Villefranche (technically Villefranche-sur-Mer) in France was our first port of call and, when we woke after steaming through the night, the sun was just rising over a nearby mountain and starting to shine on the town. After breakfast we were transported by tender to shore where we had a few hours to explore the town and the nearby fort. The covered street, Rue Obscura, was partially closed for repairs but still pretty cool. The fort had beautiful gardens…and the boys even found some wildlife!
I’ve never been one for cruises but the change of pace (and unlimited drinks package) were very welcome. It was nice to travel to different countries without having to lug our bags. People watching was awesome fun. I have never seen so many overweight, grey-haired, sun-tanned people in bikinis and budgie smugglers in one place in my life!! The ship was lavish and the staff fantastic (except for that cow at reception) and, in typical Finn and Riley style, many of the staff got to know us as the adults with the ‘El Capitans’. Finn bought his captain’s hat first but it wasn’t long before Riley was in the shop trying them on. This was our first dabble with late daylight and the boys found it weird that the sun was still up well after their bed time. Photos of the countries to come.
We left Hong Kong after sitting on the tarmac for over an hour…which turned our stopover in Helsinki into a mad dash to catch the connecting flight to Rome. We flew over the Alps, which was technically the first time the kids “saw” snow. Terry had booked us into a lovely apartment on the 5th floor of a building with a pretty courtyard. There was a fruit and vege shop across the road and Finn would take the elevator down with a few Euros in his pocket and come back to the apartment with whatever fruit he desired at that given moment. Not sure how that all panned out in the shop because they didn’t speak much English and Finn spoke even less Italian. We only had a few days in Rome so we checked out all the must-dos. Italians in general love kids so the boys, without even knowing, managed to wrangle a few good deals. The “gladiators” outside the Colosseum gave us 3 photos for €5 instead of the usual 1 and I’m sure the boys’ scoops of gelati were much bigger than any adults. We saw a flash mob at the Spanish Steps. First for all of us (the mob and the steps!). I found Rome very dirty, smelly and busy and discovered that Italians in general really need to take a chill pill. Pushing the people in front of you isn’t going to make the crowd move any faster or further. ‘Hurry up and wait’ became one of our favourite sayings.
Cairns, Hong Kong, Helsinki, Rome, Vatican City, Livorno, Villefranche, Valencia, Ibiza, Tunis, Catania, Naples, Livorno, Pisa, La Spezia, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, Venice, Milan, Switzerland (all over!), Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, Helsinki, Bangkok, Sydney…over 900 unedited photos…and some additional debt :). Never fear though, I have your best interest at heart and I will slowly dribble some of the photos from the trip. Here’s an initial instalment. This is us leaving and our time in Hong Kong. It was an interesting visit. All of us (except the boys) had been there before but none of us had been to Hong Kong Disneyland. We stayed in the (supposedly former) red-light district of Wan Chai. Very central and out of the main tourist strip. Our accommodation was…interesting, but served our purpose perfectly. All we needed was somewhere to shower and sleep. Luckily it was cheap to eat out :).