Tag Archives: summer

An Egyptian holiday

11 Sep

Egypt is one of those mysterious countries that a lot of people dream to visit. With an ancient history that Egyptologists are still only speculative of, there are many treasures Egypt has to offer. While making our way home to Australia, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to drop in – it was on our way after all – so we too could experience what every visitor raves about.

Taking on a 16-day tour (also including five days in Jordan, a neighbouring country) we were taken around Egypt to visit the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphnix, Hurghada and Dahab on the Red Sea, Luxor Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple, Aswan, Abu Simble temple and many more historic sites, tombs and temples in between. But we’ll focus on our favourite Egyptian experiences we were lucky enough to have while here:

Relaxed Dahab
Starting with Dahab, probably our most favourite city in the whole of Egypt! It has a small beach-town feel (probably because that’s exactly what is it), super-sweet locals and the draw-card for all tourists, the blue-blue waters of the Gulf of Aqaba (part of the Red Sea). We spent our full day in Dahab snorkelling the infamous Blue Hole dive spot. It is exactly that – a 130m-deep hole in the ocean that is about 22m across with coral walls and an abundance of colourful fish. We began snorkelling at a chasm which drops to blue nothingness in a matter of meters from the beach. The visibility is amazing. We could see about 15m below and around us while we slowly snorkelled our way down the beach until we reached the Blue Hole itself. It was spectacular, although Matt has said that it has nothing on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef – our next snorkelling trip for sure!

From the crystal clear ocean to the desert, which we drove Quad bikes through for a couple of hours, becoming dusty versions of ourselves by the time we arrived at our starting point back in Dahab. But we were soon refreshed again for our second night along the main strip, a colourful street full of restaurants, cafes and shops. With ‘mates rates’ including massive portions, free starters (a main meal in themselves), dessert and shisha (that sweet-smelling and tasting tobacco from a water pipe), we enjoyed the good life in the restaurants of this small town. Our time in Dahab came to an end all too soon!

Felucca’ing
The one thing you have to do when in Egypt is a sail on the Nile in a traditional sail boat, the felucca! This experience is either a must-do or must-don’t for pretty much all visitors to Egypt. There is one reason why people don’t – the simplicity of the feluccas means no amenities or toilets. But we loved it. Spending two nights aboard the felucca is an amazing way to relax, something we certainly needed after two super early mornings travelling to Abu Simble temple and hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings two consecutive days previously. With nothing else to do but to read, snooze, swim or chat to our fellow felucca-goers, our day on the Nile was one of the best days we spent during our whole time in Egypt.

Fit for a King
Valley of the Kings was another highlight for us.  It is a historic sight is Egypt that is packed with the tombs of nobles and Pharaohs, including King Tutankamun. The temples are brilliantly preserved – hieroglyphics and original colours adorn the temple walls. It’s incredible to see the tombs as they were (although without the treasures) when they were used to mummify the Pharaohs after their death and to send them on to the afterlife, which the Ancient Egyptians passionately believed in.

It’s one of the most interesting sights in Egypt, but with it come vendors…. lots of them! In fact, we came into contact with vendors at all the Egyptian sights offering us camels (for a wife), ‘good prices’ and ‘free to looks’. They love bargaining, now as much as ever since tourism has dropped a massive 95 percent since the revolution began in early 2011. They are screaming for tourists, and we wholly encourage you to go! It’s not only a safe, but an incredible country to visit.

The Great Pyramids of Giza
Why come all the way to Egypt and not see the pyramids?! Yes, crazy people do do this! It’s like going to a water park but not enjoying the rides. What can we say about the pyramids anyway… they are awe-inspiring and it’s quite surreal to see and touch them when after seeing them in movies, in documentaries and in books. Go see them… they are cool!

After Egypt…
After Egypt comes Jordan… so stay tuned for the next blog!

Italy at its best

10 Sep

It seems like a lifetime ago that we were in Italy. In fact, it was only 17 days ago when we left and we’ve done so much since. Italy is one of those countries that I don’t think anyone could get sick of. We did a whirlwind tour of three weeks, covering the major bits of the country. Here’s out whirlwind blog to match:

All Roads Lead to Rome
We started in Rome, arriving from Dubrovnik. We did what anyone would do when they first arrive to Italy and set out to experience the best of everything, namely espresso, pizza and gelato (like Caffe Sant’ Eustahio, pizzeria ai Marmi and San Crispino for those who want to try!) We took in all of the sites like the Trevi Fountain (one of our most favourites), the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, Capitaline Museum, the Vatican and beautiful piazza after beautiful piazza all over the city. Rome is also full of fountains spewing out water that is as chilled as if it was straight out of the fridge, the perfect way to splash your hands and feet to cool off. We also took a day trip further south of the city to Naples and Pompeii; and Rome was where we started at least one pizza or pasta dish every day (a good idea at the time!)

Beautiful Florence
Reluctantly leaving the epic city of Rome, we then took a slow train up to Florence and based ourselves there for seven days while we travelled out to the rest of Tuscany. We explored Siena, Lucca and Pisa and of course the city of Florence itself, not only on foot but also by Fiat 500 (complete with wine, olive oil tasting and delicious Tuscan food). We also got our hands stuck in and covered in flour during a pasta making course (we have recipes to test on you all back home – look out!), shopped for leather, saw David, the Uffizi and Pont Vecchio and most importantly, set our eyes on what has to be one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere… the Tuscan countryside with its patchwork of wheat fields, olive trees and vineyards, rolling hills and medieval villages dotted in between. Oh, and one pasta or pizza dish a day… still going strong!

Bella Ragu and Ferrari’s
Next up, we dropped by the city of Bologna for a couple of nights. We were there for two things – so Matt could drive a Ferrari and so we could all sample the deliciousness that is Ragu pasta (or Bolognese) in the town where it was invented. Delicious? Yes! Fresh? Oh yes! Fulfilling? 100 percent! Dare we say it, but it was probably the most delicious Bolognese we’ve tasted (although we’ll give it a good go following our pasta making course!) While Matt spent our only full day there speeding along the highways of Maranello (a town close to Bologna and the home of Ferrari) in a Ferrari F430 Spyder at 160km, Steve and I took a leisurely bike ride at, I would say, 5km tops around the quiet city of Bologna.

Venezia
Yet another train and we arrive in Venice. Ahhh Venice… what can we say about it? It’s a city you could visit again and again. It’s romantic, fun, beautiful, historic and just lovely. We spent four days wandering around the narrow pedestrian streets, over sweet little bridges that cross over canals with passing gondolas and their gondoliers crooning sweet Italian songs. It’s a place where you come to get lost – trying to work out the labyrinth of narrow streets on a map is too time consuming – and to soak up the beautiful atmosphere of Piazza San Marco, the epicentre of the ‘floating’ city. It’s a place to take your time, stop for a canal-side antipasto picnic and watch the world go by, which we did most days. And lastly, pizza or pasta a day… starting to wane… a lot!

Milan and Eloping in the Cinque Terre
The end of our time in Italy was the beginning of a very special time for two very special friends. We made a beeline for Milan, not only to shop and enjoy some much-needed down time, but to meet up with Noni and Gez. They were sorting papers for their wedding ceremony in Riomaggiore, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre, a few days later. We were there as witnesses to this very special moment in their lives.

The cliff-side villages of the Cinque Terre (literally five towns) make a perfect setting for an eloping couple. The special day arrived and after the bride and groom took their separate ways to get ready, they met at the beginning of Via dell’Amore (lovers lane), a 1km walkway along the cliffs which connects the towns of Manarola and Riomaggiore. The day was scorching, but it didn’t stop the fun as Noni and Gez said ‘I Do’ with the colourful town of Riomaggiore as a backdrop. After their Italian ceremony and photoshoot, we slowly made our way back to Manarola for swimming. A celebratory dinner that night was back in Riomaggiore at La Pie Del Ma with a five-course seafood meal that was more than mouth-watering. We were completely honoured to be part of their day and what made such a beautiful ending to our time in Europe.

Leaving Europe
A day after the wedding, we bid farewell to the newly married couple and took the long journey back to Milan and out to Malpensa Airport for the night. We had a next-day flight which would take us to Cairo, via Athens, and what would be our very last take-off out of Europe for some time. Italy had been amazing to us but it was time to inch closer to Australia. Next stop: Egypt.

It’s too good to be true

8 Apr

Winter jacket – be gone! Beanie and gloves… disappear! For the second day in a row, the weather in London has been perfect. A lovely and warm 20 degrees Celsius tops, and how lovely and sunny it is indeed. People at work are jumping for joy and the people in the streets… well, everyone seems to be smiling and happy. The soundtrack ‘sunshine, lollipops and … rainbows’ can be almost heard in the air as people shed off their winter woollies and embrace the sunshine. (It really does make you feel like singing the happy  song (albeit in my own head) – I expect perfect strangers to join in any time soon and start dancing!)

Yesterday I wandered into Regent’s Park opposite my work and it was literally a fight for any spare patch of green grass that was available as workers on lunch breaks flocked to the enjoy the sunshine (hell, I was one of them). Today was exactly the same and if it wasn’t for our very own private park (where the residences and workers in the buildings along our street can enjoy some peace and quiet without those pesky mortals we call ‘other people who don’t belong to our street of buildings’), we would of had trouble finding a place to catch the glorious rays.

I think we’re both going to enjoy summer in London a lot more than winter in London. The city seems to have come alive – or awoken from a very long and cold hibernation at least! The streets are full of happy people, the parks full of blooms and picnic-goers, and there are afternoons and evenings of people just ‘hanging out until the sun goes down’. The warm weather is a joyous occasion that we are embracing with our arms wide open (insert picture here of us running and skipping happily through the park with our arms wide-spread).

Over the weekend just gone, we spent some quality time with each other enjoying said sunshine and warmth. I met Matt on Saturday after he finished work and we walked lazily up to Regent’s Park. I had just gone through the park the day before on a lunch break and realised that the flowers and blooms had come to life. Knowing Matt would typically enjoy spending some time here to practice his photography, we gathered a picnic from Marks & Spencer and sat underneath the trees, next to the tulips and other bright flowers. We had some fun and Matt took hundreds of photos (you can see a selection of them here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/album.php?fbid=10150224988932067&id=645987066&aid=378213). We spent the next day sleeping in, brunching, and then spending some time at home – resting up and doing a whole heap of ‘admin’ stuff we’d been putting off for ages and ages.

The weekend before was a little more ‘groovy’ after a group of us went back in time to ‘Carwash’ – a 70s and 80s club. We all dressed up in the our favourite fashion from the era and drank (supposedly a little too much – according to someone!) and got down and funky with it until four in the morning. I received some free tickets after I got the opportunity to write a review on the club (which you can read here: http://www.australiantimes.co.uk/entertainment/Carwash—Shiny-disco-balls?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AT+weekly+05-04-2011&utm_content=AT+weekly+05-04-2011+CID_2940ca27efe5154eefe941f04235ee7c&utm_source=Bluegrass+Mailer+Bluesky+Publications&utm_term=Carwash+Shiny+disco+balls). It certainly was like shiny disco balls. You can see some awesome photos (taken by my photographer husband!) here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/album.php?fbid=10150224367257067&id=645987066&aid=378007). You can imagine the next day, none of us were in shape to do anything remotely exciting. I seem to recall we made the effort to pick up our stuff from Kristy’s (where we had some pre-drinks the night before) and made a grocery trip to ASDA – the British supermarket where us Aussies can buy £1 packets of Shapes biscuits (heaven!!).

So this brings us to this weekend, where we will be ……. Hmmmm. No, I’m not giving it away. Something exciting for sure!

Till next time, that’s all from us in the land where everyone likes to say ‘you ‘oright?!’

M&M

today was meaningful

a collection of thoughts, life lessons, and days full of meaning.

Liv Hambrett

I write about Germany + Culture + Motherhood + the Meaning of Home

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