Today we were off to the Vatican Museums. Yet another amazing place to visit! The old tapestries and carvings are beautiful, but what really amazed me were the ceilings. We thought the roof was carved but it was all painted! It was amazing to think it was done so many years ago.
From the Vatican Museum we went into the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately you’re not able to take photos inside the chapel, but it was beautiful. Helena was a fountain of information and went into detail about the stories behind Michelangelo’s paintings.
Next up, off to Florence! Tasha and I were so looking forward to Florence for shopping! I have always wanted a Pandora bracelet and today I bought one as a memento of this trip. I have charms from the places we have visited… a double decker bus from London, and one from the Colosseum.
Patrizia was our Local Guide in Florence, and took us for a fabulous walking tour. We walked through the streets and alleys as Patrizia explained life in Florence in years gone by. We saw statues and carvings, and I was blown away by the cathedral. It was massive – literally a city block – and made completely of marble in three different colours, white, green and pink. It was beautiful and the whole group was walking around in awe.
We soon had our bags packed as we prepared to say goodbye to Italy. We drove past Lake Como and I waited, and waited, but no invite from George Clooney to drop in for a coffee. Very disappointing!
We drove past many familiar names; Modena – home of balsamic vinegar, the Ferrari factory, the town of Parma – home of parmesan cheese and prosciutto.
We crossed the border into Switzerland and the south of Switzerland was cold and rainy. I was worried as we had some special outdoor plans this afternoon. Sigi kept telling us “No, no it will be fine!” As we entered St Gotthard Pass it was raining and 12 degrees. San Gotthard Pass is this amazing tunnel that goes for 17km straight through the mountain. They have so many tunnels through Europe but this one has to be one of the longest.
We finally exited the tunnel and what an amazing sight! On this side of the mountain it was sunny and 25 degrees! It was mind blowing to go in one side of the tunnel, and come out the other to a totally different atmosphere. Kyle and Tasha likened it to entering Narnia. The chalets and mountains in this area are simply gorgeous.
We took up the optional extra of a visit to a farm via horse drawn carriage. We were picked up in the town of Giswil and toured the town from the unique perspective of the carriage. We ended up at the farm house of Hans and Hermina where we enjoyed a yummy feast of bread, cheese, cold meats, pastries, apple juice, wine and schnapps – all made right there on the farm!
Tasha was also happy to have Leona along with us on this excursion. Leona and Tasha have shared lots of laughs and fun times on this holiday. We only met her just over a week ago but she is a lovely lady. She brought tears to my eyes the other night at dinner when she told Tash she would love to be her honorary grandmother, and Tash promptly started calling her Nanna!
Soon we found ourselves at the top of Mt Pilatus and WOW! Views in every direction. There are also lots of great walking tracks to viewing platforms. Kyle, my son, loved the dragon trail which followed along the path of the legends of the dragons that lived on Mt Pilatus.
In Lucerne we explored the chapel bridge and the water tower. They were just as gorgeous as I had hoped they would be. And of course, we bought chocolate! As we left Lucerne we turned to see the mountains covered in a fresh coat of snow from last night – the locals call it ‘sugardusted’.
Crossing the border into France we experienced mixed feelings. So excited to be in France but also sad, as this is our last country! Apparently it’s still possible to buy yourself a castle in France. However, even though the castle may be affordable, the maintenance and upkeep is very expensive!
We finally made it to Paris and the kids were very excited to have a view of the Eiffel tower from our hotel room; we could look out the window to see the lights on the Eiffel Tower sparkling and flashing. Beautiful!
Versailles was amazing. We arrived early and wandered around the outside of the palace. The gold everywhere and the details on the buildings were beautiful. Then we walked around the back of the palace to the gardens. Beautifully laid out, so lovely. Our Local Guide today, Vincent, was great. He had a dry sense of humour and was very informative. So far all our Local Guides have been great.
As we drove around Paris, Vincent explained everything. The padlocks on the bridges amazed me. It’s tradition to have your initials or names engraved on a padlock and then chain it to a bridge in Paris to lock your love forever! From there we went up the Eiffel tower. What a view!
Kyle had been asking since before we left home if he could try escargot so was very excited to have the chance at dinner tonight. He was enjoying them until Tasha started making gagging sounds and pulling faces from across the table, so halfway through the plateful he passed it onto Tony to finish. He has said he would order them again, just not with his sister there!
Then it was our final optional extra – a cruise down the Seine River to enjoy Paris by night. The views were beautiful. I hope I have more time in Paris to explore some of these sights one day.
Back at our hotel we said a sad goodbye to our driver, Jorgavan, and our Travel Director, Sigi. There were plenty of hugs and tears as we bid farewell to our travel family.