Sunday, 25 January 2009

2004 Within These Walls - How Many Quilts????

Midway through our second week we were at a loose end as to where next to visit when Ian suggested that we travelled back to Langres, the town we passed through earlier on the way to Switzerland.More information is available here. Guzzisue was up for this as Langres is the city that had all the quilts hanging from the city walls.
Having swapped yet another relay on the Guzzi we left Europa Park and headed across country and into France, where the police were watching the border with interest, but they left us along to continue our journey.
Finding a hotel inside the town, Grand Hotel De L'Europe
, quite expensive for us but at least they have a car park at the back of the building. We also dine at the hotel in the evening, having a meal prepared with local produce and finishing with a selection of local cheeses.
Next morning we concluded that by the amount of buffet breakfast that had disappeared we must be the last people down. Never mind, a lie in never hurt this group of travellers.
Hunger defeated we walked down to the tourist information centre where we were able to hire out an electronic tour guide, called a "Guide-Man" for 5 euros each. These devices enabled us to key in a code as directed at several places of interest around the city and have a commentary about the location. A great idea as these are available in several languages.
With clear blue skies, armed with our "Guide-Men" we embark on a walk around the outside of the city with Guzzisue in heaven taking pictures of the numerous quilts. The exhibition ran from July to September 2004 under the banner of Patch' Murailles, with input from Below are a few examples of the work.
Most of the quilts were made of fabric although one was made from ripstop nylon, used mainly for kites and tents. Another was made using plastic flowers and fruit woven into chicken wire onto a fabric background. There was an international feel to the exhibition as some quilts had the name of the area it was made.
The one from Beaconsfield took us by surprise until we discovered that it is twinned with Langres.
The largest quilt on display was La Fresque Geante, The Giant Fresco, measuring in at 25 x 8 metres!
The quilt below was based on the roof of Cathedral Saint Mammes looking splendid in the red and gold.
To get out of the sun for a while we entered the coolness offered by the cathedral giving Guzzisue another photo shoot opportunity.
After lunch, for which the local museum closed, we wandered round the exhibits, including having a long look at the remains of a Roman mosaic floor that was discovered during some building repairs. Our "Guide-Men" came in useful again as there were several pieces programmed into them. We also discovered the Green Valley Gallery that was displaying the works of local artist Jean-Yves Texier and Ian and myself got dragged into an exhibition of small patchworks. Here Guzzisue got talking to a lady who told her the story behind several of the pieces, both hanging on the city walls and inside the gallery.
Walking around Langres there are several plaques giving the history of an area of interest.
With the streets being narrow, Langres is an idea place for the pedestrian that is more intent on looking around without having to be too wary of passing traffic.
In conclusion, Langres is well worth a day stop over and one day we may well return for another visit as I'm sure we did not see everything the city has to offer. There was one last thing to do and that was a visit to the local pizza house for dinner before returning to the hotel to pack for tomorrows journey back to Bethune and then onwards back home.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

2004 Within These Walls - Mistaken Identity At Theme Park

Today we are heading across country and avoiding the autobahn as much as possible, aiming for Rust, a small town about 30 miles south of Stuttgart close to the French boarder. We are having problems with the relays on the Guzzi and have to stop at a service station as Ian changes another one. I get a little concerned when Guzzisue notices the sign below
with me being so small and securely strapped onto my travelling position I hope there are no hungry eagles around.
The area surrounding Rust is very flat and we can see our destination several miles away, it being Europa Park. The original idea was to find a bed and breakfast close to the park but all expense was thrown out of the window and it was decided to book into one of the hotels.
Riding into the car park there was a sculpture of some Spanish men with music coming from a speaker.
In the reception area there is a large chandelier above a water feature.
Then the weird happening of the holiday occurred. The majority of the park had German and French visitors but when Guzzisue went to collect our key she was nearly given the one for another visitor from England with the same first name and surname who are staying in the same hotel! Only the Sues' partners were different so I kept on calling Ian David to wind him up a little. Unfortunately we did not meet the other couple from England during our stay.
Walking down the authentic corridor
we arrive at our room for the next two nights. Inside the room comes with two double beds, cable TV, a writing desk complete with complimentary writing paper and a washing line in the bathroom.
As we unpack we are greeted with Queen's We Will Rock You coming from somewhere in the park. We must investigate tomorrow.
Europa Park closes at 18:00 but we were permitted into the grounds for the last couple of hours, which gave us a chance to try a few rides and get our bearings for the day ahead.
The mascot for Europa Park is Euro Mouse and he can be found at various meeting points around the park.
It was necessary to book a table for our evening meal with a choice of Spanish or Italian food. We opted for the Spanish buffet, plenty of choice very well presented and tasty. We could not see the price anywhere but discovered the cost was 23 euro each.
Hunger killed we walked over to the Hotel Colosseo, based on the Colosseum in Rome, to watch the musical water fountain, only to arrive too late for the main display.
The Colosseo is a larger complex with more activity around its central area whilst El Andaluz where we are staying is set around an enclosed garden with a small swimming pool and feels much more relaxed.
The next morning arrives warm and cloudy and having eaten a hearty breakfast it is time to hit the rides. Being residents in the park hotel meant that we were entitled to some time before day trippers were let in. Another bonus we discovered as the day progressed was that the children were back at school so we never had to wait more than 10 minutes before getting on a ride.
As with Gardaland there are several different shows during the day. We managed to watch a 4D film, an Ice Show, a Laser Show, The House Of Mystery and the highlight of the day the Gladiator Show. This was an action packed production based on the story of Spartacus. At the start of the show a male and female member of the audience are chosen to be the guests of honour and are dressed in Togas befit of their status.
In the show there was horse riding tricks
and staged fights with the guests of honour deciding if the defeated combatants lived or died. Not surprising but all defeated parties got the thumbs down.
The finale was played out on a bridge over the arena to Queen's "We Will Rock You", which explained where the music was coming from as we unpacked yesterday.
The shows were a rest bite from the rides which included a monorail, log flume, water rapids, bobsleigh,
the Matterhorn Roller Coaster which can be seen in the foreground of the picture below,
while in the background you can see part of the Poseidon ride, a combination of a roller coaster and water ride combined. On this Ian had a flashback to a motorcycle accident that he and Guzzisue had several years ago. As the roller coaster was going down a dip and into a tunnel, a red monorail came across our path in a similar vain to the accident. This did not stop us from going on again a little later in the day.
In amongst the excitement of the rides there are areas of tranquility including this stave church.

The total count for rides and shows was 20, an impressive number and all for 26euros each! As Wallace would say "A Grand Day Out".
After the park had closed for the evening we had intended to book the Italian Restaurant but were unable to get a table, so back to the Spanish cuisine it was. Later we returned to the Colosseo, climbed some steps and watched the storm clouds gather.
Around the courtyard there were some street entertainers going through their paces
ans a large fairground organ piping out its music.
A Legionaire offered to have his photo taken with Ian and was puzzled as to how Guzzisue knew he was English. She left him bemused at this and didn't bother to explain that she had heard him talking earlier on.
To conclude, Euro Park is well worth a visit. The room and food were both excellent, shows entertaining and the rides enjoyable. The only negative we can draw from our visit was that there was no bottled water for sale in the park! Will we return? Definately!