Category Archives: travel

Travel

QF10 – Paris to Melbourne – a revolutionary road

So there was plenty of space in business class and I got my upgrade. Yippee do dah !

That means I get the chair that turns into a bed and blankets, cushions and PJs. Good food, wine and big screen movies. Nice headsets and stretching out all make it much more comfortable when travelling 19000 kms over Belgium, Russia, India and down to Singapore, where I’ve just had a 60 minute stopover.

Back in the air I’ve moved forward one row to 12. I’ve got two seats to boot!
12 A and B !

I had the marinated chicken, salad and a wonderful tart that was teamed up with a Coonawarra cab sav.

The food together with the movie I’m watching “Revoltutionary Road” got me thinking about France and the wonderful experience it was. I really liked the way life happened there. Maybe it’s a romantic notion and there is something in that. But I think there’s more to it. It also depends on which slice of life you cut through to I suppose.

Yet on the crowded Metro yesterday I saw even the regular folk were doing something apart from the rest of the world even just up the road in Belgium or across the street in Switzerland. France is different. Paris – “people are alive there” Frank from Revolutionary Road.

Another film I watched, a doco, was “Not Forgotten”. A story about the World War 1 memorials and the personal stories of the names on those stones.

It was a very moving work. I’m going to build on and share my experience in Northern France and Beligum. I want to share those stories of my family so the victims of W.A.R. are not forgotten.

Those victims were on both at home and on those far away fields that are not so far away anymore. I’ve seen them and they are real.

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Reflections on Terminal 4

Caught the taxi from the Hotel in Saint Michel, Paris to Charles de Gaulle aerogare (my word) where I left Europe. Dragging my bag and attendant parcels of glassware and recently purchased momentos.

I hung out at CdG figuring I’d be better with a bag to put all the glassware and Easter eggs in.

The flight from Paris to London is meant to be one and a quarter hours. It arrived 20 mins early. Then I had to make my way to Terminal 4 from Terminal 5. Simple I thought. Not so Alex. It takes 2 hours to clear security the customs official told me “and then you have to get to Terminal 4” she said. First bum steer.

Catch the train the guy with the Scottish accent and official looking garb. “Can I use €’s for that” I say.

“Its free” says he in his best Scot. Socialism lives even in the UK!

After getting to the platform serves the London bound train an official looking woman in smart uniform says I’m on the wrong platform for London. “I just want to go to Terminal 4” says I in a desperate voice.

“So it’s the bus you’ll be wanting” says she – “It’s quicker”. “I’ll show you where”. Bum steer number 2 as she directs me to a bus stop with a bus waiting. But this driver ignores the would be passenger from the Antipodes whose carrying more luggage than a camel train driver. I see the friendly looking British Airways attendant and thinking she’ll know, I ask her. “Over there to the Terminal 4 bus” she directs me, in her best scottish song.

Bum steer number 3.

I’m redirected on to the “true” path by another soul. Though he suggests I go back into Terminal 5 and take the train! Not that again. The never ending buddist circle. No I’ll find the magical mystery bus. The true path to enlightenment.

On the true path I meet the BA lassie who apologises for giving me the wrong steer and then she goes into overdrive helping me through bus routes and timetables to get me to Terminal 4. Thank you!

2 minutes and you’ll get a bus. I’m trusting but not convinced.

She and the other air attendents board their bus and I wait ! Then along comes the 390 or whatever. On I get bags flapping everywhere. The driver confirms we are going to Terminal 4.
I do not believe him.

We make another stop (eating into my 2 hour security clearance). On hops another man about my age. At first I think he’s English, turns out to be Spanish who lived here for 16 years but now lives in Peru. He is heading home to Lima. He tells me this is the Terminal 4 bus for sure. I believe him.

We arrive at the entrance to Terminal 4 and I can see the QANTAS desk. Australian spoken! A billabong at last.

The clerk confirms my upgrade to Business Class, the sleeping capsule, the food and drink. I have been enlightened.

The Last Post (bar one or two)

Today is Good Friday and later this afternoon I board British Airways flight from Charles De Gaulle for London and then on to QF 10 for Singapore and Melbourne.

For the first time on this trip I’m feeling unwell nothing serious just a sore throat. I grabbed a strip of night and day tablets before checking in my bag.

Spent my last day in Paris which was the begining of Easter weekend shopping and having my last cafe creme at a brasserie on the corner of Boulevarde Saint Michel and Saint Germain. Sitting on the striped cane chairs and watching the European world walk by, thinking about all I’ve seen and done in these past nine weeks. Wondering about it all.

So soon I’ll be off and all this will be a dream.

Goodbye Europa!

Test post

I’ve been having problems with posts being visible BUT I THINK IT’S NOW FIXED

Fingers crossed

Beynat, a village in France

Beynat has a human population of about 400 growing to a 1000 in summer time when visitors come and people return to their holiday homes.

It’s located in the southern end of France and is designated Department 19. The nearest “big” town is Brieve about 20 km away.

The centre of town has two squares, one is located in front of the post office, “Poste” with the town hall ( Hotel de Ville )on the side. I thought Hotel de Ville was a chain of hotels because almost every town had one! Language !

The other square is the main one with a memorial to the war dead, a parking area and a cluster of shops and cafes including Jean Claude’s Bar/cafe.

The cafes in country France generally only serve drinks and not food which is a dilema if you want something to eat especially on a Sunday. The sabbath seems to be strictly observed in the country areas so you have to make sure you’ve get some food with you on a Sunday if you travel.

During the week businesses close for 2 hours at lunch time as well. So buy for your baguette early!

Back to Baynat (pronouced Baynah). If you want accommodation there, the best by far is Agatha’s Garden, B&B owned and managed by Françoise with the warm French smile.

She has the most beautiful house that has been in her family for more than a hundred years. The interior speaks of a lifetime of exposure to art and design. A simple elegance and ambience in every corner of every room.

Toast and tea/cafe for breakfast is included with handmade chestnut bread and sweet fruit jams.

There are a few resturants in the area but having her home cooked bio-dynamic cusine, like her cottage interior is not to missed. Wholesome food, mostly grown in her own garden (Agatha’s) accompanied by wine that has been sourced by her son is fabulous!

Surrounding Beynat are many more delightful villiages and landscapes. Ancient abbeys and churches, villiages built into the rock of riversides and fertile farmlands where beef cattle graze. Renaissance places like Collonges-la-Rouge in Corrèze.

Vallée de la Dordogne – Corrézienne
Authentique …..

Passchendaele

My Great uncle was 35 when he was killed in action at Passchendaele, Belgium on October 12, 1917. Europe was at war since 1914 and in Russia the revolution was to explode in a few days.

Duncan had enlisted in AIF in November 1916 and sailed to England to get some basic training before arriving in Calais and being sent to the front.

Seeing the headstone of his grave with his name simply inscribed D.McCallum was deeply and profoundly sad. So far from home in Sydney

It was was a sunny afternoon when I saw the headstone in a cemetery surrounded by corn fields. The corn had been cut and the stubble retained in the earth. In the distance were farms and further away the villiage of Zonnebeke, further still Passendale.

Duncan’s 36th Battalion’s mission was to take Passchendaele from the Germans. On October 12 it was unsuccessful. Thousands of Australians died in that poorly planned battle in the driving rain and waist deep in the Belgium mud.

I don’t know what killed Duncan, a bullet, a bomb or bayonet. It will never be known. But what is certain is the order from Field Marshall Haig to attack when the officers on the battle ground knew it was hopeless, given the weather led to the deaths of thousands that morning.

Duncan is my link to the Great War who did not return home. Unlike my grandfather Alex Gibson and other great uncles, Bill Gibson, Jack Gray and Gerald Boés who married aunty Gloria. Duncan never saw his two little girls grow up, or watched a rubgy league game or saw his brother Don again.

So somewhere between the jumping off point and his grave in the small Dochy Farm New British Cemetery he was wounded and died on the shoulders of the Australian stretcher bearers.

Visiting the area today is vastly different to that place which in the weeks before October 12 had been pounded with over 4 million exposives that punctured the water table and turned the land to a quagmire.

Today the farms are back growing corn, leeks, cabbages and brussel sprouts. Children ride their bikes to the village school on the country lanes and roads.

There is a B&B called Varlet Farm where they have a small muesem and Charlotte shares kindness and smothers you in food and comfort. She knows the places where the troops were, what happened to who and where they maybe buried.

Every year 20 tonnes of WW1 munitions are found on the fields of Flanders. There are no winners in WAR we’re all losers.

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Spring time in Paris

What really stunned me in the Hall of Mirrors at Versaille was out the window and not in the hallway.

The breathtaking view of the grand canal and the colanade that leads to it. Another unforgettable view was from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, an uninterrupted view across the city in four directions. The Paris planners have not given into the skyscaper cult and instead have maintained a 4-5 story landscape.

The breadth of scale of the Lourve is another feature of the city that shocks me as a visitor from the antipodes. It so huge and then there’s the parks and squares that people congregate in. The backyards of Paris. People sit around the fountains on state provided deckchairs to nibble on Parisian baguettes or drink coffee in the sunshine.

The Eiffle Tower is heavy duty plus with its tonnes of steel, views and avenue of grassland to sit on.

I can see why the world comes to Paris.