SUNDAY, 18th June

Tonight we sleep in Innsbruck after departing Zurich this morning on a train to Bregenz where we had a stopover just long enough to enjoy a schnitzel lunch before boarding the train to Innsbruck. This was the route we needed to take as there is work being done on the line from Zurich to Innsbruck. It was most picturesque.

INNSBRUCK is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria. The name translates as “INN BRIDGE”. The city is located in the broad valley between high mountains. Innsbruck is an internationally renowned winter sports centre.

Having arrived at our Hotel Zach mid afternoon we had an introduction to some architectural history of this area by walking through the Old Town.


Innsbruck’s Trademark is THE GOLDEN ROOF which is situated in the medieval Old Town. On the orders of Emperor Maximilian l, the splendid balcony with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles was added to Archduke Friedrich lV’s residence. The stone relief on the balcony shows Maximilian’s wives.


SATURDAY, 17th June

Today has been a day to stop and to try to take in all that we have been so privileged to share with Erika over the past ten days – what a wonderful hostess and Tour Guide. We have caught up on washing, accompanied her to the Shopping Centre and have packed cases ready for an early start in the morning when we move by train from Switzerland to Austria. At 19:30 Pat and I walked in the local area in bright sunshine to complete our memories (and photographs) of the area in which she lives.



FRIDAY, 16th June, 2017

Today has been a “TRAVEL BY TRAIN’ day, making good use of our Eurail Pass. This enabled Erika to have a break from driving . We set out at 09:00 on a bus to the Regensdorf Train Station taking a train to Zurich Hauptbahnhof, the next train to Bern (at 10:06) and the third train to MURTEN, repeating the route to return home at 21:00.

This medieval town in the heart of Switzerland has a Mediterranean feel. Approximately 76% of the population is German speaking (hence, MURTEN) and 13% is French speaking (MORAT).  It is the Lake District’s main town in the Canton of Fribourg. The lakes are MURTENSEE/LAC DE MORAT, NEUCHATEL and BIEL. Today’s  cityscape was mostly built during the 17th and 18th centuries.

TODAY we strolled the cobbled streets of the town and walked around the rampart walls which were built in several stages, the lower 15 layers of stone dating from before the town’s construction in the 12th century.

The Main Street (Hauptgasse) and Arcades, the Baroque-styled town enhanced by various arches.  Even today business signs must be kept simple – neon lit signs have been banned helping to keep the charm of the old town.

Fountains in the Town –

An afternoon on the Lake –


FRIDAY, 2nd June

Marseille, the front door of Provence, on France’s south coast, was founded in 600 BC by Greek mariners from Phocaea. It is the oldest city in France and the second largest after Paris. In 1720 Marseille was hit hard by the Plague and lost half of its population. The city now is a growing industrial and commercial centre, home to a University and a School of Fine Arts.

Now we are three once again as Erika has joined us in Avignon. Today we went by TGV to spend the day in Marseille – first to the markets with their exuberant character. The quality and variety of Mediterranean produce provides for a wide range of street markets.  Seafood lunch was enjoyed (whole Loup for me) as we sat facing the amazing number of boats in the marina.  Our walk then took us through the streets of the Panier (Old Town) with its tall narrow houses draped with washing and Criss-crossed by steep cobbled streets and many steps. This area, together with the Old Port, has been the beating heart of Marseille for over 2,000 years.  It was good that we chose to follow through with our original plans even though the suggestion had been made along the way that it would be better to go elsewhere – a GREAT day.


TUESDAY, 30th May

After a restless night awaiting the sound of the alarm at 06:00, we showered, locked our cases, went to breakfast, said farewell to the friendly Mirabeau staff and, at 07:30  were on our way to the Tours Train Station to board the 08:00 TGV bound for Paris. From Tours it is necessary to travel back to Paris Montparnasse Station before catching a TGV bound for Avignon from the Gare de Lyon. We were each wearing backpacks, carrying shoulder bags and dragging cases. Seated in our reserved seats in a First Class Carriage at Tours we heard an announcement (in French of course) and both thought we detected “20 minutes”.  It soon became clear that we had a 20 minute delay. This was not good as our connection in Paris was fairly tight and we had to get from one major station to another. Sure enough, our arrival was delayed by 20 minutes as suspected. We were up first standing by the door waiting to jump and run (not a great idea when thinking of age  and the weight of luggage). The bus to catch for the connection was No. 91 and when Pat saw one at the stop she was off like a rocket in that direction with me bringing up the rear. The Bus was PACKED with many people just like us with luggage filling the aisle. What a SLOW trip!! At each stop people tried to embark – our only hope of making the connection with the train was that it had been delayed, but NO. The next challenge was to find the ticket office. After many enquiries and rides up escalators and then down escalators, around renovations, the lost was found and a very obliging Frenchman organised new reservations on a TGV departing at 11:40 for Avignon Central, arriving at 15:15. Our morning tea consisting of 1/2 banana, 2 apricots, Babybel cheese and a bottle of water (each) soon became our lunch By the way, the TGV moves at a speed of up to 200 mph. We are now settled at our accommodation just outside the city wall.


SUNDAY 28th May

We planned a slow start with late breakfast today and heard the Cathedrale bells at 10:45 – a call to worship. Today’s forecast was 31 degrees and continued to be quite humid. We started our walk at about 14:00 and dodged from one patch of shade to the next with a plan to buy tickets and take the Tramway back to the old town (visited previously on the tourist train) with its half-timbered houses and cobbled streets. The old Town clusters around Place Plumereau, its old houses restored to their former glory. This is a step back in time into the historic medieval city. The pleasing aspect was that there were a lot fewer tourists in the area today – many were enjoying the food and wine market again. We had a 3 o’clock lunch ? at a Creperie (I enjoyed mine with lemon and sugar).  After another break for drink and ice cream (glacé) we returned via a treed leafy Boulevard to Hotel Mirabeau at 17:00 ready for a cold shower.

The first Tramway Line began operating on 1st September 2013. The Tours Tramway is home to a fleet of 21 light rail vehicles especially for the streets of Tours. The vehicles feature a mirror-like outer cladding designed to reflect the surrounding urban environment Throughout the city centre there is ground level power supply embedded in the ground. 29 stops enable tourists to visit the city with upwards of 55,000 per day using the Tramway on a 15km route. This was our mode of transport today.



Today we had a slower start as we had not quite worked out the most economical and time effective way for us to visit the Chateau of Villandry. We had a timetable for a 117 bus from Tours which, at this time of year, operates only two services out and two services back on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thus the visit needed to be today and we had already missed the morning bus. The lady in the Tourist Office suggested that we take the little tourist train. This was a good idea and we particularly enjoyed chugging through the old part of Tours. When back, there was a street flower market and a Food and Wine Event nearby – we loved the flower market, of course.  After consuming some lunch we were finally on our way to Villandry at 13:30 on a hot/humid day in a bus without air conditioning.

VILLANDRY – Chateau et Jardins

Villandry, built in around 1536, is the last of the great chateaux built along the banks of the LOIRE during the Renaissance. It was my choice today to restrict my visit to the amazing gardens. “Maintaining the strict symmetry of these gardens requires constant care. Each winter the 1,015 lime trees scattered over the whole estate take a team of four gardeners three months to prune. If you place the box trees end to end, they would measure 52 kms and they have to be pruned between April and October every year. 115,000 flowers and vegetables are planted out in the gardens each year and 50% of these plants are prepared in the greenhouses. Since 2009, the gardeners have changed their modern growing methods for organic methods; digging and hoeing, and the introduction of auxiliary insects enables us to greatly reduce the need for chemical plant treatments. The layout of the vegetables is changed at each planting time, both for the harmony of colour and form and also for horticultural reasons, as it is important to rotate the crops every three years to avoid impoverishing the soil.”

This Garden is a horticulturists delight and for me, a place to soak in the beauty and to view the product of much planning and hard work of those who work in this superb place.