Archive for May, 2010

31 May 2010

You Know You Have Arrived In Spain When …

Comments Off on You Know You Have Arrived In Spain When … Spain, Valencia

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Gillian looking puzzled – Valencia silk market

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Valencia Science Park

Your suitcase rattles raucously over the labyrinth of rough paved streets; church bells peal and echo off nearby buildings; birds chirp loudly and the sky is unnaturally blue.

In the centre of town 20,000 people line up single file to touch the feet of the Virgin and look into her eyes. By 11pm, the snaking line is showing no sign of letting up. We resist the temptation, and instead settle in a quiet bar for vino and tapas, and leave with our clothes and hair smelling of smoke.

The central market is more like a cathedral than a market with vaulted ceilings stained glass windows …. and lots of food.
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Valencia Central Market

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The central market sells the smallest tastiest fish but this little guy was at the Valencia Aquarium and was not for sale

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Let the lunch commence – Rachel, Encarna, Naomi and Gillian

A day later we are seated at a bar on the edge of a large sunny plaza, drinking beer, and shots of something that tastes like Ouzo, but our Spanish friends insist is nothing of the sort. We are waiting for lunch, a special lunch being prepared just for us by Encarna, Rachel’s grandmother, who pops down to the bar from her apartment to keep us informed of the progress. Not much longer now. And then we are given the signal and we make our way up to Encarna’s apartment where a feast of local specialties awaits us. Heaped servings later, exploding at the seams and slightly tipsy, we work our way through a range of liqueurs, wines and spirits – ultimately coffee mixed with brandy, until it is all too much and we have to lie down – to die.

We are woken a short while later. Let’s go to the park. Oh nice, a stroll. No, a drink or three. And we sit in the park drinking beer watching children play, while our temples pulse.

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Danny, Rachel, Gillian and Marian – how about we have another  drink

Later we go for a drive, Marian at the wheel (after many hours of steady consumption), AC-DC blaring through the stereo. The pulse has become a throb.

We are bound for Granada; hopefully the excessive Spanish pace will let up a little, but I don’t think so!

21 May 2010

On A Clear Day …

Comments Off on On A Clear Day … Hong Kong

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… the view from ‘The Peak’ across Victoria harbour would have been stunning. Alas it wasn’t to be as the whole city was shrouded in a cloud of grey.

Hong Kong is a great city, full of energy … and people.

We escaped on the Star Ferry across to Kowloon to the Hong Kong Art Museum. We are now full bottle on the Qing, Tang and Ming Dynasties – go on ask us a question. You know you want to!

And then as evening set in, we settled in a small bar on the waterfront, beer in hand and watched the world go by.

17 May 2010

Macau – taking a punt

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Lisboa Casino – not exactly beautiful


The old town centre – more beautiful

Going across to Macau for the day was always going to be a bit of a gamble. Our ferry arrived into port and we (Paul and I that is. Gillian is hobnobbing it in London, sipping tea no doubt and staring up at a sky full of ash) shuffled through the customs hall only to join the throng from the other many ferries coming in from mainland China. It seemed like the whole of China was there, and clearly there is no Mandarin or Cantonese equivalent for the word “queue.” I almost got trampled.


Ruins of Saint Paul’s Cathedral

We were in search of fine Portuguese food and the remnants of Portuguese colonisation. After much walking, we eventually found the old town centre (so did everyone else!); and the ruins of Saint Paul’s, but the fine Portuguese fare was elusive.

We were swept along with the crowds, like lemmings, through air-conditioned shopping malls, dazzled by kitschy, glitzy displays of gold and diamond studded watches. I am still seeing stars. Garish casino foyers with crystal chandeliers, doormen in fancy dress and a line of black Rolls Royces parked out the front – all rather tacky and over the top and more than 50% of Macau’s GDP. And just when we were thinking we had run out of luck and had wasted our day, there it was, “Fine Portuguese Food” – staring right at us. A few minutes later we were settled inside, drinking the special “house” red, tucking into a king-sized cod and potato tortilla, and it all seemed worthwhile.


Sunday afternoon stroll in Macau


Little blue man


Little bubble blower


Hotel lobby – I want that lamp!


Stacked high


The other side of town


Bamboo scaffolding


Reflection in a casino window

14 May 2010

Viva La España – PART 2

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I hope you weren’t holding your breath because it has been a long time between posts.
Here we go again. A few weeks of sangria and sun, tapas and talking stacatto. Yes, we’re off to Spain again – doing our bit to boost an ailing European economy!