St Augustin

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
Who lives sees much, who travels sees more.



Thursday, July 11, 2013

I've Been Everywhere, Man...well, not quite, but I'm working on it.

There was a clunky, funky hit song on the radio when I was a kid -- "I've Been Everywhere, Man" (I think it was originally released, like, in the sixties, man...but was picked up by Johnny Cash of all people at a later time.) Well that song sums it up -- Aussies are intrepid travellers, probably because as one of our Prime Ministers said, "we inhabit the "'a?r**se' end of the world". So we jump on planes with great regularity and meander through the delights of Asia, the mind-boggling history and architecture of Old Europe and exotic African and Middle Eastern lands etc. As the plane fares to just about anywhere are atrociously expensive (takes about 21 hours to get to Paris from Brisbane!), when we hit the ground we go like blazes and eat it up, a bit like Crocodile Dundee in New York, hahahah.

So I've travelled to many lands, and hopefully I will travel to many more. I've been to the UK several times, Western Europe even more times, and Africa once, but have never put my feet into the good ole USofA, sorry Donna. Those Homeland Security guys scare me big time, haha.

Let's face it some of us probably had our 'honeymoon' many moons ago -- I got married at 19, yes, I repeat, 19 -- and am still married to the same fella. We grew up together and have had several honeymoons, but the first one was low-budget travel up and down the Queensland coast. Well, many of the Great Barrier Reef islands we visited now have very ritzy resorts for well-heeled honeymooners, but back in the day, we had all that paradise to ourselves. Queensland is a big state, so we travelled 4,000 miles in our classic Customline.



A long way from...

France or Italy, two of my favourite places...

A pretty French village with trips to Paris thrown in, (La Roche Guyon is a favourite -- 6 kilometres from Monet's Garden and 1 hour from Paris). Driving through country France is delightful. A sunset stop at Chartres is memorable as you'd swear the cathedral was crafted, as is a walk through the bottom of town to see where ladies once washed the clothes in the river.

The River Eure in Chartres, France, where the washer ladies once did their laundry

What a delight to see Monet's Water Lilies out of the frame - Monet's Garden is magical no matter what the season. I've been there in both winter and summer.

La Roche-Guyon - friendly locals to play petanque with, stunning setting along the Seine, best  regional food in France at the hotel/restaurant we stayed at overlooking the river, IMHO

How about visiting Juliet's garden and standing on her balcony or writing her a letter  in the gorgeous Verona, Italy. Such an under-rated destination.

My husband and I have had fabulous trips to Italy, completely fascinated by the gorgeous medieval hill towns and all that history. Remember, Australia was not even discovered until late medieval times. Who can ever forget seeing Ancient Rome, seeing Verona, Romeo + Juliet's hometown, or boating to some of those gorgeous Italian islands like Capri?

Capri, Italy, a short boat ride from wild Napoli (Naples) We wintered there once and it was still magical.

Oh, how about an island off Italy for that first, second or third honeymoon? Sounds good to me. I've found an island which is simply a fantasy waiting for fairy dust. It was good enough for Napoleon, so it's good enough for me.

I often choose travel destinations according to books I've read -- I visited Tuscany before Frances Mayes wrote her Under the Tuscan Sun, but I went back and visited Cortona just because of her gorgeous descriptions (which describe hundreds of Italian medieval hilltowns), but it added a little fillip to the trip.

Cortona, a medieval hill city, full of history and great coffee
But how about visiting a place made famous in a spy novel for a change -- The Isle of Elba, a small Mediterranean island famous as Napolean's getaway and as the setting for John le Carre's The Constant Gardener (Ralph Fiennes).

THE ISLE OF ELBA



Honeymoon heaven. Lovers strolling hand in hand, cyclists with wobbly legs pumping up and down cliff-like paths, old ladies hanging washing out of windows and absolutely gob-smacking scenery -- wine and olive estates running down to the sea below the ruins of a medieval fortress. Cool. The perfect hideaway. Maybe you could find a spot to curl up with your laptop and write?!

John le Carre's reluctant hero hid out here in a beautiful old estate called La Chiusa di Magazzine. There are a few cottages to rent. If you're lucky enough to find the other cottages empty, you will be in seventh heaven if you like rustic quarters with grapes ripening in the sun, birdsong in the morning, a limpid blue sea and the sound of waves lapping on a pebble beach (well, I prefer golden sand, but I'd be happy to slum it just one time). There are glorious sunsets over the ancient fortified harbour of Portoferraio, and you must wonder why Napolean ever left for St Helena. Crazy little guy.

When to go. This island is at its best in spring and autumn, with hills swathed in chesnut and pine,  throbbing with colour. Everyone is languorous (love that word) and you can spend your days walking up a thirst which you can slake at the restaurants and bars lining quiet quays and beaches.

Ah...sounds idyllic, doesn't it? But, really, we don't all have the desire to travel to exotic places, do we? Some of you may be happy in your own little paradise...or perhaps you'd like to travel, but due to commitments or lack of funds, it's out of the question...for now. Reading about exotic places can transport us to places we'd love to see, watching videos can also bring places to life. But wherever you honeymoon, or would choose to honeymoon, a loving partner by your side guarantees a wonderful experience. A sunset in Capri is best shared with someone you love. (I have so many gorgeous photos of this experience but they're on another computer.)

So just this morning my good fella and I finalised our planning for our  next Grand Tour for the end of 2013 beginning of 2014 -- Paris, Crete, Spain and Portugal. How about you? Any trips planned?



4 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

I worked as a travel writer for 15 years and still do a bit, but I haven't been everywhere or even most places. Just suited me to focus on Europe and the US,I suppose.

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