Summer 2016 has been a great one filled with traveling adventures! Last summer we went state side and explored Miami and Florida, this year we decided to stay in Europe and spread our wings.
First up was a road trip around Provence. We went to Pont du Gard. Point du Gard is the tallest and most complex roman construction ever built with its three tiers of arches. Although it looks like some kind of incredibly beautiful bridge today, it was actually considered to be ugly during Roman times and was built in the middle of the countryside where nobody would really see it. Pont du Gard functioned as an aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River in southern France to allow water to pass from a spring in Utès to Nîmes. As the Romans did not have the concept of a water pump, water was carried to Roman colonies using gravity. Water passed from high up, and gradually got lower and lower. Therefore Pont du Gard slopes slightly from the left to the right to allow gravity to do it’s thing. Okay, history and science lesson over. My hubby and I got to walk right through the the top tier which is where the water ran through all those years ago! If you ever get the chance to do so it is a great experience and as you literally got to walk next to and touch the limescale buildup on the stones. From inside the enclosure it’s difficult to see due and the only light comes from the gaps in the stones above. Also if you are tall, you will have to crouch as this passageway wasn’t built for humans to cross! We didn’t know until we got to Pont du Gard, but you can also arrange to canoe on the river which runs right underneath it, which is definitely enough reason for us to go back again!
While in Provence, we also went to a Roman amphitheatre in Orange. It is still used as a theatre today and when we went to view it the stage was partially set up for a performance of Phantom of the Opera, which for us, kind of ruined the ancient vibes. However for those that got to enjoy the performance, I am sure it was a fantastically magical experience. Although the amphitheatre is considered to be one of the best preserved remaining today, the attraction itself was very small and after already experiencing the Colosseum and an ampitheatre in Pompeii, it was a little disappointing.
Next up on our travels was Milan. We didn’t stay in Milan long, just enough time to have lunch in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and drink in the architecture of one of the worlds oldest shopping centres built between 1865 – 1877.
At Lake Como we got a ferry across the lake which was great way to discover the mist of the mountains and some super elite houses scattered along the waters edge on the first day. The slow boat back to Como was about an hour journey so it was plenty of time to take some great snaps and such a cheap way to travel!
The next day we up-ed our game and took a sea plane over the lake which was just a BRILLIANT experience! Our pilot pointed out so many cool spots over the lake such as George Clooneys house and the balcony of a vila where parts of Star Wars were filmed. It was just a fantastic experience. A little pricey but totally recommend it if you ever get a chance! I totally felt like a movie star!
One of the highlights of my summer travels has to be Venice with it’s charming architecture and it’s different city sounds. Venice is a city I’ve always wanted to visit and full of charm. We stayed in an AMAZING hotel in such a brilliant location. I’m really glad that we went all out with the Venice hotel, because actually, we ended up spending a lot of time in it!
Maybe it’s because we stayed in Venice too long, or we went at a super busy time of year when it was just too hot, or maybe because we had already been away from home for over a month.. So many possible reasons and maybe none of them even matter. By the end of our time in Venice I was utterly ready to go home. I just couldn’t shake that feeling that everything was so over priced, so over crowded and the things on offer became repetitive very quickly. I felt like people just wanted to rip us off. While the buildings themselves bared their scars of authenticity, I felt like the people we encountered were dishonest (money obsessed) and it definitely didn’t feel like a city I would feel safe to walk around on my own. But I guess the same could be said for any tourist destination in the heat of the summer. Although I don’t think I would ever rush back to Venice, we did have a brilliant time wandering around the back streets at night, attended a string composition that blew my mind and we went for Bellini’s in their house of origin – Harry’s Bar. One of my fondest memories of Venice however is a workshop we attended at the original Venetian mask makers and got to paint our own masks!
As the summer drew to a close, I also got to stay in Monaco with one of my homegirls where I lived her life for 10 days. Even under the distressing circumstances of my visit, I ended up really enjoying parts of her lifestyle and I could definitely see the attraction of Monaco’s charm.
As a natural beach destination hater, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed our treks along the cliffs edge to our ‘secret’ beach.
It became a welcoming sense of routine to take the train one stop there and then walking around the rocks to the waters edge where we would remain until the heat dropped from the day. When the sun was beginning to drop from the sky we would take the scenic walk back to Monaco – which felt like walking along a scene from Game of Thrones (and may it is?!) I enjoyed Monaco so much I am actually really excited to take my hubby there for some winter sun and show him the spots that I spent so many days chatting with an extraordinary friend.
Despite all the adventures I have been on this summer and all the places that I have visited. One of the most profound things that I have discovered about myself this summer is that, despite my love for travel, I actually have so many of my favourite adventures right here at home. Home is definitely a place that I miss when I go away from it. There are just so many adventures to have on our doorstep and living in a place that allows us to constantly be thrilled at our discoveries is just fantastic! I love that the landscape outside our house changes with the seasons. This summer I got to walk amongst fields of sunflowers outside our house which has never happened before! You know you live in South France when the local crop is sunflowers! I love that within 10 minutes I can walk to lakes, trains, horses, fields or forest and I am looking forwards to seeing how home changes its colours as leafs fall and autumn takes its toll.
I guess I believe what they say, there really is no place like home.