In transit again….

We’ve had a morning of fun with visiting the Centre Pompidou, another patisserie, and a last bike ride. Ah… We will upload the photos later.

Currently sitting in the airport lounge in Charles de Gaulle, after clearing customs and bag check (ahhhh). I will say it was eventful (I must be getting desperate for entertinment). Someone left a bag in the middle of an entrance. Officials cleared half the checkin terminal in 2E. This is fine however, we were in the middle of a bag re-pack. Yes, I did say bag re-pack, as Kym’s bag weighed 26kg and mine weighed 22kg. The allowed luggage is 24kg per bag… this resulted in me sitting on the floor reorganizing my case. I hurried up, re-packed, and we moved away from the area along with everyone else. We noticed a sudden rush of people back to the check-in area – so we joined. Announcements…. what are such things?!

Back at check-in, luggage reweighed Kym’s weighed 22kg, and mine weighed 22kg, with additional items acceded. How this is possible, I have no idea, but the luggage was accepted. Hooray!

Normally when we travel, we don’t have access to lounges (yeah premium economy!), but we have on this occasion. I will say, so far the lounge we experienced in Japan wins hands down, followed closely by Qantas in Sydney. This one is a very poor cousin, food is ok if a packet of chips, vegetarian slice, wine, or coffee is what you need. I don’t need any of those, but I did eat a packet of chips. I don’t know what possessed me…. Must be the thought of the flight. Next post will be from the otherwise of the pond!


Sheep and rain the story of our holiday.

Mont Ventoux – A week after the TDF, originally uploaded by kdt.

When we planned our holiday we thought our theme would be cycling and food. We were wrong. The theme has turned out to be sheep and rain. In every country we have got wet. We are proud owners of new yellow ponchos and our umbrellas and wet weather gear have been well used. Helen went so far as to buy a new cycling jacket.

Golly, there are a lot of sheep in the north of England. But even in Provence there are a lot of sheep. You can see Helen’s magnetic personality as a flock of Provencal sheep surround Helen on Mont Ventoux. This is a famous TDF climb. In reality it’s not that bad 24km with a bracket of between 6% and 12% going upto 1912m. Nothing really, compared with 17% and 500m in the Pennines. I reckon I can do it 🙂

What to shall we do in Paris today?

TDF, originally uploaded by Helen K.

Today’s forecast tells me it will be 19 degrees, with sun and clouds. What shall we do today – there a so many things for tourists to see Paris, but here is what we have decided:

1. Sleep in, for a change.

2. Have breakfast in the hotel, it will be more relaxing.

3. Stroll around the gardens. Perhaps enjoy food and drink. Oh, we might go and watch Cadel Evans win the 2011 Tour de France, and be presented with a yellow jersey. Is there anything else that can be compared to being in Paris today?

Yes, folks we have tickets for one of the stands on the final Champs Elysee. Don’t know what the experience will be like (welcome by tour host, gift – who knows what this will be like, food and drink through the afternoon), but today is a great day to be an Australian and be here in Paris to see the presentation of the Jerseys. And no, we didn’t bring a flag – in 2005 when we saw the TDF we were ignored so I left it at home, I’m okay with this.

As for Australia having a public holiday on Monday to celebrate – why not, makes damn good sense to me.

So, what will you be doing today?

Stage 7 start

Stage 7 start, originally uploaded by Helen K.

Viva le tour!

On Friday we said goodbye to the Tour de France, as we watched the sign-on of the cyclists and the depart for the last time.

After keying into the GPS “Bugatti circuit”, we arrived and eventually parked. By this stage we learnt to park like the French – anywhere is good enough. We walked to the started and looked around, much of the space in front of the sign on centre area was already 4-5 deep, and found a spot on the side on the fence that the cyclists had to go past to enter the centre area.

While waiting there was the usual entertainment, from the Nesquick Rabbit, and Skoda Yeti (of which I got a hug), and team Vittel. By now we knew the routine. Then right on queue as the riders began to sign on, it rained again, and out came the poncho. Our location turned out to be absolutely perfect. Interviews were done in the area in right in front of us. A few cyclists came to sign autographs for people nearby. Cadel, and Griepel spoke to the journos from SBS. Ah magic! While I didn’t get any signatures, I just kept taking photos.

Seeing the Tour de France was amazing – but on reflection, it certainly made me value the experience of the Tour Down Under, given the access to the riders, bike preparation area, not to mention location – given the amazing experience you can have at little or no cost.

Lorient – Contador

Lorient – Contador, originally uploaded by Helen K.

Anyway, back to Lorient. Once the heavens opened up, I decided €10 was a worthwhile investment in a poncho. Especially, given the umbrella was in the car (“it’s not going to rain”), and we were wearing summer clothing – much like everyone else. Admittedly, we weren’t at the front of the railing, but good enough to have a view of the cyclists arriving to sign on. However, those in front of us did have a jacket and an umbrella, but didn’t posses the ability to stand in persistent rain, and decided it was all too much, and left. Ah victory was ours! We were now on the front railing – perfect opportunity for photos, even if the rain continued.

Much like the Tour Down Under there was the traditional commentator (25 years going strong in the role), talking about the local town, the route and the entertainment. The town band arrived…. went on the stage but the rain prevented them from actually playing. The TV interviewers and commentators who spent time setting up earlier, packed up – all too much rain for them to persist. However we remained – given the advantage point we weren’t going to let a little rain move us.

About an hour after it started raining, the cyclists began to arrive. They rode up, leaned their bike against the railings, walked up the stairs, and signed on. The commentator called out their name and any significant races they had won. This was sometimes difficult to understand given the French accent. Once signed on after shaking the hand of local official, they proceeded down the stairs got on their bike, grabbed a powerade bar, and rode to the starting area.

Standing there, in the pouring rain, watching the “who’s who” of pro cycling in one spot was quite amazing. Seeing Contador, the Schleck brothers, and Evans, was absolutely fantastic. There were so many cyclists in the space of 20 minutes…. It was hard to keep up with who had arrived, but despite the rain, we continued to take photos.

Within 20 minutes, the cyclists were all signed on, the presentation was over and we had 15 minutes until the start. Still feeling the buzz from the presentation we thought walking along the neutralized section would provide a good advantage as the cyclists rode by. However, it started to rain again, and as we were walking past the start, there appeared to be plenty of room. We took a position, took more photographs until they rode off.

Ah…. It was a fantastic experience, despite the rain.

A rainy start to stage 4 in Lorient

Last Import-19, originally uploaded by Helen K.

Rain has a tendency to put a dampener on events – especially while on holiday. However for us, it gave us the advantage.

We drove in early to Lorient…. And spent 25+ mins walking to the start, as today’s TDF started near the submarine base (makes sense – away from the centre of town). It all looked good, slightly over cast, and cool. The biggest decision of the morning was “do we wait near the actual start or go where cyclist will be signing on?”. Given we had 3 hours before the start, we decided to go with the sign on area, even though we weren’t on the barrier to get the best view.

Entertainment during this time took the form of TDF sponsors giving out food, newspapers, and a range of promotional products which are meaningless to us. There were kids, men in costumes, and a band, but at 10:30 the overcast sky started to rain on their parade – and us.