Nice

Nice is situated on the Côte d’Azur, the Mediterranean coast of Southeastern France. In September, the weather is still very warm. Blue skies, miles of beaches…What a view from our hotel, Le Méridien.

 

Roger explores Old Town while I…ice my foot. Have to be able to go to Monaco tomorrow.

The views on the bus ride are incredible. Emilie, our driver, is great. Still a bit of a hair raising ride on the mountain side. 😊 We pass many small villages including Eze, and cap d’Ail.

Côte d'azur 2 (2)

Côte d'azur

Monaco is a country within France, second in size to The Vatican. 1 in 3 residents is a millionaire. Note that if you own property in Monaco or rent a property for at least 6 months and 1 day, you do not pay income taxes…

Albert II, the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco, is the son of Prince Rainier III and the American actress Grace Kelly. Of course, we see the palace and visit the oceanographic museum and aquarium. Wow! ‘A monumental jewel’ to say the least.

Aquarium et musée océanographique Manaco

Aquarium 6aquarium 5aquarium 4aquarium 3aquarium 2

sea horses

The supper, included in our tour at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo is memorable, exquisite food, great company.

Café de Paris

Cafe de Paris

We have 25 minutes to check out the Monte Carlo casino. The building is incredible, inside and out.

Casino de MonteCarlo (2)We pay the 19 euros each to play for about 15 minutes lol. The poker machines are no different. Thankfully, Roger wins 4 of a kind as we are about to exit. We are winners lol

casino

Our visit to Antibes and Cannes will have to wait as the tour includes a lot of walking on cobblestones and many stairs.

The Viking Heimdal now awaits us for a river cruise on the Rhône.

Paris

In Paris, we are renting a condo close to the Champs Élysées. We arrive late at night and decide to have tapas at a small restaurant just below our condo. Because we have not done groceries, we ask the waiter if we can bring a glass bottle of water with us, promising to bring it back.

We spend the following day exploring the neighborhood, grocery shopping and doing laundry. How surreal it is to be walking the Champs Élysées to l’Arche de Triomphe.

Champs élysées

 

Arche de triomphe

We  stop at a café to taste a favorite French pastry : a mille-feuille, (Yummy) and La Parisienne (Yummy as well)

mille feuilles

La parisienne-bière

We then buy passes for the batobus on line and plan the next day. But life is full of twists and turns…

At 8 p.m. Roger suggests we go exploring again and so I decide to bring the bottle of water (empty by now) back to the restaurant. And that is when it happens.

There is a step in the middle of the restaurant and I do not see it… The result is a twisted ankle. By 10 p.m. we decide the hospital is the only option (the foot being swollen and black and blue). Luckily, it does not take long at the American Hospital and after X-rays, I am told nothing is broken. A brace, some crutches and ibuprofen will do the trick. The only problem is that my foot has to stay up for 48 hours. Good thing I have that book you suggested Ann. (Full disclosure). Excellent read by the way 🙂

Thanks Roger for taking good care of me.

We still have 2 days to see Paris by Uber, tuk tuk, batobus, taxi, any which way we can 😊

Notre-Dame de Paris

IMG_0870 (1)

notre dame

La tour Eiffel

 

bestTour eiffel

We also manage to go to La Bien Aimée, a special yarn store where I meet Aimée. (Mel where are you??) Aimée is world renowned for her special yarn. When I am in the boutique, there is a lady from California, three from England ++. One of her designers models her newest creation 🙂

 

Then, we decide to check out a pâtisserie that Jess liked near her place of employment when she worked in Paris. However, little do we know, there is a techno parade in the city and all the bridges crossing the Seine are closed… So instead of spending 15 minutes with Daniel (the uber driver) we spend 1 hour and 15 minutes. Now Daniel happens to be quite loquacious lol and by the time we get to our destination, Roger and I are very happy.  And guess what? The bakery is closed!

rue Saint LA

 

We did, however, get to see more of Paris…

Académie Nationale de musique

 

And… we get to eat at the restaurant next door, Café Jil. Délicieux! 😊

When we leave Paris, we say Aurevoir, not Goodbye… We did see Le Louvre, Le musée d’Orsay, Les Invalides etc but only from the outside.

And what about Le Petit Salé or the Croissant amandine we missed at the Gourmandises de Saint-Lazare ha!

 

Circle complete

Heading back to Dublin, the colourful sheep adorn the landscape.

sheep 3

sheep 2

Counting sheep could put one to sleep and some of us dose a bit…

Along the way, we stop at a service station. What a great idea for travellers!

laundramat
The rooms at the Maldron Hotel at the Dublin airport are quite small but then we remind ourselves how spoiled we were at Ashford Castle lol

Tomorrow, we are off to another adventure in France.
We are sad to see our travel companions, Jeff and Lucy, head back to Canada but they give us great advice as to what to visit in Paris.

Ireland, beidh muid ar ais! (we will be back!)

A day of rest

A day of rest? At Ashford Castle, there is a school of Falconry,

falconry school

a Spa, an Equestrian Centre, a Zip-line,  Archery….There are boat cruises and bikes for hire, etc. etc. etc. But we decide on golfing😊.

Congratulations to Lucy and Roger who manage to get the only pars. Jeff and I will have to pay the round. Ha!

Ashford golf course 3

Even on the course, we see 40 shades of green!

ashford golf course-40 sahdes of green

We walk to the town of Cong where there is a museum dedicated to the movie The Quiet Man (John Wayne and Maureen O’hara). The movie was filmed in Cong and at the castle. Oh, and did I mention the castle has a cinema. The film will be playing tonight. We smell popcorn 🙂

At 11 every morning, to the guests’ delight, these two wolfhounds visit the castle.

ashford csatle dogs

This is our last night at the castle and so we take more pictures lol

at ashford castle

Thanks Mel for the beautiful sweater, just what you need in Ireland…

ashford castle boots

ashford castle decorashfrod castel-jeff and lucy

Connemara National Park to Ashford Castle

For a second day in a row, William greets us in the morning. Today however, he will be our driver-guide to explore Connemara National Park. He is very knowledgeable and also very witty. When we ask him if he can sing us a song, he answers…The only singer we had in our family was a singer sewing machine lol

Today, we see :

Bogs : basically wetlands that accumulate dead vegetation, harvested for fuel.

bog

-Quaint villages like Oughterard

small town

-A fjord, the only one in Ireland

fjord

-Kylemore Abbey, a mansion built in 1860 by Dr Mitchell Henry for his wife, it became home to Benedictine nuns in 1920.

abbey 1abbey 2abbey 3

-Its impressive gardens

gardens at abbey

-An aquafarm of mussel beds (the mussels take 2 years to get to maturity).

aquafarm

At William’s recommendation, we have lunch at Mitchell’s, a seafood restaurant in the town of Clifden. Needless to say, the food is excellent.

mitchellès

For dessert, Jeff goes into a bakery. Lucy says no. Jeff says YES!

yes

The highlight of the day for Roger? We meet a dozen classic cars…Where are they off to? What are the odds?

The highlight for all of us? Tonight, we are staying in a 1200 century castle, The Ashford Castle. At one point, it was owned by the Guinness family. It is now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.

Is this heaven? For certain, once in a lifetime experience…

 ashford castle 2ashford castle 3

Exploring Inis Mor

Today, we toured the island of Inis Mor, population, 900. It is the biggest of Aran Islands, a group of three Irish speaking islands located in Galway Bay. Here, traditional farming methods are still used, including mixing sand and seaweed to create a layer of fertile soil on the desolate land.
How peaceful it is to explore the island with Sammy (the horse) and Patrick (our local guide). Lucy says:
‘This is the way to go’😊

Inis Mor 2

Of course, biking is another popular way to tour the island.

Inis mor 1

The island is known for its Aran wool, but really?

bêêêêê

We visit Hillfort at Dun Aengus. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Europe. It dates back to 1100 B.C.

How far is it to the top Roger??? Didn’t Denise say it was around the corner..

Roger and jeff

Cliff

Then, we follow the coast; we spot some seals, interesting rock formations and piles of rock… inukshuks! Are we back in Canada?

inukshuk 1
Although the boat ride to the island from Rossaveal was quite choppy, (after all you are on the Atlantic Ocean) the return trip is much smoother.

Tonight, we are in for a treat as we enjoy the Trad on the Prom Show 😊

What talent! The uilleann pipes, the accordion, the violin are all played by very renowned artists. The tap dancers are all winners of international awards.

Show 2

When we are ready to get back to Glenlo Abbey however, things are complicated. Our taxi is confiscated by Peter…and then we wait and wait and wait. Where is UBER? lol.

Ah well, it was all worth it!

 

 

Glenlo Abbey

Glenlo Abbey

To Cliffs of Moher and the Burren Geopark

Ireland is certainly one of the cleanest countries we have visited. Tiny Town Competition… What a great initiative!

Tidy towns

This morning, a rainbow appears as we are driving along. Roger wants to follow it to the end to find the leprechaun holding the pot of gold 🙂

Rainbow

Everywhere in Ireland, the houses are surrounded with either hedges or walls. Why? It is a strong message to those who might want to take away their land, like in the past..

wall

Well, now we know what Johnny Cash meant by his song, 40 shades of Green..

40 shades 2

On the way to the Cliff s of Moher and the Burren Geopark, we stop to spend some time with creative chef Oonagh. What a special environmentalist. Thanks to her, we discover local ingredients from the land and the seashore that she forages to prepare exquisite dishes. Salads, pesto, seaweed treats, etc.

 

 

sgaghetti seaweed
seaweed spaghetti

Oonagh 1Oonagh 2

The best is, she prepared a picnic basket that we get to bring with us 🙂 All the containers and spoons are made of Corn starch!

oonagh 4

At St Tola, we visit a goat’s farm and learn about the sustainable farming practices used. This is followed by a cheese-making demonstration and tasting. Succulent!

goat farm 3

Last but not least, we travel to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, awarded the ‘Global Geopark’ status by UNESCO.

Cliffs of Moher

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring:)