A Travellerspoint blog

Assisi to Sorrento

22 August 2015, Saturday

sunny 30 °C

Weather today is fine and hot.

Left Assisi at 7:45am and headed for the Amalfi coast. Had a morning tea stop and lunch stop at roadside rest stops before arriving at the Amalfi coast early afternoon. On the way we passed behind Rome suburbs before pasing behind Naples and sighted Mt Vesuvius for the first time.

At 2:00pm we changed from our coach to a couple of mini buses for the drive to Positano, a town on the Amalfi coast. The roads are narrow and winding, but the coastline is beautiful, although difficult to photograph from a moving vehicle. We had a couple of quick photo stops for the Amalfi Coast, although parking seems to be a case of relying on following vehicles to find away around your vehicle.

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Driving into Positano was an adventure, as the mini buses had to negotiate hair pin curves, narrow lanes with oncoming traffic, and pedestrians. The buses dropped us half way into the town, and we walked down to the beach and back. In addition to the town and beach being crowded, there were also many boats and yachts of all sizes cruising the coast or moored on bays or off beaches. It is impossible to give a single example of Positano, but the following photos give an indication.

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Go back to our hotel at 5:30pm, and had an hour to unpack and freshen up before our optional tour of "Sorrento flavours" a 4 course meal (including various pizzas) at a local restaurant. After a filling meal, we walked back to the hotel, approximately 15 minutes away.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 10:39 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice to Assisi

21 August 2015 Friday

semi-overcast 28 °C

Wake up call @ 6:15am and departed Venice at 8:00am Today is overcast, with some light rain, but some blue sky this afternon at Assisi.

This morning was driving only with a short morning tea stop and a 45 minute lunch stop at a roadside self serve restaurant. These places are extremely popular, and crowded.

We arrived at the town of Assisi at 2:00pm, and were dropped off at the Basilica of St Francis for a quick tour before having 2.5 hours of free time to wander through Assisi, and then checking into our hotel. The countryside is beautiful and green, and, in addition to the Basilica, Assisis is full of churches, narrow streets, and religious souvenier shops. The City is beautiful, although I feel sorry for the residents who have to drive through narrow streets full of tourists.

Our hotel is beautiful, and on a hill overlloking the countryside. It also has a pool, which a few of the group have used. We had a group dinner in the hotel tonight.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 21:50 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice

20 August 2015 Thursday

sunny 30 °C

Venice is unbelievable!

The gods are really looking after this tour group. After yesterday’s storms and rain which caused another tour group to cancel their city tour and optional tours, today was blue sky and hot.

Our hotel is on the mainland, and their is a road and rail bridge to the first island, from where water taxis and ferries are taken to Sta Marks Square and other locations. Apparently it costs Globus Euro 100- just to drop us off at the water taxi terminal! We caught a ferry to St Marks Square, arriving at 8:30am. At that time, it wasn’t too crowded, and the street hawkers were only beginning to set up their stalls. We had a local guide take us through Doges Palace, which was beautiful, and a short visit inside St Marks Cathedral (no photographs allowed) finishing up at a glass making factory, and seeing a glass blowing demonstration, before being offered all manner of expensive glass products for sale. After this guided tour, the rest of the day was free, although I opted for 2 optional tours. (on this tour I've opted for all but 2 of the optional tours available). We left the main island at 11:40am, and it was already crowded.

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The first was a 40 minute gondola ride. There were 15 of us on 3 gondolas with an accordionist and singer on one of the boats. We travelled in convoy through the canals, and became a tourist attraction ourselves because of the music and singing. The gondola ride was a remarkable experience, and definitely worth the money.

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The second optional tour was a 1 hour ferry ride to the island of Baruna, where we had a 4 course lunch and wine at a local restaurant, followed by some free time before catching the ferry back to St Marks Square, and another ferry back to our bus. This tour was also excellent. Baruna is less crowded than the main island with St Marks square, but has its own canals, and is extremely colourful. The ride there and back was also great as we say many sites, including a large cruise liner (New Amsterdam) leaving Venice. We almost lost 2 our our group, as they did not appear when the ferry sailed from Baruna Island. Fortunately, they were spotted as the ferry was pulling away from the dock, so the captain turned back to pick them up (the ferry was charted by Globus and had 2 groups on board).

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We got back to our hotel by 6:00pm, in time to freshen up for our group dinner at the hotel at 7:00pm. Those of us who did the Baruna tour and had the 4 course lunch didn’t need much dinner.

At 8:30pm, there was another thunderstorm, so as I said, we have been extremely lucky, having seen St Marks Square after rain, at night, and in bright sunlight.

Venice is beautiful, but I couldn't live here.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 13:35 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Ljubljana to Venice

19 August 2015 Wednesday

rain 18 °C

Heavy overcast this morning which changed to rain and thunder at lunchtime, and heavy rain as we arrived at Venice.

Depart Ljubljana at 8:15, heading for the Postajna Caves in Slovenia, We were slightly early so paid a quick visit to the nearby Postajna Castle, which is a castle built into a cave. Looked fantastic but we only had a few minutes to look at we had to be at the caves at 10:00 am.

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The caves were fantastic. Very large and very impressive. Discovered in the late 1800’s, they built a miniature railway line into the caves. Our tour guide advises that the caves have been really developed in the last few years, and now have a massive tourist turnover. A 10 minute train ride into the caves is followed by an hour guided tour, then a 10 minute train ride out. Took a few photos, and I’ve got a reputation on the tour for being attached to my camera.

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Had a lunch stop at a local roadside restaurant, at which time the rain started. It was still raining heavily when we arrived at Venice at 3:00pm. As our tour guide states, our Venice hotel is not the best, but in Venice, the hotels can afford to choose which tour groups they want, as there are 22 million tourists visiting Venice every year. Because many hotels have affiliates throughout Italy, if Globus cancelled the Venice hotel, they would also lose many other hotels they book throughout Italy for other tous. All that said, whilst the rooms are small, they aren’t that bad.

This afternoon, most of us took part in an optional tour, being water taxis into St Marks Square, where we had a 4 course meal and drinks at a local restaurant, followed by a short stroll around the square after dark. Fortunately, the rain stopped as we caught the water taxi’s at 6:00pm into Venice. The food and alcohol was excellent, It was also Clare’s 60th birthday, so our tour director organised a surprise gift for her of an elaborate Italian face mask (the rest of us got cheaper versions). We were catching water taxi’s back to the hotel at 9:00pm, so had a short stroll around the square at night. There were still plenty of people about, but St Mark's Square is beautiful at night.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 12:40 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Zagreb to Ljubljana

18 August 2015

sunny 30 °C

Although we are not leaving the hotel till 8:15am, rose at 6:00am and went for a walk down to Zagreb train station, which was a stopping point for the Orient Express when it ran. Got a few photos of the station, trains and local buildings, returning in time for breakfast.

Left Croatia, and had to stop at Slovenian passport control, where we had to leave the bus and get our passports stamped.

The countryside in Slovenia is beautiful, and we arrived in Ljubljana (lets just call it Ljub in future) by 10:45am, where we met our local tour guide for a 1.5 hour waking tour, followed by some free time.

There are numerous castles and villages or towns to be seen as we drive along, but with the bus speed, and the barriers and trees placed along the road sides, its hard to get good photos. Following is an example of the castles and towns that we pass.

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We have been lucky with the weather, as it rained in Zagreb overnight, but today was fine and hot. Some light overcast which cleared during our walk, although some cloud returned in the afternoon.

Ljub is beautiful, and I saw many fine buildings, churches, the castle, and other attractions. After the guided tour, I investigated a picturesque side street, and ended up in a narrow path that took me up the castle. It was a steep climb and I was puffing and sweaty by the time I got to the castle, but the views were worth it. Got a Funicular down from the castle (wish I had found it before walking up). Bought some grapes at the local market, then joined some fellow tourists for a drink, before getting the bus to the hotel at 2:30pm. Quite a few elected to make their own way back to the hotel, but I was hot and tired. Did some washing, went for a walk around the local neighbourhood, then freshened up for tonights dinner at a local restaurant.

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Although both Zagreb and Ljub were badly damaged during the communist years and the war, the Slovenians have made a better job of rectifying the damage. Both countries have proven to be surpringly good inclusions on this tour, but Ljub is definately a more impressive city than Zagreb.

Tonights dinner was a group event at a restaurant in the city. We were welcomed by the owner and a troupe of 8 performers in traditional dress, who performed folk dancing throughout the evening, with a 4 course meal with a complimentary drink. A fun evening with audience participation.

Tomorow we are off to Venice!

Posted by HimalayanPeter 13:03 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

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