28 June, 2016

Interrail, main target: ROMA!

My number one advice about a months trip in Europe is of course to go by train. The other is to plan for a maximum of two main destinations with plenty of headroom for spontaneous ideas.

You have to see it once...
In line with this, Bretagne was my first goal, Toscana was decided in the spur of the moment and Roma was the last vital stop, leaving the rest up to chance. It's been an incredible 17 years since my last visit to the Italian capital, but the city is still standing pretty much as I left it.

Return at nightfall, before the sky gets black ...
Three local Couch Surfers hosted me on their sofas, my sleeping bag making my visit less troublesome for them. All being kind and very helpful, not only offering shelter but also openhearted conversations.

a 360 degrees sphere flattened out, from inside Saint Peter.
Roma is perfect for walking. You have more sights than you can dream of within the reach of your sandals. Anywhere in between, try out a gelateria in search of the perfect icecream. You will most probably succeed every single time!

It is good, so good. Good. Goodgoodgood!
My top travel tips for Roma are: get your butt out of bed early and find a favourite piazza! You need to be first in line, not to be trampled down. Saint Peters one day (opens at 07.00), Colosseum another (look back one hour later and you will be grateful for the advice).

Have a walk in Trastevere, still a charming collection of alleys in a former worker's district.
Find a pizzeria like "Forno" in Campo dei Fiori, sit on the edge of a fountain, watch people taking selfiestickselfies ... and just feel the atmosphere. You are in ROMA!

25 June, 2016

Interrail in Toscana - by car!

Continuing from Paris, I visited dear friends in Chambery, Lyon and Toulon. It seems all French cities have an old quarter with "mantainance-free" facades, colourful shutters and pebblestones.

Old Toulon. Good atmosphere. And some girls in pink,  in a matching doorway.

Having limited time with my friends after their work hours, the conversations were intense, and each minute valueable. Sharing a physical old fashioned hug, not merely virtual, digital ones, makes a great difference to a friendship. I am priviledged to know people that I love on a permanent basis.
One of these is a crazy Italian who met me in Livorno and took me around Toscana for a couple of days.

A roadside camp, found late at night. 

We followed the winding streets in the countryside, stumbling upon spectacular towns, fortresses, towers and ruins - and enjoying the rolling hills striped with cypresses skirting roads leading to grand villas.

Siena, of course, but picturesque towns are found on every other hilltop:

It is so amazingly green, everywhere. The lush colours, big old treet, olives, dates, flowers and cactuses...  I just love cactuses.

We topped it up visiting a couple of thermal springs, like Terme Di San Filippo below. The Icelanders must teach them about thermal power - it's a lot of it in this region.

Next stop Roma. See you there!

Interrail 2016 - Biking Bretagne!

Arriving to Gare du Nord in Paris by TGV, I had a glass of wine in the iconic "Grand Hotel du Clermont" before meeting a good friend that took me by car straight west, were two rental bikes were ready for us on the north coast of Bretagne.
    I never knew this corner of France, known for an aboundance of hospitality and rain. Parisians meant we were mad to go biking in this area at a time when half of France and Germany was suffering from heavy flooding, but we had mainly sun and hardly a drop of water for nine days!

Romantic walkway under water, and not much headroom under the bridge...

Partly following the historic "Sentiere de douaniere" that goes all along the coast, we biked adress a tidal road, so at the time of this photo we had actually biked to an island, where I enjoyed my oyster, bought fresh from cultivator.

Knowing our limits, we made a shortcut by train to Brest:
 (please notice my professional, multi purpose red clothesline)

Arriving by boat to the peninsula of Crozon, the sun continued to shine. Awesome rocks and cliffs!

One night, after a generous amount of wine, the tradisjon of illegal camping bought us into this field of marguerittes. Apparently military area, but hard to tell, in the dark.

Strikt time limits (somebody had to return for work) forced us to return to the car, allowing a visit to amazing Saint Malo and the absurde experience of walking adress the bay to Mont Saint Michelle. 

Totally worthwile!  No more sun, but as the rest of the continent were drenched, we did not complain!
Oh... I forgot Jonathan. The coolest seagull ever. Kind of polite,  very smart, patient and analytical - completely different from his hundreds of friends... He had paté and nutella all over his beak, when we left...

... this is my first update made from my phone. Might look horrible, but might come more...

Have a great summer!