A Travellerspoint blog

One Splendid Day

sunny 20 °C

I got in touch with some distant relatives the other day and decided to pay them a visit. Angela, my pa's cousin and her husband Owen live in Emsworth, Hampshire, England. They are probably in their late 70s and I'd met them about 10 years ago when they came out to Aus, but only vaguely remembered them. So I called and said I was coming down to visit for the day. Got a train out of London on Wednesday morning which took just under 2 hours. Angela picked me up from the station and was so excited to see me. She is so funny. very bubbly and chatty. She's has such a great personality - really young at heart.

Emsworth and its surrounds are very pretty. A little town by the seaside but also very typical English countryside. On the way back to their place, Angela took me down to the beach where she goes swimming everyday during the summer. Lovely little rocky beach at the end of a small lane. Lots of little rowboats, greenery and a grassy bank. She has lived in Emsworth her whole life and said she loved playing in this spot as a kid. In their kitchen there's a recent photo of her sitting on the seawall at this little swimming spot, with about five 'swimming friends', all in their togs and angela with her bright aqua havaianas thongs on throwing her arms up in the air, posing for the photo. It's great haha

So back at their house Angela, Owen and I all had a cup of tea and a catchup before heading out. We were meeting Owen's brother Brian and his boyfriend Terry for lunch. Yes that's right, a lovely old gay couple of gentleman in their mid 70's. Adorable. So we headed over to their house for a meet and greet/catchup beforehand. They live in a very pretty little retirement village, with a beautiful little grassy area and small stream behind it. Their house was immaculate and very posh and they were your typical very posh english gentleman - but both incredibly camp. Offering me a chilled white wiiiiine, darrrrling. So we all sat and had a couple of wines right on midday. They had just come back from about 2 months in Portugal. They have a house there, oh and one in spain and somewhere else... as you do. Quite the avid travellers so it was interesting talking to them.

We went to a really nice traditional pub just up the road from their place, had a DELICIOUS lunch and moved onto the red wine haha so I was quite tipsy by the end of it all. Of course they didn't let me pay though. After lunch Angela and Terry took me for a walk down along the stream and out into the paddocks. It was so beautiful. You could see the water in the distance. There was a big bunch of cows just lying down, chilling and we were patting them. There was also a pretty lake nearby with willow trees, ducks, swans and cute bridges with little cottages on the banks. Blackberries were growing on the side of the pathway. Just like that. Angela was picking some and eating them. I got so excited about them so she kept giving me handfuls as she was dancing along the little path haha

Walking back to Brian and Terry's place she suggested we cross the stream with our shoes off but then decided against it saying she might fall 'arse over tit' haha So we walked back around on the lovely green grass where we both kicked our shoes off instead. 'The boys' had brought back cases and cases of wine from Portugal, some of which were gifts for Angela. She loaded them up into the car and as we were driving home and they were clunking around in the back she was getting all excited saying 'oooohh that's music to my ears' haha I love her. She was also talking about how she loves Sex and the City and asking me if I'd seen the movies yet haha

So on the way back they took me into town and showed me around a few places. The tide was right out so we went down to the water and wandered around and had ice creams. Angela took me to an old church and showed me inside and out in the graveyard. She pointed out my GREAT GREAT GREAT grandfathers gravestone. It was unbelievable. It had been moved around and was propped up against a wall but she said he he was buried in there somewhere. wow. She also took me into town and showed me her old house which is now a shop (her hairdressers) in the main street of town. It was so interesting having her describe how it used to be and pointing out where she used to play as a kid. When we got back to their place she showed me some photos of how it looked back in the day over another cup of tea. She also showed me lots of beautiful old family photos of my great grandmother (her aunt). SO interesting.

As I was getting back on the train she was thanking me profusely for coming down to visit them. She was so happy. I'm really glad I went. They are such lovely people and a lot of fun. About halfway home I noticed she'd slipped a little envelope into my handbag while I wasn't looking. Inside was a little card with some money tucked into it to cover my trainfare and a note saying thanks for making the effort to come down and visit 'two old biddies' haha. Very sneaky and sweet of her. Such a great day. If I come back I'd definitely love to head down for another visit. Splendid.

Posted by laurafeath 06:16 Archived in England Comments (0)

Barcelona

sunny 31 °C

I was freaking out a bit heading to Barcelona. Heard some bad stories about muggings and things get stolen from hostels and it's famous for pickpocketing. But I survived unscathed!! My hostel was quite close to town but down quite a sketchy alleyway complete with a red light district. The girls were working all day and night. Some very shady characters too so I avoided going out after dark on my own.

Did a free walking tour of some Gaudi buildings. Was really interesting. Learnt heaps and the highlight was definitely the 'Sagrada Familia' that crazy famous church that they've been working on for over 100 years and it's still got about 40 years to go til it's finished. Nuts! It's sooooo tall but they are yet to make the tallest part! 70 metres more!! I ended up buying a Gaudi biography too as he seems like he was pretty interesting. So after the tour, a couple of us decided to head to his famous 'Park Guell', sculpture park where we had a picnic. Yes... another one!! YUM! so wandered around there for a while too. Really cool place.

Met some people at the hostel that night and ended up joining them for dinner at a snazzy tapas place. Then went and had a few drinks and ended up at some awful nightclub. Was probably there for about 15 minutes haha. Not my cup of tea.

Next day I just wandered around town some more. Walked the length of the famous 'La Rambla', main street with heaps of performers (and pickpocketers) and very touristy. Headed down to the waterfront where there's a huge Marina and wharf thing, did some more shopping then wandered down to the beach a bit further. So packed! I also went to another market just off La Rambla. It was AWESOME! SO colourful again. So much fruit and every fruit juice you can imagine. Got some unbelievable vegetarian food!

That night I went and saw a flamenco show. Found a cool little venue and a cheap show and was home before dark! haha it was awesome. Cool music and dresses too. Next day I wandered some more and went to the Picasso Museum. It was a lot of his earlier stuff, before cubism but it was still really great. In a beautiful old building in the 'gothic quarter' too. Went back to the market again. Tried some gazpacchio and wasn't a huge fan, but again i just wanted to try it. Had a few quiet nights as I was pretty exhausted from it all.

So flew back to London on Thursday night. Got in at midnight and just slept at the airport haha waited til it got light then got a bus into town and here i am. Headed back to the Cock Inn on saturday night for a bit of a party/reunion. so that was fun to catch up with everyone again. Big night. So now I'm in London just relaxing and killing time, visiting some distant relatives and doing some more shopping. 9 more nights!! looking forward to coming home now!!

Posted by laurafeath 04:49 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Madrid

sunny 30 °C

The 10 hour overnight bus from Lisbon to Madrid was not fun. But it also wasn't as bad as I thought. I had 2 seats which was lucky, so I managed to curl up in a ball and get a few hours sleep. Arrived in Madrid at 6.30 in the morning and it was still dark. Found my hostel by about 7.30 but couldn't check in until 12 so I dumped my things and kinda wandered around town/sat in a square for a bit. I was deleriously tired. So needless to say I had a sleep for about 5 hours once I checked in. Caught up with some friends for dinner that night and had a few drinks out in the warm night air at a bar in a busy square. Lots of Sangria!

Next morning we did a walking tour of the city which wasn't great but we saw a fair bit. We bailed towards the end and had a siesta in a park for a few hours ahhh! then checked out the Museo del Prado where we saw heaps of Goya's work. Amazing. We found this beautiful market too. It was UNREAL!! a large elegant glass building with heaps of fancy food and drink stalls with bar areas and tables in the middle. There was fresh fish/seafood, fruit & veg, cakes & pastries, meat, cheeses, frozen yoghurt and lots of tapas places. It was SO colourful and the food was beautifully presented. I was in amazement! Very upmarket. Tried some frozen yoghurt with fresh berries. Delicious!

We did soooo much walking so I was pretty exhausted but that night we did a tapas tour which was so worth it! I started off trying some traditional Paella with seafood and chicken. I'm not a huge seafood lover so the mussels and prawns were new to me. Overall it was delicious but I wasn't a huge fan of the seafood plus it was pretty fiddly. But 'when in Spain'... it had to be done. So we went to three bars and tried different plates of tapas and a drink at each place. Each place served us something traditional from a certain region. We sampled lots of bread with about 4 varieites of cheese, cured ham, garlic potatoes, prawns and a tuna/vegetable bake thingy. Also had a sangria, cloudy cider and 'lemon squash shandy' (forgotten the proper name). A lot of it was very salty and rich so I couldn't eat it often. I really liked the bars though, they had a great atmosphere with glass cabinets on the actual bar where you can see a lot of the tapas. Afterwards we sat and had some drinks at another outdoor bar and we somehow managed to have two rounds of shots brought out to us for free.

On Saturday we went to check out the 'Parque del Buen Retiro' and have a picnic there. This was by far a highlight. It was so elegant and the gardens were immaculate. There were some beautiful buildings and a large lake in the middle with rowboats for hire. We took some red wine, bread, cheese, salami, olives etc and sat there enjoying that on a grassy spot in the shade. How very 'civilised'. It was so relaxing. We laid in the grass for hours after that, having siestas, listening to music and watching a juggler, a yogi and some kids playing. Brilliant. We were all so chilled out after that. Later that night we walked around hunting for somewhere to try 'chocolate con churros', the long skinny deep fried spanish donuts dipped in hot chocolate. We found a little chocolateria and all shared a couple of serves. Very rich but awesome!

So as you can gather it's been a week filled with a lot of eating and drinking!! How could I not though?

Posted by laurafeath 07:47 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Portugal

sunny 32 °C

So I booked a one way flight from Glasgow to Faro, Portugal with no plans from there. Really just decided to go to Lagos on a whim before my mate Greeny left. He's been working there for the summer and was only there for another week when I booked. I couldn't get in touch with him as he doesn't have a phone so I just went there and stayed at a hostel. I actually bumped into him in the street on my second night there so that was pretty funny. It was SO hot down there!! I spent the days lying on the beach. Very beautiful white sand, massive cliffs and turquoise water! ahhh. It's very much a party town and very much FULL of aussies which wasn't great. The hostel was a really good one and did a quiz night which was 5€ to enter which included unlimited sangria or beer haha so that was a good way to meet people. Met some other chicks travelling on their own. Caught up with greeny and some of his mates for drinks and hung out on the beach with him for a bit the next day aswell. The town was really cool, lots of narrow, white cobbled streets. Ended up staying there for 4 nights and was a bit over it by the end. Would be fun if you were there in a bigger group or up for non stop partying which I really wasn't.

So got on a 4 hour bus bound for Lisbon on Monday arvo and arrived around 5ish. I LOVE it here!! very beautiful city with some interesting history. Plus I managed to pick a REALLY good hostel!! it's brand new, has a really funky layout/interior design with matching cool graphics and it's decked out in IKEA goodness! ahhh enough said! very snazzy! haha So I had a full day here and decided to do a walking tour yesterday. Was definitely worth it. Went through some areas that I probably wouldn't have found on my own and learned heaps. Has some great architecture and the same beautiful cobbled streets and TRAMS!! Lots of narrow llittle laneways in this really interesting neighbourhood we went through too. Also quite hilly and near the water. One girl said it reminds her of San Fran. It's really hot and sunny here too but slightly cooler than Lagos I think.

Ohh and the best bit about the hostel is that you can sign up for a traditional Portuguese (I think) home cooked dinner here every night. 3 course meal and 3 drinks for 8€!! can't go wrong! it was a good way to meet people and chat. I met some lovely Danish, Germans and French which was cool, have met hardly any Europeans on my trip so far so it was good to finally. So afterwards a massive group of us from the hostel headed out into town to a bar and a nightclub which was pretty fun. Would love to stay at this hostel longer but I'm heading to Madrid on a bus later tonight!! ahh!

Posted by laurafeath 07:36 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Loch Ness and Glasgow

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Well the rest of my week in Edinburgh was so much fun! I even ended up staying an extra night. On Wednesday I went on a day tour up to the highlands and Loch Ness. Was a very long day but very worth it. We left at 8am and travelled for about 3 hours each way with a few stops along the way, getting home around 8pm. Stopped off and met 'Hamish' the famous 'Hairy Coo' or Highland cow. He was a big gingey bull. Very timid guy, pretty cute. Some really beautiful scenery along the way. Obviously SOOO green. Glencoe was very pretty. It didn't rain all day which was lucky. Even got some sunshine. Arrived at Loch Ness in the afternoon and went on an hour boat ride which was a bit exciting. The water is soooo dark and gloomy and mysteeeeerious! It looked like coke, all brown and frothy as we went along. It was freeeeezing out on the boat but really interesting. Apparently it's something like 3km deep and has enough water to submerge the whole UK a few times over (don't quote me on that though), something like that.

Met heaps of cool people at the Hostel (including a chick my age from Mt Eliza, small world?) and ended up going to heaps more shows. I saw street performances, comedy stand up, sketch comedy, a play, A Capella and a musical, so I ended up with quite a mix. All the shows that I chose averaged around £3-£6 and some were FREE or 2 for 1 so it was great! I could have kept going for the whole month I loved it. Very exhausted though had quite a few late nights/early mornings. The hostel bar stayed open til 5am!!

Got a bus out to Glasgow last night. Tried to organise a place to couchsurf but didn't work out so I'm at a pretty crap hostel. Meh, it's cheap, in the centre of town and it'll do. Nice to have a few quiet nights to myself actually. Walked around Glasgow city all day today. At one stage it POURED and I was a drowned rat again, but then it was a pretty nice afternoon. Wasn't really much where I am so I checked out some shops, a square, a mini park thing and went for a wander along the Clyde River. Sat on some grass along the river and read my book in the afternoon sun. ahhh. Only spent £7 today. Very good. I've really tightened the belt now I'm moving around again and not earning - Well let's just say I'm actually watching what I'm spending (apart from my arts filled week in Edinburgh) ahh. Sigh. Portugal tomorrow. Who knows after that?

Posted by laurafeath 14:12 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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