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Europe » Spain » Cantabria » Cabezon de la Sal May 16th 2017

It is the second week of our journey and Mark and I are travelling on the Transcantábrico, a luxurious train journey of about 1000kms along Spain’s north coast between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostella. Our train is currently taking us to our next destination and from the two windows opposite my sofa, I see a dense, green wooded landscape (lots of oak trees of various kinds and poplars too). The morning sun on Monday 15 May, is still low in the sky and the bell has just been rung for breakfast. This train journey began to be offered to tourists in 1983. The coaches were built in the late 1920s but the interiors contain reproduction period décor, think "Murder on the Orient Express". There are 27 of us; 13 couples and one woman. I have ... read more
Amigos neuvos
Dining à la train
Bilbao

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid May 11th 2017

We made good time on our journey – 23 actual hours had passed from leaving Adelaide on a cool autumn night to stepping out into the warmth of a Spring Sunday in Madrid. When we ventured out for our first walk around the city, every madrileño (about 3 million inhabitants in this city) and their dog seemed to be out walking in the glorious sunshine. The city appealed to me immediately. The fact that we also consumed our first tapas at the charming Mercado de San Miguel, and had our first hot chocolate with churros at Chocolatería de San Ginés, contributed to my favourable opinion. Despite having been on a constant drip fed diet of plane food, somehow, my appetite had resurfaced. After a leisurely Monday morning start, we managed to get to the Reina Sofia ... read more
Market delicacies
Caixa Forum
The hanging garden

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Prato September 11th 2015

It is a morning just dawning. much like the one almost four weeks ago in Palermo when I could not sleep. I have heard a bell chiming telling me it is seven o'clock. I can hear birds outside and Bruce, the new puppy, (a chocolate Labrador) has been making snuffling noises on the verandah outside the open window. The shutters make the room still dark, but outside the strong autumn sun is up. The air feels chilly. In the space of a week the weather has gone from summer heat and humidity to chilly mornings and evenings. The Italian summer is almost at an end and I have witnessed its demise. I have had the most intense four weeks of experiencing life differently. I have had to move out of my comfort zone every time something ... read more
The walls of Prato
A view from a bridge in Prato
Ah Firenze!

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Prato September 9th 2015

We have spent our last week in Italy living with the cousins in Prato. Some may not have heard of Prato. As cities in Italy go, this is not a place which is on the tourist map. And that is precisely what has made the last part of our journey here so interesting. Apart from the fact that this place is special to me because four of the people I love live here, I am quite glad that this time around (I first came here in 2008), I am getting to know the city a little better. Yesterday, when Mark and I were strolling in the early Monday morning calm of an Italian town that has yet to fully awaken, we were approached by a couple asking us for some information about where to find a ... read more
Beach Italian style
Conference drinks
Pietrasanta

Europe » Italy » Lombardy » Como September 4th 2015

Our last full day here; it's an early start tomorrow as we go on our 3 train journeys to get to Prato. We took the funicular nice and early (9ish am - not crowded) to get to the town of Brunate. After a morning coffee and croissant, we walked up to the lookout via wooded and off the beaten track paths. The view was well worth it as it was a gloriously sunny mornng and we also climbed the lookout (another 143steps). After a quick dash back to the hotel we decided to take the fast boat to Menaggio. As it is now Septenber 4 (the tourist hoards have magically thinned) and because the town is really not as popular as Bellaggio across the water, it was very peaceful and pleasant. We followed up a tip ... read more
Views
Menaggio
Menaggio

Europe » Italy » Lombardy » Como September 3rd 2015

Having arrived in Milano on Monday afternoon, we were driven through a very clean and ordered city in efficient fashion along impressively wide and modern roadways to our "home" for the next five nights in Como. (The Milan Expo is on till the end of October; maybe they have spruced up the exit road from the airport? Anyhow, it was lovely, (not the usual industrial wastelands you see).The countryside looked very green with forests and crops (lots of corn fields). The city was having a public holiday so it was ghost like. A very, very clean place. Coming from what we experienced in Palermo (which was quite frankly, filthy) the contrast is stark. The lake from our balcony is pretty but cannot match the sights we have been seeing on the Amalfi Coast.On Tuesday we had ... read more
At the castle with Artù the owl.
Villa Monastero (I think)
More of the gardens

Europe » Italy » Campania » Positano September 1st 2015

One more time a-walkin we will go On Sunday (30 August) we ventured forth for the final walk, this time to Positano. Setting off from Grotta Biscotto we were very quickly in the wilds. This is the actual Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) and it is with good reason that it bears this name. Today we saw vistas that are virtually indescribable. Suffice to say, the sense of being suspended somewhere between heaven and the deep, endless expanse of an ultramarine sea was breathtaking. And terrifying. At times on the path there was very little between us and sheer precipices dropping away to I don't know where, because I did not dare get close enough to the edge to look! We encountered more people today, Most were doing the walk the opposite way to ... read more
This is how high up we were
A cool watery spot
Lizard companions

Europe » Italy » Campania » Conca dei Marini August 29th 2015

It is Friday August 28 and I am in Conca dei Marini. Mark and I have beaten our luggage and arrived first to our next destination. We set off from Amalfi at 7.45am on our day's walk to the next destination. We were here well before the ETA despite a few wrong turns which had us back tracking. I am feeling better about our walking now. I think I will be able to do the other two walks even though they will be longer. We are now in the embarrassing position of having stripped off (we were both saturated from sweating and feeling overheated), with no clean clothes to change into. When our bags are delivered, we will presumably have to hide in the bathroom and shout out our thanks from behind the closed door? Well, ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Campania » Praiano August 29th 2015

Saturday, 29 August is the day we walked to Praiano from San Lazzarò. We decided, as suggested by our detailed notes, to take the bus to the highest part of the walk so as to avoid dying on the way! From San Lazzarò it is possible to walk the so called Path of the Gods (Il Sentiero degli Dei). We were probably at an altitude of about 600 metres but because the gradients are so sheer, it felt dizzyingly high. I felt we could have almost reached out to touch God's finger as Adam does in the Sistine Chapel fresco. As we began our descent, the smell of wild fennel was strong. Although it was only about 9am, the sun was already blisteringly hot. We very soon left civilisation behind and were surrounded by thick vegetation ... read more
Chicory
Very cool spot
Ciclamini!

Europe » Italy » Campania » Conca dei Marini August 28th 2015

It is Friday August 28 and I am in Conca dei Marini. Mark and I have beaten our luggage and arrived first to our next destination. We set off from Amalfi at 7.45am on our day's walk. We were here well before the ETA despite making a few wrong turns which had us back tracking. I am feeling better about our walking now. I think I will be able to do the other two walks even though they will be longer. They are certainly arduous, or at least, I am finding them so. Once in our room, we found ourselves in the embarrassing position of having stripped off (we were both saturated from sweating and feeling overheated), with no clean clothes to change into. Plans were quickly hatched to hide in the bathroom and shout out ... read more
Walking to Conca dei Marini
What we saw on our walk
Mark on the balcony




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