Friday, January 29, 2021

London from the Marble Arch to Jubilee Market

Starting a little north of our previous path through London, we take a walk from the Marble Arch at the northeast corner of Hyde Park (where someone has set up a ping pong table) down Oxford Street, checking out the fabulous windows at Marks & Spencer and Selfridge & Co.

 Marble Arch ping pong

Store windows

Walking south from Oxford Street, through the affluent Mayfair district, we find great examples of London city architecture.


From there, it's a short walk to Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus, one of London's most popular meeting places, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Picadilly, now a major traffic junction linking to theaters, shopping, and entertainment districts

 Regent Street, Picadilly Circus

From there, it's 1/2 mile (3/4 km) or so over to Trafalgar Square (which we also passed through on our previous stroll), which is filled with street musicians
 entertaining the crowds strolling through the city.

 Street musicians

Another ten to fifteen minute walk bring us to Jubilee Market in Covent Garden, built in 1904 and restored in 1985.  Goods used to be delivered to the market on ponies direct from the docks and the building now features a wide variety of arts and crafts and, downstairs, a string ensemble entertaining us.

 Jubilee Market

String quintet

We've traveled a slightly more northern route through London and found markets and music to provide entertainment by which to view and enjoy the city.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Strolling by the Tourist Sites in London

We head over to London and begin our visit with a familiarization stroll past many of the main tourist sites, starting in Knightsbridge (near Harrods) and walking toward Buckingham Palace, about a mile away, first passing through the Wellington Arch and entering Green Park.  The Wellington Arch was originally designed as an entrance to Buckingham Palace and was later moved to the current site to be a victory arch celebrating Wellington's defeat of Napoleon.

 Wellington Arch

 Green Park

Green Park has paths leading straight to Buckingham Palace, where we emerge at the Victoria Memorial, located at one end of the Mall, the grand boulevard stretching between the palace and Trafalgar Square.

 Victoria Memorial, Buckingham Palace

Views from the Victoria Memorial:  The Mall, London Eye wheel in the distance

From the palace, we stroll through St. James Park to Parliament and Big Ben, which is now silent for a well-needed refurbishment.

 St. James Park 

 Friendly folk in St. James Park

Reaching Big Ben, at the Westminster Bridge, we have great views of Parliament, the Thames flowing through the city, and the London Eye, a 135 meter (443 foot) ferris wheel on the south bank of the Thames.

Big Ben, Parliament, Thames, London Eye, Music

From here, it's a short walk to 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister and, then down Parliament Street to Trafalgar Square, whose name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, the British naval victory over France in the Napoleonic wars (October 21, 1805).

 10 Downing Street

 Trafalgar Square

Our destination is a fabulous wine bar, the Cork & Bottle, just off Leicester Square, a few blocks behind Trafalgar Square, a great place for wine and dinner.  We enter and enjoy a bottle of Cotes de Provence, duck liver pate, and baked camembert with bread and onion chutney.

 Cork & Bottle

Duck liver pate, baked camembert

This is a great introductory stroll through London, now (in the next few blogs), it's time to explore some of the more off-the-beaten-path sights and experiences of the city.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Heading up to Bastia, Corsica

We depart Bonifacio for the four hour drive up the coast to Bastia where we will catch a ferry to Nice.  Heading up the coast, we drive by a number of beautiful beaches and, after passing one too many tempting locations, make a U-turn, park and walk in to enjoy the view and have a refreshing drink.

 Stop at a small beach along the road

Enjoying our Diet Cokes

We're not ready for lunch, but we admire the fish cooking on the wood-fired grill and the pizzas in the wood-burning pizza oven at the small restaurant where we have our beverages and hope we'll find something this good when we are hungry in a few hours.

Beach restaurant, lunch in process

Later, we're ready for lunch and stop in at a Boulangerie/Patisserie in a small town, sharing baguette sandwiches and a glass of wine.  Ok, it's not fish from the grill, but it's fresh, wonderful-tasting, and just the right amount.


We roll into Bastia, check into Hotel Port Toga, across from the ferry terminal, and head over to the old port for dinner, picking Restaurant Cote Marine.  We share two Formula meals:  starting with antipasti (zucchini, bell pepper, arugula, parmesan, crostini, olive tapenade) and an octopus salad, followed by Corsican pizza (olives, mushrooms, ham, cheese) and penne with langostino and mussels, with a cheese plate and profiteroles for desert.   While we're dining, a group serenades us from outside the restaurant.  Ok, we're coming back here again also!

 Corsican pizza, penne with langostino and mussels

Cheese plate, profiteroles, music to dine by

We walk back through the port and the quiet streets of Bastia, full, content, and ready to relax before the next stage of our journey.  We meet a  group of runners heading the other way, getting a little exercise and having a great time in the fresh evening air.

 The old port

Strolling through the streets

We rise early to catch the first ferry from Bastia to Nice.

 Early morning ferries

 Leaving Bastia

The ferry trip to Nice is five hours and we read, lounge around, and eat the wonderful hot fresh croissants and chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat) that we picked up at the just-opening bakery near the port before we boarded the ferry.

Hanging out in the ferry

As we get closer, we recognize Monaco, Cap d'Ail, √ąze, then the familiar sites of Nice.

 Approaching Nice, entering the harbor

We wheelie off the ferry into old town, where we start looking for a restaurant to camp out and enjoy lunch.  After a block or two, we spot several possibilities and pick one that appeals to us.  We enjoy two kinds of mussels (with mustard and with chrorizo), accompanied by fish salad with octopus, calamari, shrimp, and mussels.  And, for desert, profiteroles.

Fish salad

Mussels two ways, profiteroles

We're still in France and need to make the most of our dinning options!