Last days of Summer – Menton

I took the 1-euro, 50-minute bus to Menton today just to have a fix of the azure waters of the mer Méditerranée and as ever, it never fails to bewilder me.  No wonder it is the grand favorite of most holiday makers coming from all over France – and Europe. 

On our way down from Lyon towards the South last Sunday, we saw the autoroute bursting with caravans, campervans, cars with bikes and surfboards on the roof, some even towing boats and motorcyles, driving northwards, back to their homes, back to their work and in over a week’s time, back to school for the children. 

I mean, for the entire six hours of driving, the traffic on the other side of the motorway was moving turtle speed, vehicles inching their way almost bumper-to-bumper, and I wondered that it might be geologically possible that the southern part of France’s land surface might be tilting dangerously downward towards those azure waters, straining from the weight of those hundreds of thousands of humanity including that of their motor vehicles who all came together to have a splash of the French Riviera!

Anyway, today in Menton, there are still tourists left behind, catching the last days of Summer.  A good photo op again for yours truly.  How I enjoy this region where I live!  It’s like being on a holiday mood forever!

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A big <Wow> to that bronze effect! 

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Lucky lady… to wake up every morning to that staggering scenery!

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Even if it’s tempered with age, the elements and grafitti, this scene is still a sight to behold!

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This is not the Caribbean, we’re still talking about the Cote d’Azur..

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Living by the sea creates a very relaxed lifestyle.  Love that dress!

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Ooppsss…the beauty of inflatables is, if you are too lazy to deflate it, you can just bang them into the boot!

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Even when most of the children are gone, inflatables are still good business….for use next summer perhaps!

  

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There seems to be a competition for the most flowered beach restaurant facade!

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and for having the sexiest and the most attractive waitresses!

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From the dining table straight to the waters!

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They have to attract attention, and business…you see!

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Drying those wet beach towels just takes minutes…in sun-drenched Menton!

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Huh, don’t they have other laundry to dry except towels…

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and one more towel…I like the colour though!

Theme: Legs of Rome

I’m back from a long hiatus!  When it’s the holiday season here in Europe, I had to take time out from my own personal holidays to play tourist guide to my sister and her family who came for a 4 country – 16 city tour!  So again,  thousands more photos have been added to my collection and I just had to find the time and the topic when to post them here. 

For this Monday’s theme, I chose the topic on Legs!  Legs do communicate and by observing their movement, you can more or less imagine what the person is thinking!

All these photos were taken in Rome, a great city for people-watching!

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She: Seductive, He:  Confident

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Fashionista and confident

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She: this would be great to post on Facebook

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Thank goodness, the conference is over!  Now it’s time to do some sightseeing.

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She likes to shop, he is doing a mental calculation of the bill

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Stopping for a cold drink, but she couldn’t find her purse!

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Mesmerized and speechless seeing the Coliseum up close

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Sitting through history

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Slightly demanding and usually gets what she wants

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Opposing worlds but they do love each other, no doubt about it.

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Enjoying the holiday break, back to work in no time!

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Friends, countrymen.. you can take your souvenir photos with us.  Very cheap!

The many faces of the Eiffel Tower

I went to Paris today to do some errands and with my Mobilis – unlimited day transport ticket – I just hopped on and off the metro, train and bus and went on exploring some touristy places to have a feel of the tourist crowd now that we are already on the last two weeks of August.  Verdict:  crowds are still everywhere, queueing up to get inside historic monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc du Triomphe as well as to take a trip along the Seine via the bateaux mouche (ferry boats).

I went to see the grand lady, the Eiffel Tower, and got so fascinated about the fact that from whatever vantage point I stand, it is just awesome, so photogenic that for the Nth time, I am posting its many faces here.

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Seen from Avenue de Suffren

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some are just mesmerized staring at the tower

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It may just be a grid of steel and iron but it does create romance in the air

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…Romance that will linger for a long long time

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It is the symbol of France so the army and the gendarmerie patrol the area night and day, nonstop, to ensure that it is protected from harm

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Nearly 7 million tourists climb the tower each year

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It is one of the most photographed structures in Paris

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The most visited after the Notre Dame Cathedral

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it’s also one of the most filmed for TV or cinema

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Construction took two years, from 1887 – 1889

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This man-made lake is rich in flora and fauna…..

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… I saw a school of huge fish, ducks playing, birds, flowers, mushrooms peeking beneath the trees …

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Come rain or shine, the queues are a permanent sight underneath

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Looking up the tower from below

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The Eiffel (324meters) towering over the Montparnasse building (210meters)

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Its image is also the most popular souvenir to take home

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It inspires the artistic juices in you

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Day 10 – The Vatican

 Previous:  Day 9 – Florence

We were all excited upon landing at Rome’s Fiumicino airport! It was our first time to the Eternal City and we couldn’t wait to start our sightseeing!

We were supposed to be picked up by a driver arranged by the apartment agent, but where is he? He said in his mail that someone with a nameboard of our names will be waiting at the Arrival Area but we have already wandered extensively through all nameboard holders but it was clear that nobody came for us.

I dialled my mobile phone after asking a nearby Italian what is the country code for Italy:

– “Hello! Signor xxx, this is Mariadams, where is our pick-up?
– Oh, Signora, mi dispiace, let me find out what happened to the driver and I will call you back.”

Our excitement was dying down. We have been there waiting for like half an hour.

– “We are going to take a taxi now.
– Okay, then please let me talk to the driver so I can explain where he will drop you.”

Just that moment, an 85-year old man in a suit approached us asking if we needed a taxi. I handed him my phone so he could ask our agent which address to drop us.

With my ten words of Italian I could barely understand that the voice on the other line – the apartment agent – seems to have become irritated that the oldest taxi driver in Rome did not greet him “buon giorno” before started talking.

And after some rumble exchanges of pleasantries and “mi dispiaces”, he led us to the taxi area where one by one he placed our overweight baggages into the boot without cracking his back backwards each time he lifted a bag.

We were not actually unhelpful. We were just caught by surprise and realized that we underestimated his strength!

As to the apartment agent’s inefficiency, that’s typical Italian. But I still love this country. It is this wanton disregard to order and rules of law that kept their heritage and tradition as strong as could be, that which made their country one of the most visited destinations in the world.

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This is the courtyard of the apartment we rented for 3 nights 4 days.  It’s quite expensive and there’s not even an internet connection, it’s hot (well, it’s boiling hot in Rome in the summer) and there’s not even an electric fan.  The air conditioning seems to have ran out of freon eons ago.

It’s several Metro stops to the Coliseum, but in consolation, only walking distance to the Vatican.

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From our apartment, we just follow the main road and hof! we see the sight of the Vatican tower.  But the actual entrance had to be negotiated by climbing through uneven bricked pavements,  busy human and vehicle traffic  notwithstanding the heat.

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I have just violated my first rule on travelling.
That I will never join a tour group as I never wanted to appear like one of a herd of sheeps following a shepherd with an umbrella.

Well, the Vatican tour has to break that rule as it is so huge, so many museums and we did not have enough time and, and, and….
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The smallest city in the world at 44 hectares and 800 inhabitants in this miniature model.

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The spiral staircase at the entrance to the Vatican museum.  This is probably the most photographed staircase in the word.

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One of the ceilings at the main lobby where people queue up for tickets

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The Belvedere Torso is a fragment of a nude male statue, signed prominently on the front of the base by an Athenian sculptor “Apollonios son of Nestor”, who is unmentioned in ancient literature. The statue is documented in Rome from the 1430s……
The contorted pose of the torso and musculature were highly influential on late Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque artists, including Michelangelo and Raphael….source:  Wikipedia

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One of the artworks at the Gallery of Tapestries

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Photography inside the Sistine Chapel is not allowed but there are still the stubborn few who kept clicking their camera in secret.

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A pontifical Swiss guard at the entrance to the Vatican

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One of the imposing sculptures inside St Peter’s Basilica

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The marble sculpture of the Pieta by Michelangelo is jus as renowned as the Monalisa painting of Leonardo da Vinci.

Did you notice the common factor there? They are both Italians.

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A must-do before leaving the Vatican is to mail a postcard at the Poste Vaticane

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And drink from one of their sculpted fountains!

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These fountains are truly museum pieces!

Next:  Day 11 – Prague

Day 9 Part 2 – Florence

Previous: Day 8 – Rome

Why I fell in love with Florence

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– Because of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (1436) or more popularly called the Duomo.  It’s so vast!  It’s spectacular! A sight to behold!  Every square inch of the outer walls is filled with decorative details of Gothic and Renaissance style.  Its glorious elegance and  beauty transcends through the soul.  I felt like I want to cry and shout to the Lord my utmost gratitude for letting me come to Florence and see this outstanding work of man!

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– Because it is a city of sculptures and I just love sculptures!

This is the statue of Brunelleschi who designed the magnificent cupola of the Duomo.  He invented the linear perspective and was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance.

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– It is also the city of sculptors!  One of its most famous sons, Bartolomeo Ammannati, who created the Fountain of Neptune situated in the Piazza della Signoria will have his works featured in an exhibition at the Bargello National Museum.  Definitely not to miss!

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– Because it is an open-air museum.  You are surrounded by monuments, churches, squares that were built from the middle ages up to the Renaissance era…

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– and Gothic style is very much apparent

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– Because even modern day things are created to fascinate

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…such as these door handles!

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I’m not sure if I want to drink from this fountain, but I love that face!

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– It’s a city of art in all its forms

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– Because this is where I saw the statues of all the Italian geniuses such as Leonard da Vinci, standing outside the Uffizi Gallery

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No, he is just mimicking a statue….plus the cigarette!

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– Because of the most mindblowing square of all, the Piazza della Signoria, which has all the most famous sculptures in the planet such as this one – The rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna

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And this one, a Roman copy of an original Greek work, statue of a man in armor supporting a heroically dying comrade.

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Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli

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And Michelangelo’s David who stands here in all his nude glory

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But because of the Church’s censorship on nudity in the 1500s, all works of art showing phalluses and female organs have to be covered, notably by a fig leaf, such as this statue in front of the Palazzo Vecchio at the Piazza della Signoria.

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This is the Romanesque-style Palazzo Vecchio , previously a fortress-palace, now serving as the Town Hall.

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– Because I finally saw, up close, the most talked about, filmed about and written about bridge – the Ponte Vecchio!

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And the familiar clusters of love locks near it.

Next: Day 9 Part 1 – Pisa……….. Day 10 – The Vatican