Bern, city of fountains

It was raining quite heavily this morning when we woke so we had a lazy morning. We have a pass for free public transport so about 10 we caught the Number 10 bus into the city to the farmers markets, always a favourite of ours. We were particularly looking for white asparagus which David loves, but there was none to be found, sadly. I think the markets in France are more impressive than those here but the flowers were beautiful.

The markets were held in front of this lovely old building which was decorated with more pretty red geraniums.

Time for coffee and cake after all that walking.

Since Bern is known as the city of fountains, I’ve been taking pics of some of them. Apparently they all tell particular stories.

Bern has a lot of choice in public transport: buses, trains, trams & trolley buses.

The weather chased us home again after we had salad baguettes for lunch. Just relaxing now!

Too old to have this much fun!

So we managed to last for dinner but it wasn’t really worth waiting for. The Salmon entree was ok but the rissoles for mains were pretty ordinary (I think of the 12 served to our table of 6 travellers, 10 were returned untouched which is really sad) and we didn’t bother to wait for dessert.

We slept well in a very comfy bed and breakfast was great – everything you could possibly hope for in the buffet. Then we met our guide, Sara McDonald, who had finally arrived at 1 this morning. Think flying from London would have been a much better idea.

About 10, we walked to the subway to go into town to the main square, Marienplatz where we met our local guide for the city tour. It was a typical city tour and we loved the markets.

Beautiful herbs at the market!
Fresh fruit. I bought some very expensive cherries but they were ripe, juicy, sweet and so
delicious!
Such beautiful looking cheeses!

We visited the Jewish quarter. About 10,000 from Munich were killed in the camps. Those who are here now have a new Synagogue which was built in 2006.

The new Synagogue. The Wall resembles The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and people pray here and leave messages to God just as they do in Jerusalem.

Just as the glockenspiel was about to play in Marienplatz, there was a large roar of thunder and the rain poured down. It was very bad timing.

Our Munich Beer Tour started next and we had a great guide. During our walk to the first stop underneath the Beer Museum he told us about Hitler’s early life in Munich and about Kristallnacht or “The night of Broken Glass”. We tried three beers and had white sausages with German mustard which were delicious. This took me back to my childhood as Dad used to like them too. We tried three beers and I liked them too. We decided to have a wander by ourselves rather than continue on the tour. We had to get some cash and little money as you have to pay to go to the toilet here. We also had to buy face masks as you must wear them on the trains – not just any old masks but particular ones. Jobs done, we caught the train back but got a little confused and spent more time on the subway then we should have.

It was lovely to get back to the hotel as we were exhausted. We are definitely not as fit as we used to be!

Beautiful Bath

Our second day here in Freshford began with bacon & eggs for breakfast. These had been left for us by our landlords. That depleted our food stores so it was off to the beautiful farm shop run by volunteers, Galleries Shop & Cafe, about 3 miles away. Poor Ben had to cope with a few back seat drivers whilst driving down really narrow lanes in an unfamiliar 7 seater Suzuki with clunky gears. He managed very well! I was very happy that I was not the driver.

We stocked up on necessities and lovely fresh fruit & veg. I can’t wait to get into the strawberries at breakfast.

We decided we’d like to go into Bath so we caught the train. The station is only a couple of hundred metres down hill so it was an easy walk & a 10 min ride into town. I have been having trouble with the roaming on my phone so David and I hurried off to the Apple store where 2 genii checked it over. I had it set up properly but they couldn’t find out why I’m not receiving texts or emails when I’m out and about. Very annoying! So we’re having to rely on Messenger to keep in touch and arrange meeting points. I’ve also been having trouble with sore gums where my dentures were rubbing ( my dentist at home interfered with them during my recent check-up). Luckily I found a lovely dentist who fixed them for me.

Guess who was happy to meet up with everyone after the dentist! I really enjoyed my first pint of the trip.

Bath is a beautiful city. David and I spent a few days exploring it in 2007 on our first trip to the UK so I wasn’t too upset that I spent my time at Apple and the dentist. Here’s a few pics

Beautiful butterfly decorations just near the station.

At home, we had a relaxing time chatting and then George cooked us up a lovely dinner with our fresh vegetables which was a fitting end to a good day.

Each day we have ridden on a Great Western Railway (GWR) train which has been quite special. My great grandfather, Frederick ALLEY and his wife, Elizabeth GOULD, moved to Swindon about 1870 and Frederick worked at GWR. Many of their sons did apprenticeships at GWR.

I guess that’s where this trip began!

A pleasant day at Brisbane’s Southbank”

This weekend was the Regional Flavours promotion of Queensland produce at Southbank, the site of Expo 88 beside the Brisbane River. As you know, we do enjoy our fresh food and visiting the fresh food markets in Europe.

So yesterday morning we caught the train from our local station at Lota for the 35 minute ride to Southbank.

When we arrived we found that many others had arrived before us and the market stalls were very busy with queues to buy goods at most of them. The regions of Queensland had displays of both fresh food and goods produced in the region from that.

We weren’t tempted to buy much as we didn’t have the car. I lived in The South Burnett for ten years and so bought a bag of curry flavoured peanuts for old times sake. Kingaroy is famous for its peanut van which sits beside the main road into town and sells peanuts with many flavours.

You could buy a stemless plastic recyclable wine glass for $5 and visit the area which showcased the many wine-producing companies of Queensland for tastings. We do not really enjoy tasting many wines in quick procession so we didn’t bother with that.

Many stalls were selling food for eating on the run- everything from berries to ice cream to chicken wings to camel milk and camel cheese to sliders and tagines. There didn’t seem to be an area where you could sit down to have a proper meal within the Regional Flavours displays and since we like to sit down and enjoy our food, we ate at one of the local restaurants, French Martini, where we both enjoyed moules cooked in white wine and lemon with a baguette. I also enjoyed my glass of French Chablis. The moules were delicious but the baguette was quite disappointing – not up to the standard I expect of French breads. We sat and enjoyed ourselves over our leisurely lunch. I felt quite disloyal eating at a French restaurant on this day but consoled myself with the thought that the mussels would have been local.

After lunch we wandered back alongside the river to South Brisbane Station, enjoying the lovely ambience of Southbank where so many families enjoyed the artificial beach and the parklands.

All in all, a very pleasant few hours!

Beautiful beaches at Porto & Matosinhos

We are now in Portugal for the first time. We docked here at the industrial port near Matosinhos this morning and caught the shuttle bus into Porto proper, about a thirty minute drive along the beautiful coastline and beaches. This was my favourite part of the day.

The surfers were out on this lovely sunny day but the breeze by the water was cool still.

Once we passed the mouth of the Douro River, there were many fishermen and small boats with outboard motors. It reminded me of the years of my childhood that I spent at Donnybrook on Pumicestone Passage just north of Brisbane. There my parents had a multifaceted small business: a corner store, boats for hire, an unofficial post office and, as well, we sold petrol (with an old hand operated petrol pump). At the same time, Dad was a professional fishermen and crabber. Of course, our boats were inboards as there were no outboard motors at that stage.

I found the town of Porto itself to be quaint and so steep. Not good for the knees. We had a frustrating time here as we had booked tickets on the yellow vintage hop on hop off bus. We waited 50 minutes for it to come and then the driver’s reader wouldn’t read my e ticket which had assured me that I didn’t need a printed ticket. So he wouldn’t let us on. Very frustrating. Then we climbed some very steep steps to the market which wasn’t open and didn’t open until midday. More frustration! We did find a coffee and two excellent Portuguese custard tarts. We enjoyed them. Two coffees and two tarts for a total of €4. Amazing!

I do love to use a nice pen that feels good in my hand and there is a great pen shop here that we lingered in. They also stocked beautiful sets of coloured pencils for serious artwork. I have a lovely set of pencils that I haven’t touched in a few years. I think I’m getting the urge to get them out again. All very tempting but I resisted. The other shop which severely tempted me was quite a large hat shop. I very nearly bought a stylish black and white hat but David convinced me that I wouldn’t get it home in immaculate condition and I should buy one at home. So I will.

The streets are very interesting, so steep and narrow and the buildings are several stories high. Shops occupy the ground floor of many.

We wandered around until our knees were done (mine anyway) and then went to catch the shuttle back to the ship. Another 45 minute wait!

Now I’m waiting for a turn in the laundry. At least David brought me a lovely coffee!

Delicious food & beautiful art

We’ve had another fun day in our lovely Paris home which is in the attic of this beautiful old building behind which you can probably spot an iconic Paris landmark.

The Marché President Wilson are held just around the corner from our building on Wednesday & Saturday mornings and we have been hanging out to stock up on fruit, vegetables and, of course, French bread. So early this morning, in spite of a temperature around 1*, we went down and it was amazing.

So much fresh produce: meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, breads etc. All so very tempting! We can now have a delicious dinner at home of an evening and we are looking forward to it tonight. A veal steak for David and, for me, a big plate of fresh vegetables: white asparagus, zucchini, carrots, beans; all to be followed by sweet strawberries.

After we packed our goodies away, we caught an Uber to go to the Foundation of Louis Vuitton which is an amazing piece of architecture housing a collection of art works.

It is currently housing the Courtauld Collection on loan from Somerset House in London which is undergoing renovation.

The Impressionists are our favourites so we really enjoyed this exhibition of works by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh as well as others. We then went to the Museé Marmottan-Monet to see the largest collection of Monet anywhere in the world. It was wonderful.

Enjoying this beautiful art work in such an amazing city is a privilege. We are so very lucky.