24 July 2010

& so i'm back . . . oh how i love Europe!!

Greetings all,
I'm back from the most wonderful holiday. Meeting up with my husband was the highlight & what a back drop for our reunion - Rome & Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Athens & Katakolon (Greece) - sailing on a luxury cruise ship!! Yes TOTALLY spoilt. I had seen my husband for 18 days this year, this trip just added another 15 to the total!! Our children had a great time with Grandpa in Sydney & their aunties hung out with cousins to keep them busy in the school holidays & boy were they happy with their gifts!!  This was the first & only time we'll ever holiday without them. 
Now for some highlights & very limited images, or you'd get all 800 photos i took on the trip.
First stop was Rome, lots of kisses, tears & hugs at the airport, after my Canberra-Sydney-Hong Kong-Munich-Rome 30 hour travel epic. Handsome soldier had a short trip from the Middle East (this was his 2 week war leave) for a 2nd honeymoon after 13 years of marriage. Hotel was fantastic . .. . room, food, location, price . . . visited the Coloseum, Via Nazionale, Palatino. Termini.
Onto Venice, by train & a hotel just off Piazza San Marco. I do love Venice . . . designer stores, food, souvenirs, stationery, ferries, gelato, jewellery, Rialto. I found a fabric shop (of course) which makes soft furnishings for royal families around the world - fabrics start at 500E (about $aud750) per metre & clever me found a remnant bin. Handsome soldier bought me 3 pieces, OMG, love him!! He did draw the line at me buying tassels & was embarrassed when i took photos in the shop (after permission). Lots of stores say "NO FOTO" but in my quest to get shots of chandeliers, i did some walk by photography . . . hoping for the best. There was a ferry strike on the day we were going to visit the beach at Lido & glass factories at Murano, so we couldn't add to the glass we bought on our 1st honeymoon!!
From Venice we boarded the cruise ship & had the most fantastic relaxing holiday. Wow, where do i start in my excitement on our first cruise - the state room, balcony, food, cabin boy, sunshine . . . i wanted to kidnap our evening waiter Jose, from Chile. Of course everyone has a story in this world . . . gorgeous Jose joined this cruise ship to learn English so he could return & teach his village (barely anyone in Chile speaks English) & get a better job in his home city of Santiago. After 5 years on ships this was his last cruise, his English was impeccable. He also teaches children to ride/ care/ camp with horses - i offered to post him our 4 horse loving children (& me)!!
After hours of gazing at the mountainous Albanian Coastline, where the water is deep purple, we docked at Dubrovnik in Croatia. There are lots of Croatians in Australia so to see their homeland was incredible. A population of only 4.5M & crystal clear aqua waters, it's clean, inexpensive, friendly, uncrowded, spring water, interesting history & sites to see. I really enjoyed the old city, surrounded by walls to keep the pesky Persians out, we went all over the Duke's Palace, heard the bells ring & ate delicious creamy ice cream. They will be the last country to join the European Union.
Sailing on to Athens, a very busy & crowded industrial city centre with apartment buildings. Again, Australia has a huge Greek population so their food & customs are familiar. We chose a walking tour of Athens which included everything from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier & Parliament House to the Plaka & Parthenon at the Acryopolos. Hmmm . . . would loved to have walked up to it, alas, a strike had it ALL closed!! Did you know their flag is blue & white to represent the seas/ sky & clouds/ crashing waves?? Greeks also live for today, they smoke & don't want to know about cancer?? Taking an owl from Athens will give you wisdom (i took a few!!)
Final port on the cruise was Katakolon, near the birthplace of the Olympics. They have an Olympia museum & even the original marble start line for the ancient races!! We took a bus to the Olympic Village Resort (don't think it was the Ancient athletes' accommodation) where we relaxed on sun lounges & swam in the sea. We had lunch of freshly caught octopus & the most juicy lamb souvlaki ever + taramasalata (caviar) dip, yummy. They have amazing handmade cotton & olive products in Greece.
Back to Venice where my husband had to drag me off the ship to semi reality, like filing a police report for my mobile phone, coin purse, cash, driver's licence & Visa card, which all went 'missing' between checking in luggage at the port & our state room, argh!! The police sergeant rolled his eyes at me & in tune with most customer service in Italy - serving customers is simply annoying!! Such a contrast to the many Italians in Australia who are so friendly.
We finished up the trip with 4 more nights in Rome, staying at the boutique 400 year old hotel next to the Pantheon that we stayed in on our honeymoon. More shopping, food, sites & ruins to see . . . i love the touristy part of Rome, the fountains & the history, so easy to do on foot. My best friend from preschool (she still hasn't escaped me) is Italian & i grew up with her family's cooking, restaurant & customs. If i wanted the real taste of Italy, i'd plan a joint holiday with her family. 
My big tip would be to take a cruise, what a glorious way to visit different countries, travelling by sea & sight seeing when you reach each port, brilliant!! My parents are on their 3rd Queen Mary 2 cruise this year & i can see why, i think cruising could become quite addictive. We dined with a fantastic English/ American family & got involved in lots of activities like rock climbing, eating, mini golf, eating, tours, eating, shows, eating, shoping, eating . . . you get the drift!! We've even looked into a Pacific Cruise with the children out of Sydney in 2012, THEY would love it - the sport, activities, food & be at great ages too.
Thanks for all your pre-holiday well wishes, i really appreciate your interest in my blog, life, work & family. In a few months my husband will be home with us & we'll sort out what is happening next year - are we moving to Brisbane or staying in Canberra, big decisions to make for 2011 - including choosing a high school. For now, the reality of 4 school children to parent solo, a business to run & a husband to love long distance + my work with Handmade will keep me busy & distracted. I'm still recovering from my 40 hour trip back, i couldn't sleep either!!  Now i miss my husband more than ever too.  Love Posie
PS next post will be travel tips & Euro fashion!!


Thea said...

Wow! I'm all teary just reading this. I know how hard it must be to separate again to return as I've done the long distance thing too. Oh, I do hope you move to Brisbane but I'm probably being selfish. I'm really happy to hear that you had a wonderful time though. xx

Megan said...

Welcome home!! SO glad you had a simply fantastic time, you definitely deserved it!! Always nice that the kids enjoyed their holiday too, would certainly ease the slightly guilty feeling.

Wow, 33 days out of more than 200 :( I was just thinking how after 6 days of my other half being back on site I am about ready for him to come home again. I can't even imagine how tough that would be. Very glad to hear he is coming home in a few months, you all must be super excited about that! And maybe a move? Exciting, but are you ready to leave your brand new and very wonderful shop??

yardage girl said...

Oh it's so wonderful to have you back - you have been missed! Your post is amazing - I'm so glad you both had a fantastic time with some amazing stories to tell, and memories to get you through the next few months until you're all together again. I can't wait to see some of your shopping loot! Sleep well, and talk soon. Nic x

Tania McCartney said...

This was really agonising to read, you know that?!? WELCOME HOME!!!

Corrie said...

oh I'm sooooo glad you're back! I missed you to death, I kept wanting to email to say hi but knew it would be hard while you were away to check your inbox

rest up, hope you don't have too much washing and enjoy the time with your gorgeous children again

Tammy said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time and I'm happy to hear you made it home safe and sound.
T. x

Lark said...

Excellent, Jen, it all sound gorgeous! xx

Steph said...

So lovely to have you home safe and sound! Sounds like you had a magical time...and the weather looked superb!! Can't wait to see more piccies. Hope all is well :)

Brenda said...

Welcome home Posie! mwah!
What you've told us so far of your trip sounds like a dream!
I'm so pleased you are home (sounding slightly selfish too) we all missed you!
OMG the tassels....I would have spent hours in that shop, the luxurious furnishings, the chandeliers....can you see that I'm drooling?

Look forward to your next post. Take care, get some sleep (if that's possible) Talk soon!

Liz said...

Welcome back to wintery Australia, bet you don't miss the sunshine one little bit either..? Glad you had an amazing time....

Ruby Star said...

Oh Posie, what a lovely 2nd honeymoon, it all looks gorgeous. I have missed you so i can imagine your kids might have too lol. That time is going to fly by so quickly. And you know whichever place you end up it's going to be awesome anyway. Thanks for sharing x

Kate said...

Wowee! Welcome home! It sounds like the most wonderful reunion/honeymoon/holiday. I hope the months roll by quickly and that your beloved is by your side really soon.

moose and bird said...

So glad to have you back Posie! And what a busy end to the year you will have! I'm sure your children were so please to see you and will be counting down the days until their Dad returns. Can't wait to read your next Euro post. xo

Heidi said...

I'm so happy for you to have had such a lovely trip and special time, well deserved!!

by marie-nicole said...

Welcome back. What a pleasure it is to have you back online, and hear about your trip.

Looking forward to you next post... and I hope the time between now and when you next reunite with your hubby goes super fast!!!

Rest up!

Unknown said...

Welcome back!!! I really missed you!!!

Looks like you had the best holidays EVER! I am going to be in Canberra on Monday and will pop into the shop:) Cannot wait!

Have a lovely Sunday!

Asteria said...

absolutely love rome and athens!i didnt stay in venice but took a day trip from florence, their little shops in piazza san marco is just amazing right?glad you had a blast!

Christina Lowry said...

How wonderful! It all sounds so great. A second honeymoon!

You brought back such fantastic memories for me too. I adored Venice and Croatioa and worked in Plaka, but found Greece hit and miss. I would go back to Dubrovnik in a heart beat too.

Sigh... So nice to be able to live a little through your tales.

Welcome home, hope the time until the soldier returns just flies by!

Christina Lowry said...

PS. I am a Brissy girl, and therefor biased. But we could always use another crafty and creative mother in our big little town! :)

Lou said...

Sounds wonderful! I'm so glad you had such a brilliant time! Lou.

Anonymous said...

welcome home sounds like such a fabulous time xx

Kylie said...

Welcome home. Looks and sounds like you are having a great time. Good luck on the big choices to make next year.

Love K

Rosalind said...


Jenny said...

Wonderful photos-what an amazing trip you have had-a joy to read. It must be so hard with your husband away a lot. I take my hat off to you.

Wolly said...

Hi ho Miss Jennie-oh! I have been thinking of you lots lately - wondering when, oh when, you will be tripping up north for your next posting? End of year perhaps? Your trip sounds fab - I'm just trying to plan one now - not to Europe, but somewhere closer as we have not a lot of time.Still, great to hear all is well - your kiddies are growing up fast! Love to all, Wolly