The gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable forest

The rest of 2018 passed in a flurry of unexpected changes in our life taking us back to our hometown of Vancouver and a different lifestyle. Still, I want to finish writing about the second half of our experiences with the Ugandan mountain gorillas. Since the memories have become more distant I will let the photos do the talking.

Our first day seeing the Oruzogo family of gorillas started with a short drive from the Bakiga Lodge to the ranger station early in the morning. We were welcomed and instructed of the “to dos and to do not around gorillas” by a group of guides and guards and assigned to another couple from Sweden to be our small group for the day.  The lodge had looked after food, snacks and water for our hike which could take up to 8 hours. And with another half hour drive from the ranger station we ended up in a small village where we were able to hire our porters for 15 US per person and start our adventure. We each chose to have our own porter for our backpacks and to help us with difficult terrain if that was needed. And boy were we glad we had the help! Our 45 min hike to the 18 animal group sounded short enough, but entailed very steep and muddy paths through a tea plantation and the rain forest. As the entire hike happened above 2,000 m elevation our ability to cope with the climbing and the thin air was severely challenged and the helping hand when climbing up or down the many muddy 50 cm “steps” much appreciated. All the huffing and puffing was definitely worth it when we saw “our family” relaxing under the trees and in the deep grass. This group was one of the largest in Uganda and was led by a silver-back male whose brothers stayed with the family as well. Making it unique with 4 silver-backs around. While we stood among the trees and marveled at the family resting and the small ones playing the gorillas eventually were done and started moving past us. One silver-back stepping so close to my husband that he could have touched him and was asked by our rangers to move back a little.




The entire day was finished at about 11 am when we were driven back to the ranger station for our certificate of participation. We were so elated that we managed to finish this hike without having to call in the “Ugandan helicopter”, a service which transports an injured or incapacitated hiker back to civilization. We were able to see one in action on our next day at the ranger station in Buhoma when a lady with knee problems had hired it in advance for the entire hike: it was a car seat (with seat belt I think) mounted on a sturdy platform with four arms to be carried by four to six strong people.

After our breathlessness at the high elevation our drive to Buhoma was relaxing and the acclimatization to an elevation around 1,550 m in the Haven lodge was easy. Still, after the very breathtaking hiking experience in the Ruhija area I was a little concerned about the longer hike in this part of the forest to find the Mubare family group. On this tour we were a larger group of 9 visitors with one ranger and two armed guards. The guards, we were told, were necessary to protect us from potentially aggressive elephants which occasionally can be encountered. We never saw one and thought that they may as well have been for protection from armed poachers or smugglers which cross the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo that runs right through the middle of the National Park.



As on our first day we hired a porter each while most other visitors chose to carry their own luggage. Tourists in this group included an older couple which despite the easy hike ended up needing some assistance from our porters – as they had chosen not to hire one – to help them after a fall and through some trickier spots of the trail. Being part of a larger group made for more challenging viewing of the gorillas as more than once other members just thrust their cameras or bodies right in front of our line of sight to take their best photo. So, we held back a little and were rewarded with our most amazing experience of this adventure: a four year-old gorilla girl decided she wanted to cross to another spot and walked right between my husband and me (trying to stand as still as possible) brushing along my pant leg and slapping my husband playfully on  his thigh. What a badge of honour to be touched by a gorilla in the wild. Admittedly, I would have been scared to death if this would have been an adult female or the silver-back.

Our day-long car drive back impressed us again with its beautiful views of the agricultural country-side and the many colourful storefronts along the way.


Motorcycles, named border-border, as they are used to transport anything and anyone from border to border or just the next village are everywhere.


We spent our last night at the same hotel, 2 friends Beach hotel,  in Entebbe and enjoyed a delicious dinner on the beach along Lake Victoria. Having seen just such a small part of the country we hope we can return and explore more parks with wildlife and natural wonders.

To a Happy 2019!

Yours, Maike




Uganda – from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable forest

One item on our travel bucket list was visiting and observing the wild mountain gorillas in Africa. There are three countries which offer these trek safaris: Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda and Uganda are both currently safe to travel in as long as one avoids certain border areas where militants from neighbouring countries may cause disruptions. Our choice fell on Uganda since there was a non-stop flight available and because they charge (in 2018) 600 USD per person/day to visit (compared to 1,500 USD charged in Rwanda). We booked a 4-day tour with Insight Safari tours which included the drive from Entebbe to the forest and back on day 1 and 4, two days trekking gorillas, all accommodations and food. We can highly recommend them and loved talking to our guide Nasser.


After arriving at Entebbe airport we were picked up by a shuttle from the 2 friends Beach hotel we had booked for the first and last night. The hotel is located a short 10-minute drive (outside rush hour) from the airport and some rooms have a view towards Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world and the source of the Nile river. The beach for all the hotels in this area can be found across a small road, but is for scenery only as swimming in the lake is forbidden due to bilharzia (Schistomosiasis), an infectious flat worm.

We were not sure if we  would have time to explore the city. But from leaving the plane to arriving at the hotel less than an hour passed and after a short rest we walked the 10 minutes to the Botanical Gardens and paid 10 USD for two (or 20,000 Ugandan shilling) for the visit. A student gave us a tour (10,000 shilling for 1-1.5 hours) and showed us the most interesting of trees and locations.


The garden looks a bit overgrown and disheveled which is no surprise when there is only 10 staff (4 of them horticulturists) attending to the 40 hectares. Being one of the oldest (founded in 1898) in Africa its rain forest area had been used for the 1951 Tarzan movie with Lex Barker.


A kapok tree and its fruits filled with fibre caught my attention and will be another hand-spinning experiment. Commercially Kapok fibre is used for stuffing pillows. But I like to see what happens when spun or even knit. As much as we enjoyed the tour it would have been better to be a little more prepared with our cash. We didn’t have many small US dollar bills and had not exchanged USD for Ugandan Shilling, yet. Thus, paid more then needed for the fee and tour. But as our guide queried politely: “Do we have to go hungry?” No, definitively not and the people are poor and can use the money for food, clothes and their studies.


It did not dawn on us how little the local people had in life until we traveled through the countryside on our way to Bwindi Impenetrable forest. We saw small children barefoot and in probably the only piece of clothes they owned playing in the red sand on the side of the road. No toys neither or electronic gadgets as some areas are not connected to the electric grid or have access to drinking water from a faucet. Most families own a small plot to grow vegetables to feed themselves and once in a while sell the surplus for a little money to buy other food items. With over 50% unemployment this subsistence farming is their lifeline. We were surprised to see the ingenuity to help make a little money: from cutting papyrus on public land to make mats to making ones own bricks to build a house were just a few of the activities we observed.


Many buildings created a little money by having their walls painted with advertisement. Those slogans and colours were fun and vivid. Every few kilometers one could buy fresh vegetables and fruits. The mini bananas being our favourite with their sweetness balanced by a little tartness (a hint of lemon). Yum! After a good 10 hours on the road and half of it along gravel tracks we were happy to arrive at Bakiga Lodge. It gave us a true being-off-the-grid feeling as the lodge is located about 2,000 m above sea level and in a remote area close to the Bwindi forest. No electricity, only what can be produced with solar cells for lights and charging phones for 3-5 hours/day and water from rain collection. A true Eco lodge which supports the neighbouring area with water collection tanks and employment for locals through their tourist dollars. It did get quite cold in the evening (early March) and we were happy to sleep under a few warm blankets and with a hot water bottle at our feet. With great food cooked over a wood-fired stove we were ready to go on our first gorilla trekking adventure…..

To be continued…

Thank you, for reading my blog! Cheers, Maike



Camel race in Al Marmoom

One of the events of Emirati life we wanted to experience was a camel race. We knew they were held regularly at one racetrack or another in the desert in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but finding information in English was difficult to come by. Often we learned about a race after the event. But finally we were lucky: on a flight returning to Abu Dhabi I was offered this in-flight magazine and found a date and time to go. If you look closely you will see that the first races start a 6:30 am which is the more common time. But luckily there were races at 2 pm as well and easy for us to arrive on time.

Typically, camel races are a male dominated sport in the UAE and we did notice that the there were expat families, men and women in attendance, but no traditionally dressed Emirati women or girls. Everyone involved in the care-taking before and after the race was male. Still, this race which was sponsored by Sheik Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the son of the ruler of Dubai, expected visitors and had buses at the ready to drive us along the owners cars and the camels to see how the race was unfolding. We arrived after around 2 pm and parked close to the start line which was covered by a bridge for spectators with a great bird’s eye view to see the camels in their gates – always a few to each one – and the start. Before the race the animals were held in a big area often together with a companion who was not racing. We assumed it was to keep them calm before the race.

You can see the companion camels with their blue and white blankets while the race camels are wearing their small electronic jockey which can spur them on with a short, remote-controlled whip. Once they were guided into the gates some restless shoving and pushing ensued despite the caretakers trying to calm them. When the gate opened with a big “clang” the race began and most contenders started forward in their loping, gangly running style. Since the track is 8 km long the camel owners follow their animal alongside on a paved or gravel track by car. This way they can call out to them for motivation or start the whip to garner more speed.

The race we followed alongside in the bus was great! We watched the last camel which lagged behind by about 100 meters for most of the race. But once we reached the 6,000 meter mark it started to catch up. This contender was running at the same speed for the entire track while the others started to tire and slow down. Interestingly, no matter how much the whip was used once a camel was done running it just didn’t care and continued on at its own speed. In the end the one lagging behind made third place just by having the endurance to run consistently for the entire 8,000 meters.

Between events I continued knitting on a pair of socks I really wanted to finish that day to use the needles for the next pair (purple and rainbow colours).

After the race the remote-controlled whips were quickly removed and the camel covered in a Blue-white blanket to keep it from cooling off too quickly. While they were guided back to their stables we were offered some free water, Arabian coffee and snacks. The chocolate flavoured camel milk was delicious and filling and the cardamom pudding jelly with crunchy almonds on top was a treat which went really well with the coffee. Filled with food and a fantastic experience we drove home.

Information about camel races in Dubai can be found here. Generally, camel races happen during big festivals in the winter and spring. In Abu Dhabi the Sheik Zayed Heritage festival which starts at the beginning of December organizes a few races during the first week. Another race can be seen during the Liwa Sports festival at the Tal Moreeb dune. This festival runs for one week starting close to Dec 30th. If you know a camel owner even better. They will be able to tell you all about it. A truly local experience worth the effort of finding.

Thank you, for reading and following along with my adventures. Until next time!



Crafting plans for 2018

After a busy December we finally had some quiet time in Abu Dhabi which allowed me to think ahead of the year to come. As I feel that big plans for where life may go this year are difficult to formulate at this point of time I am confident that I have a bit more control over what I would like to achieve in spinning, knitting and crocheting. I have come to the conclusion that I definitely want to work with the yarns and fibres on hand and not splurge into more shopping for a few more months. My first two projects on my needles are a pair of colourwork socks and a two-colour-brioche cowl.

The colourwork socks are a copy of Kerstin Balke’s Soxx No. 15 from her book SoxxBook by TOPP publishing. I am knitting 56 stitches on 2.25 mm needles and have modified the heel from a gusset to my boomerang heel and used the mustard yellow as a contrast instead of the petrol in the white rhombus. The yarn used is Lang Jawoll superwash composed of 75% virgin wool with 25% Nylon and a super-soft hand. This pair of socks came about when I was visiting a yarn store to buy some knitting needles for my mother and my dad pointed out the book and a sample of these socks. The colours spoke to me and a few minutes later I bought the mustard yellow, petrol and light blue. So much for not buying more yarn….:) I love knitting them and am happy I was tempted.

The cowl is the result of many weeks of deliberating how to show-cast the wonderful squishy-ness of four balls of Mondial BiolanaFine made of 100% organic wool created in Italy. I received the two balls of gray and beige each in August and had been dreaming about knitting with them for a while. Finally, I could use some larger needles again: a 3.25 mm and have a smaller item to finish which will take a month to accomplish. It took some trial and error to arrive at this pattern. I first tried a PurlSoho pattern for a big three-color and slip stitch cowl, but noticed during swatching that one of the stitch pattern didn’t feel as soft to the touch as I would have liked. With too much of purl stitches showing at the surface the yarn took on a scratchy feel and lost its soft squishy-ness. So, I went back to look for a two-tone brioche scarf or cowl and found the Tistou cowl by Nadege Dereppe, a free pattern on Ravelry. It is a bit more difficult than a plain brioche pattern, but a challenge that I was up to. Once I understood how to read and knit the brioche pattern, especially what counts as a stitch when knitting together two (it means a stitch and a stitch and its yarn-over=brioche stitch), it became a pleasure to work on. I adjusted the stitch count to 220 as I prefer a less wide cowl and I will probably double the height to use up most of the yarn. The resulting fabric has a great structure and wonderful softness to it.

My spinning goal was an easier one to set. I liked the “Spin the bin” challenge hosted by the Completely twisted and arbitrary (CTA) group on in 2017 and decided to try it again for 2018. This time entering about 12 ounces more of fibre than last year and some plans for what I want to spin for. This challenge will tackle the majority of my current fibre stash and open up opportunity for replenishing it later this year. The first two braids of alpaca fibre (Alpaca named “McDreamy”) from a farm in Saanich (Vancouver Island, BC) named Inca Dinca Do. One became a sport- to DK-weight 2-ply of 210 m/100gm (S-spun singles and Z-plied) which will be knit into a Dean Street hat by Nina Machlin Dayton to replace a hat I had knit for my husband and lost 2 years ago.

The second 100 gm of alpaca will be spun into a 3-ply with no planned use as of now. Depending a bit on how thin and long I manage to draft the fibre.

Last year I had started to dye some fibre and yarn and decided to start the year with a dyeing session. I had hoped to work through 150-200 gm of fibre in roving and locks and 2 x 100 gm skeins of yarn. But after 4 hours of leaning over the table to mix and apply colour I was tired and my back ached. Three colourful braids and 45 gm of Polwarth locks were the result, but no yarn.

One of the braids will be added to my blue fibres in the Spin-the-Bin 2018 collection to achieve 400 gm of fibre and a sweater quantity’s worth. The red braid may become a pair of short socks if spun thin enough. It may be a big challenge with less than 50 gm of fibre.

The biggest planning challenge was my next crochet project. I guess after 18 months working and thinking about the flower poncho and finally finishing it just before 2017 year’s end there was a big emptiness. I just couldn’t come up with any ideas on what to crochet. I knew what I didn’t want: an household item or accessories. At last a blanket was my choice and preferably with the yarns I have around. Two gradient-colour sock yarns had been added last year with some thoughts of knitting a shawl or socks with them, but nothing materialized so far. Now, the un-dyed two skeins of white sock yarn came in handy as a contrast and joining colour since I decided to sign up for a facebook group 2018 Granny Squares CAL. This group posts a new granny square pattern for every day of the year and after thinking, this may be a little crazy to crochet a square a day, I became hooked and finished four squares (without blocking) yesterday. I know I will not keep up that pace, but felt I wanted to catch up with the 20 days I missed this month.

First four granny squares towards a blanket for 2018

The squares turned out to be about 8 x 8 cm square without a border (2.5 mm hook) and before assembly. If each square after joining will measure 10 x 10 cm then about 200 will be needed for a 1 m x 2 m blanket. As I do not plan to crochet every pattern that will be a great number and an interesting blanket as a result.

Thank you, for your interest in my blog. Until next time, Maike

December impressions

While we had a busy year traveling through four continents December was our craziest month trying to find Christmas spirit in different parts of the world and celebrate the year’s end with a big bang in a new location.

Our first destination was Melbourne for a long weekend with plenty of monsoon rains. Despite it being summer in Australia the decorations along the streets and in the malls were festive and gave us our first sense of Christmas approaching.

It was a nice start into the season, but still not as it can be experienced in Northern Europe. The lack of early evening darkness, frosty temperatures and any sense of snow makes it less effective than seeing the markets in Germany. There it is not only the decorations everywhere to light up the dark, long nights, but it is a part of life as people gather with friends and coworkers after work at the food stalls to warm up with a glass of mulled wine, hot chocolate or hearty sausage. On the weekends families go out for downtown Christmas shopping and stop to have a “Bratwurst” and some “Schmalzkuchen” (deep fried dough similar to small donuts) for a lunch or dinner snack. The aromas of roasted, sugared almonds and maroons, barbecued meat and hot fruit or alcohol punch combined with freezing temperatures create an enchanting winter environment. The eyes are drawn to the many craft and gift item stalls all lined up to form outdoor wooden hut markets with people mingling among them throughout the month of December. It is a time to “hang out” with friends and family and huddle around against the chill until it is time to go home.

Thus motivated we set up a little Christmas in our own home.

And found that there were areas in Abu Dhabi decorated with effort and style to make it feel festive, too. With our personal highlight being invited to a Christmas Day picnic with friends in the desert. We found a spot in a small dip overlooked by sand dunes on three sides. Perfect for setting up tables and chairs and a cosy campfire after sunset. Stories of  huge camel spiders running after people made it an memorable and slightly spooky evening. 🙂

We had not made any specific plans for finishing the year and on a spur of the moment flew to Sydney to participate in the big New Years Eve festivities to be among the first in the world to see the beginning of 2018.

Our hotel, the Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, sits on the edge of Sydney’s Chinatown, a 15 minute walk from the  harbour’s restaurants and the museum station with direct access to the airport. Despite our overnight flight we felt refreshed and enjoyed the walk along the waterfront with its street performers and bustling with people visiting from all over the world. An evening market in Chinatown allowed for some additional entertainment and interesting views. Our dinner meals were Malaysian one night, Australian pies the second and Korean Bibimbap the third. The advantages of staying in this part of town. Arriving this last minute meant we had not obtained tickets to some of the waterfront parks or events to see the famous fireworks from a preferred spot. As we didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars to have guaranteed seating at the Opera House or the Botanical Gardens since more affordable locations were sold out, or had planned on sitting in a park for 12 hours to have a view, we decided to “wing it” on New Year’s eve. We had the idea to walk over to the Rocks as we had been there earlier and noticed that some areas were elevated enough to see through the line of buildings to the Harbour bridge. After 40 minutes walking we found a spot on a street corner in front of a small hotel and pub overlooking the houses and a good view. Just in time to see the fireworks and exchange New Years Cheers with our newly met Australian acquaintances. This event did not disappoint with multiple firework barges along the bay and view of sparkling cascades in any direction we looked. Sydney truly has the biggest, most spectacular fireworks on New Years eve!

To a happy, healthy and peaceful 2018 around the world and you, my dear readers! Thank you!

Yours, Maike

The elusive hand-spun sock yarn

One of my goals this year was to spin 3-ply sock yarns to create a yarn I was more likely to use than thicker DK-weight yarns, which are my default spin. Sock yarns typically have 350-400 meters to 100 gm of weight. After spinning a few fibres into sock- or fingering weight-yarn skeins for a sweater I thought I was prepared to spin a 4 ounce braid of fibre into at least 350 m of 3-ply yarn. That should be easy enough aiming for a very thin, high-twist single and then plying it into a high-twist 3-ply – or so I thought. Then came my first try: an aqua- green 100% merino dyed by Manos Del Uruguay and purchased on a visit to Kitchener last April.


I split the braid lengthwise into three long strips and spun each end to end. Two were spun on my Majacraft Suzie wheel and one on my Houndstooth drop spindle. This way I was able spin even when not at home. Interestingly, my drop-spindle spun single was a little thinner than my wheel spun ones. After chain-plying the singles to preserve brighter colours I thought I had sock-yarn thickness just to realize that with 195 meters to 99 gm it was not as thin as I thought. The socks were knit from the toe up on 2.25 mm needles and have a solid, slightly heavy feel. They are soft and warm. Lovely for cold feet in autumn or winter.

My next attempt was a merino/bamboo/nylon (60/30/10) mix by Sweet Georgia Yarns in the colourway Mountain Man. This fibre was spun as a 3-ply fractal meaning that I split the yarn lengthwise into three similar weight strips. One was spun end to end, the second one stripped four and the third one stripped 8 more times before spinning. This way gentle striping and slight muddling of colours was the expected mixing result. The colours turned out lovely and knitting this yarn was wonderful, but still with 220 meters to 104 gm sock-yarn it was not. 10 grams of singles were spun into a 3-ply chain plied yarn and used for the toes of the socks. The difference in colour due to chain-plying is not very visible.


A bit disappointed I started my next try at a sock yarn in the colourway Neverland on merino/tencel (60/40) dyed by Sweet Georgia Yarns.


I really liked the colours in the fibre and wanted to preserve them as much as possible. To achieve longer colour-repeats in the yarn I did not split the roving and spun it across its width from end to end. Chain-plying it again to keep the colours separate and bright. The resulting skein of 3-ply yarn yielded 228 m in 99 gm. Arrggh! Still not sock-yarn thickness and not much closer to at least 350 m in 100 gm.

My latest spin started today is 100% BFL-fibre I bought about 7 years ago on one of our cruise ship trips to Alaska. I fell in love with the hand-dyed fibre by Raven Frog Fibre Arts in Sitka with its white, green, grey and teal. The soft colours aptly named winter. Evoking the hues of snow lying on pine trees and the Alaskan mountains. My first thought was to spin it as a 2-ply yarn and use it for a scarf. But many spinners rave about its properties as a sturdy and soft sock yarn so that at the last minute I decided to split the 140 gm braid into three 46 gm strips, spin each strip from the same end and then ply them together as a 3-ply sock yarn. Hoping for a mix of solid colour stripes and barber-pole combinations.


It will be a slightly more woolen, airier yarn than the merino or merino/tencel and I am curious to see if I will achieve my goal before years end.

Looking at this blog one can see my current preference towards green which is actually a bit of a shift out of my comfort zone. I usually prefer brighter blues, purples and reds, but for some reason worked with a lot of green this year. Lets see what colour  will rule 2018. Thank you, for following me along and have a great rest of November!




Getting stuck in Paris….

A little while ago we tried to fly home to Canada and opted for a few different routes, but were unable to get across the Atlantic. As it happened on our third try we flew to Paris hoping to find a seat with any airline, but realized after a few hours that would not happen. Thus, after a quick online booking the Hotel Mercure Opera Louvre became our home for the next four days and we were all set to explore Paris. We thought we were lucky to stay in this nice, old building built around 1900 and converted into a hotel. It was in a central location with easy walking access to the Opera, Galleries Lafayette shopping, many covered shopping passages, metro stations and even the Louvre. We booked a premium room with a terrace on the fifth floor and loved it. Looking over the roofs of the surrounding buildings we enjoyed afternoon snacks and some easy dinners in the fresh air on our own little patio.


On our very first 3-day-visit years ago we skipped the main attractions of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum afraid that the masses would repel us and lessen our enjoyment. But I had since the chance to explore both with a friend and learn about the best visitation hours: We knew arriving early in the day when the attractions open would carry the lowest risk of crowds. Don’t get me wrong: it is still busy, but there is room to move around, the wait for tickets is less than half an hour and one is not stuck in a mass of bodies. The views from the Eiffel tower are all worth it and we even had time to go to the lower deck and learn about the construction of the tower for the World Fair in 1889 and the family history of its engineer Mr Gustave Eiffel.


One can easily recognize many of the important buildings and landmarks: Montmatre’s Sacre Coeur church, the Seine winding its way to the Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful gardens leading to the Military school (Ecole Militaire). The Rodin museum was chosen by my husband as our next destination, a good 45 minute walk from the Eiffel tower. Rodin’s “The Thinker” drew us there The Rodin museum surprised us in more than one way: beautiful gardens showing his larger sculptures next to a cafe/bistro to sit surrounded by green trees, bushes and flowers to enjoy a snack or lunch. All for quite decent prices given that many restaurants offer only 3-course lunch menus which were often too much for us. We enjoyed strolling through the park finding many of his pieces displayed next to benches or chairs to rest and contemplate the view. It takes a good hour to visit the park and another hour to see the exhibits of his smaller works, sketches and antique arts collection. My favourite piece was “Age of maturity” for its dynamic of a mature man  being wooed by death and leaving youth behind. We skipped the Kiefer-Rodin display in the entrance building since our capacity to enjoy any more art had been saturated. This museum is definitely worth a visit and particularly on a sunny or overcast day. It never felt crowded even with the many visitors.


Our next day brought us to the Louvre, a behemoth of a museum and soon to open an offspring in Abu Dhabi, to have a look at three specific areas: Islamic art, Italian and French masters. We started with the Islamic art which was a “poor” decision in hindsight as that particular exhibit is never really busy. Next came the Italian masters which were amazing with their evolution of art from strictly Theological topics towards landscape scenes and family portraits. By accident – there were so many signs and arrows one couldn’t miss it – we ended up in the room displaying the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It was already somewhat crowded in front of the that highly guarded painting hidden behind two layers of glass/Plexiglas and two adjacent security staff. We were still able to snap a photo of the most well-know painting on Earth. But with the shiny layers on top reflections were distorting the beauty of it and made the snapshot more a memento than a photograph to display. Once we left the room the tour groups started to arrive and the air became warm and sticky. Time to escape to the French masters which didn’t draw the tourists as much. After two hours steeped in art and in close proximity of too many tourists it was time to enjoy some fresh air and find my favourite French family restaurant “Vero Dodat” for lunch again. A great two-course menu with a quiet rest in the old shopping passage was what we needed to feel relaxed and ready to see more of Paris.


A leisurely walk from our hotel brought us to the lower parts of Montmatre with its quirky, small shops and restaurants. A real Belgian waffle and ice-cream stand just opened for the evening and tempted us with some salted caramel in a waffle cone. We found this glass mural (photo above) on one of the buildings and marveled at the Quarters history and architecture.


For our last day we wanted to explore a bit more on foot  and made our way to the Jardins De Luxembourg, a big park for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike. Besides large green spaces and beautiful horticulture (among others an apple garden with tenths of varietals) one could find facilities to play tennis and boule, a playground and lots of chairs and benches to sit and enjoy the views. Many sculptures decorated the park and small plaques told of political events and gestures. This is a great spot to take family and friends for a picnic and a stroll. A further twenty minute walk brought us to the Pantheon, a building built as a church and nowadays a mausoleum, dedicated to the historic figures and legends of France. Big wall murals depict the life of Joan D’ Arc and St Genevieve on the main floor, which houses Foucault’s pendulum (proof of the rotation of the earth) under one dome as well. The basement hosts the remains and coffins of important members of French society. From Voltaire and Rousseau to writer Alexandre Dumas to scientists Marie and Pierre Curie and more have been buried there. A walk through the crypt is less creepy than one might think and the history present is impressive. Compared to other burial grounds of famous people the tombs are well marked and it is not too crowded to read and find a particular person of interest.

Saturated with good food, wine and many impressions of a beautiful city we left to embrace our summer at home.

Thank you, for visiting and reading my blog! Until next time, Maike