Little Venice

More mooching around Mykonos old town reveals my all time favourite shop tucked down an alleyway and smothered in postcards and paintings.

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Every square inch of this little souvenir shop is covered in paintings and postcards of this picturesque island. All azure seas and blue domes.

I’m a bit obsessed and have to be bodily dragged away by the husband . . . .

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Heading down another tiny alleyway we’re suddenly confronted with a rocky drop and the sea!

Behind us you can see the line of famous windmills, one of the iconic sights of the island.

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We also get an alternative view of the bustling little quarter known as Little Venice where restaurants hover just feet away from the lapping sea water.

You can just about make out one of the hulking great big cruise ships that flood this tiny town with 1000s of visitors each day.

Back to wandering the seemingly endless, maze like streets, throw up yet more lovely details.

More traditional gifts such as olive oil soaps and woven bags all tempt the tourists.

For such a small place, the Hora sure has a lot to investigate. So watch this space!

 

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Colourful Chinatown

Even though we turned our eyes westward for our honeymoon we can’t quite escape our love of all things Asian. So we’re heading to Chinatown for a snoot around.

Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere with an estimated population between 90,000 and 100,000 people and is one of  12 Chinatowns in the New York metropolitan area.

Manhattan’s Chinatown borders the Lower East Side to its east, Little Italy to its north, and Tribeca to its west.


The bustling street scene stretches for several blocks with greengrocers and fishmongers  around Mott Street, Mulberry Street, Canal Street and along East Broadway.

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Then there are also lots of shops selling the obligatory good luck charms, paper goods and other colourful items. Naturally I stock up!!

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Wondrous waters

Missed a post! Ooops . .  while in the little village of Portixeddu we take a little trek upwards to enjoy the peaceful view.

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From our vantage point we have a perfect view of the stunning Sardinian coastline.

Rugged outcrops of rock surge out of the crystal clear waters that sparkle in a host of hues from emerald green to turquoise and royal blue.

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it’s a little taster of the incredible seascapes that we’ll encounter as we travel around this lovely island.

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Paintbox pretty

Carrying on with our exploration of the gorgeous little Sardinian village of Bosa now.

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We’re heading up into the mass of tiny colourful alleyways in the town now and the further up you go then more rainbow like it becomes!

This quirky little town is chock a block full of paintbox coloured delights. Each house competes against its neighbour in an eye popping display.

I love the emerald green and warm orange of the houses above.

The man lounges against a peppermint green corner while I am captivated by this literal rainbow of a street.

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When the October sunshine hits the walls it creates a vivid spectacle and we’re lucky to have it almost to ourselves.

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Could this baby blue and orange wall be any more delicious? Or how about this pink and orange combination with a sculptural plant for added delightful detail?

It feels like the town is gearing up for a festival with its strings of bunting all fluttering in the breeze.

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Whether you’re a colour fanatic or just enjoy strolling around little back streets, Bosa should definitely feature on your Sardinian wish list.

Dazzling Zia

Continuing our exploration of some of Kos’s mountain villages we’re making a beeline for Zia.

Set on the mountain side of Dikeos, Zia is surrounded by scented pine forests and stunning vistas.

Essentially it’s a tiny village with shopping streets lined with boutique shops and traditional souvenirs.

If you’re after snaps of a more traditional Greek way of life then this is the place for you!

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It get’s thronged with visitors however so you’ll want to find a place to escape and cool off.

If you head through the village to the furthest side you’ll find the colourful and quirky Old Watermill cafe.

Set high on the hillside it is a perfect vantage spot for a drink and some people watching.

 

But given the sheer abundance of colourful signs and painted windows, naturally I can’t sit still for more than five minutes….

So here’s some rainbow snaps of the rustic decor that the cafe has to offer.

Hand painted signs advertise all manner of refreshing beverages and a sunset view.

Once I’ve exhausted every single permutation of colour and signage possible it’s back out into the main shopping streets.

Canopies provide a welcome shade break as we (I) browse the shops and the man gets impatient.

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He really loves to shop . . . honestly . . .

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A few more pictures of the delightful splashes of colour that you can find in Zia.

Lots of gorgeous traditional blue and whites and tumbling flowers in colourful pots.

Mountain villages

Hiring a car we’re off to explore the mountainous interior of Kos for a few days now.

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First on our trip is a visit to the Monastery of Agios Ioannis. This stunning little building is a revelation at the end of a non-descript road.

This tiny gem is covered from floor to ceiling with colourful frescos and detailed icons.

Built on a hill above Kefalos, this monastery is surrounded by lush greenery and offers amazing view to the sea.

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There’s seating under the shade of a huge old plane tree, just right for a coffee or ice cream break!

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Luckily there’s also a quaint little cafe that’s furnished in traditional Greek style.

 The whole place is a veritable suntrap with traditional blindingly white walls and bright blue detail.

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There are also some former monestary cells that are currently being refurbished.

The flooring of the terrace is decorated in the traditional black and white pebbled pattern that is common in Greece.

Then it’s off to our next destination, the small hill top village of Asfendiou.

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Above is Asomatos church in Asfendiou village, it has a commanding presence in the tiny hamlet.

The village only has around 100 inhabitants and close by are the remains of many ruined buildings that are slowly being bought back to life with outside investment.

After poking around several of the intriguing ruined homes we’re heading off to our next stop, the enchanting mountain top village of Zia.

Kolourful Kos

Yes I am aware it’s spelt wrong – it’s getting hard to keep alliterating my titles! But as the name of this post indicates, prepare for some colourful snaps . .

First up a random snap of this lovely night time water display at our awesome hotel (did I mention it was 5 star . . !!)

Then it’s back to Kos town where I am entranced by this traditional style street slap bang in the middle of the centre.

From its eye wateringly bright white washed steps to the pops of colour from the primary coloured vases it is a visual delight.

The quaint little old / new street winds its way up to a taverna and fish house.

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I can’t get enough of it and naturally have to be physically dragged away once the man prop gets bored of posing . . .

He is rewarded for his efforts with a large beer however so not sure what he’s moaning about . .

Then it’s off for a tour of the back streets where even more delightful old tavernas are to be found.

Every where you look its a veritable orgy of colourful doors, windows and details.

My eyes particularly love this hot pink and blue combo on an old night club.

Possibly my favourite picture of the whole holiday is this mirrored window in shades of blue and pink.

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That’s it for the whistle stop tour of colourful sights in Kos town. Next up we’re headed to the mountains.

China town

We’re off to experience a little taste of China in Japan now as we head to Kobe for a day trip.

Nankinmachi is a small but perfectly formed chinatown in central Kobe and is the centre of the Chinese community in the Kansai Region.

The area was built up by Chinese merchants who settled near Kobe Port after it was opened to foreign trade in 1868.

As the chinatown developed, it became known as Nankinmachi after Nanjing, the former Chinese capital.

The two main streets are full of shops, restaurants and food stands selling popular items such as steamed buns (manju), ramen, tapioca drinks and various other Chinese dishes

I love love love the little animal steamed buns that come in a wide variety of shapes from piglets to baby chicks! Super kawaii!!

The area is a delightful explosion of colour, smells and tastes.

The carp fish is a commonly seen good luck symbol as the Chinese character for carp (li 鲤) is pronounced the same as both the character (li 利) for “profit” and the character (li 力) for “strength” or “power”.

Another colourful little charm is the monkey, the ninth of 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle.

When we visited Japan, it was 2016 which happened to be the year of the monkey.

Finally let’s give some love for this super cute vending machine complete with reclining panda bear! Nothing is too mundane to be made cuter in Japan.

 

Neon wonderland

Taking a brief break from our Japanese Odyessy to document a quick trip to London this weekend.

Staying with a university friend in Amersham we first head to Walthamstowe, the home of 90s boy band E17!

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There’s a surprisingly quaint old village centre with a 15th century timbered house. But our main focus is hidden, rather unprepossessing, on an industrial estate. . .

It’s the home of a neon wonderland, a warehouse of rainbow gas and colourful wonderment….

It’s God’s Own Junkyard – a warehouse of all things neon. A mini Vegas.

The warehouse is full f neon signs that have been created and curated by Chris Bracey.

He’s made neon masterpieces for a wide range of high profile films including Eyes Wide Shut, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman.

The junkyard is an elective, electric collection of signs, statues and general bric a brac.

The website describes his haul as “New & used neon fantasies, salvaged signs, vintage neons, old movie props and retro displays.

“Neon art made from found objects, retrieved and renewed waste and lights.
Fairground & circus lighting, architectural sign salvage. Led & cold cathode luxury products. ”

But in truth it is hard to put into words the explosion of colourful joy that this mini rainbow in a metal box evokes.

From words of wisdom to girly bar signs, iconic statues to religious icons. There’s a surprise tucked in every corner.

Whether you’re a lover of rock and roll, burlesque, 80’s club chic or just an avid snapper, this is the place for you.

It’s a eyeball popping, sensual overload and even though it’s only a small space you are hooked for hours.

There is a particular emphasis on striperama’s, girly bars and general sex themed signs.

Neon does have a certain sleazy, enticing charm that works well for the skin trade.

There’s even a darling little outdoor space complete with Alice in Wonderland mushrooms and a pensive Grim reaper.

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We take a brief break from the job of snapping to enjoy a HUGE slice of cake in the Rolling Scones cafe . . .

Then it’s onwards to capture yet more of these gas filled neon installations.

You can commission and buy some of these gorgeous creations. I am already imagining one in the living room!

The name neon is derived from the Greek word, νέον, neuter singular form of νέος (neos), meaning new.

Bit of science – Neon is a colorless, odorless, inert monatomic gas under standard conditions, with about two-thirds the density of air.

It was discovered (along with krypton and xenon) in 1898 as one of the three residual rare inert elements remaining in dry air, after nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide were removed.

Neon is often used in signs and produces an unmistakable bright reddish-orange light.

Although tube lights with other colours are often called “neon”, they use different noble gases or varied colours of fluorescent lighting.

The neon sign is an evolution of the earlier Geissler tube, which is an electrified glass tube containing a “rarefied” gas (the gas pressure in the tube is well below atmospheric pressure).

When a voltage is applied to electrodes inserted through the glass, an electrical glow  results. Geissler tubes were quite popular in the late 1800s, and the different colours they emitted were characteristics of the gases within.

Neon tube signs are produced by the craft of bending glass tubing into shapes.

A person skilled in this craft is known as a glass bender, neon or tube bender. The neon tube is made out of 1 meter straight “sticks” of glass tubing, which are sold by sign suppliers to neon shops worldwide

The end result is the gorgeous, glowing, confections of light that we all know and love.

 

So if you’re a neon lover or enjoy exploring a living paintbox then take a detour to an industrial estate in E17 for a trip down the rabbit hole into wonderland!

High jinks in Harajuku

Next up on my must see list was the quirky shopping and sights of Tokyo’s stylish teens – Harajuku.

So after watching the human chaos at Shibuyu crossing we head through the bustling streets towards the style mecca of Harajuku.

We know we’ve arrived when we spot the cartoony flowers marking the entrance to Takeshita Street.

Takeshita Street was inspiration for Gwen Stafani’s song “Harajuku Girls” and introduced the wider western world to the concept of the wild and wacky street styles of the area.

Sadly the majority of these outlandish style mavens seem to have moved on from the area, possibly tired of tourists such as myself eager to catch a glimpse of the gaudy butterflies.

However the street still throbs with gaudy garments, neon lights and cutesy cartoons.

Whether you’re after badges, boas wigs or stripy socks, Takeshita Street can provide for your multi coloured needs.

The shops on this street are often indicators for broader trends that develop, and some are known as “antenna shops,” which manufacturers fill with prototype products for test-marketing.

Takeshita Street is where I first fall in love with the  Daiso 100 Yen shops!  Now, since Brexit, the pound has tanked meaning that Japan was eye wateringly expensive.

But fear not –  Daiso is there for all your quirky, touristy, souveniry needs. From traditional tea pots and cups to cute little cat post it, it is a joy!!

Here’s a selection of my purchases . . . some may say I got a “little” carried away . .  . .

Then we head to a local park to check out the colourful Sake bottles (more of that later) before heading back to catch to street as dusk falls.

I’ll leave you to enjoy this incredibly Kawaii dessert! Could it actually get any cuter?!!

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