Monthly Archives: November 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

P1040392
So what do you do when there’s a Train Driver’s strike in Germany after returning to Europe from the World Travel Market in London? Open your laptop and book a flight to Istanbul. I’ve not ever seen Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof so empty. However, I figure that’s one of the best things about a Eurail Pass, you’re not locked into any particular itinerary. I was able to continue and plan my journey – but in reverse to my original intentions.

P1040488
Off to Istanbul from Frankfurt Flughafen with Onur Air. Not recommended for tall people as there was nowhere to put my legs and those of you who know me I am a tad bit tall. I had to be moved as I was squashed in by a big bloke in front and another behind, thankfully to the exit row whereby you’d normally pay for the privilege. This is a no-frills carrier – pay for meals and drinks.

P1070103
For Australians heading to Turkey the Visa on Arrival (and not collected on your airline ticket) is a cool 50 Euro and can only be paid in cash as no credit card facilities available for processing. Other currencies accepted – British Pound or US Dollars to the equivalent. Other Nationalities reading this, check with your own country’s entry requirements.

P1040583
Very happy to be back in Istanbul and visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and more affectionately known as the Blue Mosque as it was a few minutes walk from where I stayed.

P1040562
Stunning architecture, the interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade İznik style ceramic tiles, it was built from 1609 to 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. The Mosque has one main dome, six minarets and eight secondary domes. The design is the culmination of two centuries of Ottoman mosque development.

P1040565

P1040627
Even though you must remove your shoes before entering, there’s still plenty of cleaning to be done. Ladies are required to wear a scarf over their heads and cover shoulders.

P1040821
Walking around the Sultanahmet neighbourhood.

P1040820
Sharpening scissors the good old-fashioned way.

P1040833
Looking towards the Bosphorus Sea.

P1040874
Heading over the Bosphorus Bridge before a cruise.

P1040721

P1040780

P1040785

P1040739
Superb fishing I’d imagine.

P1040738

P1040890

P1040828
Heading back after a full day out sightseeing.

P1040612
And back at my favourite little café across the road from my hotel, all of this for about A$6.00

Spice (Egyptian) Market, Istanbul

P1040502
The heady scents of saffron, cloves, sugar and spice fill the air at the Egyptian Spice Bazaar and Market, or Misir Carsisi, one of Istanbul’s oldest markets.

P1040665

P1040666

P1040664

P1040662

P1040660

P1040654

P1040653

P1040652

P1040650

P1040648

P1040644

P1040981
No better place than here to buy Turkish Delight.

P1040659
Finish off the day with my favourite coffee, Turkish of course.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

P1040955
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops.

P1040998
Mmm, don’t mind if I do …

P1040954
Bling, bling, give me a call …

P1040956
Look at the amazing choices and this is only one jewellery shop.
Jewellers and gold bracelets along Kalpakcılar Caddesi;
Gold bracelets along Kuyumcular Carsısı;
Furniture along Divrikli Caddesi;
Carpets along Sahaflar Caddesi;
Leather goods along Perdahçılar Caddesi
Leather and casual clothes at the Bit Pazarı;

P1040997
Shisha pipe to impress your mates at the next home BBQ?

P1040985

P1040988

P1040984

P1040980

P1040987

P1040986

P1040979

P1040972

P1040982

P1040969
Hard day at the office with all that bargaining.

From Monaco onto the World Travel Market in London

P1040211
What better way to go out of Monaco to Nice than by Heli Air Monaco? In Monaco there’s a complimentary Shuttle Service from your home to the heliport and return.
P1040217

P1040229
The pilot just doing his job, but what a view? Hard day at the office …

P1040242

P1040244
Heading into Nice Airport to land.

P1040310
Back in London for the World Travel Market.

P1040270
Onto the Heathrow Express for a quick ride into Paddington; had a sneak look at first class.
P1040307
Excel London – one of the largest exhibition spaces you’ll ever see! Need to change at Canning Town station.

P1040288
Rail Europe well represented to give expert advice on all European journeys by train with associated services and benefits.

P1040283
Lake Bled, on my hit list when I’m back in Europe soon after.

P1040284
Love meine Mutti country without doubt.

P1040278 - Copy
Not sure who you are, but you’re hot!

P1040275 - Copy
Keep up the great work, Big Bus Company!

P1040313
Only had one glass bubbly and think I’m seeing double. Wonderful to see Fiji Tourism so far from home.

P1040273
Duncan Webb, Chief Commercial Officer of the Onyx Hospitality Group discussing the Ozo hotel brand.

P1040290
Caught up with Vicki Holt from Visit Flanders.

P1040279

P1040280 - Copy
Oman Tourism, you do it so well.

P1040315
And there was all this to taste …

Monaco – A Royal Visit

Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly taking to the wheel.

ouverture princesse grace2
I was named after Princess Grace and a visit to pay homage to a beautiful lady I’ve followed all my life.

P1040089

P1040045
Undoubtedly a yachting community exists in this fabulous city with the cruise ships a little further out in the harbour.
P1030993

P1040019
Cars of the elite being captured by the Paparazzi at the Casino. 10 Euro entry whether or not you part with any money to play.

P1040079
The famous hair-pin bend in front of the Fairmont Hotel which also includes the salubrious Japanese Restaurant Nobu.

P1030912
Sea-view rooms at The Fairmont have a dreamy blue theme …
P1040083
And when you look out from the balcony, that’s exactly what you see – calmness and serenity.

P1030919
Garden-view rooms have a crisp gold and blue trim to compliment clean white furnishings.

P1030925
Plenty of space for entertaining and functions.

P1030942
Couldn’t wait to slide into this pool.

P1040005
A photo trail of Princess Grace showcasing her daily life can be followed around the main tourist precinct.

P1040046
A classic fun park for the kids in the middle of Monte Carlo.

P1040060
A stylised replica of the great outdoors, with its mountain, hill, waterfall, beach and brook, this surprising 7000 m2 park is an authentic work of art created by respecting the strictest principles of the Zen concept of compactness. It’s located on the Avenue Princess Grace.

P1040104
Walking around enjoying Monaco Ville and surrounds.

P1040171
Changing of the Guard 12:00 noon every day at the Palace.

P1040114
Monaco Cathedral is near the Palace.

P1040186
Princess Grace – laid to rest within the Cathedral.

CREAM__monte
And to end off on a sweet note and one for trivia buffs, Monte Carlo took its name from the famous European city – Monte Carlo as it’s one of Australia’s Arnott’s most famous cream biscuits. Created in 1926, it features two home-style honey and coconut biscuits and a layer of rich raspberry flavoured cream filling. A favourite of mine growing up.

From Nice to Monaco in a Classy Classic Car

P1030832
Right side: Meet owner Fabrice who started his Rent a Classic Car five years ago and now enjoys his stable of cars of distinction and pedigree. Left side, my driver for the trip over is Anton.
See http://www.rentacarclassic.com/rent_a_classic_car_home.html

P1030834 (2)
We’ve decided on the 6 cylinders Mercedes 250 SL which is extremely reliable and superb to look it. (It’s actually a 280 …) Very stylish and a head turner; no not me, the car …

P1030843
Heading off …

P1030840
Taking it easy along the Promennade des Anglais, Nice. Feeling a million dollars right now.

P1030837
Purrs like a kitten.

P1030854
Stopped for a quick view back over the French Riviera, Cote d’Azur

rentacarclassicae
Specifications : White/cream “Mercedes 050” color, “Hellroth” red leather interior, 2 seater, 1360 kilos, 6 cylinders in line 2,8 l engine (7 main bearings), 170 Bhp, 4 speed manual gearbox, assisted disc brakes all round, maximum speed : 200 km/h, “Pagoda” hard-top available on request…

P1030876
Not too far before we reach Eze and other locations where films such as ‘To Catch a Thief’ with Grace Kelly (my idol) and Carry Grant were made with the fantastic car chase sequence.

P1030872

P1030893
Worthy of a stop and look around the magnificent gardens and coastal view.

P1030889
Eze, France

P1030902

P1030865
Coming into Monaco, there’s a few tunnels along the way as Mont Agel is a mountain located on the border between France and Monaco

P1030985
Monaco, known for its Formula One car racing.

P1030940
We went for a ‘spin’ (shh don’t tell Fabrice) around the famous hair-pin bend which is right in front of the Fairmont Hotel which has absolute prime viewing.

Cannes and Juan Les Pins

P1030460
My expert guide to all things Cannes and the film industry.

P1030486
Well-known actors are immortalised artistically throughout Cannes.
P1030491

P1030467 - Copy (2)
Of course, we all remember ‘The Man in an Iron Mask’ particularly with Jeremy Irons.

P1030529
However, at the Carlton InterContinental Hotel Cannes, you can book yourself into the Grace Kelly Suite, if available that is …

P1030532
The Carlton is famous for hosting movie stars from around the world during the annual Film Festival
P1030540
Stairway to heaven.

P1030512
If you’re seeking a quieter area of the Cote d’Azur then Juan Les Pins should be considered. This area has a serene and unhurried feel about it.

P1030508
Great little cafes and reasonable prices.

P1030553
Driving along the French Riviera is easy, additionally there’s a train service connecting all the smaller locations along the way if need heading onto Monaco.

P1030503
Quirky and fun – Mademoiselle Hotel Juan Les Pins, Cote d’Azur.

P1030507
Breakfast at the Mademoiselle Hotel is more like a High Tea.

Cote d’Azur – France

P1030665 (2)
Symbolic for Cote d’Azur – relax and have a good time in the sun along the coast

P1030668
Even this motor bike is tuned into the swing of life along the coast. Thought I might ditch the Vespa but couldn’t find the owner for a photo.

P1030854
Fantastic bird’s-eye view over Nice and surrounds.

P1030787
Fabulous and colourful buildings all throughout Nice.

P1030711
Heritage-listed and artistically magnificent.

P1030708
I wasn’t expecting to see an Aboriginal Exhibition in Nice but was great to see we’re on the World stage.

P1030788
Sculpture of a different style and feel.

P1030749
Lunch with friend Ria at the centrally-located restaurant filled with a collection of portraits of a bygone era. Le Grand Balcon at 10 rue Saint Francios de Paul, Nice

P1030751
Something healthy for lunch this time … umm yes I know what you’re thinking, with all that yummy shaved fromage!

P1030730
Coat of another kind …

P1030697
Nice is also famous for glazed fruits seen at the Markets.

P1030795 - Copy
Heading in the direction of one of my favourite stores … Galeries Lafayette
P1030798

P1030801
Sunset along the Promenade and happy to keep walking.

P1030818
Room with a view no doubt, Westminster Hotel is in a prime location with a balcony overlooking the Promenade.

P1030806
Next door to the Westminster Hotel is Restaurant Koudoo at 28 Promenade des Anglais, these oysters must’ve been on steroids as my eyes bulged at the sight of them.

Grasse – Fragrance Capital of the World

Grasse, France and how times have changed in the production and selling of fine fragrances.P1030304
International Perfume Museum, Grasse whereby you can learn about the history of fragrance dating back to the Egyptians and its development through various influences.

P1030397
From all over the world, raw materials are sent to Grasse to be treated.

P1030403
How it was …

P1030406
A Perfumer is affectionately known as the ‘Nose’ and takes up to three years of training.

P1030419
Being shown around the Museum; here are some plants which allow people to see the beginnings of a fragrance’s composition.

P1030432
Also owned by the Museum is the beautiful gardens and parkland whereby you can hire out this space for functions and conferences.

P1030445
Rows of lavender are only one part of the magnificent gardens.

P1030438
Time for lunch – people can visit and bring a packed basket of goodies to enjoy.

P1030447
I’m having lunch with Franck and Pascale along with some lively conversation.

P1030366
Moving onto one of Grasse’s viewing points, to the south only 15 km away, is the city of Cannes with its yachts, fine-sand beaches and luxury shopping. To the east, about a 30-minute drive away is Nice, with its international airport, pebble beaches and the bustle of a busy city.


Starting at the Tourism Office Place de la Buanderie, you can discover the Medieval City by following the brass emblems in the street which mark the path to follow, aided by a map offered free of charge at the tourism office. Here Phillipe my guide shows an unnamed beauty outside the Cathedral which overseas Grasse and its surrounds.

P1030343
It doesn’t matter which way you look, the buildings are historically significant in the architecture and design of the region.

P1030332
Market in the city centre with an array of cafes and restaurants.

P1030392
Now I’m at the Perfumery, House of Molinard and prices are quite reasonable for lovely French fragrances. Unable to buy in Australia I’m afraid.

P1030414
It’s fun watching a bartender mix a cocktail, but here we’re learning the art of mixing the top, middle and base ingredients for our personalised concoction. You write down your own creation in case you perfect your dream scent and want to remember it.


And, here’s my creation with a Diploma as proof! Umm smells divine and like no other. Of course, I’ll call it Travel Gracefully …

Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe

P1020925
Fantastic start to the day for a train journey with Jungfrau Railways beginning in Interlaken-Ost.

P1030047
I know where I’m heading …

P1020929
Ok, so you can’t use your Eurail Pass on this rail experience, but don’t be dismayed, just head back down the ramp to the Interlaken-Ost ticket office and show your Pass to receive a 25% discount on the normal price.

P1020943
This is our first transfer point to change to another train better equipped with the terrain.

P1020979
Our driver ready to go.

P1020981
Making our way up is arduous but enjoyable to everyone onboard.

P1020990
Ok so this is our next change of service for the climb upwards.

P1020994

P1020998
Fresh water anyone …

P1020991

P1030012

P1030011
At 3,160 metres we’re ready to go again …

P1030027
Arrival at the Sphinx – we’re at the ‘Top of Europe’

P1030041
Here’s our shadow.

P1030028
Cheeky black birds even at this height know where to find food.

P1030015
Frozen glacier anyone?

P1030019
Just add whipped cream …

P1030077
As always all good things must come to an end and now we’re on our way down but towards Grindelwald.

P1030150
Definitely the end of the day – those Lindt Chocolate Makers are feeling hungry as they know it’s feeding time. Ummm moo to you too!