October 31, 2007

Central Asia

So… Uzbekistan

It was an amazing trip. We bitched and complained while we were there about all the French (sorry!) tourists who were making our trip miserable, but after a couple of weeks, all that negative stuff has faded away and we’re left with all the positive stuff. The sheer beauty of all the monuments we visited, the images of children working in the cotton fields, the blue domes of the mosques against a piercing blue sky – every day. The Uzbek people were very kind, extremely generous and always smiling. They are not particularly poor, there are very few beggars, people have a little bit of land, they grow some food, they go to school, they work a little, it looks like a nice balance.

There are many reminders of their past, both the opulance and importance of the silk road trading period – Samarkand, Bukhara, battles with Ghengis Khan as well as from the more recent past, the period of Soviet occupation. In a surprising twist, there are some very nice things to say about the soviets in that period, they started the restoration of a lot of the mausoleums, the mosques and monuments which is a good thing, because had they not they would all be destroyed today. 1 point to the Soviets. On the other hand, some of their fashions remain and that truly is to the detriment of the Uzbeks, the gold teeth. In soviet times the women would have their teeth plated with gold to show their wealth, today amongst women of a certain age, it’s quite common to be dazzled by a beautiful smile containing a mouth full of gold. Gaudy, definitely off-putting, but the smile itself is generous and freely distributed – so I guess that brings the points back to 0 for the Soviets.

Foodwise, it was not so pretty. It started ok, there was mince meat in cabbage and a kind of watery stew thing. Then some shashliks which were good, if not too greasy, plov – rice with mince, and watermelon, lots and lots of watermelon. Then we had the same. And the same again. It wasn’t that it tasted bad, it just started to all smell the same. Lucky for me, I managed to lose some pounds while we were away….

And now for the photos. This is an advanced preview, I haven’t edited them, there not even all of them are there yet. Once we get back from Jordan (!) I’ll finish uploading, putting captions and editing the crap ones out. Enjoy the preview – bonnes vacances!

filles at 5:58 pm

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October 24, 2007

Moving houses…

It looks like our apartment is being sold. We have first right of refusal to buy, but sadly, because of us(!) we can’t afford it. One of the estate agents that passed today to set the price, ignorant to the fact that we would like to buy the apartment ourselves, told me solemnly that essentially, thanks to our good taste and how well we keep the apartment, he’ll be able to sell it quickly for a good (meaning high €) price.

“Great!” I said. And I’ve been cursing him, and us, and my need to always have fresh flowers around, ever since.

If we can’t buy the property, the next best thing would be that it’s an investor who buys the property, that way maybe they’ll agree to an extension of our lease. If not, we’ll be leaving Paris sooner than we expected. Now I know that will affect some of you people, so if you want us to stay long enough to get your chance to come kip on our floor, you better start praying for a positive outcome, either for us to win the lottery, or no-sale, or a kind investor who lives far far away and who is happy to have two perfect tenants until May 2011!

We’re counting on you.

filles at 3:16 pm

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October 22, 2007

Amiens

Thursday 4 October
We took a side trip to visit Picardy, Amiens and a day remembering the aussies who fought in the battle of the Somme during WW1. Amiens was a lovely city, we had enough time to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens which is Frances largest Gothic cathedral, able to hold two cathedrals the size of Notre Dame de Paris – and very beautiful. Amongst all the great art, the other treasure is the real, dead head of St Jean the Baptiste behind glass… or so the legend goes. We also took a traditional boat to explore the “Hortillonnages” (the floating gardens) which cover 300 hectares of small islands and are criss-crossed by 65km of canals and the quarter of Saint-Leu, described as the little Venice of the North, full of small colourful houses and cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces where we could enjoy the sunshine that was here (and not in Paris).

The following day we took a private tour of the aussie battlefields, and the numerous memorials and museums dedicated to the bravest of brave Australians who came from so far to fight for France and her allies. It was really moving. Very sad. But a wonderful day, I felt so proud of our nation, so proud of our contribution – I’m now quite ready to tell anybody who’ll listen that we won the war – it was us, a big contribution was because of us. If you’re interested in booking something similiar, Sylvestre from Terres de Memoire was brilliant.

From Amiens we headed north along the River Somme up to Boulogne sur Mer via Le Touquet where we stopped to watch the devastating defeat of the aussies in the quarter final of the rugby world cup. We were 3 Australians and a Quebecer in an English pub surrounded by jock english, shouting and hissing and singing that most annoying of songs, sweet chariot whatever… we walked out heads high, and crumpled into the car. What a disappointment…

Oh well, dinner in the michelin starred restaurant Le Matelote that night in Boulogne sur Mer revived our spirits, and then we watched the French send NZ on the same flight home as us Aussies. Not a bad end to a pretty bad day. Boulogne sur Mer was a nice port kind of town, we didn’t do it justice, just spending most of our waking time searching for somewhere to watch each and every one of the quarter finals, we’ll have to go back again at least to visit Nausicaa… Pictures are here.

filles at 2:44 pm

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October 16, 2007

Pics

I’m catching up on my photos. It must have been a tough year, I’ve just noticed I haven’t even posted our March hillwalking photos…. here they are – ULLAPOOL and some more… PRAIANO

filles at 7:35 pm

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October 15, 2007

Stade de France

We were there last night in all our Aussie finery…. Sth Africa versus Argentina. May the best team win next Saturday. Or as most Australians would say… Go Sth Africa!!!
Michelle at the game

filles at 7:07 pm

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October 12, 2007

allez les Bleues…

Just a quick note to tell you about a fantastic concert we went to last night at the Eglise St Eustache (Michelle’s church!!). Called the Odyssee Symphonique, directed by Sabine Aubert along with the Choeurs de Paris, directed by Christian Gouinguene – they performed Messa di Gloria – Puccini, Gloria – Poulenc and Ballade – Tchesnokov. We sat in the second row, had a perfect view of the orchestra and the soloists, the acoustics were amazing, and the evening was lovely. It’s been a great week, after our 5 days in Picardie last week, we’ve been playing the tourists again with my Aunt and Uncle who are here for the World Cup.

Tomorrow night it’s party night here at our house. Dinner then front row seats for France vs England… allez les Bleues!
…pictures still to come…

filles at 6:39 pm

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