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?