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Linda's report of her trip in Europe and the UK

Last updated 2 July 2012

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Subject: Hi from Linda in Florence, Italy
At last I have found a computer at a hotel which actually works and is not painfully slow. We have been on the go constantly since we left Australia and haven't had much time to send emails. We are now in Florence, our last night in Italy. We spent 2 days in Rome, it is incredibly busy. I didn't like the crowds but the Vatican and the Colosseum were quite impressive with over 30 thousand visitors daily. Before that we visited Assisi, Sorrento and Isle of Capri, and before that Venice and Vienna. It is all very interesting and every time we think it can't get any better there is another pleasant surprise the next day. We have sampled all the local foods and wines and beer. The weather has been incredibly good so far. Tomorrow we are off to France to Monaco and Nice.
Hope you are all well. I need to finish as more guests are patiently waiting to use the computers. So far we have managed without speaking any other language, as they mostly spoke some English, however, we have been told that in France we will have to try and speak a little French, so I am off to study my French phrases.

Subject: Hi from Linda and Carol back in London
We have come to the end of our 21 day Trafalgar Tour. We have travelled in a top of the range deluxe Mercedes Benz coach through 12 countries. We stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels, had fabulous meals with copious amounts of wine included. Weather was good the whole time though temperatures varied greatly. It was hotter than I expected in Italy, 31°C one day. Hardly any rain, only one day when we were travelling on the coach between places, so it didn't matter.
One highlight of our trip was visiting Nice, in the French Riviera. Also Monaco, where we walked up to the casino passing along the streets where the Grand Prix takes place. Of course Paris as well. We had a view of the Eiffel Tower from our hotel room on the 6th floor. It is all lit up like a Xmas tree at night. We did an evening cruise along the Seine River to see the Paris lights at night.
By far the best highlight was going to the Moulin Rouge Caberet and Dinner in Paris which featured 60 dancers and entertainers and over 1000 fabulous costumes.
Now we are starting the next part of our adventure holiday. After a couple of nights staying at my cousin's in Kent, London, we pick up a campervan for a 16 day tour of the UK by ourselves. So it is from luxury to budget we go.
We are in London today, the temperature is 10 to 17°, quite a pleasant day, not raining. We are having a rest day ready for our camper pickup tomorrow. It has been great catching up with two of my cousins and hopefully they will come out to Australia soon to visit us.
Take care. We will see you all in a month's time.
Linda and Carol

Sent: Thursday, 14 June 2012 8:45pm
Subject: Hi from Linda in Scotland
We are now touring UK in our little camper. It is a Tarago van decked up as a camper, no shower or toilet. We are glad we got a small vehicle as the roads are very narrow in some older parts. We have been to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Visited the little fishing village where Doc Martin was filmed. We then went to South Wales, beautiful countryside. We drove north to Lancashire, England. We are now in Scotland in Dumfriesshire, visiting a friend I knew at school here. So great to catch up. The hospitality here is fantastic, even though I left UK for Australia nearly 40 years ago, they still remember me.
We are heading further north today. Cold but not raining so all is good.

Sent: Sunday, 24 June 2012 6:18 PM
Subject: Hi from Linda in Paris
We have finished our UK tour in the campervan. We travelled over 2000 miles. Weather was cold and windy. Showers with 3 sunny days. We got up into Scotland as far as Ullapool. We visited friends in several places. It was great to catch up as some friends I had not seen in nearly 40 years. The camper an was comfortable. No mishaps.
Yesterday we caught the euro star train from London to Paris. We are staying in a hotel near the river Seine. Today we spend time roaming around Paris and sampling some more French food.
Tomorrow we catch a train to the Loire Valley, France, where we are staying for a week. We will hire bikes for the week and explore the valley vineyards and Chateaus. The weather is a lot warmer here in France, 16 to 21 degrees.
Keep well and I will catch up with you all soon.

Hi from Linda and Carol in Amboise, Loire Valley, France - Thu 28/06/2012.
We are now in the beautiful small town of Amboise in the Loire Valley in France (and I keep making typing mistakes as the keyboard is all different in France). We have left behind the rain in Paris, the weather here is sunny and warm. The countryside is beautiful, the buildings are old and quaint, and the whole area is dotted with magnificant chateaux dated back to the 1700s. It is clean and tidy. There are tourists here but it is not too crowded.
Our hotel is one of the oldest buildings which has been renovated, very quaint. Our bathroom is so small that if you drop something on the floor there is no room to bend down and pick it up, however, to compensate, our room is lovely. It is also very close to the centre where all the street cafés and shops are. We can just wander down and browse the menus and choose somewhere to eat dinner. We have already sampled several French pastries and cakes which are hard to resist when you see them displayed.
We are based here for a week, our longest time in one place since we left Australia more than 6 weeks ago, hence I have more time to type longer emails. Carol has been quite the photographer, averaging about 300 photos a day, so by the time we get home I reckon she will have several hundred thousand (you do the maths, I`m on holidays).
Yesterday, we hired bikes and cycled through some lovely quiet country roads, through little villages and farms. It was very slow progress though, due to all the photo taking. We are so totally in relaxed mode, no serious cycling can be done. It took us all day to do 30 km. Very pleasant though.
Last night we booked to go up in a hot air balloon. It was so totally awesome! We left at 7:30 pm and got back at 10:30pm. It doesn't get dark till 10:30pm. The weather was perfect, sunny and clear. Our skipper was a gorgeous young French man. Preparing the balloon for takeoff and packing it up at the end was just as much fun as the actual flight. The view from the sky looking down on the beautiful buildings, chateaux and farmlands was spectacular. We were up for an hour and actually landed in a vineyard, not on the grapevines but on a patch of grass between the vines, where we finished the evening with French champagne.
Today, it was very hot so we decided not to go cycling. Instead, we walked up the hill to a nearby chateau where Leonardo Da Vinci lived for the last 3 years of his life. It was so interesting, we spent 4 hours there. Displays showed not only his sketches and paintings, but also all his inventions. A lot of his inventions were never actually made but were in sketch form and have since been developed.
Well, we are off out now to wander the streets to find somewhere to eat.
Bonswar [!?]

Subject: Hi again from Linda still in Amboise, France 2 July 2012
Just starting to learn a bit of French, however, we leave tomorrow to catch a train back to Paris and from there to Frankfurt in Germany. We stay there 1 night then go on to a place called Dingolfing in Bavaria where we will be staying with friends of Carol's for the last 5 days of our holiday.
We have had a lovely week here in the Loire Valley. We love everything about the French. We have done several days cycling but stayed away from the busy places. Instead we have cycled through lots of quiet, quaint villages. Actually everywhere in France is quiet from 1:00 pm until after 5:00 pm as everything closes for siesta, then everywhere gets busy again at night. We have visited several Chateaux which are all magnificant and photogenic.
Instead of pub crawls, or vineyard tours, we have actually preferred patisserie crawls, and managed to indulge in a vast variety of French pastries and cakes. We had to do it as we may never come back here.
Everyone here walks around carrying bagettes. They are also very good, as is the lovely tasty fresh fruit. France is not all about food, though. The fashions are delightful, and we have spent a lot of time browsing (and buying) in the clothing shops. Our suitcases are getting harder to zip up as we keeping buying stuff.
It is time now to wander down the street to decide where we will have dinner.

July 9 2012 Subject: Hi from Linda in Bavaria, Germany
We have spent the last week in Bavaria, Germany, staying with Ute, a friend of Carol's. Weather has been really good and we have had a hectic time doing all sorts of things here. We are staying in a town called Dingolfing which is really affluent because of the enormous BMW manufacturing plant which employs 18000 people. We had a guided tour round the plant which was very interesting, the robots were fascinating to watch. The population of Dingolfing also happens to be 18000. It is a gorgeous town, very neat and tidy, with very old historical buildings which have been restored like the originals. We have been cycling along the river on cycleway. There are cycleways along both sides of the river which go for several hundred kms. The countryside is beautiful, very lush with lots of crops. We went to a Volksfest which is like the German Octoberfest and everyone was wearing the traditional costume of dirndl skirt and peasant top, and the men with the lederhosen (leather pants with braces). We sampled traditional Bavarian food.
Last night we went to a classical music concert in the old part of town. Today we drove to the Bavarian Forest which is in The Alps where there is a ski resort in winter. We went up in the gondola lift. The forest is beautiful pine trees. We had lunch up there, the highest mountain in Bavaria, then walked down through the pine trees. We then drove to to a little village on the Czech Republic. The border between Bavaria and Czech Republic lies in the middle of the railway station, marked by a line on the platform (where the iron curtain barrier was years ago).
Sadly we have come to the end of our holiday, and we fly from München (Munich) tomorrow and arrive back in Sydney on Wednesday morning.
So see you all again soon.

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