Category Archives: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Chenonceau – Chateaux of the Loire Valley

This elegant chateau we see today spanning the Cher River in France, was built between the years 1515 – 1559, starting first with a residence on the river accessed by a bridge.  Later, an arched bridge on the other side was constructed, reaching all the way to the opposite bank.  The bridge would eventually include a grand gallery and a floor of rooms above that.   The entire Chateau is built across the middle of the river, with access walkways to reach the banks of the river at either end.  Throughout history the women who have inhabited this chateau have influenced its design, as well as the gardens by which it is surrounded, and this is the reason it is often described as “the ladies chateau”.
Continue reading Chenonceau – Chateaux of the Loire Valley


Villandry – Chateaux of the Loire

In the Loire Valley of France, you will find many marvellous chateaux surrounded by beautiful gardens.  Having visited a healthy number of these chateaux, I can say that the gardens at Chateau de Villandry were the most impressive that I have seen.  An easy 9 mile car trip from Tours will drop you at the castle car park, which is free.  Entry to the gardens will cost € 7, or for a look in the fully restored chateau as well as the gardens you pay €11. Continue reading Villandry – Chateaux of the Loire

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. Continue reading Ravello & Villa Cimbrone

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.

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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.

Sydney Harbour and Ferries

Circular Quay - Sydney
Circular Quay – Sydney

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!

Sydney Ferries and Harbour Bridge
Sydney ferries and the Harbour Bridge

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.

Views of the city of Sydney
Views of Sydney city from on board a ferry

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! )

Sydney Opera House
Cruise past the iconic Sydney Opera House – perfect photo opportunity!

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.


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