Lotus flower & seed pods, Jardin des Plantes, Montpellier

Photo Essay: Le Jardin des Plantes, Montpellier

Montpellier’s Jardin des Plantes is the oldest botanical garden in France and one of the oldest in Europe. It’s not the largest botanical garden I’ve ever visited, neither is it the best kept. But it’s utterly charming.

I wandered around in mid July, when I had a few days in Montpellier following my favourite festival, Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in Sète. I didn’t immediately take to Montpellier. My Airbnb was a bit meh, the tram machines twice swallowed a load of coins without spitting out a ticket, and I was missing Sète, the beach, the market, the smell of the sea, the screams of the swifts that danced around my apartment, and all that glorious seafood. But the minute I wandered into the garden and strolled beneath a tree blooming with brilliant pink blossom, pausing to listen to the cicadas screeching their deafening midday song, I returned to the present, refocused my attention on my current adventure, and a slow smile of contentment crept across my face.

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Dwejra Cliffs, Gozo at Sunset Cruise

Photo Essay: Sunset Cruise in Gozo

As my days in Gozo draw to an close, I’m filled with the bittersweet emotions that often accompany me on my nomad journey. Sadness at leaving a place I’ve grown to love, mixed with excitement for the new adventures ahead.

I’ve been in Gozo for three months, the second longest I’ve lived anywhere since I dived into this lifestyle in January 2015. Despite the fact that my accommodation caused me more stress and anxiety in the first two months than pretty much any other place I’ve stayed (though my house in the mafia district of Catania, Sicily, came close), there are many things I’m going to miss about this charming little island.

Top of my list is the deliciously warm, sparkling Mediterranean Sea, always in sight on an island this size, along with my daily dip in picturesque Xlendi Bay. Then there’s the magnificent, rugged coastline dotted with caves and gorges, and the warm, friendly Gozitan people. So it seems fitting that the last photo essay I’ll post from Gozo celebrates all three things.

This mini photo essay comes from a sunset cruise I took around the coast of Gozo with Adrian Borg, his fabulous boat, Vitamin Sea, and a group of friends, a mixture of locals and other travellers. 

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St Hilarion Castle, North Cyprus

Photo Essay: St Hilarion Castle, Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle sits atop a rocky crag in the Kyrenia Mountains in Northern Cyprus. As you approach this magnificent landmark, it’s difficult to pick out the crumbling buildings from the craggy landscape. Look up from the foot of the castle, however, and you’ll see the mighty stone walls and half-ruined buildings with their elegant turrets, tumbledown towers and graceful arching windows. It’s said this crusader castle was the inspiration behind the fairytale castle in Walt Disney’s Snow White. Whether this is true or not, it’s the sort of castle I used to dream of as a kid, and I couldn’t wait to climb to its lofty summit and drink in those glorious views.

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Tomb 8, Tomb of the Kings, Paphos

Photo Essay: Tombs of the Kings, Paphos

Birthplace of Aphrodite, UNESCO World Heritage Site… The pretty port town of Paphos in Cyprus has many accolades to its name. In 2017, it adds one more: European Capital of Culture.

I lived in Paphos for a few weeks last November and December. Despite the fact that the entire old town was a ginormous building site in preparation for its European Capital of Culture status, I loved my time there. I mean, my Masters degree is in Greek archaeology, so give me a pile of old ruins to scramble around and I’m happy!

One of my favourite places in Paphos is the Tombs of the Kings, just north of Kato Paphos. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, these monumental underground tombs date back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and they’re carved out of solid rock. I went twice. Once with a friend, but I had to go back on my own to satisfy my inner Lara Craft and really spend time getting to know the site. I visited in the early afternoon, when the sun turned the tombs the colour of fresh honeycomb. Eventually, I’ll write a longer post about my time in Cyprus. Until then, here are a few of my favourite pictures from that trip for this week’s mini photo essay.

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Sunset at Xlendi Cliffs

Photo Essay: Xlendi Cliffs

Gozo was barely on my radar a few months ago. Now it’s my home for spring 2017, and the little fishing village of Xlendi already occupies a special place in my heart. Especially the wild, rugged Xlendi cliffs, which I refer to on Instagram as ‘my current happy place’.

The gorgeous fishing village of Xlendi, Gozo
The beautiful Xlendi Bay, Gozo

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