Category Archives: Europe

Travels in Spain – Driving Problems in Carmona

We set off and it soon became clear why we needed both precision and good fortune because if we had thought that the previous street had been narrow this one made it look like a six lane highway!

First of all it was necessary to negotiate a dog leg gate that was barely wider than the car and we all had to collectively breathe in so that we could squeeze through and after that the street narrowed down still further and I needed delicate keyhole surgery skills to manoeuvre through 90º bends and past carelessly parked cars and iron bollards strategically placed to impede progress at every turn.

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Postcard From France – The Canal du Midi

The idea of creating a waterway as a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea had captured the imagination of successive French Kings and governments since Roman times. The regional route overland was slow, uncomfortable and haunted by bandits; the two thousand mile passage by sea took at least a month and was also dangerous as ships negotiating the Spanish coast dodged storms and Barbary pirates to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Postcard From Cahors in France

In the early summer of 1998 the Times Newspaper ran a daily competition one week to win a prize of an all expenses paid trip for two nights in an up market Relais and Chateau Hotel somewhere in Europe. One day the competition required answers to three questions about Santiago de Compostela in Galicia and the Way of St James.

I was confident of the answers and telephoned them in several times over the course of the day.

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Entrance Tickets – The Cathedrals of Salamanca

It was lunch time now so the next task was to find somewhere amongst the huge choice of bars and bodegas to find somewhere suitable. We didn’t have to concern ourselves too greatly with this because our minds were made up for us when a young student stopped us and forced a card into our hands and directed us to a bar down an old town side street.

There was something in her smile that said if you present this card I will be paid some commission and it was impossible to refuse.

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Iceland – The Blue Lagoon, Power, Psoriasis and Pubic Hair

The signs to the attraction were a bit confusing but as we approached we could see the plumes of steam rising into the atmosphere and finally it was impossible to miss the huge structure of the power station looking like a set from a James Bond movie and we turned off the road and into the car park, which today, probably on account of the wretched weather was virtually empty.

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Iceland – The Continuing Saga of Lost Luggage

As it happened, the weather was beginning to improve slightly and we returned to the hotel at about lunchtime, confident that the missing bag would surely have turned up by now! No such luck and Kim is definitely not amused any more and even I am beginning to agree that it might be my fault especially when I fail to agree that there might be something to be gained from driving to the airport to give someone a slap.

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Iceland, The Penis Museum and Dodgy Groceries

The Icelandic Phallological Museum claims that it exists for the purpose of genuinely serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion but you might not be inclined to agree with that when reaching the end of the tour and ending up in the predictable souvenir shop where rather tasteless and inappropriate items for sale included key rings and bottle openers each moulded into the inevitable shape of a human penis.

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Iceland – Gullfoss Falls and Þingvellir National Park

Eventually we reached Gullfoss, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The wide river Hvítá rushes southward and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down into a wide curved three step staircase and then abruptly plunges in two stages into a crevice thirty-two metres deep. The crevice is about twenty metres wide, and is at right angles to the flow of the river which results in a dramatic water plunge and an atmosphere full of hanging water mist.

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Iceland – The Golden Circle, Mud, Geysers, Ice and Waterfalls

Eventually we reached Geysir in the Haukadalur valley, which is the oldest known geyser and one of the world’s most impressive examples of the natural phenomenon. I had seen geysers before at Yellowstone National Park in the USA but these here were even more impressive. We followed the path past the bubbling mud pots and the belching steam vents and joined a bus tour party who had an entertaining and informative guide.

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Iceland – Reykjavik, Vikings and Explorers

We found the Hotel Bjork with no difficulty at all and once we had checked in and found our room I emptied my bag and hung up my clothes and we went through the contents to share them out equitably between us and I gave up my spare hat and pair of gloves but the offer of baggy underpants was rejected.

I told Kim that things could have been a whole lot worse – it could have been my bag that had gone missing!

By some curious twist of female logic the lost bag was still my fault and Kim remained tetchy and irritable but a glass of duty-free wine cheered her up a little (just a little) and when we left the hotel to walk into the city and the rain stopped and there was even a patch or two of blue sky puncturing the steely grey skies so things were beginning to look up.

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