I grew up in the country, riding horses, bushwalking and swimming in creeks. My parents have lived in the same house for almost 40 years and are surrounded by a mix of farmland and bush. This scene is pretty typical of the area and it is a scene that always fills my heart with joy. As much as I love cities or walks along the beach, it is the countryside where I feel most at peace.
Preparing for Christmas, attending Christmas functions at work and spending time with friends and family over the Christmas break didn’t leave much room for blogging. As soon as the computer came out my Mum hit me with questions about her computer, using picasa and organising all her holidays photos which she somehow managed to download in the lowest possible resolution from her camera (if she is able to get 6 x 4 prints done I’ll be surprised) so I gave up even trying to get online.
Anyway, I digress. The first step to our Christmas holiday this year was packing up the car and driving between six and seven hours south to reach the homes of our parents, luckily my husband’s Mum and my parents only live about 30 minutes apart. The road trip is not something I necessarily enjoy, but I’m getting better at it especially if it means an opportunity to see something different. Intermittent road works mean that route has changed slightly since I last drove south, leaving home at 4.30am also resulted in us seeing the sun rise over the hills, slowly burning away all the mist which covered the countryside. Rather than get my DSLR out of the back of the car to take photos along our journey I used my iPhone and when boredom kicked in instagram become my travel friend.
This is our journey in pictures from the sunny Gold Coast in Queensland to the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales.
One of my dearest friends and a fellow art/food lover is currently travelling around Italy with her partner, J has been wanting to visit Italy for many years and I am so excited that her time has come and that she is getting to see the chaotic city of Rome and the beauty of the countryside. It also means that I’ll have someone else to talk Italy with and she hopefully won’t get that glazed look in her eyes that I see in others when I’m daydreaming aloud about my holiday.
Today J will be travelling through Tuscany and spending time in Florence, on my desk is a copy of her itinerary and it is great for reminiscing about our trip and the various cities and towns we visited. My first visit to Florence was in 1999, I was travelling alone so had signed up for a tour, not everybody’s idea of travelling but perfect for a shy, single girl who had mainly travelled overseas with family. The David was a highlight for me, at that stage photography was allowed in the gallery so I made sure I captured him from all sides, the rest of my (short) time in Florence was spent on the hunt for a leather jacket and eating delicious pizza in a restaurant near Basilica di Santa Croce. There was no time to rub the nose of the boar on the Ponte Vecchio, nor did I try the local gelato and the Uffizi was not even on my radar, however I did get to see the interior of the Duomo and Basilica di Santa Croce and began to appreciate the influence that religion had on art and architecture. Apart from driving through the countryside to reach our accommodation in Pontassieve and stopping for a quick visit at Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, there wasn’t a chance to really see much of Tuscany so I made sure that we spent some time in a Tuscan hill town on our last trip.
Last year we spent three nights in Florence and four in Siena, we could have stayed longer however I was keen to also visit a few towns in Umbria and didn’t want to waste time hopping from town to town each day. Florence the second time around was a different experience, we didn’t have a set schedule although there were a couple of things that were a must: The Uffizi, climbing Brunelleschi’s Dome, Boboli Gardens, a cooking class and the Ponte Vecchio. The aim was to also spend time just enjoying the city: walking along the river, drinking coffee or a glass of wine in a piazza, exploring the food markets and doing a bit of shopping. I am hoping that J is able to enjoy some of the simple pleasures and not spend all of her time racing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, however, when you spend over 24 hours on a plane and several thousand dollars in plane tickets it is important to make sure that you see everything you want to see.
When thinking of Tuscany I had a particular image stuck in my mind, one of rolling hills, stone houses, cypress trees, fields filled with poppies and olive trees. Thankfully it wasn’t far from the dream, renting a car made it really easy to get around and there were plenty of places to stop for a break, have a bite to eat and take photos. In the four days we visited Volterra, San Gimignano and Pienza as well as spending time in Siena and it was a nice balance because we could take our time in exploring the towns without feeling pressured to move onto the next destination. Next time we will stay somewhere else and see a different region of Tuscany, if you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them 🙂