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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paris and Italian Grande



Day 5 - Au Revoir Paris - Ciao Milan!

Paris, Milano

Tuesday, 3 May 2011
So this day we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, you know, scrambled eggs, yoplait yogurt, croissants, etc... Then we had our last walk around Paris before packing our bags, catching the train to the airport and flying to Milan, Italy to begin our Italian tour.
We arrived in Milan late in the afternoon and were shuttled to our hotel, Hotel D'Este. It was a lovely hotel. Early in the evening we met the other Albatross travellers as well as our guide for drinks. We went to a local Italian restaurant with a small group. Unfortunately the meal here wasn't fantastic, only mediocre. Not a great start!

This is the way the rich park their cars in Milan!
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Day 6 - Off to the Lakes, Northern Italy!

Milano, Stresa

Wednesday, 4 May 2011
We had a bit of free time in Milan this morning but it wasn't really enough to do the city justice. Also our hotel, although central, was not near the main attractions, ie the shopping district, so overall, a bit disappointing.
At midday we joined our group at our 40 seat bus, there's a total of 29 of us. Amongst our group were Sylvia and Paul, who we first met in Paris and a young family with 2 young boys who proved to be fantastic kids on our tour. Our tour group leader was a fellow named Aldo who was knowledgable, entertaining and funny. Our bus driver, Marco was a real gentleman and we also had with us, Megan who happened to be the Brisbane rep for Albatross, who proved to be a real asset.
On our way to Stresa and Lake Maggiore! As we approach the lake the scenery was fantastic. The bus wound its way down to to Stresa and the views of the lake were magnificent.
We arrived at our hotel, the Grand Hotel Bristol which is just opposite the lake and we were here for the next four nights. At this time of the year the days are beautifully warm and the nights are cool.

Our hotel room!
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Lake Maggiore
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Gardens nearby
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Hotel garden
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Day 7 - Lake Como & Bellagio

Stresa, Como, Cadenabbia, Bellagio, Stresa

Thursday, 5 May 2011
Today we set off to explore the famous Italian Lakes District. Our bus took us to the town of Como and from there we followed the shore of the lake to Cadenabbia. Boy, was the road along here narrow, in many places only wide enough for one vehicle! We visited the famous Villa Carlotta which faces Lake Como, has acres of beautiful gardens and a superb art collection.
Later we hopped aboard a private ferry which took us around Lake Como past magnificent mansions including that of George Clooney, to the delightful village of Bellagio. Here we had time to relax and enjoy the shops, walkways, gardens, villas and views to the lake. Also we were lucky enough to happen upon the delicatessen that our guide Aldo was in and he ordered for us the most amazing ham roll (in Italian, of course)!

Jason and I at Lake Como.
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Villa Carlotta
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Front garden of Villa Carlotta.
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Jason in the citrus grove at Villa Carlotta.
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View from Lake Como.
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Mansion on Lake Como.
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Front view of same mansion.
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Boat house and guest house of one mansion.
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Main residence!
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Another angle of mansion (love the trees & garden
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Part of the town of Bellagio.
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A lane way in Bellagio!
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Day 8 - Lake Maggiore

Stresa, Isola Bella, Isola Pescatori

Friday, 6 May 2011
Today we visited two of the islands on Lake Maggiore.
The first was Isola Bella where we were given a guided tour of the palatial Borromeo villa and gardens which dominate the island. This villa is still privately owned yet part is open to the public. It houses stunning Murano glass chandeliers, tapestries and paintings. With my love for craft I was particularly attracted to the amazing detail and work involved in the the tapestries. Outside the formal gardens with flowers and stonework was also spectacular. Being early spring we were also lucky enough to witness the spectacular display of the resident white peacocks! And, the gardeners were at work getting the "welcome" garden ready for the owners annual summer visit.
Later we were taken to Isola Pescatori which is a small picturesque fishing village. We were able to wander freely and have lunch at one of the many restaurant/cafes available. It was here that I bought my handcrafted Murano glass heart shaped pendant! I'm so glad I did because I didn't see anything as lovely anywhere else.
In the afternoon we returned to Stresa for an evening at leisure. We joined a few of our fellow travellers at a restaurant in Stresa for a lovely meal.

From Isola Bella looking at Isola Pescatori.
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Jason on Isola Bella (our hotel in Stresa in the b
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Gardener preparing the "welcome" garden!
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Magnificent stonework on Isola Bella!
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A beautiful rose!
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Me and a white peafowl hen!
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One of the stunning white peacocks!
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The bird aviary on Isola Bella is bigger than most
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Stonework and beautiful gardens.
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Close up of stone works!
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Jason and I on Isola Bella!
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Isola Pescatori (the Fisherman's island)!
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In Stresa at a local restaurant!
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