Category Archives: Postcards

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 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 – British Airways and Lost Luggage

On November 11th 2007 I was travelling to Iceland

This was a British Airways flight so there was a level of sophistication to which we have become unaccustomed in our travels with the budget airlines and here are just a few things that British Airways do better than Ryanair; on this flight there were comfortable leather seats, flight attendants in smart uniforms, ample legroom for stretching out, a bag of breakfast, complimentary drinks and an attractive blonde Icelandic girl in the seat next to me and whilst we were in the air we had nothing but good things to say about the airline.

Things changed however when we arrived in Reykjavik and here is something that Ryanair do better than British Airways; they remember to put your luggage on board the same aircraft as you and deliver it to the same airport at the same time.

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Postcard From Venice

Today we were returning to Venice with the main objective being to take a gondola ride so after breakfast we made our way to the railway station for a second train ride to the city and after arriving there plotted a walking course around the northern loop of the Grand Canal in the general direction of Ponte Di Rialto.

The plan was to choose a gondola in San Marco but after a while the girls became impatient and spotting a handsome gondolier in his trademark black and white hooped shirt and straw hat with dangling red silk ribbons and after some sales talk and a little negotiation we had agreed to take the ride earlier than originally planned.

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Memory Posts – Swimming Lessons

In my previous post I recalled my visit to Budapest in 2014 and specifically the Hotel Gellért swimming pool and spa. This reminded me of a post that I wrote in 2013 about swimming pools and lessons when I was a young boy.

The Regent Street Baths were a functional brick built building that had been built in the early 1930s and opened in 1932. Public baths in the 1930s were built for sanitation and public health and hygiene so they weren’t the sort of place that you would go to enjoy yourself as you would today.

There was always a sign up which made some preposterously exaggerated claim about the temperature of the water but I swear it was hardly ever a degree or two above freezing.

Just like taking a dip in the North Sea about 1958 or so…

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