Thorny/ Jardin Exotique d’Eze

 

 

Prickly, bristly, thorny, but gorgeous nevertheless. That is how I remember the outstanding inhabitants of the Jardin Exotique d’Eze, also called Jardin Botanique d’Eze. The botanical garden holds an excellent collection of cacti & succulents, on the hilltop above the medieval village of Èze. It overlooks grand views of cliffs on the one hand, rolling villages on another, and the wide expanse of the Mediterranean Sea on the other. The garden undulates with circuitous paths leading to the top; along the way you can admire the unique and rare specimens. Sculptures of the female form scatter the grounds as though living in harmony among the thorns.

 

 

Around the French Riviera:

Mr.A hired a car on our trip to the south of France, so we enjoyed the flexibility of being able to explore several of these beautiful villages between the essential visits to Cannes, Nice and Monaco. Road-trips are always a fun part of our trips, as Mr.A and I firmly believe that the journey is as important as the destination 🙂 Èze is a short 30 minute drive away from Nice, and it is totally worth the detour. If you are done with the glitzy part of town or had your fill of the beaches, Èze, with its cacti garden, stone houses and tiny boutiques, could offer you a peaceful diversion to finish off your trip to the Côte d’Azur. I would also recommend St. Paul de Vence, another medieval fort town on a hill with narrow lanes, amazing art galleries and a general air of history about it, as well as Grasse, known as the world’s capital of perfume thriving on its perfumeries since the late 18th century, where you could take a guided tour and educate yourself about the science behind scents and noses. There are so many obscure and cozy places around the scenic Riviera, exploring as you go is definitely a good way of making the most of it.

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Sunny District meets Andy & Litle :)

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is that the world begins to feels a smaller, more connected place, a bit warmer & cosier. I read about others’ experiences and get inspired by new ideas. I get to e-meet fun people and sometimes, when I strike gold, I get to meet them in real life.

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Enter, Palesa & Andrew from South Africa! Here’s a couple of bold, adventurous & fun people who have taken off on a year-long trip around the world, whoa! I think it takes a lot of courage “taking everyday as it comes” as they say on their blog. Follow their journey across Asia, Europe and now U.S.A at https://our380.wordpress.com That’s where I found them & left a comment asking to meet when they were in Stockholm. And guess what, they did stop by. And remembered to reach out. How nice of you 🙂 They had only a couple of days in the city but going by this post on their blog, it sounds like it went pretty good 😉 I am so happy we got the chance to spend a lovely evening sharing stories over drinks. I was warmed by their spirit and wish them loads of great experiences along the way. Good luck, you two, wish you many adventures!

 

Cyprus, Paphos

Cyprus trip : Day 3 & 4

Mr.A and I spent most of the 3rd day of our Cyprus trip in Ayia Napa, but set off for Paphos late afternoon. It’s a 2-hour drive to the city on the western part of the island. The highway boasts of good road conditions, sometime winding close enough to the sea to offer stunning views of the shiny sea, and at others, winding inland between sand coloured hills dotted with short bushes. It was a hot day, so we kept the air conditioning going and carried an ample stash of chilled iced tea to sustain us along the way. The radio blasted away and we sang along when a familiar melody came up.

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We reached the Capital Coast Resort and Spa just short of sunset. I was quite impressed by the property with its multiple pools, luxurious spa, spacious apartments, great sea view and pleasant restaurants. Since sunset was around 8 o’clock, we had enough time to splash around in the outdoor pool before that. We got changed and were back in the lawn to watch the golden sunset. It was in a long, long time that we had taken out time to sit and watch both sunrise and sunset together in the span of a single day… that was special & romantic 🙂

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We decided to visit some historical sites the following day. The forecast warned of a sweltering day. Covered in multiple layers of sunblock, armed with scarves, caps, sunglasses, umbrellas, bottles of water and so on, we set off! The Tombs of the Kings are a network of underground crypts from the 4th century BC, supposedly belonging to rich members of society but not kings per se. The sites are spread over a considerable area and have graves of varying sizes. Some of the complexes exhibit enclosed courtyards with Roman columns which are in impressively good shape, given the amount of time they have weathered the elements! We walked through many a mirage shimmering over the heated earth. But history always intrigues the two of us, and in spite of the heat waves, were happy to have been there.

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Few kilometers away is the Kato Paphos Archeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. This area has been a settlement during several eras over history, but the most dominant and well-preserved remains – one can visit houses decorated with elegant mosaic floors depicting mythical stories – date back to the Roman era. These sites are excellent examples of craftsmanship and symmetry.

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We returned to the hotel and practically walked right into the pool to cool off. Thoroughly revived, we checked out & headed back to Larnaca to catch a red-eye flight. At Larnaca, we visited the Salt Lake and left our footprints on the slightly mushy surface. We also headed to the Hala Sultan Tekke, a mosque that has stood on the edge of the lake since the Ottoman Empire. Although we reached beyond admission hours, I’m glad we went – to our great surprise, we were met by a clutter of cats so large we had never seen before :-O They were everywhere, more and more of them kept crawling out from the shadows. We declared Cyprus as Cat-country right there and fled before they could enslave us!

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Dinner was at a traditional restaurant where we ate a truck-load of fish, no kidding. Lucky for us, some local artists performing song and dance at the restaurant. With still some hours to kill before the flight, Mr.A and I strolled by the water and found beach beds by a hotel. Nobody stopped us, so we lay down for an hour enjoying the cool sea breeze, listening to the slosh-slosh of the waves, counting stars… couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this lovely Cyprus trip 🙂

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Cyprus, Ayia Napa

Cyprus trip : Day 2 & 3

We made it to Cyprus! After our unplanned sleepover in Oslo, we were happy we had lost only about 18 hours. Given that there aren’t daily flights between Oslo and Larnaca, our worst fear had been what if the next flight was in three days? 😰 Luckily, Norwegian  airlines put us on an early morning flight the next day & we were back on track! 😎 
We picked up our car from Larnaca airport and drove straight to the Stamatia Hotel at Ayia Napa, by the Pantachou Beach. I have some really nice things to say about the staff here who helped us get in touch with the local Booking.com personnel and changed our booking dates without any extra fees, isn’t that so very service-minded of them?! We predictably spent most of our two days by the pool and in the shallow sea, which was perfect for me since I’m not a very confident swimmer. And at 30ºC, these tepid waters were all we needed!

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We lunched at the Ocean Basket both days, their seafood and sushi were simply to die for! A first for us was their olive cake,  with alternate layers of pastry, cream and olive jam, so yumm 🤤 Dinners were relatively okayish in comparison, although we selected some of the more famous meat restaurants. We didn’t let ourselves be too disappointed – we made up by gorging tons of guilt-free gelato 😆

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For Mr.A and I a little bit of sightseeing is always on the agenda. On our second morning we were up at 5:30 to watch the sun go up at the Sunrise Beach, which lays claim to the first sunrise of Europe! Might be true, maybe not, but serene nevertheless. The Ayia Napa Sculpture Park was a good surprise with many artistic works. We also drove around the seaside to check out Cape Greco for its cliffs & sea caves. Cliff divers were having a grand time as we cheered them on! The Monachus Monachus Arch is a natural sea arch that the wind and waves have carved out over millions of years. Reminded us of the Twelve Apostles in Australia. We climbed a steep flight of steps up to the Ayios Elias Church in Protaras, and took in the sights from the hilltop. Following the customs of the church, we tied ribbons and made wishes upon them…what a romantic thought to trust your faith upon little strings of satin…


As evening fell, we were back walking the streets at Ayia Napa, watching people and enjoying the cooler atmosphere. We came by an amusement park agog with frolickers having a go at roller coasters, giant wheels, bungee jumps and an insane 360degee spinner called Booster. As luck would have it, we chanced upon a free viewing of traditional Greek dance performance put up by troupes from Cyprus and Greece. What an authentic experience! Mr.A found a little kitty by the bushes and contemplated for a while if we should adopt it right then & there, but better sense prevailed 😉 After getting mandatory couple photos snapped at the I ❤ Ayia Napa sign in the city center,  we capped the night with more gelatos and called it a day🍦 😊


Next stop : Paphos, another resort town in the southwest of Cyprus!