Travel theme: rain

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa at Where’s my backpack is apt. When travelling, I have a knack of attracting heavy rain either directly or indirectly to the point where my family suggested that I holiday in drought affected areas. When visiting Los Angeles in the early nineties we experienced rain that led to flash flooding, then there was heavy rain and flooding in Europe when I visited in 1999 plus several holidays to New Zealand have resulted in very soggy shoes. Nothing much has changed with rainy weather impacting on my last three holidays but I don’t mind the rain and I love the drama that rain clouds inject into a landscape.

View of Arthur's Seat from Calton Hill, Edinburgh
A rainy afternoon in Edinburgh
Heavy rain over Edinburgh
Watching the rain roll in over Edinburgh
Rainy day in Venice
A spot of colour on a rainy day in Venice
Rain clouds and a high tide, Venice
Wet feet in Venice
Gardenstown before a Spring shower of rain
Gardenstown in the Scottish Highlands
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Travel theme: Early

Possibly a tad late to participate in this week’s travel theme from Where’s My Backpack however I needed some motivation to start posting more often and this provided the perfect kick in the pants. Taken reasonably early for the time of year, but not quite sunrise, these photos are a selection from our trip to Europe in November last year. Our morning walks were always crowd free, we would see people heading off to work or school but generally there weren’t many people around and we had the streets and piazzas to ourselves.

Morning walk and high tide, Venice
Morning walk and high tide, Venice
Light peaking through the clouds as the sun rises in Venice
Light peaking through the clouds as the sun rises in Venice

Foggy Paris morning

Checking out my settings on an early morning walk along the Seine
Checking out my settings on an early morning walk along the Seine
Beautiful morning in Florence
Beautiful morning in Florence
Perseus' holding Medusa's head over a crowd free Piazza della Signoria, Florence
Perseus’ holding Medusa’s head over a crowd free Piazza della Signoria, Florence

Rain at breakfast, Paris

Morning hit of caffeine, Paris
Morning hit of caffeine, Paris

Venice. Oh how I love thee

Gondola cruise on the canal
Gondola cruise on the canal

You’ve heard me rave about Venice before so it will come as no surprise that after my third visit to the serene city I still feel the desire to return. We stayed in a small hotel called the Locanda La Corte not far from Rialto Bridge and close to the Ospedale vaporetto stop, perfect for walking to the city’s main attractions. The window of our hotel room opened onto a canal, it was ideal for us and there were many moments when all I wanted to do was look out that window, listen to the seagulls and watch the world float by. Of an afternoon, when the sun was shining, the reflection of the waves could be seen on the wall and ceiling of our room creating a feeling of calm.

Being Autumn the number of tourists seemed lower than on my previous visits in Spring and Summer, but still the streets and main squares were crowded. Away from the main attractions such as St Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge we could stroll freely and without interference from people armed with selfie sticks and those trying to sell them. It was the quieter alleys and squares that I love, although feeling like an intruder armed with a camera and invading a local’s personal space. One morning I left hubby at the hotel while I went out for a walk, camera in hand I decided to venture into a part of Venice that I had not seen, Cannaregio. I didn’t make it very far and found myself standing on the edge of the island and looking towards the Island of San Michele and in the background, snow covered mountains. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, ideal for hopping on a boat and heading to the islands of Burano and Torcello which is exactly what we did.

Venice is often described as a theme park, attracting millions of visitors all year round and it is easy to get caught up in the hype and complain about how expensive everything is and how it is difficult to find a good, affordable meal. On Burano there are a dozen or more places to eat on the main street where all the tourists go, a couple of locals recommended two restaurants but they were packed so we sat down to a meal of fried calamari and chips (fries or frites) by the water. The food was cheap and fresh and not far from the vaporetto stop. Our favourite cheap eat find was a little place not far from the Rialto Bridge, I had read about it in a couple of guide books and expected it to be full of budget conscious tourists like us. Rosticceria Gislon is not what you would expect in a seemingly tourist area, it looks like a cafeteria and offers pre-prepared food at a good price, it was also crammed with locals (or Italian speaking tourists). We had three great meals at Rosticceria Gislon, one of the most memorable (and cheap) being the deep fried mozzarella and ham sandwiches…delicious!

I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in a centuries old city such as Venice, one that is never free of the hoardes of tourists whilst also having to manage the impact of high tides and rising sea levels.  The eery beauty of this city appeals greatly to me, I have always wanted to spend a few months living in Venice however I wonder if the enchantment would wear off during an extended stay. In the meantime, editing all my photos and remembering our time in Venice will have to suffice.

Travel with gadgets

In a few weeks we’ll be in Paris, struggling with the language and feeling the cold but still I am excited to be heading back to Europe. It has been a few years since our last holiday and I have nick named this trip ‘Scrappy Adventure II’. This trip we’ll be taking more technology, which worries me because I like travelling without a phone and a video camera however Hubby wants to shoot video and as yet I cannot convince him to make use of the video feature on the phone and the Panasonic Lumix. The smart phone will come in handy because we can make use of offline maps, guidebooks and messenger for keeping in touch with people however I’m hoping that once hubby sees all the cables and power packs then he’ll forego the video camera. My DSLR and laptop go everywhere with me, as good as the iPhone and Lumix are for photography, they don’t completely satisfy my photographic urges 🙂

When it comes to sharing photographs of our trip I will be making use of instagram, Facebook (to some extent), this blog and my Smug Mug account. Having an iPhone with us will make some of that quite easy, I am keen to see how much free wifi we can access and whether the iPhone will take the place of the Lumix even though it doesn’t have the benefit of a 30x optical zoom. My sister in-law and her husband will be on our tour of Europe soon and they’re only taking their smart phones to use as cameras, we’ll meet up with them in Paris so I’ll be curious to see how the phone photography went.

The list of gadgets so far includes:

  • Nikon D750 and 24-70mm lens
  • 11 inch Macbook Air
  • iPhone 5s
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ70
  • JVC HD video camera
  • Numerous SD cards ranging from 8GB to 32GB
  • SD card reader
  • 500GB portable external hard drive

When it comes to photography and gadgets, what do you prefer to travel with and what sort of challenges have you been faced with?

These photos are from our last trip, they were taken with an earlier model of the Panasonic Lumix and it doesn’t matter how old they are, looking at them always makes me smile.

Planning our next holiday

Looking out the window

2011 was our first overseas holiday together, destination Europe. Prior to 2011 Hubby had never been overseas, his passport was free of stamps, shiny and new. I had been to Europe once in the summer of ’99 and dreamed of returning in the springtime but never thought that it would take 12 years to get there. That trip took us away from home for 8 weeks and involved months of planning and years of reading and dreaming about the places we would visit. You may have seen some of my photos and read some of my posts.

This time we hope to be travelling for 5 weeks at the end of this year, I say hope because it all hangs on both of us being in full time employment especially when we are the proud owners of a mortgage. If things don’t work out then we’ll travel somewhere closer to home, Australia is vast and there is plenty to see and experience. Travelling later in the year will mean lower temperatures compared to what we are used to requiring a drastic change to our usual attire for that time of year.

For me, part of the fun in travelling is the researching and the planning, I’m not a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ traveller. The flight from Brisbane to Paris takes about 27 hours and costs about $2000 per person for the flight so some preparation is important. Guide books and travel related books are among my favourite things to read, watching movies and documentaries featuring destinations I love and dream of take pride of place in our entertainment unit. Several years ago Rick Steves entered our lives, his DVDs have been watched many times and through his podcasts and others such as the Amateur Traveller I’ve discovered more authors whose books inspire me. Blogs and apps have made researching destinations so much easier however the sheer volume of content and contrasting opinions can be overwhelming. I love art, history, food and photography, Hubby loves to sit and watch the world go by which means we have to find a balance that makes us both happy.

IMG_9659 Travel books

Accommodation costs can be estimated using websites such as booking.com and tripadvisor although sometimes it is cheaper to book directly with a hotel or B&B and their rates are also easily found online. With the Australian dollar flagging against other currencies, I like to be able to calculate how much the trip could cost us by using a spreadsheet that outlines transport and accommodation costs as well as notes on extras like the Paris Museum Pass and gallery opening hours.

You might be wondering where we are planning to go that will need so much preparation. This is our list so far, it has already changed several times but there is still a focus on Italy:

  • Brussels
  • Paris
  • Turin
  • Florence
  • Rome
  • Bologna
  • Verona
  • Venice
  • Innsbruck
  • Vienna

Our timing is influenced by our desire to save as much as possible, Hubby’s work commitments and thinking that if we’re going to be freezing cold we may as well push the trip back a week further and warm up with mulled wine at the Christmas markets in Austria. I welcome any feedback and recommendations for the destinations listed.

Stay tuned 🙂

Memories of our 2011 scrappy adventure

It has been almost 4 years since our trip to Europe, much has happened since then and sadly, none of it included travelling overseas. Nor did it include finishing all of my photobooks from that trip, three are currently sitting on our book shelves but there are still a few books to go. Sorting through photos and deciding on layout takes time and with me being a bit of a procrastinator it is taking longer because I keep getting sidetracked. Today the distraction has been looking through the many photos we took on our compact camera, the happy snaps and selfies (sans selfie stick of course). With the planning of our next trip underway, it was a joy to go back and see the photos we had of each other, captured as we moved from Paris to Amsterdam, then onto Germany and Switzerland before spending four weeks in Italy.  The next trip will be shorter, but still with a focus on Italy and we are madly saving in the hope that we can make it happen this year. In the meantime, I’ll keep smiling as I look through all our wonderful, memory filled photos.

Wishful thinking

Another hot and humid day is looming, summer is definitely making her presence felt after several years of wet summers and lower temperatures. In an effort to cool down I am thinking of colder climates and wishing I could click my heels and transport myself and the doggies to the beautiful Lucerne in Switzerland. We were in Lucerne prior to Easter in 2011, the days were lovely and mild allowing us to fully enjoy all the delights that the old town had to offer.