My first solo trip was 2016 and it happened to be Europe.

I flew to Greece (via Changi & Dubai) to meet a cruise from Piraeus, Greece to Barcelona, Spain, with stops at Rhodes, Greece; Malta, Siciliy, three other ports in Italy and Marseilles, France.

From Barcelona (staying overnight), I travelled by very fast train to Montpellier, France, (staying overnight) and on to Nice. After 2 nights at Nice with a day trip to Monaco. Then I flew to Greece for 2 nights in Athens and then home via Dubai and Kuala Lumpar.

........ all by myself!

Fast forward to 2017 and I am planning another Mediterranean cruise, this time Genoa, Malaga, Casablanca, Lisbon, Barcelona and Marseille. Flying in and out of Rome and training all about.


Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome October 19th 2017

My train trip from Florence to Rome began with me trying to convince a man that he was in my seat… The seat by the window. The one colour coded (seat five orange, is the orange seat next to the window; seat six red – his ticketed seat, was the red aisle seat). But he wouldn’t have it. I think my ‘pissed off’ face may have surfaced, but I can’t be sure. Across the aisle and up one seats eleven and twelve were both vacant, so I sat there…. And glared. When the conductor came and got my ticket reference code and asked where I was supposed to be sitting I glared at him again while I explained that he was sitting in my seat. I arrived in Rome’s central train station and my accommodation, Domus ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 11th 2017

I got up bright and early in Venice, was pleased to watch a very Venetian sunrise over the rooftops from my windows. I even managed a video call to Australia over breakfast. Then it was time for my case to navigate the four flights of stairs down to ground level followed by five bridges before I got to the station. On the way, I even saw a police boat with sirens going and lights flashing. I stopped on the bridge I was on a filmed it of course! As the train was Venice to Rome, the train was already there when I got there about 15 minutes before it was due to leave. I was rapt with my seat. Number 3 seat is by itself so there was space next to me for my case and ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 2nd 2017

For those of you who may have seen a small brown horse crop up in my blogs, I thought I had better explain. I first met Horsey about 6 years ago. He has a human family, although if anyone is travelling and would like to take the little guy with them, they are most welcome (as long as he is looked after). He has a facebook page, his full name is Horsey Travels. This is my fourth trip with Horsey. The first trip with Horsey was 2014 when we (my daughter and I) took on the Spirit of Tasmanina across Bass Strait for a 5 day trip of Tasmania. 2015, my daughter and I took him on a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Spirit to Noumea and Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. We also managed ... read more

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice October 2nd 2017

Venice I arrived at Venice’s Santa Lucia railway station just before noon. I came out of the station to be confronted with two facts. Facing a canal, I realised navigation is not quite as easy as being on one land mass. The second, the somewhat abrupt realisation that Venice was in fact created before all that politically correct and thoughtful stuff like access to places via ramps, etc…… Yes, I know, I packed my case, I should be able to manage it. But for goodness sake, does Venice really need that many steps…. Every bridge, steps… (I tell a lie, one actually had a type of ramp on it and two had a section with shorter steps that were rounded.) Then my favourite technology, google maps got confused as to where I was and sent me ... read more

Europe » Italy October 1st 2017

Milan is the destination I probably had the fewest preconceived ideas about. I knew it had a big church, let’s face it, Europe is full of big churches. I also knew it was known for it’s fashion and style. I wasn’t wrong on either count. I arrived at the station with absolute awe. This is a mammoth station. Not just it’s footprint, but the building seems to stretch to the sky, it is so grand. I got a taxi to where I was staying. I could probably have walked there, but my walking time was better spent discovering the heart of Milan. So after a quick freshen up at Residenza Cenisio it was off on the great walking adventure of Milano. Not really knowing where I was heading apart from the Milan centre, I went off ... read more

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Nice September 30th 2017

Nice and the train to Milan I booked a taxi through Mama Shelter for 8.30am, figuring that would give me plenty of time to get to the station, find the platform, etc for the train to Nice. I had a lovely breakfast at the (even in the morning) super funky Mama Shelter restaurant which was included in the tariff, then went back to my room, got my bags and returned to reception at 8.25. My taxi was already there! I got to the station, worked out where my train was leaving from and went and got a cup of coffee and sat down. After a little while, I heard piano and figured that it was playing over the PA. No, there was actually a piano in the terminal and a man was playing it. I am ... read more

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur September 28th 2017

Marseille We docked at Marseille at around 8am this morning. I managed to wake up in time for the sunrise over the city. I had to be out of the cabin also at 8, and my disembarking was scheduled at 8.45, so that gave me time to have breakfast at the main dining room and have a last walk around the ship. I will miss the MSC Magnifica. I got a taxi to Mama Shelter, where I am staying tonight. Not just any taxi, this one happened to be a very new black Mercedes sedan. When the driver found out I was Australian, he asked if I knew Mick Dundee. I told him if I catch up with Mick, I will say hi for him. I dropped my bags off to Mama Shelter, and head off ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona September 27th 2017

Gibraltar and Barcelona Yesterday, while having breakfast, I happened to look out the window and I saw land. We had come from Lisbon the night before and were returning to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Sea. When I saw land, I quickly thought about the side of the ship I was on and figured the land was Africa, Morocco in fact. Sooooo, if Africa is on the starboard side of the ship, Europe must be on the port side. The one part of the coastline I particularly wanted to see was Gibraltar. The Strait of Gibraltar is only 14 km wide, and they say that on a clear day, Europe can see Africa and visa versa. If that’s the case and I am on a ship between the two, I must get a better view than ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Lisboa September 25th 2017

Today we were in Lisbon, Portugal. It was a lovely 27 degrees Celsius. The other shore excursion I had booked had got cancelled, so the other night, I had to work out an alternative. I decided on ‘Lisbon by land and water’. Pretty much it was a tour that lasted a couple of hours in an amphibious vehicle. We got on the ‘bus/boat’ at the dock where MSC Magnifica was berthed. We drove through the heart of Lisbon before stopping at Belem which is on the bank of the Tagus River that joins Lisbon to the Atlantic Ocean. The Gothic Jeronimos Monastery is surrounded by beautiful gardens and water features, including an impressive fountain. The famed custard tarts (pasteis de nata; link to recipe is below) of Lisbon also originate from here. Belem is also home ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech September 24th 2017

Well the eleven hour shore excursion ended up thirteen hours. In fairness, Marrakech is a good three hour drive, plus toilet stop halfway in each direction. Although assembly for the excursion was at 8.45am, it was 9.30 before we were able to start the bus trip after immigration finally granted their approval for the ship to disembark. Fortunately, I got the best seat in the coach. The first one past the second door. The view is expanded due to the row of seats in front of you missing, and if you happen to travel solo, there is a good chance of having the two seats to yourself if the bus isn’t full. We made our way through Casablanca and the weather seemed pleasant, I was wearing a cardigan on the way to the bus. Morocco is ... read more

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