The weather in England was fine. So was the weather in France. Near Gent it started to rain though, and it didn’t stop until Tuesday morning. Thankfully it did though, so I could try to make Paul believe the weather is actually nice in the Netherlands :).
After lunch with my parents and siblings, a few attempts on the pogo-stick and a little walk in Etten-Leur we went to Leiden, where of course it was boiling hot in my room, but hey, at least the sun is shining so I’m not complaining :). On Wednesday Paul and I left for Paris for two days, where it was even hotter, but the galleries and parks are still quite enjoyable. When we got off the train we first had lunch near Place des Vosges (where the waitress was moody, but the food was good and they didn’t charge us for the bread and water, the way it should be). We then wandered along the canal, the marina and Paris Plage for a bit. Paris plage is really cool, in summer the city just puts swimming pools on the banks of the seine, as well as comfy chairs, sand and grass and there are concerts and everyone is just lazily hanging around there or playing boules. Very cool. After checking into our hotel in the Latin Quarter we decided to go on an evening boat tours, so we didn’t have to walk and could still see things. Plus we like boats and it’s quite cool to see things from a different angle and you notice things you otherwise wouldn’t. The boat wasn’t as cool as the catamaran we were on in Hawaii (it could take about 1,400 people in one go and their had one of those tapes in a dozen languages explaining what you were looking at, although most of the time we couldn’t hear that luckily) but worth it nonetheless. The great thing about Paris is then that you can still get food aroun 22:30, so we did, and in fact we had a great meal sitting outside on a little cozy terrace in Rue Mouffetard.
On Thursday we bought some bread and pate to have a simple brunch in the Jardin de Luxembourg. After quite a while we wandered off again and ended up in Jardin de Tuileries via de St. Sulpice. At the end of the Jardin de Tuileries there is the MusÃ©e de l’orangerie which had been closed for ages and when it opened again it had gigantic queues…Now it wasn’t too busy so we went to see Monet’s Les NymphÃ©as (the other works in there were OK, it was cool to see Picasso find his style as they had some of his old work). The two rooms with the gigantic 360 waterlily panoramas were absolutely amazing. Also the way they were using the daylight was very nice (the orangerie has a glass roof so they put a very thin canvas ceiling in there to make use of the daylight but not have it too bright). After the orangerie we crossed the Seine again to go to the MusÃ©e d’Orsay, which is open until 21:30 on Thursdays so we still had plenty of time to explore their fabulous collection. There also happened to be a temporary exhibition on on photography in the UK, the oldest photographs they still have were on display there and there were some places on there that I’ve visited!! (Hereford cathedral!) Also some places I still want to visit (such as Tintern Abbey).
After a long day full of art we decided to go for some light entertainment, and we ended up in a Parisian cinema watching “Wanted”. I had really been looking forward to seeing that film, but it was a bit of a disappointment really. Again we had a late dinner (across from the cinema on Place OdÃ©on, very touristy, but it’s so much fun to still see such a lively street on a weekday after 10pm). I also got told off by the waiter for not putting my napkin on my lap (well, he put it there for me with a big gesture, as if I was some cave-woman far behind by the French, but at least I speak 2 languages fluently and I got by in French most of the time as well, even some people working in the tourist industry in Paris do not seem to speak anything other than French still….).
On Friday we had a galette for breakfast (a non-sweet pancake) with eggs, ham and cheese on it (Yummy!) before we got onto the metro again to go to Gare du Nord. In a few hours the thalys took us back to the Netherlands where I was happy to be home again and show Leiden to Paul. So after relaxing for a bit and a meal we strolled out again to meet Steve for drinks on the canals. We didn’t actually sit on a boat terrace, but our table was the last one on the quay, so that counts too. Unfortunately I was so tired that around 11pm I was really looking forward to sleeping. Luckily Paul and Steve didn’t mind, so after a few jokes about me not being able to cope with alcohol, we decided to call it a day.
Saturday was another gorgeous and warm day in Leiden so Paul and I had lunch on a terrace (on the boat this time) and we walked around town for a bit. I bought some sunscreen and showed him some cool places and then we decided to go for the tourist attraction again and go on a boat tour, something I would probably not do by myself in Leiden :). The boat tour was quite cool, it even went by my house and we also saw Europe’s biggest sundial (don’t come to Leiden for that though, it’s on the ugliest building in town 🙂 ). At the end of the afternoon we bought some fruit, vegetables and cheese on the market and some pasta and Italian ham at a cool little Italian shop that we found and we cooked (Paul instructed and I did) a nice meal that we ate downstairs in my garden. The perfect end to a perfect day. And with that our holidays were over as well (for a while then anyway ;)) because Paul had to leave again on Sunday, and I had to start working on my paper again.