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Discover the wonders of World Heritage in Paphos

Cyprus has both beautiful scenery and a fascinating history. The island is full of picturesque villages, vineyards and beach resorts. If you’re looking to visit some exciting historical attractions and relax on a sandy beach, Paphos is the perfect location. With year-round sunshine and warm seawater, this area is a popular destination for tourists. The region’s natural attractions are particularly stunning with Paphos Forest, the Akamas Peninsula and the Troodos Mountains all waiting to be explored.

Moorish Fort, Paphos

Paphos is known for its top-class resorts and excellent holiday facilities. The Athena Beach Hotel is a prime example, combining a fantastic beachfront location and sea-views with modern facilities and high-quality service. This hotel is situated in a convenient location close to the main tourist area of Paphos and is just 50 metres away from a selection of bars and restaurants.

If you’re looking for a good-priced deal, the hotel offers all-inclusive packages where food, drink and accommodation are covered in the price of your stay. Book through Jet2Holidays and you could save some money as they offer great prices on package deals. Cyprus is a wonderful place to stay this summer with its sunny weather and well-priced resorts. 

What makes Paphos unique is its incredible world-famous archaeological sites like the Greco-Roman mosaics and medieval castle. The entire area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2017 – so visit this summer before the crowds start arriving! During your holiday, make sure you check out the Tomb of the Kings, a impressive collection of rock tombs dating from the ancient Hellenistic and Roman period. These tombs belonged to noblemen and are considered to be historically important because of their unusual design. The Archaeological Museum is another popular attraction that will shed some light on the area’s rich history.

A visit to Cyprus can take you from the island’s historic crumbling fortresses and stunning Roman remnants to its modern, chic holiday facilities meaning you can get the best of both worlds! Once you have exhausted the historical sites and the sandy beaches, why not indulge in a hot-stone massage at one of Paphos’ popular spas. The Opium Health Spa is a particularly luxurious place to visit if you really need some pampering. No matter how low or high your budget is, Cyprus is the perfect place to escape to this summer.

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Beach Dreaming and a Giveaway

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. – Jacques Cousteau

I love the beach. I love the sea, I love looking at it, being near it, and being in it. I love the sounds of the waves, whether they’re lapping gently or crashing to the shore.

Sunrise at Boston Beach, Jamaica
Sunrise at Boston Beach

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. — Isak Dinesen

I didn’t realize how important being near water was to me until some years ago. I was restless and out of sorts. Nothing I tried brought me back to myself. Then my best friend reminded me that we hadn’t gone to the beach at all that summer. It was November and cold so I bundled up, hopped on the train and took myself to Coney Island.

Morning at Boston Beach, Jamaica
Morning at Boston Beach

I still remember crossing the boardwalk, stepping onto the sand and hearing the roar of the sea. It stirred something so deep inside, I began to sob, then weep uncontrollably. A light rain had started to fall but I didn’t care. I found a huge rock near the water’s edge and sat for hours watching the waves grow larger and larger as the approached the shore, then become smaller and smaller as they receded. By the time I left, I felt at peace. I felt whole again. Since then, I never go for more than a few weeks without going to the beach. Being able to see the sea or having access to it is as important to me as how many bedrooms I have.

Boats at Negril Jamaica
Negril boats

It’s been more than a month since I’ve been to the beach and I’m getting antsy. A fractured ankle has kept me away from home and my daily view of the sea from my back porch. Now my thoughts are filled with images of beaches I’ve been and ones I’m yet to explore.

Dump Up Beach, Mobay
Mobay Beach

I can’t wait to rid my ankle of its bandages, sink my toes into the warm sand and dip them into the cool water.

The sea is flat as glass
On Jamaica’s north coast

The day I took this photo, the sea was so choppy along the coast, Falmouth-bound ships were redirected to Montego Bay. I was surprised to see how flat it was here, as flat as glass.

 If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach, you’re lucky enough. Unknown

Treasure Beach view, Jamaica
Treasure Beach
Playing football near the sea, Hector's River, Jamaica
Football near the sea
Fishermen going out to sea, Little Ochie Jamaica
Sunset boats

As much as I love the sea, I doubt I’d want to be a fisherman.

Boats waiting for the sun to set, Negril Jamaica
Waiting for the sun to set

This is the life!

Sun setting on another day at Rick's Cafe Negril Jamaica
Sunset at Rick’s Cafe

Some people can’t live without the mountains, I can’t live without the sea.

Mountain or sea, which are you?


This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

For even more travel photos, please check out Becca’s Friday Daydreaming series at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there! 

Summer Beach Bag Giveaway –

In celebration of summer and the beach, I’m giving away a beach bag to one lucky winner. Enter by June 8th by leaving a comment, tweeting about the giveaway #beachbaggiveaway or liking us on Facebook. It’s that easy. Unfortunately, the giveaway is open only to addresses in the United States. Good luck! 



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Ahhh….Ras Natango: When Life Gives You Rocks

“When life gives you rocks,” Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden‘s Tamika Williams said, “you make a rock garden!” That’s exactly what Tamika and her husband Ian Williams did with the half acre property they bought 25 years ago. Now, it’s a beautiful garden and gallery, a prominent eco-tourism spot in the small community of Camrose, near Montego Bay, and a fine example of “community tourism” at work.

The idea behind community tourism, which was pioneered in 1978 by local tourism consultant, Diana McIntyre-Pike and Desmond Henry, a former director of tourism, is to use tourism to promote sustainable development in rural areas by bringing visitors to communities where they wouldn’t normally go so that they’d explore and enjoy local resources and talent and meet Jamaicans where they live.

I visited Ahhh….Ras Natango Gallery and Garden earlier this year and heard from Ian and Tamika how they had transformed their piece of rock into their own idea of paradise on earth and got the community of Camrose involved by employing young people, working with the local schools by teaching students art, crafts, how to tend a garden and the benefits of composting. Their story is one of courage and determination, despite the odds, to breathe life into a vision.

I wrote about the couple and their garden yesterday but I wanted to share some of the flowers and other items I saw for today’s Travel Photo Thursday. Enjoy!

“Who takes a hillside and turns it into this?” Tamika Williams

Garden path leading to the gallery
Terraced walkway at Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden

When I asked Tamika what the garden had taught her, she responded without hesitation that it had shown her how to be patient and gentle, and to appreciate everyone. “You can’t appreciate the rose,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, “without accepting the thorns.”

Red multi-bloom roses at Ahh....Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Roses are red
Orchid at Ahhh....Ras Natango Garden
Phalaenopsis Orchid
Flowers on the steps at Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Flowers on the stairs
Queen Achmea Bromeliad at Ahhh...Ras Natango
Queen Achmea Bromeliad
Garden lizard at Ahhh....Ras Natango Garden
Tree stump fairy villa at Ahhh....Ras Natango Garden
Fairy villa

Rock painting of three of the eighteen endemic species that can be seen at Ahhh…Ras Natango Garden and Gallery. Twenty-four species are endemic to Jamaica.

Jamaican Mango bird painting Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
Jamaican Mango
Jamaican Woodpecker rock painting at Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
Jamaican Woodpecker
Rock painting of the Jamaican Orange Quit bird at Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery
Orange Quit
Rock painting of a shark's head at Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
Caught between a rock
Rock painting of a lion's head at Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden
A Gentle Lion

Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden is located in Camrose, St. James, about 20 minutes from Montego Bay. Entrance $30. A free shuttle service is available from town. Hours – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays; on weekends by appointment only. 876-578-2582.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.



Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden, an Eco-Tourism Destination

When Ahhh….Ras Natango Gallery and Garden’s Ian Williams, aka Ras Natango, first saw the property that would eventually bear his name, he was looking for a place where he and his wife, Tamika, transplants from Kingston, could put down roots and raise their young son. After a bit of negotiating, he bought it on spot, telling Tamika about it only when he returned home. If he expected high fives, he was wrong. She needed more than a little convincing.

View from Ahhh...Ras Natango
View of Montego Bay

You see, the property he bought is tucked into the side of a hill, about 2,000 feet above sea level, with rocks everywhere, some the size of boulders. And it presented its own problems — like how to build on rock and, equally as important for Tamika, then a teacher and an avid gardener, where to put her garden. But Ian, the artist, had a vision and eventually, he won her over.

Part of the rock garden at Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
View of the rock garden

They began slowly building their home, which clings like tentacles to the hillside, starting from the top and adding space below, as needed and funds allowed. When one of the guests at the hotel Ian worked asked to see where he found his inspiration, he realized he needed a studio, and Ras Natango Gallery was born.

Making the Rock Garden

Ian and Tamika continued working and sculpting the land for their use. To create the garden, they terraced and backfilled the hillside with compost, and planted flowers that would thrive in shallow beds.

Rock painted lion at Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Rock painted lion Ahhh…Ras Natango

Soon lantana, bougainvillea, gladioli, heliconia, hibiscus, zinnia, nasturtium, convolvulus, torch ginger, ginger lily, beehive ginger, cosmos, sunflower, amaryllis, lantana, bromeliads, and several other varieties bloomed. They added fruit trees (mango, guava, cherry, naseberry), and planted herbs and vegetables as well.

Continue reading “Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden, an Eco-Tourism Destination”

A Walking Tour of Falmouth Jamaica, Part II

The quiet charm of Falmouth Jamaica lies in its commercial buildings as well as its residences. Modest or grand, they offer a glimpse into a bygone period, a time when sugar was king.

In first part of the tour, we looked at some of Falmouth’s commercial buildings. For the second part, we’ll view some of the private homes that are located on Trelawny and King Streets. Both parts of the tour can be done together and will take about 2-3 hours to complete.

To start this tour, turn right after leaving the pier and follow Trelawny Street. When you cross Market Street (the Baptist Manse is at the corner of Trelawny and Market), we’ll arrive at our first stop on Trelawny Street.

Several of the homes we’ll see were owned by free people of color. During the 18th century, Jamaica had a sizable population of free people of color, who generally lived in the urban areas. Though the majority was poor, a good number accumulated considerable wealth.

Trelawny Street

The Love House, Trelawny Street
Built by a mason, Isaac Love

Just behind the Baptist Manse is this well preserved home that once belonged to and is believed to have been built by Isaac Love, a mulatto mason. Love purchased the lot in 1781 from Edward Barrett.

Trelawny Street, Falmouth
Trelawny Street, Falmouth

Located next door to the Love House, this property is now being used by the Department of Corrections. I don’t know its background but judging from its design – 2 stories, brick, quoins, the archway, the verandah with fretwork – I’m guessing it could have been built in the 19th century.

Two story house with porches at 2 Trelawny Street
2 Trelawny Street House

Across the street from the Love House is this two story brick house. Construction date unknown.

Elizabeth Somerville House

Historic house, Falmouth
Elizabeth Sommerville House, 8 Trelawny Street

Cross King Street and you’ll arrive at 8 Trelawny Street. The storyboard outside the house describes Elizabeth Somerville, its original owner, as a free woman of color. She was one of the first women of color to buy property in Falmouth after Emancipation in 1834. The house, constructed of wood, is typical of the houses that were built by free people of color around Falmouth. It had two rooms of similar size that were separated by a partition wall. The front room was probably used as a sitting and bed room, the back a waiting and sitting room. Since the house was made of board, cooking would probably have been done outside or in a separate structure away from the house.

King Street

Small board house, Falmouth
Small Board House, Falmouth

Go north on to King Street to see this sweet little house. Another typical Falmouth house, it has been renovated. The outside has been coated with sand, to protect it from fire.

Wooden house, Falmouth
Brick & Board House, Falmouth
Wooden house with wrap-around porch
9 King Street

9 King Street was originally owned by Richard Barrett Waite, who was probably related to the Barrett family. It was likely built in the 1800s. It has a hip roof, tray ceiling and partial wrap-around verandah.

Davidson House

Two story wooden house near Falmouth Pier
Davidson House

North on King Street, near the edge of the pier, is the Davidson House, which was owned by Mary Gairdner, a free woman of color. Gairdner was an extensive landowner in Falmouth. By her 1837 will, Gairdner deeded her “Creole” house to her son, Thomas Davidson, and provided that each of her four children were to remain in the houses in which they were living at the time of her death. The Davidson House is now privately owned.

Davidson House, Falmouth
View of Falmouth Pier from the Davidson House

At this point, we can retrace our steps to the pier. I’ll be bringing you more of Falmouth in other posts.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

A Walking Tour of Falmouth Jamaica, Part I

Falmouth Jamaica is one of the best towns on the island to do a walking tour. It’s compact, well laid out (on a grid), and pedestrian-friendly – no cars are allowed in the center of town. Most importantly, the Georgian buildings for which Falmouth is well-known are almost all storyboarded and within a few minutes of the pier and the center of town.

A Little Intro to Falmouth

Falmouth, the capital of Trelawny, was established after the original capital, which was located near the Martha Brae River, became unsuitable for many reasons, including the fact that at 50 acres, it was just too small. So the town council appointed a commission, chaired by Edward Moulton Barrett, to identify a site for the new capital.

Taken from the Church Tower, Duperly
Falmouth Taken From the Church Tower, Adolphe Duperly, 1840

Moulton Barrett, great grandfather of the English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was a wealthy plantation owner whose holdings totaled more than 80,000 acres between what is now St. James (a neighboring parish) and Trelawny. Interestingly, the commission agreed to place the new capital on land that belonged to the Barrett family. Moulton Barrett wanted it to be called Barrett Town, but the residents preferred Falmouth, after the birthplace of Governor Trelawney*, then the governor of the parish. Falmouth, the new capital, was established by Thomas Reid in 1769.

The establishment of the new capital came at a time when Jamaica was the largest producer of sugar and rum, and Trelawny, which had as many as 100 sugar estates, the most in Jamaica, had at least 40 factories. All this made Falmouth a wealthy town, with one of the busiest ports on the island.

The wealth that sugar generated transformed the town and its residents. It translated into the construction of fine commercial and public buildings along Market Street, the main thoroughfare, and residences large and small. Falmouth’s population at the time was made up of not only whites, but also free blacks and coloreds many of whom, according to property records, bought land from Moulton Barrett and owned their own homes.

Market Street, Falmouth from A. Duperly, 1840s
Adolphe Duperly’s Market Street

Falmouth’s fortunes rose and fell on sugar and its harbor.  With the emancipation of slavery, production fell and the once busy harbor was found to be too shallow to accommodate steamboats that began arriving in Jamaica around the 1830.

Many of the buildings and homes that were built then remain, some in good condition, others needing repair. It is in recognition of this rich architectural and archeological legacy that a section of the town was declared a National Monument on September 5, 1966 by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

How to Recognize Falmouth’s Georgian Buildings

Georgian architecture, named for King Georges (I, II, III and IV who reigned from 1714-1830), was the architectural style that was popular in England between 1720 and 1840. It has three basic distinguishing features: simple form, symmetry and detailing.

The style became fashionable in Jamaica from approximately 1750-1850 with modifications to fit the climatic conditions on the island. Hip roofs (with sloping sides and ends), fretwork, and sash and louvred windows helped air circulation in the harsh tropical climate. Other features include quoins (corner building blocks, usually larger and more prominent than the surrounding blocks), and columns. Commercial and residential buildings designed following the Jamaican Georgian vernacular began appearing in Falmouth around 1780.

This walking tour will show you some of the finest examples of Georgian and historical architecture that Falmouth has to offer. It can be done in two parts, each taking about 2 hours. The first part will look at the commercial buildings that are within a 2 block radius of the pier. The second part, which I’ll post tomorrow, will look at some of the private residences.

Albert George Market

Clock Tower at Albert George Market, Falmouth Jamaica
Clock tower

As you exit the pier, you’ll see this clock tower and a portion of the Albert George Market, a prominent landmark, that was built in 1894.  The market was named for Queen Victoria’s grandsons, Albert (Duke of Clarence), and George (King George V) and was the largest on the island at the time. The quoins, a feature of Georgian architecture can be seen to the sides of the arched entrance.

Falmouth Courthouse

Falmouth Courthouse, Jamaica

You won’t miss this imposing structure, which is directly to your right as you exit the pier. It’s the Falmouth Courthouse. Erected in 1815, it was one of the first official buildings in town. Of Georgian design, it was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in 1926.

Cases are tried on the upper level of the two-story structure. If you decide to take a peek upstairs when court is in session, remember to be quiet. You’ll also notice that everyone’s smartly dressed. They have to be, if they’re going to appear in court.

The lower level functions as a town hall and the mayor’s office. Use the courthouse as your landmark as you stroll around the town. The entrance faces north.

Baptist Manse

Falmouth Baptist Manse
Baptist Manse

Continuing west past the courthouse, you’ll arrive at the Baptist Manse on the corner of Market and Trelawny Streets. This striking Georgian building was constructed in 1798 for the Athol Union Masonic Lodge of the Scottish Constitution. It was the first Masonic temple built in Jamaica. Unfortunately, the temple was sold in 1834, to the Baptist Missionary to pay off debts that were incurred during its construction.

It is thought that the manse was home to Baptist Missionary and Abolitionist, William Knibb (1803-45) and his family in the 1830s. The manse housed the William Knibb High School from 1951-75, and was home to the Falmouth Heritage Renewal, an organization that restores historic buildings in Falmouth.

Barrett House (Ruins)

Ruins of Barrett House, Falmouth
Barrett House

Cross Trelawny Street, walk about a block and you’ll see the remains of the Barrett House (located almost across from the Bank of Nova Scotia Building). A merchant house, it’s believed to have been built around 1798 for a member of the family. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by hurricane in 1988 but the ruins leave no doubt about its former grandeur.

The Vermont House aka The Old Post Office

The Old Post Office, Falmouth Jamaica
The Old Post Office

After checking out the Barrett House, double back on Market Street and continue walking south pass the Baptist Manse to the Vermont Building at Cornwall Street. Constructed sometime after 1832, for Thomas Vermont, this two story brick house cum store displays striking detailing, beautiful arches and quoins. The windows on the front and side provided good ventilation for the living quarters upstairs and the store below.

Following Vermont’s death, the house passed to a Mrs. Mary Atkinson and her daughter who had acted as caretakers of the house when Vermont was away. The Vermont House was once home to the Falmouth Post Office  and a sauce company.

Water Square

Turn right on Cornwall (or Duke) Street, walk about a block and you will be in Water Square and the market, the commercial center of town. Water Square was critical to the development of the town as its reservoir, which was built in 1798, provided piped water to Falmouth residents from the nearby Martha Brae River and gave the town the distinction of having piped water before New York City.

Phoenix Foundry aka the Dome

The Phoenix Foundry aka The Dome, Falmouth
Phoenix Foundry

Leaving Water Square and the Market, take Harbor Lane to Tharp Street. There you’ll see the Phoenix Foundry, also called the Dome. Constructed in 1810, the Dome is one of the oldest industrial complexes in the island that still exists. It was used to repair ships that were docked in Falmouth Harbor as well as sugar manufacturing equipment. Excavations at the foundry have turned up iron, copper, and lead. Its dome shape as well as ceramic and glass artifacts that were also found there, suggest that the kiln was used to make glass and ceramics.

Tharp House

Tharp House, Falmouth
Tharp House, Falmouth

Go north on Tharp Street to Seaboard Street. As you near the pier, you’ll notice Tharp House which was built in 1790 by John Tharp, one of the wealthiest plantation owners in Trelawny, and the owner of Good Hope Plantation. Tharp House was his shipping office and residence. Rum and sugar were shipped from Tharp House and when Tharp went into slaves trading, slaves were received there. In recent years, Tharp House served as the office of the tax collector of Falmouth.

You can also see Tharp House on your left as you exit the pier. Unfortunately, the building is in disrepair and is not accessible to the public. However, you can see architectural details here that are repeated at Good Hope, Tharp’s main home.


* Trelawney is the correct spelling of the governor’s name. Somehow the second ‘e’ got left out of the parish name and was never corrected.

A Jamaican Georgian Inspired Building

This building has captured my interest for about a year. At first, I thought it was a restored Georgian because it’s near Half Way Tree in Kingston where a few other Georgian buildings, like the St. Andrew Parish Courthouse, the St. Andrew Parish Church and the Oakton House are located.

I consulted friends and family in Kingston, heritage and restoration professionals and architects but months later, I was no further along than when I started. Finally, after posting it on Facebook, I got a nibble. A few people said it was in private ownership but nothing on the backstory. For example, was it a restored Georgian, like I thought. If it is, what was there before, are there photos, etc. I’m still curious about that and will update this post if I find out.

A Kingston office built in the Georgian style
A Jamaican Georgian Inspired Building

In the meantime, I decided that it has either borrowed from or retained certain elements that made me think Georgian. For example, the quoins (those are the white blocks at the corner of the building. Quoins are one of the main features of Georgian architecture. They’re usually larger and more prominent than the surrounding blocks.), brick construction, the columns, and what appears to be a modified hip roof, a roof with sloping sides and ends that’s distinctively Georgian.

Georgian architecture was popular in Jamaica between the 1750-1850. It was named for the architectural style that was all the rage in England during the reigns of King George (I, II, III and IV, 1714-1830) and features simplicity in form, symmetry and balance. The style was adopted by wealthy plantation owners for the homes and commercial buildings they built in Jamaica and the colonies, with modifications, such as louvres, verandahs, etc., to suit the local climate.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.