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Hola – plans v reality III

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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…

TTFN!

Weather or not…

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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…

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Regaleira, Porto – no pretensions, but good food and drink!

TV or not TV II

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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 film?

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!

Ho-Ho-Ho…

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!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

An unexpected pleasure was watching a rather entertaining documentary on BBC 4 last night – Peter York’s Hipster Handbook.

York is an astute observer and this hit the spot on several occasions during the one hour of airtime. I’d presume that the show is available to viewers in the UK via BBC iPlayer and there’s a fair chance that BBC 4 will also be repeating the programme in the next few days.

The reason for the title of this piece?

The revelation that there’s a cafe in the US serving coffee at $12 a cup…

Don’t think that I’d be partaking at that price if I was in the States, but I do wonder how much it would cost at a motorway service station here in the UK!

TV or not TV, that is the question…

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Just coast to show…

Now that most of the wall to wall sports coverage is out of the way, television in the UK is getting back to what passes for normal over here.

There’s no chance of me watching either Strictly or Bake Off, but a few old favourites have materialised on BBC2 and the Travel Channel recently.

The Travel Channel has been showing a selection of classic Palin travels and I’ve ended up re-watching episodes of Himalaya and Around The World In Eighty Days, even though I’ve seen them before and have both the books and the DVDs of each series too.

Both were rather watchable, as was the first episode of the Michael Portillo vehicle Great Continental Railway Journeys that was on BBC2 last night.

Whilst Portillo is still a political commentator, to my mind he’s made his mark as the presenter of his programmes on the joys of travelling by train in various parts of the world.

Yes, his choice of jackets can be rather flamboyant, but his love of rail travel shines through. Last night’s show involved travelling around Switzerland, something that I did back in the 1980’s.

After a night or two in Geneva, the rail passes were pressed into action to get us to Interlaken where a tent was pitched to use as or Swiss base.

When the sun was out, it was time to head into the mountains. When it wasn’t, it was time to hit the cities.

Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Zermatt and the Jungfrau were stops on sunny days, whilst Zurich, Basel and Berne were stops on our city days.

Portillo also visited Montreux, one stop that we didn’t make on that 80’s trip, but I did stop off on the Lake Geneva shoreline a few years later although there was no smoke on the water during that visit…

Portillo’s next stop? Morocco, but whether he calls in at Rick’s Cafe American is yet to be revealed!

And finally we have Coast.

There are a few boxed sets of this on the shelves downstairs, but I must admit to being a little disappointed when the new series started last week.

The reason? The mix of new footage was good, but there were too many clips from previous series for my liking. I will take a look at tonight’s instalment to see whether things improve, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for a new segment to appear and to appeal to regular viewers…

Mind you, I gather that Neil Oliver has also made Coast New Zealand, so hopefully that will be coming our way soon.

On a different note, watching the footage of Geneva on Great Continental Railway Journeys brought back memories of wandering around that city.

Most of it was written up for a travel piece in The Northern Echo newspaper back in the day.

What did surprise me was that one line stayed in the article and was published in all its glory.

It referred to an observation made whilst walking from our digs to the railway station for the train to Geneva Airport

The ladies of the night working the day shift.