Somewhere along the way I spotted this sign which I thought was rather witty…
Good, but not as funny as this one that I spotted a couple of years ago in Westport in Southern Ireland…
Somewhere along the way I spotted this sign which I thought was rather witty…
Good, but not as funny as this one that I spotted a couple of years ago in Westport in Southern Ireland…
As we leave 2018, please excuse my annual self-indulgent post to begin the new year as I peer through the keyhole to look back over the last one.
The top ten most visited posts on my Travel Blog always surprise me but then I don’t pretend to understand how search engines work. I say visited pages rather than read because I am neither so conceited or sufficiently naive to claim that a visit equals a read. I know that a lot of people will arrive here by mistake and swiftly reverse back out via the escape button!
With 1,790 hits this post remains at the no. 1 position in my top ten for the third straight year. I am always reluctant to do posts with travel tips because it is difficult to find something to say that hasn’t already been said several times by others.
At the Giant’s Causeway I was astonished at the cost of the entrance and car parking charges so I put these tips together on how to visit for free.
I first posted this in March 2010 so this one has been around a while and with 1,375 hits and a ninth year in the Top Ten is becoming a stubborn stayer. A bit of a surprise to me really because this is the account of a day trip to Mount Vesuvius whilst on a holiday to Sorrento in 1976 with my dad. From my memories of the same holiday I posted several blogs about visits to Capri, Naples, Pompeii, The Amalfi Drive and Rome but these have only ever achieved a handful of hits between them.
This is the fifth successive year in my top ten for my post about the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. After I had taken a look at the official Twelve Treasures of Spain I thought it might be fun to draw up my own personal alternative list. I included Antoni Gaudi in a general rather than a specific way. I posted this in March 2013 and this year with 1,314 visits it has risen one place to number three.
First posted in June 2009 the post has1,210 hits in 2018, almost double the previous year and staying in the Top Ten for the tenth successive year which by that measure makes it my most successful post.
In total it has 21,900 visits which makes all time second after my post about Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings at 24,675. This one has been around for a long time ( since June 2009) and has always been popular especially around the Spring and Summer when invitations to the Royal Garden Party are going out and when people are wondering how to get one or what to wear if they have one.
I have written several posts about my visits to the island of Malta, I consider some of them much more interesting than this one but where they have sunk without trace, this one just keeps on attracting hits. 850 hits in 2018 and third successive year in the top ten
I must confess that I am rather pleased about this one.
I posted this in July 2013 and it first made the top ten in 2015 before dropping out the following year so I am glad to see it back again.
There are some posts that I have written that I would like people to read and this is one of few that have achieved that. Before visiting Catalonia in 2013 I read the book ‘Voices of the Old Sea’ by Norman Lewis which is an account of the Costa Brava in the 1940s and the approach of mass tourism. In this post I attempted some research and some interpretation of the book and the area. It has recorded 515 visits and in this case I like to think that this is because of the subject rather than the pictures.
Also returning in 2018 after a two year absence with a surprising 435 visits and no convincing explanation as to why that should be.
I visited Southern Ireland in June 2014 and wrote several posts that I personally would consider more interesting than this encounter with a grumpy street entertainer and a worn out old collie dog. Once again, and rather disappointingly, I suspect it isn’t the words but the picture that grabs attention. It was a map of the Ring of Kerry which I noticed displayed on the front of a shop.
I posted this in March 2010 and it finally made the top ten in 2014 it has remained there ever since. It has stayed in this year with 420 visits. It is actually one of my personal favourites and is a story about the Spanish seaside resort of Benidorm inspired by some photographs that I came across of my grandparents on holiday there in about 1960.
At no. 9 for the second year with 382 visits is a post another of my Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain and is about my visit to the Spanish City of Seville. I have written posts about several Spanish cities but it is only this one that gets the hits.
A new entry and this is another post that I am happy to see in the top ten with 360 visits. I wrote this in March 2014 after visiting the Polish city of Wroclaw and finding the street statues of the Anonymous Pedestrians.
The statues are a memorial to the introduction of martial law in Poland on December 13th 1981 and the thousands of people who disappeared (‘went underground’) in the middle of the night courtesy of the militia. In a symbolic statement the fourteen statues were erected in the middle of the night in 2005 on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the introduction of martial law.
If you have read one of these posts or any of the 2,390 others on my site ‘Have Bag, Will Travel’, then thank you from the bottom of my heart! I guess it proves that George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) was right when he said: “The three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”
Total visits in 2018 – 71,420 (nearly 200 a day)
Total visits all time – 947,600
Countries where most visitors come from – UK, USA, Australia, Spain and Canada
Most viewed picture in 2018…
A little disappointing, I like to think I have posted one or two good pictures of my own during the year but most clicked is a postcard map of Gran Canaria that I scanned in from my collection…
To make matters worse, the most clicked picture that I have taken myself and posted is of a tea towel with a map on it…
Maybe I should just do a blog about maps!
I would be interested to know about other people’s most popular posts in 2018 and the possible explanations why? Comment and let me know. I’m a sucker for statistics!
The road was quiet and there weren’t a great deal of traffic so I was shocked when we arrived there and found a car park that covered several hundred square metres and was completely full of cars, I couldn’t imagine where they had all come from, it was as though they had been beamed down from space.
The second shock was the admission fee which at €6 seemed excessive to me so at the pay booth we asked for four senior tickets at only €4 each and got away with it. This was a massive shock to Kim who sulked for the next few minutes because she hadn’t been challenged and later that night she used a lot more miracle night cream than she normally does.
About this time of the year (it is 1st March after all) I start to look back over my posts to review what has been going on. One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.
Before Google got nervous about web search findings and tightened up on publishing results this was a lot more fun and there were a lot more to choose from but over the last year I have spotted a few that amused me…
I am going to start with one about crime and this search request – “Is bag snatching bad in Krakow” and my response to that is bag snatching is bad everywhere so don’t do it because you can end up in a whole lot of trouble.
On roughly the same subject I rather liked this one – “How to avoid Pickpockets in Athens?” The answer of course is simple – don’t go to Athens!
Actually I have some experience of pickpockets in Athens and although I have always considered Greece to be an honest and safe place and Athens has always been regarded as a city where stealing from tourists was unheard of, yes, Kim and I were robbed on the Athens Metro and this is our story… “Athens Pickpockets”
I am being adventurous (or maybe just foolish) this year and have trips planned to Naples and to Barcelona, two cities with an unenviable reputation for street theft!
On a lighter note I offer you this one … “Can you see the Giant’s Causeway from the Car?” and the answer is yes of course you can but only if you are prepared to take your vehicle across a muddy field and then drive it over the cliff edge.
The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is free to enter but managed by the National Trust who don’t really encourage people to visit for nothing and make it as difficult as they possibly can to avoid the extortionate car parking and entry Visitor Centre entry fees.
Shortly after returning from a visit I wrote a post about visiting Giant’s Causeway and how to do it on the cheap and it has turned out to be one of my most successful with almost five thousand hits – “Top Tips for Visiting the Giant’s Causeway on a Budget”
Now, what about this one – “How often is the Titanic visited?” As almost everyone knows the RMS Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912 after an unfortunate encounter with an iceberg close to Newfoundland. It sank to the bottom of the Ocean and rests about two and a half miles from the surface. That is a long way down and requires specialist deep sea diving equipment to explore it so the answer is a simple one – Not Very Often At All!
It is possible that the enquirer was directed towards my post about my visit to the “Titanic Experience in Belfast” and on the subject of visitor numbers here I find that I can be more helpful because I happen to know that since opening in 2012 the Museum has had over four million visitors from over one hundred and fifty different countries.
Mine is a travel blog so sometimes people seek answers to questions about popular holiday resorts. This year I have picked out this strange question – “Where does the waste go in Benidorm?”
Benidorm was one of the first big Spanish holiday resorts and by the 1970s had acquired a dubious reputation for holiday lager louts and badly behaved visitors from Northern Europe and for that reason I am tempted to say that Benidorm waste goes back home at the end of a fortnights holiday!
Thankfully Benidorm isn’t nearly so bad these days and it has left its sordid past behind. I visited the city in 2017 and wrote a post about the changes that I noticed… “Travels in Spain, Benidorm and How Things Change”.
The next one wasn’t really a question it was a statement – “Italians don’t respect the Highway Code” and whoever said that was absolutely correct. In Italy, traffic regulations currently in force were approved by the Legislative Decree number 285 of 30th April 1992 and are contained in the Italian Highway Code called the Codice della Strada, but anyone visiting a busy Italian city or town would be certain to dispute that there is such a thing as a highway code in Italy.
I foolishly attempted car rental in Italy in 2013 and almost immediately wished that I hadn’t. Trying to be helpful I wrote a post about my nightmare experience upon my return… “Travelling – Car Hire Advice – Driving in Italy”.
In brief my advice was ‘DON’T!
Staying in Italy this search question caught my eye – “Prostitution People Dead Caused by Volcano” and I imagine the enquirer might have been researching Biblical plagues or judgments or something similar. I don’t know if prostitutes or sex workers are singled out in this way for natural disaster punishments but my post about Mount Vesuvius is my fifth most popular ever with fifteen thousand seven hundred hits – “Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius – Living on the Edge of Disaster”
I conclude this year’s list with a very bizarre search question – “Nazi Crisps”. I really don’t know if Adolf and the German High Command liked foil wrapped potato crisps (I doubt that they were even invented then) but if they did I imagine that there favourite flavours would have been Bratwurst, Cabbage and Brawn Cocktail.
I wrote a post about potato crisps/chips but I am certain that I didn’t mention the Nazis – “Chips, Crisps or Fries – How Do You Eat Yours?”
That’s it for this year, thanks for reading and I will do another round up when I have enough material…
… Have you spotted any bizarre search questions bringing unexpected visitors to your blog posts? – Do Tell!
Here are the previous posts in this series of weird internet searches…
“And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.” – Prince Charles quoting lines by the Sligo poet W B Yeats:
On the final day our plan was to visit Southern Ireland’s most northerly county, Donegal, so far north in fact that at the most northerly point it is further north than Northern Ireland. It is also part of the province of Ulster, which we mistakenly tend to think of as Northern Ireland.
There is a phrase that the Irish frequently use themselves which is “Only in Ireland” which is used to justify the regularly encountered idiosyncrasies of the country without offering any sort of rational explanation.
The partition of Ireland into north and south is a good example…
… The Province of Ulster is nine counties in the north and to make things complicated three of these are in the Republic and the other six make up what we know as Northern Ireland.
Ulster has no political or administrative significance these days and exists only as a historical sub-division of Ireland and one of the four Rugby Union provinces. The others are Connacht, Munster and Leinster. The map above shows the geographical split. The reasons are many and complicated but in the simplest terms these six counties were partitioned from the Irish Free State when it was established in 1920 because these were areas where Protestants were in the majority and had campaigned vigorously to remain part of the Union.
Except that they weren’t because in Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone they were in the minority but were included anyway. County Donegal was catholic but was separated from the principal border city of Londonderry/Derry and County Londonderry now has a majority catholic population.
How complicated is all that? No wonder that the Irish issue has taken so long to try and resolve.
Anyway, we didn’t concern ourselves today with tangled issues of politics but in the sunshine drove out of Sligo and once again picked up the road which follows the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’.
Although I was uneasy about this (bearing in mind how Kim reacted so badly to a coastal detour just a couple of days previously and just how clear she had been on her thoughts about detours) we chanced a recommended diversion to a small coastal village of Mullaghmore which turned out to be absolutely delightful with a picturesque harbour and a string of bars and cafés so after a stroll we selected one and stopped for drinks.
Mullaghmore is a charming place but it has a grim place in UK/Ireland relations and it has the burden of a horrific legacy. Overlooking the village is Classiebawn Castle which was once the summer residence of Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma, one of the great British heroes of the Second-World-War. On 27th August 1979, Mountbatten took to sea in his boat out of Mullaghmore harbour and was murdered by an IRA bomb that had been previously planted on board.
It was only a small boat and a 50lb (23 kilo) stash of radio controlled nitro-glycerine planted there the night before blew it completely apart.
An IRA statement boasted… “We claim responsibility for the execution of Lord Louis Mountbatten. This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country.”
The thoroughly despicable Gerry Adams, Irish politician and Leader of the political wing of the IRA Sinn Féin, justified the killing in this way…
… “The IRA gave clear reasons for the execution… What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people; and with his war record I don’t think he could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation. He knew the danger involved in coming to this country.” Hmmm!
Hopefully that unpleasantness is all in the past now (although I do hope that nasty Gerry Adams has recurring nightmares about the time he will spend in the future in Hell) and on a perfect summer day we left a very peaceful Mullaghmore and continued our journey to the very agreeable town of Donegal.
Donegal was much smaller than I imagined it would be (my research was hopelessly inadequate on this point) and although it was vibrant and busy it didn’t take a great deal of our time to walk around the town centre and pay a visit to the splendidly restored castle, stop for lunch in a hotel bar and then make our way back to the car park to begin the journey back to Sligo for our final night in Ireland – for this year anyway.
After the first day which had been spoiled by rain our Irish good weather fortune had returned and we had three days in glorious sunshine enjoying Ireland’s north-west coast. On the way back we planned another recommended detour into the hills behind Sligo in the shadow of the most famous – Benbulbin, which stands out above the land like an enormous beached liner. We made the drive but the weather was changing again now and the blue skies were being rapidly replaced by ominous grey.
The rain held off for the final evening in Sligo but the following morning was wet and miserable and the drive back to Knock Airport for the midday flight was through a series of squally storms. We arrived and departed in the rain but in the middle we had enjoyed a fourth wonderful visit to magnificent Ireland.
But wait. There was a sting in the tail/tale because on the way out through Knock airport departures there was a development tax of 10 euros each to be paid before we could leave. It seems that the Good Lord doesn’t always provide after all, well not all of it anyway!