Travel Stories

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September 1, 2015
We very much enjoyed the last few kilometres of the canal du midi, which involved a very urban cruise through Toulouse right in front of Matabiau station and on to the basin at the end of the canal, the port de l'embouchure, where we had to make a sharp right turn to begin our journey on the canal de Garonne.  The contrast was immediate: not only were the locks no longer oval in shape ( we had grown quite used to Riquet's eccentric design), but the whole concept  of the canal is different....
By Anne in Cassandra Encore 2015

Reina Sofia and Prado

August 22, 2015 - Madrid, Spain
Margaret had organised to get online tickets for the Reina Sofia and the Prado which combined both museums and allowed us to also see the touring exhibition of works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Miro among others from the Kunstmuseum Basel so we set off to walk down past the Prado to the Reina Sofia and visit that gallery first. My unerring sense of direction turned left instead of right and led us up the Garden Path, quite literally. Well done, Max! In either direction the roads, the Paseo de...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Avila and Segovia

August 21, 2015 - Madrid, Spain
I had nearly finished this entry when my lack of technical prowess and a slow internet, and perhaps Sod as well, all conspired to wipe it out. Max said, never mind, now you can improve on the last one which was either a comment about the last one (which he had read) or an expression of hope. Anyway, I started off last time with a shamefaced confession that I had remembered that George Orwell's book is in fact 'Homage to Catalonia', not Barcelona. Oops! After breakfast at the Hotel Catalonia...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Moving to Madrid

August 20, 2015 - Madrid, Spain
Our train was to leave Barcelona at 10am so we figured we would need to get a taxi about 8:45am to have plenty of time for any eventualities. With that in mind we were up and packed and, leaving our bags ready to grab later, we walked out into a deserted Les Rambles for a last look around. The little cafe across the road seemed tempting so we went in for a coffee and croissants for breakfast. While we were there we picked up some filled pannini to take with us on the train. We were dropped at...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Montjuic on the Teleferic

August 19, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain
We took breakfast at the Restaurant Ferran again (definitely a good start for the day at a good price) and caught the Metro to Parallel and hopped on the Funicular Railway to Montjuic. The Metro Ticket includes this trip and the ticket machines have an English option so it is simple enough to use the Metro. From the funicular station we then walked further up the hill to get tickets for the Teleferic, the cable car, to the castle. At the top we went for a walk through the gardens and...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Three Countries in One Day tour

August 17, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain
Oh, good grief, it was dark outside when we stirred ourselves for the much vaunted Three Countries in One Day bus trip. At least we had walked by the meeting point yesterday so we knew where we were heading and could point ourselves in that direction without much need for thought. There was no time for breakfast, or even coffee beforehand and breakfast was included as part of the tour package but I think ours were not the only growling stomachs that gathered at the Julia Travel office at...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Another Big Red Bus

August 16, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain
Breakfast wasn't included in our hotel booking, and we were too mean to risk the elegant looking dining room, especially with the whole of gastronomic Barcelona waiting for us. So we ventured off into the Carrer San Pau, the little street where the hotel is situated, turned right and into La Rambla, about half a block away. At that hour of the morning (not early) it wasn't too crowded, and looked very attractive, with its flower stalls and souvenir booths almost covered by the hugely tall...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

And on to Barcelona

August 15, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain
Our train was due to leave at 10:07am so we knew we would have to be falling in the doors of the breakfast room. They operate the very civilized hours of 8am to noon for breakfast but that doesn't help when you have a train to catch. As luck would have it our normal breakfast woman was late arriving this morning so the night clerk was pressed into service to deliver coffee and pastry and, somewhat grudgingly, some diced fruit and yoghurt, but the niceties had to wait until reinforcements...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

l'Orangerie, Louvre and les Jardins des Tuilleries

August 14, 2015 - Paris, France
We had Louvre or Musee d'Orsay tickets included in our hotel package and this morning we collected our tickets to the Louvre from the desk clerk. We are still not sure of his name but on our last visit we dubbed him Henri so for our purposes he is still Henri. He always seems happy to talk to Margaret in French and rejoices any time I attempt the language, all in good humour. With our tickets in our pocket we ambled along to the Louvre and looked for la Porte des Lions where the internet...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015


August 20, 2015
We have not moved very far since my last post.   We made our way to the summit of the canal du midi where there are some interesting monuments to its founder and godfather, Pierre Paul Riquet.  There are also the remains of the complex feeder system which Riquet devised so that the canal should always have a water supply both on the Mediterranean and the Garonne side.   It has since been changed, but the course of the feeder canals can still be seen.   We stayed one night at the summit,...
By Anne in Cassandra Encore 2015

Cave Paintings in Paris

August 13, 2015 - Paris, France
Not only are there works from Artistic Periods such as the Renaissance, the Dutch and Flemish schools, Romantic, Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary, there is an exhibition of the Paleolithic school as well. We found out that for a short time the Lascaux Cave Paintings will be on display in Paris, at the Porte de Versailles Exposition centre.. OK, they are not the real paintings but the real ones are sealed up in their cave with very restricted access and if you visit at Lascaux you will...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Visit to the Sagrada Familia

August 18, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain
I don't know the location of the soggy plain in Spain where the rain mostly falls, but this morning it was tipping it down on Barcelona. So what to do except the laundry! I had discovered on the internet a Lavandaria just around the corner from our hotel where the owner would wash, dry and fold your clothes for EUR15, so we took umbrellas and raincoats and two large, full plastic bags and dropped them there. The cheerful owner gave us a ticket to which he pointed urgently and said 'benno'....
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Shopping and the Open Tour

August 12, 2015 - Paris, France
Breakfast is a very crowded affair at the Relais-Hotel du Vieux Paris. Not with people, although there are only four tables for two, but the tables are a very small place for all the breakfast things for two. A cup and saucer and sideplate, a dish of fruit, a glass of fresh presed orange juice, and a pot of coffee each along with a jug of hot milk, a dish of cheeses and a basket of bread, croissants and brioche to share. There is still a little space to move things around as long as you...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Travelling to Paris

August 11, 2015 - Paris, France
As we went down to breakfast we stopped at the desk and booked a taxi for 9:45am so we would be at St Pancras International Station to get the 11:31am Eurostar to Paris. We then went downstairs to breakfast. In keeping with the grand nature of Reception the Dining Room is completely over the top. Art Deco figures, fountains and fish tanks. The Breakfast Area itself is surrounded by mirrors and gilt or brass stylised peacocks. There was plenty to eat for breakfast except toast. A management...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

London Calling

August 10, 2015 - London, United Kingdom
Weekday breakfast times at our hotel were from 06:30am until 09:30am and our train to London was due to leave at 10:33am so the timing was perfect to take a leisurely morning meal and catch a bit of television news. At least the crowing over Australia's Ashes debacle has finally stopped so we were more comfortable watching the news. We returned to our room and organised our packing before checking out of the hotel and walking up to the station. We had collected our tickets from the machine...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Sunday in Bristol

August 9, 2015 - Bristol, United Kingdom
The Holiday Inn Express in Bristol offers breakfast until 11am on the weekends and we took full advantage to sleep late and eat later. Their buffet breakfast is not as good as many but is sufficient to give you a good meal to start the day. We then went out for a walk around the block to look for somewhere to have coffee with Sarah K. The best of a bad lot appeared to be just across the road. When Sarah arrived she arranged to leave her luggage at reception and we gathered in the foyer before...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Tom & Emily's Wedding

August 8, 2015 - Bristol, United Kingdom
What an incredible day. We walked to the venue , just 1.5km along the Bath Road from our hotel and a very plasant stroll in British sunshine and under clear blue skies. The happy couple couldn't have wished for a better day. As we approached the Paint Works a little before noon there was a group of obvious wedding attendees at the top of the steps leading down to the courtyard venue. In fact we spotted Bex as we got closer and Will had just gone down to reinforce with the celebrant there...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Across the water

August 7, 2015 - Bristol, United Kingdom
Our host, Jonathon, booked a taxi for us to go to the Ferry Terminal this morning so we would be assured of getting there easily. Otherwise the walk goes on and on and the terminal is really designed to get many vehicles on or off as quickly as possible. Not a place to be dragging a suitcase. So we were packed and breakfasted and ready to leave when the taxi turned up at 8am. The boarding announcement was made even as we were checking in so it was a simple process of taking our boarding...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Down the Coast by Train to Rosslare Port

August 6, 2015 - Wexford, Ireland
We were looking forward to this little stage of our journey. The rail journey from Dublin to Wexford and on to Rosslare Port is one of the fabulous coastal rail links built by Isombard Kingdom Brunel. The track follows the coast for a long way, first clinging to the coastal cliffs and burrowing through small headlands before descending to the coastal strand. It is then alongside the beach most of the way to Wicklow before heading inland through Rathdrum going up one river valley and down...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Taking Flight

August 5, 2015 - Dublin, Ireland
Our airport transfer was booked for 7am and I confirmed that last night so we had no chance of breakfast this morning and little chance to sleep late. We checked out of the hotel and settled our added costs for our meals at the restaurants then took a seat to wait for our driver.   We had hardly settled down when he arrived and we were soon whisked off, this time in a bit more comfort in a Toyota sedan. At the airport terminal we were greeted by a young man who directed us to a 'mobile...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

The alleyways of the Souk

August 4, 2015 - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
After much soul-searching and discussion of the logistics as well as consideration of the weather we decided that we would have to miss out on seeing the Grand Mosque again. I think the changes made to the route and timing of the Big Red Bus makes it difficult to get from the Abu Dhabi Mall to the mosque and then get the return bus before our ticket expires. Margaret really wanted to go again but knew the timing would be difficult. Our alternative was to get the Big Red Bus to the World Trade...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Some Like It Hot

August 2, 2015 - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Despite leaving more than 30 minutes late and, according to the First Officer, battling a headwind our flight arrived in Abu Dhabi at 5:50am, right on schedule, after passing some spectacular thunder clouds lit from within by lightning every few minutes. At Abu Dhabi we were among the very few people to head toward Arrivals rather than Transit so we were through the Passport Control very quickly. Our Fast Track card took us to one particular desk and may have been subject to less scrutiny...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Abu Dhabi on the Big Red Bus

August 3, 2015 - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Fearful of coming home many kg heavier, I did my usual exercises this morning without the DVD and the relentlessly cheerful Denise Austin. Felt so virtuous that I was able to tuck into the best  breakfast on the planet, the buffet laid out at the Latest Recipe Restaurant at the hotel. It offers everything you could imagine as well as some things you wouldn't recognise. Such as beef bacon which Max had yesterday and wasn't about to add to his Must Have breakfast list. There is also ordinary...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Last minute hang-ups

August 1, 2015 - Sydney, Australia
Some adventures begin auspiciously, some just begin and a few start as an adventure at the very beginning. No don't get too concerned! We are sitting safe and well in our hotel in Abu Dhabi. Margaret seems to have enjoyed her visit to the Hunter Valley and her talk was acclaimed by all, but I hope she will have more to say about that as soon as I let her near the Fuzzy Travel. Her trip from the Valley to Sydney and meeting up with Sarah and David, along with Lucie, Zack and Olly? More from...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

Almost ready now!

July 31, 2015 - Wollongong, Australia
Margaret has committed to talking at a Hunter Valley Law Practitioners Conference tonight. (She does like to make efficient use of her time!) That meant she was all ready to go this morning and I dropped her at the station for the 9:35am train to Sydney. So far it seems to be runningt to plan. I came home to pack my bags and to organise the flat. We may have been a little ambitious in our grocery shopping recently and I cooked some soup with the vegetables, leaving just enough for my evening...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015

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