Mediterranean laziness, part six: Sintra and Lisbon

•November 16, 2015 • 3 Comments

Kate, Gavin and I got into the back of a soft-top 4WD with a mother and son outside our ship when we docked in Lisbon, and were driven, along with four other 4WD’s, through Lisbon up to the Sinstra Mountains.  It was a great drive through Lisbon, even though it was an hour long – I liked that the drive was this long, even though most people would be more concerned with the destination than the drive there.  There were a lot of abandoned buildings and a lot of graffiti – two things that, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know I am a fan of.

When we got to the base of the mountains the ride became a lot slower but a lot of fun, as some of the inclines were quite steep.  It was fun bouncing around in the back of the 4WD, in addition to viewing the lovely mountain scenery.  When we stopped, we had to get out of the 4WD’s and put on helmets.  Turns out we’d be going for a bit of a climb, which none of us had been aware of.  Good thing I hadn’t worn thongs!  We climbed over and up and down quite a few boulders, the high ones offering us lovely views of the slightly foggy city far below.  When we reached a clearing, we all stopped for lunch.  As well as antipasto, there was also Portuguese beer, which made Gavin and I very happy.  We sat near a giant rock.  It was a cool rock.

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Afterwards we all climbed back into the 4WD’s and drove a different route back to Lisbon, through the mountains.  We stopped at a lookout which gave a view from cliffs to the sea below.

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Throughout the mountain drive we saw more beautiful architecture (seems you can’t get through Europe without stumbling across some beautiful architecture, dammit), and stopped for a break during which we strolled down a street lined with cute little shops (in one I bought a handmade ceramic salt-and-pepper set shaped like strawberries).

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The drive back through Lisbon was fast and we were pretty tired by that point.  As the ship pulled away from the port, we got to see the Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge), a suspension bridge that is over 2km long and bears a striking resemblance to the Golden Gate bridge.  The bridge connects Lisbon with Almada, and is so named to commemorate the Carnation Revolution).  Believe me when I say the top of the ship only just fit under the bridge!

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We then sailed on to Vigo.  I didn’t take any photos here, and we only wandered around a little before returning to the ship, so I won’t do a post about Vigo.  I also realised I didn’t mention our stop in Marseille – our only French stop.  Kate, Gavin and I didn’t love the port, and I don’t have any photos from either, though Mum went off on her own and quite enjoyed it.  I would have liked to have checked out some of the cathedrals, and this just goes to show what some forward planning could have achieved!

Well that’s about it for my Mediterranean holiday and film photos.

x Kitten of Doom

Mediterranean laziness, part five: Cádiz

•November 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Like La Spezia, Cádiz too was a favourite stopover of mine. Amazing architecture again, a laid-back vibe (even in the more touristy spots) and nice weather made me want to spend a few days here, rather than the few hours we had.

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After wandering the narrow, winding cobblestoned streets looking in shop windows and admiring the architecture, we found our way back at the water, in front of a wall barrier with rocks below.  Not far along the coast was a sandy beach.  I really wanted to go, but the others decided to head back to the boat early.  I continued wandering on my own – of course I went to the beach.

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It was a beautiful walk, and I only wished I’d worn a bikini, but at most ports we’d stopped at there hadn’t been anywhere nearby where we could swim (that we could see, anyway).  Cádiz is beautiful, and swimming in the Mediterranean would have made for a good break from swimming in the ship’s chlorinated pools.  I did take my thongs off and wade in a little at least.

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After my beach visit I bought some handmade bronze earrings from a street vendor and a handmade leather satchel bag from a leather store, and some gelato, before wandering back to the ship – slowly, so as to soak up as much sunshine and relaxed Mediterranean vibes as possible.

The next and final instalment is Sintra, Portugal.

x Kitten of Doom

Mediterranean laziness, part four: La Spezia and Monte Carlo

•November 14, 2015 • 2 Comments

La Spezia was definitely one of my favourite stops on our Mediterranean cruise, and my sister’s partner Gavin agreed with me.  My sister and mother decided to stay on the boat until our wine tour in Monte Carlo in the afternoon, so Gavin and I explored the port area of La Spezia on our own.

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La Spezia has a very laid-back vibe and isn’t very crowded, making it a really lovely walk around in the sunshine.  The architecture is beautiful.

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Every port we went ashore in, I would look at the little boats and wish I could go for a boat ride on one of them.  Small boats are so much better than large ships!  Especially when the water’s a bit rough.. or is it just me who thinks that?

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After lunch a busload of us drove to a winery in Monte Carlo.  It was a drive of over an hour, and along the way we saw what looked like snow caps on the mountains. White mountain-tops.  Being Italy, as well as the middle of European summer, we realised it couldn’t possibly be snow.  Our guide confirmed that it wasn’t snow – it was marble!  So this is where the marble for all that ostentatious marble furniture comes from.  Marble has been mined from these mountains for over 2,000 years, and the end is nowhere in sight.  They are some very valuable mountains then.

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When we got to the Fattoria Il Poggio winery we were given a short talk about the history of their family-run business, and found out they also produce olive oil.  The property is small and tranquil, and is was nice to spend an afternoon in such a quiet relaxing place rather than a city centre.

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They fed us delicious antipasto, including their own olive oil for the bread, and a variety of their wines.  Everything, was delicioso.  I couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle of their olive oil to bring back home, as well as some hand cream (made from olive oil) and a recipe book.

Back on the boat, I tried my hand at shooting the sunset with film, as it was a truly stunning sunset.  Sunsets never quite translate well enough from reality to photographs, but you get the idea.

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Next port of call: Cádiz.

x Kitten of Doom

Mediterranean laziness, part three: Cartagena and Rome

•November 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Uni has finished so I can now resume posting.

Cartagena is on the south-east coast of Spain and was founded in 227 BC.  We walked through the old town and came across the ruins of a Roman colosseum, and next to it, a cliff face that was hollowed out and used as a bomb shelter during the Spanish Civil War.  The shelter had been turned into a war museum, and to access it you had to travel up via a panoramic lift (bottom right of photo), which scared the hell out of my mother (she is easily scared though).  The views from the top were great though!

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Next door was the Parque Torres and the Castillo de la Concepción, affording more great views of the city.

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I wanted to get tapas but the others wanted to eat back on the ship.. boo!

Our next stop was Rome.  Obviously Rome isn’t on the coast – our port was Civitavecchia, and from there we drove in to Rome.  Rome is as crowded as you’ve heard it is, and crowded places in the summer heat aren’t always pleasant.  The line to get into the colosseum was huge (a couple of hours’ worth of waiting time, I believe) so we just admired from the outside.  My film photo of this turned out too dark, so here is a photo of nearby ruins:

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I enjoyed walking alongside the river, and in some parts it didn’t feel as though there were as many people in the city.

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We didn’t go inside the Vatican due to time constraints (you really do not get much time ashore when you are on a cruise.  I got to eat gelato and see cool angel statues though.  I also enjoyed looking at all the architecture as well as the graffiti on the bus ride to and from the city centre.

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Next up is La Spezia and Monte Carlo.

x Kitten of Doom

Mediterranean laziness, part two: Gibraltar

•October 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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I didn’t really know much about Gibraltar before we went there, except that it is on the southern coast of Spain but is a British territory, is famous for a big rock, has a short runway that end in ocean if the plane doesn’t take off in time, and has little monkeys called Macaques.

“Gibraltar” comes from the Arabic language and means “Mountain of Tariq”, which is  reference to the Rock of Gibraltar.  Oh and the Macaques are the only wild monkeys in Europe!

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After two days of sailing from Southampton we arrived in Gibraltar.  I loved the architecture of old town nestled at the base and partway up the hills (The Rock).  It’s pretty steep if you want to walk up to the top of the rock.  Kate, Gavin and I walked about halfway up, but time constraints meant we couldn’t go right to the top; also it was steaming hot and was involving a lot of physical exertion… which is fine.. just not in the blaring Mediterranean summer sun.  You can take the cable car up… if you can stand waiting in that blaring Mediterranean sun in a line of tourists for probably over an hour.  We went for the walk instead.

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There is a nature park but we didn’t go in.  I’m kind of regretting not seeing any Macaques. I really wanted to see the Macaques in Gibraltar.  Oh well, next time.  I’m sure I will go back (maybe when the weather’s slightly cooler though).  There was lots of flora including sunflowers.

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I love ports so going for a sail and stopping at lots of port cities was a really good idea!  Gibraltar’s main port was bright and colourful with all the machinery and shipping containers, set against the brilliant blue water.

I love cemeteries also and Gibraltar’s cemetery near the port was a highlight.

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I could almost fit the airport runway and the rock into one photo.  Almost.  Not with a 50mm lens though (the 28mm lens for my Pentax is out of service).  You get the idea though.  The runway ends just out of frame on the left – it’s not very long at all!  Check out this wikipedia photo.

The Gibraltar port is a truly beautiful view.

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I bought Richard Yate’s Eleven Kinds of Loneliness from a bookshop to read on the boat, and we had fish and chips for lunch.

I highly recommend stopping by Gibraltar if you are in the south of Spain.

Next instalment: Cartagena and Rome.

x Kitten of Doom.

Mediterranean laziness, part one: London

•September 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Yes, the title is slightly misleading: London is not in the Mediterranean.  But London was both the start and end point of the trip.  Before we embarked on a difficult time of lazing around various mediterranean ports and boats in the sun, Kate, our mother, Gavin and I spent a few June days in the capital of the mighty United Kingdom.

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Tower Bridge.

Due to not having a DSLR of some type, I took all photos with my Pentax ME and rolls of Portra 160 film.  Due to a problem with the shutter jamming open every now and then, some of the images have light leaks over them.

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Gherkin.

The hardest part was actually getting through immigration at Heathrow.  The guy I presented my immigration slip to on the way out was not convinced that I was there with innocent intentions.  He questioned why I only had 130 pounds on me for two weeks (I have more in the bank but I’m going to be on a ship most of that time anyway), what the name of the ship is (I have no idea), copies of my hotel reservations (nope, just a text from my mother with the name of the hotel), and whether I had been to the UK before (yes), and commented that there was no record of me having been to the UK before as every page in my passport was blank (it was two days old).  When he rang the hotel to confirm my reservation (which had been made by my mother) none of my other family members had even turned up yet.  He said he needed confirmation from them, and when I said I can’t make calls on my phone due to no international roaming, he merely replied that they had no phones available there to use.  The dude was staunch.  He really didn’t want to let me in.  All I could do was use their wi-fi to message my mother and sister on facebook – knowing they wouldn’t have been online yet if they hadn’t checked into the hotel, and they both barely use facebook anyway – and wait for one of them to reply, which could take all night.  I then sat there for about half an hour until the dude, evidently bored of waiting and realising nothing was going to happen, let me through with an air of disdain and stamp that said no re-entry for six months from departure.  And a warning that I am not to work whilst there.  Damn.  Not allowed to work.  That’s upsetting.

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The Shard.

We stayed in Aldgate and did a few of the typical touristy sight-seeing things, mainly for our mother’s benefit – walked over Tower Bridge, stood out the front of Buckingham Palace, walked past Big Ben and the London Eye, stopped at Piccadilly Circus.  Had some good fish and chips at The Dickens Inn (for my benefit).  We rode through the underground a fair bit, which is always fun.  We mainly hung out and took it easy.  We didn’t try to cram too many things into one day, or see too many tourist attractions.

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Kate snapping Big Ben.

The weather was perfect, although the British consider 26 degrees a heatwave.  There were places I wanted to revisit that I didn’t get time to revisit, but that’s how it goes.

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London Eye.

On our last morning, before catching the bus from Waterloo station to Southampton, where our boat was to depart from, we walked to Shoreditch to do our laundry.  Shoreditch is the suburb I stayed in last time I was in London, back in 2012.  It was good to be back in Shoreditch, and it’s probably where I would like to stay again next time I am in London.

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Shoreditch.

Stay tuned for the next instalment: Gibraltar.

x Kitten of Doom

Yorkshire Brewery development progress

•September 16, 2015 • 1 Comment

The exteriors of the residential and commercial development on the site of the former Yorkshire Brewery are almost done.  The development is the work of developer SMA projects, with design by Hayball.

Walking around Collingwood, I can see the 17-storey building from pretty much anywhere.  The brick tower isn’t as visible anymore (and it used to be the tallest building in Australia at one point!).

There will be six apartments within the former brew tower itself, each taking up a whole floor.

Sorry for the poor quality photos by iPhone 4 is all I had.

The near future. Image: SMA Projects.

The near future. Image: SMA Projects.

There are also plans to demolish the silos at the historic Nylex site.  Property developer Caydon bought the site in December last year, and plans to replace the silos with a 20-plus-storey residential tower, in a redevelopment project worth about $600 million.  The historic clock will be retained and replaced on top of the new building.

Bye.

Bye.

x Kitten of Doom

 
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