Travel Tuesdays 22: Crazy holiday to Spain and Portugal

Sorry readers… I haven't been on WordPress for a while. But I'm back, to tell you about a wonderful holiday I had in Spain and Portugal recently with my friends Laura and Caroline. It was another of those crazy holidays where we walked a lot and never stayed in the same place for long! Here is a summary:

Day 1: Saturday 15th July. We got a very early plane from Manchester to Malaga (6am). The idea was to spend the day relaxing on the beach when we arrived, but it was cloudy, so we spent the day exploring the old town instead. We went to see the cathedral, castle and viewpoint of the town and surrounding area from the fort. We enjoyed our first tapas meal at lunch, and got better at choosing what to order for tapas as the week progressed…

Day 2: Sunday 16th July. It was sunny, so we used this day to relax on the beach. We didn't want to travel far, so walked to la Malagueta beach, which was just near the port. There were some cruise ships docked at the port, so there was quite a bit of noise from there!

Day 3: Monday 17th July. We woke up super early to get a 7am bus to Gibraltar for a day trip. The bus took 3 hours, then of course the one back to Malaga also took 3 hours, so it felt like most of the day was stuck on a bus! The rest of the day was spent queuing to go in a cable car up the rock (we were in that queue for about 1 and a half hours,) getting chased by monkeys (they pounce on tourists in the search for food), and walking down the mountain again, which I found exhausting! So, Gibraltar was not such a good day for me… But the scenery was nice, and it was interesting to see how just how British it was (even though it is on the southern coast of Spain, it is part of the UK.)

Day 4: Tuesday 18th July. We had a much nicer day trip today. We went on a trip to Ronda, where part of the town is built the other side of a steep gorge, and it's surrounded by beautiful countryside. We wandered around, took pictures by the famous bridge from one side of the gorge to the other and enjoyed the views.

Day 5: Wednesday 19th July. Today we went to the Picasso museum in Malaga. We also went souvenir shopping and visited the Roman amphitheatre. We then got the bus to Granada, which would be our next place to stay. We wandered around that evening and enjoyed the stunning view of the Alhambra. We also looked in the little shops, filled with Moroccan-style souvenirs.

Day 6: Thursday 20th July. Today we spent the whole day wandering around La Alhambra and the Generalife. It was wonderful to see the tiled mosaics, intricate architecture and the pretty gardens.

Day 7: Friday 21st July. After a morning of souvenir shopping in the "souks" and visiting a tea shop, we got the bus to Seville. On arrival, we went in search of a tapas meal and ended up eating two dinners as we were still hungry after the first one! The thing with tapas is that one restaurant will give a lot more food than another one, for the same price, so we were never sure how many little dishes to order!

Day 8: Saturday 22nd July. Today we wandered around Seville cathedral. It's a huge place, with lots of interesting little chapels, gold statues, old artifacts and artwork to see. We also went up the bell tower, where you walk up ramps instead of steps, so that was fun! After looking around the cathedral, we went to visit the Plaza de Espana and the park. That didn't end up being a good idea as it was boiling hot (around 40 degrees C) so I ended up overheating and feeling sick and dizzy with sunstroke.

Day 9: Sunday 23rd July. Today we went on another lovely day trip to Córdoba, to see the castle and the famous cathedral, known as the Mezquita. It used to be a mosque, then the catholic rulers plonked a church in the middle of it, retaining most of the fabulous stripy archways that had been built by the moors. Actually, I think Seville cathedral used to be a mosque too, it's just that the pillars in that one weren't stripy. It was really hot in Córdoba too, so my sunstroke continued…

Day 10: Monday 24th July. I felt better today after a nice rest. We looked around the royal palace in Seville in the morning. It also was originally built by the Muslim moorish rulers, before the catholic kings sent them all away. So the palace had an interesting mixture of architecture. It also had a beautiful garden! Although we had to rush through the gardens, as we needed to get a bus to the Algarve in Portugal! Our next place to stay was Portimao in Portugal, it's a little town on the coast, and I was surprised to see how touristy it was! It has a line of restaurants and souvenir shops, just like Mamaia in Romania.

Day 11: Tuesday 25th July. We had a lovely day of relaxing on the beach in Portimao. Our hotel was quite a long walk from the sea, but luckily they put on a bus so we didn't have to walk all of that way with all of our beach things! We had dinner near the river in Portimao, and had a Portuguese traditional meal of sardines!

Day 12: Wednesday 26th July. We had another day of relaxing on the beach! The beach in Portugal is so pretty!

Day 13: Thursday 27th July. We stayed by the pool in our hotel in the morning, then went to get our train to Lisbon (where we would be staying next.) Unfortunately, we hadn't booked the train in advance, and the one we wanted to get was full, so we had to sit in a cafe by the train station for 3 hours to wait for the next train! We finally arrived in Lisbon and we're too tired to search for dinner, so just went to McDonald's! (It's a tradition – we have to go at least once during a holiday!)

Day 14: Friday 28th July. Today we enjoyed looking around Lisbon. We went to the castle and cathedral and took a ride on the famous number 28 tram, which goes from one side of the city to the other, past interesting sights and goes up and down steep hills, so feels a bit like a rollercoaster!

Day 15: Saturday 29th July. This time we went sightseeing in Saint Jeronimo's monastery and the Belem tower. Both were architecturally stunning! They were built in a style that is unique to Portugal, called Manuelin. It's a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture and is very beautiful! In the evening, we went on a funicular (Lisbon is very hilly) and had dinner in a nice restaurant, where I had steak in a coffee sauce. Yes, coffee! It was amazing!

Day 16: Sunday 30th July. We flew back home, on another early flight (7am this time). I then flew back to Bucharest the very next day, because I was due back at work for summer school!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my crazy adventures!

Travel Tuesdays 21: Constanta 

I went on a lovely little holiday this weekend to Mamaia, a seaside resort on the Black Sea near to Constanta. We had a few days off school because of some bank holidays -yay! Of course, all of Romania had those days off work, so the train was pretty full! But all the passengers seemed to disperse quite well because, although the seaside resort of Mamaia was busy, it wasn’t anywhere near as crowded as it is in the summer holidays! Many Romanians think it’s too cold to swim in the sea at the moment, and yes, the sea was chilly, but not that cold! So, I had a lovely few days relaxing on the beach, swimming in the chilly sea and wandering around. Plus, I enjoyed the sea breeze – Bucharest is so hot and humid these days, but the coast is nice and cool!  

My hotel was about 2km away from the main area of Mamaia where all the tourist shops, snack stands and restaurants are located, so I wandered along the beach or promenade every day to enjoy the atmosphere and eat pancakes… I also went on the cable car, to enjoy the lovely views of the sea and lake. Oh, and on the pier to admire the sunset!

It was a little strange going on holiday to the beach alone… waiters kept asking me, “are you waiting for your friends?” when I asked for a table for one, and I overheard groups of people looking at me and saying, “why would you go on holiday alone?”

Well, if my Romanian was better, I could have told them that it’s nice to go on holiday, to see and experience new things and enjoy a change of scenery every once in a while (plus I love the seaside!) And if your friends don’t/ can’t come with you, then it’s better to go alone than to not go at all!  Who agrees? 

The beach near my hotel.

All the tourist shops are squished into this area of Mamaia. 

The sunsets were lovely! This photo was taken from the pier, I didn’t need to swim with my camera to take this photo!

Travel Tuesdays 20: Skiathos 

I was thinking where to “visit” for a travel Tuesdays post, and my mind wandered to a lovely holiday I had with my family to Skiathos, a beautiful little Greek island. We went when I was about 8 – a long, long time ago! I wonder if the island has changed much since then? Of course, my memories of my holiday were of playing on the beach, poking jellyfish with sticks so that they wouldn’t sting us, burying dolls in the sand with my sister (and not being able to find one of them again) and trying to swim to China on a lilo with some other children we befriended… I do still wonder where that doll is! Perhaps someone else found her?

We also went on a trip to see some monasteries, where we had to ride donkeys up a steep hill and my dad’s donkey didn’t want to follow the others and kept wandering off into bushes (with my dad on it!) We stayed in a nice little self-catering holiday apartment, so had to go shopping for food in the Greek supermarket, which I remember being very different from our English ones! Actually, I think I just remember the toy selection more than anything… 

We also went on some fun boat trips and coach tours, where I distinctly remember one lady stealing my sister’s seat! Who would steal a child’s seat on a bus? I still think that was weird! I also remember watching lightning out of the coach windows one evening, after a busy day’s coach trip.

I hope you enjoyed reading my happy childhood memories!

PS, this isn’t my photo, I just borrowed one from google. 😀

Travel Tuesdays 18: Saltaire 

I know, it’s not Tuesday… but today I want to tell you all about my little outing to a place called Saltaire in Yorkshire. It’s a mill and village built by Sir Titus Salt in 1852 to 1859. He wanted to move his workers out of the unhealthy slums of Bradford, to a place with clean air and better facilities. The mill isn’t used anymore (it’s an art gallery and shop now) but people still live in the lovely cottages. There are lots of interesting buildings to look around and plenty of trees and flowers too.

Edit: Here’s an example of the exhibit in the art gallery in the old mill. It’s a project called “The Arrival of Spring” by David Hockney. He made these pictures by drawing on his iPhone and iPad. So clever!

Travel Tuesdays 16: Italia

My friend Laura and I always seem to go on crazy holidays involving multiple locations…  

In July 2014 we went on a lovely holiday in Italy, where we travelled to Pisa, Florence, Sienna, Rome, Amalfi and Pompeii all in two weeks! 

We had a wonderful time sightseeing and here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip. Here I am with the leaning tower of Pisa, I was amused at just how slanted it really is!

Next is a photo of the beautiful cathedral in Florence. Many hours were spent exploring this beautiful building, climbing the tower to see the view, and soaking up the Italian atmosphere on the cathedral’s piazza in the evenings. 

Now we look at a photo of the Colosseum in Rome. This is also a very interesting building, where we wandered around and learned more about the gladiator battles. (I think I may have lost my friend here, that often happens on holiday, we loose each other in the crowds, wander around and somehow find each other again an hour or so later…)

My final photo is from the beautiful Amalfi coast. I felt like I was in some kind of dream while there, it was so beautiful and everywhere had a faint smell of lemons -perhaps I should move there to be a lemon farmer? It is such a pretty place!

Travel Tuesdays 15: Transported into Spring 

This week’s Travel Tuesdays post is unusual in several respects… I’m writing it a day late and it’s not about my travels, but after a really rainy week last week, this week it feels almost as if I’ve been transported into a magical wonderland, filled with warm sunshine and spring blossoms!

Buds appearing on a magnolia tree next to my school

Blossoms on a tree in the park

Travel Tuesdays 14: Norway 

This post is about a trip to Norway I had in May 2007 -wow, that was a long time ago!

I went with a group of people from my church in Durham and we had a week of doing community projects, like painting houses, clearing gardens and BBQs! We also had some time to sightsee around Bergen and we even got to watch the Norway Day parade, which takes place on 17th May.


View of Bergen

Traditional clothes worn for Norway Day

Norway Day parade

Norway is such a lovely country. I really enjoyed my time there. Hurrah Norge!