A Travellerspoint blog

Tuesday August 11th

Swiss Cheese

sunny 27 °C
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Today we left France, and travelled back into Italy almost to Genoa, before turning north on the way to Switzerland. We eventually crossed the Swiss border; fortunately they didn't do the usual passport checks so we were on our way after a few minutes. Eventually we arrived at Lucerne, on the lake of the same name. We did a tour of the town including the famous Lion monument, and an ancient covered bridge. After some free time, we went on a boat cruise on the lake. The town is ringed by tall mountains, and one, Mt Pilatus (7,000 feet) was of particular interest to us, as we were going up there tomorrow. After the cruise, we drove up an alpine valley to Engelberg and our hotel. Switzerland looks just like the postcards; cows grazing in green pastures, quaint wooden houses, and snow-capped mountains almost in the backyard. We finished the day with dinner in the hotel.

Posted by bryceb 16:05 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Monday August 10th

A Nice Place

rain 30 °C
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Today we had free until 3pm, so I wandered the back streets of Nice to find where everything was; I also went to the beach again and walked over the rocks to dabble my toes in the Mediterranean. I took a photo across the bay, being careful not to include too many bathers, lest one of the many signs on the beach should say "No Photos". The sunbathers looked very uncomfortable lying on the pebbly beach.
I made my way back to the hotel, wrote up my diary ready to upload, wrote some postcards and did some washing. Then I returned to an internet cafe I had found previously, downloaded my email and uploaded my diary. The French cafe attendant knew no English and I was too embarassed to use the little French I knew, but with a bit of sign language and I was able to communicate my needs.
At 3pm we took the short trip to Cannes, home of the International Film Festival. Here we were able to see where the above takes place, and also a Walk of Fame, where many of the stars had imprinted their palmprints and signatures in the sidewalk. Howard said he had never seen it rain in Cannes, but an ominous cloud started leaking and over the next hour emptied all of its contents on us. It was still nice and warm so didn't worry us, but thousands of beachgoers packed up and left, causing a bit of congestion on the way out. We then went back to a beautiful mountainside restaurant perched 500 metres up a cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean, and not too far from Monaco. Another hairy ride up the mountain roads with Mad Mario at the wheel. But it was a great night in a great location followed by a breathtakingly scenic ride home, overlooking the French Riviera at night with the lights of Monaco twinkling in the distance.
Am I laying it on too thick?!!

Posted by bryceb 07:56 Archived in France Comments (0)

Sunday August 9th

The Italian and French Riviera

sunny 29 °C
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Today we left Florence, and went down to Pisa where we saw the leaning tower, which is actually the bell tower of the cathedral next to it. If you pay 15 Euro ($25) you can climb the stairs to the top, as the increasing lean has been arrested, and it has been re-opened to the public. But I was feeling a little off-colour today; I think I've caught Paul's bug that he's had for the last 2 weeks. Plus I think it's a bit overpriced. But very interesting seeing it close-up.
Then a very picturesque drive along the Italian Riviera, with mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other, past marble quarries that this area is so famous for, through 169 tunnels (we had a competition to count them), and bridges over dizzying ravines. We passed over the French border, and soon were able to see the principality of Monaco, nestled in the bay at the bottom of the cliffs. We drove down to it, and went for a walk around this little state that pays no taxes because of the millions of people who come to lose at the Casino. Fancy cars littered the streets around the Casino; they clearly weren't worried about parking fines. Aston Martins, Maseratis, and Lamborghinis were commonplace, and cheaper cars such as Mercedes and BMWs almost looked out of place. We had a look in the Casino; one of our members won more than 100 Euro, but I don't think that covered the losses made by the other members.
Driving out of Monaco, we were treated to another eye-feast along the French Riviera. We called in at a perfume factory, before reaching Nice and our home for the next 2 nights.
That evening, as our hotel was in the centre of the city, we went for a walk for 30 mins right up the main street, to a restaurant on the beachfront of the Mediterranean. After tea we walked along the beachfront, and back to the motel via some side-streets. In Europe, people eat late, and after 9pm the streets are filled with people walkind, or sitting in sidewalk cafes, or eating in restaurants. The beaches are pebbly and topless. Some areas are roped off and a charge is made for seating and an umbrella. At least you don't get sand in your crevices.

Posted by bryceb 14:30 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Saturday August 8th

A Day in Tuscany

sunny 32 °C
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Today we left Rome, travelling through the regions of Umbria and Tuscany, until we reached Florence. We went to a viewing point over the city, where we had a group photo taken, and then headed into the city where we had a few hours wandering the squares and shops. We were also able to see the second covered bridge in Italy (the other one is at Venice).
At 3pm we had a walking tour to the cathedral, and then to the Academy of Fine Arts, where we were able to see Michaelangelo's David (you'll recognise it when you see it) in the flesh, or more correctly, in marble. We also saw many other of Michaelangelo's works, including several unfinished ones.
After that, we drove to our hotel at Montecatini where we dined in-house that night.

Posted by bryceb 14:27 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Friday 7th August

A Quiet Day in Rome

sunny 32 °C
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Today was our third day in Rome, and thankfully a quiet day. It is also Aidan's 18th birthday, so a little later in the day I was able to ring him on his mobile using Skype. I also had an interesting video conversation with four friends who are holidaying in Pt Broughton.
Anyway, that morning, we took a trip out to the Tivoli Gardens, a garden known in particular for its fountains. Because the gardens are on a slope, the fountains all work on natural pressure, yet the height they reach leads you to think that they are pressurised artificially.
In the afternoon, I wrote some postcards, did some washing, made Skype calls, and answered some emails.
To farewell Rome, that evening we visited the Trevi Fountain ("Three Coins in the Fountain") and then had a 5 course dinner at Canova, Fellini's favourite restaurant (I still don't know who he is but I think he is/was famous. You'll have to google him as I intend to.)

Posted by bryceb 14:26 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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