Blue water dreaming

It might be snowing, raining and flooding here in dismal Blighty but my mind is floating away in the warmth of a Kefalonian summer!

Stopping for a brief pause on our road trip around the island, we stumble upon this little roadside pebble beach.

Complete with obligatory bobbing boats!

Everywhere you look, Kefalonia has a delightful cove or hidden beach begging to be discovered.

Melissani Cave

One of our favourite things when in sunnier climes is to enjoy the stunning array of different coloured water!

Whether it’s turquoise blue, crystal clear or emerald green. Kefalonia is no exception with an abundance of amazing natural caves, coastlines and water courses to explore.

One of the most stunning is the Melissani Cave – an incredible, natural cavern of almost unnatural blueness.

In Greek mythology, Melissani was the Cave of the Nymphs and it features an ethereal subterranean lake that can be explored for a small fee.

It can be found located east of the mountains of Evmorfia and Agia Dynati. You queue down to the cavern for the chance to be ferried around for about 20 minutes.

The cave itself is B-shaped with two chambers or halls separated with an island in the centre. The roof of one of the halls collapsed many centuries ago letting the bright sunlight filter in.

Because the cave is open to the elements so you can look up and see the clear blue skies, while trees fringe the edges.

When the sunlight hits the water, it becomes almost luminescent. It’s best to get there for about mid day if possible, to fully experience this phenomena.

Myth has it that the cave was named after the nymph Melissanthi who committed suicide because her love for the God Pan was not reciprocated.

Kefalonia 2019

Lockdown 3.0 is upon us and it marks over a year of non UK travel for us! We’ve starting to get the cabin fever!

But luckily for you . . as I have been so lax in updating the blog, I still have several trips from way back in 2019 that I have not got around to popping on.

So here’s a fab trip to Kefalonia which was my 40th birthday pressie from the wonderful hubby!! 🙂

We chose to do a package holiday with TUI as we couldn’t do it any cheaper independently. So we picked the Royal Apartments based on a hillside in Lassi.

TUI don’t seem to be using these anymore but we can highly recommended it. Very modern and contemporary for Greek accommodation. A bit of a uphill walk from the main strip and beaches but fantastic views out over the town and to the sea.

First stop is the main beach in Lassi – Paliostafida Beach. Hence lots of snaps of stunning turquoise waters, wind worn rocks and a very happy husband.

It seems unreal that 2 years ago we thought nothing of hopping on a plane and landing in paradise just a few hours later.

I was definitely in danger of taking it all for granted and almost being ‘meh – another stunning beach’ – how I long to go back and kick my blasé backside!

Lassi is a small, relatively quiet resort based around one central strip. You can hire a car, do several watersports and find wonderful local tavernas.

We found it an ideal base for exploring the island.

Here’s a few snaps of the sun worshippers recharging his internal batteries. He is very much missing the heat and the sea at the minute!

Along the beach is a small marina with little vessels bobbing on the jewel bright water.

I can’t tell you how much I am missing Greece right about now! The furthest we’ve travelled in the last 12 months is to the Isle of Wight (which was awesome TBF) but not quite the same!

Pandemic pause

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my travels, but then again, it’s been a while since I travelled!

For the first time in years, I have not left the UK in over a year. Thanks covid.

But instead we’ve enjoyed exploring our own backyard, and discovering the delights that our own country has to offer.

So instead of Malta, Maderia and Greece, this year we’ve have the Yorkshire coast, The Isle of Wight. North Wales and Devon.

Different, but still amazing.

Here’s a few images to whet your appetite . . North Wales looking as tropical as any foreign climes!

Good morning, and goodbye, Vietnam!

It’s the FINAL post from our epic trip to North Vietnam and I can’t believe it has taken me 16 months to completely document it!!

So enjoy these last few romps around the grimy, colourful and chaotic back streets of Hanoi!

We enjoy a much needed beverage high above the humid, hectic streets.

Then it’s off to check out yet more streets packed full of tourist tat, temple art and traditional water theatre puppets.

Silk dresses and graffiti, no image sums up Hanoi more that this. The dainty and ornate V the gritty, edgy realism.

A mobile seller displays his woven wares on the back of his trusty bicycle.

More floral delights and a seemingly impossible task for these electricians!

A moment of almost calm captured in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

No roaming would be complete without a hopeful wander over to Train Street to see if we can catch sight of the epic train . .

and we are in luck!

We manage to catch it, rumbling along in broad daylight, and you can really get a sense here of just how big, and how close it got!

And that is it folks! The end of another incredible adventure. Vietnam is a country on the up.

I predict it will soon overtake other over travelled places such as Thailand and Bali as the next up and coming ‘exotic’ hot spot.

So catch it while it still retains its natural charm and incredible traditions.

Until next time! Good morning Vietnam – and goodbye!! 😦

Street scenes

How much love can one human being have for markets? The answer – a lot!

Hanoi is just shopping heaven. This stall sells all things plastic and fake – from garlands of garish flowers and vegetables to rows of lucky pigs.

Then we’re heading back to Dong Xuan Market to carry on exploring the mountains of produce, fabric and tat that’s on offer.

On route I spot this very smiley flower seller, who zips along the crowded streets leaving a fragrant trail in his wake.

Dong Xuan Market is the largest in Hanoi and is housed in a four story, soviet style building.

There’s a bustling wet market, huge fabric floor and the ever fascinating dry goods section.

The market tumbles out onto the streets in a riot of colour, smells and shouting stall holders.

There are some many details to capture, you could spend a whole day just in a few square miles.

Piles of fresh vegetables form a colourful feast for the eyes against a backdrop of peeling paint and wet concrete.

Stall holders take a brief break in this tiny corner of the city.

Buyers browse a range of locally grown vegetables that they will pop into boxes, baskets and other receptacles on bikes and mopeds.

From furry rambutan to visceral, gutted fish, everything can be bought right here, literally on the street.

And everywhere are the ubiquitous conical hats, that could be passed off as sterotypical, but really are still an everyday sight.

Spray painted walls are reminiscent of Blade Runner and high rise Tokyo.

While cyclo sellers have baskets of items for sale, zipping past you at speed.

It’s an intoxicating, frustrating, deafening, colourful and exhilarating city.

More Hanoi MORE!

There’s an architectural oddity in Hanoi that doesn’t seem to fit in with the local style – St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Vietnamese: Nhà thờ Lớn Hà Nội, Nhà thờ Chính tòa Thánh Giuse)

It’s a late 19th-century Gothic Revival that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country.

If you look closely you can see a tiny man up a ladder cleaning!

Below are just some of the incredible stalls on every street. Lots of the streets are themed according to what they are selling.

Below are some of the DIY shops – the Vietnamese equivalent of ScrewFix!

The city has grown organically – but upwards not outwards. That’s due to the cost of land -when the cities started growing, the laws were that you’d only get charged on the length of the front facade of the dwelling.

As a result you’ll see lots of thin, narrow but very high buildings, usually at least three stories tall.

These are called tube houses. Because of high population density you find them in cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

At the front of them you’ll find the whole of life being lived on the streets. Cooking, selling, arguing and chatting.

Whether it’s traditional food being cooked on teeny, tiny little stoves, to live crabs in buckets.

Heaps of fresh greens await a multitude of home cooks, while flower sellers hawk their wares on their rickety old bikes.

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And to finish it off, another of the fantastical, rainbow coloured lanterns.

Plus some cute little cooking moulds and tiny good luck charms.

Marvellous markets

From the serene green of Mai Chau we’re thrust back into the hectic hustle and bustle of Hanoi with its waves of moped riders.

We’re nearing the end of this epic trip but we’ve still got a day left to go explore some more . . .

That can only mean one thing . . . MORE MARKETS!!!! Here we are in the night market in the centre of the old quarter.

I have had my eye on these tasty, colourful, frozen treats all week . . . not too sure how good they are for your innards but they look very pretty with their dry ice plumes . . .

Enjoy a close up of these water coloured, icy beauties!!! 🙂 🙂

And here’s the stall keeper, trying to studiously avoid catching my eye . .

The next morning I am still alive and not frozen solid internally so off we go.

First a little mild stalking of the basket carriers (it’s par the course now, like a daily habit) then off to check in again at train street as we want to see the beast in the day – but alas not the right time! Try again later . . .

A back street alley reveals a slightly rickety hot drinks stand.

And we spy piles of yet more mopeds – I wonder what they call a group of bikes? A rabble, a roar, a cacophony? . . .

Lots more of this vibrant city to come before we hop back on the plane!

Final bike ride

We’re nearing the end of our epic tour of North Vietnam and we’re off to another tiny village and more bone shaker bikes!

We’re in Mai Chau – a collection of villages, farms and huts spread out through a green large valley, home to the white Thai minority.

We’re peddling through yet more epic scenery. Lush green rice paddies stretch as far as the eye can see.

Beautiful, multi storied wooden houses are dotted throughout the verdant fields.

Huge lotus plants and miles of empty road beckon us on.

Naturally, I am less than graceful onboard two wheels . . . .

Of course, the bike fanatic is in seventh heaven and finding it all rather amusing!

This jaunty yellow van doubles as a little plant stall – I am dragged past it!

In one of the small villages we pass through, stalls are groaning under piles of beautiful local handicrafts including traditional headwear and beautiful cloth.

Like huge, patterned butterflies, these skirts look set to flutter away.

And here we watch one of the local women producing some of the wonderful colourful cloth.

It looks like rather hard work! No wonder they are all so slim and healthy.

As the rain rolls in we bid farewell to our last glimpses of rural Vietnam – for the time being at least.

Nowhere I have travelled can hold a candle to the natural beauty of Vietnam’s emerald green countryside.

Hubby looks a little awkward here as his sandals have got soaked in this irrigation channel!!

Back to train street

We keep on gravitating back to this chaotic, crazy little corner of Hanoi.

We are determined to see the flippin train come through if it’s the last thing we do!

So we grab our beverages, plonk ourselves down and wait . . .

While we wait we enjoy some people watching, cafe owners serve customers, families eat on the tracks and life carries on around us.

And then . . . joy of joys, as the dusk closes in, we hear it first . . . an ominous rumble followed by cafe owners hustling us away from the tracks.

And finally!!!! It arrives . . . thundering past at very close quarters! Terrifyingly close!! Apologies for the rather bad language but heck it was a bit hairy!!