Gabi and I came upon a peculiar sight while hiking in the woods outside of Florence last week. Five caterpillars were inching their way along the path, nose to butt, its leader quickly changing directions as we placed small obstacles in its path to see how they’d handle the challenges.
I’ve always been a sucker for friendly service and a smile. So, when I went in search of a hairdresser in San Casciano, I decided Paolo was the man for me.
Why did I pick him? Because he’d been recommended? Because I’d read about his incredible hairdressing expertise?
The first time I visited Venice, I went with my mum and dad. I was seven. We walked around San Marco Square and visited Murano to watch the glassblowers. My parents shipped a gorgeous set of red cut glass glasses and decanters to our home. My mum still uses them.
The last time was 24 years ago when I went with my girlfriend, Max. We stayed in a funky little hotel overlooking a small canal, visited open air markets and ate gelato (among other things).
Coming back again this week, I was nervous I might damage some of those precious memories and that Venice might not live up to my expectations.
I was wrong.
The smell of fresh laundry wafts through the narrow labyrinth of paths in Casares, a mountainside pueblo in Andalusia where we’ve parked and headed out to explore on foot.
These magical villages call to visitors with a quaint, rustic allure. The architecture is simply stunning; white structures huddling conspiratorially on the edges of cliffs, clinging to the mountainside as an eagle does to its aerie. The valley falls away below, a precipitous drop that must have posed risky challenges to the adventurous people who built this village.
How odd that Phnom Penh should feel so much like home. And yet, how perfect.
This place of bizarre contrasts both beautiful and horrible, with its smiling, struggling people and endless flatlands of rice paddies, dust and sun-baked vistas, welcomed us back to its bosom like a mother embracing her baby after a period of separation. It’s been a year, but it feels like we never left.