Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Meet the Ventura

If you are searching for cruise holidays, you have probably come across P&O Cruises more than once. And there is good reason too. With one of the cruise industry's largest fleets, P&O travels far and wide and even undertakes such specialist cruise holidays as round-the-world itineraries, so you can be sure of a pretty special cruise holiday experience.

Let's take a closer look at one of P&O's largest signature ships - the Ventura.

One of the finest ships in the fleet, the Ventura serves up a sizzling experience with stacks of different amenities. Traditionally, cruising was never much of a family holiday. But today, ships like the Ventura have turned that notion on its head. Featuring various child-friendly facilities like play areas, kids' clubs, discos, a Rock School and even circus skills lessons, the little ones will have just as much fun as the adults onboard the Ventura.

For the grown-ups, the fun never stops. From theatre productions and cabaret acts to comedy clubs and dancing shows, not to mention cinema screenings and live music, there is always something to see and do. You will also find a whole suite of different bars and lounges, such as the Metropolis Bar with its stunning panoramic ocean views, offering a laid-back environment that is the perfect place for a relaxing sundowner before dinner.

On the subject of dinner, this is an experience in itself. The Ventura currently has eleven different restaurants, serving up delicious cuisine ranging from Marco Pierre White's restaurant and laid-back food courts, to restaurants serving Asian or Italian cuisine, there is something to tempt every palate.

Discover the world with the Ventura and you will be well on your way to experiencing the holiday of a lifetime...

Find out more about P&O Ventura through Cruise Thomas Cook. Search across all itineraries, discover what it is like onboard and book your choice of itinerary and cabin on-line through one of the UK's favourite travel agents.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Welcoming committee at the top of Montaž

For more information about climbing Jôf di Montasio/Montaž and some more gorgeous photos, you can check out my previous post.

Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Alpine ibexes of Jôf di Montasio

This time of year is great for hiking and mountain climbing here in the Alps. It takes quite some time for the snow to melt on higher peaks, which makes late summer days perfect for mountaineering. In this period sun is not so strong any more and weather is usually quite predictable.

Unfortunately in the past years I have been neglecting this very popular outdoor activity, but lately I have made it to the top of some quite impressive mountains in and near Slovenia. This time we hopped just across the border into Italy...

The first mountaineering challenge after a long while was Jôf di Montasio (Špik nad Policami or Montaž in Slovene), just across the Italian border. With 2,752 metres (9,029 ft) it is the second highest peak of the Julian Alps, surpassed only by Mount Triglav (the highest Slovenian mountain).
This is a guarantee for a nice view at the top. Although on the day of our visit visibility was not perfect, we were not complaining.

The definite highlight of this climb were numerous Alpine ibexes (Capra ibex) we saw on the way. They seemed quite used to mountaineers and let us get as close as a few metres. Females seemed to be the most curious.

If those ibexes alone are not a good enough reason for a visit, there are also other treats waiting for an unsuspecting visitor. Pastures below the mountain are full of Alpine Marmots (Marmota marmota). They were still asleep during our climb, but greeted us with loud whistles on the way down. Unfortunately they are quite a bit shyer compared to those ibexes.
In fact there are so many holes dug by these cute creatures all over the place that a careful step is highly recommended.

Near the starting point of the hike (Pecol) there is also a cottage where one can refresh after returning from the top. Amongst other things they offer a wast selection of dairy products. Most of the cheeses sold in the shop are made right there, but they also offer a variety of products from other nearby producers. Go check it out - they will be happy to give you a taste before you buy anything.

Despite everything I mentioned above, climbing Montaž is not for everyone. There is an impressive via ferrata waiting in the steep side of the mountain, the highlight of which is a 60 metres high Pipan's ladder. If you do not deal with heights all that well, this might not be a perfect choice for you.

Although I did not feel a need for using a harness it can come in handy - some of the sections are quite drafty. However, due to falling rocks, use of a helmet is a must. The rocks are very friable and since the side of the mountain is practically vertical in some sections, it is very easy to send an unintentional surprise towards the bottom. Even if there are no climbers above you, there are many ibexes that can also send an avalanche of rocks your way.

From a parking lot to the top there is about 3 hours of a relatively slow climb. The first half of it is a hike up to the base of the mountain side (a section of pastures is followed by a large scree). The second half is climbing the via ferrata section and then a short walk across the ridge to the metal cross set on the top of Jôf di Montasio.

If you enjoyed the photo material in this post, you should probably also check out another photos-only post from the top of Montaž.

Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.

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