With all this talk about being environmentally friendly, traveling is always put in the spotlight. I definitely acknowledge that flying around the globe isn't the best for the environment, but there is a lot more to responsible travel than that.

What is responsible travel all about?

In my opinion, and it is quite a widely held view, traveling responsibly includes respecting the environment & the culture of the places you visit. It is one thing to think green when it comes to your carbon footprint but it is also important to preserve local cultures and learn about the place you are visiting too.

In this day-and-age, there are so many places in the world that turn amazing & unique surroundings into tourist areas that have literally turned an interesting Spanish village into a hot version of somewhere in Britain or the US.

So…is traveling all that bad?

I don’t think that traveling is all that bad when it comes to treating the global environment in a respectful way. It is a matter of how you travel. Those that exhaust local resources (environmentally and culturally) may not be deemed as responsible but those that take the time to investigate environmentally friendly alternatives while getting to know the local culture really are stepping up to the Responsible Traveller platform.

Why travel responsibly?

For me, there are many reasons on why I choose to travel responsibly. First, I love learning about new cultures and going off the beaten path. If I wanted to have the same experiences and go to McDonald's I would do that in my hometown. I like to understand what it is like to live and exist in these new surroundings. That includes eating the local cuisine, seeing some non-touristy sites and also talking to local people.

Another thing I enjoy doing is giving back to local communities. Whether that be by buying souvenirs made by local businesses and/or people or volunteering if I have the time. In most non-Westernized countries it means a lot to the economy and community when you do this.

Finally, it is important to me that I respect the environment I'm in. Realizing that just because something is OK at home, it may not be OK in the place I’m visiting. I try to understand local customs and environmental regulations so I can make sure I don’t offend or cause any detriment.

My experiences so far

In addition to generally taking care while I travel, I’ve done a couple of things where I’ve taken the time to get closer to nature and the local culture.

Late last year, I volunteered where I joined a communal community unique. The best part of the experience is that you work for your essentials (shelter and food). As a collective group, members and volunteers share resources and maximize use. From an environmental perspective, it is a positive step but it also is an interesting way to get to understand some of our roots. I found it to be an incredible experience and one I would even look to do again.

When I decided to head down under, I also tried to learn more about local cultures and traditions. As I was interested in finding more environmentally friendly ways to travel, I traveled mainly by bus – sharing transportation with a large group of people to maximize efficiencies.

Also, when shopping for my friends back in Canada, I invested in locally produced art from the Aboriginal people of Australia. During this time, I had a lot of opportunities to meet individuals with a different way of life and it inspired me to get closer to nature. I’ll always remember Australians as being extremely green in their approach, finding innovative ways to reduce their impact on the environment.

So…what does this mean to you?

Whether it’s trying out a volunteering scheme or getting up close with the Aboriginals of Australia, explore and respect the local culture around you to get the full benefit of your travels.

After a long 12 hour flight, I made it back to Israel. I have decided to come back here to escape the cold and have a bit of Tel Aviv fun for the New Year. As I think I have mentioned, most holidays are very unique in Israel. Since Israel is a Jewish state, its laws around holidays are governed by the Jewish calendar.

People do not get XMAS Day or Easter off like in most parts of the world. Instead, they get off on Rosh Hashanah and Passover. I think its quite cool but it does still take some getting used to. The same goes for New Year. Even though Israel follows the regular calendar, New Year Eve really isn't a big deal here. This past year, the 31st fell on a Friday, so everyone is already off because of the weekend. I am thinking that in Tel Aviv there will definitely be some action.

So what is it like in Tel Aviv on Sylvester? As I said in an earlier post, most Israelis refer to New Years Eve as Sylvester, named after a Christian Saint whose special day is on the 31st of December.

So, I get off the plane and am ready to party. I tell a lie, as I am actually exhausted. I get back to the flat, say hello to everyone and grab a cat nap. When I rise, its dark and I start making my plans. It looks like its dinner and some drinks for us. We head to a friend for what turns out to be an incredible meal of wine, food, and fun.

After that, we cruise through Florentin and it looks like they are getting ready for a big street party (very popular in Israel). It is raining (perfect, I know) so we elect to head into town and find a bar to grab a drink. There are so many areas in Tel Aviv to choose from but my friend has to work at 11 pm (I know even on New Year) so we go close to her work on Dizengoff.

We grab a glass of wine and toast the New Year and what a year its been. I end up staying with my friend at her work, Hotel Cinema. It is actually quite a cool place with memorabilia all over the lobby from its heyday.

The Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv is situated a short walk from the Tel Aviv beach, in an original Bauhaus style building in the Esther Cinema, one of the first movie theaters in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel. You see, the hotel was actually the Esther Cinema, one of the first movie theaters in the heart of Tel Aviv. It has a unique design and even highlights the original projectors and movie posters, preserving the legacy of the building.

Now, it is a contemporary hotel but it is chosen to maintain a bit of its history through maintaining the movie feel. Hey, they even give guests fresh popcorn. Now that is service!

On a New Year note, not much is going on if I am honest in the hotel and outside in Dizengoff Square. It is very quiet and definitely it is no Times Square, Sydney Harbour or Big Ben. But I will take this relaxed pace this year. After dark, the countdown began to tick so slowly in spite of all the unmanageable circumstances.

Five! Four! Three! Two! One! My friend and I do the countdown together and give each other a big hug. Last year we celebrated together too while in the kibbutz. We had just met at the time and our friendship has grown so much since then. We only saw a single rocket fly over the roofs of Tel Aviv. Only a single miserable rocket! No guns, no smoke, no people on the street. But as the other guests had taken precautions and buy sparklers at the start, so at least a little New Year's Eve sprouted.

After the countdown we notice some sparks fly outside the hotel and realize someone is igniting fireworks on their own. Outside of being afraid I realize that we are DEFINITELY NOT (as a metaphor) in Times Square anymore. You know what? I kind of like it.

New Years Eve in Tel Aviv

Day 2

After a short night, I set off for a walk through Jaffa at dawn. The first day of the year began in much the same way as the last one of the previous year began. The sun was shining in the sky. Due to the continued spring-like weather, I got into the swarms even in the dirtiest street and with the most penetrating garbage smell.

It became clear to me that the skyscrapers along the beaches of Tel Aviv are pretty monsters, which in the dim sky spread fear and terror rather than holiday flair. The long arms of spring tore me into the open. With heavy legs and tired eyes I moved like a half-dead somehow to Frishman Beach. I spread out my towel and lay down.

The Mediterranean was rushing in front of me. Behind me, the construction workers pounded the beach ready for the summer. The sunbeams warmed my face and feet. I slowly dozed off and got me the first fat sunburn of the year.

What does mountain sickness feel like? I asked my friend before we embarked on a two-month motorbike trip in the Indian Himalayas. He is one of those types who has done the Everest trek on his own without a guide or a porter or even a decent map, and with just his 20 kg+ backpack for a company, probably in flip-flops and a t-shirt. He did get sick with the altitude, but he couldn’t explain how Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) feels, so I thought it couldn’t be so bad. I was very wrong.

This is what high altitude sickness feels like. You’re lying inside a freezing cold tent in 4200 m altitude in a place called Sarchu in the middle of nowhere between Manali in Himachal Pradesh and Leh, Ladakh. The tent is made of an old parachute and your mattress has been used by millions of random people before you, but it doesn’t matter because your head hurts so much that you can place it on the makeshift pillow (ie. pile of your dirty clothes).

It is pitch black around you and you are freezing, but you cannot sleep. Everyone else is snoring away, but you cannot because you think your head is going to explode. You cannot breathe either. There isn’t enough oxygen in the air. You think you’re going to suffocate and die and nobody will notice until it’s too late.

You haven’t been able to eat, because you are nauseous, and you have no appetite anyway. Your stomach rumbles in a funny way and you think you’re going to throw up or get diarrhea. There are no toilets in this tent camp, and since you are in a high altitude desert in the Himalayas, there are no bushes to squat behind either. You can’t do anything except pray.



You lie there for hours until the morning comes and you realize that you haven’t slept a second, but you’re still going to have to travel the whole day over higher and higher mountain passes to reach Leh, the capital of Ladakh. You can’t turn back either because there are high passes wherever you look.

Mild symptoms include breathlessness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite and sleeping difficulties. More severe symptoms include disorientation, loss of balance, and coughing up of pink frothy phlegm.

Except for the pink froth, you have all of them. I watch the friend pull a thick, slimy, bloody rope of snot out of his nostrils. He says he hasn’t slept a second either and his head feels like it’s splitting in two, but he’s still going to have to drive you both over 5000 m mountain passes.

Solution: take a couple of headache tablets, drink lots of water, get some coffee and move on, and hope you’re going to arrive in Leh in one piece. Which we did, in the end.

A single day in Melbourne is too short, but we had a schedule to meet. We had to get to Adelaide in two days, since on the third day we had hired a trip to Kangaroo Island, which left from there.

Another day that I get up before the alarm goes off. It has been raining all night and it continues. After waiting for my partner to wake up, we start with breakfast. After mounting everything, we took the car and headed for Adelaide but not by the shortest route, but by the Great Ocean Road. This scenic road runs along the coast between Torquay and Warrnambool, and is one of the most outstanding tourist attractions in Australia.

At this point we made a small mistake. We had read that before starting the route, it was worth going through the Bellarine Peninsula. As it was on the way, we decided to go there and it turned out to be a little fiasco. It's the typical summer resort the people of Melbourne go to, because in this peninsula they have beaches and tranquility but for tourists eager for new landscapes like us, it turned out nothing of the other world.

Then we went to the Bells Beach, where there were lots of surfers waiting for their waves on a day that, at least at that time, the sea did not put much of their share. From the viewpoint we watch for a while and how the surfers try to dance on the crest of the waves. Then we pass by Anglasea, and see its golf course on the move.

The next stop on the route was the Aireys Inlet lighthouse, where we re-found the flies with our friends, which filled the area. This stop was an appetizer of the steep coast that we would see later. Another stop was Lorne. From here we went inland to visit the sheoak falls, inside a forest of eucalyptus. Here instead of pigeons what are most abundant are parrots. Here, as we had sandwiches brought from the supermarket in Melbourne, we took advantage of it to eat.

Our next stop was Kenneth River. We saw in passing a wallaby and little else. The next destination was Apollo Bay but only to buy some beers for tonight and a few provisions for dinner.

For the next stop we had to deviate from the Great Ocean Road on a road that leads to the oldest lighthouse in Australia, the Cape Otway Lighthouse. The lighthouse was already closed, but the detour allowed us to see the first koalas of our trip. We saw several, all perched on the eucalyptus eating leaves, and one of them with a baby clinging to the back. We were lucky to see them awake, because apparently these animals spend 20 hours a day sleeping.

We were also fortunate to see clearly a kookaburra, a symbolic bird of Australia. By the way, I also saw a purple pukeko. After taking a few pictures of such nice animals, we went to the main course of the route. Back on the road, we pass by Lavers Hill, where nearby is the detour to do the Melba Gully Walk. Apparently there are luminescent worms in the area that makes this place at night is spectacular.

Already in the car and seeing that it was 17:10, we decided to start and see the twelve apostles, species of rock columns that have been left in the middle of the beach when the area that linked them to the cliff eroded. There was a considerable wind, the sea was rough and it was beginning to dusk, which in our opinion gave a point of beauty to such a spectacular spot.

A little further on we stopped at the Lord Arch Gorge, named for a ship that sank there in 1878. Only 2 people survived, a boy and a girl. The story did not have an ending as romantic as it would have been if it were a Hollywood movie. We continued and stopped a little in Port Cambell, to see the beach. We followed and the following stops were the London Bridge, beautiful landscape of rocks.

A path descends to the bridge that makes the grotto, where beautiful photographs come out. We see the Bay of Islands which is something similar to the 12 apostles, but with its own personality. We head to Warrnambool city where there is logans beach, for the observation of whales. We arrived by the hair. As it was almost dusk, the light was not ideal, but we could still see some whales with their young, which made us very excited, but as there was little light, the photographs did not come out well.

And this is where we realized our little mistake. We had spent a lot of time in the morning on the Bellarine peninsula. Since we wanted to get to Adelaide the next day, we had no choice but to end the Great Ocean Road. So, we started going miles without stopping, and that's when we saw the first kangaroos. At that moment we realized that the typical yellow sign with a kangaroo is not something exotic for tourists to take photos of. It is a real sign that on that stretch of road there is danger of encountering kangaroos crossing the road.

We crossed two far enough to not endanger our safety or that of the animal, although with the second we had to step on the brake. It seems that at dawn and dusk it is when they get the most to cross the road and more accidents occur. We got to sleep at Mount Gambier. Although this small city is outside of all tourist routes, it would be worthwhile to incorporate it.

It is located next to a crater of an extinct volcano that is full of water. It is known by the name of Blue Lake because of the incredibly blue color of the water. For its part, the city is full of caves. There are four types of caves. Some have converted them into gardens, others offer visits for all audiences. The third are suitable only for speleologists and the last ones are only for underwater spelunkers. We had to settle for a cave-garden, but we would have liked to visit some of the suitable for all audiences.

We go to our lodging. The room is large and more than functional. The rest of the night is as usual. We take a shower, dinner and watch a tv series, all accompanied by a rain and cold that seems not want to abandon us.

Melbourne to Adelaide

Close your eyes. Think of an immense palm grove caressed by a light breeze. Beaches of fine white sand bathed by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Sun, green landscapes, exotic vegetation and a luxury gastronomy. Yes, you can open them now, we just arrived in Mauritius. Mauritius has managed to adapt perfectly to the times without missing the heritage that British, Indian or French people left. It has led to a mixture of palpable flavors in any of its disciplines. From traditional Creole music to the best ingredients of its cuisine, such as curries or amalgam of beers and wines from anywhere in the world.

Day 1

We arrived at the airport. We arrive on time and we only have one hour to change planes. So we hurry to find the boarding gate and then we head towards Mauritius. I look at spending them trying to sleep. I cannot, at best I slept one hour. I open my eyes, I'm flying, am I perhaps a bird? I am inside an airplane. What do my eyes see? Turquoise waters, an island! I pinch myself. Will I be dreaming? I have not bought any plane ticket. I do not know how, or where, or why I'm here. I ask the stewardess what the destination is and she with a smile from ear to ear answers me, you are traveling to Mauritius, welcome.

Will it be nerves, how can you not be nervous after arriving in paradise? Or playing with the monitors of the plane, watching series or movies, reading, what else can be done? Today I bring you a dream in the form of a trip, of course! My dreams lately revolve around the search for new impressions, emotions and sensations that produce the best state of mind that exists, and that is none other than that of happiness. I get traveling, there is nothing that makes me happier than traveling.

We arrived at the Port Louis airport around 5 o'clock in the morning. We went to a minibus that is waiting for us (and other passengers) to move us to the hotel. As soon as I left the airport, my five senses were ready and prepared to work at supersonic speeds. Mauritian island is sweet. Its people are sweet, and the island itself is sweet. The first thing you find, as soon as you enter is its beautiful meandering roads, and endless sugarcane plantations.

It took us just over an hour to arrive. We entered the hotel and were already impressed with the hall. It looks very good, I bet we'll be fine! We walk the first steps through the hotel, and we are eager to know everything! We had booked a room and when we arrived we had moved to a stunning two-story royal suite with a Jacuzzi inside the bedroom and a balcony that had amazing views. From there we saw one of the best sunsets we have ever seen.

Immediately we are on the beach and we can hardly resist a bath. It is a pity that we still have our bags and it is 6.30 in the morning! We will have time. The hotel had two areas, one for adults only and another one prepared for the whole family.

We cannot resist so we pick up a couple of little gifts from the hotel. We have breakfast and we go to the hammocks on the beach. It is necessary to say that the beach is full of coral. So to bathe they advise us to do it with booties on the feet to avoid possible cuts. It is for this reason that we would not bathe for many days on the beach. We prefer the pool to the beach.

Those who know me already know my weakness for exotic destinations. Few things I like more than the sun and the beach and, although confessed urbanite, I find my own state of well-being surrounded by coconut trees, sun and a cocktail in hand. Today will be a relaxing day, touring the hotel, hammocks on the beach, pool. And of course: stop at the bar! With good views of the sea we end the day, with a beautiful sunset.

As we go on an all-inclusive basis, we have dinner at the hotel. In fact we take all the meals there except for a lunch that we did outside on the day we went on a full day excursion. The truth is that it was not monotonous to eat at the hotel as there is quite a variety. There are 5 different restaurants. It was appreciated to be able to vary. I think we tried them all.

Mauritius - Gem in the Indian Ocean

Day 2

We are already very relaxed. So today we need to know a little about this great island (and I do not say precisely because of the size). We will make an excursion of the whole day traveling through Mauritius. But before we have a fabulous breakfast in front of the sea.

Between some couples we rented the service of a minibus and we decided the route. Some years ago there were factories of the famous brand Ralph Lauren on the island. So visitors could buy some pieces at factory price in the factory itself. Today there is no factory but the reputation of being able to get pieces of this brand at a good price. So we ask the taxi driver to bring us to the area of ​​purchase of this type of clothing.

I have to say that we were quite disappointed. There are several stores with products of different brands (Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Burberry). But they are copies and quite expensive. Bargaining decreases the price a bit. After the disappointment of shopping we decided to start to really know the island.

We head to the great sacred lake Grand Basin and its Indian temple. On the way we observe the landscape. It is very green and with great contrasts. At the entrance to the lake we are surprised by the Shiva statue, the highest in all of Mauritius (33m).

We enter the Grand Basin and observe the offerings made to the lake. They leave candles, food, and flowers. We continue! Now we go through a viewpoint to discover the Black River Gorges, a natural park with waterfall included. We are a few meters high and a little cold.

Touring the island has made us hungry. To eat we go to a beautiful typical Mauritian restaurant, without tourists. We wait, although the feast does not take long to come to the table. We really enjoyed the lobster and rice. I think we all ask for the same thing! They were not expensive either. It's been 4 years and I do not remember exactly what it cost us but we all agree that apart from being delicious, these lobsters were very well priced.

Once we have eaten (and how well we have eaten) we head to La Vainille. It is a natural park with lots of giant tortoises and crocodiles! After a couple of hours visiting the park we get back to the hotel. We were exhausted and fall asleep early.

DAY 3

Today we will enjoy a catamaran excursion to Ile aux Benitiers in the southwest of the island. Here we will have one of the best moments of the trip. We start with a dolphin sighting. We were looking for different boats and catamarans. I would almost say "chasing", the dolphins made it difficult to see them. Even I think it made it difficult for the animals to pass, since all the boats were behind.

We cut the crossing and the catamaran skipper is encouraged to catch a tuna! We eat on the catamaran. In a moment they have kept several trays of rice, pasta, and meat. So we have an impromptu buffet. We drink and eat what we feel like and we continue sailing with a view to Le Morne.

After a while the catamaran stops. We can choose to take the boat to the ile aux benitiers (white sand). Or we can snorkel in the turquoise lagoon located next to the rock called "diamond". I do not think twice about snorkeling in the lagoon. It is very interesting. We did a kayak trip first. Then we are in the middle of the sea and our feet touch the white sand floor.

There is also a great variety of small fish that can even be seen without the glasses thanks to the turquoise color and transparent water. In addition to colorful fish I discover the sea cucumber, this Japanese delicacy that I have never seen before. No pictures of this moment, as I jumped into the sea to enjoy. And it was really worth it!

we make an excursion with the boat with the glass bottom to observe the coral. The hotel offers several water activities such as: water skiing, and ride on giant tires. On the way back we can observe the hotel from another point of view, from the sea.

We take a taxi and visit Port Louis and take the opportunity to do some shopping. In the evening we played a game of tennis and relaxed again in the pool.

To top off the day today we have a special dinner. The hotel invites us to a romantic dinner near the beach. They had set up a lovely table with candles in the middle of the beach and they served us a lovely meal. It was one of the most romantic nights of our stay there. We arrived at the table and we taste an entree consisting of a lobster soup. And it is followed by salads and the main course of pasta and then the dessert! Really we enjoy the dinner, for everything else it was fabulous!

DAY 4

Everything is over anyway! Before leaving we have some massages with oils in the spa of the hotel so that the return is a little more bearable. But we have already enjoyed it and we have a great memory of this small country.

Mauritius is not just a destination for newlyweds, sea and beaches. It is much more than that. It's vegetation, flora, fauna, water, traditions, and rites. There is a games of lights and colors. There are flavors, curves, peace, tranquility, while that adrenaline and emotion flows. It's everything you want it to be.

Mauritius for many is a perfect honeymoon destination. I do not say anything strange if I tell you that you will never forget this romantic date. It will be more special, if possible, lived on one of the beaches of this island. See a sunset or, better yet, welcome a new day lying on the beach of fine sand, without better company than the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life. Yes, indeed, Mauritius is a destination for lovers.

Why New Zealand? And I answer with another question, who does not dream of going to New Zealand? Well, it may seem a somewhat atypical destination for a honeymoon. At least for a large part of society that relates this trip with relaxation, sun, and beach. In our case what most strikes us is the adventure, to see new places that leave us speechless, nature, especially if it is mixed with physical activity. Considering these factors, New Zealand fitted our goals perfectly.

On a personal level I add that I wanted to discover Middle-earth. Do I need to add more? It is true that those goals I spoke about are a bit stronger in me than in my partner. So I had to give up a day for that of beach, relaxation and sun. It at once translated into visiting the Cook Islands, so we are all happy!

Day 1: Flight to New Zealand

Nobody will be caught by surprise if I tell that the flight is long and tiring, right? Well, I still confirm it. In our case we traveled at a comfortable hour in the evening that already invited us to be in dream as soon as dinner was served. In total it can be translated into Thor 2, and the complete Hobbit trilogy, to get more than familiar to Middle Earth. We landed there at 10:30 am. It is good time to start the adventure!

After a bit of confusion and waiting to contact the agency, they finally took us to their headquarters, near the airport. How could it be otherwise? There is overcast sky, and sporadic rain. We are also happy to meet you New Zealand!

Once the paperwork was done, the first moment of truth came, to get behind the wheel. Surprisingly I did it better than expected. So the next thing was to fill the tank at the gas station that was the cheapest on the whole north island and head to Matamata.

The trip was not very long, especially because part of it was done by highway, a luxury for a country like New Zealand, whose roads are mainly national. In fact we did not step on a highway again in the following days.

Once we left the same we stopped to eat a chicken in a roadside restaurant. A few km later we took a few provisions in a road market, and the first New Zealand dollars are spent.

At mid-afternoon we arrived in Matamata. We went directly to the site, which was already closed, but we saw a beautiful and large parking lot next to it. At the end of it had one of those wonderful and clean public restrooms spread throughout New Zealand. We had found our place to spend the first night!

It was the night that arrived prematurely, as we did not even have the strength to go around the town. The fatigue of the trip and a little jet lag plunged us into a deep sleep at around 5:00 pm. We had to recover well, as the next day we will have the first real contact with Middle Earth.

Day 2: Flight to Rarotonga

We got up at 5:30 and we were at 6:30 to return the car with enough time to catch our flight. We were very early as I say. There was only one other couple and it took us a while to return the car, between which they check the gasoline and any possible damage that could have occurred.

With a mixture of feelings we went to our next destination, the Cook Islands. We caught our flight early. At 8:45 in the morning we left Auckland in the direction of Rarotonga. The flight was very comfortable. As a curiosity, it was the first time I saw that we could order food and drink through the individual touch screen.

For the rest it was a quiet flight, with good views of the Pacific Ocean at all times. In the flight it is the first time I saw the windows that darken automatically, in this case a bluish tone. As if from a trip to the past it was about 13:35 we arrived at the international airport of Rarotonga. Do not confuse the name, as the largest airport in the Cook Islands is rather small.

Rarotonga received us with a pretty good day. We did not know what awaited us the rest of the days. After the immigration procedures, much simpler than we were used to in New Zealand, we picked up our suitcase and went to the terminal. Our driver was waiting for us to take us to our accommodation in Rarotonga.

When we arrived we met the owner of the establishment, through which we were able to book a Quads activity for our last day. We decided to put on the swimwear, take the kayak and go to explore the lagoon of Muri Beach. We wanted to take advantage of the light and that was more or less clear with some threatening clouds.

Since it was a bit cloudy, we do not need to protect ourselves from the sun. When we returned from our walk through the kayak, I must say that we are quite bad at this paddling. It is a pity the light that was there as the clouds were making an appearance more and more. What I can tell you is that the place is magical. With the sun it is spectacular, but few things take away the beauty of this island.

As this first day we had no means of transportation yet. We booked dinner at the beach. We dined quite well, because the restaurant is on the same beach. There was live music that entertained us during dinner.

What we had seen so far we liked a lot. We had managed to disconnect completely and all the hustle and bustle, trekking, hiking and long tours of New Zealand seemed a distant memory.

We went to sleep in paradise.

Day 3: Avarua

During the night we came listening to the rain, but unconsciously I associated it with a dream. When I got up I could see the reality, the one with the red octopus was falling.

All the good luck we had in New Zealand was getting twisted in Cook Islands. In our accommodation, breakfast is brought to our room based on what we ordered the day before among a series of possibilities that wear given. They bring us some fresh pastries, bread and eggs that we cook ourselves. So our morning started as cooks preparing a good breakfast.

When we finished breakfast we were picked up from the car rental office. They have several offices throughout the island, which I remember one in Avarua which is quite large and where we reserve, smaller, near Muri. We wanted the most basic car they had.

Our route starts at the Rarotonga International Airport. As soon as we get to Rarotonga, we will realize the profound religiosity that its people have. Before reaching Avarua, we find an information point and the Marine Park of the Cook Islands.

The beaches in this area are not the best on the island, as this area is not suitable for snorkeling. From the airport we are immediately in Avarua, the capital and the largest settlement of all the Cook Islands. We can see that much of the architecture is colonial, including the Catholic Church and some buildings that we see. We leave the main road at the Avarua roundabout and take the Takuva'ine Road to the inner road.

We take this opportunity to stop to eat. As we arrived at the afternoon we could only order a pizza in the bar they have. The restaurant was already closed. For us the next interesting point, of all Rarotonga, is the Muri area with its wonderful lagoon. This is where most of the island's accommodation is concentrated. The most interesting part of Muri is the area of ​​the lake where the motus (Taakoka, Koromiri, Oneroa and Motutapu) are. For me the best way to explore this area, apart from a nice walk on the beach, was kayaking up to the motus.

As it was time to go to the show Te Vara Nui, we went to the apartment to wait to be picked up. We contract the long visit that starts around 5:00 pm and before the dinner show have explanations of the Polynesian customs and traditions. For a day as bad as the one we had it is a pleasant and quite entertaining visit.

In the long visit, they talk mainly about the history of the Cook Islands, the islands that compose them, their great attachment to the sea and the main navigation techniques . They have been a town of great navigators and are proud of it. In one of the rooms where explanations are made, we can see an example of a small waka (canoe), as well as different gear used for traditional fishing.

They talk about traditional medicines, as well as typical clothes from the Cook Islands. Of course, at this moment they take some unsuspecting person to the arena, usually a woman, to dress her with the typical Polynesian skirt and teach her some typical dance.

The most peculiar of the visit is the last stop when they talk about the Tree of life and everything that has to do with coconuts. After the visit we pass to the area where the show is seen. At this moment many more people are there, all those who have not come to the cultural experience.

The food is good and we have a great variety of meat, fish, salads and typical dishes. The show is based on the Legend of Tonga-iti, transmitted from generation to generation by its tupunas. The show is done in the lake on floating surfaces and boats. We liked the show of dancing, fire and music a lot and we had a very good time. Around 10:30 p.m. we leave and arrived at the accommodation. We saw a romantic movie of the many DVDs that they have and we went to bed with our lips and hips tucked in each other.

Day 4: Motutapu

We had some hope of having better weather today and thus be able to enjoy our last day in Rarotonga as this island deserves. The day dawned cloudy like the previous one. So we are glad to have hired the excursion in Quads for that day, which can be done even if it rains. The starting point of the tour is the hotel.

From the beginning we realize that everything is a little precarious. I asked the guide who came to the end of the group if I can change the Quad. He asked me not to think about it and released the Quad. With the new Quad it was something else. I looked at the guide and he told me that nothing was wrong,. Everything went well for a while and we arrived at the first stop of the excursion at the end of the Vana Stream where there are some of the water tanks that supply the island.

After this stop the problems with the new Quad returned. Now it was not possible to start it. Finally the guide was able to put it into operation but that already smelled bad to me since it seemed that it was going to permeate every moment. We retraced the path that we had made way to the second valley. We were going to visit until suddenly the Quad came back to stop and why not guess where it stopped? Well, of course, following Murphy's Law, the Quad stopped in the middle of one of the rivers that crossed the route and stayed there. When I saw the man trying to start the Quad in the purest style, I realized that he had the same idea of ​​Quads and his mechanics as I did of Quantum Physics.

It's a good thing it did not last long because suddenly we saw the other guide return. I changed the Quad, third of the day, to drag the defective Quad. Soon we arrived with the rest of the group. They changed my Quad again and it sounded a bit like a joke. From here the route was normal, without sudden starts or stops, or having to tow anyone. We toured Turangi Stream and at the end of it we went back to make a stop.

At the end of the tour they take us to the cafe where they invite us to one of their famous fish or chicken sandwiches and a soft drink. The cafe is in the northern part of the Muri Lagoon, in Avana Harbor, in front of the Motutapu. It is a good fishing spot on the island from where there are also some boats to rent to go fishing.

From there we returned to the starting point of the tour and they take us to our accommodation. As it was still half a day we decided to go to Avarua. The coins are only valid in the Cook Islands, although they are very interesting to collect.

That day to eat we chose the restaurant of the hotel. The place is nice and we eat well. For the first time since the day we arrived we started to see the sun a little and it is amazing how the island changes and the water color of the lagoon with a different light.

With the best time we had in the three days we were in Raro and how could it be otherwise! We went for a walk around Muri, from the Rumors to the Avana Estuary area. It was one of the best moments on the island On our walk along the beach we saw the celebration of a wedding in Muri. Is not it a bad place to get married?

At last we have a nice walk in Rarotonga watching the sun! Our stay in Rarotonga had not been the best due to the weather. However, we had done very interesting things like the excursion in Quads or the Te Vara Nui show. The beauty of the island is undoubted, both in the lagoon and in the mountainous interior.

For dinner we were guided by the guide and recommendations of the owners of the Rumors and went to the west coast of the island, Arorangi. It is a nice place run by Filipinos. As we went at night we could not enjoy the views.

Honeymoon in New Zealand

Day 5: Aitutaki

Our adventure in Rarotonga was coming to an end, but another one was beginning. Our flight left at 10:30. The flight is very comfortable. From the air we can already check two things. Aitutaki is unique and the weather has improved a lot. The Aitutaki Airport is even smaller.

Once at the hotel we could see that we were already in paradise. When we already settled in the room and unloaded all the luggage we went to reception to organize the excursion for the next day's lagoon and the rent of a scooter. The rental of the scooter was easier since the hotel has a small "fleet" of them.

So we simply took our motorbike and headed from the hotel to the highest point of the island, Mount Maungapu. The views from this point are simply without words. We cannot stop admiring the landscape and the views. From the Maungapu we went to explore a little more to the north of the island. We try to eat in the Ootu Beach area, but we did not have luck since we were in holiday period.

As we could not stay in that area, we returned to the hotel to have a drink at the pool bar. We decided that day to snorkel in the lagoon in front of the hotel. It is not the best point on the island as we could see later, but we enjoyed it a lot and saw a lot of fish.

After a quick shower and we returned to take our scooter to visit in this case the southern part of the island, passing through Arutanga.

After our visit to the southern part of the Island we returned to the hotel to dine and enjoy the last moments of light.

Day 6: Rapota

The expected day of our trip to the Cook Islands arrived! It is the visit to the lagoon of Aitutaki. No matter how many people tell, for many photos that you see, you will not have an idea of ​​what it is, until you see it your own eyes.

We had breakfast at the hotel and quickly went to reception to be picked up. The tour departs from Arutanga around 9:00 am. The first island we visited is Rapota. The excursion starts very well, with good weather, some clouds that are even appreciated so that the sun does not squeeze so much.

Do you know the typical photos of travel or postal catalogs that we usually see and wonder where they are from? I give you a clue where they can be. Rapota Island was used in a British reality show. The photos that we could take during the time we were on the island are simply postcard.

The second island we visited was Moturakau. One of the smallest islands we visited, smaller than Rapota. It was also used in the British reality. We were able to cross the island from one end to the other walking through the lush vegetation of it.

Both this island and Rapota are of volcanic origin. On this island they told us the legend of a father and a daughter who hid in a cave on the island before the arrival of their enemies. It was the birds, who nest on the island, who warned them of the arrival of the enemies.

The third island or rather sandbar is called Heaven Island. It has no vegetation and is only famous for being used in an Australian television program. The next stop is one of the tops of the tour, Tapuaetai or better known by One Foot Island.

There is a well-known legend on this island that gives it its name One Foot. Some say that the name acquires it in its way reminiscent of a foot, but it is not like that at all. The legend begins with a father and son fishing in their canoe when their village is attacked by enemies. The father went to the nearest island to hide. The father to hide walked in the footsteps of his son, in order to make it appear that there was only one person. When the warriors arrived on the island, thinking that there was only one person, they killed the father and left the son who had hidden by climbing a tree. That's where the name of the island comes from, the last sacrifice a father made for his son.

Tekopua is the largest island of the 22 that form Aitutaki, regardless of the main one. We arrived at Honeymoon Island. This island started to be called after a Canadian couple who decided to get married there. I can not think of a better place on the planet than the Aitutaki lagoon and this island in particular.

Honeymoon is very used to practice Kitesurf and we could see a few enjoying. It is a protected island because there is a kind of bird that lays its eggs in it and as we can see it is very special. The last jewel of the day was Maina, a coral island that translated means warmed by the wreck who arrived on the island and warmed up on the beach thanks to the sun's rays.

It began to cloud a bit and even rained a little while we ate. Luckily we were covered. The food is prepared by Captain Fantastic and a woman who accompanies us during the excursion. I must say that I was surprised for good.

We were lucky because the rain lasted as long as we ate and so we could go snorkeling with better weather. They take us to two points, one in the lagoon where we see lots of fish of all kinds. The second point in the reserve is characterized because we can see the giant clams in an area of ​​crystalline water of greater depth in the reserve. Both are great but I'll take the first one because of the amount of fish we had the chance to see.

It had been a spectacular tour of the lagoon. At about 3:00 in the afternoon we returned to Arutanga. They left us at the hotel and we rest a bit. It's amazing how the sun hit us.

We went back to take the bike to tour the island. I would never tire of going through Aitutaki and feel the sensation of freedom. It was Sunday so the island was very quiet and the main sites closed. The premises were gathered in the main church of Arutanga.

We have dinner and close our eyes with our lips and hands exploring all over each other.

Day 7: Arutanga

Today was our last day in Aitutaki and therefore in the paradise of the Cook Islands. After breakfast, I went to try to hire another cruise on the lagoon to return to One Foot Island and Honeymoon. I looked for any company or a friendly fisherman who offered to take us to those two islands. I approached Arutanga to the information office but it was impossible to find any company. At the dock they indicated that there were no boats available. We return to the hotel to have some pleasure in the pool.

We asked for a good place to snorkel in Aitutaki. Before going snorkeling, we headed to the Aitutaki Lagoon area to enjoy the lagoon and its turquoise color. I think it's the best place in the world to disconnect and get lost. We saw a lot of people doing paddle surfing.

After enjoying the lagoon for a while we went snorkeling. After a couple of hours and we just stopped to go eat. After eating we return to the hotel to enjoy the spa.

Our stay came to an end Everything good has a final point but we never want it to come and less when we are in a place as special as Aitutaki. We said goodbye to the island with a good dinner and Aitutaki gave us one last postcard photo.

Day 8: Honeymoon Over New Zealand

We woke up a little sad for the idea that the trip was over and at the same time wanting to return home after almost a month away in what can be defined as the trip of our life. We had time for a quick breakfast and the hotel's free transfer service took us to the airport. Being such a small airport, everything goes very fast and boarding is easy.

We had a "long" stopover in Rarotonga of over 4 hours. We arrived at the Punanga Nui Market area where we had a quiet drink with sea views at the cafe and headed back to the airport. As it was lunchtime we stopped at a place very close to the airport. It is a small cafe on the Ara Tapu road run by a couple that serves some great sweet and salty pancakes.

We left at 3:00 p.m. Now yes, the trip was over. We had more than a day of flights and airports, but that served as a starting point to think about new destinations.

To experience an adventure in Tibet, you have to get there first. Today, I tell about my Shanghai to Lhasa train journey. Most impressive is the last part with a vertex more than 5000 m in height. This is not only part of the highest railway line in the world, but is also acknowledged by experts to be the largest rail project of the current century.

For 48 hours we had the greatest scenery in front of our train window. There are really coincidences in life! I just wanted to start my travelogue about Lhasa, where iTunes plays Over the Hills and Far Away by Nightwish for me.

The ticket checker of our compartment saw our permit in detail, then passed it on to the next higher officials, who then gave the permit to the next important-looking man. Long story short, I was actually the only non-Chinese tourist on the way to the land of snows for the next 48 hours.

From Shanghai Railway Station, we started at around 7 pm from Shanghai. The downside was that we hardly see anything in the cities of Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Bengbu, Fuzhou and Zhengzhou as everything was submerged in nocturnal black.

We had the advantage that our train compartment was fortunately a soft sleeper. That means we had pretty nice soft beds available. This was better than the alternative hard sleeper, since these compartments were equipped without door and other comfort. We settled in and played games.

Day 2

The breakfast consisted of sweet rice soup and green tea. In the train restaurant the railway employees lounged, smoked despite the prohibition of smoking. We were satisfied that our compartment had been closed. A man shared the compartment with two lovely girls, who took care of the culinary well-being of the long-nosed.

In the morning of our second day we enjoy the beautiful scenery between Zhengzhou and Xi'an. We see hordes of yak, sheep, highland cattle, a kind of antelope and wild horses. The landscape was very appealing.

In the afternoon we could admire the beauties between Xi'an and Lanzhou. Unfortunately, Lanzhou itself, like Xining and Golmud, was dark again, as the second night of our train journey had begun. But we got on the last day in the train to the area of ​​Nagqu and of course Lhasa. At lunch we beat it all the more vigorously and ordered almost the entire menu up and down. To my surprise, the tastiest of them was scrambled eggs with tomato.

The mostly female railway workers cleaned and cared for the well-being of the guests, while the men were busy with drinking, smoking and dancing.

A Chinese student filled our compartment. She wanted to do a Tibetan tour for 10 days. She spoke English very well and could actually play Uno. With her we had a lot of fun on our train ride!

She helped us a lot with the food orders and train announcements, because logically everything was in Chinese. From her I also had the dry shampoo, as there was no washing facilities on the train even apart from a few sinks for brushing our teeth.

The toilet situation was anything but comfortable and was getting worse by the hour. The estimated 30 passengers in our car shared a single toilet that was not cleaned once during the 48 hours. In addition, it was also the only toilet next to the dining car, so you can imagine the condition.

The only highlight this afternoon was the ever-hot water that gushed out of a dispenser and provided us the opportunity to have noodle soup, coffee and porridge.

In addition to playing Uno, we also kept a close eye on the height in the information screen, as we were cracking the 5000 m mark on our way. Incidentally, the highest point we reached by train was 5072 m and the highest stop at which the train unfortunately did not stop is at 5068 m. It's called Tanggula.

Apart from that, as we can easily see in the gallery, we mainly took photos of them. Almost every kilometer of our journey has been documented. Of course, food and sleep were not too short, even if the food was not worth mentioning, as there was always the same thing.

All in all, this train ride was a great experience despite the poor sanitary conditions and the monotonous food!

A train journey from Shanghai to Lhasa

Day 3

In the middle of the night we crossed the border and found ourselves on the plateau. From about 4:00 o'clock in the morning oxygen was pumped into the compartment, as we were at high altitude. The train was equipped with altimeters and pressure gauges, presumably the oxygen supply was regulated.

There is only one time zone, which means that in Tibet the sun does not rise until late in the morning. Each family receives a flag from the government when they move in. Unless it is placed on the roof, the Tibetans must pay a heavy penalty.

The magnificent nature on the plateau compensated us for the lack of oxygen. We had about 12 hours train ride in front of us which I spent at the window. The day went by anyway. Only nature compensated us. The train has beautiful epithets as sky train, train over the clouds.

By early evening we had made it. The train rolled through the new suburbs of Lhasa. We were amazed when we saw the high residential buildings and concrete deserts. Unfortunately, Lhasa (except Potala, Barkhor and Johkang) also has no UNESCO status, because although the old town is beautiful, the place is otherwise very Chinese.

At the Lhasa train station we were immediately separated after delivery of our tickets and taken to an adjacent building. There we were recorded. A strange feeling was spreading. The stupid feeling was then thanked by our guide, who was waiting for us with white towels to welcome us. A nice Tibetan guide should be our companion for the next few days.

Italy abounds in magical towns. One of them is Ravello. If there are words that define it, those are magic and sweetness in equal parts. When I remember my last trip to Italy, I often dream of the days on the Amalfi Coast and its small villages of wonder. All those villas located along the coast are exceptional. The curves of the Amalfi Coast are the most sensual in the world. Cliffs where towns and landscapes merge in an endless hug.

In Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi, we enter another dimension of beauty. It not only accompanies us during the trip but gives us a few secrets of the authentic art of living. The Amalfi Coast declared World Heritage by Unesco in the nineties, extends between the towns of Positano to Vietri Sul Mare.

We decided on a getaway to the Campania region in southern Italy. Almost the entire trip was planned online from the flight, the hotels, the car rental. Also, the opinion of different travelers in the lonely planet forum helped us a lot to plan our route. We booked a flight several months ago. Although Naples is the capital of Campania, we decided to fly to Rome because the price was much lower and the hours were much better.

The original plan was to arrive in Rome at 10.20 pm, but our flight left more than 45 minutes late. We ended up arriving in Rome at 11:15 pm. The airport of Ciampino is very small and the indications are very bad. When leaving the terminal we look for some indication that will take us to the area of rental cars without success. In the end, after looking for a few minutes we asked someone and he told us that they were at the bottom on the right.

In short, we were wandering around the various parking lots until, a little tired, we returned to the terminal. We saw that there was a shuttle service to go to the aforementioned parking, but at 11 it closed. We asked again, and a little nervous because it was 11.40 and the car rental company would close at 12. This time they gave us the correct directions and we were able to get to the place.

Day 2

At 12 o'clock at night, we set off in the direction of Pompeii, where we had decided to put our base camp. Driving through southern Italy is quite an experience. What is certain is that on this trip I have finally reconciled with Italian food. I realized as soon as I stopped in an area of Freeway service and order a latte macchiato that tasted great.

Finally, we arrived in Pompeii at 3.30 am in the morning. Thanks to the fact that we also found a section of the highway closed for construction and had to make a good turn until we found the national road that led to Pompeii. The owner of the B&B where we stayed, opened the door a little sleepy and we went directly to try to sleep at least a few hours.

At 9 we got up for breakfast at the B&B and at 10 o'clock we went south to visit the ruins of Paestum. This town is about an hour and a half by car from Pompeii, but can also be reached by train. Thanks to the wrong indications of the GPS, we arrived at the ruins at the southern end and left the car in a parking lot. However, then we saw that there was free parking in the area.

Paestum stands out for its Greek ruins and it's three Doric temples that are quite well preserved like the temple of Hera I, the temple of Neptune and the temple of Ceres. Apart from the temples, some house plants and cobbled streets are preserved. Although perhaps the most surprising thing is that if you want, you do not need to buy the entrance because they look pretty good from the fence that surrounds the enclosure.

We paid the euros that were worth the ticket and we walked calmly through the ruins. Thus we could admire the splendor of the temples and their height, which was impressive. The good thing about these ruins is that they are off the tourist circuit and there were hardly any people visiting them.

On leaving the ruins, we returned to the car to go to the Amalfi coast, but along the way, we stopped at a Caseificio (cheese factory) where they made the Buffalo mozzarella and ice cream from buffalo milk. And they really had the buffalo there grazing in a meadow.

The place was new and very cute and I can say that they sold the best ice cream in the world. It was creamy, delicious and not expensive for the artisan it was. The whole area around Paestum is full of boxes where you can buy authentic mozzarella. Too bad they did not have a restaurant in this place to taste it.

Travel Along The Amalfi Coast

About 1.30 pm we returned to the car to continue towards the Amalfi coast. Along the route, I could see Mount Vesuvius on my left and Isle of Capri in the Gulf of Naples on my right. The road was narrow. Driving southbound meant driving near to the edge of the cliff.

The fear of dropping off the cliff was always there. Whenever there was a bus or a lorry at any bend, traffic from the opposite side of the road had to stop and reversed to make way for these vehicles to pass through.

The coast that goes from Sorrento to Salerno is known as the Costiera Amalfitana. A narrow road runs through the small villages that crowd the rock right next to the sea. In general, this whole area is where the Italian rich spend the summer holidays and, therefore, it is very expensive. Starting with the blue parking area, where an hour leaves if you get to park in the center.

The best time to visit the coast is in autumn or spring since in summer it is impossible to move around the area by car. The landscape is very beautiful, but in my opinion, it is not surprising if one has already been to the Costa Brava. There are turquoise waters, pine trees, and steep cliffs. Perhaps what is most surprising are the towns built vertically on the rock with their colorful little houses.

From Salerno, it took an hour to get to Minori, where we decided to park and go and find somewhere to eat since it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. There were several restaurants near the port, but we decided to get away a little and ask a local if she could recommend a restaurant to eat. He took us to one which looked kind of expensive but very good. We went in and they told us that the kitchen was closed.

In the end, after trying several restaurants without much success, we ended up eating on the terrace of a restaurant that has the kitchen open all day. Here you can eat quietly. I say quietly because there was not a single soul in the hour and a half we were there.

We enjoy the most refreshing and aromatic Caprese salad. We ordered frutti di mare pasta, which was very good and although on the menu the price was not completely exorbitant. The basil mousse for dessert is delicious, although in this case, it is heavy on the pocket. The scare came when we were charged for the simple act of sitting at the table.

After leaving the restaurant we went to the pastry café, which was, in fact, the main reason why we decided to stop at Minori. We asked the waiter what was the specialty of the house and he told us it was the ricotta and pear cake, and there we went to try it.

First of all, to say that the cake of ricotta and pear was good is to fall short. It is light. The ricotta barely tastes like cheese and has a creamy texture but without the bland taste of it. It has a layer made of a biscuit or crushed cookie supersoft and the pear that has inside gives it the right touch to make it delicious and not at all heavy. To lick your fingers.

After lunch and dessert, we returned to the car to follow the route. The route between Praiano and Ravello is short in distance, but not so much in time, as it is very winding. You have to drive very carefully. But it is worth it. All the time the panorama of the Mediterranean coast accompanies us. The landscape is incredible.

As soon as I found the exit of the A3 motorway to Strada Statale 163 in Vietri Sul Mare I understood that it was time to keep the map in the glove compartment. It was the beginning of the narrow blue ribbon, which imprisoned between the mountain and the sea, does not give the possibility to get lost. In return, it delivers one of the most pleasurable experiences that can be lived at the wheel in the world.

Every glance that the driver gives through the window cuts a painting that will hang on the soul. Staggered terraced cliffs, vineyards, and orchards of lemons, pastel-colored houses arranged as seats in an auditorium, mansions hanging from the highest of the hills, and omnipresent, a deep blue sea that gives meaning and feeling to the rest.

Our next destination was Amalfi. A first option we considered was to park before arriving in Positano. But the problem was that when we got there was a parking lot full of sightseeing buses. There was hardly any place to park. So we decided to leave the coastal road to go to Ravello which is about 15 minutes away.

The bougainvillea, the facades painted pastel colors, the steep and narrow streets, the stairs and unbeatable views of the sea and the horizon are a characteristic that defines us to Positano. Driving on the Amalfi coast is difficult. In general, cars are usually just as reckless as on the highway. But on a road where there are stretches and curves that do not fit two cars in parallel.

If you go with a lot of speed, one can end up embedded against a bus in a curve. In fact, on the road from Amalfi to Ravello, there is a traffic light that gives priority to each of the senses because it has a fairly long stretch in which only a car fits on the road.

When I arrived in Ravello, time seemed to have stopped. The place is, in effect, unique. You can understand the passion of some celebrities in this region of Italy. It is an ideal destination for rest. The mere fact of finding a place to admire the landscape of the coast is synonymous with relaxation.

Ravello is a huge balcony on the Amalfi coast. Ravello is full of charm. It perfectly conveyed the sweetness of that spring in Italy, the warm sun, the tranquil landscapes, the wisteria in bloom, all that set had magic for me. It was what I needed to enjoy. I love Italy. It has a particular attraction that catches me, always. Is it because a part of my soul was born there? Who knows maybe.

Of all the possible corners, I fell in love with the flowery terraces and the fascinating gardens that lean on the turquoise sea. The vegetation is overflowing. The famous aristocratic villas of the place also offer the richness of that dazzling landscape on the Gulf of Salerno. What a way to live! Could it be that the sun is warmer? Could it be that the sky is much bluer on this earth? I think so.

It is a pity that almost all that balcony is currently owned by luxury hotels. In spite of everything, we asked permission to enter one of them. They did not put us in trouble, perhaps also because at that time there are hardly any clients. We were walking through the steep and narrow alleys of Ravello. It is worth going there and getting lost in the town quietly because it is very beautiful.

In the very Piazza del Duomo we find a spectacular Romanesque construction full of light and color, where life goes on peacefully, between Dry Martinis and a wonderful pastry. It is a feast for our senses, on the Amalfi Coast as aromas come by sea and land. I feel the intensity of the fragrances that give off its rugged lands, the lemon trees and the sea breeze.

As it was getting dark, we decided to return to Pompeii because I did not feel like driving through those curves at night and also with the little, or better said, no road lighting. After some traffic caused by the lack of traffic lights, we arrived in Pompeii. Fortunately, one adapts quickly to the circumstances and at eight o'clock we arrive at the B&B.

For dinner, we search for a pizzeria that was a couple of streets from the B&B. Upon arriving there we saw that it was a small place with two tables outside and service to take away. What surprised me the most was the prices. While the pizza was being prepared, the universal flood began to fall and in the end, we ate the pizza under the storm.

The pizza dough of southern Italy is a little thicker than that of the north and is characterized by the edges, which are usually fluffy. In the end, as it did not stop raining, we decided to return to the B&B running trying to dodge the raindrops.

Challenging the steep curves of the spectacular coastal cornice path that leads us through the thirteen cities of the Amalfi Coast makes us feel protagonists of scenes only seen before in James Bond movies. The towns of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are the most precious gems of this imaginary necklace of incredible places stitched together by the road. For me, this trip is ideal for a quiet honeymoon and to relax in one of the most beautiful areas in all of Italy.

Speaking of our last trip I will tell you that in the second half of September we travel through several cities of France in our car. It was almost 5000 km!

Day 1 - Carcassonne

Once we arrived at Carcassonne we go to the hotel. We started from the Narbonne Gate which is marked by two huge towers for its defense. This was the main gateway to the citadel. From the restoration that took place in this door a drawbridge was added to it that did not exist in its origins. After passing the door on the right is the tourist office.

From this floor, we access the gallery with its wooden machicolations in the upper part of the castle wall and then the north wall that is of Gallo-Roman origin and which is very well preserved. After visiting several rooms we go to the west wall from where we get good views of the new city, the church of Saint-Gimer, and the roofs of the Cite.

Once we have visited the castle we return to the parking lot to park the car in a nearby street since the paid parking is quite expensive. We took advantage of this moment after parking to go around the outside of the City. Later we went back inside the I went for a quiet walk with fewer tourists.

We dined in one of the many restaurants in the citadel to try the typical dish of the area, the cassoulet. This dish was presented in a clay pot and was composed mainly of white beans and duck confit. In the end we declined to ask for it because of the heat it was making and that it looked good.

Along the different stores of the citadel we can find it in vacuum packed jars for those who want to take it to try it at home. About the city I have to say that personally if I return I will try to return in a time that there is not so much influx of tourists. When we went at the beginning of the afternoon we almost could not walk through the streets.

We really enjoyed the visit at the dinner time. The walk through its narrow and cobbled streets allowed us to see better the Aude gate, the large and small well. We then go through the lizas (space between the two walls). This walk that we made between the Aude and the Narbonne gate through the lizas took us a little more than 10 minutes walking with tranquility. We return to the hotel.

Paris Eiffel tower wallpaper honeymoon kiss

Day 2 - Albi

The day dawns very cloudy but it does not rain at the moment. After leaving the hotel we have breakfast at the Patisserie. Although next to the hotel there were a couple of places to have breakfast but they were closed for the time it was. We finished the breakfast and before leaving the city we take a last walk to the old pedestrian bridge. From there we get good views of the Cite and the citadel of Carcassonne.

After the visit we went to Albi. It is something more than 100 km that took almost 2 hours because we have to go through the center of several towns and respect the speed limits. There were some interesting towns along the way like Najac or Belcastel.

Albi is located in the Tarn Department. Our first visit is the tourist office that is located near the Albi Cathedral to get us a map of the city. We begin the visit to Albi next to the tourist office starting with Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia. This brick cathedral they say is the largest in the world and in which it took no less than two centuries to finish it.

In addition to its huge structure is the bell tower that is almost 80 meters high. Its peculiar form for a church is because this tower also served as a defensive fortress of the city. Once inside the cathedral we follow the itinerary in the audio guide guiding us through the numbered plane that are given so as not to get lost.

We also visited the exterior of the Berbie palace, the former episcopal palace where the influential bishops of Albi resided. It now houses the Toulouse Lautrec museum as well as its gardens from which we can get good views of its old bridge over the Tarn river. There is a path that goes round.

Both buildings together with the four neighborhoods of medieval origin that surround them constitute the episcopal city. Touring the city we see that the cathedral and other buildings are built with the typical red brick of the region. It was because the clay was extracted from the river Tarn, since it was much cheaper and very easy to obtain for its proximity to the city to make most of the buildings and infrastructure of it.

Once visited the cathedral which is worth a visit and the surroundings of the Berbie Palace we go through the Rue Sainte-Cecile to the Saint-Salvi Collegiate Church. It was built in different materials, stone for the oldest part and red brick when it was imposed in the Gothic period.

During our tour we could see in addition to the above, its old bridge. It is one of the oldest in France. Earlier citizens to move from one bank to another had to pay a toll. We also see several houses with timber frame in its commercial streets in the Saint-Salvi neighborhood.

Our visit to the city was not very pleasant because of the wind and because it did not stop raining. We went to the car parked in a street next to the Place du Vigan after a 6 minutes walk from the cathedral. Once visited the city we took course to Cordes-Sur-Ciel that is 27 km to the north of Albi.

Cordes-Sur-Ciel in the southwest of France is built on a very steep natural promontory and surrounded by fortifications with their respective gates. Iit was formerly called Cordes. To travel this magnificent town that we loved we parked the car in the parking near Les Tuileries as it is free.

Going through a road in a steep slope we arrive to one of the tourism offices. This is located next to the Place de la Bouteillerie. In the tourist office we get a basic map of the town. Our route starts right next to the same tourist office following the Grand rue de l'horloge.

In this ascending and cobbled street we find a chapel and a half-timbered house on the corner with the Rue Saint-Louis. Following the street at the end of the same is the Porte de l'Horloge an old entrance door that was part of the fourth wall.

After passing this gate, the street becomes steeper. It leads us to the barbican that was part of the third wall and the port of Vainqueur that belonged to the second wall. This door formerly had a moat and a drawbridge. We go inside the fortress itself, but to follow an established route we turn around.

We descend a few meters around the Porte du Vainqueur to cross a stone arch to take a path called Les Lices. We enter the village for modest doors located in the north of the city called Les Portanels. Along the route of this magnificent village we find a multitude of artisans.

Also during our walk through Cordes we find palaces built by prosperous merchants and nobles. We see La Maison du Grand Veneur, which is the most popular Gothic house. On the second floor there are several sculptures representing animals and people in hunting scenes. We also see La Maison Fompeyrouse that houses the other Cordes tourist office.

We pass by a covered market located in the center of town, where a well is also located. In this town there are also a few museums. Next to the covered market there are several restaurants where to eat or drink a coffee. We stop for a snack. There is also a large terrace with panoramic views over the valley at the place de la Bride just opposite the Maison Prunet where the sugar and chocolate museum is located.

Also along its streets we find souvenir shops with typical products of the area such as oils, cosmetics, and dyes. These products are expensive since the elaboration of them are slow and expensive. It must be said that the shops are not out of place.

If not on the contrary, they make the town a very pleasant place that transports us in a certain way to the middle age. Once visited the town and that we have liked so much we take course to our next destination, and that is none other than Conques. The journey take us about an hour and a half on roads of all kinds.

Conques is a small village on the side of a mountain located in the Aveyron department. It is part of the set of the most beautiful villages of France. It is famous for being a great center of Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage thanks to the Abbey of Sainte Foy.

But before entering the town itself, about 500 meters before reaching the junction to get to Conques, we have an access to the right to go to the Bancarel viewpoint. Following this road we continue on foot the last 200 meters. From here, it is a natural viewpoint. We take some good pictures of the town, as the view from here is spectacular.

After a few minutes enjoying the scenery and after taking some pictures we headed to the rural house that is 7 km from Conques. About 10 minutes by car, in this rural house we will stay tonight. The quality of the rooms of the accommodation in the town of Conques did not correspond with the price they asked.

We chose after seeing the reviews of this house and the price. We left our luggage and prepared for dinner in Conques and visit the abbey at night. We enjoy while we are sitting inside the abbey of organ music accompanied by the play of lights on the walls. The windows of the abbey gives it a special touch. The priest who played the organ was really a virtuoso of the instrument, and was really worth listening to.

After the organ concert, we walk through the town. It's 10:30 at night. There is fog and it's a little cold. After a while we return to the car that is parked at the entrance of the town. It's 11:15 at night and while I enjoy a bath in the wonderful bathtub of the rural house I think the day started badly due to the wind and the rain at Albi.

We were lucky as it was getting better as it was happening, first in Cordes-Sur-Ciel and later in Conques. It's time to rest.

Day 3 - Rocamadour

We return to Conques in the morning although the visit is not as spectacular as the night before. It is 9:10 in the morning and the parking is almost full. Yet the town still has that medieval air given by its cobbled streets that still preserve their original layout dating from the Middle Ages. Except the section that caused the opening of the local road that runs through the town, one will not tire of walking through its streets.

During our tour, apart from the abbey, we found some houses from the late Middle Ages and other half-timbered houses, all with slate roofs. We have also been able to discover the sources that are distributed throughout the town. Some are from the Roman era like the Chateau d'Humieres. We see two public ovens that are outside the town to prevent fires.

There is a building that served as a chestnut dryer since this fruit was fundamental in the diet of its inhabitants in the middle age. This building has two levels, one for drying and the other for its conservation. As an old fortified town we found three of the four entrance doors that it had.

The Abbey Church of Saint Foy is famous for its tympanum. There are also remains of a Romanesque cloister on one side of the abbey. After touring the town I can say that the visit will not leave you indifferent. After the visit we left towards Figeac that will take us about 1 hour.

Figeac is famous for being the place where Champollion was born, the famous Egyptologist who deciphered the hieroglyphic writing thanks to the Rosetta Stone of this town. The most interesting is in the Plaza de las Escrituras, a square adjoining the Plaza Champollion.

Here on the ground there is a very enlarged replica of the Rosetta Stone in black granite. In the adjacent square is the Champollion museum that gives its name to the square where there is an exhibition of the history of the world's writings. In the same place is the oldest house in the town right in front of the museum.

Other buildings that stand out are the St. Saviour's church located on the bank of the river Le Cele. This church was part of an old Benedictine monastery. The nave was altered over the centuries. Nowadays it combines Romanesque and Gothic styles. The vault was rebuilt in the seventeenth century.

There is a baptismal font of the thirteenth century in one of the chapels. The Notre-Dame du Puy in Romanesque style was rebuilt many times. From here there is a panoramic view of the roofs of Figeac that I personally think is not worth much. Mint is another medieval house, where is the tourist office.

To discover the city we get a map in the tourist office because it has numbered the important buildings of the town to not miss any. The numbers also appear on the facades of the different buildings not to be lost. From here we leave for Saint-Cirq-Lapopie that we do in 1 hour 30 minutes as we stop on the way to eat in one of the picnic areas that one can find on the edge of French roads.

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a medieval town that is considered the pearl of the Lot valley. It is located on top of a cliff about 100 meters above the river Lot. The first thing we do is leave the car in the parking lot closest to the town. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has a lot of charm once again due to its cobbled streets.

In this town we took the opportunity to see a wooden toy store that we loved in la Peyroliere. There is no lack of other shops, restaurants and cafes to enjoy a good day. The tourist office is at the center of village at the foot of the rock of La Popie where we get a map to be guided through the town.

We access through its most commercial street where the tourist office is located. From here we go across a street down to the Pelissaria which is the best preserved of the town. As we go down the street we go to other streets or squares to discover the Gothic church of Saint-Cirq, the Maisons Daura medieval house, and other houses.

Almost next to the Maisons Daura down in a house on the corner we find the only wooden craftsman left in the village. The visit to the town does not take us more than two hours. So the visit ended after having a coffee and filling our bottles with fresh water in a village fountain.

From Saint-Cirq-Lapopie we approach Bouzies (10 minutes by car) to take a small route along the road of Sirga called Le Chemin de Halage. This type of roads were made on the banks of the rivers in the adjoining lands and that the owners of them must leave for public use.

This route initially starts at the water port of Saint Cirq Lapopie, but according to the guides are around 15 or 10 km roundtrip. What interests us is to see the path that runs at the foot of the cliff. Once the car is parked in the Bouzies car park, we take from here the easy path in the direction of Saint Cirq Lapopie to the Ganil lock.

This road was used by the horses that pulled the barges loaded with goods in the direction to Bordeaux and allow them to go upstream of the river. Before reaching the lock we see the wall sculpted by an artist named Daniel Monnier with representations related to the river. Once the route is finished we can see that from one side of the parking lot in high season there are barges in the direction of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.

It's 7 o'clock in the evening. So we take the car and go to Rocamadour that take us about an hour to do it. Here the GPS has come to our rescue. On the road to Rocamadour there are winding sections. Even so the route is quite beautiful as it runs in its entirety through the Causses du Quercy Natural Regional Park. Along the route at the junctions and edges of the road, we buy the famous Rocamadour goat cheese and duck foie.

It is just after 8 in the evening when we arrived at L'Hospitalet located almost 1 km from Rocamadour. The receptionist of the hotel was about to leave because at night in the hotel that we chose there is no one in reception. After check in and dinner we walked to Rocamadour around L'Hospitalet.

Rocamadour is one of the four routes of the Camino de Santiago that run through France. This city sanctuary is one of the most sacred sites in France and a place of pilgrimage. We take the street that starts at the back of the hotel. It is a downhill road at the beginning that goes up as we approach the village of Rocamadour.

This road leaves us right at the Figuier Gate in 10 minutes, the door that gives way to the Rue Roland le Preux. Following this street we see the access to the elevator that is closed to go up to the religious city. We continue walking and arrive at the second fortified gate called the Salmon gate, which is the best preserved and gives access to the Rue de la Couronnerie.

The two streets joined by this last door look like a single street. It is late but it is very lively with the multitude of shops and restaurants that there are. Near the end of the street and before reaching the fortified gate of Hugon, we see the great monumental staircase with its 216 steps.

Earlier some pilgrims climbed on their knees. These stairs goes to the heart of Rocamadour, the esplanade where they are grouped protected by rocks of the cliff seven ancient chapels and churches. We did not go at that time since there is almost no illumination.

Along our night tour through the town we have been able to observe some of the eight doors that are preserved. They gave the entry to the different neighborhoods and whose function was to control the flow of pilgrims who came to worship the Black Madonna.

It is little more than 10 o'clock at night. Only the last diners in the interior of a restaurant are left in the street. It is impossible to take anything because in the few places that remain open they are preparing to close. So we decided to take the return route that really gives a bit of tiredness, due to the steep slope it has.

Once we arrive at the top and before going to sleep we go to the viewpoint of L'Hospitalet to see the views of Rocamadour at night. After 10 minutes we decided to go to the room to rest since in the morning we have to get up early to go to the Padirac Cave. We want to be among the first ones and not be in the long queues that are usually formed at the entrance of the cave.

For a long time, I was very attracted to see this Italian city. And since I now have more time, I set out on a solo trip to Florence. There is the Florence syndrome or Stendhal that is said to cause increased heart rate, sweating, blurred vision or stress. These are some of the sensations when a sensitive person is exposed to an overdose of art. Will that happen to me in Florence?

Preparing the trip was not a problem. It's something I love. What I was not so sure of was whether I was going to enjoy the trip alone. But Florence is a city full of tourists, and perhaps that in no time I felt alone. I find more about them in the official pages, travel guides and tourism websites that are usually not updated.

Strolling along the cobblestone streets in Florence, Italy

I had left Rome behind and spent two hours quickly while I read and slept at times until something woke me up. I started to feel the contact of the wheels with the iron. It was a sign that the train was holding back. When suddenly in the speakers was announced - last station Firenze Santa Maria Novella- I had arrived in Florence!

This time I had to be attentive because no friend would wait for me, nor would I have a lifesaver as I had it in Rome. I did not speak any Italian but the first thing I did was ask for a map to sit quietly to find the address of the hostel where I would stay. It was very close to the train station so it would not be difficult to locate it. I took the tram to the lodging.

I walked for a few minutes and found the hostel. The gentlemen at the reception were a charming Italian couple. They immediately gave me many tips and recommended me a tour on the next day. I hesitated to accept it because I still had to visit three more small cities in a single day.

That day I decided to go for a walk and get to see Florence, this city that is the most populated in the Tuscany region. It is currently the capital of the Tuscany region although years ago it was also the capital of Italy.

I started walking through its streets and quickly fell in love with it. And how not to be? Florence is known as the nucleus where the artistic movement called Renaissance originated. This city is the cradle of art and architecture. I can breathe art everywhere and I was in my glory. First thing I went was to the Mercato Centrale to see the bustle of its activity, but I thought it was too touristy.

I see the Santa Maria Novella church with its fabulous frescoes, which really impressed me. Then I wandered through the stately Via Tornabuoni, one of the best places to stroll through the medieval mansions that surround it.

Getting lost on a small street and suddenly turning around to see the Florence Cathedral dome was one of the happiest feelings I had on this trip. Florence has a light that few cities have. A natural light of caramel color that is at all times have a unique beauty. It comes to dye the city in an orange color, transmitting warmth at all times.

I decided to close my map and walk without more fear. It was a strange sensation because I felt I had been there before. And maybe everyone felt it. While walking I saw many foreigners enjoy the moment and lie down to feel the warmth of that I speak so much touching their faces.

After wandering around the medieval center of Florence I arrived at the monumental Piazza Della Signoria. Here I began to soak up the art that exuded in the city everywhere. I decided to enter Accademia Gallery, one of the few art museums I visited in Florence. I admire closely the sculpture of David by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and other artistic works that were a delight at all times. Although the city itself is a museum because I find sculptures everywhere.

Although one of the memories I have most recorded was when I looked out on the banks of the Arno River and saw the Ponte Vecchio. I cross this oldest stone bridge in Europe, which Hitler himself had given the order not to destroy. While I was walking with my second Italian ice cream in hand, I saw all the jewelry stalls that are currently on display. It is as if a jewel had several jewels inside.

I went up to Piazzale Michelangelo, the most famous viewpoint in the city. When I went down and was about to enter the Boboli Gardens, a strong summer rain surprise me. I took refuge in a house, where it's kind owner let me sit. I chat for a long time with him and his family.

Then I went quickly to see the Santa Croce church. I knew that it would close soon. Once again I was enraptured admiring its frescoes and other works of art. In the square is a monument of Dante Alighieri, whose home is located in the old town of the city. And with that, the day came to an end, which really touched me.

Finally, I went back to Piazza Della Signoria to see the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio. I liked it very much for its lavish halls and its rooms full of art. And with that, the day came to an end, which really touched me.

That night I decided to make myself a little bit cheeky. I went to eat at a restaurant, where they served me an exquisite pizza with that skinny dough that I like so much. It fills my mouth with water just thinking about it. It was accompanied by a delicious red wine and was the perfect close to the wonderful day I had.

That night I had to go to bed early because the next day I had to get up early for the tour to Venice.

Our trip to Australia was a real adventure. We were clear that we wanted to travel the east coast from Cairns to Melbourne. A friend told me recently, that the best thing about traveling in Australia is not what you see, but the trip itself. What to say about the Great Barrier Reef that has not been said before.

Almost 2,600 km of coral form the largest reef system in the world bordering the entire coast of Queensland to the south of Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately the cyclones of recent years and global warming are wreaking havoc in this great ecosystem.

It shelters innumerable species of tropical fish, sharks, mollusks, turtles, dolphins and even the dugong or manatee. Also during the months of June to August, it is a passageway for Minke whales and humpback whales. It is a destination for diving throughout the year but the best time is undoubtedly during summer.

The possibilities for diving in the Great Barrier Reef are endless and there are many different ways and places. The search for time and the way we would dive here, was one of the things that we tried with more effort for months before embarking on the trip.

In any case there are other points that are also worthwhile such as Whitsunday Islands or one of the most famous dives in the world and we are left with a lot of desire to do it, the SS Yongala wreck. This wreck lies between Ayr and Townsville and has created an ecosystem in itself where you can find anything.

The problem is that there are very few diving centers that go and there is no way of passing unless a route is made throughout Queensland along its entire coastline. After searching a lot and reading even more, we came to the conclusion that unfortunately the reefs closest to Cairns are very damaged and overexploited with the typical day tours.

Day 1

We had a lot of luck with the weather in Sydney. The day was dawning cloudy and a fine rain accompany us on our taxi ride to the airport. Our flight left early and there was no public transport at those times like the one we took on our arrival in the city.

The flight took us without problems in just over two hours to Cairns, in the north of the state of Queensland. Just before landing, from the window we could enjoy a green and leafy landscape. In any case, the black clouds that we saw made our indignation shine out.

We had risked a tad in taking the plane to Cairns on the same day that the dive boat we had booked departed in the afternoon. In any case everything went smoothly and well into the morning. A taxi took us to the dive center located on Draper St a few streets behind the Cairns Esplanade. As soon as we arrived, we left the backpacks there. We could take advantage of the morning because the ship did not leave until 3 in the afternoon. Perfect! It was just what we expected, having arrived in time to walk around the city for a while and enjoy a little.

Cairns is a coastal city with a tropical climate located in the far north of the state of Queensland. In itself there is nothing special, but it is the main starting point to enjoy diving, snorkeling or whatever it is worth in the Great Barrier Reef. It is also the gateway to the Daintree rainforest and the Cape York Peninsula.

We go to the so-called Esplanade, or what would be the promenade of this city which has no beach. The whole coast is a mangrove area and again the bath is prohibited. That is why the town hall built a park with a large pool as an artificial beach that includes sand and everything, right next to the sea. It is easily recognizable for some very large fish sculptures in the middle of the place.

Around there we entertained ourselves with a group of immense pelicans that half dozed in the sand near the pier. These animals that we saw also in Africa, above all, are ​​curious and the flexibility of their beaks and jowls is incredible. Other than that the Flying fox are in many trees of this city. These huge bats despite their appearance only eat fruits. We had seen them come out in disarray earlier in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia.

We continue to wander through the streets adjacent to the Esplanade, full of souvenir shops of the coral reef and run by a Chinese majority! Cairns was the only city where souvenirs have more affordable prices on shirts, postcards and more.

One of the souvenirs that we saw all over the country were all kinds of kangaroo derivatives, the icon par excellence of Australia. They say that there are more kangaroos than Australians but we must not forget that it is the only place in the world where they exist.

A store we found interesting in Cairns was specializing in didgeridoo and located in Shields St. If we had not already bought ours in Sydney it might have been here, where we least expected to find it after having searched so much, the perfect store.

We went to see and we were left with mouths open after seeing the variety and beauty of all the didgeridoo they had, some huge and also very expensive. The boy who guided us was very polite and told us a little about the history of his aboriginal family.

It was lunchtime and we decided on a hamburger joint on the Esplanade. We stopped touring to return to the dive point at the indicated time. Slowly those who would have been our companions for the next few days had arrived.

They moved us to the port of Cairns quickly in two vans. In a jiffy we start unloading the backpacks. There a smaller boat would sail for two hours to take us to the big one, from where we would do the dives. It is an ancient and simple fishing boat that was recast for diving and is one of the three that travel the northernmost part of the coral reef, the Ribbon Reef. Soon we were inside the big catamaran drinking a cup of coffee with delicious muffins.

In our cabin after having done so much camping we saw the best room in the world at that time. It consisted of a small room with a double and a single bed in bunk and a small sink and shower. An intense blue both in the sky and in the sea was approaching us and in the distance we left Cairns sooner rather than later. We would not see land again until several days later nor would we step on stable ground.

Above the ship there were hammocks and sunbeds and a large space reserved as a solarium, which we would use on more than two occasions.

At dinner the food was self service. In addition the cook made some very good desserts and snacks. We only had to sleep with the swing of the boat and the gentle breeze. Everything around us was total darkness. The immensity of the sea was catching us slowly.

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef of Cairns in Australia

Day 2

As soon as we got up the first day we had a magnificent view of the barrier with a splendid Sun and a clear water with different shades of blue. After having been sailing all night, we were informed at breakfast that we were in the second Ribbon Reef of the ten that are there. Here we would make the first dive to see the level and with a great visibility.

That first day the most remarkable were the two dives at Steve's Bommie, one of the best known located on the third Ribbon Reef. Australians call the pinnacle-shaped coral structures that are all over the barrier as bommie. We saw a lot of concentration with big schools of fish and a huge rockfish, the most poisonous fish in the world and that camouflages itself in an excellent way among the coral!

Between dives we dedicated ourselves to enjoy the sun and the magnificent views from the top of the boat where the marine blue of the horizon was combined with the large circles of turquoise coral. From time to time they interrupted us with the cry of lunch time or dive time!

In the afternoon and evening we were at Clam Gardens a beautiful reef where we also saw a little bit of everything and where white tip sharks made an appearance. A huge and very colorful lobster as we had not seen in life greeted us coming out of hiding as well as several large morays that are much more active at night went out to explore for a while.

At night we drank and showed others our photos and videos around the world to envy and delight the rest!

Day 3

After another night sailing and with the boat that moved more than a spinning top we managed to reach the last Ribbon Reef number 10. This is located near Lizard Island, an island with very expensive resort. We were 250 km from Cairns the farthest point we would reach.

That day we go to Snake Pit a place known for its high concentration of olive sea snakes. This snake has a deadly poison capable of killing 20 people in a single bite, thus being one of the most poisonous on the planet. In any case, its curious character is not aggressive and we could see them in all their splendor.

In this place we saw them everywhere and did not hesitate to approach a few centimeters from the camera. We had the opportunity to see her sailing around the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica. In this dive we could also see the barramundi, a large polka-dot fish that Australians eat, turtles, barracudas and large formations of soft and hard coral on a sandy bottom.

In the afternoon we made two more dives in Cod Hole. The place is a wonder with incredible visibility and wildlife of all kinds. We could also see some gray sharks. We went for a while with the group of Japanese people who, despite being experts, always went with a guide.

In Cod Hole, we feed some small pieces of fish to the big groupers and the concentration of horse mackerel and triggerfish was at least spectacular. The divers sat on a sandy bottom. That same afternoon we were allowed to access the bow of the ship for the only possible reason to access. There were dolphins!

They had already told us that if the captain saw dolphins we could enjoy watching them up close. Everyone moved to the front to see about ten of these fiddling at full speed on the tip of the ship. We will never get tired of seeing these animals in freedom and not in dolphinariums. They are simply incredible!

The nightlife of that day was without a doubt spectacular in Challenger Bay. We descended a bit with the boat until we were between the ninth and tenth Ribbon Reef. To enjoy more of the tour we decided to form a small group with a guide. It is a pure action dive where all the fauna uses the light of the dive boat to hunt!

Even before entering from the diving platform, the concentration of horse mackerel and sea ​​bass on the surface was spectacular. On many occasions, the guides said, even sharks come up and can be seen with the naked eye. The show is even bigger underwater when gray sharks and white tip are thrown among the corals to find their dinner. The lanterns that we used to illuminate us many times marked the easy prey for the big fish.

Day 4

Of the thirteen possible dives in the entire cruise this day we skipped one of them, the first in the morning. For us the ideal rhythm is three per day but in the two previous days we had done five and four dives respectively. So after a morning in which we rested something else, we did a nice double dive. It was called Taka Range and the truth was that the reef was full of life and very close to the surface until it dropped deep.

At night we made what would be our last dive of those days at Princess Bommie. We had to become alone in the dark and there was a moment of tension when we did not see the focus of the ship anywhere, although we were finally able to return without problems. We were lucky to see some fish "sleeping" like the parrot fish which is protected with a mucous envelope in the recesses of corals in a state of lethargy.

Coincidentally speaking with the family of Australians during the dinner they showed us videos of the dives that we would do days later with the bull sharks in Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, where they had already been.

Day 5

After a whole night sailing from the half of the Ribbon Reef we arrived back to Cairns in the morning. We just had to collect everything and say goodbye to all the companions. We left what had been our house for four days and we put on our sneakers again after a lot of barefoot hours!

We arrive mid-morning at Airlie Beach Airfield which is a bit out of the way. After the check of the tickets and the safety instructions, we take place in a small plane of 8 seats (counting the pilot). The pilot will also be our guide throughout the flight with explanations on the different islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

In flight, the feel of a small plane is completely different than an airliner. After takeoff where we enjoy the view of Airlie Beach. We feel a lot more pressure and potential air holes! In a few minutes of flight, we reach the first islands of the Whitsundays.

The view is superb and we begin to understand the particularity of each island. After a quarter of an hour, we arrive at the top of Whitehaven Beach for what will remain one of our most beautiful moments in Australia. Seen from the ground, this place is already perfect but then from the air, the landscape is completely crazy.

Then the plane leaves and sinks off to join the Great Barrier Reef. After a few minutes, we arrive at the top of this totally unreal landscape. There are no words for our greatest happiness. The succession of coral reefs is impressive and the flight over the famous heart-shaped reef captures us with its beauty.

We continue to fly over the Great Barrier Reef before heading back to the Whitsundays to discover new islands. Our pilot inform us several times that whales were present in the ocean but we did not see them well. After a detour and the discovery of new landscapes on the Whitsundays from the heights, we take the direction of the airfield.

We land with the feeling of having experienced one of the most beautiful experiences of our Australian road trip. It did offer us the opportunity to see a lot of variety and enjoy conditions of excellent visibility and temperature. The immensity of the Great Barrier Reef is such that we find it difficult to see much of each species. Yes a lot of variety, but less quantity than we expected.

We only had to buy the t-shirts from the diving center and go pick up the SUV that would take us to Daintree forest. The tropical forest and the campsites were waiting for us again.