A Travellerspoint blog

Paris in December

Beautiful in any season

overcast -2 °C

Paris was grey and cold after the sunny heat of Tanzania. But such a beautiful city in any weather. After flying for 14 hours via Doha I arrived at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and immediately jumped on the RER train to the city from the airport. Another European city with an excellent transit system. I was wondering by this time why it was still so dark but sunrise is 8:30 a.m. I walked to the hotel and luckily they could let me check in right away. I slept for a few hours then got up to explore the 17th arrondissement. I made my way past the Moulin Rouge and wound my way up the cobblestone streets of Montmartre to the basilica Sacre Coeur. Very beautiful! Artists in a square nearby were selling their paintings and this was quintessential Paris as we all imagine it. The next day I set off to walk the Champs Elysees, starting at the Arc de Triomphe, following it down to La Place de La Concorde where I rode the Big Wheel (ferris wheel) for a 360 degree view of the city. Then I walked through the Tuileries gardens and into the Louvre. Although you can spend days in the Louvre I was satisfied with a couple of hours. What an impressive place. The museum is housed over a fortress built in the 1200s and you can go into subterranean halls to see the original foundation. As I walked back to the Arc de Triomphe I stopped and indulged in a little Parisienne fashion shopping!

On Thursday I took the RER to Versailles to visit the Chateau. The gardens were even beautiful in their winter state. The palace was magnificent. I headed back into Paris and decided to go to the Musee d'Orsay to see the permanent collection. I was fascinated by the impressionist collection housed there. It is also an amazing building architecturally. After going back to the hotel to warm up (and so thankful I broke down and bought Kashmir pashmina in India) I ventured back out into the cold to meet Emilie for dinner. Emilie was a lovely lady we met in Mongolia on our Gobi Desert tour. She has a very interesting job with French immigration evaluating refugee claims and used to work in the Hague for the international court of justice. We had a very good time talking about our various adventures and sharing good food and wine. Oh by the way, the food in Paris, c'est magnifique! The Parisienne people were lovely and excused my broken French at every turn. One night I had a lengthy conversation with a shopkeeper who spoke no English. Well, she talked, I understood everything she said but my broken and halting replies were in Frenglish! But we talked for 30 minutes. On my last day I went to Notre Dame Cathedral to admire the amazing architecture and stained glass. I would highly recommend Paris. Anything negative I had ever heard was not what I experienced there at all.

I left on Saturday morning for my dreaded WOW airlines flight (Wow, we actually left on time; wow my luggage made it) to Iceland and other than a one hour delay because the cargo door wouldn't close, they were actually a good airline. I did, however, have to pay a lot for my bags online the night before but.... I arrived in Reykjavik, meeting Micah who had arrived early that morning and patiently waited for me all day. So wonderful to see my baby boy! I tried to blog from Paris but for some reason was being told that traveler's point was an unsafe website so not wanting to mess up my only means of communication (Eli's tablet Kellie kindly left me) I decided to wait. Stay tuned for Iceland adventures with pictures care of Micah's phone. A teaser... My fingers have only just thawed out after snorkeling in the Silfra fissure this morning....

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Posted by kelshell 20:52 Archived in France Comments (4)

Back in Tanzania

Camping and hiking

overcast 18 °C

Just thought I would check in to update everyone. I arrived back in Arusha on November 13th and will be here until December 4th before leaving for Paris. Since my phone is still messed up I have no pictures to add to this post. In Sri Lanka the Samsung store added a memory card to my phone for pictures but without removing it and inserting into a laptop or computer I can't access them. I stayed at the foot of Kilimanjaro for the first two nights in a very beautiful location. Hiking to the Weru Weru river from the lodge was a nice adventure. After staying in Arusha for a couple of nights and reconnecting with friends made last time, I went camping for a few nights near two waterfalls. A very peaceful and beautiful setting. Yesterday I took some supplies into the Joshua daycare that I had purchased in the Delhi airport. The children immediately started singing, "if you're happy and you know it" when they saw me! I will likely visit them again while I am here. So that's all for now. Probably the shortest post so far! I will update more when I can. Missing Kellie who is busy back in Nanaimo working and readjusting to life at home. For me, the pending end to this adventure is bittersweet as I am missing everyone and beginning to wonder how I also will readjust, find work, etc. Many mixed feelings right now.

Posted by kelshell 08:57 Archived in Tanzania Comments (3)

Snorkeling, surf, sand

Lots of each

sunny 37 °C

The promised video cannot be delivered - yet. Finally excellent, uninterrupted WiFi and now device issues. I must have overtaxed my poor android phone the other night. After each video was loaded to my phone I would upload to YouTube and delete from my phone. That is what is time consuming. But two nights ago when I tried to load snorkeling footage, I got error messages - no go. And the tablet will download the video but won't upload to YouTube. Yesterday morning my phone started sending up all these messages like - what's app, email, messenger, Facebook shutting down. I have continually deleleted photos, videos, cached data to no avail. Storage is full, systems may not operate. So since this has been happening often I took my brother's advice, "Shell you're in tech central over there, surely someone can help you with your phone", and went to an actual Samsung phone shop down the street. Ha, one hour later and several attempts gained me a bit of storage and a new SD card which I probably didn't need. Now I can take photos but I can't find them. My settings keep shutting down. So I am afraid any more pictures and videos will have to wait.

I have seen parrotfish the size of large koi in colors ranging from turquoise through red and lavender. Hundreds of Picasso trigger fish, some aggressive and some not. Angel fish, damsel fish, wrasses and eels. Even an octopus! The soft and stony corals are making a comeback here after a bleaching event some years ago. Murphy's law - should have taken the footage day one as that was the clearest and calmest of my days here. The second night a huge thunderstorm tore through for hours and behind it followed winds that have churned up the surf. Good snorkeling still but need both hands to swim so gopro difficult to use. The wind has also hampered my ability to get out with a local on his catamaran for snorkeling further out. Should have taken him up day one. We will see if we can get out tomorrow morning.

The people here are very friendly and the food is scrumptious. I have recovered from my Nepal belly enough to have had three good meals. I found Kellie's son Quinn some tea he was after and sure hope it's not a disappointment! My kind hostess is taking me out to visit a fort soon so I will continue writing after. Well I am back from seeing Galle and a nice dinner out with Ganga. Galle is far more touristy and beautiful in its own right. At various times in history Sri Lanka has been occupied by the Dutch and Portuguese. And the fortification wall along the ocean is all that is left of a larger settlement built in the late 1500s by the Portuguese. It was added to in the 1700s by the Dutch. The Dutch even returned to Sri Lanka in the 1950s after the British finally left. Now Ganga, lovely as she is, seems to be a nervous driver. She dropped me off at the beach on day one and that's kind of why I forgot my waterproof case - I wasn't expecting a ride but she was heading to work so I quickly got my bag together and left. I noticed that she seemed unsure and nervous that morning. Well today a half hour drive and an inability to parallel park really had me curious. Ganga confessed that she only learned to drive four months ago, with one week of lessons from the driver who picked me up Monday. And no she doesn't have a license, nor do many here! And she has this brand new hybrid car with all the bells and whistles including a back up camera! When we got home after dinner, her daughter, niece and I tried to help her back into the driveway and we all just about peed ourselves, including Ganga, as she tried over and over to back in straight. Needless to say, I am glad the driver is taking me back to the airport Sunday!

Sri Lanka is well worth a visit. Although Kellie and I had planned on two weeks, both here and other areas, someone would do well to spend three weeks here at least to see as much as possible. Prices are cheap for quality lodging, food and products. I cut a week off to go back to Tanzania and must say that more time would have been nice. As with Africa and India, distances are great and often the infrastructure just isn't there to support quick travel. But of the three places, Sri Lanka is far and away the winner with more modern highways, superior housing, etc. Except that the gas stations are only open certain days and hours because they rely on the petrol ship to bring petrol from the middle East. Always a shortage there. But otherwise, it's a great island.

Posted by kelshell 18:49 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Superb Sri Lanka

Hikkaduwa reef

sunny 37 °C

Well made it to Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka last night after a three and a half hour plane ride and a two and a half hour transfer from the airport in Colombo. All this with the dreaded traveler's diarrhea which I suspected was starting on the way to Kathmandu. I really knew I had it when I arrived in Delhi the other night. Wow, can't blame this on India (Delhi belly)! Must have been Nepal. One night there I started brushing my teeth with bottled water but for some reason finished with tap. But really it could have been anything there. Anyway I started the antibiotics and have only one more pill tonight on this course and it's still not resolved. But I feel better than I did. You really notice the line up on the plane for the bathroom when you have this. Even though I was at the back, after the meal was finished every one of the 85 Sri Lankans with a tour group returning from India got up en masse to line up. Then when yours truly needed to go we hit turbulence and had to stay seated. But if I really needed to go I sure would have....

Hikkaduwa is a marine protected coral reef on the southeast side of the island. We had picked this area for a week of snorkeling. The hosts at Residence Chanty are lovely and I have the whole place to myself. It's by far the nicest place we picked (I just adjusted the dates). This morning I spent hours at the beach before coming back to download from the gopro because it also has excellent WiFi. I am not supposed to say how the snorkeling is so I won't but you can see new footage once I take some tomorrow. Forgot the waterproof case in my stupor this morning.

In the meantime enjoy these random videos I have managed to upload. I am not putting them in their respective blogs because I am now tired of doing them. And I accidentally deleted the only one I had on the raft!

Leaving Nepalganj for Kathmandu

Leaving Nepalganj for Kathmandu

https://youtu.be/9fcFTinLnLM
https://youtu.be/hMdOddkoqo4
https://youtu.be/Ccj90llAB8A
https://youtu.be/cMq3Qd_P-O8
https://youtu.be/iLbIG3Of-Tk
https://youtu.be/ZLDCPKltQXw
https://youtu.be/asqYLpCKVAM
https://youtu.be/781BQB3h0oM
https://youtu.be/_96iX80usy0

Posted by kelshell 13:44 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Stuck in Nepalganj

ATM ate my card!

sunny 36 °C

Okay I got it back but missed my flight! Mr. B drove me the 3 hours to Nepalganj to catch my flight to Kathmandu in plenty of time - or so we thought! We had to find an ATM that accepted my bank card so I could pay him the balance of the safari. On the way through last week we had done the same with great difficulty - only managing to get some of the balance. The machines here have limits even if your bank doesn't. And having the Visa, Cirrus and Plus symbols on the ATM door really doesn't mean anything! So today we tried 12 machines including the one that worked for me last time. No luck but still time. Then my card got eaten as the machine I was using shut down completely. When it went back online, still no card. Even though it is Saturday and the banks are closed, there are security guards available. Thank goodness for that. Mr. B got the guard to call a bank employee to come with a key for the machine. In an hour. So we got on the phone to call Yeti airlines who graciously switched my flight to tomorrow morning which will allow me to connect with my Delhi flight. Once I retrieved my card (and two others!) I tried 6 more machines. No luck. I did have enough Indian rupees to pay Mr. B the balance and have enough left for a hotel for the night and taxi in the morning. With Nepalganj being a border crossing they accept Indian rupees or I would be sleeping at the airport I guess. Another disaster avoided. I love these countries where everything can usually be solved with a few phone calls.

So barring any issues tomorrow, I should be back in Delhi tomorrow night. Where I will ask immigration if I can reenter for the third time on a double entry visa after visiting Sri Lanka from Monday to Sunday. We shall see. My flight to Tanzania leaves from Delhi on the 13th so technically I am transiting.... And VisaHQ in Canada has assured me I can - haha! I will let you know in the next episode of Travels with Shelley! Think positive!

Posted by kelshell 17:02 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

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