New Zealand is a land of mountains. Flying into the South Island I saw nothing but an enormous snow-capped range, smothered in white clouds lying trapped on their peaks. Little wonder the Maoris called this land Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud). Not four hours from Sydney (it takes me longer to fly to Perth), yet a completely different land lay below me.
With mountains come volcanoes. Cruising The Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s North Island, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the boat circled a smoking volcano rising from the sea. Only a small part of White Island is visible; most of the mountain lies beneath the sea.
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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 →
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 →
The church bells were calling as I sailed into Kotor. I had entered a fairytale. The soft light of dawn danced across the Adriatic. Rugged mountains rose from the water, the stretch of lush land at their feet peppered with quaint villages and the spires of churches. I expected to see a horse and carriage trotting along under the morning light.
The Gulf of Kotor, Montenegro, is a fjord. Limestone cliffs plunge into a water coloured the blue of minerals. No wind ruffled the surface, as if the bay lay magically protected. When a soft rain fell the place became even more beautiful. Continue Reading →