Paris 2016: Musee d’Orsay

This piece will be mainly photos because how else can one express the visual feast we experienced on our second day of sight-seeing in Paris?

The L’Ouvre was first on our itinerary, but trying to find the Mona Lisa, which was on my sister’s list of ‘must sees’ took ages. Standing behind such a large crowd that actually seeing the famous painting was fairly impossible, Susanne agreed with my estimation of that painting and the museum in general; it’s not worth the fuss.

Musee d’Orsay, formerly a railway station in Paris

 

The best Salade Nicoise

We headed for the Musee d’Orsay instead, stopping for lunch in a real French (as opposed to tourist French) eatery where I had the best Salad Nicoise that I’ve tasted anywhere.

Rodin.

Once inside the museum we feasted our eyes. This foot photo is only a small part of the male figure but I am amazed by the detail that Rodin is able to portray in every part of his sculptures.

Cezanne

We took so many photos that only a few can be shown here.

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Paris 2016: L’Orangerie

Monet’s famous water lilies

A year ago today I was in Paris with my sister, Susanne, visiting L’Orangerie which is my favourite museum in that city.

When registering for the three day Paris Pass one must line up at the first museum you visit  and buy your pass there. As the queues at Musee d’Orsay and the L’Ouvre are generally very long I guessed, correctly, that we shouldn’t have to waste much time standing in line at this small gallery.

Monet’s Water Lilies – I want to step into the painting.

Having been to Musee Marmottan and Monet’s garden at Giverney on our previous visit to Paris, we had an idea of what to expect and I had visited this gallery many years before, but the spectacle is amazing, no matter how many times I see it. The oval room has a large painting on each of the four walls with benches in the middle, so that viewers can sit and admire the art (provided the space isn’t filled with other people standing in front of the scenes.) Not only are the paintings themselves stunning but the way they are arranged makes me feel that I could take one step and be in there, a nymph (excuse my imagination) rising out of the water. The closest I came was in a photo, in front of one of the paintings. People speak in hushed tones and, although most are busy taking photos, the atmosphere is respectful and visitors are considerate of their fellow admirers, moving to one side so that we can all capture the image we want. I took many more than I can show you here, but if you get a chance, if you’re in Paris and you want to see some Monet, especially the water lilies, make this museum your first stop.

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Dalmatian and Italian Cruise: Pompeii – missed it

Our final journey from the ship was supposed to be to Pompeii. On each bus tour on this cruise we were provided with poor quality local buses which had very little leg room – knees hitting the seat in front even for a short person like me, and bouncing over the rough roads which is agony for anyone with back pain. The concierge was not able to give me any satisfaction regarding the standard of transport, even when I asked for a private chauffeured car. It would cost about AU $500 for the two hour journey (and two hours return) but she couldn’t find out what sort of vehicle would be provided, ( I need one with good suspension) so in the end I gave up trying.

My sister made the journey and raved about the ruined city but she agreed that the bus journey was very uncomfortable. I have a small book on the history and her account of the wonders to be seen.

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Dalmatian and Italian Cruise: Naples

Our introduction to Naples – entrance from the harbour

Rundown buildings near the harbour

Naples makes me think of the Mafia, crime, corruption and poverty. Although we landed at the port, naturally, we didn’t in fact, see anything of the crime element and just a few areas of lower standard

Electrical connection in the pavement; safety is not a priority

living conditions.

Haphazard parking and tiny vehicles

We also noticed that parking didn’t seem to follow any rules, (similar to our photos from Rome) and that tiny cars are all the rage.

Once we joined the orgnised city tour, our guide showed us where the bus was parked, then took us on a fast walking tour to a couple of major sites. Unlike most group tours, we had no earpieces and his English was pour and fast, so all we could do was take photos, not knowing what we were actually photographing. I hope my descriptions, taken later from various google sites, are correct.

Castel dell’Ovo

The castle, a few metres from our bus, was the most interesting site for me. I remembered from Medieval History lessons that the Normans ruled Southern Italy around the same time as their leader, William the Conqueror, landed in England and made himself king there. The round turrets here reminded me of similar structures around England. Looking it up later, I found that yes, a Norman king built the first castle  here in the 12th century, on a site that had previously been  home to a magnificent Roman villa in the 1st cent BC. This place later became a Royal Chamber, State Treasury and twice it was used as a prison – first an empress then a queen. It’s the sort of place that I wished we could visit, but our guide was in a hurry.

Piazza del Plebiscito

The other interesting looking place (again unable to visit) was the Piazza del Plebiscito, which our guide said was something to do with the government. Vast expanse of paving in front of the building had me wondering what the space was used for.

Back on the bus, we were taken on a quick

Leisure craft fill plenty of bays around Naples

tour through the more elegant parts of the city and past several bays where the wealthy residents more their boats. As our bus wound up the hills (not Mt Etna, we didn’t go that far) we looked down on the city and out to sea.

Naples from the surrounding hills

 

 

Looking out to sea from Naples hillside

 

Returning to the ship I was able to capture an image of our vessel including our cabin, from the shore.

2nd from right, above the life buoys

 

 

 

Friends In My Garden: Oak and A Time For Tears

The following poems were written for  a man I once thought was the centre of my universe. It’s almost nineteen years since I shed those tears and I’ve found new, strong and lasting love. This post is for those of you who think that your life ends with the loss of one love. It changes and you change but it can get better. You just have to pick up the pieces (probably best to discard the not so good ones) and face life again. As usual, please pass one or both of these on to anyone you think might like to read it/them.

OAK

Rooted firmly in the ground

my oak

is tall and strong

protecting creatures

that snuggle into his trunk

and hide in his leaves.

Wide he spreads his branches

and so high

his canopy is sometimes in the clouds.

I sit in his shade

and lean on him.

His bigness can be overwhelming,

too long in his shadow

I shrink and fade

then I need to walk in the sun

content

secure

knowing he is there

in the centre of my garden.

 

A TIME FOR TEARS

Flowing like a waterfall

these tears I shed for you.

At night I wake to wrenching sobs

my pillow wet

my soul bereft;

I want to sleep forever.

 

Do you cry too?

Does guilt grip you with remorse

for leaving me

for what you too have lost?

 

Perhaps one day

my heart will mend

my tears no longer fall.

One day I might not

think of you with sadness

but after forty years

I know there’ll never come a time

when I can say

‘I don’t love you anymore.’

Dalmatian Cruise: Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor in Montenegro was to be our next destination but as we approached  at about 7.30am on Saturday May 14th,

Panorama approaching Kotor

the skies were almost black in one direction and the forecast was for rain. Our ship moored away from Kotor itself, so guests were to be taken across the bay in what looked

Ferrying from ship to shore

like semi-open ferry boats. I didn’t like the look of the weather or the means of transport.

Steep mountains behind a narrow strip of land

We took our usual lot of photos from the ship, noting the incredibly steep and rocky mountains immediately behind clusters of buildings close to the shore and decided to stay on board.

After a leisurely breakfast we tried to catch up on emails but, being just that short distance from land, and with those huge mountains blocking reception, the very expensive WIFI was useless. A time then, to work on our photos and do the laundry. It’s a pity I didn’t take a photo of the bathroom. There was a pull-out line across the bath, long enough for undies, socks and one pair of trousers. We then covered every towel rail and hung coat hangers from every possible hook, tap and anything else that would hold the weight of wet clothes. The poor fellow who cleaned the cabin had no chance that day. Drying clothes on the balcony was not allowed but even if it had been, it rained all day.

Old city walls zigzag up the steep mountain.

Later that day I took more photos during a break in the rain. We were intrigued by the structure that seemed to head to nowhere, part way up the mountain and only later discovered that it was part of the old city wall.

Seeing others returning later that afternoon, we were pleased with our decision to skip the city tour.

The next day was spent at sea. We’d booked a massage each and again, spent much of the day working on our photos.