Awesome Orchids

As well as a wealth of stunning architecture Singapore also has a fantastic green heart full of exotic, beautiful orchids.

The National Orchid Garden showcases over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids of orchids in a wide range of colours and patterns.

The gardens started an orchid breeding programme in 1928 and the results of these extensive experiments equal a wonderful display.

The National Orchid Garden is set within the larger Singapore Botanical Gardens which are free to visit.

The orchid section is $5 for adults. Well worth a wander around.

The orchids are arranged in colours. Cream and yellow orchids stand for spring and pink and red orchids for summer.

White orchids form part of the winter display, and purple and red orchids grace the autumn section.

Whether you’re a green fingered garden enthusiast or just enjoy pretty flowers, the orchid garden offers an oasis of calm in the high octane city.

The orchids are arranged in colours. Cream and yellow orchids stand for spring and pink and red orchids for summer.

White orchids form part of the winter display, and purple and red orchids grace the autumn section.

There’s three hectares of lush planting to explore, from a misted garden to a much needed cool house that provides an escape from the city mugginess.

Cracking Castlesardo

The enchanting town of Castlesardo clings to the wind battered hillside above a pretty little beach.


With its pastel coloured houses, winding up the hillside it makes another pretty sight.

At the very top is the pretty old town, fortified with a castle, which makes for an interesting and atmospheric trip.


As the wind has really picked up we get a very different view of the Mediterranean sea, choppy, roaring, royal blue and wave filled.

Even though it’s a wickedly windy day we are still treated to bright sunshine hitting the colourful walls and get tantalising glimpses of the sea between buildings.

In the lower, newer part of the town, the man spots a rather sinister sign showing some of the traditional elements of the area.

Sardinia is famous for its knife making apparently – but not sure about the creepy masks!


As we head higher up and towards the old town and castle we have a perfect view back down to the ferocious sea.

Onward and upwards, we’re being buffeted by incredible strong winds now!

It’s worth persevering though as the old town is a labyrinth of alleyways and a wealth of lovely details and colours.

Below you can see a rather unusual piece of decoration in the little Santa Maria delle Grazie church. It’s an arm protruding from the wall that makes for an unusual candle-holder.

A traditional style shop sells a variety of local handicrafts including small rugs and pottery.


However our attention is soon turned to a tiny gelateria with a host of unusual flavours including cheesecake (I can highly recommend this one!)

There is also an odd carrot and orange one! I am not too sure about that one . .

We’ve wandered our way right up to the very top of the hillside now, close to the fortified castle and there are some stunning views to be hand over the town and bay.


Reluctantly we’ve got to head back down now but not before I grab a few more snaps of colourful fishing nets and rainbow walls.

The man braves the bracing wind so I can capture the rough and wild sea. Still beautiful.


Nearing the bottom of the hill I am entranced by a set of delightfully coloured houses, all candy coloured and sweet enough to eat.

This pretty pastel building and bike reminds me of 1950s America or a Wes Anderson film set!


Jewel bright Bosa

The first town on our Sardinian odyssey is the picture postcard settlement of Bosa.


Crossing over the river Temo (the only navigable river in Sardinia) this quaint little town is characterised by colourful houses, wrought-iron balconies and narrow alleyways.


High above the town is the imposing Malaspina castle which was built in the 12th century.


Before heading into the gorgeous town itself we take a meander along the river to see the town from below.


The pastel fronted buildings and old warehouses and huge palm trees add a riviera feel to the scene.

Then we head into the labyrinthine alley ways of Bosa itself.  Straight away I am captivated by the colourful shop fronts.

I absolutely adore this weathered travel agency window with its baby blue paint and well ordered advertisements for far flung destinations and real estate for sale.


Around every corner there’s colourful posters and art exhibition signs. So much to see!

Next we’re heading further into the paintbox bright back streets to experience the incredible coloured heart of this little town.

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.


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.


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

Spanish touches

Alongside the stunning cathedral, Alcazar and other beautiful sights to be found in Seville, there are also a wealth of tiny details to be found everywhere you look.

Whether it’s the eternally fascinating, detailed alazulejo tiles that serve as everything from wine adverts to house numbers, to the old tourist posters from yester-years.

Even rows of cheap leather cuffs take on a more exotic enticing air under the Spanish sunshine.

Multi painted plates, tiles and even thermometers are given the colourful treatment.

Even though the days of straw donkeys and plastic maracas might be a thing of the past you can still find plenty of sterotypically Spanish items to buy.

I love the tiny little Spanish dancer outfits! And a final drizzle of Seville’s Spanish flavour.



Splashes of Spanish colour

Some more colourful snaps of our exploration of Seville now and I am especially captivated by this vivid orange building.

The yellow trim pops against the hot orange walls and the detailed traditional tiles.

I also love these fragrant selections of spices that are just begging to be sniffed.


Seville is packed to the hilt with delightful traditional tiles, known as Azulejo. They are a form painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework and adorn many buildings.

Then there’s rows of delicious tourist tat commemorating all things sterotypically Spanish like guitars, fans and flamenco dancers.

Escape the hordes in the main square and duck into some of the quieter back streets to be rewarded with simple architecture in pastel shades.

I love the castellated walls of this rich ochre building set against the clear blue sky.

Then it’s back to the main square to see if the hellishly long queues to get into the cathedral have died down – tip, get there very early or go in an hour before closing time, or you’ll spend all day in a hot, angry line . .



Fairytale in vivid colour

Here’s lots more colourful pictures taken at the magical Pena Palace in Sintra.

From exotic bird of paradise plants to Moorish turrets and a child’s paintbox palette, the palace is a tourists dream.

All set against a perfect blue sky we couldn’t have picked a better day to immerse ourselves in the crazy world of the Pena Summer Palace.

Below you can see an ornately carve window that shows  a newt, symbolizing the allegory of creation of the world.

The palace is located high on a hill with a one way traffic system and relatively small amounts of parking, making it a bit difficult to get to if you have mobility issues.

However once inside the estate gates a shuttle bus will ferry you further up the hill to the actual castle although there is still a bit of a walk at the top.

Below you can see the clock tower and details from a tiled window.

Apparently Palacio Pena translated into English means the Feather Place, a whimsical, apt name for such a flamboyant display.

As you wander the palace walls you have wonderful views across the countryside and you can also glimpse one of the other castles – the Moorish Castle, a magnificent ruin that we’ll visit later.

I’ll finish on yet more magical colours. Next up we check out the interior and also wander the wider palace grounds.

Colours of Greece

Mooching around the back streets of Santorini’s capital city Fira we encounter endless splashes of colour, from tea towels to pottery.


The turquoise of this door frame contrasts deliciously with the salmon pink of the begonias. Meanwhile Neil adopts his usual role as human photo prop and delicate ceramic bells jingle beguilingly from a shady doorway.

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Here’s the simple yet imposing facade of Fira Cathedral. Inside a ferocious little woman ruthlessly patrols, throwing out tourists who breach the no shorts, no photos, no noise rules.


Back on the street modern art jostles with the usual tourist souvenirs and we’re treated to some stunning views.

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Here’s the vertiginous view down to the harbour. it’s a fair old trek down but thankfully you can always grab the cable car back up.


Doors to nowhere offer dizzying views over the serene Caldera and windows with a dash of colour beg to be snapped.

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Simple colours and lines form the uniquely Greek architecture while pom pom slippers and drift wood art work tempts the wallet.

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Next up we attempt the cliff top walk between Fira and Oia. Prepare for some of the most envy inducing views ever!!

Walls of colour

Whether it’s walls full of eye popping colour or the tiniest little sticker, every crevice in Brick Lane is crammed with art.


Whatever your preferred style you are bound to find something to tickle your artistic taste buds.


A mix of stickers, stencils and paper mash ups ensure that no two walls are ever the same.

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From iconic film stars turned into munchkins to delicate praying hands, there’s a variety of different subject matters and styles to spot.

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No door, wall or building escapes some form of decoration.

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As interesting, hip and edgy as it all looks in the sunshine, during a flying visit, I am not sure whether I would want to be surrounded by graffiti and peeling posters all the time.

Would the novelty wear off and be replaced by a more mundane weariness as every surface is deluged with “art”?

Sclater Street art cluster

Some areas in the East End seem to see a particular concentration of art. One such place is Sclater Street, just off the main drag of Brick Lane.

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Entire buildings are smothered in gigantic images.


The vivid colours provide a perfect foil to the drab, derelict industrial surroundings.


There are some recognisable figures gracing some of the walls. Below is an immense Usain Bolt by James Cochran AKA James C.

According to details about it the portrait is “created in a distinctive ‘scribble style’ developed by the artist to reflect the inherent energy and vibrancy of Bolt’s personality, as well as visually communicate a sense of speed.” Read more about James C and his work here.


This disturbing trio of washed out figures is called The Letter Box Bandit and is by Id-iom another prolific artist. You can find out more the story behind the image here.


These snaps were taken about a year ago and most of the work will already have disappeared, painted over, tagged by other artists or covered in posters. Almost as if it never existed at all.

But part of the joy of street art is its transient nature. Fluid and ever evolving you’ll visit the same spot just days later and it’s all changed again. Does that make the art more or less valuable?

I look forward to visiting the same streets again soon and seeing what has changed and what has endured.