September 2012


Italy/Bulgaria Sept 2012

Italy/Bulgaria ~ A holiday kayaking in Bulgaria, then touristing in Italy's Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii, & Sorrento, then more kayaking in Sicily.  Pics (B=Bulgaria, I=Italy): Shipwreck: Siracusa(I), Head: Pisa(I), Mural: Rila Monastery(B), Fountain: Florence(I), Mural: Rome(I), Windmill: Nessebar(B), Farmer's Market: Rome(I), Bakery: Pompeii(I), Seaside Living: Siracusa(I).

Karvarna Beach

Karvarna Beach ~ My month long September 2012 holiday began with a week of kayaking with a group in Bulgaria. Afterwards, I traveled to Italy first to play tourist for a couple weeks enjoying sites along Italy's west coast including Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii, & Sorrento, and then I joined another group in Sicily for one more week of kayaking.

As shown in this picture, my Bulgarian holiday began in Karvarna, a beach front resort town on the Black Sea. Here, our group paddled Epic v8 Surf Ski kayaks by day and enjoyed great food by night.

Along the Black Sea

Along the Black Sea ~ Bulgaria's Black Sea coast is a popular, and relatively inexpensive, holiday locale. We traveled and kayaked from Karvarna to Nessebar on the Black Sea, and then headed inland for more kayaking on mountain lakes near Krichim Reservoir. Along the way we visited numerous interesting sites.

Night of Celebration

Night of Celebration ~ One night our group enjoyed an open air dinner with entertainment of traditional Bulgarian dance.

Stone Forest

Stone Forest ~ Located 18 km west of Varna, the Stone Forest (also described as Planted Stones) is a natural phenomena known by its Bulgarian name of "Probitite Kamani," which means stones beaten into the ground. These numerous limestone pillars reach heights as tall as 10 meters, are hollow & solid cylinders, are truncated cones, form cliffs, and litter the ground as various rocks.

Phallic Stone

Phallic Stone ~ Not all Planted Stones are created equal!

Nessebar Bronze

Nessebar Bronze ~ Located on the Black Sea Coast, about 40 km south of Varna, Nessebar is an ancient town and a grand seaside resort in Bulgaria. This statue graces the entry to the town.


Windmill ~ This old windmill is located on the passageway between new and old Nessebar, Bulgaria, along the Black Sea. This one is a replica of the windmills from the period between the 17th to 19th centuries.

Alamana Row-Boat

Alamana Row-Boat ~ This boat is a replica of a traditional fishing vessel used along the Black Sea coast between the 18th and 20th centuries. It is made from Strandzha Oak, has a length of 12 meters and width of 2 meters. It was manned by a captain, a coxswain, and 8 rowers.

Bulgaria Team

Bulgaria Team ~ Did someone say pose for a group picture?

Log Truck

Log Truck ~ Our culture on this day was two fold. First, we joined a guided tour to explore a large limestone cave system in the canyon of the "Buinovsko Zdrelo" Nature Monument (near the Bulgarian village of Yadodina). Our guide only spoke Bulgarian, but the numerous stalagmites and stalactites were nonetheless enchanting.

Afterwards, we hired a jeep and its wild driver to transport us (Scotty, beam me up) to the mountain peak. At the peak, elevation 1440 meters, gps(41.64382,24.33742), was a cantilevered platform overlooking the canyon below. On our return we bounded past this log truck which was inching its way down the very steep hill. A hell of a way to travel!

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery ~ Nearby Sofia, a drive of 117 km south at gps(42.13346,23.34002), in the Rila Mountains is this Eastern Orthodox monastery.


Mural ~ One of the many wonderful artistic works at the Rila Monastery (117 km south of Sofia, Bulgaria) is this large mural.


Duomo ~ From Bulgaria I traveled to Italy, first playing tourist visiting Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Rome, and (while based in seedy Naples) Pompeii & Sorrento before joining another group to kayak along the southeast coast of Sicily.

This famous structure is Duomo of Florence, a Gothic style church, formally called the "Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore." Its construction began in 1296 and completed structurally in 1436.

If you plan to visit Florence, I suggest viewing the Duomo atop the tower at the Museo di Palazzo Vecchio where this photo was taken.


Fountain ~ Florence, Italy

Man with Cello

Man with Cello ~ Statue of Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini, cellist, composer, and native to Lucca, Italy. I spent 2 relaxing days in Lucca enjoying walks, fine dining, pleasant sights, an evening string concert of Mozart/Chopin, and a second evening concert featuring soprano arias of Mozart/Puccini.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa ~ Although the tower is most often viewed from the Piazza del Duomo, this photo was taken from the 2nd floor of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo away from the throngs of tourists. €10 provides admittance to 5 attractions around the Piazza (3 cathedrals & 2 museums). Climbing the tower is an additional €15.

Lady on Bench

Lady on Bench ~ Besides providing a great view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo displays a treasure trove of wonderful antiquities including this one which I call Lady on Bench.

Relaxing with a Good Book

Relaxing with a Good Book ~ Another fine antiquity at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Pisa, Italy, is this one which I call Relaxing with a Good Book. I highly recommend sauntering though this museum.


Mural ~ This snippet is a small section of a much larger mural which can be viewed at Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Pisa, Italy.


Head ~ Yet another fine antiquity at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Pisa, Italy, is this bust of a man.

Palatine Hill Mural

Palatine Hill Mural ~ Rome, Italy.

Via del Portico d'Ottavia

Via del Portico d'Ottavia ~ Rome, Italy.

Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market ~ Expansive, noisy, and colourful is this open air market in a piazza at Campo de' Fiori in Rome, Italy.

Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii Ruins ~ In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted pouring 4 to 6 meters of ash over the nearby town of Pompeii. Buried for 1700 years, it was rediscovered in 1748, and since then excavation of the city has continued. Now the site is a stupendous attraction offering a glimpse of millennia ago living. I devoted a full day to these ruins nearby Naples, Italy, (traveling by metro) and was awed throughout.

Pompeii Bakery

Pompeii Bakery ~ In the foreground of this picture is a mill which was used to grind grain into flour, while in the background is an oven and work table. A fine example of a Pompeii bakery.

Pompeii Columns

Pompeii Columns

Pompeii Erotic Art

Pompeii Erotic Art ~ This mural is one of several on display in one of Pompeii's bordellos.

Noto Villa

Noto Villa ~ Although my time in Sicily was centered around kayaking, we also played tourist. We visited the quaint town of Noto (nearby Siracusa), enjoying its old world architecture and fine dining.

Noto Mosaic

Noto Mosaic ~ This is a section of a larger mosaic entitled the "Hunting Mosaic." The entire mosaic can be viewed at Villa Romana del Tellaro of Noto, Italy.

Mount Etna

Mount Etna ~ One afternoon our kayak group took to foot to walk Mount Etna. Although the volcanic crater (3350 meters) can be viewed by a bus and walk, rather, we chose the ski tram and a short walk up part way for a scenic lunch and then a return walk down loosing roughly 700 meters elevation.

Walking Mount Etna

Walking Mount Etna ~ After a lunch in the grit of volcanic pumice, our group took to foot to walk the 700 meter elevation loss for return. Although we are seen here traversing a well used track, most of our return travel was glissading down the fall line in the loose pumice. It was an easy and fun way to get down, but I can't say much for my trashed socks after reaching the bottom!

Sea Cave

Sea Cave ~ Throughout my entire September holiday, my favorite day was this one kayaking just north of Siracusa, Italy, enjoying cliffs, sea caves, and a shipwreck. We put in at a beach at the small harbor immediately north of Old Town Siracusa. From there we paddled north along the coast passing historic waterfront homes. Then we were greeted by a fantastic assortment of cliffs, but it was the numerous sea caves that were spectacular to explore along with its exciting tidal zone. After the cliffs and sea caves we came upon a recent shipwreck which made our kayaks seem minuscule. A well deserved lunch preceded a hard paddle return in chop, swells, and head winds. Thankfully, all that hard work made for a big appetite and yet another grand Italian dinner.


Shipwreck ~ What fun! After exploring cliffs and sea caves just north of Old Town Siracusa Harbor, Italy, we came upon this recent shipwreck. Although we felt tiny by comparison, we were afloat and sea worthy, ..., happy days!

Waterfront Living

Waterfront Living ~ A nice place to live, a waterfront home nearby Siracusa, Italy.

Tall Ship

Tall Ship ~ This tall ship was moored along the waterfront of Old Town Siracusa, Italy.