Saturday, 20 October 2007

Paris and Brussells

I've been back home for a few days, so the holiday diary now seems a little superfluous. However, I hate to leave it incomplete.

After leaving Tourtoirac, Kate, Shannon and I hopped a train to Paris. Sarah and Greg were staying in the south for a few more days, before heading off to Spain and Italy.

We arrived in Paris in the late afternoon on Sunday, and would be leaving early on Tuesday morning. So we would have only one full day, and a checklist of things to do. This was to see the three cathedrals: Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur and Sainte-Chapelle, go shopping in Place des Vosges and go to a cemetery. Not really important which one, but we did want to see at least one dead celebrity.

(We ended up going to Montmartre cemetery, because this was the closest to our hotel. Celebrity spotting was limited to Alexandre Dumas and Hector Berlioz. Hmmm. Might try the one with Jim Morrison next time.)

We actually did manage to do all of these things, as well as fit in some overpriced coffee, a nice lunch and a nice dinner. The dinner would have been better if we hadn't been accosted by some obnoxious Aussie tourists who insisted on talking to us about the way Parisians treat their pets, but still.

The cathedrals were all appropriately spectacular, particularly the stained-glass windows in Sainte-Chapelle.

Tuesday morning we took the train north to Brussells, where we farewelled our travelling companion Shannon, who was off to explore Rotterdam and then Berlin.

Brussells was not really what we expected. Being the capital of Europe (apparently) and the home of the UN, I was expecting something like Canberra, or at least The Hague. What we saw was more like Footscray expanded out to an entire city.

This is not necessarily a problem, as I happen to like Footscray. It's just not what I was expecting.

We would be in Brussells for less than 24 hours. The aim (well, my aim) was to bask in all things Tintin as much as possible. Kate had heard about a street market near our hotel, so that seemed like a good place to start.

Once we found it, it turned out to be a combination of people selling very cool vintage furniture and objêts, and others flogging utter unmitigated junk. Seriously, some of the stalls looked like someone had upended their third-drawer-down on a blanket. Not much Tintin, sadly.

But nearby was a Tintin merchandise shop, where we could admire a €3,000 signed poster, cels from the 1980s TV show, and various sketches and whatnot from Studio Hergé. Inspired by this, and receiving directions from the store owner, I then headed out to the comic book museum. (Kate respectfully declined to join me.)

And it was simply fantastic. Comprehensive histories of Belgian and other international cartoonists (lots on Hergé, natch), their creations, and more detail than you might care to know about the development of comic styles over time. Budge, you would have loved it.

When I got back to the hotel, Kate and I went for a wander through the backstreets, as we tend to do. We found Katje's Kitchen, a great little restaurant run by an expat Dutch guy. Great food, great atmosphere. If you find yourself in Brussells, drop in.

Left the next morning for Copenhagen, which will be covered in the next exiting instalment.

And now some photos . . .

Drinks in Paris.

Paris red-light district, featuring the Moulin Rouge. The queue outside goes for blocks.

Saints outside Notre Dame. The fifth from the left looks like my father-in-law Russell. No, really.

Outside Sainte-Chapelle cathedral.

Stained-glass windows inside Sainte-Chapelle.

The view over Paris from the front steps of Sacré Coeur.

My personal shrine. Tintin mural at Brussells Midi train station.

Brussells streetscape.

Dinner at Katje's Kitchen.


Anonymous said...

Matt you write so well it almost feels like I was there or something... hold on... oh no I was. Sorry.

Bianca said...

Hmm now I feel the need to know how Parisians treat their pets. Latching on to the trivial details :)

Matt said...

No, good question. Not sure I have a good answer, though.
Something about dragging them around on leashes. I wasn't really paying attention, to be honest.