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17 April 2017

France Field Report Day 9 – 10 – 11 - 12

With all the trouble I had uploading posts, I gave up writing them and decided it’d just do it when I got home.

Once I am done with all the pictures, I’ll get back to this project and write about our last 4 days.

In a nut shell, as you can imagine, they were AWESOME!

France Field Report 8 – Day 8… No pictures for now.

There seems to be a problem with the OLW program and uploading pictures, so for now it’s words only. I removed all the pictures so these posts might feel a little weird! Hopefully this will be temporary, I will try and add them later directly in Blogger.

Steps today: 24 039 / a little over 15¾km

Ahhh Paris! What can I say that you don’t already know? It’s just simply fantastic.

The train ride from Strasbourg was great – we paid the HUGE extra premium of 6$CDN to travel first class and it was terrific; I felt like we were sitting in arm chairs! I tried taking a picture but it didn’t really turn out.

We arrived at the hotel around 10:30 but the room wasn’t ready so we left our bags and set off to explore. We got the key at the end of the day; it’s a nice room and its just across the hall from the room where I stayed last October. Again when booking this hotel I didn’t shop around. I loved it before + the price was good this time = done.

We don’t really have a lot on our “must see” list for Paris this time around, but we did want to check out Place de La Nation and from there walk to Vincennes to see the Castle and have lunch. We ended up having lunch near Pla. Nat. instead, and since Vincennes was nowhere near as charming as it was last time, we didn’t stick around. We got on the metro and headed back to Central Paris to just enjoy being in the city.

We did not make it a point to visit “The Biggies” like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower etc. today, we did see them in passing but we’ll do all the picture taking tomorrow, today we just wandered and went wherever the wind blew us.

Tom Cruise is here filming Mission Impossible 6, would be fun to get a glimpse of that!

I did finally get a great shot of the column in Place Vendôme since the entire area was cordoned off by the police and therefore there were no cars in the way to obstruct the view. We thought they were keeping people back because of a celebrity or a foreign dignitary… turns out it was due to a suspicious package! Yikes! Now I understand why the officer gave me the stink-eye when I asked if I could take pictures. 

We had a simple supper near Place D’alma around 6PM, then headed back to the hotel to unpack and settle in.

It’s great to be back in Paris, but I REALLY feel like I was just here last week. It’s a funny vibe because I don’t feel like I am on a mission to see and do anything in particular because I JUST did them all! I’m not even carrying a guide with me this time.

We want to hit a step-record tomorrow since we’ll have all day in town with no train excursions, which means now I need my rest!

Good night.

France & Germany Field Report 7 – Day 7… No pictures for now.

There seems to be a problem with the OLW program and uploading pictures, so for now it’s words only. I removed all the pictures so these posts might feel a little weird! Hopefully this will be temporary, I will try and add them later directly in Blogger.

Steps today: 16 508 / almost 11km.

I’m a bit disappointed that we did not reach our minimum goal of 20 000 per day, but it was HOT this afternoon and so there was not as much walking going on!!

We went Freiburg in Germany today and I LOVED IT! Best day trip of this vacation for me so far. There was rain in the forecast, but it never materialize – we had blue skies all day. SO lucky!

It was a complicated start to the day - we went to by our tickets at the train station in Strasbourg and the clerk told us he had a better solution for us on the return journey that would save us money and he started on what at the time seemed like a long and complicated proposition to save just a few Euros. Once I understood that he was not giving me an option for THE return journey, but rather because we were ON A same-day return journey it got interesting. He sold us a family day pass for the first leg of our journey and told us to buy a return ticket at the train station where we were transferring for the second leg.  In the end, it saved us FIFTY Euros!!!! Thank you!

Freiburg was terrific, I was snapping pictures everywhere I looked; my head was on a swivel. Early on I declared it was better than Baden-Baden and I could totally use it as a home-base city if ever we plan a trip to that region of Germany in the future (depending on the train schedules of course!).

The day followed our typical schedule when day-tripping in a city on a too-hot-for-us day:

  • We started with a café stop upon arrival
  • Wandered around in the morning seeing the main sights and checking things off the list
  • Have a pre-lunch drink and review our afternoon plans
  • Have lunch
  • Wander around some more and look for ways to hide from the heat
  • Duck into a shady café for a last drink (and sometimes a desert like we did today)
  • Call it quits by about 3 or 4 o'clock and head back to Home Base

We were back in Strasbourg by about 5:30 and set out looking for a place to have a drink and supper. The heat was subsiding by then, according to the weather reports the temps will be 10 degrees cooler over the next few days – thank God! We’ve only really had one “troublesome” hot day on this trip so far so it' hasn't been THAT bad, but we’re quipped for (and prefer) mid-teens not low to mid 20s! The wind also blew in the clouds and so we lost our spotless blue skies of the last few days.

Because we wanted to eat outside for our final meal in Strasbourg in the “Petite France” area specifically, we did not find many options therefore we were “forced” to break the no-resto-repeat rule and ended up back at a place where we already had drinks a few days before. By the time we got settled and ordered our food, the wind kicked up SO MUCH it was like eating in a wind tunnel – it was almost comical!! Needless to say, the food did not stay warm long.

After supper, we headed straight back to the hotel since we have to pack up tonight for our move to Paris tomorrow.

Strasbourg was fantastic! I had a great time and got to cross off all the things on my list. Contrary to the afternoon I spent here in April 2011, I now feel like I can really say I visited Strasbourg “properly”.  The hotel was great too – excellent location, clean, convenient, great bathroom, no issues with hot water or water pressure… I’d easily stay here again. I only have 2 complaints and they are minor. 1- the toilet bowl is too high.. NOT COMFORTABLE. 2- the pillows are awful, like heavy sandbags.

Time to shower now and then call it a night, a new adventure starts tomorrow!

Cheers from Strasbourg!

France & Germany Field Report 6 – Day 6… No pictures for now.

There seems to be a problem with the OLW program and uploading pictures, so for now it’s words only. I removed all the pictures so these posts might feel a little weird! Hopefully this will be temporary, I will try and add them later directly in Blogger.

Steps today: 24 372 / 16km

Today we went to Baden-Baden in Germany, it was very nice but DESERTED on a Sunday morning! It felt like a ghost town!!

We spent the morning walking up and down the Lichtentaler Allee… Thank God we did not save this for after lunch! It was so hot then that we could not have done it.

We ate lunch at the Biergarten. It was great! and we arrived just in time too, another 10 minutes and we would have had to wait for a table.

After lunch everyone came out of the woodwork (church?) and the place was humming with people so it was much more enjoyable but it was also getting too hot for us. All week it’s been cold in the morning and warm in the afternoon, but this was the first day we really felt sweaty and curbed some of out sightseeing in an effort to stay comfortable. It was over 23C.

Baden-Baden is not that big and there is not a whole heck of a lot to do if you are not on a spa vacation, so even though we slowed down in the afternoon, we didn’t miss out and enjoyed our visit.

We were back in Strasbourg by 5:30 and went for a walk in the Old Town again, then after supper outside (in the shade) we lingered a bit to get some night shots of the Cathedral.

That’s about covers it for today! Good night.

France Field Report 5 - Day 5… No pictures for now.

There seems to be a problem with the OLW program and uploading pictures, so for now it’s words only. I removed all the pictures so these posts might feel a little weird! Hopefully this will be temporary, I will try and add them later directly in Blogger.

Steps today: 23 958 / almost 16km.   By the time I get up to turn off the lights, it will be at 24.

We spent the morning in Colmar – very nice city, worth the detour to see it’s charms, but I think a half-day is sufficient to appreciate it.

We left there by noon and were back in Strasbourg by 12:30, again we were pleased by the location of our hotel so close to the train station – we were able to stop and shed some layers before embarking on our afternoon adventures. It’s really cold in the morning, so we need to bundle, up but the temps top 20C in the afternoon so we start melting!

Back in Strasbourg we started with an outdoor lunch in front of the the Cathedral, it was amazing.

After, we visited the inside for a while and then set off to check the last thing off my Strasbourg to-do list: The Storks!

There is a Stork Park in the Orangerie, and wild (free?) storks have nests all around the park. 6 years ago, I caught a glimpse of a wing from the tour bus and ever since I’ve been wanting to come back and see them properly! It was a success.

From there we walked over to European Parliament, and then it was time to find café and escape the heat! It was 22C when I checked – too hot for me!!

We relaxed with a few drinks for about an hour, and the continued back to the Old Town for dinner…  perfect weather for eating outside, AND we found another resto will a full-on view of the Cathedral, AND they had crepes with cervelas on the menu. win-win-win.

That’s it for today!

Good night!

16 April 2017

France Field Report 4 - Day 4… No pictures for now.

There seems to be a problem with the OLW program and uploading pictures, so for now it’s words only. I removed all the pictures so these posts might feel a little weird! Hopefully this will be temporary, I will try and add them later directly in Blogger.

Steps today: 22 571 / almost 15km

I’m quite pleased by our walking results today, especially since we had another 3-hour train day (Strasbourg to Nancy is just under 90 minutes)

Nancy was beautiful, we had a great time; it was nice to discover a new place.

There is not a TON to see, but what is there is worth the detour. The most picturesque being the Place Stanislas. Everywhere you look there is something even more beautiful to see! We started the day with a lazy coffee in one of the many cafes lining the square as they were just starting to set up…  the drink was awful, but who cares – being outside and just enjoying the surroundings was totally worth it!  … and how lucky were we with blue skies!!!!!

The weather was freezing in the shade (I was wearing 5 layers + gloves) and then was melty sweaty hot in the sun.

After our drinks, we went for a walk in the Parc de la Pépinière to admire the flowers and see the animals in the mini-zoo and wander through the old town.

Lunch was back to the square again but in all honestly I was not in the mood to eat; I had a HUGE baguette cheese and ham sandwich with a ton of butter for breakfast and it was weighing on me all morning.  Still, I felt obligated to try a quiche lorraine since we were in the Lorraine region of France! (I thought it looked like a slice of pecan pie).

After lunch, more wandering, and we caught the train back to Strasbourg at 4:15 – getting us back in Strasbourg by 5:45.

Our hotel is right between the train station and the Old Town which made it very convenient to stop in, freshen up, and shed some layers before going back out for dinner.

We were in the mood for crêpes for supper and debated whether to go for a drink before or after our meal, but finding a crêpe place was a real challenge! It was 6:45 before we accidentally stumbled upon a small sign pointing the way to a resto in the back of an alley boasting a menu of over 90 varieties! Jackpot!

We had the place to ourselves (I can’t imagine they do a lot of business in that out-of-the-way location) so we made ourselves comfortable on the deserted outdoor terrace. Their 4-story high wall of vines had us mesmerized, and the crêpes were delicious!

Instead of having coffee there, we though we’d find a more bustly place to end the evening and again stumbled upon a terrific find! What a great place to enjoy some desert wine before calling it a night!

I think I got too much sun today, despite the fact that I wear 60 SPF on my face and neck, I still feel hot and have a red face tonight. Perhaps it’s just fatigue and the glow of the wine.  As long as it’s not a cold, I’ll be ok… lots more to explore tomorrow!

Good night.

6 April 2017

France Field Report 3 – Day 3

Steps today: 20 042 / 13¼ km. Full disclosure, I walked the last 500 steps in the hotel room to get the number over 20k. It’s not a bad “score” when you consider we had a 3½ train ride from Lyon to Strasbourg this morning!

The ride was nice, we slept almost the entire way, but it started with a snafu – the posted signs meant to inform travellers where they should stand on the platform so that they can get on the correct train car were all backwards and so we ended up at the completely wrong end of the train in first class. We just played innocent and stayed put – there were LOTS of empty seats anyway. When the controller came through to validate the tickets, even he didn’t mind because he knew about the signage mishap in Lyon, but then he made some other guys move out and so we figured we’d to be good and go find our proper assigned seats.

Our room at the hotel wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we just left them our bags and headed out to explore Strasbourg.


We’ve previously visited Strasbourg for an afternoon in April 2011 but it was part of the Rhine River Cruise and therefore we were not on our own and weren’t able to explore at our own pace and follow our own interests. As a result, we barely remembered a thing and so you could say that this is not a repeat visit. It certainty doesn’t feel like one.

The weather was COLD! SO windy and no sun, I was starting to get concerned that Frank would catch a cold but thankfully it warmed up in the afternoon and the sun came out so we’re feeling fine.

We started our aimless wander at the Cathedral, MAN OH MAN is it ever impressive! So huge, it’s impossible to get it all in one frame. Every time we left and came back, I was blown away all over again by it’s size and almost lacy-delicate façade…. especially later in the day when the sun was shining right on it.




After gawking at the cathedral, we had lunch nearby and then walked around in an attempt to stay warm. We eventually ducked into a bar for a shot of something strong to warm our insides! It was around 2:30 by then so since the hotel was so close, we went back to our room to unpack and get out some warmer clothes.

Nice surprise: we got a free room upgrade! Don’t know why, don’t really care! Just happy.




That stop took us about a half hour, and we left energized and bundled up… but by then the wind had died down and the sun came out so we were now overdressed. Figures! Still, thanks to our layers, we were able to sit outside and enjoy some drinks at a café near the water.

Here are some miscellaneous highlights of our afternoon:






(My glass of wine looks like a flower! So pretty)


Now I really feel like I’ve visited Strasbourg “properly” as opposed to that blip 6 years ago. I still want to go to the Orangerie Park and see the storks, we only got a fleeting glimpse from the bus last time, then I will be able to say my visit is complete. We start day-tripping as of tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze it in.

Time for bed now, it’s after 9PM and that’s passed my bed time. We plan to go to Nancy tomorrow; I’m looking forward to a brand new destination and discover a city I’ve never seen before!

Good night!

5 April 2017

France Field Report 2 – Day 2

Steps today: 23 507 / 15½km. I have to say I am therefore MORE surprised by how much we did yesterday since we had a full day in the city today with no travelling… I think I underestimated the amount of walking (and pacing) we did at the airports! It all adds up!

We are early birds and don’t usually need an alarm in the morning, but on the first morning of a trip, we set it to make sure we don’t sleep the day away recovering from the previous usually sleepless night. We set it for 8AM, but were up by 7:45 – hitting the road by about 8:30.

We had omelets for breakfast (delicious and buttery) which was more than we intended, but it was either that or continental and while I don’t need or want a feast in the morning, I do appreciate an egg – especially in Europe! They are extra delicious.


We walked off the buttery deliciousness after breakfast, and visited the Cathédrale St Jean to see the astronomical clock that was hidden behind construction last time we were here. Looked nice and clean….


After this, it was up the hill (via funicular) to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, high up on a hill and visible from all over the city.





In 2015, I remember being impressed by the mosaics, and Frank said he didn’t even remember them! Well, can't have that! I am always impressed by mosaics; these were beautiful! He liked them well enough, but not as must as I did…  explains why he forgot all about them. This time, he did take more pictures of the mosaics for me with the camera (better results than with the phone) but ignored the ceiling!! My phone messes with colours, but still: WOW




We admired Lyon from the lookout – but it was hazy so we didn’t see the promised views of Montblanc, besides, the view is identical as before so we didn’t linger.


From there, we walk down the hill (longest staircase ever)



and then back up another hill to the Croix Rousse District. It was NOT pleasant since the sun was out by then and I was turning into a sweaty mess!



We stopped for a drink to relax in a brasserie, and I finally tried ‘Get 21’. I’ve seen it on menus all over but had no clue what it was! I describe it as peppermint on steroids. The colour is what drew me in to try it, although its is not quite right in the pictures, you get the idea. I wonder if this is the same as Crème de Menthe?


Once we cooled off, we took the metro to Brasserie Georges for lunch, a great place very inconveniently located that we discovered on our 2015 visit. In business since 1836 (yes, over 180 years!) perhaps back then in was in the center of the action?? It was better than we remembered; a great meal!



I love menu screw-ups like this! Snailsles. HA HA HA HA (but they were delish!)



After lunch, we walked all the way to the tippy end of the city: to the confluence of the Rivers Rhône and Saône. There was also a fascinating new building nearby housing the “Confluence Museum” which my guidebook did not mention at all – but it’s a really old book. I think it’s time to invest in a new guide. Mine was published in 2003 and had guided me through 10 visits to France already… an upgrade is due!




We then took the tram back to the area where we had lunch and continued walking around the city from that point and soaked up more of the sights.




The weather was SO ANNOYING! Blue skies, yes, I am very grateful but it was melting hot in the sun and super freezing in the shade. We stopped for a nice outdoor drink around 4:30, but by the end since we were in a shady spot I had my gloves on!



(Crème de Pêches with extra Pêches… one of my favourite drinks!)


As you know, I have a no-resto-repeat rule when on vacation. The rule has been broken on occasion over the years (perhaps I should downgrade it to a guideline) and dinner tonight looked like it would mean a return to the place next to our hotel for more of the delicious crêpes we had the previous evening. I was not opposed, but would appreciate TRYING to find a new place so we compromised on the idea of having crêpes for dinner again, but just at a different place.

It had not easy to find, we wandered many ‘restaurant rows’ but were unsuccessful and by the time it dawned on me that this was my farewell to Lyon walk, we were already out of the Old Town and working our way back to the hotel.

We did end up back to the same resto, but I noticed they had a sign in the window this time advertising their fondues and so we indulged. I said this was a totally legit excuse to break the rule!


And so that’s it! Goodbye Lyon, it was great! We had a lovely return visit – lots of fun… coming back again someday is not a given, but you never know!! 2 years ago, we had no plans to be back so soon, yet here were are!

Time for bed now, the train departs at 8:30 tomorrow morning.



4 April 2017

France Field Report 1 – Day 1

Steps today: 22 820 / 15km.  Not bad for Day 1 if I do say so myself!!

The flight over was great: no crying babies, no technical mishaps, no terrorists, no delays, no fiery crashes into the ocean…  yet I still didn’t sleep. I did try, but after a while I succumbed to my awakeness and stopped bothering with the effort. I slept a bit at the airport between flights, and then most of the second flight - I was concerned that I would have trouble keeping up today, but I was fine.

When I booked this flight, I was nervous about the 2-hour layover in Paris and so I decided not to book the first flight to Lyon which left Paris at 7:50 AM, but the following one at 10:20. I’m nervous about missing the connection and then wasting my day trying to catch up… turns out in this case I was worried for nothing because we could have EASLILY made the connection at 7:50 with time to spare – but still overall, better safe than sorry.

We got to the hotel in Lyon by about 1PM which is exactly what I estimated. Thankfully the room was ready and so we had the chance to freshen-up a bit before hitting the town.

We’re staying at Citadines Part-Dieu again. I didn’t even bother to shop around when booking the hotels. We loved this place when we stayed here in April of 2015 and relied on the tried and true for this trip. The room is great – we love it.



Lyon is just as we remembered it, and 2 days (well, one and a half really) will be perfect for our re-visit to the city. We had a terrific day one! It’s really hot in the sun, over 20C, but the wind is really helping keep us comfortable. Thank God!

It started with lunch OUTSIDE what can top that? In addition, it was by the water… extra atmospheric.




Afterwards, we just walked and walked and walked – the usual – with a few pit stops for refreshments. Here are the highlights, if you are Facebook friends with me, these might be redundant!

Place des Jacobins:


Place St Jean:


Cathedrale St-Jean:


Eglise St-Georges:


Place Bellecour:



This flowery-tree art installation that does not seem to have a name (I think it’s just newer than my guide book)


Drinks at “L’institution”… I’ve always been curious about Sancerre wine, now I know…. and it’s nothing super-great, but the atmosphere was terrific!



The Opera House:


City Hall:


La Fresque des Lyonnais to get a better picture of Chef Paul Bocuse because the last time we missed him completely!:



And finally, Place des Terreaux to get a shot of the sun lighting up the City Hall:


By about 6PM we declared it a day and decided to head back to the hotel. We spotted a Creperie next door to the hotel and thought it would be the perfect place to end the day because we were fading FAST!

It was so delicious that Frank said he’s breaking the no resto repeat law tomorrow and he doesn’t care if I object! I have to admit that it was pretty damned delicious!


It’s almost 9:30 now and I am ready to COLLAPSE into unconsciousness… I hope this post doesn’t take forever to upload!

Good night!