Page 3 of RedPlanetClaire Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia Province » Borovets June 17th 2018

Today I have become an Urban Explorer in the mountains! This is easily done in Bulgaria due to the declining population, the fall of communism and the failure of capitalism, resulting in an extremely high amount of derelict dwellings, factories and public buildings. Glyn and I had driven near to Mount Musala looking for moody, misty mountains (which we found) but ended up exploring what we think were derelict hotels, literally in the middle of nowhere. We arrived in Borovets in the small hours of the night, having driven from Sofia, and after much confusion mixed with stroppy night receptionists, we eventually dragged our luggage past the only rowdy bar in the area and found our apartment. To Glyn's utmost horror, there was no bogroll and he was getting anxious about his morning poo. So he ... read more
Bobby’s Bar, Borovets

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 19th 2018

Tromsø has certainly been more than all I hoped for. And I had hoped for a lot. I'd hoped to see the Northern Lights, but I never expected to get them three nights in a row. Or to get a show so spectacular that even a local photographer whose family have lived in Tromsø for generations was in awe! I don't think I can ever beat that and so, I've bought the t-shirt - the most expensive t-shirt I have ever bought. Lots of snow as expected. But far more beautiful than I anticipated, as the snowy landscapes were crowned with saturated blue skies to the extent that when people see the photos, they may think photoshop had been used to enhance it. Plus golden and pink sunsets glowing over the snow. If you did nothing ... read more
Wenger, the Norwegian Forest Cat

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 18th 2018

Getting up at 6.45am is no joke when you didn't get to bed until 3am after a long day of two trips. However, we don't have much time in Norway and none of it is to be wasted, so we soon set off on the walk into town for our pre-booked snowmobile trip. Shattered, we arrived at the Radison Blu to be told it was double booked and there was no room for us, maybe come back later. I was not happy, this was a very expensive trip already paid for with extra travel insurance required. The receptionist guy was completely unapologetic and it took a lot of reasoning with him to confirm whether or not we would be on the later trip - we could always plan something else instead and almost decided to do ... read more
walking through Tromsø
South peninsula of Tromsø
South peninsula of Tromsø

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 17th 2018

In North Norway it is acceptable for the locals to refer to the police as 'you f***ing horse d!ck' when speaking directly to anyone in the force. However, in the South this is frowned upon and will get you arrested and slapped with a fine. Unless you are visiting from the North, as it is generally accepted that the Northerners are rougher around the edges due to harsh living and so 'you f***ing horse d!ck' is known to be a friendly salutation. Apparently this has been highlighted in the press recently when a northerner visiting Oslo required help from local police due to car trouble. I'm not sure if it's OK for tourists to use this term, and so when we drove past the police station, I did not stick my head out of the window ... read more
Northern Lights bear Tromvik, Troms

Europe » Norway » Northern Norway » Tromsø February 16th 2018

I've finally seen the Northern Lights! Right on the doorstep of my accommodation too, impressive but they did keep me up bloody late! The trip to Tromsø was via Oslo and the airport must be the most expensive airport I've ever passed through. It's around 10 Norwegian Krona to the pound, so working out that the advertised fish and chips cost over £16 was quick. A smoothie bowl was almost £13 and the prices on the ski gear and jewellery were out of this world! I didn't do any shopping whilst we waited for our transfer to Tromsø. As you would expect, it's a fairly large airport - with staff zooming around on scooters, some pushing carts on the scooters, I wasn't expecting that. Weaving in and out of the tight throngs of people, it was ... read more
Northern Lights over Tromsø
Very faint Northern Lights over Tromsø
in our air b'n'b

MISSING November 27th 2017

Wandering around San Polo this morning, I was super pleased when Glyn spotted a smug looking ginger and white cat in a shop window. At first he thought it wasn't real until it moved its head, which is quite energetic for some cats. This was a pet shop and the bed in the window obviously got a lot of use as the cat lay casually whilst engaging in people watching. Having seen barely any cats in Venice itself, this made me very happy!But that was not all, for in the next alley was yet another cat sat equally as smugly in another shop window! This shop was not a pet store but appeared to sell high end tourist tat. Or was this just a red light district for cats? I said to Glyn that it was ... read more
Cat in pet shop window.
Cat in shop window
gondolars for hire

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice November 26th 2017

Yesterday's rain came a day late, which is today. So when we left our accommodation on Campo San Margherita at 7am, it was a lovely combination of dark, cold and wet. I'd gotten us up just after 6am in another futile attempt to get moody and misty photographs over the canals in the early morning light. But by the time we finished getting lost, the wind was up, the rain was down and we were not feel inspired to be creative at all. However we did manage to get rainy shots of a fairly empty Piazza San Marco, which is great because most people get really boring photos with lots of sunshine and blue skies. Or so I keep telling myself. We walked up to Fondamente Nuove via Calle Varisco to get photos of it (the ... read more
Fancy glass in Murano
cat in Torcello
Burano in the rain

MISSING November 25th 2017

As we all know, the best way to resolve a dispute is to have a fight. The Venetians have gotten a step or two further by having specially made fighting bridges with a footprint in each corner where the disputees start the battle. Better still, they didn't have railings back when this originally was a thing and so the first person in the canal not only is proven wrong in the dispute (the winner is right) but they also get very wet and possibly drown as the canals are between 3 and 6 metres deep. To add insult to injury (or death) these days you can also get fined for falling in the canal, so I would suggest not getting into an argument with anyone bigger or stronger when in Venice. This is one of many ... read more
Cat bowl at base of a well
Hubby in narrowest alley in Venice
Bridge of Sighs

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice November 24th 2017

My mum told me that the best way to arrive at Venice is via water, so I did that; not because I listen to my Mum (lol at the thought!) but because it turned out to be the cheapest route. Glyn bought advance return tickets for the water shuttle service with Alilaguna for €25 each and the boats were moored outside Marco Polo Airport just like a bus station. Lucky for us, our boat was just about to leave and so we stepped down inside the bowels of the packed passenger area where we all sat beneath window level and had to risk standing if we wanted to look outside. The boat was small, holding around 20 passengers all facing inwards and twisting uncomfortably to try and get a first peek of Venice. Crossing the lagoon ... read more
Cat painting in Venice
Sunset arriving at Venice
View from plane just before arriving at Marco Polo airport

Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Colombo September 16th 2017

Our final breakfast was Sri Lankan of course with the added bonus of listening to Elvis on vinyl. We chatted with our host for sometime before he pointed out that we didn't have much time to see Colombo. He did warn us about scammers who claim there's a Buddhist festival happening and will guide you there in their tuk-tuks to take photos. I'm not sure where they take you in the event that there are no festivals happening but you get charged a whole lot of money to get back.. We weren't let down either because not long after we had wandered around Independence Square and Cinnamon Gardens, our first scammer found us on Galle Main Road, telling all about the amazing festival we could go to. It sounded amazing but unfortunately we said we had ... read more
Independence Square Arcade
Lion in Independence Square

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