A Travellerspoint blog

Cheerio England

Howdy LA

sunny 31 °C

Our last full day in London - we headed up to Maldon (where they produce sea salt - though we didn't pick any up for you Jo!). A bit of a cool day with more than the odd shower (we are still in England you know). Had lunch at a tidly little spot - bend your head when you enter the door (door about 5' high), little blue and white checked tablecloth, little cakes on old fashioned cake stands. Sarah is probably going to write a book and tour England - it will be titled Who makes a proper cheese and onion toasted sandwich. She has tried three times now (with Maldon being the latest) and they all fall short. The first one had the cheese melted on the top and the filling on the inside???, the second one - they toasted the bread separately and then filled the sandwich with unmelted cheese and raw onion mmmmm, the last one (after asking their method and explaining how disappointing the others had been arrived without onion!

Raining on the day we left (nonstop really). Although we did see Bob - Fiona and Kelvin's resident squirrel - so that was nice he said goodbye.

Its lovely visiting family but pretty hard when you have to say goodbye. The downside to travelling is missing family back home, and we now have even more family to miss - as Charlotte and Ross and Alex have a new addition to their family - Hayley Juliet Steel Jones born 23rd September 8lbs 3oz - all doing well.

Thanks Sheryl for your help with seating! Managed to get business class on the flight London-Los Angeles - and together. Caught up with Sandy Bowen-Valtorta (NLC Load control)(who's mum is looking after charlie dog - thanks again for the photos of him). And then spied Ken Graham (Domestic Ticketing) having a quiet beer - so we had to join him. Sarah's cider (pint!) seemed to relax her. Even bumped into Cynthia Huggins (Domestic CSA) around the baggage carousel. (who's minding the shop?).

The flight was smooth - although there was one dude who can snore louder than the jet engines. Plus he only needs to wake when the food is out for the whole 10 hr 30min flight! Thank heavens for ear plugs.

Weather in LA - clear blue sky - looking at a high of 31 degrees (sorry Fiona and Kelvin).

We're killing time waiting for Brittany to arrive in NZ6 - around noon. (someone may be a little excited (both mum and daughter probably) .... fancy a cup of coffee at 3.30am?

Still can't update with photos until October 1st as we've reached our upload limit - but will try our best with the rest.

PS. Happy Birthdays to Robyn and Corinne xx

Posted by smilers2 08:54 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Photos photos and more photos

Time to update with snaps!


Bit busy at Borough Market London. Excellent market for food lovers.


Spain photo - Breakfast in Jerez. Trying out the spanish! Must have been ok as we got the right coffees.


Wandering around Spains oldest bullring in Ronda. Kelvin tells us that if a bull kills a matador in a fight, the Spanish kill the bull and the bull's mother (no grudges in Spain!)


The Ronda New Bridge. This one built in 1700s after the previous one collapsed killing 50 odd people. Doesn't seem so new really. Used to be quite a popular spot for tossing people off during various wars and skirmishes. (charming).


In Granada the Alhambra is well worth a visit. Muslim palace - spend about half a day wandering around. Best to go first thing in the morning - opens at 0830 - as they limit the number of people visiting each day. Best to book tickets online and pick them up before it opens.


Much to see in Carmona - as very old fortified town. Goes back to around 2 BC! Visited Roman Necropolis too while we were there. Another guy offered to vigilante our car and charged 1 euro for the pleasure. Once again, when we finished looking at the site our vigilante man had gone. Simon thinks to the nearest bar!


Simon outside our little breakfast place (in his new rugby shirt) - while we decided what cakes etc to choose. They do it so well - the presenting of beautiful food.

Posted by smilers2 12:52 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)


Bonjour Mes Amis

sunny 20 °C
View Trek 2008 on smilers2's travel map.

Adios to narrow long pillows (spanish pillows are long and narrow and cover the width of the single beds - not conducive to great sleeps). Bonjour to french pillows - square!

Adios to the noisiest air conditioning in Spain. Bonjour to open air cos the window doesn't quite shut properly in the one star hotel we are in, although don't need it because its a lot cooler. Blue skies no clouds light breeze 20 degrees ish.

Adios to the church bells in Carmona. Simon heard them at 3am and 4am and 5am and 6am (i joined in on the 4am ones). The only person in the whole of Carmona who needs a watch is the bell ringer. We swear he was in our room. Bonjour to our hotel in Paris - right opposite the Notre Dame and yet only heard bells after 8am!

We've made the transition from Spanish to French quite easily. Sorry Scotty we're in French mode now, we know you can do the spanish just wondering how your french is?

Travelled by ClickAir from Sevilla to Paris Orly. New Airbus aircraft but boy they pack you in. Similar to Freedom in that it is the budget airline of Iberia Airlines. The inflight announcements were awfully cute - english equivalent of spanish announcement you could probably pick out every tenth word only. Took about 1 hr 50 mins or equiv of about AKL - DUD. Quite reasonable about 38 euro each but bumped up by adding a bag, taxes, airport taxes and fuel surcharge of about 15 euros each.

Easy to get from Orly to our Hotel in the Latin Quarter - St Michel stop - by RER train. After the first stop a frenchman playing an accordian hopped on and treated us to a few stops worth of French tunes. Nice of Simon to organise that. (not really - he was just busking). It took one hour from landing of the aircraft to walking in to our hotel - not bad.

Had a bit of a look around and stretch the legs. Sarah is a crepe addict and we had lemon/sugar or citron/sucre crepes. Also bought a bottle of rose about 5 euros - quite expensive because they started at 1.70 euros. Real nice! Also bought some boursin cheese. 150g for 2.15 euros. Back in NZ they are 85g each and cost around $8.00!

While in Paris we got a one day travelcard for trains/metro and used that extensively to get around. Even helped a few lost tourists from oz. Visited the Eiffel Tower. Note to Murph - its still not leaning! Went to the Champs Elysees where we had a coffee - 6 euros each (the most expensive coffee we've ever had and can't say it was worth it at all). Sarah visited the ladies there - although no signs on the door she picked the girls entrance cos it was lit up in pink (boys blue!). Each toilet cubicle housed two toilets (no bidets). We think its because girls normally like to go in pairs and won't stop the conversation flow.

Simon purchased some rugby tops - including an All Blacks one. Price only 45 euros ($90.00) which is way cheaper than in NZ - go figure.

Visited Galeries Lafayette - well worth a visit. Like the Smith and Caughey of Paris but better, an amazing glass domed ceiling. Won't be buying much there - amazing just to look around. Can't repeat Simon's comment when told the price of something, but figured out pretty quickly he wouldn't be getting out the visa card. Saw undies there for 95 euro (get the picture).

Visited the street market at St Germain Blvd.

Dinner an easy affair - there are just so many places to choose from around the Latin Quarter. Any type of food you can imagine there is a restaurant that offers it. We chose eat at a Greek restaurant. They asked where Jo Murphy and Brittany were from last time (they both ended up dancing on a table!) We were lucky to be allowed back in.

Wandered along the River Seine banks after dinner to enjoy a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower at night.

Very noticable that Inspector Clousseau is alive and well in France - the number of police sirens was amazing. Constantly hearing police sirens. Quite amusing. Get out a copy of the Pink Panther to get the feel!

Breakfast at a local cafe - Simons favourite - coffee (espresso) and pain aux raisins! Sarah went for a grande cafe au lait and pain au chocolat! Bought lunch for the train - some quiches, and some pastries. Paris seems to be all about food. (Plus the fact Sarah's appetite finally returned).

Headed to Gare du Nord a little earlier because of the Eurostar limited services. The train prior to our one was cancelled, so thought we better get there a bit earlier. Only 3.20 euros for train tickets for us both to the station - and so easy to navigate. Fortunately we were ok for our train, and it was leaving on time. But because of the cancellation of the previous train we needed new boarding passes. We went from coach 15 up to coach 2 (many silver linings in our clouds!). You pass through French immigration, then hand in a landing card to the English Immigration (about three steps away). Very smooth trip. Took about 20 mins longer than usual, and about half an hour in the actual chunnel tunnel. Good that you arrive right in the centre of London, so did a bit of navigating the underground to get us to Liverpool St station and the train back to Wickford and the Carter Hilton. Aunty Fi's taxi service brilliant, waiting right outside.

May have bent the elbow a little on our return - but well worth it.

Posted by smilers2 04:14 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Granada - Priego de Cordoba - Carmona

Learning the lingo

semi-overcast 28 °C

Before leaving Ronda had a nice breakfast at a place called Chocolate (no prizes for guessing who picked this one). Highly recommended and just round the corner.

Not too bad getting out of Ronda with the maze of one way streets (we only went round one roundabout twice to check directions and one u-turn). Getting to Granada was trouble free - lovely roads. Scenery is way different to home - it looks very very dry, and all you see is Olive trees forever. Getting in to the hotel at Granada was a different story. Its more or less on a roundabout and we just by chance spotted it because we´d had to come off to check the map and look for street signs. The map and directions are great its just that there often isn´t the street signs to help us out.

Very modern hotel with a nice swimming pool. Spent the afternoon catching some rays and dangling our feet in the pool. checked out a bar-restaurant for dinner and over a beer and a coke (yes Sarah still not 100 percento) looked at the menu. After reading we spotted some interesting english translations and decided to eat elsewhere. What put us off a little were: attacked of gizzards of lamb and Leg of lamb roasted with potatoes hopeful and attacked of peppers.

Ate at the hotel restaurant - dinner only 22 euros for 3 courses! Tried teaching Simon to ask for the bill - La cuenta por favor. But then he also had to ask for an extra pillow so tried teaching him that word. by the time the waitor came he got frazzled because he knew he´d end up asking him for the pillow (so yours truly got the bill sorted). He´s not really recovered from that.

First time we´ve set the alarm this trip to get up early enough to get to Alhambra by 8am. Better to leave the car at the hotel (parking 8 euros for 24hrs) and the taxi was only 6 euros and you don´t have to pay parking there.

Alhambra is an amazing place - it consists of some palaces from the Arabs-muslims that inhabited the area many moons ago. The workmanship and detail that has gone into these palaces is quite stunning and no photography can ever come close to capturing the craftmanship. We booked online and upon arriving there were queues of people waiting to get in, and armed guards (¿perhaps queue jumping is a capital offense? - ¡Thats the spanish way of asking a question! They have an upside down question mark, and exclamation mark at the begining of the question-statement.

Apparently our tickets were for 0830 entry and because we had booked online we could skip the huge queue and head to a way smaller queue where we got our tickets in minutes. Also when we arrived to check out the Nasrid Palace we managed to jump a huge queue there too because we had the earlier entry time. Boy did it feel good to be in an express lane.

We caught a local bus into the town plaza from the palace for only 1.10 euro each and wandered around the Arab quarter a little. Catching a bus back was more interesting - not much english in the local bus driving profession. But certainly manageable.

The drive from Granada to Priego de Cordoba was much the same scenery wise. Bit more interesting as we came into Priego. Firstly, the map kinda wasn´t so helpful. The first person we asked spoke no english and apparently it was tricky to explain even in spanish. Then we were stopped by the local police on a roundabout. Thankfully we got through to him that we were from Nueva Zelanda and he became most helpful. Once again though we got to the end of the instructions and couldn´t figure out where to next when we realised the hotel was right there!

Not going to recommend Las Rosas. It looked way better on the internet. price wise good but slightly lacking in some facilities (no hairdryer).

Had tapas for dinner. The place that was recommended to us didn´t open until 10pm and by 9pm we needed something. Went to a little bar where simon practised his best Spanish - una cerveza y una coca cola por favor. That worked a treat. Only when they told him how much Sarah needed to intervene as she could understand the number thing. Pretty cool sitting in a bar - watching real madrid soccer play someone, locals getting a bit excited and nobody spoke english.

Carmona is just north of Seville. Quite an old town and a guy called Julius Ceasar commented that it was the most fortified town in the whole of Andalucia. We are staying in quite a tidly place - it used to be the palace of a Marques de las Torres. We can´t park outside the hotel as it is quite narrow, and we found a park close by that an old geezer (with no front teeth) pointed us in. Then he kept pointing to his eyes and saying vigilante over and over. We got the idea that the spanish mafia keep him on to guard the cars and gave him a few euro which he seemed quite happy with.

Thought we better update this cos we have to wait until the dinner place opens which isn´t till about 10pm tonight. Can´t update the photos for a few more days. Possibly in Paris but more likely the UK.

We´re ever hopeful in getting back to the Uk but the Eurostar have emailed to say they are running reduced services and may not honour our tickets for the service we have booked but will try our best! whatever! watch this space...

Posted by smilers2 20:12 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (1)


Hola from Jerez - Ronda

sunny 37 °C
View Trek 2008 on smilers2's travel map.

Well as mentioned previously arrived in Jerez to warm weather. around 28 degrees at 7.30pm. Arrived courtesy of Ryan Air (wing and a prayer) with no delays. We paid something like 4 pounds to carry one bag that can´t weigh more than 15kgs (which we managed to make 10kgs). Cabin baggage can be no more than 10kgs (which we managed to make 7kgs). If you want to board early you line up as its free seating. Or you can pay another 4 pounds for priority boarding. Since Sarah was under the weather with a bit of a tummy bug we opted to pay to ensure we were up front. Flying time of about 2.5 hours.

We know that the Spanish haven´t forgotten the Inquisition because every hotel we check into they want to see our passports and take details. Brief wander round in the evening (Simon) - Sarah still trying to recover (either that or she wanted to get out of Simon´s walking tours).

Breakfast at a little desayuno (breakfast) place. We had smatterings of spanish they had absolutely no english. First words out were SCUZI to attract the waiter. Jo murphy would be proud of us, as would Aunty Fi. Yep our first words in Spain were Italian. Managed to get some coffee and some toast with mantequilla (we just agreed to that, turns out its butter). Since bought a phrase book because we really wanted jam with it (mermeleda). Not a bad price only 3.60 euros for the lot. Wandered around some shops and markets by the town square. found a supermarket. Bought some water 1.5kgs for only 0.22 euros (about 44 cents NZ).

Made our way back to the airport to pick up our car. Ordered a 3 door peugeot and ended up with a five door Seat. Not a bad little car. The hardest thing Sarah finds is sitting in the passenger side (which feels like the NZ driver´s side) and not having access to the rear vision mirror. Simon says try working the gears on the wrong side and then navigating roundabouts going the wrong way round!

Lovely countryside coming from Jerez to Ronda. Hard to spot any green. Not sure if it ever rains here. Lots and lots of brown and dirt. Saw the remenants of a few fields of sunflowers. Simon thinks he saw cotton (sarah wouldn´t have a clue). A few olive groves. Bit of a challange with the navigating. Sarah´s not the best with maps, so simon printed out directions. Turns out Sarah´s not the best with them either (at times). Spotted the sign Ronda 1km but she didn´t ask Simon to turn off there, so got to see a bit more of spain before we uturned to Ronda.

Ronda is bigger than we thought, but still not real big. Maze of one way streets, and Sarah chucked the directions at that stage and relied on road signs - made it no sweat (ok a little bit). Staying at a lovely little hotel closish to the main sights with parking behind the hotel in a public park for 15.00 euros for 24hours.

Visited the Puento Nuovo (new bridge). Erected in 1700s. First bridge collapsed killing 50 people so they took another 42 years to build the next one which remains standing to this day. The bridge connects the town over a huge gorge.

Visited the oldest bullring in Spain. Quite cool. Got to look around everywhere including inside the ring. The only time you can´t is when they have a bullfight on (which makes a little sense).

Dinner Don Pepe - Simon had chicken breast filled with veges and prawns (although a little drumstick snuck in somehow), Sarah had vege Soup (still not 100 percent). One 0.5l of Sangria only 6.50 euros (more than the 5 euro soup). sarah had a taste but Simon did his duty in finishing off.

Will put some photos on when we can get someone to help with translating the instructions on the computer!

Next stop breakfast! Adios amigos. (not ciao like someone wants to say).

Posted by smilers2 10:06 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

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