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November 30, 2010

Project 365 - Day Six

I love being creative! I love writing, painting, photographing, and drawing just to name a few. Music holds a particular fascination for me. In my dreams I have musical talent and the ability to write amazing lyrics. Reality unfortunately is completely different. I don't have one ounce of musical talent in my body.

But because of my deep love for all things musical I do own an acoustic guitar. Now I can't play a single tune on the thing - not even 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. However what I can do is take pretty pictures of the pretty instrument. So it's all worth it in the end.

Image taken 30th November 2010

What do you love to do?

Project 365 - Day Five

Photos just weren't working for me yesterday... I went driving looking for something different to capture but because it was fairly late in the day everywhere I went was pretty busy. So I ended up taking some night shots at home. Even these didn't turned out as I accepted. Really a kind of blah day all tolled.

So don't judge day five's photo. It's gaining and lacking in originality. But it's a picture of a bit of colored stone I got while I was in Pompeii. I like how the light can shine through it because it's almost see-through. Isn't it sort of amazing that something like this can occur in nature?

Image taken 29th November 2010

To punch this image up a bit I was thinking I could put a quote or something written in the black space of the photo. What do you think?

I don't even have a blind item for this post... Aaahh well. I suppose in 365 days it's reasonable to have a few 'bad' days, isn't it?

November 29, 2010

Fave Photo of the Week!

This week's favorite photo of the week comes from deviantart.com. I must confess I'm in love with the colors of a peacock. They're so visually stunning. Me I think it's a cruel joke that it's the male peacock gets all the color while the female looks sort of boring. One of life's little twists...

Plus I am kind of in love with eyes. There is something magical about them isn't there? They give us a way to interact with the world. Isn't it amazing that something so small can provide so much power?

I just love the way the colors interact with each other. Each highlighting and complementing one another. The white highlighting the eye is so striking!! One day I hope to be able to take photos this visually stunning. My one complaint? I think the eye itself has probably been a little too photoshopped. What do you think of it?

Image found here.

November 28, 2010

Project 365 - Day Four

I just noticed that all my photos so far have all been macro. Obviously I'm really enjoying using my new lens. But I'm going to try and change it up a bit. I'd hate for my project to turn boring and stale before the first week is over!

The thing I love about macro photography? It has the ability to make the most every day item look stunning. Today I wandered around my home and found a little bit of beauty.
Image taken 28th November 2010

Today's blind item comes from my room. What do you think it is?

Have you got any suggestions of what I should photograph next?

I hope you have a wonderful week and manage to find the beauty in every single day no matter what's going on in your world.

Project 365 - Day Three

Have you ever had one of those days where you simply need some chocolate? Well day three turned into one of those days for me. Luckily I had the new Magnum Temptation Chocolate ice cream in my freezer ready to come to the rescue.

This ice cream is wonderful brownie, white chocolate bits and dark chocolate bits. All covered in a beautiful thick coating of even more chocolate. My day got a little better after I had consumed it. It was heavenly and it deserved it's own picture...

Image taken 27 November 2010

Simply scrumptious!!!

For today's blind item I'll even give you a clue... It works to keep you safe. So go on have a guess and tell me what this is?:

Have a great night!

November 27, 2010

Project 365 - Day Two

Last night I went to a friend's house for the evening. Aren't friends fantastic? We talked about my Europe trip (a lovely trip down memory lane), shared what was happening in our worlds, considered Christmas gifts (eeepp!!), and discussed all things photography.

I talked about my project 365 and set about taking a few shots around her home. Side note: in all the blog I've read regarding the 365 project that all suggest having your camera with you at all times. So I've taken to bringing my backpack with me wherever I go - a bit of a pain but worth it I'm sure.

Anyway the shot I decided to use was of some of her jewelery - a darling little key placed on top of a sparkling left pendent. I think it turned out okay. What do you think?
Taken 26th November 2010

The things I've discovered about my new macro lens so far (a Tamron 90mm) are: a) when you have it set to auto-focus it can take quite a while to find its focus point - not such a big deal as most macro photography uses manual focus anyway and b) when set to manual focusing the focus ring is extremely touchy - the slightest movement can throw the whole thing off. But I've only had this lens for about two weeks so here's hoping that after much practice I get better at it. It certainly produces some wonderfully clear, sharp, crisp images when I put my mind to it!

Here's today's blind item... Can you tell me what it is?
I hope your Saturday is sensational!

November 26, 2010

Music That Moves Me

Back to regular posting. This week's music post is devoted to a little band I was introduced to around a year ago. Please say hello to Local Natives!

This is one of their songs called 'Who Knows Who Cares':
video
Their sound is fascination and so extremely hard to define. But in any case it's kind of wonderful. I must confess I'm a bit of a fan

One of my favorite songs of local natives is called 'Airplanes':
video
This one is entitled 'World News':
video
Take a look at their MySpace page as well. What do you think of them?

I am always on the hunt for new music so if you have any suggestions please feel free to share!

In the meantime have a wonderful weekend.

Project 365 - Day One

I started my 365 photography project yesterday. Woohoo!! I was planning to post yesterday but life and such got in the way.

Day one was spent in my brother's backyard practicing setting up my new tent (more on that later). After erecting my text I wandered around the yard with my beautiful macro lens (and camera of course!) in tow. I found this wonderful little snail in my explorations. It was so little but my macro lens made it look so big! I found it pretty amazing that it's body can fold into itself and fit into such a little shell. It's kind of marvelous isn't it?

While I was there my brother came up with an awesome idea for my project 365. He suggested I shoot a blind item as well. So that's what I'm going to do - not every day but at least a few times a week. And here's the BEST bit!! You can guess what it is. Yahoo for audience participation!! Just put your guesses in the comment section and I'll let you know who guessed correctly in my next post. I may ever offer prizes from time to time (only for really really really hard ones!)

So tell me - what do you think these are?

Thanks for playing!

November 24, 2010

New Project!

So I hope you enjoyed coming with me on my adventure! Thank you so much for reading! I had a fantastic time sharing it with all of you.

In an effort to pull myself out of my post travel depression I have decided it's time to start a new project. I am going to participate in the 365 day project. Yes that's right - I am going to attempt to take a photo every day for an entire year.

Why you may ask. Is it because my life is terribly exciting? No indeed! In fact it's going to be a extremely hard at times (so this is my room...again). But I am interested in trying to grow as an artist and I look forward to the challenge. I want to try and see the world in a different light through a photographer's eye.

Never fear though! I am not just going to take self-portraits - the idea of 365 pictures of me makes me feel slightly sick. Instead I will be looking for the beauty in every day. Or at the very least the interesting. Think of it as an exercise to remind myself that just because I'm back home it doesn't mean adventures have to end.

The photographic journal will chart my visits to Sydney, Melbourne, and (if I can save up enough money) New Zealand. Plus camping trips, day trips, road trips, and the like to wherever my feet may take me.

So I hope you'll enjoy spending a year seeing what I see! I can't wait to hear what you think. Please feel free to comment and/or follow. I'd welcome suggestions about things I should see or places I should go!

I start tomorrow!

Quote of the Week

It's time to get back to my regular postings -- with a few extras (I'll explain in my next post).

Well it's Wednesday so that means it's time for the quote of the week. This week's quote comes from an unknown source - so if anyone out there knows who said it can you please let me know?

'One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.' ~ source Unknown

If this quote don't encourage you to get out there and live I don't know what would! I don't think life has to be spectacular all the time or anything but I do think it's important to use the time you have. Are you enjoying your life? Whenever my time comes I want to be able to say that I lived. Things may not have turned out as planned and some things may have been unpleasant even but it's important to make the best of it.

When my time comes I'd love to say that I saw the world and enjoyed the beauty of every single day.

What quote encourages you to keep moving forward?

But I Don't Wanna!

I woke up on day thirty-two facing the undeniable truth... My fantastic adventure was over! And I simply wanted to cry. But I knew I couldn't escape indefinitely.

So after making sure I had everything packed mum and I headed out for one last English fry-up breakfast. All too soon we were heaving my suitcases to the waiting taxi - (Did I forget to mention how much stuff I collected along the way? So much for not buying anything!)

We got to the airport in plenty of time, had a final coffee, and checked in my two suitcases. Then it was time for mum and I to part ways as I went through passport control. Mum was meeting up with Rob (my step-dad) and they were going to do some more exploring. Colour me green with envy! All I know is that I had the best traveling partner a girl could ask for. I am eternally grateful to mum for accompanying me on a phenomenal trip. My one regret? I only have one photo of the two of us! That's what you get for always being behind the camera.

After a lengthy wait I was about to board the plane to Dubai (the first stop) when I looked at the nearby TV screen to discover a bomb had been found in a courier aeroplane at Dubai. Lovely! The flight was delayed but we managed to get to Dubai airport without any incident. It was on this leg of the journey I got the ride on the airbus!! I think it is a fantastic aeroplane - so roomy, so comfortable, so lovely. If I had have been given the option I would have ridden it all the way to Brisbane. Alas I had to change planes at Dubai.

Now as I said the flight was delayed so in order to make my connecting flight I had to push my way past security and run at full speed to the complete other end of the airport. I'm sure it must have look hilarious on the security monitors - this short, white, young lady running/limping/I'm-not-sure-what-the-heck-she's-doing all over the airport. All of this in 30 or so degree heat (at some strange hour of the night/morning).

But I managed to catch the connecting flight and all went well. Well, except for the fact that I couldn't eat anything because I felt sick (I still had a cold) and I couldn't sleep and the leg from Singapore to Brisbane had the worst turbulence I have ever endured (and that's saying something). Needless to say I watched more movies back to back than I ever had.

I made it back to Australia in the wee hours of the morning. Basically falling into the arms of my waiting brother. I was ever so grateful!

Yes part of me was grateful to be back home. I missed my bed. I missed my stuff. I missed my brothers. I missed my space. I missed the ease of a familiar world. I missed freshly laundered clothes.

But for the most part I am keen to get 'on the road again'. Before I left on this adventure I was suffering the worst case of itchy feet. Now the plan was that this adventure would get that out of my system for a while so I could settle down a bit. The complete opposite has happened. I am more keen than ever to get out there and see the world! I've even started planning my next two adventures.

My European adventure was beautiful, wonderful, and amazing. It was everything I expected it to be and yet it was so much more. I simply can't wrap it up into a few neat sentences. All I can say it was worth everything - worth the scrimping and saving, worth the physical aches and pains, worth the tiredness, and completely worth the effort! (Okay so it is impossible to pick one photo that totally sums up my adventure. So I chose this one. This one is as good as any. Go through earlier posts to get a complete photographic overview)

I am now suffering from what a friend of mine calls 'post travel depression'. And oh boy I have PTD bad! I feel like I've lost my place. Like while I was away the whole world shifted on it's axis and everything I knew has changed.

This adventure has changed me in ways I cannot begin to understand (yet!). All I know is that I'm desperate to see the world. I want to record the world as I see it - both through words and photographs. There is so much of the world out there for me to discover and I want, no I need, to see it all up close.

I simply have to see it for myself!

Image found here.

November 23, 2010

Days Thirty & Thirty-One

So my two full days in London were a blur of amazing sights, cold and flu medicine and awesome experiences. I didn't want it to ever end! So I'll just give you the highlights.

While on a hop on/hop off bus tour I discovered that I had been inaccurately calling the pictured below building below the 'Big Ben'. But the name 'Big Ben' is actually the name of one of the bells inside the tower. The tower is simply the bell tower.

We took a champagne 'flight' on the London Eye. In case you're wondering - yes it is extremely high and yes it did provide amazing views.

Walking around London I fell in love with a building affectionately called 'the gherkin'. This structure is simply amazing! Did you know that there is one piece of curved glass in the entire building? That's a awesome architectural achievement if you ask me.

There was a plethora of sights - a replica of Shakespeare's Globe and the Tower bridge. Just to name a few.

I indulged in plenty of shopping (hello Oxford street, Top Shop and more!) - 'You like it? Thanks! I picked it up in London'. I even ran into some of my friends from tour. We figured out how to use the Tube and walked up the red royal road. I even got to see those fascinating guards at Buckingham Palace in the tall, black, furry hat and bight red coats. Too cute!

There is something special about London. It has both good and bad parts. There are people -- always so many people!! There is never a moment of quiet. Crowds of people everywhere. Such a mix of nationalities and so many food options. It was pretty phenomenal to be in a place with so much history. I found it pretty amazing that there's a gigantic park in the middle of such a huge urban area.

I could have happily spent a few weeks there maybe even a few months. It would have been awesome to get to know the real city. I'd love to wander the streets and discover this beautiful city's hidden treasures. There would be so much more underneath the surface. It was pretty magical and a lovely way to say goodbye to my European adventure.

Next I say a tearful goodbye to my amazing adventure. It's time for a wrap up...

Day Twenty-Nine

So I woke up to face a day I was dreading... it was officially the last day of tour. It was all over bar the singing. After saying goodbye to some of the group who were flying out of Paris the rest of us made our way to Calais. I can't speak for any other group members but I found it slightly depressing. I had gotten used to being busy every day, having a schedule, and hanging around with the other wonderful people on tour. But now it was time to say goodbye.

We made it to Calais for the ferry crossing to Dover. It was a pretty rough day on the water. In fact it was so rough that I lay down on the floor and stared directly up at the ceiling for most of the journey. And it wasn't just me -- pretty soon I was joined on the floor by a few other people. The constant loss of balance seriously messed with my equilibrium. Needless to say I was pretty thankful when we made it to the shores of Dover!

After joining up with another bus (and bus driver) we drove the last few miles to our final destination... Hello London! So after more goodbye to every one else on tour and promising to keep in touch mum and I were on our own once again.

We made our way to our home for the next few nights - a cute little studio apartment near Hyde Park. After going for a walk and indulging in a spot of shopping we made our way back to our lodgings to grab a bite to eat and come up with a plan of attack for the next few days. I couldn't wait to tackle London.

The tour was simply fantastic!!! It was very physically intense and there were times that I wished for a break. But when I think of the amount of things I got to see in 17 short days it was worth all the tiredness and physical discomfort. It was all things wonderful and superb! I do have a few tips though...
My top tips for tour are:
1) Make friends with the other people on tour - they make the experience all the richer.
2) If you've never been before make sure you do at least a few of the optional extras - some of my most memorable experiences are from the optionals. These excursions often allowed me to see more than just the straight tourist side of things.
3) Be prepared to be tired - I knew that I would find it a tough slog physically but boy it was tough! I don't think I have ever walked so much in my life or climbed quite so many stairs.
4) Let go of preconceived ideas - tour is about seeing different places in the world. To get the most out of the experience I decided to let go of most of my preconceived ideas. I found that the places I enjoyed most were places that I didn't have any expectations of.
5) Enjoy every moment of it - the truth is there were times that I wondered if it was crazy to undertake such a huge tour but then I decided to make the best of it. I knew that I needed to make the most of every moment - even if I was exhausted or in physical pain. It's important to enjoy every moment because it comes to an end far too quickly.

Now if you'll permit me I'll make my one complaint about the European Union. I loved the ease of one currency (except for Switzerland) and not wasting time at boarder checks. My one complaint is about my passport. I had gotten a brand new passport for this adventure and I have been to all these amazing countries. But do you think my passport reflects how EPIC my adventure was? No way!! I only have two lousy stamps in my passport. I would have loved to have a stamp from every country I had been too. Alas thanks to the EU I only have two. Sad!

I guess I'll just have to go on another adventure...

Next we look around London

November 20, 2010

Day Twenty-Eight

So here we are at the last full day of tour... I never thought I would have so much fun in the past 16 days. But tour was simply amazing and to have our last day be in Paris was simply the icing on the cake.

The day started slightly eventfully and I lost my travel buddy for the day. Mum was feeling rather sick and sore so she decided to spend the day in the hotel. But don't worry - she'd be heading back to Paris in a couple of weeks so she wouldn't be missing out.

We headed out just as the sun was beginning to light the sky. The bus took us on a tour of all the main points of Paris... Including the Eiffel Tower!! Here are a couple of photos of the morning's adventure. I took many many photos during the morning so I decided to share my favorites.

After the driving tour of Paris we headed to the Eiffel Tower to take in the views from the top. I am so glad than when the Tower was built the elevator had just been invented because I would have hated to walk up all those stairs.

I got some great photos from the top but nothing spectacular. As our guide rightly pointed out when you're on the Eiffel Tower you're cutting out one of the main things that makes the Paris skyline unique.

We headed down the Tower and made our way to the Champs-Elysees. It was quite a sight. I was meant to go with some of the group of the Palace of Versaille but I decided to hang out the Champs-Elysees instead. Why? I just needed a break. I'm sure the Palace was lovely but I was still fighting a cold. So I elected to enjoy the yummiest lunch with some of my amazing tour companions. Seriously some of the best food, conversation, and company. It was wonderful.

After a luxurious lunch I walked up to the Arc de Triomphe. I managed to get a decent enough photo. I would have loved to take a better one. In my mind's eye I set up an awesome shot. The only problem is that the shot I wanted would have meant setting myself up in the middle of a extremely busy street. So I elected to go for the safer option.

That night most of the group went to the Moulin Rouge but mum and I decided not to do that option. Part of me wished I had gone - it would have been nice to hand out with my friends on the last night - but on the other hand I wanted to rest up so I'd be ready to tackle London. So instead mum and I had Chinese food in our hotel room (is that completely wrong to have chinese food in the capital of France?). It was a lovely end to a wonderful tour.

Paris was lovely. Stupendous and wonderful and beautiful. I loved it! Sure it's a tourist town but hey I am a tourist. It provided a plethora of photo opportunity and historical monuments on every corner. I would love to go back. It is defiantly worth another visit. Next time I go I'd love to spend a couple of days simply wandering around the city discovering its hidden gems.

Next we say goodbye to the group (Boo!!) and hello to London (Yay!!)

November 17, 2010

Day Twenty-Seven

The day had finally arrived: I had finally gotten to Paris!!! (It only took 25 years!)

To be perfectly honest I have been delaying writing up my Paris post. It means that my blogging about my holiday is almost over. I can no longer hang on to the vestige of what's left. I am not ready to return to real life. But blog I must and there's simply no denying the fact that this wonderful adventure has almost reached its inevitable end.

So on to Paris! What can I possibly say that hasn't already been said? Everything will seem trite and forced. The truth is Paris is beautiful... A tourist city to be sure but simply stunning nonetheless.

We started with a run (or at least that's what it felt like to my cold-riddled body) through the Louvre. Actually it was a veritable walk in the park compared to the pace at the Vatican. The glass pyramids were astonishing! I wrestled my way through the wall of humanity to catch a quick glimpse (and a slightly blurry photo) of the Mona Lisa... I think I would have enjoyed her more looking at her picture in a book. There were so many people!!

Again I think that if I had been completely alone in the Louvre and allowed to spend a whole day wandering in amongst the rooms I would have thoroughly enjoyed myself. As it was I was wishing I could have spent a little more time in places and hoping people would get out of the way of my 'perfect' shot. My most favorite piece in the Louvre would have to be the "Winged Victory of Samothrace". It was stunning!

Truly my photos do not do it justice. I was simply in awe that one piece of marble holds such pathos. I would have loved to study it - to understand its curves and lines and figure out how the sculptor conveyed such emotion. Alas it was not to be.

Next we headed to Notre Dame cathedral. This cathedral is a marvel of Gothic architecture with its flying buttress making itself known. It was astounding to think it had been built all those years ago and still stands. I wondered (as I often did on this trip) how they managed to get to the very top without the aid of cranes or other modern technology. And the stone carvings? How much time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears had gone into this impressive design?

Later we took a cruise on the Seine River in the twilight. We truly got to enjoy the 'city of lights'. Paris has really marketed itself well and set up an amazing display that steals your heart with its beauty.

This is one of those moments... Those moments where words simply fail me (and that, my friends, does not happen often) and all I can do is share whatever I managed to capture.



Simply amazing, astounding, beautiful, and wonderful! I was taken with this city and its stunning light show. In that single boat ride a life long dream was accomplished: to see Paris lit up. It was well worth the wait.

It was pure and utter bliss. I didn't care that I was sick. I didn't care that my body ached. I didn't care that my holiday was almost over and I was looking at a hard stretch back home. To quote Kurt Vonnegut "everything was beautiful and nothing hurt." In those handful of moments all that mattered was Paris... And for a brief few moments I didn't have a care or a worry in the world.

Bring on another day in Paris!

November 13, 2010

Day Twenty-Six

On day twenty-six disaster stuck! Okay, dramatic much? To qualify I personally hit a little bump in the road. I had a cold! And I was not impressed.

Considering that I was feeling pretty physically spent by this time add a cold into the mix and I was pretty much over it. But even all that couldn't take away from the beauty of Avignon (the only stop of note of the day). Restaurants lined the sides of the plaza - where I had the most beautiful French Onion Soup - with the cutest little carousel at one end of it. I would have loved to have ridden on it.

The bridge at Avignon was pretty spectacular and had I had been feeling better I would have put in much more of an effort to get a better picture of it. Missed opportunity! I guess it just means I'll have to go back again.

The rest of the day was spent in the bus traveling from Nice to Lyon. (Are you looking at your map?) I had my head stuck in a book most of the day trying to will my sickness away. It didn't work. I was feeling so rotten that I even skipped dinner.

The other horrible aspect of this day? I was my wost photography day of the whole of tour. None of my shots works out how I wanted them too and everything looked mediocre at best- but I choose to blame it on my cold.

Thoughts on Avignon and Lyon? Well all we saw of Lyon was the hotel room so I have absolutely no thoughts neither positive or negative about Lyon. As for Avignon it was a picturesque little town - dominated by the cathedral/church thing (honestly we were told heaps of information about every place we visited but I can't remember anything about Avignon other than a reference to a nursery rhyme. Again, I choose to blame the cold.)

So I was feeling sick and sorry for myself. For we were heading for Paris the next morning (Paris!! The place I'd wanted to visit forever) and I was sick. Still I was going to try and get the most of my adventure.

Next stop the city of lights...

November 12, 2010

Day Twenty-Five

Day twenty-five was a pretty amazing day if for no other reason than this: It was the first (and the only) day of tour that there wasn't a wake up call. Oh blessed day!! But there were other things to recommend this day.

So after a rather luxurious start I headed for the local shopping mall - a mere block away from our hotel in Nice. There I saw some protester (completely non-violent they were simply wandering around with a mega-phone). Skillfully I employed the most useful phrase in the French language - 'Bonjour (Madame or Monsieur). Excusez-moi. Vous parlez Anglais s'il vous plait? (Translated: Hello (Ma'am or Sir). Excuse me. Do you speak English please?). All said while looking suitably pathetic.

While there I seriously medicated myself with some retail therapy. Mostly so I could have some clothes purchased in France. ('What this old thing? Yeah I got it in France'). There is something pretty amazing about Nice. I must confess I kind of fell in love with the place. If it turned out that I had to live there for the rest of my life I wouldn't be disappointed.

Afterward we re-grouped back at the hotel for the afternoon excursion - a visit to the village of Saint Paul de Vence, a stop at a well-known perfume factory, and finishing the night off with a lovely meal at the top of the grand corniche.

Saint Paul de Vence is one of the oldest medieval towns in the French Riviera.

The place is simply (ugh.. I'm running out of adjectives). Beautiful, magical, lovely? Take your pick because any would apply. There are cobble-stone paths that have been there for centuries!
Everywhere you looked there were testaments to its age and place.

Again I was in photographer's heaven! I'm still working my way through all the photos that I've taken but I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

After the assault on our nasal passages that was the visit to the perfume factory the bus flew up the grand corniche with apparent ease. Looking out of the bus windows our guide pointed out to us where Princess Grace met her untimely end.

Greeting us at the top of this mammoth journey was the greatest restaurant with open fires and views that stretched on forever. The food was something like a dream! Meat that melted in your mouth, a cheese course that made me question what I had considered to be cheese before - it just went on and on. It was one of the greatest things (in a tour of spectacular)! Spent with some of the fantastic friends I made on tour with spectacular food and a great many laughs. I wished it could have gone on forever.

In Nice I fell in love with all things French! I already knew I loved the food and the language but this was just so far beyond everything I had expected. I would have happily spent weeks on end in that city. Unfortunately the tour waits for no man (or woman).

So watch out Lyon Tafline's on her way..

November 10, 2010

Day Twenty-Four

France here we come!! But first we pay a visit to the little town on Pisa. We open on yet another beautiful day on tour.

Yes the tower was still leaning. I tried to get a picture of me holding up the tower but it didn't come out that well. Instead I just look like I'm standing there holding my hand at an awkward angle.

All we really visited was the town square where the tower is (the bell tower of the cathedral), the cathedral, the Baptistry and the burial ground. Plus many a tourist trinket shop. Yet again I was surprised by a known tourist venue - I expected the leaning tower to be much bigger. It always looks so big in photos and in movies. Plus rationally one would assume that it's fairly tall and that's why it's leaning. It is in fact only 7 stories tall. That's what I call shoddy craftsmanship!

Closing thoughts on Pisa? Been there, done that, brought a leaning bottle for my trouble. I was more than ready to take on France!

Next we visited the city/country of Monaco! I could happily live there forever and ever. Anyone got a spare 5 million dollars you can lend me? It is such a clean, safe and spectacular place. We even took the bus on a portion of the grand pix circuit.

The most amazing part of the whole of Monaco - for me anyway - was wandering through the Princess Grace Gardens. I haven't a clue why it made such an impact. Maybe because it was the first gardens I had been in in quite a while and I simply enjoyed the freshness or maybe it was the amazing view it provided. Whatever the case it was simply amazing.

After Monaco we made our way to our home for the next two nights - a beautiful hotel in Nice. A few of friends on tour and I went into the 'old town' of Nice for some spectacular dinner. Plus some fabulous night photos of the lovely town.

This fountain was smack-bang in the middle of town. It was so beautifully lit up with water spouts. I had a feeling I was going to like France!

Next we have a day in Nice.