Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Moving on so soon!

I can't believe that these months have passed by so quickly, i have worked hard and saved hard and now the season has come to an end. My boss has sold the Loch Leven Hotel and i am leaving along with her, with my last day being at the beginning on October. Its has generally been a good experience, with at least some of my faith being restored in the British hotel industry. Thank You.


The last post i wrote was about arriving in Loch Leven, with internet being completely dodgy in this part of the world i gave up on trying to post on my blog and Facebook etc. But now i am planning a short stay at my parents (who have hardly seen me in the last year), where i can rest and catch up on my internet life, which has been pretty much neglected over the last 4 months, and post some of the couple of thousand pictures of the Scottish Highlands and lochs i have taken.

So my next adventure is going to take me to who knows where next, but i do know that i am leaving the shores of Loch Leven soon. Already i am already excited about my next adventure, i can't wait to see what happens next. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Arriving on the shores of Loch Leven

Travel, Scotland

It is a new start for me. I have now arrived in Scotland, where i am working for a hotel on Loch Leven. I plan to stay here for the summer, whilst i save some more money for my next adventure, whatever that shall be. I am really looking forward to getting to know this part of the world better. 

The hotel i am working at is crazy, crazy busy. Which is a good and bad thing. Its good that i will be able to  earn and save loads of money, but it is bad for traveling and blogging side of me. I am working split shifts, so i am going to be relying on my days off for getting around. I have gotten so lazy recently with my ridiculously easy job in Chamonix and then just 3 hours a day of study in Lyon. 

There is an old bike in an out house of the hotel, that i am hoping i can get fixed up, then i will be able to go on amazing bike rides along the lochs. Despite the hills this part of the world is perfect for cycling, because loads of the roads are reasonably flat and run along side the lochs and valleys. I am wondering if i can make it all the way to Fort William and back in a day. Its been awhile since i have done any cycling, so we'll see. 

Anyway here are some photos i took on my first day. 

Travel Scotland

Travel Scotland

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Future Plans - Scotland

Scotland, Skye

So the time has nearly come for me to pack away my French books and head somewhere new. Its been a fun two months in Lyon learning French, but city living has left my bank account nearly empty. 

I've applied for some 'live-in' hotel work and was lucky enough to land a job quite quickly. The job i landed first was in Scotland, close to Fort William. I love Scotland, especially the highlands, so i instantly accepted the job. I have only been to Fort William once, a couple of years ago, when i climbed Ben Nevis. I did not really get see much more than Ben Nevis and the town, so i am looking forward a summer of being able to explore more of Western Scotland.

The only downside to me working in Scotland is i am unlikely to see a good summer. I missed out on summer last year, because the jet stream lost its way over the British Isles, i then headed to a ski resort for the winter, and spring has still yet to appear over France (jet stream again). It was only after i accepted the job that i realised i won't see a proper summer again until at least 2014, when i intend to chase the sun to wherever it may be hiding.

I have purchased a book on Amazon, that should be waiting for me when i visit my English home on the way to my new job. I am hoping it will be able to teach me how to use my new camera and take better photos. I really can't think of anywhere better, to try to teach yourself photography than the Scottish Highlands. So from next week, this blog should get chocked full of photos of mountains and lochs, and i can't wait. 

Ben Nevis, Scotland, Scottish Highlands

Ben Nevis, Scotland, Scottish Highlands

Ben Nevis, Scotland, Scottish Highlands

Ben Nevis, Scotland, Scottish Highlands

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Louis IX - Lyon in the Rain

Rain, Weather and a Bright Spell in Lyon, France

Europe is stuck in rut weather wise, but when the sun comes it makes for some dramatic pictures. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grenoble, France

View from the Geologists Terrace, basilica, Grenoble

View from the Hill

Despite the wet weather during my visit, Grenoble is a beautiful city. Is is located in the foothills of the French Alps and is completely surrounded by mountains. I took the risk of taking a day trip here from Lyon at the weekend, knowing the forecast was not good. I could have been really unlucky and not have seen anything. Luckily for me the clouds were not too low and they gave the surrounding mountains an appreciable atmosphere. During my visit the city was hosting a samba band festival, so my whole day was accompanied by the sound of drums, which you could hear as far as the Basilica. This definitely lifted my spirits in the rain.

With only a few hours in Grenoble, i visited the Tourist Information about what best to see. The Tourist Information were really helpful here, unlike in other cities. They gave me a good map with two self guided walking tours on it, which i used as best i could after i prioritised the trip up to the Basilica on the cable car. 

The cable car ride with its unusual little baubles, was fun. Everybody gets a seat facing the window, so everybody gets a good view. The windows were quite scratched up and wet, so i was hard to take a photo from the inside without it showing up. But the views were stunning. Once up on the Basilica, there are several viewpoints. My favorite was the Geologist Terrace, being a former geologist i still get nostalgic at names like these. The Basilica is basically a ruin, with lots of touristy paraphernalia, but i was surprised to find that on a weekend in May, most of it was shut up. I had heard that there were three restaurants up there so i was hoping to get some lunch, but again they were shut. Looking at their menus they are really high end and there was no way i could afford their prices. The snack shop was also shut. 

So with everything shut up at the top i walked around to the caves, which are free to get into. They served as part of the defence of the Basilica and make for a good visit. I only paid for a single for the cable car, so i walked down the hill, which takes about 30 mins and is an easy path. I was starving by this point, so let just say is was a beautiful walk, but i wish i had eaten.

Back in town, i started scavenging for somewhere to eat. 5pm in France and nowhere serves food. Eventually i found a sandwich seller, who was willing to microwave a pizza for 3 Euro. Not the sit down meal i was hoping for, but enough to get me through a few more stops on that tourist map. Grenoble has a number of interesting building and squares, and possibly the most boring cathedral front in France. At first i could not quite believe that what was in front of me was marked on the map as the Cathedral Notre Dame. I could have walked passed (hang on, i did earlier). Inside it was a very plain, mosersrty style building, except much larger in size. Its light ary wall made it quite peaceful.

I really wish i had more time to explore, but this city has plenty to offer sightseers for a day or two. There is a really inviting covered market called Halles Sainte-Claire next to the tourist office, which was shut, but looked worth a visit. I love that kind of ironwork, maybe its my Shropshire heritage. Who knows.

Samba

Samba





View from the Geologists Terrace




France

Market Hall, France

Saturday, May 11, 2013

1 Day in Annecy and a New Camera

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River

Annecy has been on my wish list ever since i realised i was coming to France. However, i always seem to have had a reason to put of the visit. So after my camera was stolen last week, i rushed out to buy a new one. I already knew which camera i wanted to buy, as i have been looking at buying a new one for sometime. The only thing keeping me from buying it before, was my tight budget. I bought the Canon EOS 600d. I wanted this camera, for the possibly insane reason it has a flip screen and you can buy a remote control, which will make taking photos for my other blog that much easier. I also used to own an SLR, long before the days of digital and i have missed the control and quality that that camera gave me. On my budget this was the best camera that fitted the bill. Now i had a new camera, Annecy, Annecy, Annecy.  

Annecy is beautiful, and rammed with tourists. But this is one of those places that the tourists don't really put you off, infact i thought they added to the charm and gave the town a slight buzz. As soon as i arrived i headed to the famous canal with the row of colourful houses, i just wanted to get that typical Annecy photo done with first so i could concentrate on enjoying the rest of the town. This canal did not disappoint, its bluish waters running between rows of colourful houses and the palais d'isle in the middle was perfect. Though the water came out sludgy green in my photos, i assure you it was crystal clear.

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River

Annecy lies at the outlet of a large freshwater lake. The waters are so crystal clear and blue it is amazing, you can see through meters of water to the bottom of the lake in the harbour area. The lake is bordered in Annecy by a recreational park. Here you can hire, boats, kayaks  bikes and rollerblades, or like me just sun yourself and eat your baguette.

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountains

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain

I spent most of the day wandering the narrow streets of the old town, which are a jumble of colorful houses, shops and restaurant. If you wander to the north side of the old town, here the streets get wider and you find your more commercial shopping district, it's still very pretty though.

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain

The Chateau just above the old town, houses a museum dedicated to local history, arts and crafts and also a good helping of modern art. It cost me €5.20 to enter. I admittedly was a little disappointed at the displays, especial the modern art stuff, i just don't get it. Here are some of my more favourite ones.

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

If there is one thing i will take from away from annecy its seeing everybody eat ice creams. At one point i was struggling to see anybody who was not eating one. How is the possible, it like they were eating one and the going back for more, again and again. Then again the ques at the kiosks were 20-30 people deep (the people who were not eating them). The photo below is totally out of focus, but this is just the beginning of this queue it was almost twice this length! So i had to join in and get one for my self. Yum, chocolate, chestnut and cream.

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

and finally for my mum some pretty flowers. 

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Haute Savoie, Rhônes Alpes, Lake Annecy, Canal, River, Mountain, Musees d'Annacey

Useful links:
Tourist office: http://en.lac-annecy.com/
Towns website:  http://www.annecy.fr/

Friday, May 10, 2013

Surprise Day Out in Lyon

Palais de beaux-arts

With it being holiday season in France, and there being a 2 day holiday every week, most of my french class have left Lyon and aren't bothering with the few days a week when we have lessons. Today only 5 out of 18 turned up. So instead of lessons today we did a mini tour of Lyon, in French of course. 

I have been in Lyon 6 weeks now, and i don't know nearly as much about the place and history as i should. So this was a good opportunity for me to fill some of those knowledge gaps. 


For starters Place Bellecour. I have been here many times and in the center of the square is a statue of Louis XIV. I knew this statue well, or so i thought, until it was pointed out to me that there are two smaller statues at the base of the horse. These are of a man and woman lounging with lions. These stature symbolise the two rivers that run through Lyon. The man is facing the fast, strong flowing Rhone and the woman is facing the gentler, smaller Saône. Humm, how did i miss that one.

Louis XIV statue, Lyon, France

Further along on the tour we stopped outside the Palais de Commerce, to admire this wonderful statue. Again the theme of this works is a male and female representing the fast flowing Rhone and the gentle Saône, the female Saône flows into the male Rhone, just like the Saône flows into the Rhone. This is so far my favorite statue in Lyon, if you can have such a thing as a favorite statue. How come i never seen this before? I've walked passed it over and over again!

Lyon, France, Statue

Also outside the Palais de Commerce, is this red brick on the pavement. This is the site where in 1894 the President of France, Francois Marie Sadi Carnot, was assassinated by dagger. There is a plaque on the wall of the building, just above the brick.

France

More amazing churches. Every corner in Lyon there seems to be a church that should feature heavily in tourist literature, but does not, simply because there are so many of them. This is Saint Nizier, at first glance the front looks symmetrical, but as you look closer the two sides are very different. This church is also clearly unfinished, you can see where three statues were supposed to go (on the right) before they ran out of money.

France

I had passed these murals before, but i had not stopped to look closely. Actually i had only seen one side of them,and if i had bothered to walk around the corner, i would have seen the full extent of them. And no this cafe and bookshop are not real, they are all painted on. The bookshelves actually go up much higher than i could take on my camera.

FranceFrance

Well that was just some of the tour, we also did stops at Theater Celestins, Place des Terreaux among others. We finished the morning in the courtyard of Palais de Beaux-Arts, followed by hot chocolate with my classmates.  Nice day out, thanks to my french teacher (second from the right).

Alliance Francais, France, French, Language