Tuesday, 22 July 2014

~ the great holiday wrap-up ~

Last days - Euro Disney, Paris and home

1.  Favourite place?  Venice
2.  Worst day? Daddy stuck the needle into my toe to try and help it from getting a worse in infection
3.  Funniest thing that happened? Daddy driving though a pedestrian mall

4.  Favourite gelati flavour? Mandarin
5.  What did you miss most about home?  Everything
6.  Where did you wish we'd gone (that we didn't)? Belgium
7.  Best meal? I don't have one
8.  Best day? Going up the Eiffel Tower
9.  Yuckiest thing you ate? I liked everything
10.  Nicest apartment/hotel? The one in Monpazier
11.  Strangest thing that happened? Daddy can't count to four
12.  Which country would you like to live in?  France
13.  Where should our next holiday be to? Belgium
14.  Something you'll always remember about Spain? The man with the gun in Barcelona 
15.  Best thing about travelling? You get to see and try new things
16.  Worst thing about travelling?  Driving all day
17.  Weirdest food you tried? Anchovies 

18.  Most interesting excursion? Musee d'Orsay
19.  Boringest thing? Staying at in the hotel all day
20.  Favourite souvenir? Glass ink pen


Favourite place? Legoland
Worst day? When I got stung by a bee
Funniest thing that happened? David drove into a pedestrian mall
Favourite gelati flavour? Tiramisu
What did you miss most about home? The cats
Where did you wish we'd gone (that we didn't)? Canada
Best meal? Pasta...spaghetti bolognaise...
Best day? When we went to Legoland
Yuckiest thing you ate? Oregano on a pizza
Nicest apartment/hotel? San Sebastián
Strangest thing that happened? Daddy letting me have McDonalds 3 meals in a row
Which country would you like to live in? Italy
Where should our next holiday be to? Italy
Something you'll always remember about Spain? The beach in San Sebastián
Best thing about travelling? Watching movies on planes
Worst thing about travelling? Driving in a car for 7 hours with no iPad
Weirdest food you tried? Anchovies
Most interesting excursion? Clinging the Eiffel Tower
Boringest thing? Staying home until lunchtime doing nothing
Favourite souvenir? Harry Potter wand 


1.  Cinque Terre
2.  I don't have one
3.  Dad dropped his undies out the window
4.  Passion fruit
5.  My bed
6.  Belgium
7.  Tortellini in soup
8.  Climbing the Eiffel Tower
9.  Roasted capsicum
10.  Most of them
11.  That dad couldn't count to two
12.  France
13.  Belgium, Switzerland, France and maybe Germany
14.  They have dinner very late
15.  Going to new places and trying new food
16.  Spending hours on planes and in cars
17.  Mummy's truffle and (pesto?) pasta
18.  Eiffel Tower/London eye
19.  Car trips
20.  Florence book


Favourite place?   Italy (generally).  Cinque Terre (specifically)
Worst day?  driving through the bad lands in northern Spain
Funniest thing that happened?  that whole debacle at the first toll booth still makes me giggle
Favourite gelati flavour?  Blueberry ricotta from the place in San Gimignano
What did you miss most about home? My house and my cats
Where did you wish we'd gone (that we didn't)? Prague
Best meal?  Mother's Day dinner at a fabulous French bistro
Best day? Seeing the Eiffel tower for the first time (again) and the looks on the children's faces
Yuckiest thing you ate? a gelati in Volterra
Nicest apartment/hotel? Monterosso
Strangest thing that happened? the gun incident on the Barcelona train
Which country would you like to live in? Australia
Where should our next holiday be to? It will be Bridport.  I wish it was Japan.
Something you'll always remember about Spain? that the post offices were never open
Best thing about travelling? the food
Worst thing about travelling? Gross toilets
Weirdest food you tried? nothing outside my comfort zone this trip
Most interesting excursion? walking the modified Cinque Terre tracks
Boringest thing? the same music in the car over and over and over
Favourite souvenir? my dinner set from Finland


Favourite place? Venice
Worst day?  No complete bad days, bad moments influenced by stress, tiredness and misunderstandings
Funniest thing that happened? My children and their interpretations of life
Favourite gelati flavour? Licorice
What did you miss most about home? House
Where did you wish we'd gone (that we didn't)? French/Swiss Alps
Best meal? Bistrot des la  Vignes, Passy( our last meal in Paris)
Best day? Sunshine , a happy family, a good meal , maybe a beer or wine , a new experience. There were many of them. How could I name one!
Yuckiest thing you ate? I like all food
Nicest apartment/hotel? Monterosso, Cinque Terre
Strangest thing that happened? The gun
Which country would you like to live in? Coastal Italy ie Cinque Terre
Where should our next holiday be to? Walls of Jerusalum
Something you'll always remember about Spain? Gaudi and the gun
Best thing about travelling? seeing new places
Worst thing about travelling? crowds but more specifically crowds who smoke, push, have little concern for the person next to them.
Weirdest food you tried? Fois Gras
Most interesting excursion? Grottes de Niaux
Boringest thing? waiting in lines
Favourite souvenir? Tour T shirt


So that's it

 ...(6 countries,) 5 travellers, 4 red suitcases, 3 gelatis a day, too many photos, one big adventure ... 

we loved it (but we're glad to be home).

Saturday, 12 July 2014

...le Tour de France...

Today we watched the Tour de France.  A few hours before the bike riders came some trucks came past and threw toys, clothes and food at us.  Lots of buses went past too - one for each team.  There was an Australian one with a boxing kangaroo at the front.  
When the bike riders came past we blew our whistles loudly and shouted.  

The Tour de France was lots of fun. We wandered for ages this morning and then got some snacks and found our place near the track. After 4 long hours lots of cars and trucks came with freebies including: hats, lollies and lots of other junk as Mum calls it. When the first cyclist came there were cars and police motorbikes following him and the others were far far far behind. I think I might have lost my voice with all the shouting I did. And everyone but me bought a top from the stands but Mum bought another one so she's thinking about giving it to me. 

I'm not usually one for bike-riding so much - just thinking about it makes my bottom sore! But the Tour has always appealed - and even more so when its not on during the middle of the night.
The weather was not auspicious today but Gerardmer was buzzing - and pretty.  As with other towns on the Tour route they have gone all out with gorgeous flowers, banners, shop windows and bike paraphenalia. 
After claiming our position at the top of our chalet's driveway (about a kilometre from the finish line) we were then quickly moved aside by two ambulances and a fire truck that came to render first aid to a lady who had collapsed in the crowd - we were useless - couldn't even manage to ask about chest pain in any recognisable language!
Once the rain and thunder started Jack was all for watching on the tv in the chalet...saved by the caravan of freebie throwing had to be quick though...there was some fairly bad behaviour by adults chasing an ugly free hat or two.  
The race went by quickly (and blurrily if I look at my photos) in a flurry of bikes, shouting, cars, trucks, whistling, motorbikes and camera clicks.
Luckily we have a few yellow t shirts and a sack full of hats and key rings to remember it by.

This morning we walked down to Gerardmer for breakfast.  We had hot chocolates, coffee and a baguette.  We didn't have croissants because the bakery had sold out.  We went to a couple of the Tour stalls.  Everyone bought something - Mummy, Jack, Daddy and I all got t-shirts and Lily chose a key ring.  
We walked back up the hill to our chalet.  Then Daddy, Jack, Lily and I set up some chairs at the edge of the track while Mummy was packing the suitcases.  
We saw 2 men riding bikes with trailers full of Heineken beer.  
Before the riders came through there were trucks and cars throwing freebies  - we caught some hats, keyrings, junk food, wrist bands and a rubber.
The first rider was way ahead of the others.  Their were lots of cars near the riders with spare bikes and wheels on top.  As the riders went past we were yelling, screaming, blowing our whistles and clapping the bangers.  

Those watching for my nude dash at the finish line of Stage 8 Tour de France at Gerardmer were either relieved or disappointed.
The weather and the subsequent cancellation of helicopter coverage forced me to abandon this mission.
Fantastic day otherwise and I am glad we detoured to see the great race.
Paris tomorrow

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Days 80-83 ... Venice

Well it's very different from everywhere else we've been. We were only there for four days and so much happened!  We watched a man blowing glass, had a ride in a gondola, went to Burano to see the brightly coloured houses, walked to the Rialto bridge and survived a vicious thunder storm. 
When it happened we were having dinner and the sky was clear, then it suddenly changed and the wind getting stronger blowed over an umbrella. At this point Jack was in tears:(. The thing he was most scared about was not paying the bill! 
The coloured houses were cool and I took about 100 photos! And the gondola ride was just fabulous. We got to see all the buildings from a different angle and our gondolier was singing funny songs and giving us information about the city.  All round pretty great............ 
But I DON'T want to go home. ( maybe I do )

In Venice in our hotel the washing line was outside the window.  When Daddy was hanging out his undies he accidentally dropped them out the window onto the street.
Yesterday we went on a gondola ride.  It was lots of fun.  We saw lots of other gondolas too.  
I liked all the boats in Venice and all the canals and the bridges.  When the police boat went past it made the water very wavy.
We caught a ferry to the glass island.  We saw a demonstration of making glass. They put a long stick in the fire and then blow and twist the glass into shapes.  

It may be a city that is sinking, that floods weekly in Winter and Autumn and occasionally smells but wow Venice is beautiful.
Whether you are catching the water bus, riding a gondola ( more expensive than first class travel per km) or getting lost walking the canals it is captivating .
What surprised me was that Lily and Grace wanted to shop...and shop....and shop! Al tried to stop them!
Jack was just worried about a big flood and traffic rules on the grand canal.
We leave Italy tomorrow and Jack said he would come back to Italy as they eat pasta. 
Hoping that Richie Porte is in front of Tour when we get to Gerardmer and Germany does not win the World Cup (Al picked them to win a month ago)....They are bit like Collingwood!
The journey home has started.


On Monday we caught a ferry to Murano.  Murano is a famous glass making town (nearly every shop is full of glass).  In the back of on of one of the shop someone was doing a glass blowing demonstration.  It was really interesting to watch............. first he got a blob of melted glass on the end of a long metal tube and blew into it and started to shape it in the end it turned out to be a vase... he also made a horse.  
Later we caught another ferry to Burano a town near Murano ...all the  houses and shops were different was beautiful.
On Tuesday we got to go on a  gondola ride.  The boat ride was really fun. The paddler is called a gondolier...our boat was called Serena after the gondolier's wife.

Friday, 4 July 2014

... tales from Tuscany ...

Days 72-77.... Tuscany 

We drove from the villa to Sienna. We parked at a car park and then you had to up 7 or 8 escalators to get to the town. In the square there was a racetrack for horses.  I choose a flag from the Onda team...I choose it because it was blue and had a sea serpent on it.  The next day we had to get up really early to watch the Palio practice. At the practice there were more than 100 people there. Before the horses came out there was a loud cannon noise.  At the real Palio my team didn't came near the back. 
We've had a swim most days. I learnt to do a backflip in the water. 

Over the last few days we've been to lots of exciting towns. In Florence Mummy, Lily and I bought a diary. The man in the shop printed our names on the front of the books in gold.  
On Tuesday we got up really early to go to Sienna to watch a practice Palio race. We were standing right on the fence and while the horses were going round I nearly got whacked in the face by a tail. Just before the horses came out there was a really loud bang from a cannon...Jack didn't really like that bit.  
Later, for dinner, we drove to Volterra and went to my favourite restaurant.  Inside there's a deep well that we were sitting right next to.  For dinner I had the soup with was delicious! For dessert we had a gelati.

Continuing the driving theme, Al informs me that a lot of people were recently booked in Hobart for driving while using a mobile phone. Clearly they were practising for driving in Italy where it is the norm. One hand for mobile phone, one hand for cigarette and most of the steering done with your knees or your trusty dog.
If you do not smoke ( which is not the norm) this spare hand is out the window directing the breeze.
My driving has not been perfect but I have had to start driving with earplugs in so I do not hear the rants of policeman Jack.
Hopefully there will be no driving issues in Venice!
6556 DK 0 AT

Well we didn't see any vampires in Volterra but we did see a beautiful sunset in Florence and the practice for the Palio in Siena. We got up at 6 something and drove to Siena to see the race. The streets support their team by putting up big flags and decorating the streets. Jack bought a flag for a horse that's team was called Onda. It was a blue and white flag with a sea serpent on it. When we were in the square a loud cannon noise sounded and we all jumped. Later it sounded again and we were as ready for it as we were when the first one sounded. When the horses lined up for the race there was one that wouldn't cooperate. But soon the race began and they went so fast- Grace got a horse tail in the face. I wouldn't like to go on the real day because it was quite hot and everyone gets packed in to the middle of the square for 4-5 hours. We were all starved so we found breakfast at a small place. It wasn't anything special. Then we stayed at the pool for most of the day then went back to our favourite place in Volterra for dinner. 
The next day in Florence we found a paper shop and the man would print any word if you had leather on the thing you chose. Grace and I both chose diaries and had our names printed on the edge of them. I chose a purple one and Grace and pinky one. They were pretty. 

It's been hard to drag ourselves away from the pool (all that learning)....but sunset in Florence, sunflowers and even more gelato are all fairly compelling reasons to move. The horses not so much...but I loved all the flags, colours and noise ...and how intense they all were.  I think we've climbed all the towers we're going to climb...and visited enough churches but Venice beckons and then...the Tour (more intense sporty types!)

Monday, 30 June 2014

... part of the curriculum ...

Before we left, lots of people asked us not if, but how, we were going to home school the kids while we were away. 

The answer ... we weren't...but look what's happened....

We've covered geography, languages, art appreciation, history, nutrition (!!) and now this week we're concentrating on "swim and survive" (just like they did at Waimea this term). 

It's been tough....

Thursday, 26 June 2014

... a holiday within a holiday ...

Days 68- 71 ... at the villa, near San Gimignano ...

1, 2 and 3  Bellavista villa 
4, 5 and 6.  San Gimignano home of many towers and amazing gelati
7.  Obligatory tower shots
8.  Those sunflowers

We are staying in a villa made of rocks.  The villa has a pool.  One of the days after we were swimming I pushed Daddy back in the pool with his towel on. It was very funny.  His towel was soaking wet.  In San Gimignano we climbed a tower.  It had big bells at the top.  It was really hot.  After the tower one of the other towers rang their bells - I was glad it wasn't our tower.

We are staying at a villa with three apartments. The villa has a pool that we spent a lot of time in. One of those times when we spent ages playing and swimming Grace and I had gone up to the house so we didn't see it but Jack pushed Daddy in the water with his towel in. Apparently it was payback for throwing him in the water. 
In San Gimignano we climbed a tall tower. At the top you had to be careful if you were tall so you didn't bump your head. Later one of the bells in one of the towers rang - Jack said he was glad it wasn't our tower. 
On Tuesday we went to Pisa!! The leaning tower of Pisa is amazing!! We didn't get to climb up it but we spent a lot of time taking photos of us three holding it up. Years ago Daddy took a photo of Mummy with her legs up in the air holding the tower. But no one is allowed on the grass anymore so we made do with holding it up. A detour through Lucca, and driving back home we found sunflowers. The next day we did basically nothing. The dinner was amazing in Volterra. We all shared a platter with all sorts of things on it then I had soup with pasta. It was delicious.

Watch out Tasmanian roads! I may have picked up some cavalier Italian road skills ... driving at a speed limit double what the signs say, passing on blind corners, overuse of the horn and entering an intersection and then looking left and right.
Al's fingernails are warn out and I just ignore the screaming, abuse and horns (from the backseat).
Great to be in one spot for 2 weeks with a great pool (except when 5 year old pushes you in!)
I am also going to miss the 'walled town' when back in Tasmania with more great examples in Tuscany... San Gimignano, Volterra and Lucca.
Except...what are the Italians (and French) up to when they stop you from walking and sitting  on their grass???
What is grass for if it is not to walk on or lie on when tired? It also prevents 'silly' feet shots of Leaning Tower of Pisa!


We are staying in a villa in Tuscany.  There are two other families here. We've had lots of swims....the pool is really nice.  On the first night we drove into Certaldo for dinner .... we went to a pirate pizza place...I had ragu with my was delicious.  On Sunday we spent the whole day in the pool.  Daddy made us eggs for lunch.  They were really nice.  At dinner I didn't feel very well because I'd swallowed too much pool water.  I didn't eat much dinner and I didn't have an icecream (at the best gelati place in the world!!!!!).
On Monday we went back to San Gimignano...we went back to the best gelati shop!  It was our reward for climbing the tower.  Later we went to a museum that had a photo exhibition on - by Elliot Erwitt - the photos were really interesting.  
The next day we went to Pisa.  It was really, really hot.  We walked to the leaning tower.  It wasn't as tall as I thought it would be.  Next to it were 2 churches.  Mummy took photos of us "holding" up the tower.  
On the way home we had a detour through Lucca.  Of course we had to have an icecream on the way back to the car.  I was doing a Jack and had lemon.  We bought some fresh pasta for dinner ... 3 types...gnocchi, ravioli and tortellini.  I had the ravioli with spinach and was delicious.
Yesterday we stayed home all the afternoon Lily, mummy and I had a swim.  Lily and I were doing backflips.  That night we drove to Volterra for dinner...we had a shared entree of bruschetta, ham, salami and cheese.  For main course Jack and I had ravioli with meat sauce...we love Italy!

No vampires in Volterra ... but we have found fields of sunflowers, blue skies, World Cup winning gelati and more amazing food.  Jack says he is sick of "walking round the world" and wants to go home but the rest of us are still having too much fun.  

Sunday, 22 June 2014

... Roma ...

Days 63-65 Roma

1.  Pantheon (my favourite building ever)
2.  Spiral staircase at the Vatican
3.  Gladiator Jack
4.  Espresso (must have been after 11am)
5.  Piazza Navona (spot the gelati spoons!!)
6.  Fresh cherries- campo Di Fiori
7.  St Peter's Square
8.  Colosseum

The hotel had a bus to take us to the train station.  It was always busy on the trains.  The trip to Rome only took 20 minutes.  I liked to count the stops.  When we arrived at the station we didn't have to walk far to the Spanish Steps. Lily counted 136 but the book said 138. 
We also saw the Pantheon that has a hole in the roof. The only light in the whole building came through the hole.  If the rain came through the hole there were tiny holes in the floor to drain the water.  

Rome is the place for street sellers. Seriously no matter where you walk someone is asking you to buy their stuff or to give them money. We are staying near the edge of Rome at a nice hotel called Piccolo Borgo and apart from the creaking water tank waking most of us up it was actually quite nice. The hotel had a pool and we didn't get to use it much because of the thunder storms. We took the hotels shuttle to the metro then caught a train to Rome. We saw the Spanish steps and according to the Rome book there were 138 but I only got 136. One man dressed up as a gladiator had mummy take a photo of him pretending to chop jacks head off. She took several photos with all of us and it ended up costing ten euros but we only gave him four. We moved on to the Trevi fountain with only one downfall. The fountain was under construction and had no water in it at all:(  It was a busy day for us, the steps, fountain, building with a hole in the roof and the colosseum all in one day. The colosseum was really nice to look at. It was cool how bits of it were falling down. The building with the hole in the roof was cool too.  We took lots of photos. We went to the Vatican museum on Thursday the ceilings were great except it was hot and all I wanted to do was hop in the pool. St. Peter's looked cool from the outside but I wish we could have gone inside. Although I didn't really want to wait in the long lines. I bought a bag at a stall at the markets on Friday so now I can carry my own stuff around. We finally got to have a swim on the last day and it was nice. The place we are staying at now has the same sort of pool.

On Wednesday we caught the metro to Spagna (one of the train stations).  Then we walked to the Spanish steps.  While going up Lily and I counted all the steps there were 136.  Half way up I mis-counted.  After we got a photo whith a man dressed up as a gladiator. He wanted Mum to give him ten euros (she only gave him four).  We walked to the trevi fountain. It was covered up with scaffolding so we didn't throw a coin in.  So we walked to the pantheon.  It has a big hole in the in the roof.  When it rains the water gets soaked up because there are little holes in the floor.  
On Thursday we went to the Vatican Museum........ it was really big.  The ceiling had pattens on it ......... they were really detailed.  At the end Dad bought a puzzle of one of the paintings in the Museum.  That night we sat In pub and watched the World Cup Australia vs Holland.  Holland Won :( :( :( :(.  
Last day in Roma:
Today we had one last look around.  Lily and I both bought a bag. Then we went home and had a swim 
Grace :-)

When planning our Europe trip I tried to talk Alison out of going to Rome. It added to our driving distances and and I had no strong memories of my previous  visit.
I lost this battle and I am glad I did. Spanish Steps, Vatican, the Colosseum and Travestere were all highlights.
And Australia v Holland in a Roman bar with some very anxious Dutch supporters.
Continue to love the Italian drivers who ignore lines on roads; as long as you are heading in the right direction it is all okay.
No commitment from my family who chose gelato over a 3 hour queue to enter St Peters!

Rome is still crazy beautiful. It's crumbling but majestic.  It's loud, fast and furious. It's smelly and dirty (the anti-smoking lobby have got a mammoth task here).  The drivers are insane ... as are the pedestrians (crossing even a small road has sorely tested Jack's "wait for the green man" approach).  It's full of surprises, style and sellers - some with charm, others brash  or even outright rude.  It's manic and fun. I'm glad we came back. I'm even glad we didn't make it up St Peters this's another reason to return.