Thursday, 8 November 2012

Thought for the day

I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.

Mary Anne Radmacher

Pompeii, a tragedy locked in time

Pompeii is still in the shadow of the brooding Mount Vesuvius.

The city of Pompeii, along with Herculaneum, was partially destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 ft of hot ash, pumice and mud in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

One of the tragic inhabitants of Pompeii, forever encased in ash. His teeth are still visable, clenched in fear.
                            Another former resident is frozen in their final, terrified position.

One of the preserved illustrations on the wall of the brothel. Several of them are dotted around the place, each showing one of the delights on offer for the excitable inhabitants.

        Neil tries his hand at serving in the ancient fast food joint!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Amalfi coast - spectacular

Neil surveys the view at the pretty coastal town of Amalfi. It is indeed Salad days . . . .

                   Here's a different view of Amalfi, a gorgeous little piece of paradise.
A speciality of the region - delicate, ornate little painted tiles. Next to the obligitory moped!!!

Here's another of the beautiful little villages on the Amalfi coast - Positano. Where houses tumble down the hillside to the beach.

Next we visit Pompeii, a huge site in the shadow of the brooding and treacherous Vesuvius.

Capri - designer heaven yet still full of tacky lemon stuff

I love Lemon based tacky products and Capri and Sorrento are simply crammed full of the yellow, fragrant, marvellous little blighters.

Even with its chic boulevard of designer shops - Prada, Louis Vitton etc etc (if that is your bag) you can still find a veritable cornucopia of tat in Capri!!!

There's a fantastic (by which I mean slightly terrifying) chair lift from Anacapri to the top of Mount Salaro.

Amazing views but you do have to cling for dear life to the pole (not to the bar across your lap as this, as i discovered, can simply be lifted up . . ) Neil looks suitably delighted by the whole experience.

Pretty view - worth the fear!!

Here's another perennial tourist favourite - the fridge magnet! Me and the better half collect the colourful little blobs of joy from everywhere we visit. The fridge looks like an explosion in a plastic factory.

I utterly love the art shops in Sorrento, you can barely even see this one under the proliferation of canvas!!

We stayed at Hotel Eden in Sorrento.
It's a hotel of two halves, literally! One half is recently renovated, lovely, fresh and clean, whereas the other half leaves a lot to be desired. It has a fab pool and is ideally located on the main square of Sorrento, but make sure to ask for a room in the newly renovated half!!

Here's the coolest gelato bar EVER in Sorrento - so many flavours to chose from and plastered with celeb photos from the Pope to James Bond!!

                              Here Neil investigates the finer points of Gelato marketing.
Next up, a bus trip along the Amalfi coast to some fab villages and the epic but haunting spectacle of Pompeii . . .  .

Overpriced but pretty

So Capri's main attraction is the Blue Grotto, a naturally formed cave that is illuminated with a vivid blue light.

You can access the cave via one of the many boat tours around the island but you will find yourself bobbing about for ages as you have to wait (along with lots of others) for the boat men to come and pick you up.

It's much quicker to actually walk to the blue grotto, wait on the shore in a much quicker queue and get in there quicker!

It is very expensive however - 12.5euros per person, quite a lot for what it is. But we were there so we had to see it!!

The queue for the Blue Grotto

                                                        Vivid blue inside the Grotto.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Thought for the Day

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for

John A. Shedd

Capri and Sorrento 2012

So back to Italy, for the fourth time! Despite swearing blind last year I would never spend my hard earned money in the grumpy rude fest that is Italy, back we go! Just can't keep away from the culture, astounding architecture and glamourous beaches.

First off, the glorious wedding of a close friend in Rome. Married in the beautiful setting of the Campidoglio in Rome, it was every inch the Dolce Vita! Even though it was 38 degrees and no air conditioning!!

Here we are looking glam.

Next up a six am train ride to Naples, hopped on the hydro foil and headed to the home of glitz and glamour - Capri!

We actually stayed in Anacapri, the small, less developed little village higher up on the island. We stayed in the fantastic Il Sogno B and B. Absolute bliss! Only three bedrooms and set just off the main square it is ideally situated, quite and set in gorgeous gardens. A perfect escape.

Check them out here:

Here's Marina Grande - the ferry's all dock here, in order to get to Anacapri you can either get a taxi or simply hop on one of the tiny, frequent buses that bumble up the steep hill.

Feel the fear as they wind up the impossibly high hill, with a sheer drop to the ocean on one side and barely an inch to spare between buses as they meet each other on the hair pin bends.

                                                            First glimpse of the Island.
                                                 Colourful houses line the Marina Grande.

The sea around the island is an incredible, azure blue. Almost too perfect to be true. But always involving a very steep hill down, followed by the realisation it's a private beach, followed by the hill you need to climb back up . . .

Next we visit the Blue Grotto and check out where the glamourous rich folks hang out - Capri!!!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Monday, 11 June 2012

Italian count down!

Not long now readers, a fortnight today I will be back in sunny, grumpy, rude, frustrating, marvellous Italy! (Yes I know I swore blind after last year that I wouldn't set foot there again  . . )

Blame one of my best friends for having to have a super glam wedding in Rome!

So it's back to the Eternal City for three days, then hopping on the train to Naples, grabbing a hydrofoil and onto the gorgeous looking island of Capri for a few days of watching the beautiful people.

Thenk it's onto Sorrento to check out the Amalfi coast, Pompei and other Roman ruins!

Here's an image of Capri to whet your appetite!

Expect lots more pictures of azure waters, tiny hidden coves and lush vegetation when I head back. Plus the obligatory whinging about how rude people are, how I hate flying and general grumpiness!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

York, my favourite UK city

Just back from a long weekend in my favourite Uk city York with my favourite mum :)

Stayed in a lovely B and B Bowen House, can heartily recommend it, about 20 mins from the train station, welcoming owners who can't do enough for you, immaculate and cosy accomodation.

We had the twin room which was tiny (don't swing any cats!) but lovely and a separate private bathroom just a few steps away. Fab. Here's the website -

Even though the weather was iffy on the first day (and it had to pour it down when we were on the most remote part of the city walls!!) it was still great.

Since the rain didn't let up on the first day, we headed for my favourite food joint in York - Oscars.

It's a cosy, low key place that's always packed and serves HUGE portions of scrummy food, i can heartily recommend the bean burger, piled high with salsa, cheese, onion rings and chips!

Then it was off to the cinema, marvellously situated next to the river, a fantastic view of it all flooded, to watch Dark Shadows, the latest Johnny Depp film (not bad actually)

 Not bad Johnny, not bad . . . . .

Next up, guided tours and walking the walls.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Old, new, war and peace

So after a whistle stop tour of central London on Friday we head to the Imperial War museum close to our travelodge in Waterloo.

Four stories crammed full of machines, planes, tanks, and other weapons of war. A truely saddening experience that shows how proficent mankind is at killing each other.Ranging from ancient conflicts to upto date war fare such as Afganistan.

Here Neil is in front of the museum with some of the long range guns that can fire upto 16 miles. Frightening.

The only aspect of the museum I enjoyed was the old war time propaganda posters, such as the one above. The Loose Talk costs Lives posters featuring cartoon Hitlers popping out of phone boxes and other places, and are still an amusing yet effective marketing campaign.

But on a darker note is this warning that still has as much resonance now, if not more, than when it was first uttered.

Moving quickly away from the horrors of the past we head to the more vibrant and lively setting of Camden Town, one of my favourite bits of London.

From the bustling markets, tempting food stalls and piles of tat for sale to the oversized shoes and other items that adorn lots of the shop fronts, its a fun, colourful and hectic experience.

Grabbing a tasty slice of pizza and a disgracefully, fattening, wonderful cream and apple doughnut from one of the food stalls we browse The Stables market, an Aladdins cave of retro, vintage goodies housed in old catacombs complete with huge bronze statues of horses .

We then head to Camden Lock Village for a browse. Here's Neil perching on one of the moped seats.

Next we head to Portabello Lane for a meander down the markets, check out some more graffiti and then head for the tower! More pics to follow . . ..

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Alternative tour of London

So we've returned to the green hills of Derbyshire from the urban sprawl of the capital city which we have explored / endured for four days over Easter.

As mentioned previously we have done a far bit of London but we still managed a few firsts - Tower of London, Tate Modern and the War Museum.

Plus an impromptu graffiti photo tour of some of the seedier parts of the tourist trail.

Staying in Waterloo Travelodge we found a brilliant graffiti tunnel where artists have free reign with their spray cans and garish colours, here's a few snaps.

Next up, a quick stroll to the Eye (London's most prominant tourist sight, owned by a French energy company!!!)

And a stroll / dash along Festival Walk to look at / fear the living statue people. Here's just one of them (from behind as I didn't want to have to give him any money . . )
Then a mooch along to view the houses of Parliment, Big Ben and the big ole River. Here's a panaromic view of the Thames complete with a boat that later stacked itself into the bridge and seemed to get stuck for quite a while!!!

Next up, Camden Town and the Imperial War museum. Plus the collossal waste of taxpayer's money known as the Olympic Stadium . .. . . . .  .

Monday, 2 April 2012

Off to London for Easter break

Hello reader (s)!!

Not had much time to spend on the old blog recently as I am all tied up doing DIY on the house.

However I am off to London for the four day Easter break so on my return expect tales of my frustrations with city living, the tube, other people and anything else that grabs my cantankerous attention!

I was hoping for the unseasonably warm weather to continue till then, but alas, it has turned back into good old British gloom now . . .

Oh well, I keep my spirits up looking at what my desktop weather widget tells me the temperature is doing in my future holiday destination Italy (warming up nicely) and potential future wish list holiday Russia (cold / brass monkeys)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Thought for the day

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Saint Augustine

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Retail therapy in the souks of Sousse

There comes a point during any holiday, when any traveller, no matter how hardened, sucumbs to the lure, the joy, the shiny marvellousness of a spot of shopping!

Here's a few colourful pics of some of the sights on offer in the hectic souk of Sousse, a Tunisian coastal city.

Colourful textiles and clothing are a feast for the eyes and the wallet!

Piles of colourful spices and herbs entice your eyes and your tastebuds as you pass by.

                          Carpets hang out on white washed walls catching the sun's last rays.

Looking a bit goofy in front of gorgeous painted tiles, a traditional art form of Tunisia, features the Hand of Fatama, a favourite subject that brings good luck.

And after a long day of browsing the shops, haggling and being badgered by shop keepers, what better than a glass of mint tea in one of the "authentic" Tunisian cafes in the town. I suspect this one is rather more stage managed than the actual establishments that the locals frequent . . .

Blue and white theme and Tunisian doors in Sidi Bou Said

Sidi Bou Said  is a pretty little village full of orange trees and enchanting blue and white buildings, full of artists and cats!

During the 1920s, Rodolphe d'Erlanger, a French painter applied the blue and white theme all over the town.

Here's an over grown jungle outside this particularly cosy looking homestead entrance.

Here's a door that seems to have escaped the regulations though! It sits at the top of its whitewashed steps inviting you to climb up and escape the sweltering heat in its cool interior.

And here's some of the curious and hungry cats that congregate whenever there is food around . .