The Diary of a Slow Traveller – Do I need a car?

Does Slow Travel require a car? The notion of Slow Travel by its very nature suggests not being in a hurry and being in control. A car gives you flexibility and allows control as to where you’ll go so it would seem a car goes hand-in-hand with Slow Travel.

So why wouldn’t you drive?

For some of us the challenge is that we drive on the left hand side of the road meaning that to drive in Europe, USA and many other destinations you need to unlearn everything you have been taught.

For all of us there is the challenge of reading signs in a foreign language and learning new road rules, or quickly becoming aware that road rules make little difference to the way the locals drive.

My driving exploits in foreign locations have been the source of many laughs. My four attempts to see the sign to the airport as I zipped around the roundabout on the outskirts of Palermo are regularly brought out by favourite person and daughter when we discuss driving in Europe.

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Diary of a Slow Traveller – Planning UK 2017

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Island of Ortigia, Sicily

 

While I know that many people don’t like planning for travel, that isn’t me. I love trip planning!

When I think back over our 3 months in Italy, so much of the fun was the planning. Where to base ourselves? Initially it was going to be Amalfi and then we settled on Siracusa, Sicily. How would we get there? Why not have a few days in Sri Lanka on the way?

Sri Lanka wasn’t even on our agenda until our favourite travel agent STA Travel suggested it. Once the seed was planted then it was what will we do on our stop-over?  Where will we stay. What about accommodation etc etc?

Then what about the time on Italy? We decided to fly into Milan but what from there? While I’m upto my armpits in the planning, my favourite person likes it all laid out before her so she can comment and amend.

My favourite person  tends to be happy so long as there is plenty of old buildings, nice food (not expensive) and good accommodation – she does like the occasional splurge (so do I for that matter).  She found a delightful city styled B&B in Rome and an awesome accommodation deal in Singapore at The Fullerton during Chinese New Year (so much for my planning – I had no idea it would be Chinese New Year!!!).

A basic itinerary is where I start – lock in where we will fly into and out of and then plot in some ideas for places to visit or regions. I certainly agree with my favourite person that accommodation is important. So often people will talk of low lights and invariably its something to do with the accommodation, whether its budget or 5-star!

When I think of a truly memorable day I had in Paris in 2007 at the end of a work trip as much as I enjoyed my day the hotel was a disaster!  I still have the sounds of Joni Mitchell’s Free Man in Paris ringing in my ears as I think about wandering the Champs Elyees on a glorious summer’s day but all of this was dampened by the middle of the night flood in my room accompanied by the completely disinterested night-porter – definitely a low point. Continue reading

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Diary of a Slow Traveller – San Gimignano – a mix of old and kitsch


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During our sojourn to Italy we took a day trip tof the medieval walled town o San Gimignano. Getting there from Florence is pretty straight forward even if you are not driving.

We’d read the guidebooks and spoken to others, so we knew that we were going to see some amazing sights mixed with shop after shop eagerly seeking to get the tourist dollar. The sites outweigh the endless tourist traps. It is a spectacular place a town set on a hill that dominates its surrounds. It was also just as my imaginings of Tuscany  had been probably  most likely because so many of the photographs of Tuscany in guide books and brochures are from San Gimignano.

The  bus drops you at the gates or if you drive you have a choice of two cents parks which conveniently have signs saying how many parks are available in each.  It felt very Disneyland as we walked through the gates and into Yesterdayland. Just as with Disneyland it is quite special. Continue reading

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The Diary of a Slow Traveller – Close to Home – The Tour Down Under

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Silver Sands Beach – Willunga Stage

My hometown of Adelaide, South Australia hosts the Tour Down Under each year- race one of the UCI World Road Cycling Tour. Now in its 19th year it is well established and patronised by locals and tourists alike.

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The Tour Village – Victoria Square, Adelaide

In 2017 we are lucky enough to have the Tour Village at one end of our street and the criterium that provides the introduction to the 5 stage race at either end of our street.

The criterium provides an opportunity to see the riders close up as they stretch their legs ahead of the TDU itself. A warm summer’s night greeted the race in 2017 and more than 100,000 people turned out to watch.  What a  thrill to see not just our local heroes, Caleb Ewan, Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans but also the World Champion, Peter Sagan. The sprint finish just a couple of hundred metres from my front door came down to the wire as expected with Ewan first , and Sagan third. Continue reading

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The Diary of a Slow Traveller: Close to Home – Second Valley, South Australia

Second Valley

Second Valley

I was reading the wonderful blog Windows into History  on the  joy of slow travel, a subject upon which I have often blogged.  It is a reflection of travel close to home in 1900 by Richard Le Galliene, albeit in his case he is referring to the UK. A 100 plus years on when travel to pretty much anywhere in the world is true, Le Galliene’s words still ring true.

For us , unlike last Christmas in the delightful Sirucusa, Sicily we were home for this Christmas. Christmas in Australia is synonymous with Sun and the Beach with Boxing Day seeing a trek down South for many South Australians including us.

Second Valley

Second Valley

Second Valley - the cove

Second Valley – the cove

We are lucky enough to have a beach house about 90 minutes drive from a Adelaide at the idyllic Second Valley.   South Australia, while locally more recently famous for its statewide  blackout in September, is also getting recognition as a destination with Adelaide identified as the place to discover in 2017 and our wonderful Second Valley beach one of the near city highlights. Continue reading

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