Jul 12, 2013

Sue Mackay has fallen in love - again.

Yes, I've fallen in love - again. This time with Italy and France. My DB and I have just spent more than six weeks in these countries having the most amazing time, walking hundreds of kilometres up and down innumerable steps, along cobbled pavements, hills and through stunning buildings. We charged down a mountain on bikes at Lake Maggiore, saw the inside of many tunnels from our train seats, and snapped thousands of photos. Our friends are now fully booked for the rest of the year getting their hair done in case they're invited for a photo night. Not even the thought of great food and wine will budge them. Oh well, there's always the blog to showcase the pictures.
Another great past time was sampling all the wonderful food. Pasta and pizza, Duck L'Orange, delicious seafood paella, (which I'm about to replicate - hopefully), and cheese. I've never tasted cheese as wonderful as what is available in these two countries. The Brie was to die for and we had many evenings eating cheese and fresh bread for dinner, along with a bottle of local wine, of course. The wines were good when I could read the label, which was only half the time.
Since I was kneehigh to my dad I've wanted to visit Paris because of photos of him under the Eiffel Tower. I also took French at school which had me hankering to walk along the Seine River, and here I am with DB, on a bridge on the Seine. Paris was our last stop on this trip and I thought I'd seen it all until we got there. This city is a whole different level to the places we'd already seen. Six days were only enough to tease and tantalise.

Another dream since school days was to see the Chateaux in the Loire Valley. We spent a long day visiting four of these and I had to be dragged away at the end. These castles are overwhelmingly beautiful and took my breath. Another thing from school days didn't live up to expectations. Speaking the language. My accent was obviously atrocious at times. I was easily understood at times, got the what-is-this-woman-on? stare at other instances. Did it matter? Yes, in that I hated wrecking a lovely language, no, in that we never missed out on anything because someone always came to our rescue and talked slowly and clearly until I got it. In Italy I had twenty words in my vocabulary which could've meant we starved, went thirsty and saw nothing, but most Italians were keen to try out their English so "No problemo".
A big excitement for me was finding my books in shops in Tours and Paris. I was so excited I left my suticase in one shop, fortunately at a safe train station. Louisa George's book was also on the shelf in Paris.
This whole trip started when DB asked me where I'd like to go for my next big birthday. He wasn't really expecting me to say Paris, had been hoping for a day trip out of the Sounds. But every moment was special, mind boggling and well worth the distance we travelled to get there.
If you had the choice of anywhere in the world to go for your birthday,where would you choose?


  1. Oh Sue, what a lovely trip. I'm laughing at your friends being booked up every night to avoid photos! I love seeing trip pics. Maybe you could pop over here with them.

    Your photos brought back fantastic memories of a trip to Paris and the Loire chateaus we made a couple of years ago. So nice that guess where my current book is set?

    Hm, a birthday anywhere? Wherever my family is. But if I could transport them all then maybe the Amalfi Coast or Venice or Iceland.

  2. Oh, Sue, those photos are gorgeous! I won't mind at all if you post some more. :)

    I've never been to Europe, so if I could choose anywhere for my birthday, then somewhere in Europe.

  3. Sue... how wonderful and what a lovely birthday present.

    Somewhere for my birthday...can I have 2 wishes??

    One would be lovely Australia... my dad always had fond memories of how he was treated when his ship was sunk in WWII and wanted to go back in peace time, but never was able to. I'd love to do it in his memory.

    Second the Volga River Valley to see if I could find where my grandparents immigrated as "Germans from Russia" in the early 1900s. I still might have family there somewhere.

    Thanks for posting these wonderful things, I hope you don't mind me stopping by and checking things out!

  4. Hi Annie, you might regret that! Seriously, I'm not the photographer of the duo which is a good thing because we'd probably only have about ten. Loved the Almalfi Coast and Venice, and Iceland in on the list for another time.

  5. Hi Rachel, yes, there's so much to see in Europe it's hard to decide where to go. I'm not someone who wants to do 30 cities in 30 days. I far preferring to focus on a couple of countries at a time. We saw so much we often play the "remember that" game. At least the photos will be helpful for that.

  6. Great to have you here, Rita. Australia is a grat destination with so much to do. Make sure you allow lots of time when you make that trip. And I can understand the attraction of visiting a place your ancestors have come from.

  7. Great Britain tops my list. Of course I'd needs months, maybe a year to see all I want to see.

  8. I can understand that, Mary. Though I admit that by the end of eight weeks I was ready to come home - for a little while.

  9. Ah Sue, you mentioned my two favourite words -Amalfi Coast.
    Le sigh...
    I'll come and see your pics any day!

  10. Ah, Amy, isn't it the most beautiful place?
    Very special.

  11. Sue, that looks like the most amazing trip. I so love France and Italy. In fact I love most of Europe and dream of living there again one day. A trip to Paris for my birthday would be heaven!

  12. Awesome trip, Sue! More pics please! You know we're always happy to ooo and ahhh over gorgeous travel pics!

    I did chuckle at your experience of speaking a foreign language. A bit humbling, isn't it! Reminds me of when I was doing a Mandarin course - I tried out the teensiest little sentence, the equivalent of "hello, my name's Sharon". obviously sounded completely incomprehensible to my poor listener... at least I hope that's why she looked so confused!