A Travellerspoint blog

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Avignon

Day 2 - May 26th 2009

sunny 26 °C
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Regional beauty. It was so nice to be in a place that wasn’t so concerned with the who’s who. Avignon was far more humble and understated yet had all the charm of any place we had previously visited. Cobble stone lined the roads and foot paths, cafes at every turn and plenty of little stores selling local produce and antiques. The slower pace really made for a day of relaxed exploration. We pottered around sticking our heads in the little stores and eventually made our way to the tourist sites. A walk through the main garden along the river felt natural and at no stage did we introduce the uncomfortable pressured feeling of having to see everything in our guide books.

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Dinner. The restaurants here had a real authentic feel and we picked a great one tucked away in the backstreets off the beaten path. Three courses of culinary delight. A shrimp ravioli and a wild mushroom dish for entrée. A heart stopping serve of Pig’s trotter for Vic (she may well have put back on all the weight she had just lost) and a delectable piece of lamb shank for me made up the main courses. Dessert consisted of the customary Crème Brulee and a strawberry tart with Marscapone. The wine was good and the ambiance so very complimentary. We’ll need to work hard to burn this meal off.

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Drag. Forgot to mention that while we were eating, a 7-foot giant Transexual entered with his partner who must have been a mere 5 foot weighing in at 45Kg. Vicki won’t let me write what I REALLY want to say.

Gabi (Vic's Mum). If ever there was a place we thought Gabi would feel at home then this was it. She would have had to sell Phillippe (The Champion Household Labrador) in order to afford the freight on all the antiques she would have purchased. This place really reminded us of her which may have been why we enjoyed it so much.

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Posted by samandvic 05:39 Archived in France Comments (1)

Aix en Provence

Day 1 - May 27th 2009

sunny 31 °C
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Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. We met a nice couple from Sydney (I know, hard to believe isn’t it?!) at breakfast. They had just come from Italy so were full of handy tips and advice. We had breakfast together before setting out to explore Aix en Provence.

Aix en Provence. The journey from Avignon to Aix en Provence took about an hour. Similar to Avignon but yet there was an element of the boutique way of life here. Cobble stone streets were consistent but far more cafes and designer stores. We again just pottered around but it was stinking hot with not much shade about. Still good to get away from the frantic pace of the bigger cities and soak up the local charm. Unfortunately, the lavender fields were not in bloom which the region is famous for.

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The Chicken Man. On the way back to the hotel from the train station, we noticed a sign advertising the Colonel. Not sure why (could be the 11 secret addictive narcotics) but we had to have it. We were advised that it was only a 10 minute walk. Evidence of our obsessive desire was obvious when we hit the 30 minute mark and were compelled to push on. In the distance we saw the cold hypnotic stare of the Colonel. Bucket of chicken please. The 4 kilometre walk back will help.

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Posted by samandvic 05:43 Archived in France Comments (0)

Avignon

Day 3 - May 28th 2009

sunny 28 °C
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Trains, Trains, Trains. Today we travel from Avignon to Lyon, Lyon to Chamberie and Chamberie to Milano. The rail system here is unbelievable. Chamberie is a quaint little mountain town close to the French-Italian border in the Alta Savoya region. It was originally under Italian rule but that changed about 150 years ago. My laptop was out of charge and I couldn’t find a power point on the train. I am so glad or I would have missed the spectacular views. Vicki has developed narcolepsy during our holiday. Only really prevalent on the train system but the journey was far too satisfying to fall into a slumber. Snow capped mountain tops, deep lush green valleys, chalets and cottages lining the mountain side. Just superb.

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Pitfall. The only issue with the train ride was the American pseudo rock star. He spoke non-stop for about 2 hours. Please dude, shut up just for a minute and focus on something other than yourself. Maybe try reflecting on how awesome you are internally.

French guy. We met an old French man on the same train. He appeared to be really wealthy and was fascinated to hear all about our trip. He had a house in the mountains just north of Nice. He showed us photos of his chalet covered by the 7.5m of snowfall they had this winter. He was heading up to assess the damage and get repairs underway. Nice guy and he fortunately balanced out the self-indulgent rock star.

Posted by samandvic 05:52 Archived in France Comments (0)

Milano

Day 1 - May 28th 2009

sunny 27 °C
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Milano Centrale. If the train station was anything to go by then Milan was going to be a real treat. The station was housed in what appeared to be an Art Deco building but it was built in the very early 1900s. It was unbelievably well preserved and what better way to be greeted on arrival.

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Hotel. Vicki did it again. We have been waiting to the absolute last minute to book hotels for the next leg of almost every journey. Great as we have the flexibility to chop and change at will but not always good on the stress front. We would still have it no other way and again Vic found a gem for our stay in the heart of Milano. Fillipo Inzhagi (An AC Milan soccer superstar) lives in the same building. Very beautiful, affluent part of Milano and again the price was right. Really big room, tastefully decorated in a local flavour with our own personal garden. Beautiful. A bit of a walk, some dinner and an early retirement.

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Posted by samandvic 06:12 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Milano

Day 2 - May 29th 2009

sunny 32 °C

Milano. What a magnificent city especially if you like shopping. This place had everything. The people were friendly and it had natural warmth about it (aside from the 30+ degree temperature). We knew instantly that we’d enjoy our stay.

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Last Supper. The controversial Leonardo DaVinci’s last supper was on display in Milan. I thought about lying to you all but decided against it. The fact is they allow only 20 people in at a time and you need to book in advance. It was booked out for 3 weeks. The guy at the hotel encouraged us not to give up as there are always cancellations. He also warned us by saying that the staff there are rude. They are government employees and not that helpful. We asked if there were any cancellations but there weren’t. They even went as far as to say there won’t be any cancellations over the next few days. See into the future, can you? I think the guy at the hotel was right.

Duomo di Milano. An enormous and breathtaking cathedral in the centre of the city. The seat of the Archbishop of Milan. It seemed to follow you all over town with it's mix of Gothic and Renaissance style architecture.

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Galleria. We visited the Galleria in the centre of Milan which only houses the elitist brands. What an extraordinary building and only one fault. It had the most amazing cafes and restaurants filling the shopfronts between the boutique stores but it had a McDonalds in what was probably the best location. There’s no escaping the golden arches.

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Shopping. Shops everywhere you looked. I needed sunnies and was on the hunt for the perfect pair. I eventually found a pair of Prada glasses, appropriate considering the home of Prada is in Milan. Happy with my purchase. Vicki kept complaining that I pursed my lips every time I wore them so I intentionally acted like a wanker to get under her skin. It comes rather naturally.

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Mont Blanc. I dragged Vicki all around Milan in search of a Mont Blanc store that stocked the full range of sunglasses. We found a store (the second in Milan) around the corner from Galleria. They didn't have the full range but stocked a couple of pairs that I was keen on. During my time of indecisiveness, Vicki noticed an Australian accent on the saleswoman that was serving me. "That wouldn't happen to be an Australian accent, would it?" As it so turned out, it was. Rosie grew up in Adelaide and almost instantly forged a Friendship with Vic. They were hugging, kissing and giggling within only a few minutes of meeting. I kind of felt like a third wheel. She was very nice and kindly offered some fantastic advice for my hunt for the perfect pair of sunnies. Thanks Rosie.

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Godfather. The Maitradee in a local Trattoria was an old man who looked and spoke exactly like the Godfather. He didn’t speak a word of English but that didn’t stop him talking to us. He moved really slowly and bossed his wait staff around quite beautifully. I think they were all quite scared of him. He recommended the Marinara which was the special of the day. Great choice. Scrumptious but not the show stopper. Surprisingly the tomatoes in the salad stole the show. Vicki and I fought over them. The sweetest most succulent bright red tomatoes ever. We were still talking about them in the morning.

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Blog. I spent some time in the hotel bar after dinner catching up on our blog entries when the waiter came and asked if I wanted something to drink. “Surprise me, something Italian please.” If you have just eaten then you must have a Blog Fernet Branco Amaro Della Fratelli Branca (whatever that is), A digestive drink. It tastes like a mix between Sambuca and children’s Panadol. Not the greatest tasting but it really gets you going after a heavy meal.

Posted by samandvic 07:53 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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