Archive for the ‘Train’ Category

Food at the V&A

July 8, 2019

There is always something new to see at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and we had heard of a new exhibit entitled Food: Bigger than the Plate. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect but at the end of our visit we were both impressed and enlightened to what we had seen.

The trip in on the train was its usual relaxing way of moving across the city,

Tower Bridge, always a lovely sight from the train

then it was a couple of tube trips, first the Northern Line then the District Line to get to our destination.

Information boards on the wall of the tunnel to the museum

The museum itself is always very busy, there seemed to be a number of school groups in attendance, local schools as well as numerous school groups from Italy, France, Japan and China just some of the nationalities we encountered.

The courtyard

John Madjeski pond and gardens

Adults sat around the edge of the pond cooling off their feet in the water whilst young ones stripped off and played in the shallow pool. I’m sure that this will be Callum next year.

After a bit of lunch we went into the exhibition rooms. A bit of an overview of the exhibition can be seen in this Link

The exhibition covered every aspect of food; human waste and what we do with it, animal waste products, to where and how we get our meat, fruit and vegetables and the impact this has on the environment, alternative packaging, advertising, protest posters, communities working together with foraged and allotment gardens, art, development of food, recipes and how they are handed on, technology, and everything else in between.

The following is a selection of photos from the exhibition.

Entrance signage

New type of loo, explanation.

Examples of sustainable material uses

Compost containers made from terracotta pottery, used in India providing continued employment making the traditional pots, reducing waste, compost for gardens.

Example of sustainable production of traditional food and traditional values

Hmm, what makes the bones of factory produced chickens so different!?

Talking to plants

How far has your banana travelled?

Biscuit tins

Orange wrappers

Oranges

Protest poster

At the end of the exhibits we could have a taste of snacks prepared by chefs according to what you value as important for a food system. The following is one example of choices we made, and yes they were delicious and very different.

Which three would you choose?

The above is just a small selection of some of the displays on view, I didn’t include a lot of them so as not to bore you but things like tableware made from recycled toilet paper or things made from blood products or the art works by innovative chefs such as Ferran Adrià from El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal were just some of the other displays.

We spent a good few hours wandering through the exhibition before it was time to head home where this little fellow was waiting for us.

You didn’t think I could do a blog entry without a picture of Callum did you?

A bit of glass at the entrance, just for you Stuart!

Return to Erith

July 1, 2019

We returned the rental car in Selby, Yorkshire, where we stayed with Pauline & Pat again before catching the train back to London. however, once we got to the station we discovered that our train was cancelled but alternate arrangements were made I.e. another train to Leeds then another train from Leeds to Kings Cross. But why oh why is is always that you arrive on Platform 1 but your next train departs from platform 18 and you have 5 minutes to get there, oh and of course there are a zillion steps to go up and then down again. We made it though, just in time to settle into our seats and watch the countryside whizz past.

Leaving Leeds

Some famous stadium of some kind, Leeds!

Once on the train from Leeds we travelled though some familiar towns,including Doncaster and Wakefield, towns with strong family connections.

Wakefield, where two of my siblings were born

The weather was rubbish though.

English summer weather

Countryside and the weather improved

However, the weather did improve the further south we ventured. Once we arrived into Kings Cross it was a walk across the road to St Pancras to catch the next train to Abbey Wood station where Ian was waiting to pick us up.

It as lovely to be back again, and of course see Callum and get in some cuddles.

Although the following afternoon proved to be a bit much for Roy, Alex and Callum, where they were all caught napping!!

It’s all a bit much for these three

Welshpool & Shrewsbury

June 23, 2019

We set our next destination as Welshpool which is near the border with England.

The planned route

We both agreed that we would take a route less travelled rather than sticking to major motorways and A roads, so with this programmed into the sat nav, off we went. Initially it went well, we were quietly enjoying the scenery and countryside when all of a sudden we were on what I could only describe as a track/lane.

Narrow windy road

It was definitely becoming more and more narrow the further along we went with the hedge rows and trees becoming closer and closer the further we travelled. With absolutely no opportunity to turn around, we continued on with thoughts of should we have a hedge trimmer with us? Should we pull the side mirrors in?

Oops!

That was until we met a car coming in the opposite direction. Luckily for us, they reversed along the road until we had the opportunity to inch past each other at snails pace.

We were soon back on slightly wider roads/lanes but when “she” – the Sat Nav – told us to turn off again, we ignored her and continued on until she had worked out a new route on a major road.

All was back on track, until we came to the brow of a hill, we had obviously climbed up a lot higher than we initially thought and spectacular views down over the valleys. However, the navigator decided this wasn’t the best place for him to be and he just wanted it over with as quickly as possible, we were in fact going over the hills of Snowdonia. Due to the photographers lack of desire to take pictures, these few are from later on and will have to suffice.

Rolling hills

Waterfall

Sheep

Our arrival into the outskirts of Welshpool was a welcoming sight, now we started to look for somewhere to stay. Our first choice of hotel was unfortunately it was fully booked but the very helpful receptionist rang a couple of other places for us and we were soon booked into a lovely B& B a few hundred metres up the road.

Buildings across the street from the B&B dating from around the 16th Century.

The Royal Oak

Canal through the town

Stones in a circle

These circles are called Gorstedd Stones and used for the celebration of Eisteddfod, a welsh tradition of celebrating literature, music and performance. Some stone circles are very old, dating back centuries, but we suspect this may be a later one, dating from when there was a revival of the celebrations in the 1800’s.

The Mermaid Inn was just a few doors away from our B&B

The Stone House B&B where we were staying had parts of its building dating back to the 1200’s, amazing stuff.

We had a little time to explore the town and get some washing done before we went back to our original choice of lodgings, the Royal Oak Hotel, where we had a wonderful evening meal.

Yummm, liver and bacon!

Again we had great service from the friendly staff, before we returned to our B&B for a good nights sleep.

The following morning we decided to have a day off driving, instead taking the train into Shrewsbury. We had read about a scenic boat trip on the River Severn which we thought would be a fun way to see the sights.

View from the train

The train trip was quick and pleasant, and we were there in no time at all. It was a short walk to the river where we were told the boats would be leaving. However, in usual fashion our luck was not on our side and we were greeted with this sign.

The sign says it all

Oh never mind, instead, we found a very nice looking pub across the road that looked very busy with lots of happy punters, so we headed off to drown our sorrows. The food looked fabulous too so instead of a boat trip we stayed on for a late lunch, which again was amazingly good fare.

The following are a few sights from around Shrewsbury.

River Severn

Street view

This sculpture, named Quantum Leap, was erected on the banks of the Severn to celebrate the the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who was born in the town in 1809. It also celebrates Shropshire’s diverse geological history which covers 10 of the 12 geological eras. Soon it was time to retrace our steps and return to Welshpool.

Allotments along the train tracks, on the return journey

Our time in Welshpool was coming to and end, but the next adventure is all rather exciting!!

A day at the market

May 31, 2019

Time to have a day off gardening as well as give Alex a bit of space so we headed off into town to visit the Borough Market. With our Oyster cards in hand we first caught the bus from outside Alex & Ian’s house down to the train station, then onto the train for the ride into London Bridge train station. It takes around 30minutes to get into town on the train, it’s a very pleasant journey and we both commented that everything looked very familiar as we pulled into stations along the route. It all felt very much like we had come “home” – well, to familiar territory at least.

London Bridge Station entrance

This station was under major reconstruction last year so this part of the journey was a new experience for us. The station is at the base of the Shard, the Shard is the tallest building in the UK standing 309.6m (1016 ft) and 95 stories tall.

The Shard

From here it’s a short walk to Borough Market. The Market is at the southern edge of London Bridge and claims to have had a market on this site from 1016 if not earlier. Trains rattle overhead on the overpasses as we wend our way through the market streets and alleys, stopping frequently to sample goods and look at what is on offer.

Roy wandering through the stalls

Just after I took this photo I turned around to see a woman hooking her arm through Roy’s, within a moment they looked at each other with astonishment as she realised Roy was not her husband!! It turns out her husband was wearing nearly an identical Katmandhu jacket and after a bit of a laugh and talking to them, we realised they too were Kiwi’s and were on holiday in London. We chatted for some time before continuing on our separate explorations.

Now those that know Roy well will know his penchant for cheese, in fact last time we were here he was banned from buying any more cheeses until he had eaten through the stash in the fridge. So when we came across this sign, well, we just had to take his picture besides it. However he was under strict instructions from the pregnant daughter that he was not allowed to bring smelly cheeses home as apparently the smell is not one she can handle.

Roy with appropriate signage

The next hour or two was spent wandering amongst the stalls including the fish markets.

Fishy selections

I did purchase some fish, Gurnard to be precise as it was less than half the price of most other things on offer and on talking to the fishmonger it was not a usual fish that they have on offer. In fact he admitted that he had never eaten it himself, we told him that it was a variety that we enjoyed in NZ. On weighing the fish and telling us the price, he offered a very good discount on the advertised price plus offered to fillet and pin bone the fish. There was enough in the two very large meaty fillets for two meals for the four of us to enjoy later.

Further along there were these huge paella pans, cooked ready for the lunchtime crowds. And no we didn’t partake in it this time.

Huge paella pans

Roy’s other passion is good, flavoursome tomatoes so when we came across these beauties we just had to get a cross section to try.

A delicious array of tomatoes

After a delicious late lunch purchased from one of the stalls, it was time to think about heading back to Erith on the train reversing the steps we took earlier in the day.

Train route

I’m sure we will be returning here again very soon for another round of sampling.

Family reconnections

January 12, 2018

We had set aside a few days to visit a couple of family members so with trains tickets booked, contact made we set off to make our way north. It was a journey of many links, we took the bus from Alex’s home at just after 8am which then required a relatively short walk to the train station in Erith. The train from Erith to London Bridge takes about 40minutes then a walk from London Bridge station to the underground which took us past Borough Market where we resisted the temptation to visit, after all we were on a schedule! Then it was the tube to Euston station, then another walk to the train station at Euston to catch the train to Bletchley. The train to Bletchley was a short 35 minute trip via fast train, and on arrival we took a taxi to Bletchley Park as we were uncertain as to how far away the station was from the park, it turned out it wasn’t too far and we could have walked. We then spent the next 4-5hrs wandering around Bletchley before being picked up by my cousin Jackie and her husband Hossein. Phew! Most modes of transport covered today; bus, tube, train, taxi, car and shanks’ pony.

NB. A separate blog entry on Bletchley Park will follow.

Jackie is actually my cousin Hilda’s daughter, and tomorrow we would be catching up with Hilda. It can become a little confusing at times as my Mums name is Hilda, and it is on Mums side of the family that we are connected, with my Mum and cousin Hilda’s Mum being sisters. It gets even more confusing as Mum was the 17th of 19 children and Hilda’s mum was number 2, which makes for a lot of cousins as well making the age range in cousins rather extensive.

Back to the original story. Jackie and Hossein live just outside Milton Keynes which is not too far from Bletchley, so we didn’t have too far to travel. They had kindly offered to host us for the night in their lovely home. After lots and lots of chat, it was time for dinner. Hossein had prepared for us an amazing Persian feast, and I mean, a feast.

entree was a selection of delights which were accompanied by Persian bread.

I cannot remember the names of the dishes, but they included yoghurt, salads, herbs, aubergine, cheese, nuts, and spinach prepared in many different ways. There was also the traditional drink Doogh which is a fermented yoghurt drink.

Jackie, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Roy

Talking and catching up continued through the meal, so much so that none of us remembered to take a picture of the main course, which was an amazing array of dishes including chicken, lamb, two rice dishes one of which included barberries, potatoes, vegetable and herb side dishes all of which were delicious. It must have taken hours of careful preparation for which we were extremely appreciative.

Jackie then presented us with a Persian dessert of cream, cream, rosewater and pistachios. It was very refreshing at the end of the meal, and I did remember to take a picture of that!

dessert

After dinner, we relaxed in the lounge and over sweetmeats accompanied by Persian tea we talked and talked until the wee small hours, time for bed – it had been a long day.

The following morning Jackie took Roy and I back to Bletchley so we could finish off what we had not covered the previous day with arrangements made for Jackie to pick us up at 1pm. Then it was back to their place to meet up with Jackie’s sister Dawn who was bringing Ken & Hilda over for a visit.

Back row L-R: Dawn, Jackie, Bernice, Roy with Ken and Hilda in the front.

Cousins Bernice and Hilda

Over lunch and into the late afternoon the talking continued as there was much to catch up on since our last visit in 2010/2011. However, all good things come to an end, and with fond farewells it was time for us to leave.

Jackie took us to Milton Keynes train station where we caught the train to our next destination, Droitwich Spa near Worcester this time a one and a half hour train trip. This trip required just one change in Birmingham, and with times already tight between journeys it was just our luck that our train was delayed just out of Birmingham with signalling problems, it meant we ended up having just 3 minutes to change platforms and trains! However, we made it just as the doors were closing for the final leg of the journey where we were met at the station by Susan.

Sue’s father and my father are cousins which means I’m getting to visit cousins on both sides of the family. We had also met up with Sue and her sister Veronica last time we were here, and as well Sue and her husband Martin had visited us in NZ in 2011.

We headed off to Sue & Martins farmhouse out in the countryside where we were greeted by a lovely warm house and a beautiful dinner. Again we ended up talking and laughing until late, cosy at the table in front of the Aga stove.

The following day I spent reading, as in reading the heap of files of family documents that Sue has which include a pile of letters written by my Mum to Sue’s parents, Sydney and Vera, over the years since the mid 1960’s. As well there were letters from my grandpop and great aunts and uncles, a wealth of information for me to go through and take photos to add to our records. Most of the letters contained an insight into daily life for our family and brought back many memories. Sue also found a stash of photographs that she thought she had lost which included pictures of my great grandmother as well as the rest of the family over the years. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs as I recognised people and places, putting dates and names to some of the unlabelled photographs.

Bernice, Martin and Sue

After another superb meal in the afternoon, it was time for us to head back to London, reversing most of our train travels from the other day.

I have to add here that from both sides of the family, the Womersley and Coatham lines, there is an obvious family propensity to being fantastic cooks that has managed to work its way down through the generations and across the globe.

Our return journey was uneventful and with Alex picking us up from the train station in Erith, we made it back ready to make the most of the week ahead.

Granada

December 1, 2017

Farewell Seville, it’s been a fantastic stay in your wonderful city. For the final time we bade farewell to our lovely apartment on the Christo de Burgos Square and took a taxi to the train Station. We seem to have frequented this train station fairly frequently over the past few days, however on arrival for the first time we did wonder where we were when we saw this sign.

This trip to Granada was scheduled to be a three and a half hour journey, we were told that the train was only going as far as Antiquera and then we had to change to a bus, apparently they are doing major refurbishment on the tracks.

the journey took us through hundreds of kilometres of olive trees, we estimated at least 300kilometres of non stop olive trees for as far as the eye could see.

After an hour and a half on the train we pulled into Antiquera train station. Antiquera surprised us a little as it is a train station in the middle of nowhere with not another building in sight! We were offloaded from the train and settled into a luxury bus for the rest of the journey. In the car parking area there was this interesting piece of sculpture.

A stack of left luggage, chairs, tv, louvres and other bits and pieces.

The olive trees continued to be our view from the side windows of the bus and there was a tv screen at the front of the bus which showed a continuous stream from the dashboard camera so we could see exactly what was ahead of us. We passed through a town called Manzanil, we presume this is the home of Manzanilla olives.

Another hour and a half later and we arrived at the Granada train station where we caught a cab to our apartment right in the centre of town. We were met by our host and we’re quickly settled in. We found a nice surprise on the bedroom wall

a map of the world with New Zealand included!

this was the view from our apartment window, and yes that is snow on the hills in the background.

Time to step out and find out what is around and about us and to also get in a few basics. We saw some interesting shops including this one.

Jamon, Jamon, and more Jamon.

Jamon is Spanish for ham, this jamon is a dry cured ham from the black Iberian pig and is usually dried and aged for around 18months to 3 years. It really is delicious and I have to admit that we ate more than our fair share! There was also salamis and chorizos of all sorts to be had……eat your heart out Steve!

Córdoba

November 30, 2017

Just a quick note before this post starts, my sister Sue tells me that a programme on TV called “Spectacular Spain with Alex Polizzi” has been on TV in NZ recently and she had just watched an episode on Jerez and Seville. I found the programme on YouTube…it’s episode 4. We shall now have to watch the rest of the series to see what we have missed and what shall go on the agenda for the next trip.

After our successful trip to Jerez, we had planned to spend the following day checking out some more of the sights around Seville but first we needed to take a quick trip to the train station to book and collect our tickets for the following day to Granada, our next destination. Granada tickets were quickly sorted however, whilst we were at the station, we asked purely out of interest how long would a trip to Córdoba take? 45 minutes by fast train we are told, if you want to go, there is a train leaving in 6 minutes…yes please, we said and book us a return ticket as well please. Tickets in hand we hurried to the correct platform with a couple of minutes to spare…talk about spur of the moment decisions!!, this time we had to go through a security check as well, a first so far on our train travels.

Córdoba, like many other Spanish cities, has an Anglicised name of Cordova, and is yet another magnificent city with a rich history encompassing many cultures. As well as being a traditional centre for silk manufacture, it was also a centre of education with universities and medical schools particularly during the Muslim reign from the 8th century through to 1236 when the Christians took over. Córdoba can also lay claim to have the highest summer temperatures in Spain and Europe, with average high temperatures around 37 °C (99 °F) in July and August, however for us it was a pleasant 26C.

Our train journey took us past kilometres of orange trees, then olive trees but as we got closer to the city another change in trees with what we thought were apricot trees with their autumnal colours resplendent but on reflection we think they were more likely to be almond trees.

oranges, almond trees and olives, seen for miles along the journey

Córdoba station was a larger station than we anticipated and a very modern building to boot. We found an information centre within the station and bought ourselves tickets for the hop on-hop off bus which just so happened to have a stop right outside. Perfect.

We had a great tour of the city and we surmised that we could have come and stayed here for sometime to explore everything in depth however an overview would suffice this time. Lots of pictures to follow.

the view from the top of the bus as the driver carefully and skilfully negotiates the narrow streets. In some streets pedestrians had to stand in doorways to let the bus through, in others, shopkeepers had to roll in awnings so that the bus did not hit them.

Calahorra Tower

Roman temple of Córdoba

Santa Marina Church built in the 13th century

Bridal party at Puerta del Puente or Roman Gate by the Roman Bridge.

one of the gates in the old wall around the city the ever present orange trees lining the streets

Detailed statue of San Francisco Church

one of the narrow side streets

moody scenes over the river looking toward the Roman bridge

Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir River, you can see the gate and the mosque in the background. This was the main access point to the city, across the bridge and through the gate.

looking across to the Mosque cathedral

Overlooking the Roman Bridge and next to the Mosque-Cathedral is the Triunfo de San Rafael column, the most elaborate of many devotional columns and images in Córdoba commemorating the Archangel Raphael’s promise to protect its inhabitants.

the other side of the Roman gate

horse and carriage ride anyone?

convent of Saint Ana

Christmas decorations over the shopping streets of Córdoba. Although decorations are being put up all over Spain, none are yet illuminated, this does not happen until December.

anyone for a helter-skelter ride? Seen in one of the streets in the centre of Córdoba.

Córdoba is one of the few cities in the world that has a near-exact antipodal city, namely Hamilton in New Zealand, but surprisingly the cities are not twinned.

We wandered the back streets admiring the sights however our time was running out so with a quick sprint via taxi we were back at the train station ready to return for our last evening in Seville before tomorrow’s journey to Granada.

Lisboa to Faro

November 20, 2017

We had a few hours spare before we had to catch our train to Faro. After checking out of our apartment we headed into town dragging our cases behind us, not sure on how we would fill in the time. However, we came across a line of Tuk-tuks and decided to have one last look around Lisboa putting ourselves into the capable hands of our guide Miguel.

Miguel listened to where we had already been and came up with a personalised tour for us, taking in sights and scenes we hadn’t visited as well as promising to show us the real Lisboa and it’s people. True to his word we were quickly on our way through back street climbing to the highest point in the city for a panoramic view.

looking across to the castle and just below it on the right hand side was where we had been staying. Yes, we were perched on the side of a hill!

We visited churches and buildings that Miguel thought were interesting (and yes we did too).

During our tour and subsequent discussions, Miguel figured out that we were interested in the real Portugal and not the touristy stops and shops. We mentioned that we had not bought any souvenirs as such as we were not into buying Chinese made imitation bulk stuff that seemed to be everywhere. Later, he passed by a wee shop that he said was an example of the real Portuguese art made locally, by local artisans, including a professor of art history who was recreating patterns and styles of long ago. I asked if we could go back to it as I would like to have a look, needless to say I came away with a small couple of items with the knowledge that my spend was going to local people and supporting their craft.

As we were outside one of the churches with Miguel explaining the history to us, he said, “look, see those two there? they’re pickpockets!” Two well dressed and tidy men in their late twenties or early thirties looking all the bit like tourists themselves with small backpacks and phones at the ready taking pictures, they were ever so nonchalantly following two women with large cameras and backpacks. Hmmm….not the image of pickpockets that I had. Miguel called out to a local workman further up the road something about the pickpockets and finding a policeman. We left at that stage, hopefully they were thwarted in their attempts.

We had also arranged for Miguel to drop us off at the train station rather than back in the centre of town, on approaching the station he asked if we would like to visit a local market in a suburb close by that was an area he knew well as he had previously had bakeries there. Sure, we both said, we would love to see where local people shop for their produce. We were soon in a market reminiscent of a small version of the famous Melbourne Victoria market. This is what we have been looking for! Shame it was on our last day in Lisbon.

Back to the train station where we bade farewell to our new friend Miguel

and a short time later we hopped onto the train bound for Faro.

Our journey took us over the April 25th bridge the bridge looks a lot like the San Fransisco Golden Gate Bridge. On the other side of the river is an imposing statue of Christ that is very much like the one in Rio de janiero,

We had seen the bridge and statue many times from Lisbon and now we were travelling over the bridge, or under the bridge, as the rail line runs underneath the road.

On through the countryside we travelled, passing through thousands of cork trees as well as some olive groves, no pictures were taken during this journey! The one thing I will say about Portuguese trains is that the seating configuration leaves a lot to be desired with no account taken for where seats are positioned in relation to the windows for viewing vistas. Both times so far we have been seated by a pillar, one time facing backwards as the seating pattern seems to have been done randomly.

The three hour trip passed relatively quickly and we were soon disembarking in Faro. We followed the instructions on how to reach our accommodation and within 5 minutes we were met at the door of our apartment by Vera, our host. We really have done well with picking apartments, this one is just delightful, two bedrooms, lounge dining, kitchen and laundry and comes complete with an enclosed courtyard. It is very clean and tidy as well as thoughtfully appointed.

courtyard of the apartment.

We arrived just on dusk so after our orientation we quickly settled in then it was off to find a few provisions and something to eat before setting in for an early night. Tomorrow is set to be another busy day.

On to Lisboa

November 19, 2017

We are getting rather adept at this train travel lark, finding our way from the underground Metro in Porto to the train for our three hour journey to Lisbon.

The train trip was like any other, travelling through countryside and villages before eventually arriving at our stop in Lisbon. From there it was a quick taxi ride to our accommodation where the host of our Airbnb apartment was waiting to greet us and settle us in. Tiago, or host, showed us around the apartment and then sat us down to give us a brief overview of Lisbon and places to see and explore around the city and the river.

This apartment is near the castle and old city walls that overlooked the central city, read that as narrow, winding, cobbled streets that meander their way up the hillside. In fact the taxi driver was not terribly impressed at driving the steep narrow streets, and exclaimed at a couple of spots at either the view, or perhaps the drop off we are not sure, or the narrow streets with the inevitable cars parked over the road and footpath making manoeuvrability around the obstacles a little hair raising at times!

The apartment is great, with separate lounge, dining and kitchen, bedroom and bathroom with excellent amenities including wifi. We have booked in for three nights so we shall see how we go. We decided to take a quick explore and pick up something for dinner before nightfall, taking Tiago’s instructions on where to go we set off. First up a bit of a hill before descending to an elevator which goes down 7 stories to a supermarket at the base. Very handy not to have to climb all those steps!!

We had a quick look around before buying a few necessary items and something for dinner, we headed back to the apartment as night fell, and the temperature also dropped, to a chilly 9C overnight, well what can you expect when there is not a cloud in the sky.

The next morning we are off on our trek into town, down the road to the elevator, but hello, what’s this? A truck is wedged into the street outside, delivering concrete via a pump and crane to the building some floors up.

I don’t know how they got the truck out of there as further along the street there were cars parked randomly and little room to move. But they must have wriggled their way out somehow as on our return later in the day the truck was no longer there.

We carried in with our walk to the elevator then across a square to the municipal buildings and another elevator which leads us to the centre of town and flat land. All the streets are cobbled with the cream and black cobbles all laid out in intricate patterns. We learn that the way the pavements are cobbled is a Portugese signature, with the cream and black patterns in every town, with the same formulae laid down in the streets of Brazil and their other colonies.

We took another one of the hop on hop off bus tours to orient ourselves with the city.

central city square, monuments and pretty pastel coloured buildings

Through wide tree lined boulevards, we passed many of the significant churches and monasteries in Lisbon.

On to the monument to the First Marquis of Pombal. Pombal is noted for his swift and competent leadership in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 1755 which destroyed much of Lisbon. The city was razed by the earthquake, estimated to have been 9 on the Richter scale, and the ensuing tsunami and fires. He immediately took upon the task of rebuilding the city, with his famous quote: What now? We bury the dead and heal the living.

The term Pombaline is used to describe not only his tenure, but also the architectural style adopted in Lisbon after the great earthquake with wide open streets and earthquake safe buildings.

statue of the Marquis de Pombal

the statue surrounded by an impressive large roundabout with lovely gardens up the hill at the rear of the monument

and the view from the top of the gardens looking down over the city. NB. The haze over the city is smoke from the recent devastating fires that have swept through Portugal.

Further on our trip we went past an impressive aqueduct system.Lisbon needed good drinking water therefore the aqueduct was commissioned in the early 1730’s and by 1748 it was bringing fresh clean water to the city. The main course of the aqueduct covers 18 km, but the whole network of canals extends over nearly 58 km, and it is all gravity driven.

Aqueduct and commemorative arch in the Amoreiras neighbourhood.

Back into the central city where we pass another impressive pice of architecture, the Santa Justa lift which was built in the style of Eiffel and is sometimes called Lisbon’s Eiffel Tower.

And no we didn’t venture to the top, the queues to go on it were a little long as there is a limit of a maximum 25 people allowed on it at any one time.

One of the nicest areas is along the waterfront of the Taiga River, with older buildings, modern buildings and port area it is vibrant and lively with lots of people enjoying the area and of course the many restaurants.

Lucerne – Geneva – Porto

November 12, 2017

Yet another train trip for us, this time from Lucerne to Geneva, leaving the Alps and travelling through rolling green countryside in a journey that will last just under 3 hours. The trains leave Lucerne every hour on the hour with this train taking us north as far as Olten (half way between Lucerne and Basel) then south west toward Geneva via Bern.

the countryside was very pretty with views of typical Swiss chalets dotting the landscape, as well as cows with bells around their necks.

Swiss Chalets

Into Bern

rolling landscape

Lausanne

The trip seemed to take no time at all, either watching the countryside roll past or watching people getting on and off the train made the time go very quickly and we were soon at Geneva Airport. A short walk from the train station and we were at the airport through security and time for lunch before we boarded our flight to Porto. Yes, we are off to Portugal where hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer.

view from the plane to snow topped hills of Geneva.

After two and a half hours we were ready to land in Porto.

the view of the Portuguese coast.

Warmth and sunshine greeted us on landing and we were soon stripping off our scarves and jackets before finding our way to the Metro ready to take the train into town where we have an apartment booked in the centre of the old part of Porto. As we stepped off the escalator rising from the Metro we were met with a noisy, busy, vibrant street scene landing right at the top of Rua de Santa Caterina, one of the main streets of the old part of Porto, and this amazing sight in front of us

This church is covered in around 16000 tiles depicting scenes of Saint Catherine and Saint Francis of Assisi.

We arrived just on dark but we can check the Church out later. The street was alive and buzzy with street traders selling everything from art works, to souvenirs to roasted chestnuts and people everywhere out enjoying the evening. Musicians seems to be on every street corner and there is always something going on.

We picked up the keys you our apartment, which is in Rua de Santa Caterina. We are up on the 4th floor above the Main Street and is perfectly located for us to explore the city.

the Main Street in the early morning before the crowds appear. It appears that traffic is allowed down the centre of the street, one way, until mid day and then it’s pedestrians only and it seems to work very well.

We have booked in for three nights but we may just extend that, depending on our explorations tomorrow. The apartment is lovely and has a kitchen as well as a washing machine, which gives us a bit of freedom to eat in occasionally as well as catching up on laundry. A good nights sleep is in order before setting out to explore this part of Portugal.