OK, so let me say this up front…I have never killed anything in my life, nor seen something killed. So, with that confession over (phew I feel better for getting that out) let me describe the first ‘hunt’ I went on, this week.
It all started with a young woman mentioning that she hadnt yet shot her first deer. My friend has a farm which has many deer visit it each night, so he suggested that she might like to come and hunt there. Welllll hunting really isnt what I would call it lol. The bucks come down the driveway at the same time slot every night, so in essence it was like shooting fish in a barrel. So, the young lady turned up and we sat around on garden chairs for the allocated time slot. And, exactly on time, the bucks made their entrance. She was using her grandfather’s rifle and when she shot wow did it make a loud sound. So, this far I am doing ok, I was excited for her.
Deer was killed, with a shot through it’s stomach, so took the standard pictures (that all hunters seem to take) you know the ones…hunter kneeling next to his/her kill with gun in one hand and holding up the animal’s head in the other. Then they said we needed to drag the deer over to the barn for the girl to gut it (yep she had not gut a deer before). What! Here? What!?!? You want to gut it and …here?!?!? Yep I was horrified, ok so in my ‘always lived in a city’ innocence I hadnt thought about what happens in hunts. Turns out you have to gut them soon after killing the animal or it ruins the meat…who knew?!? So next task is putting the deer in the back of the truck to drive to the barn. This light footed deer they moved soo quickly and stealthily when alive became like a dead weight elephant when dead, it took 4 of us to lift it, and even then it was a struggle (can I just point out that no one had mentioned this BEFORE the hunting). So now with our backs thrown out we heading for the barn. At this stage I was thinking, ok…seen enough and time for me to head back to my place…but noooooo, they needed me to go to the house and get some knives while they dragged the deer off of the truck. OK, I can do that, THEN I am going back to my place, and getting out of here (this city girl had seen enough for today).
So, I get the knives, take them to the others and was just about to leave when they asked me to hold a leg. If anyone asks you to do that after a hunt, just say no unless you want to be in the middle of the gutting. Turns out they needed the leg held so they could cut the stomach open…way too much visual for this little vegetarian. So, I turn away until they ask me to hold the torch…why me? because the others are up to their elbows in guts. It was like being in a butchers: stomach, heart, liver…guts everywhere and we are standing in a pool of blood…ohhh lovely! (The gutting was a mess because the shot had been to the stomach). Once they have the guts out they then washed the insides of the deer with a hose, which meant more blood (and any lose remains) going everywhere. By this stage I am smiling like a maniac, not because I was happy but because I was in shock and didn’t know what other expression to wear on my face.
Would I do it again, no. Do I have a problem with hunting, no, not when it is done for meat (as this one was) and not just for a trophy. It was an experience, and it that left this city girl traumatised for the rest of the day, but I am glad the young woman got her deer (just wished I had gone in and had a cup of tea right after it was shot and hid inside till everything had been done lol)
I have been in the USA for a few months now, and yet haven’t written a blog so time for me to do a bit of catch up. I still have a few blogs to write on places I visited in Europe, yep I promise to write them. But for now, let me share my walk here.
I am staying in a small town (pop below 500 people…hahaha I DID tell you it was small) in Washington State (NorthWest America). Life in the NorthWest is different to the rest of the USA, or so I am told. It is the most Atheist part of the USA, and so I shouldn’t have ben surprised that most churches I have visited were not that full. Yet, it still surprises me that signs about God and Jesus are on the road side (you don’t see that in my home countries of UK and Australia) but even here it is only permitted if the sign is on private land. I had always been under the allusion that America was so Christian (as a lot of my friends thought also), so you can understand my shock and sadness to see that in fact it looks like America has lost it’s first love…God is on the sidelines here, no longer central to American’s life. It seems that fast food and sport has become their central interest (and thus their god). God has been reassigned to the basement, with last years Christmas gifts and other unwanted and forgotten things. What happened to this country? This place that use to love God so much? Yes, the politicians still talk about God and use his name in their speeches…like a password to get elected, but yet the churches aren’t full, people aren’t seeking God and even their Supreme court has approved same sex marriage.
I have gone through the period, in a new country, of seeing through rose coloured glasses, then the culture shock (more on that later) then reality…and so I ask myself ‘what happened here?’ And is this just a symptom of the loss of faith we are seeing in many western cultures?
Talking about cycling; well you will probably be stunned at how many bikes are used here, but then again who wouldn’t cycle in a flat country 😉 It’s great to see the kids going to school on their bikes, or parents using the special child carrying bikes (see below). And not surprisingly, I didn’t see many people who were obese here. It’s a good, healthy lifestyle.
On my first day in Holland I went into Amsterdam, a city with a lot of character and many old buildings. I went to the Rijksmuseum, a great museum to visit and one that would take about 2 or more hours to walk around. It has a heap of paintings, statues, furniture etc to see. I didn’t go to the Van Gogh museum because all lines were too long and in honesty I didn’t have the patience to wait in a queue for up to an hour lol, I wanted to explore. So, off i walked into the city centre. It only took me about 35 mins and was a really nice walk along the canals, past the bulb market (well worth walking around), past the cheese shops (SOOO many of these, and all with free sampling…yum) down the main street with a heap of shops to explore.
Today I was followed by a man, when I walked from the city centre to Montmartre, in broad daylight. Though this was disconcerting, I automatically slipped into ‘alert’ mode. For those that I have taught self defence to, what I am about to say will just be a reminder. When out walking, don’t walk with your ear buds in (it means you can’t hear what or who is approaching you), keep to busy areas, be aware of your surroundings, if followed either slow down and look in a shop window (to let them pass), or try to outwalk the person or run. Head to a shop or busy restaurant/coffee shop and above all try to keep calm. I did all these things; I tried to outwalk him, then slowed down to let him overtake me (but after overtaking he would slow down until I had passed him), I crossed the road and he followed (did this numerous times) I also kept a ‘proximity awareness’ of where he was at all times (eventually he was walking so close to me I could hear his breathing). At this stage I headed to a supermarket where they have security guards (here in Paris). My plan was to approach the security guards, if he followed me into the shop, and tell them about him. Fortunately for him (after following me for 25mins) he wasnt game to enter the shop and literally disappeared. Before leaving the shop I looked around and checked he couldnt be seen before heading back to the studio.
Some additional advice: if he produces a weapon, scream and run towards people, and don’t stop screaming. If he threatens to shoot you, still run, it’s harder to hit a moving object and if you don’t know him then he is less likely to start shooting at you but instead will head off for an easier target. If he grabs you then fight, scratch, kick and continue to scream. Try to get away to a busy area, shop/home etc and seek help. And ultimately my advice is: learn self defence…it empowers you, helps to protect yourself and may one day save your life.
Before, in a previous post, I mentioned about the guys who stand on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur and try to give you tread bracelets. I have had them approach me two times, the second time one of them grabbed my arm. Both times I said very sternly ‘Non’ and kept walking. Well, I have been doing some further research on them, turns out this IS a scam, as i thought. They target single women or couples and thread the cotton around your hand then demand payment. They may seem frindly at first but that changes when they demand money. Here is a link written a few years ago, but still very relevant http://www.outandaboutinparis.com/2011/06/bracelet-guys-near-sacre-coeur.html My advice is the same as appears in this article…walk with purpose and don’t stop, ignore them and they will leave you alone. Don’t let them put a damper on your Paris trip, Paris is a beautiful place and I believe safe (I will test that next Tuesday when I need to get a flight to the UK to see my sick dad, so will need to walk to Gare de Nord at 5:15am then back to my studio, when I return to Paris, at night).
Well yesterday was the day for a trip to the Louvre. Now before you go, go onto their website and download their app which has guided tours on, well worth it. I turned up at the Louvre at about 10am and the queues were HUGE, hundreads of people. Fortunately I had researched which entrance to go to and so headed across the courtyard and to the outside of the Louvre block to an entrance called the Porte des Lions, it does seem a bit of a distance from the pyramid but you know when you have found it because it has two lion statues outside. When i finally found it there were only 15 people waiting…wow, yep myself and anyone that turned up there questioned whether this was the entrance to the Louvre and yep it was…wooohooo score!!! (As my son would say lol)
So, after security checks and buying my ticket I raced to the Mona Lisa (to try and beat the crowds) and it worked…I had access right up to her. It’s funny but even the narrator on the Louvre app says they don’t know why she is so famous, the painting style is typical of that era. Anyhow, she is behind protective glass and is a lot smaller than I thought., but worth going to see to check it off my list lol.
From there I went towards the Roman and Greek statues section, this is where Venus of Milo is. Amazing sculptures. Come and join me as I walk around the Louvre (spent over 5 hrs there and still didn’t see it all).
From there i went to Napoleon’s chambers…so much extravegance, but amazing:
Here is a selection of other pics I took…enjoy 🙂
At Napoleon’s coronation.
Marais is an old part of Paris with medieval and Renaissance buildings in it and it is still laid out like it was back then. Now the interesting thing is this: Marais doesnt appear on many lists of places to visit while in Paris and to be honest…that is CRAZY!! I spent today following a self tour on the Trip Adviser app (gives you directions to some of the main highlights of the area) and I spent a lot of the time doing an awful lot of WOW!!! This is really a beautiful area with fascinating places to explore. I walked around the gardens of Sens Mansion which was built around the 16th century (and as you know I am doing this trip on the cheap so the fact this was free was a bonus) it has an amazing garden. If you can find the entrance to the building (yep i couldnt lol) then you can go in because this is a public library.
I then wandered around the Saint-Paul Village which was filled with cute shops. The village is divided into a number of squares (all given a different colour) so make sure you go to each. Eventually I got back onto the tour and headed for Sully Mansion (Hotel de Sully) on the Rue Saint Antoine. This is a 17th century building which used to be luxury private mansions when this area used to be habited by the aristocrats. Now it is the offices for the National Monuments, so you can’t go in it but again you can wander around and trust me it is sooo worth the wander:
As you carry on walking on the tour you will find yourself in these archways which surround a garden. This garden is the oldest planned square in Paris. Further down you will come across Victor Hugo’s mansion (which you can look around). Now an interesting reflection…you dont see street people much in Paris and yet under these archways was a large mattress with a guy asleep on it, it struck me the contrast …beautiful ornate buildings with the oldest square in front of him and yet here was an example of the poor of Paris.
The oldest planned square in Paris
From here i walked to 23 Rue de Sevigne to go to Carnavalet Museum (Musee Carnavalet) can i just say at the start here…WOW!!! This is a museum worth going to (and it’s free!!!) it is an extensive museum spread over two old hotels dating back to 1500s. It has rooms decorated in the design of the times, art, history, jewellery and paintings over the entire room (yep entire…including the roof) I loved it and can’t recommend it enough.
After spending hours at the museum I set back out on my walk and ended up walking past a number of other great buildings and also the Jewish quarters of Paris (called ‘Pletzl’). In this area you can visit Picasso’s Museum, Musee Cognacq-Jay (another collection of arts), the Hunting and Nature Museum (yep those of you who know me know i wouldn’t go in there, but the write up says it is fun), Museum of French History (National Archives in Hotel de Soubise), and finally the Hotel de Ville (government buildings since 1300s, though only buildings from 1800s are standing here now).
Well at the end of it I was tired, had a great time and really want you to go to Marais if you go to Paris. Also, I highly recommend the Trip Adviser app for the self tours. Hope you have a great day 🙂
So, to get to the graveyard you walk up the main street past the Moulin Rouge…well I was kinda expecting the following pretty scene (but in daylight):
but instead this is the scene:
Ok, I’m going to be honest here and say…it looks tacky, the signage is getting old and faded, the windmill doesnt look that good either. I have to admit I was a bit surprised and really let down, my expectations of it were from paintings and photos I had seen around, but it isnt anything special. Also note the very long queues outside of it (see pics) and there were many people taking pictures of it.
I moved on, not far from there is the turning to head to the Montmartre cemetary. Now, don’t do what i did and get to the end of the road and head up the stairs instead of entering the cemetery at the base of the stairs. This is the only entrance at the moment, the other one at the other end of the cemetery was blocked off.
The list of names of ‘famous’ people buried there was long, and the cemetery has laminated maps you can take around with you, just at the entrance on the left past the building (before the map on the sign). This is REALLY helpful because this cemetery is packed with graves, and it would be like playing ‘Where’s Wally’ if you tried to find certain graves without that handy map. The oldest grave i found was from the 1700’s. It was a peaceful place to spend some time (one guy was even asleep on a bench in there…well ummm I think he was asleep 😳).
I headed to the Montmartre vineyard after this, it turns out that the vineyard is right by the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. The walk to the vineyard from the graveyard was really pleasant (here are some pics of the streets I walked through
It didn’t take me long to get to the vineyard from the graveyard (approx 15 mins) with a steep climb up a hill. The vineyard is on a small block of land on the corner of two residential roads, it is filled with grapevines, but is a very small vineyard. I personally wouldn’t go there again.
‘It was the bells that made me do it’…honestly😳 lol ok that phrase has probably been used to death but it does go through your head as you walk towards this beautiful church.
I got out of Cite train station and was lost…no signs to direct me to Notre-Dame, so i turned right and wow!!! I was faced with the Palace of Justice (the place Marie Antoinette stayed and was executed) this is a very beautiful building. I kept walking in that direction and turned right in front of the palace.
Turning right took me across the River Seine (look down the river and you can see the Eiffel Tower) towards the Place de la Bastille, this is the place where the famous Bastille prison used to be (the place that was stormed in 1789 in the French Revolution). There isnt a lot there now, a column at the junction of roads, but worth going to.
Behind the Place de la Bastille you can see the gargoyles on top of the Tour Saint-Jacques. There once used to be a gothic church here, but all that is left is this detailed tower. It is 52m tall and was built around the 16th century.
After walking around this tower and it’s garden, i decided that it was time to actually look at google maps and get directions to Notre-Dame. Turns out that had i turned left at the train station i would have bumped into Notre-Dame around the corner 😳 ahhh well lol, the walk was good exercise.
Notre-Dame is widely known for it’s gargoyles and the film The Hunchback of Notre-Dame but it has a lot to it other than that. This church is a functioning church, so please abide by the signs that say ‘silence’ when you go in, there will either be people praying in there and/or a service happening. When i arrived the queue to get in went as far back as the road, but i didnt have anywhere else to go so thought i would join it and wait (and also, as a Brit, queuing is one of the things we do SOOO well lol). To my surprise i was in the church within 15 mins (the queue moves along very quickly), note: it is free to enter the church. Once in you are inside you are faced with a magnificently built church with wonderful stained glass windows and archways. There is a walkway around the inside edge of the church taking you past paintings, prayer points, statues of saints, sculptures etc. While there a service started so i got to hear the organ and choir playing…very beautiful.
If you want to go up to the lookout (said to be the best view in Paris) then turn right, after coming out of the church, and queue up beside the church (there is a cost to go up to the lookout) i didn’t go up today because it was raining heavily, but i plan to go up in a few days…i’ll post the pics then 🙂
After coming out of Notre-Dame i wandered around and found myself on Rue de Rivoli, heaps of shops (if that is your thing 🙂 )
Well, heading to a graveyeard now lol…will post later
If you are a shopper who loves top range gear then Galeries Lafayette is the department store you want to go to. This is where you can buy Gucci etc. when you enter you will notice two things 1) the number of security guards at the door and 2) The beautiful center of the store which has a doomed stained glass roof and decorative balconies (worth going to see this alone, even if you don’t want to buy anything there).
Another thing to note, while shopping, is the toilets (yep i am going to mention toilets lol) in The main centres you will need to pay to go in (approx 1€). This isn’t unusual in Europe and is also done in the UK (though i remember as a kid when it used to be just a penny, hence the phrase ‘spending a penny’…inflation has a lot to answer for lol).
When you go grocery shopping, don’t forget to take bags with you or you will be charged for bags (even for the thin plastic ones) at the check out. I have got into the habit of always carrying a bag in my small backpack.
Another interesting thing was the cars plugged into electricity as they were parked, not something I have seen in Australia 🙂
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I have been using Goggle Translate while here and i cant rave about it enough. Yes you will need wifi to use it but it is a really handy app. It allows you to type a word and it will translate, you can place you phone between yourself and someone and turn the app on and it will translate the conversation from both people, you can take a picture of the text (ie a food label) while out and it will translate the words in the scan/picture. This is definitely an app you need for travelling…love it!!!!
Walking up the steps to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur today made me realise I am getting fitter. I managed to get to the top without looking like someone who should be offered an oxygen mask lol (ok the other day I was recovering from a bad virus I had brought with me from the USA…well that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it 😉 )
Today the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur was a lot busier. I heard mainly French and other European accents. There were still guys trying to give you a tread bracelet and again I said ‘Non!’ But this time one of them grabbed my arm (fortunately for him I just pulled it sharply away, my self defence training would say grab his fingers and bend 😳). I read up about what these guys are doing. It seems it used to be kids that did this in the past, and once you took the bracelet they then demanded payment
Later I walked towards Pigalle to try to find a place that sold a large mug (a girl needs a large cup of tea in the morning). Once i got to Pigalle station the shops changed from places with the normal tourist souvenirs to sex shops. The area past Pigalle is the sex trade area and also where you find the Moulin Rouge. What surprised me, was that this change in shops didn’t happen gradually it just suddenly changed and yet there were still couples and families walking down the road past all this. As a friend said to me today…this is all part of the French culture.
Here’s some photos of the area around the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur:
Woke up and went to make my morning cup of tea (yes i am soooo British), but I had ran out of rice milk 😦 . So out i went to the shops only to learn that shops close on Sunday’s in France. It used to be like this in other countries but shop venders have managed to change things so that they can open on Sundays. Sunday originally was set aside as a day for God and so there were strict regulations on what could be sold on that day etc. As time has gone on, people have objected to it and shops have been allowed to open. I personally like the fact that shops are closed on Sunday.
I noticed yesterday (Sunday) that all the roads leading up to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur were blocked to traffic by police cars, and there was a significant police presence around. I don’t know if this was because of the shootings in Coppenhagen or whether they had received a warning. The streets were pretty empty of people, but today (Monday) the streets have many groups of Muslim men hanging around (Montmartre appears to be a high Muslim area). As a Christian chaplain that has evangelised Muslims i am tempted to go and talk with them, but as a western woman travelling alone I know that wouldn’t be a good idea at the moment. People are scared here in Paris, scared another event will happen here and they openly talk about it. I am being cautious but not letting it influence me too much.
Having explained earlier…I like walking 🙂 so this outing was going to be a long one. With water bottle in hand (Australia has had it’s impact on me, where we always travel with water lol) I started by getting the Metro from Anvers to Charles de Gaulle. As soon as you come out onto the street level you are faced with the Champs-Elysees running both directions and the Arc de Triamphe in front of you. To get to the Arc walk to the underpass and it will bring you up under the Arc where you can look around and also see the Arc in all it’s detail. This is definitely worth visiting. For a small charge you can also go into the Arc. I didn’t this time, but will later.
From the Arc, I looked around the skyline and spotted the Eiffel Tower, so figured I could walk there. I didn’t have the SIM in my phone working yet which meant i didn’t have a map app to help me, so I just followed my nose and headed in the direction of the tower. After going down a number of side roads I came out to a bridge crossing the Seine river, the Eiffel Tower was on the other side (I have to admit I was pretty pleased with myself at having found it lol). Now, full confession time here (and I will probably offend a few people as well as all of the French people throughout the world :-/) I didnt find the Tower as big as I thought it would be. I had kinda imagined it to be this huge towering structure, but in fact it is quite small. Yes it is beautifully made with some wonderful details on it, but it was about a third to half the side I thought it would be 😳 Is it worth visiting? Yes, so that you can tick it off your list but in all honesty it isnt something I would be dying to go back and see. After taking the typical photos of it, I headed off back towards the river and walked along the Seine towards the Louvre.
This was a really lovely walk, very peaceful but it does take some time. I crossed the Seine further down and walked through Tuileries. I can’t recommend this enough, very beautiful buildings and statues on each side and really worth the walk.
I got to the Louvre, which was busy even in winter, and had a look around the outside. The buildings are really worth seeing. I also found out that you can enter the Louvre free on the first Sunday of every month, definitely worth noting if you are on a budget like me 🙂 After arriving at the Musee du Louvre I headed north to get back to Anvers. This walk took me along a major shopping area and again past some beautiful buildings.
Finally after approx 4 hours of walking I had done a loop from Anvers to Charles de Gaulle down to Tour Eiffel, along the Seine to Musee du Louvre and back up to Anvers. Was it worth walking rather than using the Metro all the way? Absolutely!! I saw some wonderful places that I would have missed if I had just used the Metro (and it’s good for the body 😉 ). Now I have a list of places i want to re-visit.