Catherine and Gregory Harper

GregCath

Catherine and Gregory Harper

"The road less travelled - with a modern twist".

Whatever the initial motivation to visit, a friend's comment, a magazine article, a novel, we enjoy a mix of cultural, historical, agricultural and culinary experiences on the road. Out-of-the-way places are hard to find, but these four aspects continue to enthrall us. Upcoming adventure: Christmas in New York City, and a stop-over in San Francisco.

Where we've travelled so far...

More to come...



Europe » Germany » Berlin » Berlin June 13th 2016

We arrived in Berlin from London via EasyJet. It had been an early start from Alex and Jill's apartment and out we went from Gatwick airport. Good to hear German spoken again. Cloudy skies over Europe but meticulously laid out farm and fields down below gave us a hint of our destination. Into Schonefeld then onto a DB train to Berlin. Berlin itself has a reasonably complex underground/overground/international rail intertwined system. A poor old guy like me could barely see the short designations for the lines - just too small a font. Out of the architecturally inspiring Hauptbahnhof building and towards our apartment on foot. Later we worked out that this walk along Invalidenstrasse actually took us across the line of the old Berlin Wall. This line is such a defining thing for Berlin, even now ... read more
Hunting bratwurst
How do you navigate this U/S bahn network?
Brandenburg gate

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London June 9th 2016

After the portraiture lesson at the Tate, we met Alex, who as a Londoner was wearing a long black woollen coat, and headed into Marylebone for a drink and some dinner. A mild Friday night on the cusp of summer and all the youngsters were out on the town. We dropped in to several pubs that were completely stacked and the floors sticky with beer. Time to move on. We found one where the atmosphere was less frenetic and the range of beers good. A couple of locals played darts in the corner. Are we in England then? Dinner was effectively burgers and chips, but the bill did not reflect that. Alex hit the gym in the morning, presumably to do some remedial work after the humongous calorific intake the night before. Went to the Bermondsey ... read more
The John Snow pub
Living still life
Which way to the air-raid shelter

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London June 6th 2016

Wednesday: We got back to London on the afternoon of the 1st of June, after a slightly delayed trip back from Santiago. The camaraderie of the Camino continued to the airport with people spontaneously making conversation and sharing their joy. We had left the hotel befor 0730 on a crystal clear blue-sky day in Galicia. Into Gatwick, down through the thick clouds that are so typical of London. A particular joy of travelling from Santiago was the airline's concerns about walking sticks. Despite Catherine trying to protect hers, all three were lost to the system. We did not have any checked luggage so that was not an option. The train took us all the way through to West Hampstead and we walked the final 500m to Alex and Jill's place, but not before enjoying some Thai ... read more

Europe » Spain » Galicia May 31st 2016

Sleeping in till 0800 seemed a completely reasonable thing to do after the Camino. First priority though was a Parador breakfast. Fresh fruit at last, along with many of the usual things found in hotel buffet's around the world. Specials here were the Chicharron (fatty pork rinds), various types of chorizo, and Spanish omelettes. The breakfast room looked over the Obradoiro square and the front entrance of the Cathedral. Alex and Jill needed to travel back to London this day so we farewelled them in a taxi at about 0900. We thought the Cathedral justified another, more focussed visit so headed off that way. Greg hired one of those earphone guides which turned out to be a great investment. The two speakers covered the factual aspects as well as the spiritual and cultural aspects of this ... read more
Monument to pilgrims on the outskirts of Santiago
Pilgrims
Pilgrims

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela May 29th 2016

It had been a long night, but we woke to the sound of songbirds and gentle rain. All quite pleasant until you realised we were about to venture out into it. I got the gang roused by about 0550 and we started to gather our belongings in the dark with head lamps. The Frenchies continued to sleep almost oblivious of our movements. I guess their 28 km trek of the previous day knocked them out: note to self about our plans for an even longer Camino in a few year's time. Backpacks swung over our shoulders and down stairs to regroup. One final "emu parade" of the room and we were on our way. Greg's knee was OK but causing him some trouble. Of course the younger ones were completely fresh and raring to go. The ... read more
Walking in the rain 1
Alex walking
Alex walking 2

Europe » Spain » Galicia May 28th 2016

It had been a long night, but we woke to the sound of songbirds and gentle rain. All quite pleasant until you realised we were about to venture out into it. Greg got the gang roused by about 0550 and we started to gather our belongings in the dark with head lamps. It was to be a 25 km day, so that we would arrive in Santiago before the Pilgrim's mass. The Frenchies continued to sleep almost oblivious of our movements. Probably their 28 km trek of the previous day knocked them out: note to self about our plans for an even longer Camino in a few year's time. Backpacks swung over our shoulders and down stairs to regroup. Greg's knee was OK but causing him some trouble. Of course the younger ones were completely fresh ... read more
Setting off early
Rolling along through green countryside
Quaint church and copper downpipes

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela May 28th 2016

As this was destined to be a short day of 14 km, we opted for a slow start. The surly Germans left the room relatively early but just to move to the Albergue kitchen to prepare breakfast. This was not before they two of them "entertained" Greg in the communal bathroom as he was trying desperately to fit his contact lens, and not have to endure the "entertainment" a moment longer. We opted for a local cafe for breakfast which was as expected except for a memorable ricotta cake. We headed out by around 0800. Greg with his new knee brace fitted and operational. The trail rose briefly out of Melida and past several lovely medieval churches. The attendant at one was particularly excitable - the church had dominion over an 11th Century baptismal font. It ... read more
The lovely scenary roles on
Iris beside the Camino
Enjoying a jamon meal in Arzua

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela May 27th 2016

We enjoyed the evening and night in the large Albergue in Portomarin, although we had had a few doubts. The Albergue had an extensive communal kitchen and dining area and a pleasant ambiance. The pilgrims were of all ages and languages, though to be fair there was no one who appeared to be a Muslim on this primarily Christian or Heathen pilgrimage. Plenty of boy meets girl for lone travelers and laughter and skylarking within large walking groups. The Albergue itself overlooked one of the arms of the man-made lake and onto the Camino heading west. The dam was a relatively recent addition to the landscape. The earlier town had been flooded in the 60s and the historical buildings moved brick by brick to the new location. Greg sat and sketched outside the church which seemed ... read more
The view over the lake at Portmarin
The abandoned brickworks
Catherine on the Camino

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Sarria May 25th 2016

Walked from Alex and Jill's place to the bus stop. Something of a rush because the bus driver decided to leave 5 mins early. A beautiful sunny day in London. We took freeways across town to Stansted airport for our Ryan Air flight. Catherine had a minor hassle getting through security because they were concerned she had something more than 100 mls of liquid. Debate come down to whether stick deodorant could be counted as liquid or solid. Sheesh! Onto the flight which was pretty full. Coming into Santiago de Compostela airport we could see the rolling green hills of Galicia and while cumulus clouds. Great walking weather. During the flight an English woman was sitting next to us. She was also planning to travel to Sarria, and had organised a taxi. We asked if we ... read more
Cobble stones in Sarria
Mosaics of the Sarria monastery
Practicing the Camino on the day before starting


All steps easy through to the underground at Terminal 4 of Heathrow. Onto the wifi and rapid contact with Alex. We always forget just how far it is from this airport to the centre of London. Also how noisey the Tube carriages are. Through to Green Park and onto the Jubilee line for West Hampstead station. Alex and Jill were there to meet us which was excellent. Both looking fit and flourishing in the environment. A few blocks past trendy and diverse shops and cafes and into there flat complex. Multi-storey terrace houses that had been 9 bed-sits after WWII. Now two generous apartments. Theirs, on the top floor is light and airy and surprisingly quiet given its inner city location. We rapidly caught up on the story so far and made plans to head out. ... read more
Big infrastructure on the Thames
House"boat" on Mersey Island
House"boats" on Mersey Island




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