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A Dogs Life

Hi everyone, Diggles here…. or Digby when I’m naughty, which is only about 50% of the time, tops!

I’ve got a story to tell about my fabulous life…so here goes.

I was born in Geraldton to a family full of girls, and miniscule discipline. I got away with MURDER!!

Maybe my limited attention span didn’t help, but early training was a shambles and I sort of did whatever came to me, blaming it on puppy exuberance!

Sucked them in a beauty!

Eventually, through career opportunity (or sheer desperation) my family moved to Indonesia and I was shipped off to a younger sibling on the other side of the country.

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What a great place, sea, sun, sand…and half an acre of opportunity to live in!

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And those opportunities were boundless, all that fencing to conquer, sooooo many holes to dig, a treasure trove of new neighbours to greet, again and again!

Shoes to collect, so many shoes, mainly left foot ones for some reason??

I worried about my new family so much I occasionally brought back bread rolls, can’t remember from where, I’m sure they were free?

Reading skills were an issue for my new family so I made sure to bring back the newspaper…one for each member! It’s amazing how many are just left lying around on random driveways!

The oldest member of my family was delusional enough to regard himself as my master!

I indulged him from time to time, but seriously!? Who did he think he was kidding?

When I put my mind to something, nothing…nobody was getting in my way!

Eventually we left our half acre and moved to a place with a pool and tennis court…. and plenty of gaps in the fence.

FREEDOM!

I got to meet heaps of nice people, who in turn got to meet my family. “Master” always seemed so exasperated!!

One time I got kidnaped by some random fruitcake across some big road, and held to ransom for three days!

Obviously her demands of the complete set of Doris Day DVD’s was way too extravagant, and eventually she set me free, but only after ringing “master”, who from the reaction, FLIPPED!!!

Man, she was crazy, but the cakes she made were sensational.

No sooner had I made my escape than some nutter Scot named Jock scoped me up. (Very original name there Scotsman!)

Jock rang “master”, more expletives, and I was off again.

What followed was a frenzy of fence mending, cussing, and filthy looks in my direction.

I could have gone to the doghouse, but…. what the heck!

Those possums are a pest, aren’t they? Nothing for it but a good SIX hour bark fest. From MIDNIGHT!! “Master”, meet another neighbour!

Fun times.

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“Who, me?”

My family must have met enough people in our street so we moved a couple of times, finally finishing up at our current joint.

It’s a lovely place, especially the nice cozy area under the house.

In winter these long shiny silver tubes under there rumble away, and are lovely and warm.

Especially if you manage to get INSIDE them!

Mmm, toasty!

Anyway, one day my entrance to the underground had been mysteriously blocked off, and I could hear all sorts of mutterings going on in there…. repairs or something from “el Capitano”?

Strangely, after that the inside of the house seemed so much warmer?

Shenanigans!

Just smile, and all is forgiven.

The “mistress” of the house is way tougher than “master”, but still a pushover.

She calls me ‘Goofball’, and keeps telling me to stop licking my balls! Seriously?

She walks me more than “master” on account of his dodgy knees…. Wimp!

What excuse is that?

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Walks are great, especially on the beach. So many things to eat, I absolutely love those starfish…. delicious!

Rolling in seaweed, dead fish and other exotics just tops it off, especially in the car on the way home. I spied a dead rat once, but “mistress” was such a spoilt sport, wouldn’t let me near it. Mind you, not sure whether I would have worn it, or eaten it… decisions, decisions.

Speaking of cars, who doesn’t like a good drive around, sucking in all that fresh air, which surprisingly generates the most fantastic farts.

And who doesn’t love a good fart, eh? I mean, what’s not to like?

Strangely, “mistress & master” don’t seem to share my appreciation of the finer things in life.

Woysers!!!

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Overall it’s been a ripsnorter life, only hampered lately by dodgy hips and knees.

Must be hereditary!!?

I hear there’s a spectacular park on the other side with swimming pools, a paddle up  Schmacko’s Bar and young fillies to flirt with everywhere.

So…. I’m off.

I’ve had a blast, a life sniffed and smelt. (and wee’d on!)

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Just look after my family, they may be a little sad.

 

 

 

Barefoot Bareboating the Whitsunday Islands

“With palm-fringed white sand beaches surrounded by clear blue waters, the Whitsunday Islands are the epitome of a tropical paradise.”

So says the QLD-tourism Australia regarding this most beautiful stretch of Australian water.

74 islands encompass the Whitsunday’s, but a fair proportion of those are tiny, uninhabited specks. The main Islands are, from the south looking north, Shaw, Lindeman, Hamilton, Whitsunday, Hook, and Hayman.

Easily the best way to explore paradise is by yacht, and there are plenty of choices to spoil you. The two main venues for charter are Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach, the later being our home base.

‘Bareboat’ chartering, as they call all hiring of yachts, both power and sail, is a thriving industry with the marina at Airlie filled to overflowing with eager vessels.

We again used Whitsunday Escape, this being our third charter with them, and our weapon of choice was a 35 foot Bavaria, which is perfectly suited to couples.

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How easy is bareboat charters people have asked, and the answer isn’t always clear. If you have previous experience, or general knowledge of sailing, then no problems. I personally wouldn’t be too keen if I had no experience, for even though the charterers offer half day training, etc, it can be a bit daunting, especially in more challenging conditions, and at anchor.

For us, with plenty of previous experience, but by no means being expert, it is a safe and rewarding experience. Common sense plays a big part in ensuring a safe trip, no need to get ahead of yourself. There are plenty of tales of over confident experienced sailors coming to grief.

Reef early, find a safe mooring early, enjoy the slow ride, there’s no hurry.

Our seven days where spent just like that. We have seen most before, and were more than happy to meander around the main two Islands, Whitsunday & Hook, finding safe anchor ridge early, cold beer in hand no later than 3pm!

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As our briefing before setting off didn’t conclude till about 11am, we did what most do on the first day and headed for one of the safest all weather moorings, Cid Harbour. Protected from almost all winds, this is a perfect spot for the night, and a magnificent one at that.

Still conditions made our first attempt at stand up paddle boarding a smooth and dry one. Shaky legs not withstanding, we both managed to semi-master the board. A good way to build up a thirst, almost a pre-requisite out here!

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From Cid we headed slowly north-east through Hooks passage, and then south towards Whitehaven beach. Wind conditions made for slow sailing, and if we hadn’t turned on the engine we might still be getting there!

Whitehaven Beach is seven kilometres of white magnificence, one of the most photographed beaches in Australia, and one of the whitest. It truely is spectacular, and busy with helicopters dropping folk off, as well as huge catamarans and ferry loads of day trippers.

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As lovely as it is, as an overnight anchorage, forget it! We rolled and rolled all night, pitching back and forth with no rhythm at all. Roll, tip, roll some more, pitch, tip…. The main book for this area, ‘100 magic miles’, states this, but we had stayed here before without issue…not next time!

In the morning after breakfast we tendered over to the beach to steady our legs, and feel firm ground again.

Opposite Whitehaven is a cracking little cove called Chalkie’s, a great spot for a bit of snorkelling, and lunch.

We decided to spend the night at Hamilton Island, so pushed off through  Solway Passage and west to Hammo. This was where inexperienced yachties may have had second thoughts as it got very choppy, with 1.5-2 metre swells pushing across us, making for a bumpy ride. Even though we were in no trouble at all, and were enjoying the conditions, for the uninitiated it may have felt like you were about to tip. In fact a power cat coming the other way was lurching heavily, and the bloke steering didn’t look like he was having any fun at all! ( when we finished our charter we got a phone call about the conditions that afternoon, so someone must have complained!!)

Hammo is a great place to spend the night, we had dinner at the pub watching the footy, and had a most peaceful nights sleep. Decent coffee, and a toilet that doesn’t move can never be taken lightly!

Refreshed, we spent the next day having an excellent sail north to Stonehaven, an anchorage just south of Hayman Island. In fact you can see the lights of Hayman tormenting you at night, as you bunker down in the open water.

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Another hopeless nights sleep, with ‘bullets’ (wind off the surrounding hills) hitting us all night at about 25-30 knots! Scheesh!!

Next morning we meandered over to Langford Island, just opposite Hayman, and anchored for a snorkel and lunch.

Langford is small, but famous for the stretch of beach that opens up at low tide to produce ‘one foot island’, best known for the Qantas add where the choir lined up along it singing about Australia.

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Off to one of the most beautiful moorings, Butterfly bay, on the north end of Hook Island.

Just magic, turquoise waters, vast mangrove swamps, towering cliffs, a still and quiet harbour…happy days!

Plenty of fixed moorings to pick up, saving the worry of a dragging anchor at night, little wind, a beautiful sunset, and a glass of wine. Perfect!

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And an awesome sunrise the next day! Time to chill, have a paddle around, enjoy a leisurely breakfast while soaking in the scenery.

Off to one of the best dive spots on the Island, Luncheon bay. Snorkelling was great, a huge variety of fish, and excellent coral. Also a perfect spot for such, hence the name.

Off whence we came, past Stonehaven (hiss!), and down into the safest of all moorings, Nara Inlet. Set deep up a thin gorge, this is the most protected of spots, and almost always dead still.

It would be a perfect spot for a swim, but rumour has it that hammerhead sharks breed in here. Forget it! Standup paddle board it is, just dont fall in! Mind you, there’s never been a recorded shark attack in here ever, so not sure of the rumour. Still, there’s always a first time!

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True to form, a perfect nights sleep, the stillest of nights, and the most magnificent morning.

Picture postcard stuff!

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A very leisurely start to the day, absolutely no hurry to get anywhere….which is lucky ‘cos today is the last day of calm weather. A severe weather warning for 30kn winds and 2 metre swells is forecast for early tomorrow, putting the kibosh on our last nights plans, which is confirmed at our 8am radio in. It is recommended we moor back at Abel Point Marina tonight to save an horrendous passage over in the morning. Only problem is that today there is almost no breeze.

We head out of the inlet and attempt to sail to Daydream island, but after two hours we seem to have moved about one mile, and that was probably current! Pity, would have liked a nice sail to finish, but engine time it is. Lunch at a nice cove behind the resort at Daydream, then putt-putt sail back to Airlie.

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We spent the night safely cocooned at the marine, before signing off the next morning with a background of howling winds and wild seas. Would NOT have been a pleasant journey back from to the marina this morning, so our early return was vindicated.

We spent our last day wandering around Airlie Beach doing nothing in particular, spending the night at the Coral Beach Resort, which is brilliantly situated between Abel Point Marina and the town.

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Another cracking trip to one of the most areas on earth.

We WILL be back!

Honfleur

 

Honfleur, summer escape for overheated Parisians, playground for wealthy Russians and Belgians, ferry adventure for the Brits and perfect pit stop in Normandy for the weary traveller.

A maritime delight, perfectly positioned at the mouth of the mighty Seine, Honfleur has enchanted generations with her beautiful harbour, playful shifting light, and seafaring history.

An easy two hour drive west of Paris, or maybe a ferry trip across the ditch from Portsmouth to Le Havre, then over the spectacular Pont de Normandie (the sixth largest cable-stayed bridge in the world), Honfleur is comfortably within reach.

We travelled up from Bayeux and the D-Day beaches, entered from the south, meandering down the hill into the village, stopping only to park our car at our B&B, before walking down to the old town.

Centred on the 17th century Le Vieux Bassin, the charming old dock at the heart of the town, four and five storey wood or slate fronted buildings, then smaller stone buildings encroach on the cobblestone lanes that surrounds the harbour, restaurants around the edges overflowing to the waters edge.

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A beloved playground of impressionist artists as well as seafarer adventurers of centuries past, it still feels as it must have back when Eugene Boudin mentored a young Claude Monet, long before he drifted off to Giverny and the waterlilies.

It’s the light that so enamours artists, especially around the harbour, with shades and palettes changing through the day, highlighting a slate wall here, or a wooden arch over there, a constant moving pastel feast.

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In bygone days the harbour would have been filled with fishing vessels plying their trade, but now the moorings are filled with yachting splendour, most happy to rest their jibs and mainsails for weeks on end, the fishing vessels consigned to the estuary waters just outside.

The only way into the enclosed waters is through a retractable bridge, and only at high tide, which does seem to put way too much pressure on the yachties, who force themselves to another cider or Calvados to while away the days.

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Normandy is apple country, so it goes without saying that apple cider is the regions speciality, along with Calvados, so its lucky that there are up to 50 stores sprinkled around the harbour region more than happy to extract you from a few euros.

The ciders come mainly in cork sealed bottles, displaying a refreshing bead, and slightly sweet palate.

Calvados on the other hand kicks like a mule, the result of the distilling process and the 40% plus alcohol!

Don’t worry beer and wine people, plenty of that on offer as well, with a vast array of bars and restaurants around the harbour, and up the cobblestoned laneways, which snake up the hill in all directions.

Honfleur is overrun with places to eat, and the better offerings are to found away from the water, even if only a few metres up the cobblestones.

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You can spend a small fortune eating at the top end, or enjoy a snack at one of the waterfront bars.

We ate at a charming restaurant, L’homme de Bois, feasting on both seafood and beef, accompanied by a wonderful Santenay 1er Cru Burgundy Pinot Noir.

Thunderstorms threatened which made the night-lights of the old town even more mysterious, perfect reflections dancing off the still water; shimmering lights casting out like a well-worn rod.

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Time to hotfoot it back up the hill to our B&B before the scene is ruined by the fast approaching deluge

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We are staying at ‘La Maison du Parc’, a five roomed B&B about 400 metres from the harbour, housed in a beautiful three storied 18th century sea merchants brick mansion set on an acre of manicured lawns, discreetly tucked behind a high stone wall.

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An oasis!

This would have to be the best place we have ever stayed at, words hardly do it justice.

A chilled bottle of cider upon arrival, home baked treats in your room, huge four posted beds, the most comfortable imaginable, enormous ensuite, antiques, soft furnishings, chocolates, friendly dogs, perfect hosts, and the best ever breakfasts.

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La Maison du Parc

Our gracious hosts Annick and Paul put on the most incredible spread each morning in the communal dining room, where you get to relax with the other guests talking all things travel and experience.

Fresh fruit juice, savoury delights, outstanding bread, crepes, shot glass palate cleansing fruit coolies, croissants, homemade jams, cakes, coffee and tea, the works, absolutely stunning.

Little wonder it’s Tripadvisor’s top ranked Honfleur B&B.

With plenty of sights to see, we waddled back through town following the Seine estuary to the “beach”, which in reality is not much more than mudflats, especially at low tide.

Luckily the park surrounding it is stunning, with typical French gardening symmetry and precision, down to the waterlily filled lake and the frog song serenade.

We headed back into town and found our way to St Catherine’s Cathedral, housed on a nondescript little square surrounded by galleries and shops, just up from the harbour.

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St Catherine’s Cathedral

St Catherine’s is the oldest wooden structured church in France, with a fabulous ramshackled Belfry, lovely dappled light streaming through the stained glass surrounds, with nods to the seafaring past everywhere.

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St Catherine’s Cathedral

 

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St Catherine’s Cathedral

Just around the corner in an old 19th century chapel is housed the Boudin Museum, both a tribute to the artist Eugene Boudin, and a potted history on canvas of the notable figures of the Honfleur school of impressionists.

For a more modern take on the artists skill there are numerous galleries scattered around displaying canvases of varying levels of aptitude and price!

I was much hoping to see a few bohemian types, beret at a jaunty angle, down by the water, palate in hand, visualising the shifting light with deft brush strokes: but alas the streets were surprisingly barren.

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Further up the hill is the quirky museum dedicated to the life of musician and visual artist, Erik Satie, born in Honfleur in 1866.

As described in the brochures “Maison Satie is a vibrant experience revealing the man, his music and time”.

A weird, wonderful time it must have been, going by the exhibition!

Back to the harbour, and located in Honfleur’s oldest (abate unconsecrated) 14th century church, Saint Etienne, is the maritime museum, home to an eclectic collection of sea-faring memorabilia.

Model ships, paintings, etchings, maps, plans, you name it, they have it.

It’s an important tribute to Honfleur’s maritime history, and a wonderfully evocative, atmospheric setting.

Time to eat, and where better to people watch than by the harbour, with a bowl of mussels and a glass of rose?

You are spoilt for choice with restaurants clinging to the water like bloated mosquitoes, chequered tablecloths aplenty, spruiking waiters waiting to pounce like Zinedine Zidane on a right cross, laminated menus at the ready!

If you want tourist tucker alarm bells to ring, lamination will peel like Sunday mass!

Yet the setting is so compelling, the atmosphere vibrant with colour and movement, the sights and sounds just so enchanting that caution is nonchalantly thrown asunder, much to the lurking wait staffs delight.

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Mussels are the ‘go to’ dish here, cooked in a white wine cream sauce, laced with garlic and served in huge bowls, more closely resembling pippies rather than the plump molluscs we are used to back home, but delicious just the same.

One of the joys of travel is to stop for a while and just watch and listen to the world around you. All those exotic tongues, intriguing smells, the hustle and bustle of village life right at your footstep.

Drink it in, step back for a moment or two, and appreciate.

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Appreciation done, time for another museum, this time the Musee du Vieux Honfleur, just off the harbour in a magnificent medieval building, displaying the towns history in a wonderfully eclectic jumbled mess. Almost like a bric-a-brac store, but with items hundreds of years old, a fabulous historical mishmash of random thoughts and ideas.

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Time to retire to the beautiful lawns of our B&B, for an hour or two’s relaxation before a final dinner back in town.

Dinner consisted of a charcuterie plate of bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, pate, and confit of pork, purchased at a deli, a local cider to compliment, feet dangling over the harbours stonewall, watching the carousel spin and the lights dim, simmering as it does, reflections bursting forth like a new years eve display out over the water, stone and slate moving with the light, yachts swaying to an imagined song.

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The magic never retires, but we must, to our haven up the hill, as our time sadly draws to a close in this most spellbinding of villages.

Honfleur is a truly hypnotic village, magnificent in every way, and a wonderful base to explore the beauty of the Alabaster coast, with it’s spectacular white cliffs, to the north, the sombre and respectful D-Day beaches south, Joan of Arc’s farewell inland at Rouen, or any number of stupendously scenic spots inbetween.

 

 

 

The Cinque Terre

Two years ago as part of a nine week trip we spent five days with friends in the Cinque Terre, one of the most spectacular slices of paradise in Italy you are ever likely to see.

“The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the time I took plenty of photos, but never did them justice in the editing suite until now, courtesy of migrating over to Lightroom and its amazing bunch of sliders that transform the images from dull to vibrant.

So, here’s a revisit.

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We stayed in the old town section of Monterosso al Mare which was a great place to base yourself, being the largest village with plenty of good accommodation and plenty of choices for both food and drink.

It also had the only beach which was much sort after, all the prime positions having been reserved weeks in advance!

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We became quite partial to a fabulous wine bar, Enoteca da Eliseo, which served up delicious spritz.

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And if you prefer wine the crazy hills are alive with vines.

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Speaking of hills, one of the highlights of the Cinque Terra is to walk the track between the five villages, which is quite challenging, with steep climbs and descents, and spectacular vista’s around every corner.

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Unfortunately, due to landslips, only the first two sections were open when we were there; the rest traveled to by train.

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The first village along the track is Vernazza.

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Wow!

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The largest harbour of the five villages, a long winding laneway back up the hill filled with bars, restaurants, boutiques, hotels…

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The view back to Monterosso in the distance.

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Plenty of steps!

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Plus magnificent pathways lined with stone walls,

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The only village not on the water is Corniglia, which of course meant the walk to it was UP!

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From here we trained it to Manarola, in my opinion the prettiest of the villages, then on the last village, Riomaggiore.

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Part of the charm of the Cinque Terra is the lack of cars, and no visible signs of corporate development. Transport by and large is by train, boat or foot. There are no designer hotels or fancy multinational boutiques, unlike almost every other tourist destination in Italy.

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Small boutiques, family restaurants, and small pension style hotels are the norm, not the exception. For once the tourist dollar has taken a backseat….ok, maybe the middle row…and everything seems a little unhurried. Very unlike Italy and tourism.

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Time may not have exactly stopped here, but at least its slowed down, making it a perfect ‘pitstop’ from the hectic nature that came consume everyone’s best laid travel plans.

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So….naturally after such a long day we all need a bit of retail therapy, gotta help out the local economy.

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Then maybe a drink?

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Or two?

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but be careful, shenanigans can have implications…

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But then again, the cure for almost anything is…

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And what better place to sit back and relax with a spritz than this most enchanting slice of paradise.

We WILL be back!!

A Pictorial Tour, Part two.

Here are the second batch of photos from our trip, again in no particular order.

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery  A commemoration and a tribute to the sacrifices made!

The AbbeyThe Abbey, Mont St. Michel. Almost expect a ‘Quidditch’ game to appear overhead!!

LisbonLisbon. The Baixo district was the only flat part, surrounded by hills.

Sagrada FamiliaThe very spectacular Sagrada Familia, probably the best building I’ve ever had the pleasure to enter.

Pinxtos

Pintxos, San Sebastian.

Chateau ChambordChateau Chambord, Loire Valley. The Loire is full of Chateaux great and small…this is the greatest!

HonfleurKids fun in Honfleur, Normandy.

Garnier’s Palais opera houseOpera Garnier, Paris. Haunt of the Phantom of the Opera!

Notre-DameArguably the most famous church in Europe, the majestic Notre Dame, Paris.

Amboise ChateauAmboise Chateau, Loire Valley. Perched high above the river and town, protecting all.

LisbonTuk-tuk’s in Lisbon

Guggenheim Museum

Jeff Koon installation at the Guggenheim, Bilbao.

Veules-les-RosesVeules-des-Roses, Normandy

Place de la BoursePlace de la Bourse, on the cover of all Bordeaux brochures.

Santillana del MarSantillana del Mar, Spain. Most restaurants featured fixed price menu’s similar to this one.

BayeauThe Cathedral at Bayeux, Normandy

d’EtretatEtretat, again!

Oradour Sur GladeThe tragic, haunting silence of Oradour-sur-Glane

San SebastianPlaza de la Constitucion, San Sebastian. The former site of the odd bull fight, if you look closely you can see numbers over each balcony…the residents would sell their balcony to punters to watch the bullfights below!

ParisMacarons at Laduree, Paris. Almost worth queuing up for 20 minutes!

Sagrada FamiliaSagrada Familia, again!

Barri Gotic Photo WalkBarri Gotic, Barcelona. The pockmarked walls are the result of a bomb during the Spanish civil war which resulted in the death of dozens of citizens.

El Born Bar       El Born, Barcelona. The BEST sangria, and the empanadas were fabulous as well.

Barri Gotic   A laneway in the Jewish quarter, Barri Gotic, Barcelona.

MaraisCheers from Paris!

A Pictorial Tour, part one!

On our recent trip to Spain, Portugal and France we took an obscene number of photo’s which took forever to edit once we got home.

After natural selection got rid of about 700 of them, we were left with about 1400 images of varying degrees of quality and/or interest.

Here, in no particular order are a few of our favourites.

La Boqueria

La Boqueria market, Barcelona. The best thing about La Ramblas, a wonderful, diverse marketplace.

Chateau Chenonceau

Chateau Chenonceau, Loire Valley. The valley is full of Chateau’s and this is as stunning as they come.

Amboise Chateau

Amboise Chateau.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial. A moving tribute to the brutality of war.

Paris

Paris. Still the best city we have visited, could spend months here and not get bored.

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. Truly the best museum experience ever!

L’Abbeye Fontevraud,

L’Abbey Fontevraud, Loire Valley. Atmospheric, moody, haunting…and the best meal of our trip.

Livrarian Lello & Irmao

Livrarian Lello & Irmao, Porto. How good is this bookshop? More tourist attraction than viable business…they should charge admission, just don’t tell them!

Juno Beach

Juno Beach, Normandy. B&W suits the somber mood.

Mont St. Michel

Mont St. Michel. Majestic, awesome, everything we hoped it would be.

Barca FC Homecoming

Barcelona FC won the triple crown this year and these supporters were ready to bark them home!

Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Monets Garden

Monet’s Garden, Giverny. Famous for it’s waterlilies, but the rest is pretty nice as well.

Retiro Real

Retiro Real, Madrid. Loved this glasshouse, fantastic park.

Pozieres

The Somme. How can something so tranquil be the scene of such devastation?

Amboise Chateau

Amboise. View from the Chateau looking back towards Da Vinci’s villa. Great place Amboise, perfect base for the region.

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Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Probably not the first person to photograph this monument!?

Montjuic Photo Walk

Montjuic, Barcelona.

d’Etretat

Etretat, Normandy. The Cote d’Alabatre (Alabaster Coast) is spectacular.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian. Mmmm…pintxos.

Two Days in Paris

We are staying in the Marais, the 3rd arrondissement, and our plans for the next two days are minimal…just wander around, soak it in, maybe a wine or two?

What the hell is this stuff?

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The metro system is wonderful in Paris so we plan to avail ourselves of its charms, and save our legs another pounding.

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You can crisscross all over town on the various lines, all colour coded, and a breeze to use.
Last time we were here we did the highlights tour, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, D’Orsay, Napoleon’s tomb, etc etc, so this time just leisurely enjoyment of the sights and sounds of this great city.

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The streets are packed with interest, shopfronts interspersed with wooden doors hiding the entrance to apartments above, small gardens dotted around, restaurants, bars, more shops.

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People of all shapes, colours and fashion sense, whatever goes, goes….want to wear green paisley socks with orange shoes and rolled up cuffs of a bright blue skinny pant, go for it!

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Confidence is all you need and you can wear whatever you want, and they do.
Cars, bikes, scooters all competing with taxis, buses and mopeds for that precious bit of bitumen, the only essential component required….a horn!

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Impossibly beautiful buildings, more magnificent church’s, incredible opera houses, hotels, boulevards, statues, gold everywhere.
Something around every corner and plenty between!

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Madeleine’s Church.

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The Notre Dame from a different angle.

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Garnier’s Palais opera house.

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Marche des Enfants Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris

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Car dealers on The Champs Élysées.

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The incredible roof at Galerie Lafayette

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Arguably the best square in Paris, Place des Vosges

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Hotel de Sully with its red doors leading out to the cloisters of place des Vosges.

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The Arc de Triompe

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And yet again. Rachael discovered that the young Chinese girls make the best iphone photographers!

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See, told you! 1,2,3 smile!!

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Queuing for 20 minutes at Laduree for the worlds most expensive macaroons, insanely busy!

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The Ile x 2

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The wine.

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Paris is so good you could keep coming back here year after year, so we better start saving!