Our Anniversary 2019 (8/35)

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Yay! It’s our 8th. Anniversary (or 35th. in ‘old money’).

Today was unique, in that it coincided to the day, with neighbour Trish’s legendary Annual Christmas Dinner get-together. So, for this year, in celebration, we were surrounded by our neighbours!

In part, it was just like our wedding all over again! 😍😍 (but we missed David and Rosi who couldn’t make it this year).

To add to the celebration, neighbour Paul and neighbour Julie had recently celebrated milestone birthdays — so it was yet another reason to celebrate tonight (any excuse, but not that we need one!) 😁

As they say: “Let the celebrations begin…” and after picking-up Paul and Karen (who had only returned from America nine-hours earlier) we headed for Trish & John’s for a 7pm kick-off and what promised to be — based on previous years — a delicious and convivial meal!

The ‘one’ from 762!

First-ting’s-first: the obligatory group-selfie! What could be simpler? But as often happens with technology, it all took on a life-of-its-own, where Trish’s selfie-stick, conspired with her iPhone, switched into ‘burst mode’ and as a result, captured over 750 shots in the space of less-than 2 minutes! Still, better to have some than none! 😁

All set!

With the table all set (Trish being the organised-sort had it all done by mid-week) and whilst the saucepans rattled, perfecting their veg, we all had the opportunity to catch-up with everyone’s news…

…whilst tucking into some of the spiciest crisps on the planet. Phew! 😝😝

Not only a neighbourly affair, it was good to see Sean and Conor too before the feasting began! 😊

With Turkey taking centre-stage, the vegetable support act starring roasties, parsnips, carrots, red cabbage, brussels and stuffing created the perfect plate!

And it came as no surprise to any of us that it was all delicious and the portions generous! Well done Chef! 😘

No Christmas meal is complete without the obligatory crackers — and we all shared the (ahem!) top quality humour that is uniquely cracker-sourced! Nice gifts too!

And to complete the Christmas experience? Christmas Pudding (of course!) with the option of Brandy Cream of Double Cream (and in many cases — both!!!)

Whilst we gave the cutlery a break, we turned our attention to Trish’s Christmas Quiz. It was an interesting blend of questions, and where I ended up as Quiz-Master. The seating configuration lent itself to two natural teams being formed Girls v Boys. After working through the questions and inventing some bonus opportunities along the way, it turned out to be a narrow victory for the girls, although the combination of the ‘free-flowing grape’ meant that everyone’s maths skills were put to the test in keeping-up with the score! 😵

As if we hadn’t eaten enough to feed an army, out came the obligatory (and rather heavy) cheeseboard. Its weight was partly down to Sean’s carpentry skills in making the board itself, but mostly the sheer quantity of cheese! Predictably, it didn’t last very long as we’re all self-confessed cheese-addicts! 🤗

Three-and-a-half hours after their name suggested, out came the After-Eights, and we all tucked-in; followed by a surprise finish to the evening by way of a ‘new kid on the block’…

Black Sambuca

Black Sambuca! (never seen/heard of that before!) If you like Sambuca (or aniseed) AND you like liquorice, then this is the drink for you! – it went down a treat… TWICE! 😛

Wow! What a great evening! It doesn’t get much better than tonight. Great food, great friends… great Scott, is that my waistline???? 🤐

All the photos, none of my chat HERE.

Previous Anniversary Celebrations

2018 – Durham and finishing at The George Hotel of Stamford
2017 – Spain
2016 – Amsterdam
2015 – The Crown, Stamford
2014 – Malta
2013 – The George in Stamford
2012 – Thailand
2011 – Married (Australia)
2010 – Engaged!
2009 – The Wheatsheaf in Titchmarsh
2008 – Manchester
2007 – Home
2006 – Home
2005 – Indian Takeaway

15 Years a Blogger!

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15 Years a Blogger

In what seemed like a quirky and innovative exercise back in 2004,
today marks 15 years exactly since I began blogging. Back then, actually publishing anything online (especially whilst out-and-about) was definitely NOT the norm! Still, those that know me, know I was always one to ‘push the envelope’ with my tech! 😉

Since that first Post on Sunday at 11.10am, I’ve now bored the pants off you online 3334 times – but plenty of you seem to like it, so I’m carrying on for a few more years yet! 👍


Mexican Fave!

Reading time: < 1 minute... John, Trish and Conor came round tonight for one of our Mexican Evenings. No donkeys or sombreros, but plenty of good food… Homemade Chilli Apple Crumble … and the obligatory Cheese-board Plenty of time to catchup with everyone’s news (given that we’d missed Trish’s Christmas get-together last week). Trish & John bought us a lovely vase as our anniversary gift whilst Conor surprised us with a bottle of Tia Maria and a Cheeseboard. After a lot more nattering together with a cuppa, at just after midnight, we said our goodbyes.  A fab evening with some great friends!  👍 ☺️ 

Our Anniversary Weekend 2018 (34/7)

Reading time: 8 minutes...Friday, 14th (Our Anniversary) It’s our 7th Anniversary (or 34th in ‘old money’) and we’ve a busy few days ahead. There was just enough time to open our cards and presents before we left, heading north. Thanks for your kind words everyone!       Ann bought we a very classy watch! These days, we normally go away to celebrate – and today was no exception. Ultimately, we’re heading for Pink Panther’s favourite town – Durham (groan!), and finishing at The George Hotel of Stamford. But first, as part of the celebration, we taking a slight detour to Beamish. If you’ve not visited (and we haven’t, for over 30 years) Beamish is a world famous open-air museum, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s & 1940s. 9.10am:  We left home after the main nine-to-five rush, and enjoyed a jam-free journey. This was helped by a newish part on the A1 from Wetherby to Scotch Corner. Wetherby Services saw us take our first pit-stop where we tucked into a bucket of homemade sandwiches and some piping-hot coffee. 11.30am: After a fifteen-minute pitstop, we’re almost halfway to Beamish. 13.05pm: We arrived in good time. Wow! This place now seemed so unfamiliar (it was over 30 years ago, so that’s my excuse!). The first thing we noticed was how larger it had become – and consequently, there was so much more to see. Additionally, the (very) cold day added some extra character to the place and together with the period-dressed staff interacting with visitors, this made the whole thing feel very alive and authentic.    It was all excellent.. and that was just the Town/High Street part. We took a walk to the nearby Railway Station I definitely don’t recall this last time! It was now turning colder, so our pace was quickening. Next stop was was the Home Farm set in the 1940s. Last stop for us was the School. This was rescued from demolition in the late 1980s, and had been tastefully restored to whisk us back to a bygone era of 30s schooling, Apparently some class sizes were in the nineties! Sad smile Good job OFSTED wasn’t around then! 3.15pm: By the late afternoon, it was turning even colder, and so we decided to call it a day. A quick check of the sat-nav put us one junction (and just 20 minutes) away from our final destination – The Victoria Inn – and after some faffing-about finding a parking space, we were soon fighting our way to the Bar to check-in. This was the local’s local and it was packed! A traditional ‘old-style’ Pub… no food… no satellite TV – just half the population of Durham in the Saloon Bar quaffing ale! 4.05pm: Our four-poster bed for the night (two nights actually) is the attached B&B with just SIX rooms – and the building is Grade II 2 listed. The reason we chose it was that it put us within easy walking distance of the City centre… and the parking (as challenging as it was) was completely free (pretty rare round these parts!).. and the room itself was a steal at just £87 per night! 4.45pm: Our Anniversary meal was booked at Zen, a Thai Restaurant. Being the penultimate Friday before Christmas, booking a table (as we did a few week’s back) at a time to suit, was impossible. We were offered 5pm or 8.30pm – so we settled for the former. Luckily the Restaurant was just a short walk from the Pub – in fact, we were there in less than 10 minutes. Initially it was fairly quiet, but 5 minutes after being shown our table, it started to fill-up. And that continued all the time we were there. By the time we left, it was heaving! Service was pretty swift given how busy they were – and it all turned out to be delicious. Ann loved her peanut sauce with her Lamb and my Red Thai Curry was probably the best I’ve tasted in a long, long while. Smile 6.35pm: 90 minutes and £55 later, we were done. We’d skipped Desserts and minimised the alcohol, so we considered it all good value. As we left,  it was now even colder than when we arrived (and that had been really cold!) Still, it didn’t stop us taking the short walk over the Elvet footbridge and up to the Cathedral. A beautiful building, even in the darkness! As we shivered our way back and passed the gazillion of Eateries beginning one of their busiest Fridays of the year, it looked like they’d got off to a good start! Every one was really busy – and just like Zen, some were already full… …and it was only 7pm! Back to our Room, Ann had put-by a small bottle of Champers and a box of chocolates – what an excellent way to continue our Anniversary celebrations! Smile 10.15pm: zzzzzzzzzzz!
Saturday, 15th8.15pm: Our day began with a rather superb full English Breakfast, courtesy of the Pub/B&B. Suitably stuffed, we were ready to take on the day (and the freezing weather). The highlight of the weekend was our planned visit to Durham Cathedral this evening to see the performance of The Messiah by the Durham Cathedral Choir helped along on period instruments by The Avison Ensemble. Ann was even able to get us a couple of seats in the Cathedral’s Restaurant – The Undercroft – for the pre-event meal. Perfect! But first, we wanted to look round this rather wonderful construction during the day, before the really bad weather arrived. 10.15am: We took the short walk back into the City heading for one of Durham’s main attractions. As per the weather forecast it was cold… very cold – or, as we overheard one local describe it: “Colder than a frozen pizza…”. Apparently, it’s all down to Storm Deirdre and even the hardy locals were wearing hats and gloves – it made these two southern-softies feel less, err, soft! Confused smile On arrival at the Cathedral, the first thing we noticed was the splendid Norman Arches (conveniently NOT shown in the photo above! Doh!) …And as we wandered into the main part of the Cathedral, we were reminded that no photography was allowed. A real shame, because the interior was beautiful! So beautiful in fact, I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures on my phone! Yep! Very impressive! Next, we booked some tickets for other main attraction – Durham Castle for the 12.15 Tour. To to kill a bit of time before our slot, we headed into the City to have a look round. There are lots of small shops here, and it didn’t take long to get a sense of the shopping scene. The famous Market Square was buzzing and freezing in equal measure! 11.25am: It was getting even colder (if that were possible!) and so we probably didn’t spend as long looking in the shop windows as we planned – there’s a shopping centre here somewhere, but we didn’t get round to finding it! In fact, after almost 5 miles of walking, we took refuge from the biting wind in the Palace Green Study Library, whilst we waited for our Tour Guide. 11.45am: The Library also had some free exhibitions to wander around and (because it was the nearest) we chose Catch your Breath that outlined the ‘life of breath’ (yes, really!). It wasn’t really our sort of thing, but it gave us an opportunity to improve our daily step-count (slightly) – and it was warm too! 12.15am: Our Tour Guide arrived and introduced himself as Rupert, who had been in residence at the Castle as a Student the previous year. He was a confident and competent speaker and we learned a lot about Durham Castle (including the fact that it’s now owned by Durham University). Rupert kept us interested for the whole of the Tour, but unfortunately, just like the Cathedral, no photography was allowed inside…    But unlike the Cathedral, it wasn’t possible to sneakily snap any photos, without being spotted. Just take our word for it then; if you like castles with very interesting histories, if you’re this way, then this is is a must-see! We really enjoyed the Tour, and as we finished in the Dining Room, Rupert wished us well and we headed back to base-camp… ..and the warmth of room 6! It was time for ‘feet-up’ for a few hours before heading out, back the Cathedral, for the Dinner and evening Concert. A quick re-check of the weather forecast for later showed: freezing rain forecast from 3pm onwards running into the evening. 4.15pm: A ‘quick lick’ and we’re ready for all that the weather can throw at us! (Actually, NO, not really, as it could have been very tempting to stay in the company of the piping hot radiators helped along by the electric fire we found in the wardrobe). The sound of splattering on the window ledge outside meant that the weather forecast had (unfortunately) delivered on its promise. As a result, not only were coats, hats and scarves the order of the day, but the addition of an umbrella too! IMG_20181215_171944 5.30pm: After a battle with the elements as part of the walk back into town, we were now safely seated at our table for the evening meal at the Cathedral. IMG_20181215_172928 IMG_20181215_175840 IMG_20181215_183127 We joined a Table of around a dozen and were soon chatting. The Meal turned out to be absolutely delicious, and after a quick trip to the loo, we headed back to the Cathedral to get our Pew (A poet and I didn’t know it!) Smile IMG_20181215_185303 It was well supported and we were around 25 rows from the front (with another 20 rows behind us, and another group to the side) – all in all, we reckoned it was a congregation of around 600+. 7.35pm: The Concert began five-minutes late, but they were soon into full swing. I’d quite forgotten how long The Messiah piece was and although the top-half of me was enjoying it, my bottom-half was suffering – specifically, my TWO bottom halves! Those wooden pews were a real pain in the a** literally! Thanks goodness for the interval at around 8.35. For me, Part two dragged a bit, but my bottom had helpfully switched into auto-numb mode – and that helped the time pass more quickly. The part that most people know – Hallelujah Chorus – was delivered with energy and enthusiasm. Everyone stood as per protocol (my bottom thanked King George 2nd for establishing this tradition!) Smile 10.05pm: Part 3 followed and 35 minutes later, it was all over, to hearty (and well-deserved) applause from the appreciative audience. It was time to leave – and as we headed outside, we could see, and feel, the weather had now deteriorated to snow-turning-to-slush-with-a-strong-wind. It made our short walk back to the Pub more than a little treacherous, but we arrived back without injury or embarrassment! 10.30pm: With every radiator taking on two roles: heating and drying clothes, we reflected on the recent performance (the music not our walk back!). We concluded that it was excellent, but the acoustics were variable. Many of the solo-males’ voices hardly made it back to row 25, and that, together with a slightly dominant orchestra, robbed us of some of the male vocal qualities of the choir. All that was left now was to heat the room to a satisfactory temperature and then call it a night.
Sunday, 16th8.20am: The day began as yesterday, with a full-English – Yummy! 9.30am: As we left Durham (and Storm Deirdre) behind, we headed south for the final part of our anniversary celebration – the quaint town of Stamford and The George Hotel. We haven’t stayed here for many years and it’ll good to experience the oldey-worldey charm of this fine establishment again. But first a 45-minute diversion to visit Boyes Museum was in order. Ann had visited over 30 years ago, but I’d never been before… or even heard of it. Plenty of information on their website, but here’s a potted history… It’s located in Barnard Castle, a town in County Durham, and looks like it’s landed from the Loire Valley in France. The building was never designed as a house, the philanthropist John Bowes and his wife Josephine, decided they wanted to build a museum, stuff it full of pictures and art, and then give it to the people of the North East. Very generous, even by Victorian standards. They clearly had deep pockets and enjoyed shopping on a monumental scale. Its most famous piece though, is probably the mechanical swan…
10.15am: As we arrived, with the weather improving, it made the Museum look even more stunning in the morning light… With the building built specifically to house Bowes’ collection, this was an impressive sight. And once inside, it didn’t disappoint! Today, it also housed their Christmas Market – and that added to the vibrant feel of the place, as carol singers were chirruping away up on the second floor..    First impressions were excellent. A wide range of collectables from paintings to pottery, carved altar panels to catwalk creations through the ages – there was something for everyone! Add to that, a choir singing live, a Santa’s Grotto and a Merry-Go-Round in full-flow – and there was even more for everyone! An excellent experience and I’m sure we’ll be back again before too long! Smile 11.30am: As we left, the weather improved further and it was now a blistering 5 degrees! Next stop was Downtown, on the A1, for a quick pitstop and a look round the shop. Then it was off to our final destination. 2.55pm: We arrived at The George Hotel with perfect timing! Check-in was from 3pm and we parked in the car-park at 2.55! We were soon shown to our room, which being an old building and full of old staircases, needed Sat-Nav to find your room! This is our home for just tonight and we’re taking advantage of the great food here and eating in the Garden Room later. 7.00pm: Garden Room here we come for our final celebratory meal… Blade of Beef for me… …followed by Peanut Parfait 8.55pm: We staggered back to the room having eaten and drunk too much – in other words: An evening of perfection! As we attempted to find our room along the identical corridors and staircases, we reflected on the past few days. It’s been a varied, busy and very enjoyable celebration, but because of the way the dates fell this year, if there is a downside, it’s that it stopped us catching up with some close friends and also to attend the local annual Salvation Army Carol Concert. However, we’ve got plans to put that right next year. We’re home tomorrow, after another big Hotel breakfast. Smile
Some more photos and none of the chatter HERE
Previous Anniversaries 2017 – Spain 2016 – Amsterdam 2015 – The Crown, Stamford 2014 – Malta 2013 – The George in Stamford 2012 – Thailand 2011 – Married (Australia) 2010 – Engaged! 2009 – The Wheatsheaf in Titchmarsh 2008 – Manchester 2007 – Home 2006 – Home 2005 – Indian Takeaway

Anniversary 2017 – Spain (Day 6) – Around Málaga by Bus (Last Day)

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Scorchio! (ish)
Today is our last full day here as we’re flying home tomorrow. If the weather forecast is reliable, we plan to make it ‘a local day’ and see as much as we can, on our doorstep, here in Málaga.

We decided that the most effective way to do it was using the hop-on/hop-off open-top Bus Tour – and for just 18€ each online, it was great value.

Click for larger on-screen version
Click HERE for a larger pdf version of the Bus Route

We started off with Breakfast in the same place as yesterday – Orient Express – before picking-up the Bus outside the Rail Station just a few hundred metres away. Being its first stop, we had the pick of the seats, so we positioned ourselves upstairs, right up front. It was bitterly cold initially, but we were used to that by now (well, Ann was!) I was freezing my bits off but it WAS worth it for the commanding view.
Confused smile

Actually, as the journey progressed, it did warm up quite a bit, and with my shutter finger now thawed-out, we got some great views of Málaga…

After quite an ascent by the Bus, we arrived at the highest point on the Tour – Málaga Castle – Castillo de Gibralfaro. We nearly didn’t get to see it at all, due to a really complex coin-operated entry system, looked-on by a local member of staff. With a prompt from the visitor behind us, we learned that they don’t take plastic here at all, only ‘real money’. Unbelievable! This is the most visited attraction in Málaga and they don’t take credit cards!
Sad smile
Ann scraped together enough cash (just) from her bag to get us in, but that was certainly a ‘lesson learned’.

The Castle was nowhere near as busy as yesterday, in Granada’s main attraction, so we more-or-less could go where we liked, when we liked. We headed for the castle walls and enjoyed some great views across the town… In fact, the construction allowed a complete walk around the walls.

…then it was a short wait for the next Bus and we were back on the Tour. We stayed on until the Bus approached the old town of Málaga, where got off for an extended walk, and the hunt for somewhere to eat.

Boy, this was certainly a town for somewhere to eat! Every other shop was an eatery – and being a Saturday, most were packed. The weather by now had warmed-up a treat and was close to 17 degrees by the time we found the place we were looking for! (Thanks Google, Trip Advisor and Eye Witness books!)…

El Tapeo De Cervantes. It didn’t open until 1pm and we arrived around 1.05, so, just like the Bus, we had the pick of the seats!

It wasn’t a particularly large place (the photo above shows almost the total number of covers)

Click on the picture for a larger view of this superb menu

The service was very friendly. The extensive menu would have allowed us to eat ourselves to death (and through drink too!) so we exercised some restraint and opted for some Tapas, some beer and wine finishing with a dessert.


Spicy Beef Empanadas

Chicken and Cheese Croquettes

Duck on a Bed of Apple Purée

Local Málaga Dessert Wine (with a kick!)

Pancake with Nuts and Doulcé De Leche Sauce

Fig Flan

What a fantastic lunch! A tiny establishment but big on service and flavour! Top marks from us!

We were stuffed! We staggered out took a short walk towards the Cathedral and briefly planted ourselves on a wall to soak-up some more of the sunshine, as by now, it was getting really warm. Ten minutes later, with enough vitamin D to get us through the Winter back in the UK, we found Malaga’s Cathedral.

First impressions (as with most other cases of their Cathedrals we’ve seen this holiday) was ‘Wow!’ It was built between 1528 and 1782 and is the second tallest in Andalusia. It was very ornate in style throughout, and the whole place simply felt ‘impressive’.
Thumbs up
We concluded our day by walking back through the old town and locating the Tour Bus stop. We only had about a fifteen-minute wait and we were then back on-board. A few stops later, we were back to where we started this morning – the Railway Station.

This has been a great way to explore the town and we saw parts that we probably wouldn’t have reached just by walking/taking a taxi. Brilliant!

Now it was just a case of going back to our room, reflecting’ (ahem!) on the strength of the local dessert wine and then the chore of binge-watching another three episodes of The Crown. As they say: “it’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it!” 

It’s been a great day… and a great break here in Spain. We’ve learned a lot about the people and the places and how to best get around without spending a fortune. We’ve also managed to walk just over 20 miles on foot! (mostly deliberately!!)

Happy days!
Smile Smile Smile SmileSmile

Anniversary 2017 – Spain (Day 5) – The Alhambra – Granada

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Ouch! It’s not a great day weather-wise, but I’m sure we’ll make the most of it! Brollies are packed!! Oh, and gloves – after yesterday’s temperatures! 😁

Today, we’re off to Granada by local bus (90 minutes) to The Alhambra – it’s the most visited tourist attraction in Spain, so we just had to do it! 😁

Prior to boarding, we took the short walk from the hotel and enjoyed breakfast at a local Cafeteria called Orient Express located in the nearby local shopping mall – Vialia Centro Comercial. Then it was simply a two-minute walk to the Bus Station. The Bus was on time and pretty popular. After finding our seats, the only disappointment was: no wi-fi (paid or free), no charging points and no loo! This was all a bit of a surprise, and we’re hoping that the return journey’s Bus puts this right! 🤔

Our driver (and our bladders) were very pleased that the Bus arrived in Granada’s Bus Station bang on time, and after some essential maintenance, we were soon looking for a taxi. There were plenty to choose from, and we were quickly on-board. As we took-off at Warp 7, the first job was trying to locate the seat-belts (bit of a thing out here – they’ve got them, but they’re so used to putting the back seat down for passengers with tons to transport that when they raise the seat, the belts are buried behind!). We abandoned the seat-belt hunt and enjoyed the journey. Watching our driver at work has convinced me that it would never be worth hiring a car out here and driving yourself – the natives are just too manic behind the wheel, where signalling is optional and people on crossings are fair game! Having said that, we’re so glad we didn’t choose to walk this bit, as the journey took almost half an hour. Good cab price though! Less than €10!! 😏

The Alhambra is so popular, it operates a ‘timed ticket’ entry. Ours was for 12.30, so when we arrived just after 11.45, we had enough time to look round the Palace Gardens (all looking a bit tired and past their best – the gardens, not us!) before the main attraction (the Palace, not us!)

The Palace Gardens

At 12.10 we headed for the Palace (Palacios Nazaries). It’s quite a walk from the main entrance, and we got there with a few minutes to spare. Unfortunately, so had about 5 gazillion other timed ticket holders! 90% of them were Chinese, and they only seem to be able to move in a herd formation, if accompanied by a selfie-stick! 😮

Being Brits, luckily, we’ve all had the masterclass in professional queuing, so it wasn’t a great surprise for us. Trouble was, for our international friends, they all looked a bit confused at the mass of bodies ‘on the 12.30’. That, combined with a degree of disorganisation from our hosts, it wasn’t clear who was an ‘individual’ and who was part of a ‘large group’. Additionally, there were so many ticket checks between joining the queue and actually getting inside the building, most of us were a tad frazzled by the time we got to our first destination! 🤨 Once inside, it all started to look a bit familiar (I think we’ve been spoilt a bit on this break). Beautiful ceilings…

…lovely archways…

…stunning buildings…

In truth, although it IS a gorgeous place architecturally speaking, we came away from the Palace feeling a bit UNDERWHELMED. It hadn’t made us say ‘Wow!’ at any point, so maybe we’ve been spoilt this week already! We thought that the palace in Seville was more jaw dropping. 🤔 Next and final stop here was The Alcazaba – the Castle Fortress. By this point, the weather was on the change – for the better, and we got some stunning views looking across the town of Granada.

The Alcazaba

Views across Granada

A quick glance at our watches meant that we just had time for a coffee before grabbing a taxi back to the Bus Station and our Hotel. Suitably refreshed, we jumped in the Cab (with seatbelts this time) and headed back to our 3pm Bus. 😁

Malaga from Slot 12!

This time, we had Wi-Fi, charging points, but still no loo. Two out of three isn’t bad I suppose! It was a slower journey back though, taking another 30 minutes, making the total journey time just under two hours.

Once back at the Málaga Bus Station, what better way to end this full day of culture than to stop-off at a local eatery and complete the Andalusian experience!?

Burger King!

Well, at least the burger was from a Spanish Bull! (allegedly).

It’s a night-in, binge-watching again tonight – episodes 5 & 6 of series 2 of The Crown courtesy of Netflix!

Tomorrow, it’s our last full day here, and we plan to take a look around Málaga…

Anniversary 2017 – Spain (Day 4) Our Anniversary – Córdoba

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Today is our 6th Wedding Anniversary – and 33 years to the day since we first met! We always do something special on this day, and being in Spain was no exception.
Smile Red heart Smile Red heart Smile Red heart

We said goodbye to Seville and headed for Córdoba by train. We’ll finish our day by heading to Málaga and our final hotel – the imaginatively titled:  Barceló Málaga.

So, to make today special, we spent the day in Córdoba – there is quite a bit to see here and we also wanted to also find somewhere for our Anniversary lunch.

We caught the 9.20 out of Seville and arrived in Córdoba just 45 minutes later. We crossed the road to the Bus Station to deposit the cases and after fighting with a renegade Left-Luggage locker (it was impossible to lock after paying the fee) we did eventually manage to find one that worked, and promptly deposited our belongings there for the day (4€ – very reasonable! but we had to pay twice… not so reasonable..!).
Surprised smile
Then it was off for the walk into the town. What caught us out though was how cold it was. The town might have been promising a higher temperature later in the day, but in addition to coats and scarves, this was definitely gloves weather! (the gloves were back in our cases in the Left-Luggage locker!) – the result? freezing fingers!
Sad smile

Ignoring the distraction of the cold weather, the views as we got closer to the old town were pretty impressive!

Our first official stop was the Baños del Alcázar Califal… (The Alcazar’s Baths)

Constructed in the 10th century…

…these had been re-discovered in the early 60s…

…and subsequently tastefully restored…

A good start to our day of exploring the Town!

Next stop was Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs). This was a pretty large castle that had served served as one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon as well as a prison under the watchful eye of the Spanish Inquisition!

There was plenty to see here – impressive construction, beautiful gardens, plenty of orange and lemon trees, but the stand-out feature for us was…

…the mosaics…

…probably the largest (size-wise) we’ve ever seen! These were floor-to-ceiling!

After a quick pitstop for a cheese and ham-laden croissant, it was a quick whizz round the Bishop’s Palace. With the first floor closed for improvements, there wasn’t much to see here, but it only cost a measly 1€ to get in and it was worth that just to see the blingy alter!

Then, it was onto the highlight of the day for us – La Mezquita (The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba). The clue is in the name (but more of that later). Its first claim-to-fame is that it’s the 3rd largest Mosque in the world – and it felt it! This place was beyond massive.

It was pretty busy when we got inside and it simply swallowed up us visitors…

Back to its name: What made it unique is that it’s a Mosque with a Cathedral inside it! Yes, that’s right…

In an unimaginable insensitive move, during the 16th century, Emperor Carlos V removed 60 of the Mosque’s columns and replaced them with a Cathedral based in the centre. He obviously didn’t get the memo about his mandatory attendance at the cultural diversity workshop! Ironically, when it was all completed, he felt ashamed at what he’d done!

…as a result, you have this curious construction where Muslim and Christian places of worship are literally, next-door neighbours! How very weird!
Confused smile
We knew it was going to be hard to top that in terms of spectacle, so we turned our attention to finding somewhere for our Anniversary Lunch. After walking from the old town towards the new (and not really seeing anywhere that looked special enough) we quickly turned to Trip Advisor for some help!
Plenty of suggestions there, but Horno San Luis, with 80% of its 300+ plus visitors giving it 4 or 5 stars, we decided to give it a go!

It wasn’t particularly busy when we got there around 1.15, but we’ve learned that here in Spain, everyone eats late. And, true-to-form, by the time we left a couple of hours later, it was packed!

The food was delicious! Croquettes, then Baked Cheese to start…

…followed by Steak for me and Gnocchi for Ann – all washed-down with (just a few) Beers and Red Wine. There was even an opportunity to put my mobile on charge too!

Our final stop of the day was the famous Roman Bridge. Originally built in the 1st Century BC by guess who? yep, the Romans, and given a Moorish makeover in the 8th. It was extensively restored in 2006 and now looks a very solid construction and it’s possible to walk over it.

Just down from the bridge was a reconstructed waterwheel (the Molino de la Albolafia), where a herd of cats had taken up residence nearby!

It was now around 2.45 and our Train was leaving at 4.30, so we took a slow walk back to the Station. Somewhere along the way, we took an alternative route that pushed us further way from our destination. On the plus-side, we managed to rack-up over six miles of walking today, but on the downside, our feet were reminding us we had! We finally made it to the Station and once on-board, we relaxed in the very roomy seats on the train – in fact, comfort-wise, it was like travelling first-class back in the UK

By 5.30, we were at Málaga Station – an impressive building, and very large.

..and heading for our second hotel – the Barceló Málaga.

The first thing we noticed was that just left of Reception was a sort of spiral-shaped chute*. It looked like something to get luggage down from the higher floors. We couldn’t have been more wrong, as a few seconds later down came some guests (or am I just over-tired? Nope, definitely guests!)…and then some more… and then some more! We were too tired at this point to investigate it, but that’s a first… in any hotel…and we’ve stayed in quite a few! After a very lengthy check-in procedure (I’m not sure why) we eventually made it to Room 315 using the traditional lift – our room is a very ultra-modern space – yes, in case you’re wondering, that IS a silhouette of a telescope above the bed (obviously!)

*It turns out, the structure is called the “EDHA (Sliding Structure for Daring Humans)” (yep, really!) and is the quickest way to get from the first floor to the Reception area. Yes, it’s official, I’m getting old – “I don’t believe it!”

With today’s adventure over, we unpacked and made our plans for tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a ‘biggy’ photos-wise – We’re off to Granada by local bus specifically to visit The Alhambra.