S: June 2010 - European Tour
1: PARIS 2nd-4th June We arrived in the evening and promptly visited Le Musee de la Louvre, which is indescribably HUGE! We caught the highlights before it closed, then headed out along the Seine toward La Tour Eiffel, which we didn't climb, and through La Parc du Champs de Mars before heading 'home' for the night. A quick introduction to Paris!
2: The famous pyramid entrance to Le Louvre, the Mona Lisa (she's actually quite tiny) and the far more impressive painting opposite her! Opposite Page: Our first glimpse of La Tour Eiffel as we walked along the Seine. Just outside Le Louvre, an unattended cello (!), and inside, a stunning little cherub sculpture.
4: Basilique du Sacre Coeur: A beautiful cathedral, well worth climbing all the stairs to see - especially since the buskers serenading us played the harp and violin - so very Paris!
5: We enjoyed a picnic outside Notre Dame de Paris on this cozy patch of grass in the shade.
6: Inside and outside Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapel, a stunning chapel with beautiful stained glass from floor to ceiling and an amazing arched undercroft.
7: Along the Champs-Elysees and from the top of the Arc de Triomphe - curiously, neither of us got a good photo of the Arc itself!
8: Konstanz 4th - 7th June
9: We enjoyed touring this colourful town with our friends, Stephanie and Christian Albrecht, with whom we stayed while we were there. It was fun to window shop and admire the beautiful buildings.
11: The Munster (German for Minster or Cathedral) dominates the skyline of the city and provides stunning views, both inside and out!
13: We went paddle-boating on the Bodensee, and also crossed on a ferry to the town of Meersburg where we enjoyed fantastic sundaes and wandering through pretty streets even though we got caught in a rainstorm!
14: GENEVE 7th - 11th JUNE
15: Geneva is built at the convergence of two glacial rivers as they enter Lake Geneva. We walked across the mouths of the rivers and then along the lake front each morning to get to most of the touristy bits of the city. The photo on the left is of the Jet d'Eau, a fountain built in 1891 that shoots water 140m up into the air at a starting speed of 200km/hr!! It's one of those things that you see in a city and you can't stop photographing it because it's constantly changing.
16: We were tempted by the Swiss chocolate and beautiful little cakes in many of the shops, but mostly bought our chocolate at the supermarket (Migros) where it was distinctly cheaper! The city was in full bloom while we were there as well, which made our walks that much more enjoyable.
17: There were hundreds of swans on the lake and we couldn't get enough of them. The insert photo of the mom with her cygnet was taken just next to the pier that leads to the Jet d'Eau.
18: United Nations Headquarters - security was tight, though we were only issued one photo ID, with an 'and guest' designation for William! Top Left: The front gates are not open for casual visitors! We loved that the Canadian flag was flying right at the front though. Bottom Left: We were allowed to watch the proceedings of a meeting from the observation rooms. Across from us were the translators, translating everything that was said into the 6 official languages of the UN: Chinese, Arabic, French, English, Russian and Spanish. Right: The Assembly Room holds 2000 delegates and is the one we see on tv when there is news coverage of UN proceedings.
19: The art collection inside the UN Headquarters and within the grounds, mostly donations from member countries, is absolutely stunning. The main photo and centre insert were both wall tapestries. On the left is a sculpture of the UN emblem and on the right is a statue of Mohandas Gandhi.
20: It was also amazing how clear the meaning of these signs was without a single word of English! | The meaning of this sculpture was unclear to us, but it was really amazing to look at!
21: The botanical gardens are a must-see for us in every city. Conveniently, the ones in Geneva were on the way to and from the United Nations Headquarters!
22: The Olympic Museum was the highlight of our day trip to Lausanne, Switzerland. We weren't allowed to take photos inside, but on the opposite page are photos of the beautiful garden, and possibly the most posh hotdogs we've ever eaten! Below, Lisa tried really hard to touch the bar showing the current world record in high jump - can you imagine jumping over it?!
24: The Botanic Garden in Lausanne - also not to be missed!
25: The Jet d'Eau again - it was amazing how it changed from morning to evening and from one day to the next. Also, the fun coloured lights on the lakefront when we returned from Lausanne.
27: Above are buildings in an area known as The Schrumfts - just a few blocks of crazy, brightly coloured and almost sculpted buildings near the train station. The opposite page shows an art installation along the lake front. We couldn't read the plaques that went with the globes, but the intent of the project was obvious and the globes were really cool!
29: Opposite: Giant chess and checker boards on the way to the Reformation Wall, which depicts the four fathers of the reformation. We especially enjoyed the reference to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, where John Knox preached the Reformation. On this page, another view of the Jet D'eau from bell tower of the Cathedral Sainte Pierre and William climbing the stairs to the tower.
30: One last look at the Jet d'Eau before leaving Geneva and heading to Riomaggiore!
31: Riomaggiore 11th - 18th June
32: Above: This small town in the Cinque Terre National Park on the Ligurian Coast of Italy still easily holds its title of our favourite place in the world! Above Right: Our flat was in the yellow building with green shutters. Below Right: The door opened immediately onto quite a steep little flight of stairs! Opposite: The beach and harbour in Riomaggiore.
34: We walked past this little family of ducks most days on our way to and from the flat. We always felt the need to check on them, even though they were clearly taken care of by the people who built the pond and water feature above.
36: We got a little lost on our way to the Monte Nero Sanctuary on the hills above Riomaggiore and ended up on a path that got narrower and narrower until it disappeared! Eventually, we found the elusive staircase that led to the stunning hilltop views and a refreshing iced-lemon drink.
37: The extremities of the Cinque Terre National Park: Our little beach at the Southern-most point in Riomaggiore on a blustery day. The insert shows a man carved out of rock and holding up the edge of a building at the Northern-most end of Monterosso.
38: We took a side-trip from Riomaggiore due to rain and muddy trails and travelled to Pisa, where the cathedral, along with its Leaning Tower and baptistry, are the sites to see. Thankfully, it was a lovely, sunny day there!
39: Another weather-induced road-trip took us to Genova, where many of the buildings were painted using trompe l'oeil to make them look carved. The harbour was a busy place, with a really fun covered market and an Ecodome. There was also a beautiful Asian-style garden that we enjoyed wandering through.
40: We spent more time in the villages of Monterosso (above) and Vernazza (below) on this trip. Both have lovely little bistros and beautiful beaches where we could hang out and read and relax in the amazing sunshine.
41: TRAVEL DAY June 18 We spent 23 hours on trains and in stations between Riomaggiore and Amsterdam, including our first sleeper train - super fun, but not very restful...
42: AMSTERDAM 19th - 23rd June
43: The botanical garden in Amsterdam was small, but featured an amazing butterfly garden. Notice that you can see Lisa's fingers through the wings of the Glasswing on the right.
44: Below: NEMO is the Science Centre and is built on one of the many docks in Amsterdam. It had loads of fascinating exhibits and, once we'd worked our way to the top, we could step out onto the roof and climb down the stairs! Top Right: A fun water feature at NEMO. Middle Right: The Dutch man-o-war The Amsterdam, outfitted as it would have been for sea-trade in the 17th century. Bottom Right: The train station. Notice all the orange flags in the street - it was the middle of the football world cup and EVERYONE was celebrating!
45: We attended an organ concert at the Neuwkerk (287 pipes!), visited the Red Light District (the 'coffee' shops were mostly more subtly advertised than the one above), and enjoyed lots of little architectural quirks along the way!
46: The city is famous for its canals and most of the posh houses line the canals. Because Amsterdam was built below sea-level, the houses are built on wooden pylons that are driven into the sand below. As a result, the buildings shift over time and often lean left or right or even out into the street! Most are also fitted with a hook on the front that is used to hoist furniture in and out.
47: Westerfabriek is a marshy park built into an old gasworks facility. It was a beautiful place to wander and explore - lots of people had picnics and we wished we had thought of that!
48: Hoge-Veluwe National Park is an amazing nature preserve with sand dunes, forests and grasslands spread out over 5400 hectares with the amazing Kroller-Muller Museum in the centre, which features the largest collection of Van Gogh's outside the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and an outdoor sculpture museum. There are massive stands filled with bicycles placed at strategic areas throughout the park, meant for visitors to just hop on and start exploring and that's what we did! It was an amazing day!
50: On the way to Hoge Veluwe National Park, we saw a memorial for the Canadian soldiers who helped liberate The Netherlands after World War II. It was a beautiful sculpture and it made us proud to be Canadian. The fawn was in a little park/farm that we walked past on the way to the park as well.
51: We spent several hours basking in the sunshine at Vondelpark on our last day in Amsterdam. The heron on the left seemed to be doing the same.
52: The Amsterdam Zoo was our final stop and we spent lots of time with the highly entertaining sea lions. The male is competing for his lunch with an enterprising blue heron. On the right are his ladies - it was fun to watch them compete for position, given that there was an obvious pecking order, even to an outsider!
53: Like any good zoo, there were many beautiful sculptures alongside the real thing!
54: We were entertained by the idea of a raccoon in a zoo! But this was was incredibly cute and we found ourselves watching him raptly, so I guess his presence was justified! The meercats were also pretty enchanting - just like you see in all the documentaries!