Tag Archives: fountains

Versailles, 2013

One of the main things I had wanted to do on my previous trips to Paris was to go to Versailles, but I had had never quite made it out of the city. When I watched the film Marie Antoinette, it inspired me further and I could not wait to see it for myself.

This time, my husband, daughter and I made the time to catch a train to the palace and take in the château. Despite it’s enormity and the cold weather, it was crowded. But from the moment we passed the statue of King Louis and entered the gold encrusted gates it was worth it.

There was a whole chapel inside the palace, long hallways with sculptures carved into the walls and winding staircases. The rooms all had ceiling frescos and detailed wallpaper. It was definitely decadent now, so I can only imagine what it was like before revolutionaries ransacked it.

There were enormous fireplaces, but small beds; elaborate candlesticks and chandeliers, but threadbare tapestries. Of course we went to the famous Hall of Mirrors, which had beautiful views over the gardens.

My tip would be to go to the Jardins de Versailles first as they would be less crowded in this order, and as nice as the house was, the gardens were much more impressive to me and more vast.

The hedges with statues on the North Parterre was so long and the lake-like fountain on the Water Parterre was so huge. But the most spectacular for me was the view of the patterned Orangery from the Latona Parterre.

Of course, I was also amazed by the famous Grand Canal. I couldn’t believe that there was such a big body of water in a garden. The fountain-obsessive in me also liked Water Ave punctuated with a fountain every few steps and culminating in the lovely dragon fountain.

And of course I loved the idea of the little hidden Three Fountains Grove and the large Neptune’s Fountain. I only wish that I had been here when all the fountains were flowing. How impressive a sight that must be.

I also wish that I had more time to explore the gardens. I could just imagine the parties that the kings and queens had out here. It would have been great to have had more time to see Marie Antoinette’s Estate too and imagine her there with her children.

But alas, my unhappy child would have none of it, so I suppose I will have to leave that fantasy for another day.

Related posts: Paris, 2013France 1997, Part 1: Paris,It’s a French ThingEurope, 2003 

Hong Kong, 2013: Part 2

One afternoon, my husband, daughter and I caught one of the double decker trams to Soho. For a toddler, the journey is often better than the destination and for my husband he very much enjoyed revisiting one of the Soho bars that he went to last time he was here for work.

I liked that the bar was cool and had an indoor fountain as well as tasty cocktails. We also took a ride on the longest escalator in the world and saw some local market stalls in the area.

On the way back to the hotel we stumbled upon some modern art installations inside a train station. There were mural of rainforests, kites and a Chinese dragon.

The next day we took the iconic Star Ferry to Kowloon. The colourful ferry was striking and the old wooden boat was lovely.

On the other side, we were greeted by the tall stone clock tower and the views back to Hong Kong were great. The buildings on this side were older, apart from the modern museum, and had flashing neon signs.

We stumbled upon a children’s fun run sponsored by Kinder and took a walk along the strange Avenue of Stars that had bronze statures of film makers, Bruce Lee and the handprints of Jackie Chan.

The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade was a bit of a disappointment, but it did have a cool modern dragon fountain. They sure do love a fountain in Hong Kong as we were to discover even further with a visit to Kowloon Park which was basically a park of fountains, lakes and even a waterfall. Plus the cartoon art installation featuring Dragon Ball-Z and a big Panda that we found.

Lunch was had in an modern air conditioned café near the ferry terminal where high chairs were not a problem, before we caught the ferry back to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was not as overwhelmingly busy as I expected and there was more to see than I had thought. It was an easy and cheap stopover with a one year old and I could see why so many expats enjoyed living here.

Related posts: Hong Kong, 2013: Part 1, It’s an Asia Thing

It’s a Spanish thing

I love Spain.

I love the colour, the life and the fact that people mistake me for being Spanish.

Flamenco dancing spectaculars, drinking Sangria and late night starts.

Tasty tapas, seafood paella and crème Catalan.

Nobody worries too much about owning property- why buy when you can rent right in the middle of the city where you want to live.

Parc de la Citadella where the cool kids hang out, Otto Zutz nightclub where the tourists go to party and Zara for all your fashionable needs.

The iconic La Rambla, the smells and sounds of La Boqueria and the friendly waitress in our local bar.

I love Barcelona, especially Parc Guell, and every time I go back I discover a new side to the city.

The brilliance of Gaudi, the deck chairs on the curving beaches and the famous 4 Cats bar.

The Moorish delights of the Alhambra, so many fountains and gypsies living in cave houses.

I am fortunate enough to have some Spanish friends who have shown me parts of Spain that I would not have otherwise explored.

The views from Mount Tibidabo, the sad story of Punta De Sau and the tradition of Plaza de Torres de la Maestanza.

Busy Madrid, beautiful Granada and cultural Seville.

I like the streets and alleyways of the cities and the gothic architecture of the churches.

A summer retreat in Xabia, white washed Spanish style villa’s and tall cliffs crashing into deep blue sea.

The lovely language, the good looking ladies and the passionate people.

It’s not just a country, it’s a way of life.

Endless fun, long summers in the cold climate of Europe and a no worries attitude that suits my Australian ethos.

I look forward to returning to Espana and discovering more about this wonderful country.

Related posts: It’s a water thing, People vs Place, It’s a French thing, Europe, 2003, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona, Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona

Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona

In Madrid, Sarah and I saw the Palacio Real and views of the city from the Campo del Moro. The red buildings in Plaza Mayor reminded me of Place des Voges in Paris.

We went to the pretty enough Parque del Retiro, saw the Monumento a Alfonso 12 in the middle of a big lake and walked down the Paseo le Argentina to find the Crystal Palace.

After Barcelona, I found Madrid disappointing. Perhaps it was the fact that Madrid is an inland city and I preferred the coastal Barcelona. Or maybe it is the people you know that make a place.

In Granada, we went to see the Alhambra. Most impressive fortress/palace EVER!

The Generalife gardens were simply beautiful- especially the three fountains of the Mirador and the interesting Escalera del Agua which are stairs with a water handrail.

We went to the Patio de Los Arrayanes, saw the famous lions of Patio de Los Leones and visited the Torres Bermejast with its majestic views of Granada.

Nearby, we journeyed to the Albaizin white washed Moorish quarter and got lost in the Sacromonte gypsy area with its cute little cave houses built into the mountain.

In Seville, we stayed in the Pension Orense in the Santa Cruz area. We came to see the Los Gallos flamenco dancing show and drink sangria.

The next day, the well known Plaza de Espana was first on our list and did not disappoint. Just magnificent.

We took a guided tour of the Plaza de Torres de la Maestanza, the oldest bull ring in the world, which is still in use. The animal rights activist in me balked at the bull’s heads on the walls with ears cut off as trophies, but the traveller in me respected this cultural traditional of Spain.

We headed back to Barcelona for the Festival of the Dead, fireworks and more drinks in a Mexican bar.

Republished on Travel Spain daily paper.li.

Related posts: Spain, 1997, Part 1: BarcelonaFrance, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing