Dingle

Leaving the Cliffs of Moher, our destination was the Dingle Peninsula, the westernmost part of Ireland and all of Europe. Rather than stay in the large town of Tralee, considered the start of the peninsula, we continued on to Dingle and found wonderful accommodation at Benner’s Hotel. I will always remember the delicious meal we had, the best duck breast I have eaten before or since.

1.Benner's Hotel

Next morning, after a short stroll around the narrow streets lined with colour,

6.Dingle7.Dingle

we set off to discover the peninsula. Slea Head Drive is a 47 kilometre loop, starting and ending at Dingle, that takes you right to the western edge of the country. The road is very narrow with occasional passing points and so, is driven in a clockwise direction. The scenery was spectacular from the outset.

8.Slea Head Drive

Our first stop was Dunbeg Fort, the ruins of the dry-stone structure, built around 800 BC, hang precariously onto the sheer cliff.

9.Dunbeg Fort10.Dunbeg Fort11.Dunbeg Fort

Used until the 11th century, the expansive views of Dingle Bay would have given plenty of warning of invasion. The rocky coastline looked very substantial

12.Dunbeg Fort

but much of the area consists of earth rather than rock. During fierce storms in January 2018, parts of the fort tumbled into the sea and it has been closed to the public ever since.

13.Dunbeg Fort

Near the fort there is a group of clocháns, fascinating beehive huts built from stone without mortar to create the ‘beehive’ appearance. Thought to date back to the 11th century, these huts were once family homes.

16.Clochain14.Clochain15.Clochain

The view from Slea Head lookout was breathtaking, although the mist obscured anything beyond Dunmore Head, the westernmost part of the peninsula.

17.Dunmore Head from Slea Head18.Slea Head

The loop road took us to a most fascinating place, Gallarus Oratory.

19.Gallarus Oratory

The 8th century Christian church is amazingly well preserved, the dry-stone walls having repelled the elements for over a thousand years.

Inside, the solidity of the walls becomes apparent around the only window, directly opposite the entrance.

22.Gallarus Oratory

Outside, there is a stone column, carved with a Celtic cross and an inscription in an old Latin script used between the 5th and 10th centuries.

23.Gallarus Oratory

There was such a feeling of peace around us, I imagine it would be quite different with a coach load or two of tourists in the warmer weather.

Mount Brandon seemed to dissolve into the clouds as we meandered our way back to Dingle. The second tallest mountain in Ireland takes its name from St. Brendan the Navigator who, according to legend, spent forty days on the mountain preparing for his voyage in search of the Garden of Eden in the 6th century.

26.Mount Brandon

It’s easy to see how Johnny Cash was inspired to write Forty Shades of Green on his visit to Ireland in 1959.

27.Dingle Peninsula28.Dingle Peninsula29.Dingle Peninsula

 

Suite Sofia

Anyone who has read my Italian posts will know how intrigued I am by doorways such as this.

1.front door

I could hardly contain my excitement when we arrived at our apartment in Lucca and found this was the entrance.

2.front door

I had booked Suite Sofia on the internet months ahead, choosing it because of location and falling in love with the photos (and price, of course). I am always sceptical that, in reality, some accommodation will not live up to expectations. As soon as we walked into the apartment, all fears dissipated, it was gorgeous.

3.Suite Sofia

The kitchen was compact but well serviced, we didn’t intend cooking anyway.

4.kitchen

The original ceilings have been preserved and added to the peaceful ambience,

while tasteful adornments gave the space a homely feel.

The position was perfect, overlooking cafes in Corso Garibaldi, right above a bicycle hire shop.

17.Corso Garibaldi18.Corso Garibaldi

From the outside, the building was stunning,

19.Corso Garibaldi

no traffic except for the two-wheeled silent type.

20.Corso Garibaldi

Our host, Massimiliano, was lovely, nothing was too much trouble. We will certainly return to Suite Sofia if we have the chance.

21.Suite Sofia from Corso Garibaldi

Montepozzo

We have finally settled back into life in Tasmania after four wonderful weeks in Italy. I would normally write about our travels from the beginning of the trip but we were so enamoured with the gorgeous farmhouse we stayed in for our last ten days, I couldn’t wait to share it. I could just give you the link to the website because there are so many beautiful photos of the property. Chances are, just like me, you would be thinking, “there is no way this place can be this good.” It was. We received directions and information weeks before we left from host, Jacque, and had no trouble finding the gate. Although close to a town, the rural setting is very private and peaceful.

1.sign

Arriving at the property,

2.driveway arriving

we followed the instructions and drove around to the back of the house where we tooted the horn loudly.

3.exterior front4.exterior side5.exterior back6.exterior back7.exterior back

We were greeted by Molly the dog and host, John, who kindly helped us with our bags.

8.loggia arriving

After an introductory tour, we were left to unpack and wonder at the magnificent surroundings we were to enjoy for the next ten days. The living area was light and spacious, capturing the sun at every angle throughout the day.

9.sitting room

Just off the dining area, the well equipped kitchen was a pleasure to work in.

10.kitchen

The bedrooms were inviting, the main has an ensuite

11.main bedroom

and down the hallway

14.hallway

are two further bedrooms and a bathroom.

Once we had settled in, Jacque welcomed us with fresh flowers and a bottle of Prosecco, we wasted no time opening it to share. We really felt at home, surrounded by family treasures and beautiful furnishings.

The afternoon sun filled the loggia, the perfect venue to partake of aperitivo.

30.view from loggia

Come for a walk around the garden.

31.loggia steps

There was so much to explore, a cave with spectacular phosphorescent lichen, I admired from the outside.

44.cave

The shed was a work in progress, a fabulous project for the future perhaps,

45.shed

to complement the finishing touches on the exterior of the house.

46.exterior side

We didn’t get the opportunity to dine under the vines, perhaps next time?

55.vines

Let me introduce you to Molly, a delightful bundle of energy who was a very welcome addition to the package.

Thank you Jacque, John, Alex & Molly for the very special memories, we hope to meet again…..Salute!

59.wine time

http://montepozzo.it/

Tepi Laut Villas

Unlike a great percentage of Australians (according to Redgum in 1984), we never had a desire to visit Bali. We don’t cope very well with heat and humidity and weren’t too enthused about the crowds. When our friends from Darwin said they were going with the family and renting a private villa with room for two more, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and experience the culture across the sea. After a long day of travel (it’s a fair distance from Tasmania), we landed at Denpasar airport along with, it seemed, every other flight from across the globe, just before midnight. After obtaining a visa (that’s another story), we stepped outside into the stifling heat and, just before we were overcome with secondhand cigarette smoke, we spied our friends. They had come to rescue us in the villa car which was, thankfully, air-conditioned. Sitting in the middle of the back seat of the SUV, I had a perfect view of the chaos that is Bali traffic. I closed my eyes to prevent my heart from stopping and we eventually arrived, dazed and disheveled, at the villa. It was Nirvana. Awakened at 6am by the chanting from the temple in the neighbouring village, I peered over the balcony

1.from balcony2.from balcony

and made my way downstairs. The open living area was beautiful, there was no doubt we were in Bali.

3.living area4.living area

Our room was upstairs on the right,

5.outside

an air-conditioned sanctuary from the heat of the day.

The bathroom was exquisite, every amenity catered for.

There was plenty of space for lounging around the pool,

and the secluded bale was inviting on a hot afternoon.

The edge of the water feature at the entrance (or exit, depending on whether you are coming or going), was dotted with fresh frangipani blossoms.

17.entrance

There were five villas in the group at Tepi Laut surrounded by rice fields, away from the madding crowd, at Seseh Beach.

18.exterior

Our villa, Villa Sungai, was on the edge of the complex overlooking a river and the small fishing village of Seseh.

19.exterior

It was a pleasure to return to the tranquility after a day out,

the villa dog was probably the luckiest dog in Bali.

22.villa dog

The night lights were cute, like someone hiding in the foliage wearing a hat.

23.exterior

A relaxing dip in the pool was always welcome

24.view from the pool

and offered a different perspective of the garden.

We were well looked after by the wonderful villa staff and enjoyed some fabulous meals

28.dining table

prepared and cooked in our own kitchen.

29.kitchen30.our villa staff

We experienced a spectacular monsoonal downpour one day, a brief respite from the heat.

31.rain32.rain

It was fun to return after a day out to find a new menagerie awaiting us. Apparently, it is known as towel origami.

Harrogate

One of the advantages of travelling off season is the availability of accommodation. We stayed at the St. George Hotel, a magnificent Edwardian building right in the heart of Harrogate.

1.St. George Hotel2.St. George Hotel

It was like stepping back in time, with elegant furnishings in the lobby

and a very welcoming, comfortable room.

5.St. George Hotel

Not only had we found a fabulous place to stay, a three-course dinner each night was included in the price. The dining room had a huge central dome with stunning leadlight.

6.cupola in dining room

This pic isn’t very clear but it shows the intricate detail in the ceiling and cornices.

7.dining room detail

On a sunny autumn morning, we strolled the streets of Harrogate and soaked up the history of this beautiful North Yorkshire town. Known as ‘The English Spa’ after healing waters were discovered in the 16th century, the wealthy flocked to the town for treatments. The Royal Baths, considered to be the most advanced centre for hydrotherapy in the world, opened in 1897.

8.The Royal Baths

The Kursaal opened six years later, the German word translates as ‘Cure Hall’. At the beginning of World War I, the theatre was renamed the Royal Hall and is now a venue for events and entertainment.

9.Royal Hall Kursaal10.Royal Hall Kursaal

The architecture throughout the town was spectacular and the multitude of shops were housed in fantastic buildings.

11.Westminster Arcade12.Harrogate

A walk through the park

13.Montpellier Hill14.Montpellier Hill

brought us to the Montpellier Quarter, home to exclusive shops, cafés and art galleries.

15.Montpellier Quarter

Too early in the day to visit the Royal Pump Room Museum, it sounded like a fascinating journey into the bygone era of weird and wonderful spa treatments. Built in 1842, the octagonal structure is quite distinctive.

21.Royal Pump Room Museum20.Royal Pump Room Museum

The Majestic Hotel certainly lives up to its name. Set in eight acres of landscaped gardens, the palatial Victorian hotel sits on a hill overlooking the town. Built in 1899, it has an interesting past with many celebrity guests, a fire in 1924, three bombings in 1940 and the subsequent loss of the massive glass Winter Garden that earned it the nickname the ‘Yorkshire Crystal Palace’.

22.The Majestic Hotel

Next time, I would like to stay at the Majestic Hotel.