Notre-Dame : windows and roof

{ Mar 2012 - Paris, France }

Notre-Dame : the facade

{ Mar 2012 - Paris, France }

Our Lady of Paris

{ Mar 2012 - Paris, France }

That's the translation for the name of this gothic cathedral, the famous Notre-Dame de Paris. The first time I came across this name and cathedral would be the Disney's animation The Hunchback of Notre Dame!

From one end of Île de la Cité, we walked by Sainte-Chappele (did not manage to get in) and La Conciergerie (where prisoners were kept during the French Revolution, including Marie Antoinette). We were met with this imposing symmetrical gothic facade. There were lots of people on the square in front admiring the facade. We were mesmerised by the front and was so excited, that we went straight in!

The inside of the cathedral was as beautiful as the outside - from the nave, the apse, the organ, the alter and the chandelier hanging down from the ceiling. And of course, we went up to the roof and towers to see some of the older bells and the gargoyles! They all looked different with different positions. It would definitely have been a better experience if it wasn't for the grills on the roof. I could definitely imagine, the hunchback bell-ringer Quasimodo, living here!

Place Dauphine in Île de la Cité

{ Mar 2012 - Paris, France }

A small little island right in the middle of Paris and surrounded by the river Seine - that's Île de la Cité. It is considered the epicentre of the city, and it is where the famous Notre Dame Cathedral is on.

Wanting to start our exploration of Paris on our first day, we started on the other side of the island. We reached it via Pont Neuf, where we were instantly met by the statue of Henry IV right in the middle of the bridge. Pont Neuf means "New Bridge" but it is now the oldest standing bridge in Paris. From here, we took some steps down to the River Seine, and had our first stroll along the river bank.

Just a few steps from there, we walked into an open triangular square. This small, quiet and charming Place Dauphine is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city if you ever needed to wind down. Just to think that across the river bank, are all the traffic and people in the metropolitan Paris.

We read that you may sometimes see lawyers on their lunch break playing boules! But no, we did not see that when we were there. Instead, we saw a group doing tai chi! Just goes to show how universal the world is! That is one thing I realised whenever I travel - the more places I travel to, the more I realised how similar we are all becoming. We also see Parisians walking their dogs, and enjoying the beautiful weather on the bench.

For a small square, Place Dauphine has many cafe and restaurants, and is a great place for lunch or dinner. We decided to have lunch by the park at the restaurant Le Caveau du Palais (17 Place Dauphine 75001 Paris). We asked for recommendations, and ordered duck confit and another roasted meat dish. It was probably my first "real" French duck confit, and even after a few more in the country, the one we had on our first day was pretty amazing.

We ended the lunch with espresso, to fight off the jet lag and to get ready for our walk on Île de la Cité which will bring us to Notre Dame Cathedral.

First day in Paris

{ Mar 2012 - Paris, France}

Before I started to plan the trip to Paris, I was never a Paris kind of girl. When I think of Paris, I thought of those classy Parisian ladies with their Chanel bags and stilettos. I am not one of those, and while France was in my list of country to visit, I never really yearned to go.

That is, until I started seeing photos of miniature Eiffel Tower, started watching French movies (love Audrey Tautou!) and read about living and travelling in France. That probably started in late 2010, started planning the trip to Paris (and around) in late 2011 and was there in spring 2012!

When I reached Paris, I probably caught the Paris syndrome. It caught me by surprised just how beautiful and mesmerising it was. I kept telling myself and my boyfriend then (now, husband), "We are in Paris!" While I expected it to be pretty, the real thing was more than I expected. There was just something about it, something that I can't really pinpoint even till now. The architecture? The people? The air? The light?

From the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, we walked along the River Seine, visited the famous Notre Dame and bought the book "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" from the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. Paris, with its grey roof, red chimney and iron balcony railings, managed to captivate me like no other city had ever done.

And all this was on my first jet-lagged day in Paris. I was excited to see what else the city has to offer!

Animals, rocks and sand in Kangaroo Island

{ Australia Feb/Mar 2009 - Day 7 & 8 - Kangaroo Island, South Australia }

The first day in Kangaroo Island was spent with a lighthouse, honey farm, fish and chips and small tiny penguins. The remaining two days had more lighthouses, limestones, rocks and sand with lots of animals thrown in between.

Woke up in the morning at the Emu Bay Holiday Homes and getting acquainted with the area we spent the night. Arrived very late the night before and the whole area was pitch black! And before we know it, we had to leave! Oh well, that's the thing about road trip around a big island - you can't really stay put in the same place. We drove to a nearby town to a simple brunch and coffee.

First stop for the day is to the most charming little square-shaped lighthouse, Cape Borda. We went there just in time to see the historic cannon being fired - specially for just the two of us! Yes, it was pretty empty when we got there. There were the old lighthouse keepers cottages and a small museum. The lighthouse was in a cliff, and in the days when the lighthouse keepers were staying there, supplies will reach by boat and hauled up using a steel railway at Harvey's Return. They stayed there in a small little community, without much contact with others. It must be quite a tough job for the lighthouse keepers, and their families. Down the road was a small Lighthouse Keeper's Cemetery. The next lighthouse we saw, Cape du Couedic, was a more typical lighthouse - a long thin cylindrical shaped lighthouse!

We then made our way to Admiral's Arch with hollowed-out limestone and lots of seals! The area is home to a colony of some 4,000 New Zealand fur seals that play in the rock pools and rest on the rocks. It was my first encounter with seals, although they were pretty far away! With the strong wind, bright sun and beautiful scenery, it was turning out to be the kind of trip I was hoping for in Kangaroo Island!

Next in our list is a place called Remarkable Rocks at Kirkpatrick Point. With a name like that, we expected some interesting looking rocks, but still, the real thing blew my mind. It turned out to be a collection of gigantic rocks of weird shapes balancing on top of massive granite dome. After years of strong wind, the boulders are now of various shapes and sizes!

Being in Kangaroo Island, we decided to stay in a "hotel" with a difference. The Western KI Caravan Park and Wildlife Reserve. It has small little huts that are rented out if you do not have a caravan. We spent some time exploring the Flinders Chase National Park, seeing lots of animals unique to Australia - wallabies and koala!


The next morning, we went to the Kelly Hill Cave, a limestone cave and Little Sahara, a white sand dune. It was our first encounter in a sand dune, and the sheer volume of the sand was intimidating. I started imagining strong wind blowing the sand and covering me up! Suffice to say, that we did not spend a lot of time there, although the experience is still vivid to me!

The next and lost stop is a must-go if you happen to be in Kangaroo Island, the Seal Bay Conservation Park - home to the Australian sea lions. We managed to be up close to them, sharing a beach and just watched them sun tanning, playing with the birds, and making noisy sound. It was quite funny watching them move about!

Spending three days in Kangaroo Island was just the right amount of time to drive around the island at a slow pace, enjoying a relaxing break from the city and experience the beautiful weather, scenery and amazing landscape. We returned our rented car, took the ferry back to Cape Jervis and then bus back to Adelaide.

This is part of the travelogues of Australia 2009 trip.

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