Castle Blois and other things...

So many of you are emailing your appreciation (and envy) of our adventure overseas. Thanks so much for your kind notes! So today I thought I'd give you a little balance and perspective on the trip... while wrapping it in more wonders. For instance, did you know that bats (which I never minded and thought were quite cute) are basically poop machines when they get trapped in a four-story stairwell? Yeah. The window was open for airflow (there's no a/c here), but it will remained closed from now on. So anyhow...
     The other day Stan and I headed up to the castle and had a picnic on a lovely bench under a shady tree. The Houdin museum's dragons were working and we got some great photos:
For all the times I've been to Blois, I'd never seen the dragons because they were always broken. Not this time! They growl and stomp the balconies down with their big feet, and open and close their roaring mouths, before retreating back into the windows to come out again later. (Click the photo to see a larger version in a new window.)
     Afterwards we went to tour the Castle Blois and see the exhibit of ancient books (manuscripts) hand painted by "Illuminators" (a.k.a. "illustrators"). Gads, they were stunning.
     At any rate, the castle was well worth the visit. Here are some pics:

The castle was built in three stages during different periods in history, as reflected by the various styles. But the amount of craftsmanship during every time period is overwhelming!

The castle doesn't really seem that removed from the village below, and yet most of the monarchy had their heads removed at some point. Makes me wonder if they were spitting loogies over the castle walls or something. They would have certainly hit somebody:

And hey - we can see our apartment from here! (That's our kitchen window circled in red.)
Maybe it was just the wealth of the amazing books, art, and these scary dudes hanging over your head every time citizens walked by:
Oh, the spoils of being king - with a salamander insignia!

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