Barcelona – El Prat de Llobregat, an often overlooked gem

Hotel Minotel Ciutat del Prat

Hotel Minotel Ciutat del Prat

El Prat de Llobregat Barcelona

If it hadn’t been for our worries about wasting precious hours of our short weekend break struggling with public transport we might never have explored El Prat, the little city surrounding Barcelona Airport. As it we we plumped to stay close to the airport on our first trip to Barcelona and discovered a little gem. I probably wouldn’t stay in El Prat again as I’d rather be in the centre of Barcelona to experience the nightlife (as we were on our next visit) but, if you find yourself with time to kill before a flight, or if you need to stay close to the airport for an early morning departure it has a lot to offer. Continue reading

Barcelona – transport, planes, trains and airport transfers

Barcelona

Barcelona

How best to get around in Barcelona?

The airport at Barcelona is Aeroport del Prat just fourteen kilometers outside the city centre at El Part de Lobregat. The first time we visited Barcelona we decided to stay in El Prat as we weren’t sure what transport would be like and didn’t fancy wasting our first hours of a very short break struggling to get to our hotel. We also plumped for the taxi transfer service provided by our hotel the 3 star, Minotel Ciutat del Prat just to be on the safe side. Continue reading

Southampton – Hampshire’s only working windmill

Bursledon Windmill

Bursledon Windmill

A visit to Hampshire’s only working windmill, currently not working!

Somewhere I’ve been meaning to visit for a long time is the windmill at Bursledon. I’ve seen it in the distance when we’ve driven past but I’ve never actually been there and, as its the only working windmill in Hampshire, I thought it was worth a look. Continue reading

Southampton – Holyrood Church and a trail of sculptures

QE2 anchor, who'd have thought it?

QE2 anchor, who’d have thought it?

The ruins of Holyrood Church and a quest to find five sculptures

Holyrood Church is actually the shell of a church. It was built in the early fourteenth century and was one of five churches in the old walled city. Right up until the Second World War it was in use as a church but, during the terrible bombing raids in November 1940, it was more or less destroyed. Because of its long history, it was used by crusaders en route to the Holy Land and soldiers before sailing to the battle of Agincourt amongst others, it has been kept as a monument to sailors of the Merchant Navy. Continue reading

Southsea sea front – a spot of time travel

Clarence Pier, this morning, or is it 1959?

Clarence Pier, Southsea, this morning, or is it 1959?

A walk along Southsea sea front from Clarence Pier

This morning Commando decided he was going to drive down to Southsea for a run and I thought, why not? So I joined him. Obviously I wasn’t running, I don’t do running, but while he ran I walked, not really thinking about speed or time just walking, enjoying somewhere different and checking out the old camera to compare it to the one on the iPhone. Commando borrowed a snazzy gadget from one of his friends that lets you download photos from a camera to the iPad so I planned to see how it worked with a view to getting one myself. Continue reading

Southampton – walking the historic medieval city walls

Ferns growing on the historic walls, Southampton

Ferns growing on the historic walls, Southampton

Walking the medieval city walls of Southampton

The last time I walked the walls was when the boys were at school. In fact I think it was part of a school history project. Living in a city packed to the gills with history, I tend to forget about it most of the time. There are bits I stroll past on a regular basis but I don’t really think about them. Other bits I’ve barely even seen, despite living here all my life. Continue reading

Marrakech – Ourika Valley, lunch at the top of the world, Auberge Ramuntcho

A beautiful entrance

The beautiful entrance to Auberge Ramuntcho, Ourika Valley, Atlas Mountains

Auberge Ramuntcho, Ourika Valley, a well earned lunch and an old friend

By this time we were starving so we stopped for lunch at the Auberge Ramuntcho http://www.ramuntcho.ma/, a beautiful little restaurant and guest house. We sat on the terrace, relaxed and enjoyed  the wonderful views of the river and the high, red mountain along with our chicken tagine and a bottle of well deserved wine. Continue reading

Marrakech – Ourika Valley, Seven waterfalls of Setti Fatma and a long climb

Starting with a rickety bridge

Setti-Fatma’s Seven Waterfalls, starting with a rickety bridge

Setti-Fatma and the seven waterfalls, Ourika Valley, rickety bridges and a rocky climb

 

Our next stop was a visit to Setti-Fatma and its seven waterfalls. A word of warning here, this trip is not for the feint hearted. The first obstacle was a rickety bridge across the river. I nearly gave up there and then. The bridge was nothing more than a few ropes and pieces of wood, which swayed alarmingly as we crossed. Continue reading

Marrakech – Ourika Valley and a visit to a Berber village

High in the Atlas Mountains

High in the Atlas Mountains, Ourika Valley

The Berber village – Ourika Valley, no mod cons but wonderful views

We stopped to visit a Berber house belonging to one of Driss’s cousins. The native Moroccan population is made up of Berbers and Arabs and Driss was very proud of the fact that he is a Berber, although his wife is an Arab. As soon as we entered the village we picked up a stream of little Berber followers. When we booked the trip we were warned that the children would follow us as lots of tourists bring sweets for them but sweets weren’t such a good idea where there is no dental care. I felt mean not giving them anything so I had come prepared with a big bundle of cheap ballpoint pens. The children seemed to love these and were fascinated by clicking them on and off. Continue reading

Marrakech – driving into the Atlas Mountains

Looking over the roof of our first Berber house

Looking over the roof of our first Berber house, Atlas Mountains, Marrakech

Marrakech – The Atlas Mountains and the Ourika Valley, winding mountain roads and satellite dishes

My third trip to Morocco was a long weekend with Commando, a kind of second honeymoon to make up for the fact we didn’t have a first one when we married ten years earlier. After two days looking at the majestic Atlas Mountains in the distance from our hotel balcony, Commando and I decided it was time to take a closer look. We booked a day trip through Complete Tours http://complete-tours.com/ to the Ourika Valley, about 30 kilometres outside the city. A  journey of about three hours each way on the meandering mountain roads in a little air conditioned Grand Taxi with our driver/guide, Driss. Continue reading