Bastia

Our overnight stop is in the town of Bastia. A bit battered and run down but with artwork and colour on each street.

Bastia was the principal capital of Genoese Corsica, and it became French only in the late 1760s.

Artwork and street scribbles adorn many of the walls around the city centre.

Many of the buildings look somewhat precarious, if not downright unsafe!

There are more Baroque churches in this city than any other on Corsica.

The most noticeable one is the twin towers of the St Jean Baptiste cathedral which stands prominently above the bustling quayside.

The Vieux Port – Old Port – is the busiest part of the town with many tall, gently decaying, buildings housing restaurants and cafes.

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Easy riders

Mykonos is only a pip squeak of an island – one of the tiniest Greek islands we’ve visited (certainly in terms of things to see TBH).

But in order to reach some of the more remote, off the beaten track, beaches we opt once again for the king of small road warriors – the quad bike!!!

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We’re heading to the South East of the island first. Stopping off first at Kalafati beach (see my previous post) we then head up a dirt track onto a tiny spit of land with a teeny harbour and pretty church.

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Below is a remote, traditional little harbour side eatery – Markos Fish Tavern. Close to a tiny, tucked away sun spot – Divounia Beach

I love the colour combination of navy water, white boats and shades of yellow in the tangled fishing nets.

Naturally the hubby AKA the Easy Rider enjoys cruising around topless in order to complete the bronzing process.

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However, safety conscious (AKA spoilsport) wifey demands full coverage, helmets and annoyingly squeaks if we so much as creep above 20mph!

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The ‘smile’ below is partly because the wind has firmly stuck my lips to my teeth and partly through fear… so much for YOLO . .

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Boats and sparkling waters

Leaving behind the pretty Agios Ioannis beach behind we’re heading through the tiny settlement to the mini harbour at the far end of the bay.

After enjoying the obligatory snaps of vivid bougainvillea we come across the small picturesque chapel of Agios Ioannis which sits above a tiny harbour.

There’s absolutely no one around at all so we have this sparkling scene all to ourselves.

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Various boat trips and fishing excursions take to the waters from this tiny harbour.

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The pro tanner scampers off to find some super heated rocks to roast himself on while I opt for the cooling breezes that can be found at the boat harbour.

The colour of the water in Greece is something I never tire of. A constantly shifting, mesmerising, kaleidoscope of greens, blues and golds.

It’s well worth making the ten minute walk from the beach to enjoy the bobbing boats and peaceful views out to the sea.

Plobannalec-Lesconil

The next day heralds some rather drizzly grey weather but not to be deterred we head to the nearby town of Plobannalec-Lesconil.

This little harbour town happens to be hosting its weekly farmers market.

This involves fresh produce and lots of local meats as usual!

Whether its mountains of spice, roasting chickens or brightly coloured woven bracelets, there’s plenty to nosh on and spend money on.

The man has his manic meat face on as he surveys the twirling chickens and fat coated roast potatoes.

Jewel bright fruits compete with rainbow transportation to be the most colourful spectacle.

While rusty moorings and window catches provide a wealth of tiny details to be captured.

An owl gives us the once over while a joyous looking shrimp looks delighted to be eaten.

The town’s church provides another wealth of decorative details including the intricate iron crosses and colourful ceramic floral wreaths.

I’ve never encountered the ceramic flowers on graves before and thought they were a nice alternative to fresh flowers that wither and decay.

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Villa Garibaldi and La Cala port

Palermo has many public spaces and gardens. One, very close to our B and B is Garibaldi garden, also called Villa Garibaldi.

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The garden was built between 1861 and 1864 by the architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile in Piazza Marina in Palermo ‘s historic district of Kalsa.

It was dedicated to the national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi to celebrate the recent birth of the Italian nation .

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It is famous for its spectacular collection of exotic trees including an ancient ficus tree – one of the oldest and largest in Italy, with a height of 30 meters, a trunk circumference of over 21 meters and a crown with a diameter of 50 meters

There are  groves of these spectacular, slightly sinister trees that I also know as Bayan.

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The last time I saw these types of trees, with their amazing aerial roots, was in the temple complex of Ta Phrom in Cambodia.P1060520

Apparently the garden and piazza also has a more sinister past as well, being a site of executions.

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Next up we saunter along to La Cala, the old port, as the man loves a bit of boat action.

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The horseshoe-shaped La Cala port was the main fishing port in Palermo until the 16th century when receding waters saw its demise with much of the maritime traffic moving to other areas of the shoreline.

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In September 2007 work was completed of dredging of the basin with the removal of 19 ship wrecks from the bottom.

A reinvigoration master plan has seen a lot of work done, to deal with sewage and sanitation issues, and the port is now home to lots of high end yachts and boats.

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We can but wander wistfully past and image life if we had (a lot) more money!!

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The port is a nice, refreshing little spot to escape to when the hectic grimy pace of Palermo gets a bit too much . . .

Beautiful Brixham

Our cosy caravan home from home was situated just above the lovely little town of Brixham.

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It is thought that the name ‘Brixham’ came from Brioc’s village. ‘Brioc’ was an old English or Brythonic personal name and ‘-ham’ is an ancient term for village.

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The sunshine came out in force for our trot around the little village. Flotilla’s of boats bobbed on the water and my favourite little turnstones were flocking around looking for easy snacks.

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In the Middle Ages, Brixham was the largest fishing port in the south west of England. Known as the ‘Mother of Deep-Sea Fisheries’, its boats helped to establish the fishing industries of Hull, Grimsby and Lowestoft.

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According to random fact manufacturer Wikipedia, in the 1890s, there were about 300 trawling vessels in Brixham, most of which were individually owned.

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Its harbour is still a bustling place with plenty of activity.

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One of the main tourist attractions is the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship the Golden Hind that is permanently moored there.

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You can take a little tour around the ship if you fancy yourself as a bit of a mariner.

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Alternatively you can just take a stroll along the habour and enjoy the fishing tackle, or take a ferry over to Torquay for the day.

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That’s it for Devon folks. Next up I’ll be detailing my latest trip, a family holiday to the sunny Algarve.

Grey Torbay days

Easter break means extra days off! Whoopie! So which part of the globe did we whizz off to this time? A sunny beach? A chic city? Nope – Torbay!!

Torbay spans the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham located around an east-facing natural harbour (Tor bay) on the English Channel.

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Not quite the most glamourous of destinations it has to be said but I have lots of happy memories of the area, especially Torquay as I spent every summer holiday here for several years.

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In the twenty years since I have been to Torquay it has seen many changes including a giant wheel over looking the harbour, but many things have stayed the same.

Here’s a multitude of colourful fishing nets and lobster pots. I love the variations that can be found in even the most mundane of everyday items.

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It might not rival the more glamorous harbours of the world that I have seen such as Cannes, Portifino and others, but Torquay still shares the same sense of hustle and bustle.

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Here’s the Torquay eye giving a panoramic view over the whole spectacle.

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Here’s the Western Lady, the little ferry boat that plies its trade between Torquay and Brixham. It’s a steal at £1 each way and takes a leisurely half hour to travel between the two places.

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Few more floaty boaties in the harbour here.

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And here’s a few more glimpses of the huge wheel.

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Then we have a quick potter around the little French market that has set itself up along the harbour edge. It’s a tiny little taste of the continent.

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Some of my favourite things ever are the array of colourful soaps. I’ve got very similar photos from Nice market in the South of France.

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The variety on offer is staggering with every flavour and perfume.

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However by far the most typical perfume from the region is lavender. Whether in soap or in cute little bags.

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Here’s a few more snaps from the market. Delicious doughnuts from cake stall and mountains of revolting olives!!!

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I have tried to like the vile little blobs of grimness. Heaven knows I have tried!! But they are too slippery, too salty and just too darn yucky! However they are very photogenic.

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Even if they flavour them with peri peri or any other spice. They still look look like balls of unpleasantness to me ..  .

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Here’s garlic prawns. I wonder if they were hauled out of the local sea? Somehow I very much doubt it.

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And finally from the market some sculptural artichokes.

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Then it’s off for a bracing walk around the harbour. Even though it’s a cold, grey day there are still a few flashes of colour.

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Boats and rope and wheels and sharp angles galore!!

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Not all the boats are quite as glamourous however. The Mary Anne has probably seen better days but has a wealth of interesting, rusty features.

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The underbelly of the pier also looks like it’s seen better days. How it holds up the tourists I am not entirely certain.

P1030558Finally we finish up with a trip back in time as Neil finds himself in a perilous situation . . .

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Next up we head to our home for three days. Four adults in a caravan in Brixham . . . ah the glamour!!!

Sweet little Symi

During our brief jaunt to Rhodes town we took a ferry over to the glorious little island of Symi. Here’s the first views of the colourful little houses clinging to the hillside.

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As the ferry pulls into Yialos (the main harbour) we get a closer look at the tiers of housing. Mostly in pastel shades but with the odd rebels with bright shades of red and yellow.

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Here’s another view of Yialos the main harbour with a few glamorous sail boats.

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Beyond the harbour is a distant view of hills while a girly pink scooter contrasts nicely with the yellow fishing nets. Meanwhile this gorgeous colour combo on a local house catches my eyes too

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Symi’s recorded history goes back as far as the Trojan Wars (1120 BC)

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At its height Symi was a thriving island with a population of more than 22,000.  It was renowned for its boat-building, sponge-fishing, wine-making, its wood-carvers and icon-painters.

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The tranquail harbour has a plethora of little boats bobbing on the azure waters.

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You can still buy traditional sponges from lots of different shops along the harbour front.

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So many colourful houses and shops jostle for position and demand photographing!

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I love the delicate circular details at the top of lots of the roof lines.

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So many permutations of candy colours to enjoy.

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Moving up from the harbour we set off to explore Chorio, the village area.

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Naturally I find lots of lovely paint based things to point my camera at. Including this amazing blue set of steps.

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There’s unusual artwork, colourful shops and icecream around every corner.

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Neil gets his fix of the creamy goodness and we actually get someone to take a picture of the two of us for once!

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Symi is a compact, colourful and delightful place for a day trip or for a longer, laid back break.

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Next up we’re off to visit the pretty little monastry at Panormitis with its ornate floor and decoration.