Croatia – Korcula

The weather decided to turn as we were on our way into Korcula. We were due to be there for the morning and then to sail in to Mljet in the afternoon before ending our holiday back in Dubrovnik. It was raining on and off and a breeze got up as well. Still, intrepid explorers that we are, we took a walk around Korcula and found it to be another of these Croatian towns with plenty to see, some good harbourside restaurants and cafes and lots of steps and alleyways.

Marco Polo lived here – I guess that is the island’s real claim to fame. There’s a museum here and his house is there as well, although I found that quite amusing because having done all that seafaring he’d hardly have been at home. Mrs Polo (if there was one) would constantly have been chucking his tea away because it was burnt.

Earlier in the day, the captain got us all together for a meeting – apparently the weather was too bad in Mljet (it’s only a small harbour) for us to land safely so we had to sail past it and headed directly to Dubrovnik. We really enjoyed this holiday and I have to say that the ship and crew were very very good.

 

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Croatia – Hvar and Vis

Another day and more Islands (read churches and castles) to explore. Hvar Island was very pretty and again we ventured up hundreds of millions of steps up to a hilltop castle overlooking a pretty harbour. There ought to be a prettiest view from a hilltop competition in Croatia – there’s an awful lot to choose from. You can tell how steep the climb was because someone has kindly stuck a number of recliners half way up so you can have a rest. Then we got to Vis – Mammia Mia! cute little island, didn’t stay long, I think we were looking forward to Korcula the next day although we were a little sad that we were coming to the end of a lovely holiday.

Croatia – Trogir & Split

I wasn’t sure what to expect in Trogir as we were landing by tender – would it be as small as I thought, would there be much there apart from the obligatory churches, castles and touristy things. ON the other hand, we’d seen some great images of Split and were looking forward to it. As usual, things don’t work out as you expect and we found Trogir charming with more narrow streets to shield us from the sun, welcoming cafes, low flying aircraft coming into/taking off from Split airport, someone towing a capsized boat and a good walk around the harbour.

Split on the other hand was extremely windy, full of tourists (yes I know) – and lots of market stalls. Plus it was probably around 32C and not good to walk around in. I’m pleased we saw it and it might be better on another visit. Here’s a few images :-

Croatia – Sibenik

As we cruised in towards Sibenik there were a number of small rocky islands and outcrops and on one of them was a sign welcoming everyone to Sibenik. I thought this could be either touristy and nasty or a genuine welcome. After seeing the place and the people I came to the conclusion it was the latter. A lovely long harbour front with access to the old town halfway down. It had quaint narrow streets that we were now getting used to seeing, and, walking in the heat of the day one could see why they’d been built like that to shelter people from the sun. We had a good walk around after docking and returned for a quick glass of something before ouor one and only “official” excursion to the Krka Waterfalls. The whole area of the Krka National Park is vast, The falls we went to were the Skradinski Buk Falls which are the bottom end of the park – we walked for quite some time on well laid out decked routes with trout (forbidden to catch them) in almost every bit of water we saw. They weren’t bothered by our presence at all. There were 240 steps down and 240 back up again which tested the tendons but fortunately we managed it easily. I wondered how much time we could spend touring the whole of the park – a good month I guess. The view of the main falls is hampered by the scores of people bathing in the front of the falls but it is still a stunningly beautiful place. We really enjoyed Sibenik – a lot.

Montenegro – Kotor

The last time we were in Kotor we were almost fogbound on an Azamara cruise. This time the sun was shining and the church I took a picture of in the fog was in plain sight. Kotor is a lovely place and certainly justifies its world heritage site position.

We walked along a bit of the walls and got an excellent view of just how small our 200 passenger Belle de l’Adriatique was compared to the huge MSC cruise ship moored next to us. We were nearly tempted to walk up the 2000 steps to the church but thought better of it in the heat. Maybe next time.

 

 

Croatia – Dubrovnik

We’ve had 3 attempts now at getting to Dubrovnik. The first was a couple of years ago aboard a ship that couldn’t get into port because of a bad storm, the second was a hotel we wanted to stay at that didn’t have a room at the time we wanted to go and this was the third. You can understand some trepidation considering the past failures. However, no such troubles need have concerned us. The flight went well, the transfer was smooth and efficient and we were on board the CroisiEurope ship – La Belle de L’Adriatique by early afternoon. A pretty ship with only 200 passenger capacity.Out of the 180 aboard, there were probably 8 Brits, 4 Kiwis, half a dozen Swiss and a couple of Spaniards, the balance being French. Our transfer from the airport was with 4 other Brits, so we managed to get a table together which we great.

We were overnight in Dubrovnik and had the following day to look around so we took a bus into the old town and went around the city walls and had lunch in a small cafe just inside the walls. This was followed by an attempt to get up the cable car to get some panoramic shots from the top. Owing to an impending storm, the cable car had been stopped but taxis were happily taking folk up to the top. When we got to the top it was drizzly, damp and windy and there was a lot of haze, which we weren’t expecting. We left two young Norwegians (who we’d travelled in the taxi with) to have lunch at the top and we got another taxi down with two other young folk from London. The weather was decidedly iffy by then so we were pleased to get back to the ship for wine o’clock.

Haworth

“Let’s go to Haworth – we’ve not been there before” – OK, I reply, we can see the little cobble streets, the Bronte Falls, Top Withens and Hardcastle Crags. So that’s the plan. We settled for a small hotel in the centre of Haworth called The Old Registry and manage to book the last room. A small room with a lovely view of the hills in the distance through a tilting skylight window.

A pleasant drive later we start to notice a lot of cars on the way into Haworth and crawling traffic. Something must be on this week-end we think. It was – we must have been the only people in Yorkshire not to realise that we’d booked on the Haworth ’40’s weekend, when all we wanted was a quiet time. Still, it gave Sue an idea of what the Woodhall Spa event was like that I try to get to. So we took some photos, (I managed one of my glamourous assistant dancing along to a lady singing ’40’s ditties), had a stroll and ate in a local restaurant. The following day we went up to Bronte Falls or more precisely Bronte Dribbles and then went on to Hardcastle Crags. The weather there was lovely and we had a strenuous walk around the place before walking back to eat at the hotel. Joe, our receptionist, bartender, waiter and purveyor of local knowledge was excellent – thanks Joe.

The next morning, we went to get some cash from the local hole in the wall only to find out that the ONLY hole in the wall in Haworth had run out of cash over the weekend. As most of the shops in Haworth were shut, having either made a shedload of cash over the weekend or being too tired, we decided to take a slow drive home. Nice place. Here’s some images :-

Madeira 2018

It’s a while since we went to Madeira but we chose a trip for Sue’s birthday and it was a pleasant change from freezing weather at home. We had all sorts of flowers coming into bloom and could have done with a trip up into the forest and some gardens but it was a chill type of holiday rather than action. We’d decided that although we liked the previous places we’ve stayed at, we’d like to try the Hotel Porto Santa Maria on the seafront at the old end of Funchal town – what a lovely place, great facilities, better staff and we had a room away from any noise. No jeep safaris for me this time, just getting to walk again after another foot problem so a toddle into the town to the cruise terminal and back was about it. We saw that the Golden Gate Grand Cafe had re-opened again (last July apparently) and that was a pleasant surprise – its been well refurbished. Gives a nice feel to the centre of Funchal again – it was decidedly run down without it.

I was pleased to see that Juan Caldarado and his band are still going strong, they were also at our hotel once evening as well.

Next time we go, hopefully we’ll catch the flower festival which is scheduled to run late April/Early May. Here’s a few pictures – birthday girl got some great flowers organised by the hotel and also a yummy birthday cake.

Christmas 2017

We decided to try somewhere new this year for Christmas. Grasmere was good for 3 years but a few niggles persuaded us, together with our friends Martin & Maxine Shelmerdine, to look for another venue. We had not looked at Bowness seriously until we visited there last year whilst “out and about” and Sue liked the looks of The Belsfield Hotel, just in front of the pier. Our friends decided to try it out earlier in the year and we booked following their trip.

It’s a good hotel, the staff are helpful and pleasant, the restaurant was very well decorated and presented for the break and the food, barring one not so good main course, was lovely. The restaurant overlooks the lake with a large double fronted window – great in summer when it’s light. We were on a wing adjacent to reception and the corridor leading to the rooms would have been well equipped to store frozen food – the reason apparently because some guests had said that the rooms were too hot. This would only have been of benefit if said guests had left their doors open – still, never mind. There’s a pretty library with comfy chairs for afternoon tea and to enjoy a pre-dinner drink.

We didn’t do much the first day – the weather wasn’t very kind. Christmas Day was taken up with presents, socialising and food, with a surprise visit from Santa(!). On Boxing Day there was a boat trip around the lake planned. This followed a walk around the town and lunch. The weather stayed mainly dry but was a bit drizzly so had to pop in and out of the boat for photo opportunities – there weren’t many.

The last day we went for a walk around Rydal Water and then went up to Tarn Hows for a stroll round there – lots of sunshine. I think we’ll do it again.

 

 

 

f4 Photographic Group – Annual Trip

My fellow f4 chums and I had arranged to go to Killarney this year for our annual trip. Blue skies, an Indian Summer and Guinness were on the cards. A fly in the ointment called Storm Brian decided to intervene and we got one out of the three – Guinness. It was blowing a gale and we had rain – one day was decidedly bad but we certainly had rain in small quantities the rest of the time as well. Fortunately we had decided upon a variety of places to photograph, some inside, notable Muckross Abbey and Killarney Cathedral (which was beautiful).

We were also told where we could find some stags and although the main rut was over, the stags were still bellowing at each other from within their newly acquired harems. We also were looking forward to Ladies View – a well known and extremely picturesque place – but not when we went, there was a lot of mist and rain so we had a cuppa at the local cafe instead.

We had hoped to take some images at Ross Castle but there’s a photography ban so that was an epic fail as well. However, Torc waterfall provided one or two decent shots and as there had been a lot of water we got some good images – my favourite was of a single big rock at the foot of the falls with water swirling around it.

Our last day was blustery and rainy so we arranged to go to Crag Cave, just north of Killarney and we found the folk there to be extremely welcoming and helpful and we managed to have our best session of the break there, taking lots of long exposure shots underground in the cave. Excellent cafe and gift shop there too. If you’re around the Killarney area, it’s well worth the visit. After Crag Cave we went to Blennerville to see the windmill and then on to Fenit Bay to see the lighthouse. funny – it was almost too windy to get out the car for the windmill and the spray at Fenit Bay almost obscured the lighthouse. Sometimes the spray was going completely over the lighthouse but needless to say I missed that shot.

Still, all in all, the 8 of us who went had a terrific break and despite the weather a good time was had by all.