Change your world

5 10 2014

I went and saw a movie the other night, The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington. It was a pretty good movie based on the original premise of the The Equalizer television series (1985-89) starring Edward Woodward of a guy with a range of skills who can help those who can’t help themselves.

If you’re looking for something to go see you could do a lot worse.

But early in the movie he is talking to a girl in a diner and their having a conversation about how she would like to become a singer (she actually works as a prostitute) and the conversation goes:

Denzel: “I think you can be anything you want to be.”

Girl: “Maybe in your world, Robert. It doesn’t really happen that way in mine”

Denzel: “Change your world.”

I liked the exchange because it just sums up so much of what I think afflicts the world, that people would like to do something different, they yearn for some change, but can’t see the way to achieving it, or even where to start… That good things only happen to others.

When people see some of the places I go and the things I do they say “Your so lucky, Mark” and I usually come back and say “Luck really has nothing to do with it”. They also might see some of my pictures and be like “I’m so jealous” and I’ll ask them “Why aren’t you doing this and what’s your plan?”

There isn’t anything special about me and what I do, its just the result of a series of decisions I’ve made and work I’ve put in and isn’t anything that other people can’t similarly do.

Well known, successful people would say the same, very few were born with a silver spoon in their mouth or got all the breaks in life. They had a vision of what they would like to achieve, they had a plan and then put in some (often lotssss) of hard work and made many good (and some often dumb) decisions along the way before they got “all the luck” that people see and comment on.

If you’d ask them they’d say they saw many friends and colleagues who dropped out along the way, some early, some just before their dreams and goals would have materialised.

Sure they got some breaks along the way, but many more hard knocks, and the breaks are often the result of putting yourself out there, being willing to work hard and impress others with your determination and work ethic, and then surrounding yourself with successful, positive people and building your network of contacts. Do that and that luck everyone talks about becomes almost a mathematical certainty.

So are you unhappy with where you are? Think there must be something better out there? Yearn for some change? Very rarely will it happen through blind luck or chance. Much more likely is to have a dream, to make a plan, to set some goals and step out there with some courage and resolve to work each day towards it.

And starting small and building confidence in achieving those goals gives you the confidence and the insights to then go after the bigger ones.

But learning that you will have to change your world around you, and yourself, rather than just accept your current reality, to be stuck in the same rut, the same unsatisfying existence and that you have the power, and are really the only one, to effect that change is the first step.

Once you do that, you’re halfway towards your dreams and goals! 🙂





Are you really getting the most out of your life and doing what you want?

13 09 2014

I got a call from a friend the last night, he’s a good friend and we’ve know each other for probably 20 years or more.

I was reflecting during the call that we haven’t been catching up as much as we should, leaving big gaps between meet ups as life can get busy and there are lots of distractions with the cares of life and competing claims for all our times.

But my friend was meant to catch up with a few of us about 2 months or so ago for a movie night and we thought it a bit strange that he didn’t show up but figured he had been caught up or something.

We only found out the next day that he had had a heart attack and had to be rushed to hospital to get immediate treatment.

This friend of mine is only 44, which again goes to prove that you don’t have to be old or unhealthy for major health issues like this to strike.

This was on top of my brother who died last year of a heart attack, he was only 48. He had had a few health problems but this was a shock that hit all of us pretty hard.

These two events just further reinforce a conclusion that I had come to some time back that we aren’t promised tomorrow, you never know when and where it can all end.

This has made me think harder about what am I doing with my life and what do I want to achieve. I’ve come to the conclusion that amongst other things I want to help others to think about their dreams, their goals and what they can do to make their lives more fulfilling and enjoyable.

But its also a reminder to make the time to regularly catch up with family and friends and loved ones as you never know when it might be your time, but equally you never know when people you care about might be gone as well.

So that’s now amongst the advice I try to offer up when talking to people, don’t wait until you have a major loss in your life before you start pondering what’s really important to you in your relationships, your work and personal life, and are you really living your life to the full?

Its never too late to start!





Heading to Africa and can’t wait

12 09 2014

I’m excited today as I just confirmed my booking and paid for the safari in Africa I will be doing in November.

The safari will include the countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania with some amazing spots covered including the Nogorongoro Crater, the Serengeti and a visit to see some Mountain Gorillas.

Anyway, can’t wait for this as I’ve always wanted to do a safari and go and see some of the amazing wildlife and scenery in Eastern Africa.

All it took was a goal, some planning, asking a few people that have been on such safaris and then the decision that this was going to happen.

I’ll definitely do a write up of the trip, complete with lots of pictures.

Hope everyone else is going after what they would love to do! 🙂





Can’t pilot a real A380, this looks like about the next best thing!

6 09 2014

Ok, so I love traveling and I love planes and flying so I might be classed as a bit of an aviation geek.  

I just saw this video online and I guess if you have always dreamt of flying a plane but for many of us this will be a dream that will be hard to achieve (especially an Airbus A380) this looks like about the next best thing and a whole heap of fun. 

Its not small (some 70kg and nearly 5 metres long) and I doubt it was cheap to build so crashing it might be a bit of an ouch moment, but the pilot looks like he know his stuff!

Enjoy!

 





Malaga – Enjoying a Spanish vibe on the Costa del Sol – Part 3

13 08 2014

For the final day I had a few things I wanted to see so after breakfast the first thing was a visit to the Cathedral of the Incarnation.  The cathedral was built in a Renaissance style, but with a Baroque façade, and was constructed between 1528 and 1782.

The Cathedral is situated within what used to be the old historical part of the city of Malaga and fronts onto one side of the the Plaza del Obispo,or Bishop’s Square, which also has the Episcopal Palace fronting another side of the square (the palace often has temporary exhibitions on display).

Episcopal Palace

Episcopal Palace

Cathedral of the Incarnation

Cathedral of the Incarnation

Rear of the cathedral

Rear of the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

One of the features that stands out is that the South Tower remained unfinished and is lower than the North Tower at the front of the building.  There are a couple of reasons given for why the funds weren’t available to complete the other tower including that they were donated to the American’s during their fight for independence from the British.

Its incomplete state has led to the cathedral being affectionately referred to as La Manquita (loosely interpreted as “one armed woman”).

Entrance to the Cathedral and Museum costs 5 euro and the gardens by the ticket office are free.

After having a look around the cathedral I decided to go and visit the Alcazaba of Malaga.  This is the lower part of the cities fortifications constructed during its Moorish rule in the 11th century which used to be connected to the Castle of Gibralfaro up above it.

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

Alcazaba of Malaga

The Alcazaba was more of a palace fortification, originally designed to defend against pirates, and is composed of both an inner and outer citadel and exhibits some interesting Moorish/Islamic design elements throughout.

There are also some interesting gardens as you follow the winding path up into the fortifications and a number of elaborate fountains throughout the palace.

The Alcazaba of Malaga is also the best-preserved Moorish fortress palace in Spain, although it fell into a state of decay through parts of the middle ages and has been undergoing restoration since the 1930s.  It’s well worth a couple of hours to have a look around and explore the buildings and grounds.

Entrance to both the Castle and the Alcazaba can be bought on a single ticket for a very reasonable 3.50 euros but you have to visit both attractions within 24 hours.

After the Alcazaba I decided to go and get something to eat before visiting the Museo Picasso Málaga, which was opened in 2003 to celebrate the artist in the city he was born in and houses some 285 pieces by him.  These include paintings, engravings, sketches and ceramics of Picassos.

Inside the Museo Picasso

Inside the Museo Picasso

Picasso painting

Picasso painting

Paintings in the museum include Olga Kokhlova with Mantilla (Barcelona 1917), Mother and Child (1921-1922) and Portrait of Paulo with white hat (1923).  Picasso and his styles may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but they certainly do challenge the viewer and the Museum should definitely be on your list of things to see when visiting Malaga.

The museum is housed in the The Buenavista Palace which was built in the 16th century over the remains of a Nasrid palace of which some elements still survive and if you go down to the basement there are also several examples of archaeological finds dating back to the Roman and Phoenician periods.

The museum itself has 12 halls of permanent exhibition gallery and is easily navigable and thankfully wasn’t too packed when I was there, although they say in peak periods there can be lines waiting to get in.  Entrance was only roughly 10 euros.

After the museum visit and some souvenir shopping plus some dinner I decided to walk around the city and the port at night and just capture some photographs of Malaga as I love to do a bit of night photography.

The Roman Theatre

The Roman Theatre

The cathedral

The cathedral

Malaga at night

Malaga at night

Malaga at night

Malaga at night

View back to the cathedral

View back to the cathedral

Malaga at night

Malaga at night

Port of Malaga

Port of Malaga

Cruise ship in the Port of Malaga preparing to leave

Cruise ship in the Port of Malaga preparing to leave

After this it was back to my accommodation to pack up the gear and be ready for my departure tomorrow morning.

 





Malaga – Enjoying a Spanish vibe on the Costa del Sol – Part 2

7 08 2014

After a bit of a sleep in to recover from the previous day and then having some breakfast it was time to be out and about for the day.

I wanted to go and visit the Castle of the Gibralfaro that dominates the city from the hill of the same name, but I decided to go for a bit of a walk around the older part of the original city, looking at some of the shops, the alley ways and having lunch.

There is a river that previously ran through the city (but that is now dry) very imaginatively named Guadalmedina, or City River, and its former left bank constitutes the rough boundary of about where the old city limit used to be and on its former right bank the newer parts of Malaga have been established.

Dry Guadalmedina River

Dry Guadalmedina River

Parts of Malaga

Parts of Malaga

One of the main malls/streets of Malaga

One of the main malls/streets of Malaga

After walking around here for a bit I decided to make my way down to the port area and to have a look along some of Malaga’s beaches all of which looked tempting with a temperature that day of mid 20s, but in the end I decided not to go in.

The Port of Malaga now constitutes a major area of business for the city, struggling like much of Spain with high unemployment, and some 40 tourist ships a year now dock releasing tourists, and their dollars, into the local community.

Malagueta sign on the beach

Malagueta sign on the beach

Navigation aid in the port

Navigation aid in the port

On each of the days I was there a cruise ship arrived and then departed, and maybe I might come back and visit Malaga this way sometime, although its environment and temperatures are so nice that I think I would rather enjoy it for several days rather than just a quick stop.

After doing all that it I walked past the bull fighting ring (a sport I just can’t get into) and then it was time to commence the climb up the hill to the castle to experience both it and the panoramic views it provides of the city area.

Bull fighting ring from the outside

Bull fighting ring from the outside

The Castle of Gibralfaro is a part of the former fortifications of the city and there have been various fortifications in this location going back to Phoenician times.

The current structure dates back to the 14th century and was commenced by Yusuf I, Sultan of Grenada, and a member of the Nasrid Dynasty.

The castle dominates the city and had a connecting wall to the lower Alcazaba, or fortified palace, but this is now unpassable and entry to the two structures is from different areas.

The hill it’s situated on is certainly quite steep, but as you climb it there are several look out points affording a good view of the city down below and as you enter the castle and walk around some of its strong points there are some amazing views.

The bullfighting ring zoomed in

The bullfighting ring zoomed in

View of Malaga with the bullfighting ring

View of Malaga with the bullfighting ring

Views of Malaga

Views of Malaga

Views of Malaga

Views of Malaga

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Views of inside the castle

Within the castle there is a room providing some of the military history of the castle through the centuries and also some models showing the extent of the original older city and its limits.

Models showing the city limits of the old city

Models showing the city limits of the old city

Models showing the city limits of the old city

Models showing the city limits of the old city

After a good look around it was time to head back down to the city and have something for dinner and afterwards I grabbed a gelato from one of the shops, I chose a white chocolate, almond and coconut version of a Ferrero Rocher, I think they’re called a Raffaello, and it was simply delicious, good enough that I had to talk about it here.   🙂

This was yum!!

This was yum!!

After that it was just another balmy evening to enjoy before turning in for the night and getting ready for the next day.





Malaga – Enjoying a Spanish vibe on the Costa del Sol – Part 1

4 08 2014

My flight down to Malaga was meant to leave Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at 7am, so I had taken the train out to stay at a hotel a few minutes by bus from the airport the night before, completed most of my repacking and then decided to call it a night.

With the first bus leaving the hotel at about 5.08am that left 10 minutes or so to get to the airport and then get processed in for my EasyJet flight down to Malaga and so I set the alarm for 4.30am and off to bed I went.

As often happens when I have an early flight I don’t sleep that well in anticipation and I woke up about 3.30am or so and so just decided to lie in bed and try and doze off or rest.  After what seemed a decent amount of time and not hearing any alarm I decided to get up and check my phone only to see – 5.20am!!!

DOH!!!   I have rarely moved so fast out of bed, several items I had left around the room expecting to do a last pack in the morning disappeared into the bag at near light speed and 4 minutes later I was exiting the room in a hurry!

Luckily there was another bus leaving about 5.28am and I think the driver might have chosen to take a rest room stop at the hotel and so I made it out and onto the bus at the front of the hotel.  A ten or so minute ride later of course had me setting down at a terminal several away from where I needed to be so again it was time to get moving to find where EasyJet departures were.

Thankfully I had online checked in so I just needed to line up to drop my bag off and get my boarding pass, which still took a bit of time, before heading to the line for passing through security.  This was now snaking back 4-5 times along taped barriers and then out the end where people had started lining up through another couple of loops.

I duly took my place and the line seemed to move very slowly until I then realised that some of the people behind me were starting to push forward into the entrances near the barriers rather than wait their turn in the line.

I’ve tended to find this lack of waiting in line to be a bit of a European thing, people would still attempt it in the US or Australia but I think would be told pretty quickly to get back to the end of the line.

Here there was only one attendant and when I asked why she wasn’t policing the line better or maybe getting some more barriers to put up she replied there was nothing she could do, although I suspected it was largely that she didn’t really care.

So if it was to be a free for all, I had to start moving myself forward as well.  Having eventually got into the area where the erected barriers snaked around I only got about half way before I had to call over one of the staff to show that my flight departure time was going to come and go before I reached the scanners, and so was allowed out of the line to go to a scanner that had only a light load and was able to be processed through.

So much for a nice relaxed plan to get up and finish packing, arrive at the airport and make it into the gate boarding area with some time to spare!!!!

After that crazy start to the day the couple of hour flight down to Malaga was largely uneventful and on arriving and exiting the terminal there was just a 15-20 minute wait for a bus from the airport towards the city centre.

At this point I realised I had a rough idea where my accommodation was, but not a good idea of where the bus route went and where I needed to get off.  After a bit of talking to the bus driver and sitting near the front of the bus, he was able to tell me what stop was best to get off and I was able to pretty quickly get my bearings and make it to where I was staying.

After not much sleep the night before and all the nervous energy expended on the day so far a nice lay down wouldn’t have gone astray, abut it was 11am and the check in was at 2pm so a bed wasn’t forthcoming.

The manager did say, however, that there was a daily tour of Malaga and they guy who ran it would be along any minute, so after stowing my luggage away about 5 minutes later he turned up and off I went with a couple of people to a central square to await the arrival of other parties.

If I couldn’t have a lay down this was about as good an introduction to Malaga as I could hope for and over the next 2-3 hours our guide was able to provide a good oversight of the city and its extended history.

Now, about why I had chosen to visit Malaga.  I have to admit that Spain is one of my favourite countries and one of the few that I would consider living in if I didn’t live in Australia.  It just has a vibe I like, they seem to be night owls like me where dinners might not start till 9.30pm or later and I have seen soccer matches start at 10pm.

The weather is also usually beautiful and warm and that suits me down to the ground, while other cities are amazing around the world, I couldn’t put up with 6 months of snow and sleet coming from a warm country like Australia.

And this made Malaga especially likeable, the guide said it had something like 320 days a year of sunshine, and lying on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) in the south of Spain it has nearly double the hours of sunlight a year of many northern European cities.

Its history is also long and interesting going back some 2,800 years to the period of the Phoenicians and making it one of the oldest cities in the world.  It was originally established under the name Malaka around 770 BC.

A century or so later it became a city of the Carthaginian Empire before being taken in 218 BC by the Romans when they defeated the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars.  The Roman period lasted until the fall of the Western Roman Empire after which it was ruled by the Visigoths and then the Byzantine Empire before being conquered when the Islamic Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsular from North Africa in 711.

It was to remain under Islamic control for almost 800 years until the Reconquista when it was retaken by the Christians in 1487 largely completing their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula with the fall of the city of Grenada and the signing of the Treaty of Grenada in 1492 setting out the conditions for the final surrender.

In more modern times two of the most famous sons of Malaga have been the famous artist Pablo Picasso and the famous actor Antonio Banderas.

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 but moved away to Barcelona when he was 14 and last visited the city when he was 19.  Living mainly in Paris during his life he was an opponent of the dictator Francisco Franco whose forces won the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and he never returned to his homeland dying 2 years before the dictator’s death.

Pablo Picasso's statue in the Plaza de la Merced

Pablo Picasso’s statue in the Plaza de la Merced

One of Picasso’s most famous works is his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso was also lone of the most influential artists of the 20th century being the co-founder of the cubist movement, the co-inventor of collage and a wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Antonio Banderas was born in Malga in 1960 and is a Spanish film actor, film director, film producer and singer and has starred in over 80 movies.

The tour of the city started at the Teatro Cervantes (a theatre named after the writer of Don Quixote, one of the most famous bits of literature history) and went through the Plaza de la Merced (with its statue of Picasso sitting on a park bench) then near the base of the Alcazaba of Malaga (or palace/fortification) then down near the Roman Theatre (which was discovered during works in 1951 but dates back to the 1st century AD) before having a stop and then heading past the Cathedral of the Incarnation with lots of information being given about the city along the way.

Teatro Cervantes

Teatro Cervantes

Pablo Picasso's statue in the Plaza de la Merced

Pablo Picasso’s statue in the Plaza de la Merced

Art work promoting the 125th Anniversary of Picasso

Art work promoting the 125th Anniversary of Picasso

Plaza de la Merced

Plaza de la Merced

Roman Theatre dating from the 1st century AD

Roman Theatre dating from the 1st century AD

Roman Theatre dating from the 1st century AD

Roman Theatre dating from the 1st century AD

Roman Theatre dating from the 1st century AD

Roman Theatre dating from the 1st century AD

Cathedral of the Incarnation

Cathedral of the Incarnation

By the time the tour was over I was back at the accommodation and able to check into my room and have a bit of a rest before heading out a bit later to explore around some more and have some dinner before turning in for the night.





Paris – An amazing city that draws me back – Part 3

23 07 2014

For my final day in Paris I decided I would go and have a look at some of the other sites of Paris, including the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmatre, that I either hadn’t visited or it had been quite a few years and I wanted to reacquaint myself.

Giving it its full name, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is built on a hill in the in the highest part of the city.  A minor basilica the building was started in 1875 and finished in 1914.

The inspiration for the building was the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War as both a national penance for the excesses of the Second Empire and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871 and the moral decline that was seen as one of the reasons for the French defeat.

After climbing up several flights of stairs (and avoiding some of the scammers trying tricks with bracelets) I reached the front and entered.  Maybe read up on it if you’re planning to visit the landmark, but just don’t hang around or engage with the groups of guys on the steps and take no nonsense from them.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

View of Paris from Sacré-Cœur Basilica

View of Paris from Sacré-Cœur Basilica

I had a good look around and sat and contemplated the interior of the building, and then when the attendants who were continually telling everyone to be quiet and to not take pictures weren’t looking quickly snapped a picture of the inside before leaving.

Photo inside Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Photo inside Sacré-Cœur Basilica

After this and some lunch it was time to take the subway out to the Luxemburg Gardens in which is situated the Luxemburg Palace where the French upper house Senate meets and it’s also the residence of the President of the Senate.

Luxemburg Palace

Luxemburg Palace

There are a nice set of gardens to enjoy and only a short walk from a couple of sites I was interested in, one was the Church of Saint-Sulpice and the other Pantheon.

Luxemburg Gardens

Luxemburg Gardens

Saint-Sulpice is a Catholic Church on the east side of the Place Saint-Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement (administrative district) founded in 1636 and it is the 2nd largest church in the city after Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Saint-Sulpice Church

Saint-Sulpice Church

Saint-Sulpice Church

Saint-Sulpice Church

Saint-Sulpice Church

Saint-Sulpice Church

The other landmark was the Pantheon in the 5th arrondissement.  This was originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve (the patron saint of Paris) by Louis XV after he survived an illness in 1744.

In 1791, after the French Revolution, the National Constituent Assembly ordered that the building be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen giving it the name the Pantheon.

Pantheon (with restoration work on the dome)

Pantheon (with restoration work on the dome)

The tombs of some of the most distinguished citizens of France, 70 men and 2 women, are in the crypt beneath the building.  These include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Alexandre Dumas, Jean Jaurès, Marie Curie and Soufflot, its architect.

Tombs in the Pantheon

Tombs in the Pantheon

Tombs in the Pantheon

Tombs in the Pantheon

Tombs in the Pantheon

Tombs in the Pantheon

The masterpiece of the construction is its triple dome that is demonstrated by a model within the church.  Via a pendulum hanging from this dome, in 1851, physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the earth although a replica of this has been removed during the restoration works.

Unfortunately this time around the dome was undergoing maintenance and restoration and so it was covered on the outside, but the inside of the beautiful former church was still open to the public to view and even after visiting it several times I still think it looks amazing inside.

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

Interior of the Pantheon

After stopping and getting a pastry to enjoy from a Parisian café I decided to just spend the rest of the afternoon and evening visiting some of the places I like to take photographs of including the Centre Pompidou, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre again and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou

 

Near the Centre Pompidou

Near the Centre Pompidou

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

After that it was time to head back and collect my things as with a 7am flight out of Charle de Gaulle airport the next morning I had decided to go and stay at a little hotel only 10-15 minutes from the airport by bus.

So it was off to the Gare du Nord train station for the ride out to the airport for what I thought was going to a relatively calm getaway the next morning, but turned out less so!!!

Anyway, Paris…  I’m sure I don’t need to sell you on the good points of going to one of the premiere tourist cities in the world, but it really is just a an amazing place if you love architecture, history, photography, food, people watching, shopping and any number of other activities.

I had visited 3-4 times before so I had already previously seen some of the places I saw on this visit plus I got in a few new ones.  With 3 days there are always things you can’t fit in so there are numerous other sites that I didn’t include this time but have seen before (if you’re wondering why some are missing or why I didn’t go and see this place or that etc).

You could easily fill up a week or more going and seeing the sites of Paris, or allow a couple of visits to experience everything it has to offer.

But put it on your to do list soon so you can enjoy the experience – and then start planning your next visit back.  🙂





Paris – An amazing city that draws me back – Part 2

14 07 2014

I had decided to go out and visit the Palace of Versailles (or Chateau de Versailles), the former hunting lodge which Louis XIV turned into an amazing palace and became the location of the French Court from 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789.

So I quickly worked out the trains that would be required to get me out there (RER C) and after breakfast got underway

For over the top luxury, beauty and decoration in room after room, it would be hard to match and it has served as the inspiration for several residences of other monarchs.

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

Versailles

The Palace’s Hall of Mirrors, which is still used on ceremonial occasions, was also the location of the signing of the peace treaty of the Franco-Prussian War which heralded the unification of Germany in 1871.

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

The Palace has some amazing gardens that are well worth a look at and a walk down to the Grand Canal.

Gardens at Versailles

Gardens at Versailles

Gardens at Versailles

Gardens at Versailles

Gardens at Versailles

Gardens at Versailles

A note – on the first Sunday of each month from November to March entry to Versailles is free, although you would want to get there early as half of Paris seemingly turns up to visit.

After spending the day looking around the Palace and estate I took the train back to Paris and that night I decided to go up the Eiffel tower for another look around the city.  This was booked online which saved with lining up and the costs for an adult is €9 to go to just the 2nd floor and €15 to go all the way to the top.

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

View from the Eiffel Tower at night

Again the views of Paris at night were simply spectacular.  I took a few photos down the bottom of the Tower as well.

Me in front  of the Eiffel Tower

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Reflection of the Eiffel Tower

Reflection of the Eiffel Tower

After coming down I took a trip on the subway out to the Grande Arche at La Defense which I had wanted to come back and visit for some time.  The arch was completed in 1989 and is located at the end of the axis running along the Tuileries Gardens and the Champs Elysees including the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Place de la Concorde and Arc de Triomphe de I’Etoile  .

Paris-20

After that it was time to call it a day and head back and turn in and prepare for my last day in Paris.





Paris – An amazing city that draws me back – Part 1

12 07 2014

Paris is one of those cities that I love to visit and just walk around, take photographs and visit some of the amazing sites of the city.

Yes I know the Parisians have a bit of a reputation, and I have had one or two runs ins with the locals, but nearly all of my interactions with the locals have been pleasant and courteous in my several visits to the city which has made me happy to return.

On this particular visit I flew into Orly airport, Paris’ second airport located 13km from downtown and after negotiating the baggage carousels I was reasonably quickly on a train heading towards my accommodation which I had chosen for convenience sake near the Gare du Nord train station.

After settling in and unpacking it was time to be out and about doing some exploring.

A quick subway ride had me down near Les Halles where I was able to exit and then walk towards the Palais du Louvre, home of the world’s most visited art museum.

The Louvre Palace was originally a fortress built by Philip II in the 12th century, but served as the residences for the French monarchy for several hundred years being altered often throughout the middle ages.

In 1546 Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style although modifications and construction continued, slowed only when Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682.

Palais de Louvre

Palais du Louvre

Palais de Louvre

Palais du Louvre

Palais de Louvre and the glass pyramid

Palais du Louvre and the glass pyramid

When Louis XIV moved out there were various suggestions for converting it to a public gallery and in 1750 it held a display of pieces from the Royal Collection.

After the French revolution, and the deposing of the monarchy, in 1793 it was transformed into a public museum.

Palais de Louvre and the glass pyramid

Palais du Louvre and the glass pyramid

After having a stroll around the open ground of the Cour Napoleon (Napolean Court) with its iconic glass pyramid (completed in 1989) rising above its entrance, it was time to take a stroll down through the Tuileries Gardens.

Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, these were eventually opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution.

After strolling through the gardens and stopping to sit and contemplate life at the octagonal Grand Bassin, it was time to go a bit further to the Place de la Concorde (where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lost their heads to the guillotine).

Pathway through the Tuileries Gardens

The Tuileries Gardens

Octagonal Grand Bassin

Octagonal Grand Bassin

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde

Several times I’ve seen photos of brides and grooms being taken in this location and once again there were bridal photos being taken.

La Madeleine Church from the Place de la Concorde

La Madeleine Church from the Place de la Concorde

Turning to the right it’s a quick walk down to La Madeleine, a Roman Catholic church in the 8th arrondissement.  Having been the location of several churches down through the history of Paris, this structure was originally build as a temple to the glory of Napoleon’s Grande Armee, but after the fall of Napolean King Louis XVIII determined that the structure would be used as a church.

Built in the Neo-Classical style and and inspired by Roman temples, the church also has some pretty flower beds at the front of it.

La Madeleine Church

La Madeleine Church

La Madeleine Church

La Madeleine Church

After having a look around I retraced my steps and then went down to the right bank of the Seine and continued walking down it enjoying the views until I reached the Trocadero .

View of the Eiffel Tower

View of the Eiffel Tower

View of the Eiffel Tower

View of the Eiffel Tower

From there it was a walk to the Arc de Triomphe to admire it before hopping on the subway to head out to Montparnasse to go up the Montparnasse skyscraper for some amazing views of Paris.

The tower was the tallest in Paris from 1973 until 2011.  I had purchased a ticket from an earlier visit to Paris and not gotten around to visiting it and as it had a couple of years validity I was able to arrive and jump the queue waiting to buy tickets before joining a much shorter queue waiting for the elevators up.

So just like its quicker and easier to buy a ticket to go up the Eiffel Tower online it’s also a good idea to try and get one of these tickets from a hotel to visit the Montparnasse skyscraper. Some of the views of the city were amazing as the sun set and then as night came over.

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

Views of Paris from Montparnasse

After a long day it was time to head back to the accommodation for dinner and then turning in.