Month: June 2015

Onward to Bordeaux

   Our time in Spain has come to an end, normal eating habits about to realign. San Sebastián was fabulous, all we had heard and more.    Not sure we could keep up the pace for much longer, so probably a good thing for our waistline and liver if we head up the road to France. No chance of overindulging there? Spain and Portugal have been tremendous, beautiful countries, lovely people, and exquisite food and drink. Sangria has put pressure on Spritz as our drink of choice, with Negroni making a late charge for line honours. We had planned to spend our last meal in Spain eating pinxtos and having a glass of Cava for breakfast, but the health Gods must having been watching and our venue of choice was not open, nor were second or third position.    Oh well, patisseries and coffee it is then! We caught the local train to the border, then the fast train on to Bordeaux. Only problem was the ‘fast’ train stopped all stations so took about three …

Onward to San Sebastián 

This morning we are up and at ’em, as we have things to see and a car to drop off, so we forgo breakfast and hit the road to a “quaint” seaside village…according to the hotel manager. About an hour later we reached this quaint village thinking it would be an old fishing town full of shanties and sea salts, all terracotta and rust. But, non. It was a modern(ish) holiday destination with a nice beach and plenty of high rise apartment blocks. More Torquay than Wye River! Anyhow, we parked and found a tiny cafe with fresh baked goodies, and a lovely Spanish lady with no English to compliment our no Spanish. First time we’ve encountered this, we’ve been spoilt till now, but no problem, lots of waving of hands and smiles all round and we had breakfast in front of us. Goodbye ‘village’, next stop Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum. Our initial plan was to spend time just looking around the outside of what is a spectacular building, as time was pressing, but …

A Long Day in the Saddle

   The one down side to traveling by car in this part of Spain is the time spent on the road. Today we are off to Santillana del Mar, breaking up the very long trip to San Sebastián by stopping at this picturesque village some 450kms from Santiago de Compestela for the night. When you are planning these trips you look at the map and say ‘she’ll be right’, just down the road. Non! A long way down…and up, the road. Our trusty stead, a Corolla, was ok on the flat, but struggled up the hills.  Luckily the road system in Spain is great, and the scenery when we hit the coast was spectacular. Hills and valleys separated by flowing rivers, charming little villages dotted around, all terracotta and white washed walls! Incredible engineering…some of the bridges are mind boggling. A word on the roads in Spain….plenty of tolls, easily manoeuvred, speed limits that don’t apply to Audi & BMW, trucks that stay in the outside lanes and never speed….or tailgate! Cars that overtake then …

Porto to Santiago de Compestela 

We decided to start our final day in Porto early and walk around town taking some photos as the sun was hitting this wonderful city. It’s a shame more people don’t choose to visit Portugal, it has so much to offer and we have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in both Lisbon and Porto.   With a final breakfast of coffee and Hugh’s new favourite pastry, Nata, we packed our bags, which now included a mandolin case, headed towards the car via the popular ice cream shop, which we thought opened at 10am, but disappointingly opened at 11am!! Oh well, who needs ice cream for breakfast anyway??? Our trip to Santiago De Compestela was estimated to take 3 hours so we were keen to leave Porto by 10am. The drive was uneventful yet relaxing for me, whilst Hugh battled the cars on the freeways cruising at over 120kms Once checked in we hit the pavement and headed towards the famous Cathedral of Santiago De Compestela, the main reason for our stay in this town. As is …

Porto

Today is for just wandering around without any real plans, soak up a bit of the city vibe and go with the flow. That is after Rachael went for a run along the river. I was sacrificing my exercise routine and doing the prep work for the day, i.e. Sleeping!!    Breakfast next door with the old Nonna serving up croissants, coffee & Portuguese pastry called ‘Pastel de Nata’, an egg tart custard pastry. Dee-licious!     To work off the calories we headed up the road to look at books, in the fanciest book shop in Portugal, called Livrarian Lello & Irmao. Lonely Planet classified it as the third best bookstore in the world, and it would be hard put to find any better.    The place was packed, so much so we didn’t bother going in at first, but walked around for 30 minutes hoping the tours would have eased. Yep, this place is an institution and tours roll through it like a flood. Not sure how any books get sold…they should charge admission. …

Lisbon to Porto via Sintra

Today we actually go to Sintra, as we have to leave beautiful Lisbon, and head north 300km to the second largest city in Portugal, Porto…home of Port. Before heading off we have breakfast next door at a smashing little cafe, full of brick-a-brack on the walls, and the best croissants in town. I wish we had something similar back home, it would kill it. Lisbon has been wonderful, and deserves a longer stay, but time is afoot, and we need to push on. It’s going to be a busy day! Sintra is another heritage site, Unesco have been busy handing these awards out, and has numerous sites worthy of our attention, but time constraints mean we can only visit two, and in an abridged version at that. Without too much trouble we find a carpark in town, and head off by foot to our first pit stop, Quinta da Regaleira, which is just down the road. It is home to a smallish palace, and the most amazing gardens, filled with wonder and surprise. Everywhere you …

Sunshine in Lisbon

After the rain and drizzle of yesterday it was good to wake up to sunshine this morning, and what better way to start it than with a run?! Anyway, Rachael ran to the bridge and back, and I may not have made it that far!! The plan today was to go to the nearby town of Sintra, which necessitated an early start, but then I changed my mind! The thought of driving out of town, then back in was giving me the heebie geebies, so I gently suggested we put our plans off till tomorrow….and sorry ’bout the sleep in. So, breakfast time. Obligatory croissants & coffee, then off for more exploring. Lisbon is built on seven hills, and when I say hills, I mean HILLS! Everywhere is up, that is of course till you reach the top, then everything is down!! We seem to like walking instead of taking public transport, for some strange reason, but today we threw reason out the door. Call us crazy, but we ventured into new territory folks, and …