DebBran

Debra and Dana

DebBran

Dana and I are now retired and plan to travel over the next few years. Stay tuned.



Europe » Ireland » County Wicklow » Glendalough April 20th 2024

A pleasant surprise at Portrush! The weather cleared and we woke up to a warm, sunny day. Unplanned, we drove over to the Royal Portrush Golf Club, (home of the 2019 Open Championship and Rory McIlroy’s former home course) thinking we might get a last minute tee time. Lo and behold, the only time was with another twosome. Incredibly it was Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. What a golf game!! Both Debra and I had record scores, I shot a 74 and Debra finished with 85. I had a “hole in one” on the 155 yard hole #3, par 3 and on the 510 yard par 5, hole #12, I actually drove the ball off the tee within 30 yards of Rory’s drive. It was an incredible day topped off by having a beer with Rory ... read more
Lough Eske Castle.
Kylemore Abby
Cliffs of Moyer


We said farewell to Malaga/Estepona on a warm, bright sunny morning and took a 2 1/2 hour flight to Dublin where we were greeted with a windy, coolish day but some sunshine. With our car rental, it was a smooth exit from the airport for the 2 hour drive to Belfast along the M1 highway. A quick Hotel check in and a Steak and Guinness pie dinner capped off a long day. Our hotel didn’t have a restaurant, however around the corner, we found a Tim Hortons and had an Egg McMuffin, hash brown and Coffee. In addition to breakfast, I negotiated with my dietician a donut but discovered the cost was equivalent to $3.50 CDN versus about $1.20 at home, so no treat. The “black cab’ tour of Belfast covered mostly the divided neighbourhoods of ... read more
The wall separating the Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.
Wall murals throughout the Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods in Belfast
Views along coastal drive north east of Belfast.

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Málaga April 1st 2024

In the area around Ronda, there are a number of settlements that are called white towns. We referred to a few in previous blogs. Nestled in the mountains close to Ronda, Juzcar was once a “white town” that turned blue. In 2011, Sony Pictures painted the whole town in conjunction with release of its 3D Smurf movie. The transition created so much publicity, that the local residents refused Sony’s offer to restore the original colour and hence Juzca is now called the “blue town”. Remnants of “Smurfdom” can be found throughout the town and although the road was narrow and winding, it was worth the visit. The first week of Angela’s and Dary’s visit provided more rain than the Andalusia region had all of last year. So with the water reservoir levels improving and the sun ... read more
Rolls Royce designed by John Lennon and used by Beatles
Brother Daryl “hamming it up” with Malaga street Busker.
Pan fried Grouper at Restaurant Almador

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Málaga » Malaga March 22nd 2024

On our return visit to Ronda, we took a tour of the bull fighting ring, one of only a few operating in Spain. Bull fighting is still legal in many regions although its popularity has been diminishing. In the early days, bull fighting was forbidden by the church as it was a sin to put your life (soul) in danger. Originally bull fighting was done on horses but transitioned to the matador on foot which is today’s practice. Debra refused to attend a performance and I’m less enthusiastic about a sport where the winner is pre-determined! The tour of the Ronda bull ring was interesting as it’s one of the oldest in Spain (built in 1785) and still in operation holding appx 5000 people. There is also an information/museum section that provides a good background on ... read more
Ronda Bull Ring
Brother Daryl and Angela
St. Michael’s Caves in Gibraltar

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Estepona March 12th 2024

Our friends and neighbours Laura and Doug are visiting with us in Estepona and after a couple of cloudy and rainy days, the weather cleared and we were able to enjoy some nice, warm sunshiny days while touring the immediate area before heading out to Cordoba which is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Estepona. The area around Cordoba is one of the largest olive growing regions in Spain and unlike Granada, which sits besides the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Cordoba is nestled in a valley surrounded by acres of olive and almond groves. During the Moor occupation of Andalusia, the city was once its capital before falling to the Conquistador’s. The Mezquita (Mosque in Spanish) is an astonishing structure that was started in the 8th century AD soon after the Muslim conquest of the area. ... read more
Inside prayer room of the Mezquita
The Mihrab
The Catholic Alter

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Granada February 28th 2024

On our first visit to Marbella, we were unable to include the old town so a return trip was in order. It was on Saturday and in the main square a pipe band was performing with other groups, all in dress uniforms, waiting in the wings. The square was typical with a small church surrounded by tourist shops, restaurants and narrow streets branching off from the centre. A few blocks away is bucolic style park with a passage leading down to the beach. In the middle of the passage, there were a number of Salvador Dali sculptures that are quite unusual to say the least!! With a few “days off” from golf, we headed to Granada for a couple of days and a hike planned on the way back. Granada is appx. 2 1/2 hour drive ... read more
Salvador Dali sculptures in Marbella park
Pipe band in central square of old Town Marbella
Alhambra

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Málaga February 15th 2024

A short drive inland from the coast, there are a series of small towns called “White Towns” which are historical communities going back to the Moors (Muslim occupiers). The Moors had some unique architecture in the area with narrow streets etc and they used a lime based plaster that made the buildings white. On a practical side, the buildings were cooler in the extreme heat and the lime reduced the amount of bacteria thereby making the town more hygienic. Or as an alternative explanation, my brother Daryl might hypothesis, ”maybe they got a deal on white paint”! After an hours drive along a winding road, we arrived in Ronda one of the larger of the “White Towns” with a population of 35,000. It was captured by the Moors around 712 AD. Running through the middle is ... read more
New Bridge Ronda
The Tajo Gorge — Ronda
White Town - Casares

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Málaga February 9th 2024

We have arrived in Estepona which is about an hours drive from Malaga on the “Costa de Sol” (Sunshine Coast). Our Villa is only a few steps from the beach with easy access to a long, well maintained stone walkway that hugs the coast for miles. So far the weather has been comfortable with daytime highs around 18-22 C and the abundance of sunshine makes outdoor activity very pleasant. The Villa is somewhat compact, particularly in the kitchen, however, with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, it provides adequate space and is complimented with large back and front patios that includes a hot tub, barbecue and numerous pieces of outdoor furniture. Within a few minutes drive, there are a good selection of grocery stores, golf courses and restaurants etc. Of course, as with many places now, the ... read more
Path along coast in Estepona
Musical entertainment in Tangiers
Camel ride in Tangiers

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin February 3rd 2024

Forgot to mention on the last Blog, after the Jameson Whiskey tour we had dinner at the Brazen Head, reputed to be the oldest pub in Dublin, established in 1198. It was a cavernous place so probably had a few expansions over the past 1100 years. Undoubtedly there were few parallels to the original other than a few guys sitting at the bar; although the patrons of 1198 would be surprised with their 2024 peer group who were mainly looking at their phones as opposed to chatting with each other. We ordered Irish stew which was good but cost $30.00CDN per bowl!! Couldn’t find the inflation rate from 1192-2024 so unable to calculate what the stew would cost when the pub first opened. The third day in Dublin was warm and sunny which made the trip ... read more
Newgrange (Bru Na Boinne)
Kilmainham Gaol
Dublin at dusk

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin January 27th 2024

Our final winter destination for 2024 is the Malaga area of Spain with a side trip to Ireland. We spent 4 days in Dublin on the way to Spain and will return for 12 more days in April, doing a self drive tour of the Island. The over night flight Toronto to Dublin with AC was actually quite enjoyable. We departed on time, was hosted by friendly staff and arrived on schedule. There may be hope yet for our national airline?? With an overnight flight, it’s always a struggle to stay awake until normal bed time in order to adjust to local time zone as quickly as possible. After arriving around 7:00 am, we took the “hop on hop off” bus. It was much better than in other cities as the driver provided some interesting comments ... read more
The Spire of Dublin
The Long Room at the Library of Trinity College
Drawing Room at Dublin Castle




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