Friday 18 September 2015

Idiosycnratic Travel: Trains and Banana Splits

A: Toy Tourist Trains

1. Metz

2. Rhein Valley

3. Weimar - sort of  train ... but we didn't ride this one:

4. Prague

5. Wroclaw - golf buggy, not a train

6. Krakow - more golf buggies ...but we didn't ...

6. Warsaw - we didn't take this one either:

6. Riga: half tourist train, half extended golf buggy:

7. Tallinn - the 'ghost' train - seen in passing but never found or boarded:

8. Copenhagen - the train that ne marche pas!

9. Cologne

B: Banana Splits

1. Metz:

2. Oberwesel

3. Rudolstadt: (only the BS is Roger's)

4. Prague/Vysehrad

5. Telc

6. Copenhagen

7. Senlis

Sunday 13 September 2015

Stop 25: Thiers-sur-Thève, France

The drive from near Cologne to our trip's final stop-over was relatively smooth ... particularly in comparison with the traffic chaos of the previous journeys. For much of the trip - from Germany, through part of Belgium and then into France - the weather was overcast ... maybe even occasional bursts of sunshine. However, almost precisely as we crossed the border into France, the heavens opened and it bucketed down. This made driving on the motorways more of an 'adventure', but we made good time and arrived at the 'chateau' almost precisely on time.

'Le Loft' apartment is a modern space (lounge and kitchenette, bedroom through a glass door, bathroom etc; terrace and garden outside) attached to a large old building, itself within the ruins of a chateau originally from around 1150. Highly picturesque.

We were welcomed into the gated courtyard by the hosts, and settled into the apartment, heading out a little later to nearby Senlis for an Italian meal.

Our final full day in Europe opened with tumultuous rain. We'd thought we might go to Chantilly, but decided to postpone for a while and see how the weather developed. By late morning it had cleared enough to encourage us, so we headed off.

We (eventually) parked near the vast Château de Chantilly that houses the Condé Museum and wandered into the grounds and buildings.

The self-audio-guided tour took us through many of the upstairs rooms (the private rooms are only accessible on a guided tour), notable both for their usual opulence as well as for their collections of art work, books,

historical treasures (e.g. from Pompei), kitchen and dining settings etc.

Apparently much of this is just as the last resident and creator of the museum, the Duke of Aumale (son of King Louis-Philippe), left it - as specified in his will ... right down to the ways in which he had paintings hung.

We'd hoped that there would be a tiny tourist train to tour us around the large Château Park, but there was no evidence of this (just drive-yourself golf-buggies), so we had to be content with seeing the grounds from a distance.

But the other part of the Domaine that we did see, was the Grand Stables.

Apparently the Duke believed he would be reincarnated as a horse, and so built a lavish home for them ... and possibly for himself. Who knows if he was wrong or right?  Was he one of the horses we saw there?

It also houses an extensive Chantilly Horse Museum; we didn't think we'd be terribly interested, but it turned out to be just as fascinating as the rest, and very well done - film, displays of objects, various interpretations of the place of horses in history and culture.  As well as horse shows - dressage as well as spectacles...

Lunch in the Château's old kitchens ... Chantilly cream of course ... and we were alternately sweating in the sun, and diving for cover from rain storms. So back to Le Loft and more rain... and late afternoon sun...

Tomorrow we return our trusty Renault Scenic to the company at the airport, with almost 9000 km more on its dial than at the start - but otherwise in good order.  And farewell Jane for the last time (supposing that she wants to go home).