We had allowed 2 days in Paris, to see parts of the city and culture, not enough, but a good chance to experience the atmosphere. What we had not allowed for was 2 days of rain and dark, overcast skies that made a lot of the sightseeing difficult. Before the weather turned wet and cold we made our first stop at the Arc de Triomphe, climbed all of the stairs to the top and gazed at the view.
Then it was the Eiffel Tower, and only I ventured up all 3 levels to the top. I stepped out onto the narrow walkway, turned the corner for the view, and was hit fill in the face by cold driving rain as the storm drifted across Paris. I retreated back around the corner, aimed the camera before the view was lost, and the camera was dead. It had chosen this moment for the batteries to die. I had spares, but the wind, rain and narrow space made the replacement operation impossible, thus ending all chance of photos. Just means we will have to return....
We did manage to see some of Paris, but we saw more of the people by sitting at a table on the footpath at one of the many small cafes near our hotel in Montmartre, drinking wine and eating cafe food.
Wednesday and time for an early start on the Metro and then the bus back to London. A pleasant trip through the countryside from Paris to Calais (its further than you first think) then its Customs and Immigration time again. First up were the French. Three burly officers boarded the bus clutching firearms and just stood and stared at us. After about 10 minutes they decided that everybody should get off, collect their bags from the bus luggage compartment and head into the building. We all did this, and most of us were waved through with barely a glance, but a few including an elderly American couple were taken aside. We re-boarded the bus and again waited. The elderly American women boarded and 10 minutes later was taken off again. We drove off into the British sector, to be told that the French had decided to hold the Americans for further questioning, and they would have to catch a ferry at a later time.
But Immigration had not finished with us. At the British sector we again had to disembark, and those of us not carrying EU passports had to fill in immigration cards. Then we were onto the train, through the tunnel and back in England, into the London traffic and eventually arrived at Victoria Coach Station. Retrieved our bags from Left Luggage and boarded the coach to Nottingham. arriving early evening at our Travel Inn Hotel again.
Thursday was family history day, starting with a visit to Brewhouse Yard, and then the afternoon at Nottingham Archives. The results of this research can be read in my "Froggatts of Brewhouse Yard" story.
Friday and the start of the last leg of our holiday - a week on a canal boat. We stocked up on groceries at the nearby Tesco's then headed for the Nottingham Canal Marina. A tour of the boat, a video on how to use the gas stove and other basic necessities and we were off at 3mph heading west through the Beeston Cut, past the Boots chemical plant. We moored for the night just below the first lock (Beeston Lock) and caught up on sleep.
For the next 5 days we travelled west as far as Burton on Trent, then back to Trent Lock and headed north up the Erewash Canal as far as Sandiacre, where my Grandfather had been born. We stopped for the view, the locks and the pubs. It was a wonderfully relaxing end to a long and hectic time travelling through the UK, and there are so many more miles of canal still to be visited.....
Our last day in England. Returned the canal boat to Nottingham Marina, called a taxi to take ourselves and luggage to the Broadmarsh Coach Station at Nottingham, then the coach to London. Arrived early afternoon so took the Underground to Tower Bridge and walked over the bridge on a uncharacteristically warm sunny afternoon, then took the Underground to Heathrow. As happens, the train was delayed arriving, we crowded on and part way through the journey were told that the train was so late it was to turn around before Heathrow. We boarded the following train and arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time, but we noted on the evening news that there had been a fire on the Underground and our train was the last of the night to reach Heathrow.
After waiting in the check-in line for 85 minutes we eventually gained boarding passes, but found all of the shops and food outlets (except Burger King) at Heathrow International Departures closed. No food, and no medicine for the headache and flu I was incubating. After a brief stop in Hong Kong we arrived back in NZ, tired but well pleased with our 40 days of travel.
Last updated: 16/06/2017