Car Hire Misadventures – Lanzarote, 1983

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya

As we had a four wheel drive we thought we might test its capabilities to the full so rather than follow the tarmac highway we went off road and tried to plot our own course.

We got hopelessly lost of course and at one point came across a surprised islander, a whiskered, toothless old lady in rusty black clothes and with a wrinkled face that could easily be mistaken for a road map so we stopped and asked for directions to the park.

I can’t be sure but, even though she had probably never ever driven a vehicle in her life, she displayed great wisdom and  I think she said that the really sensible thing was to go back to the main road because this was safer and even though she was quite insistent about this we ignored her advice and carried on along a boulder strewn track that tipped and lurched the vehicle for the next few kilometres until eventually we came to the boundary to the National Park marked by a sign carrying the mischievous El Diablo (The Devil) logo.

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Lanzarote Car Hire

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird – Avoiding the Crowds (2)

Trulli Houses Alberobello Puglia Italy

On account of the thousand or so Trulli houses and because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Alberobello is vulnerable to severe tourist overload so Kim’s plan was to get up early to beat the crowds and go and get some photographs of empty streets

We debated this before lights out and I suggested seven o’clock and Kim said six which I said was too early, so we agreed on seven and Kim set the alarm for six! Which was too early because it was still dark so we turned off the alarm, went back to sleep and woke at about eight; a perfect compromise.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird – Avoiding the Crowds (1)

Rhodes - Street of the Knights

On the first morning we woke early and went to the Street of the Knights because this is one of the best preserved/restored medieval streets in Europe and we wanted to get there before the crowds.

As soon as the cruise ships arrive and discharge their guests onto the quayside hundreds of people make straight for this place and it immediately loses its atmosphere and its charm.  At eight o’clock in the morning however there was no one about except the odd delivery man and it was possible to soak up Mussolini’s fascist  interpretation of the medieval street.

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Car Hire Misadventures – Kos, 1983

Kos 1983 Stamatis Rent A Car

In 1983 I stayed at the Continental Palace Hotel just outside Kos town.  Only six years previously in his guide to the Greek Islands, Lawrence Durrell described the place as “an unspoilt backwater where the visitor will find good beaches, unsophisticated but clean little hotels and cool breezes even in summer… ”. Prior to travel there had been cases of typhoid on the island so as a precaution we had to have inoculations before leaving the UK.

The Continental Palace was a large hotel (and although modernised and refurbished it is still there today) and much of the holiday was squandered away in pointless days around the swimming pool whilst surrendering to the anaesthesia of the Mythos lunches and the sun frazzled afternoons but for some of the time we rented a flame red open top Suzuki jeep from Stamatis RentaCar, (also still there) and made some attempt to see the island.

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Age of Innocence – 1963, End of the Railways and The French Language

Boulogne Street Entertainer

And the French are still precious about their language even today but their reluctance to communicate in or even simply acknowledge English gives me the opportunity to demonstrate my fluency in everyday essentials and I have to use all of that knowledge on my occasional visits there:

‘Vin blanc sil vous plait’

‘Vin rouge sil vous plait’

‘bier grande sil vous plait’

‘bier grande vite’.  And so on.  As Ricky Gervais advises if they don’t understand you, talk louder, if they still don’t understand you, then trash the place!

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Entrance Tickets – Castillo Del Rey

Castillo del Rey

The sky was blue and the sun was shining and there was an interesting castle and an old town that stretched from the headland to the church of Santa María de los Ángeles and which enjoyed magnificent views over a busy river estuary to the mountains beyond.  And there was a good view of the Maza Bridge, with its twenty-eight arches, which was built on the orders of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs in the sixteenth century.

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San Vincente De La Barquera


Age of Innocence – 1963, US ZIP Codes and X-RAY Specs

As a teenager I used to read American superhero comics like DC and Marvel and I was always tempted to respond to the full page advertisements for such things as a complete two hundred piece civil war army for $1.49, a miniature secret camera for only $1.00 or a free Charles Atlas body building course.

What prevented me filling in the order form and sending off the cash was not the rather critical fact that I had no idea how to exchange my paper round money into dollars but rather the fact that I didn’t know what a ZIP code was.

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