Ravello & Villa Cimbrone

Crowning the terraced cliffs above the oceanfront town of Amalfi, you will find the refined old village of Ravello.  A centrally located piazza sits peacefully skirted by the Duomo di Ravello, along with several cafes.

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Main Square with Duomo

This part of the UNESCO region of the Amalfi coast is traffic free, as no cars are allowed into the narrow streets of the area.  There is one car park at the top and you can walk everywhere you need to go from there.  If you are feeling brave, then you can catch a small local bus from Amalfi up the twisting mountain roads to the bus stop outside Ravello, with many sharp bends and sudden stops in between.

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The road to Ravello

Be prepared for a crowded trip though as the locals and the tourists all use the bus, which is boarded by a “he-who-pushes-hardest-goes-first method”!  I guess the locals have to fight for a seat with all the tourists every day and must be a bit over it all.  Anyway, now you know.

From the main square, a 12 minute walk will take you to the gateway of Villa Cimbrone – an historic building in Ravello, dating from at least the 11th century AD.   The villa is famous for its elegant gardens, and magnificent view of the Amalfi coastline from its scenic belvedere the Terrazzo dell’Infinito (the Terrace of Infinity)  The views from the terrace are breathtaking, especially if you are like me and have a love-hate relationship with heights!  The villa and the gardens were extensively renovated in the early 20th Century.  The villa is now a private 5 star hotel, while the gardens are open to the public every day from 9am till sunset, with an entry fee of €7.

Ravello is an easy day trip from Sorrento by bus or Ferry to Amalfi, and then bus to Ravello, which will offer some of the most unique and beautiful scenery in Italy along the way.

If you feel up to the local bus, you can find the timetable here: Ravello Bus Schedule

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Donovans – St Kilda, Melbourne

Every now and then, my husband and I treat ourselves to a meal at a “nice” restaurant.  You know, the type of restaurant where the rich and famous probably eat without blinking an eyelid, but where the everyday person reserves for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and so forth.  I call these types of restaurants an “event” restaurant, because the experience stands out in the memory.

We were looking for a restaurant to celebrate our anniversary lunch in, and having read the reviews for restaurants in the area, we decided that Donovans was the place for us.   Such a treat – located right on the beach, with views out over St Kilda beach and the ocean beyond.

The restaurant is exquisitely decorated with a beach house theme, which is perfectly captured, even in the restrooms, and the relaxed atmosphere was felt from the moment we entered.  We chose a lunch time seating so we could see the water while we were having our meal, and we were very impressed.

I nervously asked the waiter about gluten free options, and he said that most of the offerings on the menu could be modified to be gluten free – I only had to ask. Fantastic!  I couldn’t believe how easy that made it.  There was a wide variety of choices offered on the menu, including a comprehensive wine list.  The food was beautiful, not just to taste, but also to look at.

I chose the scallops for an entree and the salmon for a main. I would recommend these! They even bought me a fresh baked, still hot, gluten free roll to start – the nicest gluten free bread I’ve tasted!

The only thing that was missing was almond milk for my coffee, but I can concede that not everyone has this on offer, so I enjoyed my nice coffee black this time!

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The staff were incredibly welcoming and helped to make our visit very pleasant.

Thank you! We will be back.

 

Please visit my Instagram gallery for more travel photos, or connect with me on Facebook.

St Kilda, Melbourne – A Short Stay

I visited St Kilda with my husband earlier this year for a short 3 day stay.  The beachside suburb boasts an eclectic collection of entertainment, relaxation, and dining choices.  Conveniently located just a short tram ride from the CBD in Melbourne, coming via the 96 from Bourke St.  (Nothing says “you are in Melbourne” better than tapping on with your Myki card for a ride on the tram network.)

We made our way from the airport to Southern Cross station using the SkyBus service, and from there caught the #96 tram out to Adina Apartments on Fitzroy St in St Kilda.  We were a little disappointed with the house keeping for our stay this time, but the location was perfect for us, sitting between two different tram lines, the 16 and the 96.

Fitzroy and Acland streets offer numerous selections of fast food, boutique restaurants, and pub dining.  Decisions, decisions….  After dinner each night, we walked along the foreshore paths and out onto the iconic pier, past sailboats waiting patiently in the marina and kite-surfers rocketing along across the water and jumping waves with style as they go.

Here’s a quick video of the kite-boarder in action

St Kilda highlights

  • Out at the very end of the pier there is a breakwater wall which is home to a colony of little penguins – Eudyptula minor.  The penguins arrive home from their days fishing after sunset to scrabble over the rocks, making a fair amount of noise in the process, as they make their way back to their home.  They are gorgeous to see, but not so easy to get a good photo of in the dark (“no flash please, it hurts our eyes”) . Each night a crew of patient Earth Care volunteers act as penguin guides

 

  • Melbourne’s Luna Park has been open since 1912 and can be found in St Kilda on the Esplanade, just near the beach overlooking Port Philip Bay,  with a tram stop at the door.  The park boasts the world’s oldest continuously operated wooden roller coaster, and is the only one of its kind with a standing breakman controlling speed from the break station in the middle of the two carriages.

St Kilda Luna Park

  • Every Sunday the Esplanade Markets  come to life, complete with food trucks and many interesting stalls displaying their wares.
  • Another market that is also within reach is the South Melbourne Markets on tram route 96 between the CBD and St Kilda.  Get off at South Melbourne, Stop 127.  I could easily have spent a full day here wandering around.  A section of the market is set up as a food court, where you can sit down for a coffee, or grab a bite to eat.  There are also many fresh seafood places with trays of oyster shots on offer  –  very popular with the market goers!
  • Also of interest coming up soon in May is the St Kilda Film Festival – Australia’s longest running short film festival which has been showcasing Australian Short Films since 1983.  The film festival is held in the Palais Theatre St Kilda (next to Luna Park)  with a capacity of 2896 people, it is the largest seated theatre in Australia, presently used for concerts, theatre, and cinema.

St Kilda Pier

With all that there is to see and do, what will you choose when you are next in St Kilda?

Booking.com can help you find a place to stay while you are there.

If you’ve got some other suggestions for readers interested in visiting St Kilda, please make a note in the comments below.

Manhole covers in Germany

I know manhole covers are not such a glamorous topic, however, the ones in Germany are quirky – and I love a quirky difference from a country!  These little differences are ultimately what make a place unique in our memories after we get back home to the everyday.

With so many amazing things to see in Germany, you may wonder why I came to be looking at the ground in the first place.   Well, the reason is because I am a little bit accident-prone.  If there is something to trip over, or fall off, it will be me that is doing it.  Even seemingly harmless things like sitting in treeless hammocks somehow seem to go wrong when I am involved, such as ending up in the emergency department of the local hospital with a concussion after the hammock self-destructed around me.  Or tripping over a rock whilst roller skating backwards and breaking my arm in the fall.  Not all my incidents are major problems, sometimes it can be as simple as falling off a bicycle on a dirt road in the Greek islands and skinning my knee.   Yeah, so, when I am on holidays I tend to take extra care when walking around, and I pay a lot of attention to where I am walking.   That’s how I came to be looking at the pavement in Berlin.

When we first arrived in Berlin, we took to the streets for a walking tour to “get the lay of the land” as my Dad is known to say.  As we were approaching the Brandenburg Gate, I noticed the manhole cover on the pavement was decorated, and not the usual flat boring covers that I was used to seeing around at home.

Having found the first interestingly decorated manhole cover, I was mildly curious to see if there were any others around the place.  To my surprise, I found unique manhole covers in many of the towns we visited.  The more I found, the more I started looking for them, like an epic treasure hunt across Germany.

Each of the different towns we visited had their own unique beer, a distinct bratwurst recipe, and seemingly a unique manhole cover.  Not every manhole cover in the town was decorative, sometimes there were only one or two to be found, usually by the fountain in the main square.

It was a fun “side-quest”, if you will, while we were exploring the towns.  Here are some photos of the ones I found.  If you have any more, please add your picture to the comments.

 

Vivid Sydney – don’t miss it!

Every year, for about three weeks at the start of our winter (late May – early June), Sydney turns into the “City of Lights” as a festival of light , music and ideas  – known as “Vivid Sydney”  – takes place.

Buildings and walkways around the city are illuminated with various light sculptures, installations and image projections, as well as interactive stations that passer-by’s can engage with.

The historic Rocks area, Circular Quay, the Opera House, Darling Harbour, the City and surrounds host the displays and become integrated into colourful art works around the streets.  Each year the displays and images are unique creations, providing a fresh experience every time.  This year, in 2018, Sydney celebrates the 10th anniversary of the festival, which has grown annually with increasing popularity.

Using public transport is the best way to see the festival if you are travelling into the city, as major road closures occur starting at 6 pm each night as the lights are turned on, with most displays active from 6 pm to 11 pm.  The streets come alive with food stalls, and markets to accompany the light and music shows, while a steady stream of people flow through the illuminated events, sustained by exotic street food.  Infusing buoyancy into every step is the novelty of experiencing an outdoor art gallery made of light, which comes to life after dark.

The route for the light walk stretches for more than 2 km from the Royal Botanic Gardens, past the Opera House, around Circular Quay, and up into the Rocks.  There are major projections on the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Customs House.  I think my favourite projections are on the Opera House (which is a UNESCO site!) and Customs house.  Here are some photos of Customs House projections from previous years, which transformed the tired sandstone building with new paint schemes for the evening, like Cinderella in her ball gown.

For those of you who want to stopover in Sydney for the night after seeing the displays I can highly recommend the Holiday Inn Old Sydney , as a fantastic place to stay.  Not only is it located in the Rocks, where you will find many of the featured light installations, but it also has a roof terrace and pool, where you can set up a tripod for some great photos and videos of the light show on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.   Here are my photos from a few years ago, that were taken from that roof top.

There is an iPhone app available which provides details of the installations, and the music events for the festival, as well as a map that you can follow on the Light Walk, which takes you around the major installations and projections of the festival.  For more information visit Vivid Sydney

Make sure you have a jacket, because if the wind comes up around the harbour areas it can be a bit chilly at night, and of course, take your camera!   Enjoy.

#travel  #justmeandaboardingpass  #vividsydney  #australia

with a diary and a camera

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