All posts tagged: nature

A Little Pisa Italy | An Italian Friday

Friday in Porto Venere and Pisa My last full day in Italy meant heading to Pisa, ready to catch an early morning flight (and see the famous tower of course) – if you’re travelling in the area, flights from Pisa are a lot cheaper than other local airports. I had a full 24 hours though until the ball dropped on my trip, so I didn’t want to waste any time. I packed my bag, headed to La Spezia and took a bus to Porto Venere, a fisherman’s town resembling the architecture of Cinque Terre but being a quieter option than the mass tourism found there. Finally found the bus that was diverted because of a weekly market in La Spezia… I walked along the waterfront of Porto Venere, soaking up the last of the sun I would see in a while (in the UK, Winter was fast approaching) and observed fisherman and fisher-women hard at work, trading fish, gutting fish and catching fish (not exactly in that order). Roaming the town caused far less tourist-induced …

Cinque Terre-Dreaming | An Italian Thursday ~ Part 1

Thursday in Cinque Terre ~ Part 1 of 2 Day broke and I was up and out the hostel before you could say “breakfast”. Strapped into the shuttle bus, hurtling far too quickly through Bassia, down the hills and into Cinque Terre, I arrived nice and early into Riomaggiore before the tourists flocked. I tiredly strolled to the rocky shore and climbed onto the rocks for a moment to breathe, listening to the sea waves bump against the tiny wooden boats parked in rows against the cliff faces and getting an amazing view of the whole town. Early wake-up calls, constant walking and a lack of vegetables started to run me down after a couple of days; my body ached, my throat scratched and my nose was bunged up. I hunted down a cafe on the main road in Riomaggiore and made sure to down a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice before drinking a macchiato and small piece of freshly baked cheesecake and Riomaggiorian lemon pie (don’t judge). I felt super crispy, drinking …

A Botanical London Adventure

The end of August beckons the return of chilly, near Autumnal, mornings in the UK – yes, it’s still Summer, but the stereotype of unreliable weather here isn’t just a myth. Peeking out the blinds to check whether the weather might catch me out, I quickly staggered out of bed, got my gear together and jumped on a train to London’s famous Kew Gardens to enjoy what was left of the British Summer. London is truly massive, so it’s kind of a trek for a wee South-East gal like me to get to the far-West (thanks, TFL for your frequent services). Kew Gardens is pretty much right at the end of the District Tube line, right by the village-esque area of Richmond. So upon exiting the tube, one can find themselves almost in a whole other world; used to the concrete jungle of central London and the rough-around-the-edges nature of the South-East, it felt like I was in the countryside, surrounded by tiny garden shops, cafes and arty stores. From Kew Gardens station, it’s only …

Bumbling up the Balkans

After spending a glorious time in Kardzhali, my dad and I packed our bags and headed to a small town in central Bulgaria surrounded by the Balkan mountains where my aunt and uncle live with friends who may as well be family.  After a long drive, where we stopped to try and take a photo with the fields of sunflowers but were afraid of potential snakes in the grass, we arrived in the town but had no recollection of where my aunt and uncle actually lived. Renown however in Kalofer, and perhaps across Bulgaria, we drove slowly in the dark in attempt to ask passing pedestrians or groups of grannies sitting outside their homes chit chatting as to where they lived. In such small towns and villages it always amazes me how everyone seems to know everyone. Our first day in Kalofer entailed waking up to heading straight on a 2km trek into the Balkan mountains. Jumping into a Jeep and following the rest of the family on two quad bikes (how and why I …

Bread of Sugar

On the quest to be the ultimate tourist, hitting all the hot spots Rio could dish up, Sugarloaf mountain was next on the list. If you’re not afraid of extremely high cable car journeys and viewing platforms 396m above sea level then this trip is for you. And if you are afraid you should cut the crap, put on you hat of bravery and get yourself up there anyway. Even with misty sky and lurking clouds in the horizon, the vistas were stunning. Well worth the albeit slightly terrifying cable car trip. Its comical name Pão de Açucar (literally bread of sugar/sugar bread) was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil; when transported the sugar was placed in conical moulds made of clay, shaped in a similar peak to the mountain. Lunch called for more traditional Brazilian food as we headed to a common style of restaurant/cafe. The seemingly untitled restaurant was bustling, yells travelling from the tiny kitchen port window to the main cashier …

Tomorrow’s Museum Today

Rio’s centre is filled with both modern and historical gems to discover, and a very new one is Museu do Amanhã – the Museum of Tomorrow; a super slick and modern futurist science museum (as you could probably guess) exploring the Anthropocene and the profound effect of human civilisation’s presence on earth over the past century. Its exterior is one to be seriously impressed by, the architects having modelled its pristine white shell on the skeleton of a whale. Breakfast: orange cake and a much needed coffee. Its interior was no less impressive, being composed of large bright white expanses, undulating curves and organic shapes, all being filled with natural light. The exhibitions were impressively immersive and interactive, visitors becoming unquestionably enthralled in thought provoking games, interactive displays, 15 foot high panels of film, and stunning interior structures, art and installations illuminated with coloured lights. You leave the museum intrigued and inspired, or like me in a state of awe at the entirety of the stunning experience.

Paleta Festa

Paletas Mexicanas strikes again, but with less gusto than that of the one I devoured in Recife; I have now commenced my search for the best Ninho Trufado lolly. A creamy condensed milk outer with chocolatey fudge inner. Just down the road from my airbnb was an array of organic markets, papelerias (stationery stores), bakeries and a Paletas Mexicanas store. Although not quite the standard of the Recife lolly, it served as a good brunch-time snack en route to Praia do Flamengo – another beautiful beach on the coast of Rio: super quiet, bright white sand and clear cool water. For lunch we took a trip to Senador Camará, a neighbourhood an hours train ride away from the centre of the capital, but still in Rio – it’s a seriously big place. A poor community in the middle of the mountains, Senador Camará is where some family of my Pedro (my man) lives. So clearly we had to take a trip to meet the family, experience local non-tourist life and of course traditional food; to …

Heavenly AirBnBs

Three reasons I love my AirBnB: The beautiful apartment and neighbourhood we’re staying in; from the beautiful rich wooden floor to the cultural art and ceramics all over the walls and floors, this place is something from a dream. The super lovely mum of the host; the host is currently abroad for work but his mum usually greets his guests. And she’s the ultimate apartment must-have (not to objectify). From lending me hats and sarongs to giving advice on where to go to just saying Bom Dia with a sincere smile, she is truly an ace lady. The cost and convenience; paying a tiny fraction of the cost of a standard hotel and the location being so so convenient (right in the centre and by Christ) this apartment was the ultimate God Send.

Rendezvous in Rio de Janeiro

Travelling to Rio De Janeiro super early (i.e. 5am) seemed like a good idea two months ago. I warn against this activity. Despite our 3am wake up call and late bedtime, travelling to Rio De Janeiro was seriously exciting; the iconic city of Brazil awaited us. And first thing on the agenda; see Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). But alas, our naivety and excitement to see Jesus led us to pay an absurd amount of Reais to not even see the iconic statue; enveloped in a thick blanket of cloud and fog, you could see nothing but his head and palm.  Perplexed at our poor decision making, we stood amongst a crowd of indifferent tourists, selfie-ing like there was no tomorrow. Determined to come back when the weather was better, we descended back down Corcovado on the tram, disappointed and seriously hungry. After seeing some Naif art, primitive art from Brazil, at Museu De International Arte Naif, we somehow ended up a spooky historical house where a sketchy woman lives (and by lives we think …