& Mini Blogs
Let's look at the Balearics. Of the three main islands, Majorca is my favourite. I have been there many times, and could quite happily live in Palma. Some years ago I had the chance to visit Menorca too, as my niece was working as a seasonal rep in Cala Galdana. She drove my Mum and me all over, to Cuitadella the capital, and lots of lovely places. I think we must have gone all over the island! It is less commercialised that Majorca, and steeped in history. We visited a shop which was full of the Lladro porcelain..
I could have spent a fortune there.
Dawn also worked in Cala D'or in Majorca, and when I visited while she was there she would take us out and about in her car up to other resorts on the islands, Pollensa and the caves Drach which was fascinating, as well as into Palma. I love Palma - you can get a bus to virtually anywhere on the island from Palma and even a train up to Soller.
I haven’t been to Ibiza for many, many years, long before it became the clubbing hotspot, so think perhaps a return visit is in order at some point.
Palma is an ideal place for a winter weekend break, the temperatures do drop once the sun has gone down, but you only need a jacket to keep you warm. We went for Christmas one year and the weather was fab. Here are a few photos Mum and I took on our holidays in Menorca and Majorca.
I love Portugal – I have been a few times mainly to the Algarve, but I was lucky enough to win a place on a river cruise a few years ago which started in Porto in Northern Portugal. We had some spare time before joining our ship – The Spirit of Chartwell – so my colleague and I set off to explore the city. Did you know that JK Rowling spent some time in Porto and there is a bookshop there that inspired the Harry Potter books. It’s a very walkable city, but you can get the hopon/hopoff buses to get around. On joining our ship we set off along the Douro stopping off at various points along the route. It is a lovely way to travel, you can just sit and watch the world go by. Our trip included a visit to Guimares, The 18th century Casa do Mateus in Vila Real, and the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos remedios in Lamego (try to get dropped off at the top and walk down – easier than walking up). I still love the Algarve though and visited Lagos on a day trip around the area, but generally use public transport to get around.
I had always wanted to go to Japan, so wthen an offer came in from ANA with some great fares, I conned...er invited my niece to come with me, and off we went. Flight was great, and we arrived to a seemigly empty airport. An official arrived to escort us to the arrivals hall,and very soon we were on our way to Tokyo. After one wrong turn and getting a bit lost, with the kind help of a young english chap we soon found our hotel. We stayed at the Princess Garden hotel which is a short hop from Meguro metro station. So what did we see..?.
Well we walked our socks off, leaving the hotel at around 10am and arriving back around 10pm. The shopping malls are open late, so you can do your sightseeing during the day, and shop after an early dinner!!! Of course we went to the parks, Meiji shrine, the Imperial palace and temples, Kamakura (largest outside Buddha), Disneyland and we were going to go to see Mount Fuji, but stopped at Ueno Zoo and sort of got waylaid by watching the macaque monkeys - oh they were so naughty.
I had expected Tokyo to be expensive and yes, some of the restaurants can be, but there are so many to choose from, covering every type of food you could want. Most have english translations on the menus, or you can just point - they have some very plastic looking replicas of their meals either on display, or on their menu. All in all a great trip and I can highly recommend. Getting around is easy, you can get a day ticket on the metro, it cost us about £5 but that was some years ago so I imagine it'll be more now. and do you know we actually came home with money to spare.... Here are some photos of the places we saw.
Having been interested in Ancient History and Archaeology for a long time, Egypt was a natural holiday destination for me. I travelled with my friend Pat, and we had a whale of a time.
Starting in Cairo,with visits to the Cairo musuem and the pyramids at Giza, we then flew down to Aswan where we joined our boat. It was only a small vessel, but was perfectly suitable for our needs. After a very early start we left for Abu Simbel to see the temple of Rameses II so we could get there before it got too busy. On rejoining the boat we then cruised along the Nile up to Luxor, visiting Kom Ombo,and the temples at Edfu and Esna en route. From Luxor we visited the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple and Denderah. Our guides throughout were excellent. How they retained so much information I do not know. This was a great trip, and sunset on the NIle was amazing.
After our cruise along the Nile we spent a few days in Luxor before flying home. Here are just a few photos of some of the sites we visited.
Continuing on with my nostalgic look back at trips I have been on, let's have a look at India.
This didn't start well. We were unable to get on the flight from Gatwick to Delhi, so had to hightail it to Heathrow to get a flight to Bombay, and then get a connecting flight to Delhi from there. While frustrating, it did give us a opportunity to see Bombay. Once we got to Bombay we hired a trishaw(with driver) for the day and went off to see the city, until it was time for us to get to the airport.As we arrived late into Delhi, we didn't meet our guide until the next day.As there were only three of us we had our own driver, who accompanied us for the whole trip. After seeing the sights of Delhi, we then moved on to Agra, and the Taj Mahal. We were scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal at some point during the day, but we decided to get up early and get there at dawn, as we were told the light reflects differently off the marble at different times of the day. After visiting around noon I could see what they meant. The next port of call was Jaipur, and en route we visited Fatehpur Sikhri and the old city of Amber. We then had a couple of days in Delhi before flying home.
Here are some photos of some of the places we saw. If you get a chance to visit India, this is one of the most popluar trips and well worth it.
For many years I had wanted to go on safari. A chance came up to visit Kenya, so I decided to take the plunge and go. What a fab experience it was.!!! Nothing can compare to seeing wild animals in their natural environment.
First stop Nairobi. From here we visited Karen Blixen's house (author of Out of Africa), the giraffe sanctuary and of course Daphne Sheldricks Elephant Orphanage,( I was so pleased we stopped here as I have long admired the work they do saving and rehabilitating orphaned elephants.)
After this we moved to Lake Naivasha and to our next stop from where we did our safaris, and for the life of me I can't remember the name of the place.!!! I was so excited to be able to see the animals in the wild, and it didn't disappoint It's impossible to describe - you have to go an experience it. We were advised to make sure our tented accommodation was securely fastened when we left it otherwise the baboons would be in wrecking everything.
The parks are only open until 6pm, so we never got to see a leopard but did see the rest of the big five, Buffalo, lions, rhino, and elephants,. We took in some of the local flavours too with visits to the markets, so all in all a great experience. If you get a chance to, do take a safari.
Today is Austria's National Day so it is very appropriate that my mini blog for today is about that lovely country.
Austria is one of my favourite European destinations, and I have been a few times to different parts. My Mum and I spent Christmas in Vienna one year, and I have been to Soll and St Gilgen as part of a two centre holiday with Italy. Apart from the Christmas stay, I have always visited late summer. My Mum and I loved walking so Austria is an ideal place. We had half board at the hotels, and used public transport to get about and did a guided tour which took the village where they filmed the film' The Sound of Music'. Even took a day trip to the Czech republic which was a very early start/late return. Here are a few of the photos I took whilst in Austria.
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Italy is a fascinating country and I have enjoyed many holidays there. My favourite part, so far, is Lake Garda. I visited Riva as part of a two centre holiday spending the first week in Austria, and then the second at Lake Garda. Riva is a pretty town, and from there you can get the ferry which goes all around the lake, stopping off at the towns situated around the lake.. One time my Mum and I started a cruise in Venice, which is fabulous -but can be expensive. We stopped at St marks Square for tea, (cost £12!!) so stayed awhile and enjoyed the music from the string quartets that play there. We could have gone somewhere else off the square, but it did add something a little special to our holiday and the tea did come served in a silver teapot, and we were able to have a few cups each. I have attached a few photos of places I visited in Italy
Not the first place one would think of for long weekend perhaps but I found Reykjavik a fascinating place. It is on the gulf stream and they use this to heat their houses. The weather can change very quickly, so you need to be prepared. This was an agents trip, so we got to see a lot in a short space of time. Some of our group headed off to McDonalds for lunch – big mistake it was very expensive. My colleague and I headed for Submarine, for a lovely baguette, but as they didn’t do hot drinks there, we headed to a local coffee shop where you pay one price for your coffee and can top up as you like. We had an interesting time there talking to one of the locals. Away from the city, the main sights are Gullfoss, and the geyser at Strokkur. On the way from the airport you can also stop at the Blue lagoon, which is a geothermal spa. It is 30 minutes from Reykjavik, and 15 minutes from the airport. You can do this as part of a day tour, or I believe, you can stop in on the way back to the airport (allowing extra time of course)
Here are a few photos I took while I was there. I hope my memory is correct with the captions, but I am happy to be corrected.
Last, but not least (for now anyway) my all time favourite European destination has to be .....GREECE
My all time favourite place to go. If people say what’s your favourite island, I say pick one.!! Each has it;s own charm, but I think if I had to choose, Rhodes would come out top. There are still loads of islands I haven’t visited, so still some on the bucket list.
My very first trip abroad (except for a school trip to France,) was to Athens, which I found quite bewildering as a first time visitor, but having been a few times since, I love it. It’s hot, busy, noisy, but fascinating. I have always been interested in Greek mythology, so a visit to Athens was always on the cards.
A couple of times I stayed over on the Marathon coast (approx. 26 miles from Athens) also known as Attica. It is a lovely part of Greece, with little villages. It is quite a few years since I was there. I stayed in a place called Vravrona, which was a short distance from the port of Rafina where you can get the ferry to Andros.
Since then I have been to quite a few of the Greek islands, but there are still a few to go. Here are a selection of the places I have seen. It was difficult to choose as I have so many. What's your favourite??
Ten things that make Cuba unique in the world
If in doubt Cuba was like nowhere else on the planet here is a list of 10 things that make it a world first. From harvesting the finest tobacco leaves to producing the best cigars, creating the most variety of Latin rhythms and having the largest rock on earth, there are more surprising facts in Cuba than you probably knew about, and while there are some you’re sure to have an inkling of, there are many more that you probably never heard of.