December 29, 2014

My Bucket List: Villa San Michele

“I want my house open to sun and wind and the voice of the sea,
like a Greek temple, and light, light, light everywhere!”
– Axel Munthe, The Story of San Michele


Villa San Michele, Anacapri


December 24, 2014

Travel Theme: Golden

This week's travel theme was inspired by the warmth and glitter of the season. And there's no shortage of golden subjects to photograph in Europe, from the gold mosaic tiles of The Sky Over Nine Columns art installation on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, to delicate Venetian carnival masks peering out from behind shop windows.



The Sky Over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack


December 22, 2014

Gardens of Augustus, Capri

The Italian island of Capri has been blessed with an abundance of scenic locales and one of its most colourful is the Giardini di Augusto (Gardens of Augustus). When we visited in July, the lush botanical gardens were in full bloom. The park is also the ideal vantage point from which to view the famous Faraglioni, a trio of rock formations just off the island’s coast.


Giardini di Augusto, Augustus Gardens in Capri


December 15, 2014

Travel Theme: Freedom

Many people equate the feeling of freedom with travelling the open road, but I’m not a road trip kind of girl. Birds must be the freest of all creatures, not tethered to the earth by gravity. Perhaps that's why the haunting cry of a sea gull always makes me feel free.


Sea Gull in Monaco


December 08, 2014

Simply Lovely Anacapri

Of the two towns on the Italian isle of Capri, Anacapri may be smaller and lesser known than glamorous Capri town but its charm and tranquility have won me over. You'll find luxury here too, like the Capri Palace Hotel, but the town’s top attractions are more modest: ancient Roman statues, an Egyptian sphinx and a traditional majolica tile floor.


Quiet Streets of Anacapri


December 01, 2014

Posh Capri Town

From Roman emperors to Grand Tour travellers and modern-day movie stars, the rich and powerful have vacationed for centuries on Capri, a small island off the Sorrentine coast of Italy. But Capri is also the name given to the larger of two towns on this rocky paradise, and it’s this town that is responsible for the island’s glitzy reputation.


The Isle of Capri, Italy


November 24, 2014

Travel Theme: Colourful

When taking photos on my travels, I'm drawn to vibrant colours. And this week's theme gives me the opportunity to look back on some of my favourite shots. I've always been partial to the colour blue, so I especially liked this little fellow spotted while visiting London in 2010. The Elephant Parade was taking place across the city's parks and walkways to raise awareness of the endangered Asian elephant and raise funds for the World Wildlife Fund.


Elephant Parade, London

November 17, 2014

Naples and Campania

After two busy days spent exploring the great city of Rome, we travelled southward into the Campania region of Italy, the birthplace of pizza, Caruso and Sophia Loren. Before boarding a ferry to the next stop on our tour, the island of Capri, we visited the archeological site of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Then we took a quick stroll through central Napoli, or Naples, the capital of Campania.


Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

November 10, 2014

Travel Theme: Arches

Centuries ago the Romans perfected the arch, which allowed them to build mighty structures that survive to this day like the Colosseum in Rome.


The Colosseum, Rome


November 03, 2014

A Taste of Rome on Piazza Navona

The highlight of my visit to Rome last summer was dinner on Piazza Navona, one of the city's most popular squares. Located in Rome's centro storico, historic centre, the square takes its oblong shape and dimensions from the Stadium of Domitian which originally stood here.



October 29, 2014

Travel Theme: Numbers

Numbers are all around us and they serve many different purposes. Travellers will encounter numbers in different formats, like Roman numerals on a street sign in Pompeii or a foreign language like a French café sign.



Pompeii Street Sign in Roman Numerals

October 27, 2014

Dan Brown's Inferno: More Venice in Photos

While visiting Venice this past summer I saw more of the locations mentioned in Dan Brown's novel Inferno that I hadn't come across on my previous visit. Here are new photos, beginning where Robert Langdon did at Santa Lucia Train Station.


Santa Lucia Train Station, Venice

October 18, 2014

Travel Theme: Broken

This week's travel theme is broken and brings to mind photos I've taken in Provence, Monte Carlo and the city of Venice. The first photo is Saint Bénézet Bridge that once spanned the Rhone River at Avignon. It was damaged by heavy flooding in the 17th century and never rebuilt.


Saint Bénézet Bridge, Avignon


October 13, 2014

Travel Theme: Interior

I've seen many different churches, both large and small, during my travels through Europe. Some churches are memorable for their grand exteriors, like Notre Dame in Paris or Westminster Abbey in London. But others have left a lasting impression on me because of a beautiful interior.


Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

October 06, 2014

Rome's Jewish Ghetto and Pantheon Neighbourhood

While visiting Italy this summer, major restoration projects on the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain altered a planned walking tour, taking us instead through Rome's Jewish Quarter and then on to the ancient Pantheon. 


Theatre of Marcellus

September 29, 2014

George Clooney's Grand Canal Wedding Cruise

From the exploits of Casanova in the 18th century to George and Amal today, Venice is truly a city for lovers. So perhaps it's fitting that this past weekend the world's most eligible bachelor was married here. Follow along in the wake of the happy couple by taking a photo-cruise along the scenic Grand Canal.

Cruising Venice's Grand Canal at Dusk

September 22, 2014

St. Peter's Basilica

On our first evening in Rome this summer we took a sightseeing tour of the Eternal City's famous buildings and monuments, which included a brief photo stop at St. Peter's Square. The next morning we returned to visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. 


St. Peter's Square at Dusk
Bernini's Colonnade

September 15, 2014

Travel Theme: Noise

A parading brass band at the Changing of the Guard in London or the steady beat of a lone drummer at the Avignon Festival in France  - are these sounds considered music? Or are they noise?


Changing of the Guard, London

September 08, 2014

The Vatican Museums

Our visit to Rome this summer included Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica. The Catholic church has amassed an incredible collection of art over the centuries including Greek and Roman antiquities and Michelangelo's Renaissance masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. These treasures are housed in the the Musei Vaticani, the Vatican Museums.



The Dome of St. Peter's

September 02, 2014

Travel Theme: Edge

I've been having lots of fun with photo themes on Google+ and Twitter and now I've discovered a series of weekly travel themes on Where's my backpack? This week's theme is Edge, which immediately reminded me of the Giardini di Augusto, the Gardens of Augustus, on the beautiful isle of Capri. The island's stunning views reward visitors who venture to the edge.


Entrance to the Giardini di Augusto, Capri


August 25, 2014

Colossal Rome

Rome has been called the Eternal City. Its citizens are surrounded by centuries of history. From ancient ruins to the splendour of Baroque artwork there's something special around every corner, like Largo di Torre Argentina where Julius Caesar was assassinated or the fountains in Piazza Navona. So why haven't I bonded with this great city?


Largo di Torre Argentina, Rome

August 19, 2014

The Via Veneto, Rome

La dolce vita. The sweet life.

You're probably familiar with the phrase even if you've never seen the iconic Fellini film of the same name. La Dolce Vita depicts the hedonism of 1950s Rome. It also made the Via Veneto famous.




August 11, 2014

The Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

One of my favourite spots in Florence is Piazza della Signoria, a busy square dominated by the fortress-like Palazzo Vecchio. As a fan of Dan Brown's novel, Inferno, I toured the palazzo's museum to see some of the items mentioned in the book for myself, like the Hall of Five Hundred, the Mappa Mundi and Dante's Death Mask.



The Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

August 04, 2014

Dan Brown's Inferno: More Florence in Photos

My trip to Italy last month took me back to Florence and Venice, two major locations in Dan Brown's novel, Inferno. Earlier blog posts included photos of some of the sites in Florence and Venice featured in the story but after reading the book, I was eager to visit the sites I hadn't explored before. My first stop was Florence, centre of the Renaissance and birthplace of Dante Alighieri.


The Skyline of Florence

July 28, 2014

Travel News: Italy 2014

I've just returned from an amazing and very busy tour of Italy. As expected, the weather was hot. The ticket lines at major sights were long. And we managed to circumvent a railway strike, thanks to our capable tour director. The unexpected can also arise while travelling so if you're visiting Italy this summer, here are some things you should know.


Expect lengthy queues at the Vatican Museum, Rome

July 20, 2014

Postcards from Italy: Gondola Regatta

The twin-oared gondola regatta along the Giudecca channel, part of the Festa del Redentore festivities this weekend in Venice.



Postcards from Italy: Festa del Redentore

Thousands of people cross the Giudecca Canal on the floating pontoon bridge to the Redentore church.



July 18, 2014

July 17, 2014

Postcards from Italy: Venice

The Giudecca Canal is preparing for Festa del Redentore celebrations over the weekend, beginning with the construction of a temporary floating bridge.



Postcards from Italy: Burano

Colourful houses on Burano, the fisherman's island, in the Venetian lagoon.



Postcards from Italy: Lake Maggiore

View from Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore.



Postcards from Italy: Italian Riviera

The harbour in the town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera.



Postcards from Italy: Tuscany

View of the Tuscan countryside from the hilltop town of San Gimignano.


Postcards from Italy: Florence

Good news for photographers: the Accademia in Florence now allows photos of Michelangelo's masterpiece, David.



July 07, 2014

June 30, 2014

Postcards from Italy

Next weekend I’m leaving for a two week holiday in Italy with my daughter. This will be her first visit to this beautiful country and I’m so excited to share the experience with her: sampling numerous flavours of gelato; enjoying an evening passeggiatta; and participating in a centuries-old festival. Some of these places we’ll discover for the first time together. Others I’ve visited before.

The Colosseum, Rome


June 26, 2014

My Bucket List: Living the High Life in Monte Carlo

The tiny principality of Monaco has more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world. So naturally you’ll find the flashy sports cars, luxury hotels and super yachts to keep them amused. While planning my last visit to the French Riviera I couldn’t resist sampling a little bit of the high life myself by adding two once-in-a-lifetime splurges to my bucket list: a ride in a Ferrari sports car and dinner at a Michelin star restaurant.

Principality of Monaco


June 16, 2014

Fields in Bloom


Last week I posted about some of the more unusual flowering plants I’ve come across in my travels through Europe. Today I want to share some photos of entire fields in bloom. These photos were taken through the window of a moving bus or train, like this field of rapeseed (or canola) while driving through England in May. The sight reminded me of Sting's song, Fields of Gold. The song is actually about fields of barley but I think the sentiment fits.


Field of Rapeseed, or Canola, in England

June 12, 2014

My Bucket List: Tower of Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the major sights in Paris. It's listed as part of the 'Paris, Banks of the Seine' UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to Victor Hugo’s fictional hunchback, Quasimodo. It’s also a great example of gothic architecture with its flying buttresses, ribbed vaulting and pointed arches. When I discovered I could climb to the top of the cathedral’s tower, I added the experience to my bucket list. And this experience put both my stamina and my knees to the test.


Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris

June 09, 2014

Mystery Flowers

While travelling in Europe I enjoy photographing beautiful flowers, especially the exotic varieties I don't see here at home in Canada. And often I don't know what they're called. I satisfy my curiosity by researching online and I think I've come up with the proper name for the following plants. I hope you'll correct me if I'm wrong.


Bougainvillea on Cap Ferrat, France

June 05, 2014

My Bucket List: French Riviera

Sunny skies. Azure waters. Champagne and super yachts. And then there’s Agent 007 and an American actress who became a real-life royal princess. Is there any place more glamorous than the French Riviera? I think not. A small taste of France's Azure Coast, the Côte d’Azur, is well deserving of a place on my bucket list and I’ve been fortunate to visit there twice.


Villefranche Bay

June 02, 2014

3 Perks of the Paris Museum Pass

If you're planning a visit to the city of Paris you'll probably want to go to the Louvre to see Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, or the Musée d'Orsay for its collection of Van Gogh paintings. Or perhaps the 13th century stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle are on your agenda. You can pay as you go for admission to these sites but if you're planning to see a number of attractions, you may want to consider purchasing the Paris Museum Pass.


Entrance to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris


May 29, 2014

My Bucket List: Tea at the Ritz

It's Thursday, and I'm starting a new series of weekly posts about the items from my bucket list that I've been able to experience so far. Sampling the culinary traditions of the countries I visit is one of my favourite travel pastimes and what could be more British than afternoon tea? The experience was a natural addition to my bucket list so when I visited London a few years ago, we did tea in grand style at the luxurious Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly.

The Ritz London

May 26, 2014

7 Ways to Avoid Motion Sickness

I've never forgotten the poor woman who got seasick while taking the jet boat to the Isle of Capri when I was in Italy a few years ago. I’m sure she spent most of her time dreading the return trip back to the mainland, rather than enjoying the beauty of the legendary island. And I'll be spending plenty of time on the water myself when I visit Italy again this summer.

Jet Boat Returning to Sorrento from Capri


Motion sickness is thought to be caused by conflicts in sensory input to the brain when travelling by car, boat or airplane. And I can’t handle motion as well as I did when I was young. (The last time I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl my head continued spinning for hours.) But I love spending time on the water so I did some research and came up with these seven tips to avoid motion sickness.

May 19, 2014

5 Oh-So-French Features of the River Seine



The Seine River, Paris


1. The Boats

Numerous glass-topped boats cruise the Seine River, offering visitors unique views of the City of Light. The Bateaux-Mouches are excursion boats providing commentary on passing sights. The Batobus is a riverboat shuttle service which allows passengers to hop on and off at eight stops along the route, including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre-Dame.


May 12, 2014

A Week of Photo Themes

Destination: Fiction is all about travel and photos and I love an inspiring theme. So when I discovered the wide variety of photo themes and Communities on Twitter and Google+ I had to join in the fun. Here's a small sampling of the themes I've found, celebrating everything from people to food and scenery, for every day of the week from Monday to Sunday. I participate with my travel photos but you can use pictures taken in your own home town.



MONDAY

#PeopleAtWorkMonday on Google+

Yeoman Warders, or 'Beefeaters', at the Tower of London,England