Lets go round again

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With a big intake of breath and an even bigger exhale, I start writing this, my penultimate blog for this time away. Granted I have been back in the very sunny – to thunderous town of Perth now for a couple of days. To be fair I have always been playing catch up with the blog malarkey, most days too knackered to write anything and upload, never mind sift thru the multitude of photos taken.

My last place to visit was the beautiful city of Carcassonne a beautiful fortified city, a hilltop town with a doozy medieval fortress in Southern France. Located in historic trade routes and with strategic access to the Pyrenees, its hilltop was occupied by the Romans until the Empire finally fell. Carcassonne has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997 and the city relies heavily on tourism, wine making and manufacturing for its economy.

Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the region, easily accessible with its one airport and train links to Toulouse and Marseille, you can visit Château Comtal, a 12th-century castle within the city to tour the inner ramparts and have a nice lunch. If you sail, the canal du Midi, flows through the top of the town, close to the train station. Both filter into the Aude and Fresquel rivers, in my eyes, a great place for a romantic stop.

Enough of the tourism plug for the city, I’m here to see the Tour and interestingly, I stayed in the exact same gaff I stayed in 2 years ago. I arrived the day before the finish in the town. Having been before, there is no reason to seek out where they will set up or good spots, I know exactly where I am going, so I head out for a slap up meal and a few tipples neebs.

Up sharpish the next day and with the factor 50 on this time, I go for a wander through the city to soak up the atmosphere and build up. F1 Grand Prix day, so naturally I need to get a shot of the F1 bar. The crowds are building early doors, so I need to get ma spot, load up with a baguette. Some wine, some water and I am good to go. Key criteria, somewhere close enough to the finish line and where I can see the big screen. I think I nailed it!

It’s gonna be a long race today as they set off about 1.30pm and I’ve been in my spot for about 1 hour. They are expected to roll by about 5.30-6pm and without my stool I left back in Grenoble, I’m standing, elbows out, ready for some chancer to steal my spot. If you have never been, always been prepared for something to edge in beside you, then invite friends over and push you off the barrier. Some send their kids up to sneak under you and take over. It’s happened many a time, so now I stand and people know not to push in, especially as I bark at them ‘Don’t even think about it’ and they wander on.

Another superb day in Carcassonne. Despite mocking the locals and how they clamber to get all the freebies they can get their hands on, I have a superb hall for the day. I have had my fill and of course, I have taken waaay to many photo’s. A quick Panini and a beer and I’m back in the gaff, to catch the highlights and back for the long trek home. I’ve been thinking about what I will do when I’m back home, to celebrate the time on my travels. I have an idea, born from my time in the Big Apple. I just hope I am smart enough to do it, fingers crossed.

Cheerie

 

All about Thomas

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It’s the simplest, stress free and laid back days that are the most enjoyable. On the bus up to Oz en Osians, I met a good guy called Thomas. Naturally, my first response was that is the name of my father., but it’s spooky if you consider we’re both cheering on Geraint Thomas as well! Anyway, check out the two doozy pics he took and sent to me.

I’ve been on the road for about 5 months now, but Thomas has been travelling on and off for over 2 years, wow! Back in 2015 he sold his business, took off and has been on the go since, taking in a few similar locations across Europe, but took time to complete Culinary School in London and he had sailed over via Spain, with a Glaswegian, completing his Yacht master certification. I am just the Luke to his Yoda.

I think the coolest thing, similar to where I’d been, he has been chasing the world cup. Travelling to Belgium for when they played, being in France for the Final and if England had won, he intimated he probably would have come back to the UK. I like his style, he’s a canny guy, happy to let me yap away and he has done the old WordPress Blog thing when he first travelled and is all over social media with the handle ‘aromaround’, spot the chef!

I had a nice wee lye in and got the free bus down to the town of Allemont. As we crossed over the bridge on the hill up from the town, half the road was closed and the medics were over a 40+, stout cyclist chap on the ground getting CPR, proper chest pressure and a terrible thing to see. I checked the local online news on Friday and unfortunately he passed away.

As the bus pulls up in Allemont, Thomas is waiting hoping it’s going on. Unfortunately, he had headed down early to get ahead of the show to Grenoble, however all roads were closed. A short hop over the Tourist office to get the bad news, 5 hours till the next bus back. We sit for a nice wee café au lait and to take stock.

Within half an hour, were hot footing it, in the mid-day sun to the junction at Rochetaillee, which according to Google Maps is some 4km. I will take us about an hour, but a perfect opportunity to get to know each other and swop traveling stories. Apart from one chap, we’re the only ones walking to the race, while many locals are walking back. Some are not interested in cheering the riders, they just want all the free shit the cavalcade give out on the road.

We get there and the crowd is slowly building. It’s gonna be 45-55 mins till the riders come by and Thomas hooks up with some Welsh Dragons he met up Huez, two couples who have big green inflatable cheers, handy to stand behind to watch the race go back. They are doing it the right way, have a two week holiday in the camper van following the tour and cheering on ‘Thomas’.

Not long before the rider’s slingshot by and the show moves on through Grenoble. We find a café restaurant, have a wicked Caesars salad and a few beers and chat like old friends. Safe to say, having a buddy while watching the Tour makes everything better and handier. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship, said nobody on their blog ever, but they did think it.

Bus comes, we get back to Grenoble and head our separate ways. I get back to the gaff, grab some suds and dirty clothes, cos there’s a laundry place right round the corner. Just as well, I was in the place two minutes and the heaven’s opened up. Looks like a takeaway pizza in the gaff tonight for me before I head south to Carcassonne and the end of this adventure.

Cheerie

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Obession

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It’s funny, the result of a passing conversation with a chap about the Tour De France, in a totally different country, led to yet another, but possibly the second best change to my plans.

I have been travelling to see the tour for 6 years now. Usually in the south in places like Pau, Castelnaudry, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Carcassonne, regulars I have visited. I learned of an alternative way to get up Alpe D’Huez. Was of the top two I would personally say, of the top 5 climbs of Le Tour. The others being Ventoux, Galibier, Tourmalet and Col D’Aubisue.

You can travel from Grenoble on a bus to Bourg D’Oisians, which is where everyone uses as their base for the climb. But, get a bus back to Allemont and a free bus, zig zagging up to Oz en Osians, quite a nifty ski resort place. The handy bit, is you can take two ski lifts from there, over to the town of Huez, where the race finishes for £20. No hassle, beat the crowds there and back and I’m no lugging ma bag, full of drink and food, chair and the likes a long distance.

 I got a gaff booked, a doozy hostel place called the Moontain Hostel. A bit pricey for what you would consider for a hostel and although it was 12 to the room, it was super big, space, you had your privacy, showers were Ace and the host Marko was a hoot – very kind, funny and helpful, a real family place, open really just to serve those going to Le Tour.

I met a chap called Thomas on the bus on the way up, but more about him when I write about Rochetaillee. Today is about Alpe D’Huez and after too long a lie in, I get a cable car to masel just after 11am to scoot over. The top of the town is buzzing, big crowds already, all the people involved in the race, sponsors, logistics, teams etc. are ferreting about for some lunch, to I stop for a nifty burger and beer lunch, I’m ready to find ma spot.

 The crowds are forming by the barriers already and it’s a scorching hot day, I walk down round the corner to the 1km mark looking for a spot, but there is nowhere to catch the coverage of the race. I head back up to the 75-150m marks and find a wee spot on a grassy knoll. What I will say at this point is, I have had my fill of fighting at barriers, near finish lines and starts, with rude locals, who like those in some parts of Asia, will quite happily put their hands on you to get by or a space. I just want a typical, chilled, watch the race, get boozy, eat cheese and catch the finish type day and that’s exactly what I got.

I’m not sure if I’m into the whole bucket list sketch. What I do know is I have never been to a mountain top finish, as I don’t drive and they are not normally easily accessible. This was a first for me and I was gonna enjoy it baby! As you can see from the sunburn – I did, despite having my factor 30 Bronze on. I think what is really good however, is there is always a very strong police presence. In full gear, visible, with handgun, pepper spray and a big baton to ram up yer erse if you get out of line. They have undercover boys there as well in the crowds, listening, watching and checking dodgy looking back packs. Well done the Gendarmerie!

I got some good photo’s of the Alps, and the caravan of sponsors as they went by. Even tho you’re looking out for the riders, they came round the corner that quick I never really got then. What’s interesting is there are many friends I have subsequently found out have skied up that area. Anyway, have down the road for freshly made Ravioli at the gaff, beautiful. Oh and some beers and to bed, tomorrow is another day on the Tour.

Cheerie

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Lunch on the Battlements

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This is a double dunter peoples. I travelled to Lyon, to take in a couple of days sight seeing and the likes, however, it fecking rained for two days, while I was there. Beautiful sunshine when I arrived as I enjoyed some Paella, with a duck breast to boot and it was delish, I can tell you that for free.

With a Laundrama (I call it that, cos there is always dafties hanging aboot them, talking tae themselves), right next to the gaff, chance to do a wash catch up, just half a load, but handy. Come 7pm Saturday when I am heading oot the door, all dressed up with my good slacks, Timby boots and RL Polo top (you know, the one I always wear) and the rumbles start, 5 mins later and its proper teaming, jings. I work my way round to the Irish Bar, cash only and no grub. Most of the eateries are out doors. Thankfully it brightened up about 10pm and I managed to catch the fireworks over the Saone. Nice of them to do that for ma birthday.

It was a late one after that, hence why the rest of the day, well after lunch, tubby has to eat ken, was spent in the gaff, catching up with ma blog and planning my attack on Le Tour. I ventured out into the pouring rain half a hour before the World Cup Final started and with ma brolly, stood at the edges of an outside café bar, soaking up water, beer and a joyous atmosphere, Viva Les Blues! Videos have been added at the bottom.

Well Grenoble it is this for a pit stop and en route back. It’s sits at the foot of the Alps, hency why it a doozy location to travel and catch the tour. Interestingly, the race comes through Grenoble on the Friday, however, due to logistics, were chasing the train some 3 hours later, when public transport resumes.

I’m out early, keen to have a ferrit about for the one day I’m here. Wander around the shops, Cafe Latte and a Mr Whippy Ice Cream. I take the Urban Cable Car up the Bastille, to make you all jealous of the panoramic views of the town and horizon. Did you know that this was the World’s first urban cable car? You do know. Inaugurated in 1934, ‘The Bubbles’ as they are known have been the symbol of the town since 76.

A spot of lunch to start and although a bit pricey, i push the boat oot. From there I take in the museum, which gives a history through time of the Mountain Troops, how they were first formed, equipment they used, their particular skills for mountain combat and how they have had to adapt to changes in roles, with equipment and training others, like for the mountains of Afghanistan. Really cool and interesting for like €3, However, my wee magic camera does not work indoors, so I never got as many photo’s.

I have a wander round the Military Fortress and hit the cable car back down the road, for a shower and change, out for some more food and to see what entertainment they have put on for me tonight. Two singers boys, bit like Rizzle Kicks, but ace at getting the crowd pumping. DJ on hand playing some crazy weird techno nonsense and of course, We are the Champions. Let it go, it was like 2-3 days ago min.

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Tour De France is up next, up Alpe D’Huez as well. I’m sooooo excited.

Cheerie

Second Time Around

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Having been to Vienna already on my travels, the hope that a pit stop of an early arrival and later in the day, overnight train to Milan, which was my preferred route of choice, was seriously dashed. Whether it was my failing using the OBB website or not, and let me assure you that I am taking zero responsibility for this. The train I had hoped to take on Thursday 12 July, was a no go and I had in my email inbox a ticket for Monday 16th.

Those who know me, know I am a bit of an arse. I go to France every year to follow Le Tour De France for 3 reasons…
 
1. The race itself, hullaballoo and the sheer magnitude of it all
2. A Birthday gift to myself where I stay in a nice hotel and have a real good slap up meal to celebrate
3. My birthday is 14 July – Bastille Day in France, which if you do not know is a national holiday and any town you are in on Bastille Day, will have a big celebration, I’m talking fireworks, concerts etc;  I like to tell myself – It’s all for you Wardy!

I’m desperate to get over to France somehow, not just for Bastille Day celebrations, but also to be there for the World Cup Final. I’m in McDonalds next to the station, after getting nowhere in the ticket office, I secure a flight to Grenoble, that’s over the border right?, but its a late tomorrow night flight. Flying on Friday the 13th you say – jeez. I check into a hotel with Zero wifi, and hunker down for the night, what shall I do tomorrow.

The decision was a long trip out to the Wien Technisches Museum. After getting the wrong tram, then Google mapsing the wrong street, difference between Strade and Strabe, I arrive at the edge of a park, fence in front, about 5 feet high, which I try and vault and just make it. I’m ready to discover the world of technology.

It’s advertised as offering extraordinary insights into the world of technology, from the past to the future. It certainly was massive with tons of cool and interesting stuff, even if most was in Austrian. Technological developments and achievements that have directly impacted on our society. I will let the photo’s do the talking, but naturally my favs were the steam locomotive, seeing gadgets from the 80’s like the Xylophone, hairdressing coils, flute keyboard and all the various phones and cameras from the first to now.

There are a lots of interactive exhibits and stations from a Tesla coil that shoots electricity boltz and plays Smoke on the Water. How steam works, how electricity works. Multiple galleries also on Physics, Heavy Industry, Information & Communication, Music, Transport and Every Day Life. Just enjoy the photo’s and reminisce.

Cheerie

 

First Past the Post

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You will be glad to know this is the last of the three, dedications to loved ones and friends. Not saying which is which however. This blog is for the 101 Saint himself, the Hot Rod Racer Gordon Mann. Relevant of course as its purely about Motor Racing, of sorts, with a visit to the Mercedez Benz museum. For those who don’t know, Mr Mann does not like the Mercedez bunch when it come to the F1. Why would he, he has good taste and that is why he is a lover of all things McLaren and Fernando Alonso. That said, this place was sweet and any lover of cars will appreciate some of the pics.  **My apologies, while the wee magic cam works wonders ootside, no so great indoors**

It’s another rainy day today and its a wet walk from the tube station to the museum. Thankfully its well signposted and I do not end up at the footie stadium, which is the other way. You walk into the place and it’s immaculate, it’s also vast. It’s shaped like a tire as each floor winds into another. I pay my fare, I get my ticket, along with a nifty museum guide. It’s a booklet half the width of a compliment slip, but the same length. It opens out the length of two A4 sheets and gives you a floor by floor, blow by blow of what’s on show. Your shown to the right and the lifts – start at the top baby and work your way down. Gonna get those steps in today.

I was thinking about the best way of detailing what I saw, so as it’s for Gordon Mann, like a gid complaint letter, I shall bullet point the floors! What I will say is that from the top floor, there are two levels to each floor, the second of which mainly have cars on show. What is really interesting and will blow your mind, as the museum takes you from top to bottom, from 1886 to the present day and the future, on walls on the walkways, they detail important things that happen through history, based on what floor and era you are approaching. Thing’s like the moon landing, Paris fair, Beatles hit the scene, Woodstock and the likes. They also detail key things, inventions that happen in the Mercedez world. These boys and girls sure can put on a show and for only €10 as well.

Level 8 – Pioneers (1886-1900): The invention of the automobile
Level 7 – Mercedes (1900-1914): Birth of the Brand   Gallery of Voyagers
Level 6 – Times of Change (1914-1945): Diesel and Supercharger  Gallery of Carriers
Level 5 – Post War Miracle (1945-1960): Form and Diversity  Gallery of Helpers
Level 4 – Visionaries (1960-1982): Safety and Environment  Gallery of Celebrities
Level 3 – New start (Since 1982): The road to emission free mobility Room for special exhibitions (fancy cars)
Level 2 – Silver Arrows: Races and Records     All your F1 stuff, but also simulators
Level 1 – Ticket desk, information, cafebar and cloakrooms
Level 0 – Basement: Fascination of technology, interactive exhibitions (one for the kids)

I could give a description of what was on each floor, but that would mean I would have to organise my photo’s in that order as well and to be quite frank, can I?, Can I be Frank? I just cant be bothered boys and bears. I am having to much fun being the Jolly Scot. I am up a mountain somewhere in the Alps, giddy as a schoolgirl as I’m heading to Alpe D’Huez for the mountain top finish tomorrow. It’s cost me a bit, but safe to taking it from my wedding fund as that won’t be happening anytime soon. Maybe a family member will get rich with da PPI and sub me the £175 for two nights in a hostel.

Sorry, back on script! The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart is the place to go for every car or race enthusiast. Although I was on my todd, it’s a great place for some great father and son time, and to be honest, if you have a standard family of 4, boy, girl, mum and dad, it would be a superb, inexpensive day oot. I have to say also, I was wearing my McLaren gear while walking roond the place as well, go Jenson!

Cheerie

A Farmers Daughter

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This particular blog is dedicated to one luvvely person. Some say she can be annoying, I certainly don’t think so, I find her always to be enchanting and somewhat delightful. We are Slimming World buddies, both who have fallen off the wagon and should definitely make a better go of it. A really nice person, positive, despite having Ross as a son in law. She makes time for everyone.

 

 

So, based across a total area of 5700 square metres, the German Museum of Agriculture in Hohenheim illustrates agricultural progress, from primitive farm implements to the latest in agricultural technology. It shows how technical innovations have revolutionised farmers’ working conditions – thus ensuring the population’s food supply. Fascinating: the historical farm machinery and tractors which have been lovingly restored to their former splendour. Can you tell that was taken direct from their website.

I have always wanted to visit Stuttgart and when I done my research, both this place and the Mercedez Benz museum jumped out at me as two doozy places to take in. Just as well in the circumstances, the weather was horrific, strait rain, in patches that each lasted about 30 mins throughout both days. As you know I love a good tram, especially when I need to get one and change. The day did not start too great. I got the tram out to Hohenheim, but thinking there was another stop, I sat on the tram like a bellend for a good 5 mins, realising it was not heading on, I got out and had a looksee, and it was the end of the line. I launch Google maps that takes me along the road, across the tram tracks and into a ‘farming’ area, with barns, greenhouses and fruit and veg growing. It felt like I am where I am supposed to be. You wander up through public gardens and I can now see the building, but there is a big steel gate, barbed wire fences either side. Google maps has taken me the wrong way, a detour of another 10 mins in the rain – sheesh! and I am at the place.

I rocked up and the guy who was taking the candy for the ticket, gave me a puzzled look as if to say, what are you doing here. I gave him a smile back that says, I know, but I am. To be fair, the place was really cool. All the signs were written in German only, as was the pamphlet he gave me about the museum. There are two buildings. This one and another down the road about 10 mins away and my ticket gives me access to both. The first is across 3 buildings, with the far away one full of the bigger tractors and machinery, including some engine’s which get me excited.

In the next room the museum beings to tell a story, with various things across the ages to do with milking the cow’s and the machinery involved in that and in the fields. Visually, it does tell a story, as without, I would be struggling. I fleet through the 3 buildings and head off doon the road to the second building. Although this also had machinery, it is more about the history of farming, milking and cheese making and the awards you can win for it. Ploughing through the ages and how machinery has developed from the old horse pulled ploughs. The differing sides to agriculture and what equipment back on the farm the women in the house would use and the important role they played. Even some good stuffs on brewing the old hops and the type or ornaments, two horses pulling a cart, that every home had back in the 80’s.

All in all, quite an interesting afternoon, even if I did get a bit wet. Enjoy Suzie Quattro.

Cheerie