The third stop on our cruise was in Toulon, France. This was one of those stops where we had a guide book in hand as we left the ship. We walked to the bus stop and looked for the bus number the guide book said to take. There was no such bus number and we couldn’t find anyone that spoke English though we did have a French man try to help. We finally gave up and decided to just explore the town. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Toulon because I did but we decided the we would spend the money and take guided tours for the rest of the cruise. We had spent to much time and money to get there and not see what we wanted to see.
The second stop on our Mediterranean cruise was Monte Carlo, Monaco. I had read that we would be able to see the city from the ship but I wasn’t prepared for the site that lay before me as arrived on deck for breakfast. It was beautiful, espeically the very large yacht next to our ship.
I can always tell it’s spring on the farm, not by the new leaves on the trees, or the first green grass, and not even by the blooming of the daffodils. No, I can tell by the sound of baby chicks hatching. Here are some pictures of the new baby chicks and I have more hatching as I type this. Can’t wait to meet them !
I have seen this movie more times than I care to admit. It is one of my favorite movies and I live vicariously through Diane Lane every time I watch the movie. Maybe it’s because I can relate with her movie character. A woman who divorces her cheating husband, travels to Italy, falls in love with an abandoned villa, and decides to buy it. Her life undergoes its own restoration as she restores her new home.
How many others have wanted to follow her footsteps? Find that place where one goes to heal, the place that restores your soul. A villa in Italy sounds like the perfect place for this life change.
I have been back from Italy for two weeks and the urge to follow in Diane Lane’s character is even stronger. Would you believe that I’m on a tour bus in Italy and as we pass this villa, I get the urge to jump up and yell “STOP – I’m supposed to get off the bus here and purchase this place.” It’s true, it really happened !
I’m sitting by my daughter on the bus and she is the one sitting next to the window with the camera in her hand. I remember spotting this villa and telling her to get a picture of it. Well, that sounds a little calm doesn’t it? It was more like “get a picture, get a picture, get a picture, that’s my house !” Simultaneously, I’m thinking I should tell the driver to “stop” “this is my Under the Tuscan Sun house.”
Realistically, I know I have to come back home and go to work. I don’t have the money to buy a villa in Italy so I think I will print this picture, frame it, and hang in on my wall. I will look at it and think about my travels through Italy. I will close my eyes and pretend that I did get off that bus. That I purchased the villa, that I’m renovating it, and that I’m enjoying wonderful Italian food in my dining room with my new friends. I will dream that my friends from the US come to visit me all of the time, that my daughter and future grandchildren will fill the house with the patter of little feet, and that the rest of my life is filled with laughter and joy in my new villa in Italy.
One the second day of our cruise we docked in Monaco. My daughter had chosen to visit Eze Village, France while we were in port.. I had never heard of Eze Village and had done no research on it before we left.
Let me back up a minute in case this is the first post you have read about my European vacation. My daughter is a history major and she has wanted to go to Europe since she was a little girl so I let her choose most of the places that we would explore throughout Europe. I only had two places that I wanted to go which was Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast. She worked for weeks researching all of the countries we would visit and planning out what we would be able to do in the time we had in each port. All I had to do was sit back, relax, and let her lead the way. As you will be able to see from all of the photos I have been posting, she did a fantastic job. Her hope is to one day lead college kids through these countries and allow them to immerse themselves in other cultures. She is also certified to teach High School English and feels it’s important for students to be able to see the places that they spend so much time studying .
Of the 16 days we were in Europe, it only rained in Monaco. We were very lucky since we were there the first of March. It started pouring about the time we reached Eze Village. Even though I had to take pictures while my daughter held an umbrella over the camera, it was my favorite place to visit and is at the top of my list of places I would love to see again. Everyone time someone ask me what my favorite place was, I always tell them Eze Village.
If you are going to be in Monaco and would like to visit Eze, you can catch a bus and it will carry you directly there. The buses run regularly so you shouldn’t have a very long wait. I’ll try to post about bus numbers and costs and soon as I go through all of my notes.
As you can see by the photo above, it was pouring rain.
I have so many fond memories of spending time in my grandmothers kitchen so it’s no surprise that any time I make a cream based pie, I think of my grandmother.
I used to stand on a chair by the stove with a spoon in my hand stirring up whatever creamy delight she was making. After she finished pouring the filling into her pie crust, she would give me a spoon and let me scrape the bowl. I thought that was the most wonderful treat in the world.
This is one of those old fashioned banana pie recipes except that I chose to make a cream topping instead of a meringue. You can make it either way.
¾ cup sugar
¼ cups cornstarch or ½ cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
4 eggs yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon banana flavoring (use 1 tsp vanilla if you don’t want/have the banana flavoring)
Pie crust (homemade or purchased)
When my daughter and I were looking for a place to stay when we landed in Ireland, we chose the Dublin Airport Manor. We were only staying one night and needed to be at the airport at 5:00 the next morning so we were looking for someplace near the airport. We read several great reviews about the place and the price was great at €44.
The website states that it is 5 minutes from the airport. I think our taxi driver must have taken a longer route because it took us about 12 minutes to get there and cost us €15. We ended up arriving early in the morning instead of our 2:00 pm planned arrival because our airline cancelled one our flights. We also explained that our luggage had been lost in transit and we had no clothing with us.
The lady at the desk went out of her way to put us in another room. She also recommended a place where we could purchase inexpensive clothing to get us through the next couple of days (the airline promised to get our luggage to us ~ they didn’t but that’s another story). She called us a taxi and told him us to take us to a mall in Swords, the closest city. (another €15) We had a great time shopping but the extra taxi and clothing expense wasn’t in our budget so we only purchased what we needed. It was almost dark when we returned so we took our showers and organized everything so we could catch at taxi at 4:30 am. (the lady at the desk also arranged this for us)
The kindness of the people at this hotel made our short stay there wonderful. The lady at the desk even offered to make my daughter some bacon or toast when she heard she wasn’t feeling well. Oh, and did I mention how clean everything was? My daughter fell in love with the purple color and tried to figure out how she could put the lovely purple chair in her purse:)
This hotel is not in the city center where all of the action is. We did stay in downtown Dublin on our return trip and though it was convenient to downtown attractions, there was a lot of noise all night long. If you want someplace that is nice and quit and only a short ride into Dublin, I would recommend you give this place a try.
Of the seven countries we visited, Ireland had the nicest people and the people at Dublin Airport Manor helped to make a stressful situation bearable. I would love the thank the lady that helped us and wish I could remember her name so I could mention it in this post and in my online reviews.