Year: 2015

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. 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! …

A Pictorial Tour, Part two.

Here are the second batch of photos from our trip, again in no particular order.   A commemoration and a tribute to the sacrifices made! The Abbey, Mont St. Michel. Almost expect a ‘Quidditch’ game to appear overhead!! Lisbon. The Baixo district was the only flat part, surrounded by hills. The very spectacular Sagrada Familia, probably the best building I’ve ever had the pleasure to enter. Pintxos, San Sebastian. Chateau Chambord, Loire Valley. The Loire is full of Chateaux great and small…this is the greatest! Kids fun in Honfleur, Normandy. Opera Garnier, Paris. Haunt of the Phantom of the Opera! Arguably the most famous church in Europe, the majestic Notre Dame, Paris. Amboise Chateau, Loire Valley. Perched high above the river and town, protecting all. Tuk-tuk’s in Lisbon Jeff Koon installation at the Guggenheim, Bilbao. Veules-des-Roses, Normandy Place de la Bourse, on the cover of all Bordeaux brochures. Santillana del Mar, Spain. Most restaurants featured fixed price menu’s similar to this one. The Cathedral at Bayeux, Normandy Etretat, again! The tragic, haunting silence of Oradour-sur-Glane Plaza de …

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 market, Barcelona. The best thing about La Ramblas, a wonderful, diverse marketplace. Chateau Chenonceau, Loire Valley. The valley is full of Chateau’s and this is as stunning as they come. Amboise Chateau. Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial. A moving tribute to the brutality of war. Paris. Still the best city we have visited, could spend months here and not get bored. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. Truly the best museum experience ever! L’Abbey Fontevraud, Loire Valley. Atmospheric, moody, haunting…and the best meal of our trip. 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, Normandy. B&W suits the somber …

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? The metro system is wonderful in Paris so we plan to avail ourselves of its charms, and save our legs another pounding. 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. 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. 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! Confidence is all you need and you can wear …

Finally on to our final destination, Paris

Up early for a run around Parc Saint Jean, the nicest part of Amiens, before finally visiting the cathedral, the 19th largest in the world, that sits on the doorstep of our accommodation. A few photos later we packed the car for our last drive to the drop off before catching the train to Paris. It must be said, that whilst Hugh has certainly mastered the art of driving in Europe and done an exceptional job at that, there is no way any sane person outside of Paris would ever drive in Paris. Hence, au voir to our Renault which served us well for the past 12 days. We were advised that there was no need to book our train tickets to Paris, but being the ultra organised people that we are, Hugh duly went on line and purchased 2 first class tickets, the only class available to book online, to ensure we had no mishaps. Well, no need to have been concerned, the train we near empty and bar one person we had the …

The Somme….lest we forget.

Our time in Amiens was based around visiting the battlefields of The Somme, especially those involving the Anzacs. Fittingly, the day opened up gloomy and gray, and would remain that way all day. Amiens on a Sunday is a ghost town, tumble weeds drifting down the road, not an open cafe in sight, except one sad looking offering which became our breakfast date! Croissant and terrible coffee later we headed north to begin our day in the town of Villers-Bretonneux, home of the Australian National Memorial on the outskirts of town. The Australian troops are revered in Villers-Bretonneux, halting the Germans advance on 25th April 1918, thus repatriating the village and stopping Germany’s March to Amiens. So much are they held to the bosom of the town, the local primary school has a sign over the building “do not forget Australia”. The sacrifices of the Anzacs between 1916-1918 on the Western front is commemorated at the memorial and cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux, and is a moving experience and an honour to visit. 11,000 Australians who died …

Follow the Cliffs.

The thunderclaps of duel storms put paid to any sleep in this morning, peels of thunder chasing lightning right on top of us from about 8am. It was almost as impressive as the gourmet breakfast served up again by our hosts, Annick and Paul. You sit down in a beautiful dining room with fabulous cutlery and crockery, being served pastries, crepes, savoury quiches, pastry parcels, shot glasses of palate cleanser fruit purees, coffee……the works. Conversation with the other guests is lively, plenty of travel talk and cricket discussion with the poms! Can’t speak highly enough of our pad for the last two nights, exceptional hosts who go the extra mile to make sure everyone feels special, from the home made cakes in the afternoon, to the cider on arrival, the unbelievable breakfasts, the little finishing touches and attention to detail that stand it apart. This place would be the best we have stayed at in both our trips to Europe, and most highly recommended. We waddle out the gate at about 11.30 and head off …