Nikki Baker

NikB

Nikki Baker


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Former TravelPod Member: nikkibaker


Joined: April 21st, 2017
From: lives in Australia



Europe » Italy » Sicily » Zafferana Etnea May 22nd 2017

Geo: 37.6905, 15.1051Our final stop, in the foothills of Mt Etna. Luckily for us, no sign of any volcanic activity since the last eruption in March 2017.Our accommodation was just beautiful, completely designed, built and operated by the Petralia family. The delightful and helpful Sara on front of house, her mum and sister cooking and her father organising the garden and further extensions. I certainly could have stayed longer here, so very relaxing.Checked out Mt Etna, 12kms of wonderful switchbacks up to the carpark. Pretty desolate and black... lots of old lava flows and on the cable car that takes you up to 2,500m you can see the craters from previous eruptions.We had planned to do a day trip to the well known coastal town of Taormina.... but the impending G7 summit put a stop to ... read more
Mt. Etna
Zafferana Etnea
Old craters

Europe » Italy » Sicily May 21st 2017

Geo: 37.0665, 15.2843Arrived in Syracuse and arrived at the old city on the Island of Ortegia. A good team effort with Murray driving and and me navigating the maze of tiny cobbled streets, alleyways and one way system. Only a few "Oh ****" moments... so job Well Done!.Great B&B. Ortegia is a really lovely place and we took a day just to wander, people watch, catch up on some sleep and generally just hang out. Good selection of bars and restaurants... and I think our dinner at the French influenced Le Vin de l'Assassin Bistrot went into our top 5 meals on the trip.... read more
Ortegia
B&B courtyard
Ortegia

Europe » Italy » Sicily » Piazza Armerina May 20th 2017

Geo: 37.3835, 14.3697In Agrigento we were staying at Hotel Villa Athena, an elegant property with views across to the Temple of Concordia which looks beautiful by day and even more spectacular at night when it is lit up. Superb property in every way... although posh dinner was an extremely entertaining experience!We were greeted by the Head Waiter on arrival and seated on the terrace where only about 5 other tables were occupied. I counted six other waiters hovering around - all looking very dapper in their white jackets but then it seemed that the cloak of invisibility had been thrown over us. After a very lengthy time with no appearance of either menus, water or bread we were rather perplexed. After resorting to asking for menus, it seemed another table hadn't finished with the menus, so ... read more
Rocking It
Scala dei Turchi
Scala dei Turchi

Europe » Italy » Sicily » Agrigento May 19th 2017

Geo: 37.3111, 13.5767Another day - another temple.... but why stop at one.. Just outside of Agrigento is the Valley of the Temples, a huge site, 2km long with the remains of seven Doric style temples, built between 510 BC and 430 BC.My pre-planning and research definitely paid off as I had organized a tour using motorised scooters. This was certainly the best way to cover the massive area, particularly in the heat. We had great fun on these sort of off-road, fat-tyred scooters but we also revelled in the wistful looks that everyone else gave us as they were trudging along in the midday sun.Our guide, Donatella, was delightful and as well as the temples we visited the catacombs (which were originally used as water reservoirs, and the Garden of the Kolymbetra, a lush botanical garden ... read more
Fallen Icarus
Motorized scooters - way to go
Temple of Concordia

Europe » Italy » Sicily » Palermo May 17th 2017

Geo: 38.1157, 13.3612Late night arrival in Palermo. Unique and quirky accommodation in the old city. Every room decorated differently. Obscure art pieces adorning each room. Old motorbikes, scooters and sculptures feature prominently, as do highly carved doors from India. Allesandro a great host - clearly he has a penchant for collecting unusual artifacts.Chiesa di San Giovanni degli Eremiti, an interesting mix of Arab Norman architecture, built on top of a mosque. Really beautiful columned Norman cloisters surrounded by a garden of citrus trees, palms, cacti, rosemary bushes and ruined walls.The Capella Palatina, the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily in the Palazzo Reale is jaw dropping. Built around 1140 it is has glittering gold mosaics over all the walls, exquisite marble floors and a wooden carved ceiling. It is so ornate it's actually difficult ... read more
Amphithéâtre At Segesta
At Segesta
Segesta

Europe » Italy » Campania » Pompei May 16th 2017

Geo: 40.7492, 14.5007Today was our last day on the Italian mainland before heading to Sicily and a private tour of Pompeii and Herculaneum with our lovely guide, Barbara.The benefits of being with a knowledgeable guide are so evident when you are in places like these. Barbera was able to put everything in historical context, describe daily life and allow us to imagine what these cities were like in AD 79.In addition to knowing the history Barbara also had extensive understanding of the actual archeological excavations and had been involved in a number of the Pompeii projects. So she pretty much had all the answers to our questions.Fun Fact: It is no longer correct to refer to the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum as being caused by an 'eruption' of Mt Vesuvius (which usually indicates a lava ... read more
Mosaic floor
Pompeii Ruins
Mosaic and fresco

Europe » Italy » Campania » Capri May 15th 2017

Geo: 40.5509, 14.2429A day in Capri. Hydrofoil to the island, funicular from the port up to CaprI town, then the local bus to Anacapri. This was the more attractive side of the island and the views from the top of the chairlift at Mount Solaro back to the Sorrentine peninsula were magnificent.We lunched near the Chiesa Monumentale di San Michele which has the most beautiful hand painted ceramic tiled floor showing the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. It was created in 1761 by Leonardo Chiaiese and is highly detailed and colorful.However the most intriguing sight was the yacht moored offshore. I had seen it sailing along the Amalfi coast a few days before and here it was again, the super yacht belonging to Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko. The A$400 million yacht ... read more
Mosaic - Expulsion of Adam & Eve
Super Yacht 'A'
Biggest yacht in the world

Europe » Italy » Campania » Sorrento May 13th 2017

Geo: 40.6263, 14.3757A glorious day with the haze from yesterday blown away and a perfect opportunity to show the boys the Amalfi coast. We got on one of the many buses that go from Sorrento to Amalfi via Positano and Praiano. It is a brilliant way to get the sense of the coastline and the towns clinging to the sides of the cliffs.The narrow road threads along the high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea passing grand villas, terraced vineyards and cliffside lemon groves. Add in the drop-dead views and mad Italian drivers, and it is a road trip to remember.It was fiun to be in the bus as it swung precariously around the bends as we could just admire the views and watch the crazy drivers and mopeds trying to overtake at any possible moment.Amalfi was ... read more
Amalfi Beach - the Mediterranean way
Amalfi from the road
Lunch at Ravelllo

Europe » Italy » Campania » Sorrento May 12th 2017

Geo: 40.6263, 14.3757Final day of walking today through varied landscape and terrain and along the narrow paths and streets of small villages. There were so many small plots of cultivated land we became reasonably expert in identifying each crop - peas, broad beans, artichokes, strawberries, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and so many more... it seems that every household must have someone with a green thumb - as it all looks so healthy.We detoured to the small fishing port of Punta Lagno and had a very well deserved panini at Angelo's Bar and enjoyed chatting to the delightful Matilda who not only spoke Italian, English, French, German and Spanish but had recently graduated in Chinese! I felt very inadequate.Eventally we arrived in Sorrento and met up with both Murray and Martin who had arrived earlier that day. So ... read more
Vines
Punta Lagno
Coffee time

Europe » Italy » Campania May 11th 2017

Geo: 40.6057, 14.374A windy and overcast day - but pleasant temperature for walking. A massive elevation gain walking out and up of Positano... the steps went on and on ever upwards for over one and a half hours! Then we continued to climb through various terrain up to Monte Comune, which at 880m was the highest point of our walk today. A navigational error saw us descending the wrong spur but fortunately we were able to find an overgrown path to take us back to the correct route. Then it was bush bashing and uphill again until a series of zigzags taking us down to Colli di San Pietro and then onto Colli di Fontanelle for a much needed gelato and coffe after 6 hours of walking. The final hour (after the sugar rush) seemed very ... read more
Not at the top yet!
A bit of flattish relief
Views galore




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