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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

Walking Through the Fifth

If it's sunny here I'm probably walking my paws off trundling all around Paris. Unfortunately right now it's cloudy but here's a walk I took last week...

Today I followed the sun and headed back to  the Latin Quarter. Once again I picked the route from our Walking Paris book which guarantees it was a bit of a trek, about four miles roundtrip plus a couple more getting to and from the starting point. This is another walk  through the oldest  of Paris. I went past a Roman ruin, several of the Grandes Écoles, the Jardin du Plantes, an historic hospital and a mosque built in the 1920s. I think the pictures give and idea of the diversity of the sites.  Once again I wouldn't have stumbled upon these places walking around on my own. In fact I walked  right past the same mosque a few days ago with no idea it was  there or that it was open to the public.

I love the incidental shot of the Pantheon above, it wasn't part of the tour but there was a lovely view of it at the end of  one of the streets I walked down. The first site was the Roman arena. Heavily restored and rebuilt in the 1880s this is a rare reminder of the Roman city of Lucete. Now it's a well used public park with student gathering on the steps and children playing in the central circle. After this I walked up the hill passing a street where Descartes lived all the way to the  attractive Place de la Contrescarpe at the top of the Rue Mouffetard.
Below you can see another attractive small square close to many of the Grandes Écoles. Several people we enjoying lunch on the restaurant terrace even in February.
For three euro you can visit La Grande Mosquée de Paris. Designed in Moorish style with attractive gardens it is well worth a visit, particularly if you stop for tea in the charming tearooms the operate around the corner. You pick and pay for any of the Middle Eastern pastries you want at the counter when you come in, and when you've found your table you can order tea from one of the waiters. Built in the 1920's in tribute to the colonial soldiers who died for France in the First World War, this is a tranquil and welcoming spot.  
Close to the Austerlitz train station is the extraordinarily grand Hopital de la Salpetriere. This is an enormous complex still used as a hospital and built in a classical style with dramatically symmetrical courtyards and an imposing facade. Well worth visiting if you're passing by.
The Parisians  love their parks and seem to head outside when the sun comes out  regardless of the temperature. The walk ended at the charming  Jardin des Plantes  which was filled with people strolling or sitting on the benches soaking up the winter sun.  I'm looking forward seeing the gardens in the spring though it has a sparse elegance even in the winter.


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