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Set 2: Mont St Michel, Exteriors and shots from the village.



Not Safe for Dial Up )

All the pics have been resized, but if they are too page-bendy, let me know and I'll try and fix that.
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WTF is up with LJ today? I've had pages disappearing, reappearing, dropping of the face of the earth entirely... Is it just me?

The only good thing about being sick is that it's given me a chance to get started on the holiday pic project and watch SeaQuest. I'll be uploading them in dribs and drabs as I get them done, both to save the flist and my pitiful upload rate. And fair warning - I've compressed these images, but they are still fairly large, so I don't suggest clicking the cut on a dial-up connection (unless you're a lot more patient than me, anyway).

So, set I: Mont St Michel. Exteriors and a few shots down in the village.



Not Dial Up Friendly )

Continued next post
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Back in the country and connected again. Yay! Unfortunately, on the RL front, I picked up a cold somewhere between London and Kuala Lumpur, and have now completely lost my voice. Yesterday I sounded like a 14 year old boy, all squeaky and breaking, but today I woke up and it was just gone. Completely. The only good side of this was that I didn't have to answer any questions in my course today, since no one could here me anyway :)

Pictures of the trip will be up when I have a chance to go through them. Shouldn't be too long.

Also, I'm finally up to date with Doctor Who! Despite my dubious reaction to the teasers and previews of Martha, I'm finding myself really enjoying her as a character, and the new season as a whole. A damn promising start to the new season.

I'm not sure if I'm surprised at this or not - I didn't really enjoy the second season as much as the first, but I can't really but my finger on why. Possibly the changes in the characterisation of the Doctor, although I should rewatch it and see if my opinion has changed now the season is complete. So I wasn't too optimistic about the characterisation of the new companion, based on what little I had seen of her in the previews Plus, I really hate the name Martha. Shallow, I know.

But when I was watching the actual episode, I really liked Martha. Some not very spoilery thoughts on Ten and Martha )

Spoilery comments up to episode three )

Next on the list is catching up with SG-1. Unfortunately, my end-of-season-reluctance has kicked in again, doubly so because it is the end of the series. Yeah, I know there's movies, but it's not the same. But sheer curiosity and the desire for more Daniel will drive me to watch them soon enough, I'm sure :)

Damn holidays! They make me get behind on my TV shows!
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Two updates in two days! Incredible. Now that I've finally got a computer for more than 15 minutes, I should be writing job applications (due the day I leave here). Only one problem with that plan, as I just discovered - this computer DOESN'T HAVE WORD installed. Now, while I am all for attempting to break free of the shackles of Microsoft, there is a time and a place, and this is not it. They don't have any word processing software at all. So, now I'm updating LJ, and trying to convince myself that I didn't want that position anyway.

Now, where did I get up to? Oh yes, Stratford-Upon-Avon - and Oxford, and Bath )
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Been a while since the last update - never fear, I'm still alive.

Left London to travel through Edinburgh by train. We stopped in York on the way, and spent a few hours wandering around, to the castle and through the Shambles.

We spent four nights in Edinburgh, now officially known as the 'City of the TARDIS'.

Day One - After the train ride, got a taxi (have I mentioned how cool the black taxi's are here? And their signs look like the Torchwood logo...) to [profile] kasneeze's friend's place, and went to bed. Very exciting.

Day Two - Went to Edinburgh Castle, climbing many stairs on the way. The guide was not as fashionably dressed as the Beefeaters in the ToL, and didn't even have a kilt. Great views of the city. One side effect of this trip is that my knowledge of British History is gradually improving. Meet up with another friend of [profile] kasneeze, and hopped bars for the afternoon/evening, before going on a freaky ghost tour in the evening. Went home, spent the night hearing spooky sounds and not sleeping. At least I didn't scream on the tour - unlike some people :)

Day Three - Slept in, meet another (yes, ANOTHER) friend of [profile] kasneeze for lunch, and then went for a walk around Edinburgh. Picked up the hire car, getting another free upgrade and a $100 discount into the bargin (long story -but basically they didn't have the car when we showed up, so we got freebies). Successfully navigated back to the apartment, which was quite an achievement considering we didin't have a map and had no idea where we were going.

Day Four - Went on a hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. After a beautiful trip through the lowlands and highlands, we were successful during our cruise on the Loch, getting some high quality video of the monster. Am expecting our reward to arrive in the mail any day now.

Day Five - Left Edinburgh, and Scotland *Sob*. Really loved it there - the city and countryside were both so beautiful. And there was a TARDIS on every corner :)

My paid internet time is about to run out, so I'll fill you in on the rest later. To whet your appetite, our next stop was Stratford-Upon-Avon, and I have two words for you: Morris Dancers.

Also, despite the fact that I am in the UK, I have missed both the episodes of Dr Who. A good sister would have them waiting for me when I get home...

London

Apr. 3rd, 2007 11:24 pm
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I've been in London for 2 and a half days now, and we are leaving for Edinburgh tomorrow morning (train at 9:30am, ugh). We've managed to pack a fair amount into our time here, although a lot of it consisted of driving through somewhere on the tour bus, and saying 'OK, seen that, next!' That's OK, it'll give me something to do next time I come here - and there will be a next time, if I have anything to say about it.

So we've done the 'Big Red Bus' sightseeing tour, and a cruise on the Seine. We've walked across the Tower Bridge (and London Bridge, and the Millenium Bridge for that matter). We've been to the Tower of London (now that was smaller - shorter - than I was expecting), seen the crown jewels, and had our picture taken with a Beefeater, who happened to be the same guy who was a guide for the Jack the Ripper walking tour we did on our first night. We saw the Changing of the Guards, (or rather, we saw the fur hats over the heads of a billion other tourists) and Big Ben and the London Eye.

Oh, and we went to Canary Whalf, since [livejournal.com profile] kasneeze's cousin works there, but, despite what I was lead to believe, there wasn't a Dalek or a Cyberman in sight. False Advertising, that. And I bet there aren't any aliens living under the London Eye, either :(

The last couple of nights we've spent at the theatre - we saw Cabaret last night. It was good, but the story just kinda peetered out. Even though we can all really fill in the blanks ourselves, it didn't really have a stong ending. Haunting, though. And the performers had a habit of randomly stripping... don't get excited guys, all the full frontal nudity was of the male variety :)

Tonight, we went to see The Phantom of the Opera. It was superb, as expected. The only minor complaint was the random changing of words in the songs, which seems to happen every time. Oh, and the fact that the seats had about enough leg room for a midget dwarf. And I'm not exagerating (much). I got a massive cramp in my calf in the middle of Music of the Night, which continued until the intermission. Not pleasant, when you have no way of stretching, and can only move your legs millimeters in either direction. Ouch. I've decided it is all a ploy to get more standing ovations - people where leaping out of their seats at the chance to stand up at intermission :)

So, all in all, London has been great. A little frustrating, because we are leaving with so much left undone, but a lot of fun.

Oh, and did I mention that for two of the three days we've spent here, it has been cloudless blue skies? Amazing. But it was overcast and drizzling today, so now my London Experience is complete.
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Yes, I'm still alive. Today was my last day in Paris... the two weeks has gone by so fast.
General comment about France - I've been mostly unimpressed by the food, which surprised me. But the sandwiches and the bread is great - anything from a bakery is really good - I'll miss that back in Australia.

Since I've last updated, I've been to:

The Louvre - Amazing. I got lost - a lot. And despite all rumours to the contrary, The Mona Lisa was exactly the size I was expecting. I went on a tour to see the 'highlights' - Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, etc - and then spent most of my time in the Sculpture sections.

Mont St Michel - Also amazing, but an exhausting day trip. All in all, we just didn't have enough time, so the guided tour was a little rushed. The architecture of the abbey and the view was amazing. And I spent lunch of the trip trying to explain the rules of cricket to a 15-year-old American boy, which was interesting :)

Normandy - Saw the Bayeux tapestry and went on a tour of Omaha beach, Point Du Hoc and the American Cemetery. At the start of the tour, we went to the German cemetery, which was probably the most moving part for me. Far less crowed with tourists than the American Cemetery, with the soldiers buried two to a plot (there are 21,000 Germans buried in that one cemetery. For comparison, there are 9000 in the American cemetery, and this is only one of multiple large german cemeteries). It was so quiet and peaceful and sobering.

Oh, and the Bayeux Tapestry was awesome, as expected.

Plus a whole lot of other attractions in Paris, including Napoleon's Tomb, the Pantheon, Basilique de Saint Denis, Sacre-Coeur and Monmarte (Another highlight - and I climbed the Basilica - so many stairs, so tall...), Sainte Chapelle (Magnificant stained glass) and the Conciergerie.

When I can post the photos, you'll get more details of each of the different places. Right now, I need to pack and get organised to go to London tomorrow morning.
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Quick update, because I'm completely braindead. Who would have thought that sightseeing could be so tiring? Oh, and as for photos - you might have to wait until I get back. The internet connection is falling over regularly just trying to load pages, uploading pictures would probably crash the entire thing. Sorry.

Stuff I've done:

Musee D'Orsay: Amazing architecture, really great atmosphere. I'm not that into museums, especially when all the labels are in French, but this is worth visiting just for the central gallery alone.

La Defense: The skyscraper section of the city (and no relation to the military stuff, except for a sculpture). Very interesting modern architecture, as well as random modern art/sculptures around the place. I have some good pictures, but look like you're going to have to wait.

Catacombs: This was... surreal. The bones of over 6 million people. And then someone got the idea that they should be arranged in an 'artistically pleasing' way, so now they are arranged in 'walls', up to 50 metres deep in some places, with the skulls making patterns in the walls...

It's not a guided tour, but there are security guards/guides down there. I started to talk to one, who as it turns out wanted to immigrate to Australia (so far, he's the only person to pick my accent as Australian. He got it straight away, after I'd said about two words to him- I was impressed). He let me take some pictures with the flash, which technically you aren't supposed to do, but it was too dark to get proper pictures otherwise. I was a little dubious about taking pictures at all, given this is basically a mass grave, but it was too surreal not to make some sort of record of.

Opera House: Impressive, but it loses something being surrounded so closely by the city. There's no space to just sit back and admire it. Didn't get to go in, there was some sort of concert on and the line went round the block, so I went for a walk around the city instead.

Notre Dame (again): Have I mentioned how much I love this place? The back is even more amazing than the front. And I got snowed on. Again.

Louvre: Still haven't made it into the Louvre, but wandered through the courtyard to get to Musee D'Orsay. Did you know you can drive through it? There's even a roundabout in the middle... very canberran :) The glass pyramids are odd, but sort of fitting in a strange way.

Seine: Went for a cruise (well, hop-on, hop-off Batobus)down the Seine. Actually had decent weather for this, the first time I've seen the sun for more than about 10 minutes at a time since I got here :) It was amazing, just cruising down the river. As one monument passed, another one came into view.

Plan for the next few days:
Tomorrow: The Louvre (finally).
Saturday: Day tour to Mont St-Michel. Looking forward to getting out into the countryside.

Right. Have to go get the laundry. and then crash.

And if people want postcards, email me your address. Yes, even if I should already know it, this way I'll get it right.
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It was 2 degrees today. Bloody freezing. Went to the Arc de Triumph (but not up the top - I'm saving that for an evening, hopefully a slightly warmer one), and then wandered down the Champs Elysees, where I picked up a French stalker, who followed me around for a while, said I was 'very, very beautiful' and thought I was Spanish. This is the second person so far who's thought I was Spanish - really not understanding that, unless my French has some kinda Spanish accent or something.

Anyway, after I got rid of my stalker, I ended up at Les Hospitales. Didn't go into the museum, just wandered around, and took a lot of pictures, until impending frostbite made me put my gloves back on. There was some sort of ceremony going on when I got there - people lined up with flags, and then other people walked through the middle of the flag people after shaking hands with some religious-type people. Yeah, you can see I had no idea what was going on - I hadn't really planned on ending up there today, so I hadn't read up on the place at all. I'm not sure if it was a regular thing, or a special occasion, but given they had called out half the French armed forces for event, I think it was probably a one off.

And speaking of photos, I'm up to something like 400 so far... there will be a mass photo dump when I get back and have had a chance to cull those unworthy of saving.

Have I mentioned that you can see EuroDisney from my hotel? That's kinda cool. The hotel also only has two english channels, BBC world and Eurosport. In the last few days, I have learnt more out curling than I ever wanted to know.

Tomorrow I'm planning on going to La Defense, and then I plan on spending the rest of the week hitting the museums, as well as going back to Notre Dame and heading over to Montmartre. Might be a while until the next update, depending on the availability of Internet.

I need a 'cold' icon.
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... Otherwise known as the Eiffel Tower. OK, I wussed out before I got to the top, but I made it to the second level. Those of you familiar with my issues with heights will understand what an achievement this was for me. And the view was spectacular - we went up just after sunset, and everything was lit up. You can see everything, just looking out and seeing the Les Champs Elysees, Sacre Coeur (which looks magical at night), L'Hotel des Invalides - Wow. And as we walked home, it SNOWED! I got snowed on in Paris! Very cool (literally - we were freezing by the time we got back to the hotel).

Yesterday we went to Versailles. The Palace itself was amazing (although Louis the 14th was a little too into the gold gilt for my tastes). The highlights were definitely the Chapel and the Opera. We went out into the gardens, and while they would definitely be better in summer, they were still pretty spectacular.

Afterwards, we went briefly to Notre Dame, just as the sun was setting. As we went in, they were starting a service, so we sat in. The mass was in mostly in French, but the singing was in latin. Since I love sacred music, it was a pretty amazing experience. I want to go back to have a proper look around, and hopefully climb the bell tower.

The whole thing is kinda surreal - normal buildings, then suddenly a world-famous landmark smack bang in the middle of a city block.

Dealing with the French is... interesting. They only seem to come in two extremes - either very nice and helpful, or completely arrogant. As a general rule, the guys seem more helpful than the girls. The hotel is nice, but kinda cheapskate on the extras - for instance, there is no iron in the room, and they charge 30 Euro to hire one. I even got into a argument with the girl at reception because we ran out of toilet paper, and she was insisting that I should wait until the cleaning people came to give us more - on Wednesday!

OK, [livejournal.com profile] kasneeze's computer is alternating between trying to lock me out, and loosing the connection, so I'm going to end this before I loose the entry.
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Well, I made it safely to Sydney airport - stage 1 complete.

No hassles so far, although for some reason, you can only get to the free internet after you go through security/customs... I guess to stop all the freeloaders showing up and stealing their bandwidth.

Anyway, got through security and customs without a hitch. Now all I need to worry about is whether I get stopped for smuggling Smarties (as per the request of [profile] kasneeze) at the other end :)

Somehow, the whole going to Paris thing hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe it will when I'm on the plane.
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Wow. As of now, I am officially on one month's leave. The thought of going to Europe (tomorrow! eep) is great, but right now the simple idea of not going to work for a month is blowing my brain. I've never had a holiday this long, even during the high school/uni breaks I was working.

This weekend was great - my parents and The Other Sister were down. We went to the Australian War Memorial Open day, the highlight of which was definitely the fly-by of the F/A-18 Hornet. Skyfire (Canberra's big fireworks show) was in the evening, and started with a dump-n-burn by an F-111. Two military jets in one day! (What can I say, I like my fast jets *g*).

And to make things even better, Skyfire was movie themed this year, and the longest section was focused on none other than Star Wars, complete with dialogue from the OT and the Prequels, the main theme, Imperial march... *sigh* The Imperial March sounds even more impressive when accompanied by fireworks :)

There was also the themes from Superman (which included fireworks that somehow exploded in an 'S' shape), Back to the Future and Indianna Jones. All in all, it was a very fannish Skyfire.

Right. Now I have to stop procrastinate, and pack, and clean, and shop, and write a job application. It's a good thing I've decided I don't need to go to sleep tonight.

Why don't I get a 'frazzled' mood theme?
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Mostly for the benefit of RL friends and family, I've created a LJ specifically for use during my trip: [profile] oznfrogs. For duration of the trip, things will be double-posted to both that journal and this. Except for fic, of course :)

Given that the majority of my family is internet illiterate, the first post is just an explanation of LJ, why I'm using it to keep in touch, how to leave comments and read behind an LJ cut. If people have a few moments, I'd appreciate opinions - is it clear, is there anything else people should know, given that this will be my primary method of communicating with everyone apart from my parents. Plus, I think it looks cool :)

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I see the Supernatural fandom has exploded again. *sigh* I must say, sitting back and watching this from a distance, this makes me feel old. Young whippersnappers at it again...

I think every fandom I've seen the early stages of has followed the exact same pattern. The First Season Honeymoon is over, and the Second-Season blues have set in. Suddenly the fandom isn't shiny and new anymore, and people have spent enough virtual time together to realise they are all people and therefore capable of being just as cliche-y and bitchy as those popular girls you secretly hated in high school. The show runners are taking things in a different direction to the way you've spent the season break contemplating, and you're all secretly worried those new characters are just Mary Sues in a cunning disguise, waiting for a chance to take over the show...

I wonder how well Torchwood will cope, when it gets to their second season?

And I wonder when I got so cynical about fandom as a whole?

For the Firefly and Dr Who fen on my flist, anyone who hasn't done so should check out [personal profile] honorh's fic Out of Joint. The TARDIS crash-lands on the Serenity... Yeah, it's a crossover, but the characters from both shows have been nailed, and neither group has been subordinated to the other. Great interaction between the characters, and the start of what looks like a promising plot.

In other news, I'm really starting to get nervous about my trip. I just woke up this morning and it hit me. I think it's the idea of going somewhere where people speak a different language that is freaking me out the most. I get nervous-excited butterflies just thinking about it.

France

Jan. 21st, 2007 03:15 pm
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Yep folks, it's official. I'm going to France. And also to the UK, and possibly to Italy, depending on what we decide to do. At the moment looks like being 20 days in France, primarily based in Paris and Northern France (cause Paris is where the free accommodation is *waves to [profile] kasneeze) and then 10 days in England/UK. Only 5 weeks to get everything organised...

This is my first proper overseas trip (NZ does not count), and it's far and away the longest holiday I've ever been on. Which means that I'm very excited, but only slightly less nervous. I'm hoping to get the dates finalised and tickets booked this week.

On that note, anyone out there got any tips/warnings/dos and don'ts/things to do and see? So far, the collective wisdom of my RL friends has informed me that:
a. Europe is full of pickpockets so talented that they steal the clothes off your back and you never even notice,
b. Europe is a very good place to go to pick up guys from Australia (with bonus points if they actually come from your home town), and
c. Starting a conversation on a plane with 'Hi Jack' is a Very Bad Idea.

In other matters, I've got the latest episode of Supernatural but in an unnatural bout of good-sisterlyness, have decided to wait for [profile] bob_ette to arrive tomorrow before watching it. This has nothing to do with the fact I have SG-1 and Dr Who to watch tonight. I heard there has been some... interesting fan reactions to this one, so I'm especially curious about it.

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