Saturday, July 29, 2006

Au Revoir France, Buon Giorno Italy!

We woke early... again... Packed up and got ready to head into Italy. The motorway through this region is amazing in itself, there were some 200 tunnels of all different lengths that we passed through. We drove right along the coast through valley after valley, which we could see along down to the sea. There were so many gorgeous little resorts in every single one. I did try and avoid taking pics from the bus but I though this one was ok.
The plan for today was Pisa, then Florence, then off to the hotel.
We arrived at the parking in Pisa, the bus has to stay in parking and tourists have to take public transport to the city center. We were booked on a little train which was fun.
There are three famous buildings within the city walls of Pisa, the Baptistry the Church and of course the tower.

The baptistry and church are seperate as children who haven't been baptised are not allowed to enter the church. As you can see there were thousands of people here.

And all of them are taking silly photos trying to make it look like they are pushing the tower up... After I had eaten pizza in Pisa we headed back for the train and bus to head off for Florence.

Florence was anothered conrtoled traffic area with entry fees to pay for the bus, I forgot to mention all the toll gates on the highway aswell... We had a group photo up on this amazing lookout, Piazzale Michelangelo.

Then we headed down into the city. We thought Florence was charming. It is full of all churches and sculptures, and of course the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio with all the little houses on.

In the main square there are sculptures of famous Italians. This street performer was insistent on actually having a kiss I think... Ewww, germs!

An amazing man from the past, and an amazing man from the here and now. It rained for the second time while we were in Florence, very exciting!

I was exhausted after all this, probably the tierdest I got (except for Amsterdam). So off the the hotel for dinner and bed.

Blogging from: Melbourne (cold, cold, cold).

Next stop: Tasmania!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nice, a place that is very nice

It was about 8pm I think by the time we got to our hotel in Nice. We got changed and headed out for dinner. After dinner we watched France defeat Germany, the streets were packed all evening. I sat on the hotel balcony until after midnight and watched the locals driving round yelling and screaming, waving flags and risking life and limb hanging out of their cars, I saw 2 guys lying on top of the car roof… I guess they were quite pleased they had won!

The next day we had free time to swim in the Mediterranean. The beach in Nice is all rocks. It proved to be quite difficult to even get IN the water, the waves were crashing up the rocks and I had no shoes to wear… So I was treading gingerly then a big wave came and knocked me over and I rolled along the rocks… Quite amusing for the local I am sure. I can say I have left some of my flesh on the French Reviera... Waiting on a photo of the beach, I’ll add it in later.

In the afternoon we opted for and optional that drove out of Nice into the hills. We headed to St Paul’s Vance, a famous fortified village. These hills are absolutely stunning… It’s hard to show in pictures.
We spent about an hour waking around inside the town, the streets are tiny, only locals are allowed inside with their cars (this happens in many small towns or tourist hot spots) and you can only really drive round the outer road anyway.
Here is Zadok in a small street (path) and two thinking men....
After St Paul's we drove back down through Nice and headed along the coastline towards the village of Eze (airs). Did I say the coastline was stunning? Sheer drops to the Mediteraniean studded with huge villas, small vinyards and some olive groves.
We had dinner in a restaurant looking out over the view, Simone had arranged a retired accordian player to come and sing and play for us.
After dinner we headed up into the old village of Eze. Property here is coveted and often passed down through families, the house are tiny. It's crazy to think people realy live in these places, they look like something out of a movie set.
We headed back to the hotwl to sleep off the wine and prepare for the following day, heading into Italy! I hope all the pictures are loading ok, I cant seem to cut down on the number I post!
Blogging from: Singapore
Next Stop: Melbourne, YAY!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lyon, Avignon and Monaco.

We woke up early on the morning of day 3 and left Paris, heading south to Lyon. Lyon is a really pleasant, much calmer town. We wandered round in the last evening. There is a beautiful old Medieval Quarter and the city center is nestled between the Rhone River and another river.
I am standing in front of community bikes, you pay a subscription then get a special key to ulock the bikes. You can get one on one side of the town then ride it to the other side and leave it there. Lots of European towns have a similar system.

Our hotel was really nice, it even had AC. The whole time we were in Europe there was a massive heat wave, temperatures often in the high 30s. Now you might think it sounds funny but we were melting. In Dubai it is a good deal hotter but everywhere has AC, so you are never in the heat for that long. So it was a great relief to have some AC especially in the hotel room.

We watched the Italy v. Portugal game here with our Italian bus driver, Luciano. He doesn’t speak English, but we could tell how he was feeling!

Day 4 we woke with Nice on the French Riviera in mind as our destination. The south of France is absolutely beautiful; no wonder it is such a famous holiday destination. The Province region is full of neat little vineyards and fields of sunflowers, all of which were in bloom. We stopped in Avignon, a fortified city famous for its Palais des Papes, Palace of the popes. 7 different French born Popes lived here in medieval times to protect themselves from those who thought the Pope should have come from Rome.

The lady in this pic is Simone, our tour director. she is Dutch but speaks 6 languages fluently. She knows at least 6squillion things about Europe... Simone has been touring for 20 years, I think we were very lucky to have her!

We then headed for Monaco, playground of the rich and famous. I didn’t see anyone famous but we certainly saw the rich! The coastline here is stunning, and just as amzing are the houses and apartments built on the cliff… Monaco is only 1.95 square km! The population is said to be 30,000 but with people all coming and going for tax reasons I don’t know if that is accurate.

We walked through Grace Kelly’s Church and spent about an hour in the casino and wandering round the old streets.

We then headed along the beautiful coast to Nice…. But that’s another story!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


We joined our tour after 2 nights in London. The bus left London and headed off towards Dover t0 take the ferry crossing to Calais and then head on to Paris. We arrived on a Sunday so it was fairly quiet in the city (everything is relative remember!) As with London Zadok and I were amazed at the age and history of the place.
Our Hotel was very, very small, the rooms were miniscule and Zadok barely fitted in the shower, but it was amazingly located right in the midst of everything. This turns out to be the rule for the whole trip, when the hotel had a great location it was a bit squishy or more basic, when we were out of town the hotel as usually a bit nicer*.
On the first night Simone took those who wanted to go on an optional excursion** to THE REAL MOULIN ROUGE!
Unfortunately no photos can be taken inside. This was an amazing experience. We were all crammed in at these tiny tables (they serve you a meal before the show) and we had great seats. The costumes were stunning and the dancing was brilliant. The can-can was a highlight of course but the whole thing left me quite speachless.
The next day we toured around a bit then headed for the Eiffel Tower.
From this point of view the towere is beautiful but didn't look so tall. hen we got under the tower we realised what an amzing piece of arcitecture it really is. The fact that it was built over a hundred years ago is also amazing.
These photos are taken from the second platform looking to the top of the tower, the second looking out towards the spot the photo above was taken (get me?). In the background you can see the only 'other' high rise in Central Paris. Someone obviously knew someone special as there are laws against tall buildings.
We headed back to the hotel for a very quick siesta... Then off to Montmatre, the famous artists village up above Paris.
There was a whole square here with artists doing potraits, charactures and water colours. The view over Paris was beautiful.
As the sun set we cruised along the Seine River, past all the big Parisian land marks.
The Angel Bridge, the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral and one of it's famous Rose Windows.
That was the day! Back to the hotel for the night, rady to travel throught to Lyon the following day.
*We selected a cost saver tour so the hotels were meant to be basic. It is possible to do a 'First Class' tour where your hotels are nicer and your included meals more varied. Having said that nearly all our hotels were nice and most of the meals were fine.
**When you book a tour your transport (ferries, bus etc.) hotels, breakfast, some dinners (10 for us) and an orientation tour are included. You then choose what you do in the rest of the time. Often there are organised optionals, you pay however much each one costs and go alomg for the ride. We did quite a few, especially in France and Italy because they were so well organised and gauranteed you saw what you wanted to see... some people did them all and some people did none.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gute Fahrt

In Germany, just left Switzerland, a real highlight. Haven't got time for pics sorry. You will certainly be waiting for my fahrt entry. Anyone speken German? 4 nights to go.... Love Wendy x.
Next Stop: Amsterdam, Holland

Thursday, July 13, 2006

First Stop London!

It was two weeks ago now when we flew from Dubai to London. We stayed in a backpackers right on Picadilly Circus which was a great location but didn't give us a good nights sleep! We loved London. The weather was amazing (weird I know) and people were everywhere out on the streets.
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Time was short, the London Eye and the whole riverfront were stunning, we strolled along the Thames and all the buildings there are beautiful.

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I loved St James' Park near Buckingham Palace, we sat out and ate our dinner and drank a bottle of wine, all the 'locals' were doing the same! It's a bit of a shock seeing people drink in public coming from Dubai!

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Being in all the places that you always hear about is quite exciting. Here I am in Trafalgar Square! We also watched England lose and drop out of the soccer.... We have followed the best soccer games right through til Rome.
I have so many pictures, I will post a few from each place but if you want to see them all you'll have to come find me!
Blogging from: Vienna, Austria.
Next stop: Salzburg then Innsbruck (tomorrow night), Austria.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

From Italy...

Having an amazing time..... Absolutly no time to blog. Spent the day in Venice which was stunning! Another border crossing tomorrow, into Austria, ran ino our mate in Rome, very Tasmanian!!!! Will blog soon, love to all, Wendy.

PS Happy birthday to Rach for the other day!