Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Convenient Town - Treviso, Italy

Pretty residential area in Treviso by the river

We decided to stay in Treviso because the hotels in Venice are really expensive.  Our best option is to commute by train which takes about 30 - 40 minutes from Treviso to Venezia. It isn't really a bad idea after all to base in Treviso because it is a convenient little town where everything is within a walking distance and after all we are flying from Treviso airport to Bristol. The town has many shopping outlet and the boutique shops lined the streets.   

We stayed for two nights in Continental, Treviso and it is just a short walking distance from the train station. The hotel is very clean and basic but most of all the staff are very helpful and kind. It was our last day in Treviso and we had to catch our flight to Bristol at 9pm. We checked out early that day, left our bags at the hotel and went to Venice. 

The streets were full of ice balls
By late afternoon, we got back from Venice and stopped by at the Kebab shop about 100 meters from Continental.  We ordered our kebab and while waiting it began to rain. Unexpectedly, the rain changed into hail and everybody on the streets was running for shelters. Soon the kebab shop was packed with people and so were other shops along the street. The streets and the side walks were full of ice balls as big as thumbs.  The hails showered the little town of Treviso for about 20 to 30 minutes and I was glad it wasn’t long and heavy enough to delay our flight to Bristol, UK. 

Shopping area 
The Vespa are everywhere
Famous boutiques
Hails splashing into the river near the Kebab Shop

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Sinking Feeling - Venice

Venetian Mask - Nick
The day we visited Venice (Venezia); the tide was high, the streets and squares were paved with water. Ohhh..I have this sinking feeling about Venice but in a romantic way…it reminds me of Giacomo Cassanova! Venice itself is a romantic city with the Italian man standing tall maneuvering his Gondola in between the canals.  Though we wished to go to the nearby island of Burano and Murano, due to time constraint we decided to limit ourselves just exploring this lovely city in three hours. It wasn't really that bad…we got to see most of the things we wanted.

It is much cheaper to use the Vaporetta (water taxi) which will take you to every stop by the canal. The routes are pretty much similar to the subway system but here, it is in the water. The Vaporetta carries you swiftly from one point to another with no collision.

Observing the people around us, we can easily tell that most of them are tourists like us. In the last five years or so the population of Venice has declined and today it is estimated to be about 270,000. The residents may have moved to a much stable ground. It was reported that Venice has subsided 24cm in the past 100 years. It will continue to sink as Adratic sea level rises, the impact of global warning continues and the occasional flood hits the city.

The geography, art, culture and history have made Venice very special and a city that must be visited at least once in a lifetime. Venice and the Venetian Lagoons are entirely UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. I hope the expensive movable Mosses dam project would be able to save this charming city from extinction.

The water has risen to the ground floor of the building

The busy grand canal 

A Gondola station

Row of Gondolas

A modern residential area in Venezia

 Residential flats

Colorful view

Another Vaporetta and Gondola station

The gondolas move into the smaller canals

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Mesmerizing Cinque Terre I - Italy

Cinque Terre is like a box of crayons 

Located in the Liguria region, Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It comprises five picturesque tiny villages suspended on the cliff: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Noted for its beauty, Cinque Terre was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

There are no cars or camels in the villages so your best vehicle is your feet! But it all depends on how strong your knees are! Carrying my 17kilo luggage up to our apartment in Riomaggiore, I felt like a participant in the Biggest Loser Challenge!! No joke...my knees trembled but that's Cinque Terre. If you are looking at the buildings in my photos just imagine what it's like without elevators!

A scenic 13 km hiking trail on the cliff links all the five villages. It is an easy 30 minutes walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola but the rest will just take your last breath away :)


Alley in Riomaggiore
Flaking Crayons
Vernazza Beach
The hiking trail from Riomaggiore to Corniglia

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Myriad of Colors - Westonbirt Arboretum

We have come to Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, UK  in autumn 2010 purposely for the colors. The Arboretum is said to have a spectacular collection of over 17,000 trees from all over the world. It feels magical to see the shades and hues of colors surrounding us and the feeling is so overwhelming. There were many elderly citizens strolling in the wood and the kids were busy collecting the colorful foliage on the ground.

Basically the woods is divided into two parts; the old picturesque area near the cafe and the younger Silkwood area. The entrance fee is 8 pound....pricey but worth the money for such stunning beauty. 


Green in Autumn

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tizi-n-Tichka Pass

Tizi n Tichka (2260 meters) built by the French in 1936 links Marrakech to the pre-Sahara oases. Well constructed with stunning views of the winding way up to the Atlas Mountains. From Ouarzazate we drove up through the barren peaks of the Atlas and the arid regions of the pre-Sahara. I shot these pictures from our moving vehicle...there was not much space on the roadside to stop anyway!  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shopping Time in Jaffe

Ahaaa...this is how you buy chicken in Jaffe
We just got out of the desert and back on the road to continue our journey to Skoura. After a brief stop at the fossil factory in Rissani, we came across this little desert town, Jaffe.  It was about 10 am on Wednesday morning and the morning market was packed with people shopping for food and daily supplies. The main road was congested and it took awhile to get through the traffic. 

But the road congestion was a blessing and we had a good view of this pretty interesting desert town. Truly Morocco is a diverse country, not only for its landscape but also food, culture and population. Everybody seemed busy doing their shopping and I watched the bustling market came to life with the smell of food, women in miftah, sellers calling to their customers and the traffic honking one another.