Published on August 18th, 2017 | by Ann Rickard


Talking Good Stuff

So enough of the moaning. In my attempt to entertain you with tall tales of travel over the past month I have come to realise I complained a lot. Disappointment in accommodation in Spain, loud music on a Greek Island, lack of loo facilities in France…on and on I banged.

Now it is time to tell you some of the good stuff, and there has been much of it, starting with a dinner on board a luxury barge on the Seine in Paris…now we are talking good stuff.

A week-long river cruise ended in Paris on a balmy June evening when the barge docked within a stone-throw of the Eiffel Tower. Before that the barge had slowly cruised up and down the Seine giving us thrilling glimpses of Paris from the river.

“He had to shimmy from the front seat into the back (and he’s a big bloke) and then slither out the door like a python after a long hibernation. We laughed so hard, we ached.”

It was a Friday night and it seemed all of Paris was out to celebrate. Hundreds of people lined the riverbanks, sitting on the river walls, drinking wine, laughing, talking and dancing. Oh, there was much dancing on this warm summer night in Paris. Groups all the way along the Seine had gathered to listen to bands and to dance in the old-fashioned way, proof that Parisians will never let anything spoil their joie-de-vivre. We watched it all with unrestrained delight and felt the world really was a good place.

Then there were the tapas bars in Spain. Barcelona (oh, Barcelona) has the best and most plentiful, but all over Spain the tapas bars brim with people and snacks so tempting it is impossible to control the greed. Tapas could be as simple as skewered olives or chunks of bread and ham, to hot chorizo or slow-cooked beef cheek, and the omnipresent croquetas. They are displayed on bar tops and you just pick up and eat, and pay for the amount you’ve consumed when you leave. The happy babble, the electric buzz and culinary vibe in these bars is further proof that the world really does go on despite the horrors.

In Greece, we swam in gin-clear water, and without fear of sharks, rips or currents to wash us out to sea, we trod water in the deep of the Aegean and looked down past our toes to the ocean bed and thanked somebody high up above for the simple pleasure of it.

In Italy, we ate more truffles than anyone decently should. This expensive of all the world’s delicacies was abundant in the medieval towns of San Gimignano and Montalcino, and we have had it in unashamed lavishness on top of pizzas and over spaghetti.

In the South of France during a heat wave we took refuge beneath the monumental Pont du Gard, the aqueduct built by the Romans 2,000 years ago to carry water from the town of Uzes to the city of Nimes. We kayaked on the Gardon river to this ancient Roman structure, picnicked beneath it and swam in the cold green water.

In Tuscany – where the hilltop towns bring visitors from around the globe and parking is the ultimate challenge – we managed to get the car into a space so tight, the driver had to let us out before he inched his cautious way in while we stood behind him waving arms and shouting instructions (it’s Italy, arm waving is mandatory.) Once in the space, just a hair-width between him and the cars on each side prevented him getting out. But the backdoor had a smidge more space. He had to shimmy from the front seat into the back (and he’s a big bloke) and then slither out the door like a python after a long hibernation. We laughed so hard, we ached.

So, there you go. No more moaning. Just a bit of boasting (almost as unbecoming.)


About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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