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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friday Shoot out - Construction

The subway has come to Ipanema.
In the plaza General Osorio, at the eastern end of Ipanema, The city is finally opening the next subway station. It take about 3 years for each extension of the system but they have promised that they will have the subway system all the way down to the Barra as part of the plan offered to the Olympic committee, in order to win the 2016 games.
I had heard that they finally opened our station even though there still seems to be some final details to be worked out. I braved a heavy homecoming downpour to take photos for you. The above ground entrance is done, and the tracks going into central - downtown Rio are working. I walked all the way down to the ticket entrance gates to see how the new station looks – seemed like a half mile or so.
The actual track seem to be about 5 stories below ground. A series of escaladers and moving walkways take you down, and down, and down again to the ticket sales, then there is one more level of stairs down to track side. It was possible to look up-track to were they are already working on the next section.  

I can't seem to find out were that next station will be but the way it works now you take the Metro to Ipanema, then with the same ticket you can catch a surface bus and go out as far as Barra Shopping. This station, and several others, has secured storage for you bike and some of the trains have one car that allows your bike to go with you.....
I think this is very cool and far sighted.
The long halls with their high domed ceilings are lined with tiles that depict the history, and the attitudes of Ipanema.
Well done city of Rio.
    I look forward to being able to take the subway all the way out to Barra, when the line fully connects this sprawling city.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Doors and Windows of Chartres

Yesterday, after making our way to Gare Montparnasse by subway, we took a train to Chartres. This small medieval town is about 1 hour by train southwest of Versailles. Its main attraction is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), it is considered to be one of the greatest examples of French Gothic architecture dating from the early 1000s. I am a bit saturated by looking at Gothic styled cathedrals and thought you might find it interesting to see a few doors and windows of that make up the personality of Chartres.

As we were walking (in circles) looking for the shortest way to the Cathedral, and then to find a restaurant for lunch before making our way back to the train station - the directions from the locals taking us back to the Cathedral several times - we passed by a museum of Glass. We can never pass up a small out of the way museum so we went in.... beautiful.  This was a school of stained glass making - the design and execution for both ancient art and for modern windows..... Part of the show was in the basement (subbasement) reclaimed from the wine cellar of the monks from the original cathedral.   another lucky find.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Tour to Bruges, Belgium

DSC_0448Several days ago we took the subway to the north train station (Gare Nord) to buy tickets to Bruges. There was mass Chaos at the station, and, to tell the truth, we just couldn't figure out which line we should be in....   We went back to the hotel and arranged to go with a tour group.  It was in the budget to take at least one tour so we were doing okay.  The tour left from their offices by the Louvre at 7:15 - we took a taxi to get over there, leaving the hotel at 6:30.  Neither of us slept knowing we had to get up by 5:45 and not trusting our hearing the alarm (wrist watch) or the Hotel call.... Okay so we both slept for 2 hours while the bus headed north. Rain and cold wind increased as we moved north, the temperature dropping from 5 degrees C to 3 at the gates of the city. Thankfully the tour guide kept quiet the first 2 hours, the sun was behind the clouds, the bus was warm and we slept.
DSC_0440Even on a day with intermittent heavy rains this small Belgium city is a delight. Ancient architecture has been carefully preserved. I can just imagine what it must be like in the spring. If you are able to travel in France take a day out to go north 3 hours, on beautiful highways (or the trains) and visit. There were stores with lace, chocolate and small wooden toys. Several of the original canals, and the city mote are still functioning. Boat rides are available.... not for me on a cold and raining day.... burrrrr.   
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[small photos download is easier - click any to enlarge for better viewing ]
.....tomorrow we travel home. By the way Camillo's bag was with the reception on the 27th in the morning.... everything inside was whet but all there. Do you think it will do any good to complain with AF?
[aren't you proud of me to limit the photos.... I only took a hundred or so] 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sacré Coeur de Montmartre - Paris

When Camillo and I visited Paris for 4 days back in '94, one of the sites that he made sure he showed me was the Basilica of the sacred heart in Montmartre or Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. DSC_0294DSC_0293
DSC_0342I remember being up at the top of the stairs, I can remember climbing them or at least a lot of them. I don't remember being inside the basilica. Yesterday we went back up - by taxi this time - and only climbed the last 50 or so.  We stood in line to get inside. There was a massive crowd both inside and outside of the cathedral.  Photos were not allowed inside. Talking wasn't allowed (no one paid any attention to this there was quite an undercurrent of noise.)   I would have loved to show you the inside....  it has many mosaics of very intricate detail that only a photo could show you how beautiful they are. The no photo rule made no sense to me, even Notre Dame allows photos with no flash, but there was a bookstore that opened up directly into the nave that sold color photos cards (???) maybe there is a business reason for the rule.
We paid to go up in the bell tower, was worth the 5 euro each, and the 300 step climb.  You can at least get a good idea of the architecture up close..... enjoy.
(sorry for the order of the photos - the internet connection is so bad - every time I moved one around it became worse or the connection dropped and I lost everything.... patience is NOT my middle name)