Category Archives: UNESCO World Heritage Site

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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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

Ancient Mycenae & the Treasury of Atreus

Less than half an hour’s drive from the quaint seaside town of Nafplion, you will find the ancient city of Mycenae.  This city was one of the finest examples of Mycenaean culture, inspiring Homer in his epic poems.  A UNESCO world heritage site, with onsite museum displaying artefacts recovered during its excavation, the city is located in the North East  Peloponnese region in Greece.

 

As you stroll around the ruins of the city and look at the remains of walls, grave circles,  cistern, and other structures that have been in place since at least 1600BC, it is easy to connect the site to the legends in Greek mythology  –  of demigods and kings, with their tragic tales.  It is such an ancient place.   Set on the top of a hill, you can see all the way to the Aegean Sea, and for miles across the rolling countryside – a perfect place for a magnificent city.

 

Making your way up the hill towards the city you come to the main gateway:  the Lions Gate.  The massive stone gate is impressive.  I have been to this site twice (both times with my parents), with a 38 year gap in between visits.  It was really interesting to go back and see the place through the eyes of an adult, and compare these to my memories as a child.

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That gate was as remarkable as I remembered it being!

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Climbing up to the top of the citadel you can look down over the site, and across a beautiful landscape with the mountains in the distance.

Moving towards the back of the city, you will find the entry to the underground cistern.  This was built in by the city walls to allow safe access to water for the city residents.  Amazing construction for a bronze age city.

The above photos show what it is like to look down into the entrance of the cistern, and then back up from inside the entrance.  I’m not really a cave loving type of person, and I did find it just a little bit scary.  I congratulated myself on being brave enough to go into the dark cave through the tunnel of rocks made centuries ago ( did they have engineering standards to adhere to back then??….),  and snap a couple of pictures.  Then I scrambled out in a bit of hurry, tripping on the stairs in my haste.

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The second gate to the city is the Postern Gate, which you come to after taking the path that leads away from the cistern.  There are some fantastic views out over the countryside down this side of the hill as well.

The artefacts recovered from the various grave sites show the Mycenaean people to have indeed been “rich in gold”, as Homer observed in his Iliad.  There was a famous gold funeral mask uncovered at one of the grave circles, initially thought to belong to Agamemnon, however this theory was later disproved.  Even so, the artefact is still known as the Mask of Agamemnon, and is on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.   Below are a few of the other objects on display in the museum at Mycenae.

 

The tholos, or ‘beehive’ tomb named the “Treasury of Atreus” or the “Tomb of Agamemnon” is a short walk down the hill from the main citadel, and is said to be one of the most amazing monuments of Mycenaean architecture.

When we visited this site 38 years ago, we were on a tour, with a tour guide.  As is their way, the tour guide stops the group outside the entrance and explains the significance of what the group is about to see, and what the possible functions for this site were.  Sometimes it takes the guide a little longer to explain the story than the attention span of a 9 year old can wait.  I started standing on some stones, and oops, one was wobbling and I fell off it.  There was a joke made that the stone had been on that path for centuries, undisturbed until now…..

The use of megalithic elements in the entrance, (can you see the size of that massive stone??) and the relieving triangle above the door to distribute the weight to the posts so the lintel won’t crack,  give credit to the ingenuity of that civilisation.   As do the 33 concentric circles of corbelled stones that line the inside of the tomb ending in a single stone at the top. Once the vault was completed, the masons carved away the stone stepped interior leaving a smooth arching wall.  It is 13m high and leaves you thinking “wow”.

Allow yourself about two hours to wander around the site and the museum, to appreciate the achievements of the Mycenaean people, and to be amazed.

 

Here is the link to the site for further information on admission costs and opening hours:   Mycenae

 

 

What NOT to wear in Amsterdam

Ok, I am no fashion diva.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  If my clothes are clean, and the colours coordinate, I’m pretty comfortable.  Yet, I concede that putting together a suitcase full of clothes for a holiday trip requires a bit more thought.  I need to select items that won’t wrinkle too much, items that dry quickly, and items that don’t take up too much space.  I need enough variety so that I’m not wearing the same thing in every photo, because that makes it look like you went away for one very long day…  I like to select items that mix and match with the other items in my bag so that I have my options covered for the various different kinds of weather that will be encountered.

The contents of that suitcase are a big part of any trip planning that is undertaken.  First I pile up everything I think I could possibly want to take.  And then I try and fit it in the suitcase.  This usually ends up in a second or possibly even a third cull on that original pile.

The reason I’m telling you all of this, is so you will know that shirt was not an accidental occurrence in my luggage.  Noooo,  it was chosen above other items that got left behind, to add a little colour to the ensemble.

My father was born in Zeist, in the Netherlands.  This particular trip we were going on was to visit Amsterdam, and then take a trip back to the place he was born.  It was my first time seeing the Netherlands, and I was looking forward to it. I was googling everything I could think of, places to go, thing to see, etc.  That’s how I came to know of the existence of koffieshops, and I was planning to stay well away from those.  What I didn’t know, was the effect that shirt would have on one of their customers after they had been inside the koffieshop.

That shirt was a cream coloured thing with a floral pattern.

Those of you who have sampled the wares of a koffieshop are probably sniggering now.  For those of you who, like me, have not done so – let me explain.

Here we are walking down the street at night, after a day out walking around.  I must have been warm from the walking, because I had taken my coat off, displaying that shirt.  Suddenly, a man comes staggering over towards us, and laughing.  Laughing loudly.  At first I thought he was drunk, so I altered my course to give him a wide berth.  But he followed me, and now he was pointing at my shirt, and laughing hysterically.

I’m feeling about two feet tall now, and absolutely mortified.  Passers-by are also noticing the spectacle.  I just kept walking at a fast pace to get away from the embarrassment.  I didn’t actually know that he was laughing at that shirt until later (one of my more worldly wise acquaintances explained it to me).

Yeah, so apparently flowers are hysterical when you have smoked pot.  That would have been helpful to know before I packed that damn suitcase.  Thanks for nothing google!

P.S. –  Yes, before I upset anyone in the Netherlands…….  this photo of me wearing that shirt was taken in Delft (oude kerk leaning in the background).  It was as we were arriving home back to Amsterdam (in the evening) that the laughing and pointing happened.  And my family didn’t take a photo of the incident, so this photo was the best example I had to show you.   Glad that’s all clear!