Archive for the 'Travel' Category

JavaPolis Going Nuclear

Just when I was about to drive off to Antwerp for this year’s JavaPolis, I learned that a fire has started in Antwerp’s nuclear plant ‘Doel’. Apparently the fire is located in a side building and there’s no immediate danger to the public. Which is exactly what I would say to prevent complete chaos from breaking out…

2007-12-11. No responses.

Where To Marry In Paris (Part 3)

(This is part 3 of 3; part 1 is here, part 2 is here)

We returned from Paris late Sunday evening (March 25th).

What remained was images, shreds of memories, and many of them, in spite of the short time we were there:

The Nautilus-like decoration of the Arts & Métiers subway station.

The American girl in the brasserie too close to the Eiffel tower (but we were too tired to go any further), shouting, “Sir, you’re from Philly, sir?” at an unsuspecting Frenchman wearing an Eagles cap.

The closed doors of the Fashion museum that we had wanted to visit after the Eiffel tower and lunch; apparently, the museum is now closed for visits altogether. We were lured to it by an entry in the Lonely Planet guide, promising “some 100,000 outfits and accessories from the 18th century to the present day”. Instead, we kept walking along the Seine to the Museum of Discovery (Palais de la Découverte), hoping to find traces there of the turn of the 19th century world exhibition that took place there in 1937. However, besides the building itself, very little reminded of that historic fact. The museum houses several themed exhibitions, some very entertaining (animals, visual tricks), some extremely boring. In the animal exhibition, a little rat was showing how it had been trained to run around in a maze and get a tasty snack at certain intervals. Somehow, that reminded me of our own wanderings across Paris.
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2007-05-11. 2 responses.

Where To Marry In Paris (part 2)

(This is part 2 of 3; part 1 is here, part 3 is here)

There’s a lot in Paris to be seen besides museums. Unfortunately, most of these things are outdoors and can best be visited with a bit of sunshine and a pleasant spring temperature. As we had neither of these on our short trip, we had to spend a lot more time inside the shops on the boulevard des Champs Elysées than we normally would have. We had to admire the view of the Eiffel tower from underneath it. And we had to extrapolate what it’s like to spend a day in the park from sitting on a bench in the tuileries for 10 minutes in the only rays of sunlight that we did get.

There is however another very important indoors activity to be done in Paris, as in every part of France: eating! At lunchtime, heavy rains were usually poring down on us, making it impossible to sit down in a park with nothing more than a baguette and some Coulommiers or other cheese. At dinnertime, we were forced to eat out as we stayed in a hotel room, so we really were unable to do some shopping at a nice Parisian market and have a go at the local ingredients ourselves. In short, we couldn’t help but eat out twice a day; and as we felt obliged to do as the Parisians do, we just had to eat a hot meal twice a day as well. What a punishment…
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2007-04-01. One response.

Where To Marry In Paris (part 1)

Even though Paris is only a 6 hour drive from where we live, we never actually go to the trouble of finding a hotel and driving up there. Until now. It’s been 27 years since I last spent some time in Paris–more time than the average hour it takes to drive through it when we’re on our way to the south of France. 27 years, that’s more than anybody should have to wait to return to Paris. So we finally found a decent hotel (see map below: marker A) and arrived after a smooth enough ride through the streets of Paris (thanks to Eva, who for some reason wanted us to take a scenic route off the highroad when we entered France, but thankfully got herself back on track as soon as we reached the city).

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2007-04-01. 3 responses.

Down and Out in Toulouse and Oslo

Rådhuset, Oslo After being completely flushed away by heavy rain last week, from the streets of Toulouse, M. and I now find ourselves in the city of Oslo. She has to work, I get to play. Or at least to wander around the city a little. Disappointed by the (walking) distance from the hotel to the Munch Museum, but also pleasantly surprised by the radiant, sunny weather (although the sun doesn’t seem to reach much higher than in Holland on a midwinter’s day–it does make you very aware the you’re closer to the pole), I decided to change plans and explore the city center and the harbour. So I walked round, all the way down Universitatsgata, which eventually leads to a strange looking, huge red brick building with two towers, called Rådhuset (town hall), behind which you’ll find the waterfront: a little fish-auction where fresh fish (I’m assuming it’s fresh) is being sold directly off the fisherboats, and a long quay winding along Aker Brygge, which appears to be Oslo’s Port Vell, with restaurants and shops on one side, and yaughts and ferries on the other.

Aker Brygge, Oslo There’s a smell of seawater, shrimps and diesel oil; shrieks from the seagulls flying around; creaking of boats on the gentle waves; sharp light of the sun low on the horizon; a murmur of the Norwegian language that creaks much like the boats do; and of course the constants sound of rippling water. There’s an old looking seagull, lying near the edge of the quay, looking out over the water, bathing in the sun, with a tired look on its face; it won’t budge however close I get. Is it near its end, waiting to die, reminiscing over the days when it would fly around freely over this harbour, hunting for fish, scavenging for people’s leftovers?

Carcassonne By Night A french-speaking couple walks by. It’s only four days ago that we left France after a two-week holiday, the car boot stacked with wine, driving all the way home from Carcassonne (where we stayed) in one day to have some more preparation time for Oslo. You can only travel so much, it seems, before you start getting enough of it–and it seems that M. is certainly reaching that point (she did four more trips this summer). What an impressive city, Carcassonne. Very touristy of course, but you can hardly blame the city for that. Carcassonne is a city in the south of France, some 200 km north of Barcelona. It was originally built as a walled city in the Middle Ages, then eroded away in the centuries after, because its walls weren’t up against newer methods of warfare (like explosives and catapults). In the 19th century, a French architect decided to restore the old city to its former glory, rebuilding the walls where necessary, as well as the coned roofs on the towers–and filling in some of the details using his own imagination. Which is of course always the danger of restoring things: you’ll be tempted to rebuild them “as they were”, being under the illusion that you end up with the original thing.

2006-09-20. No responses.

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