All posts tagged: Travel

Indian Summer – Varna

It was my third trip to Varna, Bulgaria. Somehow, I started liking this city more and more. Maybe it started feeling like home. I wanted to know a little bit more about this place each time. It was in September. At this time of the year, the weather in Varna usually gets cold. However, we did have few days, sunny and warm, just like summer. They call it Indian summer or gypsy summer. I kinda like the name.  I can’t remember how many times we walked pass this beautiful cathedral, Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin. You just can’t miss it. Whenever we went to the city centre or meet some friends for coffee, we always walked pass it. Well, it is located in the centre of Varna. It’s the second largest Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Bulgaria. It was built in 1880 based on the model of Peterhof Temple in Saint Petersburg, and it was officially opened to public in 1886. The domes were covered in copper tin, and it was renovated later in 2002. The …

Pompeii

I think everyone heard about the story of Pompeii, more or less. I will not repeat here in details. In short, the Roman city Of Pompeii was buried by Mount Vesuvius’s volcanic ash, hot lava, and debris in A.D. 79. That’s also the reason that the ancient city is preserved so well, the street, the buildings, even bodies… Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748. The city was very well developed before the volcano eruption. When visiting the archaeological site, we can see well preserved villas and houses. Stone streets are wide. The archaeologists discovered art, artefacts, household goods and so on, which proved Roman civilisation. Pompeii was last place we visited in this trip. It was easy to travel from Sorrento to Pompeii. The train will take you to the site. The archaeological site is very big. It is impossible to visit every single street of the city in one trip. So we booked a walking tour. Everything is very well organised. When we arrived at Pompeii train station. The guide was waiting for us. She …

Sorrento, Italy

With two suitcases and backpacks, we decided to book a limo from Salerno. Sounds luxurious, right? Actually pretty economical in a way. To our surprise, the price was very reasonable, cheaper than a Taxi. There was no direct ferry or train. It saved us a lot of time and hassle. It was actually a very efficient way to get to Sorrento from Salerno. The driver did show up 10 minutes later, but I guess it was acceptable. He spoke fluent English, and he is very knowledgeable. We chatted all the way to Sorrento. He told us quite a few interesting facts about the area. One particular thing is the mist. We had it on the day when we travelled around Almafi coast. We thought it was fog in the morning, but it lasted whole day. The second day was the same. He considered it was caused by pollution. They had been having it quite often recently. We chose Sorrento to be our last base for this trip in Italy. It’s convenient to travel to Pompeii …

Poistano

I’m sure whoever travels to Amalfi Coast w miss Poistano. It’s a jaw-dropping beauty. Wherever we went, people stopped to admire the view and say “Gosh, soooo beautiful!” That is true, though. It is THAT beautiful! When our ferry approached Positano, everyone was busy taking photos. Lonely Planet says “Positano is the Amalfi Coast’s most photogenic town”. I totally agree. Just look at the colour. All you need to do is clicking. You don’t need photoshop or anything else. The whole town is like colour palette, white,pink, yellow, orange. So please to the eye! Same with any other towns and cities we visited in Italy, Positano has had its rise and fall. Like Amalif, it was destroyed by a tsunami. It had been attacked by pirates in 15th century. In 18th century, it became a major port and trading hub for a short time. Due to poor economy, most of the residents moved to US during 19th century. From 20th century, it started to attract a lot of tourists after a road was built to connect Positano …

Alamfi, Italy

From Salerno you can take ferry or bus to travel around Alamfi coast. We went for the ferry. It was the best decision. The view was spectacular, so I highly recommend it. Today’s Alamfi is a beautiful small town on the Alamfi coast, but super touristy, cafes, souvenirs shops, Gelato shops, restaurants and more and more shops. However, in the history, it has been a place with super maritime power. Its history can be traced back to 6th century. At some point, it had a population of more than 70,000. Unfortunately, a tsunami destroyed a big part of the city, and it has never been the same again. Amalfi cathedral is located at the heart of Amalfi. It’s a Roman Catholic cathedral that is dedicated to Saint Andrew. The present cathedral was built in 13th century alongside the old one which was built in the 9th century. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Amalfi. His relics are kept in the cathedral crypt. The crypt is decorated with frescoes and sculptures. There is a bronze statue …

Salerno, Italy

After an amazing day at Tropea (click the name to see the post of Tropea), we hit the road again. Next stop, Salerno. Travelling by car from one city to another in Southern Italy is easy. The motorways are really good. There are a lot of tunnels from Tropea to Salerno. However, we noticed the driving style is a bit of a worry. A lot of drivers basically were floating between lanes. They like to cut corners when they turn. They also cut you off when they change lanes even when the speed is 130 km per hour. So just watch out when you are on the road. Anyway, it took us more than 5 hours to get to Salerno. We drove along the coastline and stopped in quite a few places to see some small towns. Eventually we changed to motorway and went straight to Salerno. Compare to some cities we have been to in Italy, Salerno is a decent-sized city. It has a very long history, started probably from 194 B.C. The first medical school …

Modica, Sicily

Modica, as a city, was built in 1360BC. It was a Roman and Greek City back then, and it is a UNESCO Baroque towns in Sicily now. The town is famous for its chocolate and its mixture architectural styles of Sicilian Baroque and Medieval. The way the town was situated is very special. It was built around steep valley. The Upper Modica, the older part of town, is on top of the Monti Iblei. The Lower Modica is built along the valley bottom, which is also the newly built part after earthquake. Two parts of the town are connected with heaps of steps. We so much wanted to spend more time there. Unfortunately, we only had time for a quick visit at the Chiesa di San Pietro (Cathedral of San Pietro). However, the church itself is certainly worth checking out. It’s at the lower Modica. It was restored after the earthquake in 1963. Therefore, the church is a baroque style church. The outside is simply beautiful with 12 statues of Apostles. Inside, it has the frescoes made …

Agrigento, Sicily – Day 4

If you travel to Sicily and you are interested in history, Agrigento is a must-go. It’s one of oldest town in Sicily. For us, we really wanted to see the Valley of the Temples. We travelled from Ortigia to Agrigento with our rental car. I probably mentioned this in my previous posts. If you consider to drive in Sicily, it’s not a problem at all. The roads are fantastic. The most difficult part probably is driving in the little towns on their tiny narrow stone streets. 🙂 Anyway, the Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, it has to be! The Archaeological park is big, full of Greek temples and ruins. It took us more than half a day to walk around it. They do have a shuttle bus you can take in the park if you don’t want to walk that much. Although it was such a hot day, we enjoyed every minute. Temple of Juno is the first temple we saw in the park. It’s the closest one to the entrance. It …

Syracuse, Sicily – Day 3

After mucking around in Ortigia for two days, we finally got us a sim card and a rental car. We were all set for a road trip. Since we needed to get use to drive on the right side of the road, we decided to go to some places not too far away. First stop was the Archaeological Park of the Neapolis. Both Syracuse Greek Theatre and Roman amphitheatre are part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Syracuse Greek Theatre was built in the 5th century BC. It is one of the largest in the world with nearly 140m diameter. All the seats were cut out from rocks. The theatre overlooks Syracuse, so the view is spectacular. Roman amphitheatre is a small disappointment for me. I guess it just looked very abandoned. The amphitheatre was primarily used for Gladiator contests and fights. However, seeing both sites in the same park was a bonus. We got to see how different the theatres were built for different purpose. Another interesting place in the park is a ear shaped huge cave called “Ear …

Syracuse, Sicily – Day 2

After a good night sleep, we were ready to go and explore. Syracuse has plenty to offer, places to see, things to do, shops to shop, and yummy food to eat. Since we wanted to be based in Syracuse when we were in Sicily, it’s always a good idea to get familiar with the place.  🙂 After breakfast, we walked to Castello Maniace which was built in the 13th century by Frederick II. It is at the far end of the Ortygia. The castle was a royal residence initially.  After Frederick II, it was used as a prison for half century. Later on, it was turned to be a fortress and restructured for military use to defend the harbour. The castle was named after General George Maniakes who conquered Sicily from Arabs in 1038.  Unfortunately, some parts of the castle were under construction during our visit. We couldn’t see the whole thing. However, we still can see its marble portal entrance and baroque style architecture, and the beautiful view from the castle. If you stay at Syracuse, …