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What is a Cuttlefish?

My wife and I returned from our two week trip to Italy not too long ago. We had an amazing time. We visited Rome, Tuscany, Florence and Venice. The art was stunning, as I stood in awe before a Michelangelo sculpture and asked myself how he could create such life and movement out of marble. The views from the Tuscan hill towns of the vineyards and rolling hills were amazing. And then there was the food. The freshest mozzarella, perfectly ripe, red tomatoes, and gelato in every flavor including grapefruit, pistachio and stracciatella (chocolate chip). And then there was the cuttlefish.

One evening in Venice, I felt like a change of pace from pasta and I wanted fish. I saw an item on the menu listed as cuttlefish. So I said to the waitress, whose English was not very good: “What is cuttlefish?” She said: “It’s cuttlefish.” And I said: “What is cuttlefish?” And she said: “It’s just cuttlefish.” Not getting anywhere, I decided to be adventurous and I went ahead and ordered it. A few minutes later a plate arrived with many black pieces of squid on it.

Now this was a big problem because I follow the Jewish dietary rule which prohibits eating shellfish of any kind. I tried to explain to the waitress that I am Jewish and do not eat shellfish. She had no idea what I was talking about. So I sent it back, ordered the sea bass, which was terrific, and I ended up paying for two meals.

What did I learn from my culinary adventure in Venice? I realized that not everything labeled as a fish has fins and scales. But I also learned another lesson about mishaps and mistakes. When I think back on our Italy trip, I will remember the times when everything went well. But I will also think of my cuttlefish story and others stories that I do not have time to share, like how we got lost in Tuscany and almost had to sleep in the car.

I suspect that we all have these kind of travel stories. Times when we reserved the dirtiest hotel room ever that looked great on the internet. Or when the rental car broke down in the middle of nowhere. At the time, we might say to ourselves: This is terrible, what a disaster. But then something funny happens. We get back from the trip. We look at each other and we smile and laugh about the problem. And we tell the story for years to come.

So I asked myself: Why is it that the best travel stories are not about the perfect view or the amazing piece of art, but the time when you


The area encloses Lake Iseo, Valley Camonica, Montecampione ski resort and the lower Alps. To understand better the fascination of this area, we shall embark on a virtual tour of discovery. The first place of call has to be the City of Bergamo, not only because of the airport, but also because I would rate it up there with the best in terms of culture, sites and experience. High claims I admit so I’ll explain why.The train and bus station sits like a pedestal to the expansive central avenue with some excellent shops and restaurants but the cream on the cake is the fortified old medieval high town (Citt  Alta) reachable by cable car at the top of the main street. It is still today one of only four Italian cities (with Ferrara, Lucca and Grosseto) with the old town centre still totally surrounded by the walls that have maintained intact their original aspect over the centuries. The lack of cars is a blessing although scooters wizz past you at regular intervals. Standing on the old cobbled streets looking at the Old Square (Piazza Vecchia), with the Contarini Fountain and Palazzo della Ragione (the Reason Palace), you can still hear every evening at 10.00pm the ‘Campanone’, or bell tower, ringing out to recall the past when these bells announced the nocturnal closing of the fortified doors of the city. On the other side of the Reason Palace there is the large white building of the New Palace that hosts the Angelo Mai Library. For the energetic, you must climb the Torre del Comune (City tower) as the views are worth the hard work but careful of the narrow steps as it’s a long way down. Nearby the famous Romanesque Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica holds the tomb of Bergamo’s favorite son, the musician Donizetti.Bergamo Citt  Alta also hosts a Botanic Garden and is the centre of the prestigious university faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature, and there resides a sort of Italian Cambridge antmosphere as students bussle past, late for their classes. Before descending, I recommend a visit to the Rocca (old castle) as there are also beautiful views from the castle walls and a large cannon reminds you of the real reason for this hilltop walled town.sOn the way back to the station, stop in the Accademia Carrara Gallery in Piazza Giacomo Carrara 82. you will be surprised to find such a variety of masterpieces, from Botticelli and Raffaello to Bellini and Donatella, all illuminating these ancient walls .The bus station has handy buses every 30 minutes to Lovere port on Lake Iseo. The lake surprises most people as it winds majestically for over 18kms through the lower Alps and hosts Europes largest inland Island, Monte Isola, with it’s characteristic Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Ceriola sitting like a beacon on the highest elevation of the Island. Lovere was recently voted as one of Italy’s prettiest borghi (picturesque villages) and apart from the obvious bars and restaurants, I particularly recommend a walk along the bank of the lake down to the port with the odd duck or swan to accompany you on your way. The ferry point in the centre is a great place to set off on a trip around the lake or take an evening cruise with live music to accompany an evening meal onboard.Next stop is a 15 minute bus hop north to Boario spa town in Val Camonica, famous for it’s bottled mineral water and used by many as a central location to explore both the lake and mountains of this idyllic location. Boario’s name is thought to derive from an ancient Celtic word for “ancient water” and the valley itself has the unusual fact that it contains the highest concentration of ancient rock carvings in Europe and is indeed a UNESCO World heritage site. At the head of the valley on the western side is The Alps largest national park, Parco dell’Adamello, rich in flora and fauna with numerous lakes and valleys. Staying in one of the many parks lodges is back to nature at its best.Just above the town is Lake Moro. Unspoilt and nestled like a cup in the palm of the mountains. Walking round the edge of the lake is a favourite past time of many and the occasional deer or Kingfisher are a reminder of the natural beauty of this area. Waking up in the morning wondering what to do is not a problem as the area is teaming with activities, places of interest and history. Activities include the usual canoeing, windsurfing, ferry boats, multi pool complex and horse riding but also the more exhilerating treetop rope parks, indoor go carting, paragliding, canyoning and rock climbing ! To get the most I recommend hiring a car locally for a couple of days and bringing health insurance !The rich history of the valley is reflected in its castles and villages with their quaint churches centrally located as if the villages themselves were but an afterthought. There are many stories abound the valleys dramatic past. One story recounts that in the time of the “witch hunt” in 1510 the bishop Paolo Zane came to the valley and accused hundreds of witch craft with the subsequent sad consequence. In fact the then rulers (Venice) sent another Bishop to investigate…not the numerous witches but Bishop Zane himself !Excellent pasta, pizza and wine are a staple of the Italian cuisine but digging deeper their are some exquisite local delicacies to discover in every region. In the Camonica valley it’s Casoncelli (A home made type of Raviolli), wild boar stew with Polenta, Strinu (a type of sausage) and Tagliata, delicate slices of lightly cooked beef often served with rocket salad and Parmesean cheese. Every village in the summer has a weekend street party where they serve these dishes along with music and barrels of wine. Fortunately there are a lot of villages so summer seems an endless festival of food!Winter calls for a trip up to the Montecampione Ski resort situated just above Boario and lake Iseo. The trip itself is a discovery, as between the tree lined roads appear spectacular glimpses across the lake and over the valley and Alps beyond. The resort, although large and stretching over 3 stations with some 80kms of piste, is mainly used by Italian day trippers from Milan which leaves most weekdays surprisingly quiet and ski passes much lower than some other “famous” resorts. Even better there is available locally, snow mobile hire, snow shoe excursions , ice climbing, Heliski etcOur trip ends with a picturesque train journey from Boario down to the bottom of the lake to the actual village of Iseo. Also voted amongst Italy’s top 20 villages, it sits along the lake with a large pedestrian area behind. Many people from the surrounding area go down to sit outside a bar sipping a cocktail and watching the sun set behind the mountains reflected in rays of orange and red across the lake…unforgettable.For my work I have travelled extensively throughout Italy and personally the “branded” locations like Lake Garda, Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome, I find much the worse for wear from over development of tourism, sometimes to the detriment of their local culture. They remain “must-see” places, yet, for a real “slice of Italy”, I’d head for the hills and the lesser known Lakes of Lombardy.sFor a more complete destination guide to the area see www.monticolo.it


Rome – ‘The city of Ceasars, romance and la dolce vita’ – A.Moreton.

Rome was not built in a day and has the spectacular treasures to prove it. Rome has provided the pretty backdrop to many a Hollywood movie: Three Coins In The Fountain, Seven Hills of Rome and Roman Holiday to name but three.

It’s the city of the Caesars, of romance, the city of la dolce vita and long sunny days, the city of endless art, churches and museums, fountain-splashed piazzas and majestic monuments to its golden age of empire. Those monuments will already be familiar to many – the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. But one of the greatest pleasures of exploring Rome is the number of times you stumble across hidden corners, wonderful viewpoints, evocative street scenes and touching vignettes of daily life.

The ancient town of Tivoli is the most popular one-day excursion from Rome. Some 20 miles from the city centre, it’s known for two main sights, the Villa d’Este, a Renaissance villa celebrated for its
Gardens, and the Villa Adriana , a vast villa and grounds created by the Emperor Hadrian.

Trains run from main termini to Tivoli, but this can be a slow journey.

Buses depart every 10 or 20 minutes from the Ponte Mammolo Metro station (Line B). The journey time is 50 minutes. If you have time to spare, Frascati offers a cool, calm retreat from Rome’s heat and hustle.

The Villa Aldobrandini was built at the end of the 16th century and was one of the few old buildings to survive the bombing during 1943 and 1944 that destroyed 80 percent of old Frascati. The villa itself is closed to the public, but some of the grounds are open and offer excellent views of Rome in the hazy distance. Trains depart from main termini every hour and the journey takes 30 minutes.

Helpful Hints about Rome

Italian is delightfully easy on the ear and relatively easy to learn. A few polite phrases might break the ice. Try Buongiorno (Good morning) or Bueno sera (Good evening). Come sta? (How Are You?) or Quanto costa? (How much?)

Currency and Tipping
The Italians use the Euro, made up of 100 cents. Tipping is not expected for all services, and rates are lower than those elsewhere. As a general guide, cabs: round up to the nearest 50 cents; restaurants: around 2 Euros 50; porters: 1 Euro a bag.

Dress Code
Rome can be extremely uncomfortable in the high summer, with temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius in July and August. Light clothes and sensible planning will prevent you becoming hot and bothered in the Roman fray. Top restaurants might demand formal dress for dinner, but for the majority, it’s smart casual.

Rome is generally safe, but take precautions. Pickpockets are the main worry so carry money and valuables in a belt or pouch, wear your camera, leave valuables and jewellery in the hotel safe and avoid gangs of street children.

Many of Rome’s sights can be visited on foot – there are organised walks taking in monuments and other places of interest on the way. There’s also a small, efficient (but crowded) subway system that will take you to the outskirts of the city.

There are hundreds of Rome Luxury Hotels available so shop around online for your favourite.

Venice – ‘A city built on water with unequalled beauty, which was once the World’s greatest trading empire…’

Nothing quite prepares you for Venice. You can read about it, see film of it and listen to people enthuse about it, but only when you’re actually on the Grand Canal with the wind in your hair watching a Venetian sunset will you fall under its magical spell.
This is truly a place like no other – a city built on water, where the main streets are canals; there’s traffic, but not as we know it. It’s also a city rich in art, sculpture and music. But there are many other faces to Venice.

The shopping here is as good as anywhere in Italy with all the designer names, as well as crafts such as jewellery, glass and fabrics. There are chic bars and a vibrant nightlife and little surprises round every corner. Wander from your intended route and you could find yourself in a small but beautiful piazza – there might be a little restaurant, a chapel or a shop selling Carnival masks. This is a city for art-lovers and romantics … and anyone who wants a brief escape from the age of the automobile.

The main trips out from the city of Venice are to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is like a miniature version of Venice itself, but with more modest palaces and fewer churches. Everything here revolves round the glass manufacturing industry which has been established here since 1292.

A visit to the Glass Museum or one of the many galleries is well worthwhile. Visitors to Murano might like to visit Burano on the same day. This has traditionally been a lace-making centre and the houses here are painted in a rainbow of blue, red, peppermint, russet and yellow – colours that are attractively reflected in the waters of the canals. Both islands are reached by waterbus – the journey’s about 40 minutes.

Helpful Hints about Venice

Italian, with a Venetian accent. Italian is delightfully easy on the ear and relatively easy to learn. A few polite phrases might break the ice. Try Buongiorno (Good morning) or Bueno sera (Good evening). Come sta? (How Are You?) or Quanto costa? (How much?)

Currency and Tipping
The Italians use the Euro, made up of 100 cents. Tipping is not expected for all services, and rates are lower than those elsewhere. As a general guide, gondolas and water taxis: between 5 and 10 per cent; restaurants: around 2 Euros 50; porters: 1 Euro a bag.

Dress Code
Summer isn’t necessarily the best time to visit Venice. Apart from the crowds of tourists, the air can be unpleasantly humid. But if you are there in July or August, light cotton clothes would be ideal, with some warm jumpers for evenings on the canals. Good walking shoes are a must.

The best time to visit is from late April to early July. In the late spring, it rains less often, the air is mild and the long days allow you to dine out of doors in the light of the setting sun. If you time your visit to coincide with the famous Carnival (February), remember that the Adriatic coast is often cold and windswept. Take coat, gloves and rainwear. And in the winter and autumn (fall), remember that high tides can cause some flooding of piazzas, so make sure your shoes are fully waterproofed! Except in the very best restaurants, smart-casual is the accepted dress code.

Venice is not a dangerous city, apart from pickpockets in the most touristy areas. The usual precautions apply: carry money and valuables in a belt or pouch, wear your camera and leave valuables and jewellery in the hotel safe.

Venice itself is not so big and the best way to explore it is on foot. A good map is essential and it’s useful to locate and remember a few landmarks like the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square to help you get your bearings. If you do want to go farther afield, you can either take the vaporetto or the motoscafo. The former is big and rather slow, but offers fine vistas of Venice from its open deck. The latter is low over the water and faster, with a smaller deck. You can use it to go to the islands of the lagoon. The Venice Public Transportation company, ACTV, has a useful website with full details of fares, routes and times

A huge selection of Venice Luxury Hotels available so shop around online to find the one that suits your needs.

Florence – ‘Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is considered the birth place of the Renaissance…’

Few nations, let alone cities, can boast of having nurtured such a remarkable heritage of artistic, literary, scientific and political talent as Florence, or Firenze. The roll call of artists and writers who lived and worked in the city is extraordinary – Dante, Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Machiavelli, to name but a few.

Renaissance Florence remains very much intact and in evidence at every turn. However, its historic palaces, great churches, exquisite sculptures and countless other works of art are not crumbling relics but still a vivid and functional part of everyday life – worked in, lived in, prayed in, prized by present-day Florentines and accessible to all.

Florence is far from being austere and haughty. Alongside the museums, art galleries and historic churches there are designer shops, beautiful piazzas, chic restaurants and cutting-edge clubs. It’s a city of a thousand secrets.

Independent travel to nearby cities is easy. Regional train and bus services cover the whole of Tuscany. Take the No 7 bus from Santa Maria Novella railway station for the little hill-top town of Fiesole for an escape from the city’s summer heat and wonderful views over Florence and the Arno Valley.

Roughly 50 miles west of Florence lies Pisa, the birthplace of Galileo and home of the fabled leaning tower. It can be reached by train from Florence’s mainstation, Santa Maria Novella.

Siena, 21 miles south of Florence, is a mediaeval hilltop city with a maze of narrow winding streets that have survived virtually unchanged from the 16th Century and earlier. It can be reached by Sita’s regular express bus service. If you’re in Italy on July 2 or August 16, it’s worth going out of your way to see the palio, a traditional bareback horse race that’s been held in the Piazza del Campo in Siena since the 13th Century. It’s hot, crowded and utterly crazy!

Helpful Hints Helpful Hints about Florence

Italian, with a Florentine accent. Italian is delightfully easy on the ear and relatively easy to learn. A few polite phrases might break the ice. Try Buongiorno (Good morning) or Bueno sera (Good evening). Come sta? (How Are You?) or Quanto costa? (How much?)

Currency and Tipping
The Italians use the Euro, made up of 100 cents. Tipping is not expected for all services, and rates are lower than those elsewhere. As a general guide, cabs: round up to the nearest 50 cents; restaurants: around 2 Euros 50; porters: 1 Euro a bag.

Dress Code
Florence can be extremely uncomfortable in the high summer, with temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius in July and August. Cotton and linen clothes are best for coping with the summer heat, but you’ll want a sweater or jacket for the cool evenings in spring and autumn (fall).

In winter, you’ll need warm clothes, a waterproof jacket and an umbrella. Comfortable walking shoes for the cobbled streets are highly recommended. Remember to wear respectable dress for Florence’s churches including something to cover bare shoulders.

Florence is generally safe, but take precautions. Pickpockets are the main worry so carry money and valuables in a belt or pouch, wear your camera and leave valuables and jewellery in the hotel safe.

You can easily get around the tourist areas of Florence on foot. The longest walks take twenty minutes at most as the important monuments and museums are contained within half a square mile. Hiring a car is not advised, but you’ll see many young Florentines on scooters and if you’re brave enough and can stand the competition, these can be hired for about 30 Euros a day. If you’re taking a cab, use only the official white taxis with a ‘Taxi’ sign on the roof.

There are a wide selection of Florence Luxury Hotels available so shopping online is your best bet to find the perfect choice.


The Cannes Film Festival was launched around 1939 as an alternative by the French Minister of National Education out of concern of interfence of both the Fascist and Nazi movements of both Italy and Germany and their impact on the Venice Film Festival. The first Cannes Film Festival had difficulty getting established due to France and the United Kingdom declaring war against Germany on September 3, 1939.

The major catalyst asides from Germany and Italy was when the film “La Grande Illusion” by Jean Renoir was overlooked for the top prize, the “Mussolini Cup.” Instead, it was awarded to a film called “Olympia” detailing Nazi success at the 1938 Berlin Olympics and “Luciano Serra, Pilota.”

France was outraged because the film was overlooked in favor of films promoting Nazi and Fascist propaganda. France, Britain, and the United States withdrew from the jury of the Venice Film Festival. At the same time Renoir’s film which was anti-war was banned in Germany and Italy.

While the Venice Film Festival was in turmoil, Cannes capitalized on it. They petitioned the French Government to make an alternative film festival in France. This one was a festival that would be films can be shown and compete against one another without political bias. Especially bias from Fascists and the Nazis.

But due to strong lobbying, the French Government gave in and gave the Cannes Film Festival the go ahead. And thus the Cannes Film Festival was born.

However, it wouldn’t be held again until 1946 from September 20 to October 5 in the old casino in Cannes. But because of problems in the budget, the Cannes Film Festival wouldn’t be held in 1948 nor 1950.

By the 1950s, the Cannes Film Festival gained great growth that the month was changed from September to April. It was to avoid competition with the Berlin and Venice Film Festivals. At the same time, it was easier for people to travel between Berlin, Cannes, and Venice to attend all three festivals and thus sharing the benefits of premieres.

Cannes would present a diversity of films from the top international directors of the world. First it was a place for tourists and socialites, Cannes grew to be a place for the international film industry to get together and network for future projects.

In the 60s, a sidebar called the Semaine Internationale de la Critique was established that focused on presenting works of first and second time directors. In the late 60s, there was a strike that cancelled one of the festivals.

American cinema dominated in the 70s. But there were plenty of European films being shown in that decade as well such as Andrei Tarkovski’s “Solaris.” Three sidebars would be introduced in 1975 but would be rolled into a single sidebar in 1978 called the “Un Certain Regard.” That same year, the “Camera d’Or” award was introduced for best first-time feature film in any section.

A new Palais des Festivals et des Congres was commissioned on the site of the old winter casino int he 80s due to its huge growth. The location would host its film festival in ’83 bringing a plethora of stars.

Today, it’s the biggest of all film festivals and media events of the world. More than a thousand films from a hundred different countries. The biggest American and international stars will show up with all the glamour gazed upon by the grounds. But everybody still gathers to watch the films.

Keep in mind if it wasn’t for the events surrounding the early years of the Venice Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival would never have been created.


Driving in Italy A Tourist’s Worst Nightmare or a Cultural Awakening?

My mother had always wanted to visit the hill towns of Tuscany in Italy. So there was no doubt that we were going to have to drive.

She and my best friend Ruth and I started in Paris. We rented our car the day we were leaving. Everyone said that you’d be crazy to drive in Paris, so we didn’t. We did have to drive from the rental car agency out of Paris, however. We circled bravely around the roundabout at the Place de la Concorde (once known as Place de la Revolution and yes, this is where they guillotined everyone- nowadays they only execute tourists daring to drive there). We were trying desperately to make the needed Left onto the Boulevard by the Seine. We chose badly at the last moment and ended up having to go one way all the way back to where we began at the Madeleine Church, a lengthy, though scenic journey.

Patience prevailed and we did get out of town. Paris is where I first learned about lanes disappearing and reappearing. Suddenly three lanes turn to only two, requiring a quick and flawless merge. Flawless meaning the $35,000 midnight blue rental Citroen does not get damaged. Quick meaning no one screamed French obscenities and honked mercilessly at me. Life would have been easier with a smaller, less expensive car. Europe is made for those little half pint cars. But, did I mention we were 3 women traveling for a month in Europe? The first thing I did when we got the car was measure the trunk. It was large. It was an Avis Class E Car. Still we barely fit everything in. And this was before we began to shop in earnest.

The Italians have the disappearing lane trick everywhere. How else would they know who were the tourists, if they did not see us floundering in wonderment, weaving desperately? Are we in the right or left? We were in the middle, but now there’s no middle! What does one do when there’s suddenly no middle? Not even any lines to tell you; just suddenly there is no room.

Paris did not prepare me for what we would see in Italy. Italian driving made Parisian driving seem sane. I think that nothing on earth could have prepared anyone for Italian driving.

In Italy, all signs everywhere lead to the Autostrade. The Autostrade is the toll freeway. If you are trying to get somewhere (say from Venice to Florence) you will get shunted onto the Autostrade. If you decide that you are tired of paying tolls every 10 or 20 kilometers and decide to get off, you will


If you find Nice none too nice and Cannes a little over-run then a visit to Mougins might just remind you why the French Riviera remains one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations.

Situated just 7km (4 miles) North of Cannes, Mougins is considered as chic as its more famous neighbour, yet it offers a haven from the over-commercialisation and over-development that affects certain parts of the region.

Mougins is very much the destination for those in the know and has attracted some of the greatest cultural figures of our time. Yves St. Laurent, Jean Cocteau, Isadora Duncan, Christian Dior, Winston Churchill and Catherine Deneuve have all called Mougins home at some point in their lives and it was here that Pablo Picasso chose to spend the final fifteen years of his life.

Though occupied since Roman times, the majority of the village dates from the 15th century when it was the property of the Monks of Saint Honorat from the nearby Iles de Lerins, located just off the coast of Cannes. Nowadays many of the Abbey’s former properties, including hundred’s of luxury villas and apartments, are available to rent in Mougins.

Many people use the town as a base from which to explore the region and, during the Cannes Film Festival, villa rental in Mougins is big business, with luxury villas only available at premium prices. Fortunately, being blessed with a warm and sunny climate, the Cote d’Azur is a viable destination year round and off-peak villa rental in Mougins is not only affordable, but can provide value for money for people who require more than just a hotel room.

Set atop a hill overlooking the bay of Cannes, this former fortified village is also a wonderful destination in itself. Its narrow alleys, cobblestone streets and beautiful vistas give it an air of a movie set perfection that makes it an ideal destination for a romantic break.

The beauty of the village is complemented by a wealth of boutiques and cafes, while the more cerebral will enjoy the Museum of Photography which contains work from such famous photographers as Lartique, Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. Just outside of town, on the A8 Autoroute, one can find the Musee de l’Automobile which houses a large number of classic and racing cars including Ferraris and Bugattis, and for the ‘sportif’ amongst you there are scores of great golf clubs within a short drive.

But one can’t talk about Mougins without mentioning the food. The village is home to more Michelin rated restaurants than any other region in France. The best known of these is Le Moulin de Mougins, owned by the celebrated chef and writer Roger Verge and considered to be amongst the best restaurants in all of France.

Although Mougins has a number of good hotels, perhaps the best way to enjoy the area in an authentic a way as possible is by considering using one of the companies that provide rental villas in Mougins. They offer a great choice to suit all budgets and all requirements, whether you are looking for a luxury villa with swimming pool, or a smaller apartment to rent in the centre, Mougins has something for everyone.

Getting There:

By Air

The region is extremely well served and boasts two nearby airports, Nice Côte d’Azur (15 miles) which serves 10 million passengers a year and Cannes- Mandelieu which serves a more exclusive clientele.

By car

The journey from Paris takes 8 hours via the A8 motorway; from Monaco and Nice, the same road provides access from the opposite direction.

By rail

The TGV rail services provide access to Cannes from major French cities. Other cities with rail connections include London (9hours), Brussels (6 hours), Milan (5 hours), Basel (10 hours), Rome (10 hours) and Venice (10 hours).


Visiting Paris was nice, my family and I traveled to the Eiffel tower and after a long hike we finally made it to the top. We stopped at a coffee shop cafe for brunch after the long trek down the tower, ok so we cheated half way and took the elevator.

I sat with my cousin outside at a round table, we both had our journals out and were writing down whatever was in our heads. I wasn’t too impressed with the tower myself while she wrote on and on how great it was. Granted the view from the tower was beautiful, breathtaking, stunning, but inside the tower was vandalized and dirty. It needed a good paint job in my humble opinion.

The sun was out and a nice cool breeze blew through the sky, flipping my journal pages over on me, which was really starting to annoy me. As we sat there I drank what was left of my coffee and tossed the left overs of my sandwich to the ground for the birds to pick at.

Then I picked up my journal and shoved it in my purse. Our next destination was Venice, Italy. I couldn’t wait to write again.

The next day we were in Venice, Italy and immediately hopped aboard a boat that would take us to the island. I fell in love with Venice as soon as I saw it. I’m a big water person so seeing the buildings surrounded by water was amazing to me.

We took a gondala ride and walked through the shops. My aunt almost tipped the boat over. I was not amused at that time and gave her the evil eye. Granted I love water, but I didn’t want to go swimming at the time.

The one thing I noticed about Venice was that the alleys were filled with trash. As you floated along you could see piles of garbage reaching up to various windows and floating out among the gondalas.

A storm came and my cousin and I ran around in the rain, she was chasing the birds and I was chasing her, while our mum’s were yelling at us for getting wet.

We stopped at another cafe and had lunch. Another sandwich and coffee for myself. I pulled my journal out once more and tucked the postcard I had gotten as a keepsake then began to write.

While in the shop there was another family sitting on the far side. Tourists, like ourselves. Their camera was being passed around as the parents were busy looking through the pictures.

My goal is to go back to Venice for a week, who will go with me I don’t know, but I will go back.


We board our train in Milan on Tuesday afternoon at 1:55 pm (Italian time means that it was more like 2:20 pm) on our way to Venice on a clear bright September day. We entered the first class car from the rear. Be sure to purchase the reasonably priced upgrade to first class in the station before you board, it is well worth it.

Our trip to Venice is comfortable as we chat with a couple from Argentina (it’s their 10th anniversary) and a young man from Padua on his way home (it’s about 2 thirds the way to Venice). There is this almost surreal feeling as we glide across the Adriatic to the station in Venice. We gaze across the sea and the city is a vision, it appears to float with grace in a timeless fashion. There is the feeling that you’ve been here before as you leave the station and cross the piazza (plaza or square) toward the Grand Canal. We booked our hotel in Venice at www.skoosh.com and were pleased with the rates and availability.

Our hotel is 5 bridges “that way” as the man in the sandwich shop instructed us. The room is rather small but very well furnished and comfortable. You can take the boat taxi, waterbus or walk as there are no other means of transportation in Venice. At one time the gondola was the main transport but now it is more of a tourist attraction. We opt to walk and we’re on another adventure. As you walk through the cobblestone avenues (or alleys as the only passages in Venice are alleys and canals) you are reminded that Marco Polo and Giacomo Casanova walked these same paths. We dine at a small restaurant along the way to Piazza San Marcos. Dinner normally is around 20 to 25 EUROS for 2 with wine and spaghetti in the small but very quaint restaurants that are plentiful throughout Venice. The best way to see Venice (if you have the time) is on foot. As you wander the 118 islands that make up this wonderful city you will meet the inhabitants and shop in the little shops that are everywhere. Getting lost is part of the fun as you wind up in places that you never would have found on a tour. On one of our adventures we found ourselves in an open area near an academy of music and standing in the center we could hear someone in an upper room playing a violin, another singing opera and in another room ground level the piano was serenading us. We stood there for 20 minutes eating our favorite Italian treat Gelato!


Rajasthan – the land of kings – is the largest state of India. It has global distinction for its wealth of tourism and rich culture and tradition. The state is rich in its culture and tradition. People are generous and ready to help guests. Colorful costumes of people delights tourists. Exotic cuisine smacks your lips. Fairs and festivals of the state give you a cultural insight. Forts and palaces enchant visitors with their unique and superb architecture.

Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks provide you delightful, trilling and sensational experience of Rajasthan Tour. Camel safari provides you wonderful opportunity to see the charisma of rippling sand dunes. At sand dunes you can watch one of the world’s best sun set views. Heritage and palace hotels provide your royal and luxurious experience. In fact, entire Rajasthan and each and every destinations of the state are worth visiting, worth exploring and worth praising.

There are several destinations in Rajasthan known for their delightful charm. Below is information about top seven destinations of the state. Surly exploring these destinations will be delightful experience of Rajasthan tours India.

1. Jaipur – the Pink City
Popularly described as the Pink City of India, Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan. It is one of the worth visiting destinations of the state. It is 260 km away from national capital Delhi and 240 km away from Agra – the home of India’s star attraction Taj Mahal. Delhi Jaipur and Agra tours form one of the most tours of India, known asGolden Triangle Tour. The major attractions of the city are City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar Observatory, Birla Temple, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Jal Mahal, Nahargarh Fort, Gaitore, Statue Circle, and Colorful & Bustling Bazaars laden with exquisite handicrafts. Jaipur is one of the well planned cities of India and presents unique synthesis of culture, tradition and modernization.

2. Udaipur – the White City
Udaipur is one of the most beautiful cities of the state. It is popularly described as several nicknames like “the City of Lakes”, “the City of Palaces”, “the City of Sunrise”, and “the Venice of the East”. It is one of the most visited and preferred travel destinations of the state. Major attractions of the city are City Palace Complex, Lake Palace now a world famous Heritage Hotel, Pichola Lake, Jagdish Temple, Saheliyon-ki-Bari, Jag Mandir, Nehru Park, Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandir, Fateh Prakash Palace, Sajjan Garh Palace with excellent views of surrounding hills, lakes, and snow-white palaces, Gulab Bagh, etc. Lake Palace is one of the most popular attractions of city. It is situated on Jag Niwas Island in the middle of picturesque Pichola Lake. It is finest example of architectural and cultural explosion. Udaipur is considered as one of the most romantic cities in the world.

3. Jodhpur – the Blue City
Popularly described as the Blue City of India, Jodhpur is one of the most preferred travel destinations of the state. It is also described as the Sun City because it enjoys sunny weather all year around. Dotted with magnificent monuments, terrific temples, royal cenotaphs and ruins the Blue City of Jodhpur offers you the ultimate experience of royal Rajasthan tour. The major attractions of Jodhpur city are the mammoth Mehrangarh Fort, the elegant Umaid Bhawan Palace & Museum, the royal cenotaph of Jaswant Thada, etc. There are several beautiful palaces inside the Mehrangarh Fort complex like Phool Mahal (the Palace of Flowers), Sheesh Mahal (the Palace of Mirrors), Moti Mahal (the Palace of Pearls), Daulat Khana, and Sileh Khana. Truly Jodhpur is worth visiting, worth exploring and delightful tour experience.

4. Jaisalmer – the Golden City
Popularly described as the Golden City of India, Jaisalmer has several fascinating and enchanting attractions to offer its visitors from all over the world. The city provides wonderful opportunity to see magnificent forts, stunning havelis, ancient Jain temples, and rippling sand dunes. The city also provides delightful experience of camel rides to the nearby villages and rippling sand dunes. The prime attractions of the city are Sonar Kila (also known as Jaisalmer Fort and Golden Fort), Desert National Park, Havelis, Jain Temples inside the Fort Complex, and Sam Sand Dunes. Truly a must visit destination of the state.

5. Ajmer – A Sacred Medieval Town
Ajmer is holy place famous among both Hindus and Muslims. It is one of the most important Muslim pilgrimage centers in India. The prime attractions of the town are Dargarh Sharif, Adhai-Din-Ka-Johpra, Nasiyan Jain Temple, Ana Sagar Lake, Taragarh Fort, Government Museum, etc. Dargarh Sharif is the most popular attraction of the city. It is predominately a Muslim pilgrimage destination but it is revered by people of both faiths – Muslim and Hindus.

6. Pushkar – the Sacred City
Pushkar is a small but beautiful city of Rajasthan. It is one of the most scared cities of India. The city is so sacred that no meats, eggs, and alcohols are allowed within the city. It is home to Lord Brahma Temple, the only temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma. Other major attractions of the city are Pushkar Lake, Savitri Temple, Varah Temple, Mahadeo Temple, Ramvaikunth Temple, Holy Ghats, etc. Pushkar is also globally known for annual Pushkar Fair & Festival. Exploring the attractions of Pushkar is truly a spiritual experience.

7. Mount Abu – the Only Hill Station of Rajasthan
Mount Abu is the only hill station of the state. It is known for cool and delightful ambiance. Nature has blessed this city uniquely. Beautiful landscapes delight you. Due to pleasant whether and beautiful landscapes the city is very popular among honeymoon couples. Besides exceptional nature beauty the city is also famous for ancient Hindu and Jain Temples. The prime attractions of Mount Abu are Dilwara Jain Temple, scenic Nakki Lake, Adhar Devi Temple dedicated to goddess Durga, Sunset Point, Honeymooner Point, Guru Shikhar offering panoramic views of hills, and Mount Abu Wild Sanctuary rich in its flora and fauna. Truly a must visit destination of Rajasthan.
There are several tours packages in Rajasthan available to explore these prime destinations of the state. Some of travel agents or tour operators also provide car rental services that make enable you to explore these destinations in more and more convenient ways. Well get ready to experience the ultimate charm of Rajasthan tourism by exploring above mentioned prime travel destinations of the state.


Cyprus holidays are the best holidays in the world. Then again I am bound to say that because we (Julie and myself) have fallen in love with this beautiful Mediterranean Island. Every since our first holiday there in 1996 we have been well and truly hooked on Cyprus holidays. So much in fact that we have bought a Cyprus holiday home of our own which we share with our family and friends. I could wax lyrical for hours (and probably will) about the virtues of Cyprus holidays.

Situated close to Turkey and Egypt Cyprus has a beautiful climate boasting over 320 days of sunshine every year. The beautiful clear blue Mediterranean Ocean stays warm right through till the end of November and the short Cyprus winter only last from around the end of December until around the end of March. That’s when it rains and boy does it rain! The Cyprus landscape is dry and barren for 10 months of the year then wham! all the rain in one go so to to speak. The reservoirs get topped up and the ground soaks up all that life giving water. When it rains in Cyprus you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in Venice. The roads become rivers and vast tracts of low laying land become lakes.

But hey! we don’t take our Cyprus holidays for the rain we take them for all that glorious Mediterranean sunshine and there is always plenty of that from March right up to the end of November. Even in December you can go for walks on the beach in shorts and tee shirt although the evenings are cooler. Like I said the sea stays warm well into the year and in fact bathing in the sea is probably warmer in October than swimming in the pools. The reason for this is that the sun heats the sea throughout the long hot summer and it takes a long time to cool down again.

There are some fantastic holiday resorts in Cyprus and they are all easily accessible from one of the Islands airports at either Paphos or Larnaca. There is a modern coastal motorway linking all the main resorts and towns so getting around is a cinch. The Cypriots drive on the left same as the U.K. which is a throwback to the days of British rule that ended in the 1960s. The road signs too are in both Greek and English another legacy of the English occupation of the Island. In fact some people love Cyprus so much that they retire there. They say that Cyprus is like England with the sun but without the rip off taxes.

I won’t go on about the cheap cost of living in Cyprus apart from saying that it makes me question what the British government is actually spending all my taxes on. With so much to do and see in Cyprus you will be coming back year after year (like we do) to get round to seeing everything. You will never tire of this beautiful Mediterranean paradise with it’s friendly people and warm sunny climate. Who knows you may even come to love the place as much as we do and buy yourself a beautiful Cyprus holiday villa or apartment.