Planning!

So with my Sicily trip all reported on where next . . ?!

I’ve always got to have something to look forward to and plan for and this year is no exception!

We’ll be heading back to Portugal again in May but steering away from the traditional tourist hotspot of the Algarve and instead heading for the bustling capital of Lisbon.

Then we’ll make our way to the picturesque town of Sintra for a slice of real life fairy tale princess castles, inverted wells and architecture that isn’t out of place in Game of Thrones!

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Finally we’ll end up in Cascais for a few days of R and R in this pretty little beach resort that used to be a laid back fishing village.

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Then, later on in the year, as me and the man are celebrating our 10th anniversary . . .  (pauses to take a deep breath)

I’m off to a place that I only ever dreamt I’d actually visit, so I keep having to pinch myself .  . . JAPAN!! Eekkkkk . .

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We’ll be doing a whirlwind 16 day jaunt across the country, landing in Tokyo, staying in the Neon heartland of Shinjuku (this district apparently boasts the world’s busiest train station with 2 million passengers A DAY!!!!- this will be our soothing introduction to the city!!)

We’ll take a few days to explore some of its chaotic delights .

Then we’ll be crossing to Takayama in the Japanese Alps to experience some of the traditional farming villages.

Then it’s a bullet train ride down to Hiroshima to visit the  Peace Gardens and A bomb museum before shooting across to Kyoto to Geisha spot and bag a few of the 2000 temples it’s famous for!.

All rounded off with a few days in Osaka from where we’ll fly home . . .

Along the way we’ll stay in a capsule hotel Hotel Booth Netcafe and Capsule (that looks terribly like microwaves stacked on top of each other and slightly horrifies the claustrophobic in me)

Plus we’ll experience more traditional home stays at  Guest House and Cafe SOY in Takayama.

And we’ll also try out a traditional guest house in Kyoto complete with sliding doors and cute little Zen garden at its heart at the Lantern Guest house.

Excited much? I actually feel a little bit sick with anticipation . . . .  watch this space for lots of photos!!

Final glimpses

It’s time to bid a final adieu to Sicily with a final batch of photos from the trip.

We make a return visit to the Fountain of Shame in the sunlight for a better look at all the rudey nudeys!

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The details are all the more impressive under the glaring Sicilian sunshine. The weird aquatic fantasy animals seem even more freakish.

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The water is a superbly tempting turquoise but is patrolled by a brisk little security guard so no dipping allowed . .

However today the gates were open to allow you into the inner part of the fountain and up close and personal with the naked folk.

The effect of the sunlight on the white marble is somewhat blinding.

Close up of one of the sinister gargoyle aqua animals ..  a rather creepy elephant

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The man sneaks a covert glimpse at a pert derrière . . . .

I am pretty sure the middle one is a dog . . . not often spotted in the ocean!

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Then it’s onward to enjoy the gorgeous Palermo Cathedral for one last time.

Even more impressive under blue skies instead of the overcast views we had on our first time of viewing.

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Then a final ramble along the back streets to spot some quirky, uniquely Sicilian sights including a decorative cart wheel and a craftsman carving puppets.

Limoncello is a sickly sweet treat while a myriad of views are on sale in the postcard rack.

Mooching to the markets it’s bye bye to the delightful little marzipan Frutta di Martorana.

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Super cute sweets and very fruity pomegranates finish our Sicilian adventure off in style. The island’s an interesting, gritty, chaotic and rather less romantic side of Italian life, but no less worthy of exploring.