La Petite France

I’m joining this 10 days La Petite France trip with Albatross Tours. So excited!!!

Tour Overview

Sleep in a picturesque château in the Loire Valley, walk amongst the flowers of Monet’s Gardens and Château Villandry and dine on exquisite seafood in the ‘pirate town’ of St Malo. Stand on the Normandy beaches, visit magnificent Mont-Saint-Michel and sip Benedictine in a palace! C’est magnifique…


  • Stay 3 nights on the verdant Normandy Coast in the classic seaside resort of Cabourg
  • Wander through Monet’s glorious gardens in Giverny
  • Explore the pretty harbourside town of Honfleur
  • Sip Benedictine in Fécamp where it was invented
  • Stay 2 nights in the ‘pirate town’ of St Malo
  • Explore the magnificent 11th century Mont-Saint-Michel (I always wanted to visit!!)
  • Enjoy time relaxing in the ‘oyster village’ of Cancale
  • Visit the famous city of Tours and explore the old town
  • Enjoy a relaxing evening in the pretty village of Langeais
  • Enjoy the gardens and interior of the elegant Château Chenonceau
  • Visit Da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé in historical Amboise
  • Visit the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, the largest in Western Europe
  • Visit the classic 16th and 18th century gardens of Château Villandry
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner in your Château

Tour Itinerary

Tour Map

Day 1: Monet’s Gardens, Rouen and Cabourg

Your tour commences this morning in Paris. After meeting your Tour Manager, we board our coach and follow the River Seine north-west to Giverny for our first stop, a visit to the house and gardens of the impressionist artist Claude Monet. World famous, these colourful gardens with lily ponds and shaded walkways are instantly recognisable as the inspiration for so many of his classic artworks.

Lunchtime will be spent in the medieval city of Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. The old town still boasts wonderful half-timbered buildings and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Later we will continue to the Normandy Coast where we will stay the next three nights in the traditional resort town of Cabourg. Created as a fashionable French seaside resort in the 1880’s Cabourg still offers that ‘olde worlde’ experience of café lined, seaside promenades and smart belle époque villas and hotels. Your welcome drink and dinner tonight is a perfect way to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.

Day 2: WWII Normandy landing beaches

We will spend a fascinating morning driving through the lush Normandy countryside, dotted with small, pretty villages, ancient farms and apple orchards, to explore the famous WWII Normandy landing beaches. At Arromanches-les-Bains we will visit the fascinating Landing Beaches Museum. From here, looking out over the English Channel you will clearly see the remains of Mulberry ‘B’ Harbour, often referred to as the ‘key to Normandy’. This afternoon we stop in the historic town of Bayeux, which sits on the River Aure, and enjoy a visit to see the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry, depicting William the Conqueror’s invasion of Britain in 1066.

Day 3: Cabourg,Honfleur and Palais Benedictine

After time at leisure to explore Cabourg, we head east to explore the pretty harbour town of Honfleur which is located on the estuary where the River Seine meets the English Channel. Lined with 16th, 17th and 18th century houses the old harbour is filled with colourful fishing boats. It is no wonder it was one of the classic ‘painting by numbers’ settings. Make sure you wander around the cobbled stone streets to find the perfect bistro for lunch. In the afternoon, we will visit the Palais Benedictine in Fécamp. Five hundred years ago, a Benedictine alchemist discovered a secret elixir that we now know as Benedictine liqueur. Built by Alexandre le Grand who made a fortune with this brew, the opulent interior of the imposing gothic/renaissance style palace is rich in art, sculptures and a wonderful old library. Following a guided tour, we will enjoy a tasting of this ancient elixir.

Day 4: Mont-Saint-Michel and Cancale

Crossing to Eastern Normandy, we visit the amazing structure of le Mont-Saint-Michel. The 11th century Romanesque abbey is perched atop a rocky outcrop linked to mainland France by a kilometre long, narrow causeway. The giant monastery dominates the tiny village below, and the entire complex has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

Entering Brittany we make an afternoon stop in the ‘oyster village’ of Cancale. The region’s giant oysters have been famous since pre-Roman times, and from the old fishing port you will see the seven square kilometres of oyster beds stretching out to sea. Take time to stop in one of the pretty fishing house restaurants and try a few freshly shucked oysters, and maybe a glass of wine. We will stay the next two nights on the Emerald Coast, in the ‘pirate town’ of St Malo.

Day 5: Dinan and ‘My Time’ in St Malo

This morning we will visit the attractive and beautifully preserved village of Dinan. The whole upper town is filled with historic, half-timbered houses which date back up to 600 years. Down near the old port you find stone houses and bridges, and cobbled stone streets lined with craft and artisan shops. The town still has kilometres of ancient ramparts and a massive viaduct built by Gustav Eiffel. Next we enjoy lunchtime in the classic seaside resort of Dinard, with its sea front that is lined with 19th century villas and townhouses. Time to shop and enjoy lunch in the old town centre. Later we catch the ferry across to the old port of St Malo. Arriving by boat we can get the very best view of this fully walled and fortified town. Originally an island stronghold, the town grew on the wealth bought in between the 16th and 18th centuries by the ‘authorised’ pirates and freebooters. The rest of your day is at leisure to explore the cobbled streets, alleys filled with shops and cafés. Perhaps enjoy the 2 km walk along the ramparts that completely encircle the old town.

Day 6: Angers Château and Saumur

Travelling south we make our way to the verdant Loire Valley where, during the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kings of France and their courtiers created their grand holiday palaces. First stop is in the city of Angers with its massive 13th century granite château. In the afternoon we will make a stop in Saumur, famous for its castle and elite riding school. Later we reach our wonderful Château hotel where we spend the next four wonderful nights. This evening we enjoy dinner in our château.

The grand châteaux of the Loire

Day 7: Tours and ‘My Time’ at your Château

After a leisurely start, we make our way to the city of Tours. As you would expect of a regional capital there is much to see, from the Cathedral Saint-Gatien and the adjacent cloisters of La Psalette, to the shopping, the vieille ville (old town) and Place Plumereau filled with al fresco cafés and bars. A great place to relax over lunchtime. Late afternoon, after time at leisure back at our château to relax & freshen up, we enjoy an evening in nearby Langeais. The enormous château which dominates the beautiful village can still be visited, and this evening you will have the chance to discover your own intimate bistro for dinner.

Day 8: Château Chenonceau and Château du Clos Lucé

This morning we enjoy a visit to the magnificent Château Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher on a series of graceful arches. Possibly one of the most photographed of the Loire châteaux this was the former home of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Explore the stunning gardens and interior of the château. Later we stop to explore the charming riverside town of Amboise, on the banks of the River Loire, with its Royal Palace, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived as a guest of King Francois I. We have included a visit to da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé. Here in the underground rooms you will see on display, forty machines designed by this amazing inventor. After freshening up back at our château your evening will be free in the old town of Tours around Place Plumereau, to discover your own provincial bistro for dinner.

Day 9: Fontevraud, Chinon and Château Villandry

Our first stop of the day will be to visit the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. Built nearly 1000 years ago, this is the largest Abbey in Western Europe. The Romanesque abbey church with its royal tombs and the renaissance cloister, have all been beautifully restored and the complex is now a museum and cultural centre. Lunchtime will be spent exploring Chinon, with its massive castle looming over the narrow cobbled streets of this riverside town. Time permitting, in the afternoon we will detour from our route to pass through Ussé to make a photo stop at the 16th century château overlooking the Loire and Indre River Valley. Accredited as the castle in Charles Perrault’s story ‘Sleeping Beauty’ it is also sometimes called the ‘Castle of Dreams’. We then visit the gardens of Château Villandry which got its inspiration from the classic gardens of the 16th and 18th century. Different levels of the gardens include ponds, topiary, ornamental hedges and an extraordinary kitchen garden covering 12,500 square metres. Your farewell dinner tonight is included at your château.

Day 10: To Paris

Going home and back to work! 😦


European Gems Cruise with Travel Marvel

Map for the cruise

Cruise itineray

Day 1: Arrive in the enthralling city of Budapest, where your premium river ship awaits on the Danube River. Enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and meet your fellow travellers and Cruise Director before a relaxing twilight cruise following dinner.

Day 2: Awake to views of one of the Danube’s most enchanting cities this morning. Disembark and learn the vibrant history of Budapest as your local guide takes you to a host of impressive sights such as Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, Heroes’ Square and Buda Castle. Back on board this evening, enjoy a delightful Gala Dinner while you cruise.

Day 3: Embrace the elegance of Vienna as you drive around the Ringstrasse this morning, taking in some of the city’s most famous buildings – the Vienna State Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts and more. On arrival in the city centre, a walking tour will provide an insider’s view of sights such as St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Graben, Hofburg Palace and the Albertina.

Day 4: With the day at leisure, you may like to further explore the Hofburg area – home to the Imperial Treasury and the Spanish Riding School – or wander along Karntnerstrasse, the city’s famous shopping strip.

Day 5: Cruise to the town of Durnstein and enjoy a stroll past rustic town houses and taverns. Along the way, gaze up to the hilltop ruins of the castle where King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. Later, dock in Melk and tour through Melk Abbey. An active Benedictine monastery since 1089, it sits atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River.

Day 6: This morning after breakfast, you will cruise to beautiful Passau. Enjoy a traditional Bavarian experience on board your river ship. Sample delicious local beer and snacks, accompanied by traditional folk music, song and dance.

Day 7: Continue along the Danube River to the enchanting town of Regensburg, located in the southern region of the Bavarian Forest. Here, a guided tour along its cobblestone lanes tells of the medieval town’s journey through the ages. Afterwards, wander the historic streets at your own pace.

Day 8: Arrive in Nuremberg, the site of Hitler’s now infamous rallies, which played a pivotal role for the Nazis during World War II. Take a city tour this afternoon, which includes sights such as the Zeppelin Field and Palace of Justice.

Day 9: One of the few German cities that wasn’t destroyed during World War II, World Heritage-listed Bamberg beckons your attention this morning. You’ll gain great insight during a locally guided tour of the historic city centre.

Day 10: Verdant hills and rich vineyards sit on the edge of Würzburg, while the Main River is a prominent feature of this stunning city. The architectural beauty that further defines Würzburg is on show today as you admire its magnificent baroque palace, the Würzburg Residence. Here, a walk through Würzburg Court Garden is a delight, with its terraced gardens and serene water basin.

Day 11: Arrive at the beautifully evocative town of Miltenberg. After morning tea return to your ship and enjoy time at leisure. As the sun sets, watch the glittering lights of medieval towns slip past as you sit down to dinner and cruise through the night. Discover true German hospitality as you are welcomed into the homes of friendly Miltenberg locals for coffee and cake.

Day 12: In Rudesheim, the Winzerexpress mini-train will take you through town to Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. As you continue cruising, you will encounter a true holiday highlight – the spectacular Rhine Gorge. Watch in awe as you drift past steep vine-covered slopes dotted with ancient castles and strongholds. Enjoy dinner on board tonight, as your journey continues late into the evening.

Day 13: Disembark your ship in Cologne and drive to the town of Bruhl. Return to Cologne and enjoy some time at leisure. Pay a visit to Augustusburg Castle and Falkenlust hunting lodge, the lavish residences of archbishop-elector Clemens August. On a tour of the castle, learn stories of its infamous former resident and enjoy a walk through its gardens between the lodge and the castle.

Day 14: Studded with low bridges and historic houses, Amsterdam’s network of canals lends the city its nickname, ‘Venice of the North’. Dock in the city’s heart and board a glass-top boat to discover the city’s waterside facades, watching the bicycle-loving locals ride along with carefree abandon as you drift by. Back on land, enjoy some free time to explore the city, before a Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board your river ship.

Day 15: After breakfast, disembark your river ship and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

SQL 2017 Machine Learning and Vulnerability Assessment

I’m in the porcess of migrating and upgrading all previous versions of SQL server instances to 2016 at this stage. I’ve started to read about SQL 2017 and cannot wait to test a few new features out.

Vulnerability Assessment (VA) is a new feature of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) 2017 builds. I’ve tried it as the SSMS installation is seperated from the SQL server isntallation. There are plenty documentation of VA on the web, Microsoft Docs has a good artical on it as well.

Download button for Microsoft Docs

Let me sidetrack to Microsoft Docs for 2 seconds here, I found that not everyone knows that there is a dowload PDF button (see below)! It’s a great option for offline reading.

Back to VA, the tool is light and easy to use but its lacking some features such as export the result to PDF or Excel, it would be great if Database Administrators (DBAs) can run this as a schduled task, etc. I’m sure Microsoft is working on them as I publis this post! 🙂

I’m very interested in the Automatic Tunning and Indexing features for SQL 2017. I’ve listed some reading materials for these at the end of the post. These features obviously will make DBAs’ lives easier in the future but how much control are we willing to relinquish to machine learning? System administrators might be a thing of the past soon.

Reading material:

up 当我们拿花送给别人的时候,首先闻到花香的是自己;

– 卡娃微卡

– § –

Visual Studio 2017 Prompts For Login


I’m not very sure why Visual Studio 2017 continuously prompts me for login today. I entered the username and login successfully then the prompt never disappears and I could not access my VSTS.


After some Googling, I found a post discussing the issue. In summary:

There is an issue with the update installer which causes some users’ identity cache to become corrupted, which produces very similar behaviour to the other bug. The following has generally fixed this:

  • Close all instances of VS
  • Open %LOCALAPPDATA% in File Explorer, e.g. c:\users\\AppData\Local
  • Delete the .IdentityService folder
  • Launch VS. You’ll have to sign in again

After that it should stop prompting you.

It totally worked for me!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

up There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal. down

– Lord Byron

– § –



如果你在悉尼只有2天的时间,干什么好呢?怎么玩?玩法当然很多,我们这次选择的是Bondi+Bay的行程,属于自由散漫的消闲游。(注:Bondi=Bondi beach=邦迪海滩,Bay=Watson’s Bay=沃森的海湾


第一天,到了悉尼的市区以后,就开始压马路。顺着伊丽莎白路从Central Station一直向北走,走走看看,走饿了就停下来吃饭,一切随意,反正沿路的餐厅多的是,各种风味。平时我都会从乔治街走,但是自从乔治街开始施工🚧要盖轻轨以后,一直闹哄哄的,上下班时间更加拥挤。因为施工,我们这次去悉尼也没有住在市区,怕吵!




从歌剧院前的火车站坐火车到Bondi Junction站下车,总共也不过30分钟左右。悉尼的行车卡本身不要钱,在报刊亭充值就可以了,公共汽车🚌火车或摆渡都可以用。周末打卡2块钱尽情坐。有问题请在留言里问,我尽量回复。

我们的旅馆叫Meriton Suites。第一次住这个品牌的旅馆,感觉还不错👍。我们的房间在18层楼,视野开阔,左边是悉尼海湾,右边是太平洋,坐在阳台上发呆也是一种享受!👍😃❤️




Bondi Junction坐公共汽车🚌到邦迪海滩不过10分钟,4公里。邦迪海滩那里吃的玩的都不错,不用愁没事干。







旅馆的后街就是Bondi Junction的购物步行街。早餐🥣就在那里解决。然后我们就浩浩荡荡的往沃森的海湾走了。我们坐公共汽车去的,沿路也好看看风景。行程大约30多分钟。这个海湾上有几个瞭望口,景色都不错,小山的坡度也不大,还有一个海军基地在此,不要乱闯啊。餐馆都就近海滩,我们坐在树荫下吃吃喝喝,胜似神仙。吃了一大碗海鲜意面🍝,太好吃😋了!