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  • Day23

    A wonder wander

    July 19, 2018 in France ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

    There's no better day in Paris that cruising some memories - love this city.

    We're not at breakfast until after 10am, partly because I'm out of Cologne, we've just made an excuse to visit Chanel up the Rue at number 31. But no perfume, just handbags and glad rags in here :( They've purchased all the way back to the corner of Rue Saint-Honore and already have the remodelling underway, we're certain that means a return trip will see a bigger home for Gabrielle. I managed to snap a photo of Gab out the front of the Notre Dame de l'Assumption with the new Chanel and a Twizy in the background - what an omen!

    We wiggle our way through Madeline to the park and up to Champs-Elysee. Staring right up at the Arc Gab bets me not once, but 4 times, that the world is back to front. Somehow this gift to directions is completely back to front, I'm offering her the $5k bag she's in love with from Chanel against just two wishes for me, she not only doubles down on her certainty, but two more than that she repeats her bet - I have 8 wishes in the bank :) We cross in front of the US Consulate on Ave Gabriel when I try to snap my trio dead in front of the street sign, the smiling guard must have been trained at Disney - she directs me to an alternate sign of the Ave without the US Consulate in the background, I wouldn't be that polite with that sort of hardware in my hands.

    We quickly scope Adidas, but the Disney store is their real target, there isn't any new exciting combination of Disney & Paris worth owning so I'm across the road to sit over some Biere and fromage while the shoppers do their damage. They eventually follow me into the Cafe for a round of brunch before we cross back to the L'Occitane / Herme cafe. Between rounds of chemists, H&M and the tourist shop we're here for another hour before we hop an Uber to Jardins de Luxembourg.

    Bliss! There is nothing better than scoring a recliner on the pond, a few bieres whilst fiddy man pushes a boat around the pond - love it. There's a storm threatening so we head back into Saint Germain in search of some old failures. I have a list of places I can never pull a table at, des Deux Magots and l'avant Comptoir de la mer. Tonight we're in luck, normally a queue around the corner and picky family palette keeps us away from l'avant comptoir de la mer, but tonight we're here just in time for the oysters to start getting shucked, we sneak a table at the back and I have a ball ordering tapas seafood to die for. Gab & Fid love the noodle friend prawns, the yuzu oysters and the un-touched ones are delicious but the deviled eggs with crab are my favourite - Bux digs on the heaping lump of beurre on the counter and big slab they cut her off to accompany her slabs of sourdough - she's still a committed any seafood princess, wouldn't even touch the delicious little pork sausages because they came from the same kitchen. Five year quest completed!

    The Bux held it together through my seafood tapas odyssey so we're off to Galleries Lafeyette, they have bag she is busting for that wasn't at the Disney store earlier today. She's wanted it since she saw it last year in Tokyo. I also need to get that cologne we failed at this morning. We pick up both within minutes, very impressive shopping for this family. Now where?

    We wander back towards the hotel and decide to relive our dinner at Cafe Paris-London, we're even greeted by the same waitress that served us our last breakfast here two years ago. She feigns a memory of us, but we all genuinely remember her. I can't find a picture of us here from 2016, but a 2015 picture of Fiddy man & Bux having the exact burger they're having tonight reveals both that the cafe has fallen victim to the fashion of the brioche, but more importantly these two little things have turned the corner from babes to annoyballs, I shed a tear at the transition.

    We're home, a day of rekindling our shared memories of this wonderful city is the most I could have asked for, I fall asleep a totally lucky bastard.
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  • Day22

    Paris makes it's mark

    July 18, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We're not up and going until after 12, best sleep in so far this trip.

    First to Aux Délices de Manon, not the best patisserie, but certainly our favourite, and one of the few places that always have a St Honore waiting for Gab.

    Next to Abraxas Saint-Honore for a Fleur-de-lis on my right wrist by Kawika. It's our 21st anniversary next week, I've been thinking of this tattoo for a long time, where more romantic to brand myself as Gab's than in her favourite city. Whilst waiting for my tattoo Bux watches a girl get an upper ear piercing, a wincing teary face leaves the piercing room putting a dash of fear into the Bux. This is followed by Kawika lecturing us about the dangers of the piercing guns, she's convinced she is no longer in a hurry to get it done, bonus points!

    Finally, we're at Galleries Lafayette to replace my busted bag. Gab can't resist a Kipling for herself but I find out about Delsey, a French brand with a unique double zip closure - I'm sold. Bux has embraced the culture, adopting the Evian spritz spray for her tender young skin. Fid an I hang out at the oyster bar under the dome, crab sandwiches and affligem make for a great way to pass the hour of the girls shopping for dresses upstairs.

    Our very first time in Paris we stopped at the Hippo up from the Opera, Fid took a photo of us there. With the sleepy hot meltdowns well underway, I drag the kids in for a steak dinner while Gab finishes her time in the Galleries. It's quick dinner and bed for all.
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  • Day21

    See you real soon!

    July 17, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    We're almost the last ones to breakfast, this cruising body clock is going to be a challenge next week. Teary farewells can't be soothed, not even by Mickey. We have our last breakfast in at Rapunzel's royal table and we say our goodbyes then head for the airport.

    Turns out easyJet have their own terminal, that means all the cheapskates like us are in one place, and no one wants to operate a store here. We're way too early for our check-in. It's two hours before we can check out luggage and get through security. How to cope with a 4hr wait? Plan the next cruise right down to the packing list.

    It's boarding time, the excitement for Paris is starting to wash off some of the post-crusie remorse. We're on the tarmac when the pilot comes over the speaker to let us know there is a problem with the tailwing control system. Engineers arrive, the cabin is hopeful, but in the end defeated we return to the terminal.

    Upates every half an hour tell us nothing, then we hear a new plane is coming - we'll be boarding at 5:30, we take off at 6:15, and arrive at our hotel in Paris at 10pm, 6 hours late, but we arrive alive.

    I lift my bag off the belt in CDG only to have Fid hold up a pair of my shorts and ask if they were mine. F@$king Samsonite, no more. The last one had it's rigid body shatter, this one now has a split zip, never again.

    We get an Uber, yes finally a country that allows them! Gab has picked her best Paris hotel yet, right at the Tulleries end of Rue Cambon, so close to so many places we love to hang out.

    The restaurant across the road, Flottes, hosts us for a late dinner, they even stick us with some other Aussies. I'll pay the price for my Steak Tartar tomorrow but tonight it's fantastic. The carnival is in full swing in the gardens, it's nearing 11 and no one slept very much last night but we can't resist a quick visit to the carnival, cheapest beer anywhere near here at this time of night.

    Shattered we head to bed - a garbage day resurrected by a wonderful city.
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  • Day20

    La Rambla Palma de Mallorca - No Skase

    July 16, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Catastrophe starts the day with Bux sweeping my camera into her clothing draw without realising, it's a tense half hour of ripping the room apart before we discover it. If I wasn't already sold on leaving the kids on the boat today, I am now!

    Gab & I are dropped off across from the cathedral on the waterfront. The sun seems to have sync'd our clocks with Dad who has decided to come off at the same time as us, we meet him in the markets out the front and take a stroll up towards the shopping precinct.

    We stumble across Forn Fondo, a Pasteleria famous for their Ensaïmada, but we don't realise their significance at the time. A breakfast pastillo (looks like a mini-empanada) for me and an Estrella (from Gallicia) and I'm ready for the day. Gab thinks she's found heaven in their Meringue, but there's no doubt I won :)

    We walk up La Rambla towards a shopping precinct, the time away from the kids is working, Gab doesn't want to look at the shops apart from a few cushion covers. Another refreshing cervesa and Dad decides to head back to the ship while Gab and I press on. Jam & Queso Croissant for snack at Horna Santa Cristo, another store famous for their Ensaïmada, but we're still oblivious. It was only bested by the lady busking Nessun Dorma, couldn't decide if she was either a lip-sync prodigy or Pavarotti re-incarnate.

    Time to make up for not getting to Bimba Y Lola while it was open during the San Fermin festival, we back track through some allies to find their Palma store, some wonderful open foyers in some of these villas. My cold is re-brewing, time for some garlic prawns while Gab shops Bimba Y Lola.

    We're heading to the produce markets, Mercat de Santa Catalina, the streets around it are packed with little eateries, the market is wrapping up the day, but we find a pintxos bar, perfect!

    Back on board, we catch up with everyone in Signals. One of Gab's new friends introduces me to a vodka lemon drop. Its 5pm, and that's the last drink I can take until well after 10. In fact it takes me two Monsters just to make it all the way to the farewell show.

    While I was trying to find some energy, Fid was awarded the best gamer on the boat.

    There are tears everywhere at the farewell, I can see Bux and her big red eyes from the balcony. A few moe drinks with Dad while we wait for the photo package to be ready then we're off to bed. Fid is already waiting for us, Bux doesn't show up until 2am - we'll have some meltdowns tomorrow!
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  • Day19

    We won!

    July 15, 2018, Tyrrhenian Sea ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Bux and I are the first and only of our party to rise before 10. We have a Dad & Daughter Breakfast date as we cross between Corsica and Sicily she told me all about Archimedes who came from Sicily, she's talked about h.ad his mirror attack in particular quite a bit this trip, we take a selfie with both landmasses just in case we miss the right one when we look it up later. Just as we finish, a nice woman corrects us pointing out its Corsica & Sardinia :(

    We set up camp in Signals, a day of praising Bacchus and that's about all we do with the day :)

    Dinner is our favourite at Animator's Pallette for the animation show, such a cracka of an event. It's also the closing minutes of the World cup final while the show is on, so I'm trying to keep up on my phone. France take Belgium, we're going to have a party in Paris in a few days.

    I'm off to O'Gills and end up with quite the crowd with Ed, Staci, Gab, NJ, Kyle, Mark and Elishe eventually joining in. During a lull in the room we get a visit from a close up magician who absolutley baffles us. Hiding my ring in an envelope, in a wallet, in pocket! Turning a 9 of clubs into a king of diamonds right in front of our eyes. Removing a sharpie cross from his palm and sprinkling it through Gab's clenched fist onto her palm. But the most amazing was getting Gab to sense him brushing my nose twice, astounding! A cracking night, luckily we have no plans for tomorrow.

    At the end of the night Gab has gone up for a quick shop when Danielle, a server from South Africa tells me she has something for us both when Gab gets back. It's the first time I've ever heard of, let alone received a commendation from bar staff for spending so much with them. I'm sure Gab will be telling me about the bar bill when shopping in Paris next week.
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  • Day17

    When in Rome, Do whats da Romans do

    July 13, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Turns out my mini van booking from last night in the bar didn't work out. Marooned, I start contemplating a 1hr train journey into town in 40c heat and jump at the chance to haggle an alternative from the dock. Only $50 more than I'd planned to spend and we get a return trip!

    Patrizio shoehorned us into his van and serenaded us all the way to Rome, DJing from his custom CDs covering the Dean Martin Italian classics, Pavaroti through to Italian Hip-Hop - he seemed to really spark up when we all joined in. Dad & Ed were in their element crooning ratpack tracks.

    Firstly Civitavecchia is pronounced Chivita-vekia, took me the whole trip to get it right. Secondly - Roman freeways have prostitutes. 40c heat, standing on the edge of the freeway! Patrizio drops us around the corner from the fountain, we've decided it's all we want to see today. We toss out coins, Gab says right over left into the fountain, one coin if you're happy and want to come back, a second coin to find new romance, and a third if you want to put a ring on it - I had to stop both Emerson and Gab at the second coin.

    Gab was trying to get us to Piazza Navona, a place we once watched fantastic breakdancers and ate tourista pizza, we wandered back and forth trying to interpret Google's directions before we gave up and just went looking for somewhere pleasant looking to eat. I remembered a few Italian cooking trips to Rome, some Bourdain and some Steves all mentioned Caccio e Pepe as the quintessential Roman pasta dish, the first place I found that displayed it proudly had me won. Just around the corner from the first place we ever ate in Rome, it was kind of cool to be back together so close to our famuly memories and drenched in the depth of history you can't find many other places on earth.

    The pasta was magnificent, the Zucchini flowers weren't my thing but I'm glad I tried it, the Bruschetta delish, plus a great Grande glass of Menabrea, perfecto! This is what I came to Rome for, taste it, live it - love it!

    Gab found a Disney store a few blocks away, how can we not? I insist we get the Pizza Chef Mickey which somehow turned into Gab's license to buy all the Disney kitchenware she could find. It's tricky to rock around with a girl like this.

    Back to the piazza fontina, I have the second best Amerrena gelato of my life as we stroll to the van. It is F**king hot - a record day for the year, back in Patrizio's van the car temp says 40c, nuts! We melt on the way back to the shore, the most magnificent lunch, the heat, Patrizio's music and I'm nodding off all the way back to port.
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  • Day16

    Sea Day Vacay

    July 12, 2018, Tyrrhenian Sea ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Nothing on the plan says Fid and I don't wake until 10:30, he was up until 2am - I woke to his clothes strewn all over the floor, sign of things to come.

    I've had people rave about Palo brunch for years but we never organised enough to book it, not this time! Scallops, Caviar, eggs Benedict julien, the salmon one? All delish! Our waiter gave us a story about how hot the hot Italian sausage pizza was, when he asked how hot I wanted it, the two bloody Mary's hadme tell him to make it through the roof, he did around just to get my reaction, it wasn't long before my foggy glasses rewarded him :) when booking they ask if you have any significant events, with our 21st anniversary a few days after we end I always now it on the booking, our waiter bought is a happy anniversary plate at the end of brunch, worked for our 21st and Mum & Dad's 50th.

    With barely anytime to digest this delicious brunch we're up at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for our last Princess makeover. Bux decides her last Princess will be Tiana, she looks amazing as ever. I can never resist bringing up photos of her first time on the Fantasy getting made up as Belle, still so pretty and cute. Watching her get made up next to a four year old only made me miss tiny Bux all the more.

    It's formal night, I taunt the family by threatening to wear shorts, then an afternoon in signals convinces me it's a winning idea that shouldn't change!

    Tomorrow will be a scorcher in Rome, we're looking at an hour or so train trip into town, so I book a transporter to take us in on some dodgy website, let's see what happens.

    The perfect sea day has to end with you all posted it and dead in bed, shattered we win!
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  • Day15

    Pisa sans kids

    July 11, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Gab wins, no Firenze this trip. But after yesterday's catastrophe of whinging kids were leaving them on board and heading to Pisa sans whinging cranks. On the way to the port bus I haggle a taxi in and out of Pisa on a nice transporter with AC. We must have synchronised our body clocks, with no planning Dad is 100m ahead of us and already on the port bus, we rode with him in our transporter and we're away with Pablo.

    Fields of sunflowers line the road into Pisa, a wonderful sight. Larger than the sunflower fields, we pass a massive unmarked military storage for dessert transporters, thousands of them. Whoever owns them had millions of dollars sitting in this little pretty town. Until this point Pablo has been all "non capisco l'inglese" but the opportunity to complain about the Americans is too tempting for him, in pretty good English he tells us they own it.

    Pablo drops us just off the square near the tower, amazing the number of people crowding the square, we've only been here during the day before. Perhaps like Piaza San Marco in Venice, magnificent in the late afternoon once all of us tourists have left.

    Dad and I try to get the perfect tower pushing photo while Gab scopes the shops. We hunt down the pizza place we visited last time. Dad & I start on a Birra Grande and brushcetta while Gab completes her most impressive shopping scoop yet. Pizza is so so, but the atmosphere is exactly why we're here.

    We meet Ed & the girls in the square where we first arrived. They'd just had an amazing experience in the baptistry with some live chanting. They were all raving so much about the beauty of the place they convinced Dad & I to go try to get a look before our clock with Pablo was up. We catch a glimpse from the outside, but the ticket queue means we won't be seeing it this trip, a reason to return.

    We're back in port to drop Dad back at the boat and head on to Livorno Centro for some strolling, gelato a new kicks for me! By far the coolest thing I see is this Italian idea of the fatmacia with a vending machine built into the window. The first for rows are implements for satisfying your wife or protecting yourself from child support, neither of which will help me now.

    Tonight is the England v Croatia semi final for the world cup. Back on port this morning our evacuation drill buddies saw us haggling with the Hertz guy and invited us into their big transporter for the day, tonight Gab found Kyle sitting on his own in O'Gills an invited him to join us for the game. Dad spent the evening appologising to Kyle for my rants about everything American from GOP to the NRA. A retired army major from some sort of logistics HQ role, he is currently program managing the build of a joint Toyota/Mazda manufacturing plant build in Alambama, with Trumps protectionist policies funding his holiday, and the owner of over 50 guns he was never going to agree with everything I preached, but we agreed about the stupidity off open carry, we cheers our unity!

    Croatia kick England from the cup in a legendary penlty shoot out, amazing stuff to enjoy surrounded by such an atmosphere. Game over Kyle and Dad are of to bed Gab joins me in the smoking section for a cigarello. We meet Jan, a Dutch guy who has somehow sorted out how to get rich in Dubai. We banter all night until he is ready for bed. A protein powder carrying gyn junkie, Jan is intolerant of the less dedicated not wearing a shirt, her says good night to all of us individually, adding "tomorrow I buy you a shirt" to the British lobster in the corner.
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  • Day14

    Genoa mistake

    July 10, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Mum & Dad will join us in Genoa today for lunch. In an attempt to limit traipsing mum all over the city I tried to book a restaurant so we had a no hassle afternoon. Unfortunately, far on the very of silicon valley, in a very spoilt traveller. None of the is table booking services work, I spend the early hours tracking down a restaurant that's open for lunch and taking online bookings. Port side I discover, just like their Spanish cousins, Italy had banned Uber! No bother we can get a taxi from the port and the restautant will call us one for a return trip.

    Just five KMs from the port, the Travis drop is right on the edge of there old town, at the bottom of a hill. We climb the hill through what otherwise looks like an ancient slumb, at the top of the hill we find out restaurant, doors closed. No bother they don't open until12pm, we a little early. A few minutes later a girl opens up, she carries out a bench for Mum and the kids to sit on and hangs a sign on the wall, it's Italian, we ignore it and wait for our 12pm table.

    We're right in antica here, there is a Saint Agostino church around the corner, Gab and I go for a wander while we wait, should only be a few hundred metres from the main square, but we can't find a path there. These buildings arrived century's ago, barely feet apart at some points, three tiny lanes conspire to hem us in least we get lost.

    It's 12pm, we return to the restaurant to find the doors locked shut! In our absence the girls had locked the doors and left. I finally pay attention to the sign she hung on the wall, a more careful study reveals their opening hours, with lunch only advailableon Sunday this week. Back down the hill we discover just how much you need uber. We're marooned on a busy street in melting heat and no taxis. I bury my head in the phone trying to find out how island live without Uber. Just as we've all depleted ourselves of hydration Gab successfully convinces the local petrol station guy to order us some taxis.

    Sorry star Gab saves the day and gets us to Piaza di Ferrari and discovers the Schweikerts wandering in the same area! A rare opportunity for a family selfie then she continues her success with an awesome lunch spot under the arcades. Foccacia is amazing, we have a new staple out place, Foccacia topped with mozzarella and first onions, delicious I can't pass up a pesto pasta in Genoa.

    We stroll the shops, 20mins in H&M has me and Fid take off on our own. The kids and I have a stop Ina cafe while Gab shops a bit more then find a gelatto place on the square. Obsessed with the cigarello aromas in Pamplona, I buy a packet and enjoy an Amrena gelatto in the square. The gelatto barely lands on the table before the princess that dragged us around bloody H&M looking at generic global fashion for half an hour has had enough, she demands the bill and a taxi. I'm ready to rid myself of her.

    We return to the boat, a group photo with Italian Mickie almost without the Bux, then Rapunzel's birthday in Rapunzel's Royal table, nearly includes an Attica shock induced heart attack for Dad as he creeps up from behind to shock us.

    To O'Gills again for the France v Belgium semi-final, a thrilling end to the day.
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  • Day9

    Pamplona

    July 5, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    “This is a good place," he said.
    "There's a lot of liquor," I agreed.”

    We've driven all the way back and around to Pamplona. Our uncertainty about actually coming to Pamplona has meant we left this booking until the very end the city is full and we're in a motel on the outskirts of the city.

    We take an hour or two to get the washing done and work out how to ship off all our excess Portuguese shopping home. We're into a taxi and heading to Plaza del Castillo for some Hemingway spotting. The guy is a god of the town with so many cafes and restaurants featuring photos of him signing this, or drinking that.

    We have some lunch and what turns out to be my last serve of Pintxos, I miss it already. The square backs on to the bull run track, we stroll up if for the afternoon and find out balcony, we'll be right at the start of the run. If you're not shopping you're drinking on this street, Gab falls in love with an old lady and her Churros, I find a deli claiming to be selling cured sausages made from last years bulls, no bull.

    What a great place to hang, we stop in the square in front of the town hall for a spot, then we're off back to the motel, tomorrow is going to be huge.
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