martin woodford

hkwoody

martin woodford




Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome November 8th 2015

The first thing we noticed in Rome was the lack of Italians. Our B&B was within walking distance of Termini Station, the whole way almost every shop we saw was Chinese (mostly clothes and accessories) or Indian / Sri Lankan / Bangladeshi (mostly convenience stores). As well as the physical shops there were many African street sellers hawking mostly selfie sticks. Our landlady was Russian. Maybe it shouldn't have been but it was a surprise to see such numbers and variety of immigrants. Surprise number 2 was the huge numbers of tourists, early November and there were still queues for everything, the longest of which was for St Peters. We thought by going on Saturday there would be fewer people than on Sunday what we hadn't bargained for was the Pope who was doing some kind ... read more
St Peters Square
Piazza Navona
Il Vittoriano

Europe » Italy » Campania » Naples November 5th 2015

The ferry from Igomenitsu to Brindisi was a model of Greco-Italian organisation and efficiency – in other words it was late, chaotic, and ill equipped - but it, eventually, got us to almost where we wanted to go. We'd expected to dock close to the city but when we disembarked we were in a desolate, isolated industrial port that didn't cater too well for foot passengers. Given no other choices we set off to walk to town which maps.me showed us was ~5km away. Just after we'd set out a taxi heading into the port to pick up another couple of passengers stopped and offered to take us as well, we jumped at the chance. A few minutes later we pulled up close to where we'd been expecting to get off the ship in the first ... read more
Local Greengrocer
Napoli Street Scene
Napoli Street Scene

Europe » Greece » Thessaly » Meteora November 1st 2015

After a few days enjoying the wonderful hospitality of Atsuko's old friends in Bulgaria doing nothing more than drinking too much home-made wine and rakia, and overeating delicious local food it was time to move on again. First stop in Greece was Thessaloniki. Our first impression from the walk between the bus station and hotel was that the economy was in better shape than we'd expected, sure there were a lot of empty shops – like almost everywhere these days, but the streets weren't lined with homeless children, nurses turned hookers, or abandoned Porsche's. Our only full day here turned out to be a public holiday, surely one of the strangest. October 28 is 'Οχι Day (όχι translates to no) which celebrates the refusal of the Greek government on October 28 1940 to allow Italian and ... read more
Meteora
Meteora
Meteora

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul October 21st 2015

Ephesus was probably an ancient city too far. We didn't enjoy it very much – too many tour groups and too much restoration / rebuilding. So now it's on to the end of the Silk Road, Istanbul. This is a real city – crowded, vibrant, noisy, chaotic, dirty in parts, run down and renovated buildings next to each other, every colour and creed of human, a huge choice of places to stay and eat, and a few fantastic places to visit. We like it, with one exception, the awful adhan's (Muslim call to prayer) that blare from the loudspeakers of the many, many mosques – why don't they choose a muezzin with a melodic voice ffs ? Since we started planning this trip I'd decided a Turkish Bath was one of the things I wanted to ... read more
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Pamukkale October 15th 2015

Like every bus journey we've made in Turkey Antalya to Denizli was an uneventful breeze – helpful people at the otogar to point us in the right direction, plenty of available seats, modern comfortable buses, smooth driving, onboard wifi - not at all what we're used to. We didn't even have to wait for the dolmuş to Pamukkale fill up as we got nearly the last two seats. All a bit too good to be true, but we'll take the smooth with the rough. It turns out the travertine’s at Pammukale have been getting drier for years – too much water being diverted for commercial uses apparently, so it was less spectacular than we'd expected. Even if we'd known this in advance we'd still have gone so it was definitely worth the visit, but lacked the ... read more
View From The Top
One Of The Few Pools With Water
More Empty Pools

Middle East » Turkey » Mediterranean » Antalya October 13th 2015

We haven't seen the sea since leaving Hong Kong at the end of June. In Xinjiang we were close to the point which is further from the sea than anywhere on earth. In Uzbekistan we'd been to where it used to be. So it was great to come around a bend on the mountain road to see the Med glittering in front of us - a bit of poetic licence taken there as it was an overcast day so it wasn't that glittery, but it was still the sea. We didn't have any particular plans for Antalya. We knew there were plenty of Greco-Roman ruins around but hadn't bothered to research which to visit, so we took the lazy option and did what we rarely do – we followed the Lonely Planet recommendation. Credit to them ... read more
Theatre, Aspendos
Theatre, Aspendos
Theatre, Aspendos

Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Cappadocia October 10th 2015

We knew hot air ballooning was popular in Cappadocia so we didn't expect to have the skies to ourselves but there were dozens and dozens of balloons, probably more than 100, and this is the low season! This was a new experience for both us, and it was a fantastic one. The heat and noise when the burner was being used contrasts sharply with the cold and silence when it's not. The incredible views without windows, wings or engines getting in the way. The slow drift in whichever direction the wind takes you – of course the balloon company has a good idea which way it's blowing before take off, these are sightseeing tours. The skill and knowledge of the pilot. The bright, clear, sunny morning with mist still in the valleys. The amazing geology. Everything ... read more
A Sky Full of Balloons
A Sky Full of Balloons
A Sky Full of Balloons


Getting off the bus at what is laughably called the Erzurum Otogar - it's a new building surrounded by fields next to a motorway that's as close to Erzurum as Nottingham Forest are to winning the Premier League, we were faced with a challenge. How to get into town ? Nobody spoke English, the taxi office was deserted, and despite my earlier comments re Turkish words the bus timetable made as much sense as I will once I manage to find those first elusive beers after a few alcohol free weeks. Luckily we spotted a battered old bright yellow Renault 12 taxi with an equally old driver lurking in the car park. We ran over and bagged him before anybody else could. He switched on the meter, when was the last time we were in a ... read more
Antiochus, Hercules, Eagle, Lion
Antiochus, Hercules, Eagle, Lion
Apollo, Tyche

Middle East » Turkey » Eastern Anatolia » Dogubeyazit October 4th 2015

The first thing you see when entering Turkey from Iran is a duty free shop stocked with whisky, vodka, gin etc. This is a bit surprising as much of eastern Turkey seems to be as dry as Iran. Not one of the restaurants we've been in has served any alcohol, and no supermarkets or convenience store type shops sell any, not even beer. We knew we were travelling again as soon as we got out of the immigration gates. Having found the dolmuş (mini bus) we then had to wait for it to fill up with passengers before the driver would leave. It must have been a slow afternoon as he struggled to find enough people, so after about 30 minutes he made an offer – if everybody paid one more lira each he'd leave, we ... read more
Ishak Pasha Palace
Ishak Pasha Palace
Ishak Pasha Palace

Middle East » Iran » North » Tabriz October 3rd 2015

The route of our journey through Iran resembled the Persian number seven ۷ It is in no way a reflection of our guides but writing the blog entries for Iran has made us realise that having everything arranged for us and without using public transport while making things easy also makes travelling less interesting and gives little to write about - we don't want to read a laundry list of “then we went here, then we did this” so can be sure nobody else does. Therefore this final Iranian entry is also going to be short and cover quite a long distance – Esfahan to the Turkish border via Tehran along with some reflections. Iranian driving has been an “interesting” experience. Iranians love to talk and when they do they look you in the eye, this ... read more
Kashan
Kashan
Kashan




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