Views From My Balcony

This morning I woke up to the sound of bells. I looked out my window and there was a small hamlet, complete with church. Being a week day, I took the sound as a summons to breakfast.

Where I stay when travelling adds – or take away – so much to a trip. I love being able to walk out the door into a place of local colour. The view from window or balcony is yet another dimension. Just being able to open the window to hear and smell, and so often taste, this new world unfolding around me – or better still, being able to walk onto however a small balcony to drink it all in. Continue Reading →

Taking the Waters in Budapest

Some reasons to take to the waters in Budapest. A more detailed blog will follow – hopefully! – when I return home.

 

The Széchenyi Baths in Budapest comprise 3 outdoor pools and over a dozen indoor. I never made it indoors, enjoying instead the sunshine.

 

 

These stunning chandeliers greeted me as I entered.

The warmest bath was some 34 degrees C. There were fountains for massages, a whirlpool, even a lap pool; I only made a couple of hundred metres before my muscles relaxed into jelly.

 

A great place to do laps, or simply soak. Two guys are playing chess by the steps.

 

The view from indoors. Below, the walk to the upstairs change rooms.

The baths are fed bu hot springs, which also feed the nearby zoo!

Memories of Angkor’s Jungle Temples

Nothing quite prepared me for these giant trees. I’ve seen so many images of them (and yes, we’ve all seen the movie) but to actually wander through the temples and see trees sprouting from stones is an eerie site. These temples were once thriving with people; then they were forgotten, and consumed by the jungle.

Some, like Angkor Wat, have been restored; some partially restored, others have been left largely the way they were discovered. Forgotten by the world, some temples became hideouts for the Khmer Rouge, while others are still being cleared of mines. But I couldn’t help but wonder – how many more of these temples lie hidden in the jungles of Cambodia?

 

 

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Discovering Marseille and Her Old Town

 

Discovering Marseille

 

Sailing into Marseille, the Basilica de la Notre Dame de la Garde greeted me even while my boat was still far out to sea. Her golden Madonna has been calling sailors home down the centuries. Then came the Chateau D’if. How could I sail past without thinking of The Count of Monte Cristo?

Part of what I love about sailing into a port is how so much of the old town lies by the water waiting to be explored. Like many a Mediterranean town, Marseille began as a village by the sea, and this is where her heart still lies. Palaeolithic cave paintings have been discovered nearby; the village of Massalia was the first Greek settlement in France, established around 600 BC. It was conquered first by the Romans, then by various other nations and city-states during the sea-sawing of alliances which marked medieval and Renaissance Europe. Continue Reading →

A Moomin in Hong Kong

This photo encapsulates Hong Kong for me. Walking through LKF I spied a moomintroll – of course. Tove Jannson and her moomins are a world away from Hong Kong. Yet they are here, because everything is here.

That’s what I love about Hong Kong – from the fake antiques along Cat Street, a forgotten nunnery in Kowloon, the gathering of maids on their day off as they gather in parks and along walk ways, chattering away like sparrows, the tranquility of her bush walks – I always find something completely unexpected.

Always a reason to return.

 

Discovering Corfu

Discovering Corfu

 

I fell in love with Greece a long time ago, without actually ever going. Gerard Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals bewitched me. I read it as a child, and then to my own children. He painted an idyllic countryside of olive groves and woods running down to the sea; of pink houses covered in vines and filled with intellectuals and free spirits who came to lunch and stayed for the summer.

I’ve treated old soldiers who fought in Greece during WWII and the chaos which followed. They spoke of the warmth of the people who kept them alive during the freezing winters, of their first taste of yoghurt as they hid in the hills from the Nazis.

Then I discovered Byron:

The isles of Greece! The isles of Greece

                        Where burning Sappho loved and sung

                        Were grew the art of war, and peace

                        Where Delos rose, where Phoebus sprung!

                        Eternal summer guilds them yet

                        But all, except their sun, is set.

Continue Reading →