A Day at Windsor Castle

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At Windsor Castle
At Windsor Castle

Not long ago, I found myself with a full day layover in London. About three weeks previously, we had spent the best part of the week in London. Knowing we’d have a full day back in London at the end of our trip, we mused over how to spend the day. While I can always find things to do in London, I suggested we explore the option of spending the day at Windsor Castle which is less than an hour from central London and even less distance from Heathrow International Airport where we were spending the night in one of the airport hotels before returning home to Canada.

The hotel consierge was very helpful, pointing out the travel options to Windsor – private car hire, taxi, bus, etc. Since we were not in a rush, we opted to take a public bus out to Windsor. We often like to do this in places we visit if we are not in a hurry as it lets us see parts of cities and places we would not otherwise see.  As we traveled through, and made stops in, small communities along the way, I almost felt like I was on Coronation Street! I half expected Sally or Gail to step outside one of the houses we passed by! If you are a Coronation Street fan, you’ll know who Sally and Gail are.

It had been 29 years since our last visit to Windsor and I have to admit I did not remember Windsor Castle at all though I vividly, for some reason, remembered High Street.

Windsor, England
Windsor, England

Of course, at the time of writing, just the day before the May 19, 2018 royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Windsor Castle is very much in the news.  The couple will wed in St. George’s Chapel seen in the photos below.

St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Gothic Architecture of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle
Gothic Architecture of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

One could easily spend a couple of days exploring the grounds and state apartments of Windsor Castle.  We took a self-guided tour through the castle grounds and inside the state apartments and marveled at the opulence and the lavish artifacts, furnishings, and works of art by master painters. Photography is not permitted inside the state apartments or in St. George’s Chapel. One of the great things about a self-guided tour is that you can spend as much, or as little, time as you like in certain areas of the castle as you are on your own and not being hurried along by a tour guide anxious to move on to the next point of interest.

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It is said to be one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite palaces and a castle in which she spends considerable time. The Royal Standard flies above the Round Tower at Windsor Castle when Her Majesty is in residence. The flag in the photo below is the one that was flying on the day we visited Windsor Castle.

The Royal Standard
The Royal Standard

The Round Tower is one of the most iconic and photographed structures at Windsor Castle.

The Round Tower, Windsor Castle
The Round Tower, Windsor Castle

Established in the 11th Century, Windsor Castle has been home to 39 monarchs. Because it is a royal residence, it is guarded by ceremonial guards in dashing red tunics and bearskin hats.

Guard at Windsor Castle
Guard at Windsor Castle

I can’t imagine the weight and heat of one of these hats on a hot summer day!

Guard at Windsor Castle
Guard at Windsor Castle

The details!

Uniform of Windsor Castle Guard
Uniform of Windsor Castle Guard

We were blessed with beautiful weather during our day visit to Windsor Castle.

Norman Gate, Windsor Castle
Norman Gate, Windsor Castle

Look for lots of turrets and other architectural elements on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Windsor Castle
At Windsor Castle

Because of its close proximity to Heathrow International Airport, be prepared to see and hear lots of airplanes during a visit to Windsor Castle.

At Windsor Castle
At Windsor Castle

The  Castle is laid off in wards. The gray gothic quadrangle in the photo below is in the south wing of the upper ward, the area in which the official entrance (to the left outside the photo range) to the state apartments is located.

Gray Gothic Quadrangle at Windsor Castle
Gray Gothic Quadrangle at Windsor Castle

The bronze statute in the photo below is of Charles II.

Charles II Bronze Statute at Windsor Castle
Charles II Bronze Statute at Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is steeped in history. If these walls could talk, I am sure they would have quite the stories to tell!

At Windsor Castle
At Windsor Castle

There are about 500 residents who live and work at Windsor Castle. This colorful floral display outside a window of one of the private apartments caught my eye. The bright cherry flowers are in stark contrast to the austere gray stone walls.

Private Apartment at Windsor Castle
Private Apartment at Windsor Castle

The weather threatened rain during our visit but, fortunately, it did not materialize. The formidable cloud formations and lighting added mood to the archaic buildings.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

The small town of Windsor, itself, is very charming and I hope to return one day, spending more time exploring the town and the castle as well.

At Windsor in the County of Berkshire, England
At Windsor in the County of Berkshire, England

The bronze statute of Queen Victoria is an iconic visual of the royal ambiance that is Windsor Castle.

Windsor, England
Queen Victoria Statute in Windsor, England

Windsor, in the English county of Berkshire, has some lovely shopping areas.

Shopping Arcade in Windsor, England
Shopping Arcade in Windsor, England

And, of course, it’s always fun to check out the fascinators and unique hats!

Fascinators and Hats
Fascinators and Hats

You’ll be amazed at how much of Windsor Castle you can see in a one-day visit. However, I am hoping my next visit will be a bit longer as Windsor itself is a lovely town and there is a lot to see.

At Windsor Castle
At Windsor Castle

But, alas, it is time to head home and start planning a return visit to England!

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Olympic Origins – A Visit to Ancient Olympia, Greece

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If you have ever watched the ceremony of Greek Priestesses lighting the Olympic flame in advance of an Olympics Game, this is where that happens – at the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia. Once every four years, this ceremony is held as the lit flame then takes off on its journey to the site of that year’s Olympic Games.

Ruins of Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia, Greece
Ruins of Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia, Greece

The archaeological site of Olympia is a world UNESCO site.  Located in the Valley of Peloponnesus, the site is about 45 minutes or so from Katakolon.

Vaulted Entrance to Stadium, Ancient Olympia, Greece
Vaulted Entrance to Stadium, Ancient Olympia, Greece

Largely, the archaeological site consists of the remains of the different sporting structures which were erected for the original games that began in 776BC.

Archaeological Site of Olympia, Greece
Archaeological Site of Olympia, Greece

The ruins of the Philippeion, shown in the photo below, are what remains of the original colonnade that had 18 columns and a marble roof. It was built to celebrate King Philip’s Battle of Chaeronea, King Philip being king of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon from 359BC to 336BC.

Ruins of the Philippeion in Ancient Olympia, Greece
Ruins of the Philippeion in Ancient Olympia, Greece
Philippeion
Philippeion
Ruins of Philippeion, Ancient Olympia, Greece
Ruins of Philippeion, Ancient Olympia, Greece
Ancient Olympia, Greece
Ancient Olympia, Greece

A popular activity is to take a horse and carriage ride around the perimeter of the archaeological site.

Horse and Carriage Ride around Ancient Olympia site
Horse and Carriage Ride around Ancient Olympia site

Today’s modern Olympics have come a long way from the original games that consisted of events such as foot races, wrestling, discus, javelin throwing, long jump, boxing, and horse and chariot racing.

Have you visited Ancient Olympia?

Magnificent Montenegro

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I enjoyed my first visit to Montenegro. I arrived by cruise ship, like many visitors do.

Windstar's "Star Pride"
Windstar’s “Star Pride”

That’s us in the photo below (ms Eurodam – Holland America Line) docked in Kotor for the day.  Located in the Bay of Kotor, this is one of the most scenic sail-ins/sail-outs I have experienced. It was a busy Sunday in Kotor with several cruise ships visiting and we were the one lucky ship that was docked portside which is always a plus.

ms Eurodam Docked in Kotor, Montenegro
ms Eurodam Docked in Kotor, Montenegro

Montenegro is located along the Adriatic. A small country, bordered by Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Servia, Kosovo, and Albania, Montenegro is rich in history. Click here for my posting on nearby Dubrovnik.

As can be seen from the photos, Montenegro is quite mountainous.

Mountains of Montenegro
Mountains of Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro

We spent our time wandering through the fortified medieval old town that is bordered by stone walls dating from the 15th century.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lots of narrow cobblestone streets and alleys to explore. Kotor can be quite crowded during peak tourism season and especially when there are several cruise ships in port. There were three docked on the day of my visit.

Old Town Kotor
Inside Kotor’s Old Town
In Old Town Kotor, Montenegro
In Old Town Kotor, Montenegro

The clock tower in the old town is one of Kotor’s most recognizable landmarks. Dating back to the 16th century, the clock tower features both Baroque and Gothic architecture.

Clock Tower in Kotor's Old Town
Clock Tower in Kotor’s Old Town

We concentrated our visit on two points of interest – The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon and the Maritime Museum.

Like many historic European cathedrals, the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon is filled with stunning architecture.

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro

The interior of the Cathedral is in beautiful soft soothing tones of pink. It has a rich collection of artifacts and is well worth some time just admiring the interior.

Interior of Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro
Interior of Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro
Interior of Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro
Interior of Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro

About halfway up St. John’s Mountain is the Church of Our Lady of Remedy built in the 16th century. This church can only be reached by foot and the path is not an easy one to traverse.

Church of Our Lady of Remedy, Kotor, Montenegro
Church of Our Lady of Remedy, Kotor, Montenegro

A schooner day sail departs from Kotor.

Day Cruise in Kotor, Montenegro
Day Cruise in Kotor, Montenegro

The sea plays a major role in life in Kotor and surrounding areas.

Out for a Sunday Sail in the Bay of Kotor
Out for a Sunday Sail in the Bay of Kotor

In this part of the Adriatic, it’s very common to see luxury yachts of all shapes and sizes out cruising.

Cruising in the Bay of Kotor
Cruising in the Bay of Kotor

When you sail in and out of Kotor, there are miles of scenic landscapes at which to marvel. Two islets, in particular, stand out.

The first islet is St. George Island just off the cost of Perast in the Bay of Kotor. It houses the Saint George Benedictine Monastry (behind the trees in the photo below) from the 12th century.

St. George Island, Montenegro
St. George Island, Montenegro

The second islet is the Lady of the Rocks.  Legend has it that this artificial island was formed by seamen who, successfully returning from a sea voyage, would drop a rock in this area of the Bay of Kotor. Through time, this little mass of an islet surfaced. The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks and its museum are the largest structures on this small islet.

Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro
Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro

The photo below is the town of Perast, Montenegro. The church in the photo is Saint Nicolas’ Day Church built in 1616.

Prevast, Montnegro
Prevast, Montnegro
Along the Bay of Kotor
Along the Bay of Kotor
Along the Bay of Kotor
Along the Bay of Kotor
Along the Bay of Kotor
Along the Bay of Kotor
Near Kotor, Montenegro
Near Kotor, Montenegro
Near Kotor, Montenegro
Near Kotor, Montenegro

I would visit Montenegro again in a heartbeat! It has lovely mountain scenery that dips down to beautiful blue water, all natural beauty. This, combined with the rich culture and historical heritage of the area, makes Montenegro a “must visit” when in the Adriatic area.

Boat in Kotor
Boat in Kotor

Visiting the Goats at PEI’s Island Hill Farm

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Island Hill Farm, Hampshire, PEI
Island Hill Farm, Hampshire, PEI

In the small rural community of Hampshire, about 15 minutes from Charlottetown, in Prince Edward Island, you can find a goat farm.  But, this is not just any ordinary goat farm. This is a family-friendly farm where visitors can interact with the animals. Well, heck, you can even take the goats for a walk on their leashes!

Off on the Goat Walk at Island Hill Farm, Hampshire, PEI
Off on the Goat Walk at Island Hill Farm, Hampshire, PEI
Off on the Goat Walk at Island Hill Farm, PEI
Off on the Goat Walk at Island Hill Farm, PEI

I have known about Island Hill Farm for several years now but always thought it was more children-oriented.  However, one day this summer, while I was on holidays, we decided to pay a visit to the farm and discovered that there were more adults, than children, wandering around playing with the goats!  In fact, two women told us that they visit the farm every few months to see how the baby goats have grown and to see what’s new and happening on the farm. As one woman told me, she originally thought it was a place that you only went if you had children but soon discovered that adults like the goats just as much as small children do.

One of some 70 goats at Island Hill Farm, PEI
One of some 70 goats at Island Hill Farm, PEI

When Flory Sanderson’s husband gave her a few goats one year for Christmas, it was the catalyst for her to start a goat farm.  It’s a popular venue for birthday parties, particularly for younger children.  In fact, I have seen photos of some pretty elaborate birthday events held at the farm. There are, of course, the goats to play with along with bunnies, chickens, pigs,  alpaca, and the various and sundry animals one would expect to see on a farm.

There are activities and demos that take place throughout the day that include story time with Flory and goat milking demonstrations.

Island Hill Farm Owner, Florrie Sanderson, Giving a Goat Milking Demonstration
Island Hill Farm Owner, Florrie Sanderson, Giving a Goat Milking Demonstration

There are also opportunities to bottle feed the goats which is always a popular activity.

Bottle Feeding a Young Goat at Island Hill Farm, PEI
Bottle Feeding a Young Goat at Island Hill Farm, PEI

With over 70 goats, Flory will amaze you by identifying each by name and, if you ask her, don’t be surprised if she can also tell you their lineage and who each goat’s siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are! Flory loves her “kids”!

The goats love to go on walks and are very accustomed to being around people.  They trot right along on their leashes. Some don’t need leashes as they just follow along, stopping to munch on some grass along the way.

On the Goat Walk at Island Hill Farm, PEI
On the Goat Walk at Island Hill Farm, PEI

On our walk, we headed down the hill from the farm and over to the beehives. If you want to stop and take a break, the goats will obligingly stop and wait for you.

Goat at Island Hill Farm, PEI
Goat at Island Hill Farm, PEI

It’s a little bit of an uphill climb back to the farm. The farm youth volunteer who was on the walk with us said we could let the goats off their leashes on the return trip back to the farm as they would just follow along, knowing their destination, which they did.

Heading back to the farm from the goat walk at Island Hill Farm, PEI
Heading back to the farm from the goat walk at Island Hill Farm, PEI
Heading Home from the Walk
Heading Home from the Walk

At the end of our visit, we enjoyed a taste of goat milk ice cream made on the farm and it was delicious. You can also find a small gift shop on the premises that sells goat milk soap, etc.  The farm, located at#351 HWY 225 , in Hampshire, PEI,  is open year round. A nominal entrance fee applies. You can find more information on the farm’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/IslandHillFarm/

Visiting Island Hill Farm brings out the “kid” in everybody, no matter your age!

Lobster Season on Prince Edward Island

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Ah, yes, springtime on PEI.  One of the harbingers of spring that we Islanders most look forward to is the opening of lobster season.

Lobster Fishing in PEI
Setting Day for the Spring Lobster Fishery in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Wharves around the Island are humming with activity as fishers prepare their boats, gear, and lobster traps for the lobster fishing season.

Fishing Shacks
North Rustico, PEI

Some have fished all their lives and some come from generations of fishers before them.

Lobster Traps
Checking on the Lobster Traps

On PEI, there are actually two lobster fishing seasons. The first runs from May till the end of June and the second from August until October.

Many of the wharves on PEI are very picturesque and are an integral part of the local towns and villages like the one in French River seen in the photo below.

Fishing Harbour, PEI
French River, PEI, Canada

In fact, several are located right in the middle of the towns and villages like those in Victoria and North Rustico, for example.

Fishing Boats in Victoria Harbour, PEI
Victoria Harbour, PEI

They tend to draw many tourists each year because they are colorful and there’s always some kind of activity going on, particularly during fishing season.

Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI
North Rustico, PEI

I find fishing ports interesting subjects to photograph – intriguing subject matter, colorful objects, and a variety of lines, shapes, and colors. Maybe even the fisher’s laundry!

Lobster Fishing
Fisherman’s Laundry

Preparations for Setting Day – the day all the boats leave ports in their boats laden with lobster traps to drop at sea – see shiny boats, new traps, and colorful lines and buoys.

PEI Harbour
New London Harbour, PEI
Buoys
Buoys
Lobster Traps
Lobster Traps

Many Islanders, regardless if they have family members in the fishing industry or not, gather on beaches and wharves before daybreak, around 5:30am or so, to see the lobster fishers off.

Gathering at French River, PEI, to Watch Lobster Boats Head out on Opening Day of the Season

The boats leave the harbours at 6:00am and it is quite a sight to see at sunrise, particularly if it is a large harbour or in an area where boats from more than one harbour gather to go out all together, as is the case in French River where these photos were taken. Dozens of boats parade out to lay the first traps of the season. Of course, mouths are watering, too, for that first bite of lobster, fresh from the cold waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In my opinion, this is the best lobster that is the sweetest, most tender, and it usually has the whitest meat.

Heading out of French River with a Load of Lobster Traps
Heading out of French River with a Load of Lobster Traps

If opening day is on a weekday, the first catch for market will be back on the wharf the following day. However, if opening day falls on a Saturday, the first catch will be hauled in on Monday as PEI fishers, by gentleman’s agreement, don’t fish on Sundays.

Lobster Fishing Boat
Arriving Back at Port with the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI
Lobster
Catch of the Day
Steamed Lobster
Fresh Steamed Lobster in the Shell

If you’re a lobster lover, there is nothing better than chowing down on a steamed lobster that is accompanied by homemade potato salad.  It’s a PEI tradition! Lobster is commonly dipped in melted butter and the lobster may be eaten hot or cold.

Lobster Dinner
Lobster Feed, PEI Style!
Lobster
Lobster for Dinner!

Lobster is so popular on PEI, in fact, that some Island restaurants specialize in what are known as “lobster suppers”. These are feasts that include, not only lobster and salads, but all the seafood chowder, steamed mussels, homemade rolls, and desserts you can eat. Best wear clothes with elasticized waistbands for one of these dinners because you won’t go away hungry!  These suppers are hugely popular with tourists because it’s a great way to experience a traditional PEI lobster feed in beautiful rural PEI settings. The two main lobster suppers are both located on the north side of the Island. New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, in operation since 1958, is the longest running lobster supper and is located alongside the River Clyde in beautiful New Glasgow, PEI.  The second lobster supper, Fisherman’s Wharf, is located right in the center of the fishing village of North Rustico. It boasts a 60-foot long salad bar.

The Island has many lighthouses, like the New London Range Rear Lighthouse shown in the photo below, that guide boats safely back to shore.  This lighthouse is sometimes referred to as the Yankee Hill Lighthouse in French River. You can read more about this lighthouse here.

PEI Lighthouse
New London Range Rear Lighthouse

 

 

 

Dubrovnik and Cavtat: Jewels in the Croatian Crown

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There is a reason why Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is often referred to as the pearl of the Adriatic. Situated on the Dalmatian Coast, along what is dubbed the Croatian Riviera, this city is steeped in history and culture, has a blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, and a stunning shoreline.

Fortified Wall City of Old Town Dubrovnik
Fortified Wall City of Old Town Dubrovnik

A wide boulevard known as the Stradun runs through the 1400 year-old medieval walled town.  Paved with limestone that is so polished, it looks like marble. In fact, it can be quite slippery underfoot. No vehicles are found in the old town.

The Stradun in Old Town Dubrovnik
The Stradun in Old Town Dubrovnik

Cafés and shops line both sides of the Stradun which is spotlessly  clean. People both live and work on the Stradun. While the ground floor houses shops and cafés, the upper floors of the Baroque style stone buildings are reserved for living accommodations. These outdoor cafés are super places to sample local fare, people watch, and soak up the local culture.

Sidewalk Café along the Stradun in Dubrovnik
Sidewalk Café along the Stradun in Dubrovnik

Narrow alleyways veer off from the Stradun and more of the Dubrovnik’s charm can be found around every corner.

Old Town Dubrovnik
Old Town Dubrovnik

One of the most recognizable landmarks is the Clock Tower at the end of the Stradun. It sits adjacent to the Sponza Palace and Saint Blaise Church.

Clock Tower in Dubrovnik
Clock Tower in Dubrovnik

A colorful array of street performers and buskers can be found inside the old town.

Busker/Street Performer in Dubrovnik
Busker/Street Performer in Dubrovnik
Busker/Street Performer in Dubrovnik
Busker/Street Performer in Dubrovnik

If you are a fan of the “Game of Thrones” series, you might catch some of the filming that occurs in the midst of thousands of tourists.

Filming the Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik
Filming the Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik

You might even be lucky enough to hear some Croatian music and see costumed dancers perform regional dances.

Regional Costuming, dancing and music in Dubrovnik
Regional Costuming, dancing and music in Dubrovnik

It’s possible to walk the walls of the fortified city; however, it was really warm on the day we visited Dubrovnik and there were thousands of tourists milling about so it was quite crowded both on the ground and up around the walls of the town. So, we decided to forego the climb and walk and found there was more than enough to see on the ground. If I return to Dubrovnik, I would go to the old town early in the day and walk the walls then.

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

A drive outside the old town of Dubrovnik, along the sparkling Adriatic Sea, reveals some stunning scenery.

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

A stop for a fabulous panoramic view of old town Dubrovnik is a must.

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

Beaches are a draw to the Croatian Riveria and hotels dot the shoreline.

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

We headed along a road high above sea level on the short drive along the Croatian Riviera to Cavtat. All along the route, there were stylish mega yachts dotting the blue Adriatic with the backdrop of many small islands.

Near Dubrovnik
Near Dubrovnik
Along the Croatian Riveria between Dubrovnik and Cavtat
Along the Croatian Riveria between Dubrovnik and Cavtat

Cavtat, a small harbour town, is about 20km south of Dubrovnik. It is less crowded than Dubrovnik.

Cavtat
Cavtat
Cavtat
Cavtat

Water activities play a major part in the life of locals and tourists alike.

Cavtat
Cavtat

A walk along the charming seafront promenade in Cavtat reveals many luxury yachts docked in this picturesque town.

"Tango" Yacht Docked in Cavtat
“Tango” Yacht Docked in Cavtat

Be prepared for jaw-dropping luxury yachts.

"Lucky Me" Yacht Docked in Cavtat
“Lucky Me” Yacht Docked in Cavtat

The tiled roofs are a characteristic trait in Cavtat.

Cavtat
Laundry Day in Cavtat
Cavtat
Cavtat

Colorful Bougainvillea grows everywhere, even up the sides of buildings and forms a lovely contrast against the old stone buildings with their tiled roofs.

Cavtat
Cavtat
Cavtat
Cavtat

Several sidewalk cafés circle around the harbour and it’s a lovely way spend a few hours in this delightful little Croatian town

Cavtat
Cavtat
A visit to charming Dubrovnik and Cavtat, Croatia

 

Exploring Manarola, (Cinque Terre) Italy

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Manarola, Italy, is a cliffside village in the province of La Spezia in the Liguria region of Northern Italy.  To situate the location, it is in the general area of Genoa, Pisa, and Florence. It is part of five (5) similar villages that form what is known as Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands”.  These are: Manarola, Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore. The villages have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have visited three (3) of these charming Italian villages and today I am focusing my blog post on Manarola.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

These villages are small and you won’t find vehicles in the streets  of Manarola so parking is outside the villages which you reach by foot if arriving in the area by vehicle. The only mode of transportation you are likely to see parked inside Manarola are little boats that the locals haul down the hill to the water.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

You can also reach the villages by train or by boat. Yes, even the train runs alongside the craggy cliffs.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

If you are up for some hiking, there are paths connecting the villages. One such path is shown to the right in the photo below. Moving in, around, and about these villages is on rough, uneven terrain so make sure you wear sturdy, comfortable footwear and come prepared for some strenuous walking.

Cinque Terre, Italy
Pathway along cliff in Manarola, Italy

We arrived by bus and, on the outskirts of Manarola, we came across some local grape harvesting.

Grape Harvesting in Cinque Terre, Italy
Grape Harvesting near Manarola, Italy

The Manarola area is known for its sweet Sciacchetrà wine and many of the vineyards are still family-owned.

Grape Harvesting Near Manarola, Italy
Grape Harvesting Near Manarola, Italy

Several of the vineyards are terraced as can be seen in the photo below.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

Some local fishing along with grape-growing, olive production and, of course, tourism, are the primary industries in this region.  Be prepared to share the villages with many other people who visit this area. The villages can be quite crowded, especially during the peak tourism periods of spring, summer, and fall. I visited Manarola on a Sunday in September and it was quite crowded, even quite early in the morning.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

It’s easy to see why tourists gravitate to these quaint seaside villages which are often characterized by their bright colorful houses built on the sides of steep cliffs.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

The colors of the houses are what one thinks of when associating colors with the Mediterranean.

Cinque Terre
Architecture and Color in Manarola, Italy
Manarola, Italy
Mediterranean Architecture and Color
Italian Shutters
Italian Shutters
Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy
Manarola, Italy
Quintessential Manarola, Italy

The famous bell tower in Manarola.

Cinque Terre
Bell Tower, Manarola, Italy

Be prepared to climb steep steps through narrow alleyways to get around Manarola.

Cinque Terre
Narrow Alleyway in Manarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

Some of the most beautiful scenery in the world can be found in Cinque Terre – “Five Lands”.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
The Craggy Cliffs of Manarola, Italy
Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Manarola, one of the five (5) Cinque Terre villages in Italy.

Cinque Terre
Manarola, Italy

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Cinque Terre, Italy
Manarola, Italy

Tour of Fanningbank Decorated for Christmas

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Government House
“Fanningbank”, Official Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island

Fanningbank is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island. Government House, as it is often called, is a large residence with Georgian influence. Its location in Charlottetown offers a commanding view of the waterfront.  Beautiful any time of the year, Fanningbank is stunning at Christmas.

I toured Government House today and am sharing some of the photos of the beautiful Christmas decorations. The current Lieutenant Governor, H. Frank Lewis and his wife, Dorothy Lewis, personally greeted each visitor to the annual Christmas open house held on December 6, 2016. The public rooms of the residence were open for visitors to view the beautifully decorated home.

Decorating of Fanningbank this year was completed under the direction of Shelly Campbell, curator of the Bideford Parsonage Museum, and she did a splendid job!  The photo below shows large decorated trees flanking each side of the wood-burning fireplace in the drawing room.  This is the room where their Honours receive visitors on formal occasions.

Government House
Formal Drawing Room at Fanningbank

The mahogany table in the formal dining room was formally set with the Lieutenant-Governor’s china.

Beautiful table!

Government House
Formal Dining Room at Fanningbank

A large traditionally decorated tree adorns the corner of the dining room.

Fanningbank Dining Room
Fanningbank Dining Room

Choir music added to the ambiance of the tour of Fanningbank and strains of their seasonal music could be heard as one toured the various rooms.

The Canada Remembers Choir Performs at the Fanningbank Christmas Open House
The Canada Remembers Choir Performs at the Fanningbank Christmas Open House

A festive Christmas tree adorns the sitting room at Fanningbank. The sitting room was originally the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

Tree in Sitting Room at Fanningbank
Tree in Sitting Room at Fanningbank

Fanningbank has several working fireplaces and each was individually decorated in style.

A little closer up look at the mantle of the sitting room fireplace.

Beautiful arrangements throughout the home.

Elegant touches.

Fanningbank is open for tours during regular scheduled hours in the summer. If you ever get a chance to visit Fanningbank, it is worth it. The residence is located at 1 Terry Fox Drive in Charlottetown, PEI.

The Seaside Village of Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI

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Fishing Boats in Victoria Harbour, PEI
Victoria Harbour, PEI

Victoria-by-the-Sea, a small fishing village, is located just off the Trans Canada Highway near Crapaud, about half way between Charlottetown and Summerside on PEI’s south shore. With a year round population of less than 200, summer brings a lot of visitors to this tiny, quaint village that is neatly laid out in a square grid. The village is very logically designed and it would be impossible to get lost!

Founded in 1819, Victoria was once a bustling seaport with schooners and steamboats making regular visits. Today, the life of the seamen is still evident and you can see fishing boats coming and going and landing their daily catches.

Trap Setting
Setting Crab Traps
Arriving in Victoria Harbour, PEI
Arriving Back in Port

Sailboats are a common sight in and around Victoria.

Sailing in PEI
Sailing into Victoria

A number of small pleasure craft find their way into the sheltered local harbour in the summer months.

Sailing in PEI
Pleasure Craft Docking in the Harbour

It’s quite extraordinary that this tiny village boasts no less than four lighthouses and it certainly attests to its long history with the sea.  The one in the photo below is the Seaport Lighthouse, built in 1879. It is the most recognizable of the four because it sits just adjacent to the harbour and is hard to miss.

Lighthouse with lupins
Seaport Lighthouse

The second lighthouse known as Leard’s Back Range was built in 1878 and sits in a field just to the entrance of the village.

Lighthouse in a field of potatoes
Leard’s Back Range Lighthouse

The third lighthouse is known as the Wright’s Back Range and was built in 1894.

PEI Lighthouse
Wrights Back Range Lighthouse

The fourth lighthouse – Wright’s Front Range – is very small (only 3.7 metres in height). Built in 1903, it sits on the edge of an Island red cliff.

Wright's Front Range Lighthouse
Wright’s Front Range Lighthouse

Water plays a big role around the Island for obvious reasons (we are, after all, an Island). Locals and tourists alike enjoy the sports of kayaking and  paddleboarding out from the harbour.

Paddleboarding
Paddleboarding in Victoria, PEI

It’s not uncommon to see kiteboarders out skimming the water around the shores of Victoria.

Water Sports in PEI
Kiteboarding

The village is flat terrain and easy to stroll around.  Look for interesting styles of houses like this one next to an antique shop.

Almost every house has hanging or sitting baskets of colorful flowers.

Many of the homes have cozy verandahs.

Verandah
A Cozy Verandah

Houses are in a myriad of colors.

Victoria PEI Architecture
Colorful houses in the seaside village

A favorite house in the village is this turquoise colored home with its dormers.

Victoria PEI Architecture
The Turquoise House

When I started my early morning stroll through the village, it was very foggy and, as the fog started to lift, it gave way to some very soft lighting for photos.

The photo below is of a home  with Queen Anne Revival influences found on Nelson Street. This property was once known as Dunrovin, one of the first tourist homes on PEI.  For many years, the Wood family ran this tourist business that included accommodations in both the house and cottages on the property.  At the time of writing, the cottages are being restored and will operate under the name of Victoria Cottages.

Home in Victoria, PEI
Stately Architecture in Victoria, PEI

The Orient Hotel, built in 1900, welcomes summer guests to its bed and breakfast on Main Street. This local landmark is known for its colorful array of chairs on the front verandah that invite guests to stop and pause awhile.

Accommodations in Victoria, PEI
The Orient Hotel

In the center of the village, on Main Street, you will find the old community hall that has been turned into a summer playhouse theatre. Each year, the playhouse features two to three plays and a Monday night concert series all of which are popular with both tourists and locals.

Island Theatre
Victoria Playhouse

Look for some quaint shops throughout the village, many of them in older traditional homes.

PEI Pottery
Michael Stanley Pottery

There are several casual eating establishments in the village. The Landmark Café is the oldest restaurant still in operation and is just adjacent to the Victoria Playhouse Theatre on the corner of Main and Howard Streets.

 

Victoria Restaurant
Landmark Café

More restaurants and shops can be found along the harbour at the foot of Main Street.

Eating in Victoria, PEI
Harbour Shops and Restaurants

Perhaps you’ll stop by the Lobster Barn for a PEI lobster roll.

Lobster Rolls
Lobster Roll from the Lobster Barn

If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to drop in to the Island Chocolates factory on Main Street where you can watch chocolates being made onsite and, of course, buy a sweet treat or two.

PEI candy
Island Chocolates
Island-made Chocolates
Chocolates from Island Chocolates

Be sure to stop by The Studio Gallery on Howard Street to check out the work of  various Island artists.

PEI art
The Studio Gallery

And, if antiques are your passion, you will need to browse through the Coach House Antiques shop on Russell Street.

PEI Antiques
Coach House Antique Shop

You will definitely want to plan some beach time while visiting Victoria. There is a lovely little park within walking distance to the village that provides access to the beach.

PEI Beaches
Beach Time in Victoria, PEI

No matter where you look in Victoria, you will find intriguing land and seascapes.

A seaside village in PEI
Victoria Landscape
South Shore of PEI
Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI
Former Victoria United Church, PEI
Church in Victoria, PEI

Some of the most amazing sunsets can be found over Victoria.

Island Sunset
Sunset in Victoria

The Confederation Bridge makes a stunning backdrop for a magnificent sunset.

PEI Sunset
Sun Sets Behind the Confederation Bridge

And, if you are lucky enough to be in Victoria at sunset when the tide is low, take a walk on the sandbars and maybe do a little beachcombing.

Sunset in Victoria
Walking the Sandbars at Sunset

Victoria-by-the-Sea is a charming seacoast village in Canada’s smallest province and is worth a visit. Whether it’s theatre, dining, water sports, local craft shopping and antiquing or simply spending a day enjoying the beach and warm waters of the Island’s south shore, you can easily spend a day or more in this historic coastal village.

Oslo, Norway – A Scenic Port to Visit

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I have sailed in and out of many scenic ports but one of my favorites is the approach and departure through the Oslo Fjord into and out of Oslo, Norway.

Oslo
Sailing out of the port of Oslo, Norway

Beautiful seaside homes dot the landscape making this a picturesque port to visit.

Oslo Home
Seaside Home

This was my first visit to Oslo and, although it rained heavy during my entire visit, the weather cleared as we were leaving port giving way to some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen.

Oslo Landscape
Colorful homes

The iconic Dyna Lighthouse, located on a reef, is reachable only by boat.

Oslo Lighthouse
Dyna Lighthouse

At first, because of the shape of it, we thought this was a private cottage before discovering it is, in fact, an active lighthouse having been established in 1875.

Oslo Lighthouse
Dyna Lighthouse

We saw lots of pleasure craft like this one heading in to port.

Sailing in Oslo
Pleasure Craft Heading in to Port

If you are lucky enough to own one of these gorgeous homes along the shoreline in the Norwegian capital, you can simply back your boat up to the front lawn and park it!

Oslo
Parking the Boat in Oslo
Oslo Homes
The colors of Oslo

The scenery changed from the higher density of the city to more rural landscapes like the one below.

Oslo
In the Mist

We enjoyed our time in Norway and hope to visit again with better weather.

Travel Diary of a Prince Edward Island blogger who travels close to home shores and away to distant shores

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