Monday, March 7, 2011

Look Left, Look Right - We're in London

How many people do you think have this same picture?
After my Uncle John had left we were very inspired to finally take the plunge and go to London. In early February we found an amazing deal with the British Euro Star railway and booked a two-day trip. It was our first time in ten months back in an English speaking country!

The London Eye
We arrived late Monday night and after taking the tube to our hotel, Twenty Nevern Square, we headed downtown to see the city at night.

The next morning we went to Buckingham palace, to peer through the gold plated gates at the Queen’s Guards. 


From Buckingham palace we walked to Westminster Abbey, and then along to the River Thames. In Covet Garden we found an Indian Restaurant, Punjab, the oldest North Indian restaurant in England.

Big Ben on our way to the Thames

From Covet Garden we navigated the tube down to the Tower of London, where we had a guided tour by one of the live-in Beefeaters. The Tower of London was not at all what I had expected; with medieval buildings all lumped together in an array of styles, shapes and sizes. 


The central White Tower; the residential fortress, it a true castle built to awe and terrify its citizens and possible foreign invaders. Perhaps it is the multi-purpose function of residential fortress combined with that of a prison, royal mint, and treasury that gives the Tower of London such an interesting and emotive composition of building styles. The grounds and building are so massive and intricate one definitely needs to set aside more then two hours. 

Apartment above the Traitor's Gate
Tower Bridge from the Tower of London

That night we went to see Billy Elliot the Musical. It was very good, although London is full of musicals, I don’t know how one could ever decide on which to see!

The next morning we ended our trip in Hyde Park with a Café au Lait by the Serpentine.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A day in Arras with Uncle John

Back in January, I received a Christmas present in the mail from my Uncle and Aunt. As I was telling my Mom about its arrival, she informed me that my Uncle John was actually in London at that time, on a business trip. I immediately emailed him, not only to say thank you, but also to invite his to Arras. It just so happened that he was able to come, and took the train over that weekend for a quick visit. I met him in Lille to help him negotiate the two very different and confusing train stations; Lille Europe and Lille Flandres. Once back in Arras we walked around the Grand'Place, grabbed a bottle of wine at Café Leffe, before heading to our place for a galette diner.

The next day was a Saturday. It was a beautiful day; we were able to do a lot with the short time that we had. We went to the Saturday market, toured the Boves, climbed the Beffroi, and went out for lunch at Café Philosoff, all before going out to tour the Canadian National Vimy Memorial that afternoon!

Above: Views from the Beffroi
Below: The preserved trenches of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial 

                           It was so nice to have family for such a wonderful surprise visit!All photos are courtesy of my Uncle, I forgot the camera!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Málaga was our sunny final destination to our back packing trip through Spain. We took a coach bus from Granada in order to see a bit more of the landscape that lies outside the city centre. Málaga is an airport city, which many Europeans use as an entrance to their sunny vacations in the south.  We found a hotel outside the city centre that could offer us a beach and a room with a water front view for our own sunny vacation. 
We spent a wonderful two days relaxing and sleeping in, while listening to the waves as the sun rose and set. We did a little afternoon trip into the Málaga city centre for a light lunch and some shopping before returning back to our hotel for our last night in Spain.

Below Left: Main Pedestrian Street in Málaga
Below Right: Roman ruins uncovered in the city during some renovations

The next day we flew out back to France, on the Spanish Christmas eve.  January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings to Bethlehem. It is on this day that children receive their gifts, given from the Three Kings.  Children in Spain sit on the lap of a wise man in the shopping centres, and some houses even have little wise men hanging out their windows climbing faux ladders. It made for quite the Christmas holiday, having Christmas in Arras, taking down the tree Christmas day, only for the festivities to continue in our trip in Spain.

¡Me gusta España!