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Cooler in Cappadocia

Turkey - Capadoccia

overcast 18 °C
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After last night's storm we had started to become a little paranoid. As we were flying into Kayseri airport, Chris asked if that was lightning he had seen outside. It was just the lights on the wing I replied - before looking out the window to find fork lightning! Going round and round in circles before eventually coming in to land, there were many more flashes and I just wanted to get on the ground sooner rather than later.

Having avoiding being hit, we arrived at the airport just minutes after another internal flight and so the tiny baggage hall was packed full of people. Eventually collecting our baggage after what felt like hours, we headed outside and met our transfer to Cappadocia.

Inside the hotel

Inside the hotel

An hour or so later and we made it to the hotel, where we were staying in a cave room built into the hills surrounding the small tourist town of Göreme. By now it was pitch black and so we took a quick walk around the corner to see night time views of the town lit up.

Nighttime views

Nighttime views

Originally we were supposed to arrive mid afternoon, but a few weeks ago our flight had been rescheduled, meaning we now only had one morning to explore the town. Therefore we got up early the following morning and headed up the hill again for views over the area.

Normally the sky would be full of hot air balloons, but unfortunately the weather was still not great, with risks of thunderstorms and so these had all been cancelled. It was also a lot colder than it had been elsewhere up until now, with us needing jackets all day long. In fact with a heatwave at home this weekend, it was actually hotter there! Nevertheless there were still nice views over the town, where we could see all the buildings built into the cliffs.

Views of the town

Views of the town

After heading back for breakfast before checking out of the hotel, we left the bags at the hotel and headed towards the Open Air Museum, where there were many churches carved into the rock. Upon arrival, even early in the morning it was full of tourists, and it was difficult to explore without people being in the way.

Open Air Museum

Open Air Museum

After an hour or so we had seen many of these amazing chapels, which from the inside looked like they had been constructed normally, rather than carved out from the rocks.

Inside one of the chapels

Inside one of the chapels

We then headed back into the town, which had now woken up and was full of many little souvenir shops. After buying a keyring, we slowly made our way back to the hotel for a last rest this holiday. The weather then perked up slightly and we enjoyed some final views of the town in the sun.

Göreme town

Göreme town

We were then picked up for our trip back to the airport and our final flights back to London via Istanbul Airport.

Although the holiday had been cut short by a week, we still had a nice break and got to explore new areas, as well as relax and spend time with friends, and would recommend it as somewhere interesting to visit.

Posted by kmmk17 11:13 Archived in Turkey Tagged churches hotel church cave plane turkey2019 Comments (0)

A Visit to the Vatican

Rome 2019 - Vatican City

sunny 36 °C
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Our next holiday this year was to Rome, my second time in the city after having previously visited after New Year in 2015. This time however it would be much hotter - by about 30˚C.

My cousin and aunt from New Zealand were also going to be in Rome at the same time, so after checking our plans we decided to head out on the same flight as my aunt, to be there at same time.

After working on Friday morning, we headed up to the airport and met up with my aunt just before security. Heading through and into the departure lounge we had a catch up after having not seen each other for three years.

The weather at home during this weekend was abysmal, and after sitting down in one of the restaurants, where we were joined by my sister who works up the airport and was on her break, we could see (or rather not see) the sheer level of rain hitting the roof window from outside. It was so heavy for so long that eventually one of the seals broke and the water started gushing in like an indoor waterfall. The people sat by the window themselves had to run to escape, leaving their belongings to get soaked, including one woman's entire dinner.

Flooded Airport

Flooded Airport

As we moved away due to the floor flooding, my sister called security to advise them, but they weren't interested - turns out this was by far the only place that had flooded and the whole airport was full of water. Not long after the water had broken through, the rainstorm had ended and the sun was shining again- however the sheer level of water that had entered meant it was going to take a long time to clean up. We could now see just how much rain there had been, as our view that had previously been blocked by water was now clear to see a plane at one of the gates surrounded by fire engines as it's cockpit was on fire! What an experience today!

By the time we were boarding the rain had ended and there were no problems, we took off as planned and arrived in Rome's airport a few hours later after having had a nice catch up on the journey over. Using the EU queue at immigration for what might be our last time, we headed for the train station to make our way to our hotel. Saying goodbye to my aunt until the following day in the city we finally arrived at our hotel just before midnight and after quickly settling in, headed to sleep before our next four days in the city.

Our first full day was spent at the Vatican. After breakfast we made our way to the Vatican Museums, waiting outside for my aunt and my cousin to join us. We spent the trip around the museum catching up with my cousin, who is travelling around Europe and who I hadn't seen since 2016.

Vatican Gardens

Vatican Gardens

Starting with the view of the dome and gardens we eventually made it to the highlight of the trip, the Sistine Chapel. After viewing the famous painting by Michelangelo, we headed through the secret entrance for tour groups only, luckily not being stopped and made our way directly to St. Peter's Basilica, saving us 2 hours and a wait in the hot midday sun.

Before entering the cathedral itself we made a trip up to the roof and dome. Getting the lift up, we entered around the inside rim of the dome looking down over the altar.

Inside the Dome

Inside the Dome


Walking up the dome

Walking up the dome

We then climbed up the dome itself, which at times felt like a fairground ride with slanted walls. Little did we realise at the time this is the tallest dome in the world and still meant another 231 steps after taking the lift! Nevertheless at the top the views were stunning and absolutely worth it.

Views from the top of the dome

Views from the top of the dome

After taking in the views, we headed back down to the roof before taking the lift down into the cathedral itself to explore.

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

We then made our way out of the cathedral and into St. Peter's Square crossing the border back into Italy.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square

By now it was early afternoon so we headed to a nearby restaurant for some food, which we followed afterwards with gelato. Having now seen the Vatican, and with three more days to explore the city, we left my aunt and cousin and headed back to the hotel via the supermarket to chill for the rest of the day.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 08:30 Archived in Vatican City Tagged rain church airport city cathedral plane border christianity Comments (4)

Off to see the Wrestling

Lithuania & Belarus - Vilnius & Minsk

semi-overcast 27 °C
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After 8 months without any foreign trips, it was finally time for this year's to begin. The first being a trip to Lithuania and Belarus.

We began with an early start to get to Luton Airport for our flight just before 8. Annoyingly however as we waited to board our flight, our aircraft was given to the delayed Warsaw passengers and instead we had to wait two hours for a new aircraft to be flown over to us. This wasn't helped by the fact every morning I'd had terrible stomach pains from a virus I still wasn't over.

Two failed boardings later we eventually made it onto the aircraft. As with my previous flight to Vilnius, I was once again delayed and ended up having to change plans for the day.

Vilnius Town Hall

Vilnius Town Hall

We no longer had all afternoon to explore Vilnius, and instead only a few hours for a quick wander. It also meant that we didn't get chance to visit the KGB museum as this would be closed on our only other opportunity this weekend. A real pity.

Gates of Dawn

Gates of Dawn

The following day - our only full one on this short weekend trip - we made our way to Belarus to watch the wrestling!
I had wanted to visit Belarus for some time, with it being a blank on my map. However normally visas are required (unless flying in and out of Minsk Airport, which has no cheap flights). Meanwhile there are tonnes of convenient cheap flights to Vilnius, just across the border.

Back in 2014 Belarus had temporarily removed their visa requirements for the World Ice Hockey Championships. But as this was right at the time I got my new job I therefore didn't know whether I'd have the time or money to go, and so had missed the opportunity.

This time things were different. Belarus were hosting the European Games, and by purchasing a ticket for £4.60, the whole visa process was unnecessary. We were free and could have a cheap and easy holiday. Looking at the dates we could go and the events that were on so that it would look convincing, the best option was to visit Belarus on Sunday 30th, when the finals of the Wrestling were on for just two hours during the middle of the day. Did I know anything or care about wrestling? No. But it could be fun anyway!

After going through passport control we boarded our train with our breakfast in tow, ready for our two and a half hour train ride to Minsk. After around 45 minutes we reached the border, and Belorussian military-looking border officials boarded inspecting everyone's passports. We gave them our European Games tickets which they inspected, and accepted and not long after we were back on our way through the Belorussian countryside.

Eventually after a slightly rough train ride (which didn't help my stomach) we made it to sunny Minsk. We had several hours to explore the city before the Wrestling began - which we decided we should watch just in case we were checked on the way home.

After changing €40 into Belorussian Roubles, we headed into the city - beginning at the Gates of Minsk opposite the station, two Stalinist towers marking the entrance to the centre of Minsk.

Gates of Minsk

Gates of Minsk

[We then headed over towards Independence Square, home of the parliament and the city's iconic Roman Catholic church, where there were lots of flags and banners for both the European Games and the upcoming 30th anniversary of Belorussian independence.

Independence Square

Independence Square


Victory Square

Victory Square

After then taking the metro across the city towards Victory Square, dedicated to Minsk's time through the Second World War, we then headed down Independence Avenue towards the Palace of the Republic.

Having seen much of the city's Stalinist architecture, we were now headed into the old part of the city, which had more of a feel of Poland and Lithuania.

The Orthodox Cathedral

The Orthodox Cathedral

Stopping off for souvenirs by the town hall, we then walked past the city's Orthodox Cathedral, towards the Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Opera Theatre

Opera Theatre


Trinity District

Trinity District

Beside the beautifully meandering river, with it's parkland banks is the oldest part of the city, the Trinity District, with small old winding streets and houses that have mostly been converted into shops and restaurants. On the opposite side of the river is the Sports Palace where we were headed to for the Wrestling, as well as an open air fan zone with local entertainment, food, souvenirs and photoshoots with the Fox mascot - Lesik.

Local Entertainment

Local Entertainment

By now we were on track and the event was starting in just half an hour, so we entered the Arena and found our seats watching the build up before the event itself started. I had no idea what was going on, but nevertheless the chance to enjoy an international event, and mix up the long day in the city was actually pretty enjoyable.

Inside the Wrestling

Inside the Wrestling

Thomas Bach awarding the medalists

Thomas Bach awarding the medalists

After the event ended, we walked past Thomas Bach, head of the Olympics, who was attneding the event also, and headed out of the city towards Victory Park, where there is a more modern and grand monument to the city following it's awarding as "Hero City" following it's occupation during the Second World War.

Victory Park

Victory Park

The parkland beside the river was a pleasant place to spend time cooling down from the heat of the summer sunshine, and we walked further north towards the Palace of Independence, Expo Centre and Flag Square.

Palace of Independence

Palace of Independence

After a lot of walking we decided to take the bus back into the city. However despite my best efforts we still could not work out how to buy a ticket! Apparently we could buy one from the driver, but as he was in the front compartment we didn't pass him to buy one. After then abandoning the first bus ride we hovered around thinking whether to walk (but ruled out as being too far and too hot), or ride illegally (it was only 4 stops). Maybe we could just hop on and off the next few stops so we wouldn't be arrested! I mean we had the money anyway - maybe could we play at being stupid foreigners?

And then we saw it, a different bus passed by, and someone reached into the hatch and bought tickets from the driver! So there we were, let's take the next bus and ride properly. However when we got on it was packed and we couldn't reach the driver. Debating whether to get off at the next stop and board a quieter bus or push our way through, we arrived at the next stop when a local woman boarded and pushed her way through. We followed her and then managed to buy our own tickets! What a stressful experience!

Not long later we arrived back in the city centre. After buying some souvenirs we then headed back towards the station to grab some snacks and have dinner. After a long hot day of sightseeing we were ready to go home. Changing our money back and getting €35 returned, we waited for the train to turn up and board back to Lithuania. Three hours later we were finally back from our busy, but interesting day trip to Belarus.

It was a surprising experience, I had few visions of this generally forgotten part of Europe, and had expected it to be a tragic dump, but actually it was very beautiful, clean and green, and I would really recommend it to anyone who can be bothered to go through the process of getting a visa!

Posted by kmmk17 03:58 Archived in Belarus Tagged park airport river sport city old plane border sickness lithuaniabelarus Comments (2)

Summer in Sorrento

Limoncello Adventures - Sorrento

sunny 18 °C
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After last year's autumn holiday was postponed, this year we decided to make sure we weren't bored in the Autumn by reviving the plans to visit the Naples area. I had wanted to visit Pompeii for some time, and after some research had seen it was easy to get to Naples, and spend a weekend in the area which was also very beautiful.

After juggling the dates and settling on staying in Sorrento, which in off season was relatively cheap, we headed off on what ended up being one of the many busy Autumn weekends this year. We had an early morning flight on the Friday and after taking off the first drama began...

One of the passengers sat near us had a seizure and collapsed, lying unconscious on the floor. After the flight attendants called for any medically trained passengers on the flight to come over it was decided she was not well enough to make it all the way to Naples as we were still over Germany. Therefore an emergency landing was planned and we were now headed for Milan! She then woke back up and spent the rest of the flight throwing up before we landed safely.

Emergency Landing in Milan

Emergency Landing in Milan

Upon landing she started making a call to her friends to pick her up once she was through immigration, still out of it, and being the only person the flight who didn't know we were actually in Milan. The medics quickly boarded to help her off, but she was having none of it. She complained that they should have just taken her to Naples, and the medics agreed - whilst the flight attendants pointed out that she was not in that condition in the air. After standing their ground and threatening to get the police to remove her if she didn't go with the medics, she eventually left and after refuelling we were able to take off, only an hour and a half behind schedule.

Eventually arriving in Naples at lunchtime, we quickly made our way through the airport to catch the next shuttle transfer bus directly to Sorrento. The small minibus was almost full already, but there was enough space for us, and we were soon leaving the crazy traffic of Naples behind for the crazy roads of the Sorrentine Peninsula.

After a somewhat stressful and cramped hour's journey, we were finally in our base for the weekend. After checking in and dropping off our bits at the hotel we then headed off on a short walk around the small tourist town.

Cliffs on the Bay of Naples

Cliffs on the Bay of Naples

We began by heading towards the cliffs that impose over the coastline, overlooking the Bay of Naples, with views of Mount Vesuvius.

Views of Vesuvius across the bay

Views of Vesuvius across the bay


Sorrento

Sorrento

After walking along the coastline we then headed into the heart of the town, grabbed food in a local restaurant before walking amongst the local streets by night.

The heart of Sorrento

The heart of Sorrento

The last thing to do tonight was to stop via the supermarket for some snacks and drinks before chilling for the evening of a long day.

Posted by kmmk17 09:43 Archived in Italy Tagged hills coast airport city plane drama limoncello Comments (0)

The Final Stopover In Montevideo

In Search of the Penguins - Montevideo

overcast 24 °C
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After yesterday's busy day, I woke up early for the final stage of my epic trip. Getting a taxi from my hotel in Buenos Aires before dawn, I made it to the airport in plenty of time for my short flight across the Rio de La Plata to Uruguay. Eventually boarding the small city hopper, we were served a breakfast box after take off. However, no sooner had I started eating and we were already coming back down and landing in Montevideo. This was just a half hour flight across the river mouth!

Landing over Montevideo

Landing over Montevideo

Flying over the city centre, we eventually landed at the small modern airport on the outskirts of the city. Completely contrasting with the overflowing and dilapidated Aeroparque in central Buenos Aires.

Upon arrival I flew through immigration and waited to collect my bag, as I would have to manually check in for my onward flights later in the day. However waiting and waiting my bag was no where to be found. Eventually a man came over to ask my name, and he eventually told me that my bag had arrived yesterday and was upstairs to be collected.

I then proceeded to go through customs without my belongings, making my way to the airline desk by check in and retrieve my bits. Repacking on the concourse floor, I then checked in for my later flights and sent my bag straight through to London.

Heading downstairs I attempted to get my hand baggage put in luggage storage, but after being told the extortionate price and effort it would take I changed my mind and decided to just carry it around with me in Montevideo.

Having done some research before leaving, I was still unsure of exactly how to get into the city, so I went to speak to the tourist information, who told me which bus numbers I required. After grabbing some cash I then headed into the city - not even 9am yet!

Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia

An hour or so later, the packed out bus arrived in the city, and after remaining on it until the end, so that I knew where to catch it on my return later, I got off and headed down to the main avenue and the Plaza de Independencia. Named in honour of the independence, the square has a statue and mausoleum dedicated to Artigas - the national hero, whilst being surrounded by many governmental buildings.

Artigas Mausoleum

Artigas Mausoleum

The square is also the site of the Palacio Salvo, one of the most iconic buildings in the city, as well as the old city gate. However despite all this, there is also a disgusting tower block located in the very same square. How very South American.

Beautiful....

Beautiful....


Old City

Old City

Carrying on into the Old City, there were many little shops, cafés and squares. By this point I was getting hungry and thought I might go for lunch in the McDonald's I was just passing. However as it was 11am in South America, this meant it was still breakfast time, so I would have to wait! As I continued down the road towards the coast, the buildings got much more shabby. Quite surprising as this area could be a prime location! Eventually I got to the coast and I continued along a sea wall, gaining views of the city from afar.

Views from the sea wall

Views from the sea wall

Returning, I bought a souvenir and then headed back the way I had come towards the bus station, where I found a bus headed to the airport itself. Heading through security, I then sat in the departure lounge looking at the plane that would take me to Sao Paolo.

Inside the Airport

Inside the Airport

On booking, there were two flights just 45 minutes apart. As I was transferring I figured it would be best to take the earlier one to give myself extra time to transfer. Big mistake.

Queuing to board, we kept waiting and waiting. Eventually messages were relayed in Portuguese and Spanish - there was a technical problem. After finally speaking to someone in English, I was informed that in an hour they would have more information. What of my three hour connection I asked? "You have time at the moment".

Unfortunately on the other flight no one cared, and so I had to wait. As time ticked away I was left with the realisation that if we finally did make it, I would still be lucky to make my connection. Where would I be sleeping? Who knows....this wasn't the EU, so I didn't have any rights either.

Eventually after an hour and a half, we started queuing again and eventually made it to the plane. However I was at the back of the plane and had a tight connection. With lots of faffing, we eventually took off and made it to Sao Paolo as fast as we could. However upon landing we then had to get on an airport bus from the front doors only. The girls going to Madrid were hopeless, but I has 50 minutes to go.

After waiting to take the crew too, we finally headed to the terminal building, where I ran as fast as possible. Clearing security and with no time to put my belt back on, I held up my trousers as I legged it to the gate as fast as possible.

Eventually boarding the plane I had around 10 minutes to spare - Far too little to prevent a stressful experience. And with cold weather at home, I now had to just hope my bag had made it too or I would be freezing in London without even a coat.

Finally on board

Finally on board

The one silver lining? Despite not getting a window seat, I did at least have 2 free seats next to me, so I was able to get some sleep after this long busy day. Taking off on my third flight of the day, I was finally headed home after a long, expensive but fantastic trip.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Uruguay Tagged sea history airport city plane independence penguinhunt Comments (0)

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