3,842 m high in Mont Blanc, Chamonix

The ticket was expensive, and I debated with myself for a long time but finally I caved. I had to go up the Aguille du Midi. I bought the day pass and woke up early to search for the Cable car station. I would NOT be hiking up this mountain today. Up on the mountain was amazing, the photos don’t do it justice and neither would anything I could say. All I’ll say was. I was up there by myself. And even though its all relatively safe. I was frigging scared. Walking up one of the staircases I slipped and my heartbeat went psycho after that. It was incredible, seriously. Everyone needs to see it at some point. Here are a couple of photos.

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Here are some nice things and random things that happened while I was up there:I never imagined I would be up in the French Alps when I originally packed for this trip. I though I would be sun baking in the Greek Islands the whole time, so its safe to say I was freezing up there. While I was in line to go in the glass box thing that I’ve forgotten the name of, a nice old man said I reminded him of his granddaughter and let me borrow his jacket (awww). After, one of the workers who makes sure everyone stays in a line jumped in my “glass box” photo. Also, I saw a really fat, fuzzy, yellow bumblebee.

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After my Mont Blanc adventure, I took a cable car halfway down and hiked across the mountain ranges towards the Montenvers Mer De Glace. The walk was beautiful. There were wildflowers, pine trees, massive boulders, and numerous little rivers and streams. It was a long hike but I kept up a good pace (if you can over take the Germans your doing well). I did rush through a little bit, I really wanted to have time to do another hike to make the most of my day pass. Although halfway through I realised I wouldn’t have time, and was happy enough with the value I made on my day pass already. Towards the end I found the whole gang again.

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Once everyone else had gone to do their own things, I skipped down the steps to the glacier. It was really cool in there, although everything else I had seen was 10 times more amazing. It was just about closing time so I was one of the only people walking around, had a little sing to myself listening to the echo, imagined how crazy my little cousin Georgina would be if she was here and we were singing the frozen soundtrack, then left. Of course just as I started the millions of steps back up to the train station it began pouring with rain. I hid my camera under my jacket and continued on.

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After another incredible day, it was time to get some rest before the trip to Tuscany. This brief visit has left me craving more, and although I have different adventures set out for the next couple of months. I’ll definitely be back to this sort of setting at some point. Ciao

Hiking, Lac Blanc, and Cheese Fondue in Chamonix

Once again my blog has been put on hold. I have a bit of OCD and have been obsessed with putting everything here in order. Well my personal journal is still 3 and a half months behind and my phone broke.. so I am having trouble working out exactly what day I did what. But today I decided that all doesn’t matter and I’m going to share with you some of my favourite experiences from the past 3 months. Starting with one of the most beautiful places I have visited. The French Alps.

After meeting friends near Paris I had a couple of days to myself before meeting back up with my family in Tuscany. I had no idea where to go, but after a quick Google search of “beautiful places in southern France” I chose Chamonix.

As soon as I arrived, I was completely in awe. It was summer and the village was surrounded by snow capped mountains. I spent the first night there frantically researching the area and trying to find out what I should do and how I should go about doing it. The next morning I visited the tourist information centre and made a friend. THANK GOD. She was about as lost and enthusiastic as I was, so we set off to go hiking together. These first set of photos are from that first hiking trip. It was amazing but also extremely exhausting (I died many times and think it was actually my ghost that made it up the mountain and is now writing this blog). We saw Ibex, birds playing in the wind, wildflowers, and had an incredible view of the mountains across from us.

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After going up, up and up some more we finally made it to Lac Blanc. That was amazing. We got out our picnics and sat watching the reflections of the snow and mountains in the water, and how the water changed constantly from blue to green to blue as the sun came out. While we were up there another group of hikers came towards us. They asked us to mind their dog, so we did. We then watched in shock and amusement as they stripped down into their undies and jumped into the FREEZING cold water. They all screamed and most of them hopped out straight away, but of course the Australian swam to the rock in the middle of the lake and then back. He wouldn’t stop shaking for a LONG time after that.

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We continued up.. through the snow and rocks. We were having a fantastic time as the path leveled out. Then we realised we had 30 minutes until the last cable car to go down the mountain left… and we weren’t so sure walking down the mountain would be that enjoyable if the sun set. The closest cable car was the Index Cable Car further up the mountain…So we ran.

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I think I no longer have anything to worry about in life. Because that was SURELY the hardest thing I will ever have to do! Im happy to say we made it, even though I was so close to giving up. As you can see.. it was an amazing experience. Along the way Danielle and I made friends with a mother and daughter. After we’d returned to the main town, we had a rest before Leah and Terri took me out for dinner. Leah and I shared cheese fondue, which was one of the most evil yet delicious meals I have ever eaten. There was so much food. It was fantastic. Leah, Terri and Danielle were 3 friends I made on this day who helped make the experience so much more special. Thank you for your kindness and for being so damn awesome!

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Day 35 – Nice to La Spezia, France to Italy

Today, despite a gelato hangover, I managed to get on a train from Nice to Genoa. On the train I met two American travelers, Shane and Allen. They seemed like fun, so we all exchanged email addresses and discussed possible travel plans together in the near future. Eventually they hopped off the train, and I continued on.

My entire life had been leading up to this moment. This was the reason I endured the humiliating act of busking year after year. From a lifetime obsession over spaghetti with my equally obsessed best friend Jenna, to my favourite song from ‘The Wiggles’ being ‘Balla Bambina’ because it was Italian… Today was the day I arrived in Italy. 

One of the main things everyone warned me about was Italian men.. Italians even warn me about the Italian men. So of course it was only fitting that within 5 minutes of arriving in Italy I would already have a story to tell. I got off the train at Genoa, and needed to catch another train to Riomaggiore. I wasn’t sure what platform I needed to be on for my next train so I found an old train conductor man and asked him where I needed to be. He helped me out, and then helped me get the elevator working, asked what my name was, pinched my cheek and walked off. A couple of minutes later I was standing on the right platform and there he was sitting on the platform opposite. He sees me, smiles and waves. I wave back then continue messaging Jenna. I look up 5 minutes later and there he is walking straight across the train tracks over to me! He comes over and starts talking to me in Italian, making sure I knew what time the train comes and just general chit chat that I somehow understood (maybe it was his hand gestures). He asked what my name was again, and I asked his to be polite. He walked off for a couple of minutes and then came back. He asked me if I remembered his name and laughed in disappointment at me when I didn’t. I asked him if he remembered my name and when he couldn’t remember either I laughed back at him. I asked to take a photo with him, knowing this would be a funny memory. And what does he do? SMILE!! is what I said to do.. but KISS MY CHEEK is what he actually did! 

He then proceeded to get his wallet from his pocket, and take out some ancient looking photos. He showed me a photo of a teenage boy and then pointed back to himself, saying ‘me’. He asked me if I thought he was handsome when he was younger, then pointed to his bald head and laughed saying he was a bit old now. He said I was beautiful and that he was too old for me… I made my agreement for that last bit UTTERLY clear. I have to say. It was the introduction to Italy I had been forewarned about but still didn’t expect. 

Message to Dad: Don’t freak out! Hahahahahahaha

My train then came and off I went to Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre (a place that I had put as my laptop wallpaper for 2 years!). I had gotten in contact with another host on couchsurfing named Mattia. He met me at the train station at Riomaggiore and introduced me to some of his friends from France. We all went to the rocky beach to eat pizza and drink white wine. On our way back into town we heard somebody singing and playing guitar, and of course Mattia knew him! So we climbed up the rocks and sat with him and listened to him play and those who knew the songs also joined in singing. Afterwards we collected our stuff and drove to La Spezia to his family’s house to have dinner, chat, and get ready to go out 🙂 While waiting outside they asked me something about fireflies, and I said I had never seen one, so into the garden we search and they catch one! It was so beautiful looking into the bushes you could see them faintly glittering.

In the car Mattia played his cool Reggae music and off we went into town. We found this cool little bar decorated with lots of mirrors and frames on one wall and different artwork on others. Outside was packed with italians (and their dogs) all hanging around. After a drink there we went in search for a place to dance. We got in for free thanks to Mattia convincing them we were all foreigners here for one night only. At first when we were inside the dance floor was too empty to be able to dance, but soon it filled up and we all danced to a mix of 90s english songs, and random italian songs. After we’d had enough dancing we made our way back home, had something to eat and went to sleep.
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Day 34 – Nice, France

Today was a bit stressful. Italy was having strikes so none of the trains were running to Italy. I went back to the hostel to search everything I could to work out how the heck to get to Italy. That was when the staff at the hostel really annoyed me I just needed some peace and alone time to sort myself out and this one guy would just keep talking to me sunstmznsduksyhahathajay

I ended up having to book another night there, so I thought I may as well make the most of my time.. That was when I found the gelato festival.

I think in that moment I lost all hope of ever having a body ready for the Greek Islands hahaha! I’ll be wearing full winter clothes at the beach from now on. I had 10 different servings of gelato, including flavours like hazelnut and chocolate, ginger cinnamon and mint, egg custard pine nuts and chocolate or caramel, then milk and cream and lavender flowers. Thrown into the mix was also a piña colada gelato cocktail. What have I done to myself..

Afterwards I went back to the hostel and met up with a group of friends Id made from Turkey. We all went for an evening walk, heard one of the bands practicing for the rock festival on the next night, saw the sunset and went to a fancy restaurant where things on the menu could be up to 200ish euros!! We just ordered a couple glasses of wine, one salad, and ate the free bread with balsamic vinegar hehe.

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Day 33 – Nice, France

Today I walked around exploring Nice. I walked down the Main Street and saw all the statues and water fountains, to the market where I went around eating all the taste testers, checking out the flowers and watching some of the artists paint. I ended up buying a little pastry and taking it to each on the beach.

The water is extremely blue and I really enjoyed sitting there, relaxing in the sun and watching some kind of documentary or tv show being filmed. Eventually I hopped up and went walking up the street for a better of the coast, then on the search for the old part of town. I hiked up the little streets to Castle Hill to look out over all of nice. It was pretty but not extraordinary in comparison to other places I had already been on the trip. On my way back through the Main Street I stopped to listen to a group of jazz musicians for a charity event. To sum up, nice was nice (wordplay intended hehe) but not incredible.

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Day 32 – La Tour D’Aigues to Nice, France

Today was most definitely one of a kind. Victor showed me the tower where I had a panoramic view of the nearby countryside, then took me next door to see his grandparents house. It looked like your typical beautiful French farmhouse only… They had an interesting choice of pet. All week victor had been saying he had a surprise and that they have an Australian animal and I have to guess what it is. Today he revealed to me their pet emu.

Yes I said emu.

An EMU!!

What the heck?! Those things are crazy they could peck your face off! And here he is feeding it and trying to get me to take a photo with it.. Sorry but I would prefer not to lose my eyes today. I honestly was not expecting that. Far out.

So after that surprise and saying hi to his grandma he lead me in for a tour of their house. I don’t know if any of you have heard of him before, but his grandad was Theo Gerber, an artist. When Nelson Mandela was alive he had one of his paintings in his office. His house was incredible, every room was quirky and cool and an artists dream. I was showed his many art studios and was amazed, it was the coolest house I’d ever seen. And made me think about my art teachers from school and how much they would love it (although their house probably looks like that too). Honestly going through that house was a highlight, there was random sculptures everywhere, rainbow painted roof panels, a human skull (although we couldn’t find it), heaps of paintings, a massive one in the dining room that took up the entire wall, etc. I loved it – thank you again Victor for showing me!!!

After that I packed up, said goodbye (and a MASSIVE thank you for one of the best weeks of my life) and left for Nice. The train ride was really beautiful, riding past all the coastal towns. I arrived in Nice at night time and found my hostel. I can’t remember what it was called but basically it was the worst hostel I had been too. I hated it. I hated the guy who worked there and there was no sink in the toilet and the staff were annoying and unhelpful. I got there and walked around for a bit and went to bed.

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Day 31 – La Tour D’Aigues and Provence, France

Today Victor had to go to school so we went into Provence town, I had a little roam around the streets then sat down at a bench and wrote in my journal. After Victor and his friends finished school (they were only in there for an hour or 2) we all hung out and got some lunch. Afterwards we came back to the house, relaxed a bit before going back out on the motorbike. Haha everytime we rode the motorbike I would keep on accidentally headbutting Victor with my massive helmet :S 

When Victor had told me we were going for a ride to a Lake my initial thoughts were, oh cool we can go for a swim. But I never imagined the Lake to be that beautiful. I’m used to the lake back at home which, although I get incredible views of at my house, is not naturally beautiful. Here I remember turning my head and gasping. The water was SO SO blue! It was an incredible surprise. We had a swim in the lake before climbing up the nearby hill to see the water and little castle from above. 

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