A Travellerspoint blog

A Wee Walk and Some Irish Magic

Dunseverick to the the Giant's Causeway

sunny 16 °C
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Over a million visitors came to see the incredible Giant's Causeway last year. Add a wee walk, on a beautiful sunny day, along the cliff-top path to reach these basalt stones and then you have the magic.

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Mark Rogers, of Dalriada Kingdom, guided us along the coast filling our ears with magical stories, history and geology of an area which has inspired countless myths and legends. Around every curve of the coast, Mark would ask us, "Do you think it can get any better?" He was right! The scenery and the rock formations were breath-taking.

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When we reached the Port na Spaniagh, Mark shared some of his family history and a moving story about the wreck of the Girona, an ill-fated ship from the Spanish Armada.

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At the Hamilton Seat, Mark told us about Rev. W. Hamilton who was the first to recognize the volcanic origin of the basalt stones in 1768. We sat on the Hamilton Seat in awe of what we saw.

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In the beautiful sunlight the green seemed greener against the red bands of rocks and the other stones. We could have easily spent the day there soaking up the beauty of the spot. We finished up the walk high about the Giant's Causeway giving us a unique view of the stones we had climbed and explored the day before.

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We had a lovely lunch and tea with Mark before exploring the area a bit more. We decided to walk another cliff-top path from the Causeway to Portballintrae which took us along a beautiful sandy beach. The sand was so clean and lovely to walk in. Of course, the other Beach on this trip kept his shoes on!

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We missed the last bus so we kept walking until we reach the town we are staying in called Bushmills. Tired feet, happy hearts and 22 kms later we reached the Hip Chip for fish and chips. A perfect end to a magical day on the Antrim Coast.

I have more to share about our time in Northern Ireland but just need to find a wee bit more time. Dave is missing his afternoon naps when I usually do my travel blog. I told him he can rest on the bus to Dublin tomorrow. Enjoy those four hours Dave!!

Posted by beachbuddies 13:38 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (4)

An Italian Family Feast

Cooking with Isabella & Sara

sunny 39 °C
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What better way to cap off another incredible visit to Italy but with a cooking class. A cooking class with a real Italian mama of four and her daughter. Isabella and Sara, who manage the apartments that we stayed in the past few days, opened their hearts and their home to their visitors.

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Wearing our orange aprons, we prepared an Italian feast. I learned how to properly prepare an eggplant using salt to drain out the bitter taste. Isabella shared a few more ideas for eggplant which I plan to try when I get home.

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When I was told we were making fish, I was not prepared for the cuttlefish! What is a cuttlefish? A squid with tentacles and all but we needed to chop it up. Well I can't eat that I thought in my head. It ended up tasting all right and it was an experience just learning to prepare it.

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Sitting down to a three hour meal with an Italian family was as much about the experience as the cooking. Francesco, the papa of the family, came home at two o'clock to join us for our meal. The heated discussion between the three of them in Italian with hands flying, was something to witness.

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We we're told that 25 people sit around their large table at Christmas. Can you just imagine the sound and all the good food? We felt part of their family for a few hours.

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"Ching, Ching for a toast! First it was red wine followed by white one, then sparkling white wine and finally by a special dessert wine made from small cherries. That one was delicious!

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Best quote of the day by Isabella, "When you travel to new places, open your eyes and your heart. You will always enjoy yourself."

Posted by beachbuddies 22:45 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

You Know It's Hot When....

Sizzling in Padua (Padova) - 38°

sunny 38 °C
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- the streets are deserted
- your eyelids are sweating
- all you can think about is floating in the sea
- the dogs are in the fountain and that's where you want to be

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- gelato is extra refreshing
- the AC is your best friend
- trying on shoes may be too difficult. Oh what am I saying? It's never too hot to shop for shoes.
- your bare legs are totally stuck to the train seat

So what to do about being so hot? Go to the lake, I guess. Lake Garda, which is an hour away on the fast train, is blue, cool and wet. All you need to beat the heat.

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I think on a hot day everybody should have a pink paddle boat. Don't you?

Posted by beachbuddies 13:20 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Don't Look Up

And the BIG DOWN!

sunny 27 °C
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Peter's words of advice today - don't look up. You will be tempted to peek but be like a child waiting for a surprise. On the chair lift, look down at the plants and when you reach the meadow, then look up and see the massive Sassolungo. You get the surprise and see the wonder of it.

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This hike would best be described as rocky. Once again we felt small as we walked on the trail below the mountain. The path was rocky and we got slightly off the trail at one point. Now that's a surprise! Some rock climbing and rambling over the stones got us back on the path below.

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We had another long climb to Rifugio Emilio Comici, the most famous place to rifugio in all the Italian alps. All the Italian stars go there, especially in the winter and they have fanciest toilets ever with blue and pink lights. Quite the place!! It was the busiest of all the trails so far and many stopped for lunch.

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Next we continued up through another rocky path to the Stone City, which is a national park (Naturonda). Glaciers created this area thousands of years ago and it is often used for high fashions modelling shoots. Dave thinks it looks like a scene from Lord of the Rings.

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What couldn't be more fun than going on the oldest lift to the top of the mountain you hiked below earlier? It is a two person lift and you run to get in and out with the help of the lift operators. We were like two sardines in a small can. What an experience!!

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A piece of apple strudel and a cappuccino to end another great hike

Hike #4 - 12.5 km, 118 stairs, 18500 steps

Well since we've already been in Padua for three days, I'm going to skip the details of hike #5. It would have been titled, A Little Happy. Peter's story about a mythical Moon Princess and her moon rocks and our quest for happiness. We experience a 'little happy' and instead of being content we look behind the little happy for a bigger happy. Just be happy! It was 33° on this 15 km hike through the moon rocks. It was all up and then a BIG DOWN which took us 3 hours. This was the most challenging hike of all but we did it. We were a little happy when we got back to the valley below and there was a cold creek to refresh our feet.

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Posted by beachbuddies 12:40 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

I Am a Cow

On Alpe di Siusi

overcast 26 °C
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Peter's words of advice for today,
"Today you be a cow. Be lazy, go slow, rest and eat. Worry about nothing and have clean thinking."

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The Alpe di Siusi is the largest alpine meadow in the Alps. It is a cultural meadow created by necessity hundreds of years ago. The meadows were planted so the farmers would have food for their cows in the winter. We saw the hard working farmers at various stages of harvesting today as we walked like a cow along the gentle path. We are on this easier hike today because of the expected thunderstorms. The air is heavy and there are clouds everywhere.

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The weather here has been tropical. They have never seen it so warm. On a typical day in July, there may be a bit of ice on the rocks and you can see your breath in the morning as you start your hike. Gradually warming up as the day progresses. I swear we bring the hot weather with us in Europe but Peter say that is giving us way too much power. Peter is a deep thinker and is teaching us as much about life as he is about hiking.

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Posted by beachbuddies 13:33 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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