Travels with Cathy and Steve


Steve (ex management consultant) and Cathy (retired UK civil servant), have been together 29 years and are continuing our year of travelling.
We using a blog instead of Facebook.

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » León September 10th 2019

SC writes: So we had to get ourselves back from Santiago to Bilboa, about 700km, in two days. It was long drive, but the roads were very good and very quiet...a lot of EU money has gone into that infrastructure! We had booked to stop over in Leon, simply because it was about half way, but it turned out rather well as Leon is a Great City. We got there but mid afternoon and had time to: Visit the extraordinary Cathedral, which has some of best stained glass in Europe. The interior was impressive, even if one is not religiously inclined. Visit the second of the three Antoni Guadi’s buildings outside of Catalonia; Casa Botines. Again this was a well worthwhile visit and overall we learned a lot more about Gaudi and his influences. I first ... read more
Leon Cathedral - stained glass windows
Leon Cathedral - stained glass windows
Gaudi’s Casa Botines

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela September 8th 2019

And so, after the dismal Ferrol, we came to Santiago de Compostela, the last stop on our Ruta de Paradores, the focus of religious pilgrimage since the early 9th century and the prime focus of our trip. Having got to Santiago fairly early and driven right into the main square we dropped our bags and the car...valet parking! Then set off to explore... Saturday morning and plenty going on... we found an excellent market, enjoyed a beer in the sunshine and then stumbled upon a festival of local culture. There were bands, drums, dancers, bears, wolves and many exotic costumes...great colourful noisy fun. We saw one lad who was drumming so hard that his knuckles were bloody..see the picture - and he was one of many suffering for their art. Santiago - St James the Apostle ... read more
Local festival
Bloody knuckles
Bears and other beasties

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Ferrol September 6th 2019

CJ writes: Ferrol is a strange place. An important port since Norman times, it is now (apparently) the best equipped port in northern Iberia. It also hosts a large naval base, and the marina is stuffed with small boats - some clearly working boats, others rather fancier. Lots of employment and lots of money, you might think - yet the town is dying on its feet. Lovely old stone fronted buildings abound, yet a significant proportion are empty, derelict, collapsing or reduced to a heap of rubble. The main shopping street is tired, the bars in the main somewhat scruffy. (SC: Yes up in the corner of Spain it feels like European backwater.) Thankfully, we found what has to be the best restaurant in town last night x and we’ve booked to go back tonight. It ... read more
Great value on the best meal so far
Torre de Hercules...its a Roman / 18th century lighthouse
Steve strikes a pose

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Ferrol September 5th 2019

SC writes: So we’re working our way along the north coast visit towns and staying in towns and cities along the way. Yesterday we stayed in Ribadeo, and tonight we’re in Ferrol. See the map for ease of reference. Some of the smaller costal towns are throbbing and vibrant, with lively markets, shops with sales on, and neat little cafes for the necessary tea or coffee and comfort. Others are frankly asleep...That’s the Siesta for you. Noteworthy points from our travels over the past two days: An excellent dinner last night in Ribadeo, a little port town, having a little festival. I had the local specialty of octopus, which was great. Cathy had pork loin marinated in lemon and herbs - tender and delicious. The food so far has been mainly good, and usually interesting. Being ... read more
Marinated Pork
Cathy bought a ham bone for 1 Euro

Europe » Spain » Asturias September 3rd 2019

SC writes: Our guides on this trip are A) The RUTA (route) of our pre package Paradores trip; B) Lonely Planet - a downloaded large PDF file and C) Our own instincts for a worthwhile visit. Yesterday was a good one for C) as Cathy explains; CJ writes: We left the delightful Santillana del Mar relatively early today (ie somewhat after 9:30 - but this is a holiday after all!) and travelled just a couple of kilometres to the Museo de Altamira. This celebrates the discovery, in 1879, of a cave with the most stunning cave art created from 36,000 to 14,500 years ago. The cave itself is now far too fragile to admit the thousands who travel here every year (in the 1960’s well over 100,000 people a year!) and so an absolutely millimetre-accurate replica ... read more
Cave paintings Museo de Altamira
Cave paintings Museo de Altamira
Capriche De Gaudi in Camillas

Europe » Spain » Cantabria » Santillana del Mar September 2nd 2019

We’re off again, this time revisiting our Honeymoon exactly 25 years ago. Then we toured Paradors in Southern Spain, now we’re heading along the north coast from Bilboa to Santiago de Compostella - not quite the ancient pilgrims’ route (which went slightly further south), but along the Atlantic coast instead. We flew from Southend (great) to Bilboa on Ryanair. What a joke outfit... we declined paying for allocated, seats, got random seats, 10 rows apart and I end up with loads of room down the back and a spare seat beside me. Oh well the flight was fine and on time.... We arrived in rain, hired a decent car and drove 1 hour in the rain to Limpias in time for late supper the rain. Paradors are a state owned and run chain of hotels ... read more
Cathy enjoys a foie gras starter
Santillana- a picturesque village in the countryside
Santillana- medieval church

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku May 31st 2019

SC writes: After the relative disappointments of Mito, yesterday we headed for Tokyo, and the very popular area of Shinjuku. We dropped our bags at the hotel, eventually, and headed off to Kappibashi Dori, a street famous for catering to the restaurant trade. Here you can buy crockery in any style you like, chefs’ knives, and plastic food, which the restaurants use to display their wares - very helpful when you don’t understand a word! See the photos for a couple of spectacular examples. Cathy was shopping for dinner plates but, despite looking at hundreds, came away with nothing more than a side plate. I on the other hand went looking for a plastic fried egg but came away with plates and pasta bowls. (We are taking advantage of the fact that our baggage allowance is ... read more
“The great wave” of rice, in plastic - Kappibashi-dori
Pork Tonkatsu
Giant temple - Nikko

Asia » Japan » Ibaraki » Mito May 28th 2019

(SC writes)Yesterday we woke to grey skies and heavy rain. Luckily it was time to move and we only got a little damp on the short walk to the station. Our luggage has expanded somewhat over the past three weeks but we coped! It’s going to get worse, as we have plans for final shopping in Tokyo. Before that, though we had one last Garden to do, as Cathy explains below. So we travelling back eastward through Tokyo and onwards to the town of Mito, over 4 hours in all. (Cj writes) We came to Mito specially to see the third of Japan’s three best gardens. The Kairoku-en Garden is planted with 3,000 cherry and plum trees, in a couple of hundred or so different varieties, and from late February through to April or early May ... read more
A very fine Acer at Kairakuen
Kairakuen view from the house
Kairakuen view from the house

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto May 27th 2019

SC writes: When we first came to Kyoto nearly 5 years ago, on an Exodus trip, we rattled round and I always felt we missed lot, through being jet lagged and disoriented. The plan this time was to cover Kyoto thoroughly, revisiting some places but focusing on the new. Kyoto is a large city and it can take 30 minutes to get across town by bus, and you need buses because the city is poorly covered by Japan Rail (JR) lines, where our passes are good. Yesterday we bussed out to the East of the city for a long walk around numerous temples, exotic old Edo period shopping streets and ended at the garden for one of the temples. The walk was good and interesting but it soon got really rather hot. In the end we ... read more
Edo period buildings make for a great shopping and strolling experience.
Temples temples everywhere
Sunday’s garden

Asia » Japan » Kyoto May 25th 2019

SC writes: After a leisurely journey yesterday we arrived at our latest rather nice hotel in Kyoto - near the station, free coffee, very nice Onsen, free bowls of ramen soup after 9:30 pm. Having dropped the bags and dealt with some ticketing admin. we set off for “the philosopher‘s path”: a very enjoyable walk alongside a small waterway, with all sort of interesting and enterprising shops and cafes along the way. After an hour or more walking we found the temple and garden we were after: the Ginkakuji Temple and surrounding garden. Small, delightful landscapes and some very extravagant, raked sand. See photos and think very large frustum of a cone (CJC’s: actually, you’re meant to think ‘Fuji!‘). Our sense of timing was off a little here as we arrived at exactly the same time ... read more
Monthly market -Kimono fabric everywhere
Monthly market - very popular
Monthly market - Cathy buys some wood!

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