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    With a bit of time up our sleeves, Ryan and I decided to hire a car to visit the north of the England and Scotland. Having both Scottish heritage, it was a real eye opener to visit this country.

    Our first stop out of London was drive directly to York. With the car sorted, and an upgrade at that, a black Audi A8 with leather seats, and of course, the music situation organised we drove out of London up the main highway towards York. Arriving by the evening, we walked around the city by night, thoroughly enjoying the charm of this fantastic place. The local pubs have such an amazing charm and the small alleyways give the city a distinctly medieval feel.

    The next morning after some breakfast, we headed in the direction of Newcastle making stops along the coastline and inland.


    High Force:


    Making it by the evening to Newcastle, we wandered the city, hopped in the car and drove towards Edinburgh, catching some sleep along the way.

    After a long day of driving, with stops to Hadrians Wall, the wall built by the English and keep an eye on the Scottish, and to Lindisfarne where you can drive to the island only at lowtide with distinct signs indicating that you cannot leave after a certain time. Perhaps inspiration for the house in The Woman in Black? Unsure, but you can walk to the lighthouse and then along to the ruins of an old church. Departing before the tide was too high, which does indeed cover the road in water - we reached the Edinburgh by the afternoon. A distinctly stunning city with great people. Here I tried some Haggis and also a deep fried Mars Bar.

    Hadrian's Wall:





    Stirling was where we spent the next day. A very historical site where William Wallace fought a battle against the English, and won. A monument dedicated to William Wallace stands over the city of Stirling and is an absolute must to visit. Even William Wallace's sword stands in glasscase. I couldn't help but feel patriotic in a sense given my heritage from generations long past. Shortly after, it was a stop at Stirling Castle. Expecting a stop of only an hour or so, I spend nearly 3 hours in the castle which is where the Stuart family were based and reigned in Scotland, and eventually in England as well via links to the Tudor family and Henry VIII. Curious, given there are multiple spellings of Stewart/Stuart, I was rather stunned to understand that Stuart was the French spelling of Stewart, adopted by Mary Queen of Scots, during her time in France. Does that mean that my lineage comes from a royal family? Perhaps, very distantly. As I greatly enjoy English and Scottish royal history, this was very fascinating for me.

    William Wallace Monument:

    Stirling Castle:


    From Stirling, over the next few days, we headed north towards Loch Ness, Inverness, the Isle of Skye and Glasgow.

    Falls of Dochart:

    North of Stirling:


    Isle of Skye:

    South of Loch Lomond:


    From Glasgow, we drove 8 hours south to London to return the car. Upon returning to London, I decided to head west to see Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol and Salisbury.

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    A late flight out of Barcelona returned me to London in early September of last year, where previously just less than a year before I visited and I decided that I had to for myself, spend time travelling the world, including more time in the UK and eventually North America.

    Departing Stanstead Airport, we caught a train to Liverpool Station where we caught another bus to where I was going to eventually stay for a period of time in Kennington. I can't thank Ryan and the other housemates enough for letting me stay with them.

    The first few days in London were spent recovering from travelling and enjoying the downtime. During this time, we cleared out the backyard in preparation for Ryan's birthday and organised the house for the party. The next week or two were spent exploring more of London including eating, visiting pubs, voting, seeing West End musicals such as The Book of Mormon and The Woman in Black and generally enjoying the English culture. London is a vibrant city. I found it large, yet the individual neighbourhoods are almost small communities within themselves. To me, it's city where you can achieve anything.

    The following days were spent doing a day trip out to Brighton and Hastings where I visited the Brighton Pleasure Pier and visited some of the local attractions in Hastings such as the Smuggler's Cove, and visiting Buckingham Palace.

    After a few weeks, with some time up our sleeves, Ryan and I decided to hire a car and drive up north through Britain as far as we possibly could in 8 days.



















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    Arriving in Spain from Rome, a new country I had never visited before, I was astounded by how kind the Spanish were. After landing and collecting our bags, we boarded the metro and headed towards our accommodation. When leaving Rome, Ryan had an email from the hostel stating that the hostel was overbooked. However, we were upgraded to a self serviced flat with our own bathroom, a double bed and a double fold out couch with our own kitchen, all for the same price. Perhaps one of the best upgrades I have ever had. The first afternoon was spent in the search of Spanish food such as Tapas and Paella, which we found. Later than night we went out and bumped into previous friends made in Florence during the Palio di Siena.

    Waking early, we packed light and headed to catch our bus to Buñol for La Tom. Waiting in the rain, we watched many people try and climb to the top of the greased pole with a ham attached to the top. Only captured once in the last 10 years, this year was no different. People climbed and tumbled back down to the ground until the first few tomato trucks drove through the main street just before 10am. Chaos ensured, tomatoes everywhere. Ending by 11am, we washed off the tomatoes as best we could and bundled onto a bus to head back to Valencia. Having our own apartment to ourselves was invaluable. Tired and exhausted, we slept and went out for dinner. Deciding that a 1 hour bus ride to an afterparty was a bit too much for one day, dinner was Tapas and an early night. A few days later we boarded a train to Barcelona.


    The train to Barcelona was short and uneventful, bundling out of the metro after meeting some fellow travellers from Florence and Sorrento, we discovered our hostel and set out walking Barcelona. We wandered into the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, famously designed by Antoni Gaudi.







    Over the following days we ate Paella, relaxed on the beach and enjoyed Barcelona.





    Soon it was time to catch a flight back to London.

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    What can I say about Rome. One of the most stunning and visually amazing cities in Europe that I have been to. It has an air about it, combined with a late summer feeling of activity.

    After arriving from Salerno and finding our hostel, we dropped bags and headed in for a walk around the sights of Rome. First was a ride on the metro to The Colosseum. Walking the few metres from the train to see this massively famous structure was one of those great travel moments for me personally. After a few hours walking around, we headed out on foot around Rome to investigate the city a little further and a wander back to the hostel.

    The next morning we headed towards The Vatican Museum in the Vatican City. Being a Sunday morning, we watched many people wander towards the main square within in the small country. Following the crowds, we temporarily abandoned our plans to visit the Musee of the Vaticani and follow. Soon, it was obvious, the Pope appeared upon his balcony above the square. Afterwards, we wandered into St Peter's Basicilica.

    The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and everything else in between were amazing. After 3 nights, we caught a flight out of Rome to Valencia, to visit and attend the annual La Tomatina.















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    After saying bye to another traveller from Australia, Anthony, after the train ride to Sorrento, a quick adventure around town and dinner, we wandered around the Sorrento - a stunning city, beautiful and elegant. 





    We awoke the next morning to catch a ferry to Capri. Here we walked across the top of the island. A chair to the top provided excellent scenery. The Blue Grotto was next on the agenda. It is a cave that when you enter by boat, lying down, the light in the cave is a stunning bright blue. The tour is quick, mere minutes, but something I will never forget. We then went for a quick walk and discovered a swimming location where you could jump off the rocks in the aqua blue clear water. Amazing.







    From there we took a bus ride back to the main area for a ferry back to Sorrento. Ryan decided to go Scuba Diving whilst I had a look through Sorrento.

    Early the next morning, we checked out and took our bags to the train station to catch a bus that headed to the Amalfi Coast. The twisting roads that travel along the coastline that can hardly fit a bus is well worth the journey. Our bus ride took us to Amalfi, where after a quick lunch, we walked to the next town, Atrani, in which we had our accommodation booked. A hostel run by Italian brothers was beautiful and relaxed. Here we decided to slow things down and headed to the beach which was a very short walk down the road. A lot of beaches are a bit different than back in Australia - gravel or small stone line the beaches rather than sand in most cases.








    After a few hours there on the beach, it was a very short walk back into Atrani to pick up a few things for dinner, such as meats, olives, cheese and bread, to head back along the rocks. Later than night another wander around Amalfi was in order before retiring to the accommodation to chat with some fellow travellers.

    The next morning we headed down the road to catch a bus to Salerno, for a train to Rome. With a train leaving quickly, we bundled on and headed to the capital.

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    After leaving Cinque Terre, we took a train to Florence with a stopover in Lucca.



    After arriving in Florence, we boarded a fast train heading south to Naples. A beautiful city with character. Definitely one of the best cities I have visited. The roads in the old city are still cobblestone. We did a tour of the underground where the temperature drops and you walk through the aqueduct by candlelight, a welcome reprieve from a very warm summers day above. We had some pizza and other Italian dishes, particularly gelato. I'll let the photos speak for themselves below.







    After a few nights in Naples, we headed further south via Herculaneum and Pompeii. Both cities were destroyed by the famous eruption of Mt Venusvious in 79 AD. The former buried in lava and the latter buried by ash. You can take a train from Naples to Sorrento, stopping at both sites. It is recommended to spend time at both sites on separate days, however, we were able to comfortably do both and make it to Sorrento for the evening.









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    Italy - Cinque Terre

    22/10/2013 6:30:00 am

    We headed off the next morning early to catch a train north to Cinque Terre from Florence. Cinque Terre is UNESCO World Heritage site and National Park that includes 5 towns along the Italian coast, including the coastline. 

    Ryan and I decided to head to Riomaggiore - the first of the 5 villages heading south to north along coastline, with another traveller, Nick, whom we met in Florence. Without accommodation booked, we decided to see what we may find. Literally, stepping off the train, we discovered a hostel metres from the train station. We walked through the town and decided the hostel was the way to go, heading back we dropped our bags and decided what to do. After enquiring about the walk that takes you through all 5 towns, unfortunately we discovered the first two legs of path (Riomaggiore to Manarola, Manarola to Cornigula) were closed. However we could walk from Cornigula. After a quick swim, we headed into the township of Cornigula for lunch of seafood spaghetti. Filled, we began the walk to Monterosso via Vernazza. It was an amazing view - you could see Cornigula on the mountain top below as we reached the peaks along the edge of the cliffs.


    Sweaty and thirsty, we descended into the township of Vernazza - incredible. From here, we had a break and noticed an entrance through the cliff that led to a beach where we swam in the stunning aqua blue water of the Mediterranean Ocean. Recharged, it was decided to catch the train to Monterosso. Here we wandered the streets, had some amazing seafood and ultimately caught the train back to Riomaggiore around 11pm and took another look around Riomaggiore until early in the morning.


    The next day, after some breakfast and we said goodbye to Nick, had another walk around Riomaggiore and decided it was time to head to Naples with a quick stop along the way to Lucca.



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    I left Brisbane in August to start a big adventure overseas. First stop was Singapore before a connecting flight to London. I do quite enjoy Changi Airport, there are many things to do to keep you occupied such as watching a movie or visiting the Butterfly Garden. After landing in London, I passed customs, caught a train and went to where I was staying for the night. The next day, after a quick walk around the centre of London, I boarded another flight to Florence in Italy.

    Florence is an interesting city. I first saw it by night as I didn't arrive at the hostel until about 1am in the morning. The next day on a walking tour as part of The Fanatics tour, we explored the sights of Florence. Later that afternoon we visited Pisa and saw the leaning tower of Pisa. The evening was followed by watching the sun set over Florence and a walk back down the hill into the city.




    The next morning we awoke to catch a train to Siena for the Palio di Siena, a horse race which runs twice a year through the main square of Siena. The history of the race extends back hundreds of years. We arrived quite early for lunch and then headed to the main square to wait most of the day in our position. The race itself lasts approximately 90 seconds and it is extremely fast. Here are some photos waiting for the race to commence and during the race. After the event concluded we headed back to Florence, before waking the next morning to spend another day exploring Florence. We had a great dinner and then went to bed rather early to awake the next morning for the train ride to Cinque Terre.