Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Winterfall Theatre presents a new Melbourne production of Edward Albee’s classic play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Having ventured out into a freezing Melbourne night where snow was falling thickly somewhere on the mountains it was strangely not going to be a night of escaping the cold. The restaurant we dined at before the show had a broken heating system, well we were pressed for time so we stayed. Then off we went to the Blackbox Theatre situated in the pristine Preshil campus in Kew the new home for Winterfall Theatre productions. Somehow the cold night matched the spirit of the play.

This neat 50 seater theatre was created by Lloyd Jones of La Mama, bringing a little of La Mama’s charm to the students of Preshil. In 2014 acclaimed independent theatre company Winterfall refurbished the theatre and staff and students now use the space during the term and Winterfall Theatre during the term breaks. A win-win for the school and the public.

A good number braved the cold to see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and we weren’t disappointed, especially those who have read the play, but also for those whom this performance is their first introduction. Written by the great American playwright Edward Albee in1962 it is a timeless, ageless piece of literature that continues to shake emotions when re-interpreted either on the stage or on film.

Winterfall Theatre presents Albee’s play to a new generation and I thought an exact and vigorous interpretation was brought to the stage. Excellently Directed by Denis Moore, whom was nominated for a Green Room Best Actor award in 2012 and some of the best acting I have seen in live theatre to date managed to recapture so powerfully all the deep, dark, ferociousness of Albee’s characters. With the combination of dialog, body language, the staging, the very essence of the original play was brought to life right there in three parts, so accurately, so emotionally and unnervingly precise.

Albee’s two famous couples, George and Martha, Nick and Honey are back on stage. I could almost go as far as to say that it closely matched the extreme passion of the 1966 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The intensity was greatly felt in the interaction between Chris Connelly (as George) and Michele Williams (as Martha), two damaged and scarred souls fighting for the deepest of love now at breaking point, clinching to dreams that have passed and driven by the desperate despair of marital breakdown.

Equally convincing were Jordan Fraser-Trumble (as Nick) and Cassandra Magrath (as Honey), not one of the four ever showing a slip out of their character, they immersed themselves and became those individuals, perfectly intertwining. I have been told that Edward Albee, now 88 years of age, with each adaptation of his plays has to personally approve every single production. He evidently has been vocal about his distaste in even the slightest deviation from his strict stage directions. Hearing this I am not surprised and I am sure that the quality of this Winterfall Theatre production has met all his expectations.

I first read Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? over 34 years ago as part of my VCE curriculum, it had a powerful effect on me then, I re-read the play again this year and having gained life experience and maturity the effect was profound as was the Winterfall Theatre production. I recommend getting out into the cold to see what I believe to be a celebration of one of the greatest living playwright of our time.

Directed by Denis Moore
Performed by Chris Connelly, Michele Williams, Jordan Fraser-Trumble, Cassandra Magrath
Lighting Design by Rebecca Etchell
Set Design by Christina Logan-Bell
21st June to 10th July 2016

Circus Oz TWENTYSIXTEEN

15th June to 10th July

From its beginnings in 1978 in nearly 40 years the success of Circus Oz has elevated to great heights, having many sell-out seasons in all parts of Australia as well as international touring including performances in New York City, London and Jerusalem.

Today their base is in the inner suburb of Collingwood Melbourne, a true Arts Hub with a permanent Spiegeltent on sight and wonderful facilities, where the new creations of Circus Oz projects are born.

I had the pleasure of attending last nights Circus Oz Melbourne Gala performance of TWENTYSIXTEEN under the Big Top Birrarung Marr and what a pleasure it was. A full house that spanned every age range, quite an assortment of colourful ladies, gents and toddlers, all eagerly awaited an anticipated spectacle of great proportions.

We were not disappointed, in fact the night delighted, tantalised, astounded and most of all made us shriek with laughter. TWENTYSIXTEEN is jam packed with non-stop raw and vibrant hilarity.

Lots of bells and whistles throughout and many thrills (with one or two minor spills) fed the cravings that appeal to a typical circus audience, but not wasted on the novice I’m sure. There is a blend of new and old style circus, for me there must be the old style, it is the foundation of what great circus is all about, but the new also revitalizes the senses.

Two hours of high-energy flying trapeze, Chinese pole, unicycles and juggling acts, intoxicating the minds, defying the boundaries of what a human form is capable of. This you expect from all circuses, but Circus Oz gives much more.   The characters represent a true depiction of Australian unique humour. The Australian larrikin comes into play and there is no humour like it in any part of the world.

Oh and I must mention the amazing band playing throughout, carrying us to greater highs. TWENTYSIXTEEN is such pure joy, full of colour, great effects and magic, all the ingredients that leave you feeling delightfully satisfied.

Extraordinary and very cheeky TWENTYSIXTEEN is a perfect blend of entertainment that anyone can appreciate. What an ensemble of talent, with newcomers in 2016 Sam Aldham, Robbie Curtis and Sharon Gruenert joining April Dawson, Ben Hendry, Spenser Inwood, Kyle Raftery, Ania Reynolds (Musical Director), Matt Wilson and Dale Woodbridge-Brown and Flip Kammerer making a come-back.

2016 Guest Show Director: Anni Davey, Senior Circus Artist and Founding Member: Tim Coldwell, Senior Artistic Associate: Antonella Casella, Musical Director: Ania Reynolds, Set Design: Emily Barrie, Costume Design and Founding Member: Laurel Frank, Lighting Design: Paul Jackson, Prop Design: Michael Baxter and Guest Act Development: Debra Batton and Jo Lancaster.

A huge applause to this amazing array of performers and the crew all deserving of the standing ovation at last nights show.

Interview with Josh Lord

Interview with Visual Artist Josh Lord – January 2016 by Lisa Romeo

Australian visual artist Josh Lord is currently based in Melbourne and is enjoying both a national and international career that spans three decades. Mainly influenced by pop art, dada and surrealism, Lord has however stapled his own unique style of work not capitulating to any one genre and it is well appreciated by a widespread audience.

I attended Lord’s last major solo exhibition in late 2014, ‘This Used to Be the Future’, at D11 @Docklands art gallery in Melbourne. Based on the science fiction sub genre ‘Future History’, his works expressed bold mission statements such as:

“When did good will turn into another false public display of nobility and moral decline’ ”,

“When did all these millions of voices become silenced and love become the warm embrace of machines spawning children carrying automatic weapons shooting out their ‘rights’”,

“When did this become the future”. The exhibition was a great success and Lord sold 80% of his work.

Today in Josh’s studio on a sunny Melbourne afternoon I want to find out what Josh has been up to since 2014 and his plans for the future. 

Josh, tell me what you have been working on since the last successful exhibition at Docklands?

Since the Docklands show I have been developing new ideas but also taking elements from ‘This used to be the Future’. With the new works I have been doing some cut ups for different periods of time and looking at how we have become this modern day consumer society where we all seem to be scratching away at the super-heap of status symbols built on shaky moral high grounds. What I have been trying to build upon with these new works is the idea of what we will leave for future generations, what will we look like – a parody of Dante’s Inferno Fourth Circle of Greed carrying heavy weight of empty goods with unrecognizable need and it is pointless trying to speak to them.

When and where will you hold your next exhibition?

At the moment we are working on a couple of proposals and there is some interest to put on a show either in Melbourne or overseas this year, but we haven’t set a date as yet.

What is the reason behind using musicians as subject matter in your paintings?

I wouldn’t really say that musicians are my subject matter, as that would imply that I did portraits, I’ve only really done three portraits of musicians, Sam Sejavka, Ash Wednesday and Mick Harvey all entries for the Archibald prize. It taught me a valuable lesson that winning a prize isn’t everything but the fact that Ash, Mick and Sam would see me as an artist and give me their time and have faith enough to let me paint them. Let’s face it my work isn’t about making people look pretty or glossy like photorealism, it has a grittiness about it, people either love or hate it.

You collaborate with musicians when incorporating live music as a big part of your exhibitions/shows. When did this begin and what inspires you to do so?

I think it really started back in the late 90’s I wouldn’t say it was a new thing, but it was for me. I felt at that time going to and putting on exhibitions was like going to a wake with awkward people standing around not sure what to say but only “love your work mate”. I was doing a show with a mate of mine, a fellow artist Vince Berlingeri and Vince and I became friends with a new Qld band by the name of SubAudible Hum. We asked them if they would like to play a kind of Velvet Underground/Warhol thing at our exhibition in Melbourne, I think we paid them in beer. They really made the night something to remember, it ended up being more like a Robert Rauschenberg happening.

Years later I got to meet Kate Buck who introduced me to a lot of amazing Melbourne musicians from the 70’s onwards as she was a part of the Little Bands scene. My next show was at Bower Gallery in East St Kilda that was run by artist Emily Wright. By that time I really wanted to do something with music and film so I asked Kate if she would like to help and she was really up for the idea. I also asked a mate of mine Gareth Thomas who now works for Weta, to make a film for it. That show was titled ‘Shootin from the hip of Insanity’, little did I know what an impact this would have on me.

Kate sounded like Lydia Lunch combined with Einstürzende Neubauten and the throbbing gristle of her backing band and Gareth’s film with images of war mixed with happy family stuff, wow. We held an after party at the Lyrebird at which The Ovals played (a neo-psychedelic band) and to my surprise The Ears agreed to play (a Melbourne post-punk band of the 80s, who’s front man Sam Sejavka was the inspiration for the Michael Hutchence’ character in the film ‘Dogs in Space’). They had just played a gig at the Corner Hotel in Richmond for a sell out crowd, which sadly I missed so for me to see them play for the very first time and at my show was beyond words.

I believe further collaboration with musicians followed. Can you talk about those and whom else you came together with?

After ‘Shootin from the hip of insanity’ I started talking about doing a group show with some of the artists who came along to my previous show. Like some talk it goes somewhere or just ends up being talk, so I called up artist Michael Peck and he was keen if I could get the gallery in Paradise Hills in Richmond. I called Michael back in 5 minutes and said yep we are on, shit I better get some artists, so I ended up getting 10 visual artists who mixed from established to up and coming, two film makers and four bands which were Bucky Ball Baby (Kate Buck), The Ovals and The Ears and for the fourth – at first it was going to be a pub rock band until a phone call with Andrew Park, then the synth/keyboardist for The Ears, who said “NO! Man it’s a bloody art show you need an art synths act”.

He told me about a friend of his who was one of Melbourne’s pioneers of electronic/synth music from the 70’s and had worked in Berlin as a touring member of a massive band. Within an hour I got a phone call and this voice that sounded like a matinee idols says “Hello Josh Lord, this is Ash Wednesday speaking” we spoke for around 2 hours, looking back now that seems like a very short phone call for Ash and myself. So the opening of ‘Melbourne’s Burning’ exhibition was amazing and a very obscure night…. well for me as I felt it was a good bye to something or leaving an art scene behind as I think I had become jealous of other visual artists and I really didn’t like that feeling, a kind of race to the top, well that is what it was for me.

After the initial meeting you worked once again with Ash Wednesday on your solo show in 2014. Talk about post ‘Melbourne’s Burning’ exhibition and your further collaboration with Ash.

After ‘Melbourne’s Burning’ I truly knew who Ash Wednesday was so I got in contact with him and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on a solo project, which he was so he came over and I told him of my ideas and that I was changing my whole style and it would take 6 months. To that he replied, “No, 2 years”. I hate to say it but he was right DAMN IT! Through the 2 years of developing the works for the next show I must say Ash was a great mentor/teacher and I must have been the worst bloody student, the patience that man has WOW. In that time I had the opportunity to meet and paint Ollie Olsen, (composer, singer, sound designer). We started talking about the show and what Ash and I were planning to do and in a cheeky way I asked him if he would like to work with Ash and I, to my surprise Ollie said yes. So Ash, Ollie and myself settled on the title for the show being “This used to be the Future” and it would be held at D11 Docklands. After that show I truly felt as if I stood on the shoulders of giants.

In 2015 I started working on new works which led me to meet Hugo Race (musician, singer/songwriter/producer/screenwriter) and I did a couple of paintings of him and through our conversation Hugo mentioned if I would be interested in doing some paintings for a video clip for a song he wrote called False Idols, just the name alone was awesome to me. Then Hugo sent me the track and I instantly loved it and the song was the inspiration behind the painting I did with the same name. The video uses 11 images of my paintings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nO4y374i1M. I am also currently working on artwork for Harry Howard (Bass guitarist in Crime & the City Solution, These Immortal Souls) and his band Harry Howard and the NDE’s next album cover.

In 2000 you made a decision to leave Australia and work overseas. What did you get out of that in terms of your work thereafter?

Overseas, we are talking about the boot camp for artists, my goodness it was a bloody shock to the system. Well it taught me to think outside the box and look at things from an outsider’s point of view. I think at times we can get so rapped up in what is going on around us that we can’t see the solution that is right in front of us. As an artist I find that I need to develop my ideas, not just painting pretty pictures of beauty without a biography, I feel it has to mean something.

I know you have sold a lot of your work overseas in the past. Is there still a market and interest for your work overseas?

Yes there is, the way to look at it is this, here it’s kind of like MEH! Another artist, but overseas Melbourne artists are referenced quite a lot as inspirations, you become the exotic one with a different culture it’s the same as someone coming over here with a new idea, we all jump on and say “WOW that’s cool”, because at the end of the day locals anywhere they are will take their culture may it be art, music or film for granted not because they dislike it but because it is their everyday.

What/Which contemporary artist inspires you today?

There are so many, but their busy doing their thing, so I should be too and I should stop trying to find things that are wrong with my work through theirs.

What is the main driving force behind your work?

Oh those people who live in ivory towers that are built on the shaky moral high grounds.

For further information on Josh Lord and to view his many art works please go to his website: www.joshlord.com 
Josh Lord’s Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Lord

 

St Kilda Film Festival 2016

ST KILDA FILM FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT Palais Theatre, St Kilda After Party at St Kilda Town Hall Melbourne, Thursday 23rd May 2012 Please Credit 2013 JIM LEE PHOTO

The St Kilda Film Festival 2016
19th May to 28th May
Palais Theatre

I was fortunate enough to be a part of this year’s opening night of what I believe is the 33rd year of the St Kilda Film Festival. I shared this lavish affair with a 2000+ large audience of filmmakers and devoted lovers of film all celebrating the unique talent of the Australian film industry.

The festival is presented and produced by The City of Port Phillip and is “Accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the St Kilda Film Festival is now an Academy Awards® qualifying event, with award-winning films from the Festival eligible for consideration in the Short Film Awards AND Documentary Short sections of the Oscars®”.

I could not think of a more spectacular venue than The Palais Theatre to present this special event, with all it’s grandeur and history it is a perfect setting to celebrate this year’s Australian top 100 short films, by filmmakers that are both emerging and accomplished industry professionals.

After many introductory speeches, including that of Festival Director Paul Harris and MP Martin Foley, both passionate and dedicated to supporting Australian talent, plus tributes to those in the industry that have passed, screenings of some wonderful historic archives, we finally, with great anticipation, were offered a select sample of a collection of some of the best works that the 2016 program has to offer.

Approximately 8 samples of some extraordinary films and documentaries were screened, each with a running time of no more than approximately 10 to 20 minutes, showcasing a range of drama, documentary and wonderful Australian humour. Always topical, always raising awareness, Australian filmmakers are translating through film important and thought provoking issues in today’s society, both in the context of Australia and all around the world.

The opening night was a splendid representation of the sensitivity, the creativity and the amazing talent that Australian film has to offer, it is exciting to watch the unique talent of our industry.

It was hard for me to pick a favourite, but if I had to chose, I would The Flower Girl, a drama about a young girl from a rural village who is sold by her parents and forced to live with strangers and sell flowers in Bangkok. It is a very real and raw depiction of the trafficking of children. Directed by Kaz Ceh and produced by Hayley Surgenor.

On a lighter note The Strudel Sisters directed and produced by Peter Hegedus and Jaina Kalifa is a lovely documentary about two elderly sisters who share the art of making Hungarian strudel. It is a warm and humorous look at a unique lifestyle, and depicts a very deep and personal story of the mother that taught her daughters everything they know.

The St Kilda Film Festival is a great and significant event that provides opportunity and support for those in the Australian film industry by highlighting some fascinating works and in turn it’s an opportunity for the public to experience Australia’s filmmaking first hand.

A Room of One’s Own

Theatre Review by Lisa Romeo

What: A Room of One’s Own
Where: La Mama Courthouse
When: April 28th to May 8th
Written by Virginia Woolf
Directed by Peta Hanrahan
Performed by Anna Kennedy, Carolyn Bock, Marissa O’Reilly, Jackson Trickett
Sound Design by David Thomson
Lighting Design by Peta Hanrahan
Image by Frith Kennedy

A Room of One’s Own is a new play by Sentient Theatre and is indeed a celebration of the brilliant English writer Virginia Woolf. Since her first novel in 1915 to her tragic death in 1941 she has been attributed for being an innovative thinker and experimental writer, a unique and intellectual artist of her generation. Her work continues to inspire today and will do for future generations.

Peta Hanrahan’s directing and translation to the stage of A Room of One’s Own is precision. It brings a classic piece of literature (it was once a series of essays and lectures), to a present-day audience without attempting to modernise the language, in fact it so closely holds true and complete its original beauty.

The magnificence of Woolf’s stories and essays are undeniable, their literary value and historical content will always be important. When A Room Of One’s Own was first published in 1929 the focus on feminism greatly provoked it’s readers and just as much, the issue still continues to trigger a spark of unsettlement, of unfinished business in the 21st Century. The English dictionary meaning of ‘feminism’ is ‘the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men’. This simple meaning stimulates and incites the need for further debate and discussion, still so relevant today as it was to Woolf 87 years ago.

These undoubtedly were the thoughts that must have inspired Hanrahan and Sentient Theatre to bring the literature to the forefront again, transforming it into a story with new life and freshness. The four performers are said to ‘symbolise the four corners of Woolf’s mind, in conversation with itself’. Of the four one was a male, I am still pondering what the significance of this is, maybe the irony that Woolf’s corners of her mind could be that of a male or female and subconsciously all minds are alike regardless of ones sex. My interpretation alone!

The accuracy in the narrative is to be applauded and the acting so well translates the meaning of the words, I found it very powerful and uplifting. I could have been in a room full of intellectuals in passionate and heated discussion, the type of talk that could result in a radical change to the fabric of our society.

The arena style staging integrated the audience effectively, this, together with the vivacious performers reciting the story so boldly, I craved to join in on the conversation. The voice of Woolf was embraced with every spoken sentence by each of the performers and with the intense topic the humour of Woolf also shone through beautifully.

A Room of One’s Own is a mix of the artistry of our new generation of theatre makers combined with the wise and timeless work of a past genius. In this collaboration some questions are unchanged between centuries, we are still in pursuit of a just and equal existence, the debate of feminism is alive and continuing. I was immersed by this play; every aspect was of the highest quality.

Dirty Pictures

What: Dirty Pictures

Where: La Mama Courthouse

When: 14th April to 24th April

Written and Directed by Tony Reck

Performed by Ange Arabatzis, Lucia Brancatisano, Willow Conway, Nick Stribakos

Sound Design by Hugo Race

Lighting Design by Matt Barber

Dirty Pictures is a bold depiction of a mix of the seedy, sleazy and penurious existence of individuals in our society – maybe it’s their chosen reality or maybe there was no choice. Through multimedia and silent acting, images are projected and communicated clearly and unflinchingly. Based in Melbourne, writer and director of Dirty Pictures Tony Reck has also worked as an actor, a playwright, a producer and a theatre critic since the early 1990s.

Reck writes that Dirty Pictures …”is a play about corruption. Corruption of the self; corruption of innocence; corruption of the body, and corruption within relationships occurring within a corrupt society.” He does not hold back on the dark and bleak. And because of this he directs a play that packs a punch. It’s about the unsavoury, the deals, the force of the strong, the vulnerability of the weak, the wanting, dependency and harsh realities of the lives of the drug addict, the drug dealer, the needy girlfriend and the drug dependent prostitute. Sex, drugs, money are loosely exchanged as the characters consequently withdraw into their own world.

The great actors portray the lives of their characters with conviction against a constant mighty backdrop of projected images of a contemporary, urban landscape. The pothole and vicious circle that they are in is repeated, unchanging, whilst the technological world moves ahead in parallel to their world. “Nothing will come of nothing” the voice off speaks.

Dirty Pictures is a powerful play, with the short and sharp lines of the voice over and the audiovisual, accompanied by the mystic, haunting soundscapes by Hugo Race, it all comes together strong and stirring. Not one actor was a standout against the other; they each were equally convincingly good. I understood the monotony of the repetition as the characters are caught in a wild life that is too hard to escape and this is well represented.

I was left feeling sad for the desolate many in our society that live this very existence. It’s confronting and revealing and it’s an age-old story that should not be invisible. The message is clear and concise and I thoroughly recommend Dirty Pictures be seen and be heard.

Theatre Review by Lisa Romeo

REVIEW OF QUO VADIS HOLIDAYS EUROPEAN APERITIF

Travel Review by Lisa Romeo

Having just completed a 21 day tour of Europe I have the desire to share my experience and give praise, where praise is due. My tour was run by Quo Vadis Holidays, a company founded by Director Tim Kozma, a Port Melbourne based young gentleman with great passion for his vocation. (For a fascinating background on Tim’s career please see link below Profile of Director and founder of Quo Vadis Holidays).

With Tim Kozma’s experience and passion in the travel industry comes great perception. Tim found where the travel market lacked; basically for the late 20s to early 50s age group, (his website does say for 30s and 40s something? But there is give or take at either end of the spectrum). When I decided to travel I did a little research and found I had two choices; to tour with the youth groups, who generally drink and party their way around the world, stopping only for a scenic photo to post on social media in between pub stops? Not for me, after all, my intention was to celebrate my 50th birthday in Europe on July 14th 2014. Then there was the option to travel with the slow going tours that cater for the retirees? I don’t think so, not for this young and energetic 49.9 year old who will never retire!!!

Neither group appealed and many friends did advise me to stay away from an organised tour, they are what is known as ‘tour snobs’ and I did tend to agree that I did not fit any of the criteria of tours on offer, until I learnt about Quo Vadis Holidays (QV).

I don’t know how many tour companies cater for that in between age range and after searching the internet for months I did not find anything quite like what QV had to offer. I made enquiries and after some close investigation I was convinced that Tims company was exactly what I was searching for.

Four star comfort, so no trekking or camping involved; there is a time and place for camping, but it’s not the way I wanted to explore Europe for the first time! Tim offered late starts to the day and lots of free time to do as you please, shorter coach drives and longer stops, only one hotel out of nine was for one night only, perfect. There are many inclusion dinners/lunches and all breakfasts, and many optional excursions, so you are not obligated to join the group on every night of the tour, which suits me perfectly, I don’t like being around people every hour of the day and night. I liked the sound of this tour immensely.

My plan was to travel with a girlfriend and neither of us are willing to lay the money down until 1001 questions are answered to our satisfaction. Living in Melbourne Tim was so obliging, happy to meet with us on a number of occasions, at our choice of venue, whenever we requested and he provided all the information we wanted. I did hear from those on tour outside of Melbourne that Tim communicated and responded promptly via email or phone whenever a query was asked of him too. Tim is a true professional and a genuinely friendly and warm person. So it was a YES from us.

The tour begins in Paris and our group consisted of 6 people plus Tim, where mostly he is fully booked with up to 20 guests or more. Tim did not cancel due to the small number of people, which again is very professional of him and it turned out to be very fortunate for us, quite the exclusive, boutique tour it was indeed. We got to know each other very well, we were all from different states of Australia, and the youngest amongst us was 38yo whilst the oldest, being myself at 49.9yo, (50 by the middle of the tour).

Destinations included the usual tourist spots of course, these are places we all want to see I would imagine; The Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, Academia Museum and St Peter’s Basilica, to name a few, yes, but QV offers so many other unique destinations, all of which are based on Tim’s personal knowledge of hidden gems, totally off the tourist routes.

We traveled from place to place mainly by luxury coach, for our small group it was a 20 seater, which meant we could drive as close to the tourist points as possible, as opposed to the giant coaches that struggle to find parking and manoeuvre their way through tight alleyways of Rome and Paris. Tim had us traveling in boats; we also used fast trains, local metro trains, cable cars, plus a 121 year old Monte San Salvatore funicular to reach the top of some of the highest mountains in the world, quite a Special package indeed.

What was interesting was the stay in Switzerland. Yes, normally you do Europe and expect to see France and Italy. But Tim detours through to Switzerland. It was probably a choice I would not have thought of if I planned a trip on my own, but I loved the diversity: France, Italy and as a bonus Switzerland an amazing part of the world, to reach the top of the summit and see snow and have the option to ski was superb. In total we experienced thunder and rain, 35 degree heat, swimming in the Mediterranean sea and snow in the Alps all in 21 days.

There are too many highlights to mention them all; islands with vintage chateaus, to which you could only get to by boat, medieval towns, butcher shops in Italy that want to serve you wine and lunch, wine tasting in the most exclusive Dom Perignon cellars and Chianti vineyards in the thick of Tuscan villages. As is Europe, there is art in abundance, the work of many Masters that influenced the world, there is history, architecture, there is shopping, lots of great wine, (so for non-drinkers this may not be suitable for you), gastronomic delights, beautiful people, everything you can imagine, and with Quo Vadis Holidays this was definitely an experience of a lifetime.

Oh and I mentioned my 50th iconic birthday? I’d like to thank Tim and my lovely tour companions for helping to make my birthday a very Special one. In summary my day started off saying good bye to the beach side St Margherita and onto the town of Pisa with its Leaning Tower and the Field of Miracles, and then onto Lucca, with its squares and palazzo perfectly preserved, here we had a few hours to wonder and have lunch. Then it was onto beautiful Renaissance Florence, our lovely hotel was right in the heart of this outstanding, grand city. I was greeted with a chilled bottle of champagne on arrival, which was shared before our visit to a 13th Century Tuscan Monastery and then a unique Tuscan dinner in a local restaurant with abundance of food and beverage. Not too bad for a 50th celebration, one I will never forget. So it’s an Excellent rating from me, and as the French would say it, Fameux and the Italians, Eccelelente, the Aussies  Good onya Tim!!

For all the details of Quo Vadis Holidays 21 Day Itinerary: http://www.quovadisholidays.com/