Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Trip...part 3

We had just finished up our fabulous week long visit in Paris and were heading for Greece. This is where Jim started to pipe up and show some real enthusiasm. Jim hadn't been back to the "mother country" in 15 years and he desperately needed to touch base lol.

Just a 2 hour flight and a 45min drive from the airport and we had arrived in the little coastal village of Fourka. The climate was gorgeous, not too hot, not too cold and definately no humidity. The first thing I noticed was all the "older" gentlemen sitting around at all the outdoor cafes in the early evening. I wondered "where are all the women?", then I spotted them all sitting around drinking and eating in someones front yard. I immediately got the sense of a very layed back and relaxed atmosphere. A place where time really wasn't an issue.

We stayed with Jim's parents in their home. It was a typically beautiful provincial style Grecian home, with white render, brown shutters, marble window sils and a black iron balcony. Jim's mum being your typical Greek villager loves living off the land so as you can imagine, there was every type of fruit and nut tree you could think of and fortunately for us everything was in season. It was like paradise. The back drop was spectacular as this town is tucked away 15 mins from the coast in a valley. Pine tree forests wrapped around as far as the eye could see and the smell was divine. Alot of people asked me if this area had been affected by the recent devastating fires but fortunately Fourka had been spared this time, and the fires were towards the south of Greece. Very sad nonetheless.

We spent a glorious 5 weeks in Greece and our days mostly consisted of hours of relaxing and tanning at the beach (It was such a relief to know that my kids could swim and play in the water all day and know that the possibility of drowning was very minimal considering there were no waves at all and also the fact I didn't have to worry about blue bottles or sharks! Unlike Australian beaches LOL). We also spent time bathing in a volcanic hot spring bath and going for mountain hikes through the forests.

Our nights were mostly spent at home with the kids but once a week we'd head down to Jim's cousins hotel for "Greek night" and us and the other tourists would learn some of the local dances as well as try to sing a few tunes karaoke style LOL.

During our time in Greece we did a couple of bus tours around the country. One was a basic tour of Thessaloniki, which is the second largest city in Greece. We saw sites like the great wall, the white tower, St Dimitrios basilica (my husbands name sake) and the archeological museum. As you can imagine all very interesting stuff! Our other bus tour took us on a 2 day journey to the south of Greece not far from Athens. This tour was amazing. Our first destination was the ancient city of Delphi. This city is home to the temples of Athena and Apollo and dates back 4000 years. Our other destination was the coastal city of Nafpaktos. We arrived on october 7th which is a significant date in their history as it was that date that the Spanish, Venetian and Genoese army's liberated the people from their Turk rulers. That evening there were huge celebrations with a re-enactment show and fireworks. It felt like new years eve. We had a blast!

Our time in Greece was happy, relaxing, educational, enlightening, ocassionally lonely (as homesickness started to kick in) but overall a time we'll cherish and remember forever.

Time to head home......via Germany and Hong Kong of course LOL......

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our Trip......cont'd

Ahhhhh Paris.....I had dreamed of seeing Paris for the longest time. The flights were long and tedious, however the 45min flight from Frankfurt Germany to Paris I had my nose pressed hard against the glass window looking down to see if I could spot any chateau's even from that great height LOL. I did, and I was like a little kid bouncing up and down in my seat LOL. Even my 8 year old daughter Sophie had to tell me to calm down. I wanted to cry as we were landing and I could just make out the outline of the eiffel tower in the distance through the smog.

We stayed in a lovely area called St Mande near Port De Vincennes. It was about 15 mins out of the centre of Paris and perfect for a family to stay. With Paris's famous metro system it's never a problem to travel around to wherever you need to go. Everyday we were up at the crack of dawn trying to squeeze in as many museums, churches and monuments we could until dark.

We saw all the important sites you usually fly to Paris to see and they were as grand and as beautiful as I had imagined. I am a virgo and as most virgo's know we are dreamers and romantics and oh god I got swept up in the romance of Paris. The stunning architecture and town planning of Paris captivated me. The long avenues, cobblestone streets, carved sandstone buildings, statues everywhere, and my favourite, the laced ironwork on all the windows........simply sublime. The French truly are a class above the rest.

A couple of times reality set in with the heavy crowds at certain spots. I kinda had this romantic notion I would be stepping back in time to the 17th and 18th centuries when I visited Paris only to get there and realise it's a hustling bustling city. I don't think I'd ever seen so many people in my life LOL. Sydney just doesn't have that kind of population.

The only regret I have was I didn't get to see Le Marais as we ran out of time. That was a major disappointment as I was intending to meet my idol/mentor and new friend....Claudia Strasser of The Paris Apartment in NY who was also staying in Paris at the time. I also didn't get to do alot of shopping and as most women know that's quite important LOL, but travelling with children and a husband can really make that a hard task.

I treasured my week in Paris. It exceeded all my expectations. It wasn't enough time but I vow to go back again sometime very soon.

Next stop Greece....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A dream come true.....

Back in September of this year my family and I set off on our first trip through parts of Europe. As you can imagine a family of four travelling from Australia to Europe is not an easy or cheap trip to make but my "husband" and I hadn't had an overseas holiday in 10 years and desperately needed a change of scenery and an escape from our monotonous routines. We felt the kids were old enough at 10 and 8 to enjoy and remember the trip but not necessarily appreciate it lol.

Our choices of destinations included Paris France(naturally), Thessaloniki Greece, Munich Germany and a 2 night stop over in Hong Kong on the way home.
Our main port of call was to stay with my husbands family in a small coastal town 45mins south of Thessaloniki on the Halkidiki penninsula, Greece. My husband (Jim) was born there and his parents still have property in his birth town. After 16 years together I was finally able to see this beautiful place I heard so much about, but more on that later...

Our Itinerary went as follows.....Paris (1 week), Greece (5 weeks), Munich (4 days), Hong Kong (2 days). Including flying time this was a 7 week holiday therefore 5 of the 7 weeks the kids were graciously pardoned from school (the other 2 were national holidays). We all agreed that this was a highly educational adventure for the children and life experiences like this are the best kind of education.

This pending adventure was certainly shaping up to be a dream come true....

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Style...

(Modern Country)

(Shabby Chic)

(The Paris Apartment)

(the rug company)

(mark cutler design)

I guess as an introduction I should briefly talk about my favourite style of interiors. That's actually a hard task as there's not one word to describe it. I guess I'm more of a traditional girl at heart and get excited when I hear the words Paris Apartment, French Provincial, Shabby Chic, Vintage and Rustic, however I certainly equally love mixing the new and contemporary with the old whenever I can.

Some of my favourite interior designers include Rachel Ashwell, Claudia Strasser, Jessica McClintock, Nate Berkus, Andre Walker and David Simmons. Some of my favourite blogs include The Paris Apartment, Cote De Texas, Absolutely Beautiful Things, Modern Country, Desire To Inspire and Mark Cutler Design. These creators and authors continue to thrill and inspire me everyday.

Please bear with me as I find my way around my new home at blogspot and I really look forward to reading your feedback and advice. I have added some of my favourite pics I've found online.

Anna.C xox.