Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to London for a couple more runs in Hyde Park.

Upgraded to Business Class!

Friday morning - quiet in the park.

Final run!

Thursday afternoon run.

Neil on the Eurostar on our way back to London.

We travelled by the TGV train from Tours to Paris to catch the Eurostar train back to London. It was raining lightly in London which made for a refreshing run in Hyde Park after the heat and humidity in France. We had one night in London before our flight left from Heathrow Airport back to Vancouver. We went out for dinner at a restaurant close to the hotel that we have enjoyed before - Zaffereno's. A bustling place of good food and good atmosphere. It had stopped raining by the morning and of course we went for our final run in the park. It was a quiet morning in the park. Neil contemplated a stop in the park for a bacon roll as a final treat. He decided against it as we had a long journey ahead of sitting and eating airplane food.
We had the pleasure of being moved up again into Business Class - love it! BA had made an error and had moved us apart for the journey home despite us paying the extra money to "reserve" our seats and to check in on-line 24 hours prior to departure. We stood our ground and they finally moved us up. This happened once before after WHW - they are nice little sleeping units. The flight home went as well as a 9 hour flight can go. A couple of movies...a few magazines read...I enjoyed the Runners World from Britain and the article on Paula's running career. There was also an incredible story of a lady named Rosie that pulled a cart that she slept in as she did 27 marathons in 27 days. Amazing! We were up first thing this morning (jet lag!) and headed out to shake it out on a trail in Golden Ears Park. What a contrast from France, London. Tonight I have a high school reunion party to attend - hopefully I will be able to stay awake to enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

La Loire a Velo

Getting ready to ride! The Cruisers! Nice Cruising! A chicken at the road side. (Hmmm...says the Vet) Cruising amongst the Sunflower Fields - very pretty! More Sunflower Fields. Entering the town of Amboise (pretty close to Ambrose!) Neil's ancestry does originate from Italy not France - but it's close! Where we had lunch in Amboise. The Chateau Chenonceau Gardens - like this tree! The Chateau Chenonceau over Le Cher River. At noon today Neil was able to take a break from the conference and we appeared at the bike shop as planned for 12 noon. I had reserved the bikes in advance which was a good thing - it was busy in the shop. When I asked for assistance I said Bonjour, we are here to rent bikes. The shop owner says no - you are here to "book" a bike - not "rent" a bike. He mentioned "book" a bike a few times so that seemed the language to use. So...if you ever want to "rent" bikes in France - remember you want to "book" a bike! It was a funny moment! He kitted us out with helmets, a bag for the bike and the tire repair kit. He reviewed the route options and of course being of the "ultra" personality type we decided to aim for 2 castles. The shop owner was a bit cautious thinking we couldn't do both and be back in time for his 7pm shop closing time. We had dinner plans with fellow Canadians (a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan that Neil does work with) so we had to be back. We looked at the distance and figured with stops and all we could catch the 5:59 train back to Tours. I think he thought we were crazy! Obviously most people rent the bikes and go for a gentle cruise. They were cruising bikes alright and they defintely made us work hard! The rolling terrain of France provides great training on bikes. We passed lots of vineyards with grapes of various colours. Gardens full of rows of tomatoes and fruit trees a plenty. The flowers in the locals gardens were outstanding as well - made me want to get home and improve the garden! We took lots of photos for reference. We made it to Chateau Amboise (28km) in good time. Had lunch at one of the outdoor Brassieres where we started to notice the temperature warming up. Cute town Amboise. We did a quick walk around the Chateau and then got back on the bikes to carry on to Chenonceau. This section was very undulating which was a good hard work out on the bikes. Lots of picture perfect scenery - it was great. We arrived at the Chateau Chenonceau and it was so well organized with where to park the bikes - free helmet/bag check if you wanted. The chateau itself goes over le Cher River. Quite interesting to see. Of course the gardens were great and the cafe latte at the garden cafe was needed after the now 48km on the bikes. The train station back to Tours was right there at the Castle and we had to wait a bit before the 5:59 departure. While waiting for our train a very high speed train came through the stop. It is benches only at this train stop with a machine to purchase your tickets. Neil and I were sitting on the bench at the side of the tracks when the high speed train went through and I thought it was the end! The train was going so fast all you could see was water vapour and hear it coming at you. We were both freaked right out - I guess the locals get used to it! Efficient way to travel but keep away from the tracks! The train was packed with cyclists and their bikes - great to see! We made it back to the shop at 6:45 - he was impressed! Most people doing this route are obviously on a better bike. It was a great day out and a perfect way to see the special villages and farms in La Loire. We were showered and at dinner by 8pm!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Sampling of Loire Valley Wines at the Musee des Beaux Art, Tours, France.

Welcome to the Conference!

The Wineries displaying their wares in the white tents.

Enjoying the evening!

The Gardens

The Museum and Tours Cathedral in the background.

First thing this morning we made our way to a local market that is held every Tuesday morning close by. It is a local market that sells fruit, veggies, cheese, fish, olives and breads - all the essentials! It was great to see the locals choosing their produce and chatting with the farmers. Neil still had a few minutes before he had to attend the conference so we stopped for a "grande coffee" and a croissant. Both were excellent. Neil was off to the conference center and I headed back to the river for a run on the path along the Loire River. Today is was a bit cooler which made the temperature just perfect. I'm not sure if it was the coffee I had just consumed but wow I felt like I could run forever. It's nice when the run feels so pleasant and effortless - I know I should kick it up a notch at times like this but I really enjoyed the peacefulness of it all.
Neil and I met for lunch and had a nice salad that was full of fresh veggies. I did some more exploring in the afternoon and found a chocolate shop that reminded me of the movie "Chocolate". Here I purchased bags of foil wrapped mini pieces of chocolate to take back to our offices - 72% Cocoa! Hey - research shows it's good for us! Tonight we had a great evening with the conference at the Musee des Beaux Art in Tours. In the gardens many local wineries had their wines on display for tasting. It was very nicely done with Foie Gras pate served at every booth - we declined! The wineries were interesting - some do reds, whites and sparkling, some just whites, some just reds - all depending on their location and their climate in the Loire River Valley. We learned that where the soil is sandy and stony, the resulting wine is "gravelly", whereas the limestone clay of the hillsides produce the so called "tuffeau" wines (whatever that means!).
I picked up a few recipe cards with some nice looking appetizers (all in French) but with a little help I think we can figure them out. It was a great evening! Cycling trip tomorrow!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Running in Tours, France

The Tours City Hall - today's conference center and the welcoming ceremony at night.

The Welcoming Marching Band - they/ were fun and a bit off!

The appetizers and refreshments waiting while the speaches finish.

Like these! Can we grow them in BC?

And these?

Nice view if the Conference Center at Night.

We arrived in Tours, France by train - the TGV. It was fast and only 1 hour from Paris. (200mph!) We arrived in the mid afternoon which gave us time to discover parts of the city and of course the running routes. The Hotel Concierage was very helpful at pointing us in the direction of the trails along the River Loire. It was a Sunday which brought a lot of locals out for activities along the river. The sun was hot - must have been about 35 degrees. We discovered a nice river path that we ran for about 60 minutes - it was hot! I did the run again today mid afternoon while we had a slight rain shower - it was refreshing! Today Neil attended his conference and really enjoyed the speakers. Tonight we attended a welcome reception at Tours City Hall. There are over 70 countries represented at the conference which is quite unique.(people eat poultry around the world!) At the reception the welcoming remarks included those from the Mayor of Tours. It is a great city with lots to see and do! We have reserved some bikes to ride along the River Loire on Wednesday to Castles and sights along the way. It looks like a good ride aprox 50km return.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Having Fun in Paris!

Eiffel Tower...we went up!! In the evening, it was a great warm, clear night to see the views of the city.

Under the Arc de Triomphe

Montmartre...where we had lunch. Cute!

Street sign with the vine and berries growing around it. Nice!


Place de la Concorde...Me!

The entrance to the Palace of Versailles

Wildflowers in the Gardens at the Palace of Versailles

More flower gardens at the Palace

Approaching Notre Dame Cathedral

Neil after a refreshment break from shopping!

Me...on the Champs...waitng for service!

The Arc de Triomphe at night - Spectacular!!