A day spent travelling from London to Arnhem in The Netherlands meant a lot of time gazing out into the countryside and just taking note of the changing landscape. Leaving London meant travelling by Eurostar train under the English Channel - a whole 20 minutes in which you wouldn't even know where you are. Next thing we knew we were in France but didn't take long and we were in Belgium! But that's train travel in Europe I guess. So far a very flat landscape and now up here in The Netherlands it seems even flatter! Weather is a little so so, bit damp, cool and dreary but nothing that's way too cold, fortunately.
Our 4 days in paris is now over and we are on the way back up to Amsterdam to meet up with our cruise boat to take us down the Rhine to Budapest. Paris is a fabulously city with streets lined with open air cafes and restaurants everywhere. The bread served here with every meal is absolutely delightful and I have made a pact with myself to not eat any bread whilst on the boat!!! We'll see! I have eaten more bread in the past 4 days than I think I have for a month - that being said, not one piece of it was the stodgy old supermarket loaf bread, it's all baguettes and french sticks and all freshly made each day - yum! And of course Kemm and I have indulged in the odd bottle of wine or 2 - but hey, this is Paris and what more need we say!
My last travel update ended in Naples from where we then headed the next morning to Rome. Headed with bags in tow over to the main train station and once again stood awaiting a platform number, train arrived, on we jumped into our respective carriage and seats and away we went again. There’s always a ‘little man’ somewhere who makes his living from helping tourists with their bags so we made use of one and he dragged our big suitcases up onto the train and into the luggage holders for us – gave him 5 Euros ($7.50) but then clicked his fingers and wanted the same again for the extra bags – what the heck – he saved our backs!!! Sometimes it’s just easier to pay for a bit of help than tug and heave ourselves.
Hint: travel with a smaller case when using trains in Europe!!
The next part of our trip has been heading down to Naples on the Eurostar train. We arrived lugging our bags from the hotel onto the platform and waited with however many other people until a platform number came up on the electronic display board which appeared a whole 10 minutes before the train was due to depart. So off everyone trundked way down the platform to respective pre-booked carriage numbers.
Today was what anyone could want when visiting the Tuscany region of Italy. We had a 9am start from our hotel and headed out from Florence in our BMW van which is Federico's method of transporting people around. He had obviously cleaned and polished it prior to meeting us again so it was obvious he took great pride in what he does for a living.
This place is leather heaven and between 3 of us now we have managed to accumulate about 9 or 10 handbags!!! They are really cheap and 'will never go astray!' That's our motto anyway.
Gold earrings have been another favourite between us - in general prices are really cheap here - more so thatn we imagined so we are getting our shopping in whilst there are no husbands around!!!
First stop out this morning was along the Arno River in Florence, at the Ponte Vecchio - the main bridge across the river. It is not a vehicular bridge but more an icon of Florence with heaps of little shops on top and a very touristy area. But onward and forward to the church of Santa Croce! But ho hum - there's lots of leather shops around !!!
A new day in Florence and a bit of a late start as we have a tour guide collecting us today for a full day trip. I had organised a private tour guide over the internet who made some suggestions as to what we might like to see and do and eventually along with my input, we came up with a plan. A bit of a worry plaaning something like that over the internet but "Federico" our tour guide turned up promptly at 10.30am as planned in his nice clean Mercedes van, introduced himself and off we set.
The next leg of our journey began with just getting to the train station in Venice. It was not very far at all from the hotel but 3 ladies getting 3 big bags over the big bridge by hand was always going to be fun! Fortunately 3 very willing husbands were not leaving town till an hour or so after us so they lugged our bags over the bridge for us and duly escorted us into the train station where we easily found our Eurostar train and subsequently our carriage and seats. A comfortable trip of just on 2 hours down to Florence and a scramble to get out the door with our big bags before they 'slammed shut on us' was a bit of a worry but we got there!