Amsterdam day 4: Sunday 5th April

::Sunday::
Having been up so late the night before, we had a lie in, then Henri directed us in making a delushuz cooked breakfast.  The sun was (mostly out), so we ate on the rooftop patio in the sun.  Absolutely lovely.

Rooftop breakfast!!
Rooftop breakfast!!

 

Defnitely straight lines.  Not level though.
Defnitely straight lines. Not level though.
A canal!
A canal!
::cyclecycle::
::cyclecycle::
The top of the buildings:  the hooks for a rope, so they can lift stuff into the upper stories
The top of the buildings: the hooks for a rope, so they can lift stuff into the upper stories
Church, lined up with all the other buildings
Church, lined up with all the other buildings

Sunday afternoon we headed on the bikes, to a cheese tasting.  We were supplied with the correct wine for each cheese, and we were supplied with several varieties.  We learned to cut it thinly with a little cheese guillotine, and then how to smell and taste like a proper connoisseur.   It was all very yum.

Some are better at cutting things than others
Some are better at cutting things than others
Yay cheese!
Yay cheese!
Wafer thin
Wafer thin
We had to write stuff
We had to write stuff

As part of the cheese tasting, we also got to ride a canal boat, which was a very enjoyable meander through the canals.  The sun even came out a few times, and it was all very pleasant.  The cheese and canal tour all up was 22 euro, which I feel was a pretty good deal, considering the amount of cheese I ate, along with a glass of red and white wine, and a glass of port.

The spire of Westerkerk, a church, built between 1620-1630.  Rembrant was buried here.
The spire of Westerkerk, a church, built between 1620-1630. Rembrant was buried here.
A brdge
A brdge
Different house boats, and glasshouse boats
Different house boats, and glasshouse boats

After the cheese and wine and boats, we wandered back through town, and did Rick Steve’s Audio tour of the Red light district, and right to the start of the town. ¬† ¬†I honestly don’t have a lot to write about the day, so here are a bunch of photos of¬†canals, boats, and¬†crooked houses! ¬†It was just very enjoyable and relaxing, biking around, wandering, and the boat trip was definitely fun, a good way to see a lot of the city from a different view.

 

I loved to look out for the crooked buildings:  All straight lines, but  not necessarily level or square
I loved to look out for the crooked buildings: All straight lines, but not necessarily level or square
Bright red shutters
Bright red shutters
Many bridges
Many bridges
Cuddles
Cuddles
All of the bike Parking!
All of the bike Parking!
Obgliatory selfie on a boat in the Amsterdam canals
Obgliatory selfie on a boat in the Amsterdam canals
Centraal Station
Centraal Station
Pitcha
Pitcha

DSC06096

Under the bridge
Under the bridge
Flat boat
Flat boat

DSC06104

look!
look!
Science and Technology Museum
Science and Technology Museum
A replica of a 3 masted ship built in the 1700's, that lasted a year before i was destroyed in a storm
A replica of a 3 masted ship built in the 1700’s, that lasted a year before i was destroyed in a storm
Science and Technology Museum
Science and Technology Museum

DSC06144

Lifty bridge
Lifty bridge

 

"Don't even worry about the gap, just pour a bit of concrete in.."
“Don’t even worry about the gap, just pour a bit of concrete in..”
Very thin buildings
Very thin buildings
Pedaling
Pedaling
Don't fall over
Don’t fall over
Red light district
Red light district
Church
Church
I wonder if the floor slopes inside
I wonder if the floor slopes inside
Very specific cafe
Very specific cafe
5th Best, at least they're honest
5th Best, at least they’re honest

DSC06287

Melty cheese and potato
Melty cheese and potato

 

Henrietta made us another lovely dinner, mostly cheese and potato, but with a few colourful veges thrown in.  After dinner, we took the cameras out and biked around in the dark, which was actually very fun, if a little chilly.  Did some night photos, and the main thing I realised is that I need a tripod!

 

Night
Night

DSC06308

Night tulips
Night tulips
Lifty bridge
Lifty bridge
Zoomy boat
Zoomy boat
Night canal
Night canal
Steep staircase
Steep staircase
Special easter eggs.  Acutally boiled eggs, painted pretty.
Special easter eggs. Acutally boiled eggs, painted pretty.

Cycling North France Day 3: Forges Les Eaux to Ry

Friday 26th September

Friday we woke at a decent time, got up, and, as you do, went to get breakfast from the local patisserie.  More cheese, bread, pastrys, oh no!

Breakfast spread.  Those things I am holding are little pastry balls of delishusness
Breakfast spread. Those things I am holding are little pastry balls of delishusness
Breakfast tart :)
Breakfast tart ūüôā

It did take us a while to get all sorted and out the door, as it was our first proper morning, but we weren’t in a particular hurry, and the whole day was kind of like that, just pootling around, looking at whatever we felt like, going wherever. ¬†The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, with just enough of a breeze to keep you cool. ¬† I imagine summer would be quite hot.

Hanging Basket, Forges-les-eaux
Hanging Basket, Forges-les-eaux
Un petit chien!
Un petit chien!
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
All kitted out
All kitted out

We headed back over to Avenue Vert, which turned, very suddenly, from wide, paved, smooth, to rough grass with a bit of a dirt track in the middle. ¬†It was certainly interesting, but you wouldn’t want to follow that forever. ¬†Quite bumpy. ¬†Lovely and peaceful though, heading through the farmland and trees, with no city noises or car noises.

To this way!
To this way!
After Forges-les-Eaux, the Avenue Vert turns a little less pavement-like, and a little more like a dirt track...
After Forges-les-Eaux, the Avenue Vert turns a little less pavement-like, and a little more like a dirt track…

We got back onto normal roads, then kinda lost the trail a bit, headed down a few little side roads and had a bit of a map consulting session, before we headed off down some more back roads.   We saw a tiny town up on a hill, and off-roaded it up a steep hill to have a look.  La Ferte-Saint-Samson, a tiny little village on a hill, with very cute buildings (tudor style, and Henri reckoned with Germanic influence), probably 15th-16th? Century.  It was quiet and lovely, and we biked around for a bit.

Vines growing out of the chimney La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Vines growing out of the chimney
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
An adorable little house. La Ferte-Saint-Samson
An adorable little house.
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Old church La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Old church
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Headed to the top of the hill to check out the cute little church, where the bells rung for midday.  Whoever was ringing them, seemed to enjoy it, and they went on for quite a bit.   Found a little orientation statue thing, and a very old tree, which I climbed.  Carefully.  It was so lovely and peaceful and sunny.

The lookout. La Ferte-Saint-Samson
The lookout.
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Countryside
Countryside
The lookout
The lookout
A bowl
A bowl
Coutnryside
Coutnryside
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Church La Ferte-Saint-Samson
Church
La Ferte-Saint-Samson

Someone at some point during the morning had mentioned that we hadn’t had any flat tyres or problems yet, so heading out of town, Henri got the first flat tyre of the trip. We went back to the pretty village square to fix it, so not a bad view to have to endure.

First flat of the day.  Dale is "helping".
First flat of the day. Dale is “helping”.
We weren't too sad though
We weren’t too sad though
A map!
A map!
Lovely and sunny
Lovely and sunny
Clear road ahead
Clear road ahead

Finally managed to leave town, looking forward to doing some decent biking, and Dale got the second flat tyre of the hour, just down the road. ¬†There was a french horse, whom I greeted in French, although he was quite uncommunicative. ¬†He didn’t mind that I brushed all the flies away from his face though, and we had some pats, before parting, and we continued on our way.

One thing I noticed, and kept noticing throughout the trip, was that even in the peaceful quiet of the countryside, there always seemed to be some passenger plane or other going overhead.  Just the sheer amount of plane traffic in the sky above Europe is amazing.  So. Many. Planes.  So many people going places.  It is honestly a bit ridiculous.

Another little town
Another little town
Second flat of the day!
Second flat of the day!
Mon petit poney!
Mon petit poney!

More lovely countryside, green rolling hills, farmland, and the occasional bit of wooded forest. ¬†We had a vague destination of a local castle, though google maps couldn’t pinpoint it, and we ended up biking around in a big circle, before stopping to ask directs from a local French lady. ¬†She spoke lots of fast french words, until Henri asked her to slow it down a little, and we ascertained that we had to go down the road, left at the corner, then a few kms along, then you couldn’t miss it. ¬† I think we were a bit excited about asking and getting directions in French!

Farmland
Farmland
A little road
A little road
Dear Josh (ieBear), I thought of you, every time we saw cow eggs.
Dear Josh (ieBear), I thought of you, every time we saw cow eggs.

 

We eventually found the castle, Chateau Bremontier-Merval, which was a massive four storey thing, very pretty, which is now a school.  It was on a hilltop, surrounded by lots of huge, old trees, all leafy green and knobbly.

Tall!
Tall!
I had to back right up to get the whole thing in the photo.  This is now a tertiary school.
I had to back right up to get the whole thing in the photo. This is now a tertiary school.
Built in the 1600's
Built in the 1600’s
Pretty
Pretty
Smile!
Smile!
It's this tall!
It’s this tall!

 

 

After the castle, we headed towards our destination, somewhere to the South and West. ¬†We stopped for lunch in a little town, I think was called La Feuillie. ¬† There was one patisserie, where the lady didn’t speak much English at all, but we managed to get all we needed. ¬†We met a Brit, who had lived in France for a while. ¬† ¬†There was no supermarket, but we managed to find a couple of dairy/4 square type places (I’m not sure what you call them in England.. Newsagents maybe?) ¬†where we bought enough food for dinner and breakfast.

pre lunch snack
pre lunch snack

P1280257

View
View
Bonjour, little schoolkids
Bonjour, little schoolkids
Lunch!!!
Lunch!!!
Road
Road
Totes saw a baloon
Totes saw a baloon

We had to follow some main roads, which really wasn’t as fun, but not much choice. ¬†We had a lot of trouble finding our destination – gmaps doesn’t always like French places. ¬† Eventually, our lovely Airbnb hosts came to pick us up, which honestly made me happy, as the lived at the top of a massive hill. ¬†They were very happy, as we were the first bike tour people they had had stay with them, and also the first New Zealanders.

Our accomodation was an adorable little cabin, with all the amenities, a pull out couch, and an adorable little loft bed up top.  We had a quick dip in the pool, met the local ponies, goats, geese and chickens, and then got clean and dry for dinner.  Henri made us a lovely, lovely dish, of layers of potato and raclette (we had this in Bordeaux, it is the cheese that is for melting, it is so, so delishuz).   For the sake of feeling better about ourselves, we also had some stirfry veg.  And baguette.  I put the raclette/potato mix on the baguette.  It was amazing.   Lovely pastries and tarts for dessert, and I think we also had some macaroons.

Our accomodation for the night
Our accomodation for the night
A pool
A pool
Goats
Goats
A seal
A seal
This is the most amazing thing!   A raclette and potato pan pie.
This is the most amazing thing! A raclette and potato pan pie.
This was our dinner, and it was amazing
This was our dinner, and it was amazing
IMG_1726
One giant macaroon!
Secluded
Secluded

 

I guess I should have felt bad for the sheer amount of food I was eating, but I really didn’t, because, hey, so very delishuz. ¬†Also, we were biking like 50km a day.

We lay out on the deck chairs, surrounded by the gathering dark, and watched the stars start to twinkle, and the bats flitter about through the trees.  Bliss.

We must have seen half a  dozen planes go by while we were lying there (plus one shooting star).  Do they ever stop?

Another decent nights sleep, however this time, we intended to be up and gone early the next day, so we could get to the next town with plenty of time to look around.

 

Zoomy!
Zoomy!
zoomy
zoomy
Yeahh
Yeahh
P1280252
Built in the 1600’s
IMG_1723
I am LOST!  (we knew how to say this, in case we were)

 

 

12th April – Bike ride, more Brighton meanderings

I spent a few runs along the water front, in various weathers, plenty of pretty views and chalk cliffs.

One weekend we biked out to the Smugglers Rest Inn, in Peacehaven, for lunch, with Henri and Alastair. ¬† They had good bikes. ¬† We had medium hire bikes. ¬†But it wasn’t too bad.¬† ¬†Lovely ride along the South coast, chalk cliffs, a bit of a breeze, a non nudists beach, and chalk!

 

Brighton Marina
Brighton Marina
Marina
Marina
Keep off...
Keep off…
Brighton
Brighton
Bike ride!
Bike ride!
Chalky cliffs
Chalky cliffs
Zoomy
Zoomy

 

Smugglers Rest
Smugglers Rest.  Henrietta, Alastair, Myself and Dale
A beach
A beach
Low tide
Low tide
Climb the wall
Climb the wall

 

P1230864

I realised that I could use the chalk walls to write with!
I realised that I could use the chalk walls to write with!

P1230872

<3
‚̧
Don't be nekkid
Don’t be nekkid
Bye!
Bye!

 

Contrail shadows
Contrail shadows

 

P1230847
Fancy places to moor at the Marina
Springtime
Springtime
Springtime
Springtime
Springtime
Springtime
IMG_0847
St Peter’s Church
IMG_0846
St Peter’s Church

Bordeaux Part 2

Monday dawned nice and sunny.   We all piled in Curby (our vehicle, a 7 person carvan), and headed out into the local neighbourhood.

Our little house
Our little driveway

We had a bit of trouble finding our first location, and zoomed on to the second. ¬†A lot of the roads are quite small, and kinda crazy, zipping through them in a large car-van. ¬† ¬†We found the second location, but they were closing for lunch – most vineyards seem to close for a period over lunch, perhaps for napping? ¬† While waiting, we decided to go to the supermarket and stock up on cheese and bread! ¬†We spent the rest of the day trying, drinking and buying wine. ¬† It was very interesting, many of the people didn’t speak much English, and we didn’t speak much French, so there was plenty of extrapolation, hand waving and charades, but we enjoyed it, nonetheless.

 

P1230579

Someone's castle...
Someone’s castle…
A mural
A mural
Pretty
Pretty
This castle has a moat!
This castle has a moat!
Someone else's house
Someone else’s house
French cows
French cows

 

Our last day was spent in a town called Cadillac, where they had various interesting points. ¬†There was ¬†a church, Chappelle d’Epernon.

The Chapelle
The Chapelle
Inside the Chapelle
Inside the Chapelle
A cute street
A cute street
Window boxes
Window boxes

There was also an old castle РChateau de Cadillac, that was used for various things. It is apparently a good example of French Architecture, and was quite amazing inside, with massive rooms and fireplace.  Each one was elaborately carved in marble and stone, with huge tapestries.

Chateau de Cadillac
Chateau de Cadillac
Chateau de Cadillac
Chateau de Cadillac
Fireplace!
Fireplace!
Tapestry
Tapestry
Fancy fireplaces in every room
Fancy fireplaces in every room
Detail
Detail
Garden of Chateau de Cadillac
Garden of Chateau de Cadillac

 

The town even had a proper wall, town gate, towers with arrow slits.  It was pretty, lots of spring flowers around.  We ate lunch at a little bakery, where I had to go back and buy apple pastry things, and eclairs, a couple of times, as they were very yummy.

 

A cute street
A cute street
Town gate
Town gate
Tower gate, complete with arrow holes
Tower gate, complete with arrow holes
Looking into town
Looking into town
We found a play thing
We found a play thing
Spring
Spring
Town square
Town square
Flowers
Flowers
Chapelle
Chapelle
Chapelle
Chapelle
Moat around Chateau de Cadillac
Moat around Chateau de Cadillac
 Chateau de Cadillac
Chateau de Cadillac

 

The day we flew out, we spent a fair amount of time packing, and headed into Bordeaux early so we sort out extra bags. ¬†I think a couple of extra bags were bought by people for transporting wine home. ¬† We stopped at a massive mall, that had the most amazing fancy toilets I have seen in a while. ¬†We also bought more macaroons, and ate them. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Plane ride back was uneventful.

The biggest baguette ever
The biggest baguette ever
mmm delishuz flavours
mmm delishuz flavours
Tree
Tree
Our house
Our house
Sad face building
Sad face building
Time to leave
Time to leave

P1230758

Old architecture
Old architecture

 

Icefields Parkway

We awoke bright and early in Banff, to a slightly chilly temp of around -30 degrees.¬† From what I heard, Sunshine skifield was on hold due to it being too cold…. wtf!!!¬† You know it’s pretty cold, when Canadians close their skifield.¬† We stopped at the supermarket to get some lunch, then headed north, along the section of road called the Icefields Parkway.¬† It is not a transit road, it is a scenery/tourist road, maintained by Parks Canada, and it one of the prettiest drives ever.

We stopped at all the places that were open.¬† It was very, very cold, but it was perfectly clear and sunny, which is what we wanted.¬† I will not go on about each place (hey look, another mountain!), but I do of course have pictures of each mountain.¬† Well, most of them.¬† There are more pictures than words in this post ūüôā

Wildlife bridge
Wildlife bridge
A pretty range
A pretty range
Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain
Crowfoot Mountain
Crowfoot Mountain
Crowfoot Glacier
Crowfoot Glacier
Bow Lake
Bow Lake

P1200900 P1200909

My favourite bits were:

Weeping wall Рan ice covered wall, frozen and blue.  We stopped here for lunch, next to a very pretty little river.

Sasketchawan River
Sasketchawan River
Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson
Alexandra River
Alexandra River
Weeping wall
Weeping wall
Cirrus Mountain
Cirrus Mountain

 

Mistaya Canyon – very pretty!¬† There was a raven sitting at the edge of the pull-out, and his feathers were fluffed out all over his feet, I assume to keep them warm.¬† He didn’t want to move when I got close, but he eventually did, and looked a little put out.

A raven with fluffy feet covers
A raven with fluffy feet covers
Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon, Mount Sarbach in background
Mistaya Canyon, Mount Sarbach in background

P1200943

A small creature
A small creature

Athabasca Glacier Рthe glacier has retreated quite a way, but you can walk up almost to the face, to the frozen pool of water that sits in front of it.  Down one side you can see the exposed glacier, a beautiful deep blue, with layers and lines.  It was hidden away, most of the glacier is covered in snow.  On the walk up, there are lateral moraines (scree piles), tall on either side, and you climb up a terminal moraine.  Occasionally, the bedrock pokes through, and it is sleek and smooth to touch, slippery to walk on if wet, and you can see the lines scratched into it, from when the sheer mass of glacier was moving rocks across it.    The glacier is part of the Colombia Icefield, which is over 300m2, and feeds at least 8 glaciers.   It was pretty.  They had plenty of signs telling tourists not to try and walk on it, as people fall in to crevices and die.

P1210021

Handstand
Handstand
Glacier, ta-daa!
Glacier, ta-daa!
Glacial scrapings on rock
Glacial scrapings on rock
Lateral moraine
Lateral moraine

P1210051

Athabasca Glacier
Athabasca Glacier
Dale rolled down the hill
Dale rolled down the hill

 

 

Wild coyotes РDale spotted one walking down a river, so we screeched to a stop, and jumped out to watch it.  It trotted down the river, peed on a rock, then continued on its way.  We spotted another one crossing the road in front of us further down the river, and we stopped to watch that one too.

Athabasca River
Tangle Ridge
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Coyote on the Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River

There are around 100+ accommodation places that are guesthouses, located in the basement of peoples houses, in Jasper, a bit like in Field.  It seems to be a good way for people to make a bit extra from home.  Warm and snuggly, if no view, and we found a relatively cheap one for our few days in Jasper.  It was nice to have a lounge and space to ourselves.

The Badlands. Friday 28th Feb

We got up, briefly examined some shops, and then headed north.¬† Once out of Calgary, it was straight roads and flat, flat, plains for a couple of hours drive.¬†¬† Flat As!¬† The road you could see stretching out in front of you for ages and ages…..¬† Flat plains, very little in the way of trees or fences, just flat snow covered flatness.

Acme!  Should see the road runner soon
Acme! Should see the road runner soon
Blowing snow
Blowing snow

Cruise control was a great thing here.  As we were driving, the wind was pushing snow across the road in a thin veil, it looked pretty cool, but kinda crazy driving through a horizontal snow curtain.

We saw a few oil wells, just pumping away in the middle of nowhere, in peoples paddocks.  We travelled over the prairie until we came suddenly to a gorge, where the road dropped down to a river valley.   We stopped in a town called Drumheller for lunch.  The town is filled with model dinosaurs, in varying shades of paint. The whole Badlands area is in a valley, carved out of sedimentary rock by rivers.  You can see the layers in the rock on the walls of the canyons, and for the most part, they are striped and vividly coloured.  Reds, browns, black layers of coal.  The area was known for its coal mining, and we checked out a river and a suspension bridge. From the looks of it, people had been driving up and down on the river on their snowmobiles.

No swaying!
No swaying!
River becomes snowmobile trail
River becomes snowmobile trail
So. Cold.
So. Cold.
A bridge, used in the mining days
A bridge, used in the mining days

It was lovely weather in terms of sun and blue skies, but the temperature was a bit chilly, and we were reluctant at times, to get out of the car.¬† Dale didn’t want to be in any photos, he mostly wanted to stay in the car.¬† Which is fair enough, in -25 with windchill (I think a windchill warning was issued, in some places, something silly like 10 mins till frostbite in exposed places). It was a: jump out of the car, run to the place, take a quick photo, run back to the car, turn the heater up High).

There are formations called Hoodoos, pillars that have formed, usually topped by harder sandstone, where the earth around it has been eroded away, leaving a flat topped pillar.   The area is also rife with dinosaur bones, and I think they have pulled the most intact dinosaur bones from that area than any other in the world.

A hoodoo
A hoodoo
More
More
Chilly hoodoos
Chilly hoodoos

P1200668

Formations
Formations

P1200684 P1200692 P1200702 P1200711

We checked out some hoodoos, and then the massive fiberglass t-rex that they have at the info centre.  You can walk up inside it and look out over the town.  We also went to check out horse thief canyon, which is very pretty, and then horseshoe Canyon just before the sun went down, then we drove back to Banff.

Dale is bravely standing on the foot of The Biggest Dinosaur
Dale is bravely standing on the foot of The Biggest Dinosaur
Rawr
Rawr

P1200737

oh hai!
oh hai!
Alberta seems to be flat.
Alberta seems to be flat.
Horse Thief Canyon
Horse Thief Canyon

P1200764

Sunset over the plains, such delicate pastel colours, so cold and pretty.¬† It is currently -28 out, but windchill is a ***, I’m sure it makes it more like -40, which is just ridiculous, and just popping outside the car to take a couple of pictures is an ordeal!

We are travelling directly west, the sun set in a fiery golden ball.  The sky behind is turning blue-grey, the snow covered fields stretch out in all directions, flat as far as the eye can see. They seem to glow, reflecting the aqua of the sky above.  IN front,the sky descends from dusky blue through aqua, pale teal, blue-green, a touch of yellow, orange, and then salmon and coral at the horizon.  I love this time of night in Canada, just after the sun has set, the light seems to linger for such a long time, everything looks just a little bit softer.  In Field, with the mountains, the sun would set, and there would be a mix of blue and yellow lights reflected off the sky and surrounding mountains.

Sun going down across the plains
Sun going down across the plains
Wind driven snow
Wind driven snow
More plains
More plains
Squirrel pary
Squirrel pary

P1200807 P1200809 P1200814