Steve Whitwell


Steve Whitwell

Welcome to my travel blog. I am a sometimes teacher from northern England; a self-confessed old hippy.
I hope this will keep anyone who might be interested informed on where I've been and where I am. There are so many places I would still like to see and so many things to do.
I hope you'll follow my travels, leave messages and comment on my travels, my spelling and my grammar.

"The only trips I regret are the ones I never took"

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona August 27th 2013

Festa Major del Gracia Every village, town and city in Spain has their own adopted Saint and usually has a festival to celebrate their Saint's Day. In Spain every day of the year is a Saint's Day so I guess there must be a festival going on somewhere in Spain every day. In Barcelona every area of the city, or barrio, holds a festival - most of these are during the summer months. The biggest of these is the Festa Major del Gracia, held in the barrio of Gracia {surprisingly!} at the end of August. The festival dates back nearly 200 years, long before Gracia was absorbed into Barcelona. The festival is organised along the streets in the barrio. The residents of each street organise the decoration of the street and the activities which will take ... read more
And In Spain They Have Punch And Judy Too
A Rather Impressive Way To Do A Team Photo
Angry Birds Street

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona April 29th 2012

Barcellona - Castellers I didn't really know anything about Castellers before I arrived in Barcelona. The building of "human castles" seems to be a tradition which is unique to Catalonia. And as traditions go, I don't think it's that old. People have been making themselves into these towers for just over a hundred years. {Although more recently I learned of a similar tradition in India which is more than 4000 years old!} My first experience of the Castellers was during the La Mercé Festival soon after I arrived when there was a competition between three teams in the Placa De Sant Jaume. The three teams paraded through the streets of the old town as they made their way to the square. I made my way to the square just before the start of the competition to ... read more
The Pink Team
Sitting Down In The Road
The Reds Are The Home Team

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona September 25th 2011

Correfoc This is another Catalan “tradition” that will really have the health and safety people worried. I first saw this as part of the La Mercè festival but I think it happens during several other festivals. Correfoc literally means “fire run”. People dress up in “devil” costumes, dance to the bands of drummers and run through the crowds of spectators letting off fireworks. Other groups of people make large “monsters” which are also armed with fireworks which are fired into the watching crowds. I came across Correfoc at first when exploring the La Mercè festival. I came across a children's version of the parade. This is the “safe”, watered down version of the event that is considered to be safe for children to take part in. A lot of the kids had been clearly carefully dressed ... read more
Junior Correfoc
The Monster
These Kids Are Well Protected

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona September 4th 2011

Arriving In Barcelona Off To Barcelona Things worked out quite well. My career as a grape picker was very brief {one day!}. But two days after getting the sack the job offer from Barcelona came through. Everything then went into a panic. I had a few days to get back to England, sort out lots of loose ends, get my house in a fit state to rent out and get myself to Barcelona in time to start teaching. Fortunately lots of friends helped me out and I find myself flying out to Barcelona on the Sunday afternoon ready to be in the classroom on the Monday morning. I fly out with "BMI Baby Fly Extra" which I guess is there is their equivalent of business class. Who knew that BMI Baby had a business class?? I've ... read more
Watching A Firework Display From The Terrace Of My First Flat
The View Of Bits Of The Sagrada Familia

Europe » France » Burgundy » Beaune September 1st 2011

Back To Beaune I'm returning to Beaune after a couple of years. My friends Nick and Anne have been living here for the last three years. Sadly they are having to return to the UK soon so this is one last visit before they leave. I am again visiting at the time of the Vendange, the annual wine harvest. The grapes in the area around Beaune are all picked by hand so at this time of year there is a lot of casual work available and a lot of people come into the area looking for work. This year we are fairly optimistic that one of Nick and Anne's friends has been able to arrange some work for the three of us. Le Shuttle Because I'm likely to be earning some money when I get to ... read more
This Is What It's All About
The Grapes Are All Picked By Hand
The Porteurs Collect Everyone's Grapes

Europe » France » Alsace » Strasbourg August 22nd 2011

Strasbourg – The Tescos of Europe Waitrose or Lidl? As you drive into Strasbourg the signs welcome you to “ le Carrefour de l’Europe”. As an ignorant foreigner I only know Carrefour as a major French supermarket chain. “Carrefour” actually means “crossroads” which is one way of describing the fact that France and Germany spent years fighting over Alsace before Strasbourg rediscovered itself as one of the first “European” cities. The Alsatians {literally} seem to be quite happy just being Alsatians – the area has quite a lot of autonomy within France and even has a different social security system than the rest of France. Strasbourg I have a couple of days in Strasbourg and my host and guide, Kati, ha... read more
Every French Town Seems To Have A Carousel
The Cathedral Spire Dominates The City
Light And Sound Show At The Cathedral

Europe » Italy » Friuli-Venezia Giulia April 28th 2011

Venice Ministry of Misinformation The journey from Ljubljana to Venice ought to be an easy one; it’s a relatively short distance and I expect there to be a number of train and bus connections. However the information desks at the bus station and the train station do their best to make it difficult. On my first trip to the bus and train stations I am told that the only train is at 2a.m. and that the only bus is at 5a.m. Just as I’d resigned myself to an evening on the station platform I learn from a chance conversation with a couple of people staying at the hostel that they are taking a bus to Venice at about 8a.m. I return to the bus station and am told that there is indeed a bus at 8:15! ... read more
Very Narrow Streets

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Bled April 26th 2011

Bled Sunday 24th April The small town and lake at Bled are very picture postcard. I’m trying to meet up with Martyn here who is Inter-railing with some friends across Europe in the opposite direction. We’ve arranged to try and meet up in Bled today. The journey from Ljubljana is again quite easy. There is a bus every hour and the journey takes about 80 minutes. Most bus fares in Slovenia seem to be around the €6 mark. The bus passes through quite a few picturesque villages on the way but it is Bled that seems to pull the tourists in with its location by the lake, its castle perched on top of a cliff, and the island-with-a-church in the middle of the lake. I manage to find Martyn and his friends {I don’t know how ... read more
A Family Reunion at Bled
Rowing Out To The Island
Bled Island

Europe » Slovenia » Inner Carniola » Postojna April 25th 2011

Postojna Monday 25th April The caves at Postojna are one of the largest cave systems in Europe. It’s a limestone cave system with more than 20km. of spectacular caverns of stalactites and stalagmites. They are well worth a visit. A couple of people from the hostel where I’m staying in Ljubljana have done all the work in finding out how to get there and back so I cheekily invite myself along. Getting there is actually quite easy from Ljubljana. {Getting to most places in Slovenia is quite easy – it’s a small country with good transport links}. There are regular buses from Ljubljana to Postojna. The journey takes about an hour and then it’s a 20 minute walk to the caves. On the day that we visit the caves there are a lot of visitors. It’s ... read more
The Caves At Postojne
Taking The Train In
There's A Choice Of Languages

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Ljubljana April 24th 2011

Ljubljana – The Only Capital City I Can’t Pronounce Sunday 24th April Today I say goodbye to Emma and Jo as they have to return home and go back to work. I still have another week until I have to start work and I want to avoid all the hype of the Royal Wedding back home. I head North through Slovenia towards Venice. There’s a train every day from Rijeka up to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Sanja has done all the research for me and we’ve been to collect the ticket the previous day. I have bad memories of train journeys in this part of the world as I Inter-railed around this area as a student. It seems that they are still using the same rolling stock as they were using 40 years ago but ... read more
Hostel Celica Is In The Metelkova Area Of Ljubljana
One Of The Cells
The "Quiet Room"

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