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  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.

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June 3 2014 3 03 /06 /June /2014 13:36

Some members of my family (my aunt and uncle, cousin and mother and father) came to visit last month and we had some wonderful times visiting places in France, Belgium and Germany.  Now that they are gone, I miss them very much.  Here's a look at some of the places we visited.  Can you believe we did so much in just one month ?

036031Monet's gardens at Giverny...

020The church in Querqueville...

041Nez de Jobourg in La Hague...

062089The gardens in Vauville...

021Our first visit the the Château des Ravalet in Tourlaville... (that's my aunt and uncle on the left) 

055The lighthouse in Gatteville...

091094A trip to Barfleur for oysters...

108Stopped in Montfarville to see Guillaume Fouace's church paintings...

120Tour Vauban in Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue...

214151Emmanuel Liais Gardens and Museum in Cherbourg...

239Shopping at Babou...

300295Boat tour around Cherbourg harbor and its forts...

008Went to the Abbey in Lessay...

078A castle surrounded by a moat in Pirou...

177Coutances Cathedral...

189We ate lots of crêpes (not stinkin' pancakes!)

252Abbey ruins at Hambye...

070Spent a rainy afternoon at la Cite de la Mer...

008Manoir Dur-Écu, near Urville-Nacqueville... 

039Walked around the grounds of Château de Martinvast...

108We went to Bricquebec...

118We went to Barneville-Cartaret on a very cold and windy day...

201172Took a tour of the Moulin à Vent du Cotentin at Fierville-les-Mines...

224Shopped at La Maison du Biscuit in Sortosville-en-Beaumont...

016Went to Bayeux...

010Saw the Bayeux Tapestry...

050Went to Omaha Beach...

090100The very windy day at La Pointe-du-Hoc...

126Quick stop at the German cemetery at La Cambe...

134132145A stroll along Utah Beach...

161The church with its parachutist at Sainte-Mère-Église...

012Mass at my church in Querqueville...

022>And a trip to my other church in Urville-Nacqueville...

030A visit to the Liberation Museum on top of Montagne du Roule...

079080A closer look at the Goury lighthouse...

090Port Racine, the smallest port in France...

176An excellent day spent at Mont-Saint-Michel...

001Our second trip to Château des Ravalet in Tourlaville...

034037An afternoon in Cherbourg and an Umbrella's of Cherbourg photo op...

053Sunset at Querqueville plage...

106Amiens Cathedral...

225Saint-Quentin Hôtel de Ville...

011 - CopyTook the train from Cherbourg to Paris...

032 - CopyOpéra Garnier

044 - CopyLouvre Museum

257Notre-Dame

100 - CopyArc de Triomphe

105 - CopyThe Eiffel Tower

285Napoleon's tomb at the Hôtel des Invalides

402354A day at Versailles...

480Moulin Rouge

504Basilica of Sacré Cœur in Montmartre

545535All the important paintings in the Musée d'Orsay...

560Viewed the glass dome at les Galeries Lafayette...

262266Bastogne War Museum...

358Mardasson War Memorial

385443571488Trier

641Car ferry over the Rhine River...

651690 - Copy677 - CopySeveral days at the Park Hotel in Rüdesheim am Rhein with trips to Bacharach and the world's largest outdoor cuckoo clock...

820 - CopyRainy morning at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz...

858 - Copy860 - CopyMainz Cathedral

885 - Copy888915Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett in Rüdesheim

967The church in the rock at Idar-Oberstein...

970Ebernburg Castle in Bad Münster

771The bridge houses in Bad Kreuznach

10171074104410301028Rhine River Cruise in the Germania

12231188The Abbey of Hildegard von Bingen

1249Explored the Rheingau Wine Museum in Brömserburg Castle, the oldest castle along the Rhine.

114711571164Niederwalddenkmal high above Rüdesheim with stunning views over the Rhine...

131913041356The Cathedral of Worms and the Martin Luther Monument

13801388The great Romanesque Cathedral of Speyer...

153115171487145814601478Douaumont Ossuary in Verdun as well as the Douaumont Fort...

15901620162916571674Reims Cathedral as well as the Basilica of St-Remi...

Finally, all good things must come to an end.  In Paris, my family did one final packing of their luggage and everyone said their goodbyes at Charles de Gaulle Airport.  168716921693Bon Voyage !

 






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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
February 9 2013 7 09 /02 /February /2013 14:02

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8365/8457517849_ebaf16df4d_b.jpgAlthough I spent many years living in Tbilisi, I never took the time until now to make my own khinkali, traditional meat dumplings.  I followed the recipe below and ended up with approximately 20 khinkali.  I cooked ten for lunch and had the rest for dinner.  გემრიელი  Delicious !   

Dough :

3 cups flour (375 g)

1.5 tsp salt (1,5 càc)

1.5 cups warm water (355 ml)

Mix together in a large bowl.  Knead for about five minutes and set aside for 30 minutes.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8112/8458620226_94a9e54e51_b.jpgFilling :

21 ounces ground beef and pork (600 g)

1 cup chopped parsley (45 g)

1 onion finely chopped

1 tbs red pepper ground (1 càs)

1 tsp caraway ground (1  càc)

1 tsp black pepper (1  càc)

1 egg white

1 cup water (230 ml)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the meat, onion, parsley and other ingredients. 

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8520/8458620048_a175e1b399_b.jpgRoll out dough to a 2 cm thickness and cut out circles about 6½ cm in diameter with a drinking glass.  Roll these out again one by one filling them with a spoonful of the ground meat filling.  Create money bags by carefully folding the edges in an accordion pattern until the filling is completely sealed in by the dough.  Pinch off the remaining dough.  Click here for a good visual.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8236/8458619788_6365471850_b.jpgPlace in boiling water for ten minutes.  Sprinkle the khinkali with ground black pepper and serve hot.  The khinkali is typically consumed first by sucking the juices while taking the first bite, in order to prevent the dumpling from bursting.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8373/8457517659_d98656bd79_b.jpgThe top, where the pleats meet is not supposed to be eaten, but discarded to the plate so that those eating can count how many they have consumed.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8379/8457517625_e89356bb8c_b.jpgIn Georgia, this top is called the "kudi" (Georgian ქუდი, hat) or "kuchi" (Georgian კუჭი, belly button).  Serve with beer or apple cider.  Don't forget to play some good Georgian music in the background as you eat.  Personally, I prefer the album Tsintskaro by Hamlet Gonashvilihttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8094/8457517435_2a664d38e5_b.jpgსაქართველოს გაუმარჯოს  Sakartvelos gaumarjos !!!

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
January 4 2013 6 04 /01 /January /2013 13:05

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8215/8340777055_6a755904e2_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8504/8341850410_6f1a76ccd6_b.jpgI’ll always have pleasant memories of New Year’s 2012 in Strasbourg.  Upon arrival, I was a bit overwhelmed with all there was to see—the historic city center lined with timber framed houses and shops decorated for the holidays, the colourful medieval backstreets of the Petite France district, the towering 142 meter-high gothic cathedral that reaches for the skies yet watches down over the city, the pedestrian promenades along the River Ill which circle the town on all sides, the museums rich with their collections of art and historical artefacts, and the traditional Alsatian gastronomy which include baeckeoffe, flammekueche, choucroute, gingerbread and lots of white wine—all this and only four days to explore and experience.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8364/8341871492_7b19bff3f6_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8351/8340810387_59837178b3_b.jpgMy hotel was not far from the city center near Le Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain.  Although I paid only 10 Euros for entry into all of the museums, I did not make it inside of this amazing building but managed to get a few shots of the exterior in the time that I was there.  Established by Adrien Fainsilber in 1998, the museum retraces the history of modern art from the 1850s to present day.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8083/8341871172_9aeb0cb1a9_b.jpgA little further east is the Vauban Barrage, one of the only buildings that remains from the old enclosure built around the city towards 1690 by JacquesTarade, based on plans by the military engineer Vauban.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8072/8341871826_e9a4f45526_b.jpgThe building, also called the “Grande Ecluse” (Great Lock) stretches over the width of the river, opposite the covered bridges.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8073/8340810763_eb9d82bd28_b.jpgAt the top of the building a panoramic terrace was constructed, from where you can appreciate a splendid view over the Petite France district and its canals.  At one end of the Petite France district are the Ponts Couverts (Covered Bridges).  This succession of three bridges linking arms with the River Ill is dominated by three 14th century towers, remains of the ancient medieval ramparts, which totalised 90 towers.  The bridges themselves were once capped by a wooden roof.  Despite the disappearance of this cover in the 18th century, they are still called covered bridges.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8355/8341870792_3767c83970_b.jpgEach tower has its own name—the Hangman’s Tower, the French Tower and the Tower of Chains—fitting as they were once used to house prisoners awaiting execution or transfer.  Across the Ponts Couverts is the Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes lined with timber-framed corbelled houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, once the fisherman’s, tanners’ and millers’ district and one of the best preserved areas of the old town.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8496/8340755249_7c76b120cf_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8355/8341812878_54f7f4263b_b.jpgA short distance from the Petite France district is Protestant Église Saint-Thomas with its 18th century mausoleum of Marshall Maurice de Saxe (1777), created by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle.  http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2028/2459223751_fd799fa5f5_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8075/8341052103_fdcb6f08e7_b.jpgThe allegorical sculpture represents France weeping and holding the marshal’s hand while trying to push Death aside.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8491/8341052579_e5e82a09c1_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8083/8342072302_155883bc8b_b.jpgAmong the remarkable monuments are the Renaissance tombstone of Nikolaus Roeder von Tiersberg (1510) notable for its realistic depiction of his decaying corpse and the sarcophagus of Bishop Adeloch which dates from 1130.  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3125/2618212158_06bbced2a4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8216/8340754901_7f056566cc_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8341813646_f5bdc43171_b.jpgThe church is internationally renowned for its historic and musically-significant organs: the 1741 Silbermann organ, played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1778, and the 1905 organ (installed in 1906) built by Fritz Haerpfer, following a design by Albert Schweitzer.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8340753009_bd32f6dc9e_b.jpgOn the south wall is a large 15th century fresco of the Archangel Michael slaying the dragon.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8340753433_25e3964b83_b.jpgInside the small chapel to Saint Andrew are the remains of a medieval fresco depicting the Crucifixion.  It has one unusual feature: Christ’s head inclines to the right (in medieval art, he normally inclines it to the left).  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8498/8340809879_aeb57ff7c8_b.jpgAnother interesting church in Strasbourg is the Église Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux (Catholic Church of Saint Peter the Elder) from 1866.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8077/8341869268_ed9a586d42_b.jpgThe neo-gothic tympanum above the western portal depicts Christ in Majesty as well as scenes from the New Testament.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8340807013_875707494f_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8491/8340807997_97ee6476c2_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8357/8341868266_9336f2d3b9_b.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8340807453_98a5071a10_b.jpgInside, the choir is richly decorated with woodwork paintings from 1495 by Henri Lutzelmann depicting Christ’s Passion.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8077/8341868824_d1ac9d1793_b.jpgTo the right of the main altar is the neo-gothic altarpiece depicting the life of the Virgin and a Romanian icon with the inscription "Notre-Dame du perpétuel recours".  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8362/8341815786_417a6ea963_b.jpgOne of the first things I did on the night that I arrived was have dinner at the famous Maison Kemmerzell.  This impressive timber-frame building with its distinctive slanted roof is one of the most picturesque dwellings on the Cathedral Square.  An earlier 15th century structure (of which only the stone ground floor remains) was purchased by a wealthy merchant, Martin Braun in 1571.  He commissioned the building of the upper stories which he had decorated with elaborate wood carvings of the signs of the zodiac, the five senses, the ages of man and mythological heroes.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8500/8341852090_0df4e14a77_b.jpgThe interior has been a restaurant for many years serving local delicacies including the famous choucroute garnie served with eight different meats.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8340812517_072c3cd660_b.jpgIt was certainly delicious but way too much ham.  A visit to Strasbourg isn’t complete until you’ve visited Notre-Dame Cathedral built with pink sandstone from the Vosges region.      http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8078/8341872842_8f37721c1e_b.jpg   http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8498/8340814007_2769a11b1f_b.jpg

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8362/8341861020_de1de976b0_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8071/8340757097_86d01c1f16_b.jpgWork began in 1015 on the site of a temple dedicated to Hercules.  In 1365, the towers were joined together up to the platform and then the north tower was raised.  In 1439, Johann Hültz from Cologne added the spire which gives the cathedral its impressive outline.  The exterior of the cathedral is a lacy masterpiece of gothic art extended over slightly more than four centuries, from 1015 to 1439.  The 142 meter-high cathedral remained the highest building in Christendom up until the end of the nineteenth century.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8340792383_dc5c3a0108_b.jpgThe best position to get an overall view of the magnificent façade is from Rue Mercière.  The tympana of its three doors are dedicated to the life of Christ.  The façade’s most richly decorated portal is in the center and displays statues of the prophets of the Old Testament.  In the four registers one can read scenes from the Old and New Testament, with the Passion of Christ as the central.  A statue of the Virgin is located above the tympanum, which itself is surmounted by a statue of Christ, King and Judge, whose throne is surrounded by musical lions.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8078/8340791619_97242e0a45_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8494/8340796755_0c85efd199_b.jpgThe arches of the left portal are decorated with 14th century statues representing the graceful Virtues striking down the Vices.  Around the tympanum are angels and other biblical characters while the subject of the register of the tympanum is Christ’s childhood (his birth, fleeing to Egypt, and Presentation at the Temple).  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8353/8340793309_fa2420d96a_b.jpgThe right portal is perhaps the most famous and illustrates the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8361/8341853190_0117274007_b.jpgThe Wise Virgins each carry a lamp and the open Table of Law and beside them is the ideal husband.   http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8360/8340794349_e2dec3c8ba_b.jpgAs for the five Foolish Virgins, they are holding their lamps upside down and beside them is the devil holding the apple of temptation.  The register of the tympanum depicts the Last Judgement.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8072/8340795763_dbe488486b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8071/8341822022_6db23fd582_b.jpgI was unable to see the south lateral portal because of all the construction work going on in this section of the cathedral square.  The only portion that remained open was the entry to the platform where a huge line of tourists waiting to walk to the top of the church.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8504/8340799609_995a1c33c5_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8358/8341859568_057a568ec7_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8358/8340801113_2f1cba9752_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8496/8340800649_627a860a8a_b.jpgOn the north side of the cathedral is the 15th century St-Laurence doorway.  On the left are the statues of the Virgin Mary, the three kings and a shepherd; on the right are five statues illustrating the martyrdom of St-Laurence.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8213/8340799141_c04d5702b7_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8496/8341857582_a66e43b4ef_b.jpgThe interior has stained-glass windows from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries which are simply magnificent.  Work on the nave began in the 13th century.  One of the most beautiful pieces of work is the hexagonal pulpit designed by Hans Hammer for the Reformation preacher Geiler of Kayserberg.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8500/8342603236_4a6fa7539d_b.jpgIt is decorated with 50 or so statuettes including the preacher’s own dog which lies down at the foot of the staircase.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8499/8341856636_f72e4bffa2_b.jpgThe organ has a magnificent polychrome organ case (14th and 15th century) spanning the full width of a bay.  The corbelled loft is carved with a representation of Sampson with a town herald blowing a trumpet on the left and a pretzel seller known as Rohraffe on the right.  These articulated characters would sometimes come to life during the sermons to entertain the congregation.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8220/8340798653_66d4304095_b.jpgThe Pillar of Angels was construction around 1230 and serves as the central pillar of the south transept.  It features twelve sculptures: the four evangelists, angels playing the trumpet and, further up, Christ the Judge, seated and surrounded by angels carrying the Instruments of the Passion.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8221/8341873358_b673894a9f_b.jpgThe cathedrals most popular feature is the astronomical clock which was designed by mathematicians and built by Swiss clock-makers between 1550 and 1574.  It stopped in 1780 but Schwilgué, a native of Strasbourg, studied it for thirty years and then rebuilt it between 1838 and 1842.  The seven days of the week are represented by chariots led by gods, who appear through an opening beneath the dial.  A series of automata strikes twice every fifteen minutes.  The hours are struck by Death.  On the last stoke, the second angel of the Lion’s Gallery reverses his hourglass.  The astronomical clock is half an hour behind normal time.  The midday chiming occurs at 12:30pm.  As it happens, a great parade takes place in the recess at the top of the clock.  The Apostles pass in front of Christ and bow to him; Jesus blesses them as the cock, perched on the left-hand tower flaps his wings and crows three times, a reminder of Peter’s denial of Christ.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8340797785_05747f1d38_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8502/8345931040_dbc88dac2e_b.jpgThe cathedral owns 14 splendid 17th century tapestries depicting scenes from the Life of the Virgin, designed by Philippe de Champaigne, Charles Poerson and Jacques Stella.  They are normally hung in the cathedral’s Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame but are hung between the bays of the cathedral during special occasions such as the Christmas season.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8340806615_7b1d24c907_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8071/8341865488_f31aec9c5b_b.jpgKléber Square is the heart of the city.  It got its name in 1840 after General Kléber, a brilliant military strategist assassinated by a Syrian student in Cairo in 1800.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8224/8340806171_9f9799df99_b.jpgHaving won many important battles, his popularity was large in France and it was decided that his body would be laid to rest in his native city of Strasbourg.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8080/8341864770_4bd7f645cd_b.jpgEvery Christmas, a giant and marvellously decorated Christmas tree from the Vosges illuminates the square.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8359/8340805479_050a8c125e_b.jpgI thought that this illuminated village at the foot of the tree looked especially nice at night.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8223/8341834594_e8bbc540da_b.jpg http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8221/8341854532_18c879186b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8211/8340794785_1da04ac044_b.jpgIt's always wise to keep warm with a mug of vin chaud (warm wine) when you are wandering around all of the different Christmas markets spread throughout the town.  Man oh man this article is getting long and unwieldy...I'm going to end for now and just make several smaller posts.  Enjoy.

 

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
December 26 2012 4 26 /12 /December /2012 15:30

 Here are some photos that I took while on Christmas vacation.  I went to Gourdon again to spend the holidays with some friends.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8074/8309776897_bcae07e0d9_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8310827116_5cc0704f45_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8499/8310826762_f5d64e2610_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8360/8309775607_783423cd9b_b.jpgThey live out in the country and so I had many opportunities to go walking through the woods or along quiet roads.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8497/8309772711_9885f7c753_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8351/8309769715_0584ea4e0a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8310824096_5f0e6b7431_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8498/8309773107_38f4246b76_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8354/8310857098_5725479dd6_b.jpgOn Saturday, I went to the market and bought some things that we needed for our Christmas dinner including several cheeses.  I also got to visit one of my favorite shops called Un certain...Regard which was all decked out for the holidays.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8081/8310884262_e343cb8a64_b.jpgThe only thing I bought was this cute decoration.  At first I thought it was a dead clown but then I realized that it was a child's stuffed toy recreated in glass.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8359/8310808042_a3f27337aa_b.jpg  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8351/8309769387_d959c0a807_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8351/8309768843_298f4509fa_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8218/8310818688_b69069640a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8364/8309767739_80235bf153_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8352/8310812928_9f305ecd64_b.jpgOn Sunday, I thought Mass was going to be at Notre-Dame des Neiges and I decided to get there by walking along the country paths.  Unfortunately I was wrong about where Mass was going to be held but at least I got to take a nice walk and the doors to the church were open allowing me to take a look inside and get some nice photographs.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8214/8310812468_1cf1746124_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8352/8310812120_90e2b2fa2d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8217/8309761307_7d736937f0_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8211/8309758117_2ae8b4ae32_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8078/8309758597_1cb9e3fb75_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8224/8309758949_425f1d8488_b.jpgThe chapel was orignially built during the 12th century and enlarged in 1646 due to its importance as place of pilgrimage for people living in the Bouriane.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8360/8310810244_df02de2807_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8310810782_0bdacd7db6_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8076/8310809696_2ba3dfc8a5_b.jpgThe interior is designed with a wonderful Baroque altarpiece built in 1690 by Sculpteurs Tournié de Gourdon.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8352/8310819032_782a98ed70_b.jpgJust in front of the chapel is an old moulin and lavoir.  I don't think anyone lives there anymore.  Later in the afternoon, I drove to the Christmas market in Sarlat.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8223/8309757215_c6cc0b3ddc_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8352/8310806664_17950ef777_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8361/8309754971_cebe86539e_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8076/8310804872_a097475208_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8217/8310804460_c91cc70980_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8502/8310804038_831b652040_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8498/8310803624_cf772c2ed9_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8500/8310803232_0ab62f7357_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8360/8309755627_c6378c1eaf_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8491/8310806222_03edeeed4c_b.jpgSarlat is one of the most beautiful old towns in the Dordogne with many old stone and timber frame buildings lovingly preserved including its stunning cathedral dedicated to Saint-Sacerdos.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8355/8310807258_7bb543cc4e_b.jpgI wish that I knew how to ice skate.  There was a large patinoire set up in the middle of the Christmas market which looked like a lot of fun.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8362/8309756803_c27aa84201_b.jpgAnother interesting building is the Maison de La Boétie.  Normally, there are so many people present for Christmas Eve dinner.  This year, it was a much smaller affair with only six people.  That wasn't a reason to skimp on the traditional fare or to leave the table undecorated.  We went all out and enjoyed our feast which lasted until midnight.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8214/8309752651_98e6298399_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8309752259_c6202fa27c_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8076/8310802106_ff9af7ef06_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8357/8310801812_fd8cfc5c90_b.jpgEarlier in the day I went for another walk and picked some greens which I used to create this fantastic table display.  Isn't is nice ?  For those of you who are wondering, I am trying to grow my moustache back.  I regretted shaving it off in the first place !  It looks rather thin and adolescent right now but give it another two or three weeks and it should look a lot more mature.  I'm hoping to have it back the way it was before I shaved in September.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8211/8309750233_7a34ec174b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8310799770_33cfb43331_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8310800120_cd76be3587_b.jpgAfter a small aparatif of Kir, made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine, we started our first course of the night, oysters.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8502/8309749075_7ed335cf15_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8309748571_352430eb97_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8310798280_fce313edee_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8497/8309747729_f784572a07_b.jpgI ended up buying too many and each of us had 8 to 10 before moving on to our next dish of smoked salmon and my personal favorite, foie gras.  Mmmmm !!!  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8492/8310797698_ee28a9c933_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8217/8309747143_aa2d22ff53_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8353/8310796978_40b575a7d3_b.jpgThe main course was a pintade (guinea hen) cooked with a simple sauce of chestnuts, onions and garlic.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8309746351_2a168fb21f_b.jpgAlong with that we also had potatoes with wild cèpe and girolle mushrooms picked by hand in the nearby woods.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8082/8309745981_e4a8f9fedc_b.jpgWe washed it all down with a nice red wine that my friend's father has been saving since 1998.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8211/8310795776_f9b40b0e30_b.jpgSome Rocamadour cabécou...  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8494/8310795376_f52542d1c4_b.jpgJ'adore les mandarines !  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8309743969_02dc394eb1_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8076/8310794844_1ee73450f4_b.jpgSomeone brought a huge box of Calissons d'Aix to share with everyone.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8214/8310794546_7092e42cc4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8309743621_3a3cd7b03d_b.jpgDespite all the sweets, we also had a dessert of ice cream bûche de Noël.  After all of the food, we started to open our Christmas presents.  I got a lot of things this year and I am so thankful to everyone who went out of their way this year.   

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http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8357/8309742813_e592440402_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8309742305_44ca53d47e_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8493/8309741419_4cacb6724d_b.jpg  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8361/8309741001_bfb7d03ae2_b.jpg http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8310790990_bfe61de35b_b.jpgI received four sweaters, several Blu-Rays, some books, an electric mixer to help me with my soup recipes, Amazon.com gift certificates and a nice calendar from some Camino friends from New Zealand.  It was a truly grand Christmas and I am so thankful for everyone and for all the good things that I have in my life.  I am back in rainy Cherbourg as I write this...I wish I could have stayed a lot longer with my friends in Gourdon but it wasn't meant to be.  I drove back on Christmas day and had the highway all to myself.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8501/8309735369_66eaffb93b_b.jpgI stopped in Châtillon-sur-Indre to eat my packed lunch.  The city is famous for its castle built between 1160 and 1185 by Henry II. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8360/8309739757_e311c43321_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8212/8309739211_fb399aeb27_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8220/8310789898_ab7c1d435a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8218/8309736117_f37957dfb1_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8215/8309735607_6992247f4b_b.jpgAll that remain are towers of the north gate along dilapidated ramparts. Another big draw to the town is la collégiale Saint-Outrille, today the church of Notre-Dame which was founded in the 10th or 11th century to house relics of the saint. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8497/8310786392_6dfd84e889_b.jpgThe church of Saint-Outrille lost its name and became Notre-Dame before the Revolution. Apart from some old statues, the church is known for its remarkable capitals including these over the central portal which were restored in 2002 and 2006. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8219/8310786898_f16faeab17_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8079/8310787202_f50c5cb43b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8352/8309738817_06616a395d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8361/8310789008_46df641c50_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8215/8309738307_c4227d40ba_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8076/8310788484_908f491d95_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8364/8310788244_80f980cd0a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8501/8310788014_b19d97603f_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8494/8310787760_8105517c2a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8310787516_b25069e26c_b.jpgThe Romanesque iconography represents birds, monsters, griffins, dragons, mermaids, angels and a depiction of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. Sadly, the interior was way too dark for me to get any photos of the even more impressive capitals of the nave. When I got home, my mailbox was overflowing with Christmas cards. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8354/8309835005_e556098f32_b.jpgI would like to thank my friends and family for their holiday greetings especially my mother and father who sent me these cute tree decorations. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year !

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
December 23 2012 1 23 /12 /December /2012 11:08
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8343/8254970000_11f4479dbe_b.jpgFor weeks now the house has been decorated for the holidays. I decided to mix it up a little bit by going with a red color scheme for the tree this year.  Here are a few photos of some of my decorations.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8223/8253900117_74546977cc_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8495/8253481693_f90603673a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8073/8254598238_960d3c06f7_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8347/8254596580_de64da77da_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8074/8254594320_d483f05015_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8211/8253518075_e06686cb6b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8501/8253517171_d1415fd8e4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8499/8254589046_c5ee6fb0c2_b.jpgI thought that I would stay in Querqueville this year but I changed my mind and now I will be going to Gourdon to visit some friends.  I'll be home again for two days before leaving again on the 28th to go to Strasbourg to shop at the famous Christmas market and hail the New Year.  Each year, Strasbourg selects a country to be the special guest of honor at the market.  This year, they bestowed this honor on Georgia, a country where I had the immense pleasure of living for three years.  I'm so excited to once again eat some of their traditional foods and drink some of their famous wines.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8222/8254975948_733856be07_b.jpgMay the love that came with the birth of our Lord...
The joys that were heralded by the angels...
And the blessings that were bestowed upon us,
Shine upon you this Christmas and always !
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8343/8254600872_a382a83339_b.jpgHere is the link to the video of that song I shared with the students in my English class.  It has some pretty good lyrics.  I hope that you like it:
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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
October 17 2012 4 17 /10 /October /2012 16:04

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8112557357_8f09fdb259_b.jpgPerhaps the best way to eat chestnuts is to eat them fresh out of the oven.  Roasting them over an open fire just doesn’t seem to be as easy as it sounds.  The first thing one needs to do is to preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F).  Use a sharp paring knife to (carefully) score a deep X in the shell.  Put the nuts on a baking sheep and put them in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, until the shell starts to curl open.  Once they can be handled comfortably, peel away both the hard and outer shell and the papery inner shell.  The remaining flesh can be eaten as is and is a welcome treat this time of year.  After a week or so after falling from the tree, the nuts begin to shrink and begin to spoil if they are not eaten right away.  Since I had about a kilogram of chestnuts and couldn’t fathom eating all of them in a week, the next best option was to make my own crème de marrons, a recipe that takes quite a bit of work but yields unspeakably good results.  Here in France, few people make their own crème de marrons because it can easily be found already prepared in cans in the grocery store.  Last weekend I made my own using the following recipe:

1.5 kg chestnuts

700 g sugar

2 cas (tbs) vanilla

water

pinch of salt

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8323/8112556589_fa25dfe335_b.jpgBoil the chestnuts in for approximately 30 minutes to soften the skin.  Then, using a sharp knife, remove the skin and place the crumbled flesh in large bowl.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8112565700_3cf19f8fd4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8328/8112555445_2081174186_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8336/8112555199_8f1b66517c_b.jpgAfter cleaning up your mess it is time to purée the nuts by using a food mill.  If you don’t have a food mill, a food processor will work as well.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8184/8112554997_721a9d3302_b.jpgThe result is a finely crumbled bowl of chestnut purée.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8056/8112555943_85f2b27d13_b.jpgWeigh the chestnut purée, put it back into the pan, and add an equal weight of sugar. For every 1 kg of sweetened purée, add 100 ml water (or for every 16 oz add 3.25 fluid oz).  Add about two spoonfuls of vanilla to the pot, along with a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, until it has thickened so that it starts to pull away from the pan as you stir. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8046/8112555705_2c02f61b59_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8112563902_85bab0c0ef_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8195/8112564140_b465218b2b_b.jpgBe sure to keep your spoon going along the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.  Do this for approximately 20 minutes.  Once the mixture has cooled it can be placed into jars or plastic Tupperware and kept for several weeks in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer.

So what does one do with crème de marrons?  It can be served simply with fromage blanc, as a filling for crêpes, or added to whipped cream or crème pâtissiere to fill a classic bûche de Noël or other cake. Stir some into an ice cream base or use it in a pear tart. You could also, of course, give it away. Here are the results from a muffin recipe:  It is absolutely delicious. 

300gr de farine

2 oeufs

100gr de beurre (fondu)

100gr de sucre blanc

100gr de sucre roux

20cl de crème liquide

200gr de creme de marron

1/2 sachet de levure

Mélanger le tout, remplir les moules et cuire 180°c 35 minutes.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8328/8113908500_08e0642db0_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8052/8113915428_c27bd0b0bd_b.jpgBe careful not to overfill your molds like I did.  My muffins turned out fantastic but they were so big they merged into one another in the tray.  Lesson learned !http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8331/8113903207_d4a7868a0f_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
December 20 2011 3 20 /12 /December /2011 08:13

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7021/6542288723_c0f4e9c81b_b.jpgIn March of this year, my French teacher from Maison Pour Tous gave me some cuttings from her Christmas cactus.  At the time, we were debating whether or not it should be called an Easter cactus.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7172/6542286165_d262a87076_b.jpgI think I can put that discussion to rest now that it has grown so big and is currently in bloom just in time for the Christmas season.  Take a look at the photos from earlier this year and see for yourself.http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7021/6542286763_d094738c2f_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7156/6542285613_ea058fdd68_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
December 13 2011 3 13 /12 /December /2011 23:55

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7011/6500978467_02021f0a6a_b.jpgFinally finished decorating for the holidays.  Normally, I go to a friend's house in the southwest of France but this year I am staying in Querqueville.  I guess that will give me more time to enjoy my tree and the rest of my decorations.  The house is not much different than last year--you can check out my 2010 photos HERE.  I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7142/6542287389_4fcb4dda58_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6542288135_40b35c4877_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7026/6542289643_be7e3387ea_b.jpg http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7028/6500991235_2d15ac4067_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7160/6500973119_73c7bb6aed_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7017/6501002007_bf4b83fbab_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7030/6500996153_658348c0b5_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7008/6500984983_f07d6b44ac_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
December 1 2011 5 01 /12 /December /2011 11:30

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7151/6442022235_bf24e01bde_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7023/6442019335_5d91ef38d0_b.jpgMany of you already know that I was in the United States for ten days in November for a family reunion.  I flew from Paris into Houston and then stayed with my brother, Steve for a few days before our cruise with the entire family started.  I was so glad to see everyone in my family again, especially my nephews and nieces who have really grown since the last time I saw them.  Our party included every member of my family – seventeen people in all.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7006/6442035037_2cc9c32c6f_b.jpgOur ship was the new Carnival Magic.  What a ship !  It’s huge !  Because it was the week of Thanksgiving, there were many people aboard with their families as well so lots of children were running around.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7157/6442021333_6dd0305a66_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7142/6442021887_766587939a_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7167/6442019827_e6222a4903_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7159/6442020861_113e78fc86_b.jpgOf course, the ship had many activities for them to participate in including their new water park called WaterWorks.  For adults, there were places like the Serenity Deck and the Cloud Nine Spa which I took full advantage of.  The cruise lasted seven days with stops in Key West, Florida and Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas.  The weather was perfect every single day with plenty of sun and very warm temperatures.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7163/6442018905_9f633998e0_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7161/6442020169_19d569bede_b.jpgAfter boarding the ship in Galveston, I checked out my cabin on deck nine.  It was a beautiful room with a balcony that proved to have exceptional views every night when the sun would set.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7018/6442037123_c5fb552fb0_b.jpgBefore we left the port, I took some time to sample some food on the Lido Deck—there was so much to choose from and each day brought new things to the menu.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7168/6442022941_c48546a506_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6442038273_2b0ba7110f_b.jpgOur first port of call was Key West.  I just loved walking around and seeing all of the old houses and buildings—The Art Museum was open but I chose not to go inside as there were many other things I wanted to see.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7165/6442037545_99920e0125_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7166/6442036451_111729224e_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7171/6442023641_c89475630d_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6442032347_a0ccbda183_b.jpgThere are some great buildings along Duvall Street including the old movie theatre, The Strand (now a drugstore) as well as Sloppy Joe’s Bar.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7011/6442038799_ae39a10f36_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7154/6442024197_b420e584f8_b.jpgAt the end of the street is mile marker zero which claims to be the southernmost point of the United States.  People were lining up in droves to have their photo taken but I wasn’t going to be bothered so I just snapped a picture of the marker and one picture of me near the sea.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7005/6442035897_5eec2a8256_b.jpgFor lunch I had a Cuban sandwich, a beer and a delicious slice of Key Lime Pie from a place called Kermit’s.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7149/6442026183_3d7a05bd99_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7171/6442024931_1df13c9bfe_b.jpgOne very interesting place on the island was the old lighthouse.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7001/6442028665_08ff53f39f_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7175/6442027433_3c45fcacf9_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7142/6442025715_4b91df131a_b.jpgFrom the top, one could see for miles including our ship in the distance.  The place I wanted to see the most however was the Hemingway House.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7143/6442026887_ea7bfcb64e_b.jpgFortunately, by the time I strolled in, most of the tourists had left and I had an excellent opportunity to visit the rooms of the house and explore the grounds.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7029/6442034407_1946321230_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7154/6442027925_b5379e06a7_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7150/6442029211_05e7a1c33a_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7007/6442030627_5471db68ac_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7033/6442030111_f588aa3aeb_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7144/6442031141_74090a13b1_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7172/6442031805_037f06e10e_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7173/6442032941_790ce519e2_b.jpgThe property has many cats.  Very peculiar cats.  They all have six toes instead of five.  At the end of the day I got back on the ship and exchanged stories with my family about the different things we did.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7147/6442035471_b983e09108_b.jpgFrom my balcony, I could see some beautiful private islands and several large yachts.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7014/6501160941_427d2e7602_b.jpgOur next day was a day at sea and my father booked early with the excursions desk a tour of the inside of the ship.  Only two groups of 20 ever get to see this part of the boat which included visits to the crew’s quarters, the large galley, mega-laundry facilities, the morgue, the brig, and an exclusive visit with the Italian captain, Giovanni Cutugno on the main deck where he steers the ship.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7004/6501161935_5dba1fcd14_b.jpgHe allowed us to have our photo taken with him.  As an added bonus, we were all taken to the very front of the ship for a group photo.  The tour ended with champagne and free goodie bags that included backpacks and hats that say “Behind the Fun”.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7145/6501142669_31c5566a54_b.jpgOur second port of call was the town of Freeport in the Bahamas.  In 2008 they suffered from two devastating hurricanes which destroyed much of the island’s tourist industry.  Fortunately, it is bounding back and our guide for the afternoon was a taxi driver named Patricia who took us to all of the places that are recovering from the damage as well as all of the pristine beaches including Paradise Cove.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7033/6501157187_28a4c57561_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7031/6501157721_61296b4b18_b.jpgAll of my brothers and their families joined me for a day at this private beach.  We tanned in the hot sun, built sand castles and snorkelled in the sea.  The coral and the fish were so colourful.  I will always remember how pleased I was to have done this part of the island.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7031/6501159287_92bbfb79e2_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7147/6501159899_f2ee44807f_b.jpgDon’t I make a good middle-aged model ?  Ha, ha, ha !  It was also my first time eating grilled conch.  Yummy.  Back on ship, I spent late afternoon on my balcony before going to dinner at the Southern Lights Dining Room.  My whole family sat together at two large tables while three stewards who waited on us hand and foot to make sure our dining experience was exceptional served us every night.  The food was delicious and every night I tried something different.  The sunset leaving Freeport was stunning.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7033/6501153467_951eb12d81_b.jpgThe next port of call was perhaps my favorite, Nassau.  The streets were busy with tourists since there were five large cruise ships docked here for the day.  They included our ship, the Carnival Magic, the Norwegian Gem, the Disney Dream, the Carnival Pride and the Carnival Fascination.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7158/6501127305_0f8e500239_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7002/6501134639_8e49b72653_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7022/6501129983_9353ee4cbf_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7174/6501137505_fb35509576_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7017/6501131301_938cbb2c83_b.jpgAlong with its old colonial buildings, Nassau is famous for its fort at the top of the hill, Fort Fincastle as well as the old water tower.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7027/6501133743_4e4c059810_b.jpgTo get there, one has to climb the famous Queen Victoria Staircase carved entirely out of limestone in the 19th century by slaves.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7161/6501138629_e7e6781d89_b.jpgNearby, there were plenty of souvenir booths selling handmade crafts and crazy shirts.  I bought one although I only got to wear it once.  I also bought a calendar, another hat and a Christmas tree decoration made from a conch shell in the shape of an angel.  The views from the fort were great and once again, I could see all of the ships docked in the distance.  Instead of choosing to book an excursion, I decided I would walk the city by myself and see many of its historical sights which included, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7143/6501126729_7f1fd7a3a0_b.jpgParliament Square with its statue of Queen Victoria, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7024/6501128841_882c109e04_b.jpgAnsbacher House near the Garden of Remembrance, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7159/6501132441_7624ffbf54_b.jpgthe octagonal-shaped Public Library, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7168/6501139681_1a432038fe_b.jpgProvidence House, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7019/6501141221_e13518137f_b.jpgGovernment House atop the hill, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7010/6501140481_eb126c0896_b.jpgas well as the staircase leading up to Govenment house with a statue honoring Christopher Columbus, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7171/6501142107_97c573f2c8_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7143/6501144039_97a9c82281_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7173/6501145211_518c114df4_b.jpga tobacco drying building and the National Art Gallery.  Along the way, I tried to visit as many of the local churches as I could including http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7142/6501146843_6a40502626_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7147/6501147685_b470810f3e_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7013/6501145899_d0d3442d29_b.jpgSt. Francis Xavier Cathedral--it was in a ruinous state.  Next door to it was the more modern construction, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7013/6501148427_78d33318ae_b.jpgAnnunciation Greek Orthodox Church, http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7016/6501150499_da12546fe1_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7020/6501152779_c1c8f40777_b.jpgand the most beautiful of them all, Christ Church Cathedral with its exquisite interior, stained glass windows, glorious organ and wood ceilings.  It is truly a fine place to explore if you enjoy visiting religious buildings like I do.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7156/6501154953_eb5b485b34_b.jpgAs for the rest of my family, they chose to take the bus to the private resort beach on the nearby Paradise Island.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7020/6501150983_854ecc6148_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7171/6501154165_bdfcc367f3_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7160/6501156561_740fdfdcbe_b.jpgThe large hotel on the island is called “Atlantis” and is famous for being one of the places where Michael Jackson lived much of the year before his death.  I walked across the bridge to the resort and took a look at the beach and then did some shopping at the Marina tourist shops.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7169/6501151841_573702df81_b.jpgFor lunch I ate an enormous pastrami sandwich from Murray’s Marina Deli.  Total price for the sandwich, chips and a drink : $25 !  That was outrageous but worth every penny since it tasted so good.  After my meal, I wrote several postcards and bought some stamps from the post office in town.  According to many of my friends, they still haven’t received their postcard !  Mail must be slow on the islands.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7005/6501158427_2c3c3d6139_b.jpghttp://farm8.staticflickr.com/7159/6501160215_25b86b9b06_b.jpgIt was November 24th, Thanksgiving and we had our second formal dress dinner at the Southern Lights dining room.  Photographers were located throughout the ship to capture every moment.  I had lots of professional photos taken but I only bought one from the day I left the ship for Freeport.  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7142/6501155637_1bacb7df10_b.jpgThe sunset leaving Nassau was so pretty.  The next two days were days at sea.  In that time, I relaxed in the Cloud Nine Spa, played some trivia games and joined the entire family for several hours of a professional photo shoot.  We each went away with nearly 75 photos of us taken in a variety of settings throughout the ship.  Earlier in the week, I won a karaoke contest which earned me a place in the final show at the end of the cruise called the “Carnival Legends Show.”  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7028/6504462165_bfb3ffdcbd_b.jpgThe entertainment personnel aboard the ship dressed me up as Michael Jackson and taught me how to dance and to sing Billy Jean live on stage for all of the Carnival Magic passengers.  I was so embarrassed and forgot some of the words but in the end, everyone said I did a great job.  They gave me a free picture of the whole cast and a DVD of the entire performance.  I would like to thank our Cruise Director James Charlton for showing us a great time all week.  I admire how he was able to cope with so many different activities each and every day with thousands of passengers and crew under his wing.  Bravo !  http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6504462985_ca5535c557_b.jpgMost of all, I would like to thank my wonderful parents who planned this event and brought the entire family together for Thanksgiving.  This being my first cruise, I truly enjoyed every minute and hope that we can cruise again in the future.  Just for your information, I took close to 500 digital images but narrowed them down to about 75 to post on my blog.

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