Cairns: Great Barrier Reef – Tick (part 2)

And the journey continues….

Day 4, we decided to walk around Port Douglas and see what this fuss is about. I found it to be like a resort town that is very touristy and expensive. if you are young or young at heart just do a day trip and tick it off the list. 😉 Every night was like fine dining when all we wanted was a simple burger and a drink. :/ But the town itself was beautiful, full of blue and white.Port douglad esplanade

Port douglas

Port douglas

The marina was especially amazing with white yachts and boats with a frame full of blue water and clear blue sky. Cafes and shops around on timber decks looking onto the marina.

Port douglas marina

Reef cruises

reef cruises

Port douglas station

Then we headed back to Cairns with a little stop over at Palm Cove. Another little tourist town full of activity.

Palm cove

Palm cove pier

Day 6 was our big day. Woke up early morning and walked to the Cairns marina watching the sun rise above us, lined up and got into our ride to the Great Barrier Reef. After some fruits and coffee we were on our way. It was sunny and a lovely day so I was wearing shades and after about half hour of messy hair, flying dresses and splashes of water I took the shades away and looked behind us. The view took my break away!! We were in the middle of the ocean and the COLOUR of the ocean was AMAAAAZING!! it was such a deep blue and was sooooo beautiful.

We were closing up on the reef and the colours were even more amazing. I was so excited. 🙂 We stopped right in the middle of the ocean and it was time to jump in. It was our first time and so we were really nervous. But with life jackets on we jumped in and came face to face with a barracuda! Turn out he was a friendly one that comes everyday when the boat stops. 🙂 But it was still weird staring at each other underwater! 🙂 Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera to show you the size and colours of the fish that swam around us and with us.

Great barrier reef

After a good hour in the water it was lunch time with a buffet of prawns, smoked salmon, chicken, salads and bread. So yum especially in the middle of nowhere. 🙂 And we were off to location number 2. This time it was a sand cay, another part of the reef. We were taken to the cay by a glass bottom boat and we all got to stand in the middle of nowhere and swim slowly into the water where there are corals and fish everywhere. We snorkelled the *&^% out of snorkelling! :)) We saw a nemo, a sting ray and so many fishes and their little caves and homes and all sort of corals. It was amazing and I’d happily spend every day just doing that.

Great Barrier reef

Sand clays in great barrier reef

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Tasmania: the ‘island of inspiration’ is a hop step and a jump away…

One fine day we decided to visit Tasmania. For those of you who don’t know where or what that is, let me brief you a bit. Tasmania is one of the seven states of Australia and is an island. It is located south of the main island and is considered the 26th largest island in the world (thanks Wikipedia). However as it is detached from the main island of Australia it is not highly populated. Picture this. Tasmania is one and a half times bigger than Sri Lanka BUT the population is only 0.4% of the population of Sri Lanka! Now that tells me two things. One, how densely populated Sri Lanka is (my my we have too many people). Two, how calm, peaceful and unpolluted Tasmania is.

Hobart

Our trip was short and the weather was bad. We hardly covered the untouched wilderness of the beautiful Tasmania but however we packed as much as we can for the one day of sunshine we had. We landed in Hobart (Capital & the most populous city in Tasmania) on a cold misty morning and the much awaited drive up Mount wellington was almost ruined by the rain, mist and wind. But we decided to go to the top anyway even though we couldn’t see the beautiful view everyone talked about. It was freezing and we were not prepared for that. 🙂 The rest of the day was spent walking in Hobart in the rain, enjoying some good food and taking in the Tasmania style of life. (Very laid back to what we get in Melbourne)

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Day two forecast was the same with cloudy skies and rain but we woke up to sunshine and clear skies! Someone was definitely looking out for us! 😉 We were out on the streets in a heartbeat and decided to drive to the Tasman peninsula. What a breathtaking and amazing experience it was!! Everywhere you look its trees and water and an endless supply of clear blue skies and it was all ours to enjoy! 🙂

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We made a detour as we were feeling adventurous and ended up in a place called Lewisham. It has to be one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Clear blue water, blue sky and no one around.

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There, we met a friend too. I have a massive love affair with horses and this one didn’t disappoint. He saw us and even though there was a fence, he came to us when we called. It was the cutest moment ever! 🙂

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Then we set off towards Port Arthur stopping to see the famous Tessellated Pavement, Eaglehawk Neck and finally the Port Arthur Historic Site.

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Another detour and this time we ended up at a white sand beach! 🙂

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Then we decided to find our way in to the Tasman National park and the ‘Remarkable Cave’ which was said to be the shape of Tasmania and what do you know, it was!!. 🙂 The vastness was breathtaking and it was just us and the sorroundings. It was surely one of the most memorable visits.

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We decided to end the day by going to Richmond and seeing the oldest bridge in Australia. It was one full day of adventure and was simply amazing!!

oldest bridge in australia

On our last day we went to the Salamanca Market. It is on every Saturday and consists of close to 300 stalls of amazing goodies and is a wonderful experience to walk through.

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Venice: my ‘WALK’ through the city of water…

This is a sad day. After so many posts I have come to the end of my amazing Italian journey and Venice is the last stop.

From Florence we took a train to Venice. Venice! I am finally going to see Venice. Excitement was building up, hopes high, eager to explore; we finally got to the ethereal ‘city of water’. I was instantly disappointed! Why? How? I actually don’t know. It just didn’t feel welcoming enough. So I took a deep breath and watched hundreds of people move around me, busier and faster than anywhere else in Italy, water buses taking in as many tourists as they can, people getting lost with their luggage and decided it’s time to move on.

The best way to travel in Venice is by water taxies, which make sense since the whole city is on water and you would think it’s cheap. No, it was expensive! We are just a couple of graduates on a budget, so what did we do? We decided to ‘hike’! I say hike because we literally walked from one end of the island to the other and crossed so many bridges, climbed so many steps up and so many steps down with our back packs, at the end of it we felt like we have climbed a decent size mountain.

venice (8) venice (6) venice (20) venice (12) venice (4) venice (3) venice (10) Yes we were tired but we saw Venice in a total different way. The tiny alley ways that takes the whole of Italy to another level is still prominent in Venice maybe more so than anywhere else. It’s pretty much like walking through a maze. You don’t know where you are going but every corner, every turn there is something wonderful.

It was more ‘touristy’ and expensive than anywhere else I have been to and that put me off a bit but the more you go inside the island away from those crowded areas, Venice had a nice charm, nice homely feeling about it that one can’t but feel good about.

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venice (45) venice (46) venice (51) venice (78) venice (52) venice (79) venice (86)So this was my ‘walk’ through the city of water. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and from now on I have to start going around Melbourne to come up with some decent photographs. 🙂

Through the winding roads of Southern Italy…..

We are on our way covering southern Italy. After visiting Pompeii we are off to the beautiful Amalfi Coast. The little car (there are ONLY little cars everywhere you look) was expertly manoeuvred through tiny streets, sometimes taking almost 360o turns, passing busy locals, wandering tourists and little shops of all things Italian.

A little after the sun has set, we arrived in the beautiful town of Amalfi where on one side the glowing blue Mediterranean Sea and on the other, steep mountains covered with Mediterranean style houses. A sight like no other.amalfi and coast (7)

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The breathtaking views were only second to the experience of walking through the town of tiny cobble stone paths and alley ways peering in to little shops and admiring and tasting the local speciality, limoncello. It’s a liqueur made with lemons, as the area is a known cultivator of lemons, and there are cute little shops with bottles of all shapes and sizes. It was a typical Italian tourist town as it was filled even at night with people, chatting, sipping coffee and eating oversized pizzas. With much hesitation we drove out of Amalfi through Positano and few other breathtaking and daring coastal towns to Sorrento, our stop for the night.

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Next day we drove around Sorrento absorbing the chilled morning air and amazing views all around us while heading towards Naples, the food capital of Italy. Naples was different. The city was literally made out of houses, horizontally and vertically. But it was impressive, regardless of what the Romans have to say about Naples. 😉

Our first stop was Piazza del Municipio, the massive building with high glass roof and delicate architectural details really fascinated me. Also it was a popular spot for newly wedded couple to take photos as we saw more than a few of white gown and tuxedos posing to photographers instructions. 🙂 Unfortunately I didn’t see the typical Naples way of drying clothes above the streets as it was a cloudy day but, the experience of walking on the main street with braches of streets with similar style multi-story apartments looking in to each other was nothing unusual.

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Our final stop at Naples was San Gregorio Armeno. It’s supposed to be world famous (forgive me for not knowing) for cribs and other ornaments. Locals said during Christmas time it is impossible to walk in that area as everyone comes here to buy Christmas ornament. They weren’t exaggerating; there were shops after shops filled with different ornaments and bigger statues of pretty much everything. It was quite a colourful end to our southern Italy round up in two days. 🙂

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Lake Turano: your eyes ain’t tricking you….

I was staring at this massive body of blue-green water and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The water was so calm and crisp and glistening with the morning sun and the mountains rising above, surrounding it to provide that little extra care. I just can’t explain how I felt when I was there, breathing in the fresh morning air but I remember thinking ‘I couldn’t picture my life any better than standing here right now and if I die, I would be the happiest dead person.’ 🙂

Then….. I saw this.

Picturesque medieval towns nestled between green mountains. I felt like I was inside a story book, running through pages filled with beautifully coloured pictures. I was grinning from ear to ear while snapping this amazing scenery all around me.

Among the charming towns that arise around Lake Turano, there are two not to be missed. Castel di Tora and Colle di Tora.I am lost for words here, so just enjoy the photos and I hope you feel the joy I felt walking in this lovely italian country side.

If this is not the perfect picture postcard of Italian countryside, I don’t know what is. 🙂

Kalpitiya: somewhere a little bit different

ah! the heat!

It was good getting there in our air-conditioned vehicles but when you see the change of colour in trees, the palm trees on the side of the road and woven dried coconut leaf fences you know you are in the dry country. Kalpitiya situated in Puttalam district overlooking the Puttalam lagoon on one side and the Indian ocean on the other is a beautiful place except for the unbearable heat during day.

 

I guess that’s life….

I really feel for the people living here or anywhere in dry lands. They still have to go out do their jobs or things they do to make a living and here I didn’t want to get out of the shade of coconut & palm trees to do anything till the sun went down.

I met some interesting people there….

We visited a little village in Puttlam district known for a group of African descendents who are famous for their music and dancing. According to them the ancestors came to the country in the 1800’s and today there are 22 families in the village and more scattered around puttalam. They were nice enough to do a quick little performance for us saying if they had time to prepare they could have gotten their 12 people group together and dress accordingly. 🙂

And of course with the music and dancing the children came from neighbouring houses to see the performances and to see the strange people from Colombo. I tried to capture a few of those gorgeous little faces and I hope you will find these as interesting as I did…