Since there were no more opportunities to add photos, I decided to make a second entry for this trip
We left off in Pisa (see photos). Then we continued on to Nice, which is probably the most popular base of operations for an exploration of this area. The setting along the picturesque Mediterranean coast is great, but a drive eastward took us to the wonderful village of Eze which is perched precariously on a cliff and offers superb views. Eze is charming with its narrow cobblestone streets (see photo) and cave-like shops and hotels. The Cactus Garden at the uppermost part of town provides the best views.
A little further east is the tiny principality of Monaco with one of the world’s best known casinos, Monte Carlo (see photo) where Lee managed to win $50.
From Nice, we headed north to Paris, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. We had a wonderful dinner in a restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower and followed that with a romantic cruise on the Seine in a Bateau Mouche. Since Paris is at the western end of its time zone, it was still dusk at 10:30 PM so the evening cruise was spectacular and relaxing. The next day, we explored the rest of the city, stopping, of course, at the Louvre, arguably the best museum in the world, the Arc d’Triomphe, Napoleon’s tribute to his own fame, Sacre Coeur, the beautiful white church high up in the Montmartre section of the city, Notre Dame Cathedral, with its gargoyles and flying buttresses, and numerous other places.
Notable among the others were the Luxembourg Gardens, a tranquil oasis of greenery in this large urban environment, and a stroll down the Champs Elysses, one of the world’s most famous avenues.
One morning of our stay was spent at Versailles, the opulent palace which is the most popular excursion from the city. Its Hall of Mirrors is extremely impressive, as were its grounds and gardens. The only problem was the din from numerous tour groups and their guides who are all speaking loudly to try to be heard.
The last stop on our momentous journey was the village of Beaune, a charming town in the burgundy region of the country, noted for its wine and for its unusual looking hospice, the Hotel-Dieu. From here it was back to Basel and then home.
1. Europeans are more helpful and friendly if you attempt to speak the language, so practice before a trip and never be without your phrasebook.
2. Driving in Europe is much different than in USA — except for major highways, travel is slower so reduce expectations about what can be accomplished in one day or at least be prepared to trim itinerary.
3. In cities, a good map is invaluable. Negotiating city streets is extremely difficult since many street signs are non-existent or not able to be seen until it’s too late.