Goettingen

It’s been a while since i wrote and I have a lot to tell you about 🙂

I have stayed mainly in Goettingen but taken some time out to visit The Netherlands (more on that in the next post). At the moment i am heading to Rothenberg ob der Taura.  But before i jump to that, let me tell you a bit more about Goettingen.
Goettingen was one of the towns that was protected from bombing in World War 2 (there was an arrangement between Germany and UK to not bomb each others university towns). So, because of this, Goettingen still has many of it’s old buildings.  If you go into the town centre you will see a lot of these old buildings dating from 14th century.  Most have dates on so that you know when they were built…handy if you don’t know your architecture.  The other thing to note is that a lot of streets and buildings have names on them of famous scientists.  Now, that shouldn’t be a surprise because Goettingen is the town for science.  Over 40 Nobel Prize winners have come from here.
       


In the town, next to the Town hall there is a statue of a young girl herding geese.  This has become a well known statue because of the many PhD students who kiss her after getting their PhD (and nope don’t think about the multiple germs possibly on her lol).
 


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Germany: Gottingen

I arrived in Gottingen, Germany by IC train (from Paris) 2 weeks ago.  On the first leg of the route I was served a full meal and given free drinks which was great.  The second leg of the trip I was served a tiny (or rather miniscule) bag of sweets and the tea/coffee was not complimentary.  Quite a contrast between the two legs.  The trains were on time and the connections on route were easy to follow.  I found that the staff on both trains spoke English and were very helpful.  

Some things I have observed about Germany so far: 

1) The Germans are very friendly, though not many smile at you when you smile at them…my son explained that it was a cultural thing.  

2) The Germans LOVE cakes etc and they are very cheap to buy, in fact food is a lot cheaper here than in France.  

3) They use bikes here like the Dutch, sooooo many bikes around. Saying that, while walking you need to make sure you are walking on the correct side of the path (one side is for bikes, the other for pedestrians), otherwise you will get ran over. 

4) Using buses is easy, and they run very frequently and on time.

5) You can’t buy large packets of ANYTHING 😳. Everything is sold in small packets, makes buying ingredients for baking frustrating, but hilarious to try to work out what is what ingredient in the shops ie baking powder lol.  I must look very strange to the Germans, I walk around with my phone held up to items to use Google Translate to read what the labels say lol.

6) During the war, Germany and the UK agreed not to bomb university cities, that has meant that Gottingen still has lots of buildings from the 1500’s etc.  

7) The Germans love to practice their English.  Often I ask if they speak English and they say ‘ohhh only a little’, and then promptly hold a conversation with me in perfect English…wow I wish I knew German ‘only a little’.

All in all Germany has been a big surprise for me. It is a beautiful place with very warm and welcoming people in it.

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur and the bracelet guys

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).







The Louvre

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 and the Trip Advisor self tour

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 🙂

Moulin Rouge, Montmartre graveyard, Montmartre vineyard

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):

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but instead this is the scene:

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IMG_7767Ok, 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 😳).

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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

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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.

IMG_7772 from there I walked back up to the Basilique and then back down towards my studio. Again, as like last Sunday, there was a large number of police and army around the base of the Basilique.

Walking around Paris part 1

Having spent a number of hours sitting on a plane (sitting still for a while isnt something i find easy lol) i chose to spend the last couple of days walking.

The studio i am in (in Montmartre) is right behind the Basilique de Sacre-Coeur. A catholic church on top of a hill. Now, for those of you that don’t like steps…you may want to drive to the top. Otherwise you will be walking up a fair number of steps to get to the church and see the view. The view is fantastic, right across Paris. I’d recommend you do it on a clear day so that your view isn’t blocked by smog etc. you can just see the Eiffel tower (and i mean ‘just’ ie only the top of it is visible above a house).

If you walk around to the left of the church and take the lane on the left, you will end up in Montmartre’s artist square. A square which is full of artists ready to draw a portrait of you (a variety of styles are available from a sketch of you, to a cartoon). This square is surrounded by coffee shops, so if you decide against immortalising yourself in a picture, you can watch others doing it 😉 There are also many lanes and alleyways to wander down, so if you aren’t good at getting your bearings (like me) make sure you have your phone with you so that you can use your map app to find your way home. I didn’t have a French SIM yet, so kept a note of which buildings i had to turn at to find my way back to the studio.

Yesterday i bought a Lebara Sim, bought it for 9€ (which gave me 7€ credit) and added 10€ to it so that i could upgrade to the 3G data package. This will give me plenty of data to use maps, internet etc. i also use an app called Line (free phone calls anywhere in the world and free txt). This is a great way to keep in contact with family and loved ones.

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