Palio – Siena

Today is the first of two palios held in Siena, Italy. A palio is horse race held twice a year. July 2nd and August 16th. 10 horses with their riders riding them bareback in their local colors. 10 of 17 “districts” are represented at ill palio in a race tree times around the piazza del campo. This normally do not last more than 90 sec.

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Here seen with all their flags. Different flag for different part of the city

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Before the race there is a spectaculare pageant, the corteo storico which I got to experience. Which includes flag wavers and drummers in medevial costumes. They parade through the streets with the horse and following the crowds from each districs singing loud songs. Much like at a soccer game.

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Here are the houses of tortuga and panthera. You can really feel the dedicatons from each district. A serious matter.

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Stay: Villa Olmi Resort, Florence

We packed our bags and headed for Florence for a few nights. Our hotel of choice was this time Villa Olmi Resort. It is located about 4km outside the city center but the hotel offers free shuttle bus to and from the city center. If you choose to go by taxi it is about € 20-30 (june,2014)

Villa Olmi is a beautiful 4 star resort wich includes a villa, a farmhouse and a rural house set in a big beautiful garden.

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They served an intercontinental breakfast but ours were not included in the total price. This is also where they serve lunch and dinner. The resort has a small swimmingpool with lovely sourroundings not to far away from the bar.

Every room has its own private bubblebath that left you wonderful relaxed before bedtime. Nice hotel rooms but they were not sound proof and much of the sounds around came through and were disturbing.

All in all a great stay if only a little closer to town and a little less noise.

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48 hours on Crete

That is all I get, to go visit my greek Island. After a 6,5 hours layover in Athens we board back up on our flight to Heraklion, Crete. Get picked up by minibus and head for an hour drive east to Elounda bay. This year to the pitch black and just in time for the closing of the restaurants.

The private pool area by night.

The private pool area by night.

Elounda Bay Palace is an luxe resort with great customer service and lovely surroundings. It is listed as a 5 star hotel and resort and has its own private beaches, spa and many hectares with gardens. You can even get your own yacht club house here. if you only put down the cash.

It feels pretty much like paradise to get back here. This year was my third time. Still I was somewhat disappointed in some of their services this year. Although we were not the first to rise and shine in the morning we were not very late either. But still we had not the best room service and cleaning experiences. For such a place I expect it to be tip-top. For instance the outer area was nowhere to have been washed. Even if it was covered in degrees from last night windy experience. For this type of hotel I expect this kind of service. And no one seem to mind that one of my complimentary fruit baskets contained a molded orange. Disappointing.

Maybe I expect to much and have to high standards. But to me this is something I expect to be done in a 5 star resort. Especially when you have an upgraded room. Their room haven’t changed any this last year. And for the superior suites it is probably time to think of an upgrading of the bathrooms. Still I love my days here at Elounda. Picky or not. We spend most of our time around the compound, at the beach or at many of their restaurants.

my superior room with private pool

my superior room with private pool

one of the private beaches and the sailor bar

one of the private beaches and the sailor bar

at the sailor bar - our daily lunch rutine

at the sailor bar – our daily lunch rutine

mmm. strawberries and chocolate - one of my weakness. And if you order any Prosecco them come complimentary

mmm. strawberries and chocolate – one of my weakness. And if you order any Prosecco them come complimentary

although we usually go out to eat every night, this year we stayed put at the resort. And I had the opportunity to try out two new restaurants over at the Elounda Bay Beach compound. The food served was as always very lovely and good. Bringing some ideas and request is seldom a problem. They do their very best to make your stay just as you would like it. Their service staff is excellent and remembered us from previous years. That´s kinda cute.

Eating lunch at our regular place - Ariadne, a classic seaside taverna with dellish greek food

Eating lunch at our regular place – Ariadne, a classic seaside tavern with delicious greek food. Here we explain the waiters to make us some grilled feta cheese. Not on the menu though.

starters at Dionysos - mediterian cuisine

starters at Dionysos – pricey but delicious 

Dinner at Dionysos - oh so good

Dinner at Dionysos – oh so good

view from argonaut restaurant. They served Italian cuisine

view from argonaut restaurant. They served Italian cuisine so delightful and peaceful

I think Elounda bay Palace and Elounda bay Beach can offer anything you need. Unfortunately I did not get to test their spa this year as planned. I wanted to spend my short time with my travel mates and enjoy the short time we had. But who knows maybe I´ll be back next year.

Interested in a royal yachting residence - It can be yours

Interested in a royal yachting residence – It can be yours

Backyard traveling

You really needn’t go long to explore your “own backyard”. For me a quick trip to the beach 10 minutes away is a new discovery every time.

But since we had the day of monday and I was babysitting in urgent need of an activity. A short day trip to Stavanger felt good and have been on my want to do list for a while now. We have had such a pretty weekend here and there is nothing prettier than old town Stavanger bathing in sunshine.

 

Old town Stavanger and Breia water

Old town Stavanger and Breia water

Old town Stavanger and the harbor

Old town Stavanger and the harbor

The old Town of Stavanger is located west of the harbor containing 173 wooden white painted houses. Mostly erected in the 17-and 1800th. To me this is the most beautiful part of Stavanger and I love to stroll down the narrow brick laid roads. This area contains a few galleries and even has it´s own small bicycle store, selling different cool stuff for your city bike. This part of Stavanger is one of the city´s biggest tourist attraction. And in cruise season you will find the streets buzzing with tourist. Best to take it all in when not so crowded.

This area was firstly intended for the fishermen and dockworkers but now it is quite expensive to live in one of these little houses. And yes this is a habitable neighborhood and not a museum. These days it is a well kept area with charming rose bushes and little gardens. If you ever visit Stavanger be sure to visit this beautiful part of town.

Old stavanger

old stavanger

øvre strandgate

øvre strandgate

Next week I´ll take a new visit and hope for just as good weather (weather in Norway can be a little unpredictable) as Champagne lunch and shopping with the girls are one the agenda.

 

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Paris – Wining and dining

As I sat at home today enjoying my french lunch, it suddenly hit me – I still haven´t written anything about my Parisian take on the kitchen.

My french lunch today and if you think that the latte has an image of a kangaroo - thats exactly what I was going for...

My french lunch today and if you think that the latte has an image of a kangaroo – that’s exactly what I was going for…

 

Travelling, wining and dining are for me synonymous. You can’t do one thing without the other. And some of the travel experience is enjoying some good food together with some good drinks. First thing that came into my mind when thinking about the french cuisine was of course Crepes, frogs leg, snails and Disney´s Ratatouille…

Out of these I only did the Crepes! None the less – my food experience let me to some really great places, heres a recommendations:

Le Bon Bock

Claiming to be the oldest restaurant in Montmartre. It is situated at the base of Sacré-Cæur and was our first choice of dinner our first night in Paris. We stumbled upon this restaurant a little by chance.

Duck with mashed potato

Duck with mashed potato

Chickenbreast in white sauce

Chickenbreast in white sauce

Cheese platter desert

Cheese platter desert

I found the atmosphere in this little restaurant absolutely adorable. It claims to have the same interior since 1879 – and it makes you feel like you step back in time. Gas lamps on the walls, a piano with a big variety of Absinthe to offer.  And it is no doubt a popular place. We heard several scandinavian come and go while eating there.

I even had to try Absinthe in the variety of an Absinthe sorbet just because – it was absinthe, and it felt very Paris like to do so. I guess I got sucked into the atmosphere. Not recommended – I did not like it very much and it was nothing like a sorbet – more like a alcohol infused over freezed ice-cream.

The rest of the meal was an absolute delight. We were very lucky to get in as we just stumbled upon it and went in by chance – you would probably do wise to book in advance just to be sure to get in.

The restaurant has its own Absinthe menu for desert

The restaurant has its own Absinthe menu for desert

dark and intimate decorated. Truly an amazing atmosphere

dark and intimate decorated. Truly an amazing atmosphere

 

If you wish to visit this lovely establishment, and i recommend that you do. You will find LE BON BOCK at:2 Rue Dancourt, 75018 Paris (Montmartre region) Dinner is served between 1800 – 0000.

Paris done in a day

Can it be done, you ask. And the answer is definitely YES.

one day in Paris

Firstly – don’t enter any of the big tourist traps. Paris is equal to long lines. All the big tourist attractions have long lines to them and if your not early enough you will end up spending a whopping 2 hours just waiting to get in to any of them. This is not well spent time.

Paris has so much to offer besides the main attraction. Should you avoid them? No. But you don’t have to enter them to experience them.

Take the Eiffel tower for instance.  A towering 324 man made latticework structure – and France´s most Iconic one. This year it celebrates its 125th years since first constructed. The Eiffel tower dominates this part of the south seine. Many of the better photo ops are shot around this area. You can’t simply miss this view, and it is breathtaking. Around 7 million people visit this structure each year – no wonder there is a long line. Take time to enjoy the surrounding park instead. Great for just relaxing or maybe even a picnic. This way you get to enjoy the sight of this wonderful tower and it is less crowded.

Spring in paris with the Eiffel tower towering.

Spring in paris with the Eiffel tower towering.

Map out what you really want to see and pack good walking shoes. If you are traveling with a spouse or a good friend you both may have different expectations of what you want to see. Me and Mr. grumpy always map out our wants in advance of a trip. You wouldn’t want to spend time in Paris arguing about what to see and do – that is just a big wast of time and effort – and Paris is after all all about the love. You should also decide if you wanna go by metro or by taxi. Metro is by far cheaper but more crowded and stressful. When we visited Paris we tried both. Mr. Grumpy did not take to the metro and the system very much so we had to switch to Taxi. And you get to see more of the city while driving the streets.

The best of Paris can be reached within a couple of hours. Do the hop on hop off busses and you see almost all the important sites within hours.  Don’t forget to take a walk along the seine. Especially on a sunny day. Buy some bread and cheese and have a picnic by the waterside.

a view of the tip of Ile st-Louis

a view of the tip of Ile st-Louis

If you really wanna do some shopping there are several areas to do this. You have the big and very long Champs-Élyseé with it´s designer boutiques. Big shopping centers such as Galleries Lafayette is located in Boulevard Hausmann. Want a more quiet shopping area try the Sorbonne Area

Highend shopping around Champés-Élyseé

Highend shopping around Champés-Élyseé

Arc de Thriomphe at the end of Champs-Elyseé

Arc de Thriomphe at the end of Champs-Elyseé

The busses do not take you up to the Montmatre area where the Sacre-Cæur is. This you have to do by your own. Take a taxi up to the church and walk down. You get an amazing city view from this hight. Enjoy a good lunch or dinner in the area. Worth exploring for a couple of hours.

Sacrè-Cæur always bring out the crowd

Sacrè-Cæur always bring out the crowd

city view

city view

 

Most importantly – don’t stress if you are not getting every little thing you want to get done. It takes time to fall in love with a city and you can always come back for more. ♥

The road less travelled

Sometimes getting of the highway and just taking a random day trip can lead you to the most amazing places. Pierla in Tuscany was one such treasure for me.

Pierle Castle and its surrounding village

Pierle Castle and its surrounding village

This is the ruin of Pierle Castl. Abandoned since the year 1587

This is the ruin of Pierle Castle. Abandoned since the year 1587

On a whim we got in the car to take a ride in the country side. Having read on signs showing to some Pierle Castle we tok a day trip. The small village of Pierle lays only some few miles away from Cortona located in a green Pierle valley. The small country road to the village is exactly that – small and very pretty. Giving you the amazing views over Cortonas countryside.

I am not sure what I expected when arriving to this castle but nothing like this. The castle is not that big but with some imagination you could easily see how it was back in its glory. Kinda makes me think of game of thrones. This could very easily be one of its sets. The village was so tiny – and its houses surround the castle with tiny streets.

Pierla watertap

Pierla watertap

Pierla

This is an ideal place to seek and find tranquillity and peace. And for all of you who like some good history. This castle got it.

We were here all alone not counting a couple of dogs or cats. There are a couple of agriturismo properties just outside the village it self. I could easily see myself spending a night and two there to enjoy the views even better.

Goes to tell you. You never know what you will find when you go on the road less travelled. You should try it sometime.

an old doorway

an old doorway

a few houses of a total of many 20

a few houses of a total of many 20 surrounding the castle

Making new friends

Making new friends