Last time I wrote a blog post it was September, we had just decided to get away to the Pyrenees for a couple of weeks before our friend Philippa arrived for a week in the sun! Well we did get away but this time only for a week as it was my turn to suddenly need medical attention, so before we got as far north as we had intended, we were forced to turn back for home after a visit to a medical emergency clinic in Girona so I could see my GP as advised. Nothing too serious but nevertheless urgent and now under control. Here are a few photos from that fated trip!
Before heading further north we spent a couple of days in the Ebro Delta where we did some birdwatching and added squacco heron to our life list.
Next we headed to Castelfollit de la, Roca you may have seen pictures of this village perched high on a hilltop! Click the link below to see if you recognise it.
Poco and I walked to the edge of the parapet and Nigel and Ditto walked down further to the viewpoint.
We didn’t stay overnight here, we moved on just a few kilometres to the charming village of Camprodon where we had an evening stroll, ate a pizza and strolled back to the camper. The pic at the top of the blog was of the bridge on our way back, here it is again in the daylight.
Earlier in the year on our way home along the AP7 from Tarragona we had seen an interesting looking castle on a hilltop not far from the motorway and thought that at some time we would have a closer look so we broke the long journey home from the north with a stopover underneath Ulldecona castle! It wasn’t open but we were able to walk around it and take some photos.
The one good thing about needing to come home early was that it meant that we could meet up with Julie and Rob who were out at their apartment on the Mar Menor. We had thought we were going to miss them this time but we invited them over and had a nice day together catching up.
Soon it was time for Philippa to arrive and we spent a lovely week together culminating in a mosaic course at our local artists’ workshop.
We got out and about a bit but it was still very hot and we spent quite a lot of time around and in the pool and Philippa enjoyed cooling off (well trying to) under the fig tree.
We went back to the tapas bar in Cartagena that we visited the first time she was here, we haven’t been since then and it was just as good.
A few days later it was time to pick up the house sitters who were coming to look after the house and dogs while we went to Naples. A lovely young couple, Francesca and Chris, who took to the dogs and the dogs to them upon first glance!
We had a day to show them the ropes before they took us to the airport. We were flying via Manchester (long story) and we didn’t arrive at our hotel until coming up for midnight and stoically set our alarms for 4.30 for the Sunday morning flight to Italy which departed at 7. 15am. The airport was amazingly busy at that time in the morning but we got through security pretty quickly and then sat drinking coffee and eating croissants to wake us up! Needless to say we both fell asleep on the plane and touched down in Naples where it was hot and sunny again. An airport transfer bus whisked us to the city centre where our senses were assailed by noise, (constant sirens and klaxons), smells, a disappointing amount of rubbish and scruffy graffiti, traffic…so much traffic and hordes of people. After the peace and quiet of home it was rather a shock! We took our life in our hands every time we crossed the road…it’s a free for all! We soon learned that you just had to step out into the path of cars, buses and scooters and expect/hope that they would stop for you…..well we’re still alive so it works! There are zebra crossings but very few are observed as such. We did see some crossing lights being installed and one or two sets actually working but they are few and far between.
Our hotel room was comfortable and we were on the fifth floor with a good view of Vesuvius from the window.
We were there for four full days and the plan was (dependent on the weather,) to spend one day at Pompeii, one day at Herculaneum and Vesuvius and a day for museums and the city of Naples, the fourth day being flexible. As it turned out we spent the first wet day around the city, at the archeological museum up to the castle and down a funicular, the second day at Herculaneum, the third day on an open top bus trip in the morning and then a walk up Vesuvius in the afternoon and the fourth day at Pompeii. Apart from one mistake when we got on a train that turned out to be going in the opposite direction, (despite asking a guard which platform we needed), the transport system was fairly easy to navigate, once we got the hang of it. Trains were frequent and always crowded. We were very careful with our rucksacks as we had heard that pickpocketing was rife. The following photos document our time in Naples, all from my phone this time.
One discombobulating and unfortunate incident on the way to Herculaneum occurred when when Nigel tripped on a kerb and measured his length on the basalt paving stones, landing on his camera and his nose. I was walking in front on the fairly crowded pavement and was suddenly aware of a commotion behind me and when I looked round, there he was on the ground. Many locals and tourists came to our aide offering water, tissues, wipes, offers to call an ambulance etc. and a chair from a nearby restaurant. Even a couple of cops stopped to make sure all was ok.
He refused medical treatment and we later strolled around Herculaneum after the nose bleed stopped, looking a right pair with our clothes and shoes spattered with blood! Later we found one elbow was also bleeding and he had torn a hole in his shirt, the least of our worries. Apart from his nose and his dignity, the camera lens came off worst as it snapped from the body. We were going to do the Vesuvius walk that afternoon but neither of us felt up to it after the fall so we left that till the next day.
Next on the agenda was Vesuvius, we booked a bus trip to the start of the walk, then it’s a kilometre and 170 metres (550′) of ascent to the crater.
And so, on our last full day we planned to be up early and catch a train to Pompeii. But when we awoke the power was off in the whole hotel. Having set our alarms for 7am, we couldn’t even shower or charge our phones or for that matter see much before the sun rose. We had a cold breakfast eventually with no coffee but in a couple of hours the power was restored so we charged our phones and off we set, getting to Pompeii about midday with the world and his wife in tow! We had bought tickets online to save queuing though.
I’m not going to attempt to caption all these photos. All I will say is I took every opportunity to snap away while there were no people in view!!! And believe me it was crowded with a capital C but doesn’t look it from these snaps!
Whilst we were exploring Pompeii the day before we were to fly back, we got a message from Richard (eldest son) who was working in Germany until the next day, to tell us that he had booked a train from London where he now lives, to come and see us while we were in Bolton. It was a wonderful and welcome surprise although we thought he was a little mad for travelling such a long way for such a short time.
All too soon it was time to leave on the Friday morning. The plan was that once arriving at Manchester airport we would make our way by train to Bolton where Andrew (youngest son) would pick us up from the station and take us to his house to see them and the grandchildren. First our flight was delayed by an hour and then the train to Bolton was half an hour late, very frustrating when we only had a couple of hours anyway. But we were duly picked up and taken to see the family and we found out that Ric’s train had been cancelled soon after he booked it so rather than disappoint us he drove up instead…..took him six and a half hours!! But he said it was all worthwhile and we were so pleased to see them all. About 10 pm Drew took us back to our airport hotel, Ric crashed on their sofabed and we thankfully had a longer nights sleep at the Ibis than the 4 hours we managed the previous week! Ric messaged us in the morning before we had even left the hotel to tell us he had arrived home safely and much quicker than the previous day having got up and out early when Drew went to work.
Yet more travel delays ensued for us, our flight back to Murcia was 2 hours late departing but Francesca and Chris were there to meet us and had kindly bought us bread and milk so that we could have a cuppa and a bite to eat when we got home at 10.30pm. Nigel was then doing a return trip to take them to the airport early the next morning for their flight back to the UK. Their flight to Gatwick was cancelled early that morning but they managed to transfer on a flight to Bristol at a similar time which was convenient for them.
And some thoughts about the food……Nigel was very disappointed with the pizzas which he had been so looking forward to, the one in the background was his second, the first being very bland and flavourless. This one was not much better. Mine was a folded one, more tasty than his I think but I couldn’t eat it all. After that he gave up and stuck to pasta and a cheese omelette on the last evening which he actually said was his best meal!
So that’s about it for now. This week our en suite renovation has started. Before and after pics next time!!