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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuscany Wine Tour

Getting lost in Tuscany.......but having fun doing so hahahhaha
As i make my way into the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and the home of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Vespucci and others....its no wonder i got lost many times as the beauty of Toscana is intoxicating, but finally found my to Siena  ( World Heritage Site in 1995) and my goal to have some of its famous Chianti Superiore wine served from a fiasco (squat bottle in a straw basket). So i find a local producer who also gave me a tour of their facility and of course some samples, then i set up my version of a one man picnic lol and pulled out a loaf of crusty bread
Yes trying some samples lol
 olive oil plus some local Pecorino Toscano cheese. As i watch the sun go down over one of those "must see" places of our amazing planet, i say out loud  "La Vita e Bella' indeed is beautiful!

Many small wineries to be tasted

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The famous pink sand of Bermuda 
The most famous grotto is the Crystal Cave discovered in 1907 by two 12 year old boys looking for their lost cricket ball

The houses all have white roofs with sloped surfaces and gutter ridges to funnel the water to an underground tank. The white cement wash compound  ( paint and powder mixture ) sanitizes the rainwater as it goes to the basement

Having a few at the Swizzle Inn
Fort Catherine

When visting my favorite vacation island of Bermuda ( rumored to be named after Spanish Sea Captain Juan de Bermudez) i wanted to pass on some KeyTips for all to enjoy what is now the oldest remaining overseas British Territory. First because there is no car rentals, i would suggest a bus/ferry pass which is really convenient and cheap (3 days for $28 unlimited use) and much safer then renting a scooter for a few reasons...your driving on the right side of the road (remember British rules) narrow streets and roundabouts (rotaries) plus tourists are given a 15min lesson and the way they go, so you do not worry about the locals but your fellow guests. Once this is out of the way sit back and enjoy the stunning views of the pink sand and turquoise water, also visit some of the forts (Martello Tower, Fort Hamilton or St Catherine etc) that are dotted around the island as Bermuda was once a strategic naval center
(once called the Gibraltar of the West) for the British due to its proximity to the USA. The most popular is
Royal Navy Yard which i took the bus there and then a ferry to the other end of the island of St Georges to
visit/explore some Grotto's (small caves near water and they often flood during high tides, so be careful) and the amazing stalactites. Finally hotels can be very expensive here, so i go on-line to search for Guest Homes and you can get self contained apartments for approx $100.00 per night or opt for a Cruise Ship that pulls up on Front Street in the capital of Hamilton or again at the Royal Navy Dockyard , either way you will enjoy this tiny stripe of paradise (20+ miles long) off the coast of North Carolina!
A 2 hour flight from my City of Halifax
Hamilton Parish  is the location of Bermuda's subterranean caverns and a must see

Right hand drive and narrow streets.......need i say anymore lol
Because of the expensive hotel prices ......a great option is to take a cruise ship and stay 'off shore'  for many days 
The famous White Horse Tavern in Bermuda

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tramping the Mueller Hut Route, New Zealand

On my way

A trek for any seasoned hiker (called tramping in New Zealand) is the Mueller Hut Route on Sealy Range which is at 1800 meters or to put it in perspective is half the distance to the summit of the Aoraki/Mount Cook ( which on a good clear day you will see during this journey). There are six different grades of tracks but i have opted for the toughest and as the brochure says...complete self sufficiency  is required. The paths consisted of alpine scrub, herb fields, a challenging steep/rocky and muddy unformed routes, plus also meant i had to cross unbridged rivers or streams. To help you guide your way please follow the orange markers!! ( every few hundred meters) as its tempting to wander off to see the alpine flowers & parrots (Kea), vertical rock faces etc, but you need to respect nature for the delicate ecosystem and for your own safety. Now from the National Park visitors centre you'll get to the Sealy Tarns onto Mueller Hut in approx 4hours. So if planning an overnight stay you can book ahead this cabin (this is the latest of five built which two were swept away
by a wet snow avalanche's) but you will need to bring your own gear for cooking/eating  and of course food, but it has most other amenities (holds up to 28 adults)

  and also provided are bunkbeds, solar powered lights and gas stoves. From here you will get to see great panoramic views of glaciers, ice cliffs and some of New Zealand's highest peaks which one, Mt Ollivier was Sir Edmond Hilliary's first summit before Everest. Myself i decided to return same day, so it took 6-7 hours in total but what an experience that i would recommend to anyone!

Need to respect nature

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cairns-Kuranda Railway & Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

If ever in the Queensland area of Australia, a neat experience is the Cairns-Kuranda Railway which was built for passenger traffic back in the 1890s and now used as a tourist train run since 1936. As you take in over 1.5 hrs of historical rail ride (37 kms-23 miles) just think back how man labored to build by hand 15 tunnels and 37 bridges through this dense rainforest and steep ravines plus an elevation that rises from sea level to over 300 meters. Once you finish in the town of Kuranda do yourself a favor and ride the Skyrail Rainforest
Cableway that takes you over the canopy of the World Heritage designated Tropical Rainforest site and spectacular Barron Gorge, a must see for any of you nature lovers!

Transporting the workers back in the day to add length to the track
In closing.......a final look of the old and new Cairns- Kuranda Railway