Showing posts from February, 2014

Olomouc, Czech Republic

Olomouc was perhaps my least favourite place on this trip. We stayed in a lovely hotel, and the beds were so comfortable. Maybe it was simply because it was the beginning of the trip, or maybe it was the 2hr wait for our dinner (though I have been assured that it was an anomaly & usually the service & food is great) and that made this my least favourite place. Olomouc is less famous than Cesky Krumlov, or Prague, but has the second most historically preserved city in Czech Republic.

The Holy Trinity is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Sedlec Ossuary, aka The Creepy Bone Church

The first stop on our trip through Eastern Europe was at the Sedlec Ossuary, in Kutna Hora. The church is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The cemetry became famous in the 13th century when the abbot who had been sent to the Holy Land came back with a handful of dirt which he spread across the grounds. With literal Holy Land there, the cemetry became a popular burial site throughout Central Europe.

Adding to it's popularity, the Black Death came along, and soon there were thousands of people buried in the cemetery. The only thing to do was dig them up and make a mass grave for them. Around 1400 a church was built with a vaulted upper level and lower level to be used for the mass graves of bodies dug up to make way for the church. After a half-blind monk dug up the remains, the job of sorting them was given to Frantisek Rint, a woodcarver, who stacked the bones up and made the chandelier and coat of arms the church is visited for today.

Classic Rhapsody with Busabout

In the UK we're really lucky and get 28 days a year holiday (and if you're lucky you can really stretch that- but that's for another post) but even that isn't a lot to fit in as much travelling as I'd like. I looked at the Hop on Hop off loops Busabout offer, and also at their Eastern Treks. After lots of playing around looking at different treks I decided on the Classic Rhapsody, through Eastern Europe. It visits 5 countries over 9 days, and some of them were places I've wanted to go to forever. Other's were places that I wasn't sure I'd enjoy as much, but still it looked like a great trip.

The trip starts at Plus Prague Hostel, early in the morning. If you wish to see any of the city I'd advise arriving a couple of days before. I landed around 9,30pm and as we left around 8am the following morning, all I've seen of Prague is their underground system! Our first stop was in the town of Kutna Hora, where we visited the Sedlec Ossuary (aka The…

Hasta luego Seville

Whilst I was sightseeing in the afternoon, the girls hired bikes for the three of us, our plan for our last night was a picnic by the river and cycling around the city.

It was a beautiful night, and we found a spot by the river where other people were also sat picnicking. We sat as close as possible to the river and watched people rowing in the early evening. There were people running through the park and even a pirate ship- the kids threw us sweets! Kathy had another night in Seville before moving on to visit friends, and Joyce and I were leaving the next day. I was heading back home, and Joyce was moving onto Valencia. We sat drinking wine and laughing and making plans that we would go travelling again soon.

Alcazar & La Giralda, or Cramming all my Sightseeing into One Day

Kathy and Joyce had been in Seville longer than I had, and both already been to The Alcazar and to La Giralda. So far my sightseeing consisted of an ill-advised hungover trip to Plaza de España and walking past La Giralda at least four times a day!

So our last day looked like this: We'd all get up and do the walking tour, after a night in at the hostel eating pizza and girl talk, then I'd go to La Giralda and the Alcazar then we'd spend the last afternoon in the pool before finally hiring bikes, like we'd been meaning to everyday. One thing was for sure, we were going to have to be organised to do everything!

We set off on our walking tour, where Edy talked to us about La Giralda, and the history of Seville, he walked us to La Torre del Oro, and all the way back to good old Plaza de España. It was late in the afternoon when we left him, and I still hadn't hit la Alcazar or La Giralda. On Eddy's recommendation I went to la Alcazar first.

Plaza de España with a Hangover.

We got back to the hostel little after 7am and what Kathy and I didn't realise was, everyone was checking out of my room that day. We laid there staring at each other for a good 20 minutes before deciding to get up, have a shower and go for a walk.

Laid Back Life in Andalucia.

It's hot in Seville, really hot. All the time, it seemed.

The following morning, Kathy, Joyce, Claire (someone we met on the tapas tour) and I had decided we'd do the morning walking tour, and hire bikes in the afternoon. Life in Seville, however is really laid back and Joyce woke late. It was Claire's last day, so she went off straight from breakfast to do the walking tour whilst Joyce, Kathy & I decided we'd go the following day and hire bikes later in the afternoon.

However, as girls do, Kathy, Joyce and I got distracted by the idea of going shopping. I'm not a girly girl at all, but it was such a great trip. We went to Mango, Zara, H&M, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, EVERYWHERE! We talked Kathy into buying travel pants, and all of us bought loads of things for ourselves, I bought new tops and Joyce new dresses.

We decided we'd aim to get back to the hostel to hire backs at around 2pm, but our little trip into Seville lasted longer than we expected a…

Pancho Tours, Seville

The hostel I stayed in was linked up with a tour company in Seville, called Pancho Tours. Pancho offered two different (one evening and one morning) free walking tours, a pub crawl, and a tapas tour. All of which my friends I did!

On the first evening I disappeared off to do the free evening walking tour and had a very excitable guy called Edy walk us around the out skirts of the city. He was very proud to be Sevillian, and loved the city. We met people from other hostels at La Giralda early in the evening, though the heat didn't seem to be disappearing. Some highlights from the evening walking tour are below.

Eddy is in the red t-shirt.

On a street called Life.

Seville, or Not Being Able to Find my Hostel.... Again.

Seville was the last leg on my trip around Spain, and a mere 3hr bus ride from Granada. Ah, Granada with it's cooling Mountain breezes, I missed you immediately. It had been around 27C in Granada when I left that afternoon, warm and breezy.

I stepped off the bus in Seville, and the heat hit me immediately. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think! 

Kathy, Joyce and I (yes, that is two Sangria's each, it was Happy Hour!).

Somerset Levels, Not Just Soggy Carpets

I interrupt my usual schedule of travel posts to write a little bit about where I live.

I live in a small village in Dorset, where we're really lucky. It's quiet, we're surrounded by farms, and we're not overcrowded in fact less than 1,000 people live in my village. Four miles up the road from me is another village, where I work (and I pass through another village and hamlet- appropriately named 'Hamlet'- on my way there), in that village there are less than 300 people. The village I work in has a river running smack-bang through the middle of it, lanes are named Mill Lane and Deep Ford Lane- to give you an idea that water is a big deal here. The village can often look like Venice, with roads flooded all across, often not too deep, but enough to upset routines- like getting to work, or getting your children to & from school.

And again, I say we're lucky.

taken from @dredgetherivers on twitter

La Alhambra

La Alhambra, meaning Red Castle from the Arabic "qa'lat al-hamra" is located, luckily for me, right near the Albaicin. The fortress was built in 9th Century as a military fortress, it's location views right across the city of Granada. It wasn't until the start of the Nasrid Dynasty that the fortress was used as a palace.

Graffiti in Granada

It was one of the girl's who worked at the hostel who said it was worth a look, and it's not something I'd usually go out of my way for, but there is a lot of Graffiti in the Jewish area of Granada. And the artwork is great. I decided to check it out on my way back from visiting La Alhambra

Getting to Grips with Granada

Valencia was the first stop of my 11 day trip through Spain. It was also the only one I was doing as part of an organised tour, once that finished I was left (even more) to my own devices. My next stop was Granada, which I would get to after a ten hour bus trip!

As soon as I walked through the streets of Granada I was in love with the city. All the beautiful gifts and tea sets and bits and pieces for sale in the Arabic shops, it felt a million times more laid back then even the rest of Spain and I was in love with it before I even got to my hostel. There was something else about Granada as well, it had a different climate, the mountains kept the heat out, and on my first night there was huge thunderstorm. The cobbled streets became hard to navigate (particularly in slippery rip-off cheap versions of Toms) because they were wet, but I loved it. There was something about Granada that made me feel at home.

Valencia in Pictures

I'd no plans for Valencia, as I was on a tour with Fanatics, I was under the impression that perhaps they would organise things for us to do, but as it turns out, I was wrong. The included walking tour was our guide showing us to the bus stop ready for the following day at La Tomatina, and then "Going to the pub". Tho' apart from being slightly disappointing, it meant my friends and I could wonder around the city and see bits and pieces. With the help of Anna's map, we found our way around the city.

For a start we decided to start our day with churro's

La Tomatina

La Tomatina is one of those things that has been in my peripheral vision since I was a child. I vaguely remember seeing something about the festival on the news when I was really young and thinking it looked like the best thing ever. So this summer, I finally went!

Sharing the Love: A Give Away

*The following post is sponsored content written by me and brought to you by as part of their Share the Love Valentine's Day campaign*

I was 11 when I fell in love, so young and so innocent, but I couldn't help it. The warm fuzzy feeling inside, a feeling that everything was falling into place just the way it should, it crept over me before I knew it. I was smitten by those beautiful bright blues, and golden hues. I fell in love with the language and the way we spoke. I loved the laid back feeling, and the different culture I learnt as I got to know it. It's complicated, though, because I am away from it so much.

Me at La Pared in Fuerteventura