Location: Paris, France
Finally here...our last destination city. We spent the day looking at places we hadn't seen the last time, Cluny Museum, Luxemborg Gardens & Palace, and the amazing Museum of The Army, complete with Napoleon's tomb...oh, and back to the Eiffel Tower again. More sightseeing tomorrow, and then it's back to Australia.
Location: Beaune, France
Disembarked from the boat this morning and visited another little gem by bus, the town of Beaune in the Burgundy provence. Probably the highlight town of the boat trip. Another walled city with medieval streets and buildings. We wandered the streets for a few hours and Lynne celebrated by - you guessed it - buying another tapestry! Then we drove to Paris - we'll hit the ground running tomorrow.
Location: Perouges, France
Another little gem of a find was this little medieval town, just outside of Lyon. We bused it up a hill to a fortress enclosed town with tidy little cobblestoned streets, and ancient houses with plants growing on the side of them. We sampled the local dish, sugar pie and apple cider - sounds sickly but was OK. The town is used as a back drop for Medieval films like The Three Musketeers. This is a "go back to" place.
Location: Lyon, France
We docked here Sunday morning, the annual marathon was on, so our movement in the city was restricted, it was raining a little, and on Sundays in France most of the shops are shut. Lynne reckons that the cruise was therefore planned by a man, and I think he's done a good job! Lyon was a tidy, although big city, with an old town and a great big cathedral - who'd have thought! It looked like a foodie paradise.
Location: Rhone River, Ardeche, France
Into our last week away now :( We've been sailing along the Rhone River and visiting little medieval towns along the way, all very impressive. Have just docked at Lyon and we're ready to explore here. Lynne is amazed at the way the shops are presented, and the types of shops that France has - nothing like what we have in Australia. I've been pleased that most of the shops have been shut!
Location: Avignon, France
Arrived in Avignon last night and we have spent the day walking the streets in the old part of town - once again another walled city. Too big, not as nice as Arles and St Remy - Lynne resisted the temptation to shop here, but finally found an almond croissant which got the thumbs up. We are enjoying our five course dinners and tonight we have entertainment from a gypsy band - have seen some gypsy caravans over the last few days.
Location: Department of Provence, France
Late yesterday we got on board the boat that will be our home for a week after driving from Monaco (5 hours) to the mouth of the Rhone River. We spent the day in Arles, Saint Remy, and following the trail of the locations where Vincent Van Gogh did a lot of his famous paintings. Lynne was in her element, looking at the fabrics, the boutiques, and the Roman ruins along the way.
Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco
I'm sitting in luxury in a five star hotel overlooking the famous hairpin on the formula 1 circuit and built on top of the tunnel the cars race through, after driving the last 200km from Briancon this morning. We went cross country and zigzaged our way up and down mountains and past ski resorts - got above the treeline (2800 metres up). Got into Monaco, and the traffic is the most manic I've every seen - Lynne was stressed, but de-stressed by resting in the room. Not shopping here until tomorrow morning. Walked around the city following the Grand Prix track, had dinner and I blew 20 Euro at the Casino (had to have a go).
Location: Alpe d'Huez, France
Cranked up the BMW this morning and drove 76km to the top of Alpe d'Huez (one of the most famous finishing points for stages in the Tour De France). It took nearly 2 hours because of the winding roads, and the 21 hairpin corners over the final 13km. It was foggy and wet so unfortunately we don't have very good pics. Lynne was impressed, better than she thought it would be and she has a new appreciation for the cyclists. Back to Briancon in the afternoon - we climbed one of the forts and then explored the old town again.
Location: Briancon, France
We drove from Varese (Northern Italy) this morning after stopping at a B&B in the rich part of town, but only a fairly average town overall - it was a halfway rest point after all. Investigated a couple of quaint little villages on two of the seven lakes on the way to Briancon. What an amazing place. It looked good on the Tour De France telecast and exceeded my expectations - inside one of the four fortresses on the top of the hill was the old town, complete with remnants of the moat and drawbridge guarding a 12th Century town plus drainage systems running through the middle of two streets. It looked like Diagon Alley. We ate here both nights (see pics).
Location: Varese, Italy
Back into Italy for just a day on our way to the French Alps. Drove from Lucerne along the edge of Lake Lucerne and had breakfast in a little town called Vitznau before getting back onto the autobahn. This road included an 18km long tunnel - most of it straight - you need to be concentrating through it. Stopped for lunch on the Swiss/Italian border - parked the car in Switzerland and had coffee in Italy. Very bizarre. The B & B is quaint and will be good for a relax before we set off tomorrow.
Location: Lucerne, Switzerland
Drove from the Tyrolean Mts into Switzerland for our only day there. We aimed for Lucerne and spent the afternoon and evening walking around the old town and crossing the river on the old wooden bridges. A very picturesque city. Looked for a fondue meal for dinner but everything is very expensive in Switzerland, so we had pizza instead! Our last day with Karen & David before we travel in different directions.
Location: Hall In Tirol, Austria
We are here by mistake, but what a great place. Picked up the hire car after checking out at Salzburg and drove to Wattens, the home of Swarovski Crystals, via a little town just over the German border called Kossen. We went to the equivalent of their factory outlet, and Lynne shopped again. I got to drive on a German Autobahn in a BMW M3 coupe - pretty special. We were aiming for Innsbruck, but I stuffed up the hotel booking and there was no room at the Inn in Innsbruck, so we came back to the little town of Hall on Tirol and found a great hotel in a town which dates back to 1200, nestled underneath the Tyrolean Mountains - breathtaking. We've decided we like Austria very much.
Location: Salzburg, Austria
We spent our last day in Salzburg checking out the city in the morning and taking more pics of Sound Of Music related vistas - Lynne danced around the Do Re Mi fountain! In the afternoon we visited the Werfen Ice Caves. Spectular, and once again higher than the highest point in Australia. We walked 1400 stairs and up steep inclines and a cable car to get to them. We really earned our dinner at a beer garden (in the grounds of a church)!
Location: Salzburg, Austria
Back to Austria in the afternoon, and we did the Sound Of Music tour. It could have been diabolical, but it was actually quite good. We got pictures of many of the locations where the film was shot, including the lake where the boat capsized, the palaces, the live mountain, the female deer, some goats, and the gazebo, where I took a picture of Lynne whilst singing "you are 52 going on 53". Then it rained.
Location: Berchtesgarden, Bavaria, Germany
Visited Eagle's Nest (Hitler's retreat) today - absolutely breathtaking, smaller but better than I expected. The day was sunny and clear so we could see very clearly the ring of eastern Alps mountains (including the second highest peak in Germany), some with traces of snow. We were higher above sea level than Kosciuszko. We celebrated by singing "Top Of The World".
Location: Salzburg, Austria
Now back in Austria, driving again from Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg, via Hallstadt. The countryside was beautiful, and Hallstadt is a quaint little alpine town nestled on the side of a steep mountain with a lake on the other side - just like a model train village (see pictures). Made it to Salzburg late afternoon ready for our trips around this part of Austria and Bavaria for the next few days.
Location: Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Up early and left for Cesky Krumlov via Melk in Austria. Visited the stunningly beautiful Melk Abbey and were lucky enough to hear the cathedral pipe organ in action in the new winner of the your church is better than my church competition. Then we drove through Austrian farm villages and across the Czech border to Cesky Krumlov, like a mini version of Prague and full of old world charm. Lynne fell in love with the town, and celebrated by shopping again.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Day two in Vienna, and we started with a visit to the training of the Spanish Horses. Dave and I walked to the Danube, but it was green, not blue. We went to a classical music, ballet and opera concert - ballet and opera were ordinary, I went to sleep, and Lynne tackled the coat nazi on the door, and then he came on stage as the lead tenor. All in all, we enjoyed Vienna.
Location: Vienna, Austria
We sadly said goodbye to Tuscany, and boarded a 6:30am flight to Vienna (2 hrs flight). Vienna is a real surprise - clean, beautiful, organised, polite, and elegant. We walked around the old town (there's a surprise!) and did a tour of the city and the three main palaces in the afternoon. Schonbrunn palace is a mini Versailles, complete will garden - 400 acres of palace and garden. We celebrated our first day in Austria with a schnitzel, beer and strudel dinner.
Location: Florence, Italy
Our first day of wet weather saw us investigating the city centre of Florence. We visited the statue of David and the Bargello Museum before wandering the streets, and checking out Ponte Vecchio and the Santa Maria de Fiore Cathedral - a wopper. Didn't go to the Uffizi, there was a far queue. Lynne proved that wet weather doesn't dampen the shopping experience, and I now won't be able to retire until I'm 93. Pup, you'd be proud! On to a new country tomorrow.
Location: Pistoria, Italy
Where? A small town close to Florence. We've just got back to our hotel after a five course meal at a restaurant in the old town area of Pistoria. Left Monterosso today, via Pisa, where we climbed the leaning tower right up to the bell tower at the top. It's amazing to think we've seen so much and we're still in Italy. Lynne says Northern Italy is fabulous. Florence tomorrow, and Lynne is handbag hunting - luckily I've got the credit card.
Location: Italian Riviera, Lugeria, Italy
Spent today hopping on and off ferries on the Liguerian Sea on the Italian Riviera close to the French border, visiting places like Rapallo, Portofino & Santa Marguerita Ligure - this place was the pick, so tidy and picturesque and has the winner of the my church is bigger than your church competition - no less than 20 chandeliers in amongst the marble, stained glass, frescos and gold leaf painting. Lynne is in awe of the beauty of Northern Italy. Onward to Pisa tomorrow.
Location: Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy
We are sitting on our top floor balcony of our hotel perched on the side of a cliff overlooking the Mediterrean and the town of Monterosso, one of the five Cinque Terre villages. Lynne now wants to live here. Yesterday we visited the marble quarry hills above Carrara, and today we are travelling by train and hiking back through the other four towns. The sun is shining and we are so lucky to have great weather for all of this.
Location: Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Our last day in Lucca was spent walking through the Tuscan hills close to Lucca, tasting olive oil and having lunch in a local restaurant - yum! When we got back to town we biked around the fortress wall and endured an operatic concert in the evening (I think the sopranos thought they were Anna & Frida, but they didn't sing Fernando). Another great day in Italy.
Location: Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
We arrived in Lucca yesterday after a train ride from Venice. Walked down to St Mark's Square for a final look before leaving Venice. Lynne announced she's coming back, so I'm not retiring for a while it seems. Lucca is very unique, it is surrounded by a fortress wall built 500 odd years ago and inside are little alley ways and piazzas, usually accompanied by churches, all entrants in the my church is better than your church competition. We had a four course welcome dinner last night at a very impressive Italian restaurant - Lynne's got the menu. David turns 60 today, what a place to celebrate!
Location: Venice, Italy
We left David & Karen in Florence and arrived in Venice today. Wow, how fantastic! Lynne said to me during the day this was one of the best days of her life seeing and walking through Venice, and announced it's better than Paris. Those that know her well know what a big statement that it. She promptly celebrated by buying a handbag. Will do some guided tours, including a gondola ride, tomorrow.
Location: Rome, Italy
Hi everyone - it's early Sunday morning and after a frantic travel experience (which included Lynne getting security checked at Sydney airport) we've spent our first day in Rome. Amazingly, I didn't get struck down by lightning at The Vatican! We didn't meet up with Karen & David until Saturday, and then we hit the ground running, walking for 11 hours around Rome and checking out the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and The Vatican - all amazing. Heading for more of the same today, walking towards The Colosseum and The Forum. I've put up some pics of our travels yesterday.
Today's the day - we're off to the other side of the world to start our adventure. First stop, Rome tomorrow.
Location: Hamlyn Terrace, Australia
Hi everyone, getting very close now to take off time. We've put the finishing touches on all our plans and we are looking forward to starting our adventures.