Sicily – Exploring Castles!

Castles, be they medieval, Norman, military fortresses, well-kept luxurious palaces, or ruined keeps – I’m in love with them all. No matter which country I travel to, I am never tired of exploring and discovering these architectural recipients of historical happenings! By the way, should you like to read some of my articles on a number of castles I’ve visited, please don’t hesitate to visit http://castles.today/ which is a Polish website I contribute to regularly (take a look at my uptake on Welsh, Scottish, Irish and Maltese historical castles amongst others… more coming soon!)

Obviously, taking my interest in castles into account, I couldn’t NOT visit Sicily, one of my favorite vacation-spots, without also exploring a number of castles and palaces there.

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There are many beautiful Castles in Sicily, some of which I’ve already written about, such as the Castle of Venere in Erice (been there twice) or the Castle of Castelmola, however this time round, during my last trip to Sicily I visited a Castle which is less well known, though no less amazing.

The last castle I visited in Sicily, is in fact also the largest to be found on this Mediterranean island, that is, the Castle and Citadel of Milazzo. Found in the small town of Milazzo, in the southern part of Sicily, the Castle is resplendently obvious as it is situated on a hill, majestically lording it over the nearby countryside and port.

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When we arrived, the local old guy selling tickets immediately befriended us and launched into the history of the castle, boasting about it as though it was his own home. He told us how the site itself had first been fortified in the Neolithic era, then manned by the Greeks, and later conquered and enlarged by the Normans, the Romans, and later the Aragonese (Spanish). Actually, it’s me the guy latched on to, since my boyfriend does not understand Italian, however I obviously couldn’t stand there bantering all day, so we excused ourselves and went into the castle itself.

And it was HUGE. First of all, let me be clear, when I say ‘castle’, I mean the whole citadel of course, that is the castle, grounds, and surrounding buildings. The grounds are quite big, though overgrown with local plants and wild flowers, which was part of their charm. There was an old but well kept church sporting some crumbling frescoes, as well as a number of buildings hosting a museum, a children’s area, and a number of rooms dedicated to the Second World War.

The real wonder of the site however were the medieval ramparts, where one could delightfully gaze at the spectacular panorama of town, port, sea, and countryside simultaneously. 360 degrees of paradise!

Yes please!

P.S All photos are originals taken by me on site 🙂

Ghent by Night

Ghent by night is a magical place. We arrived from Brussels Airport by train at around 8pm, then took a tram which left us very near our B&B. Actually, the tram left us right in front of the Gravensteen, which is a medieval castle right at the heart of the tiny cobbled city. The Gravensteen, originally built in 1180, had served as the seat for the Counts of Flanders until the 14th century, and was brought to life again in 1885 by the City of Ghent, which renovated it.

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Needless to be said, the sight of those historic ramparts glimmering like a fairytale at 9.30pm, was a real sight for sore eyes, especially after a journey consisting of a tiring 3.5hr flight, 1hr train, and the 10min tram.

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We were travelling with only our hand-luggage, since we were staying for a romantic long weekend in Belgium, however we were so tired, that these actually seemed to weigh much more than they did.

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Hubby was hungry and I really needed to sit down (and admire Ghent-by-night). As we walked slowly down the main cobbled streets around the Gravensteen, young people and tourists thronged the many small bars and cafes dotting the landscape. Most of these, I was overjoyed to note, sported windows full of a myriad of different types of beers and ciders! What can I say – I simply had to stop for a drink! My other half took the opportunity to buy a cone of the famous Belgian chips, which, placed in (yes) a cone of rolled-up newspaper, seriously rivalled those of Britain… and the sauce! Omg!

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Thirst and hunger appeased, we walked on towards our cozy bed and breakfast. Actually, at that point I did not actually know what to expect from our accomodation. The trip had been a Valentine’s pressie by the hubby, who had arranged everything himself. As we rang the doorbell and waited in the nippy chill (it WAS around 11pm by this time), a sweet eccentric lady opened the glass door for us, while a black and white cat bumped jocosely around her feet. The Lady, we were to learn later, was a live-at-home artist whose Asian-inspired paintings belied the fact that she was a spiritualist and a Buddhist (she was Belgian, but had travelled extensively to Asia). Honestly, I wish I had had the time to strike up a real friendship with her, but we were there to explore Belgium and enjoy the weekend togather after all, not spend the time with our landlady hehe.

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The b&b was simply charming. There were only two rooms to let, and I admit, my love had once again shown he really knew me by choosing the one I would have picked out myself. It was called ‘The Peacock Room’, and it was decorated in a vintage chick style. The color was, of course, peacock blue, and the walls had been painted with a couple of interesting murals by the landlady herself. The double canopy bed was adorned with Chinese lanterns and wind-chimes. There was also an ensuite bathroom and a tiny kitchenette with a well-stocked fridge, and complete with a small collection of quirky teapots!! Cute!

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We were really exhausted at this point, so after a quick shower and some minor unpacking, we went to bed, obviously looking forward to the first day of our stay (as well as the home-made breakfast which the landlady promised to leave outside our door the following morning)!

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… more to come in another post

P.S The photos, of course, are originals and were all taken by me on site.

Instagram has changed my Life!!

Around 10 weeks ago, I discovered that that most awesome and picturesque (pun intended) of websites – instagram! Better late than never huh?

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So, as of the beginning of November I’ve been having fun taking pics and posting them online. Not only that, Instagram has really made me appreciate the little things in life more, in that now, while in the hunt for possible photos, I see more of the beauty around me and acknowledge it. I was used to taking certain things for granted – for example, I live in a really beautiful country – an island paradise which most people who live in smog-choked cities can only dream of – and yes, I wasn’t appreciating it at all. I’ve been living here my whole life, which is why I was taking it for granted so much I suppose. Thanks to instagram, I am finding more joy and happiness every day, in that I am thankful and proud of where I live more.

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Another thing is that I am living more healthily thanks to instagram. Why? Because instagram has become a great way to keep track of my eating habits! In November I started taking photos of the food I was enjoying, and I realized that all this food consisted of heavy fatty pastry – it as too rich and this was of detriment both to my complexion and my weight. This is why  I started a new regime. Now I am focussing more on eating healthy natural foods like fruit, nuts and white meat. I also purchased a number of natural beauty products to enhance my skin. This does not mean that I’ve gone off pastry, etc, completely, but I’ve just decided to cut it out of my diet five days a week, and only enjoy it in moderate amounts on weekends. I have also cut all caffeine from my life, and am now drinking only herbal mixtures. Which is working like magic because I feel more healthy.

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And all this because of one website! THANK YOU INSTAGRAM!

By the way, if you want to, you can follow me and my adventures here – https://www.instagram.com/melimoonsong/

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Please do!

Back from Silence – The Cliffs of Moher in IRELAND

Naughty naughty me! I haven’t posted anything in around two weeks! Guilty as charged. In my defense, I really did have A LOT going on. Things like a ten-day holiday in Southern Ireland (with crappy wi-fi) and my bday too 🙂

So, instead of re-capping everything on at once and leaving 99% out, I’ve decided to write about it when it comes… that is, when some particular instance, feeling or experience overwhelms my thoughts so much as to spill out everywhere 🙂

For now, since I’m currently downloading the 3000 photos taken in Ire on my USB, I will just share a nice tit-bit with you.

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One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life are the Cliffs of Moher. These are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare.They are just ENORMOUS and MAJESTIC. An experience I will cherish for a lifetime. I had alreayd been there once around six or seven years ago, and had been yearning to go again ever since… well I did!

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Never you mind that I am very windblown and my face and everything is kind of a mess… it WAS raining at the time and not just a few drops either, though it’s not quite apparent in the pics.

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Still, it didn’t turn out so bad after all 😀 In fact, it was BLOODY FANTASTIC!!