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By this Author: chrisvasil

Montpellier - Transit strike and no Left Luggage

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Between Barcelona and Nice we slept in Montpellier, hoping to have an evening there and leave the following afternoon. However the train station had no left luggage, so we had to go straight to the hotel, which was said to be 10 min away by tram. It was actually triple that distance, then across a highway, and the transit system was on strike so trams stopped at 8pm, so we didn't go back out. Because of the distance to the hotel, we went straight to the train station the next morning rather than leave our bags (and our bags were too big to take with us). All this to say, we didn't see Montpellier in our day there.

Posted by chrisvasil 10:41 Archived in France Tagged train_travel Comments (0)


It turns out that the bullfighting is only on weekends, so we didn't have a chance to see that. Otherwise Barcelona was a charming city, with a few markets and great walking streets.

Piglets, pigeons, and goat heads for sale at the market

Some Gaudi architecture

Drawing of the happy couple, made over dinner because they had drawing paper to cover the table

Posted by chrisvasil 10:39 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Paris - Why can't anyone tell I can speak French???

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It was vaguely annoying that when I spoke to people in French in France they tended to answer me in English; it was only after about 5 days in the country that I broke down and started using a fake French accent. I was concerned that it was because I've lost my language, so I took comfort in overhearing other people from Quebec complaining about the same thing.

Fontaine St Michel, where an angel is triumphing over Lucifer (who is then banished and will eternally rule over hell, rather than heaven as he was plotting)

A bridge that is centuries old. When it was completed the king had a big party, had his sketch artist sketch the guests, and to immortalize them and the best party ever he had their images carved to adorn the bridge.

At the Louvre by day

That evening we went to the theatre, with cut-rate seats to see Moliere's L'Avare at La Comedie Francaise. It's a good play, but we could only see about half the stage and only half of us could understand the language. Here was our view.

Louvre by night

Arc de Triomphe

View from the Arc de Triomphe

We spent our last day at churches:


Posted by chrisvasil 10:34 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Brussels - Lovely city, good food

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Though I've mostly heard that Brussels is boring, we enjoyed it a

lot. That may be partly because we only spent a few hours there,

but it was excellent.

It has some of the fanciest manhole covers in all Europe

Paintings on building walls

A very nice town square, with a large variety of ornate old

buildings including the city hall

Moules frites were wonderful, we had that a couple times in fancy

restaurants (10 Euro incl beer) for both meals. The steak frites

wasn't as good.

Famous peeing boy fountain. He's usually solid black, but the

locals sometimes sew uniforms for him - today some sort of army


I think it was a celebration day for that sort of army, at night

they were there, and loudly fired their rifles in unison a few


Posted by chrisvasil 10:28 Archived in Belgium Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Amsterdam - Grimier than when I was last there

semi-overcast 21 °C
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Amsterdam wasn't quite as charming as I remembered (possibly having to do with us staying in the Red Light District this time around, as opposed to the fancy parts when I was there for an interview a couple years ago).

Property taxes were originally based on the width of the property, so a lot of the places are narrow. This also causes them to design the staircases to be very narrow, so that it is impossible to bring furniture in and out - so there are beams pointing out of the top floor, to which they attach pulleys so that they can bring furniture in through the windows.

Some of the houses were built slanted forward, so that the furniture wouldn't break windows on its way up. Only later did they realize the same effect could be had by making the beams longer.

Many of the houses are built on poor foundations, so slanty houses are quite common - so much so that there are firms that specialize in replacing floors so that the floors aren't slanty even though the houses are, and other firms that specialize in making windows that aren't quite square.

About one street of every ten is alongside a canal, and I very much like the way the streets are laid out as concentric circles.

Posted by chrisvasil 08:15 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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