THE COMPETITION HAS NOW ENDED BUT YOU CAN STILL USE THE DISCOUNT CODE ‘BUNNY10‘ FOR A 10% DISCOUNT
I don’t know about you but I’m a massive Instagram fan. I love taking photos on my mobile phone on the spur of the moment and as the whim takes me. It’s pretty instant and there’s no need to fiddle about with lenses or camera settings and my phone is always close by in my bag or pocket. I just click, share and I’ve captured a little moment in time.
But here’s the rub, as much as I love Instagraming and taking photos on my phone, that’s usually where they stay – I’ve just checked and there’s over 1,000 photos floating around in the depths of my smart phone’s memory and that’s without the ones on the cloud. So now I’m on a mission to free my photos from my phone. I’ve decided to collate all my best Instagrams and phone photos into a yearly photo book. That way I can look back year by year and go through all the special moments and travel highlights in one gorgeous book. It’s the perfect reminder of the year and so much better than some of those tacky trip souvenirs which get pushed to the back of the cupboard – and, yes, I’m guilty on that count too.
Say hello to Printastic, a new app that makes it really easy to add all your favourite phone and/or IG photos to your book, directly from your phone and Instagram feed. All you need to do is make sure you have the latest version of Printastic installed on your iPhone or iPad. Printastic makes it simple to create a bespoke book with up to 200 pages. You can adjust the page layouts with one to four photos per page, re-order them to get the best look and even add captions. I think it would make the perfect gift for someone and is spot on for my (not so) little project. The app is completely free to download from the App Store. It’s only currently available as an iOS but there’s an Android version in the pipeline.
Win a Printastic Photobook
Because I love the Printastic photobooks so much (and because the guys at Printastic are so cool) we’re giving one person the chance to bag a free book so they can design their very own 24-page photo book. To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below. The more entries you make the more chances you get. Good luck and I’ll announce the winner next week.
10% Discount Code
If you don’t win it’s okay because prices start from a reasonable £19.99 for a 24-page book. If you download the app and enter promotional code Bunny10 on each order you make you’ll geta peachy 10% off .
Never one to turn down an excuse to delve into my photo archives and re-live some fabulous travel memories I was delighted when Suze, the Luxury Columnist, nominated me for the Thomas Cook Explore the Elements Photoblogging Competition. The competition is themed around the four elements; Earth, Water, Fire, Air and it’s all about capturing and expressing these elements through travel photography. All the categories are open to interpretation so pictures can be of anything that showcases each element. Here are my entries…
San Marino might be the smallest Republic in the world at 62 sq k but it punches well above its weight where ridiculously spectacular views are concerned. I took a day trip from Bologna to see what surprises the third smallest state in Europe had in store. I wasn’t disappointed and, be warned, the camera went into overdrive!
From Bologna I took the train to Rimini and from there the bus to San Marino. The bus climbed higher and higher as the road twisted upwards – Mount Titano towers 739 metres above sea level and my ears actually popped on the way up. I knew for sure I’d arrived in a new country when my mobile pinged a ‘Welcome to San Marino’ text – cool!
We arrived at the coach park and as I climbed off the bus I turned and caught a glimpse of the first of the day’s views – the sun was shining, it was a clear day and miles and miles of lush green Emilia Romagna countryside stretched ahead before rolling into the distant Apennines. Just gorgeous!
I tore myself away from the epic panorama and made my way upwards towards the town; I only had a few hours and wanted to see as much as possible of this tiny enclave bordered on all sides by Italy.
Mount Titano is a balcony of rock offering a panoramic view of the Upper Marecchia Valley and Montefeltro across to the Romagna coastline and the Adriatic which I soaked up as I walked the boundary of the city.
San Marino Stamp of Approval
First stop was the tourist office where I got a brand new and very pretty ‘San Marino’ stamp in my passport and a new country chalked up on the list. San Marino is big on postage stamps and claims to have one of the the best postal systems in the world so drop into the Post Office if you’re a collector and take home some stamps and a San Marino Euro coin – both collectors’ items.
San Marino Passport Stamp
San Marino Old Town
Onwards and upwards I climbed through San Marino’s criss-crossing steep streets to the old town centre on the top of Mount Titano, a full 750m above sea level. It’s closed to traffic and contained within medieval stone walls. The old town is full of welcoming cafes, street artists and boutiques selling handbags, clothes, ceramics and, surprisingly, firearms and knives. Banks are plentiful – San Marino is one of the wealthiest countries per head with a population of just 30,000. Many goods are tax-free so the shopping attracts tourists on the hunt for bargains. The prices for food and drink were reasonable and lunch was a tasty ham and cheese piadina (flatbread) with a beer for €4.50.
The Guaita Tower
The high point of my visit were the fortresses of San Marino; turreted, castellated, fairytale towers reaching skywards into the bluest of skies and linked by a winding path that runs the entire ridge of the mountain. The towers were built to protect the small state from Emilia Romagna’s Malatesta family and the first and oldest tower, Guaita, is surrounded by two circles of city walls one of which can be walked. The tower was originally a watchtower and housed prisoners right up until the 1970s.
The pathway connecting the towers “Passo delle streghe” means Passage of the Witches – more than appropriate in this fairytale scene but sinister in that it’s where those accused of being witches were hanged. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see winged monkeys in little blue waistcoats swooping down on me Wizard of Oz style from the castle atop the craggy rock had the day been dark and overcast. But it wasn’t and the blue skies were the perfect backdrop.
The Cesta Tower
The pathway is the one of the best places to photograph both the first and second towers and has some of the most gorgeous countryside views. But the view from the top of Cesta back to Guaita is the one that totally took my breath away. It’s possible to climb right into the roof of this tower although you’ll need to negotiate a steep step-ladder and a small trap-hatch but the views back to Guaita Tower from the lookout windows are worth the effort. Stunning. The Armoury Museum containing weaponry and armour is housed in the Cesta Tower.
Above a picture postcard shot of Guaita Tower seen from the top of Cesta Tower and below Cesta Tower seen from the “Passo delle streghe”
I became so entranced by the views that I totally lost track of the time and had to dash back to the bus park missing a stop at the Houses of Parliament, Palazzo Pubblico and the third, smallest, tower. I’d love to have had more time to spend in San Marino the tiny state with the big, big views and if I return I’ll definitely stay for sunset which I’m told is spectacular. Can you even begin to imagine?
How to get there: Trains don’t go to San Marino so the easiest way to visit is to take the Bonelli bus from Rimini’s train station. The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs €4 each way. Get your ticket opposite the railway station just to the right of Burger King. You can do this as a day trip from Bologna, as the train from Bologna to Rimini takes 60-90 minutes and costs €10-20 depending on the speed – allow yourself at least 4 hours in San Marino itself.
How much: Combined entry to Guaita and Cesta Towers is €4.50
I’m drawn to taking photographs of multiples and these feature frequently in my travel shots – I just can’t resist all those neat little rows. The souks in Marrakech were full of stalls and shops displaying multiples from food to footwear and leathers to lanterns. Here’s what I found…
Ailsa from Where’s my Backpack? and host of theTravel Themehas chosen ‘Sunset’ asthis weeks subject. I first saw it on Mahdu’s sunset post from The Urge to Wander and a comment struck a chord with me – no matter where in the world we might be we all watch the same sun as it sets. It’s inspired me to join in this weeks theme with some sunset shots from my own travels.
I find it hypnotic to watch as the sun dips beneath the horizon and will never tire of a beautiful sunset; a time to pause and reflect on the beauty of our world. Here are some of my favourite shots which I hope capture that magical moment.
A beautiful golden sunset in Mauritius and then afterwards (below) as the deeper pinks colour the ocean against the moody clouds.
The sunset (below) was in Sorrento this year – we stopped by a small bar overlooking the sea where a crowd of regulars gathered each evening to watch the spectacle. This deep red sunset was stunning.
The setting sun reflected on rocks near Sossusvlei, Namibia – not strictly a sunset but I loved the way the rocks took on the deep orange and russet hues of the sinking sun.
And finally a sunset from home taken in May this year. It’s a bit grainy as it was taken on a compact and I’ve zoomed in and cropped hard but I like the misty feel of it – for some reason the sun was enormous that evening.
Ha Long Bay in Vietnam translates to Bay of the Descending Dragon and has recently become one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. And truly wonderous it is – a mystical landscape where thousands of limestone karsts burst breathtakingly skywards from the depths of the sparkling, emerald-green South China Seas. We spent a day cruising through this stunning scenery followed by a night moored amid the beautiful limestone formations before returning to port the following afternoon, via Vung Vieng, one of the bay’s four floating fishing villages. (more…)
What a fun week I’ve had hosting Travel Photo Roulette and I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who entered, tweeted and publicised Round 40 and to Travel with Kat, host of round 39, for passing on the baton. It’s always a bit of a worry when you run an event – what if nobody turns up? I was, therefore, delighted that 16 bloggers submitted some fabulous shots. I thoroughly enjoyed, not only the photographs themselves, but ‘meeting’ some talented members of the travel blogging community along the way. (more…)
I was a very happy travelbunny indeed to learn that my photo below was the winning entry in round 39 of Photo Roulette hosted by Travel With Kat with her chosen theme of ‘Local Character’. This Vietnamese woman in Hoi An was more than happy to have her picture taken and she made me smile as she postured to the camera while I snapped away – definitely a character and a half with a full-blown twinkle in her eye.