Friday, 27 July 2012

there and back again (with apologies to JRR)

Well this is going to take me some episodes to log - the rekindling of a love affair with Spain.  Galicia to be more precise, in the North West of Spain with it's own language, own climate and own Celtic traditions.  The possiblity of conquering both another extremity of mainland Europe and another pinpoint on the Shipping Forecast - and all on the same rock!  This in addition to ticking off a sizeable handful of Unesco World Heritage sites!

So where did we get to . . .

Sat 7th
Train to London, Eurostar to Paris, Trenhotel to Burgos
sleeper Renfe Trenhotel
Sun 8th
Morning in Burgos, train to Santiago de Compostela, collect hire car, drive to Muxia
Stay 4 nights at Casa de Lema and this is my review
Thur 12th
drive to Tui on Portugeuse border
Stay 3 nights at the Tui Parador and this is my review
Sun 15th
drive to Santiago de Compostela, hand in car
Stay 3 nights at Hotel Costa Vella and this is my review
Wed 18th
bus to Salamanca
Stay 3 nights at the Hostal Plaza Mayor and this is my review
Sat 21st
train to Madrid and afternoon in Madrid, trenhotel to Paris
sleeper Renfe Trenhotel
Sun 22nd
Eurostar to London, train to Sheffield, bus to Grenoside
and these are some of the travelling photos of the 'there and back again' bits - the many stations, trains and buses on this two day trek across three countries passing the wildest uninhabited hills and the most sophisticated cities in Europe.  It was wonderful to feel the distance we were going both in culture and miles as bit by bit the trains clackerty clacked along all through the night and into the morning sun.

and if you decide you'd like to read on the the next episode of Spain after looking at these pics, then click here

Greeted at St Pancras with a flourish
first into the Eurostar waiting room
All aboard the London to Paris
Gare du Nord
and across Paris to Austerlitz - and a peek at the new extension
our Trenhotel to Burgos ready to board
fab dining car
arriving at Burgos in the still dark early hours of Sunday
what to do now
deserted Rosa de Lima, ultra modern station way out of the city centre
next train not til 12:12 - so taxied into Burgos, dumped our cases in the bus station and explored Burgos for the morning
back at the station ready to train it to Santiago de Compostela
good timing

a week later, and our bus to Salamanca at a lunch stop en route - 40degC and rising
6 hour ride from Santiago to Salamanca along the Portuguese border
and after a wonderful stay in Salamana we depart for Madrid from another ultra modern station
on this train!
comfy seats
and Mike planning what to do when we get to Madrid
passing the stunning, ancient walled town of Avila
straight to the left luggage, to dump the bags so we could enjoy Madrid
Metro to Sol
ultra snazzy again
new stations all round - this is the underground at Charmartin
and our Trenhotel to Paris looks to be on time

passing miles and miles of spectacular hills
supping Albarino wine with our evening meal
passing cities
and sunsets
to die for (and the blurriness was due to the train speeding up not the wine!)
finally reaching Paris Austerlitz
and treking across to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar to London then the East Midlands train up to Sheffield
Estacian de autobus - SHEFFIELD!!!
and the faithful old 66A home - but it was 5 minutes late!!!!

and if you want to read on - to our first day in the magnificent Burgos - just click here

Friday, 6 July 2012

quirky London

Just a few extras spottings that didn't quite fit in to my last few posts from our brilliant trips to London the last two weekends

The grand entrance to Kensington Gardens

Inside the Royal Festival Hall overlooking the river

On City Road - see this great link

Old Tate and Lyle Factory at Silvertown - loved the syrup tin

and again

On the back of the Hayward Gallery

Have no idea what it is

but will find out before I get to the end of this blog
More about the old Tate and Lyle factory at Silvertown here too and the history of Henry Tate, Lancashire lad made good - really interesting.

In goolging for the above info for the Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms (read it, it's fastinating) I discovered the brilliant Secret London website full of the strange and wonderful in London - definately be the starting point for more London adventures.

But I did promise to find out who these two were on the Hayward and this is the answer . . . it's part of the Southbank Festival of the World entitled:

"Everything is beautiful when you don't look down"
"Two large figures scale Hayward Gallery. One seems to be helping the other, but who is helping whom?
The London-based arts collective Robots>>>>, who build large sculptures from recycled and reclaimed materials, have made these figures predominantly from wood and steel used at Southbank Centre’s 2011 Festival of Britain. 
Everything Is Beautiful When You Don’t Look Down was made with help from children at the Oasis Children’s Venture, a safe play space for young people in the London Borough of Lambeth.
Who knows what the robots will do when they reach their destination?"
So there you have it - amazing - and I did only spot them 'cos I glanced up in the dark the night before on the way back to Waterloo Underground (cue for one of my favourite songs) and they were quite scary!!

up up and away with an Oyster card

On Saturday we managed to travel on the just opened Airline cable car across the Thames with just the easiest of Oyster card swipes - amazing!

You're going to have to play this clip while you read - because I don't think I've ever actually managed 'trains and boats and planes' within the space of an hour before!

Proof - well the DLR to West Silvertown, cable car to the O2 then TFL river bus back up the Thames to Embankment.  Amazing day and all with that little piece of plastic and so cheap.

Here are the pics

surprise Sheffield reunion with Simon and Freya
Olympic Village to the left


you can climb on top now !
by our Anthony

Yes - the Royal Barge !
Cutty Sark
The Shard - just finished

Jubilee leftovers