Sicily Day 1 : Discovering Letojanni

Letojanni is a small place, which we have chosen for the hotel, which was just magnificant. It was on a hill (you go down to Letojanni with an escalator), and the views are simply stunning from just about everywhere you are.

Letojanni itself is, to my liking, uneventful. A beach promenade with restaurant and some dark skinned men selling jewellery and colourful clothes, but if you want to go shopping or clubbing, you will need to take a bus (20 min!) to Taormina. This probably means that, even in the high season, Letojanni will not be too busy. You can do excursions to other places, there is a few places to drink, and the prices in the hotels were good and the environment pleasant. There were two bars (two sister hotels connected), so you had a choice (one had life entertainment which I didn`t always like!!).

I`m going to show you more pictures of the hotel, but today a first impression from our first walk through Letojanni.

View from our balcony (Hotel Olimpo):

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A first stroll through Letojanni:

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Memories from Crete

I can`t believe this holiday was more than 7 months ago (September last year) and I have still not posted any pictures of it. I wasn`t going to, for it was our third time to Agios Nikolaos, Crete. You kind of run out of things to photograph, but I have progressed since our last visit (in both equipment and composition of my photograph), and I have quite a few followers here, who are interested in travel pictures.

Our previous visits were always July, but last year, we went in September, when the weather was just about to turn – it was no longer as hot, but, apart from one shower of rain, still beautifully warm – we spent most of our time at the beach or pool (as said – third time!), no longer needing shade and swimming in the sea, and the other half still took a proper sunburn for not using sun lotion!

Our first walk round the place… bush rose petals being swirled around by the wind, and me against a white wall, once again scarily looking like my mum.

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This is where we went in the evenings, when the sun was gone, but when it was still too early to go out and enjoy the night life:

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And here`s the reason… When in Southern Europe, I`m forever photographing cats – and those ones were beautiful, glossy, and very well cared for. In Chania, on the other side of Crete, we met a couple from Birmingham who purposely took ham from the breakfast buffet and then went out looking for cats. The woman invited us along, but here`s my husband`s limits…

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A day out in Elounda – beautiful place, which I definitely recommend fitting in!

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Fisherman in Agios Nikolaos plus cat (who we actually saw bagging a head :-):

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… and we actually had a day of rain:

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Drinks by the pool… I never drink Campari Orange (or any other cocktails apart from Capirinha) at home, but abroad, I somehow fancy things like that…

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One beach pic – just one:

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This is where we spent most of our time, actually – relaxing, being warm, drinking chilled white wine and swimming in the sea…

(as ever, holiday booked with EasyJet Holidays. Good bargain at this time of year, and notably less busy, though still nice and lively…)

Edinburgh: A Sunday out in Town…

There was a Vintage Fair on the Grassmarket on Sunday, and we took the opportunity to go out and visit my beloved Edinburgh again. Sadly, I don`t have enough reasons to go there these days. The fair was nice, a good mixture of clothes and jewellery, bric-a-brack, vintage cars and bikes, performance and some (obviously not vintage!! :-)) food stalls.

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I took the opportunity to take out my “new” “velvet” coat in sea blue (courtsey of a friend who bought and never wore it) and bought a cute little red polka dot dress for a fiver. Dita von Teese, eat your heart out!! I bet ou wish you`d seen it first! And yes, I totally wore that to work!!

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The Royal Mile – that`s cobbled streat exactly one mile long that`s leading to the Castle…

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A gorgeous little coffee stall under a cherry tree opposite Waverley Station

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Lisbon Part V

We always pay a visit to Mercado Da Ribeira, one of the most amazing food markets I`ve ever been to. There`s flouwers and fresh fruit, veg and fish at the back, but most people come here to select some of the delicious bites and dishes from the exquisite international stalls or bars to eat them here and there, with free WiFi with no password being a wonderful intentive to stay on for an espresso and maybe a tiny little piece of cake, each being a piece of art.

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This was a special day and the first time we actually sat at the bar and had a cocktail. I had an Aperol Spritz which included about half a bottle of Prosecco just to myself, and my other half asked for “something with rum” and received something called “Winter Warmer” which was off the menu and raaather stroooong…

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Here we sat for quite a while, took our time, speaking about our life together and posting pictures on social media while slowly getting dizzy…

From here, we first went home to offload some of our stuff, as we`ve been for some shopping…

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And here, I managed to take my personal best pictures of the Ascensor da Bica, mainly due to lack of other people.

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Dinner was in one of our favourite restaurants in Alfama – no pictures. It was busy, and we didn`t want to hang about occupying a table, but Lisbon is not short of places to just go for a drink, so we finally got to try this beautiful wine bar, which was always looking rather nice to us, and where we stayed for quite a while… 🙂

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It was amazing how quiet and civilised this place was, given that almost everyone, who was there, was drinking. This would definitely not have been the case in Scotland!! Scots and alcohol are sooo loooud!!

On our way home we got approached by a man offering us stuff to smoke – a very common sight in Lisbon. They usually stand at Praça do Comércio guising as sunglasses salesmen, but once you`re looking, they open their jackets or hands and show you what else they`ve got… This guy here was rather annoying – he followed us into a side street even though we had already said “no”, and I actually had to become quite cheeky to get rid of them.

And when we walked up the Ascencor da Bica, a fab thing happened. It was 11p Monday night, and it was quiet, but one pub was still open, with a Pope, a witch and a minion standing in front of it laughing. One said Hi, we said Hi back, and the next moment, we were inside and some guy was swirling me around the dance floor. I hadn`t danced salsa in ages and surely gave it a go, and when I finally got a break, my husband was holding a glass of beer and wearing a yellow feather boa!

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At midnight, an international tune was heard and a whole carneval party of what was all locals (apart from us) was singing me Happy Birthday in Portuguese! The door closed, but we stayed till 1am when the beverages were definitely overwhelming me. As for the rest, I don`t think the party was quite over yet 🙂

The lady who is facing us here is important – she was the only one who spoke English, and she has an Air B&B flat in the area. She speaks English and invited us to Santo Antonio day on – 10 June!! That`s so soon!! And she`s gonna take us!!

In bed by half past one.

No photos of the Tuesday, when our plane home went at a very convenient 3pm. My birthday was spent tired, hungover, having discussions with 4 airport security about canned sardines, and definitely not fresh enough for another selfie.

Home at 7pm. Once again, three days away in this wonderful city felt so jam packed with good vibes!! I just love it so much! 🙂

Lisbon Part IV: Random Impressions

Another old door and some interesting graffiti. I need to finally write about Porto and the graffiti we found over there…

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More Tram no 28 – its so iconic, I just can`t stop photographing it. I`m forever waiting for my best shot ever…

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Got photobombed when I tried a selfie with it. Seeing that they celebrated Carnival (although nothing as big as at home!) totally put me in the mood, and I felt silly enough to just walk into a shop and walk this huge pink bow to walk about with (insert: what became of it now…)

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Chestnuts in the street and sardinhas in shops (NB: The ones which were confiscated have arrived yesterday!! Exactly two weeks after the airport post box was supposed to have been emptied, I was getting really concerned that it got lost!!)

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Arcades at the main promenades and a beautiful display in front of an Italian restaurant. Sardinha Road.

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Brazilian band playing at the beach.

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Funnily, they were already playing there when we last visited in November.  The weather was particularly lovely then, and the band so good we bought the CD. I`ve got it in my car and should get it out again tomorrow…

… for summer is just around the corner… lol…

 

 

Lisbon Part III

And now, I have a confession to make. Part of me feels guilty for complaining about anything regarding something like a holiday, but I have to be honest about one thing: first negative experience with Air B&B.

It first turned out that we were sharing the small flat with our hosts (watch out for the term “private room”!), and while our room was clean, the kitchen and bathroom were not. (We didn`t get a review, as we didn`t want her to retaliate, which is probably wrong – advice appreciated…)

Anyway, while I love my coffee soon after I get up, and even on holiday breakfast is usually something we have at home,  we didn`t want to on this occasion, so this meant two more visits to one of Lisbon`s beautiful cafes:

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Oh, the hardship of it…

After that, we went on to explore the city – which, for us, basically entails walking our favourites of the roads we know already and happily be distracted when something else looks more interesting.

On the top of Bairro Alto, where Carreira 28 turns, there was a fleamarket, where we tried some delicious olives and where I bought this cute little bum bag which is just large enough to hold my phone, keys, lippy and some lose cash – ideal, if you don`t want to carry a large handbag:

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The following is a photographic technique which I probably got from Instagram, and which I still need to improve, but this was the first time I tried it, and I think it`s got a potential which is definitely worth working on: photographing myself in a mirror, camera forward, so my own selfie becomes part of a picture of the foreground:

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Lisbon – Part II

I still haven`t quite sussed out why it is only the tram (carreira) 28 that everybody is so obsessed about, but I guess that`s because it has the most beautiful route, between Alfama and Bairro Alto. It would have taken us home, but everything is close, and if it is not too hot and if you are able bodied, I recomment walking. Lisbon is a steep walk for sure, but you always see something beautiful, plus, the trams are usually packed like a can of their famous sardines…

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Somewhere, I also have a video which I took from inside one, from our first visit in summer 2014. I have to dig this out…

More Carnival, and all rather civilised in comparison to Germany, where there is just too much drink involved…

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Canned sardines – Portugal is famous for its salt cod (which I wouldn`t try for money!!) and canned sardines, all (apart from the first one, which is from the best souvenir shop in town!!) photographed in the gorgeous and very athmospheric Conserveira de Lisboa, which sells nothing but canned fish – mainly sardines in different sauces and package designs, but also some tuna, mackerel, anchovies…

The sardines are available in souvenir and gift shops all over the city, but some are actually more expensive, and Conserveira de Lisboa boxes theirs beautifully and add a little card with a rather nice pictures of their shop – the perfect gift!

I would however not be a very considerate blogger if I didn`t issue a word of warning: Sadly, they were confiscated at the airport.

They are over 100g, and even though they are sealed, we were sternly told “Nao pasa!”, and she didn`t mellow at the sight of my beetroot face. The choice was between leaving them, checking them in (at £40.00 with Easyjet) or mailing them to ourselves for “5 Euro or so”, which it was not. They seem to encounter this issue a lot, for there is a vending machine where you can pick a pre-franked envelope by size and destination, and then address to yourself and put it in the postbox next to the vending machine. Instructions are in Portuguese, pens are not provided, EUR 20.oo notes not accepted, and once you have inserted money, you will not get any change unless you purchased something (but after that, your full change will be provided).

A small selection of canned sardines is available from the duty free – at a somewhat inflated price, but they are the cheaper option, if you are flying hand luggage only.

Just saying. The selection and boxes from this shop (who did not pay me for this blog!!) are exquisit, but I`d feel negligent if I didn`t.

Lisbon 26-28 February 2017 – Part I

Yes, it`s totally worth going for only two days. With the inbound flight landing at 10.35am and the outbound flight leaving at 3pm, you`ll get a full 48 hours of fun. There`s a metro station right next to the airport, and we arrived in Chiado/Bairro Alto just about mid day, where we easily found our Air B&B accommodation within less than 10 minutes walk.

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Ascensor da Bica – one of the most featured items in town, but I find it easy to see why…

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Half way down, where you see the black and white cars, there is a little square and Bar Bica, where we enjoyed those drinks and the risotto featured on my twitter page.

I was surprised to see signs of carnival, which is really important at home (Rhineland in Germany) but so non existent where I live now (Scotland) that I almost forget about it.

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First walk, rather refreshed with a glass of Sangria inside. The sky isn`t quite as blue as it was the last few times (November was like a Scottish summer!!), but we still discover charming little things which we don`t remember seeing before:

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Other things are rather comfortingly familiar and didn`t have my lense on them for the first time, but those are the sights for which I love this city so much…

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To me, the whole place is a piece of art which never ceases to inspire me!

Just walking through this beautiful place and observing its people and their homes, I could even formulate the answer to one of the most annoying comments I received in a while (which left me speechless at the time), but needless to say, the topic was never revisited, which left me ever so slightly frustrated :-/

The quiet little square in the Alfama where we stayed for our first three visits. I always feel a bit sad when I go there, thinking I should still be looking out to that from my window, but prices for accommodation vary, and those places were just too expensive.  There always seem to be more cats than people on this square, and the maire has built them little hutches to encourage them to stay and keep the rats away. I`m sure I photographed this guy before:

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My latest thing is videoing, but please bear with the beginner…

A Study of my Drink (A Blog about Photography)

I have a confession to make: I`m a serial offender for ordering my food and drinks for their looks, so I can photograph and, if I find them particularly appealing, post them on social media.

The prices in certain places used to annoy me, but ever since I started photographing, I have become more lenient, considering all the added value I`m getting.

Worst thing (apart from dealing with the impatience of fellow diners) is usually to determine which ones of all those many shots of the same thing are actually any good. The following are 10 out of 29 shots of the same white sangria I enjoyed in our favourite wine bar in Lisbon at the weekend – Bar Bica half way through, and with a stunning view onto, the very famous and much photographed Ascensor da Bica (and with free WiFi seducing you to post the first picture right away, which, of course, I did :-))

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All photos were made on an Iphone 7 Plus (with the background blurring portrait mode, which was a major selling point) and, apart from Chrome and said Portrait Mode, not edited.

Feedback would be much appreciated – while I do think I progressed in both technicque and composition, I often seem to have no idea of what a good photo is. (It always amazes me on Instagram how people like the pics I was not sure about and almost ignore thoe ones I`m particularly pleased with).