The sizzling, sensational Stromboli volcano, an all-encompassing experience with senses erupting, deserves a post all on its own and to be first… From Palma de Mallorca, western Mediterranean we set sail to Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island and then onto the islands surrounding Sicily. Fourteen days later we reached the sights of Stromboli Volcano. Twenty kilometers away, while anchored far north of Panarea Island, Stromboli Volcano delighted with an eruption, a red glowing pillar shot up and up into the black moonless sky. Welcome to Stromboli! My first live volcanic eruption. With the heat unbearable, as though I’d woken alongside the molten lava, we set sail to Stromboli the following morning, to hike the erupting volcano. Not much wind, the yacht drifted along, gently bobbed along the perfect, flat sea. At the closest, safest distance from the volcano, I jumped overboard and swam alongside the boat. The top of the volcano billowed smoke, as soft and white as cloud. The hairs on my arms stood as erect as spears, and it had nothing to do with the temperatrure of the water, a mere thirty degrees Celicius. With the yacht safely moored to a buoy, […]
Oh, what a tough decision! to make when purchasing a drone. I wanted it for both work and play: virtual tours, aerial architectural footage and travel. After thoroughly researching DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro, DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Mavic Air, I settled on the DJI Mavic Air. The Mavic Air doesn’t have the best camera out of the three (not by much at all); however, everything else either beats or comes in on a par. Weighing just under 450grams, portability won hands down! The Mavic Air snuggly fits inside my hiking jacket’s pocket. Extreme excitement It arrived on Wednesday, 27 June and I spent the night putting it together and learning the basics. The next day I played around with it indoors. A little drama ensued when in error I pressed Return To Home, which happened to be set at 50m. This meant that the drone was going to shoot up into the ceiling as high as 50m, with force, and then return to where it had left off, below my feet in the lounge. Thank goodness I could shut it down before it crashed. On Saturday, I took Mavic Air out into the countryside, a field […]
Thick, ancient wooded valleys, deep rivers with dense mosses in luminous greens and yellows are scattered throughout the wild moorlands of Dartmoor National Park. The largest open moor in southern England protects Dartmoor’s ‘little five’: blue ground beetle, marsh fritillary butterfly, cuckoo and ash black slug. There are two reasons I’d merrily return to dramatic Devon. First, horse riding through the moorland. We chose Babeny Farm Stables’ pub ride that gave us three hours in the saddle. A pity the weather limited our cantering through the boggy open moors. At least it limited the amount of people out and about too and provided a rather imtimate experience Second, Bovey Castle surrounded by 275 acres of Dartmoor National Park with deer and ponies amidst the rolling hills.
Nestled between Nice and Monaco, a trip to Eze is obliging. Five out of five stars. Instantly transported to medieval times, Eze also requires a bit of effort to experience. Rugged stone streets lead through narrow passages to boutique stores. Fortunately, not all of Eze has been touched with the expensive wand and the flowing surrealism vistas easily help one turn a blind eye to the tourist trap… Gardens sprouting exotic plants are spotted everywhere. I’ve never tasted a better coffee than at Chateau Eze, also the most expensive but worth every cent! I had to have a second. Oh, the views! In every direction. Monaco! What can be said… other than… when sitting at a café with the view of Monte Casino directly in front of one’s eyes, the luxurious sports cars cause the head to swivel. The McLaren 570S coupe even starred on a film set of sorts. A great pity for the cold, windy weather! Isn’t the French Riviera meant to be sultry at all times?!
Nice People French Riviera, or better said; people spotted in Nice along the French Riviera. A few hot spots below for people watching in Nice: Promenade du Paillon Opened in 2013, the promenade has seen more pedestrian traffic than anywhere else in town. Separating the old town from the modern, it stretches for about a kilometre. Lou Pilha Leva Famous for its socca, a savoury crepe made with chickpea flour, the quaint restaurant is nestled in Place Centrale, along the bustling shopping street in Vieux Nice, Rue de la Boucherie. Facing the busiest entrances to the old town, it is one of the best places to capture people in action. Place Garibaldi Sit near the fountain and watch people getting on and off the nearby bus and tram stops. The nearby bars and cafes mostly have decent happy hours with their food and drink.
Nice, Eze & Monaco pulsating along the French Riviera made for a vibrant mini getaway. Côte d’Azur is glitzy but with a splash of medieval when it came to Eze. Nice felt more Italian than French with a twist of Irish. Who would have thought a hunt for french fries on their own would have proved fruitless… A bowl of mussels with french fries, absolutely. But simple french fries on their own, not a chance! Juicy fruit and vegetables, authentic local produce from inland Nice are teeming at the Cours Saleya market in the old town. Expect all of your senses to be charmed, especially your spirit with its stimulating ambience. One of many things Nice can be proud of is their Michelin Star cuisine, especially at Le Chantecler at Le Negresco where Chef Jean-Denis Rieubland is the only chef in Nice with two Michelin stars. The view from Castle Hill is worth the few steep steps to get there, but mind the gale force winds.
Happy Easter, Durban! Durban, vibrant and bursting with soul, is always a happy place to be but appears to be even happier during holidays. So many from around the country visit for the warm ocean and still hot sun. Even when the waves aren’t spectacular it’s crowded with surfers. Once again, even in Autumn, Durban is the warmest place to be, thanks to the locals. Most of these snaps were taken with my iPhone.
Let it snow London; blizzards of heavy snow hit London three times this past winter, from December 2017 until end of March 2018, almost springtime. The last time I experienced snow settling in London was during January / February 2011. What a pleasure trudging through Hampstead Heath, up towards Kenwood House and around the ponds and the village during all three snow-dumps.
Based at Llandudno North Wales, it really wasn’t such a good idea trying to climb Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at an elevation of 1,085 metres above sea level, middle of February and especially when it’s snowing. Taking heed of the warning: “Ice axe and crampons are essential! Wind gusts 80mph! Feels like -15℃” Ouch! No thank you. If only I’d brought my crampons! Sometimes resistance is fruitful. Out of the snow and icy cold, Llandudno, a beautiful Victorian seaside resort at the foot of Great Orme, North Wales, proved a delight to explore. Affectionately known as the Queen of the Welsh Resorts, it boasts some of the most elegant seafront architecture in Britain.
With a change of plans over the festive period, we bravely set off on an impromptu road trip from London to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point in mainland Britain, Scotland. Heading to Scotland we travelled through the Lake District, exploring Kirkstone Pass; Lybster; Whaligoe Haven where the famous Billy Connolly filmed part of his television series titled The World Tour of Scotland; John O’ Groats; Dunnet Head; North West Highlands, Inverness; Cairngorms National Park with the snow-capped CairnGorm mountain range where disappointed skiers turned to sledging. Such serene vistas almost all looked fake, too perfect. Lost in its beauty, I experienced another side to Scotland (Fort William and Ben Nevis previously posted) that appealed to all of my senses in dramatic force. Forcefully dramatic; dramatically forceful. Four days later, the journey back to London took us through the Yorkshire Dales with miles of moors, valleys, waterfalls, hills and stone-built villages. Remote, rugged and rejuvenating, travelling the UK during the Christmas holidays proved to be an adventure that has to be repeated. With only Indian or Chinese restaurants open or rather still with availability at the last minute, I didn’t mind eating Indian food two nights in a row. […]
Moscow, the capital of Russia, is the twelve most populous city in the world, and the largest city on the European continent. Four nights worth of exploring such a marvel of a place isn’t anywhere near enough time to have visited all on my list. I particularly enjoy discovering at night, when the temperatures fell to -6 degrees: crisp, dry and exhilarating. Besides the incredibly arresting landmarks pulsating around Moscow’s core, being underground appealed to me just as much as being on top. Moscow’s metro is a life-changing experience! Public transport that is never delayed. Can you even begin to imagine what that must be like? The Moscow Metropolitan is the world record-holder for on-time departures and arrivals. According to the Moscow transport department, its accuracy equals 99.99%. Impressive! considering that the interval between trains during rush hour is only 90 seconds. Having the station names in both English and Russian goes a long way, following the number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) of the lines instead of the colours will allow you to breeze through to any desired destination below ground. Known as the most beautiful subway in the world, the Moscow metro’s 44 out of 200 […]
Thirteen years ago on the 14th August I visited Morocco for the first time, and fell in love with Tetouan. From Ceuta we caught a bus to the border of Morocco. Fortunately, our recently acquired Canadian travel-buddy spoke French but he struggled to haggle a cheaper taxi ride to Tetouan. Forty-kilometers later, mostly along the coast, we were dropped off in the middle of Tetouan. Once we’d found accommodation, we dumped our backpacks and permitted a young man working at the riad to lead us through the nearby ancient medina. Overpowering smells, only a few palatable, caused me to heave and at times I had to pinch my nose. The vibrant spices, the heaps of henna and varieties of olives enticed me to spend money. Adam’s (aka Omar) family run carpet shop happened to be the next port of call. How did that happen? A good few steps later, we climbed out on to a terrace to admire the magnificent view of the town: thousands of satellite dishes attached to crumbling white buildings, feral cats slinking in alley ways. We were served a glass of melted sugar with mint tea leaves, an instant injection of diabetes, before returning to the carpets below. Instantly I fell in love […]
Nestled in the ever-green heart of the Umgeni Valley, Karkloof Nature Reserve offers unspoilt trails amidst an undulating plateau – which has an average altitude of approximately one-thousand meters – mistbelt forest, grasslands, wetlands and wildlife – the non-predatory type. I first hiked the reserve in February; as dawn descended and the sun-exposed itself the sweltering heat appeared to increase at least five degrees per hour. The lush vegetation, a pulsating green as dense as a nineteenth-century novel, kept the giraffe from sight. From the top of the jagged cliff face far into the distance, we spotted the head of a giraffe grazing the tops of acacias. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to get up close and personal and vowed to return in the near future. Five months later, our pledge met, we returned in pursuit of the elusive giraffe. The lush green grasslands moved over for the wintery browns and the blackened grasslands caused by controlled fires. The sun took a little longer to warm my bones, and only increased a degree per hour. As a lone yellow-billed kite, unusual to see at this time of the year, hovered on the thermals overhead, we came across a […]
Unequivocally, Durban is the warmest place to be – it is practically summer all year round with its sub-tropical climate and laid-back, friendly people. Most mornings (when I am home, of course), at first light, I spend at Durban’s vibrant beachfront: running along the soft, golden beach sand; cycling up to thirty kilometres along the promenade, up and down the piers, around Moses Mabhida Stadium, across the Umgeni River and back again; surfing even in winter, mostly with a spring wetsuit; and recently, my new found addiction, yoga with Lauren from SurfSup Yoga. At dawn this morning I warmed up with an hour’s run along the beach sand before enjoying a soothingly stimulating session of yoga at Snake Park Lawns, on the promenade. Exercising alongside the ocean, while watching the sun rise and sharing it with others that were clearly health conscious, was an experience to behold. A few hours later, mid afternoon, I returned to the beachfront with my camera where I experienced a completely different world compared to the world at dawn. A promenade teeming with people, from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, exultant and savouring everything the beachfront had to offer from rickshaw rides to Zulu dancing, […]