Archives for posts with tag: Paris

My recent Christmas holiday included Paris as our real travel destination. Paris is a city that I am quite familiar with having lived and worked there some years ago. It is a big, bustling, but also coy city. You might question the description, coy, but the majority of Parisiens keep to themselves and lead their lives in the midst of the Napoleonic grandeur doing their own thing.

So you can imagine my shock when we arrived only a few days in the wake of the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo. When the incidents occurred, we were over at Disneyland Paris and you could see an immediate and overt increase in Police and security presence. So when we got to the city centre for our last night before returning home, there was an uneasy feeling pervading the fabric of the city. Like I said, most Parisiens do their own thing and lead their own lives most of the time. Quite often neighbours have only one thing in common, that they are neighbours. But Charlie Hebdo was on everyone’s lips, and when red beret soldiers in flak jackets are walking around flaunting their automatic rifles around the prime tourist destinations something was up.

But I was not going to let that stop me or my family from touring the beautiful city of light. We stayed at the Pullman, Eiffel Tower and I wanted to walk around the locale of my old office. The tower itself was only a block away, right on our doorstep. Capturing it never gets tired.

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The Seine itself was quiet, but that was not surprising given it was the middle of Winter. As always there were several canal boats unassumingly moored on its banks.

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I was shocked to find the big ‘Je Suis Charlie’ banner draped on the Palais de Tokyo. Normally these pillars hold the banners for the latest exhibition of modern art.

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At Place d’Iena, the location of my old office, both the French and European Union flags flew at half mast in solidarity.

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I was surprised to see electric car charging booths on quite a few streets. I am a keen fan of Elon Musk’s Tesla, but these little electric buggies were new to me as were their berths. Maybe Australian politicians could learn a thing or two from where France is going with clean and sustainable transport. (I still want the Tesla – Model S P85D please…)

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Did I mention there were Police everywhere? If you look to the end of the platform you can see several gendarmes – they were everywhere.

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When we emerged out of the metro at the L’Arc de Triomphe, the first sight we were greeted with was… three burly gendarmes making their presence felt on the Champs-Élysées.

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The L’Arc de Triomphe itself was bearing the projection of solidarity for the whole city.

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Paris remains a city in love with movies since the time when Lumiere gifted the world with his new performance medium. There are more cinemas in Paris than there are pubs in Dublin.

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We were making our way to a restaurant that I dined at regularly when I was working there. Though it has changed hands and has a new proprietor Oscar remains a great restaurant which is well patroned by the locals. I think most tourists in Paris are hoodwinked by the overpriced eating establishments when all it takes is to walk off the main streets to find fantastic food and wine at half the price without the BS. The team at Oscar made us feel welcome even when we were dragging two children and a wet pram into their restaurant – so I (and many others on tripadvisor) definitely recommend this place to dine.

Even with all the unease and tension, the city remains the city of light. And when my boy saw the Eiffel Tower light up and glitter for the first time, for a brief few moments the tension was pushed away.

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Hopefully the next time I visit it will be under a different set of circumstances.

Addendum: I wrote this post last night and overnight tragedy befell Copenhagen too. Two worlds are colliding right now; one secular, modern, and liberal (but not necessarily without religion or morals) against the other ultra-doctrinal, intolerant, and archaic. Neil Degrasse Tyson tells us that colliding worlds are not a good thing at all.

While I am not in Paris for St Valentine’s Day, I imagine that a few more locks will be added to the Passerelle Debilly today.

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Doorways. Very late to the show this week, and the first time in a long time that I have posted to the travel theme.

I love doors and the efforts that people go to as a decorated entrance to their [choose type of construction] house, castle, temple, church, apartment… And I have so many door photos in my travel stash – no wonder my wife wonders what I shoot at sometimes. Here is my go…

Starting in the Royal Palace of Bangkok, Thailand. Yes that is real gold!

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Still in Bangkok, but really a world away, is this beautiful entrance into one of the buildings at Jim Thompson’s house.

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A little further east, to the beautiful city of Kanazawa, Japan. This is modern Japanese architecture at its best, and I love the curtain pattern.

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Further east, to the heart of the country is the imposing doorways at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. This was the power base for the shogunate for centuries.

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Over in Europe, and I could have done this whole post on doorways in the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia. This was my favourite with intricate carvings.

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Across the pond by ferry, and this was the doorway entrance to our hotel in Helsinki, Finland on the same trip. The ceiling paintings are the highlight.

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In Paris, France, there is a treasure trove along every street of doors – modern, classical, and some antique. But this caught my eye in the 8e arrondissement. I love the metal work and the little critters all over the “branches”. Someone wealthy lives here!

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In the Mediterranean, the stunning island of Santorini, Greece has doors of all shades including pastels. Beautiful island…

 

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The historic university town of Cambridge, United Kingdom has some eclectic architecture. But these three simple entrances were what caught my eye.

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Finally the door with all the irony in the world. It was not the door so much at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, USA – but the stone carvings on either side. The symbols of communism at the very centre of heart of capitalism.

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Metal. There are so many metal objects that I photograph on my travels that this was difficult to trim down to a select group of 10. So my criteria was cool, unique and very metal.

My first photo is from my home country, but not my home city. This is the Opera House in Melbourne which always gets overlooked by the Sydney Opera House (and rightly so!). Its metal spire is fantastic and tall. I love its geometry.

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Going to North America, I remember my trip to visit my brother in Toronto where I took my son for a walk in his pram to the Distillery District where I found this rusting hulk of a truck. I love the character.

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Still in North America, but across the Southern border is the fabulous New York City where there is metal everywhere. This sculpture in front of the UN Building says a lot as to what the true purpose of the UN is. Maybe the Security Council should have this sculpture placed right in its centre. I love its message.

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Washington DC is the home of the Smithsonian Institute and in my humble opinion the best museum in the world is the Air and Space Museum. My jaw dropped when I entered the foyer and looked up. The Bell X-1, SpaceShipOne, and the magnificent North American X-15. I love its speed… anyone say Mach 6.7!

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In Asia, on one of my numerous trips to Singapore I spied my dream car parked out the front of my hotel. I wanted to take it for a spin, but the owner took the keys. The McLaren MP4-12C is a magnificent beast made of exotic metals (and some carbon fibre no doubt). I love McLaren orange.

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I have posted this photo from Tokyo, Japan before. I don’t know the name of the building other than the writing that is on the front of its metal cladding… the NOA building. I love its architecture.

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Over to Europe, and on a dinner night out with work colleagues I took this photo in Paris, France. I am not going to tell you where this is – you can try and guess. I love the lines.

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Over to the UK and in London, I took this photo of the gates out front of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. A place that was the equivalent of the Pentagon in its days. I love the detail.

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Up to the university town of Cambridge was this motley collection of student transport. There were definitely no carbon-fibre steeds in this bunch. Apparently at the end of every graduating class the town council has to go and cut a whole heap of dumped bikes from their moorings. I love two wheels.

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And finally the geek in me had to come out. Everybody knows that the real galactic hero of the Star Wars saga is this little chrome dome. This was taken in Sydney at the Powerhouse Museum when they had the travelling roadshow of the costumes and props from the movies. I love R2-D2!

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Rivers. Really late to the party this week. Work has been busy and a quiet Friday night in at home is allowing me to finally post.

I am going to start in the USA first with the river that defines the Big Apple – The Hudson River. They even land jumbo jets on it… This was taken from the top of the Empire State Building about 5 minutes after the viewing deck had opened, and we were blessed with a phenomenally clear day.

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One of the many work trips that I took was to Pittsburgh, and I had the fortune of going on a sunset dining cruise with my American work colleagues on the Monongahela River in the city of steel.

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Over in China, and we went to Shanghai for our honeymoon a few years back. It is a crazy, bustling city, which has created its own version of New York in Pudong on the banks of the great Yangtze River. The river is naturally brown with sediment, but that brown haze in the air is pollution.

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One of the other stops on our honeymoon trip was to the town of Porvoo in Finland, located on the Provoonjoki River. The red painted houses are famous for the honour that was paid to the visiting Swedish King over a century ago.

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Zurich in Switzerland was a city that I briefly visited. Located on the Limmat River, it is the home of Swiss banking, but not really all that interesting a city for tourists.

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Paris in France is so popular for tourism, particularly along the banks of the Seine River. But this photo is one that most tourists are unlikely to ever have the opportunity to shoot. It is taken from the top of the offices of the Mairie de Paris (Mayor). I had the opportunity to attend a work meeting on the top floor to which our meeting hosts ensured that we took photos from the unique balcony position. Too bad about the grey sky, but you can’t have everything.

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My last trip to the UK was also the first opportunity that I had to visit the venerable university town of Cambridge, located on the River Cam. The students gladly made some money by driving the gondolas for visitors.

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Finally back home in Australia and the iconic river of the city of Brisbane – the Brisbane River. This river flooded to catastrophic consequences a couple of years back. The boardwalk that I shot this photo from was ripped away from its position among all the other flotsam.

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Tennis fans would be familiar with the Yarra River in the city of Melbourne. It is the traditional bath for the winner of the Australian Open. There are cycling paths along the river for many kilometres and rowers ply their trade up and down on most mornings.

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Finally, one of the best things I have ever done as a traveler was to take an open door helicopter ride over Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. Running North to South is the East Alligator River, which is full of… crocodiles. This was one of the most fantastic experiences that I have ever had as a tourist and the camera didn’t stop shooting while we were flying.

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Silver. I didn’t realise how tough this week’s travel theme would be. I take a lot of photos of gold stuff, and colourful stuff, but you never see a lot of silver stuff. What I really wanted to find in my photo travel archive was a gleaming P-51D Mustang fighter plane, but alas donuts. But I did find some so here goes. As usual the images in this post link to my larger photos on Flickr.

Starting in Australia first, I really like this photo that I was lucky enough to capture in Caloundra, Queensland, Australia. The beachside “boardwalk” has lots of cool street furniture and these oversize silver taps add to the aquatic theme of the beach. The couple were not inserted, and I think make the photo.

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Off to Japan, and  the Fuji TV building in Odaiba, Tokyo is one of the many iconic buildings design by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzō Tange. This photo really doesn’t do the building justice with its silver sphere on the top floor walkway.

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Further South in Kyoto, Japan, is a temple called Ginkaku-ji – also known as the Silver Pavilion. This building was supposed to be covered in silver likes its sister building the Golden Pavilion, but they ran out of money (back in the 15th century). So it is not the building which is the highlight so much as the perfectly manicured grounds.

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Across to Europe and in Paris, France we have La Géode at Cité des sciences technology museum. It is a spectacular silver sphere which doubles up as high technology digital cinema showing cool Imax sort of stuff. The thing is 12 stories high! You can see from the sky that it was a perfect day to spend in a museum.

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If you ever go up to Northern England and one of my favourite cities Leeds (and home to the mighty Leeds United) is one of the best military museums in the world – The Royal Armouries. There are so many pristine suits of medieval armour on display, you almost get lost in there. I love this display of a knight in his silvery armour with battle mace in hand ready to do damage. I would love to go back to visit when they put on the jousting display in full kit.

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Finally, in New York City, arguably the most beautiful skyscraper is the Chrysler Building. It’s art deco finish is soooo beautiful. I particularly like the gargoyles.

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I have to post one more photo, I wouldn’t say no to one of these that I got close to at the Paris Auto Mondiale (motor show) back in 2004. The perfect mix of McLaren and Benz.

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