I have been to Stromboli a few times now but have never really explored it properly. On my last visit we had the chance to take a boat trip (complete with pirate flag flapping in the breeze) around the island - which I really would recommend! The trip cost around 20 euros each, and lasted around 2 - 3 hours. The boat stops at a few places around the island with time to get off and explore or jump in and swim. Just watch out for jellies!
Ginostra (pictured below) is a very small village which hugs the slopes of Stromboli. The main port of the island leads to San Bartolo and San Vincenzo, however, there is no way of getting to Ginostra by any other way than a smaller boat, hence the boat trip! Stepping off the boat at Ginostra onto a newly built (2004 ish) dock felt a little bit like stepping back in time by 50 years. On a 30 minute visit we managed to walk round every path, see the two or three restaurants, pop our heads into the small church, and go past the village shop. Ginostra had a slowness and peaceable nature about it, compared to the more vibrant other side of the island. Littering the slopes around this village were hordes of prickly pear plants, lemons, and olives, half finished buildings, empty buildings, and broken solar panels. A surreal visit but certainly worth the experience, Ginostra is a place I imagine would be good to recover from writers block (no distractions). A location to keep in mind for the future.
Another one of the stops was at the Sciara del Fuoco. Throughout the published literature and in many of the pictures that are taken, the Sciara is one of the most prominent (picture bottom left below), however, you really don't get to see the prominence of the scar to the island until you see it up close from the seaward side. From the summit all you can really see if the upper lip. I envisage that, when the volcano erupts, the view of incandescent rocks tumbling down the ashy slope is mesmerizing. The final stop Strombolicchio was a chance to get out and do some swimming around the old volcanic conduit, which with a pair of goggles on looking down the sides of Strombolicchio it seemed to stretch into the abyss.
Another fantastic thing about being on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean is the darkness! My first foray into night time photography was in the lake district, where I managed to catch a fuzzy view of the Northern Lights with an orange tinge. This time I have done a slightly better job.
All in all, Stromboli is one of my favourite places to go.
The dust (or I should probably say ash) has settled and I am now over a week on from passing my viva with the "most minor of minor corrections", a most relieving and pleasing result. The lead up to a PhD viva is a little bit surreal. After spending 3 years on research, going to conferences, writing papers, drinking way too much coffee (and accompanying biscuits), and finally spending 3 months writing up your work, it is a strange feeling knowing that your research is going to be critiqued and discussed in a matter of only a few hours. Of course, the examiners spend a long time looking through your work, but having 3 years of your work condensed into a 2 hour discussion barely scratches the surface! However, something I didn't realise until participating in my own viva is that it is not all about discussing every minutiae of your work. The examiners are looking for two main things when your are in your viva: (1) Did you do the work yourself? (2) Do you know what you are talking about (i.e. do you know the science behind your work)?
With this in mind how do you prepare for your viva? This is something that I asked quite a few people and I came to the conclusion that it can vary dependent on the subject area you are in and your potential external examiner. Personally all I did was re-read my thesis in the couple days before. Essentially, you should have absolutely nothing to worry about if your wrote your thesis yourself and did all the research. In my case I was relatively happy I met the criteria. Although, I am sure it is probably a good idea to re-read some key papers surrounding your thesis and certainly some of the papers of your external examiner.
Next step, getting an academic job which doesn't involved moving every 6 months!