Catacombs of Paris

1-Entrance CatacombsOne of the most fascinating places that I’ve visited! Stacks of bones and skulls..displayed in a ‘romantic’ way. Well, that was one way the audio guide explained it.

We made it in on the 2nd day attempt. (There is always a long line-up so make sure you give yourself extra 30mins to a 1hr for lining up.) Once you make it through the entrance (€8), it is a self-guided tour with or without an audio guide(€4). We opted for an audio guide and appreciated the explanation. Sometimes, there are 2-Lineup Catacombsdescriptions on the wall but in the 19m deep into the darkness, I recommend the audio guide. It is worth the 4euros. Self-guided also meant there is a plenty of time to take pictures and walk through at your own pace. The display of skulls and bones are in multiple quarries so don’t get queued up on first quarry that you see..there are a lot more to see!

The Catacombs contain the remainders of approximately six million Parisian! Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1874.

4-Sculpture Catacombs  3-path to Catacombs

10-quarry catacomb  9-hall catacombs

11-teeth skull catacombs5-well catacombsSince Roman times, Paris has buried its dead on the outskirts of the city, but habits changed with the rise of Christianity and its practice of burying its faithful in the consecrated ground under and around its churches, no matter their location. By the 10th century, many of Paris’s parish cemeteries were well

8-skulls lineup catacombswithin city limits, and eventually some, because of their central location in dense urban growth, were unable to expand and became overcrowded. An attempt to remedy this situation came in the early 12th century with the opening of a central mass burial ground for those not wealthy enough to pay for a church burial. Once an excavation in one section of the cemetery was full, it would be covered over and another opened. Residues resulting from the decaying of organic matter, a process often chemically accelerated with the use of lime, entered directly into the earth, creating a situation unacceptable for a city whose then-principal source of water was wells.7-heart skulls catacombs

The government had been searching for and consolidating long abandoned stone quarries in and around the capital since 1777, and it was the Police Lieutenant General overseeing the renovations, Alexandre Lenoir, who first had the idea to use empty underground tunnels on the outskirts of the capital to this end. His successor, Thiroux de Crosne, chose a place to the south of Paris’s “porte d’Enfer” city gate 12-closeup skull catacomb(the place Denfert-Rochereau today), and the exhumation and transfer of all Paris’s dead to the underground sepulture began in 1786, taking until 1788 to complete.

The catacombs in their first years were mainly a bone repository but in 1810, Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, oversaw the renovations that would transform the underground caverns into a real and visitable sepulture on par with any mausoleum. In addition to directing the arrangement of 6-skulls catacombsskulls and femurs into the configuration seen in the catacombs today, he used those tombstones and cemetery decorations he could find (many had disappeared after the 1789 Revolution) to complement the walls of bones. – Wiki

One of those must-see places if you are in Paris! :)

Posted in Europe, France | 5 Comments

The Peace Palace

The Peace PalaceTo be honest, I did not know a place called, the Peace Palace existed.  Even if I heard of it in the past, I guess it did not fully register in my head.  So, for me, it was a learning and insightful visit.  The free tour walked us through the different stages of how the Peace The Peace PalacePalace came to existence after the World War I and even to how Carnegie, a name I only heard as a famous concert hall in New York, had been involved with the build.  The examples of the international cases that the Palace handles to ensure conflict resolutions between countries and people of different nationalities were also fascinating.  Had I known about this place, would I have been more interested in law and international issues in school? Probably not.  I had always been a math/science nerd but it was great for me to open eyes into a different area.  :)

The Peace Palace  The Peace Palace

Well, here are some interesting facts about the Peace Palace:

  • The Palace officially opened on August 28, 1913.
  • Andrew Carnegie provided 1.5 Million dollars to build the Palace with a condition that there will be a library.
  • To build, the foundation called for an international competition and the winner was The Peace PalaceLouis Cordonnier, a French architect with his Neo-Renaissance design.
  • The scene in Skyfall where M is being questioned is a courtroom in the Palace.
  • Inside is filled with many gifts from different countries and guided tours are available only on weekends.
  • The visitor center opens dailys until October and provides great information and short films about the Palace.

 

 

 

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“Dogging” in UK

Interesting discussion topic after two days of all day meetings and a few drinks with co-workers..the phenomenon(?) of dogging in UK.

Direct quote from wiki:

Dogging is a British English euphemism for engaging in sexual acts in a public or semi-public place or watching others doing so. There may be more than two participants; both group sex and gang banging can be included. As observation is encouraged, voyeurism and exhibitionism are closely associated with dogging. The two sets of people involved often meet either randomly or (increasingly) arrange to meet up beforehand over the Internet.

Dogging started in the later part of the 20th century, in the UK, with locations mainly being public car parks and lay-bys (usually on quiet country roads) with activity normally taking place after dark. Doggers would usually leave their interior lights on in their cars so that other doggers would know that they too were doggers. Some would flash their headlights at other cars or flick the interior light on-and-off briefly. These are the most common signs to show that one is a dogger, and are also the signs used by gay men who use lay-bys as cruising grounds for sexual activity. Many dogging locations are used by both straight doggers and gay men.

Did you know this?? It was news to me. Why we started talking about his topic..Apparently, there was a documentary recently done on British channel 4?(YouTube-if you are curious) Popular in parking lots…Anyways, I must have been traveling for awhile..these topics neither surprises or embarrasses me anymore. Chalking it up to one of ‘those’ interesting moments. ;P

Posted in England, Europe | 3 Comments

Royal Delft Museum

A pleasant and informative visit to the Royal Delft Museum in Delft, NL, approximately 10mins drive from The Hague, NL.

Royal DelftRoyal Delft is the only remaining earthenware factory that produces the world famous Delftware since the 17th century. The tour take you on a journey through the history the century-old pottery and chance to see the authentic production process and meet the artists at work. Also, the showroom presenting both classic and modern Delftware and it’s fun to compare what period and style of potteries you like versus your friends do.

The admission is € 12,00 but you could also get a 25% discount if you print the link (http://www.delft.nl/delften/Tourists/Discover_Delft/To_see/Delft_Blue/Royal_Delft) before your visit. :)

Royal DelftThe style of the Royal Delft potteries originated from China and became pretty popular.  When the transport of the potteries became difficult, factories were open in Europe to meet the market demand.  Royal DelftThey also developed a unique method of producing the potteries that involve various stages from mixing the right portions of the exact ingredients to pre-heated in an oven, painted, heated again in an oven then glossed to establish the deep blue color that Royal Delft is famous for.  It was interesting to see that when the artists paint the potteries, the colors show as black but when they are heated again, the color turns out blue.

Anyways, if you like the Royal Delft pottery, it’s an interesting 1.5 hours to learn about the history and the different styles.  My friends had a great idea to learn about Royal Delft at the museum, skip the experience gift store and use the knowledge to pick out the Royal Delft at antique and garage sales.  Royal DelftThe good, high qualities ones are quite expensive!

The photo on the right is Delft Potteries with Miffy on them.  Wondering why Miffy is on them? Because Miffy is Dutch! :)  She originated in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, Nijntje, is a shortening or diminutive of konijntje, “little rabbit”.  ;)

Posted in Europe, Netherlands | 3 Comments

Good Bye Sydney!

Australia95 days in Sydney, Australia. It has been a long trip!!!!  Would I like to return? Not really. (I’m probably jinxing myself here.) The work pace was too slow for me here. I’ve been told ‘too pushy’, ‘too tough’, ‘too agressive’..me? really? To the Australians, I was, apparently. I don’t mind being called things or even if they don’t like me but it was frustrating to not get things done. A workstation setup that would have taken a week at home, took 2 months here….To fix ONE door, it is still in progress for the last 4 months. Eh, You get the idea…

Anyways, let me focus on the good things I experienced in Sydney:

McDonald'sDelicious multicultural Food:
Yum! 95 days=285 meals. Australia is similar to Canada a multi-cultural country. A great variety and tasty as well. :)
My weekly regular was Thai food. I’ve even explored new menus, Laksa and Pad See Ew. Now, I could say I have four favourite Thai dishes: Pad Thai, Green curry, Laksa and Pad See Ew. LOL. I also tried Kangaroo and Crocodile dishes. I thought ‘chewier’ beef(Kangaroo) and ‘chewier’ chicken(Crocodile)..Don’t need to try again. :P

 

 
Laksa Malasian Style LambLa duree Healthy BurgerHarry's Tiger Pie Lucky Kanzo Sushi OutbackItalian Paul'sBrenner SauteItalian Ding Tai FungVietnamese KoreanBites Ribs and Rumps

Great Weather for the Beach:
I’m not a big beach person but there’s always been great weather for it. Nice beaches everywhere too. On these weather, I headed to the air conditioned malls and ate ice cream or drank bubble tea. :P

Australia Bondi Beach Australia Bondi Beach Australia Bondi Beach Australia Bondi Beach

Easy Public Transportation System:
Whether it is a ferry, train or bus, they will connect you easily to the different parts of Sydney and its suburbs. Mobile App – Link Express is a great tool to find out what’s the fastest, least walking, least transfers methods. Pictures below are Sydney Monorail but it will be closed soon..July 2013.

Sydney Monorail Sydney Monorail

Attractions near the city:
Sydney Opera House, Habour Bridge, Tarongo Zoo, Darling Habour, Fish Market, Bondi and Manly beaches are all near the city. It was convenient to get around..So, you could see them over and over easily by just getting to the ciyt.I must have seen the Opera house at least ten times. :P

Australia Open Cinema Sydney Starbucks Opera House Map of Sydney

Well, it’s been interesting – Sydney!  Good bye. :)

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Cheapest Uggs In Sydney

It took some research to figure this out..So, here’s what I found out.

First, you have to decide what is ‘real’ uggs to you. Is it the American brand “Ugg America” with the big ‘G’ in the middle of the label or Australian made uggs by any local Australian brand?

Ugg Australia vs.  Australian Ugg

So as mentioned, Ugg Australia is an American footwear company that was originally created by an Australian surfer in 1978..you could read the full story here.

The concept of ‘Ugg’ boots was originally from Australia and New Zealand.  The boots originated in these countries, initially as utilitarian footwear worn for warmth and comfort and later adopted by surfers there during the 1960s. In the 1970s, the boots were introduced to the surf culture of the United Kingdom and the United States by local surfers returning from surfing competitions in Australia. Ugg boots emerged as a fashion trend in the United States in the late 1990s and as a world-wide trend in the mid 2000s, yet in Australia they are worn predominantly as slippers and associated with “daggy” fashion sense, and “bogan” culture. – Wikipedia  In other words, you don’t see many Australian wearing Uggs on the streets.  They are more popular in the other parts of the world!

So, here you have to decided..do you want the BRAND or just the type of boots that is made of Australian sheep skin with fleece on the inside?  The styles are the same.

If you’ve decided the BRAND, then you could find the store at 350 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 or in any other countries or online. The prices are not any cheaper in Sydney than anywhere else in the world though. They are an American Brand with the boots made in China.

If you’ve decided the type of boots, “Ugg”, then you have several choices in Sydney. In my four months stay in Sydney, I had decided to go with the Australian made boots and determined to buy the cheapest possible without sacrificing the sheepskin/fleece quality. Whether I succeeded or not, who knows but I now leave Australia..having bought 5 pairs of Uggs, none of which were even my own but now I have a happy mom, aunts and cousins. (I had actually done the research, Ugg Australia vs. Australian made, a year ago and bought my own first pair of Australian made uggs online and shipped it to a friend, who was in Australia at the time for free shipping. Overall, I was happy with the product and the online buying experience). If online is not an option for you though, I’ve discovered two good stores in Sydney.  One is around Circular Quay at the corner of Alfred and Pitt street, right beside Starbucks.  Although they don’t have a vast variety of styles, they had the good prices and good quality sheepskin/fleece ugg boots. The other store is in Darling Harbour mall on the second floor, above the Hard Rock café.  They have a good variety and good price compared to the other stores on the first floor. If you want to go even cheaper and bypass some quality aspects, I suggest Paddy’s Market, which is also great for cheap souvenirs!  (I couldn’t find uggs at normal shoe stores..they are truly geared to tourists.)  :)

Posted in Australia | 4 Comments

Angel Place Sydney

Angel PlaceAngel Place features an installation known as “Forgotten Songs”, which is part of the Laneways: By George! Hidden Networks project. It features a canopy of 120 empty birdcages hanging in the sky, accompanied by the sounds of Sydney’s lost birds which may have lived in this area, before the city including this laneway, replaced their native habitats. The calls also change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun and those of the nocturnal birds which inhabited the area sounding into the evening. A neat idea!

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