We woke to another rainy day. We decided to go for a drive to visit Monaco. The road to Monaco was called The Grand Corniche and is where Princess Grace met her death in a car accident, it was very windy and scenic but no match for Corsica. After a harrowing 15-20 mins navigating the roads in Monaco to the parking station we had another meal of amazing pizza. Some places make the best pizza here. No 1 Venice and now No 2 Monaco. Both sold by the piece. We then went to the Princes Palace, the Palais de Justice and then the Oceanographic Museum. We then headed back to Nice for our last dinner in France. We had a really amazing meal at the hotel. Oh well this will be my last blog as we leave for home tomorrow, Can’t wait to see everyone back home. Au revoir, Arrivederci and Auf Wiedersehen. See you in a couple of days.
Today we are at Annecy, France at the base of the French Alps. We headd in to town to find some breakfast. No cafes open in the main centre, so we walked through to the old town where we stumbled on a street of market stalls of fresh fruit, veges, produce, cheese, etc. We found a little bakery and bought our croissants for breakfast and some cheese baguettes for lunch. After getting no further information from the tourist bureau we headed in the direction of DBs walk for today. We eventually made it to the town of Montmin, very few houses and narrow roads we found our way to the start of the track. From just outside of Montmin at 1300m above sea level, we headed off on our walk up and up again. Our original destination was to the top of La Tournette 2300m above sea level but with time and the weather against us we changed our destination to one of the huts on the way. We don’t do this very well but were trying to be sensible as we had a long drive at the end of the day. It was also only 7° and the wind was howling. We walked on a rocky path up 500m over 2.2km in distance. For a change we just took it slowly and it took about an hour. Decision time whilst we ate a late lunch. It was still cold and windy and the dark clouds had rolled in, with a sprinkle of rain we erred on the side of caution and decided to head back down as it would be a very steep, slippery, cold descent if the rain got heavy. DB waited until we were half back down before telling me there were 360° views at the top, Oh well, maybe next time. It still took about 50mins to reach the car, annoyingly the clouds had lifted a little and the wind dropped off so we may have been able to complete the walk to the top had we been able to predict this. Time for our 5 or so hour drive to Nice. We decided to drive back into Italy and go via Savona because if we didn’t make it to Nice tonight we could drive the Italian Riviera coastline tomorrow. The rain started and set in about 1 hour into the drive. DB decided after about 2.5 hrs that he would make it to Nice. After I booked the hotel the rain and driving conditions worsened. We are still on the way and hopefully will make it tonight, if it gets too bad we will stop and book another hotel for tonight. Luckily we made it. The winds are howling, the surf is raging, some of the streets are covered with water but we are at Nice safe and sound. Thanks DB you are a legend. Six hours driving in not nice conditions.
A long day driving today, over 550km. We arrived in Annecy and went for a walk by the lake. A very beautiful city. We accidentally found the old town which was very quaint.
Another big day. We started with a walk to The Pantheon. An amazing building on the outside and even more impressive on the inside. Columns, statues, paintings and a very impressive crypt, housing many of the famous people including Pierre & Marie Curie, Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin and Louis Braille, to name a few. A very impressive list. We then hopped on the bus again for another trip around the city past Montparnasse, Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, Gare d Austerlitz, St Sulpice, until our bus broke down. We then walked to a Magic Museum, watched a magic show and saw some old magic tricks. We wanted to go to La Conciergerie but were running short of time before our Eiffel Tour Illuminations tour which was an hour walk, 40 min train/walk, 1 hour bus or 40min boat ride. We opted for the walk as this we could guarantee would get us there on time. Which we made with 10mins to spare. We had an amazing tour guide and really enjoyed this tour. The view was fantastic, cold and informative. 7 million tourists visit the Eiffel Tower each year, 13 million to Notre Dame. Not bad revenue at 15 euro to summit of Eiffel Tower. The tour was great, we caught the Metro back to our area and then had our most expensive dinner yet. A great day followed by a lovely meal. I definitely won’t be eating out for 6 months after this holiday DB will still be recovering from the shock of it.
We started the day on the hop on hop off bus (Thanks everyone for my great presents) and did a loop of town seeing Eiffel Tower, Obelisk, Champs de Elysees, Madeleine, Arc de Triomphe, Jardin des Tuileries and The Louvre. We had a rest in the park and then a visit to the Louvre and saw some more art including the Mona Lisa. And we finished the day on the boat down the River Seine. A great relaxing ride back home. We had dinner in a quaint little restaurant along the River. Paris is another amazing city – buildings, history, art and food!
After an early breakfast, I went to mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Really strange not being able to participate fully in the mass due to language inadequacies. A few words are the same (Amen & Amen) but I enjoyed it all the same. We then went on our own walking tour of the city. We saw Cathedral of Notre Dame (amazing, enormous and grand), Seine River, Sainte Chapelle, Palais de Justice, Le Conciergerie and Luxembourg Gardens & Palace. The gardens were amazing, a place for Parisiennes to sit in the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful day. It was mainly locals and their families in the park (childrens playground was mayhem, tennis courts, petanque, cards, walking, jogging, soccer and reading, wifi-ing, boats in the fountain). Chairs were provided if you could find one spare, boats were for hire for the kids to play with, merry go round). It was great to see. We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for tonight. My birthday present from the kids and grandkids. The moulin Rouge dinner and show. Another education on another Metro system in another country. All went well. Rather than catch 2 trains, we walked from the end of the first train line, though the poorer section of Paris and the sex shop/trade district. This was interesting but probably lucky it was early as was very quiet in the street. The dinner was lovely and the Moulin Rouge show was spectacular. A great night. Thanks Gavin, Kristy, Frankie & Arlo, Kristen, Matt, Makayla & Andi and Benny, Amazing night.
Last night we stayed at Dijon, unfortunately only a fleeting visit as we decided to drive straight to Paris this morning to avoid arriving in peak hour. The traffic was still pretty amazing but DB is starting to handle it with ease. Found our parking station and hotel, then had a bit of a rest for the afternoon. Enjoyed a lovely 3 course dinner – Escargot in garlic & pesto, Goats cheese & salad; Duck breast fillets with sweet potato mash & dessert. We then went on a short night tour of the sights near our hotel – Cathedral of Notre Dame and Seine River. A nice easy day. Phew! We needed it.
After our stressful check-in due to lack of internet we had a lovely dinner and the hotel staff were very friendly and helpful. We chose a bushwalk close by Lucerne. It was a 4 hour walk up to 2200m above sea level. Starting height was 500m. We set off about 11.30am with the last train down at 4.25pm. We could have caught the train up to the top and then back down at a cost of 68 swiss francs each (about 83AUD). A bit much for DBs wallet so up we went on foot. This was our preferred option anyway. We went up and up and up and up. It was a very picturesque walk. We went along switchback after switchback after switchback for 1hr 40mins when we reached the halfway mark of Amsigen (elevation 1300m). Decision time. Catch the train up to the top or keep walking. As I had a headache at about 1200m and the 2nd half of that walk was quite steep and I was puffing a bit, DB was a bit concerned about walking all the way and we still weren’t sure if snow was going to stop us making the top. The train arrived at the same time as we did which gave us about 5 mins to make the decision. Not good for us. Pros and cons for the Libran 1. Catching train would get us on the road sooner. 2. Less effort. 3. Not completing the days challenge. DB left the decision up to me. So I let the train go. Onwards and upwards for another 2 hours. Hopefully a bit less. The track continued up and up, switchback after switchback. It was still beautiful scenery and as challenging as the first half. I slowed down a little with the emphasis on enjoying the rest of the walk rather than DBs preferred “Let’s beat the estimated time”. It was a great walk and we did the 2nd half in 1hr 45mins. There was only about 50m that was on a decline over the entire walk. We reached the top in just under 3.5hrs. So we walked in distance ??? kms and 1700m in elevation. A very tough walk. There was snow on the edge of the track from Amsigen to Pilatus-Kulm (the top) but it didn’t impede our walking. As we arrived at the top some hang gliders were just taking off so we watched them for a while as they took off and travelled around the corner which was really cool. We had a late, expensive lunch and then walked up to the lookout/peak. Unfortunately the mist and clouds had rolled in and photos weren’t as good but we didn’t really care as we had looked at it for the last few hours as we walked. We the caught the train down at 34 swiss francs each. Much better on the wallet for DB. Hehehehe! And hopefully worked off a bit of the spare tyre we are both carrying around our middles! Hahahahaha!
The train (the steepest train in the world, so they claim) took about 30mins and the view was nowhere near as good as the walk. Time to drive on, we headed west towards Paris and had to wait till we reached France to use the internet to book our room for tonight. Once we were in France it took about 30mins to get it working so we booked a bed (our latest time yet) at 8.15pm. As we needed a late check-in we had to change our chosen route to accommodate this. Luckily we don’t have to sleep in the car. ETA at hotel 10pm with a Service Station dinner again.
We had a travel day today. Headed in the direction of Switzerland via Lichtenstein. Two border crossings and another toll sticker (Austria 8.50 euro for 10 days, Switzerland 40 euro set price for a year even though we will only be here for 2 days, France and Italy both had tolls per toll way). We went through the border crossing to Lichtenstein and the dude in the office beside the road nodded his head. I told DB that so he just drove straight through then I said “Maybe we should have stopped”. A bit late now, so we just kept going. There wasn’t even a crossing into Switzerland. The mountain scenery was amazing. We passed by sheer cliffs, high snow-capped mountains and lakes. It was a lovely drive. We went through a 10km mountain tunnel that cost 9 euro. Arrived in Lucerne to WiFi issues, no connection, unable to book hotel or find out about internet. What will we do. DB is inside museum trying to fix it presently, otherwise it will be a very cold night in the car. We managed to book hotel using Museum wifi, on investigation once we arrived at our guesthouse, Switzerland doesn’t belong to EU so data bundle we bought doesn’t work so it burnt our phone credit at the rate of 4 euro per MB.
I have started writing DB classic quotes (DBCQ) as he makes me laugh with at least one each day.
DBCQ1: I think I need snow tyres. This was said after we left a service station that had frozen ice puddles and turned off the motorway to streets lined with snow heading up the mountain.
DBCQ2: What does that say? Or What does that mean? (about nearly every street sign written in German since we arrived in Austria). Like I can read it!
Today we are joining a tour group called “The Sound of Music Tour”. We meet the tour group at Mirabellplatz and do a bus tour around the city seeing where scenes of the movie were filmed. The Abbey, the bridge, the lake at the house. We then drove to the Palace where the gazebo has been moved to and the scene for the pathway to the house and house gates.The lake and the back of the house were at 2 different locations which made filming the scenes quite tricky. Then we drive to Mondsee to the church where the wedding was held. Apparently they couldn’t get permission to use any churches in Salzburg. On the way to Mondsee we stopped at Wolfgang Lake which was also very beautiful with the mountains in the background. The tour finished at Mirabelle Gardens which was also very beautiful. DB was a bit like a caged lion on the tour and it is probably good that we freelanced our holiday rather than an organised tour as I think he may have gone nuts. After the tour we headed for a brief visit to Germany to The Eagles Nest was built and given to hitler for his 50th birthday, to serve as a retreat, and a place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries. Unfortunately a lot of tourist destinations and activities all close on 26 Oct so we were unable to go up there. We went through the museum and bunker which was very interesting and very detailed about Hitlers regime. We then headed back to Innsbruck Austria a 2 hr drive. DB is amazing as I slept most of the way (exhausted) I don’t know how he is drivin with how tired and exhausted we both are, it was a shame it was dark as it looks like mountain views all the way. When we arrived the restaurant in the hotel was closed. We had a lovely dinner with a Japanese student who was stranded at the bus stop in the freezing cold trying to get in to town for dinner so we gave him a lift and he was very very grateful. Minimal English but we managed a little conversation. We had a choice of going to Mutters or Natters for dinner. Only 1 restaurant open in Mutters with a bit of a grumpy waitress but lovely vegetables so I was very happy.