Travel Theme: Hot

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week is Hot. As it is currently incredibly cold here in Wales I’m hoping this theme will help me feel a bit warmer.

Myrtos Beach
I experienced a lot of hot places when I lived in Greece, including Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia
Death Valley is probably the hottest place I’ve ever visited, though. We’d prepared by filling our water bottles up before we got there, but even they were boiling within an hour.
I thought I might be imagining things when I saw the General Store. I bought soda and an ice lolly and they tasted sooooo good.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

This post is part of the Weekly Photo Challenge. Please click here to see more entries.

I am thankful for being an aunty.

I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be an aunty at an early age. My only brother was always adamant that he didn’t want children, and the church will not allow me to be an official godmother because my parents chose to not have me traditionally baptised. I am really lucky to have grown up with an aunty who has loved me unconditionally and supported me from the day I was born. I was gutted that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience the same role.

Twenty years on, and how things have changed. My brother took a u-turn on the reproducing front four years ago (to the day – it’s my nephew’s birthday today) and he and his wife now have three beautiful children. And although the church will still not allow me to be part of the actual ceremony, a few of my friends have asked me to take on the role of godmother in their children’s lives. There are now ten children who call me Aunty Sas, and I’m sure there will be more in the future.

My nephew’s flower garden

I’m thankful for helping them to learn new things.

My nephew holding a ladybug

I’m thankful for making new discoveries with them.

My godson’s Halloween pumpkin
My nephew made this artwork from a postcard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that I sent him

I’m thankful that, like me, they love to explore their creative side.

My godson’s first time ice-skating

I’m thankful that they let me enjoy new experiences with them.

My goddaughter trying to drown out the noise of a fire engine
My godson disguised as a chipmunk

I’m thankful when they make me laugh.

My godson on a camping trip to Whitesands

And I’m thankful for all the great adventures I have with them.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it! Thank you for allowing us all to be part of your celebration. I would like to dedicate this post to my Aunty Jackie, the best role model I could have wished for in how to be a great aunty.

Travel theme: Liquid

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Liquid. Below is my entry, click here to see other entries.
I’m used to being around liquid. I grew up by the sea in Blackpool.
Wherever I travel in the world, I’ve always been attracted to water, like the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas …
… or getting soaked on the Maid of the Mist tour at Niagara Falls.
And not forgetting, of course, my favourite liquid, the frozen kind 🙂





Travel Theme: Bright

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Bright. We definitely need some brightness to stand out against the autumnal colours in wet, windy Wales at the moment.

Ithaca Shop Front

During my time working in Greece, I was lucky enough to visit the small but beautiful island of Ithaca. Compared to its larger neighbours, there’s not much on the island, but I’ve never seen a place look so bright and colourful. I loved this shop front with it’s mysterious looking jars in the window.

Ithaca boat

Even the sea was a bright turquoise blue.

The biggest TV in the world, Las Vegas

I couldn’t resist putting in a shot from Vegas as well. This is the biggest TV in the world. Coming from Blackpool, I thought I was used to bright lights, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw in Vegas. Before I took this shot, I’d just stood there for five minutes with my mouth open.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

As I can’t read Italian, all the words in this photo are foreign to me. No matter where you are in the world, though, signs and symbols will tell you all you need to know. The green man lets me know it’s safe(r than average to cross the road – in Italy the green man doesn’t necessarily mean that the traffic has to stop) and the pictures on the signs direct me to the tourist attractions.

Pisa Trip Day 3 – Livorno

Dark clouds and the occasional shower the previous day had threatened that the weather would change. On my third day in Pisa, I woke to grey skies and rain. Just my luck that the wet weather would arrive on the one day I planned to go to the coast.

Today my quest was to catch the train to Livorno, sometimes known as Leghorn, the second largest city in Tuscany, that was rebuilt after heavy bombing during World War II. During my short walk to Pisa Central train station, I admired the adaptability of the street hawkers. One minute they’re trying to sell you watches and sunglasses, then as soon as there’s the first sighting of even the tiniest cloud in the sky, these disappear to be replaced by umbrellas for sale. As I have a fear of umbrellas, having them shoved in my face by people trying to get me to buy one every few yards isn’t the most comfortable experience for me. Before you say it, no, my fear is not irrational. The spiky bits on the end of umbrellas really hurt if they poke you in the eye, and my hair always gets caught in the metal workings. I battled my way through and made my way onto the train to Livorno.

In stark contrast to the old, traditional winding streets of Pisa and Lucca, Livorno is a very modern, metropolitan city. This is probably due to the extent that it was rebuilt after the war.

One part of the city that thankfully survived the bombings is the area known as ‘Piccola Venezia’, or ‘Little Venice’. With its small canals running between the streets and under petite bridges, Little Venice brings a real charm to Livorno. The centre piece of the Piccola Venezia area is the Fortezza Nuova, a massive fort built for the Medici family in the late 16th century. The inside of the fort is now a park, although unfortunately I couldn’t get in to the park because of building works at the entrance. Building works seemed to be following me everywhere this week! Not everything was working against me, though. The sun came out as I was walking around the outside of the fort.

One of the bridges that crosses the canals in the Venice District
This bridge connects Fortezza Nuova to the rest of Livorno, and is also the entrance to the park which is now inside the fort
I had to take this picture, I love the way that all the doors to the little boat houses are painted different colours

Fortezza Vecchia, on the waterfront, is also known as ‘The Old Fort’ and was constructed 60 years earlier than Fortezza Nuova on the site of an 11th century building. When Cosimo, the first Grand-Duke of Tuscany, began the plans for building the port of Livorno, he had a palace built for himself inside the fort so he could keep an eye on things. The building was also used as a prison during the 1800s.

Fortezza Vecchia
The worrying cracks in the side of the Old Fort make it look like it could fall apart at any minute