A Travellerspoint blog

Amsterdam

A Magical Marvellous Mystery

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Visiting Amsterdam has got to be on your bucket list - at least once. One of my favourite cities anywhere. What a beautiful city. A fascinating city. A very romantic city. A quirky city. It literally has it all - and our quick break was greeted with 38 degrees sunshine too. So, a hot city too. Amsterdam's name is derived from the city's origins: it grew around a dam on the river Amstel. Cross hatched canals mean it's an explorers delight. Simply walking around and seeing what is around the next corner cannot disappoint.

From the water's eye

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A boat trip is a must. It offers you a glimpse with a different lense and perspective.

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Canals from the bridges

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Each bridge you stop at offers something new; each with it's own personality. Watching others around, taking in the atmosphere you can see why many artists have been inspired. It's easy to escape your mind here, and wish you had one of the flats overlooking the canals. But at up to 9 million Euros, not yet!
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Looking at the buildings you can see they lean side to side. Wooden piles hold up the buildings here as they were built on wet land. Over time, the piles have sunk and moved. They prop each other up, as if coming home late from the pub.

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It's people

Like many places, it is lovely to people watch. Some just love to sit outside the cafes with herbal remedies and see their very own world go by. It is a family place you know.

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Bikes

This place has definitely got it sussed. Bikes everywhere- I mean everywhere. Cycle routes everywhere - the arteries of the city. They even have multi storey bike parks in the centre. 50,000 of these bikes end up in the canals each year due to the over excited tourists feeding themselves too much on Amstel or Heineken (or other things).

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A quirky side

You all know this side of Amsterdam. And these were the censored pics! During the day, you could see the children holding their parent's hands saying "Mummy, what's that?"

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Art and Architecture

The buildings fascinated me as much as what was inside or what it was used for....just brilliant.
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Home to amazing artists of all kinds. As our visit was not that long, we opted for The Van Gogh museum only. It dedicates itself to Van Gogh and those who he inspired, or was inspired by. He must have churned his paintings out at an incredible rate over his short span before an all too young and tragic end.

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Sometimes the moment happens right in front of you. I was standing looking at this art work, when this toddle nuzzled through everyone and just sat on the chair in front and looked, transfixed. And if you look closely, it's the type of chair Van Gogh painted. It's as if it was meant to be.
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The leaning building here lunges forward so the pulley on the top can rope larger objects from the street to high up as the stairs are too narrow inside.
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Eran Shaline's "A Muslim, A Christian and a Jew"
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House Church

Hidden in the top three floors of some of the town houses, Catholics (back in the day), constructed their churches so they would not be seen worshiping. As with so much of Amsterdam, looking beneath the surface reveals truly amazing stories.
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Posted by PhilFhi travels 01:25 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Ireland- The Beautiful Emerald Isle

So incredibly lucky to share this with family and friends

It’s often the “little” things that make a trip memorable, such as a fantastic smile and “Welcome to Ireland,” from the passport control officer. First impressions last and indeed, it was the amazing people, the scenery (and of course the odd guinness or two) that made our travels to south west Ireland an absolute treat.

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Limerick

Our first day in Limerick was spent shivering our preverbials off, having not had to wear so much as a jumper for nearly 5 months. Steeped in history, Limerick sits either side of the River Shannon; King John’s castle looking across at the Treaty Stone. Guinness signs shout out at the many passers by. Our first walk was simply an introduction to Ireland before a little road trip south and a return in a few weeks with family.

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The Milk Market, hosted over the weekend is a foodies delight. All the local artisans, from Holy Bagels to duck baps, cheeses, fresh fish to farmer's produce, this is well worth the visit to stock up on local produce. There is also a fantastic array of antiques and gifts to buy. IMG_9318.JPG20190629_104924.jpg20190629_102132.jpgIMG_9315.JPG

Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet is just fantastic. Of course, it's nothing to do with the mead, the continual pouring of their very own wine and the beautifully time capsuled bar! A harpist serenades everyone as they enter the main meeting room, after spiralling up the stone stairs. Musicians and period costume acts, entertain you throughout the whole experience - the banquet itself- great food and opportunities to be locked in the dungeons or play king and queen. What an amazing night to be able to spend with family and friends.

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And what more, after all the culture, a night out at the famous Dolan's pub, to watch an Oasis tribute band....or if that's not your scene, a traditional folk band.

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Adare

About an hours drive south of Limerick is Adare. Popular for weddings, this incredibly picturesque village, with its thatched roofs, gentle river walk and castle, made this a lovely stop on our way to Tralee.

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Tralee

We used Tralee as a base to look around a little and to stay before running the Half on the Head (half marathon). We did not do it justice in the time we had but we did manage a quick celebratory drink after the run- and had a great sing song with some nuns!

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Killarney

Continuing south from Tralee, we arrived in Killarney where we had coffee at Killarney golf club- home of the Irish Open- and what a beautiful setting. Surrounded by the National Park and with Lough Leane hugging the fairways, it is an incredibly stunning setting.

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Ballyheigue

Home of Ireland's scenic Half on the Head, it lived up to it's reputation of one of the most beautiful half marathons in Ireland.
Waiting on the start line, we all watched as an ice cold rain cloud crept closer until dumping on us right at the start of the run. Being the caring weather system it was, it stayed with us for the first half of the run.

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They breed them tough here. Swimming in their Speedos at this time of year!

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Ballyheigue - Ballybunion - Limerick

We travelled north, around the coastal road back to Limerick from Ballyheigue. Castles look out to sea along the coastline. When you stop you can appreciate the power of the waves; carving stacks, arches and caves relentlessly.....

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...and see the odd cow too!

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Lough Derg and Killaloe

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Boating onto Lough Derg was such a lovely, relaxing time, enjoying the scenery and hour north of Limerick.

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Inisheer Island

Wow- just wow! This is a must - and if you manage to bring the sunshine with you, then you will be loved by everyone. You would be hard pressed to find anywhere with such clear water. Crystal clear. Stone walls spider web small sections of land across the island. Horses pull tourists around on carts, past the castle, next to the ship wreck and the lake. just imagining what Inisheer would be like in the depths of winter brings shivers. But a dip in the Atlantic freshened us up for our return.

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Cliffs Of Moher

Our ferry took a detour back from Inisheer to The Cliffs of Moher. Magnificently proud, it stands tall and proud. It's hard to fully appreciate the sheer scale of the cliffs unless you are at the bottom. Now a bird reserve, and teeming with feathered friends, they were totally unbothered by our presence.

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Galway

Busker capital. If you enjoy the energy of street performers, this is an area you would love. The buzz was incredible, with each step fusing from one performer to the next. And being from Aotearoa NZ, we loved the cafe "Kai" (food). Absolutely epic!

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Connacht Rugby team taking an ice bath in the sea after the first training session

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Dublin

Of course, a quick trip to Dublin was something we had to do. As with everywhere we visited full of stories past and present.

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Posted by PhilFhi travels 01:34 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Our Return to Tuscany

A culinary masterclass with a TV Chef

Not quite sure how we stumbled on this place as our stop on the way back down to Tuscany but had a fabulous cooking lesson with Elenora the michelin star Chefess! Look her up on Youtube… We made… Spinach, Garlic parmesan and ricotta ravioli (from scratch) in sage and butter sauce AND squid ink cappelli stuffed with salted capers parmesan and ricotta served with sweet pepper sauce AND egg free fusilli with meat sauce… not bad for someone who can’t cook eh! The lesson was fantastic.

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Pian di Sco

Our final stop in Tuscany. Another lovely farm cottage and lots and lots of walking through olive groves,poppy fields, thousands of wild irises and vineyards(no wonder all the famous painters chose to paint them- its SO beautiful). We walked to something called “Le Balze” which are outcrops of rock left over from when the land was covered in water. Basically walking under the water as it would have been

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Posted by PhilFhi travels 10:15 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Como - lakes and mountains

A whole lotta lake

Como

Lake Como
Gianluca’s apartment (well council flat) had been in the family for generations….. We loved the quirkiness of this place(well I did! And it was cheap… Lake Como is VERY expensive). Lake Como is beautiful and we stayed in Cernobbio. First night we headed to a beer and board games bar… Phil was in his element. Day 2 Ran 10km then walked up a mountain and had a picnic at the top! Gorgeous. Day 3 Football at Como Stadium… Como won which meant they had won the league… which meant they were very happy… so all the fans stormed the pitch and all the players took their clothes off! Must be an Italian thing. Day 4 Walked up a bigger mountain to a church at the top…. WOW WOW WOW.. and saw the snow on the mountains and amazing views of the lake… and got SUNBURNT because it was so hot! Day 5 Conquered my fears and went up the funicular because from there you can see the ALPS… wow! Worth it… plus yummy meal..

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Posted by PhilFhi travels 10:14 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Cinque Terre'n Anchovies and Pizza in Pisa

Instagram models and their trustee entourage

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre - 5 towns in one day…. I think we overtook the 33000 step count this day!
Pretty little village towns with houses painted all different colours. Some houses are literally built on top of another house. DELICIOUS and MOST ROMANTIC meal ever here. We sat at the top of a cliff with uninterrupted views from our table of the village and sea… cost a fortune… but well worth it :)

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Pisa

The leaning tower of Pisa - heading off on a train to meet my dad in Pisa. What a great day. I loved the river and the houses and the Leaning Tower is actually so much more impressive than in the photos. We laughed a lot posing for photos and laughed even more watching other people doing their posing!
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Pontremolli

Pontremoli (trembling bridge) is a little town where when walking into the pub was like walking into a set of Shaun of the Dead. “Inglesi - why are you here?” “No tourists come here!” except no-one turned into Zombies and everyone was really nice… just shocked that we’d made the trek to the middle of no-where. Here there is an amazing museum in the castle filled with “Lunigiana” - basically statues from the Iron and Bronze ages that have been found in all the mountains around… so 5000 years OLD! WOW THAT IS OLD! And even then the details of arms and faces on the statues are amazing. Look at the pics!
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Posted by PhilFhi travels 10:13 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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