Travel Stories

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A walk and a stay in history

October 11, 2017 - Nelas, Portugal
Up early again although we don't need to be ready until 8.15am. At least it was a chance to relax and enjoy a good Hotel Teatro breakfast with the rest of our group. This time we knew where everything was. It was very easy to just slow down and talk to the others about where they ate last night and the plans for the day. John was a bit late again this morning so we were all in the foyer and checked out before he arrived. Today we drove to Amarante. Alessandro had to park a little way away...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Going Home NOW

October 18, 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal
I know we are a bit behind in our Journal but we will catch up. It is for our benefit as much as for yours. Our bus trip improved markedly once John got used to having a bunch of Aussies in his group. We saw a lot of places going into the north of Portugal and even on to Santiago de Compestela in Spain. That part of the trip returned to Lisbon where we had 2 nights before beginning a tour to the south of Portugal as far as Lagos. For that part of the trip we had a different guide who gave a...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Santiago de Compestela

October 10, 2017 - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Today was a big day on our schedule. We had to drive from Porto to Santiago de Compestela in Spain, a trip of about 250km each way. We went down for breakfast about 7.30am. Now that we were at the Teatro with the others we had another breakfast room to find our way around. I had decided on cereal to start and couldn't find any juice. It wasn't until we had toast in the toaster that we discovered there was a second room with more things laid out. There was our juice to start our day, and the...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

We make a home in the theatre

October 9, 2017 - Porto, Portugal
We went down for breakfast at 7am, the earliest we could. The dining room was already very busy as there were five coaches and another twenty-seater parked outside overnight. Breakfast food was fine if a bit hard to get at on occasion but coffee from an urn is not the best. We had a 7.45am start with John and our new driver, Mario, who probably spoke English at least as well as John. We drove down into the old town of Porto to collect the others then a drive back through the heights of...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Back to University

October 8, 2017 - Porto, Portugal
John had impressed on us the need to leave by 8am but breakfast didn't officially start until 7.30am. We went down to check-out and hopefully to breakfast at 7.15am. Other tour groups were just heading in for breakfast so we tagged along. We left Fatima a bit before 8am for the drive to Coimbra. The Universidade de Coimbra is the oldest university in Portugal and John had booked an early timeslot for a tour which gave access to view the library which houses a number of old books. Some of...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

A pilgrimage to Fátima

October 7, 2017 - Fátima, Portugal
We woke up early to crash the doors for breakfast at 8am as we needed to be at Marquis de Pombal Square by 8.45am. It was made clear in the paperwork that being late was not an option. In fact it was 7.50am when we sat down to breakfast and we were already checked out. We made it a lighter breakfast this morning but the woman looking after us this morning understood the need for coffee early. Lattés again for both of us but it was hot and strong. At 8.25am we had a taxi called and it was...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

The Big Red Bus in Lisbon

October 6, 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal
Another morning to sleep in and to linger over a late breakfast. With so many choices it wasn't hard to find things to savour. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, fried eggs and bacon, or just cold meats and cheeses, what was one to do? Our coffee choices have been harder. Yesterday it was difficult to work out how to get a flat white or a long black with milk on the side so today we opted for a latté each. The coffee was good anyway. Today we thought was a day for the Big Red Bus so we asked...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

A walk on the Harbourside

October 5, 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal
    We slept in and didn't go down to breakfast until 9.30am. We could have taken our breakfast plates out onto the terrace but opted to stay in the dining room. There were plenty of choices – juice, cereals, fruit, nuts, bread and pastries, ham, cheeses, tomatoes, sweet things and brioche, as well as hot choices – scrambled eggs, bacon, grilled tomato, boiled eggs, or fried eggs. Difficult not to be happy with that. After all that food we needed a walk and went along the street toward...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Portugal here we come

October 4, 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal
We began planning for our 10.55am airport check-in, so about 30 minutes to the airport plus 5-10 minutes for the taxi to arrive, a contingency allowance and then Max's obsession with making sure he is waiting at the airport when the check-in opens and we were planning on getting to hotel reception about 9.15am. We had our bags packed and went down to breakfast about 8am which gave us time to enjoy our last breakfast at the Hotel Caro. It really has been a beautiful place to stay and the...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Tropical Fish, Penguins and Beluga Whales

October 3, 2017 - Valencia, Spain
Another wonderful breakfast at the Caro Hotel. With only a small number of rooms breakfast is easy and a quiet affair and it is rather pleasant to sit near the remains of the old Gothic walls and the Gothic floor under our glass floor. Yesterday's Eggs Florentine (poached eggs on toast with spinach and hollandaise sauce) was so yummy I just had to go that way again. These weren't just poached eggs that popped and ran everywhere, they positively quivered when you waved a fork near them. Some...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Arts and Science

October 2, 2017 - Valencia, Spain
    This morning we relaxed over a good breakfast at the Caro Hotel; Juice, Cereal, Eggs Florentine (or fruit followed by toast and jam, Margaret's preference), and coffee. It is a lovely little dining room built around some of the original Moorish structure. When the Hotel was built they uncovered traces of the original Roman buildings and parts of a later Moorish building. Some of the structure is displayed under a glass floor or exhibited around the building. Our room has four Gothic...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Further East again

October 1, 2017 - Valencia, Spain
Today we were taking a train to Valencia which was due to leave at 10.40am so we could take our time this morning and sit over our breakfast. As we looked out the window we watched a build-up of Police at the Atocha Roundabout. Earlier they had blocked one side of the Paseo del Prado and now they blocked both sides and were directing traffic, taxis and buses away from the area. One couple we talked to said they would have to take a taxi to meet up with their tour bus at some other location....
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Taking the train to Madrid

September 30, 2017 - Madrid, Spain
Breakfast at the Sercotel La Coliseo was from 7.30am on the weekend and our train was to leave at 9.20am so we needed to be at breakfast for the early shift and ready to go by about 8.45am for the short walk to the station. Although there were hot choices and Margaret went for beans on toast, I stuck to the formula from our rural times and went for juice, toast, meats and cheese. It was all good and the many options I didn't take looked appetising as well. Even the coffee from this dispensing...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Back to Bilbao

September 29, 2017 - Bilbao, Spain
No real hurry this morning as all we have to do is drive back to Bilbao and drop off the hire car sometime before the office closes. Easy enough then to pack our bags and enjoy a last breakfast at Hotel Villa Arce. This has become the basis for our busy days recently. We sit and listen to the oranges being juiced and our host then presents us with very fresh orange juice and a plate of fruit pieces (watermelon, honeydew melon and orange pieces) that we attack immediately. A basket of toast...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

A visit to Altamira NeoCave

September 28, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain
Another lazy morning and a relaxed breakfast. It's nice to be in the country. Before heading off for the day we tried to convince Miss Leading to take us to Altamira cave, Cueva del Altamira, Museum of Altamira or Museo del Altamira, all to no avail. We had to settle on setting a destination as Santilla del Mar and presume we would find signs. As we approached Santilla del Mar we did find signposts and I thought I would stop and try to program Miss Leading once more. No different, even...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Monte Castillo

September 27, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain
Ah, decisions, decisions. The morning arrived clear but cool here in the country and we woke to the sounds of roosters crowing, cowbells jangling, that damn crow and the mailman tooting his horn as he did the rounds of the little lanes. While we sat over our breakfast we considered today's possibilities. One original idea that I came up with before leaving home was the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos but after our visited to Santander we thought that should move down or off the list. We...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

A trip through time in Santander

September 26, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain
9am is a civilised hour for breakfast and we were there almost on the dot. We had a day in Santander planned and wanted to get away early. Evan so it is hard to rush through the Spanish idea of a Continental breakfast. Orange juice and fruit, coffee and toast with assorted cold meats and cheese and then more coffee. We filled a bag with laundry to do if the opportunity arose, took our cameras and day packs to the car and set off with Miss Leading giving us directions. She led us into a...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Lazing about in Puente Viesgo

September 25, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain
We slept lat this morning and only went down for breakfast about 10am. Breakfast at the Hotel Villa Arce is only from 9 to 11am anyway, so no early starts required. Our breakfast is in the continental style with a plate of fruit, a glass of orange juice, a basket of toast and a plate of meat and cheese and coffee. The Spanish also have slices of a type of butter cake that is only slightly sweet that rounds of breakfast well as far as I am concerned. The first of our hosts delivered the plates...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

To our country home

September 24, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain
  As we had a late check-out time, Sunday breakfasts are later and were driving to our next destination there was no need to hurry to get our bags packed stuff breakfast inside us and rush out into the day. Instead we enjoyed sitting a while over the indulgent breakfast spread that is laid on here and then taking our leave of our rather decadent three-room suite with balcony. We had to go however as there were new places to go and things to see. So at 11.30am we took the lift down to our...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Zumaia and the Flysch Cruise

September 23, 2017 - Bilbao, Spain
With a bit of time on our hands we took the opportunity of a later start today and a late breakfast before grabbing a map and the paperwork to pick up our hire car. I had already checked the Euskotren Tram system and it was simple to walk about 150m to the tram stop and buy our tickets from the machine. In English even, so that was a plus for us. As luck would have it a tram went by as we walked to the stop so we had to wait about 15 minutes for the next one. After a minor map reading...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

A Red Bus and the Guggenheim Museum

September 22, 2017 - Puente Viesgo, Spain
Horror of horrors. Today had the temerity to rain on our parade. It looked like it would last most of the day but only as light showers. We decided today would be a day for the Big Red Bus and the Guggenheim Musem so after a late breakfast we walked through the park along the river side to the museum to find the bus stop. When we reached the foot of the stairs beside the Guggenheim there was a busker with four marionettes. One, I think was an automaton, playing an accordion, there were two...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

Taking the early train

September 21, 2017 - Bilbao, Spain
We needed to be at the station ready for scanning to board the 9.18am train to Bilbao so we were ready for the 7.30am breakfast call. That was easy as all we had to do was put a few things back in our bags and we were ready to go. There was a good choice for breakfast but little choice of a table except for one of two set for eight people as the place was crowded with a bus load of Germans, Dutch and French by the sound of it. That would have been a good mix on the bus! I assume they were...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

The Plains in Spain with no Rain

September 20, 2017 - Valladolid, Spain
    Toledo is finished for us now, we must move on. Today we have to return the hire car and catch the train to Valladolid. I didn't know where that was but my tour director has it all in hand. Well the train tickets are in our folder but Margaret is right on top of the arrangements. So, first things first, a good feed is required to sustain us for the day. We went down to breakfast at 7.30am, not quite the earliest we could be. The room was already full of what appeared to be an American...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

The Hanging Houses and the Enchanted City

September 19, 2017 - Toledo, Spain
Up bright and early to have breakfast as we had a long day planned. So we fell in with the doors at breakfast. Well not quite, there was already one other couple seated when we arrived but it was very quiet down there. It was only a quick stop back at our room afterward to grab up our daypack and then we went through the rigmarole of extracting the car from the car park. This time we drove out of town behind the bus. I bet the company hopes any future coach builders can keep to the same...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

A day for washing

September 18, 2017 - Toledo, Spain
A look ahead at a few days of travelling and sightseeing suggested that this was the day to try to get some washing done. Totalling our number of items and checking the hotels costs for laundry service quickly told us that would amount to over €60, a bit more than we would like to pay. So the alternative was to search the internet for a lavanderia (laundromat to you or me) and preferably one we could get to easily. There did not seem to be any up here in the old town but there was plenty...
By Max & Margaret in Europe 2015 & 2016 & 2017

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