Tag Archives: Life

Greek A to Ω – Α (Alpha) is for Αθήνα or Athens

The top of the Acropolis is huge but there isn’t really a lot to see, no statues, no paintings, no exhibits, but a rather barren archaeological site in the thirtieth year of its restoration with tens of thousands of pieces lying strewn in the dust and long since stripped of its treasures, a stark marble ruin surrounded by ancient brick and concrete, so once a full circuit has been completed, although it felt as though I should stay longer the truth is there is not a lot to stay around for.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

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Cheapskate Travel – Part One

Commenting on a recent post, a long term blogging pal of mine (who knows me so well) suggested that I am a cheapskate traveller.  I am so proud of this, it is like being nominated for an award at the Oscars, like winning an Olympic Gold Medal, like getting a mention in the New Year’s Honours List.

It reminded me of this post that I put up first in February 2014…

Complimentary Shampoo and Shower Gel…

“I still enjoy travelling a lot. I mean, it amazes me that I still get excited in hotel rooms just to see what kind of shampoo they’ve left me.”  –  Bill Bryson

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A to Z of Postcards – Z is for Zuiderzee in the Netherlands

Z is always a tricky one in an A to Z.  I thought about it, racked my brains and eventually remembered that in 1979 or thereabouts I went to Amsterdam and the weekend included an excursion to Volendam on the Zuiderzee.

Volendam is a popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands, well-known for its fleet of old fishing boats, pretty gabled wooden houses and the traditional clothing still worn by some of the older residents. The women’s costume of Volendam, with its high pointed bonnet, is one of the most recognizable of the Dutch traditional costumes, and is the one most often featured on tourist postcards and calendars.

It is rather like a theme park actually, with little in common with reality,

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A to Z of postcards – X is for Eixample in Barcelona

The modern parts of Barcelona are a triumph of urban planning.  We were staying in the Eixample district which was planned and built about one hundred and fifty years ago by a man called Ildefons Cerdà and is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues and square blocks with chamfered corners all of which means that the traffic always flows freely in a slick one-way system and it is easy to navigate on foot.

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A to Z of Postcards – W is for Wroclaw in Poland

Following the coffee break we returned to the streets, walked through the Market Square and out the other side and at this point alarm bells started to ring because it soon became obvious to me that Kim was leading us directly towards the shopping arcades.  I knew the signs, I have seen them many times before, the sniff of the perfume, the glitter of the sparkly things catching the corner of the eye  and the smell of shoe leather.

For a while I fell behind after stopping to buy a doughnut from a shop with a long and patient queue but after the purchase I caught her up and queried this but was received an assurance that this was a complete coincidence – but I wasn’t entirely convinced. And as it turned out I had good reason not to be entirely convinced because suddenly we were outside the entrance to a modern shopping mall and the tractor beam that attracts women into shops was working on maximum draw power.

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A to Z of Postcards – V is for Valladolid in Spain

“The celebrated plateresque façades of Valladolid strike me as being, when one has recovered from the riotous shock of them, actually edible.”    –   Jan Morris – ‘Spain’

Valladolid is a very crimson city, the reddest that I have ever seen, a sprawling industrial metropolis, the capital of Castilla y León, the tenth largest city in Spain but with its medieval heart ripped out and trodden under foot in the post civil war industrial boom and it does not feature on many tourist itineraries.

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Siena and the Grimsby Dock Tower

There is a postscript to this story of my visit to Siena and one that in 2006 I couldn’t possibly have foreseen.

Five years later I moved to the fishing port of Grimsby and there by the docks is an Italianate water tower built in 1852 to provide power to work the giant lock gates.  The tower was designed by a man called James William Wild who had himself visited Siena and had so admired the place that he based his design for the Grimsby Dock Tower on the Torre del Mangia tower on the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena.  Fate sometimes place strange tricks!

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A to Z of Postcards – U is for Umbria in Italy

I live in England and I am a citizen of the United Kingdom of course but…

…I am really struggling with the letter U.  I have never been to Ukraine or Uzbekistan or Uruguay and doubt that I ever will,  I have never been to Uganda or the United Arab Emirates and also doubt that I ever will.

I have overdone Castro Udiales in Spain having used it three times already in my A to Zs.  So I am going to cheat here.  I am not sure if I have ever been to Umbria in Italy but I have half a thought that I have passed through it on a train journey.

The nearest place to Umbria that I have visited is the city of Siena in neighbouring Tuscany.

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A to Z of Postcards – T is for Tenerife

I visited Tenerife in 1989 and stayed in the tourist resort of Los Christianos near Playa de Los Americas in a hotel complex called the Parque Santiago.  One day I took a coach tour to the Teide National Park.  It wasn’t a long trip in terms of kilometres but the bus left early because it happens to be an awfully long way to climb to the top.

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A to Z of Postcards – R is for Richmond in Yorkshire

The next morning we debated what to do.  The majority decision was to visit a nearby attraction called ‘The Forbidden Corner’  but due to bureaucratic planning restrictions tickets could only be bought on-line and without communications at the cottage this had been quite  impossible.

We drove there anyway and at the entrance they confirmed that entrance was only by advance booking so we took a bagged a spot later in the week and drove off to look for something else to do.

The children thought they might like to visit the chocolate factory in nearby Leyburn and even though all of the signs seemed to suggest that it was open it was in fact closed so we had an empty car park to ourselves to debate what to do.

We decided to go to the town of Richmond.

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