Beach hopping.

Back in Australia, I’m not much of a beach goer. Not that we don’t have stunning beaches back home. Let’s face it, they’re some of the best in the world. But it’s the sun! It’s bloody hot! And even though I have 50% Italian skin, after about an hour of it, I feel uncomfortable and start to burn. But today, after beach hopping along the west coast of the Salento peninsula, and spending loads of time in the sun and in the clear salty sea, my skin still loves me! There’s not that stinging burn of the Australian sun. And the water was warm, and the colour of fresh green grapes.salento map

The roads that lead to the peninsula are dry and barren, with cacti, gum trees and dry burnt-out fields; desolate concrete compounds surrounded by high walls; and rubbish oozing from trash cans. So much for the “Rispetta il tuo ambiente” signs everywhere! BUT, the beaches were gorgeous.

You could see we were foreigners from a mile off. Cam and the girls in rashies. The only ones anywhere. Me in a one piece swimsuit. The only one anywhere. The three of them looked like they were diving in fully clothed, and I looked like I was on my way to a gymnastics comp. Everyone, old or young lets it all hang out in a bikini or speedos. Not that there is much to hang out. Even the older ladies look after themselves, and like I say, there must be something in the olive oil, because after lives of smoking, drinking and sunbaking, they all still look fabulous!

First stop was Porto Cesareo, where groups of these oldies sat in the sun, butting out their cigarettes in the sand, and discussing who ate what for lunch, and who will eat what for dinner…

…some photos (and a bit of off-roading in the hire-car, which can magically drive anywhere) at Torre Squillace…

…then to Lido del’Ancora, where I wanted to dive into the water over and over again. I never go in the water at home!…

…a hike through pine trees to the secret pebble beach in the National Park of Porto Selvaggio, where the sea tastes extra salty, and cold spring water shoots up into the warm from fissures in the rocks under your feet. You can see the swirl where the warm and cold water meet. A really beautiful, wild spot…

…and dinner at Gallipoli, which reminded me so much of beach towns in Southern Spain or the Greek Islands, with loads of seafood restaurants. We ate mussels, ravioli with artichokes and prawns and grilled cuttlefish. All delicious. Suddenly, I’m a beach fan!

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