Showing posts from 2018

Five Suggestions for Hong Kong

Hong Kong may seem a small island, but there is much to do - far too much for one visit alone. When you need a break from exploring all the shopping and food options, here are five suggestions to add to your to do list.

Travelling to The Peak

Simply reaching The Peak on Hong Kong Island is half the fun. Until 1888, the only way there was a three hour ride in a rickshaw; the opening of the Peak Tram saw the travel time reduced to 8 minutes. There is nothing quite sitting in the tram being pulled back into the seat as the tram climbs the impossible inline, which had a gradient from 4 to 27 degrees. A word of advice - arrive early, as the queues can stretch forever. Catching a bus is another option (and a good way to return) which gives quite a sightseeing tour of the exclusive houses and apartments of the Upper and Mid-Levels.

Visit Stanley

I love catching the bus to Stanley, a bay on the far side of Hong Kong Island. Sitting up the top of bus No 6, 6X or 6A, I watch Hong Kong pass as th…

Drifting Down the Danube

For one of the busiest waterways in Europe, the Danube offers many peaceful spots.

In places, quiet houses line the banks, the perfect weekender. The air is filled with the sound of birdsong, and the lap of water.

At every bend of the Danube there stands another church, another ruined castle atop a hill.

Occasionally the villages sell to the size of towns, but peaceful towns, untouched by the troubles of the real world.

Vineyards are everywhere. And in this now-ruined castle above Dürnstein, Richard the LionHeart was once held prisoner.

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My Morning Friend

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a currawong warbling of a morning. It such a melodious sound, a welcoming start to the day.
In spring many birds visit my balcony with their babies, knowing I will leave some food for their breakfast. The currawongs always give me a thank you song in reply.

Summer in London

Having only been to London when the days are short and the sun rarely seen, I was enthralled at the difference in the city under the summer sunshine.

Flowers abounded, on every corner, every lamp post. Buildings were covered in them. In the parks the lawns were dotted with tiny flowers poking their faces to the sky.

I did wonder who cares for these flowers, and where they go during winter. Just where do all these pots of colourful gems come from each summer?

Then there were places like St Dunstan-in-the-East - bombed during the Blitz, now a garden oasis in the centre of London.

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Labelling Corfu

Corfu is a place of contrasts. A brilliant blue sea under blazing sunshine. A centre packed with tourists.
And forgotten mosaics, so delicate.

I love the ethereal nature of this work. I never quite understood Byzantine icons, but in Corfu they finally made sense. Sitting in the Church of St Spyridon, where the remains of Corfu's patron saint are on display, I sat surrounded by incense, and icons glimmered at me in the darkness.

Away from the perennial crowds which flood to the island, are hidden spots. Old buildings, forgotten towers, streets which seem to lead nowhere; Corfu defies labels.

Corfu is a place to wander, and to be lost. Which I managed very easily. Trust me, the map didn't help.

A Few Things I Saw in Budapest

I had too short a time in this magical city. Two cities, really; stately Buda on the hill, and the vibrant Pest which arose on the slat plains by the river.

A morning spent in the luxurious Széchenyi Baths. An opportunity not to be missed, passing my time this Belle Epoch beauty, at times frequented by royalty..

And then there is the shopping. Budapest is famous for its shopping, especially in Pest where anything and everything can be found. A pig in a carriage? No worries.

Finally, the Houses of Parliament. More stunning than any photograph can make them. An amazing piece of architecture, and simply magical when seen at night under a full moon.

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A Grotto in Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a place of soaring limestone cliffs - which come with their own caves. Although once home to a dragon, the Thien Cung Grotto was hidden by the jungle until discovered by fishermen seeking shelter from a sudden tempest.

Wandering through, I came across this little nook. Gollum's cave, perhaps?

Some Reasons I Love Coffee

I love my coffee. A tad of an obsession, maybe. Especially as I roast my own, which makes me more than a little fussy about what I drink.
But then, when travelling it gives me an excuse to try different types around the world, such as at a street side stall in Vietnam.

Bocce di Leone

I found this Bocce di Leone while wandering around Venice as the sun was rising. (I always love exploring a place in the early morning, watching the streets wake up around me. In Venice I also watch the gondolas with their gondoliers set off to work.)

These Lion's Mouths were used during the Republic to make complaints and denunciations against individuals - a concerned citizen put a letter in the mouth, and the State investigated. Significant evidence was required before the State would act, and a signed, rather than anonymous, letter was preferred.

Walk around Venice, and you can still find these - the Doge's Palace, for example, or the Church of St Martin. Wander Venice, and you'll never quite know what you will find.

Dreaming of Paris

So, as winter fades to spring in the Antipodes, my thoughts are turning to Paris.

A Mural in Marseille

I came across this wonderful mural in Le Panier district of Marseille. One painting on the back of a wall, yet it shows all that Marseille has to offer - the old town, the cathedral with the golden Madonna who beckons sailors to return home safely, a magical harbour, and a bounty from the sea.

Most importantly, the figure of the fisherman dominates. Marseille began life as fishing port under the Greeks, and it has been on the back of these fishermen and sailors that the city grew and thrived.

And from the fishermen - and their wives - came bouillabaisse.

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The Bikes of Vietnam

Just what I would see on a bike each day in Vietnam was amazing. After all, just how much garlic does one man need? How he got it all on there is beyond me.

Six on a bike was my record. I like the way the kids on the back all have their faces turned away from the traffic and exhaust fumes.

I really hate to think how cold this guy's were by the end of his trip. I would have loved a before and after shot, to see how much the ice had melted.

A bride and groom. Of course. What better way to get to (or leave) your wedding?

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These Boots Were Made for Walking - in Prague

Prague is a city for walking. At every turn, something to discover, a hidden, a wonderful view, a cafe beckoning me within. An art gallery or museum filled with wonders, a vineyard in the middle of the city.

I'm not sure how these worn and mismatching boots ended up hanging from a ceiling, but that is Prague. The unexpected. Art and contemplation in an everyday object.

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Dragons and Giants in Spain

I stumbled across a festival in the village of Terrassa in Spain. It proved a serious business. Some people must take forever to get their makeup ready. Or perhaps they've been standing in the summer sun a little too long.

Finally they all gathered, and the dancing began. I lost count of how many bride and grooms paraded before us, swishing skirts and slapping knees.

If you arrive a little late, it helps if you tower over everyone else so you can see over the crowds. It also makes for a spectacular entrance.

Finally the king and queen make an appearance. It always takes giants a little longer to get ready, before they can go dancing and join in the festivities. A stately dance, so neither crown will slip.

Then, once the royalty have given their blessings to all, the sparks start flying.

The cause of the sparks is the dragon. What is a festival without a dragon? An hour out of Barcelona, and a dragon appears.

But the dragon is perfectly safe, for he's guarded by pirates.

As I …

The Streets of Vietnam

Ah, the streets of Vietnam. Never a dull moment. The vibrancy of Saigon - now known as Ho Chi Minh - where the sounds of motorbikes fill the air from dawn till well after dusk.

I saw this lady taking a moment amongst the chaos. A morning coffee, a moment of stillness as bikes whizzed past in all directions. What I at times found overwhelming she had seen so many times.

In the delightful streets of Hoi An, where push bikes almost outnumber the motor bikes, I captured a bride and groom cycling past, photographer in tow. Of course. And the bride managed it all in high heels.

I love these road markers. They are all over Vietnam, adding a nostalgic touch as they spell out distances.

What other way to transport goods? I saw motor bikes carrying many things, from blocks of ice to baskets filled with chickens.

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