The above pics are a taster for what’s to come over the next couple of weeks
We spent time exploring the east of England last year heading off towards North Norfolk, Lowestoft, Southwold, Woodbridge and IWM Duxford.
It would have been a full two weeks, but the forecast for the last days was not good, especially as we were supposed to be exploring Cambridge on foot. Thankfully we’d booked a chain hotel on booking.com, so I hit the cancel button on the iPad and cancelled the two night stay.
We will head back there, it’s just a case of when…
The Alhambra, Granada…
With travel prospects outside the UK being on hold at the moment, filling in gaps that were supposed to be holidays has been interesting.
Yes, we’ve been to Oxford and Ambleside in recent weeks and had a fortnight long Scottish trip planned using trains and buses to get between home, Glasgow, Fort William, Mallaig, Inverness, Kyle Of Lochalsh, Stirling, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then back home.
That last one has been moved to 2021 though as there’s an impending wedding – not us, but Caroline’s eldest son and his fiancee.
In between times though, we’ve been watching a few travel related TV progs and got a few ideas from Rick Stein, The Hairy Bikers, Richard Ayoade and Anthony Bourdain (the last one seen was a visit to Granada).
Some were familiar to both of us, some to me and one to Caroline as Jerusalem was visited when she lived on a kibbutz in the late 1970s.
Greece, France and Sardinia would be new destinations for the two of us, but return trips to Spain, Portugal, Sicily and Norway are being added to the mix, along with a visit to Malta to make up for that trip which was cancelled a week before departure thanks to Covid 19.
There are other plans, but they’re not totally fixed yet and quite a bit of flexibility is built into each plan!
In the meantime though, it’s a Bank Holiday Monday here in England and there’s a few more Anthony Bourdain shows to watch on Netflix…
Top 10… Travel TV programmes
Dave Gorman and companions buy a car and all go to look for America.
Around The World In Eighty Days
Michael Palin may not have been the first choice to present this, but it works and is still an enjoyable series to watch so many years later.
Still prefer the original format rather than the new programmes or Coast Australia. Coast New Zealand due soon apparently.
Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage
Francesco Da Mosto sailing around to visit Croatia, Greece and Turkey.
The Hairy Bikers
Baking, cooking and motorcycles in the UK, Europe and elsewhere too.
Sicily looking good in the Young/Classic versions of the detective series…
Italy From Top To Toe
Francesco da Mosto leaves Venice behind and drives in search of Italy.
Rick Stein’s Weekend In…
Rick’s an affable host as he hits Lisbon or Cadiz and more before recreating dishes in his kitchen. I usually make a cup of tea when he’s cooking seafood.
An unusual choice? Think about where they’ve been and what they’ve seen along the way as they dig up the countryside, islands and city spaces.
World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides
Henry Cole explores the world on a variety of classic motorbikes.
Malaga and home…
When we left White Nest Hostel in Granada, we were already discussing where we would go to on our next Andalucian next road trip.
With flights more likely to be in and out of Malaga than Seville, the likelihood is that our destinations will include Ronda, Cadiz, Jerez and Seville.
We’d probably also top up on the places we visited in Malaga too.
Some were closed on our first full day there whilst the morning after was a complete wash out thanks to the rain storm that hit the city and lingered until after we’d got our bus to Seville.
When we reached Malaga, returned to the Ibis for another night, found our room, the bags hit the floor and we sat down, put the television on and started flicking.
As one might expect, the Spanish channels were first up on the menu, but the pictures onscreen were very familiar to us as we’d been in Westminster a month beforehand and had taken photographs around the Houses Of Parliament and that end of Westminster Bridge.
The news about the Westminster incident had obviously broken as it was on all of the Andalucia channels. We found CNN and heard what had happened from both the news anchor in the States and a reporter on the ground in London.
As repetition set in as it always does on rolling news channels, we flicked once more and were surprised to find one of the channels we’d viewed a few minutes beforehand broadcasting some very raw images of what had happened on Westminster Bridge.
Should that footage have been shown? Probably not (in the UK at least) unless some pixellation had been applied to protect the injured person’s identity (our suspicion though was that images being shown were of a body rather than and injured person).
So, there was a bit of a dampener put on the end of what had been a rather enjoyable road trip around Andalucia. We decided to do some pavement pounding in search of coffee and a handbag that Caroline had seen on that first day in Malaga.
Malaga was in festival mode as it was the Malaga Film Festival. We walked the red carpet laid along one of the main streets, dodged displays of an Audi SUV and tried to work out which of the films we’d actually seen.
We didn’t see the local boy made good who was picking up an award (clues to his identity – he’s played a Mariachi, an animated cat with hat, claws, swordplay and the ability to sing Living La Vida Loca alongside a walking, talking donkey plus a few other roles too).
After coffee etc, it was back to the hotel for a shower, change and out in search of food. One place that wasn’t trying to pull people off the street was Ciao, an Italian place that had its menu outside and quite a few people eating inside and outside.
Yes, it was full, but if w’ed care to wait for a while, we’d have the next available table was the gist of the conversation we had with a member of staff. We wandered off in search of somewhere else, but went back, had another chat, took a couple of seats and received as complimentary glass of wine to help ease our waiting time.
Eating at an Italian restaurant has become of a bit of a last night thing for us as we’ve ended up having pasta or pizza on several last nights now in Malaga, Lisbon, Oslo, London and Glasgow.
Ciao was definitely on a par with our favourite Italian eating place in Lisbon – Restaurante da Vinci. Fine pasta for Caroline, a larger than expected calzone for me plus wine, coffee and a dessert ensured that we needed to walk some of the meal off before heading back to the hotel. So we did.
And got temporarily misplaced (or lost if you prefer that term!). The street map was back at the hotel, but after twenty minutes of wandering, I spotted the cafe we’d had a meal in on that first day in Malaga.
We backtracked a bit, headed up one of the side streets and spotted other cafes or shops that we’d passed before. After about fifteen minutes, we spotted the sign on the Ibis hotel and headed in that direction for one last drink before bedtime.
The following morning ticked all the usual boxes – breakfast, pack, check out of the hotel and walk to the station to get a train to the airport. Getting through security didn’t take long and neither did finding an overpriced sandwich and drink for lunch.
The airport shopping bill was a small one – one bottle and a pack pocket size black bull. Caroline rolled her eyes once more, but the bull stayed in the basket, was paid for and has a new home on my desk… And why not?
The best part was about to come though. We’d booked priority boarding with Ryanair and were ushered through the boarding gate with several other priority bookers.
There did appear to be something missing as we waited to board the plane.
I’d spotted that you could see a fair bit of the airport through the windows by the ramp we were waiting on, so it wasn’t a total surprise when one of the check-in crew announced that we would have to come back up into the gate area because the plane had been told to park up by a totally different gate…
We eventually boarded, got to Manchester and then got the train and a cab home from what had been a very enjoyable trip…
We’ll be back, but where did we go to next – that will be revealed next week once we’d covered the wisepacking angles from this trip!
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…
Hola – plans v reality III
Yes, normal service has resumed….
Where were we?
Ah yes, Seville. After booking into our digs and going out for our first meal in the city, we returned to our room and a request to move into a room downstairs as some last minute work was going to take place above us.
So we found ourselves in a ground floor en-suite – which was good as we needed to do our first set of washing our wash and wear clothing.
After doing the wash, wringing it out and rolling it up in travel towels and hanging it up to dry, we then noticed the sign on the back of the room door forbidding clothes washing in the room. Mmm…
Everything was dry come Wednesday morning though, which was a good thing as we headed out in search of places to see and things to do. When we got back though, we were pleased that everything had dried out, because we returned to a room devoid of all of our stuff.
We thought the worst at first, but some broken English came from above to tell us that we’d be back in the room that we’d originally been allocated and that all of our stuff was up there. Relief in one respect, but neither of us were too happy about our stuff being moved when we weren’t there!
Come Thursday and Caroline headed into the Cathedral after first checking the times for the roof tour she wanted to go on. After she’d paid and headed in, I headed off to do some exploring of my own, get a coffee or a beer and then return to our pre-arranged meeting place next to the Real Alcazar.
We met up again two hours later, swapped stories about our exploits and headed for lunch. As we finished, Caroline looked at her ticket and realised that she hadn’t been booked in for the roof tour at 16.30, but the 12.00 one…
Oops – she’d been booked onto the tour that a Cathedral guide had said was full. No matter though as we just decided to wander around some more, go for a beer and tapas mid-afternoon break and then head back for a siesta and some more clandestine clothes washing.
And that was about it for the small problems we encountered in Seville. The entrance to the flamenco club had moved, but that was about it.
We did have more problems with Apple Maps printouts in Cordoba, but we eventually found our hotel after much scratching of heads. Whilst we’d had good Wi-Fi at the basic guest house in Seville, in Cordoba the iPad got a signal in the hotel lobby or when we opened our room door…
When it came to Granada we took no prisoners in getting to or from the bus station to White Nest Hostel – we got a cab in both directions! It did however take us a while to find the ticket booth at The Alhambra the following day, but we got there and started to make our way around.
The site was busy and we weren’t the only ones who had difficulties with the vending machines dispensing coffee, sandwiches or snacks. The coffee one was interesting, the sandwich one dispensed not one, but two packs of sandwiches whilst the snack one behaved itself.
Best laugh of the day came when I headed downstairs to the gents toilets. As I was leaving, a whole party of Oriental ladies were heading into the gents.
They were rather surprised when I pointed out that it was the men’s toilets they were trying to get into and they soon scurried back upstairs.
Yes, I’ve been in rock or student clubs when ladies have invaded the blokes toilets (the queues were shortly and it wasn’t uncommon to hear the words ‘It’s alright guys, we’re not looking!‘ as the invasion took place….
Anything else? Not really as the rest of the visit to Granada was as planned.
In Malaga though, one problem arose after we checked into the hotel and switched the TV on.
One of the local channels was showing live footage of an event that had happened in London. The only English channel was CNN and their reporting was about an incident at Westminster.
With no signal for the iPad or for Caroline’s Android phone, it was lobby computer time to find out what had happened where we’d been back in February. BBC, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Independent websites told the story about what had happened.
Which almost brought us to the end of such aspects of our road-trip…
Friday’s posting will be about the stuff we took with us to deal with RyanAir’s luggage restrictions, the weather conditions we were expecting, the places we were heading to and their respective dress codes.
The story of the trip proper starts next Monday…
Weather or not…
One fine day… just not today!
We were expecting to wake up to find snow covering the roads, pavements and car here at Wisepacking Towers given yesterday’s weather forecasts.
It may arrive later of course, but we have things to do and places to go, so it may or may not impinge on our plans.
Whilst the forecast wasn’t right for this morning, yesterday’s was spot on – high winds for most of the day with some disruption.
For most of our surrounding area this meant that there was a spread of rubbish and a batch of disposed disposable nappies over the road and pavement as bins had been put out for collection by the bin trucks last week rather than today when the collection is supposed to take place…
No nappies here though – just a neighbour’s trampoline invading parts of our back garden after being lifted up and deposited by the fence around 3am.
Parts of the trampoline structure ended up in our garden whilst an ornamental chimney pot suffered the same fate as a few garden gnomes.
The trampoline has been moved and weighted down, but there’s a bit of repair work that needs to be done to the fence.
And the garden gnomes? We can rebuild them without consulting the Gnome Office or a copy of Rolling Gnome magazine.
One tube of super glue should do the trick as there’s no need for any to them to become the Six Million Dollar Gnome as none are modelled on Lee Majors (yes, that’s a gratuitous 1970’s TV series reference just there that some may have to Google to find out more about…).
So what can you do when the weather’s taking a walk on the wild side?
Get the guidebooks out and start planning the next batch of trips or sit and watch some travel based TV.
We made a point of watching Rick Stein’s programme about a weekend in Lisbon last night whilst demolishing one of Caroline’s home made fish pies.
Plenty of memories of time spent in Lisbon, Sintra and beyond and yes, there were a few places that we’d been too and eaten in too.
Whilst we’d both pass on seafood dishes or any potentially cheeky pork stews, we have eaten well on our visits to Lisbon, Sintra, Porto (see below) and elsewhere in Portugal.
Some have featured in guidebooks, others haven’t and yes, I have spotted one or two Hollywood names eating out a table or two away from us.
None of that matters though so long as the food, wine and beer are good.
We don’t take photos of our plate or frequent places lauded by foodies or loaded down with stars. We don’t need to be in flash surroundings either, something that we do have in common with Rick Stein after watching that Lisbon programme last night…
Regaleira, Porto – no pretensions, but good food and drink!
TV or not TV II
Wells, Somerset – or is it Sandford, Gloucestershire?
Well, I missed two films when I looked through Radio Times yesterday…
The first is on tonight on ITV2 at 9pm – Hot Fuzz.
Good cast, good lines and a mad shoot-out near the end as the good guys take on the opposition. Cornettos are optional!
The second is on ITV3 at 8.55 tomorrow morning.
The script has loads of quotable lines whilst the soundtrack includes a bone fide hit single too. Bogart, Bergman and Peter Lorre are all in there, as are the usual suspects…
The one and only Casablanca…
Here’s looking at you kid.
TV or not TV?
Yes, the holiday fortnight is upon us, as is the seasonal selection of programmes and films destined to be on our screens (or not)…
We gave Strictly, SPOTY and The Apprentice a miss and as Caroline was out on Saturday night, I caught up on an episode of Endeavour series 3 and the first couple of episodes of To Play The King (with Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart).
Last night’s viewing was two episodes of a sixties classic – the first series of The Man From Uncle in glorious black and white. Sharp editing, sharp suits and a hint of what was to come gadget-wise too. Not much screen time yet though for Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum gets more in his average appearance in NCIS fifty plus years after his role as Napoleon Solo‘s Russian sidekick).
There’s more of a travel feeling to a programme highlighted in the Radio Times at 6pm on BBC2 over the next three nights – The Real Marigold Hotel. Six personalities head to India and it’s interesting to see who they all cope with the experience.
Four are back for follow-ups on experiences in Miami and Tokyo soon and there’s a new set of names heading to India for the second series of The Real Marigold Hotel.
In the meantime though, there’s always the film that inspired the reality show – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which has been given an early evening Film 4 slot on Sunday 25th – albeit in an edited format (I somehow suspect that the DVD of the same title will hit the player around the same time as a way of avoiding edits and adverts).
The Beeb are showing a of their few home-grown films too – The Lady In The Van, Pride, What We Did On Our Holidays and Saving Mr Banks.
Anything else? Well there’s a bit of Yorkshire in the air at 9pm on Thursday 29th as The Brontes come to the fore on BBC1 whilst over on BBC Four there’s a bit of slow TV as The Flying Scotsman takes to the tracks of the Severn Valley Railway at the same time…
There should have been another programme to watch at 9pm on the same day, but that’s been pulled from the schedules. Truck mechanic, bike racer and adventurer Guy Martin started an attempt in early December to ride around Britain on a pedal cycle with the aim of covering around 4800 miles in twenty days.
After 800 miles in four days and eight hours, an achilles tendon injury brought the attempt to a close at John O’Groats. One suspects that Guy will try again once he’s recovered from the injury problem…
Will we be watching It’s A Wonderful Life again? Possibly…
And might I be watching the film that’s become my favourite one set on December 24th?More than likely, even though it will be at home rather than in a cinema this time. It’s Bruce Willis, that colour changing white vest and Alan Rickman…
Yippie-ki-yay, it’s Die Hard!
We the people…
The result is in and it’s going to be interesting to see how the next four years pan out – something that was always going to be up in the air no matter who was first past the post.
In the meantime, there’s another four and a half box sets of The West Wing to get through (I’ve watched them a few time to see whether my post-stroke memory is still up to scratch, Caroline is watching them for the first time) and the first series of the Kevin Spacey led House of Cards to watch too.
Will the U.S. version be better than the original U.K. House of Cards?
You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment…
Especially as I’m taking another look at the original before taking a look at the relatively new kid on the block.
And waiting for my Bartlet For America t-shirt to arrive!
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