Venice – Part 1

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Personal, Travel | 0 comments

There is something truly magical about Venice. I felt it again as soon as I set foot outside of the train station yesterday and took in the view. I first visited Venice on my trip three years ago and as it was while on a tour, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore Venice. In 2010 I saw the main highlights – Saint Mark’s Square, Murano, Burano, the Rialto Bridge but that’s about it. When planning this trip, we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to get ourselves lost exploring the streets and hundreds of bridges that are Venice. After a few days of...

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Tuscany – Part 2

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Personal, Travel | 1 comment

The remainder of our time in Tuscany has been spent exploring some of the more popular tourist attractions – namely Siena and San Gimignano. As we discovered, the time between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6) is one of the main holiday times for Italians and they have certainly out in force. Having encountered many Asian and American tourists in Cinque Terre and Florence, we were surprised to find both Siena and San Gimignano teeming with Italians (in retrospect, we shouldn’t have been too surprised…it is Italy after all). I found the huge crowds rather off-putting. Not...

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Running the race

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Personal | 0 comments

Being New Years Eve and the end of another year, I guess this post is somewhat of a review of 2013 and a ‘looking forward’ to 2014. I actually don’t want to dwell too much on 2013. It has certainly finished on a high note with this amazing trip through France and Italy but parts of 2013 have been really tough and I’m glad to have the year now behind me so that I can focus on what’s ahead. A number of different circumstances that popped up during the year almost broke me. I certainly learned a lot about myself and that maybe I’m not as strong as I thought I...

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Tuscany – Part 1

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 1 comment

Last Friday we picked up a hire car and eventually made our way out of Florence (which was no easy task). We have based ourselves in the village of San Casciano in Val di Pesa which is actually not all that far from Florence but provides us with easy access to all of the places in Tuscany that we want to visit. We’re staying at Villa I Barronci which is a gorgeous resort with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. We are in the heart of wine and olive country, with the hillsides a patchwork of various shades of green. Here is the view from the front of the villa: Similarly...

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Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 2 comments

As we sat at Manarola train station last Tuesday waiting for the first of three trains that would take us to Florence (or as the Italian’s call it, Firenze), I told Ian that I didn’t want to leave Cinque Terre. I had fallen in love with Manarola and, as I posted on both Facebook and this blog, could easily spend the rest of my days happily living there. However, it was Christmas Eve and we had accommodation booked in Florence, so reluctantly I said goodbye to Manarola for the time being. Having visited Florence on my trip three years ago, it didn’t take long to remember how...

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Buon Natale!

Posted by on Dec 25, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 0 comments

Buon Natale! As it is now Christmas Day in Australia, Merry Christmas to you all! Enjoy the festivities today with family and friends and don’t forget the real reason for the season – the birth of our Lord and Saviour! We will be experiencing an Italian Christmas here in Florence. It will probably be a fairly quiet day, however, we will enjoy some good food and are looking forward to catching up with family via FaceTime.

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Cinque Terre

Posted by on Dec 24, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 1 comment

Cinque Terre – literally translated ¬†as the “five lands” – are five beautiful villages on the Italian Riviera. All five villages are located within a national park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area has long been on my ‘bucket list’ of places to visit and we have been fortunate enough to have been able to explore Cinque Terre during the past couple of days. We have been staying in the village of Manarola which is by far my favourite of the five villages. Four of the five villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso are...

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Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 1 comment

We have spent the day exploring Annecy, with this morning seeing us take a walk around the old part of town and this afternoon a cruise on the lake. Annecy is a gorgeous city – the architecture is unique to the area and quite different from what we have seen in Provence. The old city is divided by numerous canals flowing with the clearest water fed by the lake. And with the backdrop of the alps, it is a spectacular place to visit. I’ll let you enjoy some of the sights of Annecy that I captured throughout the day, starting with the Palais de I’lle. Holly in the Jardins de...

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Provence – Part 3

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 2 comments

Welcome to the third and final installment of our adventures in Provence. As I wrote at the end of my last post, we hoped to spend our final full day in Provence (or more specifically, the Luberon) exploring Mont Ventoux, with a return visit to Roussillon. We were able to do both these things and enjoyed some more stunning Provencal winter weather (which is generally rather cold but sunny and clear). We set off for a bit of a drive to Mont Ventoux, unsure of weather we would be able to get right to the top. Mont Ventoux is somewhat of an icon in the French cycling arena, with several Tour de...

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Provence – Part 2

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Personal, Travel | 2 comments

After starting yesterday with a bit of an adventure (which I blogged about here) we set off to explore some more of Provence. Before I get carried away with what we got up to during the last two days, let me share some photographs of the beautiful Le Couvent¬†where we are currently staying… The breakfast room Ian had discovered on the internet that close to Apt was a bridge built in 3BC (yes, BC) by the Romans to access their territories in France. On our way to Bonnieux, we made a stop at Pont Julien Continuing on to Bonnieux, we spent a fair bit of time exploring the streets. Bonnieux...

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