Slow road to Cyprus – what did we learn? – Best Blogs Series

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in products such as soy milk and low-fat yogurt, has been shown to reduce breast cancer incidence in rats. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

It took us quite a bit of time to reflect before trying to answer the question “What did we learn?”

Well, here are a few suggestions:

1. MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Probably, the most profound thing that we learned on our seven week trip was that the Mediterranean diet was dead or dying. Both of us had previously spent a lot of time in Italy  so we were particularly shocked at the deterioration in the Italian diet, especially in the North but also the South. We observed that both tourists and Italians were typically dining out on pasta and pizza. What really shocked us was seeing young children having a portion of french fries on top of their pizza! For us, “fast food” seemed to have replaced the  Mediterranean diet.

2. NORTH/ SOUTH VARIATIONS

These days the media is full of stories about the economic and social differences between North and South Europe because of the Euro. Sadly, this has created too many stereo-types, in our view. Travelling for seven weeks across both North andSouth Europe, we observed that from our perspective that reality was slightly different to the media inspired stereo-types. For example, we found that costs in Germany and Austria compared favorably with the UK but Italy was more expensive. We talked to Australians who shared that Eastern Europe was becoming more popular as a travel destination because of the high level of costs in Western European cities.

3. OPEN-TOP TOUR BUSES 

After good experiences in Montreal, Sydney, and Edinburgh, we had become fans of the open-top buses to familiarize ourselves with new cities. We took open-top city tours in our European adventure in Vienna and Budapest which were excellent. In Prague we took a city tour both on foot and by bus. In Venice we used the ferries extensively or just walked. In Florence, Brugge and Frankfurt, we walked or took taxis.

4. COST OF TOURS

The cost of overnight accommodation was what we had expected. Similarly, the cost of eating out was not that surprising too – as indicated earlier, we were surprised at the premium cost of quality food in Italy. On the other hand, we had completely under-estimated the cost of tours, so we soon learned to be discerning in our choices.

5. SHOPPING

There is still good value to be found, especially in Italy but beware of the tourist traps which are still very expensive. Check out the shopping malls where the locals go.

6. FOLLOW THE LOCALS

Quite a few times, we deliberately tried to steer away from the tourists and typically followed the locals. We tried to stay overnight and eat in areas that were popular with local people, not just tourists.

Slow road to Cyprus – Marilyn and Alf’s ten most precious memories – Best Blogs Series

English:

English: “Venice – The Square of St. Mark”, Antonio Canaletto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the seven week trip, probably the following stand out as our ten most precious memories:

  1. Stopping firstly in Brugge, Belgium,with its highly attractive Medieval architecture, pretty cobbled streets, canals and bridges, its numerous art galleries and museums
  2. Being fortunate enough to hear theVienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing at home at the splendidMusikverein in the Golden Hall  – that same day we had lunch at the legendary Cafe Mozart, where Graham Green wrote “The Third Man
  3. Visiting Vienna’s famous sites, including: the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Schonbrunn Palace and gardens, the amazing Austrian Parliament Building and not to forget the outstanding beauty of the Art Nouveau architecture to be seen in the centre of Vienna
  4. Walking across the famous Charles Bridge Prague, which in the Middle Ages was one of the Wonders of the Modern World, reaching the Old Town and watching the historic Prague Astronomical clock performing its spectacle on the hour
  5. Crossing the Freedom Bridge, Budapest, over the River Danube, going from Pestto Buda and slowly climbing the very steep Gellert Hill, with many twisting paths and breathtaking views of the Danube and the city, finally reaching the Citadel, at the top of the hill
  6. People watching in St. Marks Square, Venice, sitting in Cafe Florian (which dates back to 1720), having a wonderful fresh fruit salad with ice-cream and a glass of Prosecco, and admiring the beautiful architecture surrounding the square – the only downside, of course, being the bill!
  7. Seeing Michelangelo’s stunning, five hundred year old  statue of “David“, in the Accademia di Belle Arti, during our four days in Florence
  8. Sampling the delights of Tuscany and Umbria, Italy, including art, architecture, fashion, cuisine, wine and not to forget the charming, picturesque hillside villages
  9. Viewing the breathtaking sight of the absolutely unforgettable Amalfi Coast, Italy
  10. Discovering Palinuro, Italy, on a stunning bay overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most beautiful, relaxing, unspoilt and sparsely populated  parts of Italy, within the Cliento and Vallo di Diano National Park (a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1997) – we explored the national park and the World famous grottos,  swam in the almost transparent deep blue sea and sampled the local fresh fish caught that day, washing it down with excellent local wine, of course.
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