A Travellerspoint blog

Its over!!

But i think this was just chapter one!!

Our last day today. An odd feeling, glad to be heading back to our family and friends, sad that our adventure is nearly over.
What a blast its been!! For two old buggers we did well, we feel pretty proud of ourselves! We saw so much have the best memories..and if they are sketchy..Ian took over 1100 photos...so prepare yourself kids, Dad is going to drive you insane with his photo nights!
I have savoured every single moment!
So much has surprised me. Not once did we encounter any personal aggression, never did we feel unsafe (cept maybe when the guards stormed the train). Never were we made feel uncomfortable, or embarrassed by our lack of local knowledge or language issues. Everyone we encountered, from people in the street, hotel employees, hospitality staff, train employees, everyone.. has been genuinely friendly, helpful and keen for us to enjoy their home.
The last few weeks have really got me wanting to see more, and I am determined to start planning another trip..today we talked about Sweden...sounds fun.
We have so many people to thank for their help in getting us here, in particular Debbie, Lauren, and Ryan. Thanks for taking care of the babies!! You will never know how appreciated it was. Thanks for getting Harrison through a bit of drama, I did stress, but knew that he was with those that love him as much as me, and the photo of him smiling with his arm in a cast, got me over the stress! I have one hell of a sister, and some pretty cool kids!! I am hanging out for some hugs!! to my lovely workmates, thanks for letting me get up and go, I know it increased your workload, and i love you for it! Cant wait to have a latte with my girls!
See you soon!!

Posted by Kerry F 13:18 Comments (0)

A night on the Town

every night!

A night out in Nice is an experience.
You wander down the lovely little cobblestone lanes..checking out the bars and restaurants, tables and chairs spill out onto the streets.Lovely street lights and table candles provide the lovely atmosphere. Spruikers stand at menu boards that display prices and whats on offer..they all greet you "Bon jour", and suggest you be their guests.

After you choose your restaurant, you pick your table..those closest to the street.. on the road, are my favourite, you want to have a good view so you dont miss none of the action on the street!

The service is excellent, you are seated, water appears, beautiful french bread and the drink menu. You select your drinks.. ( i still get raised eyebrows when i request coffee with my meal, its a sin in the eyes of the french.. coffee is a meal course.. not to be drank while you are eating!!) , Drink menu disappears.. the food menu is produced, usually in english/french combination. The waiter will help, explain dishes, suggest a dish, or translate if neccessary, most speak english very well.

While you wait for your food, the entertainment begins... buskers everywhere!
Tonight we watched 'human statues' people painted gold and silver, posing.. only to move suddenly and make passerbys jump!
We also saw a young brazilian acrobat troupe, do amazing things in the middle of the road.
A painter set up his little area, and proceeded to produce masterpieces with spray paint.
A piano accordian player wandered through the tables playing his offkey music, to the clapping of the patrons.
A man drew caricatures of people in the crowd, much to the amusement of others.
A young guy dressed as a clown made balloon animals for children.

You eat your food and watch, a one course meal can stretch to two hours, you sit, and are fussed over by the restaurant staff...'does madam want another drink, .you watch the street performers, and soak up the atmosphere.You are never presented with your bill you have to ask.. to present you with the bill before you are ready to leave, is considered rude.

We have only eaten one meal inside the whole time we have been here...and that was because it was raining!

I love Nice, I love the whole atmosphere, the laid back relaxing life style!

Posted by Kerry F 14:38 Comments (0)

Time to Relax

pass the coppertone

Paris to the Riviera through the countryside, across alps, every view is like a postcard, winding our way through valleys with big cliffs and mountain faces each side, snow on the apexes and in the crevices. Nothing really beats mother nature in the beauty department. There is a lot of white water rivers that we have crossed today also, they thunder down the valleys with such force.We enjoyed a coffee in the 'Ristorante' cabin of the train, which has big windows so you can enjoy the view from every angle. The train we rode on was a double decker luxury ..we scored seats on the top. A real treat.
We found it,... well I found it very daunting when about 20 police/guards boarded the train and proceeded to check passports and visas, this happened three times with in an hour.
The train would stop..they would all storm the train.. and proceed to check documents. We at all checks were greeted with smiles and nods from the guards when they saw we were from Australia, they seemed to be targeting africans and arabs, full on searchs and aggressive questioning..that we couldnt understand.
The French-African summit is on in Nice, so maybe it is a security thing for that, as we havent read a newspaper or seen the news in a couple of weeks, that is just a guess.
The weather in Paris turned nasty yesterday, wind and rain, expected to continue for the next week. We made a decision that we wanted to relax on the beautiful beaches of the riviera for the next few days till we fly home, so within an hour had tickets and took off.. I love this freedom!
Looking forward to some more sun, and the beautiful blue of the mediteranean..xxx missing my babies very much

Posted by Kerry F 14:23 Comments (0)

Paris, Paris, Paris

Days to remember forever!

Well Milan was ...hot...over 30 C..no wind..hot hot hot. We stayed all of 14 hours..and slept 8 of them. Unless you are a rich rich person, with nothing better to do than drink lattes..and look at items of clothes that are the equivalent of a months wages.. keep going and dont stop.
We caught the 6 am train to Paris... lovely fast, clean trains, wish the planes were as comfortable!
Paris.. what can I say.. I remember reading once that " everyone should see Paris" I agree, it is a wonderful place. Even Ian, who is not easily impressed thinks it is a brilliant place.
Paris is full of tourists, some big football match, all I know is a red and yellow team, are playing a blue and yellow team, the streets are full of the supporters. Also the french open is on ...not sure where, but lots of people around because of that. We got a room about 200 meters from the 'Arc de Triumph" . Also we can see the very top of the eiffel tower.
We rode the metro.. the underground train system to get to our hotel..I found it very claustrophobic, had to take four escalators down to the bowels of the earth to get our train. Had a hilarious moment when Ian got his case stuck in the auto shutting doors, I couldnt help him, I was laughing too hard. a lovely french lady came to his rescue.The metro is very well planned out, you apparently can be anywhere in Paris and only be 500 metres from a station.
Last night when it was dark we went to the top of the 'arc de triumph' and looked at the 'lights of Paris' The Champs de elyees with all the street lamps, the Eiffel tower, the spotlights on Notre Dame, it looked like Fairyland. Took a heap of photos, but I do not think it will do what we saw any justice.
The eiffel tower seems so much bigger than I thought it would be, crawling with a million tourists, and about half a million africans trying to sell souveniers, we walked across the road to the Trocodero, and enjoyed the scenery from a plaza, another dreamlike moment, just looking around and realising where I was.
We spent 4 hours at the Louvre...and never went inside. It is massive, with beautiful gardens, pools, outdoor sculpture gardens, plazas, and the buildings themselves are art. The weather was superb, We had every intention of going inside, just never made it! Had a picnic lunch in the beautiful gardens.
Also went to Notre Dame Cathedral, but never saw the hunchback. Gothic and with the most brightest stainglass windows.

A sad thing about Paris is the beggars, they are everywhere, begging for money, Young, old, women men and children, usually Bosnian. I find it distressing. I did a little research and apparently France has a wonderful welfare system, and in Paris there are at least 22 places three times a day that free meals are served. The beggars have signs.. "Sick children' or " need food" ..it is all a scam apparently and a well co-ordinated business.. but it still breaks my heart .. the loss of dignity..ugh. One beggar in particular had a tiny newborn, I was really upset till Ian pointed out she had a beautiful pram parked behind a tree, and was wearing 200 dollar sneakers, we saw the same woman later sitting in a bar ...eating and drinking.. no baby in sight...so I keep my change in my pocket.

Today we visited Napoleons tomb, a big marble sarcophagus, for such a little man! We also went to the invalides, where during the french revolution the masses stormed the buildings to get the weapons that were stored there, Strange feeling walking across the cobblestones and imagining the drama and traumas that had occured there. We walked through the military museum and saw some amazing stuff from the french resistance, during the second world war..and so so much more.

We also walked around the left bank, full of little markets selling old posters (probably fakes says my sceptical husband) art prints and curios. We went down a street where the buildings were covered in bullet holes in the concrete. from the time of the intense fighting for the liberation of the french during the second world war.
We saw so much yesterday and today its impossible to describe.
In your life you get a few days that will always stand out to be 'the best' yesterday and today are up there with them,
miss you all still xxxxxx

Posted by Kerry F 14:48 Comments (0)

Venice

Wagner, waltzes and water

Venice is just such a special place, never experienced anything like it! A city of no cars, no motorbikes, only boats. Little bridges everywhere, the most beautifully ornate front doors, flowers at windows, just so sweet.
It felt so strange to get off a train, walk out the front of the station.. and find yourself on a wharf boarding a water bus to cross the Grand Canal to get to the city of Venice.Though beautiful... it is expensive, Our room was spectacular decorated in the Venetian Style, we walked out the door, about 12 paces, and were in St Marks Square. We watched a high tide come in and flood the square, ankle deep! freaky stuff. Enjoyed the atmosphere in the square last night, bands playing Vivaldi and Wagner, beautiful lighting from the old lamp posts and the old architecure throwing beautiful shadows. I felt like waltzing around through the water!
We stood on one of the little bridges and listened as a Gondelier sang his song...beautiful..all dressed up in his striped shirt, little straw hat with flowing ribbons, pelting out some italian love song as he propelled his boat through the canal. When he finished everyone on the street and bridge applauded. Just one of many spine tingling moments Ive had in the last couple of weeks.We did not go for a ride in a gondola, the water bus ride was enough for me.. not fond of boats.
The lovely little quaint shops are full of Murano Glass, painted masks and jewellry. I loved all the glassware, but impossible to purchase as it would be at such risk of damage on the way home.
It was fascinating to watch the going ons of everyday life ..without motorised transport, The venetians use little boats for eveyrthing, moving rubbish, delivering goods, One was all trussed up as a fruit shop, every kind of vegie and fruit, being sold out of the gondola.
The size of Venice shocked me, it is very large...and easy to get lost in..as we found out!
There is also a large park/garden area, full of sculptures and planted with fragrant plants...an attempt to hide the low tide stink...which wasnt as bad as the Colac Lake stink...ha.
A very beautiful and unusual city....on to Milan....xxx

Posted by Kerry F 14:10 Comments (0)

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