Where will I go next? July, 2015

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As most of you already know, I am on the quest for 50 before 40. I have not doubt in my ability to hit 50, but I am wondering where to next?

According my calculations, I am on 47. So where will 48, 49 and 50 be?

I just booked a ticket to return to Australia. I realized that I am not helping my quest with returning the same places. But stay tuned, fun news about Australia to follow soon.

So after locking down a few appointments, I realized I have some extra days available on this trip to just relax for a few days. I know Flo, Vacation, Relax, don’t normally fit into the same sentence.

My flight from the States (long haul) lands me in Sydney. I will be heading to Brisbane for a few days, but I don’t need to head there immediately. So I figured it would be best to catch a flight from Sydney to somewhere. Off to Google Flights I go. If you are not familiar with Google flights, I apologize now. If you are like me, you will spend hours just playing on it looking at flights, you will probably never take.

*** Side note: Google Flights is great for looking at flight possibilities. If you know your Departure City, you can leave the Arrival City blank.  You can also choose from the various drop downs. I always choose first class, even though I am flying economy, because you just never know,and that economy ticket looks like a bargain compared to first class.

So I entered my departure city as Sydney and only parameter, non-stop. And GO.

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Loads of options!

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Since I am trying to add to my country count, I decided to check out the islands. Well did you know, most of them over “owned” by someone? How much fun it must have been back in the day, sailing the world, finding an island, and saying oh I think I’ll claim this for France or Spain or Portugal.

I am going off the United Nations list of countries for my count. So I am using their map to track. I’ve highlighted the countries I’ve been to in yellow.

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Looks like I need to study up on some South Pacific Islands. Any suggestions on where I should go?

Stay tuned for how this adventure unfolds……

South of France-July 2015

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Record Heat Wave hits Europe….. Of course the year that I decide to break my own travel rule.

A few years ago, I decided that I would travel on my birthday. Not that I need an excuse to travel, but why not do something that makes you happy on your birthday.

This year I headed to the South of France. I found an amazing fare to Paris on United Airlines, so I added on a flights to Nice on Air France. Fortunate for me, United provides an arrivals lounge for inbound passengers at the Sheraton CDG. So I was able to refresh before flying to Nice which was great since I have no status on Air France.

Air France has bit more generous carry on policy then other carriers I’ve flown in Europe. They allow up to 12kg/26lbs for hand baggage. Most other carriers only allow 7kg/15lbs. I just checked my bag, because well I did not want to have deal with liquids etc. I am glad I did. There was agents walking around the gate around checking everyone’s bags. At this point, I only had a small tote bag and yet I still got hit with a sticker that said my bag must go under the seat in front of me. I saw many of passengers have to surrender their bags.

Since it was my birthday I decided to spoil myself and use my points, so I booked a room at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée. Its quite the charming hotel located on the main street in Nice, Promenade de Anglais, right across the street from the beach.

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If you are looking for a little beach time but also a little sightseeing, Nice is great place to visit. It’s quite a walkable city. It has a lot of Italian influence, as it was under Italian rule, this is especially evident in the old town.

The South of France is the definitely the summer playground for the wealthy.  The private jets, yachts, cars, homes, it’s a wealth that quite interesting. It’s not to say the average tourist can’t afford to visit,  let’s just say you are most likely flying on Easy Jet not your private jet.

I opted for organized tours on this trip, so I signed for a day tour of Provence, that included stops in:

Cannes

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Grasse, where we visited the Fragonard Parfurm Factory, I learned some fascinating facts about parfum. I learned those who create parfum are called Perfumers or “Noses”. There are currently only 50 true perfumers in the world right now. They must attend 3 years of schooling, followed by 7 years of apprenticeship. They are able identify over 2500 scents, from memory. They can only spend about 2-3 hours a day smelling scents and to protect their noses, they do not smoke or drink.

IMG_4821Next stop was Gourdon, a little town with amazing panoramic views of the area. I had an amazing lunch with my  new Australian friends, LeAnn and Kim.

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Our final stop was a quaint little town of St. Paul De Vence, an old medieval town. Full of art galleries and fun little shops. Lucky for me and my curious fascination with cemeteries, there was not a lot of time for shopping. I did discover an cute shop that sold the most fantastic jam, La Chamre Confitures. ( If anyone traveling to Paris anytime soon, do yourself a favor, your welcome). On a serious sugar high, I tried to navigate my way back to my tour meeting point. Until I saw the most amazing painting in an art gallery window. I figured what’s the harm in checking it out? Bad idea, I wanted to purchase 1/2 the gallery. Turns out the actual artist was there, Michel Degav. We had a lovely chat, and while I was not able to purchase the piece I originally wanted, I was able to get a nice print.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking out his gallery, Atelier Galerie d’Art, oh and tell him Flo said Hi!

Oh I did finally find my lavender,but it was not very fragrant.

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When I began researching my trip, I found out that I would be in town for the Nice Jazz Festival. The line up included The Roots and Kool and the Gang, so purchased tickets. Now I am not much of concert goer so I really did not know what to expect. It’s a festival, i.e. no assigned seating. Well more specifically, no seating at all. I am glad I went but I will probably be less inclined to do that again.  Did I mention it was HOT?

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The next day I headed out to discover my 47th country,

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I checked out the casino in Monte Carlo and enjoyed the immense humidity.( No not really). I had signed up for the 1/2 day tour and somehow ended up on a full day tour. I think I would be have been good with the 1/2 day one. But honestly, I can think of worst ways to spend my birthday. I got to discover the 2nd smallest country in the world!

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Since I had booked my flights separately, choose to fly up to Paris the night before my return flight to Chicago. While at the airport in Nice, I decided to pick up a sandwich at my favorite place, Paul. While waiting a young lady walked up and asked the server if he had wine opener. He did not, and I said maybe try a knife? She explained, that she was flying to Amsterdam, and had 2 bottles of wine, but was unable to check her bag.  The server suggested trying a place down the terminal, and she asked me if I had time before flight, would I like to join her for some wine. I did actually have time before my flight, so why not?  So cheers to Vanya from Bulgaria for sharing her wine with me on my birthday in the Nice airport.

So officially now have less then 1 year to get planning the big party for next year. Any suggestions on where it should be?