Monday: Paris

We went to Museum L’Orangerie this morning and viewed the eight Water Lillies murals by Claude Monet. I never realized these paintings were so huge, and so dark. It was nice to spend time looking at those and some other exhibits at the art museum.

We had lunch in a pub in the Tuileries/museum area, then walked over to Notre Dame, where a tragic fire in April destroyed part of the roof and the spire, among other serious damage. There is a fence around the cathedral because construction and restoration is going on, and there is scaffolding all over the building.

From there we went to the iconic Shakespeare & Company – an English language bookstore in a charming shop with many small rooms. It was not crowded but I can imagine it can be claustrophobic with many people browsing.

From there we walked across the bridge to the Ile Saint-Louis, an island with a population of about 4,000. It has a nice city center. We stopped for coffee and then began our walk back. Public transportation is still very much on strike so the car traffic is a mess.

photos: the Seine today; Notre Dame; traffic standstill in Paris

Friday: Beaune

We spent this rainy day in Beaune and got organized for our trip home in a week. This took a while since we have been tossing things into our rental car without thought about whether it would eventually fit into our luggage. Consolidating took some time, but I am relieved that is done.

We did some Christmas shopping in town and had a delicious lunch. Later we walked up to the small Christmas market which really doesn’t get into full swing until Saturday. It was nice to hear holiday songs and check out what they were selling.

Tomorrow we leave Beaune and head toward Paris, staying about an hour away. We drop our car at the airport on Sunday and then stay a few days in the city before our flight back.

photos: €20 Christmas trees for sale in the city (a bargain); a street in Beaune; Athenaeum – a store that is the best of two worlds; a bookstore and a wine cellar. Plus great gifts.

Saturday: Pecs, Hungary

Today we drove from Gyor to the city of Pecs, in the center of Hungary. Pecs has a 2,000 year history and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a city filled with many cultures and it is a wonderful place to walk around with lots to see and do.

Like other ancient cities we have visited, the very large city square allows for limited car traffic. It is similar to a massive pedestrian mall.

We walked around all afternoon, stopping for lunch at a tavern, then coffee and dessert at a cute coffee shop run by a very nice and friendly English-speaking man and his much quieter wife.

I like to check out the English books section in bookstores we come across, so I did that. Most bookstores have at least a few shelves of books in English, and my biggest fear is not having a book to read (This won’t happen. My suitcase is full of them.)

Our little hotel has a decent gym in its medieval cellar, so I will spend some time there in the early morning.

photos: Pretty Pecs; the delicious reasons I need to hit the gym; city government building

Sunday: Galway

We spent the day in Galway, our first warm, sunny day in about a week. What a pleasure to be outdoors without an umbrella.

Once we lucked into a parking space, we were in great shape. We walked all around the city for most of the day. Since it is Sunday, many stores were not open, but we enjoyed strolling through the pedestrian walkways, seeing some street performers, stopping for coffee, and spending time in the fantastic Charlie Byrnes bookstore. Wow, I could have spent hours there – there are hundreds of thousands of books. I bought just one.

photos: above – cappuccino stop

below: Just a small fraction of the bookshelves at Charlie Byrnes bookstore.

The University of Ireland, Galway raises funds for their rowing team today