So, day two in Aylesbury and breakfast time at Holiday Inn.
Which was okay, apart from the fact that we weren’t offered coffee tops ups as we were expected to find the unmarked filling station and the couple of vacuum jugs on a tray.
Caroline headed off whilst I tried to find out what was up with the car as a light had made it’s presence known on the dashboard, had gone off and then illuminated itself once more when I headed off on Friday night.
I didn’t sort it, but it was fixed later in the day by someone who did know what they were doing and had the gizmo to rectify the problem…
So after that and more coffee, I headed out for a bus that would take me into Aylesbury town centre. I missed one, but caught the next and was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the return bus fare was.
I’d only visited Aylesbury once before, to attend a show at Aylesbury Civic Centre by former Marillion singer Fish. It was an interesting way to spend Independence Day 1990, but another good night out was had by all, despite getting a bit flummoxed by Fish’s announcement that he was going to sing a song inspired by Aylesbury’s Market Square.
I wasn’t the only one expecting him to sing fan favourite Market Square Heroes, but that wasn’t the song he was looking for. The song that was sung was one by David Bowie – Five Years – a version of which eventually appeared on Fish’s Songs From The Mirror covers album.
But I digress. Wandering aimlessly around Aylesbury without a plan seemed like a good idea and that’s what happened. It didn’t take too long either as retail’s usual suspects were all present and correct and didn’t need exploring.
A couple of magazines and a paper were bought for research purposes at WH Smith and that was almost about it as far as non-food purchases went. Lunch came courtesy of Greggs, but the prospect of a lunchtime pint on a sunny day wasn’t going to be passed up, especially as I wasn’t planning on driving for a few hours.
And that was about it for Aylesbury. Three hours including lunch and beer stops. The bus station was nearby and there was a bus in, so it was back to Holiday Inn to read the paper and magazines and to do some internet surfing on the iPad.
Once Caroline arrived back, we headed off to The Five Bells for an evening meal before having drinks at the hotel and calling it a night.
Breakfast came and went on Sunday morning, but yours truly was starting to feel rather rough. No, it wasn’t down to the affluence of incohol, but a gum pain of the throbbing kind – three or four days after a dental check-up.
We hadn’t any paracetemol in the car or our respective bags, but we managed to acquire some in the hotel, so I took these and then applied a liberal coating of Bonjela over the gum area.
With Caroline heading off once more, I stayed put for the day, took more painkillers, used more Bonjela and managed to get to solve the problem a few hours latter by applying some pressure on the gum which popped the offending item, got rid of the goo and brought almost instant relief.
By breakfast the following morning, everything was almost back to normal. The emergency we’d travelled down about was over, I was feeling a lot better and we had to vacate our room anyway.
So it was time to go home, but not without a small side trip – to the wilds of Milton Keynes.
Why Milton Keynes? There’s a Rohan shop there with a clearance department. It took a little bit of finding, but find it we did with a little help from an app on Caroline’s phone.
Some delving around saw us leave the shop with a bag of clothing – a jacket and a dress for Caroline and a couple of pairs of socks for me. Next stop was the nearby Shell filling station for petrol before we aimed the car in the direction of the motorway and home.
So, what did we learn from this?
Keep some paracetemol in the car for potential use, remember to pack the couple of travel coffee presses we have plus some decent ground coffee and some biscuits (the Holiday Inn coffee in the room wasn’t wonderful and guess what? No biscuits either!).
And that there are times when you have to forget about planning stuff and just go with the flow…. and have the phone number handy for the local curry house so you can order a meal to be delivered when you do get back home!
Next week – Northumberland!
Our weekend in Aylesbury wasn’t planned – the phone rang at 8am and we were on the road just after 10.30am.
We’d got up, had breakfast, found a hotel for three nights on booking.com, got the route cards off the AA’s Classic Route Planner, packed, filled the petrol tank and hit the road.
Yes, it was a last minute thing, but when emergencies come along, you just have to do it, no matter what was already planned.
We’d booked into a Holiday Inn, so there were some things we didn’t take (big bottles of shower gel, towels, coffee press, ground coffee etc), but clothes were packed along with wash kits, footwear and Kindles/iPads with the Kindle app and that was about it.
Although it was a Friday morning, the motorways weren’t busy and neither were those roads leading to the hotel. A stop at a motorway services saw lunch bought and demolished thanks to M&S and we were on our way again.
The Holiday Inn at Aylesbury is an out of towner, but easily found. Check in wasn’t problematical and we found our room in a quiet part of the hotel.
Caroline did freshen up before organising a taxi to where she was off too. I crashed out for a while, did some reading and then thought that it could be a good idea to find some food.
Although we had a B&B deal at Holiday Inn, the dining prices put me off, so I got in the car and headed into the town centre. I found Tesco, but their cafe had closed, so a pack of sparkling water was bought and I moved on.
Yes, I did get fed up with driving around, but after drawing a blank, I started looking for the nearest takeaway. One was spotted, but there was no parking place outside, so I ended up driving on and found an inn further up the road.
The name sounded familiar and it didn’t take long to realised why. It was one of the places that I’d spotted and discounted on booking,com as it was too far out of Aylesbury.
The decor was also rather familiar, but the reason for that was because it was part of the same small chain as the pub Caroline and I frequent which does good food and is a short walk away from wisepacking towers…
No drinks for me as I was driving, but water went well with the pretty good pizza that made its way to the table at The Five Bells in Weston Turville. I decided against a dessert, but made a mental note to head back there on Saturday night.
With Caroline and I getting back to the hotel within a few minutes of each other, we had a catch up session and decided to have an early night, a wise move considering the day we’d had…
Choosing what we took with us on our road trip around Andalucia was determined by several factors.
There was the little matter of the size of hand luggage bags on Ryanair… some 5cm less on the depth of the bag compared to other airlines we’ve flown with since we bought our Osprey Farpoint 40 packs.
There were other considerations – the differing types of accommodation, the need to cover up in some of the places visited (Seville’s Cathedral and Mezequita in Cordoba) and expected weather conditions after looking at ten day forecasts (warm to hot during the day, cool on a night were among our expectations).
Pack size rules were adhered to as we chose items that could be washed and worn, used as layering pieces for cooler nights and we also packed long sleeved shirts for when we visited places that required arms to covered.
So, how did we stick to around 7.5kg each in the hand luggage?
My North Face hooded soft shell has now bitten the dust, but it was worn on the plane rather than packed. It looked a bit worse for wear, but it has seen some action and has been proofed a few times to provide extra protection.
It had deep zipped pockets that took an iPad Mini, the Lonely Planet guidebook, my Nikon camera and the old Samsung dumbass phone when going through security, passport control and checks at the boarding gate.
The power adaptors for the tech mentioned above were in an IKEA pouch that, along with my wash bag, could be easily pulled out of the Farpoint for security checking and then pushed back in with the clothes, travel towels, booking printouts, bus tickets and meds.
Clothing included the usual mix of Rohan items – two pairs of Goa trousers, a Microgrid Crew Jumper, three Progress polos, two long sleeved polos, a few pairs of Cool Silver Trunks and some M&S Freshfeet trainer socks.
Worn items included that TNF soft shell, a Rohan Stronghold shirt, a Rohan Merino wool based t-shirt and another pair of Goa trousers. On the feet were ventilated Salomon trainers, the only footwear I decided to take.
Caroline’s choices also included a mix of rapid wash/dry and wear items such as Rohan Ultra Silver Camisole tops and briefs, a couple of their vest tops, two Stria long sleeved tops, Rohan Travel Jeans, Travel Linen trousers plus a Pathway Cardigan and a Royal Robbins shirt/jacket.
Her footwear comprised a pair of Ecco pumps and Ecco Mary Jane shoes.
Did it all work? Yes is the answer because most items had been used on a few travel trips now or even on a day to day basis. Respective day bags were from Rohan’s Stowaway line-up (a pack for me, a handbag for Caroline)
And in the wash bags? Well both Caroline and I use shower gels by Lush on our travels and she’s also using their shampoo bars.
I also packed a small bottle of tea tree oil that was used when I shaved with a disposable razor whilst sample size toothpastes from our dentist came in handy. The ViaSonic battery toothbrush stayed the course, even though I’d forgotten to put a new AAA in it!
Other items in the wash bag included some travel wash to do the clothing wash and wear thing, a small Nivea SPF30 suncream, a bottle of clove oil and a tube of Bonjela (both in case of dental problems…).
With two out of the four choices of accommodations providing shower gel and shampoo in the bathroom/shower areas, the above choices only needed to be complemented by the local purchases of Axe (aka Lynx) body spray and packs of baby wipes to cope with the after effects of street food on the hands or melting ice cream hitting clothing.
Other things? My iPad Mini has the Kindle App on it and loads of books, so the iPad was used for reading rather than surfing whilst Caroline had her classic Kindle. Both of us had mobile phones too.
Mine was hardly used, whilst Caroline’s did see some action as family members called or sent texts to her.
Did our packing choices work? Yes has to be the answer, even though there was more rain than we anticipated in Malaga. We sat that out in a hotel foyer until it was almost time to get a cab and head down to the bus station for our journey to Seville.
The coolest nights were those in Granada, but the layering choices worked to keep us warm as we wandered around in search of food. My only regret was not having another pair of shoes, but as plans to buy an extra pair failed due to cost issues, I didn’t worry too much about that.
Spotted this on the BBC website a few minutes ago.
Did the person on the check-in desk have a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment when the guy decided to nominate a can of beer as his hold luggage?
More from Spain…
Five days in Northumberland
Five days in North Norfolk
More thoughts on packing
Bits of news
Some silly stuff
Books, films and television programmes
And links such as the one below…
We’ve used and mentioned Osprey Farpoint packs a few times on wisepacking, so we’re pleased to see that there’s a new variation on the theme – the Osprey Fairview range.
They’re ladies packs and more info can be found here…
We may have stumbled across the Metropol Parasol (middle picture on the top row), but after half an hour of wandering around under the structure and exploring the market hall, we had yet to find the entrance hall and the lift to get up onto the walkway up top.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, we’d walked past it as the entrance hall is underground and we’d missed the signpost at street level that would have put us in the right direction.
At €3 each, the admission charge wasn’t going to break the bank, but there were a couple of add-ons that made it even more worthwhile.
Apart from giving us access to the walkway, we also had a free beer each from the tapas bar at the top and a free postcard to collect from the shop in the Parasol’s basement area.
We spent a fair amount of time on the walkway. Some of that was just taking in the views and taking the occasional photos whilst the rest was having to wait for a bunch of hipster beardies to take what appeared to be their obligatory selfies on their mobile phones.
Not only were they taking a lot of selfies, but this flock (or should it be herd?) of beardies were also rather oblivious to the fact that there were quite a few people trying to either look at the view from the viewing section or trying to take their own photographs of the view rather than shooting themselves…
After free beer, postcards and plenty of time spent soaking up the sun and the views on the Parasol’s top deck, we headed back down and found a cafe for a light lunch and more wandering around.
More of the Metropol Parasol plus a whole lot of bull going on…
We weren’t using street maps to get around Seville as we found it easier to just roll the dice and see where we ended up. This first day in Seville was like all of the others spent in Spain – free and easy without any real need to hare around all of the sights listed in the various guidebooks we’d read before we got on the plane to Malaga.
IF we wanted to wander around, we wandered around, if we wanted a coffee or a beer then we stopped for refreshments and if we wanted to stop for rather good ice cream, sorry, gelato, we did – at a shop cum cafe on Avenida De La Constitution.
€9.20 for two ice cream cones? You’d better believe it, but they were probably the best ice creams that we’ve had and they also came with a pretty high standard of presentation too…
So what next? A mooch back to the digs, where we opened our room and initially thought the worst as none of our bags, clothes or other kit was anywhere to be seen.
When we found out what had happened, our shock turned to something else. Our kit had been moved back to the room we’d been in originally and whilst it was all in order and nothing was missing, we’d have appreciated it more had the owner waited until we got back and allowed us to move our kit ourselves.
Once we’d raged silently against the machine, it was siesta time, reading time and then wash and change time before heading out in search of our evening meal. Although we’d looked at a few places during the day, we wandered around for a while as most places were relatively empty, even though by now it was around 8.30pm.
One place had caught our eye, but we’d wandered on and then retraced our steps until we got back to Bar Pelayo – we took to calling it The Seven Bulls Heads – yes, seven bulls heads on the walls and plenty of memorabilia relating to bull fighting and bull fighters.
Bull fighting may not be to everyone’s tastes (it’s not ours), but it is a way of life in Spain and has been for a heck of a long time. I remember my aunt visiting Spain in the 1960s and talking about El Cordobes and bull fighting whilst a regular film at my local cinema’s Saturday morning film club was Tommy The Toreador starring pop star Tommy Steele.
Beer and wine were the drinks of choice for the night and whilst a couple of tapas dishes were the same as the night before, there were two that I indulged in that really hit the spot.
The first was gazpacho and the second was baked goats cheese. With ratatouille, spinach, tortilla and chorizo also on the menu, we didn’t need a sweet course, but did indulge in another beer and wine each before wending our way back to the digs that we don’t mention the name of for some light reading and a couple of soft drinks before we turned in for the night.
More on Seville next Wednesday…
Some of the many faces of Seville – which is why we’re going back!
Our wish list for Seville was a short one – see the Metropol Parasol, visit the Real Alcazar, have tapas for the first time, take in at least one flamenco performance and (in Caroline’s case) pay a visit to the Cathedral.
Our bus from Malaga reached Seville in late afternoon and it should have theoretically a half hour walk to our digs for the next four nights.
We checked in sixty minutes later and were shown to our first floor room. Simple? Yes. Basic? Yes? Budget friendly? Yes.
Following a brief siesta,we scrubbed up and then hit Seville. The district we were staying in – Barrio Santa Cruz – had a few roads through it, but the more interesting parts were linked by narrow footpaths flanked by shops, bars, restaurants and hotels.
So we wandered and did more of the same as a means of getting our bearings and trying to find a place to eat later on. After investigating a few places, we settled on a tapas bar just a few hundred metres from our digs.
Ordering beer and wine was easy, but choosing which tapas was a different matter. Sea food was out as neither of us partake, but it wasn’t that hard to find seven tapas choices.
Ratatouile was one, spinach topped with an egg and small ham chunks was another, but as the dishes kept on coming, we weren’t all that worried as we’d only had a snack lunch on the bus from Malaga. Seven empty bowls later, we were done. Or were we?
Although I’d had a couple of beers and Caroline had had a large glass of wine, I decided that we should have a glass of manzanilla to round off the evening instead of coffee.
We were fed and watered later than we would normally be at home, but we were still a couple of lightweights compared to locals who were just heading out as we headed back.
After a side visit to a small shop for some bottles of water and chocolate we started to unlock the room door, but were stopped by the pension owner.
He explained in broken English that the room above us was getting some emergency work done on it and that this was starting early on the next morning. We could have the downstairs en-suite instead, so we collected our barely unpacked bags and accoutrements and headed downstairs.
A bit of clothes washing was done before we turned in for the night, but fortunately most of the stuff had dried when we noticed the ‘No clothes washing‘ sign on the back of the room door. Oops…
With just washing and dressing to do the next morning, we got an early start.
Which is just as well as we needed to find somewhere to have breakfast and the first coffees of the day. Help was at hand though as a guy doing some touting for a walking tour tried to do his thing and tempt us onto the tour.
When we explained that we were looking for breakfasts, he pointed us in the direction of the place he had his breakfast every day – Taberna El Papelon (see the pic above). “Look for the red canopy” were his parting words as we headed off after thanking him.
We were the only Brits in the place, but we got our fresh orange juice, coffee and toasted croissants and jam without any difficulties and ended up with a sub-€8 bill for everything. And it was a pretty good way to start the day.
Although we weren’t heading anywhere in particular, we found ourselves outside a civic building that was the scene of a worker’s protest. We never found out what the gripe was, but we did get approached by a couple of Americans who were eager to talk to us and find out some opinions from us.
Yes, you’ve guessed it – Southern Baptists on a mission from God…
After answering their questions and Caroline commenting on the deck of cards they were using to help them in their quest, they realised that we’d got thoughts on religion that didn’t tally with theirs (both of us have been there, seen it, done it and walked away from different religious backgrounds) and we agreed to disagree.
With that settled in a very friendly way, we continued on our meanderings and then realised that we were almost upon the Metropol Parasol. After crossing the road to it and exploring the structure from the ground and the market at that level, only one question remained – how the hell did we get up to the walkways on the top?
More on Monday!