2019 April


Hmm well, they say that you have to experience it once … so I’m glad it’s finished. Cannot say that we enjoyed the Vegas experience, despite seeing two extraordinary performances. The whole atmosphere is … um, it’s hard to say in words … weird, tacky, fake, above … it’s just not my kind of place. Part of what makes it unattractive is the mass of people everywhere … I kind of understand why people like it, but I am not one of them !!

But we always come here for shows – the ‘O’ and ‘Cirque du Soleil Tournaments’ and both are fantastic! We were in the ‘Dragon’ section for T of K, so we had to cheer for baddie – the whole interactive experience, from eating medieval food with our hands (which surprisingly Eloise barely ate, despite the constant challenge to make him use cutlery with every other meal!), to the battle between the knights on their horses. Not to spoil the end, but predictably, good wins over evil and our people lose, but not before an epic battle involving horses, dragons, fire … and some open-mouthed children.

Tonight’s performance is very different in tempo and audience participation – visually spectacular and extraordinary – we just don’t know where to look, there’s so much going on. The players use the giant pool in the middle of the stage to spin, dive, over and over again, it’s really amazing to watch.

Read another post A Six Month Odyssey

Unfortunately, with the evening shows, we had to fill the days somehow so we ventured into the casino for a little look – Circus Circus was fun with arcade games and Eloise and Geoff liked the roller coasters in New York New York. Venice is just weird (but the gelato is as expensive as St Marks, but not as good), The Flamingo is a bit random, but we enjoyed the fountain show at Bellagio. I was less enticed by the $ 2 examination offer from a ‘self-taught gynecologist’ in the corner … unfortunately I had to pass it twice on a very successful shopping mission! At least I managed to inject some serious cash into the economy without a penny through pokie!…

Lille, France

Walking distance from Lille Europe station to Gare Midi is through a new architectural zone that fills the 19C / 20C building on the street with the station.

It was rather noisy at night at our hotel near the station, an establishment named, ironically, Hotel Calm.

Our first surprise attack took us along shopping streets to the Opera where we ordered tickets for a quartet that played early music the following night.

When night fell, there were a large number of armed police, motorcycle police, vans and armored hardware, men and women in riot gear by Beaux Arts Square, we retreated from there beer, dropped off at the bar near the station before leaving again to Assiette du Marché, a magnificent restaurant that was once a mint town in the past at La Rue de la Monnaie

Lunch at a nearby Italian canteen is fun with a self-serve system using a ‘bright plastic pager donut’ that you store until they buzz and light up to let you know that your meal is ready. Because we have a lot of warm salads processed in the pedestrian shopping street: eight in formation each with a machine gun sub …..

We found a Pylones store, an outlet that we are familiar with buying from in Angouleme. Bright colors, luxurious, unique and fun novel designs.

Further a walk around the old city reveals a series of old properties decorated in terracotta and mustard-colored paint painted directly on bricks and sandstone We had an afternoon break at Elizabeth Tea Shop. Earl Gray and Millionaire Shortcake asked local residents to queue at the door.

The to the Opera where the foyer of the upstairs show has just been renovated. Large crystal chandelier. Nymphs on the ceiling are turquoise and pink. The music is well played by the German quartet from Dresden. Cellist doesn’t have spikes. Played, I think, like contemporary instrumentation of violence for music.

We saw a bar opposite the Opera to eat, serve drinks, bistros, and sell lingerie / corsets … ‘le Moulin d ‘Orr’.

So we ended up having dinner at Le Meunier Resto Bar. The waitresses were friendly enough in the large bar which was quite empty. I enjoy chicken in gray onions with linguine.

The price was comparable to our food in the Charente countryside.


Half an hour drive from Lille to Brussels.

Four stops on the Red metro line to the Porte de Namur station, right next to the Chambord Hotel.

Walk down Rue de Numar. Coffee at TICH, cool kids vegetarian big orders at the shared counter. Opposite a similar café called JAT. Then to the Musical Instrument Museum. Horta Building ‘Old England’. Cast iron structure glued with roomy nuances. The dark rooms are full of the most extensive collections I have ever seen …. far better than Berlin, and more spacious and better presented than the Finnish Museum in Turku. Not too many African items, no mini piano etc. But the environment is amazing. The brass section is dominated by Sax family experiments with trumpet and reed instruments. Saxhorns include ‘trombone’ with seven bells and six valves. If I were sax with oboe like a double reed. Many tubal variants are as high as the player.

Also glass harmonica based on a hand cranked spindle mounted with a set of glass bowls set, and a piano-sized gurdy girdy with many rotating bows operated by a piano keyboard. Northumbrian Pipe.

Eat a Caesar salad with jumbo shrimp in a fabulous roof top restaurant with glass partout. Impressive views of the city, chimney pots and Mont Art. Finish visiting by looking at the keyboard and mechanical instruments.

Then go to Grand Square, Mannekin Pis and his female partner Jeanneke Pis.

A bear and wine at Cirio Bar descends from Grand Square. Sitting next to a club, each member brings a small dog. Waiters with thick or round necks, all male, in vests, white shirts and black trousers. Drink a bottle of conditioned Westhalle dubbel beer, made by the Trappist monks.

Then go home via Metro to rest, before going to the trendy, quiet Italian shop / restaurant, Ars Vinorum near the hotel. I have gnoccetta with lentils, saussice and salsa. Very good. More expensive than Lille.

The second day we walked to the Magritte Museum. Public entrances lead to a number of Beaux Arts museums. You then go down to the ground floor and move to the new building opposite the MIM.

Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and exhibit based on the timeline of Magritte’s life. What surprised me was that he painted in various styles throughout his life. Only late in Brussels, removed from surrealist colleagues that he began to use the sky, bowler hats, pipes, pigeons, apples and paradoxes of light during the day / night.

There is a pair of key pages of the exercise book in which he writes the basics of his work exploring the exchange of images, words, reality and representations of reality.

Another disclosure, for …

New Zealand Adventure 2020

Sort of. Most of the roads in downtown Auckland were destroyed which made walking or driving a challenge. Instead of taking a walk, I decided to enjoy High Tea. There are various kinds of tea, I chose Elderberry and Apple infusions, four-finger sandwiches; salmon, egg salad, ham & cheese and chicken curry puff. I don’t do curry. There are three mini scones with lumpy cream and various mini cakes. Everything is delicious. I decided to sleep a little before deciding to eat dinner.

Thirteen hours later, at five in the morning, the sleeping beauty that woke up refreshed and ready to leave. But I could not head to the port until around noon. So I headed to the business center to print my luggage label. For Apple users, Microsoft is a real challenge. After being denied access repeatedly, I was finally able to find the Hal website. Then that is the lesson in using a printer. What I found is that I can still think about it. Next is a buffet breakfast with everything I enjoy in the morning and more. Head to the rooftop pool and deck and enjoy watching all the male exercise beans and gaze across the city to the harbor.

A taxi costs $ 25nz and takes forty-five minutes. The pier is no more than four blocks from the hotel. Such is the construction in Auckland. I see more people with daily vests and hard hats than pedestrians.

Arriving at the dock I walked right on the boat. Never has smoother embarkation. Lower my baggage and go to Lido for a good salad and meet a couple who sailed with Mother. Mother is from Salt Lake and the rest is from Arkansas. From what they say, I don’t think they have ever been home. I think I travel a lot but not even close. Same with my dinner friends Rob, Sandy and Bill. This is one of the things I like about sailing, comparing ports, and sharing experiences.

Tomorrow will be our first port, Bay of Islands.…