Category Archives: Eateries

Two Days in Rome, Italy

19-20 October 2019

The Vatican Museums are Christian art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by popes throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display, and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments. Wikipedia

We paid top dollar for the privilege of getting in to see the Sistine Chapel ceiling and doing that at 7:30am before the general public. It was worth it.

We were given instructions to meet on the stairs across the road between two places, a restaurant and a pub. We thought,”how will we find the guys in blue we are supposed to meet?” but we did, along with about 30-40 other people who had done the same thing as us. We booked on line through YourGuide.com

We were divided into groups and had chosen a one hour tour before we had free reign in the museums for the next 6 hours if we wanted it. We joined one of those groups we saw all over Florence following talking guides with poles with flags or scarves or teddybears on top.

We were given green headphones and a blue plastic receiver with a green lanyard attached which we hung around our necks. It was quite comical with the allocation of who went with which guide and then all of them trying to get going first. We were in the first group after a group of 2 people and their guide ahead of us in a private tour.

Our guide, who’s name escapes me, was thorough and knowledgeable with photos to show from a folding picture collection and an ipad. He had humour and was able to answer any question asked of him. He had a lovely sense of humour.

We went into the Museum building which was revamped and remodelled for the millennium in 2000. The stairs, that take us to the first level, were a long curving marble staircase. There are paintings and all the security you would expect. We collected our barcoded tickets and fed them into the turnstiles. Then we began the long walk to the Chapel. We passed a lot of artifacts and paintings from various centuries ago. There are no photos allowed in the chapel itself and you have to be very quiet and respectful. We arrived and they turned out the lower lights and then turned on the ones which shine towards the ceiling.

We had had a little incite into the politics of the day and how well regarded Michelangelo was at the time and how much contempt he had for the establishment at times. Very interesting and to see the ceiling was amazing and to think it has been there for 400 hundred years. It’s mind boggling that it has survived so well.

In case you need directions.
Old entrance to Vatican Museums
Tapestries
Ornate Ceilings in the museums.
Ivory from a bygone era when it was acceptable
Some beautiful pieces and people on display 🙂
Exit staircase designed by Guiseppe Momo.

This is the amazing spiral staircase in the Vatican museum in Rome, Italy. This double helix staircase was designed by Guiseppe Momo in 1932. This looks like one big spiral staircase but, in fact, it is two spiral staircases … And magically enough, when two persons use the different sets of staircases at the same time, they can see each other going up or down, yet never meet. Google 27-10-2019

After about 9:45 we left the museums having been amazed and impressed by the huge collection, including some moon rocks given to one Pope by President Nixon. We were fed through our third gift/bookshop before we found ourselves wandering down the spiral staircase at the exit.

Vatican Museums to St Peter’s Basilica.

We spoke to a guy before we went to St Peter’s who told us where the bus stop was to catch the bus. He said it would be an hour before the bus returned so we had time to go to the St Peter’s.

Once at St Peter’s we watched the people queueing to get in and then we took a selfie – entitled, “Guess who’s in Rome”. We had a lovely time and then headed back for the Hop on Hop Off Bus. We chose the Green Line – our hotel, Hotel Rimini, said we would get a discount. Would have had the same discount wherever we went because everyone knocked €3 off the price on the brochure.

So we toddled off to the Basillica along a very well worn footpath around the outside of the vatican museums with towering walls above us to St Peter’s and then came back, and on the way back we were approached by a guy who gave us a route map of the HOHOBus and said there was an office to buy our tickets and he waved in a general direction. We thanked him and then bought a bottle of water from a food van and headed back to the first guy. As we approached the traffic lights to cross over to go to the bus stop another spruiker approached saying he was a volunteer and he would get us tickets on the HOHO Bus. I said we have an arrangement with another guy over there, pointing to the side where the bus stop was, but he kept coming and saying how much we would be paying and how he would give us a discount to €18 – which was the same price as the first guy. So once we crossed the road I said again that we had an arrangement with “him” pointing to our guy. Then they go into a battle about who was who’s client. We walked purposely to our bus stop and left them to it.

Anyway ,we got on and had a marvellous time, and took thousands of photos and I tried to get all arty, and took some in black and white.

I’m a people watcher and l love seeing people in their ‘natural habitat’ doing ‘normal’ things.

Via Maghera – outside our Hotel Rimini – Rome
Holy See – Pontifical Swiss Guard – Regular uniform of the Swiss Guard
Man about town
Ladies who lunch
Having a chat
Passing time
Directions
New display
Bankers
Crowds
Dog walking
Colliseum
Amazing brickwork
St Peter’s – Piazza San Pietro, 00120 CittĂ  del Vaticano, Vatican City
Piazza San Pietro, 00120 CittĂ  del Vaticano, Vatican City
Piazza San Pietro, fountain.
Table for two?
We’re off to see the wizard…..
Tiber River

We went out to dinner at a restaurant just in the next block called Ristorante Donati

http://www.ristorantedonatiroma.com/?lang=en#aboutPage

It was a lovely restaurant with good food fast and for a reasonable cost, but beware they charge for the bread sticks/basket so if you dont want it tell them. Ivana was our main contact there, she was really helpful and spoke English and we got by with some Italian.

Cortona, Tuscany, Italy

12 October 2019

We caught the train to Cortona from Florence after getting on the right train at the correct platform and had a lovely relaxing 80 mins to Cortona and walked out of the station towards the taxi rank, where a German woman was standing waiting for a taxi. The taxi arrived, the driver asked us if we needed a taxi etc etc so anyway the German couple said they were happy to share the ride so we went in their taxi to the top of the hill to Cortona. đŸ’¶15.

Once there, we checked into our lovely hotel called Hotel San Luca.

The view from the hotel on all sides is breathtaking. The staff are lovely and the location is fantastic. It is just around the corner from Via Nationale where lots of shops and restaurants and , a supermarket, a wine seller and buildings whose history is enthralling.

A view from Cortona
Madonna del Calcinaio – my image – text from planetware.com

A twisting road descends the southern slope of the town to the Renaissance church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio, also called the Madonna del Calcinaio, a beautiful domed building on a cruciform plan by Francesco di Giorgio Martini of Siena. It was built to house a miraculous image of the Virgin, originally on the wall of a limestone quarry (calcinaio), belonging to the local Tanners’ Guild and now on the high altar. Built from 1485 to 1513, this is one of the most architecturally important Renaissance churches in Tuscany.

#planetware.com

We found the town enchanting and quaint. A little too touristy but there are benefits that come with that. The number of restaurants and shops is great. The food was fantastic and we had a new place to go each of our 4 nights and so we did. Well we did go to one place twice because it just asked for it. It was #Taverna Il Gozzoviglio, Via Guelfi 9 52044 Cortona AR. The staff fabulous, the food fast delicious and the right proportion. We tended to eat just the entree or Primo size, in case we felt like sweets. The house wine was always wonderful. We ordered it by the quarter litre. The other great thing about Italy is the way dogs are just ‘part of the furniture’ and so dogs barking under a table near us made us feel very rustic and comfortable.

Our last meal in the town was Cassarecce Arrabiata and Tagliatelle alla RagĂș Chianina. So yummy!(images to follow)

Inside Taverna Il Gozzoviglio – too cold outside – and the wonderful waitress who spoke mostly Italian to us and we understood enough to get by. So cool.

There is a Canadian University in Cortona. We didn’t see it because the streets in the town are mostly uphill and hard to walk on for long periods. We had to park down the road and there is a carpark below the hotel with escalators to the top. Very modern.

We ate al fresco for one of our two meals there.

During our stay in Cortona we of course had to visit Bramasole the renovated home from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun and for a mere đŸ’¶40 (approx A$65) you can tour the property – ha! so we drove by and photographed a possible scene making balcony and drove on. All very disappointing really, but Frances Mayes the author at 79 still lives in Cortona. We didn’t see her.

A possible balcony for the balcony scenes from “Under the Tuscan Sun”.

Just around the corner from the property which was not offering itself to be looked at.

Belfast to Luogh South

Story Tellers Cottage – Doolin

4th October 2019

A decent drive today – 251 miles = 404kms and it took 9 hours and we only stopped for lunch and morning tea! Its not like Australia lol.

Ireland is wonderful – in spite of the weather. No-one seems to care and just gets on with their day. It’s a little uncomfortable at times, but hey, life’s like that. Everyone has a jacket or an umbrella so there is really nothing to complain about. We are very well equipped and have not suffered much so far. My high tech pants just let water sit on them until I stamp my feet for it to get off. They dry in a very short time. Very weird but clever.

We had a weather warning to consider yesterday – Hurricane Lorenzo was heading our way, at 3pm. We were heading into the storm for a while and then went south – as planned – and avoided most of it. The roads were wet and windy but we were not staying in its predicted path so it was all ok on the day.

This is the track of Hurricane Lorenzo and we drove across the top from Belfast to Sligo then south and we are staying where that black dot is, so only a little way south and the winds have been relentless.

I slept through it, I might add, but have been up since 5:30 am and they keep blowing ferociously. This house is solid and cosy so no dramas really but it certainly is windy!

Long drive – but so much to see.

We hit the road earlyish around 9am to avoid too much of the peak-hour traffic. At the beginning of the trip we were on the M1 and made good progress through lovely green fields and good quality roads.

We did see a lot of farm animals and found those roads you hear about that are narrow and tricky to pass on. Well add rain, wind, fading light, unfamiliarity and its quite a challenge. But we were up for it!!

Dark, gloomy day but we don’t mind
Roadside flowers
The ‘green’ of Ireland we have come to see.
Stopped for a closeup of these berries which are everywhere.
The stock doesn’t seem to mind the weather.

Morning Tea in Enniskillen

There seem to be two parts to Enniskillen – one old, traditional and one more modern and commercial looking.

We found a Tesco store and fuel and bought what we needed and headed to Jenny’s Coffee House and Bakery. The best!

Sooooo yummy. Had tea for two and a scone with jam.

Onwards to Sligo and we found a lovely pub called The Harp Tavern.

There were moments of sunlight o the way.
Some beautifully maintained cottages and some not so.
Heading towards Sligo
Roads are good and windy-not straight and yes the wind was blowing too, just for clarification.

Lunch in Sligo

Lunch or Irish Stew and Mushroom soup. Yum!! Also, served by the lovely Ann who could not understand why businesses were shutting because of a “little wind”.
Interior of the Harp Tavern
Sligo, Sligo

Then we continued south,, towards County Clare, and along roads made for smaller vehicles than two of the modern sort. The roads are pretty good, albeit a few cracks, potholes and flooding. We made good time in spite of our newness to this type of driving.

Rally driving without the gravel.

The speed limit on the skinny roads was 80kms but in the rain and conditions generally neither of us got over about 60kms per hour. Safety first!!

But then you round a corner and happen upon sights that just don’t seem real.

The ruins of Kilmacduagh Monastery near Gort, County Galway

Kilmacduagh sits at the edge of the Burren, dominating the rural landscape some 5km south-west of Gort, in Co. Galway. In the medieval period, it was the most important church of the UĂ­ Fiachrach Aidhne, a powerful local dynasty who held lands that stretched from the Atlantic coast to the mountains of the Burren and Slieve Aughty. By the twelfth century, Kilmacduagh had an enclosed settlement with the main church at the centre, at least three subsidiary churches, a round tower, the grave of the founder, CĂłlmĂĄn mac Duach, and a well dedicated to him. The settlement was transformed when the main church was enlarged as a cathedral and a monastery for Augustinian canons was established in the thirteenth century. http://monastic.ie/history/kilmacduagh/

Gort cows.
What about a castle instead?

Wonderful landscape just keeps changing.
As the road narrows – we are almost there.

Lorenzo burns slowly in the north

Galway and surrounds

Don’t ever believe the Garmin SatNav – it lies. We ended up travelling for and hour and a half to cover 18 mins worth of distance. We knew this because we had done it correctly the day before. Later we instigated the google Maps app instead and found it to be superior. But really we didn’t care, we were looking around at the scenery anyway, and we had no time restrictions so we enjoyed the detours too.

Saw some more drywalls and some stock
I really like cows.

We drove between our place and through to Ennistymon again but then went on to a different coffee place in the Main Street.

Little Fox cafe – very green and environmentally responsible.

Had a great day driving around Clare County. Some of the roads are a little tricky to navigate but patience and concentration is required.

Slowly, sharing nicely……

The weather was better today and we headed out towards the Cliffs of Moher and decided we had seen enough from the Doolin jetty so decided not to pay for the parking and walk in the blustering wind for half a mile to look at cliffs. So on we went, the sat nav must have taken offence at our lack of inclination to pay to see cliffs so sent us on a long and winding road to Ennistymon – where we were yesterday. But today there was no rain, so clearer pics and more fun.

After morning tea we headed north as we had planned to and arrived about 40mins later. We found Galway lovely. Lots of old traditional buildings and decorated streets. So glad we went to see it.

Lunch venue – Sea food restaurant of the year 2018. We had fish and chips and it was beautiful.

Some lovely buildings all over Ireland and the blue stone appears all over the place. It really looks solid and long lasting.

Molly’s Yard, Belfast

Our evening out and views on the way.

Come this way…..
Converted stables
Courtyard
Cosy interior with fire
Table for 4
Rib-eye M-WD , Pepper sauce on the side
Rib-eye Medium with pepper sauce.
We didn’t .

www.mollysyard.co.uk

Located in the heart of Queen’s University Quarter, Molly’s Yard is a beautiful restaurant in Belfast.

If you are interested in the history and restoration of this lovely place there is a video on the web-site above.

We walked to the restaurant – about 10 mins from our hotel. We saw some very eclectic places and lots of ‘students’ from the Queen’s University.

Nice piece done in silver to catch the early evening sun.

Bunbury – Western Australia

On our way to our stop in the south west for a party, we stopped for lunch at The Rose Hotel. A lovely old building with Art Deco touches and wrought iron lace around the outside of the well maintained structure.

We had lovely, generous serves of food.

Vegetarian and vegan options were on a separate menu as opposed to the usual way of just one or two options on the bottom of the menu. Good to see.

The interior of the hotel is Art Deco and charming. The staff are quick and strong and wear really short black mini skirts. The food is delicious and very filling.

A great day was had.. Recommended.

Sydney, Australia and surrounds 2018

Central Coast and Return.

Took a drive to Umina Beach and Woy Woy and back today. The motorways are fast and efficient when not crowded, but the trucks can be very intimidating! And the engineering involved in creating the motorways, is awe inspiring.

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The M1 – Central Coast. The sheer rock faces you drive between are amazing, and beautiful.

Once I arrived in Umina Beach I went to visit my 93 year old Aunt, who is astounded that I bother to see her. As I assured her, a trip to Sydney must have a visit to her, or it would not be a trip to Sydney.  I have a cousin of my mother’s who also turned 93 this year who lives in Sydney who will have a visit on Friday. So looking forward to seeing him too.

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Near Fisherman’s Wharf Woy Woy, New South Wales

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“Fishermates” in retro effect style. Brisbane Waters, Woy Woy. Reflections

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The American black duck is prolific on the central coast areas. These ones are well fed by humans and as a result are very likely to wander over to look at you, looking at them. Beautiful plumage.

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The Indian Myna Bird. Wonderful trill and a neatly, well ‘painted’ little fellow.

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Mallard duck. One of the most dramatically coloured of the ducks.

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Fisherman’s Wharf at Woy Woy, Central Coast, New South Wales

Freshwater

Today I have driven east to the coast and will meet up with my cousins for lunch. It is a beautiful day at the moment but by 1pm there are forecasts for thunderstorms- I hope they are wrong – make it 4pm – I’ll be safe at my digs by then.

I was early, as usual, so proceeded to the beach to see the surf at Freshwater Beach.

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It really does look inviting. Lots of grommets out and about and older surfers. It is a moving tide of black rubber covered humans with long wet hair – in some cases -and a board under their arms. Not a bad way to spend your time.

Bella Vista Farm

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https://camdenhistorynotes.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/bella-vista-farm/

https://preview.tinyurl.com/yd6rmbnt

Today we visited one of the first farming properties in Australia. In 1799 Joseph Foveaux was granted 980 acres which, in addition to other purchases, he sold to John Macarthur in 1801. John Macarthur enlarged this through additional purchases until it comprised around 2,000 acres. John and Elizabeth Macarthur farmed sheep on this property in addition to their properties at Camden and Parramatta. For much of the time that the Macarthur’s owned this farm John was overseas and it fell to Elizabeth to manage the various Macarthur properties and flocks.

The farm is being restored and maintained and it is used for a range of activities and community happenings.

Chatswood

We left our first home of three days and drove east towards the north shore.

Well now we are on the north shore of the city in a leafy suburb called Chatswood. It has huge numbers of retail outlets in the streets and in the malls. Westfield, Chatswood Chase and stores all around them. Eateries are everywhere. Very Asian influence around here with heavy emphasis on Korean. This morning we wandered down to #Crazy_Uncle_Frankie’s where we had a lovely breakfast between us with the addition of an orange juice, tea and coffee. lrg_dsc09621

It was a birthday breakfast – did you see the candle?? We ate at Crazy Uncle Frankie’s 1/405-419 Victoria Ave, Chatswood. Terrific service and food. We were welcomed warmly and we ate at an outdoor table.

After breakfast we watched children chase bubbles on the expanse of green outside the Chatswood Library under the only tree in the vicinity, but a good one.

We then ventured off into retail land through the doors of the Westfield shopping complex.There are some great stores and some great décor.

After the walk through and a couple of useful purchases, we returned to our apartment and readied ourselves for a 20 min drive to see one of my cousins who is 93 and thoroughly warm and amazing man, who continues to live life to the full, working 3 days a week at the office of the firm, established by his father Edward (Ted) way back 1929 with his brother Hector (Bob). My cousin joined the Law firm with his brother in the 1950s.

Great to see him. Great Man oh and an MBE too.

That’s it for now – end of post for now.

Back home – Perth, Western Australia; The Hardware Store – Brighton Cafe and Eatery

The Hardware Store is one of my favourite places to eat.  I have not had an evening meal here but have covered most others several times.image

The vibe here is contemporary and trendy.  Not pretentious but fun.  The water jugs are watering cans. The cutlery is housed in toolboxes, and the sauces in an old fruit box.  The staff are young and friendly and do their job well.  The food is delicious and brought quickly and with a flair for decoration.  The fresh fruit juices are served in the currently fashionable jars with handles.

The building is part of a group of shops which has been in Brighton Road Scarborough for probably more than 50 years.  This particular space was – along with the now Patisserie next door, a hardware store for all of that time before it became a cafe.

It was a terrific place with the owner, knowledgeable and with all the stock required.  You could come to him with a nail, screw or piece of tubing and he would say – which tray it was in or take you to it.  The doorway which has now been bricked up, took you through to the paint section.  The original floor has been covered by aged wooden floorboards which rises up in a ramp at the doorway beside two walls covered with white tiles – the style (subway tiles).

The tables are too high, I always get sore shoulders writing here, and I like to write here.  There are pallets on top of regular tables, with a sheet of glass on top.  They look great, but they are too high. In between the wood panels of the pallet the menus are stored.

The choices are fresh and interesting.  My favourite is the smashed avocado.  Will see if I can get it for lunch today.  Fingers crossed. But if that is not available the Zucchini and Sweet corn Fritters are beautiful – it’s the tomato salsa that makes that dish.