A Travellerspoint blog

Reflections on our Grande Tour

Coming as we have to the end of our travels, it is appropriate to make a few observations:

1. European travel with young kids (especially girls) does present its challenges! It is pointless dragging them around galleries and museums (or churches!) at their age and they are generally content to have a quick look at the facade of historical monuments (such as the duomos in Milan and Florence) before making a beeline for the nearest souvenir shop or gelati bar. A little frustrating for culture vultures like B and I but we have 'been there, done that' with the Uffizi etc. Hopefully we have whetted their cultural appetites a little in advance of future journeys

2. If I ever have to eat another pizza, it will be too soon (even though they were, on the whole, delicious)!

3. It is a little weird that kids are content to sit down and watch cartoons and American pre-teen sitcoms (eg Austin & Ally) despite them being (badly) dubbed into French or Italian. Clearly such shows can cross any language barrier!

4. Lastly, I confess to being a bit of a bossy boots when it came to getting everyone from one place to another, to the extent that the gals sarcastically dubbed me 'the Tour Guide'. I probably have to apologise to my family for my 'irrational exuberance' on the days we were in transit. All I can say in my own defence is that, to paraphrase what people said about Mussolini, I may have been a dictator, but at least I got us to the trains on time! Even if, on one occasion (in Como) I turned up at the wrong train station!

5. As much as we had a fantastic time, it was great to be back sleeping in our own beds again. And Samson our Labrador was ecstatic to see us! Heres a photo of him with Allira (thanks for dog sitting!) and the girls.


I've enjoyed writing this blog and I hope others have enjoyed keeping up with our travels. So until our next trip, I'm signing off.


Posted by Melbinman 07:08 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Arrivederci Roma

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All good things must come to an end and so we have reached the end of our travels. We spent the last day visiting the Vatican although the crowds were so huge we dipped out on visiting St Peters Basilica. A word of advice, don't visit on a Wednesday when they have the weekly papal audience, the place is packed with pilgrims of all hues and ages! Last time I was here you didn't need to go through a security screen to visit a church, sad state of affairs. We settled for a few pics in the piazza.


We also paid a visit to the lovely piazza Navona where we enjoyed a nice lunch.


We then endured a hair raising taxi ride to the airport where the first driver was unwell and had to pull into the emergency lane of the autostrada, and the second replacement driver thought he was Fangio! The girls were having kittens and B and I needed a stiff drink when we arrived at the airport (thankfully in one piece! ??

Anyway we are currently at Dubai waiting for our connecting flight. Looking forward to getting home to our own beds and hoping we don't get too jet lagged!!?

Posted by Melbinman 21:52 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Roma Amor

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Before we departed Firenze on Monday, we diverted our cab to Piazza Michelangelo where you can get a panoramic vista of the city


It was then off to the stazione to jump on the express to Roma.


After 90 minutes of zipping through the Tuscan countryside we arrived in the Eternal City. After checking in to the Hotel Regno, we had a walk to the nearby Trevi Fountain, where a tired Lucia decided to pull her grumpy face for the required tourist pic.


She cheered up when I told her about the tradition of throwing a coin in the fountain to ensure that she returned to Rome one day.


On Tuesday, Rome produced a bit of a showery morning but we still ventured out after breakfast to jump on the open top bus to see the sights.


We passed the Coliseum which was obviously undergoing some renos


We then passed into Vatican City where the rain clouds parted to afford us a panoramic view of St Peters Square.


We plan to return today for a closer look at 'Catholic HQ'. We jumped off the bus to grab some lunch and walk over to the Spanish Steps which even in early spring was crowded with tourists.


The nearby exclusive shopping strip of Via Condotti was traversed but it was window shopping only on this occasion.


We did however linger at a nearby street market where the lovely Albanian stall lady took a shine to Lucia and allowed her to pick out a little silver and amber charm


After returning to the hotel for a rest, we ventured out for dinner in a piazza overlooking the Impressive Pantheon.


Afterwards we lingered to listen to a busking cellist under the Pantheon dome. The acoustics made for an uplifting performance.


After the usual visit to the gelateria for dessert, we weaved our way back through the crowded alleyways to rest up for our next day of touring.


Posted by Melbinman 22:44 Archived in Italy Tagged fountain florence rome trevi Comments (1)

Weekend in Florence

And a flying visit to Pisa!

sunny 24 °C
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We have enjoyed lovely spring weather in the city of the Medici and have wasted no time in getting out and about. First port of call was the massive Pitti Palace which is just behind our apartment.


We didn't venture in (I have already seen its treasures on a previous visit) but we continued on down towards the Ponte Vecchio passing the usual tourist shops. Something for everyone here.


The girls were dazzled by all the gold and sparkling trinkets in the many jewellery shops on the 'Old Bridge'


And they admired the views of the Arno and the city.


We then ventured into town and had lunch before passing through the Piazza della Signoria where the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery are located.


Bronnie and I have visited both the palace and gallery before so we settled for a wander around the open air statuary, some of which was a bit bloodthirsty, such as Perseus slaying the Medusa and the Rape of the Sabine Women.


After more delicious gelati, the girls (big and small) were flagging so we returned to the apartment for a rest. As I hadn't had my culture fix for the day I used this opportunity to pop over the road to visit the beautiful church of San Spirito.


Dating from the mid 1400s, it boasts a Brunelleschi dome (a smaller version than the Duomo) and a myriad of impressive Renaissance religious art. You weren't allowed to take photos but I snuck a few.


We had dinner in the adjoining Piazza before retiring for our trip to Pisa the next day.

Sunday was of course Mother's Day so the girls treated B to breakfast in bed. They surprised her with some earrings that had been admired by B in Venice ( I sneakily arranged to return to the shop later to purchase them).


After breakfast we ventured back onto the other side of the river to visit the Duomo on the way to the bus.


After lunch at a local pizzeria we hopped on the bus for the tour to Pisa. The girls were chuffed to see this tourist icon and naturally the usual naff photos of holding up (and pushing over) the tower were taken.




After sauntering around the gorgeous Campo Di Miracoli (Field of Miracles) containing the tower and the adjoining cathedral and baptistery, we found yet another gelateria to refresh the girls before returning to the bus to travel back to Florence through the picturesque Tuscan countryside. It's off to Rome on the morrow so after dinner at another little trattoria on the Piazza San Spirito it was back to the apartment to pack up for the last Italian leg of our journey.

Posted by Melbinman 23:21 Archived in Italy Tagged pisa florence Comments (0)

A Room with a View....

Of the building across the street!

sunny 23 °C
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As you might have guessed, we have now lobbed into Florence and, regrettably, like Lucy Honeychurch, our lodgings do not have the remotest of views of the Duomo or the terracotta rooftops of this Tuscan town. This is as good as it gets.


The apartment is however quite large and well set out so we have nothing to complain about.


Yesterday we decided to spend our final day in Venice low key, loafing around in the morning before heading off for a wander through Dorsoduro, the oldest Venetian district.



We ended up at Accademia, which is one of the major art galleries in town. The girls weren't keen to venture in (Tintoretto masterpieces would be lost on them at their tender age) but they were happy to linger on the famous nearby bridge, which offers fantastic views down to Salute and San Marco.



While the ladies opted to rest up back in the Palazzo, I decided to soak up a bit of culture by paying a visit to Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, which after St Marks is probably the most significant church in Venice.


Several of the Doges are interred there, as are Titian and Monteverdi. A rather dull looking edifice on the exterior, the interior is most impressive, with some important works by Titian and Bellini, all of a religious theme naturally.




I lit a candle for my Mum and Dad ('Once a Catholic...) and wandered out into the warm Venetian sunshine to the suitably melodic tones of a busking cellist. I returned to the apartment in a mellow mood as the sun set over the Grand Canal for our last night in this uniquely beautiful floating city.



Posted by Melbinman 14:03 Archived in Italy Tagged venice Comments (0)

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