A feast of travel in Europe

I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since I posted. I’ve been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday starting with a couple of days in Rome, then cruising the Med with five amazing stops and finishing in Istanbul where I spent four fascinating days. My head is full of history, memories of the most beautiful of scenery and architecture and of course the flavours of many meals eaten in Italy, Greece and Turkey.

I travelled with my brother and his two children aged 11 and 12. Our odyssey started in Rome.

Going to Rome is like stepping into the world’s biggest al fresco museum. The city is bursting with history with a story around every corner. And the food is simply amazing, including the first of many Caprese salads!

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Loved travelling around Italy sampling Caprese

My favourite thing about my first cruise was waking up every morning to somewhere new and beautiful. You just didn’t know what you’d see when you drew back those curtains.

First stop: Sorrento. Beautiful hill-top town painted in Mediterranean colours with fabulous winding streets where we shopped extensively and ate and drank. Simply the best pizza and Caprese salad twice – once in a magical lemon-grove of a restaurant.

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The pizza in Sorrento was the best ever

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Day two’s Caprese, possibly the best one yet

Next morning it was Taormina in Sicily, perched high up on the cliff with truly spectacular views. The town has an enchanted feeling and amazing views with Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, to one side an ancient Greek theatre and azure blue seas. Plus the best veal dish ever and a contender for best dish of the holiday!

The view from our restaurant

The view from our restaurant

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Veal rolls, possibly the best dish of the holiday

And on to Greece. Mykonos is a labyrinth of blue and white…designed specially so invaders and pirates would get lost meandering through the streets. Of course this means that everyone gets lost, including us. Mykonos is where you go to party with lovely beaches and hectic nightlife…I’ll be back.

Beautiful Little Venice in Mykonos

Beautiful Little Venice in Mykonos

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A selection of Greek delights

Good morning Santorini! Honestly, I woke up this morning, opened my curtains and couldn’t believe the sight. Huddling on a cliff top and only accessible (from our side) by cable car, walking or donkey. A truly unique experience and not ideal for the vertiginously challenged (me!). We got the cable car up and walked down a steep zig zag of steps, dodging frisky, disorderly donkeys all the way.

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Beautiful Santorini, you can see the zig zag path we walked down

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Greek yogurt and beer on high with our ship in the distance

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Our favourite lamb dish of the trip

Kusadasi is a holiday town in Turkey. While the beaches are nice enough, the real attraction was the ancient city of Ephesus about half an hour’s drive away. It’s nearly 4,000 years old and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the 1st century BC it had a population of 250,000, making it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world – and amazingly they had plumbing, heating, running water and toilets. The streets are paved with marble and you can see the remains of the theatre, library, even the equivalent of the Houses of Parliament. A real revelation.

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The remains of the library at Ephesus

Last stop Istanbul where we disembarked from our stunning, luxurious cruise liner, the Crystal Symphony. All a bit of a shock after being treated like kings for nine days, suddenly we had to fend for ourselves. Of course we managed

Istanbul is a fascinating city bursting with stories going back so far in time. I’m still digesting it all. Amazingly it is situated on two continents, one half in Europe and the other in Asia with the Bosphorus in between. And it’s huge with a population of around 14 million. We hired a fabulous guide who bombarded us with information!

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An amazing array of starters to choose from

Street food is big in Istanbul with donner kebab stands everywhere. We watched the chicken man loading his up every morning with literally hundreds of deboned, marinated chickens! They tasted amazing too, the best wraps ever.

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Every morning we watched this man load hundreds of deboned chickens onto his kebab

We discovered an amazing Turkish Delight and baklava shop where we popped in for pudding one day. Super-sweet and sticky!

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Four different kinds of baklava

What can I say! A real whirlwind of a holiday with so many new experiences and food delights. Like trying ouzo for the first time – and really loving it; dodging donkeys; bargaining in the Grand Bazaar and getting everything for less than half the original price; tasting tomatoes (my favourite) throughout the continent…I could go on and on.

Hope you enjoy reading about it all. Would love to hear from anyone who’s been to any of these amazing places and what your experiences were, so do get in touch.

And keep reading for more great recipes. I’m bursting with ideas after such an inspiring trip.

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