…I had the hugest grin on my face because Hubby and I were standing under the branches of a willow tree on the tip of the Square du Vert-Galant, a small public garden situated at the western end of Ile de la Cité in Paris. The weather was gloomy and grey, but who cares when you’re in Paris? Too excited to sleep in, we headed out early to explore the area near our hotel before the streets came to life, plus we wanted to find a patisserie for breakfast. Our hotel served breakfast for a price, but we thought it a little too expensive especially when buttery, sweet pastries could be had for a couple of euros.
During a walk along the Seine we found ourselves in the middle of a garden filled with sculptures, we found out that it is an open-air sculpture museum featuring more than fifty sculptures. You can find this unexpected delight along the Quai Saint-Bernard between the Pont de Sully and the Pont d’Austerlitz. I’m sorry that I don’t have any photos to share, the light created a few challenges for me so I settled for enjoying the walk sans camera.
The entire day was dedicated to exploring the 5th and 6th arrondisements, Hubby doesn’t like to fill his day with sights (unlike me) and prefers to just wander and take in the atmosphere. Regardless, I did manage to convince him that we should find the hidden roman arena, Arenes de Lutece after spending an hour or so wandering through Jardin des Plantes. This ancient arena is located not far from Place Contrascarpe and Rue Mouffetard, it was constructed in the first century AD and lay hidden until discovered in the late 1800’s. I thought it might be a nice place to sit and enjoy some lunch, Hubby was less impressed with that idea.
Lunch turned out to be another unexpected pleasure, Antonella, an Italian lady travelling solo joined our table for lunch. Antonella lives in Rome and as it was on our itinerary, she told us all about the wonderful weather they were having and that she also has family in Australia. It was great to have someone else to talk to, Hubby and I aren’t used to spending all day every day together and conversation can be hard to come by sometimes.
St-Germain-des-Pres lies next to the Latin Quarter, home to cafes such as Le Deux Magots, Cafe de Flore and Le Procope once frequented by famous historical figures as well as the Musee d’Orsay makes this area a tourist magnet. I loved wandering through the streets and narrow alleyways, not knowing where we were going and somehow ending up at the Luxembourg Gardens. The gardens were filled with people making the most of the last hours of light, it is a beautiful place to relax and to one side of the Luxembourg Palace is the much photographed Medici Fountain. Vibrant autumn colours of yellow and gold provide the perfect contrast to the dark water and shaded fountain. Soon we are chased out of the park, whistles blowing and visitors herded out the main gate.
Dinner that night was in the Latin Quarter at Le Mouffetard Bistrot, we had eaten here on a previous trip and loved the atmosphere of the Rue Mouffetard plus the service was friendly. As we walked to the bistro from the Pantheon we watched the sky sky change colour from monotone to vivid blue and pink as dusk fell. It was a spectacular sun set and bode well for good weather the following day. With a belly full of crispy, delicious duck and potatoes and red wine I slept well that night.
On this day 3 years ago the hubby and I were celebrating my birthday in Paris, starting early at the Palace of Versailles and ending with a view of Paris lit up like a birthday cake. One of my most spectacular and memorable birthdays, browsing through my photos makes me smile and surprisingly I can still remember much of the detail.
Today was a quiet celebration at home with hubby and the two black dogs before heading off to work where my wonderful colleagues had organised a morning tea. A lovely day 🙂
The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is a ten day festival held during the month of September each year, celebrating the Garden City and the start of Spring with a program of events and activities that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city. During this time Toowoomba is awash with a sea of colour, all of the parks and gardens have been primed and everything is in bloom. Local residents and keen gardeners have also been working hard preparing for the garden competitions that include a variety of categories such as Australian native plants, annual flowering bulbs and small gardens.
My friends and I, lovers of flowers and accomplished gardeners themselves (notice I say them, not me) made the trip up the range to Toowoomba to explore some of the private gardens open to visitors. Lunch was a picnic in one of the many parks with hundreds of other people doing the same thing, if you didn’t want to pack a picnic there were food trucks and coffee vans aplenty. Accompanying us on our garden tour was Wooloomooloo the bear, Wooloomooloo has his own facebook page: A Bear on a Journey, on which he shares his adventures as he explores the region with his family. Wooloomooloo happily posed for photos, for us and for a few tourists who seemed smitten by this handsome bear.
The private gardens we visited were a sight to behold, garden beds filled with too many varieties of flowers and plants to name, the creation of ‘rooms’ in each yard providing us with something new and different around each bend in the garden border. Bridges, bird feeders, fountains, arbours and pavers decorated with mosaics were among the features used by gardeners to distinguish one garden from another. Some of the gardens were so full of plants and features that navigating each section with all the other garden tourists became a bit tedious and difficult, almost everyone stopping to take photos with their cameras, smart phones and iPads.
With so many beautiful and vibrant flowers to photograph, you can imagine that I went a little nuts and now have a large collection of flower photographs to sort through, some of which you’ll see in this post. The Carnival isn’t just about flowers though, there is a food and wine fair, an afternoon parade, sideshow alley for lovers of carnival rides and if you enjoy picnics in the park with background music from live bands then you will be as happy as a pig in mud.
Spring is here! Already people are leaving their jackets and beanies at home and heading out into the sun to absorb some vitamin D. I have noticed new growth on my gardenias and the scent of star jasmine and my coco magnolia tree fills the night air with the sweetest perfume. Spring is my favourite time of year, the days are filled with sunshine and the nights are still cool, making sleep easy (unlike summer). Later this month there will be floral festivals in the towns around us, the keen gardeners with beautiful homes open up to the general public so that we can admire the results of their hard work and passion and hopefully be inspired to do more in our own gardens. It is a time when I like to take my camera and spend a few hours photographing flowers, not something that appeals to everyone but my husband is very patient and there are usually several other hobby photographers madly photographing everything with a petal.
Today I am reminded of the start of our holiday in Europe and where I was when the sun decided to shine after a few days of grey, gloomy weather. We were visiting the Palace of Versailles and it was my birthday. The layers of clothing we had been wearing were not necessary, my sunglasses became my accessory of choice and our delight at being outside, in Paris (or thereabouts), on such a glorious day was immense. Having written about the day on a previous post: Birthday celebration at the Palace of Versailles, I won’t write much about the day itself except to say that reading about our day at Versailles makes my heart smile and trawling through my photos again brings back very happy memories.
Is there a day (or event) in your travels that really makes your heart smile?
Enjoy the photos and for those of you in the southern hemisphere, Happy Spring!