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European Escapades 8 weeks in Europe, get set for adventure...

2008/01 Sydney to France...

FRANCE | Thursday, 27 January 2011 | Views [518]

St Malo

St Malo

Monday 28/07
Departure day! Set out from home at 4.45am, on the train to Sydney's Kingsford Smith International airport arriving to check in, then headed straight for coffee! Flying Korean Airlines, we had been tipped to expect delays, so were not surprised when our 8am flight didn't leave the gate until 8.15am. On board, served breakfast, omelette with corn and sausage after which I promptly fell asleep (must get that from my Mum...)
I had stayed up most of the night packing, and then downsizing & repacking, while watching the final stage of the Tour de France (Go Cadel!) Subsequently had no trouble whatsoever snoozing on the plane.
When it came around to lunch, Vicki & I decided to be a little adventurous and try the Korean meal option. Called a Bimbibap, we must have looked a little puzzled at the series of little bowls on the tray in front of us and the stewardess handed us an instruction card on how to prepare it! the main bowl had a series of things including minced meat, cucumber, mushrooms & spices, to which you added the steamed rice, drizzled over the oil and added chilli paste to one's own taste then combine. Accompanied by a seaweed soup (quite salty) and a side salad of gherkins/pickles tossed in more chilli.
The plane didn't have personal TV screens, so that made it quite easy to drift back off to sleep. We arrived in Korea at Incheon International airport at 1730 local time, cleared customs and made our way to the shuttle bus to our stopover hotel.
We explored the village, taking in the sights including bonsai trees, neon, neon, and more neon! One of the streets was a plaza, and had several restaurants which specialised in teppanyaki BBQ at the table. It was so humid and hot for us after leaving the wintery 14 degrees C in Sydney. We grabbed a cool drink and then settled on Baskin Robbins ice cream for dinner!

Tuesday 29/07
Our shuttle arrived and delivered us to the airport, quite relieved to offload the luggage again, all 17kg of it (could have done better on the downsizing). We then tracked down Gloria Jeans and opted for an ice coffee. Yet another delay, we sat in the plane on the tarmac for 45mins after boarding and eventually departed by 1400. This was a larger plane and came equipped with personal inflight entertainment, which after a good nights sleep, we made good use of on this leg of the journey!
Arriving in Frankfurt 'flugenhafen' a very large airport, by 1730 local time. After greeting the friendly customs officers, & collecting the luggage & some Euro's, we headed to the monorail line to make our way to the main airport terminal & S-bahn line into the Central Hauptbahnhof. We booked an overnight train to Paris, dropped the luggage in a locker then headed out to stretch our legs and take in some of sights of Frankfurt.
As it was quite warm, 28/30 degrees we found many people enjoying a beer beside the river, kayaking, having a picnic or rollerblading along the boardwalk. We walked along the river, over the bridge & through a couple of colourful squares and past Norman Foster's Commerzbank Tower, and made our way back to the station. Our first train journey took us Deutschbahn to Karlsruhe where we changed to the City Night Line service to take us on to Paris.

Wednesday 30/07

Imagine waking to the French countryside rolling by the window as the sun rises. Awesome. We arrived in Paris by 7am. Freshened up, stowed the luggage then headed out to explore. This was to be Vicki's 'whistle stop' tour of Paris. As I had been to Paris in 2005, I had a shortlist of sights to see and favourites to revisit, so we set off to the Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart) Church atop the hill in Montmarte. Fantastic views over Paris, and hardly anyone around as we were out so early. From there rode the metro in to Isle de la Cite and popped in to Notre Dame cathedral follwed by an ice tea and my favourite pastry Pan aux raisin, magnifique!

From here we wandered along the Seine through the Jardin de Tuilleries. We attempted to find a metro station, but in the end decided to leg it across the Champs Elysee, the signals were out so we had to make a run for it! We headed to Rive Gauche and the metro to Tour Eiffel. Masses of people all around the base of the tower and surrounds, including the second longest queue I'd ever seen. Spotted three French soldiers patrolling the area, to keep an eye on the crowds. After Vicki took a few pictures for the album, we headed back and began to wonder if we would in fact make our train in time?

Our gear was at Gare le'Est and we had to pick up then transfer to Gare Montparnasse for our train to Tours. Despite queues, we managed to make the second train, however it meant we would now be 15 minutes late for our wine tour that departed at 3pm!

We arrived & dashed straight over to the tourist office and they managed to call in a favour and got a driver to pick us up and drop us out to the first vineyard to meet our tour bus! After thinking we would have to forfeit our tour, we couldn't believe our luck, yippee! we arrived just in time for the main event, the wine tasting!

Tried dry whites, a couple of reds & sparkling wine. Quite refreshing after our days journey. Then on to the second vineyard, a small boutique winery that specialised in organic production. Also very good! The third and final winery was the largest. The cellar is dug out of the limestone foothills and quite cool inside. We walked in and around and it seemed to go on for ever, the vigneron told us they had approx. 350,000 bottles in the cellar! Amazing!

Found our hostel, then out to dinner in the old town. Found a quaint little creperie and ordered a cheese crepe with side salad. Wandered back along the river and back to the hostel for a well earned rest.

Thursday 31/07

Breakfast, coffee, juice, baguette, then off to St Malo on the train. St Malo is just beautiful, our hostel was one block back from the beach. The boardwalk runs along the beach and into the old town within the city walls. All along the waters edge are many timber poles in the water, we discovered these are what the 'moules' (mussels) grow on. Walked up the stairs onto the top of the city wall and found great vistas all around, a beautiful light at 9pm in the evening. We couldn't help but stop at a divine little cafe called Timothy's. Our attention was gained by the enormous cakes in the window, almost 300mm tall. We had la tartine, baguette topped with tomato paste & three cheeses melted under the grill. A carafe of rose from Vouvray, where we had been the day before in the vineyards, topped it off. Soon enough we were seeing these larger than life deserts coming out to nearby tables- looked fantastic! So in a "I'll have what she's having moment" I pointed to the nearby lady's Peach Melba and ordered one for myself. In an oversize parfait glass, arrived three sorbets, cream, fresh berries, mint and peach slices... so delicious! We plodded our way back to the hostel, what a great evening, I'll definitely find my way back to St Malo again...

Tags: beach, french cuisine, train journeys, vineyards, wine tasting


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