Location: Lyon, France
I spent the day with Sophie's parents as both Sophie and Luc had to go to work. In the morning we took a walk to the park in Lyon and there is huge glass houses with plants from all over the world, big areas of gardens and grass and a zoo. I saw bears, elephants, giraffes, monkeys, deer and lots of turtles. All of this is only a 15 minute walk from Sophie's house.
We came back and had another big lunch. The french love their food. I'm just not used to eating this much.
At 3pm I walked to the taxi rank and caught a taxi to the bus station. I then caught the aeroport bus to Lyon airport. When I got there for my flight from Lyon to London the plane was an hour late and they weren't sure if I was going to make my connecting flight in London. Luckily the plane made up 30 minutes and all was good. It only took about 1 1/2 hours to fly from Lyon to London.
At London I had to go through security again and after rushing to my next flight it was also an hour late. I wandered around Heathrow for a while and we eventually took off at 11pm London time.
I got some sleep on this flight to Singapore although never enough. We landed in Singapore at 7pm local time after a 13 hour flight. I had a 3 hour lay over until my next flight to Brisbane. The next flight only took 7 hours although it was very windy in Brisbane when we were landing and it was pretty rough.
I finally arrived home at 6.30am Thursday. I lost Wednesday altogether. It is great to be home in Australia. Now time for some sleep.
Back to St George on Sunday.
Location: Lyon, France
We had croissants again for breakfast - better than ones you can buy in Australia. Luc & Sophie drove me out to a winery south of Lyon to try to some local red and white wines. Very nice and very expensive. Beautiful countryside out here.
Then we drove to a little village north of Lyon called Perouges for lunch. Perouges is a village dating back to the Middle Ages and is in the process of being preserved. The roads are made of rounded stones so it is very hard to walk through. It is amazing that buildings are still standing after all this time. We had lunch in a little restaurant in Perouges and there was a lot of Middle Age artefacts around.
I went back to the apartment to have a nap while Sophie went to an appointment. Then I walked with her parents to pick up Romeo (Sophie & Luc's son who is 2 years old) from Creche and meeting Sophie & Luc at La Part Dieux which has a shopping centre and is also the bus station that I need to get to tomorrow.
Sophie's mum cooked dinner and it started with soup, cold meats, a risotto type dish, salad, cheeses, cake and fruit. It was very nice.
Tomorrow I start my journey home.
Location: Lyon, France
We got up and had croissants for breakfast. We then drove to the markets in Annecy. They have a Lake which is lovely and is the drinking supply.
We went bqck to Luc`s uncles house for lunch with him; Sophie his girlfriend and her son Maxim. Just like in movies we sat outside under a shady tree and ate a lot of food. I then had a nap for 2 hours - i think I am very tired at the moment.
Then at 5pm we drove up the local mountain and went for quite a walk. I was able to see Mont Blanc - the highest mountain in France. We walked to a cheese farm and they bought some cheese.
It was 8pm when we started to drive back and the sun was setting. We had dinner and again a lot of food and red wine - french of course. We left Annecy at 10.30pm for the drive back to Lyon - needless to say I fell asleep again.
Location: Lyon, France
I got up and said goodbye to everyone this morning the bus is going back to London.
I caught a taxi to Gare de Lyon to catch a train to Lyon. The train took 2 hours and then I caught a taxi to Sophie`s house.
They live on the 5th floor of their building and the lift was broken so Luc carried my suitcase up the stairs. We had lunch and then went to walk around Lyon. They took me up to Fourviere and I saw a fantastic view of Lyon. The church is full of mosaics on the walls and lovely stained glass windows. We walked down via the Roman Ruins where they still have events.
We got back to their house and packed our bags for a 2 hour drive to Annecy to visit Luc`s uncle. We got there at about 9.30pm and had some dinner. We got to bed about 1am.
Location: Paris, France
I got up early and had breakfast at 7.30am to get on the metro early we have a big day ahead. I spent the day with Katie and Nicky and first we caught the metro to see Jim Morrison`s grave. It was very hard to find in the cemetary. The girls really wanted to see it - I just tagged along it didn`t really interest me.
Then back on the train and a short walk across a bridge to Notre Dame. We didn`t have time to go inside though. Then a walk back to Rue de Rivoli for some shopping but first a frappacino at Starbucks to get some energy. We walked all the way through to the Champs Elyses and is where I bought a ring with my winnings from Monte Carlo. It is beautiful and a fabulous memory of France forever.
We kept walking up to the Arc de Triomphe for photos and then caught the Metro back to the hotel for a lie down before the last night. I have walked for over 8 hours today and of course I`m sore again.
We all got dressed up for dinner and a show. We stopped at the Moulin Rouge to take photos then a short walk to Nouvelle Eve for a lovely dinner, of wait for it, chicken with a yabbie. The show was great with dancing, singing, acrobatics, illusions. It was a great show and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then a walk back to O`Sullivans bar next to the Moulin Rouge for end of trip drinks.
Big day tomorrow off to see Sophie my penpal in Lyon that I have never met.
Location: Paris, France
We left at 8am this morning for about a 5 hour drive to Paris. We stopped at Fontainbleau - very beautiful gardens and Louis XIII lived here, so did Napoleon and it was also headquarters for the allies in WWII.
Then an hour later we hit Paris. We drove through the tunnel where Princess Diana died in 1997 on the anniversary of her death - very eerie. It is only a short tunnel though.
Then we only got to spend 2 hours in the Louvre and I saw the Mona Lisa and Venus Di Milo as well as a lot of other paintings and sculptures and artefacts. 2 hours is not enough time to see everything. They say only 5% of the Louvre`s collection is on display at any one time. An impressive place and worth visiting again one day. The Louvre was originally the Royal Palace before the French Revolution. There are many impressive paintings and sculptures on the ceilings. I also saw the Crown Jewels on display. There are 4 levels and would take a long time to see it all.
We checked into our hotel in Paris which is a little bigger than the last hotel room. We had chicken again for dinner.
Then we got back on the bus for a city tour. It isn`t dark until about 9pm so we could see a lot in daylight. Then as we got to the Eiffel Tower it lit up. An amazing sight.
We went past the Louvre, Notre Dqme, an Egyptian Obelisk at Place de la Concorde and there is also a fountain there, this is the place of a guillotine many years ago. We also went past the Opera House which goes down 10 levels.
I went up the Eiffel Tower all the way to the top which was another achievement. Greg talked me into looking over only once though. I took photos of my achievement but I also had to go back down again.
We got back to the hotel at about 11.30pm and went to the bar for a few drinks for Ross`s birthday.
Location: Lyon, France
We are leaving Nice today and heading to Lyon. We left at 8.30am and our first stop after an hour was in Grasse at a Parfumerie. We were shown how they make parfume and of course bought some.
Then about 3 hours to Avignon for lunch and had an amazing kebab with fries in a bun. I saw the Palace of the Popes and the walls built in 1200 and 1300`s. Then another 3 hours to Lyon.
We arrived about 5pm and showered and changed and walked into Old Town for dinner. We came across a church built in 12/13th century and then had to pick our own restaurants for dinner. There were 9 of us and had a lovely 3 course meal for 16 Euro. I had french onion soup; chicken in cream sauce and coffee icecream with coffee syrup. Nicky, Katie and I shared a bottle of local red wine - quite nice.
The others had snails and frogs legs. I couldn`t do it. Then we strolled back to the hotel and was in bed about 12PM. Paris tomorrow.
Location: Nice, France
We got to have a nice sleep in in Nice. We left the hotel at 9.30am to go into the town of Nice and the beach. I had a quick look at the shops then went to the beach. There is no sand in Nice only rocks for the beach. They have public and private beaches. Public beaches you need more than a towel to lie on the rocks. A group of us went to a private beach where you have to pay to go onto - 15 Euros which gives you a lounge chair and another 5 Euros for an umbrella and they serve you drinks and food all day.
I went for a swim but it was hard trying to walk into the water over rocks that were smooth but hurt the feet. The water was beautiful and green and just a slight wave. Then it was harder to get out of the water. The waves kept coming in and I couldn`t get my footing as the water went back out.
We spent 5 hours at the beach drinking cocktails and beer.
Then we went back to the hotel for a dip in the pool before dinner.
Location: Nice, France
A not so early start - 8am breakfast and 8.45am depart.
Everyone is very tired and some are hungover today. We had an hour drive to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and get some photos.
Then a 5 hr drive to Nice. We got to the hotel with about an hour to get dressed up for dinner in Monaco.
We drove up into Monaco and there are some great views. We went to a lovely little restaurant for dinner and had 4 courses again. We walked up to the Palace and got some photos. Prince Albert was home.
Then we got back in the bus and drove along the Grand Prix circuit and visited some casinos.
Because the pigeon pooped on my yesterday everyone said it was good luck. So I went and put 10 Euros in a pokie machine ( i never play pokie machines so didn't know what I was doing) and in about 10 mins I won 301 Euros which is about $600 Aussie dollars. I cashed out immediately and bought the five of us who helped me with the machine a round of drinks. For 3 champagnes and 2 bourbon and cokes it cost 56 Euros! It was worth it. I am having a lot of fun now and I plan to go shopping with my winnings. I'll let you know what I buy!
Location: Florence, Italy
Another early start - we left at 7.30am and I am so sore.
Today we are off to Florence. We arrived around lunchtime and went to a leathermaking demonstration. Then we walked through Florence through to some markets.
We had McDonald's for lunch and they even had beer on tap there.
We copped a summer storm and found cover against a building. It then got pooped on by a pigeon - you'll see the meaning of this tomorrow.
Then back on the bus to the hotel to change and we went into the Tuscan Hills for dinner at a lovely restaurant. They had an opera singer, a local 3 piece band and a guy on piano singing and there was lots of dancing between the 4 courses. Which was antipasto, lasagne and pasta, then strips of beef with roast potatoes and icecream. All with italian red wine.
After dinner we went to a nightclub - Space Electronic Discotheque. We got home about 2am.
Location: Rome, Italy
This morning was our earliest start yet - 7am on the bus to catch a couple of trains to the Vatican City. We were there for the opening at 8.45am and had a tour with a local guide through the Vatican City Museum. We also went into the Sistine Chapel and saw all the paintings on the ceiling and walls - amazing. At the end of the tour we then went inside St Peter's Basicila. It was so hot when we walked out into St Peter's Square and I got some great photos.
We then caught a couple of trains to the Colosseum and took a tour through it. This was an amazing place and I have some great photos.
Then we took another tour up to the Pallentine Ruins which led up to a lookour with view of the city and the Roman Forum. It took a lot of photos of this area - it was amazing. I went up with Sharon, Chris, Michelle, Greg and Grant and we then caught 3 trains back to our hotel which also required a 15 min walk to it. We were on our feet for 11 hours today. It was exhausting! But very good.
Dinner was at the hotel which was spaghetti with sauce (no meat), veal (cooked like silverside) with roast potatoes (very oily but yummy) and a lemon and chocolate cake.
I bought a 3 pack of beer for 2,15 Euro and I had a couple after dinner and was asleep by 9pm. The earliest night yet but my biggest day as well.
Location: Rome, Italy
Another early start at 8am and off to Rome today. The first stop was at Barberino Shopping Outlet for a bit of shopping. Then off to Rome. We went on a walking tour for the afternoon and our first stop was at a creepy crypt. Then off to the Spanish Steps made in the 1700's. At the bottom is a fountain that they say if you drink from it, it increases fertility or you get diarrhoea.
Then to the Trevi Fountain and I threw 2 coins which is supposed to mean you that you will come back to Rome and you will find love in Rome.
Then to the Pantheon and I went inside which was amazing. There is a hole in the roof so if it rains it comes inside and drains through holes in the floor. Then to Piazza Naviro for dinner. We went to a lovely little cafe with Nicky and Katie and had a beautiful italian red wine, pasta and gelati. Then back to the bus and we saw the Vatican in twilight. It was beautiful with the lights and not many people around. Then to the Colosseum at night. It is an amazing structure but pickpockets and bag snatchers are a problem and we saw someone fighting for their bag.
Back to the hotel for a 10pm checkin. Nice room but we were attacked by Mossies during the night. Today was a very big driving day.
Location: Venice, Italy
We left Austria at 8am to drive to Venice. On the way we went through the Brenner Pass and the Dolemite Mountains. We had our first experience of Italians at a service stop. We then got to Tronchetto for a toilet stop and this was the first time I had to pay to go to the toilet so far this trip 0.50 Euro. It is very hot today. We caught a boat to Venice. We walked through to St Mark's Square and went to a glass blowing demonstration and he created a horse in about 5 mins at Murano Glass Factory. All very expensive stuff!
The I went through the Bascilica San Marco. It is a beautiful church and very old. You have to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees to go inside the church. Then I went to do some shopping at Rialto. We went down a lot of alleyways to get to the markets but lots of great chops along the way. I bought a 'bit' of jewellry. We only had a short time in Venice so couldn't do more shopping. I saw the Doges Palace with the Bridge of Sighs leading to the old prison. The square was amazing with people and pigeons everywhere. I then bought a half bottle of italian red wine and drank while having a gondola ride through Venice. Then a short walk to dinner at San Georgios for a 4 course Venitian meal. Started with antipasto meats, then risotto and a very yummy quiche type dish then veal with roast potatoes & salad and of course gelati at the end.
Of course red italian wine was included in the meal. By the way I also at McDonald's in Venice for lunch.
Then back on the boat to Tronchetto and the bus to our hotel at Malino. We checked in at about 11pm just as a storm was coming. Great to hear thunder and rain.
A very good day and night and lots of fun. Half a day is not enough time in Venice.
Location: Innsbruck, Austria
This morning we were on the road by 8am and off to Austria. We stopped for an early lunch at Leichtenstein. Very pretty place.
About half the group then went white water rafting and the rest of have come to a finishing spot. They have a little restaurant here and we have been playing beach volleyball.
It is much warmer here than in Switzerland but a beautiful place also.
More to come next opportunity - some very big days coming up in Italy.
Arrived in Innsbruck in the afternoon and saw the Golden Roof and went shopping at the Swarovski Crystal Shop. I could have spent a fortune there!
For dinner we had turkey schnitzel, mashed potato and coleslaw at the hotel. I am definitely hanging out for some red meat. We went to the bar after dinner and drank some Austrian beer - not a big fan of it actually. Also drank some Schnaps which was very nice. Finally got to do some washing which was great.
Location: Engelberg, Switzerland
This morning we got a sleep in. Breakfast wasn`t until 8.45am and we left at 9.30am to go up Mount Titlus.
I wasn`t going to go on this trip because chair lifts and cable cars were involved. I don`t like going in them at the best of times but everyone convinced me and I took a couple of tablets before we left.
There were 3 separate cable cars to get onto and of course I spent most of it with my eyes shut. Unfortunatley there was a lot of cloud around we couldn`t see much.
We had lunch up there but everything is so expensive in Switzerland.
On the way down you can get off before the last chair lift and ride a scooter down the mountain. It was so much fun. I want to go and do it again.
It is only the middle of the afternoon and we have some free time so I am going to finish this next chance I have.
Not much else happened for the rest of the afternoon. We had dinner at the same hotel as last night, not much food though. I rang mum and dad and was in bed reasonably early for a change.
Tomorrow an early start and off to Austria