Friday, 21 October 2011

Heading home

But not quite yet!

When I booked this holiday, I decided that this year I would do it all without flying. Which means a lot of time travelling there and back. One way to do it would be all in one go. But I decided that I might as well make it part of the holiday, so on the way down I broke my journey in Rome for a couple of days and on the way back I'm overnighting in Paris, with a full day exploring before I catch the evening Eurostar back to London. 

There have also been a couple of overnight stops en route – Paris on the way out, Ventimiglia last night and Saturday night (to come) in London. But to be honest, it's all been worth it for the extra experience. While the ferry on Wednesday was to get me back from Sicily, it was also an adventure in its own right – and some of it even in a good way! And the train journeys have, on the whole, been extremely picturesque.

Take today's for example – leaving Ventimiglia just as the sun had risen we wound our way alongside the Mediterranean for a good couple of hours. The light was dancing on the sea to my left and warming the already honey coloured stone of the houses on my right. It was a soft, kind light that made me think of Impressionist paintings and lazy summer afternoons. It also made me think that this might be a good place to explore on a future adventure. Not the built up areas of Nice, Cannes or Monaco – but the smaller villages and towns in between. 

[On which note, I am claiming a new country for my list after today's journey – Monaco! Ok it was only the train station, but I was still there and it still counts!!]

After the Cote d'Azur, we turned our faces inland and took a route through Provence, site of a previous fabulous holiday almost at the very start of my exploring days as a student. The white limestone and bauxite hills shone like teeth above the brown green fields. Picking up speed we headed for Aix en Provence (which you couldn't see from the train) and Avignon (which you could), and then at full tilt we raced towards Paris. Provence to Paris in just over 4 hours – now that's fast!

Arriving in Paris in the late afternoon - to somewhat fresher temperatures than I've been used to of late -  I followed my plan and went for a wander in the Ile de la Cite and Ile St Louis. The setting sun was just hitting Notre Dame and it looked spectacular. There will be lots of photos to look at on my Flickr photostream, but not tonight - the internet connection here is way too slow to attempt uploading them!

The fresher temperatures meant that before long I was chilled to the bone and chocolat chaud and crepes were called for, followed by a glass of vin rouge and some olives. All partaken in a lovely salon de the just next to Notre Dame from which I could watch the sun set behind the buildings, the Pantheon catching the last of the evening's rays - and then as darkness fell, Paris lit up. Beautiful! 

Even though I was too tired to go for the authentic bistro supper I had planned, I've thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon/evening in Paris. I'm planning on hitting Musee D'Orsay tomorrow, and finding that bistro for a cosy lunch instead of tonight's supper. I may just be forced to have another verre du vin too!

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