Segovia – Awesome !!!

Arrived in Segovia around lunchtime yesterday and checked into the Parador.  This one very different to most – very modern, a few Km outside the city on a neighbouring hillside with stunning views back across to the city.

Drove into the city for a late lunch in Plaza Mayor before visiting the Alcazar fortress which juts out at the end of the city.     Pretty amazing and only marred by (for the first time on this trip) crowds of Chinese with their f-ing selfie sticks and appalling manners !!

A bit of a fairytale castle reconstructed in the 19th century after a fire consumed the original which dated (and much the same design) from the 12th century and has seen more than its fair share of Royal Spanish weddings and coronations etc.    Very ornate inside with much Moorish influence etc.

Back to the hotel for dinner and then back into the city this morning after breakfast.     The very impressive ancient aqueduct built by the Romans in the 1st century with no mortar used in its construction !!    Still in use until the end of the 19th century when I guess it was superseded my a “modern” water supply.

A coffee in the square before a visit to the Cathedral and a 180 step spiral staircase up to the bell & viewing level for amazing views down over the city and surrounding countryside.   Not for the vertiginous or claustrophobic but well worth the climb.

A wander around the old Jewish Quarter and City walls before back to Plaza Mayor for lunch.    More churches and palaces in the city (mostly closed because its Monday and they were !!).

Then a lengthy drive around the neighboring river valley with a multitude of monasteries, convents, churches and retreats all stunning and old with views back across to the city.

I think its safe to say that I have had enough of religious monuments etc for a while but I have to say Segovia has eclipsed most other Spanish cities and was well worth the detour.

Back to the Parador and preparing for early start tomorrow for a marathon 8+ hour drive home.    Apparently it has rained down south, for the first time since April, and the weather seems to be closing in up here as well, so it could be a soggy drive.

Pick up “the kids” on Wednesday and get settled back home.    Next trip in November with a month in Myanmar (Burma) including a 2 week cruise up the Irriwaddy.

This Blog is dedicated to my gorgeous Amber who will be sorely missed when I get everybody home !!

Homeward Bound – Ciudad Rodrigo

Disembarked bright and early.    Taxi to pick up the car from the middle of Porto followed by a relatively painless  3-4 hour drive across Portugal, back into Spain and an afternoon and night in Ciudad Rodrigo.   A very old and historical town (aren’t they all ?) with a very nice Parador in the old castle.

A well restored pathway on top of the old city walls enables one to walk right around the town and dip into some of the architectural splendours within.    Churches, cathedral, museum and palaces with great views over the surrounding countryside…

The Cathedral is somewhat pock-marked.   Something to do with Wellington and a long siege many years ago when the English kicked out the French occupants and much shelling took place.

Next I head off to Segovia for two nights before a long drive south and home.    Rumour has it that we have had the first rain since April, in Andalucia,  which should have rinsed the summer dust off everything.   We shall see…………

 

Cruising back to Porto via Lamego

We now head back down river to Porto where we embarked.    Heading downstream with locks in reverse order.  The omnipresent Mr Sandeman towering over the river as a constant reminder that we are in Port country !!

A morning visit to Lamego with amazing chapel at the top of a very impressive flight of 700 steps all adorned with Blue Tiles and fountains etc.   We were bussed to the top and walked down !!    Then had a couple of hours to explore the town,  its cathedral and museum before heading back to the Douro Prince for the final cruise back to Porto.

Arrived back in Porto as the sun set behind what are now a familiar set of bridges.     A final dinner and then ready for disembarkation tomorrow and the start of the drive home..

IMG_7390

Douro cruising and a day in Salamanca

The Douro is the main “artery” of the Portuguese wine and Port industry.    Porto is where we set off from and spent 3 days cruising up river until we hit the Spanish border and above which the river is no longer navigable.    Six major or locks have to be negotiated – the largest of which involves a 35m change in levels.

Various excursions on the way mainly to Port production facilities and which I largely avoided but a number of interesting and scenic & cultural stops on the way.      The majority of my fellow passengers (30 ish in total and a motley bunch of elderly mostly female) seem to be here for the wine & port tastings !!

A visit to the ancient town of Castello Rodrigo famous for its almonds and its quaintness.

Then a day trip across the border into Spain and Salamanca.    A wonderful city (the oldest university in Spain) with serious cathedrals and other monumental architecture.

Then two hours back on the bus to Portugal to the Douro Prince and the cruise back down river to Porto……….

Amber RIP

Whilst cruising down the idyllic Douro River this afternoon I received a call from the kennels to say that Amber (my first and oldest Mastin) has passed away following a sudden re-occurrence of the dreaded bloat.     Obviously gutted !!   She will be sadly missed by myself and the rest of the Gang !!     At  least she has gone to the great “kennel in the sky” to join Mambo, Cleo, Lyla and all the others, so will be in good company !!

Amber

Travel safely gorgeous !!     I am blessed to have been able to “rescue” you from Adana and share my love and home with you for nearly 7 years !!

R xx

The Road to Porto

Delivered the “Gang” to Posh Pets in Alhaurin – Their new Holiday Camp – Then a five hour drive to Merida.   Relatively painless apart from a slow patch around Seville.   Nothing new there then !!

Merida

Arrived in Merida and checked into the Merida Palace Hotel on the main square where I had stayed before some years ago whilst on a cultural adventure.    An old historical Spanish town (aren’t they all ?) with some amazing Roman remains (arenas, stadia, temples etc). No time for much sightseeing as this was just an overnighter, but did manage to visit the old Roman bridge and Moorish Fortress.

Next morning onto Viseu (Portugal) for another night.

Viseu

Portugal a very different and greener vibe than parched Andalucía.    Some of the rivers even had water in them !!     Quite a lot of scorched forest however due to the latest wild fires.      Good roads, though a ruthless toll system that seemed to go “beep” (and cost money) every few Km.    Got to Viseu and very nice hotel next to the Cathedral.   Time for a bit of sightseeing before Sushi (very Portuguese !!) and early night before the final drive of this phase into Porto.

Arrival in Porto

A two hour drive up to Porto and eventually found Grand Hotel du Porto thanks to Sat Nav. and a very patient concierge who talked me into the heart of the pedestrian area and a car park where I left the Toyota for the next week or so.      A spot of sightseeing around Porto (Train Station, Churches and Cathedral etc).     An amazing city on the banks of the Duoro on many levels so lots of hills and steps.     Lots of walking and aching calf muscles !!    Plenty of Catholic guilt and gilt – Loads of Baroque architecture and interiors but very impressive with great views (if somewhat hazy) of the Douro river.

Next segment is the 7 day cruise up and down the Douro River.    Serious wine and port country, so I sense a spot of will power will be required as am firmly back on the wagon again.    A good time to go on a Wine Tour but more of that later ……….

Will publish this while the Wi-Fi holds up.    Expect a few days of radio silence as history has proved that rivers and Wi-Fi are an unreliable combination !!