A Travellerspoint blog

It’s ever so cute

semi-overcast 16 °C

It feels like stepping back in time. Think pounds not dollars, miles not kilometers, inches not centimeters, pints not liters and pence not cents. The people are polite, genteel and friendly, The villages are small, the roads are narrow and the houses are ever so cute. This is what we have found in North Norfolk about three hours north of London.

It is like stepping onto a film set for a BBC production of Heartbeat or All Creatures Great and Small. The villages have narrow winding streets, sometimes not wide enough for a car. The houses open directly onto the streets. They have low doorways (one advantage to being short), low ceilings, attic windows and some still have thatched roofs. There are hand-made stonewalls and buildings from the local round flint rocks everywhere. Cottage gardens straight from the gardening books and almost impossible to achieve in Australia are in.

We are staying an 18th century cottage in a small village called Wells-next-the-Sea in a street called Knitting Needle Lane – how cute is that! The village and street names are quaint and very descriptive - Rose Lane, Oak Street Mill Road, Northfield Lane, Polka Road, Bolts Close, Chapel Yard, Mill Road, Marsh Lane and High Street.

Allotments are popular. People from the city and towns like to have their own place to plant potatoes, beans and gooseberries in a communal garden area. It is a nice way to grow your own and make up for limited garden space at home.

Some other great names we spotted in our travels in England so far include Upper Goat Lane followed by Lower Goat Lane, Great Snoring next to Little Snoring of course, Adam and Eve Lane, Unthank Road, Two Furlong Hill Road, Blackhorse Yard and Jolly Sailor Yard.

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Posted by dworgan 04:32 Archived in England Comments (0)

Alhambra

sunny 38 °C

To give you a bit of background - the Alhambra has had a colourful and eventful past which is reflected in its architecture and gardens. It started out as a Moorish fortress in 9th century and converted into a palace in 13th century. Granada was the last Moorish stronghold until the Spanish regained control in the 15th century. The large sections that remain of the Moorish buildings and gardens are what make Alhambra the magical place that it is.

A lot has been written about the Alhambra in Granada and you wonder if such beautiful descriptions could be true – they are. A few words that come to mind are: beautifully proportioned, ornately decorated, intricately moulded, beautiful tiled, delicately carved ceilings, Arabic inscriptions – you get the idea. Even the bathouses have star-studded roofs. Each room, each garden, each view, each angle is picture perfect. The cameras were non-stop from the other 1000 or more visitors today (except mine which ran out of batteries!) It is such a big complex it is hard to take it all in and we were all suffering from ´Gallery Foot´ and over dosed on arches and carved wall patterns by the end of the morning.

One of the most pleasing aspects to the Alhamabra is the use of water – water is an art form. Water is the link between patios and gardens – it can be either seen or heard everywhere creating a soothing, cooling effect although it must be 38 degrees outside. There are pools in every courtyard, aqueducts transporting water beside or below the streets, fountains, ponds, trickling and splashing, even hand rails carrying water.

The Alhambra is really an amazing place where every aspect has been considered and beautifully constructed to reflect the Islamic beliefs of God, the earth and beauty.
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Posted by dworgan 02:03 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Granada

Now this is Spain.

sunny 37 °C

We have just arrived in Granada and it is totally different t o Barcelona -climate, language, accommodation, people, city, landscape, bars, style and.

 It is hot (37 degrees yesterday) but a dry heat – much more like Australia.
 In Andalucia where Granada is they only speak Castellano – the official language so it is much easier to understand – in Barcelona they spoke the regional language first – Catalan – which we don’t know much of.
 Granada itself is very traditional style where we have been – terraced houses with geraniums in the flower boxes, narrow, steep winding laneways, whitewashed walls, cobblestones paths and streets, fountains and cool shaded parks. It isn't as busy or big either which is a nice change. They seem to have permanent lighting over the streets like Christmas lighting, featuring some of the traditional Arabic designs.
 The people we have met so far are friendly and helpful
 The landscape is and hot dry. Flying into Granada all you could see were hills covered in rows of olive trees.
 The hostel is an old style family run business directly in front of the Alahambra and views of the mountains. It is roomy, half the price of Barcelona and has a rooftop pool! It is like a mountain retreat.
 The bars themselves are the same but the difference is that with each drink you purchase here, you are given a free tapa of food –all very nice. Menu del dia was they way to eat in Barcelona but it seems to be less common here.
 There is much more of a Turkish or Arabic influence here with a lot of kebab shops, teahouses, Turkish style clothes, slippers, ceramics, cakes, tiles and glassware. There are still a couple of Turkish bath-houses operating too.

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Posted by dworgan 02:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Friends from the North

Barcelona in 4 days

semi-overcast 25 °C

As well as this being our last week in Barcelona and all the usual winding up things that have to be done, cleaning, packing and people to say goodbye to, we have had 3 visitors from Australia via Sweden. The Agzarians from Wagga dropped in for 4 days. Our little apartment was stretched to accommodate 7 people, but it all worked out OK and it was fun to have people here to share our life with. The program was busy, but in true Spanish fashion, we found enough time for siestas and late starts in the morning, and late nights.
Barcelona in 4 days
Day 1: Arrive in the evening, go for Spanish tapas at a nearby bar. Max’s language skills were put to the test as Jeff and I were out at our last tango class and dinner. They made instant friends with the waiter and sounds like got very special attention.
Day 2: Flea market to search through the piles of junk, clothes, old photos, jewellery, old books, toys and find the occasional treasure.
Home-cooked fish lunch thanks to Michael, and siesta.
Walk to Las Ramblas to check out the shops and buskers, and visit our favourite Plaza Reial and bar followed by a Flamenco show at Tarantos. This is a very good find – every night, 30 minutes of stamping, clapping and wailing flamenco music. Bocadillo dinner - an easy meal of bread roll and various meat or cheese fillings and sauces from a tiny Frankfurt shop in Plaza Jaume. Metro or bike home.
Day 3: Park Guell – always worth a visit. On the way home Menu del Dia in a Palestinian restaurant in Gracia. Very good, authentic, cheap (8.50 euro) and far more than any of us could eat. In the afternoon more shopping or resting and then the Magic Fountain near Plaza Espanya. It runs every 30 minutes and is a very well choreographed display of lights, and water to classical music. Hundreds of people of course but it is so big you can easily see. Home for an omelette dinner.
Day 4: Check out Barcelona beaches – clear water and warm weather, then an afternoon visit to Sagrada Familia – the one place you have to put on your Barcelona itinerary.
In the evening we attended and opening of an Urban Dance Festival where local and international artists did their stuff. It runs for 4 days. The dances were a mixed lot but free and worth a look. Home at midnight but awake until 3.00am as there was a local fiesta happening in the lane beside our flat and the band and P.A were pumping on full volume until then. (This festival ended up going for the next 3 nights 11.00 to 2 am – only in Spain!)
Day 5: Early flight to Paris.

That is one way to see Barcelona – it was busy and fun, some new things and some things worth doing again for us. Not expensive, lots of walking and bike riding and talking, good food and good company.

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Posted by dworgan 07:04 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Adios a Metropol

overcast 27 °C

Three months has gone so quickly. Things are starting to draw to a close, including Max’s Spanish classes. Max has been learning Spanish for the whole time we have been here and all except for the first 2 weeks has been at the Metropol language school. He has gone from zero Spanish to intermediate level and has gained a lot of confidence.

Lately, he has often been in the position of showing visiting family and friends around Barcelona and having to be the local guide and translator. I think it has made him realise that he actually knows how to say things, get around by metro or buses and is familiar with the way things work here. It is just a shame that we have to go now.

The atmosphere at the school is friendly and he has now met people from all over the world - Germany, England, America, Italy, Canada, Hungary, Finland, Switzerland, Malaysia and China. This has opened his eyes a bit about other countries and he has enjoyed making friends with so many different people.

Thanks Raquel for your teaching and help. We will never forget ‘NI FU NI FA’.

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Posted by dworgan 02:34 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

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