A Travellerspoint blog

August 2015



sunny 26 °C

I am, once again, compelled to write about the beauty just around the corner from my home town. I have to admit that Newfoundland is an entirely different creature under the sun when she allows you get out and enjoy her beauty. Yesterday was one of those days when the temperature hit 26 degrees and the sun was high in the sky, at least for most of the day.

With no real agenda, I set off with two of my bookclub pals to explore the Twillingate area with plans to hike some of nearby trails. Given that it took us three full days to pull together a plan to even meet up, it is no surprise that our little adventure was at times more of a misadventure.
Susan and I drove about 45 minutes to meet our tour guide and Campbellton native, Pat who was anxiously waiting our arrival. We loaded our gear (just like pros with hikers and walking sticks) into Pat’s car so she could lead the way.

Our first stop was in the community of Boyd’s Cove. The Beothuk Interpretation Center was a complete unknown to me but a place everyone should take the time to visit. The Beothuk, a now-extinct people, lived in Newfoundland more than 300 years ago before being killed off by the “white man”. We didn’t take in the museum which is filled with artifacts from the site, (wanting to maximize our outdoors time in the great weather) but instead took the 1.5 km groomed trail to the village site. It was a beautiful trail. Along the way, I was delighted to find this spectacular sculpture designed by renowned Newfoundland artist, Gerald Squires.


Since the sun was at its peak we decided to stop for lunch before getting on our sweat. Where else would you eat on such a great day but Samsone’s Lobster Pool in Hillgrade? This simple, cash only seafood restaurant never disappoints. Sitting right on the wharf, we enjoyed fresh snow crab. Yum.


Then it was onward to Twillingate. Although I have been there a million times, I really enjoyed visiting the craft shops, the museum, and the church, which incidentally, was built and completed by local fishermen in 1842 and has a ceiling that resembles an upside down boat. We went on to explore the cemetery where the local, and once world famous opera singer, Georgina Stirling rests. What better place to stop for a wee refreshment than a cemetery overlooking the ocean. Pat’s homemade ice tea and watermelon.


From there it was off to the lighthouse to pick up one of the shoreline trails. Our 4 mile trail turned out to be more like 500 meters ending at a spectacular dead end. Confused and disoriented we decide to head back to the parking lot to try again.


Hard to believe we took a wrong turn and had to use this bus to guide our way through the woods.


After getting some directions, we drove to a different parking lot, to catch the trail from the lower end. This was somewhat more successful although we did not end up where we intended. Apparently we should have done a little more research and I should have carried the map that was back in the trunk of the car with our walking sticks. What rookies!! As we are slipping and sliding down we began to realize that the sticks might be more than a decoration and would have come in handy. In any case, the views were spectacular and we enjoyed every minute.


As we were making our way back, the rumbles started and the un-forecasted thunderstorms started to roll in creating some even more spectacular skies.


Back in the car, we explored the communities of Crow Head, Back Harbour and Durrell while the rain poured down around us.


Our route towards home took us to Moreton’s Harbour just because I have never been there and it is part of that famous Newfoundland Song “I’se da B’y”.

listen here

In keeping with Pat’s unwritten rule that you always have to go to the end of the road, this side trip took us onward to Tizzard’s Harbour. Absolutely gorgeous. It is amazing how much reconstruction is taking place in this region. We commented often how hard it much be to keep all these little roads clear in the winter months.


This brought us to the end of a very fun fill and full day with a realization that although it is often easier to just stay home, it really is worth the effort to get up and get out.

Posted by curlygirl 08:22 Archived in Canada Tagged newfoundland gander twillingate Comments (5)



sunny 37 °C


Travel is never without surprises. Sometimes places you dreamed would be magical turn out to be just ok while other places, meant to be mere stepping stones on a larger path end up shining. This has been my experience with Fiumicino, the little fishing town that hosts Rome’s major airport. What a wonderful end to a very colorful holiday.

We did spend most of the day in Orvieto, meeting Patrick for breakfast and then adjourning to his studio to select our favorite pictures from the week. Ironically, we both had a selection from yesterday that surprised us because we got down in the gorge we both looked at each other and said “what the hell will we photograph here in this pile of rocks”. Patrick printed one shot for each of us on high quality art paper using pigmented ink and they looked great. I ended up selecting the one above and this was my second choice.


After lunch, Frank and I said our good byes to Patrick and headed for the train station. The train into Rome was quick but the train to the airport which was a third of the distance took just as long. The train system isn’t without issues, not unlike everything in Italy, but man it is cheap. Costing only 13 euros, it is hard to complain. Although I think it is a reasonable request to have luggage storage on the airport train at least. Upon arrival, I said “so long” to Frank who jumped in a cab while I headed to find the shuttle to my hotel.

I had planned to rest for a bit but I couldn’t resist the sunshine (35 degrees at 6pm) and the activity that was buzzing on the waterfront. I had read conflicting reports on Fiumicino, some saying that it stunk of fish and others that it had lots of points of interest and was charming. All of those are true. My hotel, the lovely and modern, Hotel Tiber, sits right on the waterfront and at 6pm, I could see the fishermen returning to dock, cleaning their boats and mending nets. This meant you could smell fish in the air but who cares? It also meant there were photo opportunities. What else would you do after 7 straight days of taking pictures? Take more! The fishermen were lovely. There were lines of them fishing from the shore seemingly equally spaced from each other. I stopped and chatted, in my usual sign language, and most smiled back, some showing me their bait (mealworms that they tossed in the water) and their catch of the day.


I continued walking for about an hour and a half through the many market stalls along the way. It was like being at a bad carnival that had offerings of cheap food, clothes, shoes and other trinkets mixed in amongst the games. It was funny because the market shops all seemed to be manned by men from the Indian/Pakistan/Bangladesh region. I only know this because I stopped to chat with them too. They spoke better English.


In complete contrast, on the other side of the street, was a scene from the Sopranos. This included an all-out fight. I stumbled on something that seemed to erupt out of nothing, but man, were those guys pissed. Between the tearing of shirts, and old men shouting in disgust was an irate woman ranting in the most stereotypical outburst you can imagine. I managed to get past it, but as much as it killed me, I figured it was not the time or place to take pictures. This is definitely a blue collar town and nothing like Orvieto.

As I walked away, I heard the most incredible voices echoing from a nearby building that turned out to be a church. I had to go in and listen because it was unbelievable. To think that sound could come from this little choir is crazy. The guy in the back who looked bored did a solo that blew my mind. Ironically, they were being directed by a very young man who was bursting with enthusiasm and had a voice of his own that was pretty impressive.


I made my way back to the waterfront and spent a long time choosing from one of the many seafood restaurants serving a huge variety of freshly caught fish. My restaurant was not fancy but I think it is one of the best meals I have ever eaten, with the most charming man and his daughter at the helm. My appetizer and main was way more than I could eat but I got to try so many different types of fish. I think the anchovies ended up being my favorite. I sat for almost 2 hours and my meal never got cold. Is that another luxury of a warm climate? At one point during the meal, I had to question how it is possible to be sitting outside, in a foreign land, alone at a table and feel so damn happy. I might be a little nuts but in my mind I am just incredibly lucky.


Thanks Orvieto and Fiumicino (and their surrounding areas in the provinces of Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio) for completely changing my perspective on Italy. Even though you are unorganized, stole my bag for a week, cared so little about the inconvenience or anything else, you have found a place in my heart.



Posted by curlygirl 14:58 Archived in Italy Tagged fish train orvieto fiumicino Comments (5)



sunny 37 °C


Today was the last outing of our workshop and was an excellent day of sightseeing, relaxation and creative photography.

I began my day much as I ended yesterday, sitting in the same bar, watching the world of Orveito move about. I sat, as a quiet spectator, sipping cappuccino for about an hour this morning snapping a few shots of the locals. The Piazza where our b & b is located has a real sense of community which I noted in the morning greetings as people recognized familiar faces. It is most noteworthy because I don’t find that people smile or look me the eye when I walk by, saving that for those they know. As usual, I like to make contact, smile and try out the local greeting (thinking I am, in fact, a local), which in this case would be “Buongiorno” or “Ciao” pronounced chow. It is not always a success.

This man has been there every morning.


And this guy seemed to be working hard on some musical piece as he appeared to be conducting under the same arch where the boys sat last night. He practiced for at least an hour.


These two spent longer there than I did.


Patrick picked us up and we headed to our final destination of Vulci, stopping by the city of Tuscania along the way. Tuscania was a real treat even beyond the picturesque charm of the city.


We went into two amazing churches, the first being my favorite. I am not normally a fan of churches but this place, the Chiesa di S.Pietro, was spectacular. It immediately reminded me of Turkish architecture which was a reminder that so many places in this part of the world have histories that are deeply intertwined. The motifs were so unusual with both pagan and Christian references. I loved the sarcophagi because they contained such detail and were posed in the unusual position of lying on their sides, the position that the Etruscans ate. Patrick is a wealth of information and although I can never keep up, it has been a really interesting introduction to these people who lived in this region BC. Most fascinating to me was that men and woman lived equally together.


The other church was Chiesa di S Maria Maggiore. This was also quite impressive because of the beautiful and colorful frescos.


From there we made our way to Vulci, also an Etruscan city, stopping to admire Vulci Castle, then onward to the park itself. We had our customary picnic and took some time to relax and explore. Since it was such an amazing place and incredibly hot day, I would have expected to see tons more people but instead there were just a few families and groups of teens enjoying the beach, water and cliffs.


Our next adventure took us hiking into the gorge. This involved walking uphill to a trail and then down the rocks holding onto an anchored chain for support. It actually wasn’t as bad as it first looked. I am very relieved that I did not plunge to my death. This gorge was filled with unique rock formations and tons of small warm pools. Although I did not have my bathing suit, I had to haul off my shorts and go for a swim in my clothes. It was awesome. At one point, I curled up under a small waterfall for a spa moment until that was interrupted by a snake sighting (later confirmed by Patrick to be a viper…eek) slithering through the rock. This was followed by a fish jumping right next to me which was less scary but enough to move me to one of the stationary pools.


Once the sun came down a little it was time for our photography lesson. Here’s what I produced using neutral density filters.


On return to Orvieto, we stopped for a view of the city from the hills.


It has been another long day but well worth it. Tomorrow we finish up with Patrick in the morning and make our way back to Rome for flights home on Friday. The week has flown and I have really enjoyed the experience and the location even without my suitcase. It was good to have it for a day at least. I could easily spend a few weeks, or my retirement, traveling more in the region but I am ready to get home and see my boy.




Tuesday, August 11th.

I had a few message from people wondering about last night's post. I was way too tired and didn't have much to report. We had a lesson in the gallery and then had a free afternoon. I poked around and then rested before meeting Frank for dinner. I did post the following on Facebook and will repeat for those who don't look there.

Armed with way too much wine and my camera, I decided to stop by the local bar by my hotel in Piazza Popolo for a drink and to scare the locals. When the boys didn't speak english (which is all so common) a young lady translated as I explained I was a photography student.


This is after they knew what I was doing although one guy caught on earlier.


Posted by curlygirl 16:33 Archived in Italy Comments (0)



rain 32 °C


It has been another long but wonderful day that took us into the Tuscan countryside and to many other delightful stops along the way.

As I have forgotten my notes in the Land Rover, I cannot even attempt to name our many stops. It is also after midnight and I am not long back to my room so I am not even going to try. I will say, we showed great commitment today, or that we should all be committed. Many photos were taken in the pouring rain, and me, having lost my lens hood in South America and not being able to replace it in time, fighting with rain drops on my lens. Still, the beauty of the landscapes, hidden mausoleums, churches, and quaint towns was not hindered in the least. Landscapes are not my forte but it was a great exercise in understanding composition and changing light.

Here are a few pictures from our day.

And to update on the suitcase situation with a small recap. My bag was in Rome 24 hours after me. Not picked up by the courier until 6:30 last night (3 days later) who has decided to hold onto it until tomorrow so I will only have my bag for one day of my holiday, should it arrive at all. Still, too happy to be terribly bothered in the moment.

The Mausoleum - it was pouring!!!!


Our lunch stop, a place where horses and their sires once rested on the road to Rome. And a biker who had biked from Austria who was under cover from the rain. And David joined us again with his Pentax. Love a new Pentax pal.


Bagni San Filippo _ hot thermal springs. Lovely! Pictures do no justice.


The classic rolling hills and Cyprus trees of Tuscany


The town of Pienza


Posted by curlygirl 15:26 Archived in Italy Tagged tuscany Comments (4)



semi-overcast 35 °C

We had a wonderful but very long day today which is why I am making a brief post a day late. We were joined by David from Wales who was a welcome addition to our group. He had done a couple days with Patrick last year.

Our first stop was about an hour out of town to the ancient city of Castro on the west side of Lake Bolsena. It was founded in prehistoric time and later became an Etruscan city. Stealing from Patrick’s blog (since I am so far behind) describing our stop,

“415 years ago a city in Central Italy the capital of the Duchy of Castro was totally destroyed, not by earthquake or flood, but by the Pope himself egged on by his sister in law who had a pernicious influence over him. The malevolent female appears to have been motivated by solely by personal spite against her erstwhile neighbours the Farnese family.”

One of the coolest things was the ossuary where the bones remain today.


From there we went to the most magical place (if I didn’t leave my notebook in the land rover, I would know the name of the place). A natural amphitheater deep in the forest. The sounds were lovely as was the circular view accented by a huge root and a large black rock with a running waterfall. Patrick has a wonderful photograph of a naked woman handing from the root. I felt I need to fulfill my modeling dream and reenact the scene (keeping what little clothes I actually have on). It didn’t quite work out but I did my best. If only the root would have stayed still.


We stopped to admire Pitiglano in the province of Tuscany which sprouts from a volcanic rocky outcrop towering over the surrounding country to the east by a man-made fort. This city was also originally built by the Etruscans.


We are in the land of truffles and I have taken full advantage at every meal. Even tonight’s cheese plate came with a truffle infused honey. As you may know, truffles are very expensive. Frank paid about 34 euro for one smaller than a tennis ball. The white summer truffles are even more expensive.

Tonight we attended the opera, “Don Giovani” which made for an enjoyable evening. It wasn’t the most pleasing I have seen but certainly worthwhile. Frank was kind enough to take my photo in the theatre as long as I agreed to hold his truffle. I was practicing focusing on this lovely girl who must of thought I was a creep.


Every day is a picnic lunch


A couple of other shots from the day


Posted by curlygirl 14:06 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 24) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 » Next