Thursday, October 25, 2007

Madrid 17th September 2007

Well, our first day in Spain is nearly over and we are having a ball !!!! We had a long flight between Taipei and Amsterdam with a stop-over in Bangkok. This was for 1 ½ hrs at 2.30am - just what we didn’t need or want !!! But, we made it through. We were very disappointed with the in-flight entertainment on the longest leg of our trip - there wasn’t any - apart from the one screen at the front of each section of cattle class. They showed three movies over the 16.5 hrs - Marvel (twice), Pirates of the Caribbean (1st movie) and The Wendell Baker Story (which we all started to watch but then gave up after a short while). We ate meals at the most odd times - noodles and pork / fish and spaghetti at midnight, similar again at about 3.30am and then minced pork and fried rice / scrambled eggs in pancakes and a chicken sausage at 7am. Thank goodness they had nice rolls and yoghurt and we could say no to the meals which we didn’t want.

We made the connecting flight but only just ! Landed in Amsterdam on time but then had to walk miles to the transfer counter - got there and the lady told us to wait in the queue with a gazillion other people. Al went to check we were in the right place and she looked at the tickets and said yes. When it got to 9.40 and we were still a way away from the front of the queue I went back to her and said “Are we in the right place if we are supposed to leave at 10am” “Oh no - I’ll issue your boarding passes for you”. Then we had to walk another 15-20 mins to get to the departure gate plus we had to go through customs. We were waiting there and the lady a few people in front of us was with the customs guy for ages before another customs chap came and took her away - the queue went a lot quicker after that.

We ran down to the departure gate and managed to tag onto the last people who hadn’t walked onto the plane yet. Needless to say, we didn’t even have three seats together but as the flight was only 2 ½ hrs, it wasn’t a problem. I think Al slept a fair bit and Kaitlin and I read. Our luggage made it all the way (Kaitlin watched them unloading it while waiting to disembark) so while we were waiting for it at least we were reasonably happy that it had made all the connections with us.

The airport is a little old and they seem to be doing lots of renovations - there was one lone customs chap at the exit - nowhere near the “Goods to declare” sign. When we walked out there were a couple of TV crews waiting to film someone (was everyone so happy / keen to see we had arrived ?????) - there was lots of speculation between us about who they were waiting to film and when we were trying to organise a lift to the hotel, the chap at the desk said it was a soccer team who were coming to play against Real Madrid - if only we could have got tickets !!!!!!

The desk couldn’t organise transport for an hour so we decided to brave the taxi rank and see how successful we were - initially, it was a bit of a mess trying to find where the queue was but then a whole bunch of taxis pulled out, another bunch took their place - stopped in both lanes and Kaitlin managed to find a price for us to get to the hotel (2/3 of the price of the shuttle service) so we had made (saved ??) some money before we even got to the hotel. What a taxi ride - weaving in and out of traffic, taking gaps that nobody should be allowed to take, and driving up the loveliest little cobbled streets - barely wide enough for a car never mind a car, sometimes a scooter or two as well as some pedestrians who were brave enough to step outside of the little barriers that mark the line between road and pavement !! What an experience - they really are up there with taxi drivers from New York and Taiwan !

As we were driving from the airport, we couldn’t help but notice how dry and barren the landscape was - no doubt they don’t get much rain here during this time of the year. It also reminded us a little of Taiwan - lots of high rise buildings with washing hanging out and satellite dishes balanced precariously between balconies.

We arrived at our hotel and paid the taxi driver (20 euros) only for him to open the door and show us a sign (in Spanish) which said to add 5 euros to the price if being collected from the airport - why they don’t just start their meter at 5 euros is anyone’s guess. The room is good - very Ikea style - not much in the way of furniture. Kaitlin is sleeping on the bottom of a double bunk with the top bunk turned into the wall - she has already hit her head on the top bunk and managed to fall out of bed when turning over as there are no night lights of any sort and the room is pitch black when the lights are off - we did leave the curtain open a little but that didn’t really help much.

We decided not to have a lie down (although maybe we should have) and rather go out walking and try to get into the same time zone a little quicker - not many other people had this idea as a lot of shops were closed for siesta time !!!!! We left the hotel at about 2pm and (except for a few trips back for various things - see later) we only got back at about 8pm - 6 hrs of walking and just being amazed by the sights. Well not even the sights - the work that has gone into the buildings is just amazing and the photos that I took really don’t do them justice. I could have just wandered around looking at the buildings all day. Kaitlin found a bag shop (2 mins from the hotel) and we were in there for a while - she is deciding on whether to buy (another !!) bag and will think about it over the next couple of days before we leave. Shoe shops abound as well - her bank balance could be reduced very quickly at this rate !!!!!

We walked to Plaza de Espana and took some photos as the fountains there. Walked up Gran Via to lots of little squares with statues galore. We went to the Sabatini Gardens and Royal Palace but at this stage Kaitlin was getting blisters (from wearing shoes Al and I said weren’t suitable) and she said “I know you are going to say I told you so but could we go back to the hotel to change my shoes !!!” We both laughed and said no problem but in future when we say put runners and socks on - no argument !!!! Just hope the blisters don’t bother her too much until they heal. Having said that, I’m not sure how much walking we will be doing today - when we were walking back from Puerta de Calcala my legs felt a little itchy and I looked down and I had the most amazing rash on both my legs from the knees down. We were going to a chemist to get something for Al’s lip so thought we would ask there at the same time - she said to take an anti-histamine (we had at the hotel) and put on some cream (we bought from her). We went back to Plaza de Espana to a little market we had seen during siesta time (most of the stalls were closed) and then went to a store to get some drinks before heading back to the hotel. We didn’t land up having any supper as after showering none of us felt like going out again so we were all in bed by about 10pm. Thank goodness the beds are really hard as my back was starting to feel it after all that walking.

The room has WIFI in it but unfortunately our WIFI card isn’t working - Al is going to see if he can connect and download something to get it working otherwise I am going to type up our travel diary each night and will just mail it when I get a chance.

I woke up a few times during the night and we were all awake by 6am this morning - it was pitch dark outside so Al tried to get us to go back to sleep - no such luck - Kaitlin and I kept on finding things to make us laugh and so he decided to let us wake up and wish him happy birthday and give him his presents.

While I wouldn’t say we have already had our money’s worth - we certainly have enjoyed the 18 hours we have been in Spain with lots of laughs between the three of us - lots of smart alex bantering - and lots of wonderful memories to share for years to come.

Unfortunately there is no improvement in my legs this morning - if anything they are worse so I think we will go back to the chemist to see what she suggests. While they don’t look very pleasant - the problem is that it feels like I have a band of barbed wire around above my ankles and this causes shooting pains up my legs with each step - not a good start to a holiday which I see as being a walking holiday. But, I am sure that we will find out the problem, it certainly isn’t life threatening - just a little inconvenient.

There are a couple of things we noticed while walking around which haven’t impressed us - all the people who smoke in the streets, restaurants, cars and taxis as well as all the graffiti around the city. The other thing is that there are quite a few beggars around - something we haven’t seen since in Taiwan when we went to visit Alan. There are times when it seems like we are in a Star Wars movie - the pedestrian crossings make a noise like you hear in Star Wars and when there are a couple of pedestrian crossings close together, it can get really annoying !!!!!

On that note, our stomachs are telling us it is time to get moving and find something to eat for breakfast. We are not sure of our plans for today - depends to a certain extent on my legs - possibly a bus tour around Madrid then tomorrow it will be to the Prado Museum, the Sabatini Gardens and the Royal Palace (we only passed those on our way back to the hotel for Kaitlin to change her shoes yesterday).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Madrid 18th September 2007

After getting up this morning we bought some breakfast from the bakery across the street and then wandered around a little until we found a stand with a sign about the bus tour around Madrid. One or two day passes to jump on and off buses along two different routes.

We bought the two day pass as it wasn’t much more than the one day pass and decided that we could use it to get to the Prado Museum and the botanical gardens if we were running out of time and couldn’t walk the distance and still leave us enough time to look around.

While I don’t know if I could live here - it really is such a lovely city. There are so many tree lined streets with too many to count gardens and fountains - it is just so pretty. I can’t tell you how many little café’s there are with outside seating under the trees - if only every second person we saw wasn’t smoking. I said to Al yesterday it is almost like they don’t know about lung cancer over here. There are very few places where you actually see No Smoking signs - we did see one today when we went to the Natural Sciences museum.

We hopped on the bus at about 9.50 (they start running at 9.30 but we had to wait for it to get to us) and did the whole of the ‘red’ tour before hopping onto the ‘blue’ tour bus. While we were driving along we made a note of the places we wanted to hop off at so that we could go back to them. I had to laugh this morning - while we were waiting for the bus to arrive, a lady stopped to ask if we were waiting for the Madrid Vision bus and I said yes. She started chatting (an American) and then asked if we were Australian, so I said yes we are. She said “Oh I just love your accent” and laughed when I told her it was a South African accent saying “I can’t tell the difference “ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After doing the two tours we stopped and had some lunch - at least when we are in the timeshare places it will be a little cheaper to feed the three of us - it is starting to get a little pricey eating out and maybe we will have to resort to the two meals a day we spoke about before leaving !!!! It is just a little difficult when we are doing so much exercise (not as much today as yesterday but still quite a bit if we only eat twice a day - plus how can I say to Kaitlin no you can’t have anything to eat when she says she is hungry ??????)

We went back to the chemist today and Kaitlin did a really good job of explaining to him that we had been in the day before and got this particular cream but that my legs had got worse. He said I needed to see a doctor. We left there and decided we would wait until tomorrow to see if it was worse before worrying about trying to find a doctor.

After lunch we went back to the Natural Sciences museum - at first we couldn’t find the right place even though we went into the building which had a sign saying words to the effect of Natural Sciences and then had a difficult time trying to work out what the security lady was saying about going out, to the right and three doors - just to the right were three doors which Al wanted to go into but Kaitlin said that the sign there said School of Technology and Industrial Engineering - he still wanted to try so she told him he would have to go and ask because she wasn’t embarrassing herself by asking when she knew it wasn’t the right place !!!! In the end we walked a little further down and found another entrance with a sign to the Natural Sciences museum - went in and it was 5 euros. Al really wanted to see it so we went in and went to pay when the lady handed us our tickets and said we could go in - without paying. We thought - what a bonus - until we started to walk around - then we were REALLY glad we hadn’t paid 5 euros each !!!!! There were a couple of stuffed animals, some insects and fish in bottles and some animal heads mounted onto walls - really not worth paying for at all !!!! It was very strange as on the tour they said that it was the most advanced and interactive Natural Sciences museum in the country - but maybe what they meant to say was that it will be the most advanced and interactive NSM when it is finished as there were a couple of sections which were cordoned off which maybe they were working on (they were just empty halls as far as we could see) . Anyway, after that we walked across a couple of streets to save sitting on the bus for the whole of the top loop of the tour again and caught the bus back to the stop where we got off for lunch and came back to the hotel for a siesta (it didn’t take us long to get into the Spanish way of life !!!!!!!!) The trouble was we didn’t set an alarm and 4 ½ hrs later I woke up after someone slammed a door outside only to find that it was too late to visit the Templo de Debod which is what we were going to do after our siesta.

Al has just woken up and had a shower, Kaitlin is jumping in the shower and then I will shower before Ignacio (a chap who used to work with Al in Taiwan) is coming to meet us and take us for a walk down some little narrow roads into a big square and then onto some tapas bars for dinner - it should be a great evening. I just love seeing the little narrow roads with the cobblestones - I probably wouldn’t like to drive down any of them but they are so quaint to see. I have a feeling that our two nights in Barcelona is not going to be enough especially as it is going to take us the better part of the first day to get there and we have to leave reasonably early on Saturday morning as it is going to be a fairly long day driving down to Malaga - so much so that I think we are going to have to split the drive and find somewhere to stay overnight on Saturday night along the way and only get down to Malaga on Sunday sometime.

Ignacio arrived at 8.45 to take us on a walk and talk around Madrid - thank goodness our hotel is so centrally located. It was so interesting listening to him telling us the history of so many of the squares and statues - much better that the recorded voice on the tour bus !!!! He took us to two tapas bars and we had some tapas at the first bar and then went to a second tapas bar where we had a few more - while they were tasty I don’t know that I would like to eat like that too often - it was mostly fried and came dripping in olive oil !!!!!!

He also showed us some short cuts to the squares which came in very handy today. We ate in the tradition of the Spaniards - at about 11.00 but it was closer to 12.30 before we were finished and they still hadn’t brought one of the dishes that we had ordered so he cancelled the order and we walked home through another square.

The weather was great although a little chilly when we set out this morning - so much so that we all landed up with our jackets on. It warmed up later in the afternoon but it wasn’t nearly as hot as yesterday. When we left the tapas to come home, the three of us landed up putting our jackets on again but Ignacio was just in his shirt sleeves.

It was close to 1.30am by the time we got home and rolled into bed - very happy to have such comfortable hotel beds and happy that we had had such a great day and an even better evening.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Madrid 19th September 2007

This morning we were all awake quite early despite the late night last night and so were up and moving by 7.30. My legs had improved tremendously so decided not to worry about a doctor. Unfortunately the bakery across the road wasn’t open so we couldn’t get our croissants before we starting exploring. The bus did not start until 9.30am so we decided to just walk to where we wanted to go until the buses were running.

Our first stop was the Royal Palace - we were very disappointed to find out that there was an official function on today so no visitors were allowed. We took some photos of the outside - once again, the architecture and the amount of work that has gone into the adornments on the buildings is just amazing - each time we go and I see the buildings, it never ceases to amaze me at the amount of work which has gone into each building. I just love the feel and the look of the city.

After the Royal Palace we stopped at the Sabatini Gardens. This is where Alan got the timer on the camera to work for the first time and we had great fun watching him set up and then run to get in the photo - the good thing is that is means that we can have some photos of all three of us and not make them all ‘two people’ photographs. What a clever boy !!!!

From there we walked to Templo de Debod and took some photos there - again, what a lovely park with lots of trees and shady spots for people to enjoy during the day. I keep being amazed at the number of gardens and parks and the number of tree lined streets which there are in Madrid - it is so beautiful to be able to walk down a street, in the shade, because of all the lovely trees during the heat of the day (of course in the early morning when the sun hasn’t come up and the wind is blowing it is bloody cold but you can’t have it both ways can you ?)

Once we were finished at Templo de Debod, we found a little bakery (who would have thought !!!) across the street where we got some breakfast. While walking to the bus stop, we saw the funniest parking - well I shouldn’t say funny - more like strangest parking - Kaitlin was so amazed she took photos (see photos from Madrid 19092007) - the first one - there must have been about 1cm gap between the two cars. Most cars here seem to have lots of dents and scratches and we are sure they all park by sound - when they hit the car behind (or in front) they stop !!!! About 4 parking spaces down the road, we saw a car which was only half in the parking because he (definitely not a she driver !!!!) couldn’t fit completely in the parking !!!!! He was actually touching front and back (see photos from Madrid 19092007 for this scenario). We laughed about that for ages down the road. Not long afterwards we saw a crane, in a one lane one-way street - stop, put down the stabilisers and off-load a whole bunch of stuff - making a huge traffic jam behind the truck - people were hooting and shouting and they just kept off-loading, then when they were finished, some chap came out and was arguing about where they had off-loaded the stuff so one guy from the truck was arguing with him while the other pulled up the stabilisers and then they both jumped into the truck and drove off. It was just amazing to watch the whole thing happen. Everyone then started their cars and drove off !!!

After that we jumped on the bus and went to the Prado Museum - there were a couple of artists which we wanted to see - Goya, Rembrandt, Reubens and (I can’t remember the other one) - I now know why I never did art at school (apart from the fact that I battle to draw a straight line with a ruler) - I really wasn’t impressed with what we saw - am glad it didn’t cost us too much to get in !!!!!!! It was strange to see paintings which I felt were rather out of proportion and hands and feet which I am sure could have been done better and sometimes the colours and shading weren’t too flash either - now I guess that the fact that some of those paintings are hundreds of years old may have something to do with it - maybe the colours were good when they were painted but have deteriorated over the years - I don’t know - but I definitely wouldn’t be dashing off to any other art exhibition except in Malaga where Picasso’s grand-daughter donated a lot of her paintings to be hung in a gallery there as he was born there.

Last night Ignacio gave us a very well put together list of things to do in Barcelona and then on the way to Malaga and in and around Malaga as that is his home town and he obviously knows the area very well. So we certainly have our next 10 days very well planned and we know that we won’t be missing out on anything which we should see.

After the Prado Museum we were going to go to the botanical gardens but had to pay to get into there so decided to go to the bigger gardens a little further up the road - have photos of the ‘pond’ there as well as one of the fountains.

After that and another bus ride on the blue route, we decided to come back to the room - not for a siesta but to catch up on labelling the photos from yesterday and today. After doing that we went back down to the road which runs past the Royal Palace as Al wanted some more photos of Madrid !!!!! Then we seemed to wander around for a while - going to a few more squares which by now were extremely busy with people leaving work and wandering around. They have people busking in all the squares and most cafes and restaurants have outside tables for people to sit at and eat - it is just such a different way of life to what we are used to both in Australia and South Africa. It is very much like Taiwan from this aspect - lots of outdoor community living.

We decided to go without dinner tonight as none of us were really hungry so instead we had Ben and Jerry’s (ice-cream) and then came back to the hotel at about 9pm - ready to have a shower, pack and have everything ready for our 6.30am start tomorrow. This is going to be a real CrankyPants test - driving on the wrong side of the road in a manual car and not really knowing where we are going but relying on Gloria (the GPS) to get us to Barcelona !!!! Today we each a CrankyPants moment but they passed soon enough which was good - would hate to spoil all the fun we have been having with too many CrankyPants moments !!!! But, I suppose having the three of us live in one room and spend every waking moment together (no Kaitlin hasn’t been allowed to go shopping by herself !!) will lead to a few tense moments in the 28 days we are away !!!

Well, the two little darlings are now asleep and it is time for me to say good-night. Maybe when we are in Barcelona we will have a chance to get to an internet café to upload some mail - otherwise it will just have to wait until we get home.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Madrid - Barcelona 20th September 2007

This morning we left the hotel at about 7.10am and walked up to Gran Via to catch a taxi to the airport to pick up the car for our drive to Barcelona. We picked it up without any trouble - a Peugeot 307. It did come with some dents on it and we had decided (after seeing the driving around Madrid) that it would probably be in our best interests to take out comprehensive insurance for the +3 weeks we are going to be driving around Spain. Thank goodness for Gloria - she got us on our way with only one mishap (which wasn’t actually her fault !!!) although it did takes us a while to actually get out onto the motorway and on the road to Barcelona.

We had a few laughs at the toll road - stopped a little way away from the toll booth because we couldn’t work out which booth had someone in to take our money. Drove up to one only to find that what we thought was a booth was actually just a holding place for something so reversed out and landed up pulling up way to the side of the road. Al then got out to see if he could see how much it we had to pay and where we could actually drive through and pay someone (with his luminesce vest on) and came back laughing saying it was one of those toll roads where you have to take a ticket and then pay when you leave the toll road. I don’t know how many km’s and 19.40 euros later - we were off the toll road. Kaitlin was amazed at how much we had to pay as the two people before us only paid 3.25 euros then when we got there it showed 19.40 - she thought that was very unfair until we explained to her that they had obviously not been on the toll road for the whole 12 sections.

She did a great job of finding us some accommodation in Barcelona - it was about 4pm and we hadn’t found anything so she started to phone around some of the places in the Lonely Planets guide - she did an excellent job of telling the hotels what we wanted. It take about 7 or 8 hotels before she found two nights accommodation for us - we had forgotten about the big festival which is on here this coming week and so obviously accommodation is at a premium. Anyway, the hotel we are staying at is one street back from La Rambla. I have to be honest and say that I don’t think I will like Barcelona as much as I liked Madrid - it is a lot more dirty and there is heaps more graffiti around the blocks where we were walking tonight. The buildings are a lot dirtier and not as well kept as those we saw in Madrid. I understand that we may be staying in a different area when compared to where we stayed in Madrid (having said that we saw plenty ladies selling their wares in the streets just over from our hotel) but Al has also just mentioned that he didn’t feel particularly safe while walking around just now.

Tomorrow we are going on the bus tour for the day - with the time limitations we have, we think it will be the only way we will get to see all the sights that are on the ‘must see when in Barcelona’ list. No doubt they will include a few we didn’t know about. The buses run from 9.30 in the morning and as breakfast is included in the price of our room, we will have breakfast before finding out where the closest pick up point is and hopping on the bus.

Al was a real champ today - he managed the right hand drive manual car very well although to start with kept on moving his left hand down to open the door instead of his right hand down to change gears. He was only hooted at twice - a great record given how they drive around with the hands permanently on the hooter !!!! We had some difficulty trying to get to our hotel as they are doing road works outside and Gloria wouldn’t recognise any of the road names I was typing in so I managed to use her to get us as close to the hotel as possible before using the little map in the Lonely Planets guide to get us the rest of the way. The problem was that some of the roads were marked in the book as being one way and they weren’t and then many of the roads in the book were un-named soooooooo - when we got as far as we could with the car, Kaitlin and I hopped out and ran down to the hotel to find out the easiest way to get the car there as we were in spitting distance from the hotel but couldn’t get the car there without picking it up and carrying it !!!!!!!! About 40 mins later we finally managed to get the car there, checked in, dropped our bags off and went out walking. It was still light but got dark (and chilly) rather quickly. Considered getting the three of us sketched to put in the pub but didn’t have jackets and were too cold to sit there for 30 mins while he sketched us - maybe tomorrow night we will be able to do it if we don’t stay out too late with the tour. We also want to get to see the musical fountain with the lights tomorrow night if possible.

At this stage we are looking at leaving for Toledo directly after breakfast on Saturday morning - not sure how long it will take us to get out of Barcelona although at least we will have Gloria to help us as we will know where we are going (roughly) which is more than we had when we were aiming for here today.

Unfortunately Kaitlin has a head cold and hasn’t been feeling too flash today. Last night she had a sore throat and was saying she felt like she was coming down with something - she did bark a few times last night and you could hear her nose filling up. We weren’t able to find a chemist open in Madrid before we left but did manage to stop at Zaragoza (pronounced Tharagotha - if you can keep your teeth in while saying it) and the two of us ran into a chemist where she explained to him that she had a cold and a runny nose and managed to get some tablets from him. Plus she managed to get me some more anti-histamines to take for my legs which have still not settled down but which have improved a lot.

It has been a long day - both Al and Kaitlin have been champs at what they have done and it is now time for bed. Tomorrow will be another big day for us all - thank goodness Kaitlin had a good sleep in the car today as I think it will help her over the next couple of days of racing around trying to see as much as we can. Maybe we will have to go back to work for a holiday !!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Barcelona - 21st September 2007

This morning we were up bright and early, went upstairs for breakfast (continental with the loveliest custard pastries !!!) and then were out the door just on 9am to get the bus. We did all three tours before deciding where we wanted to go back to and hop off the bus for a closer look.

We were going to stop off at Sagrada Familia but after seeing the queues to get inside, we decided to stay on the bus and took photos from the bus. The Olympic Stadium was a stop we made - it is more impressive from the outside than from the inside. We were unable to get up close to the Torre Agbar building (the round one with no corners) and so landed up walking there in the evening (about a gazillion miles away from the hotel) and only when we got there did we think that we probably should have caught the Metro !!! We did manage to get the Metro to the Fountain Show (having first got on the subway going the wrong way so hopped off and caught the next one going the right way !!!) The musical fountains with lights was just lovely and so impressive. We had learnt our lesson earlier this evening and got the subway back to the hotel.

We went to see if we could find the cartoon artist but he had already left so will have to keep an eye out to see if there is anyone else who does something similar.

We are staying in the Gothic Quarter and it sure has been an eye opener for us. It is just amazing to see how different everyone is.

Kaitlin was fascinated when Al was showing her how the gangs work to pick-pocket the tourists (well anyone they can but more often than not a tourist !) - not that they actually saw anyone get pick-pocketed but she was fascinated watching them all work together. Now she can understand why we keep asking her if she HAS to take her big bag with her everywhere she goes !!!!

Barcelona is so different to Madrid - I really feel like I left my heart in Madrid. Barcelona is much dirtier and, while the buildings are still impressive, they are not on the same sort of scale of “amazingness” that the buildings in Madrid are. I think it is also because we feel a lot more unsafe here - we were always careful about where we were walking and where our bags were in Madrid but it just feels different here. By mid-morning we had all agreed that we prefer Madrid to Barcelona and, given the opportunity, probably wouldn’t come back. It has been interesting to visit but I will be glad to leave.

It has been very tiring on and off buses all day and that amount of walking we have done is phenomenal - Kaitlin has done very well keeping up with us but I have to say that I am looking forward to some down time when we get to the timeshare.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Barcelona - Toledo 22nd September 2007

This morning we were up and having breakfast by 7.15 and on the road by 8am. It took us a little longer than we had hoped to get out of the city - sometimes Gloria doesn’t know where she is going !!!!! When we both agreed that what she was saying was wrong - we went our way and just made her recalculate her way !!!! Nothing like being the boss and making her change her mind.

We decided to drive down the coast to Valencia and then across towards Madrid before taking the turnoff to Toledo. We didn’t have very good weather with rain on and off the whole day. Plus we seemed to go through I don’t know how many toll roads - maybe we will have to tell Gloria not to take us on the toll roads when she is calculating our route for us !!! The scenery was very different to what we saw between Madrid and Barcelona - that was funny because there would be mountains on one side of the road and flat plains on the other. Often there were fields and fields of very well racked stones - what they grow there is anyone’s guess but the soil looks like it couldn’t support a colony of ants never mind grow anything. We did see olive orchards and grapes - not sure which of those can grow in yellow cracker dust (because that is exactly what it looks like with some bigger stones thrown in for good measure !!!)

Today the scenery was a lot more green - between mountains they seem to have more rain and therefore more greenery around. But we still went through some barren stretches where it looked like nothing would grow.

We have pictures (curtesy of Al) of I don’t know how many castles and churches on hill tops - most of them too far in the distance to actually be able to see what they are !! I think the same can be said for narrow alleyways and balconies (this one curtesy of me !!!) What happens is we see a castle on a hilltop / narrow alley / balcony and think - gosh that is amazing and forget about the other 10 ‘amazing’ sites we have already photographed !!!!

On the way we were wondering if it was going to be worth the trip as it was a little out of our way - well, we couldn’t have been more wrong. It is just magnificent - I thought I had left my heart in Madrid but now I have to bring half here and leave it here. It is like stepping into a time machine and going back 1000 years. The city of Toledo itself sits on the top of a hill - parts of the city wall still stand and a fair proportion of the city is surrounded by the Rio Tajo. As we drove past we were amazed at how old the buildings are - they have a festival on here this weekend (from what we could understand) it is the festival of no cars in Toledo. So, if we had managed to get accommodation within the city walls at a hotel which had parking, we could have driven in today but then not been able to take our car out until Monday. Needless to say we couldn’t find any accommodation within the city limits and the first place we stopped at wanted to charge 70 euros (+- A$125) per person per night. We had sort of got an idea we couldn’t afford it when we walked in wearing shorts and thongs and people walked out in suits and fancy dresses (not ha ha fancy dresses - real fancy dresses) with their hair all done and really dressed to the nines - all off to mass at the cathedral. Anyway, we eventually managed to find a lovely little hotel not too far from the city at a very reasonable price so we dumped our gear, put on our walking shoes and headed off.

After last night we wised up to the use of public transport and managed to get a bus to take us into the City Centre (a rather long walk if done without the help of the bus) and managed to find out that the last bus left at 11pm. We had our map and off we set - I wasn’t paying as much attention to where we were going as what I should have been as I spent too much time picking my jaw up off the floor at the sights !!!! We landed up on the outskirts of the city on the side we didn’t really want to be on so we walked back up to the City Centre (Plaza Zocodover) and started all over again. This time I gave the map to Kaitlin so that I could spend more time looking at the narrow cobble stoned roads and the amazing architecture. I can’t say enough about how amazing it is - the trouble is that the photos really don’t do it justice either.

I was reading in the Lonely Planets guide that the city is slowly dying as nobody wants to live within the city limits and eventually they expect it will consist only of souvenir shops, ice-cream parlours, cafes and bars. Everyone is moving down the side of the hill, outside the city limits, and living and working in the surrounding areas. I have to say that I can’t imagine living there and having to battle to find parking each day (I know some people in Sydney who have to do this anyway !!!!) - driving down street barely wide enough for your car at the same time as having to miss hitting the tourists who flock there in their thousands. It seems to me that a lot of the people who live there are elderly people who have maybe lived there for years and years and don’t want to move away. It had the feel a real community living - something which the Spaniards do very well. Unfortunately there was still a lot of graffiti around which was sad to see.

We stopped at one café for dinner - Al had spaghetti bolognaise, Kaitlin had fettucine fungi and I had paella - it was delicious. They served it in a cast iron skillet and it was just wonderful. We decided to make this Al’s birthday dinner as we hadn’t really had a birthday dinner for him when we were out with Ignacio. We managed to catch a bus at about 10.20pm and after the walk from the bus stop to the hotel got here, showered and the other two are in bed and asleep. The bath is the smallest bath I have ever seen (or used) it is even smaller than the bath we used to have in the house where I grew up !!!!!!

I really feel that if I had to go home tomorrow, I would have had my money’s worth on this holiday - it has been such a fantastic experience. There are many times when I have compared Spain to other places we have travelled to - there are many similarities but there are also so many differences. We are still not used to having to put up with people smoking wherever we go - we got into the hire car on Thursday and the first thing Al said was “People have smoked in here” - I really appreciate the stance that Australia has taken with people smoking in public places. I truly believe you have to travel before you can fully appreciate what you have at home.

I would also like to have some down time - this past week has been totally exhausting. Between the long flights over - 3 days of jumping on and off buses - together with all the walking we have done - plus with Al not used to the roads and not knowing where we are going, I haven’t been able to do my usual ‘get in the car and 20 mins later I’m asleep’ trick as it wouldn’t be fair to leave him to try to navigate it all by himself. I guess I could sit in the back and leave Kaitlin in the front except she has been sleeping a lot of the time in the back herself !!!!!! I would rather she slept and didn’t turn into Miss CrankyPants than I slept and make us both have to live with her !!!!

It is now 1.10am and if I am going to want to get up tomorrow morning to do another whirlwind walk through Toledo before leaving for Malaga, I had better get to sleep - it should be a fun night as not only are we in a double bed (we are used to a king size bed) - we only have one looooooooooooooooooong pillow to share between us (instead of our usual 4) !!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Toledo - Malaga 23rd September 2007

The hotel we stayed at was very good value for money - especially as we were only wanting somewhere to wash and sleep. This morning we were up and out of the hotel by just on 8am. Walked up to the bus stop and caught a bus into Toledo and walked down to the gate and bridge across from the ‘mainland’. We then walked back to the square and caught the bus back to the hotel - luckily we managed to get back by 10.40 and so had time to shower before we left. We had to make a few photo stops along the way as we hadn’t been able to get a photo on the entrance when we went in via the bus. My legs were quite tight today and I am sure will be a little like that tomorrow - the hills in and around Toledo are rather steep to say the least. Add to that sitting in the car for another 6 hours certainly doesn’t help arthritic knees. Our driving today saw us take our total driving for 3 days to just over 2000 kms - with another 2 ½ weeks still to go !!!

We had a good trip down to Malaga from Toledo. Gloria got a little confused at times because they have built new roads since the maps which she has loaded and so would occasionally tell us to “Go to nearest road” even though we were on the road already and she would show a picture of us travelling along nothing !!!

Once again, the scenery kept on amazing me. From the barren flats on one side of a hill to the forests on the other side. Then every now and again, you would see a cathedral standing out way above the houses - a very Mediterranean feel along the way with the olive groves and white houses.

We got into Malaga at about 5.15 but it took us a little longer to find the resort as Gloria didn’t recognise the address (she can be quite difficult like that). Anyway, we eventually found the resort - it is too big and too commercial for my liking. Having said that, we went out to try to find a laundry as we have run out of clothes waiting to get to the time share with the laundry - this one is different from others we have stayed at where we have had a washing machine and dryer in the room - this one there is a laundry on the 2nd floor but you have to leave your washing there for them to do and return the following day for the princely sum of 15 euros per load - geez we won’t be able to eat if we get all our washing done here !!!! So, off we went to explore to see if we could find a Laundromat (the lady at reception said you won’t find any where you can do it yourself - you have to leave it and pick it up the next day). We did find one - but we had to leave our washing there - the good thing was it was only 8 euros per load !!!! What a pity we had only taken our ‘have to wash’ pile and not all the washing that needed to be done - we didn’t want to spend all night doing washing so thought that we would only take the absolute necessary pile. Anyway, we can collect it on Tuesday at lunch time so will take whatever we have up until then and get it all done as the people there seemed very nice.

I cannot believe how much like Surfers Paradise this place is - not what I expected at all. I am not sure what I thought it would be like but certainly nothing like it actually is. There are pommies galore - red as lobsters walking around. The tourist strip is just like walking down Cavill Ave except it is a gazilloLn times longer. We had fish and chips and pork chop and chips for dinner tonight - there is no shortage of places to eat / drink and the prices are certainly more reasonable than what we have encountered since arriving in Spain - no doubt thanks to the number of pommie visitors to the area !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After dinner we decided to have a walk along the beachfront and stopped at a drugstore to get an ice-cream. Al came up to me with a bottle of Amarula and said “Guess how much” “30 ?” “No” “60 ?” “No - you could get 6 bottles for that” - it was 9.80 euros (approx $17 rather than the $30 at home) so he bought a bottle as well as a range of beers for him to try when we have a quiet drink one evening (hopefully before we leave for home !!!!!!)

This morning when I woke Kaitlin up I said tomorrow would be a rest day as we have had a really big week since leaving home last Sunday morning. She sounded very pleased to hear that as we have had quite late nights as then early starts each day. When we got here and were talking about what we were going to do according to what we had wanted to do as well as the suggestions that Ignacio had given us, we realised that we actually don’t have any free days while we are here - the extra two days we took to stop at Toledo (well worth every minute we were there) cut into the time we have here. So we have a day trips to each of the following : Malaga, Marabella and Ronda, Granada, Cordoba and Seville.

Tomorrow we are planning to catch the bus into Malaga - apparently the parking can be a bit of a nightmare so think we will get the bus in and out and just have our walking shoes on for in-between the bus trips - we are hoping this won’t take all day and we can have some free time in the afternoon. Hopefully the trip to Marabella and Ronda also won’t take the whole day as they are a lot closer than the other three. I can’t believe the windy roads that abound in Spain - it doesn’t seem to matter where we are (apart from on the freeway of course) but the roads are always really narrow and really windy. I took a photo in Toledo where they have actually cut away part of the wall to allow side mirrors through the corner !

There are some computers downstairs with an internet connection but no way for me to upload anything so will just send short e-mails and upload the travel diary to our blog when we get home.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Malaga 24th September 2007 (Marbella - Ronda)

This morning we let Kaitlin sleep in as we thought we were only going to go spend the day in Malaga. Went downstairs to the Info Desk only to be told that the Picasso Museum was not open on a Monday. Plus we tried to book tickets to La Alhambre in Granada only to find that while we were deciding whether or not to have lunch on the tour, that the last tickets were sold - really annoyed about that but she said that we were top of the list for any cancellations and to check our phone for messages as they would phone if they managed to get 3 tickets for us. Got in from our day out to find a message saying they had 3 tickets for Thursday so we are off there on Thursday. After finding out that the Picasso Museum was closed on Mondays we had to have a chance of plan - off to Marbella and Ronda. So back up to the room - change out of socks and runners and into thongs and down to the car. It takes forever to navigate our way out of here as there are so many little windy, twisty roads with no road names and Gloria gets a little confused sometimes about how many exits a round about has !!!!

At least we had programmed the hotel address in so knew that we could get back from wherever we went. We drove into Marbella - couldn’t find the Info Kiosk I had asked Gloria to take us to but did drive past another one (too close to turn into) so managed to find a parking garage where we got 2 hrs free parking if we spent 12 euros at the shop, parked the car and walked back to the Info Centre. We got a map of Marbella and the lady showed us where the Old Quarter was as well as the very flash marina. We took a stroll around the Old Quarter - tiled and cobbled streets - wee little alleyways, very different architecture to what we have seen previously - more Mediterranean than other places. Quaint was the word that came to mind while walking around there.

We managed to get back to the parking garage without any problems - knew we were over our 2 hrs so hadn’t really hurried back - only to find that they charge over the 2 hrs by the minute - not if you are over you pay for the whole hour anyway.

From Marbella we headed into Ronda - this is a little town on top of a mountain - not my favourite place to be - driving up was bad enough so I swopped seats with Kaitlin on the trip down and just lay with my head on the seat until we got to the bottom of the road. Not sure what Gloria was thinking (or what road she thought we were on) but on the way up the two lane windy mountain road she told us to “Turn left” - we all called out words to the effect of “Not bloody likely !!!!!” and then had a laugh saying “Sometimes you just can’t believe everything she tells us to do” !!!!!!

Ronda has one of the most famous bull rings in Spain - Alan and Kaitlin did the tour - I wasn’t interested and so just lay on the grass and wanted outside for them. Again, a lot of old buildings with narrow alleyways and a bridge across from the old town. Al took photos of that - I wasn’t getting anywhere close to that.

Had a nice soak in the lovely long bath we have at the unit as my back and legs have really been giving me a bit of a hard time - not entirely uncalled for given how much walking we have done as well as how badly I am sleeping on the bed we have.

Tomorrow is another day - will probably do the tour around Malaga as we have to pay for our tickets between 10am - 6pm and we won’t make those times if we go to either Seville or Cordoba.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Malaga 25th September 2007

This morning we got up and went down to breakfast (hot and cold buffet for 6 euros) before heading to the Info Desk to pay for our tickets for La Alhambre (in Granada) on Thursday. After that we hit the bus stop to catch the bus into town for the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. We would have got there a little quicker if Kaitlin had actually asked the bus driver to tell us where to get off rather than deciding she knew without asking him and getting us off at the wrong stop and then having to wait to get on another bus going - not to the right stop - but taking us a lot closer than we were when we got off the first bus !

We got onto the bus at about 12 and our first hop off was at Castillo de Gibralfaro - great views of the city - we then got back on and hopped off at The Alcazabar and had a climb around there - have really tried to cut back on my eating as I am sure that I could be losing heaps with all the hill walking we are doing !!!! Mind you, drinking Coke instead of Coke Zero won’t be helping me any ! We went to the Picasso Museum - like the art work we saw at Prado Museum, I’m glad we went but really, I am sure that I could draw some pictures and you would be hard pressed to tell whether Picasso had done them or I had done them - even in his pictures of real people, his proportions weren’t that flash and of course with his abstract stuff, anything could be anything (pretty much like if I had done it !!!). But, once again, it was good to see and it is something that nobody can take away from me.

We wandered around the shopping boulevard for a while - Kaitlin finally found a Pull and Bear shop and bought a top which I am sure will keep her happy for a while !!! We walked past the Cathedral and a few other of the monuments before finding out where we had to go to catch the bus back to Benalmadena (the suburb of Malaga where we are staying). This trip takes about 45 - 60 mins but at least it was time we weren’t having to be walking somewhere !!! We got back to the unit and Kaitlin stayed behind to work on her legal assignment while Al and I went off to collect our washing - YAY some clean clothes to choose from in the morning. Then we picked up the most delicious pizzas for dinner and came back to the unit to eat. We dropped off another two loads of washing which will be ready on Thursday - in time for us to pick up before we leave for Alicante on Saturday morning.

It is extremely hot here - in Toledo it was 31 degrees at 7pm when we were there. The car was showing an outside temp of 41 when we went down yesterday mid morning - most days the temps are in the mid 30’s and at night, while it does cool down, we still need to run the aircon - although it doesn’t seem to make it around the corner into the bedroom where we are sleeping - am thinking about moving the mattresses onto the floor in the loungeroom tonight.

It is now time to bath and go to bed - tomorrow will be another big day for us with an early start in the morning. Seville is about 220kms north east of Malaga plus it takes us about 30-45 mins to navigate our way out of Benalmadena. We don’t want to be out too late tomorrow night as we have an early start on Thursday to Grenada.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Malaga 26th September 2007 (Seville)

This morning we left at about 7.10am - it was still dark outside which we hadn’t realised when we got up as the curtains were closed. We were on the road quite quickly but it still took us nearly 4 hrs to get there (220kms away) as it takes so long to get out of the windy windy roads of Benalmadena and then find our way to a parking garage in Seville. There are even smaller roads there so we were very pleased when we got into the parking lot especially as the lanes in the parking garage were not that wide and the parking spaces not that wide either - no wonder everyone here drives such little cars !!! Definitely don’t see many Valiant’s or Falcon’s etc.

On the drive over Gloria got a few wrong turns but we followed the signs and managed to find our way there without too many detours - Al is doing a great job with his driving over here although every now and again threatens to let me drive - not bloody likely !!!!!

We found a hop on hop off bus tour of Seville - compared to the 15 stops in Malaga - the 4 stops in Seville really didn’t cut it. There was so much walking in between places as the buses just didn’t stop. On the way there we saw so many castles and cathedrals on lonely hill tops as well as the ones which towns were built around - the cathedrals are still the tallest buildings in these little towns.

Once again the olive groves lined the autovia / autopista (highways) - they seem to grow in really stony soil. We drove past hills and hills and hills of plantations. Every now and again there is a big black bull on a hill - we did see one little matador but didn’t manage to get a photo of him and since then have not seen any others. Al thought he may have been an advertisement for a store nearby.

One thing we can’t get used to is the graffiti that is around - everywhere. There has been no city that we have been to where there has been minimal graffiti - it covers just about every wall you come across. The other thing since moving south has been the flies - they are worse than at home - actually at home we hardly ever come across flies but here we often find ourselves doing the Helensvale Dance if we land up having to stand for any length of time as they settle quite quickly. They are also not very fast and if you have a hop on hop off map in your hand, it is quite easy to kill them but of course, there are a gazillion still out there waiting to take it’s place.

The other thing we noticed is that if cars slow down on the motorway - they all put their hazard lights on - very convenient for anyone coming up behind them as it does make it easier to see that they have slowed down and you can slow down a little earlier than you would have.

The cathedral in Seville is amazing - and that it just from the outside. We didn’t go inside as the queues to get in were too long - the same with the Alcazar (muslim fortress) - but we did take photos from the outside of the architecture but I am not sure that they will do it justice. We walked around in front of La Giralda and then into the Barrio de Santa Cruz - another old area with the little windy roads and homes with balconies (no more photos of balconies though !!). The architecture in Seville is quite different to that around the other places we have seen - there seems to be a more Arabic feel to it with lots of tiles used in the decorating of buildings. It is very interesting to see the different styles of architecture used in each of the cities we have been to - while all quite similar in some instances, very different in others.

We saw lots of Pabellon de (put a country name in here) but have been unable to find out what that is - we are assuming that it is either the consulate or the residence of the ambassador but can’t find out if we are on track with that assumption or not. The styles of each of those are extremely different.

We drove past the first manufacturing plant built in Seville way back (can’t remember when) where the person who designed it, based it on manufacturing plants in USA. It was a tobacco factory and it was staffed by only women. It was surrounded by a moat - not sure why as they didn’t mention it at all - we only saw it from the bus. It is now a faculty of the University of Seville - a world renowned university.

As is usual with towns in Spain, we drove past past and recent palaces - some of which are now government buildings and some have been turned into museums. There is one palace which is used by the current king when he is in Seville.

The Plaza de Espana is a massive semi-circle arena which was used for a world expo in 1929 when the economy of Spain was struggling and they used the expo to improve the economy (which it did). We were amazed to read that Seville is a port 100km up the river - there is a huge container depot in the port so, although we didn’t actually see any sea going ships there, we have to assume that they do make it that far up the river !!!!!

Our last stop before heading to the car park (under a fish market so quite easy to know when we were in the correct street !!!!) was the bull ring. We did not do the tour (30 euros - which we felt was a little extravagant) and, as Al and Kaitlin had already done the tour in Ronda and I had absolutely no interest in doing the tour myself - we wandered around, took some photos and then headed for the car (just following our noses !). We found the car and managed to get out of Seville without any hitches and it wasn’t long before we were headed home. One stop along the way to stretch our legs and the next thing we were taking the Torremolinos turnoff (not the way we would have gone but sometimes when Gloria talks we just listen !!) and heading along towards Benalmadena Costa and our hotel.

Tonight we got home at about 7pm, came up to the room and dropped our things off before going out again - managed to find an internet café and sent a couple of e-mails and then went to Boo’s Bar for dinner. We had seen it last night and were going to eat there except that Kaitlin was at the unit doing some homework and it would have taken too long to get back, collect her, get back to the restaurant, eat and get home in time to have an early night. So, as a reward to Al for his fantastic driving, we went there tonight. He and I both had gammon steaks, pineapple and chips and Kaitlin had a cheese burger and chips. The gammon steaks could have been a little thicker but they were more like the gammon steaks we used to have in SA than the ones we can get in Australia (a small price to pay for living in such a fantastic country !!!!). We have already decided that as we only have two dinners left in Benalmadena we will have gammon steaks one night and the lovely pizzas from last night on the other night - nothing like being on top of our plans for dinner !!!!!! Considering quite often it is 6 or 7 pm and we don’t know what we are having, knowing two nights in advance is certainly good planning !!!

It is now 10.30pm and we have an early start tomorrow - have to be downstairs in front of the hotel by 6.30am so will be signing off for today - plus I haven’t labelled any of the photos from today so had better get those done before Al forgets what he took photos of and I have to leave even more unlabelled than I normally do !!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Malaga 27th September 2007 (Granada)

This morning we were up and waiting outside by 6.35am - in the dark - not sure of where the bus was going to pick us up. By 7.05 we were wondering if they had forgotten about us but the bus arrived just after 7.10 and we hopped on. It was a double decker bus and we were able to sit upstairs as there were only about 12 people or so already on the bus. It took us another hour to pick up everyone else on the tour and then we were heading to Granada. It was really good to be able to sit back and let someone else worry about the traffic and everyone else’s driving - but after spending the day with the wrinklies - we know why we don’t do the tour thing very often. Not only are they slow, they have to be told more than once what time and where to meet back, complain about how many stairs there are in the fortress and there is always one who is loud !!!!

Al and I napped a little on the way there as our early night which was supposed to happen last night didn’t as we downloaded the photos from the day and labelled and deleted those not staying in the albums. We stopped after about an hour of driving once everyone had been picked up which was great as we had not had breakfast before we left. Then it was about 40 mins later before we arrived at Granada. We walked to the cathedral and alcazabar before being left to wander around the Old Town by ourselves until it was time to meet for lunch. Once again, it was the little windy cobblestoned streets but the architecture was slightly different to what we had seen previously. A lot of use is made of painted tiles - used as frames around names, pictures, doorways etc.

After lunch at Hotel Carmen (a most sumptuous hot and cold buffet) we hopped back on the bus and were off to La Alhambre - what an amazing place. We were split into groups according to language spoken and our tour guide was Martin. We started in the gardens and then moved into the summer palace. After that we moved into the fortress and then into the Kings Palace. I have to admit that I am all cathedral’d, alcazabar’d and alhabre’d out now but, having said that, today was just fantastic. It was so educational listening the all that the guide had to say (when everyone could keep the noise levels down to an acceptable level) and I learnt so much. When you compare and contrast the difference in the buildings built by the Muslims and the Christians - the Muslims built to hide what they had whereas the Christians built to show off what they had. I just loved the running water that they had everywhere - little fountains about 2 inches off the ground which lead into little ponds - these are all fed from water that comes in via the original waterways off the mountains. This is the one way in which they keep the fortress and palaces cool during summer. If only we could incorporate it into our home. It is so peaceful and relaxing to hear and watch the water run. There are different rooms which are used during the different seasons - due to the fact that the temps get to between 40 and 45 during summer and -10 and -15 in winter - they used the rooms with high ceilings, small windows at the top and lower level rooms during the summer and the smaller, higher level rooms during the winter. I don’t know if they photos are going to do any of the places we visited today justice but once again, what we saw today will stay with us forever.
We got home at about 7.40 and as we drove past the laundromat saw that it was already closed (which considering he told us he closed at 8 to 8.30pm each night means that he told us a porky pie !!) so we weren’t able to collect our washing (hope we get back from Cordoba early enough tomorrow otherwise we may have to delay our departure to Alicante so that we can get our washing. Don’t think we would be able to manage another just over 2 weeks with the few clothes which aren’t at the laundromat !!!!

One thing that happens when you travel is you get to find out just how clever you are (or not !!!) at working out how toilets work - sometimes they put the lights on the outside and when it is on a timer, it can be a little difficult to manage once the light goes off if you haven’t finished !!!! The next thing is working out whether the door opens in or out and if the lock on the inside actually works. If you manage to get all those right, the next thing is working out how to flush the toilet - we have had a few laughs at how we eventually managed to work that out at times. After that comes how to get some water out the tap to wash your hands - it is automatic - do you push - do you pull - can you switch it off when you are finished or do you just watch it all wasting away down the drain. Drying your hands is not that easy either - again, is it automatic - is there a button to push - are there towels to use or do you just have to drip dry as you walk out the door. There is definitely more to travelling than just hopping on a plane and getting to your destination !!!!!

Tomorrow we are off to Cordoba to see whatever we can see there - I am sure that, like all the other day trips we have done, there will be plenty to do and we will once again come home happy travellers.

Tonight we went to the pizza place and had pizzas - they really are such good pizzas - I said to Al maybe I would order one tomorrow night when he goes back to have his gammon and pineapple again !!!!! When we went to pay they gave us a shot glass of Lemon Cello and tried to explain how it was made - from what we could gather (and what we felt after we drank it !!) they used alcohol (about 80% proof from what we tasted !!!!), lemon rinds and sugar - it lies for 3 months with the occasional shake and then they serve it chilled - well it certainly warmed me the whole way down and for the next 10 mins or so !!!! I was thinking on the way home in the bus that we could maybe sit and have a quiet drink tonight but the evening seemed to get away from us and it is already 10.30 and we still have to shower, do the photos and get to bed for another early start tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Malaga 28th September 2007 (Cordoba)

This morning it was about 8.30 before we hit the road - our beds were too inviting to get out plus the unit doesn’t get much light so it isn’t as though the daylight wakes you up.

We got there at about 10.30 and parked just outside the Jewish Quarter. Had a lovely wander around there and bought a couple of little things before managing to find the Information Centre and getting the tourist map. Once again, it was filled with tiny little roads - some barely wide enough for a car to drive down and be prepared to jump into a doorway if you are walking down one of these streets when someone drives past. You can always see the locals driving compared to the tourists who are heaps more careful when making their way along these streets.

We found a shop which made the nicest baguettes and stopped there for lunch before going off to visit the Mesquita which was originally built as a mosque and then later changed into a cathedral. There were 3 additions to the original building and it was amazing to see how each person while trying to keep things the same, also wanted to make them slightly different to show just where their alterations took place.

I think the guide said that the original mosque took 200 years to build and when you see the hand carvings which were done, it isn’t hard to see why it took so long to finish. The muslims all face Mecca when they used the mesquite and then the Christians all faced Jerusalem when they used the cathedral. There is a lot of restorative work being carried out in the Mesquita currently. Having said that we have seen lots of signs to indicate restoration work or road works around Spain but it is very seldom that we have actually seen anyone working !!!!

It took us just over 2 hrs to do the tour of the Mesquita and by the time we were finished with that we were ready to come home - the Alcazabar will have to wait until we visit again - we also figured that, given we have seen quite a few of those, this one would probably not be that different inside - a fort is a fort is a fort (I think anyway !!!)

To date, we have only had 1 siesta - the second day we were in Madrid. Here’s hoping that when we get to Alicante - we will have time for more !!!!!

We left Cordoba after a little more walking around in the hope that we would make it back to Benalmadena in time to collect our washing from the Laundromat - managed to get it in time so that was good. When we got back to the unit Kaitlin went for a swim - the temps here during the day are really hot. Normally we get back to the unit too late to swim as we thought the pool closed at 7pm but it actually only closes at 8pm so Kaitlin could have been swimming most nights much to her disgust !!!! It’s quite funny getting back and seeing all the pommies looking like lobsters - why they don’t use block out or get out of the sun sooner I don’t know.
Kaitlinism’s to remember later when reading this - kes ku se ? set un schat / sanj. You can consider your donut as good as gone. I am a tree you can’t see me. Bat woman. Guys seeing some action at the topless restaurant - the restaurant without a roof !!! Sachet - sa shet. E for Espana.

I think I am coming down with something - have had the worst runny nose and sneezing the whole day. The three tissues I had on me didn’t go very far and by the time we were finished in the Mesquita, I had used the two Kaitlin had from the hotel which were as good as using newspaper they were so hard. My poor little delicate nose wasn’t very happy at all - we tried to find a chemist or grocery story open but no such luck as it was siesta time so I continued to use the awful wet tissues I had. Luckily we had some tablets left from the when Kaitlin had a headcold in Madrid so I took those when we got home - at least they stopped my nose running. We found some tissues at a servo on the way back from Cordoba which we bought but they were as bad as the batch the Kaitlin had from the hotel. Then we managed to find a Carrefour (supermarket) just up from the hotel and bought some tissues and Vaseline there - while not the best they are a slight improvement on those from the servo.

Al and Kaitlin went out and got pizzas for dinner and came back and we ate those before bathing and going to bed. Al had a time moving us both around as Kaitlin went to sleep in my bed and after I got out the bath lay down on her bed and before I knew it I was asleep - next thing I remember was waking up in my bed. Al was telling us at dinner tonight how he moved us and we were laughing like anything - poor bugger !!!!!

(Only typing this up at Bahia Azul - wasn’t up to updating anything last night)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Malaga - Denia 29th September 2007

This morning I only woke up just after 8am. Didn’t have a very good night last night. We managed to pack most of our things up last night and just had to put the last few things into the cases before we went down and had breakfast in the hotel.

I think it must be more than hayfever as my balance isn’t quite right and in the car today my teeth and my ears have been really sore. Kaitlin very kindly offered to sit in the front of the car and let me have the back seat so that I could sleep if I wanted to. She and Al did a great job of navigating us to our accommodation for the next week although Gloria is really out of date with the maps she has loaded. Quite often we were driving in the middle of nowhere with “Go to the nearest road” at the bottom of her screen.

The scenery was very different (what I saw of it) - it was very mountainous in area and at times it was exactly the same as driving along Chapman’s Peak (a drive in SA from Siminostown to Cape Town) only much longer. It was amazing to see how the houses have been built into the sides of the mountains. Just how they got the building materials up is anyone’s guess and I am glad that I don’t have to drive anywhere close to those places.

While we thought we were staying in Alicante, that isn’t exactly true. When we put the address into Gloria - she found it no problem. But as we drove and were getting closer to Alicante, she was telling us we still had 120kms to go. I was awake at this stage and Kaitlin asked me to check it so I did and it looked like it had been entered correctly. Then I looked at the Hertz map - we are actually staying in Denia which is about 100kms north of Alicante even though the address on the RCI sheet says, Les Marines, Denai, Alicante. Then I thought it might be the state but the state in Valencia so really not sure what is going on.

But, we finally made it here, unpacked the car and were off again to find an information centre. They gave us the local tourist map as well as a map of walking trails in the national park at the foot of the mountains and 7 x day trips in and around the area. Not sure that we will do all of them as I would really like some time to just sit and relax and not worry about having to set the alarm to get up by a certain time each morning. The lady at the resort said that they had had miserable weather but that it had cleared up today and they were expecting it to be nice until about Wednesday.

We drove through an area which looked like it had been flooded very recently as you could see all the mud on the streets and collected against the road barriers as well as people cleaning out shops and trying to fix up the damage. I did see something on the news when we were in Madrid but couldn’t follow what they were saying although Al said he thought it looked more recent than that.

We took a drive around Denia this evening and stopped and did some shopping for breakfasts this week. After that we had some dinner along the way - Al and I shared a paella (not quite a nice as the one I had in Toledo - and too oily for my liking or to warrant a second visit) and Kaitlin had spaghetti with napolitana sauce. Then we came home as my head isn’t feeling very good at all and I thought I would catch up on the diary from yesterday and today before going for a bath and an early night.

The unit looks very nice - there is a bedroom and bathroom upstairs and a kitchen, laundry, toilet, diningroom and loungeroom / 2nd bedroom downstairs. The stairs are little wee round the corner stairs which I would hate to have to navigate every day on an on-going basis and I certainly wouldn’t like to have to try to get any furniture up and down them !!!! The good thing is there is a washing machine so we won’t have to pay for that to be done - I have a load on now and will hang that out before going to bath. The resort seems to have quite a few different swimming pools - we have two balconies from our unit. While we cannot see the sea, we only have to go to the end of the resort and through a gate and we are there (not that that has any appeal to us but if we wanted to we could !!!) I think we could have a quiet few days here with maybe some relaxing time in the morning and then some sight-seeing time in the afternoons. With us being this much further north than where we expected to be, our drive to Castellon will be a lot shorter - plus it is closer to Valencia than we thought and so will have a couple of day trips there when we are at the next timeshare.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Denia 30th September 2007

We had a lazy day around the unit today - didn’t get up until about 9.30 and then had breakfast in bed at about 10am. The washing we did last night still wasn’t dry so we took it out to the front balcony in the hope that it would catch a breeze there or else maybe the afternoon sun.

The office was open from 12 - 2pm so we took a walk around the resort before going there - not open so we took a walk down to the beach. Kaitlin went and felt the water and said she thought it may be a little warmer than the pools at the resort. Then went back to the office which was open to get a double bed sheet for the fold out bed as they had supplied a single bed sheet. Also got a kettle for Al to make some coffee in the mornings.

Then Kaitlin and I spent 45 mins at the pool - no loungers so had to use the plastic chairs from our balcony - not the most comfortable way to sit and read !!! After that we came back to the unit and then went for a drive o Xabia - of course it had to be along a high windy mountain road - jeez I hate these mountains. It doesn’t matter where you go in Spain - there are mountains - well most places anyway and to me, it seems to be more often than not !!! We drove around there for a while before coming back to the unit to have a bit of a read before dinner.

Al thought he had seen a pub that had Sky TV so we went there to see if they were showing the SA / USA rugby union game - no such luck - they were showing pommie football !!!! And, they weren’t serving food - only drinks - so thought we would try somewhere else. We went to a place called Restaurant Vienna which we had seen earlier - they were advertising pizzas for 6 euros. We were in denim shorts, T-shirt / singlet and thongs and we walked into a really posh looking place with chair covers on and really flash centre pieces. Anyway, sat down and saw the menu - Al had pork cordon bleu, Kaitlin had spaghetti carbonara and I had grilled chicken breast with gratinated potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli - all extremely delicious. After we had finished eating Kaitlin said she thought we should go back there on our last night in Denia - and I think she may be right !!!!!

We came home and played some cards until it was time to go to bed - once again, 3 happy travellers off to sleep although I have to say that I am soooooooo looking forward to my own bed and pillow - this sharing one long pillow and the sheets with Al is for the birds !!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Denia 1st October 2007

This morning was another lazy start to the day. After getting up and having breakfast Kaitlin worked on her legal assignment which is due when she gets back to school. She did manage to do some work on it in Malaga as well as in the car sometimes when we have been travelling.

After that we did another load of washing and hung that out on the balcony (mostly dry by tonight but we have put it in the laundry which has open bricks to the outside as there is a breeze coming through).

I read in the sun for a little while and Al went off to see if the Carrefour here was the same as the Carrefour in Taiwan - yes it is (in case anyone was wondering the same thing !!!) When he came back we had some lunch and then set off on our travels again. There were some coves and caves just a little further than we had gone yesterday but as I didn’t want to have to cross on the horrible mountain road again, I looked up a different route to get there. We passed a lot of ceramic shops and stopped to see if they had the numbers we wanted for the house - they did but we couldn’t remember which we had already bought so will probably make another trip there sometime soon - it is relatively close by so it won’t be a problem to get back there.

Over the last km or so to the coves and caves, we drove past the most amazing looking homes - but definitely not for me to live in - they would have fantastic views of the sea but they are all built back into the mountains - Al drove part of the last section with me having my eyes closed (again !!!).

We got down to the cove and Al went off to take some photos - Kaitlin and I stayed on dry land !!! Then we took some photos using the timer and the tripod which Dad and Mom had given us and walked around to the cave which actually didn’t look much like a cave at all. Al went off and took some more photos (he really is the photo king of the holiday and any photos without captions are ones that he has taken which I either think we shouldn’t keep or else he can’t remember what they are of !!!!!)

We stopped off and bought some dinner from the supermarket - paella - I really have enjoyed that dish which is strange as I am not a big rice fan. Kaitlin even had some and said it reminded her of Outward Bound - the chicken, rice and veggies all cooked together. I think we may have that again before we leave - especially as it only costs 3.50 euros !!!!!

After we got home we went down to the beach for a walk along the beach - it was getting dark (8.30pm) but there was such lovely colours in the sky we had to take some photos. Al did the timer thing again but then realised that you could only see our silhouettes so decided to have a candid camera photo with us trying to pose as a donkey - see photos for hilarious shots of our impression of a donkey !!!! After we got home, I cooked dinner and then sat down with Al to have a beer and a glass of Amarula - what a lovely evening we have had.

As we were walking along Al decided to skip some stones into the sea which is as flat as flat - as he was skipping them Kaitlin said “Remember when we skipped stones in NZ?” - THAT is what holiday memories are made of !!!!!!

We have just finished our paella - Kaitlin has had a bath and I am off to have a bath having just been ordered by the First Captain that it is time for me to bath !!!! (probably because he is waiting for me to bath so that he can bath and get into bed) Not sure where we are going to sleep tonight - last night we took the mattress from the fold out bed onto the floor but as it isn’t a very thick mattress it wasn’t that comfortable. Maybe tonight we will take the mattress off the upstairs bed and put that on the floor and see how we go. We have had really good weather - we are presuming that it gets very cold here during winter as all the houses have chimneys and there are two heaters in the unit - no air con unit - but two heaters !!!!

Tomorrow I think we are off to some markets and then will probably go through to Alicante one day with the possibility of a trip on a boat for another day - hopefully the good weather will continue and not spoil any of our plans.

Once again, 3 happy travellers will be going to bed tonight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Denia 2nd October 2007

Once again we had a lazy start to the day - got up at about 8.15, had breakfast and then set out to see if we could find some markets. We headed for the markets in Benissa - found an Information Centre where we got a list of markets on each day of the week - and found out that the market in Benissa was a second hand market !!!!

Needless to say we headed for Jalon which was where another market was. This is a very old town and they had actually closed 4 streets for the market. We had a wander around there - saw some gypsey pants but with nowhere to try them on weren’t game to buy them. I nearly bought a little leather handbag but didn’t in the end as it was really little and I probably wouldn’t have fitted much in it anyway.

After that we headed to Altea to another market only to find that we had arrived there too late - 95% of the stalls had already closed down for the day (it was 2pm and they were obviously off for their daily siesta). The good thing is that Al said he thought with the set ups that they had, there is a good chance that they don’t only go to the markets at Altea but will be somewhere different each day so maybe when we go to the next markets they will be there.

We had a lovely time driving around all these little old towns - they have narrow streets and everyone parks with two wheels on the pavement and two wheels in the road. The parking places in the shopping centres are really tiny - any Spaniards going to Australia would have a great time parking - mind here they are not above taking up two parking places rather than straightening out and going in again at the correct angle !!! Also a lot of the roads and entrances are at 90 degrees and they don’t make it easy for you to turn into them.

The scenery around this area is very different to what we have seen previously - most of the hills are actually terraced but the terraces are only quite narrow - not sure what they use them for. The gardens are quite over grown and it doesn’t look like many people take an interest in keeping their gardens looking nice - maybe they don’t have time.

We were going to stop at some ceramic places to see the numbers we want but in the end drove past them all as we didn’t feel like getting in and out and some were closed for siesta. We have certainly seen a lot more of that in the little towns - most places are closed for siesta - mind you there were a fair few places in Madrid and Barcelona which closed for siesta as well. We still haven’t managed another siesta - oh well, the good thing is that we won’t have to get out of the habit when we get back to work !!

We had lunch at a lovely modern place in the middle of a little old town called Lluna. It was really well decorated. We all went to use the bathroom and when we opened the door it was pitch black - the tiles were black and the lights worked on sensor switches. The toilets each had sensor lights as well - as usual, I chose the toilet with the defective sensor light. So, once again, I was stuck on the toilet and had to keep waving my hand up and down as the light was switching off every 30 seconds !!!! We had previously seen a dummy (of a man) with an automated arm waving a flag at the road works to warn people to slow down - when I got out I said to Al and Kaitlin that I could have used one of those dummies in the toilet to save me having to do it !!!!!

The afternoon Kaitlin continued working on her legal assignment and I was reading my book - hope I manage to find some more English books somewhere along the line as I have come to the last of the books that we brought over with us (there is one left but Kaitlin has recommended I don’t read it as it is too gory !!!) and I still have at 12 days until we get home !!!!!! Al went off to investigate some sports shops he had seen along our travels as well as a turn off which he thought would get us to the resort quicker than the other way we normally come. When he got back we all went to the sports shop and he and I bought some light jumpers they had on sale. We looked at another shoe shop which had been closed when he was out and also got some more paella for dinner. Al cooked tonight and I had a couple of glasses of Amarula. He is dishing up some ice-cream and then we are going to play some rummy.

3 happy travellers going to bed a little later tonight having had lots more laughs and fun together.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Denia 3rd October 2007

Today we left at about 8.30 to go to Teulada and Benidorm to their markets. We found the market at Teulada without too much trouble - the main problem is trying to find a parking place and driving up and down the little windy (and one way) roads in an effort to get within walking distance of where we needed to be. We eventually found a parking (facing the wrong way up the street - most common over here) but did manage to keep all four wheels in the street - a lot of people park with two wheels on the pavement and two wheels on the street.

We didn’t see much at the market at Teulada and so set off for Benidorm - unfortunately Benidorm is much bigger than any of the towns / dorpies where we have seen previous markets and we were unable to find an Information Centre to ask where the markets were so we landed up walking up and down the main shopping drag. Kaitlin and I bought a pair of gypsy pants and I bought a new holiday wallet as my existing one has definitely seen better days. By this stage it was nearly 4pm and when we found an internet café - it was closed for siesta. That seems to be our biggest problem at the moment - we have found a couple of internet places but we only seem to find them at siesta time !!!!

On our drive down I noticed that a lot of the hills / mountains in this area have been terraced - am not sure why as they don’t look like they are cultivating anything on the terraces - maybe it is to stop erosion - I don’t know. Anyway, the sides of the hills look amazing with all these terraces cut into them. Some of the houses really don’t look like they are well maintained - I have yet to see any gardens which look like anyone takes an interest in them and there are a gazillion houses which are built into the side of the mountains. Some of them have the most fantastic views over the ocean but there is no way I could live in a house built like that !!!! I had more heart stopping moments travelling along the road today - actually probably not heart stopping - more eye closing moments !!!!! I am really not comfortable with travelling at heights - I wish we could be somewhere a little lower.

We stopped at a heap of ceramic shops on the way home as we are looking for a number 3 for the house - we had bought one at Cordoba but then realised that it probably isn’t big enough but we did try to find a “No” (number) that we could put in front of the 3 but obviously the batch of tiles in Cordoba is different to the tiles here as the brown on the tile is darker on the tile we already have. Never mind - think what we will do is buy a bigger 3 and just see when we get home what we should do with the little 3.

As we left Benidorm we stopped at McDonald’s (McAuto if you want to go to the drive through - Burger King has AutoKing for their drive through !!!) for a McFlurry. Kaitlin ordered the 3 McFlurries for us and I think the guy serving her fancied her as he asked her which one was hers and then proceeded to give her extra toppings !!!! We paid her out big time for that !!

By the time we got home it was after 8pm and, as Kaitlin and I weren’t hungry and didn’t want any dinner - Al made do with some snacky things we had in the unit. I put a load of washing on and hung that out - am hoping it will be dry in the morning although not sure I will have any luck with that.

Another great day on the Morris holiday in Spain.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Denia 4th October 2007

During the night we had a lot of wind (really thought that the washing would be dry this morning) as well as some rain. Woke up this morning but the washing wasn’t dry so left it on the balcony as it looked like it was going to be a windy sort of day.

We set the alarm and then left home at about 7.30 for our drive down to Alicante (about 100kms south of here) to the markets and to see the city. We took the toll road (gosh and there are a lot of them in Spain and some of them not too cheap either !!) down there (6.30 euros). The drive down was good - at times we were doing 140kph and we were still being overtaken by cars doing at least 160 or 170kph. (Reminded me of our drives between Jo’burg and Durban) - actually even the road reminded me of those trips as the toll road by-passes all the little towns along the way. We landed up coming back on the ‘old road’ through all the little towns which are the same ones we have been driving around this week on our site seeing trips. There is one little place (Els Poblets) close to where we are where they have a traffic light in town - one light is at the one side of town and the other light is at the other side of town because the road is only 1 car width wide so all the cars go in one direction, then the light changes and all the cars go in the other direction !!!!!

Anyway, when we left this morning it was still a bit dark so we couldn’t see what the weather was going to do. As we drove along, we were driving into the sun for a while - then we turned and were driving with the sun behind us and it looked really black in front of us. We drove through the San Juan tunnel (1.84kms long - I know this because it was written on the side of the tunnel not because I have a wealth of useless information in my head !!) and when we came out the other side it had started to rain. Kaitlin wanted to go back to the other side of the tunnel so that we weren’t in the rain for the day but we carried on to Alicante. We got there and after a few wrong turns (you often have to go to the right of the roundabout in order to be able to turn left as the roundabouts have roads running through the middle of them) we found the Information Centre where we got a local map and she marked where the markets were. By this time it was raining rather steadily so we drove in the direction of the markets to see if they were even on - they were. After finding a parking we put our rain jackets on and then stood under the shelter as it was starting to come down a little harder - then decided that we would give it a go and see what they had. We crossed the roads - heaps of water everywhere and managed to get to the roads which were closed for the market only to see that everyone had backed their vans in and were packing up. So, braved the rivers back to the car - killing ourselves laughing. The parking cost us 45c. Talked about what we were going to do as by now it was really coming down quite hard - then decided that there wasn’t much point as we couldn’t really see anything and had gotten quite wet in the little foray we had into the rain already. Headed the car towards home only to find that, having taken just on an hour to get down there, it took us just over 2 hrs to get home. The rain was some of the worst that we (or should that be Al) has ever had to drive in - it was just dreadful. The worst is that the windscreen wipers didn’t even manage to keep up with the rain when they were on their fastest. At one stage we considered pulling over but there really is nowhere to pull over into - was going to do that at the servo but there were no servos - usually we pass one about every 5kms - today there were none !!!!! Anyway, we finally made it home in one piece - about 6 hrs after we left having not really seen much except the scenery on the way down and sheeting rain on the way home.

It was amazing to watch the rain - when we came to a break in the trees or protection from the left the rain was being blown almost horizontally across the road and the wind was really gusty and dreadful to drive in. I am so glad that Al has done all the driving on this holiday - I really don’t think I would have liked to drive around here. The roads are all narrow and windy, the parking places are tiny and it is really difficult to turn into roads from the narrow roads as you don’t really have enough room to turn without going onto the other side of the road - not that anyone here worries about doing that - they all just drive and you have to give way to them otherwise they take you out !!!!! He truly has done a great job - especially today in the dreadful weather we had. Actually, it is the first day that we have had yucky weather - we had one overcast and slightly drizzly day in Barcelona - but today is the worst weather day we have had.

We got home and came in as Kaitlin wanted to put on some warm clothes - she was cold more so from the aircon in the car which we needed to keep the windscreen clear than because it was cold. Came into only to find that some of the washing had been blown off and was saturated as the rain had puddled on the balcony !!!! Bugger !!!! The other washing wasn’t dry but at least it was drier than it had been this morning so we moved it into the laundry area and hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow and dry it all nicely before we leave on Saturday as there are no washing facilities in the resort at the next resort.

Then it was back into the car and off to Gandia to the Carrefour to get some food for dinner - lasagne with fresh bread !!!! Am sure it is going to be delicious when we eat just now. Kaitlin and Alan have been playing rummy - she gets so excited when she wins a game (which doesn’t happen very often !!!) and turns around to me with a big “W” she has made with her fingers on her forehead !! She isn’t as happy when she loses and I show her a big “L” on my forehead !!!!! She has provided us with so many laughs this holiday - there are times when my tummy has been sore from laughing at her antics or things she has said.

We aren’t sure what we are going to do tomorrow - it will all depend on the weather. I doubt we will be driving down to Alicante again - the city had it’s chance to have us visit and didn’t take it so that will be her loss !!!!!!!! Actually, we had a look at the list of Interesting Places to Visit on the back of the map and just couldn’t face any more cathedrals / mosques / museums or any similar buildings so not sure that we actually missed out on much. The rain has stopped for now so hopefully it will be a lovely day tomorrow and we can be out and about on our travels again - otherwise, I am down to the last of the 7 books we brought over with us - tried to find some English books in the Carrefour today but no such luck - think we will have to try to find an actual bookstore if we want some English books. If not, will just have to find some other way to amuse myself on the plane and at the airports on our way home !!!!!!

I have been looking for some Estee Lauder perfume - when we came through Duty Free I bought some Youth Dew which I haven’t been able to get in Australia - and the lady gave me a few sample of a new Youth Dew called Amber Nude. Unfortunately I didn’t smell it when she gave it to me otherwise I may have bought a bottle - or at least found out the price - but since I have used it - I have been trying to get some. The problem is the price !!!! I have been using the price of the normal Youth Dew as a guide and the shops have all been more expensive than Duty Free (which isn’t always the case) so now think I am going to have to wait until we get into Duty Free again and then see if I can get myself a bottle - would be great if you could get it in Australia but I doubt that you can seeing as you can’t get the original Youth Dew there.

Am off to play some cards and then have some dinner.