Category Archives: Things to do

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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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.

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

Sydney Harbour and Ferries

Nothing compares to the serenity of a beautiful bright sunny day on Sydney’s magnificent harbour.  Sail boats can be seen bobbing happily across the waves, going nowhere in particular at a leisurely pace.  Or waiting patiently at their moorings in sheltered bays and marinas, rehearsing a synchronised dance directed by the wind and the tides.  Eye catching groups of energetic “optimist” dinghies dart to and fro in formation, like a flock of birds wheeling and swooping in unison, as they navigate their course.

Cutting their way across the waves in a tireless circuit from wharf to wharf, amidst the frivolity of the sailing boats, weave the sober green and yellow workforce of the harbour  –  Sydney Ferries.

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Not only are the ferries an enjoyable and practical way to cross the harbour, but you can also board a ferry and enjoy the views of the harbour on a round trip journey.  A budget “harbour cruise”, if you will.  And why not?  The scenery certainly doesn’t improve with the cost of a more expensive ticket!

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A popular ride is Circular Quay to Manly and back, which is about an hour round trip, on F1 Ferry Route.  Circular Quay to Mossman Bay and back is about a 40 min round trip, on F6 Ferry Route.

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If you have time to enjoy a longer trip, try the Cross Harbour Ferry Route F4.  This route from Pyrmont Bay to Watson Bay is about a 2 hour round trip if you start and end at the beginning of the route.  However, you can just hop on in the middle at Circular Quay and enjoy the trip from there.

If you want a lovely view of Sydney’s iconic landmarks while you eat your lunch, pick something up from one of the many takeaway food shops around Circular Quay, and enjoy the sun and fresh air sitting on an outside seat.  (There is a chance of sea spray and wind when you sit outside, so if you need to come back looking pristine, stay inside! )

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By the way, the Sydney Opera House is on the UNESCO world heritage list!  I’m pretty happy that I have a UNESCO site right here in my home city.

To travel on the ferries and all other public transport in Sydney you need an Opal Card. Opal allows you to travel on all public transport in Sydney for $15.40 per day for an Adult, $7.70 for a Child and $2.50 for a Pensioner Monday to Saturday.  Sunday is a bonus, because the travel cap is $2.60 for the day.   See you on the harbour next Sunday!

Sydney Ferries network map.

 

#travel  #sydney  #Australia  #justmeandaboardingpass  #harbour