italy / day three / taormina

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Ate a balanced breakfast of goji berries and orange jam crostata, then jumped on a bus to Casteloma, a smaller village, higher up the mountain. The bus took about twenty minutes, skilfully manoeuvring the bendy roads. The road came to a dead end in a square, where the bus dropped us off and turned around to make his next leg. It was much quieter once we reached the top. There weren’t as many tourists, and besides a couple motor cycles, there weren’t many vehicles either. The pathways between the old buildings were narrow and the majority of Casteloma seemed to be inside, asleep. This was perfect because we were able to pleasantly explore at our own pace.

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After following some signs to the outskirts of the town, we decided to walk down to Madonna De Rocca, instead of catching the bus. We started on an overgrown path that soon dissolved into suburbia. At first it didn’t seem very far, but we were soon mistaken, and ultimately, very confused about how on earth we were to get there. The homes were scattered all over the hillside and there was no clear path.

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view of Madonna de Rocca (on lower hill to the left)

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crazy trail down the mountain from Casteloma into Taormina
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Casteloma, high up in the mountains

Sweaty and exhausted from climbing stairs and walking on deserted trails, we stopped for a breather and an aperol spritz at a cafe nearby. Once rehydrated we continued a little further on from Madonna de Rocca to a castle that we had seen when we were back in Casteloma. Once at the top, we came to a locked gate (my favourite!), which was soon conquered by the great Pop, Jordan and Lily.

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Once sneaking inside the gates to some of the most spectacular views you have ever seen, we were getting a little peckish for something a little more hardy.  We walked down another ten thousand flight of stairs to the main street of Taormina. We ended up getting a couple pizzas to share at ‘Porta Messina’, after being rudely turned away from ‘Bellini’, for sitting down at a table and asking to share (this was for lunch at a simple cafe, completely empty). We filled our bellies and took a trip to the botanical gardens.

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After all the days we spent admiring the blue waters from above, we took a cable car down to beaches below. The sand was made up of shells and rocks, where Jordan and Pop skipped a couple stones. The place was crazy deserted, but I could see just how busy it would be in summer. After a little scouting and climbing, the sun started to disappear and we headed back up for a nice, last dinner in Taormina.

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honeymoon day two

Good morning husband, good morning fluffy blankets, good morning stars, good mo… 5.20am! I better get in the shower!

As you can imagine, in a lulled state, we just made the plane to our honeymoon. Five minutes later and they wouldn’t have checked us in. You’d think from both of us catching a multitude of planes over the years, we’d have learnt. Obviously, not the case.

We went via Sydney with a couple hours stop over for eating, drinking, and more eating, then made our way to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu.

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The airport was mind blowing. Never in my life had I been to an airport like this. As you can see, airport security was fairly relaxed and paid no notice to us photographing and posing on the tarmac. Inside the terminal, the line moved steadily through the custom security staff stamping passports. A glistening formed on peoples foreheads and upper lips as we waited patiently in line, to once again form another line. Oh it wasn’t that bad! But it was hot and cramped.

Once through customs and security, we made our way to Adventures in Paradise desk, whom then transferred us via shuttle to the Havannah Resort. On the thirty minute drive to the resort, William, the driver, did not stop talking the entire way. He knew all kinds of fun facts about Vanuatu and the island we were staying on, Efate. He pointed out every village, tourist spot, sign post and rock (haha). No, but honestly! He made us feel really welcomed and it was great being able to see some of the island and learn more about their culture.

As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by some of the lovely ladies who worked at the resort. They took our bags and walked us to the reception area / The Point restaurant, passing the most lovely trimmed gardens, colourful, vibrant flowers and luscious green shrubbery and trees. Once at the Restaurant, we were handed coconuts, a couch and a gorgeous view.

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After a couple signed documents and two full bellies full of coconut water, they escorted us to our Villa. She took us up the normal path, then veered off down some stepping stones, which lead to our front door for the next five days. Now this was absolutely incredible. Inside was bohemian, yet modern, with lovely timber furnishings and shutters on all the windows. At one end of the villa was the bathroom amenities with an open shower and skylight, and at the other, two giant doors that opened up onto our very own deck, plunge pool, hanging day bed and a view of the beach and vivid turquoise waters. This was literally paradise.

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Once settled into the Villa, it was getting late and our tummies were grumbling. We walked the fifty meters down the pristine footpaths to The Point restaurant with our complimentary cocktails for two voucher (newlywed benefits, hells yeah!) and relaxed for the rest of the night.