Archive for January, 2014

Granada 2013

January 17th, 2014

I first came to Granada, in Andalusia, Spain, in 1999.  I only spent 2 nights there on a tour of Andalusia.

The pictures I took back then can be seen on my other site:

Bee and I stopped in Granada for 4 nights before our Eclipse Cruise – more on that later.  It was a great opportunity to see the Alhambra again, and discover more of this wonderful historical city.

We arrived just before lunch – lunch time in Spain that is, so got to the hotel around 1:30 PM.  We stayed at the Alhambra Palace, just a stone throw away from the Alhambra itself.  On the way to the restaurant for lunch, we saw our first glimpse of the outside wall of the complex and the imposing fortress.

In the afternoon, we went to visit the town and stopped at the main cathedral.  It is a very impressive building that was designed and built after the moors were chased out of Andalusia and Granada was the seat of the Spanish Royal family.

We discovered that, on week-ends, the gardens of the Generalife are opened to the public in the evening, after sunset.  We had therefore booked for going there on our first evening.

We tried to be early (I did not have to try very hard!) so that it would not be too crowded and we succeeded.  The one palace on the Generalife was almost empty and very peaceful.

It is amazing that this was built in 1400 when the rest of Europe was in the “Dark Ages”! Granada was actually a place of great learning during that time, with scholars from all over the known world visiting and lecturing thousands of ‘students’ who came there to learn.

From the Generalife, we had a good view of the Alhambra complex, but could not go there.  Actually, we probably could have walked around there too as most of the area around the Alhambra is public, but we only found that out on the next day, during our daytime visit of the palaces.

The detailed work of carving on the stone and the wood is always incredible in these buildings.  It is amazing that this survived during the last 700 years.  Notice how the patterns are different on top of each archway over the doors! Continue Reading » (1065 Page Views)

London 2013

January 4th, 2014

I do not want to be constantly late with new posts to my blog.  And I have also decided to try and be more regular in the posts, so those following me are not disappointed week after week when nothing new comes along.

I am not going to post something every week, but will try to do something at least monthly at the start.

And here we go with a short trip to London.  Since it was a short trip, I only took 4 cameras and not my big one! The pictures come from my little Casio Exilim and some have been “improved” in Photoshop with the treatment that I usually do with my regular photos.

Bee and I left work for the airport where we took a train to the Midi Station in Brussels and there caught the Eurostar to London. It was only my second trip on the train, and the first since the high speed rails had been opened in the UK.  It took us the better part of 20 minutes to go through Checkin, security and emigration – glad we were early.

We arrived in St Pancras and took the tube to Green Park where our hotel was.  Very nice location, but the hotel was a little dated for a Hilton.  We still had a nice room and it had all the amenities we would have expected.

As it was already late, we went to dinner in the neighbourhood and found a good Turkish restaurant.

The next day, the weather was not great so we decided to do museums.  We started with the Victoria and Albert Museum.  On the way there, we saw the Christmas Windows at Harrod’s which were quite nice.  V&A is a huge complex and it took us a while to get oriented.  We wanted to see the modern glass exhibit, but had to go through several others, very interesting sights just to get there.  We saw an exhibit of copies of famous statues and architectural pieces made in the 19th century.  Some of these were used to restore the original.  Also saw a great display of Chinese artefacts and clothing.

After a couple of hours we had enough so we went to China town for lunch.  Had one of the best Chinese food in a long time!

We bought tickets to the Opera – Mozart’s Magic Flute, tried to get reservations at Jamie Italian (they do not take reservations) and did our share of shopping at Kathmandu.  The opera was very nice, even though I was a little disappointed it was sung in English and not the original German.  However, now I understand the story a lot better and will enjoy it even more when I listen to it at home.  We tried Jamie Italian again – 45 minute wait at 9:40 PM so we went to another Italian Restaurant near Leicester Square

The weather on Sunday was great, so we went to Hampton Court.  An adventure to get there as the normal trains from Waterloo were cancelled due to maintenance work.  We took the Tube to Wimbledon then a replacement bus, which seemed to be taking forever.  I knew we were in trouble when the driver looked back and asked if anybody knew how to get to the station!  Fortunately, some one did and we got there in the end.  This is not the first time we had problems with drivers of replacement busses.

Hampton Court is really majestic and a great day trip from London. The main entrance at sunset!

When we paid our entrance fee, we were told that re-enactments would be going on throughout the day and the next one started in the main court at 11:00.  Since it was close to that time, we waited and sure enough a lady in period costume did show up and start telling us of her love story, not for the King but one of his aides.  However, the king was in love with her etc, etc, etc…

We followed along, and in the main dining room, we got the meet the king!

Of course, the story is full of intrigues and misunderstandings and political moves.

We stopped following it as the Royal Chapel was about to open.  In the chapel is a recreation of Henry’s own crown (the original was destroyed by Cromwell).  We had good audio guides so we continued the visit on our own.  We did the kitchen and we also did an exhibit on the life of Henry as a young man, up to his divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella who had reunited the crown of Spain and sponsored Columbus to look for an alternate way to India.  It was very well done as this also included the break-up of the Church of England when the English Cardinal who supported Henry could not convince the Pope to grant him a divorce.

We had lunch then spent some time in the gardens which are gorgeous as always in England

This swan came quite fast when he saw us – if he expected food, he was disappointed!

As I said, it was a beautiful day and the views of the palace were magnificent.  I was surprised to see palm tress in the garden! I wonder if they resist to the winter or have to be replaced every year? Continue Reading » (827 Page Views)