Jake’s Sunday Post: Road

The real winners are not those at the top but those who have come the farthest over the toughest roads. Your victory may never make the headlines. But you will know about it, and that’s what counts. Ernest A. Fitzgerald

Jake’s Sunday Post challenge “Road” had me searching through my photos. Hundreds of roads to choose from, but I’ve chosen a few of those which I remember the best.

Here we were in a busy main street in Hong Kong, one of the best places to shop in Asia, and an added bonus was, no sales tax. 😀

The main road on the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora, was definitely not a shopping Mecca. 😉

I never realized just how wide the Great Wall of China was until we actually walked along it. The section of the Great Wall at Badaling, is about 26 feet high and 23 feet wide at its base, large enough to allow six horsemen to ride along the wall. In mountainous northern China, it served as an elevated highway in ancient times. It was very impressive to see in reality, and we did what tourists do; wandered along it, snapping photos.

Of course we didn’t walk the full length of this road, as it stretches for almost 2,500 miles, from Central Asia to the East China Sea. 😉

At the end of our Li River cruise, we finished up in Yangshuo. As you can see, there’s not a car in sight on the road through this town.

On our way from Las Vegas to San Francisco, we stayed overnight at a place called Bishop in the spectacular Eastern Sierra region of California. The next day, we turned onto Highway 120, the road through Yosemite National Park. You may notice that I wasn’t dressed for the snow. It was the beginning of July, and I’d assumed that being summer in California, it would be really warm.

Another very snowy road, is this one on our way from Thermopolis to Rapid City, on our road trip to Yellowstone Park. We didn’t expect that at the end of May, we would have such wintry weather and with blizzards too.

Driving along the road through Yellowstone, we encountered some rather unusual pedestrians. These Bison thought the road was built for their use. At one stage, we had to wait behind a whole herd, until they decided to move off the road and back onto the grass.

This beach-side road in Bali, yielded quite a few treasures worthy of purchase.

Here is one of the roads through the main shopping area of Phuket. As you can see, once again,  the main mode of transport in this Asian town, is also by bicycle and motorbike.

Well I guess that’s enough roads for one challenge. My post is beginning to remind me of that old Bob Dylan song, “Blowing in the wind………..How many roads must a man walk down…….”

Have a great day everyone, whatever road you may be travelling on.





Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

The Daily post photo challenge this week, is the colour purple.

After my delicious birthday lunch on Saturday, we all went to the Macaranga Lodge where my sister had some of her paintings on display. I was delighted to see that purple featured in quite a few of the art works there, as I had been racking my brain as to what to do for the challenge. I wasn’t sure whether I was allowed to take photos or not, so surreptitiously and somewhat furtively, I stole these few with my iPhone camera. 😉

I rather liked this abstract.

I think these aubergines are wonderful.

These roses caught my eye, because they looked so like the ones on the lid of a chocolate box I had many years ago.

This one of  what I think must be of purple-breasted finches, was my favourite though.

I really loved the dreamy quality of this painting. (My dear mom suggested that I move the painting standing in front of it, for a better shot. I didn’t think that was a very good idea, as the ladies in charge looked very formidable. 😉

When we arrived back at mom’s cottage, I spied this lovely purple display in one of her flower pots.

I was interested to know a bit more about the colour purple, and found this interesting info on the Wikipedia.The actual color of Tyrian Purple, the original color purple from which the name purple is derived, is the colour of a dye extracted from a mollusk found on the shores of the city of Tyre in ancient Phoenicia (present day Lebanon) that in classical antiquity became a symbol of royalty, because only the very wealthy could afford it. Therefore, Tyrian purple was also called imperial purple.

Another little tidbit from Wiki, is that the word purple, like orange and silver, has no common word that rhymes with it.

To see how other bloggers have answered this challenge, go here.

Sweet variations on a theme.

Yesterday’s birthday lunch was wonderful. We met at my sister’s house, and my best friend who couldn’t make lunch because she had visitors coming, arrived with a gorgeous bouquet of roses, and a box of Lindor “irresistibly smooth” chocolates. Yum! 😉

Lunch was buffet style at Sprigs restaurant, which serves amazing vegetarian dishes. There are so many interesting an unusual combinations of really well cooked and healthy options. Of course dessert negates all that healthy eating, and this was my Mom’s choice. It was far too big for her to finish, so hubby kindly helped her out. 😉

This brings me to my answer to Side View’s “Variations on a theme” challenge. I know that some of you have in the past, complained that my food posts are too calorific for the good their waistlines, but I’m going to do this anyway. 😆

Desserts are a delicious theme, don’t you think? My sister calls me “The Dessert Queen.” Here are a few of the variations that I’ve either made or partaken of, or both:

My pineapple upside-down cake with walnuts and cherries.

This chocolate Key Lime pie, went down a treat,

as did my chocolate pie and meringues.

What about some of this delicious berry crumble?

Chocolate brownies, anyone?

Or maybe your prefer a plain vanilla ice cream with chocolate flake from your local pizza restaurant.

Or a few delicious dainty morsels like these.

You could have a piece of my granddaughters birthday cake.

or a piece of my son’s chocolate mousse wedding cake.

I’ll spare you the sight of my New York chocolate cheesecake, because I know you will all rather go for this much healthier option. 😆

So many variations on a theme, but which one will you choose?

Travel theme: Flowers – A very floriferous post indeed.

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is flowers, so I can show you my special birthday orchid which hubby bought me. Isn’t it a gorgeous colour, and when it really gets going, I’m sure it will be very ‘floriferous‘. I love that word, and now I have a chance to use it. 😉

Orchids are amongst my favourite flowers, and the one he gave me for Mothers’ Day is still flowering beautifully.

Of course, my two can’t compare to the gorgeous display I saw at the botanical gardens in Singapore a few years ago. The National Orchid Garden is the main attraction there, and has a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids.

Here are just a few. Would you like light pink with dark pink centres?

Or maybe you prefer crimson and white.

How about pure white, with a few purple ones thrown in too?

Now here’s a magnificent speckled mauve.

This yellow with the crimson centre is just too gorgeous for words.

Bangkok airport is generously decorated with wonderful orchid displays.

In the Spring, there are stunning peach and cherry blossoms blooming in Beijing.

The magnolia flowers are all out at the Summer Palace.

Now let’s come back down to earth and visit our local nursery for a poinsettia.

Not so spectacular, but we usually find what we’re looking for.

Even on our roads we have flower bedecked cars. This one decorated from front to back with an elaborately crafted netting of chinchincherees, was carrying a bride on the way to her wedding.

I wondered how the driver could see where he was going. 😉

Last but not least are the lovely flower displays in the restaurant where hubby and I went for a fabulous dinner last night. Much to my delight, there were more orchids,

and then more…….. orchids. 😀

By now I guess you are all orchid-ed out. 😉

Today is my umpteenth birthday, and we’re going off up the hill to eat out yet again, this time with my mom, sister and brother-in-law. Tomorrow I will fast. 😆

Wishing you all a great weekend.

Travel theme: Tradition (under the Tuscan Sun)

Ailsa of  “Where’s my backpack” fame, created a travel challenge: Tradition. I’m a bit late with my post, as the new challenge comes out tomorrow.

She asks us, “What is your interpretation of tradition? If you’d like to join in, create your own post, title it “Travel theme: tradition” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post.”

So, continuing on from my “Florence” post:

From Florence, we drove through avenues of Cypress trees, past olive groves and vineyards reminiscent of the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” whilst Andrea Bocelli serenaded us with his wonderful voice and Italian songs. Our next stop was to the World Heritage site, the typically Tuscan, Medieval town of San Gimignano. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town. Despite the passing of the centuries, this town has managed to preserve its Medieval architecture and its charm, and today is considered to be one of Tuscany’s greatest treasures. The “city of the beautiful towers,” as it is often called, has been a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

The city was built on top of a hill about 300 meters high and enjoys a wonderful view of the entire Elsa Valley that surrounds it. Historical records going back to the 10th century mention that the city is named in honor of Saint Geminianus, a bishop from Modena.

We were able to spend a few hours, basking in the beauty of this ancient town, with its tall stone buildings and narrow streets.

The main square has the town’s 13th century water cistern, in the centre and is surrounded by some of the town’s majestic towers.

Everywhere you look, there is beautiful, traditional medieval architecture.

Whilst in other cities, such as Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying heights which have become its international symbol.

The Punch and Judy show is an Italian tradition, and has roots in the 16th century Italian “Commedia dell’arte.”  The figure of Punch derives from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella which was anglicised to Punchinello.

Another tradition of San Gimignano, is Wild Boar meat. This shop sells it in many forms, such as sausage and salami.

Out on the street, you can get a bread roll filled with slices of this Wild Boar, whilst it watches as you pull out your money. 😉

Another great Italian tradition is of course their delicious gelato, which I may have mentioned before. 😉 Ice cream is a very serious business, and we got to taste the best gelato in the world, made by master ice cream maker, Sergio Dondoli, of the Gelateria located in the central Piazza della Cisterna. Newspaper clippings on the walls of his establishment, in German, English and Italian, not to mention the letters from all over Europe, testify to his popularity. His chocolate ice-cream even won the title of the world’s “best ice-cream of the year.”

I know some of you have seen this before in my “food” post, but I think it bears looking at again.

Three scoops of our choice were included in our package, and I chose Chocolate Grand Marnier, Raspberry & Rosemary, and Creme do Patzi Chocolate Orange. So very yummy!

One place which I didn’t fancy going into, was the ‘Museo Torture’ which has on display all the incredible and terrifying devices and techniques of medieval torture, instruments for the execution of the death penalty, and interesting documents of the Santa Inquisizione, or Holy Inquisition, a medieval church court instituted to seek out and prosecute heretics with horrible torture practices.

All too soon it was time to leave for our hotel, and as we drove away from this town full of traditions, our guide told us that we were going to stop at the roadside for one last look back, as we sipped a very small glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

A lovely end to a perfect day “under the Tuscan sun.”

Next stop Venice, via the Leaning Tower of Pisa.









My 7 Super Shots.

My blog friend, Gilly over at Lucid Gypsy chose me for the http://blog.hostelbookers.com/travel/7-super-shots/  I’m supposed to choose seven out of the many thousands of photos lurking on my computer.

The first is to be one that “took my breath away,” so I’ve chosen this one taken over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, when I did my first and only helicopter ride. I was lucky to be seated in the front, next to the pilot, and took several shots. This is the one that came out the best, and the view from up there did literally “take my breath away.”

The next is to be the one that “makes me think.” Shamu the magnificent Orca at Sea World in San Diego, made me think about how these creatures are really missing out on their freedom to swim the vast oceans, by being confined in such a limited space for our enjoyment and entertainment.

The third photo taken on Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, is one that makes me dream. What about you?

“A shot that makes me smile,” has to be this one of Dolly the Bottlenose dolphin, also taken at Sea World. She sure does look happy. 😉

“A photo that tells a story,” is quite a difficult one, but I think this one fits the bill. Here’s my granddaughter at her school prize giving, with her awards for academic excellency; a story of  hard work and dedication to her studies.

“A photo that makes my mouth water,” will of course have to be food orientated, so I’ll roll out my Godiva chocolate cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory in New Jersey. Absolutely mouth-watering. 🙂

Now for my “worthy of National Geographic” shot. Every time you visit my blog, you will see this photo on my background, taken from the top of Machu Picchu in the Cusco region of Peru. It’s often referred to as “The City of the Incas,” and is a UNESCO site, having been voted one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007. This is the most awesome place I’ve ever visited, and as you can see, very photogenic.

Well those are my seven ‘super shots’. I’m not sure which one I like the best. Maybe you have an opinion.

I now have to nominate five bloggers to take part in this challenge, only if they would like to of course.

My choice is:






Jake’s Sunday Post: Collectibles

Jake’s Sunday Post theme for this week, is ‘Collectibles’. This was quite simple for me, as I only have two collections to show you. There is quite a difference between collecting and hoarding, and today I’ve been so busy clearing hoards of stuff out of my cupboards and filling large garbage bags with all manner of unwanted, unneeded items, some to be sent to my mom’s church fete, and others for the animal welfare charity shop. All will bring in much needed funds, and rather that than cluttering up my cupboards and closets. I will sleep well tonight. 😉

Collectibles are in Jake’s own words,  “groups of items of a similar type that are acquired and saved as a hobby……the world of collectibles is ultimately limited only by the imagination and desire of the collector.”

Many years ago I started collecting bells, and at one time, I think I must have had over three hundred of them; china, ceramic, glass, crystal, you name it, I wanted it. Everywhere we went, I bought bells; from flea markets, china shops, souvenir shops, car boot sales etc.. People knew exactly what to buy me for Birthday and Christmas presents. 😉 When we moved out of our big house to our smaller one at the coast, I had to pare down my collection, and gave many away to charity shops and a few to friends.

Here is what I have left, and I’m sure that one day, I will have to give even more of them away.

These are my Princess bells, bought at Disney Land and Disney World.

Here are my Christmas bells collected over the years. My very favourite bell is the Royal Doulton, “Tidings of angels” in the centre.

There’s quite an assortment in this cabinet, and I just love the little angel bells at the top.

More bells on the shelves in my armoire which stands in the dining room.

I have a few more dotted around the house too.

My other collection is Teddy Bears. This is the Teddy family which sits all together in one of the bedrooms. The big brown bear in the middle, is the daddy bear who keeps them all in order. As you may notice, there are other little animals which they’ve adopted. The bull and the lion always have to be next to one another. That’s hubby and I, Taurus and Leo. 😉

I nearly forgot these two, both bought for me by my son. The straw one was from a flower shop in Johannesburg, and the wooden one, he sent over from New York with a friend who was coming to South Africa on holiday. He wasn’t too impressed at having to carry a teddy bear in his back pack, but he owed a favour, so couldn’t really refuse. 😉

If you want to see what other bloggers have contributed to this challenge, just go here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

The Weekly Photo Challenge ‘Inside’, had me remembering places I and my family had been delighted to be inside on our travels.

In 1995, our teenage son, who was at that time an avid Knight Rider fan, was thrilled to be able to actually sit inside the famous K.I.T.T. car, when we visited Universal Studios in L.A..

I’d read about the ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’, but never dreamed that one day I would go for lunch inside the bar of  ‘Big Nose Kate’s Saloon’,

where the night before the famous gunfight, the participants had been carousing.

I was also thrilled to be able to go inside the infamous ‘Birdcage Theatre’, which in the late 19th century gained the reputation of being, “the wildest, wickedest night post between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.”

There are 120 bullet holes evident throughout the building, but I didn’t however expect that when I stood at the bar, the Sheriff/barman would pull out his gun and point it it right at me. 😉

It had always been a dream of mine to see the pyramids of Egypt, and  in 1992 that dream was realised, when I got to actually go inside the tombs of the ancient Pharaohs.

Elvis was my favourite Rock ‘n’ Roll star of all time, so in 1997, I was thrilled to find myself inside his home at Graceland, and to be able to wander through the Hall of Fame.

The Forbidden City in Beijing had always sounded so mystical to me, and in 1999, I was privileged to visit this palatial complex which contains 9,999 rooms. Here is a photo taken inside ‘The Hall of Preserving Harmony’.

Well, I think that’s enough ‘inside’ memories for this challenge. Hope you’re all having a great weekend.

Lovely Florence, Michelangelo’s David and an Italian bridegroom.

Continuing on with my Italian trip in October last year:

After leaving Capri, we took the ferry back to Naples, and experienced the first rain of our trip. Fortunately, we were travelling by coach for most of the day, so it didn’t matter at all. We started off on our journey to Tuscany, passing settlements of shack dwellings on the outskirts of the city. This pic was taken through a rain spattered window in the coach.

I can’t think where that old saying, “See Naples and die,” came from, as it didn’t strike me as a place I would want to spend any time in. The streets looked dirty, and the buildings in a bad state of repair. Maybe we just had to drive through the less salubrious part from the docks in order to get onto the highway. That phrase was most probably coined during the city’s “Golden Age” in the reign of the Bourbons. I believe that there is a royal palace at Caserta, which has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. It has 1,200 rooms and is one of the largest and most opulent buildings to be built in Europe during the 18th century.

Our coach was very comfortable with lots of leg room, as there were only forty seats, unlike most, which have fifty-five. The sun peeped through the clouds as we drove along the highway, with the Apennine mountain range on our right, and on our left, small towns like this one perched high up on the hillside.

When we stopped for a comfort break, our guide suddenly produced trays of fresh Santa Rosa Sfogliatelle, a delicacy of Naples, which our driver Fabio, had collected from the bakery early that morning.

These delicious baked pastries are shaped like a lobster tail, filled with yellow custard and topped with cherries. So delicious, but impossible to eat in a lady-like manner. Fortunately, serviettes were also provided to wipe our sticky paws.

We arrived in Florence, ‘Firenze’ as it is called in Italian, in the mid afternoon, and were taken to the ‘Hotel Brunelleschi’ which is a magnificently restored historical building, under the ‘Dome of Mary of the Flowers’, right in the city centre. The Paggliazza Tower which forms part of the hotel, dates back to the 6th century, and is the oldest standing structure in Florence.

Our room was lovely, but not nearly as big as the one in Capri, and despite being really grand, there was not a single drawer to put anything in, and the wardrobe had no doors on it. The marble bathroom was gorgeous, but had not a single shelf or surface to stand any bottles, so my lotions and magic potions had to be relegated to the floor.

We had a guided walk around the ‘City of the Flowers’, and as we emerged into the main street, we were amused and delighted to see this exuberant bridegroom-to-be, being transported to his wedding by his enthusiastic groomsmen.

In the Republic Square, was a grand parade of men wearing ancient soldiers’ uniforms, celebrating the anniversary of the founding of the city’s police force.

This is only a replica of Michelangelo’s David, the original having been moved to the museum, to protect it from pigeon poo and vandals.

The Italians do love their statues. and they were everywhere;  famous scientists, philosophers and astrologers, as well as this one of the Roman god Perseus, holding the severed head of Medusa, with her corpse at his feet.

The Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of Florence’s six bridges, is one of the city’s best known images and is lined with expensive Goldsmith’s shops.

Our guide told us that in this area a small one-bedroomed apartment overlooking the river, can cost in the region of 800,000 Euros.

At the entrance to the bridge, we saw a whole collection of padlocks. Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw the key into the Arno River below, your love will last forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for expressly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity. Most of the padlocks had to be removed by the city council, as they were spoiling the bridge’s beauty. Nowadays to discourage this practice, there is a hefty fine for anyone seen doing this, so some couples just come to touch the remaining locks and make a wish that their love will last forever.

The beautiful Gothic style “Duomo” in Cathedral Square, begun in the year 1296 and only completed in 1436, is 110m high and has four hundred and sixty-five steps to the terrace at the top; no lift of course.

Florence is absolutely infested with sculptures, like this Neptune figure whose face is said to resemble Cosimo I de’ Medici. He stands on a high pedestal in the middle of an octagonal fountain, the middle of which is decorated with many more mythical figures. This was the first public fountain in Florence and is in the Piazza Della Signoria,

No photography was allowed inside the museum, so you are spared more statue pics, but we did see the original ‘David’ which weighs in at 6 tons. The story behind this masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, is that Michelangelo stole cadavers from graveyards at night, to use as models for his statue. He looked like a perfect specimen to me, but our guide pointed out that there is an iron fault line in some of the marble, which has resulted in him having blue veins in his legs, so take heart ladies, even the magnificent David has ‘varicose veins’.  😉

Wishing you all a great weekend. Next week, I’ll take you all to see the beautiful Tuscan town of San Gimignano.

Ailsa’s travel theme: Food

“There is no sincerer love, than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

On my travels, I’ve eaten some wonderful meals and blogged quite a few of them already, so for Ailsa’s travel food challenge, I thought I’d just concentrate on shopping for the ingredients needed  to make meals in different countries.

Of course unless you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be needing some meat, so we’ll go to Peru for a nice bit of guinea pig. Feel free to choose the plumpest one that takes your fancy.

Or how about a nice succulent chicken from The Medina in Morocco?

or a few tasty slices of Wild Boar, sold on the street in the beautiful medieval town of San Gimignano in Tuscany?

Now we have the meat sorted, we’ll move on to the vegetables, starting off with a wonderful choice of corn at a market in Peru, on the road from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Healthy, fresh veggies can also be found at this market in Cuenco in the highlands of Ecuador.

In the hills just outside Marrakech, you will find a vegetable market frequented by the locals, so the prices may be more reasonable than those closer to the city.

As you can see, it’s not too busy, so you may probably be able to negotiate a good price with these guys.

Here at the Medina at Fes, is the most amazing selection of nuts, dates and dried fruit.

Then for a delicious dessert, we can travel back to San Gimignano to the famous “Gelateria di Piazza” in the Piazza della Cisterna. Sergio is the master ice cream maker there, and his ice cream parlour is mentioned in the most important world guides. This small shop with all its tempting choices, is continuously visited by national and international celebrities and television crews; but be prepared to take a number, and stand in line for quite a while.

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” Mark Twain