Kura Track and Omanawanui Track

Tomorrow (Dec 5th), the Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee will make a decision on proposals to combat the spread of kauri dieback, including possibly closing the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Mindful that it may be our last chance to visit this beautiful area, we went for a hike around the Montana Heritage Trail near Bethells Beach last weekend and yesterday explored a couple of tracks near Whatipu. Continue reading Kura Track and Omanawanui Track

Return to Florence

There is so much to see in Firenze, as the Italians call the capital city of Tuscany, that we are spending a couple more nights here before leaving Europe. Getting here from Siena wasn’t as straightforward as we had hoped, because our train unexpectedly terminated at a place called Empoli, and we had to take another 20 minute train ride to get into the city. Continue reading Return to Florence

Castelnuovo dell’Abate to Rocca d’Orcia

The 27 inhabitants of this medieval borgo (hamlet) reckon it is the oldest in Italy. It is definitely one of the best preserved in Tuscany. Towering above it is the rocca, which is a fortified tower. For over a thousand years it repelled numerous military assaults, but by the middle of the 20th century it was threatening to collapse onto the town. Continue reading Castelnuovo dell’Abate to Rocca d’Orcia

Florence

Our train left Neuchâtel just after 7.00am, and we changed to an international service at Lausanne an hour or so later. Sometime late in the morning we reached the town of Brig, then almost immediately entered the almost 20 km long Simplon Tunnel. For most of the 20th century this was the world’s longest, until one in Japan beat it in 1982. Now the record is held by the nearby Gotthard Base Tunnel which is over 57 km. Continue reading Florence

Last day in Neuchâtel

Saturday is a big market day here in Neuchâtel, so we decided to walk into town for breakfast, then do some shopping. On the way we called in to look at the castle, which was completed in 1276 and gave the town its name (“New Castle”). The collegiate church attached to the castle was open, so we looked inside and were impressed by the deep blue ceiling painted with stars. Continue reading Last day in Neuchâtel