Waiting to catch the plane on the first leg home we have time to reflect on a magical six weeks abroad. Each of the three countries we visited have their unique charms.
England was a great place to begin, it felt familiar from the start and our apartment exceeded expectations for position and ambiance. London is fabulous, especially in full bloom, the tourist hotspots and the unexpected highlights of the Phisics garden and the Globe theatre. The people are so terribly accommodating, polite and the cabbies are really helpful, especially the traditional black cabs. And everything so clean.
Our rural stay in Somerset was lovely too, the classic country side with highlights being Tintinhull, Bath, the old inns and for me the glimpse of the Ww2 aircraft. I can understand the unique attraction England has for many in Australia better too, being the home of many Australian ancestors for centuries.
From London the fast train to France, our first experience at this form of travel, one we must surely pursue with such a large continent at home.
In Paris our accommodation was almost a little too much in the middle of "everything", but it was very well equipped and gave us a chance to live like a Parisienne for a few day in a classic old building, while Montmartre itself proved to have everything on our doorstep and still be close enough to the city center.
Then the Luberon experience, a "leisurely" driving tour of beautiful little villages, each with surprises, markets, unique artisans and of course history mixed in. Retiring to our La Petite Maison among the vines at the end of the day was a treat in itself, and then there was the local wine and food. Nougat of several recipes , jellies, Turkish delight plus of course the breads, cakes and croissants. Their lamb is fantastic too, not the same breed as home, bones are differs but very tender & tasty!
Over to Italy, via the Riviera our overnight stay too short. The Cinque Terre experience was dampened by the weather, stunning nether the less while Florence and Tuscany began the journey further back in time that has continued in Rome. Again there is just too much too see and in the end it is all a little bit blurred by the sheer amount and scale of the ancient world still evident. You have to mention the shopping and the huge number of tourists here in Europe, without their input the economies would surely be suffering more. Today in Rome there are 30,000 Harley Davidson owners converging on the city from all around Europe, a Swedish chapter staying at our hotel.
We also noted the younger demographic in the cities, all in a hurry while the ratio and pace changes in favour of the aged in the rural villages. In all three countries we were struck by the number of dogs and cats in both cities and villages, many on apartment balconies or being walked morning and night!
We have had an amazing time, our thanks go to those at home who have made it possible, especially all our fabulous staff at Bradley's Real Estate, our family who gave us great advice on preparing for a trip like this and fed the cat!