I have taken this drive before but here are some new pictures…
Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…
I have taken this drive before but here are some new pictures…
Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…
In the first few years of the 1960s, in the days just before and then during the Freddie Laker days of early package holidays, my grandparents visited Benidorm in Spain several times.
For people from London who had lived through the Luftwaffe blitz of the 1940s and the killer smog of the 1950s they applied for passports (which was practically unheard of for ordinary people) and set out with pale complexions on an overseas adventure and returned home with healthy Mediterranean suntans and duty free alcohol and cigarettes.
Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…
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!
“do flights landing in Naples fly over Vesuvius?”
Now, this seems to me to be an especially stupid question. I am not an expert on aviation or air traffic control but it seems very unlikely to me that aeroplane carrying over three hundred passengers landing at an international airport in Italy would want to fly over the top of a 1,300 metre high active volcano because it sounds full of potential hazards to me especially as the Naples airport is only ten miles or so from the crater and at this point would have an altitude of barely higher than the top of the mountain.
The page they were directed to was probably my post about my visit to the mountain.
Another dumb historical question next – “how wealthy are the Romanovs?” and dumb because most people know that the entire Romanov family were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1917 during the Russian revolution.
There are some claimants to the titles of the Russian Tsars but even if they were confirmed to be true descendants they would be extremely unlikely to be wealthy because the Russian communist regime confiscated all their treasure, money and valuables.
I visited Russia in 2012 and posted about the fate of the Romanovs so I guess the enquirer might have ended up on my post about the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.
Some time ago my favourite was “can pubic hair grow more with regain?” and rather disappointingly I have nothing to really compete with that ever again.
I think this may have drawn the person with the question to my post about “Health and Efficiency” magazine
Actually that was a good thing about Health and Efficiency because there were never any pubic detail on show because until the mid 1970s this was strictly censored in British publishing. In retrospect, the most striking thing about the models’ anatomy was that they were completely without pubic hair, or, for that matter, any other details associated with the genital area of the body.
They were as blank as an ancient Greek marble statue in that department, and in pre computer photo editing days, this was achieved by skilful use of an ‘air-brush’ applied directly to the photo before publication.
Bottoms however were ok it seems…
Being a student of history I am going to begin with a selection of wildly inaccurate historical searches.
The first one is “Why did Shakespeare bring starlings to Australia?” I think I am obliged to point out here straight away that William Shakespeare died in 1616 and Australia wasn’t settled by Europeans for another couple of hundred years or so after that and although there is much literary speculation concerning possible visits by the Bard to Italy I think it is safe to say that he never went as far as Australia!
I imagine that what the question referred to was really about starlings in the USA because here there is a connection. The introduction of the starling to USA is said to be the responsibility of a man called Eugene Schiefflein who belonged to a group dedicated to introducing into America all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works on the basis that they thought it would be rather nice to hear the sound of Shakespeare’s birds warbling their old world songs on the tree branches of new world America.
Showing a similar lack of historical knowledge is my second search term, “Was El Cid a Muslim?” Now, El Cid was the great Spanish hero of the Catholic Reconquista which drove the African Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula so I imagine any suggestion that he was a secret Muslim will have poor Charlton Heston spinning in his grave.
Following a visit to Castilla-La Mancha in 2009 I wrote a number of posts about El Cid and I expect the enquirer was sign posted to one of these.
Next on my historical howlers list is “Napoleon Monument in Moscow”! What? In his periods of sanity Napoleon did some rather good things but most of the time he was a tyrant and a dictator and a warmonger and in 1812 he invaded Russia and did unspeakable things to the Russian people who were unfortunate enough to be in his way as he marched his army to Moscow. When he got there the Russian people burnt the city down and so with nowhere to stay for the winter he was obliged to march all the way back again during which his army did more unpleasant things to the Russian people.
I imagine that the chances of there being a memorial to Napoleon Bonaparte in Moscow are about just as likely as there will be a statue of Adolf Hitler.
Moving on now from history to science – “see through girls’ clothes” and once again if I had the answer to this one I would surely be a millionaire. It reminded me of my post about X-Ray Specs which seemed to suggest all sorts of peeking opportunities but in fact never actually worked (or so I am told!)
For this category of search terms I have saved my favourite until last and this is it – “things to do in Tossa de Marr Spain for clairvoyants”. Now, call me a sceptic if you like but if you can see into the future what on earth does a clairvoyant need with a website of advertised events – why don’t they just look in their crystal ball?
I have been to Tossa de Mar and I have to say that palm reader, soothsayer or clairvoyant that it is a very fine place to visit.
One of my most successful posts is about the day I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I get lots of odd Google referrals about this one. This year my favourite just has to be – “do I get expenses to attend royal garden party?”
Let me take a moment here to explain. Just to be invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden party is a bit special in itself and believe me there is going to be a lot of expense involved – new suit, new outfit, overnight stay in London, taxi fares etc. and most people would gladly deal with this just to be part of the occasion so I have to say that expecting the Queen to pick up the bill sounds rather republican to me and whoever asked this should not have had an invite in the first place.
Next up, I really like this one – “what did the captain wear on the Titanic?”
I visited Belfast recently and went to see the Titanic Exhibition and Museum. It was a super place and I recommend anyone to go there and I think what I learned on that visit may just well help here.
Around the exhibition there are lots of pictures of Captain Smith in his White Star Line uniform so I am forced to conclude that except when he went to bed and most likely put on a pair of pyjamas that this was his favourite form of dress. Another thing that I can be certain of is that Captain Smith didn’t wear a lifebelt because after the Titanic struck the iceberg he went down with his ship and drowned!
To finish with this is probably my biggest ever favourite…
What was General Franco’s favourite food?
I am sure that this is a question that only his personal chef could realistically be expected to answer with any authority but my suggestions are…
Some time ago I tried to visit General Franco’s tomb but the Spanish don’t like Franco any more and it was closed at the time on account of the fact that it was being demolished.
When General Franco met Führer Adolf Hitler I can only assume that either they couldn’t agree on the menu or they were both on a diet…
Regardless of food, this has to be one of the most awkward historical meetings ever – just look at their faces!
Got any odd Google enquiries – please share!
We left Almagro with our souvenir water colours safely packed away. We don’t buy souvenirs any more because inevitably we get them home and wonder why? Most impulse purchases get thrown away but we do still have the water colours.
My grandparents first went to Spain for a holiday in 1960 or thereabouts. They brought back exotic stories of exciting overseas adventures and suitcases full of unusual mementos, castanets, replica flamenco dancing girls, handsome matador dolls with flaming scarlet capes and velour covered bulls that decorated their living room and collected dust for the next twenty years or so.
This is their story…
What is the worst souvenir that you have ever brought home?
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…