Blog: 2008

One Night in Seattle

Posted on September 30, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Last weekend we made a brief trip up to Seattle to attend a mini-reunion of the Hayes family, which was so fun. It involved a dinner in downtown Seattle followed by a brunch in a nearby suburb the next morning. David and I stayed one night at a fantastic hotel near Pike Place called Hotel 1000. We got upgraded to their Executive Suite for free upon arrival! That never happens to us...

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Posted on August 5, 2008 by Holly Hayes
We've had a great few days in Amsterdam and are so excited to head home in the morning!! We're really glad we chose to fly out of Amsterdam Schiphol - it's an excellent airport. It has always worked smoothly on our previous visits and there are lots of great shops and restaurants to wander around. We've already checked in electronically and scoped out our departure point, so here's hoping everything goes as well as we expect it to tomorrow! One of the best things about the airport is this panoramic terrace with a view of all the airplanes! It is so fun...

Day Trip to Leiden

Posted on August 2, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Tomorrow morning we leave Delft for Amsterdam, our last stop in Europe! It is pretty exciting to be getting so close to the home journey. Oostpoort (East Gate, c. 1400), Delft The second half of our week in Delft has been as pleasant as the first, consisting mostly of relaxing days around town plus a nice day trip to Leiden and The Hague. We've had a few more pancakes, a few more canal walks, and lots more easy conversations in English...

A Week in Beautiful Delft

Posted on July 30, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Well, Amiens (France) and Tournai (Belgium) were fairly disappointing aside from their cathedrals, but we are now in Delft, a beautiful town near The Hague in South Holland. We're having such a fantastic time here and I really don't think we could have chosen a better place to wind up our European tour. We are here for a full week (Sunday to Sunday) and then we'll spend our last three nights in a modern airport hotel in Amsterdam (only 45 minutes from here)...

Some Randomness for Your Sunday

Posted on July 27, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Where to buy excuses in France. In actual news, we are now in the Netherlands and it is wonderful. More soon.

A Day in Paris

Posted on July 24, 2008 by Holly Hayes
On Monday we caught the 9:13 AM train from Chartres to Paris, which was incredibly easy since the train station is just down the hill from our hotel. The fare was not cheap at €23 return, but still better than in the UK. The train was clean and mostly empty and the one-hour ride was smooth and fast. Paris has many train stations; our train arrived at the Gare Montparnesse in the southern part of the city, which is where many of the TGVs (high-speed trains) leave from...

Gothic Goodness in Chartres

Posted on July 22, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from Chartres, home of a Gothic cathedral considered to be one of the best in the world. We are staying here for four nights (leaving tomorrow) in a nice central hotel with a cathedral view! And yesterday we took the train into Paris, where we had a very long but very fun day among crowds of fellow Americans. That deserves its own post, which will hopefully happen tomorrow or the next day...

Chateaux (and Cathedrals) of the Loire

Posted on July 18, 2008 by Holly Hayes
We have had a very busy last two days, with long day trips from our base in the outskirts of Tours. So busy, in fact, that we never got a chance to see Tours! Oh, well. We quite enjoyed our short tour of the famed Loire Valley. Here's what we saw and did. Yesterday, we drove west of Tours to Angers. Saumur Chateau on the Loire River. The river is pretty and wide, but shallower than we expected, with lots of sandbars...

Medieval Churches of Poitiers, St-Savin and Chauvigny

Posted on July 15, 2008 by Holly Hayes
From our temporary castle home (see previous post) in the Poitou region of France, we've made two great day trips filled with medieval art and architecture. Poitiers, not far from our hotel, is a medium-sized city with no less than six historic churches. We managed five of them, and they are all scattered around the city, so it was quite a long and exhausting day...

Sleeping in a Castle: Le Clos de la Reibaudiere

Posted on July 14, 2008 by Holly Hayes
We are currently staying in a chateau hotel just outside Poitiers. It's not quite as fancy-pants as it sounds - it's a small chateau and not *super* expensive - but it still is a nice little treat before leaving France. It's called Le Clos de la Reibaudiere and dates from the late 1700s. The chateau itself isn't as pretty as others we've seen, but the grounds are gorgeous and the interiors are quite fancy...

Romanesque Churches and Sunflower Fields in Western France

Posted on July 11, 2008 by Holly Hayes
A sunflower field we visited this afternoon. Fun stuff. Thursday: Moissac On Thursday we made a short day trip from Toulouse to Moissac, home of an abbey church known for its excellent Romanesque sculptures. An exceptionally long-legged and graceful Prophet Jeremiah on the south portal. This guy shows up in every one of my books on Romanesque architecture...

Three Nights in Toulouse

Posted on July 10, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Tonight is the last of three nights we've spent in Toulouse, one of the largest cities in France and capital of Europe's aerospace industry. It's actually pretty nice for a big city and we've enjoyed our stay here. It's been consistently sunny and in the upper 80s; a little hot but not nearly as bad as the South was. Yesterday I had a busy day of photography work here in Toulouse, with David joining me later in the evening...

Beautiful Conques Abbey

Posted on July 8, 2008 by Holly Hayes
{ph2352} Yesterday we drove an hour and 45 minutes north to a little village in the mountains called Conques (pronounced "conk"). It was absolutely worth the trip, which was relaxed and scenic, too. The church in Conques is one of the best Romanesque churches I've ever visited. And it's in the middle of a wonderful little village, which still has all its medieval streets and buildings...

Albi

Posted on July 7, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Our favorable first impressions of Albi turned out to be correct - it has been a very pleasant city to spend a weekend. Our hotel has been great, too; it's cooler and darker than most, so we've slept late every morning. Saturday was warm and sunny but after that it cooled way down, hardly reaching 70 degrees and even raining a little. That has been a very nice change...

Abbeys of the French Pyrenees

Posted on July 5, 2008 by Holly Hayes
{ph12342} The first of our day trips from Narbonne (last Wednesday) was to a couple of abbey churches in the Pyrenees mountains near the Spanish border. The first church is called St Michel de Cuxa and stands in a very pretty valley setting in the middle of nowhere. {ph12347} View with our rental car, looking north {ph12346} View from the same spot, looking south Sadly we arrived in that witching hour between noon and 2pm in which everything in France is closed...

Albi and Revised Travel Plans

Posted on July 4, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Happy Fourth of July! What an appropriate day to tell you we're just about ready to come home to the US of A. Europe is fantastic and we can never see enough, but moving from one hotel to another is getting tiring. And it's just been an awfully long time (coming up on three years) since we've been in our home country with family and friends and a place to call our own...

From Provence to Languedoc

Posted on July 1, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from Narbonne, in the region of Languedoc. We're still near the Mediterranean Coast, but now we're at its west end, close to Spain. Yesterday: Narbonne We arrived in Narbonne yesterday afternoon and for three nights we're trying out a new hotel chain called B&B Hotels. It's very cheap and feels like it. The room is small and the decor is depressing, but the air conditioning is excellent and we have free wifi internet that works pretty well...

A Happy Birthday in Arles

Posted on June 30, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a trip to Arles, in which I got to see ancient Roman tombs and other good stuff in a museum followed by Romanesque sculptures on a cathedral. Then we had a nice outdoor dinner back in Aigues-Mortes. Perfect! Arles was smaller and less crowded than we expected, which was nice. Judging by how many cars we passed going the other way, it seemed that everyone was going to the beach instead! The Museum of Ancient Arles is on the outskirts of town just off the freeway, and has its own free parking lot...

The Camargue

Posted on June 28, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from the Camargue, a region of ultra-flat wetlands south of Arles known for white horses, black bulls, cowboys, flamingos, salt and rice. And wine, of course, as with every region in France. We are still in Provence, but on its western edge. It is approximately a gazillion degrees outside but we are beginning to adapt. A little. We had a good drive here from Nice, although it was over three hours and the southern French drivers occasionally gave us bad memories of the Italians...

In the Manner of Grace Kelly or Similar

Posted on June 25, 2008 by Holly Hayes
This evening we took a fantastic drive to Monaco along The Corniches, the winding roads seen often in movies (including at least one Bond) and where poor Princess Grace died in a car accident. There are three Corniches, each one higher up the cliff than the last. We drove to Monaco on the Moyenne Corniche (the middle one) and back on the Grand Corniche (the highest)...