandered in the gardens of Notre Dame, which I had never seen before. We also tried to find an ice cream shop which Charlotte had recommended to us, but it proved unfindable.
We made our way slowly back to the car, and though we were sad to see Clive go, we knew that we had taken him on an incredible journey.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tiny Countries Part Four: Luxembourg

Luxembourg, Luxembourg

We alighted at Luxembourg and settled at a French cafe for breakfast. The history of the country is fraught with conflict, and centred around Luxembourg Castle, which had great strategic value. I think Wikipedia says it best when it explains: "Luxembourg Castle was repeatedly strengthened so that by the 16th century, Luxembourg itself was one of the strongest fortifications in Europe. Subsequently, the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French, the Spanish again, the Austrians, the French again, and the Prussians conquered Luxembourg." Must be one helluva fortress.

Cathedral at Luxembourg
Old stone and pointy spires on the cathedral.

City street in Luxembourg
We walked through the city and saw several things: a square being set up for a festival, the patrolling of the guards outside an official type building, and some very old architecture.

Vianden, Luxembourg

Castle at Vianden, Luxembourg
The large and impressive Vianden Castle. But before we went to the castle, we had lunch. It was challenging to find an open and decent place to eat. We found a highly recommended one from Lonely Planet, but it was full up. It seemed that the whole town had gone there. We considered getting things from a bakery, but decided to look just a bit longer. We found a place that was a little eccentric. I had a curry - not something you expect to find in a little restaurant in Luxembourg, but good nonetheless.

This white cat came and sat with us for most of our meal. He was very polite and though I could tell he wanted my food, he never tried to eat it. He did at one point put his paw on the table, but that was the most insistence he showed. 

Yannick laughed and laughed at this photo, because apparently it looks like I'm about to murder the cat.

Castle at Vianden, Luxembourg
The town sprawling and the castle at the top. Over the centuries, the castle fell into ruins, but has been renovated.

Castle cellar at Vianden, Luxembourg
The castle itself was a fairly standard castle, but the cellar was great. It housed old barrels and looked like a medieval feast could take place at any moment.