29 December 2014

Goodbye France!

During the last month we've
-sent on sea freight 2 couches, a table, 8 chairs, 1 sideboard and 8 chairs
-sold the car, beds, cupboards, kitchen, gas oven, toys
-taken clothes to the clothing bin
-given away a mirror, lamps, ski gear, a bike, a mattress, water filter, kettle, a bottle of Australian red sand soil, more clothes, bike locks
-binned the rest and emptied the whole appartment
-repainted some walls, cleaned others, patched walls, added mastic to the window frames,
It's been a nightmare as per normal, finishing with one car load of stuff being packed as the lady did the final inspection.
And we went to the mountains for two days, had 5 to 10 dinners, and went ice skating. Me, Ollie and Sylvie from next door went for a plane ride over Greoliere and the Esterel near Cannes with Pierre Bibal the pilot from work.
We've still got to redirect our mail, and get on the plane, but at this time, it looks like we're on target and the panic is coming down a bit.
We've been staying at Jess and Lee's for a week. Marie is going through the boys pencil cases as we speak. Later on we'll visit the post office, buy Lee some thank you alcohol and go over to Gabriella's for our final evening. She asked us what we wanted for our last dinner. Normally people go for hotdogs and apple pie for their last meal. We've asked for a vegetable soup as I've had too many hard core heavy dinners.
Ahh the cheap beer, cheese, the sea and the mountains, We finally got comfortable with the place. France we will miss you.

A dinner with Eulalie and Bryan

Louis, Ollie, Rubina, Leonie and co

11 November 2014

The rest of the Bergamo trip

Camerata Cornello which was the main trade route
To visit Camerata Cornello, you have to walk up there, a few hundred metres. As a result, it has no cars. It is very well preserved, surrounded by mountains and just beautiful. One of the families started the postal system in Europe.

Cool cat at Camerata Cornello

Biking along the canal from Imbersago

We hired bikes at Imbersago. Rolling along the canal was super awesome. Another great thing to do around the area.

On the Traghetto di Leonardo, designed by Da Vinci at Imbersago

The Traghetto di Leonardo is thought to have been designed by Da Vinci. It can still take a car and foot traffic over the river. Nice!

The Monte Isola in Lake Iseo
Lake Iseo has the biggest island in a lake in Europe. It's still not very big. The villages are picturesque. The scooters v. handy to keep the boys going.

Crespi D'Adda

Crespi D'Adda is a socialist village made by some textile fabric makers for the workers. Everyone still lives in the model homes on green blocks. Sadly the factory closed in 2003. Everyone who lives there now are descended from the textile workers. It's always sad to see textiles no longer made in Italy, as they were the best.

With the gang in Sulbiate
Finally we dropped in on Marie's cousin on the way home for the last time. It was an amazing chance to meet them. After spending several days with them over the last 3 years, I think we know them a lot better. Danilo suggested I learn Croatian one time. Marie thought it wasn't a good idea. But then I'll never learn anything.

The fam, Sulbiate. Danilo, Jelena, us, Mani, Josipa.
So that wraps up our last holiday trip in the place. Shame it was so great as we will really miss this place and the people.


We found a top appartment in the old town.

The boys had 2 weeks holiday from the 18th October. We had a weeks in Bergamo. Hugues and Gabriella lived there for some years. So they were our tour guides.

Piazza Vechia in the town centre of the alta cita.

Classic old town.

The high town has an awesome view.

And a cool couple of donkeys.

The new walls build in the 1600s by Venice.

Ron and Bev visited

They were in the country for holidays and a conference. They were around our way for 4 days. They met up with Marie and the boys for the afternoon. Then we went up to the old town for dinner once I got home from work. I think they like it!

In our living room with the camera on timer .

13 October 2014


A beautiful spot.
Went to Coaraze. No need to go to Italy to see an Italian style village. It's closer but takes about the same amount of time to get up to though.

The highest part of town has a great area to play.

Before in the main square, plenty of kids playing.

After, but mind you it was Sunday.

One and a half days in Nice, Cagnes really.

Racing around in Sanremo.
We mistook the day of the flight, so had a day less than we thought. One day we went to Italy, which is 45 minutes drive, and onto Sanremo. I'd never managed to see the old town, so it was nice to get up to it at last. Super interesting.

Then some time walking along the stony beach around here, and off on the plane again back home for John.

Village of fishermen, Cros de Cagnes

Beautiful village, shame about the 80s onwards.

Lucky last day - Arles

A sunny day in the arena at Arles
Arles is a nice little town, very important back during Roman times. There's a ruined little theatre, churches, town houses and an arena like the Colliseum. We went for a look, and luckily enough were there just when the gladiator show was on. Ten or twelve gladiators fought in pairs for our entertainment. The main man is a historian who said that gladiators cost a lot to train and equip. So they were usually not killed, and did not kill.

The modern gladiators fought hard for real.

If they killed someone, then they would be punished by, you guessed it, death. The arena at Nimes says the opposite, that they all went sometime unnaturally. But the well trained story makes sense.

Meeting the gladiators afterward.

Explaining how to score a point without injuring anyone.

Trying out the kit. That helmet is heavy!

The main man chose to be a Retiare, the most successful.

They've renovated a fair bit. It's in good condition.

25 September 2014

Foix, Carcasonne, Avignon

At the bottom of the castle overlooking Foix.
Cite medieval, Carcassonne
A quick stop at Foix to look at the castle up on the hill. You can see up the valley and right around in the tower.

Then in for the traffic jam at Carcasonne. It's another small town with loads of traffic. Dinner is salad, pizza, more duck.

In the morning got a jog in, down to the medieval town. We all wander around. John goes to the museum and ramparts.
Avignon Palais des Papes

In the afternoon, rushing along, we get to Pont du Gard, then a night next to the  freeway outside Avignon in a micro hotel, pretty bad.

Today we went to the Avignon town centre, so John could visit the Palais des Papes. This used to be the seat of the popes for some time. They lived an unimaginably lavish lifestyle, frescoes on the ceilings, basements full of gold, towers the size of a huge living room, just to smoke meats.

Morning skate session in the new town ghetto

Bordeaux, Pau, Lourdes, no immediate miracles

Bordeaux next to the river
Walked around Bordeaux all day, very nice. Saw old 3 mast boat on the river in top

The best way to get around

Sunday was a lazy day, kids in the playground, a load of washing done before lunch
at Blanquefort, a tiny place, and then visit a winery, St Agace's. Eleanor of Aquitaine
Mother duck said quack quack, only 5 little ducks came back
married the king of France. Sometimes the place was part of England, later France.

Our camping is about 7km out of Bordeaux, and 10 more km is fully into the wineries.
It's not far to get into agricultural land. Compare with Sydney's sprawl.

Hanging around with Aussie Rob at the camp

Got going eventually Monday. Got to Pau, the birthplace of Henri IV (I need to read
more). Nice old town, chateau and sushi. John was happy with this town even.

Going native at the St Agace winery

Henri IV's birthplace at Pau
Then we went to Lourdes. We saw a procession of wheelchairs and people, and thousands of pilgrims seeking a cure. We touched the cave where Bernadette's visions happened. The walls of the cave have been worn glass smooth by people's hands, morning and afternoon, with two hours off for lunch. The church walls are covered with thank you tiles, each with a one line story.

Next day, John's off early in the morning to get dunked in holy water. He says the stomach pains have gone. We got about 20 bottles and some rosaries from the holy supermarket, fill them up, then it's on the road for the next stop at Foix.

A procession at Lourdes


23 September 2014

Mont St Michel, Dinan, Nantes, Rochefort, pause for breath

In the queue to get into Mont St Michel. Come back in winter.
Tried to get to Mont St Michel in the morning. Got there at about 11am. Big mistake. Needed to go to the toilet. Queued up for a while, then couldn't hold on for much more time, so had to get out of the queue, and get back to the visitor centre via the bus shuttle. Everyone else gave up, and we kept driving on.

Beautiful Dinan
Visited Dinan after getting lost a bit. A super well preserved medieval town.

Stayed the night in Nantes, a nice old town, lots of stone buildings, nice cathedral. Sadly the trip is being sped up to get home on time.

Barflies in Dinan
Stopped at Rochefort. One of the teachers at school is from here. Spoke to the guy at the bar. John told him all about Australia. Saw an old boat in the dry dock. The river seems silted up here.

Got to Bordeaux in the afternoon. The campground is pretty good, some grass, a pool, a jumping castle, and not too many cars so the boys can skate board a bit.

Around Bayeux

Today we went to Bayeux to see the tapestry telling the story of William the Conqueror. Nice place. Then onto Longues sur Mer to see some of the big German gun emplacements and casemates. After that, Arromanches and the Mulberry harbour. This floating dock was personally overseen and pushed through by Winston Churchill. The metal structures, like piers, are still there, plus one section of deck, that would have linked up the metal pier things in the old days.

Arromanches Mulberry harbour
Stopped at Caen castle on the way home, built in 1060 odd, and always used since then. The walls survived. There's not many buildings inside.

Mulberry harbour piece of deck

The birthday boy and the skateboard

The castle at Caen