Honkers – our final post

We have been home a week but being a completist, I have to close our post with our time spent in Hong Kong. 

It was a bit blurry with jet lag and not too much happened but we stayed in a glorious hotel overlooking Victoria harbour and with a fantastic pool to escape the heat and humidity. 

View from our hotel room. It was like being on a cruise. Light show from our room. Cliche junk photo. Crazy long long travelator. View from the peak. After about a 2 hour wait for the peak tram and a mosh pit getting onto it, our moods were frayed to say the least. Typical crazy fun city. Another view from the peak. Our pool and soaking up the vitamin D before returning to Melbourne winter. Thanks for following our blog. We had so much fun writing it and sharing our holiday. It will be a wonderful memory for us.

 Sam and Judy 

Xox

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Roma

Roma was fantastic. We stayed in a beautiful apartment smack bang in the Jewish quarter next to the grand synagogue. The area was less touristy and quieter than being near the big sights.
This is the beautiful elevator in our building. A very rare commodity in Rome luckily as we were on the 5th floor.We were welcomed with a crazy selection of canolli and many other pastries together with heavenly coffee. We chanced upon a gorgeous gallery shop with dolls the size of Ken dolls depicting movie and historical scenes with truly realistic faces, costume and set designs. 

We went on a walking tour of the city one afternoon and saw some incredible piazzas, fountains, ruins and soaked up the history. I won’t bore you with everything but here is a sneak peak. 

We saw the beautiful fountain of four rivers at piazza Navona designed in 1651 by Bernini. 


The Pantheon which was completed in 126AD for the emperor Hadrian. It is incredible how well preserved it is and the inside is glorious. 

We learnt the secret trick to the water fountains. 

We went to view the Roman forum from a height and then walked amongst the ruins. Amazing to learn about the ancient roman city and what happened there. 


Then onto the gruesome collesseum built in 80AD and only taking 10 years to build. What a structure!


We got caught up in a chariot race. Lucky we survived and were victorious. 


Another day we visited the Vatican City and the museum and cathedrals. 

We loved the Swiss guards’ outfits and were there to see the changing of one of the guards. Wandering along the Tiber River back home. We had a look inside the Roman grand synagogue and had a walk around the Jewish area that told of the rich history of the Jews in the area and their persecution. We had so much fun learning to make egg and white pasta dough and how to create many pasta shapes. It was an incredible experience and we hope to try to recreate at home. We were all pretty excited with what we had made and Sam said the pasta was a ‘miracle’.As with the Vatican City, we found the crowds at the Trevi fountain. Hopefully wishes come true with the coin toss. We found more crowds at the Spanish Steps even though they were closed. The boys enjoyed reading the latest newspaper. We spent our last day wandering around the pretty Trastevere area. And enjoyed a last Italian pasta. Sam drawing of course…At night we wandered along the Tiber where there were restaurants, various market type stalls and even a cinema. This stretched a couple of kilometres along the river. Time for a game of foosball! We watched the sun dance on the river while setting during our dinner which was a wonderful way to say goodbye to our time in Europe. The next day we headed off to the airport for Hong Kong. We will really miss Italy. What an amazing time we have had. Luckily there is still so much to explore…. I can’t wait to return. 

❤️ Vieste ❤️

 

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Hi, we are in Vieste. So far we have gone swimming in the ocean everyday and we have had gelato every single day (even two times in a day maybe). We have just been to a shell museum and it’s a really windy day. We have had lots of pizza and lots of pasta. Yesterday we went on a boat trip we went in lots of caves and went swimming in a rocky beach. We had dinner in a cave too. Sam x

Our incredible Hotel Seggio. There was an elevator through the cliff to the pool and beach.


Another view from a restaurant where we had lunch. Our sun lounges are the three on the left.


Interesting that they had the same print twice in our room



Sam’s drawing of the view of the sea from our swimming spot


Some fireworks from our piazza to commemorate their local Saint Antonio


Everywhere TV screens are on and everyone is glued to Euro 2016 soccer. Italy won one night and the sound of air horns was pretty loud.


Some pictures from our boat trip that shows a grotto (cave) we went into. It was a definite highlight of the trip.

Dinner in the cave

Streets of Vieste



Shell museum


More pasta????


Giant croc man.

Onto Roma….very hard to leave Vieste

La Ragnana 

We are finally at our villa in Radicondoli in the Tuscan hills. It has taken months of planning and we couldn’t be happier. Radicondoli has about 1300 inhabitants and is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a perfect place to unwind and recover from big cities and chill out and catch up with friends. 

It was a hysterical trip there in our rental car from Florence where we got quite lost along the way. It was a blessing though as we managed to see amazing views and tiny villages that would have been lost on the main road. 

We were bamboozled with the street signs in Radicondoli but our car didn’t get towed so all good I guess. 


We were happy to catch up with Meagan and Andrew for lunch at the cutest and yummiest local bar and we just made it by the kitchen closing. 

It was very confusing getting into our villa as the owner, Claudio didn’t speak any English. When I telephoned he said something in Italian then said ‘bye’ and hung up on me. We asked the lady at the ‘I’ to call him and we met him and worked everything out through lots of giggles and some French. He gave us 6 bottles of his homemade red wine and a bottle of his homemade olive oil. He was just lovely. 

We were ecstatic meeting Jacqui at the bus shelter with a shot of grappa after her long journey which involved a flight and many bus trips with tiny connection times. 

We spent lots of the time hanging around the villa, wandering into the little town, swimming and lots of eating. It was so much fun. 

Here are some shots from the villa:


Here are 2 landscapes Sam drew of the view from the garden. He was loving being inspired by our very creative friends. 



Here are some random shots of beautiful Radicondoli:


Sam drew  all the people we shared the villa with. A friend of jacqui’s, Nina, joined us for the last 2 nights but sadly missed being in the drawing. 

We went on a day trip to Belforte (a gorgeous tiny hilltop village) and Volterra which was another larger walled city hilltop village.


Another day we went to another walled hill top village, San Gimignano. Unfortunately there was torrential rain so we didn’t get to enjoy the real beauty of the town but what we saw was divine. It is the most touristy of all the towns and was filled with bus loads of wet tourists. Sam and Paul ended up having to wear some plastic fantastic. 


Our last night we were treated to a magical sunset from our restaurant and when we got home there were fireflies in our garden which we loved. 


Florence 

It has been some time since I have posted on the blog but we have been too busy relaxing and catching up with friends. 

It’s a week since we left Florence although we dropped a hire car back there this morning to quickly catch a train out of there, I do miss it. Such a great city to walk around. We stayed on the less touristy side of the river but close enough to get where we wanted on foot. 

Here are some photos from our time there:


Catching up with Meagan and Andrew, dearest friends from home. Although we booked accommodation separately they were staying around the corner. Lucky us. 


Paul and Andrew managed to squeeze in a yes concert. 

Sam made a new friend called David


The Ponte Vecchio which was extremely crowded with people buying overpriced jewels and taking lots of selfies

A visit to the Uffizi gallery to see more renaissance paintings. 

This is a photo of the ceiling.


Sam was inspired by the gallery. 

We did a walking tour that took in the sights. The incredible duomo:

And its dome


We ate just a tiny bit more pasta and pizza. 

Found a favourite restaurant around the corner from our Airbnb

That had a great mask in the washroom 

A cute bar and shop around town

A well deserved drink after a hike up to the piazza Michelangelo to enjoy the view of the city


Lucca

Lucca is a beautiful Tuscan town with preserved Renaissance walls and cobblestone streets. It is a smallish town where we could get away from the very touristic areas we had visited. We stayed a couple of nights in Lucca and enjoyed a bit of chilling out. 

We took the train via Pisa to have a look at the leaning tower. I was surprised by its shiny marble surface. I always thought it would be more roman ruin. We tried to take all the novelty shots but failed!

In Lucca we stayed in a wonderful apartment overlooking Lucca’s famous piazza, Piazza Del Anfiteatro. It was quite lively with restaurants and bars around it.

We climbed the Guinigi tower which is a 45m tall red brick tower adjoining 14th-century Palazzo Guinigi. The birds eye view of Lucca from the top is wonderful but what most impresses are the seven oak trees planted in a U-shaped flower bed at the top of the tower. 


As the city walls are complete, we hired a bike and rode around them a couple of times. It was lots of fun and we were very lucky to avoid lots of terrible weather. 

After Lucca we were very excited to be heading off to Florence and catching up with friends. 

Monterosso

Wow what a long train🚆journey. It was 5 hours and a half!It was all worth it when we got there.A lady called Catarina showed us our apartment room.I’m not sure if it was our best one yet.I had a really really really BIG BED!!!!! Anyway we had a really good balcony view.We went swimming in the ocean 2 times.We went hiking from Monterosso to two of the villages. Monterosso is in Cinque Terre where there are 5 lands they are called:Monterosso Manarola vernazza Corniglia and Riomaggiore.THE END BY SAM 

Judy here now to show you some photos of our time in the Cinque Terre area. 

Swimming across the roadHot chocolate moOne of the villages we hiked toAnd another onenice spot for lunchIt’s just so pretty 

Venice

We have now landed in Italy where we will be spending the majority of our holiday. 

We flew in from Barcelona. When I booked the Ryan air flights I was astounded by how low the low cost airline was but upon landing and looking for the vaporetta to take us to our apartment I realised we arrived in the middle of no where – like Avalon instead of Melbourne airport. 

Oh well after a local bus, train and a vaporetta we finally arrived. 

I LOVE Venice. I love its uniqueness and it being somewhere where you can get lost in all the windy, narrow streets. 
We spent 3 nights in the Cannaregio area which was a little bit away from the crazy tourist hub and where the locals live. 

This is the view from our little roof top balcony:Sam was so excited to finally eat some fresh Italian pasta -yummoWe went on a free walking tour of the city. Here are some snippets of the tourThe snail staircaseThe bridge of sighsThe staircase made of books in the continuously flooding bookshop a very narrow house

While having a sandwich in St Marks Square a very cheeky seagull swooped and literally stole Paul’s breakfast out of his hands. It was pretty funny for us but it gave Paul a huge fright. 


We went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum and the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the synagogue tour in the Jewish quarter. We went on a gondola which just got back to the dock before the most incredible lightening and hail storm broke out. We were very lucky. 

Venice is a hard place to leave but the Cinque Terre was calling us….

Barcelona 


What a big bustling city Barcelona is. I couldn’t believe how many people are in one city. So many tourists and locals! Wow. 

What a beautiful city though.

The highlights were:

The send off from France at Avignon train station for my dear husband:Sam’s continuing obsession with vending machines:Sam’s hearty breakfast of churros and hot chocolateMaking friends with the local soccer boyThe bar down the corner that had great coffee Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia 


Which of course you cannot photograph and do it justice. 

Loved the visit to Gaudi’s Park Guell


We also enjoyed a free walking tour of the city


The guide told us the tale of the Catalan Caganer, a feature of their nativity scene and is a figure of a Catalan man wearing traditional Catalan clothes squatting with his trousers around his ankles and pooing! This is strange but wonderful custom from the 18th Century with the poo seen as a sign of good luck as it fertilizes the earth and ensures a good harvest for the coming year. Not usually now in Catalan clothes. 


We also saw flamenco dancing

Climbing frame as in Sam’s school playgroundI could go on and on but better not. 
Next up is Venice

X

Avignon

Avignon, is a city in the south east of France on the left bank of the Rhone river. The old city lives within the old walls. 
During the 1300’s the Popes lived there and a succession of popes built, rebuilt, renovated and rebuilt what is known as the Papal Palace where they lived. We visited  the palace during our stay and was amazed by its size, beauty and amazing stories hidden behind its walls. 



The remains of the Avignon bridge and the Pope’s Palace have become UNESCO  World Heritage sites. 


We arranged a full day tour from Avignon to visit many small villages around Provence which due to cancellations ended up being a private tour. What a great way to see Provence!! We are so lucky. Sam loved our guide who was a pretty funny guy that loved teasing Sam. He is from Avignon but used to be a rodeo rider and spent lots of time in the States in the 70’s.

Here is Sam and Michele


Here are some highlights from the tour of Provence:

Pont du Gard aqueduct:


Ocres de Roussillon (red earthed village)

 Palace in Tarascon which was later turned into a jail. There is a legend of a half man/half monter that used to eat anything that crossed it’s path. 


Here are Sam’s versions of the monster Tarasque. 


This village is called Gordes and is very exclusive. All the buildings are made of stones laid on to of each other without concrete. This building style must be used. Apparently Brad Pitt drank a 50,000 euro bottle of wine there 2 years ago. I hope he enjoyed it. 

I won’t bore you with any more photos. Ok just one… Lovely spot for dinner