June 16, 2019

13 Jun 2019 Paris

Talked to a lovely lady from Bend, Oregon this morning at breakfast. We seemed to have so much to chat about that the time just flew away.

Finally walked to Notre Dame, which is just down the road really. Les Bulles Hotel de Paris is really central. So sad to see Notre Dame being patched up the way it is.

Decided to catch an Open Tour bus so I could see more of Paris. One day for 34 euros, 38 euros for two days. The Blue Line takes you from Notre Dame, past Musee d’Orsay, Cleopatra’s Needle, down the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, past time Trocadero and the Tour Eiffel, the Hotel des Invalides, through the Musee du Louvre and back to Notre Dame. It should take about 2 hours but that depends totally on the traffic at the time of riding.

I was in desperate need of a toilet when I got off so stopped at Le Saint Jacques cafe not far from Notre Dame. They had a lunch special for 12 euros – onion soup, beef stew and apple tart. Very good value.

After my belly was full and my bladder was empty I walked to the Pantheon and attempted to draw it! Not so easy with all the lines I was seeing in the building.

On to the Luxembourg Gardens to sit on the balcony overlooking the palace and this time I attempted to paint an urn with geraniums in it. Far more successful than the sketch of the Pantheon. It looked like rain so I went back to the hotel to recharge my phone.

Then I charged out and did the Blue Line again so I would get my money’s worth. Not worth it as I was so tired coming back I got a baguette for dinner.

June 14, 2019

11-12 June 2019 The journey

After a long and drawn out journey, I finally made it to Paris!

The journey started by leaving home at 2.30pm, then checking my bag in at Emirates by 3.00pm. At least it went all the way to Paris without me. The first leg was Melbourne to Singapore. I managed to stay awake so it would be easier to sleep in the Aerotel Hotel. What a dog box that turned out to be! It was tiny and you had to go to the end of the corridor for the shower and toilet. It was really good to get to lie down though. Breakfast was fast – pancakes, fruit and yoghurt with coffee from their machine. Too bad I didn’t have time to try the pool or the gym out.

On to Dubai with a spare seat beside me. That was a bonus. Dubai Airport is extremely quiet. They don’t overdo the announcements like most other airports do, which means you need to take notice of notices and read signs.

The Dubai to Paris leg was crowded. I struggled to stay awake even though I watched three movies and finished my book. It took ages to get my bag but at least it did appear! Fairly simple getting a taxi out the front and the driver was friendly. I tried out my French on him and he seemed to appreciate it.

Les Bulles de Paris is in a great spot. Close to Jardin du Luxembourg in one direction and Notre Dame Cathedral in the other. Didn’t have time to do much when I got there but get ready for bed. The bed is about three times the size of the one at Singapore airport and very comfy.

May 25, 2019

I am going to France!

In about 2 weeks I am flying to Paris for a sketching/painting tour.  Seeing I haven’t done any sketching or painting since I was in high school it’s been a mad rush to practice.

Today I joined a class for learning the art of field sketching run by the Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre with Chris Rockley as the tutor. About a dozen people joined in and listened to Chris give a comprehensive outline on what we were trying to achieve in two hours. The class cost $20 and included a journal, paints, a water paintbrush, pencils, ruler, eraser, bird identification booklet and even a muesli bar as well as Chris’s expertise.

From the Underkeepers Quarters in Queen St, Altona we walked through the grounds of the Truganina explosives reserve keeping our eyes and ears open for native wildlife and fauna. Chris was good at pointing out sounds and sights that inexperienced people like ourselves might not notice. A deformed shoot on a she-oak, a butterfly flitting by, magpies in the trees above, scats on the ground that could indicate birds above. It pays to take your time and notice everything around you.

Most of us settled beside the bank of Skeleton Creek just outside the boundary of the explosives reserve. Usually it is abundant with bird life but today not so much. A few ducks, a white-faced heron, a Eurasian coot and a couple of others too far away to identify were all we could see.

I tried to paint the saltbush on the bank and then a duck that was too far away to see. Lucky we had a field guide with pictures! Using the water paintbrush was a different experience. It saves you having to carry a vessel for water but I used the water reserve up too fast. Filling it up is difficult.

Overall I found it a successful day. Being with like-minded people is usually an enjoyable experience and you usually learn from them as well as the tutor.

Each time I try to paint/sketch I hope I am getting better but it doesn’t really matter as long as I enjoy the experience!

October 21, 2016

21 October 2016 Kayaking on Brunswick River

Bit of breakfast in my room then off to find some decent books. The one I got out of the library is not thrilling me at all. Op shops are the best source of everything up here. Vinnies is frequented by a constant stream of tourists. Couple of books in my bag, I stopped at the Bayleaf for a coconut and berry drink and another version of banana bread. Very popular here.

Got picked from Ruskin House and travelled to Brunswick Heads for my kayaking experience on the Brunswick River by Go Sea Kayak.

Took a while to wait for another bus and get the kayaks off the trailer to the river. I went with the instructor because I didn’t have a partner. Good move. She was always in front and I heard everything she said about where we were and what was going on.

The wind was stiff heading away from where we got in the water. On the way we saw a few stingrays, one was mostly buried in the sand with his tail hanging out. Some fish darted in and out of the mangroves as we glided by.

Stopped on the beach at the heads to check out any whales passing by and to have some fruit. There were whales but I wasn’t quick enough to see them.

Back in the kayak with the wind this time but against the tide. Wouldn’t have wanted it to be much longer than the two hours it was. I will have sore arms tomorrow! Waiting for Go Sea Kayak to put up the photos on Facebook. Hope there’s some good ones.

Ventured out to have Pinang curry at Success Thai just down the road for me. Byron Bay is jumping as usual. I am so tired I just want to go to bed!

October 21, 2016

20 October 2016 Farmers Market Byron Bay

Woke up a little later than usual, about 9am. Had breakfast at my accommodation then walked to the farmers market. Lots of people about, many of them dressed as if they came straight from the 1970s. Many of the shops play ‘70s music. I feel like I’m in a time warp!

Didn’t see Ruth or Peter there so I continued along Bangalow Rd to their house. They weren’t home so I kept walking along Bangalow Rd to The Ranch and stopped for cacao milk and banana cake.

Walked back to Ruskin House and read for a bit. Went back to Ruth’s place to pick up a bike and rode towards the lighthouse. The Pass wasn’t open so I kept going and stopped at Top Shop. Had more chocolate milk and banana cake! Back to Ruskin House for a shower and read a bit.

Wandered down to the Rails to meet Ruth, Peter, Ollie and Kim (from Sydney) for dinner. Had the salmon, which was very tasty. The entertainment was quite loud and not good for conversation. Ollie and Kim are doing the yoga retreat. Had a couple of drinks and then back to Ruskin House.

October 19, 2016

19 October 2016 Byron Bay

img_0995Cape Byron State Conservation Area

Out for breakfast at the Byronian Cafe for porridge with berries and almonds. Very filling. I take a walk towards the beach, along the foreshore and up to the Byron Bay lighthouse. It is very pleasant weather, not too hot. There are many others out walking. Someone spots some dolphins in the water below so I watch them until they disappear. There are numerous sightings of whales as well and I finally get to see them and photograph them although they are a fair way away. From the lighthouse I walk towards Wategos Beach. A tourist is trying to see what’s making a rustling sound in the bush. We can hear it but can’t see it. It remains a mystery. Another tourist sees a snake. I keep walking!

I stop for lunch at The Pass Cafe. A pair of colourful birds stop to play in front of me. Of course I’m too slow to get a photo but the picture is still in my head. Keep going past Clarke’s Beach towards the town centre. Take a ‘shortcut’ down Patterson St, past Evans St where the yoga retreat will be, towards Top Shop Cafe and back to Ruskin House. Good to know there is only 1km between the two places I will be staying.

Spend some time relaxing in the courtyard of my accommodation. Venture out again but I have trouble locking the door of my room. Not sure if I’m holding my mouth right but it’s not working for me. I seek out Gavin who tries another key that works perfectly. It’s not just me!

Off for another walk around town. Settle on Mexican (again) at Miss Margarita. Get a mojito while I wait for a table. Doesn’t take that long but the wait for someone to take my order stretches beyond what is reasonable. I’m not in a hurry though and when my nachos finally come they are worth the wait.

October 19, 2016

18 October 2016 Melbourne to Byron Bay

Craig picked me up to go to the airport but by the time we were halfway there I got a text to say my flight had been delayed to 2pm. Oh well, kept going and I killed a couple more hours.

Terminal 4 is interesting. Jetstar has grown a bit since last year. They require you to check into a ‘kiosk’ to get your boarding pass and luggage tag. I already had my boarding pass but it spat out another one anyway. Putting my luggage on the conveyor belt was fun. It wouldn’t accept my suitcase until I took off every other old sticker. Took a while to realise that was the problem though!

The waiting area is full of eateries and not many other kinds of stores. There wasn’t any place I could sit without hearing noise from screens or advertising, not to mention the constant information from airlines about flights. It did my head in.

Finally my flight was open so then I traipsed along to Gate 44, which is not the furthest away but quite a long way. More waiting while people disembarked the plane.

On the plane I was boxed in with a family beside me and behind me. I know the little boy didn’t really know any better but my patience for small children is zilch when they are constantly kicking my seat from behind or slamming the table into it. Daddy was next to me and did request he stop but it didn’t really work. It was a long 2 hours.

By this time I really need to get to my accommodation to chill out a bit but wait, there’s more waiting! The shuttle bus has to wait for another plane to arrive before we can move off after another half an hour delay.

I get to Ruskin House about 5pm (instead of 3pm) and have to call Lucie to come and let me in. She is volunteering for a film festival on here at the moment. My room is great. Just what I’m after. Finally I can relaaaaxxxx . . .

After settling in I take a walk down Jonson St, which leads straight to the beach. I wander around re-acquainting myself with the area and settle on a couple of tacos at Chihuahua for dinner. Catch a drumming band on the way back and the supermarket beckons so I get supplies for my stay.



September 28, 2016

28 September 2016 Last day in Penang


Our room – top floor, middle window

Had breakfast outside at Sarkies today, until it started peeing down and we rushed inside. Waved goodbye to Peter at 10am. He’s back to Cambodia today. I don’t leave the hotel until 3pm so there’s a bit of time to kill. Got upgraded to business class again! Yay! So I can wallow in the lounge to kill time until my flight at 6pm tonight. I could do a bit more shopping as my luggage limit is 40kg now!

Went for another walk to kill time before I need to get out of my room. I got a later check-out but only till 1pm. Found Campbell St where food/meat/veg/fruit markets are. Also found a fabric shop. Couldn’t resist!

Going to ride the free bus to kill a bit more after I check out.

The CAT bus meanders around Penang with no apparent reason for the way it goes. It took about an hour with traffic to get back to the same bus stop near E&O. I had to get off at the bus station at the piers and get on another bus to keep going but I got did it.

September 27, 2016

27 September 2016 Back to Clan Jetties

img_0625Caught the shuttle bus to Batu Feringgi where the O&E Hotel, Lone Pine, is to pick up more passengers. The shuttle driver was a maniac. On to Straits Quay, which is a large new shopping complex. Devoid of personality and so humongous we took half an hour to look around and decided to get the next shuttle boat out of there! The shuttle boat ride gave us the opportunity to see Penang from the water. We talked to another passenger who is a resident and she told us that E&O own a heap of real estate and are planning to cover part of the water with a hotel – a la Dubai.

It was a big rough getting in to the dock but we made it.

I took a walk back to the Clan Jetties to pick up a seal I ordered yesterday. They look pretty spectacular. It was worth the weight. They have a horse symbol on the top and our names in Chinese characters in the seal with the date.

CF food court is handy to stop for lunch. I have the duck and rice but it is mostly bone. Find a Magnum ice-cream on the way back and eat that before having a look at an art gallery. No one about so I just wander in.

Met Peter at the pool after I got back. It rained a little bit but not enough to stay indoors. Stayed there for a while reading. It really is a great way to relax.

Peter left then went to Farquhar’s Bar so I met him in there and we had dinner at Olives, which is not far from E&O. Peter chose Irish stew – bad choice! My biriyani was great with a mix of meats. A mojito washed it down. Our last dinner in Penang. Really sad that our holiday is coming to an end. It has been wonderful.

September 26, 2016

26 Sep 2016 Walk around Penang


Chinese seals with horses carved into the top

Breakfast at Sarkies was leisurely this morning. No plans. I left Peter in the room and walked to the Clan Jetties again. Perusing the many shops along the way, hardware, framing, pod hotels. Wandered around the jetties are a myriad of houses/huts/walkways. Some you can walk down, some are private. It is hard to tell which is which though.

On the way back to the hotel I found a ratten maker and Chinese seal cutter close together. The seal cutter was just opening and I sat and looked at what he had. Intricately carved figures on the top of three sizes of seal. Just tell him what you want on the seal and he will do it for you. Need to go back tomorrow to pick my order up.

Back at the hotel I come out again with Peter and we go to get some money changed. The Odeon Trick Art Cafe is across the road near the corner of Penang and Chulia roads so we try it out. It was once a 1920s theatre and has some strange displays that I think is the ‘trick art’. Lunch is teriyaki chicken for me and cajun chicken for Peter. Food was okay, surroundings were pleasant.

Off to the pool for my daily dip and reading session after lunch. Peter joins me eventually. It would be really nice to stop in Penang on a cruise, I think, as a ship glides into Penang Harbour.