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Frankfurt square
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The Friday Photo #140 – Colour and cobbles in Frankfurt

After several months in Asia and a few weeks in the US, returning to Europe was a bit of a culture shock. Even though Frankfurt isn’t usually renowned for the beauty of its architecture or strong arts scene, I actually quite liked the large German city.

The old city had several cobbled lanes and squares, full of statues and lined by dozens of colourful buildings. Bars were doing a brisk trade in the fleeting sunshine, locals and tourists alike enjoying a wide variety of German lagers everywhere you looked.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend spending several weeks, there are definitely a lot worse places to find yourself for a few days.

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Vienna street art
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The random street art of Vienna

June 18, 2012 | Austria, Travel | 21 Comments

I’ll admit that I didn’t love Vienna. After falling hard for Ljubljana earlier in the week, the size, cost and weather of the Austrian capital just didn’t work so well for me. It wasn’t terrible or anything, but it just didn’t excite me as much as I thought it might.

What did excite me, however, was the discovery of several hundred metres of street art literally on the banks of the Danube. I love street art no matter where I find it – I used to spend hours checking it out while living in Melbourne, and happily do the same anywhere else in the world. Vienna was one place that I didn’t expect it, however – the city just seemed a bit too buttoned down and cleaned up.

While out looking for bars on the river (which we never did find…), we decided to turn right instead of left at a random bridge and climb down to water level.

This was the result.

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Piazzaga donkey
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Torno to Piazzaga: a tale of two donkeys

June 6, 2012 | Italy, Travel | 3 Comments

Getting to Piazzaga is not particularly easy.

I stayed for a few days in this tiny village in the hills above Lake Como, and while the place has several wonderful aspects, ease of accessibility isn’t necessarily one of them.

With a four-wheel drive vehicle and nerves of steel, the drive up the narrow, winding dirt road takes about ten minutes from the lakeside town of Torno. Inches to spare on each side, steep inclines and plenty of blind corners make the ride loads of fun. Especially in the dark.

If it’s a sunny day and you’re headed for what is (in my entirely biased opinion) the best restaurant in Lake Como, though, leave the car behind and find a pair of sturdy shoes. It’s time to go for a walk.

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Lake Como view
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Como without the crowds

June 4, 2012 | Italy, Travel | 6 Comments

Beautiful scenery.

Crowds of well-heeled tourists.

George Clooney.

If you’d asked me about Lake Como a week ago, that’s about all I could have told you.

I knew it was a pretty blue lake in northern Italy, close to the Swiss border with several small towns perched on the surrounding hills. I also knew it could be damn expensive, with the rich and famous being spotted on a regular basis. And, like everyone else, I knew that George Clooney owned a place there, so I presumed we’d probably meet up for a coffee at some point.

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Motorcycle in San Sebastian
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The Friday Photo #112 – Incongruous motorbike, San Sebastian

While lazily wandering around the Castillo de Santa Cruz, a medieval castle perched on a hill high above the Basque city of San Sebastian, I came across this shiny motorcycle parked in the grounds outside.

Presumably belonging to one of the staff that worked at the small museum inside the castle, it was an incongruous find amongst the weathered rocks and mossy cobblestones that surrounded it.

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Pigeon in San Sebastian
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San Sebastian, you’re something special

May 30, 2012 | Spain, Travel | 10 Comments

“Have you been to San Sebastian? It’s amazing!”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a variation on that, I would be rich. This small city in the Basque country of northern Spain seems to be a perennial favourite amongst anyone that had ever been there, so when I noticed that it was only a few hundred kilometres from where I was in La Coruña the decision wasn’t hard to make. I was going to San Sebastian.

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Coffee in La Coruna
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Six days in La Coruna

May 28, 2012 | Spain, Travel | 12 Comments

I knew nothing about La Coruna before I arrived. A smallish city of around a quarter million inhabitants on Spain’s north-western coast, I was there only to visit Craig and Linda, good friends that I seem to keep bumping into all over the world..

I boarded the train six days later enamoured with the place. Narrow cobbled streets snaked through the old town with no discernable order to the untrained eye. Families strolled together ambling towards dinner, the restaurants barely starting to open at a time when those in other parts of the world have already shut. The ever-present Atlantic breeze kept temperatures cooler than the rest of the country, but the ocean views that came with it were adequate compensation.

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Sunset in La Coruna
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The Friday Photo #111 – Sunset in La Coruna

I spent this week visiting friends in La Coruna, a small city on the Galician coast of northwest Spain. It’s a wonderful place, relaxing and highly enjoyable despite the cool winds that blew off the Atlantic for much of my stay.

Like much of the rest of the country the food and drink are simply incredible, the people are vibrant and the cobbled streets of the maze-like old town provide hours of exploration (whether that is the intention or not…).

What impressed me most, however? The expansive views. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of perfect vantage points to stop for a while, gazing over the rocky coastline and out into the blue.

It’s even more impressive at sunset.

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