Thursday, September 23, 2010


Orvieto is yet another charming hill town, about an hour north of Rome, just off the autostrada.

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San Gimignano

An evening in San Gimignano. Set in rolling Tuscan countryside, this is a popular tourist destination. I can understand that, but compared with Lucca it is a bit rough around the edges. Characterful, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Even through the roads are narrow, and quite busy, Chianti is a very popular cycling area. On Sunday morning lots of grey haired cyclists on expensive machines were about. As always, style is everything. I confess to being just a little jealous. Perhaps next time.

Sunday is also marching day in Siena.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rome, 29 August

I know that Rome is more than St Peter's Basilica (espresso for instance), but its interior is quite literally breathtaking in its scale and grandeur.

I fear for the custodians of this place, if that is what the Italian people are. I know its a bit like an American's view of Australia before she has stepped outside the airport, but as far as I can see Italians are doomed. They smoke too much, they eat too much, and their compliance with the rules of the road is approximate at best. Still, many are charming, patient and hospitable to crude visitors like us.

Athens, 26 August

The Acropolis of Athens: hot, crowded and utterly facinating.

At the base of the Acropolis is a very fine new museum, with a full scale representaion of the Parthenon on its third level. Many of the friezes and other carvings are arranged as they would have appeared on the temple itself, with the notable (and often mentioned) exception of the Elgin Marbles (in some museum in London).
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Santorini, 24 August

You will see a similar image on Sylvia's blog, but its worth repeating. As I said to a passing traveller (from Birmingham, I think), now that I have this shot, I can go home happy - mission accomplished.

All these pictures are of Oia, which is well worth the 1.40 euro each way from the main town on the local bus. I have an answer to the great question of why Greece has no current F1 drivers. They are too busy driving the local buses on Santorini.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ephesus, 25 August

These are just some of our new friends from Ephesus. On the day of our visit seven cruise ships, with at least 15,000 passengers were in one of the two ports near the ancient city. Apparently the next "super" day is in October. Anyway, I tried to take pictures with none of our new chums in view.

This is the original Nike.

This is the libary (or at least the upper part).
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Lucca, 31 August

The shop keepers of Lucca, and there are may of them in this apparently prosperous town, must be in some sort of competition for the most attractive shop. This is one of many, and no matter what is offered for sale, they are universally artful and sophisticated.

But the very best thing about Lucca, even above its tasty food, hospitable people and town wall (4km of cycling nirvana), is that it is not Rome.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


With its harbour, city wall, white marble streets and terracotta roof tiles, the old city of Debrovnik is quite stunning. If the crowds are any indication, lots of other people share this view.

For reasons that remain unclear, in 1991 and 1992 the Yugoslav army decided the Dubrovnik was a military target. They shelled the city from gun emplacements atop this hill. This explains why so many roofs have new terracotta tiles.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Blog central and undergraduate power on the River Stour

This is Canterbury blog central, also known as Pret.

Ben is an undergraduate at the University of Canterbury. He also provided the rowing power for our short but very pleasant meander on the River Stour.

The chair is suspended over the river.  It has been used to discourage the over-talkative.

I know that this post is not chronologically correct.  I'll try to catch up over the next week or so.

Today we visited St Peter's Basilica,  Sistine Chapel, the Vatican museums,  the Colosseum and the Forum.  Exhausting.  Images later.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A morning in Rome

We had a morning in Rome before taking a train from Stazione Termini to Civitavecchia before boarding our ship. Above is the ceiling of the Pantheon. Below is its rather modest exterior (it has had a long and sometimes violent past).

The Trevi Fountain is stunning, but set in a surprisingly small space.

On matters transport, I can confirm that it is possible to buy a railway ticket from a machine with cash, and that platform 27, from whence the train to Civitavecchia leaves, is the furthest from the main concourse. We did make it, and are now very much enjoying our cruise on the Noordam. Today we are in Kusadasi, Turkey. Yes my blog is well behind.

Last night we had dinner with a Canadian woman who was on our Eurodam cruise in 2008. I know this because we were swapping stories about miscreants on cruises. We both told parts of the Mr Burgermeister story.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The wilds of Kent

Its hard to describe the Kent countryside. No because it is bland or featureless; but rather because it is quite hard to see. The picture above shows typical hedgerows near our cottage in Old Wives Lees. As you can see, not much of the pastoral landscape is visible. Hedgerows also make driving interesting, becuae in most places the carriageway is about 5m wide (or less) and there is no verge.

This is Flint Cottage at Cork Farm, Old Wives Lees. We stayed here for six nights, rather than the seven originally planned (a salutory tale, outlined in an earlier post). Cork Farm is about ten minutes walk from Chilham.

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