Some days it seems bizarre that my job is to sit, which is not very comfortable, and not to walk up steep hills, which feels so natural.

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If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?

Holiday Heroes

It was three degrees this morning, and I couldn't help think back to the summer of last month and some of the unsung heroes that made it what it was.

Water Bottle

After a day of juggling water refills in the four small bottles we accumulated on the flights over, we bought this bottle in Rome and proceeded to refill it countless times from the free and often constantly running water taps in Italy, Switzerland and Paris. The bottle finally went dry at the security checkpoint for the final flight back into Australia due to the Australian government's policy to keep incoming passengers dehydrated. As if we needed another reason to think Europe was better than Australia. It was recycled in South Australia (hopefully).

Bottle in Lucerne in front of one of the million free, delicious water fountains of Europe.


What started as a pair in Rome for the cost of one gelato (I fished them out of a bowl of spoons sneakily). Despite being compostable they proved extremely durable and honestly I do not feel confident to put them in a green bin. Extremely handy for consumption of high protein yogurt and pudding tubs directly from the supermarket, and sturdy enough to stir a Tupperware tub of oats and yogurt on a walk, where other spoons failed and crumbled. Half of the duo went MIA in Milan, the other is still going strong four weeks later.

Yes, we did bring the Tupperware from home for this purpose.


Probably the only positive out of the takeaway lasagne I bought in Florence was the serrated, plastic knife which then went on a killing spree, including slicing several baguettes, cutting up a cucumber during a picnic in Paris, and spreading a lot of knock-off hazelnut spread on croissants and crepes.

One last crepe for the road, Charles de Gaulle Airport. Also featuring the backup hazelnut spreader, a Gelato scoop from Rome.


Drafted in Rome on our first weekend, started life in a takeaway pasta and went on to scoop a variety of savoury snacks and home-assembled meals. Also pitched in as a spoon after the attrition of our original set of two. The back of each prong was hollow and tapered in at the point, making them quite annoying to clean.

A tin of tuna in Montmartre. In Europe, tins of flavoured tuna are actually large enough to nourish a standard sized human.


The good thing about merino socks is, like Marino shirts, as long as you don't soil them you can just hang them somewhere to air out for a day and then rewear them. (I will die on this hill). This makes them ideal for vacation as you only need to pack a few shirts and socks to get you through a long holiday. This is okay for a month, but the Smart Wool socks I bought in 2013 have unfortunately reached the end of the road. Bought in New York due to me not packing enough socks, I had no idea that I would fall in love with the best, most comfortable and temperature regulating socks I'd ever wear. I remember being disappointed when I realised what I'd bought wasn't a 2 pack, unaware that I'd get more wears out of these socks than any other pair so far in my life.

Alas, you can't wear socks every second day of winter for ten years without them eventually succumbing to wear and tear, and though there are only a few holes among the thin parts unfortunately hanging them outside for a night won't fix that. The time was right to say goodbye, and - like Jim Morrison - lay these socks to rest in Paris.

Skin on my Toes

It was a long and painful death, but it died for a good cause - the sights of Ischia and the Amalfi Coast, and from the tops of the landmarks in Florence.

Low resolution for your viewing pleasure.


(Not Pictured)
My belt did not die in Europe, but it earned a medal of honour for being able to pop the lids of multiple cheap as heck beers in Milan and Paris when I lacked a bottle opener.

Butt Pillow

(Not Pictured)
Lasted until Naples, then taken by the trains into the unknown because I was in a rush to get the suitcase and forgot I'd been sitting on it.

I Tried Being a Parisian

Today I tried being a Parisian. After being here six nights, seeing most of the tourist attractions, eating a lot of kebabs and working out how to use the self service checkouts at Monoprix I finally found myself with a couple of hours free to live in the city instead of visit it.

This meant, leaving my hotel wearing sneakers instead of hiking boots. Donning sunglasses and noise cancelling headphones. No backpack, camera, or map. I had places to go and things to do.

My first impressions, it reminded me of living in Sydney. There too, any visit to the city for work or leisure is always slowed down by tourists. Paris is a lot vaster than Sydney. And because of the language, tourists stand out much more here too. I would imagine as a Parisian that it would be easy to feel superior when there is a ubiquitous lower class of human - the tourist - in your daily life behaving clueless and obnoxious because they don't know your language or your culture.

I strode by some tourists on my way to the supermarket, and left them standing dumbly while they waited for traffic signals that I jaywalked through. I reached some gardens with a snack and a beer and music on and felt very at home putting my feet up on a second chair and relaxing under the cloudy, yet warm summer afternoon sky.

My belonging in Parisian lasted until someone sat next to me at the park and their cigarette smoke put me off. Which was not long.

This was actually my second visit to the Luxembourg Gardens today, and third gardens in general. I don't think I will ever tire of going for a walk first thing in the morning and then eating breakfast somewhere pleasant. The destination for us today was Jardin des Plantes. I was forced to eat my oats with a fork as one of the spoons has been MIA for a while.

We then indulged in more summer fruits from the street markets of Rue Mouffetard, as well as a chocolate covered eclair, that we took and enjoyed in Luxembourg under nice skies and in front of nice flowers.

Then we did visit one final museum, because we already had the reservation for Sainte-Chapelle. This place is only really worth visiting because of the stain glass windows, and yeah, they are impressive.

Each panel is a full story, most are books of the bible. I'm starting the plan now for converting my June journal entries into stain glass.

After that we ate lunch at an Israeli style creperie, enjoying a savoury crepe followed by a buttery one. This gave me some fuel for the being a Parisian that followed.

Our final evening: another visit to the bookstore, then dinner at Rosie's BBQ, and a walk along the river enjoying the sunset.

And that was that. C'est fini. Nothing left to do but go to bed so that I can then travel for 26 hours and end up in the cold.

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It was my intention to ease the transition from Switzerland to France by visiting the Alsace reason, which has historically been both French and German depending on where in time you are.

That said, the moment our train crossed the border into France the multi-lingual station and journey updates ceased and everything was purely French. It's okay. The audio system on the train was hard enough to hear the words clearly anyway.

Colmar is not a big place and it didn't take long to drag the suitcase from the station to the start of the cobbled streets of the old town. And this old town was old. We first decided to visit here because it looked like a Disney cartoon. (There are a number of towns in the Alsace region that claim to be "the inspiration" for Beauty and the Beast and this is one of them.)

Most of the buildings in the historic centre, and "little Venice" (a nickname given by someone who obviously hadn't been in normal sized Venice a week earlier) date from the middle ages and renaissance. And they're originals, as unlike a lot of the rest of Europe they weren't bombed or shelled during the 20th century. It was a very pretty place, something that was easier to appreciate after depositing our luggage in the Airbnb.
When picking a place to stay here I'd decided to book an upstairs room above a restaurant in pretty much the heart of the old town area thinking it would be easy to take some photos early or late in the day, potentially out of the window.

Our accommodation was the two open shutters on the first floor of the back building. I did not work out how to close the shutters when the sun finally set.

This was maybe not the best idea. At the time of booking I didn't appreciate just how happening European cities are basically every day of the week in summer. Rome, Naples, Amalfi, Florence, Venice and Lucerne all had a party vibe late into the evening every night of the week. Even knowing this, I wouldn't have predicted that a town as small as Colmar (population 70k according to Google) would be absolutely pumping on a random Wednesday evening. The streets were packed, and roads were closed so that musicians could set up stages or DJ booths all around the picturesque streets. The restaurants were full. Additional bars set up on trestle tables were pulling beers for five euro a cup on the streets. I figured this must be life when it snows in winter and your summer days don't literally cook you. And also when the law doesn't ban you from drinking a beer on the street.

For the majority who are smarter than me and realise that today is the Winter Solstice (in Adelaide) and therefore the Summer Solstice (in France) you would know that this means it was Fête de la Musique today. An annual, French celebration of amateur music in public places.

Arsonic playing for a huge crowd in front of the 550 year old Koïfhus.

DJ and dancing in front of one of the churches.

Because we won't have a kitchen or even a fridge for the week in Paris, our first stop in Colmar was the supermarket (which wasn't centuries old) so we could take advantage of the full kitchen in the apartment. Here we learned some other harsh truths about France. They do not sell many high-protein yogurts and puddings here. Most of the display fridges were dedicated to cheeses. This is not a whimsy, sadly. Even the regular yogurt selection was quite limited. We were able to find some ravioli and tomato sauce and - after eating only one serving in Italy over the course of two weeks - the first meal I ate in France was pasta.

After dinner we walked around listening to bands and admiring architecture. A few thunderclouds passed overhead, along with a random sprinklings of rain and an occasional flash of lightning. The sun did seem to be setting quite late which was pretty typical for the trip so far, and we had travelled ~150 kilometres north-west that afternoon, but I hadn't twigged it was the solstice yet.

10 P.M.

Vanessa went to try and sleep after being absolutely smashed by pollen that morning. I continued to listen to the bands until the sun eventually did disappear, not before colourful lights were beamed upon the big church across the square from the apartment. I went to bed around 10:30pm, the music stopped around 11pm and the giant church lantern dimmed its lights at midnight. It was extremely warm, and extremely humid. They did not have air conditioning in the fifteenth century.

All of this on top of a walk through the forest to Lucerne that morning, and breakfast (including high protein milk drink) by the lake before lunch and non-Aldi Swiss beer at the Rathaus Brauerei, and the aforementioned train ride. It was definitely a very long day...


It would be a challenge to come to Florence and not leave more cultured than you arrived. Although it would be less hard if you do this outside of June and its long queues.

And I'm not just saying this because the two most common sources of protein in Italy seem to be a couple of slices of salami on a plate sized pizza, or flavoured yoghurts with 20 grams of protein per tub.

There are more pieces of art on the walls and bridges in the streets than there are in some other cities' museums.

Sculpture overload.

Florence was quiet this morning at 6 A.M. when we walked along the river and back, before breakfast at Piazza Ognissanti.

The next stop of the day was Giotti's bell tower, which you get to do for free if you pay the cost of climbing the Duomo.

The climb and view from the bell tower is not much different than the view from the cathedral, other than obviously from the bell tower you get an excellent view of the immense dome.

Through gothic window frames.

After the climb it was over to Galleria dell'Academia to join the masses in the street waiting to take their selfie with Michelangelo's David. (It was a 30 minute wait for us, thanks to our skip the line tickets).

The gallery contained many works of art and history, including a wing of musical instruments and paintings of their original users. And many, many photos of Baby Jesus. But it was clearly David that was the drawcard and the centre of attention. The sculpture is certainly a phenomenal work of art, very large and mostly intact. Also you can see the penis.

Then for lunch I paid my second visit to All’Antico Vinaio to overindulge in a different kind of white, creamy works of art with a focus on excessive smallgoods.

La Paradisa

This concluded the first half of the day. Midday naps have been a successful method for getting the most out of the long and hot summer days in Europe. Today was no exception, even with the hammering and drilling going on next to our AirBNB, or due to the six foot long short mattress. We rose around 3pm and walked back across the Arno to the Uffitzi gallery for more art. And even more art.

It is hard not to get desensitized by the amount of sculptures and Catholic imagery that makes up Florence's most prominent art galleries. Especially all the Baby Jesuses. I'm sorry Jesus, but I have the same reaction to you as I do to seeing anyone else's baby photos on Facebook over and over again. Yes it's Jesus, he was a baby yesterday as well, and won't have grown up much tomorrow either. I wish Correggio, Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio and the rest could have drawn more inspiration from other mythologies, or daily life instead.

Everybody in this painting is in need of a beer

Medusa, and the Botticelli's, stole the show.

That was all a lot of art, and a lot of Italy, and we needed a beer. Peroni have a 2% Radler that sells for about $3.50 a 3-pack and a cold one of those did the job. Then as a change from epic sandwiches, pizza and lasagne we tried Florence's most highly rated Indian restaurant and that food tasted molte bene as well.

Having now crammed two days of culture, and two days of food, into a single planetary revolution, I was both exhausted and full of energy. So as the sun went down I went out with my camera and tripod to experience Italy at nighttime. I felt slightly tentative walking alone with camera and tripod after dark, but European cities in summer are something else compared to Australia. Nearing 11pm on a Tuesday night and the streets were packed. It's hard not to feel safe when you're surrounded by people everywhere eating dinner and gelato.

Amalfi to Florence

We said goodbye to Amalfi with just a short 300 metre climb to Pogerola this morning for a final breakfast in the clouds. And more steps down...

When I was planning the Europe itinerary I didn't see the day travelling from Amalfi to Florence as being a highlight. But after the first eight days of this holiday and how packed they've been, I found myself looking forward to some downtime in the form of a ferry ride to Salerno followed by a four hour train ride in business class.

I booked the business class tickets back in March because due to a promo they were actually cheaper than regular tickets. About 30 euros to go about 500km, including seat selection and a free snack box.

Unfortunately I learned before the snack box could even arrive that Italian business class seats - like Italian beds and Italian ferry toilet cubicles - are too small for me to be very comfortable. The scenery was nice though. And we arrived in Florence successfully and crossed the Arno for the first of many times. And bought yogurt for our next breakfast for not the first of many times.

Keeping My Fluids Up

It was pretty chilly this morning, I had a smoothie. By midmorning it had warmed up and I had some sweet potato and lentil soup before a long series of meetings. I managed to finish the hummus in my last salad of autumn before more meetings. I completed the workday with two diagrams which earned me two beers at dad's tonight with dinner.

Despite perfectly executing my beverages and timing of 1kg hummus consumption before my upcoming holiday, I am also taking a view this week that I should ensure my expectations are not too high before I take off. Life is a bit cruel, and I don't want to feel the pressures that the month of June needs to make up for the first five months of 2023, nor what comes after. After so much holiday planning since Boxing Day, my horizon is now revealing life after Europe 2023. I will reserve some joys for that time too. I will have a lot more free time then when I can cease planning travel and forget Italian.

The Most Abhorrent Meal of the Day

If the 450 word eulogy I posted a year ago for my blender didn't make it obvious to me that I loved it, absence has most definitely made the heart grow fonder. Paying $550 for a new blender must in part have been an over-compensation for the grief I was feeling. What sane person would make a choice like that? What features beyond turning ice and food into a delicious breakfast must a blender offer to justify its price. Only the people who purchase 24 packs of croissants in bulk might know the answer (as in, multiple 24 packs...)

The Vitamix Explorian E320, like most of 2022, did not meet my expectations. It turned ingredients and ice into watery ingredients and crushed up ice. It had a two litre jug all right, but the blended contents never reached the top. I had an eleven year long baseline to compare it with. Before 2022 I would get two and a half milkshake cups worth of lush, gossamer, silky smoothie. It would take me twenty minutes to drink. I could place a plastic spoon on the surface and it would float there. Yes, most of the cup was air but it was delicious, refreshing air.

Initially I thought there was just a learning curve. A good breakfast-person never blames their tools after all. At some point, with the Breville over the horizon, it was clear that things were not going to improve. Is not the definition of insanity to repeatedly put 225ml of skim milk, 20g of protein powder, a banana, some berries, and 200g of low fat yogurt in a blender with 27 ice cubes and expect different results? I tried increasing the milk, decreasing it. Increasing the ice, decreasing it. Increasing the yogurt, increasing that even more. I couldn't understand why a recipe that hadn't changed in over a decade (well, barely...) could fail over and over again.

I blamed myself. After watching those expensive blades every morning whip the the jug's contents up and up only for breakfast to sink down after each blending was depressing. The house would shake, I'd stop the motor and I'd be left with goop. Where was my creamy refreshment? Where was the SPOILER: smoother mouth feel?

I was aging. I was declining. Maybe my life to this point had been a balance of mostly lucky breaks, and now the symmetry of the odds were rearing their head. I was going to be doomed for the rest of my life to make bad decisions and drink disappointing smoothies.

A few weeks ago I thought to myself maybe it was time to stop drinking smoothies for breakfast. I could eat cereal again. Maybe toast, or just a black coffee and a single, boiled egg from a collection I kept in some Tupperware that I would refill, unsmiling, every Sunday. At least I'd get a journal entry out of it.

I could tell when I'd hit rock bottom.
At that point I decided that I didn't care that this stupid Vitamix had cost me over half a fucking grand. I was going to buy another Breville. I bought the Breville Boss. It was only $240. I plugged it in and made a smoothie with it. It did take me a few attempts to return to form. I had to keep reducing the ingredients back to the old levels.

After the first time I made it like I used to I nearly cried.

I'd nearly convinced myself that my self worth wasn't directly tied to how well I made a smoothie. It is, and I make smoothies really well. The Vitamix was not for me. Now every day I get two and a half milkshake cups worth of smoothie for breakfast. Life feels a little less cruel.

Lastly, because I bought the Vitamix from the place that sells 24 packs of croissants in giant trolleys I did have a crack at taking advantage of their "satisfaction guaranteed" refunds policy. Given this entry is a little bit like an advertisement I will garnish it by saying that, unflinchingly, that company was happy to keep their word and after all this adventure they refunded me $550. They only asked why I wasn't satisfied, and I regaled them with the tale above, slightly abridged. They did not ask any follow up questions.

This morning I made yet another perfect smoothie and drank it looking out at the garden. The refund had processed through on my card. 2022 was nearly fucked off into the bin.

Soon I will hopefully just look back at these last twelve months as a horrible mix up.

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