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Showing posts from January, 2018

Discovering Catalan's Castellers

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My favourite part of travel (apart from the reading about somewhere before I go, the planning, that first glass of champagne on the plan, discovering a new place, the sights, the food...) is the unexpected. Especially when the unexpected steps out of a fairytale.






Stumbling across Castellers performing at Terassa's main festival, the Festa Major, is one of those times. The sight of human towers stretching to the sky as the crowds cheers dates back to medieval times, and is a unique piece of Catalan culture. I just never expected to see it, nor to be so close that the castellers were only a few metres from me. (Locals not only stepped out of my way but pushed me to the front to let me get a better view.)

Just an hour from Barcelona and I found not only human towers, but also giants, dragons, fireworks, and the occasional pirate.




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Milan in Five Photos

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I emerged from the underground at the Piazza Duomo, which is the palpable heart of Milan. Being the fourth largest cathedral in Europe, the Duomo dominates the piazza cathedral. It is a stunning piece of architecture, and inside proves a veritable art gallery. Don't miss going up on the roof to walk on the cathedral terraces.




I could spend hours just window shopping in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - the window displays are stunning. With the likes of Gucci and the Milanese Prada dominating, I was content to sit with a coffee and a panini, and watch the world walk by.




Rain started falling as I caught the metro to the Navogli area. Suddenly hawkers appeared selling umbrellas - where do they hide, to suddenly emerge so laden? Many of the canals were covered to build space for trams and roads, but the council is considering digging them up again, to make Milan more like Venice once more (perhaps something to do with the tourist dollar?)



Art is everywhere in Italy. Simply wander …

Geese in a Cathedral Cloister

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Geese were the last thing I expected in a cathedral. Barcelona is a city of delightful surprises, so where else would have a cloister full of geese?

Begun in 1298, Barcelona Cathedral is also called the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulàlia, (martyred by the Romans in the 4th C). Beneath the cathedral lie the ruins of a Roman temple and a Morrish mosque. 
What I loved most were the cloisters, complete with a fountain - The Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques) - to cool the summer air. The geese number 13, representing the age at which St. Eulàlia was martyred.


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The Other Spanish Steps - Dubrovnik

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In the Old Town of Dubrovnik, tucked away from the Stradun, or main street which runs from the  Pilé Gate with its nearby Franciscan Monastery at one end of the town to the Plôce Gate at the other, stand a set of stairs reminiscent of Rome's Spanish Steps.

I shouldn't have been surprised, for this is a corner of Rome in Dubrovnik. The steps were deigned by the Roman architect Pietro Passalasqua in the 18th C. Fortunately, there are not as many steps as in Rome, and they were far less crowded.

At their top stand the Jesuit Church of St Ignatius, dating from 1658, modelled after the Jesuit mother church in Rome, Chiesa del Gesu. It is a simple, sparse, elegant church, and holds Dubrovnik's oldest bell (1355).


Another point of note: from the top of the stairs, turn left into a lane running along the wall, walk right along the lane, and follow the sign pointing to cold drinks. Climb through a hole in the wall, and you'll be rewarded with a cafe (appropriately named Bûza, …

You Know You're In Hong Kong....

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You know you're in Hong Kong, when the street are made of stairs, and stalls fill the narrow lane ways.
When the streets are crowded with shoppers, and signs in Cantonese hang over the footpath.
When mini vans replace buses because the streets are so narrow and steep, and every shop you pass offers a bargain too good to refuse.
Hong Kong. One of my favourite places to visit.



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