We travelled through Europe from July 2014

An exciting time for us with many memorable experiences over the 6 months we were there.

  Here are some photos to share with all of you

 

16 July - Departure Day!

First stop:  Shanghai  ~  China

More exciting than we could have anticipated

 

20 July  -  and we start trekking around Europe, visiting most of the place recommended in my trusty Guide Book.

First stop  -  Paris, where we studied the Arc De Triomphe, plopped in the middle of a roundabout full of non stop traffic. Building began in 1806, on the orders of Napoleon I to honour the victories of his Grande Armée.

Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Construction began in the 12th century, and culminated in that striking rose window of stained glass work

A walk around it revealed the elaborate finish to the flying buttresses

An evening cruise on the River Seine

Up close to the Eiffel Tower, an iron lattice work structure, 324 m tall and built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World's Fair.

and which we climbed . . .  for a great view out over Paris

21 July   ~   Bergerac, France

Located in one of France's wine and tobacco growing regions, on the Dordogne River.  The town contains two statues of Cyrano de Bergerac, subject of a famous play of the same name by Edmond Rostand, though the actual Cyrano never lived in Bergerac. An old stone statue stands on Place de la Myrpe, facing Place du Docteur Cayla. A newer statue is unusual in that it is painted in colour and stands on a stainless steel pedestal.

   

Close by is the Monbazillac Castle, with wine tasting as a bonus to rooms full of an  architectural blend of medieval defensive fortifications and Renaissance exuberance.  Full of excitement as this was the FIRST Castle we visited in Europe!

The reason we stayed at Bergerac:  The Tour De France bicycle race was arriving! The town got dressed up to welcome the Tour and its entourage in late July

 

23 July  Subterranean Church of St Jean at Aubeterre

Hewn from the limestone cliffs of Aubeterre in the 12th century this is the largest subterranean church in Europe with the nave being 20 m high. Hidden for centuries by a rock fall, and only rediscovered in the 1950s.

  

 

24 July  ~  A visit to the Lascaux II caves famous for Paleolithic paintings of large animals of the region, and estimated to be 17 300 years old. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage Lists in 1979.

Followed by a drive to the rock shelter at Abri, with high relief carvings dated at 17 000 years, identified as 12 horses, 3 bison, ibex and unidentified animals.

The Chateau de Commarque is a ruined castle  dating from the 1100s, located near Sarlat. Partially restored, many parts are accessible while preserving a sense of history through the ruins. More pictures here

 

25 July   ~  and the Tour De France Bicycle Race arrived in Bergerac!  We were way too close to the crash at the 2 km roundabout in that rain.  More pictures here

 

26 July  ~  and the Tour De France Time Trial departed from Bergerac.  More pictures here

It was all action when Leopold König (Netapp Team) exited the Start Ramp, with the Television camera man close on his heels, followed by his support car

 

27-28  July   ~    Sete, on the Mediterranean Coast

We arrived by train on the afternoon that the annual water jousting competition was being held.

In Water Jousting the adversaries carry a lance and are protected only by a shield.  They stand on a platform on the stern of a boat. The boat is propelled by oarsmen. The aim of the sport is to send the adversary into the water whilst maintaining one's own balance on the platform. As the two competing boats draw level with each other, each jouster uses a lance to push his opponent off the platform and into the water. Pictures here

A walk to the summit of Mont St Clair (175 m or 400 stone stairs) was rewarded with panoramic views of Sete.

           

 

The chapel of Notre Dame De La Salette, consecrated in 1864, is at the summit of Mont St Clair with skilfully painted frescos of biblical scenes.

 

29 July  ~  3 August   Finland   Pictures here

 

4 August   ~   an overnight stay in Tallinn,  Estonia

 

6 - 10 August   ~  World Dog Show was held in Helsinki  -  our reason for being in Finland at this time!

 

Poland   7  -  22 October  We spent as much time as we would  seeing and learning about Richard's country.  His family lives in different cities, giving us a chance to see so much more of Poland

Gdansk -   in 1980, the birthplace of the Solidarnosc Trade Union movement, ushering the end of Communist domination in Eastern Europe

 

Westerplatte  - a 1939 flashpoint of WWII  and now with a walking trail through history

 

1 November  -  All Saints Day  -  we visited Kutna Hora near Prague in the Czech Republic

The Sedlec Ossuaryis a small Catholic Chapel located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints. This small basement chapel is very creepy but wonderful. It is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have in many cases been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel. There are around 40,000 bones stacked in 4 huge pyramids, one in each corner, and decorated around the chapel is a huge chandelier and a coat of arms as well as the signature of the wood carver Frantisek Rint who was commissioned in 1870 to arrange the bones artistically.