A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: fernando65

One night each in Montpellier, Nice and Turin

April 16,17 and 18

Barcelona was the last city we planned to visit in Spain. We have decided to move back to France and have one night stop overs in Montpellier and Nice. Then drive over to Italy and spend one night in Turin.
We had breakfast at our hotel and started driving towards Montpellier. We have booked a small placed called Park and Suites Elegance in Montpellier. They were one bedroom apartments with small kitchenettes. Our apartments were hidden inside a huge building. We took some time to find it and park the car.
Montpellier is well known for it's reputable university, which has played a large part in the town itself, keeping it young and vibrant. A nice, clean, attractive city, there are several interesting tourist attractions to visit in Montpellier. The main attraction in the city is the beautiful Place de la Comedie.
There was no proper restaurant in the neighborhood of our apartments. We decided to drive to the city centre for dinner and managed to find an underground parking station to park the car near Place de la Comedie. We had dinner in a popular restaurant. Then it started raining which did not allow us to explore the city. Our exploration of the city was limited to having dinner in the city centre.
We left the apartments in the morning. The apartment did not provide breakfast. We made our own breakfast with bread, cheese and jam we bought from a supermarket.
We were heading towards Nice and hoping for better weather in Nice. We were planning to spend only one night in Nice. We had a booking at the Esatitude hotel in Nice for one night.
We decided to visit the small tourist town Eze before going our hotel. Eze is a beautiful small town on the sea route to Monaco from Nice.
Our plan was to visit a perfume factory Fragonard in Eze.

Mala with the tour guide in the perfume factory

Mala with the tour guide in the perfume factory

There are over 30 active perfume companies making their secret essences for a collection of well known brands, but Fragonard is now the perfumery most associated with Grasse and Ezé where its factories are located. Visitors to the factory are offered a free guided tour of the laboratories and workshops, where master perfumers create aromatic magic. The museum in the 19th Century mansion presents objets d’art from over 3,000 years of perfume history and jewelry and clothing designs from the 18th and 19th Century.

At the counter to buy Perfume

At the counter to buy Perfume

We joined the guided tour which took nearly 15 minutes. Mala, Sue and Helen picked up some perfumes and bought them before driving back to our hotel in Nice.

Esatitude hotel from outside

Esatitude hotel from outside

Next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and left for Turin in Italy. We decided to take the sea route and drive along the coast through Monaco.
We stopped in Monaco for a coffee.

Monaco getting ready for car races

Monaco getting ready for car races

Driving to the city centre took some time due to traffic. We managed to find the underground car park and park our car. We were disappointed to see the city has been transformed into a construction site. Monaco was getting ready for its Formnula 1 Grand Prix to be held in May. While having coffee in a restaurant, we saw the expensive Ferraris and other racing cars driving past slowly. There were other small cars making huge noises while passing by. They are obviously motor car racing enthusiasts coming to see the construction site out of curiosity.

Scene from a tourist lookout on the sea route

Scene from a tourist lookout on the sea route



We left Monaco and drove along the scenic sea route up to Savona. The sea route took us through some beautiful small Italian sea towns. There was heavy traffic in those towns created by the heavy inflow of holiday makers and we had to drive very slowly. We could not find any empty parking slots on the road to stop and have a look. In any case, we were not planning a stop over in any of those towns. From Savona, we took the freeway to Turin.
Turin or better known as "Torino" is a very old city with a long history.

The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. The image is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.

Cathedral area in Turin

Cathedral area in Turin

The Shroud was not on display for a long time and was to be shown on Sunday, on the day we were leaving. You have to bub tickets to see it and all the tickets have been sold. We were not able to see the shroud unfortunately. We went to the cathedral area and the tourist office where they sell tickets, but was not in luck.
We left Turin on Sunday morning.

Posted by fernando65 23:44 Comments (0)

Last three days, two in Luzerne and one in Dijon

Catching the flight from Charles De Galle oin 22nd April

We left Turin heading towards Luzerne in Switzerland. We have been to Luzerne in one of our previous trips. We knew it is such a nice city that we can relax our last few days just sitting around.
Sue's son Hayden is in Switzerland. He is in a city called Interlaken working as a Hang Gliding instructor. Interlaken is not very far from Luzerne. Sue was keen to visit her son and spend a day with him. She asked whether we can go through Interlaken and drop her at her son's place. We had enough time to do that. Hayden gave specific instructions by giving names of small towns to feed into the GPS to find our way. But our GPS which we call Tom-Tom, did not recognize the address and the small town given by him. We finally put the address of Interlaken directly into our GPS device and decided to go there first. We made one mistake by suggesting to the Tom-Tom that we would prefer to take normal roads rather than toll ways.

Snow capped mountains on the way to Interlaken

Snow capped mountains on the way to Interlaken

Half way through our journey, the GPS instructed us to take an exit from the toll way and use a winding hilly route. We took the exit and started driving along that scenic route. The road was very beautiful with surrounding hills covered with snow. After about ten minutes there were icy patches appearing on the road. Then we hit one patch which was covered with hard ice. There were deep track marks on the road. Mala was driving at that time and she tried to keep the car on that track. The hardened ice hit the underside of the car making it swerve. Sue was keen to continue, but we decided to turn back. We knew our vehicle was not equipped to handle icy roads. We also knew the road conditions were going get worse if we continued on that road. We decided to turn back and get back to the toll way. We had to find a way to help Sue meet her son.
There was another road to Interlaken which was longer. We were running out of time. We devised a plan. We would drive up to Giswil which is halfway to Interlaken and Sue's son Hayden would meet us there. Sue met her son at Giswil and went with him. The three of us, Helen, Mala and I drove to Luzerne and checked in to Best Western hotel.

Mala and Helen walking on the old bridge in Luzerne

Mala and Helen walking on the old bridge in Luzerne



We had two nights in Luzerne. Our hotel was a comparatively small hotel situated among shops and other tourist attractions. We could walk through the bridges and admire the lake scenes and watch the swans swimming in the lake. Sue was joining us back on Sunday evening.

White Swans in the Luzerne lake

White Swans in the Luzerne lake

Helen, Mala and I decided to take a cable car trip to one of the highest mountains in Luzerne. It turned out to be a good decision. We really enjoyed the cable car ride. There were two stages to the cable car ride.

Smaller cable cars in first stage

Smaller cable cars in first stage

First stage was to take a smaller cable car which can take a maximum of six people. That ride was a very long ride and took nearly ten minutes. The second stage was in a bigger car that can take up to 20 people.

Big Cable car reaching the mountain top station

Big Cable car reaching the mountain top station

There were only two cars one going up while the other one coming down balancing the weight on the cable. Looking up from the lower station, you cannot imagine the mountain peak is big enough to have a station.

Hotel on the mountain top

Hotel on the mountain top

We were wrong. The top has a big flat area. There was a hotel and a restaurant built on the top of the mountain. Right round the rock, along the periphery, there was a tunnel path carved out of the rock. There were windows like openings in places to see the outside. There were no lights, these openings being the only outlets providing natural light to the tunnel.

Outside view from the tunnel window

Outside view from the tunnel window

The idea was to walk along this path and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area below the mountain. However, we could go only half way due to frozen ice. The path beyond that point was barricaded.
After the mountain ride, we spent some time shopping in Luzerne. We went to a shopping centre outside the city, but found nothing suitable. Then we came back and did shopping in the shops around our hotel and found a few items. Sue joined us in the evening and we had dinner in one of the Italian restaurants.
By this time, Mala, Sue and Helen were getting tired of the bland monotonous food we were eating. They had high expectations of finding delicious, mouth watering food prepared by French and Spanish chefs only seen on the TV. We found good food in a few places. In most restaurants, the food was ordinary to say the least. It may be that our local Australian food has reached a very high standard. Else the standard of food in other western countries has come down. The ordinary restaurants in tourist areas have become fast food factories.

Holiday Inn hotel at Dejon

Holiday Inn hotel at Dejon

After two nights in Luzerne, we started preparing for our final day in Dejon, France. Our flight was on the 22nd of April from Charles De Galle airport. We were planning to drive directly to the airport from Dejon.

Dijon city centre

Dijon city centre

Dejon is a beautiful old city. Our hotel Holiday Inn was outside the city, but the tram line was right in front of the hotel. You could get to the city in ten minutes. When we arrived at the hotel, only one room was ready. We left all our baggage in that room and took the tram to the city.
We were there on a Tuesday and unfortunately most of the tourist attractions like museums were closed on Tuesdays. Sue and Helen were disappointed they could not visit more tourist attractions. Mala and I had seen enough of them and only wanted to do shopping. It has come to the stage of last minute shopping and grabbing whatever that takes your fancy.

Mala buying Dijon mustard

Mala buying Dijon mustard

Dejon is the city where Dejon Mustard originated. We could find many outlets selling authentic Dejon Mustard. We went to one shop which was recommended by the hotel staff. There were many different varieties of mustard and one special mustard was the Dejon mustard with Truffle. We ended up buying that and three other varieties.
Next morning we have packed our bags and ready to leave when we found a nearby shopping center which opens at ten. We spent about one hour doing more shopping and finally left the hotel at 11:00AM.
Our flight was at 9:50PM and we had more than enough time to get to the airport. We stopped for lunch on our way and drove at leisure. Suddenly we realized we were in heavy traffic. The UPS has planned out route via the outer ring of Paris. We have moved into the outer ring with very heavy traffic and had to take an exit to get to the airport. One exit was closed due to road work and we patiently drove to the next exit planned by the UPS. We spent more than two hours in heavy traffic. We were lucky we have kept enough extra time to get to the airport.
We returned the car and took our baggage to the check in counter. Sue was not travelling back with us. She was staying behind and taking a train to Brittany in France where her husband is presently living. He has bought a house in Brittany and staying there renovating and improving it. Sue would spend two weeks there. Our flight was on time and we came back to Sydney without any incidents. The journey was smooth with no air pockets, on the way. Our last flight was on a Qantas A380 airbus. Qantas service has improved in leaps and bounds. The inflight food was excellent.

We were extremely happy to be back home. It was a great trip which was very different to others. We visited six different countries, two of them, Spain and Portugal, for the first time, drove nearly seven thousand kilometers in thirty days, walked a lot, climbed many stairs, visited numerous attractions. More importantly we have learned a lot about other cultures, their way of life and their past history.

Posted by fernando65 13:07 Comments (0)

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