Colmar & Countryside

Today we went to Colmar. The initial plan was to go to the Eco Musee, but unfortunately it was closed. The famous Alsacienne storks were everywhere to be seen on its rooftops.

 

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Eco-Musee Alsace

From there were went to Colmar, mainly to see the statue of liberty replica

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From there, we took a slow drive back through past Masevaux and on to Bourbache-le-Haut

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The baby pine trees

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We stopped at the top of the road down to Bourbach-le-Haut, and took a short walk to view one of the war monuments.

 

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“To Our Dead”


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The view over the valley was breath-taking, even though we only appreciated it for a couple of minutes, due to the icy wind.

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Below us us lies the sleepy Bourbach-le-Haut, a town of some 300 people.

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This is the road we took a good 6 times while staying here. The Tour de France travels along this route.

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Bourbach-le-Haut nestled below

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The Castle & The Christmas Shop

 

The next day of our adventure was to the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle and the Christmas Shop

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The Haut-Koenigsbourg castle located above the village of Orschwiller

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The town is another tiny village, nestled in-between endless winelands

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We wound our way through the town, up to the Castle

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The Castle was built by Frédéric le Borgne, duke of Souabe and a member of the Hohenstaufens familyview more history

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It is cold and eerie inside the castle, you feel like you are back in the  12th Century, when the Castle was built.

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Throughout, small period windows allow you this astounding, breathtaking glimpse of what the duke saw on a daily basis

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After the Castle, we went down into Orshwiller for lunch, and ended up at The Hupsa Fannala

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It was a quaint place, the food slightly higher priced, but most delicious

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And from there, on to Riquewihr, in search of the Christmas Shop

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This was my favourite town of the trip

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The main street is only pedestrian (and delivery vehicle) access, the cobbled wonderland becomes from the start

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For those who prefer not to walk, the little tourist train will show and tell you around the fairy tale town

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Here, I found something I have never had before (and would not normally eat, should I not have been on holiday)

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Banana Sorbet !

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Made with real bananas, it was absolutely delicious, so much so that I hunted for it in every other place we went to, but did not find it

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We wandered through the village, taking in this surreal, movie-set like village

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The smell of mouth-watering treats, sweet & savoury capture every  sense

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Tourist and locals alike congregate in the the gorgeous winstubs (or wine rooms)

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Just one of of the boulangeries (bread-ery) / patissteries (bakery), its windows lined with multi-coloured macaroons

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Ha, and finally, the famous Christmas Shop

The Feerie de Noel is the main reason why this town holds the best memories for me.

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 The store is set up like many of the stores here, almost like a ride, one way in / out. And, as soon as you enter, it feels like you have climbed aboard the Polar Express

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As you venture further into the wonderland, you feel as if you have just woken up in the  Santa’s Factory, it really gives you that warm-and-fuzzy feeling.

No cameras inside – check it out here.













Exhilaration – The Eiffel Tower

After enjoying Opulence in the morning with mother, sister and I decided on a journey of exhilaration for the afternoon.

The industriously set of on foot for the Eiffel Tower, 6.3 kms away.

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This was just as we got the Seine, and yes, that is Starbucks in my hand

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We crossed over the Seine

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And found a small house boat of my namesake

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We just had to take a picture in from of the Bridge of  Love Locks

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When leaving the bridge, a most well positioned (what we call) rickshaw happened upon us

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We were more than happy to pay the €30, considering we had another 4.7 kms to walk (never mind the stairs up the Eiffel Tower) Our rickshaw driver even gave us a tour, he was from  Ukraine or Romania, most pleasant chap.

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And we made it. We queued for about 40 minutes in the line for the stairs to the first level. The queues for the elevator was astonishingly long.

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A few quick shots from the first level

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Then onward and upward  to second level  (click to take a 360 tour) via the stairs again

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We queued for about 50 minutes, the icy wind blowing fiercely.

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More second level

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Looking up to where the queue would take us. All those triangle things are lights that light up every evening at 10:00 pm when the Eiffel Tower closes.

There is quite a story behind these lights, find out here

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The Seine River stretching far in the distance

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The queue is rather tiresome, so they have these neat telescopes to amuse weary travelers

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Almost at the front of the queue…

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And finally, the top floor

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It is entirely faced in, so many a tourist stuck their lenses through, snapping away at the Notre Dame Cathedral (above)

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And at the  above Arc de Triomphe (undergoing maintenance)

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And above is the very very top of the exhilarating Eiffel Tower, which only staff can access

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Les Invalides, Musée de l’Armée

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When we alighted the Eiffel Tower, we were rather spent. Thank you Lord there was a rickshaw literally right in front of us that look us as far as the Louvre Museum, leaving us about another 3 kms to walk back

Opulence – The Palace of Versaille

From April 29th to May 12 myself, mother and two sisters traveled to France.

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This is the first of my posts, Opulence, fitting, as on the morning of this day, 3o April 2014, we journeyed to see the (in)famous Chateau de Versaille

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Fortunately, we went with a tour, so we were able to skip the dreaded queues, which were horrendous, even out of season.

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Versaille was home to Louis XIV, also know as the Sun King.

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This is because he was so self centered. He even had all the rooms in the palace built centrally around his own room

The short little beds of the French are most odd. I heard, which I cannot verify, that back in the old days, the French were so fat, that sleeping lying down posed a danger to their health.

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They therefore used to sleep sitting up, or as upright as possible, shortening the beds so they could not be completely horizontal.

Like I said, I cannot substantiate this, nor find another viable explanation

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When the castle was built for Louis, the required fountains were not The Gardens are incredible and by far the most worthwhile of all the viewing.

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The gardens stretched for miles, and I would have walked or ran them all if not for our shuttle back to our Parisienne apartment

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What fascinates me is that men and women, dressed in appropriate 17h century garb, walked the same halls  wherein I moved and breathed

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I found the inside of the palace almost stiflingly opulent.

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Honestly, I could not wait to burst free into the gardens.

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The decadence is shown in magnificent paintings on the ceiling, causing many a tourist collision.

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Once outside, I could breath easy again

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God made beauty, outshines man’s feeble attempt to harness and manipulate it.

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The town of Versaille is one of the more well to do areas of Paris, about 30 minutes (depending on traffic) from the Champs-Elysee 

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When the fountains of Versaille were first built, to run them constantly was impractical due to the sheer volume required, and impossible with the limited engineering knowledge.

So, the estate merely hired enough staff to turn on each fountain as King Louis passed by until they figured out a more viable solution.

**Look Out for the next French Adventure**

*For detailed history of the Palace of Versaille, please visit their homepage

*Unfortunate many of the fountains were under construction at the time. April/May seems to be the time of year for construction in France, as we encountered at least 5 significant places with unsightly scaffolding enshrouding the fabulous architecture.

 

George The Chicken

For the last year and a bit, George the chicken has been living on this corner.

I have passed him on a bi-daily basis since he arrived there, and affectionately call him George.

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The corner of Umhlanga Rocks Drive and Westridge Road is where he makes his home, the kind man in that corner residence feeds him.

Around Christmas 2013, George vanished from his traffic light.

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After a few weeks, the story came out.

The kindly man of the corner house, had taken George and relocated him to a residential complex, where he is well looked after.

It was sad, but better for George.

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Then, yesterday, I spotted him. He has obviously broken free of the secure complex, and made him way back to the traffic light.

Typhoon-like storm in Durban, South Africa

Taken from the Caltex KZN South Branded Marketer – All Fuels headquarters in Umhlanga Ridge, Durban this afternoon.

The whole day, there has been a strange pressure in the atmosphere, something was brewing.

And, thank you windguru for the early warning system

My colleague drew my attention to the approaching storm at 14:10.

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The rain hasnt hit us yet, it is the light cloud that brings the cleansing rain down in sheets

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The power of the storm dwarfs the giant companies in the new town centre

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We flocked to the windows, and watched in awe as the storm moved towards our office block at an alarming rate.

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Local radio station, Gagasi Fm seems small in the magnitude of the onslaught

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Notice, the hill in the distance has disappeared

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The white cloud is upon us, and the rain begins

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The rain is upon us

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The rain beats down, a true celestial orchestra

Just reminds me of how small we are

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The rain continues to pout for around 50 minutes

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And by 15:00, its all over

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This taken at 15:55, all is quiet again

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About a 20 minutes drive from here, In Stamfordhill Road in Durban, the after effects are severe.

Sunset – Glenashley Beach, Durban, South Africa

Yesterday evening, after another perfect Sunday in Durban, South Africa, sunset at Glenashley Beach was a playground for the imagination.

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There were 18 vessels  to be seen on still waters, some full of cargo, others empty.

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As the sun sank below the horizon, the shadows of each ship seemed to be haunting the calm evening, like lost souls waiting to be ferried to another world.

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The windswept clouds mirrored mysterious shapes of unicorn, dragons and unearthly sea creatures.

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Another beautiful day in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa