A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: PiandLi

Travel Delays and Roman Holiday

An unexpected 24 hours in the Italian capital

sunny 10 °C
View Hammamet, Tunisia to Sao Paulo, Brazil on PiandLi's travel map.

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With the number of flights we were to take during our travels, it was not totally unexpected that somewhere along the route things might not necessarily go according to plan. For us this occurred in Milan....

The flight from Tunis to Milan arrived on time; however the connecting flight to Rome which would have allowed for a 2 hour stopover before catching the flight to Sao Paulo was significantly delayed. The reason given was the weather in Rome which had delayed its departure to Milan, although a quick check on the internet did not reveal anything climatically untoward in Rome.

In any event we were forced to leave Milan some 4 hours later than scheduled, rendering us unable to make the Rome flight to Sao Paulo. Thus, courtesy of Alitalia, we were accommodated at the Rome Airport Palace Hotel for 24 hours and rebooked on the next available flight to Sao Paulo at 10pm the following day.

Despite the inconvenience and delay, we were quite excited by the prospect of spending a day in the Italian capital and the following morning we venture out on a whirlwind tour of the sights of Rome.

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Our day began by walking to the very close metro station to buy a one day ticket, and we proceeded to use the day to visit the Basilica of San Paulo, the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, whilst still allowing time for coffee and ice-cream.

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It was a full day which we thoroughly enjoyed, and it provided us with the incentive to return one day in the future to discover the city more.
We made our way to Rome airport that evening for the flight to Sao Paulo. The Rome skies were clear, and our flight, this time, departed without delay.

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Posted by PiandLi 15:46 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Seven Days in Hammamet

Too relaxed to blog!!

sunny 20 °C
View Hammamet, Tunisia to Sao Paulo, Brazil on PiandLi's travel map.

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Arriving at the Riu Marharba Palace Hammamet late at night presented like an oasis in the desert. A beautiful hotel, staffed by extremely pleasant and professional staff, we were immediately furnished with a welcome cocktail whilst the checking in formalities took place. The rooms were spacious and beautifully furnished although our balcony view of the roof mounted industrial air conditioning system detracted slightly from the rest of the initial impressions of the hotel. This minor detraction was however short lived as we were relocated the next day to a room with a beautiful view over the inland mountains.

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The hotel operated on an ‘all inclusive’ basis which essentially meant that all meals, afternoon tea drinks and entertainment were included. With both of us looking to shed a few kilos in preparation for Christmas, this provided us with rather a challenge, but by sampling rather than fully partaking, we were able to keep the expansion at bay.

The whole week spent at the hotel was an absolute joy and we both agreed that this represented one of the best holiday times we have had. The food, served in a buffet style, was plentiful, varied and beautifully presented. The staff were all extremely friendly and attentive, and we met and spent time with some great people whilst we were there.

The hotel was situated half way between Hammamet town with its historic fort and medina and Hammamet Yasmine, a recently created resort with its Marina and promenade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammamet,_Tunisia ). We visited both places although the old town provided us with the more authentic North African experience that we were looking for.

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We visited the old town on a number of occasions during our stay to explore the medina and the back streets. Shopping in the medina was always going to be an experience with the age old tradition of haggling a price being, for centuries and still now, the 'modus operandi' of buying and selling. The initial asking price for any product was inevitably several times more than the article was actually worth, and the process involved offer and counter offer before a final price was agreed upon.

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The key is to get a feel for the market first. Visit some of the fixed price shops in the medina first to establish what the ‘real’ price may be, and then venture off to haggle for a better price. Of course every store in the Medina is “the cheapest in Hammamet” or “cheaper than Asda” and of course we always qualified for the traditional Tunisian discount afforded to “the first customers in my shop today”, even though it may have been 2 o’clock in the afternoon!?

We bought a few things in the Medina from a few merchants who assured me that achieving such a ridiculously low price for the goods through my hard bargaining skills had rendered them bankrupt! They were still there the next day. Clearly purchasing something for 15 dinars (about $AUD 10) negotiated down from an asking price of 200 dinars, was not too big of a financial hit for them to take. Even then we probably paid too much. Anyway it was a great experience for us.

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We spent several hours strolling around the old fort and the streets further way from the Medina, somewhat separated from the tourist trail and enjoyed the beautiful whitewashed buildings with their ornate doors and window grills. The colour combination of white and pale blue is characteristically Tunisian. The white washed walls, of course help keep homes cool during the extremely hot summer months and the pale blue is supposed to be the most effective colour to keep mosquitos at bay.

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Part of any travel is to experience new things, and we both did that. Lilian rode a camel for the first time, and I belly danced… Whilst our camel ride through the hills was fully intended, the belly dancing was not…I’m sure you know the story. .. pulled from the audience and publically humiliated in front of all. I had seen it all before and this time it was me. Stripped from the waist up, revealing my beautifully sculptured and suntanned abdomen (!?) and forced to unashamedly wobble my middle aged spread as I have never wobbled it before…

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The next morning I seemed to be decidedly more well-known amongst the hotel guests.

After seven days in Hammamet, on Wednesday 5th December, Lilian and I said our farewells with Nan as she returned to the UK. It was a sad parting. We had spent such a wonderful time together, and had laughed and joked with each other the whole time. It really was great to share such quality time.

Our travels, the very same morning, would next take us on an 80km taxi ride to the capital, Tunis, from where we would take a less than straightforward flight from Tunis to Sao Paulo, Brazil with connecting flights in Milan and Rome. We left the hotel looking forward to the next leg of our journey. However not all was destined to go to plan........

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Posted by PiandLi 11:07 Archived in Tunisia Comments (0)

Making the Weight for the Tunisian Sojourn...

...and Jewellery Smuggling into the Arabic World...

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Short but sweet was the visit to England. After having spent a couple of days meeting family and shopping for ‘’Copacabana clothes” at Primark with the masses of the the Merry Hill Centre, it was time to prepare for our trip to Tunisia, North Africa...

We had managed to catch up with family but unfortunately no such time to meet old friends, some of whom I had not seen for almost 30 years. Jet lag had knocked a day off what was already a short visit home and we were just unable to do all of the things that we had planned to do.

Wednesday morning of the 28th November, was spend insulating ourselves from the extremely cold Midlands weather, and embarking of a last minute shopping spree in Stourbridge town centre.

Having weighed baggage on the bathroom scales by balancing suitcases on my head, and suspecting that we may be ‘rectally compromised’ by the high excess baggage charges that budget airlines charge for oversized and overweight baggage, we packed up the hire care and, with my Nan in tow, headed off to Birmingham airport for the flight to Tunisia for a 7 day family break.

I say ‘family’, although my sister, Charlotte, and my niece Ava, were unable to join us as planned due to the passing of Charlotte’s father. It was a sad time for the family, and there was re-consideration of the trip, but in the end, and through Charlotte’s reassurance the trip went ahead, albeit sadly, not in the way that it had been planned….

The journey to Birmingham Airport was smooth and uneventful. We arrived at check-in. Both Lilian and I looked conspicuously like a couple of overweight Eskimos fully prepared for an Alaskan Winter with each of us wearing two coats, sweaters and numerous layers of clothing under and over each other. We shoved as much additional material as possible into our hand luggage and prayed to the gods.

Like two boxers struggling to make the weight we checked in spot on our joint allowance, although we had my Nan to thank for that, given that she weighed in a few kilos short of her ‘fighting weight’… … As a group, and excluding the amount of clothing we were wearing we amazingly managed to check in on-weight, and after removing a few layers and buying a few extra bits for the journey boarded the plane to Enfidha Airport, Tunisia…

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The flight to Tunisia was thankfully short in comparison to our flight to the UK. Tunisian customs took a little while to get going, and Lilian was singled out for a wee bit of attention. Not sure if it was the fact that her Brazilian passport was mistaken for Columbian, or for the fact that she was carrying half a jewellery store in her luggage but she was stopped and checked twice before we managed to escape the airport.

Lilian was truly living the moment, this being her first visit to an Arabic country. In her inimitable Brazilian way, she enjoyed a moment engaging in a discussion with the Tunisian customs officer on which piece of jewellery he felt was the most beautiful…. … Whether this did the trick or not, I don’t know, but the officer reached the conclusion that she was not a jewel smuggler, and allowed her to proceed into the country…

We had arrived in Tunisia, a couple of family members short, but nevertheless determined to enjoy the next few days and to experience as much as we could of this small but colourful part of North Africa…

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Posted by PiandLi 08:35 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Spiritual Re-awakening and Jetlag...

overcast 7 °C
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Lilian being Lilian!!

Lilian being Lilian!!

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25-26 November 2012

After arriving home, we decided to pay a surprise visit on my sister and her daughter Ava. It was about 11-30, and we were told that they would be at the local church where Ava goes to Sunday school, so we made our way there to effect the surprise.

Not quite sure where to find the Sunday school, we entered a room and found ourselves right in the middle of the Sunday service. We were greeted by kind smiles by worshippers clearly delighted to receive two new members to their community… and ushered to a seat in the congregation. A gentleman provided us with hymn books opened at the correct page and pointed us to the current verse of the hymn being sung…This clearly wasn’t the Sunday school …and neither my sister nor my niece were there… Not feeling able to leave to continue our search, we joined the worshippers in the Sunday service… … It had been a fair while for both of us… so it was probably about time for a bit of spiritual re-awakening!

After some time the service ended, and duly re-enlightened, we were approached by the same gentleman who gave us the hymn books. We explained who were, and who we were looking for, and were taken to the Sunday school playgroup room at the back of the church. Ava and Charlotte were both pleased to see us, as we were them.

We were introduced to several members of the church including the Reverend, who intimated that he may use our visit as a reference in a future sermon to” inspire” the congregation…after all… we had “stepped off a 20 hour flight from Australia to come straight to his service!!”……now that’s true spiritual commitment… !!

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After returning home, we were hit with the expected bout of jet lag, just filled with a desperate need to sleep. We proceeded to sleep all day, waking up at 11pm. One day down. The next day was going to be a long one…and it was, remaining awake for the next 25 hours….

Once the sun was up on Monday morning, we put on our Reeboks and went for a walk. Returning home always brings back memories of childhood, and although many things have changed, the familiarity of the place where I grew up remains comforting…

More Anon…

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Posted by PiandLi 00:24 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Bon Voyage

Perth-Kuala Lumpur-UK


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Lilian and Peter starting the journey

Lilian and Peter starting the journey


Airport

Airport

After a little bit of last minute packing and preparing the house for 7 weeks away, we excitedly headed off to Perth Airport with Stefano and Mariane. The first leg of our journey would take us from Perth to London Heathrow with a 2 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur.

All together

All together

Once the bags were checked in I was able to relax and, after saying our goodbyes, we enjoyed a ‘bon voyage’ drink in the airport bar before boarding the plane.

Peter Perth Airport

Peter Perth Airport


Lilian Perth Airport

Lilian Perth Airport

The flight to Kuala Lumpur took us over the West Australian coastline, north of Perth and we were able to look down the place where our new house is to be built.

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Flying over the Indian Ocean north of Perth WA

Flying over the Indian Ocean north of Perth WA

Food and service on Malaysian Airlines was great, and the complimentary headphones gratefully drowned out the involuntary ‘snorting’ noises of the gentleman sitting behind me, and after 5 and a half hours we arrived in KL at 10pm.

Losing my boarding pass whilst in Kuala Lumpur airport was not a high point….although…it was all sorted without much fuss, and thankfully the journey didn’t prematurely end there. I subsequently found it when we arrived in the UK…

After 13 grueling hours of nicotine withdrawal-fuelled cold turkey, endless fidgeting, stretching and pacing around the airplane we landed in a very dark and cold London at 5:50 on Sunday morning.

It felt freezing with a bitter wind to match as we hopped on the Hertz shuttle bus to pick up the hire car. We had booked a basic small car for the drive up to my home town, Stourbridge, but were ‘rewarded’ for the bravery of our exposure to the UK elements with a hire car upgrade…

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180 kms later and we arrived in Stourbridge to spend a few days with Nan, my sister Charlotte and our niece, Ava Elaine, all of whom we hadn’t seen for over 2 years…

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More anon… Peter and Lilian…

Posted by PiandLi 03:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Farewell Lunch at the Botanica

Thursday 22 November 2012

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Had a great lunch with work colleagues at the Botanica on Scarborough Beach Road to ''celebrate'' our imminent departure. Had a lovely time there. Thanks Rozana, Graham, Alison and Lilian...

Posted by PiandLi 20:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Manning WA

Anticipation...

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Hi all...This is our first travel blog. For those who take a cursory interest, we hope it is...well...interesting...??!!.... (lol).. For those who do have a modicum of interest...your comments and suggestions would be very welcome...

We are preparing for a 7 week trip...and just wanted to share things with those we know and love...

We are still stuck in Manning, Perth, Western Australia, finishing a few things, and full of worry about being away for 7 weeks, but hope to forget about that pretty soon.... See you all and talk to you all later....

Take care...Peter and Lilian xxxx

Posted by PiandLi 02:53 Archived in Australia Tagged manning Comments (2)

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