Page 3 of Aubrey B Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence March 18th 2012

Italian air: it revitalizes; my first Tuscany-filled breath and I am ready for the next adventure. It's something I've never been able to find elsewhere. Morning sunlight, the color of burnished gold filters in through the closed shades of my bedroom (which is also the kitchen) window. It reminds me of olive oil, of rosemary, fountains splashing in the piazza, of pasta swimming in tomato sauce, grownups slurping down gelato as it melts in the spring heat, vespas and reving engines, and wine; sparkling, crisp wine. Pisa is the first stop. We've all heard of the leaning tower, and although I could share several photos of the outside, I didn't find it necessary to fork over €15 to climb steps of a building with known foundation issues and so all pictures remain on firm, solid ground. ... read more
Duomo and Bell Tower
Piazza della Signoria

Europe » Belgium » Brussels-Capital Region » Brussels March 18th 2012

Walking, running, laughing, skating, bicycling, kissing, yelling, crying, watching, loving, hating, whispering, eating, smoking, drinking....LIVING. That's Amsterdam and if you can't keep up, no worries; there's always another party to go to. Welcome back, to all my faithful readers! It's been awhile and I know you're waiting anxiously, fingernails bitten down to nubs to hear an update about me and my travels. Well fellows, I will end the suspense and commence! I have been joined by my mother and together we have flitted, like the beautiful butterflies we are, across Belgium and up into the Netherlands, adding to our luggage chocolates of all kinds, frites sans mayonaise, beers, and pastries galore. First was Brussels and with it snow. I realized as I stepped in my third puddle of suspiciously yellow liquid that it had been awhile ... read more
Mannekin-Pis, Brussels
Markt Square, Bruges

Europe » Belgium » Namur Province » Namur March 3rd 2012

Rain, fog, robbery, and good beer: a few days in Belgian life. Belgium! As different from France as wine is from beer. Where the French are subtle and quiet, Belgian prefer blunt, caustic truth said with a smile to remove the bite. In France the wine flows but in Belgium the beer froths, though both could care less about the "it's 5 o'clock somewhere" rule. Namur, Belgium is no doubt absent from many of your personal geographical maps. Indeed, I had never heard of it till a random Google search made the name literally pop up in my browser window. But exist it does, and what's more it is the capital of Wallonie, aka French-speaking Belgium. And what might one find in Namur? First and foremost, it's grey and foggy, perfect for anyone looking for a ... read more
Félicien Rops
Félicien Rops

Europe » France » Alsace » Colmar February 28th 2012

Annecy and its mountainous surroundings, though so like home, could not hold me stationary for long and indeed I began to feel "antsy". (To get the joke, think on pronunciation.) And so off to... Well that answer was rather difficult to decide. I wanted very badly to head towards Beaune and its nearby pilgrimage sight but somehow it seems pilgrims these days are expected to be rich and able to afford the fanciest of accommodations. Not falling beneath either category, it seems my steps were fated to take another direction. And so I found myself in Colmar, a German jewel of a city, craftily covered in a French varnish in the Alsace region. I am an hour south of Strasbourg, an important EU center and close enough to pole-jump over into Germany. (Ok, not REALLY.) With ... read more
Petite Venise, Colmar
Quai de la Poissonnerie
St. Martin Cathedral

Europe » France » Rhône-Alpes » Annecy February 24th 2012

I have moved further into the Rhône-Alps region and planted myself in what I assume would be considered the foothills of those enormous and somewhat daunting peaks. My village of choice, Annecy has the best of both worlds: slow flowing rivers crisscross the old town leaving old buildings to open right on the water and after losing yourself in the very medieval-feeling alleyways you exit back out into the sunlight right smackdab on the edge of a lake. You're at the head of a valley and further on to either side mountains rise, their tops covered in pure, untouched snow. I chose to take advantage of the fine, sunny weather we've been having (currently no freakish storms) and took myself on a little hike up around the hills on the lake. Yes, me, the self-proclaimed city ... read more
Le Lac
Le Lac, encore
Le Lac, encore...encore

Europe » France » Rhône-Alpes » Lyon February 20th 2012

Ten hours on a train is brutal I must say, especially when your faithful Kindle recently decided to break down, taking all of your reading material with it. Who knew that self-entertainment would be so hard? So I left Biarritz in the small hours of the morning, no sun in sight. Walking up the hill towards the train station even the three dogs, who normally came sniffing and begging for a treat each time I walked by, preferred instead to snore lazily away while I trudged along. It's a desolate feeling, stealing away at night but truth be told the city barely notes your leaving. With a stop over in Bordeaux it was a grand total of 10 hours on the train. I don't know ... read more
Lady of the Republic
Lyon at night
Cathedral St. Jean, Lyon

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Biarritz February 16th 2012

Note to self: Look at train ticket after purchase to determine if indeed it isa train ticket. Sheesh! Left the Toulouse hostel (the one way in the bum-stink, to use my previous words) right when the sun, a bright, blood red-orange, peeked over the rooftops. Ah, that makes it all worth it. :) Took a train to Bordeaux where I got to witness myself, circa ten years ago. A mother set her young daughter on the train, waving at her through the window until the cars started to move and even then chasing them a little way down the platform. The girl blushed in classic embarrassment as the train pulled out and us fellow travelers smiled knowingly and perhaps just a bit patronizingly since we've all been in her position. Then she proceeded to explore the ... read more

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Toulouse February 15th 2012

Ok people, as I promised in the last posting, we are back to sailing the blue, happy waters of France and will be avoiding the dark abyss of my self-analysis. So, grab a friend, grab yourself, or grab whatever, because here we go... From windy Narbonne I jumped on a rickety old train and landed myself smack-dab in the middle of snowy Toulouse. There's no taste of home like the sharp, icy prick of winter air that burns your lungs and freezes your lips so that you can't feel the snot dripping out of your nose. My hostel happened to be out in the bum-stink part of town, about seven metro stops away from the station. My least favorite part of traveling is the time spent on the metro with the great big pack on your ... read more
Basilique St-Sernin
Basilique St-Sernin, Interior
Couvent des Jacobins; Interior

Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Toulouse February 15th 2012

"There are years that ask questions and there are years that answer." -Zora Neal Hurston I had thought this would be the latter kind, but I'm discovering that clarity is elusive and doubt sets in like a fungus: always beneath the surface, ready with new tendrils. I can't say what exactly has me locked in this self-reflection mode but it's a difficult trap to spring. Maybe it's the fact that what my trip is and what I had expected it to be do not coincide; that change comes so unexpectedly that any reaction feels dreadfully belated; or that what I had hoped to find here, knowing in my heart I wouldn't, is indeed absent or fleeting. This is not a post about a place I've been to see. This is catharsis. I recently met someone on ... read more

Europe » France » Languedoc-Roussillon » Narbonne February 8th 2012

Have you ever had your exhaled breath pushed back into your lungs and up your nose? No? Well let me tell you, it's no treat. And why, you might ask, do I pose this question to all you faithful readers? Well here in Narbonne the views won't take your breath away, but the wind will slap your face with it and then proceed to ram it back down your throat, almost as if Mother Nature is giving us a taste of our own medicine, and sans the spoonul of sugar. Even locals are bundled up so that only their eyes peek out and café owners grudgingly serve you with fingerless gloves then scramble back in front of their personal heaters after the money has been passed over. Streets are nearly empty and those brave enough to ... read more
Cathedral Interior
Cathedral Exterior
Archbishop's Palace

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