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  • Greek Villas Line The Caldara Greek Villas Line The Caldara

    • From: kennethdiluigi
    • Description:

      Beautiful pink sunset lights up the sky over the caldera surrounding Santorini, Greece

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 4171
  • Our Trip to France & Italy 200 Our Trip to France & Italy 2008

    • From: jmagarey
    • Description:

      I decided to keep a journal of our trip, so I could remember everything. You should also be receiving a link to view photos from Shutterfly soon. Enjoy! I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors!

      Thursday, August 21st- Paris!

      Today was very exhausting, but exciting! It started very early (1:15am NC time, 7:15am Paris time.) That was when our plane from the US landed. Wed. never really ended because neither of us got a wink of sleep on the plane. After we arrived at the airport, we took to the Roissy Bus to Paris Opera. My first impressions of Paris were lots of old stone buildings, beautiful architecture, and lots of people! The bus dropped us off at the Metro station, which was very close to our hotel. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we walked down the street to a cafe and I got my first chance to practice Fench. We had crepes and a ham and cheese baguette. We came back and checked into our hotel room (a tiny box!) and took a much-needed nap. After a couple hours, we drug ourselves up to do a Historic Paris Walking Tour (from Rick Steves' Paris book). We started at Point Zero- the center of Paris and saw Notre Dame Cathedral from the outside (lines to go in were too long!). We also visited the Deportation Memorial (in memory of Jews killed in WW2). From the outside we saw Ile St. Louis, Left Bank Booksellers, Sainte-Chapelle, Palais de Justice, Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned) , Place Dauphine, Pont Neuf, and the Seine River. We decided to take the Metro to Arc de Triomphe and have dinner nearby. We ate at a french cafeteria and had chicken with veggies. I also had a fruit tart for dessert. We were so hungry and it was so good! After dinner we went up in the Arc. There were 264 steps to the top (many of them on an old spiral staircase!). The views from the top were spectacular. After that, we were so tired, we headed back and went to sleep!
      Friday, August 22nd- French Oatmeal Isn't American Oatmeal!
      We woke up this morning in Paris to rain. We found out it was going to rain most of the day, so we decided it wouldn't be a good day to visit Monet's Giverny. I was very disappointed. We headed out to a French cafe for breakfast. The choices were pastries and more pastries! The girl also told Roger they had oatmeal. He ordered that and was handed a cup of warm milk! It was good, but was a far cry from American oatmeal! I think she said "au" (pronounced o) milk (and didn't say the k at the end of milk) We also had a raisin croissant and a pastry with an apple filling. Yum! We headed back to the hotel for another nap (not over jet lag yet!) before going to the Orsay Museum. We waited in line (in the rain) for 40 min. just to get in. It was very crowded and the highlight for me (besides seeing a few of Monet's works) was lunch. I had a ham baguette, beetroot, parsnip, and carrot chips, and an apple (no dessert this time!). We went to a cafe for dinner on Rue Cler. I had lambchops for the first time since last Dec. when I went home with Roger to Australia. They also came with green beans that were really good. I'm enjoying practicing French on waiters. Later in the evening, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The sun was beginning to set (but we couldn't see it). Roger convinced me to climb 300 steps to the first level. (I chickened out and couldn't climb to the 2nd!). The lights were coming on and the views of the city were spectacular. A blue light was shining on the Eiffel Tower. It was a great way to end the day!
      Saturday, August 23rd- Versailles
      We started the day with a trip to another French bakery for breakfast. I don't know when I've eaten so much bread! On the way there,we found out what was smelling so bad- the cheese shop! The French have over 100 types of cheese- many of them are smelly! After breakfast, we headed to the Fat Tire Bike Shop for our all-day bike trip to Versailles. We pedaled to the train station, then rode the train all the way to the town of Versailles. Before going into the estate, we visited the local market to buy food for a picnic lunch. I've never seen such decadent looking desserts as I've seen today! I only wish I knew how to make them! We then pedaled into the estate. The landscaping was impeccable. We saw Marie Antoinette's domain, then went to the end of the Grand Canal to have lunch. We learned that this was her favorite picnic spot, where she was brought by gondola. During our ride, I learned a lot about the history of the French kings and queens and the French Revolution. I actually felt sorry for Marie Antoinete who was forced into marriage at age 14. The chateau at Versailles was unlike anything I've ever seen. It was very ornate, but very crowded. After we came back, we relaxed for a little while before heading out to eat Chinese for dinner (not very French, huh?) We decided to turn in early since we have to get up at 5:30 to leave for Nice.
      Sunday, August 24th- Nice!
      Today was another exhausting, but wonderful day! We got up at 5:30 to leave Paris. We took the Metro, then the bus back to the airport. Our flight to Nice was spectacular. We flew over plains, mountains, and finally the French Riviera. The water is a beautiful turquoise color. We saw many homes perched on cliffs. It was surprising that so many of them had pools, since they are so close to the ocean. After lunch and a nap, we got on the tram and went down to the beach. The rumors about Nice being a topless beach are true. We were surprised at how a few women seemed to flaunt it. However, the percentage of topless women was very small (maybe 2 %). The majority of women were wearing bikinis. We spread our towels out on the pebbles and took turns going in the water (while the other guarded our stuff). We were glad we brought our water shoes. The water was warm, but the shoreline sloped down quickly. After spending a little time on the beach, we walked down the Promenade and up the steps to Castle Hill. Castle Hill is a park (no castle there!) with overlooks perched high above the Mediterranean. It was very beautiful there. After coming back for showers, we headed down the street for dinner. We shared delicious pizza, pasta, and crepes. It was the end of a great day!
      Monday, August 25th- Antibes and Nice
      Today we slept in, so we didn't get an early start. We decided to take the train to Antibes, a town east of Nice. Like Nice, it was founded in the 5th century B.C. by Greek traders. This town is home to Europe's largest yacht harbor, as well as sandy beaches (as opposed to Nice's pebbly beaches). We ate a sandwich on a bench overlooking the yacht harbor. We even saw a gold-colored yacht that stinks of money. After lunch, we wandered through the town and down to one of the beaches. Along the way, we walked through narrow streets with lots of shops and outdoor cafes. We forgot to pack our beach towel in Roger's backpack, so we found a shady bench near the water to sit on. We took turns going in the clear, warm water. It was also very calm without any waves. The beach was as nice as any I've been to in Australia or Hawaii, minus underwater tropical sealife. The air was warm (maybe about 80), but it wasn't humid! It was really a perfect beach day. I could have easily stayed here a few days or a week! No wonder the French vacation here! We took the train back to Nice to get a shower and to get ready for dinner. We ran into a dilemma for dinner. We didn't know where to eat, and a restaurant Rick Steves recommended was closed (many French businesses close in August so they can enjoy their five weeks of vacation!). I suggested we visit the Monoprix grocery store. They had takeaway hot food, so I got rotisserie chicken, and Roger got rotisserie duck. We also got au gratin potatoes and mixed veggies. It turned out to be very tasty. I had never had duck, but Roger insisted that I try some. It had a strong taste to it, but it was OK. The French Riviera has been nice (Roger has liked it better han Paris, even though originally he wasn't crazy about coming here!) Tomorrow we leave for Turin, Italy!
      Tuesday, August 26th- Railway Journey to Turin, Italy
      This morning we got up early and packed up to leave Nice. Roger went to the train station to pay for our tickets for Turin, where he has meetings for the next three days. We traveled along the Riviera for about an hour to Millivente, an Italian border town. Along the way, we passed beautiful coastline and hills, and a quick glimpse of Monaco. We ended up having a two hour layover in Millivente, which was surprisingly nice. Roger noticed that the beach was nearby, so we decided to walk down there (suitcases in tow!). Along the way, we passed a market and got some pizza to take with us (and cannoli, later for dessert). The beach was nice, but not as pretty as those in France. We arrived at the railway station in Turin and thought that our hotel was within distance, but it was not. Our two suitcases barely fit in a taxi (small cars are everywhere!), but we made it! Our hotel room was nicer than the ones in Paris and Nice. We found a nice Italian restaurant nearby and enjoyed dinner very much. I am looking forward to my trip to Lake Maggiore tomorrow while Roger attends his conference!
      Wednesday, August 27th- Lake Maggiore!
      I had a wonderful time on my trip to Lake Maggiore. It was a "spouse excursion" for those attending Roger's conference. I met people from different parts of the U.S., Norway, Holland, Korea, and New Zealand. They were all really nice. We boarded a bus from the conference center at 9AM to leave Torino. The trip took about two hours. Along the way, we passed many fields and flat areas that looked like we could be anywhere in the U.S. But we could make out the outline of the Alps off in the distance. Our first stop was the town of Stresa, on the banks of the lake. It was full of glamorous hotels, villas, gardens, cafes, and shops. From there, we boarded a small boat to take us to Isola Bella, one of the small islands in the lake. This island had a palace and beautiful gardens that belong to the Borromeo family. It was very ornate and lush. I took so many photos that my memory card is full! (Luckily, another lady had a spare and is letting me borrow it!). After visiting that island, the boat took us to Isola Pescadori, another small island, where we had lunch. Actually the lunch was more like dinner! We had lasagna, another kind of pasta, followed by porkchops and roasted potatoes. Then we had tiramisu for dessert. It was very good, but I wasn't able to eat it all. After lunch, we went on a boat ride on the lake. The lake has beautiful blue-green water and is surrounded by mountains. The northern part of the lake stretches into Switzerland. We went back to Stresa and walked around the little shops for an hour. I was a little hot, so I got a small cherry vanilla gelato (Italian version of ice cream). It was very good, but I don't know where I had room to put it! I guess all the walking is keeping me in shape! We boarded the bus for the ride back to Torino. Once we got back into the city, the tour guide pointed out various historical places. It was 7PM and Roger was waiting for me. He was hungry, so we went to a huge store called Eataly. The nearest thing to it in the U.S. is Whole Foods, but this was on a much grander scale. It also has numerous cafes set up inside. Roger had roast beef and I had a hamburger. The man next to us was eating RAW ground beef with some sauce on it. I don't think I could eat that! Tomorrow is my laundry/rest day before we head to Lake Como on Friday afternoon.
      Thursday, August 28th- Travel Recovery Day in Turin
      There was nothing on my itinerary today, except doing laundry. Roger and I walked down the street to the laundromat before his meeting. What looked like a five minute walk on the map turned into twenty minutes. Plus we were pulling a suitcase full of dirty clothes. When we got there, we didn't see a change machine and there was only one empty washer. A lady came out and Roger asked her if she spoke English. We were surprised when she said yes. Roger asked her where she learned English and she said her sister had a boyfriend from Charlotte, NC. We thought that was funny. She was really nice and told us she would take our clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer. She told me to come back later, so we gave her money. When it was time to go back, I decided to take the bus. The receptionist at the hotel told me the bus ride would cost one euro. When I got on the bus, I handed the driver money, but he didn't take it. So I rode the bus for free! I found out from the lady at the laundromat (who not only had washed and dried our clothes, but also folded them!) that you have to buy tickets from the tabac (tobacco) shop and validate them when you get on the bus. I decided to walk back. I also went back to Eataly to get some lunch. I wanted some foccacio, but I had to use hand motions to make the girl understand what size I wanted, since neither of us could understand the other! When Roger came back from the conference, we decided to take the bus downtown for dinner (this time we went in the tabac shop to buy our tickets!). But then we got on the bus going the wrong direction! We had to do the loop back around. At one stop, the driver parked the bus and took a ten minute break! You can bet we ate good when we finally found a restaurant! We like Italy, but it sure is different!
      Friday, August 29th- Sunday, August 31st- Bellagio and Lake Como
      On Friday after Roger's meeting, we boarded a train bound for Varenna. We had to change trains a couple times, even in Milan. I was surprised at how easy it was for us to find our way, even though we don't know Italian. We disembarked from the train in the cute lakeside town of Varenna (not to be confused with Fuquay-Varina!). Then we got our tickets for our ferry boat trip to Bellagio. The trip only took 15 minutes and the scenery was spectacular. Lake Como is a glacial lake surrounded by the Alps. It looks similar to Lake Maggiore. When we got to Bellagio, we called Flavio, the manager of the apartment we're staying in. He met us in front of the Hotel Du Lac, and walked with us to the apartment. It was up a set of stone steps. Flavio was nice enough to carry my heavy suitcase! The apartment was really nice (and only a few euros more than we paid for that little box in Paris!). The streets in Bellagio are all narrow and have rocks in the middle. Most don't allow cars. It was amazing that cars could make it on the ones that did. However, Italians (and Europeans, in general) don't drive big SUV's and minivans. Their little hatchback cars and Minis make my Honda Civic look like a big car! Many Italians also drive scooters and motorcycles. After we got settled in, we walked down to the lakefront to have dinner at the Hotel Metropole Ristorante. We ate at a lakefront table. It was a beautiful setting and the food was good. After dinner, we walked down the Promenade to watch the sun go down. It was lined with beautiful pink and white Oleander trees, window boxes and flower beds full of marigolds, petunias, begonias, and other colorful flowers. It also had benches to sit on. Surprisingly, it wasn't crowded. I think the Bellagio Promenade is the setting for a painting we have in our living room. On Saturday, we slept in and walked around town. Bellagio doesn't have a proper grocery store, but it has a few takeaway stores. I got some more pizza. After lunch, we decided to take the ferry back to Varenna to do a walk there. We got some gelato (yum!) and enjoyed walking down Varenna's promenade. We walked through town and to one of its suburbs. Even though it was along a road (crazy Italian drivers!), we were walking parallel with the lake. We also passed some beautiful gardens. We took the ferry back to Bellagio to get ready for dinner. This time, we walked to a park that was near where the three branches of the lake join. There was a nice restaurant there. Italian restaurants don't start serving dinner until 7 (we found out) so we watched some people swim in the lake and just enjoyed the scenery. For dinner, Roger ordered fish. It was one from Lake Como. He liked it even though it had some bones in it. I had a wonderful pesto pasta and grilled veggies. On Sunday, we got up and took a walk around Bellagio's suburbs. We passed many private homes and gardens. We also passed a cemetery. The Italian gravesites are very elaborate. All the tombstones(except the very oldest) had pictures of the deceased person. They all had flowers and some had electronic candles lit. It reminded me of the cemeteries in Switzerland. In the afternoon, we took a ferry across the lake to Villa Carlotta. This villa was a wedding gift to a Princess Carlotta. Sadly, she died at age 23. I'm sure her husband's second wife enjoyed the beautiful gardens and the elaborate villa. We also enjoyed the villa's artwork. After finishing our tour, we walked down the road to the little town of Cadnabbia (I'm probably misspelling it) and enjoyed vanilla and strawberry gelato while waiting for the ferry. We finished our trip to Lake Como with a final dinner at Hotel Metropole at a lakefront table. Then we walked down the Promenade one final time to enjoy the sunset and the beautiful flowers.
      Monday, September 1st- Our Final Day: Paris (again!)
      We got up early to travel back to Paris. We had to take (in this order) the ferry, train, bus, plane, bus, Metro and walk to get to our hotel (the little box of a room, again!). We were tired when we got to the hotel (I wonder why?!) so we took a nap before dinner. We decided to go back to the Monte Carlo Cafeteria for a cheap(er) full meal. I enjoyed turkey, carrots, and a cherry tart. Then we decided to spend our final evening in Paris at the Eiffel Tower. This time, we went up the elevator to the second level. The elevator goes up the side of one of the pillars until it gets to the first level, then it goes straight up to the second level. (If we had wanted to go to the very top, we would have had to board another elevator to the top from the second level). The views were incredible again, and we were there when they had the light show. There were sparkling lights flashing up and down the tower. After we got down on the ground, we walked through the park and took some more photos of the Tower and the light show. It was the perfect end to a wonderful trip!
    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
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