#4 Mexico/Guatemala, Jan. 4, 1981

Once again, we’re home and in the cold weather!

img704We left Guatemala, crossed the border into Mexico and stopped overnight at San Cristobal de las Casas. Here we began to see some of the feelings of the locals expressed in grafitti. “Death to the Yankee Government” did not seem at all friendly. However, we really didn’t notice any animosity directed toward us on a personal level. Well, OK, there was one lady who gave Burt a light slap because she thought I had img705taken her picture (I hadn’t) and should pay her.

 

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On the way to Oaxaca, we encountered many bucolic scenes, which we all enjoyed.

 

 

 

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img717Once in Oaxaca, we visited Monte Alban, that great Zopotec City that was begun in about 500 BCE. What we see now is mostly from 300 to 700 AD, when the city reached a population of about 25,000. There is the traditional ball court which involved a game somewhat like soccer where the players tried to make the ball go through stone hoops, using only their legs, hips and head.img720

The ends of the Gran Plaza are dominated by the North Platform, and the South Platform. Burt and Alan climbed the South Platform, photographing some of us looking very small from their position. The Gran Plaza is a huge open area lined with foundations of temples and buildings on all img716img718sides. We all climbed up the North Platform, which also gave a lovely view of the Gran Plaza.img710

Moving on, we went to the village of El Tule to see the Tule tree. This ahuehuete tree is thought to be from 2,000 to 3,000 years old, and is said to be the largest single biomass in the world. It certainly is nothing like any other trees that I’ve seen before.

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A stop at Mitla rounded out our sightseeing around Oaxaca. This site is Zapotec, also, but DSC02407from a much later period than Monte Alban.  Mitla’s heyday was in about the 14th century.  The buildings are unusual in that they have decorations featuring various forms of geographic patterns of stones.

That evening we had a very good Oaxacan meal in a casual restaurant that, again, featured a mouse! This time it was being played with by a cat, who was lolling about right in the way where the swinging doors opened for the waitresses to bring food. Every time the door swung open, we could see the cat still playing ‘cat and mouse!’ It added to the luster of our dinner!

From Oaxaca we drove back to Mexico City where we took one more last excursion. We img603drove to Xochimilco on the outskirts of Mexico City to ride on the boats on the canals. Mexico City was a city of canals at the time of the conquest. This area was once img604part of a lake, but in Aztec times they had mud rafts floating in the lake on which they raised produce. In time the ‘rafts’ grew roots to the shallow lake bottom and the lake turned into a series of canals. We had a ride on a boat on the canals, which was most pleasant, even though we were pretty tired from our demanding trip.img579

The following day, Peter and Cindy flew home to Minnesota and the rest of us rode in the van, which took four more days! One night at a motel, the manager woke up Burt, telling him that his van was being burgled. Bob and Burt ran out and chased the robber away, but not before he got a garment bag with coats in it, including Cookie’s leather jacket to which she had attached her motorcycle key, as well as two bolsas containing many beautiful Guatemalen fabric pieces that Jeanne and I had bought. Worse yet, my two cameras were stolen.  How horrid! Well, I suppose we should have taken EVERYTHING into the motel that night. A lesson!

When we got to my aunt’s house in Harlingen, Texas, Burt had to get a new key made for the motorcycle. Cookie stayed over a couple of days and then left on her motorcycle for California, again.

Before heading off to Minnesota, on our last night at Aunty Helen’s we celebrated Cookie’s GetAttachmentbirthday (January 3rd) with some cards and a special dinner. It was a capstone to a wonderful, if strenuous trip!

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#3, Guatemala, Dec. 30, 1980

We were all together again as the seven returned in the van to join Jeanne, Bob, and me in Guatemala City. We did spend part of a day ‘seeing the sights’ before leaving that city, the img649least favorite on our trip.

img650We went to the Parque Central to see the Cathedral—a plain Jane, which had been built in 1782 but had been badly damaged by earthquakes in 1917 and 1976. Still it had been repaired and preserved.

Across the plaza was the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, built in 1936. It was an img651interesting building, which we toured. One could easily spot the damage that had been done to it in the political img655uprisings that had taken place recently. Some interesting art deco windows had pieces missing—I hope they will be restored.

img677The Yurrita Church was our next stop—a fantasy church like no other Latin American church that we’ve seen. It was img680built by the Yurrita family in 1929, somewhat resembling the Gaudi works in Barcelona, Spain. Alan made a ‘pal’ of one of the statues on the grounds.

We decided to have lunch before leaving town, which we did at a small outdoor restaurant with woven straw ‘umbrellas’ and much Guatemalan décor. While we were eating, a small Topo-Gigo-like mouse (with the big ears) came out on the tile floor and sat next to our tables, surveying us while we surveyed him. Cindy, on her first trip to Latin America, had her legs up under her on her chair pronto, as the mouse certainly seemed friendly! No one in the restaurant payed any attention to him—they just went about their waitressing duties, ignoring our pointings and starings!img666

On to Antigua. This city had been founded in 1543 as the capital of Guatemala and during the 1600’s and 1700’s had been embellished with 38 beautiful churches. It had been damaged from time to time by earthquakes, but the BIG one hit in 1773, causing the capital to be moved to Guatemala City. It lay dormant for awhile, but then began being built up again with some restoration of some churches, until the present day when it is again a beautiful city. Still, there are many ruined churches throughout the city.

The cathedral, a pretty building, has been earthquake wrecked and damaged on many img658occasions, but now presents a beautiful anchor for the lovely Parque Central. Also on the img662Parque Central is the Palacio de los Capitanes, the government center dating from 1558. Originally this building was the seat of government for all of Central America from Chiapas in Mexico to Costa Rica until 1773.

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On the north side of the Parque Central is the site of the Palacio del Ayuntamiento, or City Hall built in 1743.

Other churches and stately buildings such as the Universidad de San Carlos were nearby img663and evoked times gone by—so pretty in the lovely sunshine. Once again we found an atmospheric hotel with a pretty img676fountained courtyard for us to stay in. Next door we breakfasted with especially good coffee, raised in Guatemala for our enjoyment!

Soon enough we were on our way back toward the border. The Guatemalan countryside looks very different from Mexico. One can tell when you’re in one or the other. The img695img684farming patches are more organized and neater; and one is img690never very far from volcanic mountains. On the highway going through small villages, we saw that many Guatemalans wore img696traditional, colorful clothing as we had seen in Chichicastenango. Apparently this clothing is worn for ‘every day’ and img694not just fiestas. On one occasion we encountered the coffin builders, bringing their wares to market.

Observing the people going about their daily lives as we drove back toward the Mexican border was a highlight of our trip. And, of course, having so much family to share it in our van was special, too. We are headed for a stop in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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#2, Guatemala, Dec. 26, 1980

img559The small town of Panajachel and some small surrounding villages were a welcome respite after the fun chaos of Santo Tomas Chichicastenango. Scenes with women img560washing clothes, children carrying other children, img570and the sad specter of a procession for the funeral of a child presented everyday life of the Guatemalans.

Moving on to beautiful Lake Atitlan was a thrill. We were lucky to find a pleasant hotelimg591 img585img584overlooking the lake that had a beautiful img599courtyard full of Poinsettias, in full bloom! Claire and Alan went for a dip in the ice-cold lake, but the rest of us img600were not so brave. Still we did enjoy some leisure time at the hotel, enjoying the beautiful view.img596

img595img594The lake is surrounded by volcanoes, which makes for a pretty backdrop, although it also makes for a difficult existence for the people who live here. They have had many cities destroyed over the centuries by volcanoes. Our next destination, Antigua, was once the capital but suffered so many earthquakes and such devastation that they moved the capital to Guatemala City.

The next day we were back in the van, moving on to the southern beach, an opportunity img602that the youngsters didn’t want to pass up! Living in the Midwest as we do, the chance to img605img606be on an ocean beach is exciting. Burt and all seven young people stayed a couple of days here, while Jeanne, Bob and I decided we wanted to see the important Mayan ruin of Tekal, in the north of Guatemala.img609

 

 

We got a local bus back to Guatemala City—everyone crowding into the front seats (?) while the conductor hung out of the open door calling “WHAT-A-MAL-A” over and over, trolling for more passengers. We got a taxi to a hotel, with growing nervousness about seeing armed, uniformed men on every street corner. Yes, Guatemala had been having some political problems, but we really didn’t expect this.

Since this was Christmas Day night, we decided to go out for a nice dinner. However, when we left the hotel and walked down the street, each time we came to a corner an armed, uniformed man pointed a rifle at us as we continued on our way. This was not pleasant. The first restaurant that we came to was definitely our choice! We ducked in, ate a rapid dinner, trying to be cheerful and not mentioning the unmentionable, and left. On our way back to the hotel, in spite of it only being about 8:30 PM, the streets had become totally deserted, except for the armed men on the corners. We were very relieved to get back to our hotel.

The three of us were sharing a triple room. During the night I awoke to a tiny sound of what sounded like/looked like the doorknob being tried. I couldn’t quite make it out in the dark, and tried to relax to fall back asleep. Before I did, Bob got out of his bed, went to the door and tried the knob. Yes, it was securely locked. Obviously he had heard what I had heard!

The next morning the three of us had tickets on a flight to Flores, the town next to the Mayan ruin of Tikal. We went outside to get a taxi to the airport. A cab was right there so we all got in the backseat. Just then the hotel bellman knocked on the front passenger window—he had followed us outside. The taxi driver opened the front door and the hotel bellman lifted up a jacket that was lying on the front seat., put it down again and closed the door. Apparently he was looking to see if there were guns under the jacket!!

Then we discovered the taxi had taken us to the wrong airport. I suppose, in spite of what img615we told him, he assumed we would be going to the international airport, when, of course, we needed the domestic airport. Luckily we had enough time to make our flight.

We landed in Flores and got a taxi to take us to Tikal. What a stunning site! It was deep in the jungle with many pyramids and other img637img632edifices having been excavated out of the tangle of growing things. This city was img643settled about 700 BCE, with these img617monstrous buildings having been built by about 250 AD.

The many pyramids, temples, and acropolises took us img624hours to climb and investigate. Some giant pyramids had not yet been cleared of the jungle growth, which made them even more dramatic. It is amazing to contemplate how they could have built these huge temples so long ago, without sophisticated tools. They were indeed a mighty people!img628

 

Late in the day we caught a flight back to Guatemala City. Our other people drove up from the beach and joined us. We shall explore Guatemala City a bit before we move on to Antigua.

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#1, Mexico/Guatemala, Dec. 21, 1980

What a planning exercise! Our family and my sister’s family were set on going to Mexico and Guatemala over the Christmas Holidays, but we all had many commitments and were scattered over the globe. My husband, Burt, and son, Alan, would drive a 12-passenger van down to Mexico City, stopping on the way at my aunt’s house in Harlingen, TX, to pick up daughter, Cookie. She would come from CA on her motorcycle, which she would leave at img493my aunt’s house. Daughter Claire would fly directly to Mexico City from Berlin, where she had been staying with our friends, the Fischers, for six months. The rest of us, Sister Jeanne and Brother-in-law Bob plus their three grown children Laura, Mark and Peter, with his wife, Cindy and I would fly to Mexico City.

img498As we got off the plane in Mexico City and got a taxi to go to a hotel where we had stayed many times, we got into a gridlocked traffic situation and there we sat! Finally we grabbed out suitcases, left the cab and walked the rest of the way, about half a mile.

We still had time that day so we did a little sightseeing at the Zocalo, reacquainting ourselves with the Cathedral of Mexico City, which we had seen many times before. Soon all had gathered at img510the hotel and the next img502morning we left for the Hacienda Cocoyoc, just south of Mexico City. This is a 16th century hacienda made into a modern hotel, but with many remnants of GetAttachment-1its days as a working hacienda. It made a nice day to relax a bit and become reacquainted with each other!

Pushing on toward Guatemala, we stopped at a 16th century convent img521near the town of Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca, Mexico. It reminded us of the convent of Acolman where we had stopped before on our trips to Mexico. img518What a huge church with its attached img520convent. The kids took the opportunity to soak up a few rays on the church steps.img517

Our schedule called for arriving at the town of Santo Tomas Chichicastenango in Guatemala by December 21st, as this was the culminating day of a week-long festival that we wanted to see. After clearing the border and hurrying along through the mountains, we came upon that most spectacular sight of a live volcano. There were volcano mountains all around us, but to see one live was thrilling!img522

img524The terrain was rugged, the load in our van was heavy, and problems with the van developed. Burt felt that we needed to let the van cool off, as it was overheating, but I was prodding him on since I was afraid of missing the fiesta! This caused some harsh words between us in the nervousness of our concerns, but finally we came to the small town of Santo Tomas Chichicastenango and the fiesta!

img527What chaos, what noise (cherry bombs going off every few minutes), what a crush of img535people. Laura held on to six-foot-tall Alan as he cleared a way through the crowds. All that color and img546beauty! The clothing that they wore was spectacular. Still the local color was difficult to take in since we were img555being caught up in the stream of people, all trying to see the procession, as were we! The cherry bombs were quite img552scary as they constantly seemed to go off right at our feet. There was a procession of the saints from img554the church, although this fiesta had a rather thin overlay of Roman Catholicism over the native practices of the Guatemalans. There was incense and copal resin burning on the church steps, which incidentally seemed reminiscent of Mexican native pre-conquest pyramids.

A few hours of this cacophony left us exhausted but satisfied. We repaired to an upscale hotel restaurant on the edge of town for some revivingly good food and quiet. Wonderful marimba players treated us to soothing music while we ate our very good dinner. We drove on to Panajachel for a quiet overnight.img557

I was so happy to participate in the Fiesta of Santo Tomas. It was worth the struggle to get there in time, and to brave the crowds crushing the town. We will be moving on to Lake Atitlan.

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#4 (final) France, May 18, 1983

img394After our week on the boat, we spent a bit of time looking around the nice town of Nevers.img395 The wonderful Gothic cathedral there with its savage gargoyles containing drain pipes caused Gisela to say, “I think you call those ‘downspitters,’ don’t you?”

img400After our ‘goodbyes’ to Gisela, Wolfie and Joerg, the four of us rented a car and were on our way to the northwestern corner of France to visit Mont St-Michel. As we came img406close to it, it was img414misted in fog, giving it an eerie look, but we could certainly recognize the silhouette.

We spent the morning climbing to the top and img411exploring the church and other buildings, ‘built in’ to the superstructure. The view was strange with the tide out showing a big apron of sand—especially strange to us Midwesterners. It’s a beautiful and unusual place.img415

img416Moving on, we drove south to the stones of Carnac, near a pretty beach town of the same name. These img418megalithic stones were placed here between 5000 and 3500 B.C.E. In this vicinity there are many of these sites, making this the world’s greatest concentration of megalithic sites. The size of some of them is awesome—the heaviest weigh 300 ton.img423

After walking among these huge stones, we moved on toward the town of Angers, stopping midway for a look at the westernmost chateau along the Loire valley, Chateau de Serrant. This chateau was built starting in 1546.

img424Angers has its own Chateau, or really a fortress, which has huge towers all around it. They were de-roofed and shortened as a delaying tactic when 16th century royal orders were received that they must be demolished. Luckily for us, they weren’t. The wide (dry) moats now have wonderful img429formal flower gardens in them. Inside the fortress are the 14th century Apocalypse Tapistries, depicting the end of the world and the coming of the New Jerusalem.

There are boodles of chateau round the Loire so we could only stop at some of the most important ones in order to get back to Paris in time for our flight home. Nevertheless, we got a good overview of what life was like in these bygone centuries.

A quick stop at the Chateau de Montgeoffroy showed us an 18th century chateau—much lighter and less ‘fortified’ than earlier ones.img434

The town of Saumur has a beautiful chateau, built in the 14th century, and also some out img441img437buildings, one of which serves as a hotel. We had Calvados before dinner here, and stayed overnight. The hotel was very atmospheric, but the beds were pretty uncomfortable, a small price to pay for staying (kind of) in a chateau.

The Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau was built by the treasurer to Francois I, but he was accused of embezzlement before the building was complete and was forced to flee. It’s a beautiful graceful building in spite img445of being built in 1518, only to be confiscated by Francois I in 1527. Do you suppose the ‘embezzlement charges’ were a result of the beauty of the building?

While many of the chateau had some formal gardens, the Chateau de Villandry takes the cake. The chateau was a bit ‘plain vanilla’ but oh, those gardens! How many gardeners do you suppose it takes to keep these up?img447

And then we came to Chateau de Chenonceau, that romantic chateau with the Cher River running right underneath the building. It’s a large chateau (aren’t they all?) but so memorable with the sound of the water rushing beneath your feet. Five women put their stamp on this building starting with Catherine Briconnet, who supervised the building of it; Diane de Poiters, Henri II’s mistress, created a formal garden and built the bridge over the river; Catherine de Medicis, Henri II’s wife, topped the bridge with a gallery; the influence of Louise Dupin spared it from destruction in the 1779 French Revolution, and Madame Pelouze restored the chateau in the 19th century.img450

img455The Chateau d’Amboise has had a checkered history. This 16th century chateau was one of the most beautiful and rich. img459Unfortunately in 1560 it was also the scene of the slaughter of 1200 Protestant conspirators. Their bodies were hung up on these walls and trees. The pretty Chapelle St-Hubert still exists which is said to house the tomb of Leanardo daVinci, who lived and worked here in the last years of his life until his death in 1519.

img466King Louis XII rides his horse over the doorway of the img468Chateau de Blois. The building of this chateau stretches over a period from 1200 until about 1600. It is composed of many styles and has a Renaissance circular stairway. It also has many salamanders in gold—Francois I’s emblem.

 

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The last chateau that we visited was the Chateau de Chambord—huge and full of img478img482salamander emblems. It had a Renaissance double stairway (actually sets of steps inside of one another) designed by Leonardo daVinci. This is the largest chateau in the Loire Valley and was built by Francois I. That’s good—‘biggest ‘til last!’

A pleasant drive then brought us to the town (and Cathedral) of Chartres. The Cathedrale Notre-Dame was img485begun in 1020. It sits high on a hill in the middle of town. It has img486a jillion artworks to find and take in; there’s more, more to see in this church. The South Porch img487sculpture was done in 1197.  People have spent their whole careers studying this church. We did walk the img488labyrinth, a circular path inlaid in the church floor for pilgrims to walk around on their knees for penance.  The stained glass windows are world-renowned and during World War II they were dismantled and hidden away for safekeeping.

And now the sundial on the church told us that we had img492better get back to Paris for our flight home!

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#3 France, May 14, 1983

img318We took a fast train from Paris to Nevers, and yes, those European trains are really FAST! From there we went by taxi to img321Mareilles-les-Aubigny, the tiny canal town from which we four Americans would board our ‘drive yourself’ barge (houseboat) for a week on the Canal Lateral a la Loire. Gisela and Wolfgang, along with their grown son, Joerg, would be joining us on the boat.

img327The 42-foot-long boat had two tiny bedrooms, a galley, a tiny bath with shower, and the living room, which converted into a third bedroom. Wolfie and Gisela, who drove from Berlin, supplied taped music and a player, Wellingtons (rubber knee-high boots), books on canaling, a toolbox, a German sausage for breakfast, and a radio.

Wolfie, who knows French from his experience as a German POW in France at age 17, img366received the instructions from the Loire Line worker while others of the party put in a supply of Alsatian beer and some French wine. Because of his World War II experience Wolfie had been reluctant to visit France, but our suggestion of a week on a boat with him actually allowed to ‘work’ it was more than he could resist.

The Canal, which parallels the Loire River, was opened in 1837 and commercial barges still use it to transport coal, iron ore, building sand, fuel oil, wine and grain, although we only encountered three or four working barges during our week on the canal.

img337We pushed off on a Thursday afternoon at 4:00. The first lock loomed ominously ahead with Wolfie steering the img323boat none too smoothly. The canal was about 40 feet wide, but the locks were only a little wider than our 12-foot-wide boat. We had to stop the img374boat by throwing the lever into reverse, wait for the lock keeper to fill the lock and open the gates to let the boat in. Then the water was let out by raising the paddles with a crank, the gates opened and the boat glided out.

After photographing the lock-keeper’s children, giving him a five-franc tip, and picking up img335our crew we were ready to go. Thereupon a discussion ensued as to the appropriate tip or lack thereof, to the lock-keeper. Our German friends had it on good authority that one was expected to tip with cigarettes and ever vigilant to protocol, had brought some especially for this purpose. However, one American had already given the ‘incorrect’ five-franc tip. This was resolved by giving five-franc tips AND two cigarettes thereafter.

img349Bounteous wildflowers grew on the sides of the canals. There was Chickweed, Buttercup, Virginia Waterleaf, and after emptying the first French wine bottle we picked a bouquet to put in it, which lasted all week.

After the second lock, we tied up for the night at Argenvieres. Since the restaurant was closed, we made our own dinner of img324img365French bread, cheese, apples, country-style pate and wine, which two of our crew procured from a small grocery store in town.img385

The next morning found Wolfie up at 7:00 AM, wearing his Wellingtons and checking the oil, water, coolant, and anything else he could check. He spent much time reading the Kapitans-Handbuch, printed in three languages, all of which he could read. The Americans checked the beer, wine, and cheese.

That day we came to La Charite, an ancient town on the Loire which was known in times past as charitable to travelers, pilgrims and the poor—hence the name of the town. The Ramparts, crumbling 12th century ruins of he original city walls turned back Joan of Arc in 1429.img378

The lunch at La Bonne Foi in La Charite was outstanding. I had: escargot (snails), Gigot de img384Agneau (roast lamb), Fromage (assorted cheeses), and Poire belle Helene (poached pears, ice cream and chocolate sauce) and, img333of course, the marvelous French bread and wine.

One morning we made French toast from the wilted bread. After visiting two other small towns, we moved on to Sancerre, famous for its white wine. I had tried a bottle last Thanksgiving which had been suggested by a book I read called, “The Incomparable Wines of img347France—Correspondence Course!”

Jeanne, who majored in French in college, was lamenting her lost skill to the bartender. He said he had the same experience with his World War II English, but he lifted her spirits by telling her in French that she spoke ‘sweetly.’ And the Proprietess of the Le Vacheron Wine Caves spoke so sweetly and slowly that Jeanne could understand every word. After buying some wine we looked for local cheese to buy. Sancerre cheese is made img351in little round furry ‘crottins,’ which apparently translates to ‘turds.’

img352The rural, colorful market at Cosne featured live ducklings and goslings for sale—future canard and pate!

Finally we were in Briare, the spectacular canal-bridge of St. Firmin-sur-Loire ahead of us. This was designed by Alenandre Eiffel and built in 1893. It connects the Canal Lateral with the Canal Briare by water. This metal aquaduct carries boats over the swirling Loire River far below. I had never seen anything like this!img357

img360Retracing our steps back to Marseilles-les-Aubigny was not the least bit boring. We stopped again at those wonderful restaurants where I had canard (duck) instead of the lamb. It was really fun being with our German friends on the boat, listening to music, visiting, cooking, eating, and drinking that good French wine and some beer, too. The weather was sunny almost all week, which made the countryside all the more beautiful!img390

What a wonderful week! We’ll be saying goodbye to the Germans, and renting a car to go to Mont St-Michel.

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#2, France, May 8, 1983

img252We were on our way to Montmartre, getting pretty good at finding our way with occasionally a little help from the img316gendarmerie. Contrary to what many people said about the ‘snooty Parisians,’ we didn’t encounter even one person who was anything img264img259but pleasant.

And there it was! The Sacre Coeur high on the ‘Mont’ and beautiful. Montmartre fulfilled our expectations with its many artists doing their thing and many tourists buying their art.

We visited the Cimetiare de Montmartre, not able img270to find anybody famous, except for two img267outstanding cats—and saw the Lapin Agile, a place of literary meetings in 1910.

This area used to have many windmills although there are only two ‘authentic’ ones remaining, but there was the famous Moulin Rouge—-‘Red Windmill’ which made us hum THAT tune. We popped inside for a moment, conjuring up img272the ghost of Toulouse-Lautrec.

img273Moving on we walked to the Eiffel Tower, img275that icon of Paris. It was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and meant to be only temporary. At first Alexandre Eiffel was vilified, but the tower apparently grew on the Parisians, and they decided to img282keep it permanently. It was the world’s tallest building until 1931 when the Empire State Building was built in New York! There were some splendid views from the top!

Once again we managed to take the Paris Metro, this time quite a ways to Versailles. The img290img292grounds, gardens and fountains are extensive and the Chateau is lavish. The centerpiece of the Chateau, or course, is the Hall of Mirrors. It was where the Versailles Treaty ending World War I was signed. Those French Kings knew how to live! Too bad they couldn’t have shared a bit more with the ordinary folks—-so it goes.img294

Tomorrow we’re heading south by train to meet our friends from Berlin. We shall continue seeing France by piloting our own boat on the Canal Lateral du Loire.

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