Archives for posts with tag: backpacking in Europe

Florence2lrFlorence1lr

Florence8lrFlorence7lr

Florence3lr Florence4lr Florence5lr
What a pleasure to visit Florence which made a change from the dynamic but run-down southern Italy. We stayed at the same youth hostel that I stayed at 18 years ago as a student. Either it had grown shabbier or I had grown up – but it was clean and safe and we enjoyed the faded glamour of an 15th-century villa. The girls made friends with the carved elephant banisters which they named ‘Elmer and Ellie of Florence’. I was delighted to see the Duomo which appeared like a dramatic black and white ink drawing and I loved its clean, sharp lines which contrasted with the colour and excitement in Florence whether it was the carousel, the ice-creams or the exuberant albeit slightly sickly pastries. It was fantastic to climb the 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo: its dome is made of two ‘skins’ (or domes) and you climb in a narrow space between the two domes to spectacular views.

Florence was our final destination before heading home after our adventurous holiday with many memories to process.

Florence6lrNaples 2014 11lr

Naples 2014 1lr Naples 2014 2lr Naples 2014 4lr Naples 2014 5lr

Naples 2014 7lr Naples 2014 8lr Naples 2014 9lr

We caught a train down to southern Italy which was  very run down and the train station looked a bit like Pompeii. Vesuvius, however, surpassed all expectations as there is something very raw and primeval about climbing a volcano and looking into its crater. We travelled up in army-like jeeps and then climbed the last 30 minutes to see spectacular views with the whiff of sulphur and hint of danger. The children kept wondering if it would erupt but we reassured them that it was monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there was an evacuation plan for the area. (Most of the 800 thousand inhabitants don’t know the plan and without a great infrastructure how it would work in reality is debatable). I certainly wouldn’t live permanently under a live volcano!

Pompeii was interesting to visit as it was something I had always longed to do but it was so very hot and dry that we all wilted. All the artifacts are in the Naples Museum, so you only have half the story when walking around the site. I liked the fact that there are stepping-stones across the road so that when the roads were sluiced down of debris, the citizens could still cross without wetting their feet. You can also see the ruts between the stone made by the waggons and their width set our current day railroad gauge. Twinkling quartz stones set into the road acted as cat’s eyes. It was certainly a very advanced city.

Naples 2014 3lrNaples 2014 10lr

golenhour1 golenhour2 golenhour3golenhour4 golenhour5We have recently returned from two weeks of ‘Backpacking around Europe’ (well three countries anyway) with our three children aged 10,7 and 4. What a fabulous travelling experience it was; we took what we could carry in backpacks and each person was allowed only one luxury. Mine was my camera and I set myself the ‘The Golden Hour’ photographic challenge aiming to take photos in the early morning and early evening when lighting is at its best. I didn’t feel I fully met the challenge, I blame the cosy bed, a holiday mood and also the sheer energy required to backpack with young children. However, on reviewing my images there are some themes arising which I will share over the next few posts.

Setting off on our travels

Setting off on our travels