Lockdown Diaries: Day 65 (The Cíes Islands)

Locked Down in London, Day 65:

I just remembered: yesterday, if it wasn’t for the coronavirus, we’d have flown out to Galicia.

This would have been the holiday that would have replaced the one that was cancelled in April. Is this depressing or what? At least now we finally grasped that there was no point in rescheduling; instead we’ve joined the ranks of those hopefuls who are expecting their money back from the airline…

Virtual Escape: The Cíes Islands

If we did fly yesterday, we’d be in the Cíes Islands today.

Further Reading:Cíes Islands: The Hidden Gem of the Spanish Atlantic OceanSpain's Cíes Islands: The Best Beach in the World?Islas Cíes, Galicia: Spain's Treasured Islands
Keep safe, keep sane – learn a bit of Spanish! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 63 (Sunset Sailing)

Virtual Escape: Sunset Sailing

A few years ago we holidayed in Malta – I wish we could go there right now! – and one we went on an organised trip with a small sailing ship to the Blue Lagoon and the island of Gozo where we had the good fortune to see the Azure Window – which collapsed in a storm the year after. While we were on the way back to Valetta, the sun set on us…

Unfortunately, my photos do not do justice to reality – especially as I only had my phone to take pictures with – but they sure bring back very pleasant memories… And what more you can ask for on a Friday night in coronavirus lockdown?

Links:The Great Siege: Malta 1565Malta in Black & WhiteThe Hagar Qim Megalithic Temples on Malta
Keep safe, keep sane – go sailing (you can’t catch coronavirus out at sea)! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 62 (LOTR New Zealand)

Virtual Escape: LOTR New Zealand

We’ll keep it simple today. Have you read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien?

In case you haven’t, have you seen the films? Right.

(If you’ve done neither, get the book, now!)

So –

  1. (Re-)Read the book 🙂
  2. The films were shot in New Zealand – they make you want to go there (click the gallery to enlarge the pictures):
Locations Key:

Mt Ngauruhoe = Mount Doom
Kawarau Gorge = River Anduin
Mount Sunday = Edoras
Kaitoke National Park = Rivendell

Links:The ultimate Lord of the Rings Location Map for New Zealand23 Lord of the Rings Locations You Can't Miss in New ZealandThis Dreamy Destination Continues to Inspire Fantasy Writers5 Middle Earth Locations You Can Visit in Real Life
Keep safe, keep sane – keep dreaming big! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 56 (Angkor Wat)

Another of those places which I probably won’t ever have the chance to actually visit; I hope it inspires some of you to put it on your bucket list!

Virtual Escape to – Angkor Wat

Dedicated to the Cambodians in my life

For some six centuries (9th to 15th century A.D.) Angkor was the capital of the powerful Khmer Kingdom which ruled much of  South East Asia – today’s Cambodia where the Khmers still live, as well as parts of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The temple complex of Angkor Wat was built as the kingdom was reaching the height of its power in the first half of the 12th century, by King Suryavarman II. The site was further extended later in the same century by King Jayavarman VII, who added Angkor Thom and Bayon. The whole archeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage, now covers some 400 square kilometers. With the decline of the Khmer empire, the ancient capital disappeared in the jungle to be forgotten; it was rediscovered by the French colonists in the 19th century. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the pictures.)

 

Sadly, Cambodia nowadays is not known for its glorious past but for its extremely tragic recent history: the genocide of the Pol Pot regime (1975-79). If you haven’t seen the film Killing Fields, I recommend it, although my Khmer friends, who survived Pol Pot, always insisted that it doesn’t half depict the horrors – I think for most of us it depicts quite enough.

Recommended Books: First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung (the heart-wrenching story of a small girl from Phnom Penh who survived Pol Pot's genocide)
♥ Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing Ngor (another survivor's tale: a Cambodian doctor who won the Oscar for his role in the film Killing Fields)
♥ Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray (an American actor about Cambodia and the shooting of Killing Fields)
Links:Angkor: UNESCO World HeritageA Long Break at Angkor Wat and Siem ReapYour Ultimate Guide to the Angkor Wat Temples of CambodiaExploring Angkor WatA Little Exploring: The History and Fun of Visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 54 (Machu Picchu)

Locked Down in London, Day 54:

Today was the first day that the population – in England at any rate – was allowed out for more than a single essential trip (for food, medication/doctor or local exercise) per day: you can now actually drive somewhere and go walking in the countryside as long as you don’t hobnob with strangers. It being a working day, probably nobody could take advantage of this easing of the restriction – expect the country to go mental in the coming weekend!

Virtual Escape: Machu Picchu

One of those places which I probably won’t ever have the chance to actually visit, so it seems an excellent candidate for a virtual escape!

Built in the 15th century for the then ruling Inca, Pachacuti, Machu Picchu is nearly 2500 m above sea level, and the best (only?) way to get there is hiking. If only I was thirty years younger (and had enough money to go that far…)

green and brown mountain under white clouds
Photo by Sparks Darby on Pexels.com
Recommended Books: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (more about why you should read it here)
♥ Lituma in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa (an excellent crime story by a Nobel-prize winning author!)
♥ Across the Pacific by Raft by Thor Heyerdahl (a post WWII adventure attempting to prove that the South Sea Islands were populated from Peru)
Links:Hiking the Inca TrailMachu Picchu Travel Advice26 Pictures That Will Make You Want to Visit Machu Picchu
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 53 (Dubrovnik)

Locked Down in London, Day 53: The New Normal

When I started the Lockdown Diaries, I thought I was looking at no more than 3 or 4 weeks of daily blogging. I thought it might be of interest to others what’s it like in London and I was in as much need of a virtual escape as anybody. But that was now more than 7 weeks ago; and the exit strategy outlined by the PM in a 50-page document yesterday afternoon made it clear that we’re not going back to normal life any time soon. Instead, we’re going to have a ‘new normal’ – just like cancer patients.

Well, since this is now evidently for the long term, it’s time that I reclaim my blog from the Lockdown Diaries – recently I began to resent that what with work, homeschooling and writing daily diaries I no longer have time to actually write about books. But I dislike the idea of abandoning the Diaries altogether because we’re all still limited to virtual travel only and because I already decided what the last lockdown post would be! 🙂

So a change of format.

From now on, Locked Down in London will only be included if there’s anything to report, while Virtual Escape changes to a photo post of travel destinations. You know: all those places where we could have gone on holiday this year. If I can, I’ll include book recommendations and poetry related to the place, as well as links to help you to continue exploring online.

Today I start with a town I would have long liked to visit; but I’d love it if you suggested destinations too!

Virtual Escape: Dubrovnik

Historically known as Ragusa, this Dalmatian town on the lower Adriatic was very high on my list to visit for a city break this year…

Medieval Ragusa was a mercantile maritime republic like Venice, from which it became independent in the 1300s. To protect itself from Venetian power, it almost immediately placed itself under the sovereignty of Hungary, later under the Ottoman Empire (at some point it paid taxes to both), neither of which really interfered with Ragusan affairs. The end of the republic came with the Napoleonic wars; it is now called Dubrovnik and is part of Croatia (although it’s a pretty isolated corner).

Books about Dubrovnik's history:
Dalmatia and Montenegro by John Gardner Wilkinson - Wilkinson who was an Egyptologist, travelled through Dalmatia in 1844
Dubrovnik: A History by Robin Harris

Unfortunately I haven’t read either of the books, so can’t comment how good they are. If any of you know some good books about medieval Ragusa – be it a novel set there or a first-hand account from a medieval traveller – I’m interested. 🙂

Links:Republic of RagusaWandering the city walls in DubrovnikBest things to do in Dubrovnik: Ultimate local's travel guideDubrovnik Survival Guide
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 51 (The Romans in Mérida)

Locked Down in London, Day 51:

A day as grey as a prison.

Virtual Escape: The Romans in Mérida

Time to escape to a quiet corner of sunny Spain… and wander among spectacular Roman ruins! Mérida – in Roman times known as Emerita Augusta – in the Extremadura.

 

Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 49 (Lisbon Views)

Locked Down in London, Day 49:

Another Friday evening … in lockdown.

Programme choices:

Yawn.

Virtual Escape: Lisbon Views

I really do hope that you’ve got something better to do this Friday night than reading this blog (and listening to the your neighbours’ whining kids). But in case you don’t, come for a virtual walk around Lisbon 🙂 :

 

Keep safe, keep sane – put your feet up! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 47 (Cape Sounion)

Locked Down in London, Day 47:

Every exit strategy that is discussed by governments, scientists, etc. have a common feature – that we’ll have no fun this year. Foreign or possibly even domestic holidays will not be worth taking; restaurants, museums, pools, places of fun will be the last things to reopen.

It sucks. But for most of us, there’s always next year.

Most of us; not all. Spare a thought for those who are terminally ill and this is their last spring/summer when they could have been doing something they wanted to do before their death.

Virtual Escape: Cape Sounion

Like travel to Greece…

Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
There, swan-like, let me sing and die.

(Lord Byron: The Isles of Greece)

Further Reading:The Isles of Greece by Lord ByronLord Byron
Keep safe, keep sane – read The Isles of Greece! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 46 (Hiking in the Picos de Europa)

Locked Down in London, Day 46: Beer Delivery Dogs

According to yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, somewhere in America a couple of handsome golden retrievers were enrolled by a brewery to deliver beer to their customers…

I quite fancy the sight of a couple of handsome golden retrievers delivering my shopping too.

Except… I guess I would only get the vegetables!

Virtual Escape: Hiking in the Picos de Europa

After all that food (not to mention wine) last night at the feast of Attila the Hun, we’d better go for a decent walk! How about the Ruta del Cares, the Cares Gorge Trail, in the Picos de Europa, in Spain?

The mountain range is called Picos de Europa – the Peaks of Europe – because it was the first thing Spanish sailors returning from America on the caravels saw of Europe. We’re driving there from the little town of Ribadesella in Asturias and as we cross from Asturias into Castile and León on the road sign we see Castile crossed out and the words, ‘This is León’ added in spray paint. An example of Spanish regionality, I suppose! 🙂

But I’m talking too much. Let’s just get out of the car, admire the view and then let’s go and hike the Route of the River Cares. Not for those who suffer badly with vertigo (although as the path is at least one metre wide everywhere, it’s perfectly safe).

 

Further Reading:Ruta del Cares12 Best Hikes in Spain to Experience
Keep safe, keep sane – go on a virtual hike! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 44 (An Idle Woman in Sicily)

Locked Down in London, Day 44: The Rubbish Dump

Having found that people now dump rubbish everywhere, the council had a change of heart and reopened the local rubbish dump (or as they fancily call it, the reuse and recycling centre).

We can’t go to the pub, a restaurant, the theatre, a museum or a concert – but we can visit the rubbish dump! Whoppee!

Virtual Escape: An Idle Woman in Sicily

Remembering the times when we were allowed to travel – when I was an idle woman in Sicily. 🙂

And we do so with a maverick 19th century traveller, Frances Elliot, who, having unwillingly and laboriously climbed to a look out point on the insistence of her companion, the Doctor, despairs of the view:

Before long the Doctor insists on our climbing the lesser fort of Euryalus to see the view…

What long, low, desolate lines! What a vast saddened plain! Plain, west, towards Lentini and Catania; plain, south, towards Ragusa and Noto; nothing but plain!

Not a fertile vega, dark with mandarin and citron groves, and broken by palms and magnolias, as at Palermo, but ashen, bare, desolate!

Oh! for a dash of red, purple, or orange, on the mountainside! A tawny sunset over ilex woods! or that pure coral tinge which mantles the northern peaks when the sun sets!

And the sea!

Just under Epipoloe there is another plain, boundless as the land; only this one glitters in azure and opaline, fading lines and broad circles breaking its surface.

The sparkle and gaiety of this second plain, with its harmonious ripple and fresh breathing airs, shadowed by great cirrhus clouds that come riding up from the south, make the monotony of the land even more solemn.

On land there are no trees, no houses, except the little heaped-up island-mound of Ortygia far away. There are rocks, ruins, and stones, and the dead, lone look of what was once a great city, trodden out by war and conquest!

But for its history, who would come to Syracuse?

The sun is setting in pale saffron tints over that wide channel, across which the Carthaginians came for so many centuries, Himilcon, Hannibal, Hamilcar, and afterwards Saracen Emirs, and Kaliffs, in fleets of galleys and triremes, their black painted sides outlined in gold and purple; the African captain at the poop, the dusky rowers rising and falling to the banks of oars, the dusky sails set for victory!…

(Frances Elliot: The Diary of an Idle Woman in Sicily)

Although Mrs Elliot above seems to suggest that Syracuse is not worth a visit, nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact, she herself spent about a third of her book there. 🙂

Sicily is in fact a fascinating holiday destination, especially if you love history, the sun, the sea and Italian food. Oh and of course volcanoes!

Further Reading:Oranges Like Blazing FireAn Idle Woman in Sicily by Frances Elliot 
⇒ More books on travel in the Mediterranean by Frances Elliot - available on Project GutenbergA Brief Overview of Sicily's Fascinating History
Keep safe, keep sane – read a book on Sicilian history! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 36 (Hiking the Kii Peninsula with a Book of Haikus)

Locked Down in London, Day 36: J-Pop

I’m becoming an expert in designing walking routes through the neighbouring streets. I now know on which street are the trees in bloom; which front gardens have the nicest tulips (on the way out now), lilacs or artistically arranged evergreens. I connect the streets with patches of woodlands, parks and playing fields in an effort to device myself that I’m walking in the country.

How many days in a row have I walked these exact streets without seeing anything else? Listening to the same music? I had to have some variety so now I’m cycling through world pop, a different country each day. I’m learning new phrases to search Spotify: Latin pop, Euro-pop, J-pop.

Virtual Escape: Hiking the Kii Peninsula with a Book of Haikus

Since today I’ve been listening to J-pop (that’s Japanese pop to the uninitiated 🙂 ), I decided that this weekend we’re going to pay a flying visit to Japan to hike on an old, more than  a thousand years old, pilgrim route on the Kii Peninsula.

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, Seiganto-ji [Photo by Nekosuki via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Two hours on the train out from Osaka takes you to this beautiful peninsula dotted with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, mountains, forests and waterfalls. You can hike the scenic Kumano Kodo trail, the “stairway to heaven”, which links many of them, a UNESCO World Heritage site, twinned with Spain’s Camino de Santiago. There is actually more than one route; you can do a short two-day hike or you can keep going for a week. It’s up to you. At night you can stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, and relax in a hot spring, reading a book of haikus

Your Little Book of Haikus

on the water
the reflection
of a wanderer

(Santoka)

lightning
running down inside
lightning

(Inahata Teiko)

summer rain
it drums on the heads
of the carp

(Shiki)

a clear waterfall –
into the ripples
fall green pine-needles

(Basho)

the little fish
carried backwards
in the clear water

(Kito)

fresh young leaves –
the sound of a waterfall
both far and near

(Buson)


Further Reading:Pilgrim's Progress: Kii Peninsula, JapanStairway to Heaven: Hiking Ancient Pilgrimage Trails in Southern JapanThe Kumano Kodo Walking Trail: A Guide with MapsKumano Kodo Pilgrimage TrailsWhy Should You Walk the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan
Keep safe, keep sane –  exercise your imagination!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 34 (The Windmills of Don Quijote)

Locked Down in London, Day 34: Weary Face

Is the lockdown ever going to end?

Virtual Escape: The Windmills of Don Quijote

Remembering happier times… Campo de Criptana, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. Don Quijote country.

At this point they came in sight of thirty forty windmills that there are on plain, and as soon as Don Quixote saw them he said to his squire, “Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped our desires ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; for this is righteous warfare, and it is God’s good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth.”

“What giants?” said Sancho Panza.

“Those thou seest there,” answered his master, “with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long.”

“Look, your worship,” said Sancho; “what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go.”

(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote de La Mancha)

Further Reading:Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Project Gutenberg)
⇒ Castile-La Mancha, Spain - turism
Keep safe, keep sane – start reading Don Quijote! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 32 (Climbing Kanchenjunga)

Locked Down in London, Day 32: Where Is My Money?

Today we got a refund for one of the many things that was cancelled on us due to everything closing. Yippee! I celebrate the fact that we did get one refund and in fact in a couple of cases our direct debit for services that we subscribe to but can’t use at the moment was frozen – but what about the rest? There are at least half a dozen companies, museums, a school, etc. that owe us money and not a peep out of most of them…

What about you people?

Virtual Escape: Climbing Kanchenjunga

Remembering happier times… when we climbed the Kanchenjunga!

(Click on the gallery to enlarge the pictures.)

 

Kanchenjunga here (as I’m sure you all guessed) is not the mountain in the Himalayas; it’s a mountain in the Lake District in England, and in real life it’s known as the Old Man of Coniston. It’s called Kanchenjunga in Arthur Ransome’s children’s book about the Swallows and Amazons and we climbed it because we love the books! (See the link below for more information and pictures about our following in the footsteps of the Swallows and Amazons.)

Further Reading:In the Footsteps of the Swallows and AmazonsLake District
Keep safe, keep sane – keep sharing! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 30 (Hiking Vulcano)

Locked Down in London, Day 30: Our New Pet, Ede

About three weeks ago we acquired a family pet, whose name is Ede (that’s Eh-deh, not Eed). We feed it every day and it’s now feeding us in turn, and in fact we’re giving away one of its children today… no, it’s not a hen, much less a cow, although if this goes on much longer maybe we’ll be forced to start a farm!

Ede is a sourdough starter and took five days to grow; much to our surprise it then survived six days without food or water while we were locked down in Lancashire. We feed it regularly with flour and mineral water and then use portions of it to make bread without yeast. The bread is so tasty that half of of the first loaf went within five minutes of coming out of the oven, as we all “tasted” it.

As my contribution to the worldwide fight against coronavirus, I translated the recipe and passed it on to family via e-mail; and a local friend of ours is coming to collect one of Ede’s children later today (she’s collecting it from the doorstep because we’re good and law-abiding citizens)!

Virtual Escape: Hiking Vulcano

Remembering happier times… so today, we’re climbing Vulcano again, off the coast of Sicily, in glorious sunshine.

We arrive by ferry from the Sicilian town of Milazzo; and as we’re disembarking we’re assaulted by the overpowering stench of rotten eggs. Don’t panic! The smell is pervading the harbour, that’s true, but not the entire island; it comes from the nearby mud baths. Start the climb towards the crater and the smell will fade away, soon to be dispersed entirely by the sea breeze.

It’s an easy climb; small children and school groups are doing it too. As you go up, you will see the seismologic equipment (and the scientists working it) – this volcano is dormant, not extinct.

Seismographic equipment

The views open up as you climb:

View from halfway up

And on top, you’re rewarded with the sight of a classic geography textbook volcano (well, it is called Vulcano!). Sniff at the sulphur and touch the ground: it’s hot.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

An unforgettable experience even if you’re not a geologist.

Happy climbing, amici!


Further Reading:
⇒ For those in need: recipe for the sourdough starter & and the sourdough bread made from it
⇒ I'm not the only one who thought their pet needed a name: Your Amish Friendship Bread Starter Needs a Name
Keep safe, keep sane – bake bread!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 21 (Hiking La Palma II)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 21: The Palm Trees of Lancashire

Went out on another local hike and noticed that every second garden boasts a palm tree! I mean this is Lancashire in the Northwest of England – wet, cloudy and miserable. Supposedly…

In point of fact, it’s 22 degrees and sunny today! 🙂

On our local hike, I paddled in a freezing cold local stream and pretended that I was paddling in the stream of the Barranco de las Angustias on our hike in La Palma…

Virtual Escape: Hiking La Palma II

Time to put on your hiking boots again! The day before yesterday we hiked the Route of the Volcanoes; today we’re going to the Caldera of Taburiente:

We’re doing a 6-hour circular walk but we want to enjoy it, so we’ll stop for some rest and a well earned, leisurely picnic at the highest point – that would be somewhere with a view of the caldera.

Plus don’t forget that we’re going to stop to paddle in the stream of the Barranco de las Angustias! 🙂

I say… has anybody remembered to bring the sun cream?

Links:
Hiking the Caldera de Taburiente
Keep safe, keep sane – keep hiking!

Lockdown Diaries: Day 19 (Hiking La Palma)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 19:

Glorious weather today in Lancashire (I got sunburnt).

Being in lockdown is definitely more bearable when

a) the weather is sunny

b) you’re somewhere where you can make use of it!

My late father-in-law lived in an old farm house. The farmland that went with the house was sold ages ago, but there is a lovely large garden around the house – with the occasional strutting pheasant, rabbits gambolling on the lawn and some stunning views.

So we went for a 10 km local hike and then sat in the garden, drinking wine…

Virtual Escape: Hiking La Palma

I hope you remembered to pack your hiking boots (I did mention it before we jetted off!) because today, you are going hiking in La Palma.

You see one of the reasons why we chose La Palma as a holiday destination was that it had something to offer to every member of our family. Beach, stars, hiking, volcanoes, history, architecture, food, boat trips…

We’ve already done the history and the architecture, the beach and the stars, so today we’re going to hike the Route of the Volcanoes.

It’s only 17 and a half kilometres but if you think that makes for an easy hike, you’ll have to think again; it has a rise of 1207 metres with some steep inclines and it’s at relatively high altitude, the highest point being 1932 m above sea level. On the plus side, if you make it all the way with us, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views.

This is supposed to be an 8 and half hour hike but we allowed more time than that, and we’re taking some nice picnic along. Distributed in the rucksacks we’re carrying: sandwiches, salad, some fruit and cheese, as well as a couple of bottles of chilled vinho verde, not to mention of course all the water and biscuits and chocolate bars to hand out to revive flagging spirits on the steeper bits! (I was deliberately vague on the type of sandwiches, salad and fruit, so that you can each mentally fill in your favourites…)

Ruta de los Volcanes

(Click on the gallery to enlarge the pictures.)

 

Links:
Ruta de los Volcanes (hiking information)
Keep safe, keep sane – keep hiking! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 16 (Santa Cruz de la Palma)

Locked Down in London, Day 16: The Sun Is Out

And the communal football fields behind our house look like Hyde Park as a consequence. Where do all these people come from? There’s normally nobody out there, apart from a couple of dog walkers!

Since the sun is out and I’m pretending to be on holiday in the Canary Islands, Mr Anglo-Saxonist made us a jug of sangria, while I put my swimsuit on and posed for ‘holiday’ photo for my family back in Hungary…

Virtual Escape: Santa Cruz de la Palma

I hope you haven’t forgotten that you’re in Santa Cruz de la Palma!

Lovely weather! The sea temperature is 20.1 °C — so that, with the exception of Mr Anglo-Saxonist who wouldn’t be seen dead on a beach, we all went for a swim first thing in the morning! We came back to find a beautifully laid out breakfast on the terrace (long may he dislike swimming).

And now we’re off to explore the town!

The historic (and bureaucratic) capital of the island, Santa Cruz de la Palma is a compact city strung out along the shore and flanked by fertile green hills. The city centre is breathtakingly picturesque, while the newly overhauled beach and kilometre-long promenade have considerably boosted the city’s summer-in-the-sun appeal.

(Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands by Lonely Planet)

Places of interest (follow the links to see the lovely photos on Tripadvisor):

We’re starting on the Avenida Maritima, since we’re practically living there…

The balconies of the buildings on the Avenida Maritima

Calle O’Daly (main street with old buildings)

Casas Consistoriales (town hall)

Casa Principal de Salazar (renaissance palace)

An ice cream anybody? Yes, I thought there would be takers!

Up to the hills now:

Mirador de la Concepción (lookout point)

Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (church)

Real Castillo de Santa Catalina de Alejandría (castle)

And last but not least…

Museo Naval Barco de la Virgen (Naval Museum – in a replica caravel!)

After wandering around all day, it’s time for a long, leisurely dinner! How about…

…this likely looking place?

La Placeta restaurant [click image to view website]
Keep safe, keep sane – join me for a glass of sangria! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 15 (La Isla Bonita)

Locked Down in London, Day 15: The Holiday We Could Have Had

Today is the first day of the Easter holidays; today is the day when I would have jetted off on our family holiday. I know this claims to be a book blog; but today I’m taking you on a virtual holiday; the holiday that I would have had, but for the coronavirus…

To the Canary Islands. My first time out of Europe!

All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go…

(John Denver: Leaving on a Jet Plane)

Virtual Escape: La Isla Bonita

So pack your bags. If you’re flying with me, you have to manage on cabin bag only; preferably a backpack, but bring that pull suitcase if you have to…

  • Liquids in a clear plastic bag? Check.
  • Kindle easily accessible for security? Check.
  • Hiking boots – check.
  • Swimsuit? Check!
  • Passport, boarding pass, credit card, lifesaving medications – check. Anything else we can manage without… or we can buy once we’ve arrived!

Our island from the air:

Santa Cruz de la Palma on La Palma

Our destination: Santa Cruz de la Palma, on the island of La Palma, “la isla bonita” (=the beautiful island). The town is known for its old world charm: centuries-old buildings, cobbled streets… sea front – but we won’t have much time left to walk about today. We’ve got to get the keys to our flat – a nice duplex apartment with a huge terrace overlooking the beach.

The island of La Palma has everything you could wish for (we’ll do this in emoji speak because in theory I’m typing this up on my phone!):

Links:La Isla Bonita
Keep safe, keep sane – keep exloring the world with Google Earth! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 12 (Historic Greenwich)

Locked Down in London, Day 12:

Would you like the bad news first or the bad?

As you’re not here to answer, we’ll have to go with my preference:

Bad news: the council now closed the park around the local boating lake (a couple of days ago it was still open and I sent some glorious sunny pictures – ignore effing cold Arctic wind – to my family via Facebook).

Good news: I survived a visit to the fishmonger and bought two slices of salmon, 200 g each, for my daughters’ dinner tomorrow because it will be our wedding anniversary and we’re excluding them from our peppered fillet steak with dauphinoise potatoes and cheese and port to be consumed at candlelight – we were going to celebrate in the local French restaurant but… coronavirus! (Perhaps I should also explain that when it comes to food I hate all animals that came out of water with a passion.)

Virtual Escape: Historic Greenwich

Although we’re forbidden to take the tube and we can’t now pretend to drive the DLR, nor take the timetabled riverboat on the way back, we can still roam freely in historic Greenwich thanks to the photos I’ve taken over the years. It’s my favourite place in London – the Queen’s House, the buildings of the Old Naval College, the Cutty Sark, the Meridian Line and the Royal Observatory, the Park, the Planetarium, the river bank, not to mention the National Maritime Museum… the shop selling nauticalia and the market with is quirky wares. 🙂

So much to see, so much to do, so wonderful at any time of the year. Don’t miss it when you next come to London.

Happy roaming! 🙂

No book accompanies today’s wanderings in Greenwich, because, frankly, I don’t know any! But if you have a good book to recommend, please do so below!

Keep safe, keep sane – keep smiling!