One of the reasons why I joined this tour was because I was inspired by the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. The movie setting was at Villa Laura, Tuscany and was unbelievably inspiring and breathtaking with its spring season of flowers. I fell in love with the bed of sunflowers and I told myself I would visit the city someday. My “someday” arrived fast with the offer to join the group last May 2011. Here’s to an adventure of a lifetime with my friends.
Day 1 started at one of my favorite cities- Paris. We had an early morning flight to Dubai for a stopover and arrived in the glittering city at night. After dropping off our luggage, we had our dinner at La Creperie Saint Germain and decided to call it a night after.
Le Creperie prides itself in elevating the crepe they serve into an artform.
The next day we traveled for 3 and a half hours to visit a medieval pilgrimage destination, Mont Saint Michel, at Normandy and was welcomed by the impressive “Marvel of the Western World.” A Romanesque Abbey Church greeted us when we arrived. No wonder this is one of Normandy’s boasted tourist spots. We climbed 350steps to reach the top of the Abbey and a picturesque view of the bay definitely took us to a different level of escape.
Day 3 of our tour was one of my favorites. I have been to Paris quite a number of times, but this trip was, by far, the most memorable one. Aside from seeing and admiring the majestic Eiffel Tower, I was able to score a ride in a Ferrari! Talk about cruising the city with style! A stroll down the Champs Elysees and a little bit of shopping will never be a passé. Of course, the prestigious Arc de Triomphe, Concorde Square, Louvre Building, Opera House, and Notre Dame Cathedral were in our list. I must say, a day in the City of Light is just never enough!
We enjoyed taking in all the sites and sounds Paris had to offer.
We visited the Renaissance of France, Loire Valley, on our fourth day. Three castles in one day? Possible! We discovered the majesty of Chenonceau Castle, Cheverny Castle, and Chambord Castle. When visiting the Chenonceau Castle, never miss the chance to take a photo-op on the lawn foreground of the castle. Our day ended at Cheverny Castle where we got so much inspiration from the interiors of the castle. It was a sight to see Renaissance-inspired furniture and design.
Our fifth day was exhausting and yet, so fulfilling. From Paris, we took the second-class TGV train to Grenoble where we were greeted by a scenic masterpiece. We hiked atop the high Alps of Mont Blanc and were welcomed by the fashionable ski resort of Chamonix and the best fondue I had ever had. Everything was so picture-perfect!
The next day, we had our last breakfast in Chamonix, France and off we went to Lake Como, Italy. On the way there, we stopped by the lakeside resort of Lugano in Switzerland. Its amazing to be in three different countries in one day. The stop over at Lugano gave us time to visit cafes and boutiques. I chanced upon a model of the print ad of C&A that was wearing the same colors as I did. A pose with the poster was a must! My friends were teasing me if I would buy a watch since I was in Switzerland, but I jokingly replied that I would but only Swatch watches for my children. Finally, we arrived at Lake Como where a superb mountain setting awaited. We rode a yacht on the lake and while cruising, we saw a bunch of paparazzi holding big cameras and were using a mirror to take photos of a yacht. Later on, we found out that they were stalking George Clooney! I should have joined them in taking photographs! The day concluded with a sunset that was truly extraordinary and seemed like a painting from afar. The day ended at the Palace Hotel where we all stayed and what a blessed day we all have had.
A morning drive to the fashion district of Milan is our agenda for day 7. We toured around Duomo, La Scala, and the Galleria. After that, we transferred to Foz Outlet Shop for some retail therapy. We didn’t stay long in Milan and headed back to Como.
En route to Bologna we go! For the first half of our Day 8, we swung by Bologna to visit the oldest university, Piazza Maggiore, and the endless city arcades. Every corner in Bologna projected wealth and aristocratic power; must be the reason why it is the largest capital in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. In the afternoon, we continued our journey to Tuscany. I was quite disappointed that the sunflowers were not in season when we arrived. My dream of witnessing a bed of flowers was nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, my trip was awesome and that made me forget about the sunflowers.
Our day 9 started by passing the heart of Chianti vineyards on our way to San Gimignano. This town encompassed over-all uniqueness through its medieval squares, town walls, and alleyways. We were in awe at seeing dozens of preserved tower houses and strolling around town made me realize how rich their culture was.
It’s time for our R&R when we went to Montecatini the following day. Which is known as the Spa Capital of the World. Next stop was the Renaissance hill town of Montepulciano. Yes, the name sounded familiar to me, too. It was the movie setting of the Twilight series where the Volturi is believed to be residing. Anyway, Montepulciano screamed cheese and wine everywhere. We also visited Duomo, San Biago, and Piazza Grande.
Down to the second to the last leg of our tour was a trip to Capri, Italy. We cruised to the beautiful Isle of Capri. It was like a mecca for jetsetters like me. We took a break at Piazetta for a cup of coffee and continued the day at Blue Grotto. This underground river brought about enchanting impressions and we were lucky to experience the low tide. We were able to enter the grotto and see how fascinating the light reflected on the aqua-colored water of the river. After that adventure, we took the train up the town to Anacapri and spent time window-shopping and admired the pristine waters of the bay of Naples and Salerno. Our day ended at Capri Moon Restaurant where you can pick lemons to squeeze on to your salad; plus, an added bonus of an over-looking view.
We ended our trip at Rome, Italy. Since I have been to Rome before, we were relaxed when we came here. We still roamed around the Eternal City and visited the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Venezia, and Trevi Fountain. Our last day was a blast and I will be forever grateful with this tour.
I felt tremendously uplifted because of this trip. Aside from experiencing adventures of a lifetime, I was sharing those memorable moments with one of my best friends Annie.