Thursday, September 19, 2019

Garden Thursday

Hello and welcome to Garden Thursday. It hasn't really turned to fall here yet. The days are shorter, but still a bit warm and humid at times. The garden is slowing down, a few flowers in bloom and mum bought some mums to add some color.
 Community garden is slowing down too. They still got foods out of the garden, the bean plant still is giving out a good quantity of beans and still has flowers on it.
 Carrots, onions and beets. Still have some carrots in the ground, along with the sweet potatoes to dig out. Then they harvested the little pie pumpkins, the beans and one cucumber they found hiding.
 A tote full of plants they pulled out and deaded leaves as well. It will be a few more weeks before they are completely done. Plus they may go back really late in October or early November to finish off the mulch pile!
 Plus it is talk like a pirate day so ARRRGGGH Matey's. Ye be walking a might short plank if ye don't have a piratey day.
 That is it for now. Love Virginger, Glimmer, Trooper and Fleur.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

September 18 and 19

September 18

A day of mostly traveling from St Malo to Paris with a stop in Chartres to see the cathedral. So lots of time to just watch the French country side.
I caught this sign and road, somewhere nearby lives my friend Virginia! No time to hi-jack the bus for a visit, but I was in the area of France known as The Perche, the home of where Percheron horses were developed.
We got to Chartres about lunchtime so we were let loose to have lunch on our own and to find a few local goodies.
We then met up with our guide to take us through the cathedral and the gorgeous stained glass windows. The cathedral was not damaged during World War II.

The guide talked about "reading" stained glass windows, at least those from the 12th and 13th century. Bottom to top, look to see if there was a patron on the window and, then, looking for the rose windows.
As with many buildings it is being restored and cleaned, the after and the before on the quire screen around the altar.
The final hotel room of the trip, the last night was near Charles de Gaulle airport, so what should be a short jaunt in the morning to pick up the flight.
A quirk of the room, you had to put your key card in this slot to keep the lights on! But that way things get turned off, TV etc.
My last dinner in France, I went bold, I order chicken Pad Thai!

September 19

Homeward bound. There was a group of 6 of us on the same flight so we filled up the shuttle and even with all of the traffic we got a place to park near our airline. We were greeted by a rep of the tour company who got us all checked in for our flights, baggage tags printed, boarding passes printed. Then came the marathons of lines.

1. Drop off the checked bag, so get in a line and are asked by some people if you packed your own bag, then actually get it over the the airline people to turn it in. Got it up on the scale and it read 31 kilos. OMG, that equates with 68 pounds, I started off at 26. Maybe I bought a few things but I didn't think that much. Although I had stuffed everything I could in there to make my carry on as light as possible.

2. Walked maybe 50 yards and another check point, scanning boarding passes, nothing else and letting you proceed.

3. Boarder patrol. Gotta get the passport stamped for leaving the country, they even stamped it on the same page as coming in. Nice and neat.

4. Line for security. Get into a line, then they scan your boarding pass and put you into another line. What I found out later is that they are looking to see how soon your flight leaves, if you need to get pushed up to meet your flight, they walk you to the next area. So more lines but I had time. Security was easy, didn't have to take out phone or any electronics, so it was quick. They did put a sticker on my passport to show I had made it through security.

All of this took about 45 minutes and once you get through you are met with duty free heaven if you are a shopper. I didn't take any pictures, but all of the luxury French brands were there. Gucci, Chanel, Cartier. Not that I was going to buy anything or even wanting a look.
So about 30 minutes to kill before boarding started but I found the gate and was ready to sit. Flight to Detroit was uneventful although they kept feeding us. I swear about every two hours they came through with food and drink of some sort. I had an aisle seat and could see the bathroom so could do my thing when I wanted.

Landed, customs has changed on the US side as well. Put your passport in the scanner, answer questions, get your receipt. Then another line to be blessed by an actual agent. He wanted to know how much I spent. I guessed $500 and I was pretty close.

Claimed the suitcase and said farewell to my fellow travelers, dragged my bag over to the airline drop off and was very nicely directed to take the escalators up three levels to go through security. I did, no lines, although I needed to get my boarding pass reprinted to show I had TSA precheck.

Found the final gate at the farthest end of the terminal and could sit down and text my friends I was back in the USA and just waiting for the final flight in a few hours.

Final hop back to MKE, my friend was waiting right outside the terminal, we loaded up and were home in about 45 minutes. I could relax, sit down and have my lap invaded by my cat. I missed him and I think he missed me too.
It took a few days to get everything unpacked, sorted out and all. Get through over 2000 pictures, of which you have only seen a few.

It was an amazing trip, I had a great time and I am now on to figuring out what my next adventure will be.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September 17

Probably the most physically challenging day of the trip, why? Climbing by stairs and cobblestone paths to the top of the rock on which is built the abbey on Mont-Sainte-Michel.

The area that the abbey is built on is a tidal area but full time access is from a bridge that is unobtrusive and blends in well with the landscape. Visitors get to the base of the rock by a shuttle bus, only the few residents and tradespeople, get to drive a car there. We got there early, so going up we didn't have to contend with people coming back down.
 The cool thing we were there at a time where the sun cast a shadow of the top of the abbey on to the sea.
 While there are mechanized buses, these carriages with horses also provided a way to get back and forth from the mainland.

After lunch at which I had the local omelette of La Mere Poulard, which I found to be bland and not at all interesting. It was advertised as a souffle-omelette, and its cooked over an open fire. Except for adding pepper, it was flavorless, no additions like cheese, meat or mushrooms to give it some flavor.

Then on to Concale which is a center for oysters which I don't do as raw shellfish and I don't get along. But I drank the wine that goes with having the oysters and then walked through the village.

 Tradition is that you toss the shells back to the seas to provide nutrients for more oysters.
 Be aware, there is a ginger cat guarding this place! Even sort of looks like Ducky! I was getting to miss my little guy.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

ManCat Monday - September 15 and 16

Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet. - Colette

Mum forgot to put the post to load last night, so we will combine a couple of trip day reports with ManCat Monday. 

Mum's stint of cat sitting is done. She didn't smuggle either cat home with her but she wanted to, she told me that. Phew. I like being an only cat! Just as mum was leaving their house the naybors returned, so she knows they are there to finish out the last few days of care.
 Feetsball Report

The Pack -  They beat the ViQueens, so are unbeaten! Woohoo, started the season unbeaten against division rivals. They started out super good and managed to hang on for the win thanks to the defense. Plus they honored the late, grate quarterback Bart Starr. Best field general in the NFL. EVER!

September 15

Day to disembark the ship, it has been a wonderful place to stay for the past ten days. Being a bit pampered with bed being made, chocolates on the pillow and wonderful meals.

 Suitcases in all directions. Thankfully they hauled out the big bags, we only had to worry about our carry-on stuff. All the bags were color coded with tags for those of us going on to the post trip extension, versus those going to Paris and then home.

 The crew, minus the housekeeping staff on top to wave goodbye. The 30 people on board who served us were fabulous people. No rest for these people, the new group of passengers would be boarding later in the day. So all the cabins had to be cleaned and readied.
Officially the trip was not yet over, we had one more stop in Caen at the Memorial. So an hour long trip and then into the museum.
 The Caen Memorial museum had four major areas of exhibition. The time between the two World Wars, D-Day, the period since WW II and the whole place is built over a German bunker that is open for exhibit. The building lobby area is bright and open which is a welcome change over the darker exhibition areas. Interesting to was that the languages used in the museum were French, English and German. Seems many of today's Germans are going back to learn more about what happened at that time.
 Sections of the Berlin Wall that came down in 1989, this was part of the cold war era exhibit which included a short bit even on Vietnam. A gun with the barrel knotted off to hopefully signify that violence is not the answer.
 Flags of the various countries that were involved in World War II, along with the French and European Union flags.
After a quick lunch on our own at the museum it was time to get back in the bus. There were 6 buses of the tour company in the parking area. Three with the new passengers, and our three who were leaving. Two headed to Paris, mine was headed to Brittany and St. Malo. 
 My bed for the next few nights, actually two twin beds shoved together, not an actual king sized mattress!
 My room had a bidet, but the toilet was not in the main bathroom, it was in its own little room just off of where you entered the room. Otherwise the bathroom was updated and modern.
 We got a short walk in to let us know where things were. We were just off the beach by two blocks and there was a long esplanade to walk from the walled city down to our hotel area. It was about a mile between the two.
 Also in the area, little shops including a patisserie and a small food market. For me, after all of the rich meals of the past days I opted for peaches and some sliced ham for dinner. 

Early night and could sleep with open windows for the first time in 10 days.

September 16

 Sunrise outside my window and a picture of the hotel. Over 100 years old and in a way you could tell that. Floorboards were a bit soft in the hallway. Only 50 rooms in the place.
 Our destination of the day was the walled city, Inter-Muros. We would have a guided walk around the area while giving us the history of the area and information of the corsairs.
 The entrance we went in and because of the climate, palm trees grow here. A harsh winter every 10 years or so, maybe an inch of snow which melts within a day.
 We were taken inside an original home that was not damaged during the war. Furnishing are original. Our guide lives in the area, but is from Wales.
 Items that the corsairs traded for when they sailed taking items to Chile and coming back with spices. In some cases they crossed the Pacific trading with Asia and coming back around South Africa.
 Small, well, tiny staircase. They no longer let people walk up here after someone got stuck!
 Lovely paintings for sale, not that I could afford any of them.
 Strong box that would be on the ships to hold the gold and other important papers.
 Medallion showing the crest of St Malo, which also at one time marked a path you could follow with an audio tour which they don't do anymore. A manhole cover also showing a crest.
 A small fort just off the city and showing the ramparts that go around the entire walled city.
So rather than take the bus or a taxi back to the hotel, I just wandered up the esplanade by the sea. Lots of benches to take a break and people watch and watch the sea. But before I got far I ran across a car rallye! For a car person like me it was fun to see all of this as they drove into the walled city.
 After a nice long walk and a bit of a rest I had a lovely dinner consisting of two fruit tarts, they even wrapped them so nicely, almost like a present.
Then out to watch the sunset, at this time of the year and location the sun was setting after 8 PM. It was nice to be outside at that time and have it be light out. It gets dark at home shortly after 7 PM.