Buses and planes, boats cars and trains …

England, France, Germany, India, Poland, Spain, Travelling in Europe, Yorkshire

The best way of travelling hopefully? Let’s see.

A bus can be fun, but that’s strictly for local exploring. Unless you can get yourself to India and hitch a lift in God’s Own Palace … Though you’re much more likely to be catching the long-distance bus whose driving seat I feature here …

Air travel has lost its sheen, since Airport Security and Queuing became a A Thing, not to mention those CO2 emissions of which we’re now so horribly aware. Even so, there is something thrilling about watching the changing landscapes of the earth far below, and cloud formations too.

You could take to the water, and sail to your destination near or far…

On the way to Rotterdam

Car travel gives you the opportunity to please yourselves and follow your noses, and even to get off the beaten track, but again … all those emissions.

My own favourite way to get from A to a distant B is by train. I sit, I watch the world go by. I read. If I’m lucky, there may be coffee on offer. And the journey eases the transition from home to away by gradually introducing fresh landscapes, fresh outlooks. There’s something discombobulating about leaving – say – foggy England by plane and arriving two hours later – say – in sunny Spain. Here’s the TGV from Barcelona to Paris. It says it all …

Station architecture may be inspired, whether from the Golden Age of Steam, or assertively twenty first century.

All things considered, I can’t agree with the disconsolate boredom of this particular passenger. By the way, you, get your feet off the seat!

Or … there’s always the motorbike … as spotted in their dozens and dozens outside Mysore Station.

Bike park outside the Station

All the same, modern travel with all its advantages can seem busy, stressful. Sometimes, we might just want to exchange the traffic jam for something rather simpler.

John has provided this week’s LENS-ARTISTS CHALLENGE #215 – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and the places they take you.

Of Gargoyles, Griffins and other Graven Images

Barcelona, France, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Valencia

This week, Ann-Christine is urging us, in Lens-Artists Challenge #214 to indulge ourselves and our readers with Favourite Finds in our collections of photos. Well. Where to start? What to choose? I’ve settled on those things that we sometimes notice as we glance up above, or find ourselves gazing at, such as drainpipes or old walls in city streets: we’ll see everything from … well, let’s have a look …

Click on the image to discover where to find it.

The featured image is from the Millennium Clock in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Summer Travel: it’s worth it in the end

Balkans, France, Germany, India, Poetry, South Korea, Spain, Travelling in Europe

This is turning into a Sunday Thing. Experimenting with different types of poetry. But with added photos. Always with added photos. This week, as my contribution to Tanka Tuesday‘s task – to write a 4-11 (the clue is in the name: 11 lines of 4 syllables each – last line repeats the first) I thought I’d focus on summer travel.

Summer travel

was always fun.

But now passport

control (Brexit!);

Covid control;

train strikes and queues;

airport queuing – 

make journeys long

and so irksome.

Worth it though – for

summer travel

And to prove that travel’s always worth it, here’s my photo gallery. There’s just one problem. Most of these photos were taken in January, in February, in March … you get the idea – any month but August …

… Should have travelled by elephant …?

Temple elephant, Thanjavur

PS – the header photo was taken at l’Albufera, near Valencia, Spain.

The Abstract Geometry of Valencia

Spain

Team Spain is with us at the moment, so blogging and bloggers are taking a back seat. All the same, I’m going to take a virtual trip to Valencia, which we’ve often visited after being with the family near Barcelona. This time though, as requested by Amanda for a Friendly Friday challenge (collaborating with Frank at Beach Walk Reflections). I’m focussing on just a few of the shapes I’ve seen there.

And where better to start than the futuristic Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències?

And quite nearby, in the Turia Gardens, you’ll find this bridge. which I highlighted recently. But this is a closer view.

Roof spaces: How about the Mercat de Colom? Or the so-very-different La Lonja – the old Silk Exchange?

And let’s finish off with something that may no longer be visible. Valencia’s big on street art, but I liked the bold geometry of this piece under construction.

This is scarcely a Tourist Info Guide to Valencia: but it’s a glimpse of some of the places worth hunting for in any visit there.

Postcards from Cosmo Caixa Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

Today we went to Cosmo Caixa. It is, quite simply the best science museum we have ever been to. Interactive, engaging, visually stimulating, informative. Even Anaïs, at 16 months old was kept interested.

I’m sending you some postcards with no attempt to explain anything,but in hopes that one day, you to will have the chance to visit.

A well earned drink and ice cream at the end.

And that’s it… tomorrow night we’ll be in England, and on Tuesday, home. It’s been quite an adventure. We’re not really ready for it to end …

Postcards from Mataró

Catalonia, Spain

From Premià de Mar, you could go south west to Barcelona, or northeast to Mataró, a town of some 120,000, and that’s what we did today.

It used to be a textile manufacturing town. It saw the very first railway in the whole of Spain run between here and Barcelona in 1848. It’s still a prosperous and busy town.

We saw an exhibition of Catalan gigantes, those colossal figurines and heads processing on ceremonial occasions through the town, and later, in local shops, gigantic Playmobil figures on display, for – er – Playmobil week. Mainly we hunted down Modernista architecture. But that’s for another day …

Postcards from Sant Andreu

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Daughter Emily has lived in and around Barcelona for ten years now, so we feel well-versed in its tourist destinations. It’s fun for a change to get to know different neighbourhoods.

Today, we explored Sant Andreu, which was until the later 19th century an entirely separate town, a textile town, the home of Fabra i Coats (surely you or your mum had a sewing box full of brightly coloured Coats threads, though they won’t have come via Spain?). This factory complex is now an arts centre, not very busy this rainy day. And at Christmas time, it’s transformed into a toy factory for the Three Kings to collect the gifts they’ll deliver to the children of Barcelona at Epiphanytide. It’s a popular family destination at that time of year.

Our explorations began and ended with churches. First the church of Saint Andreu de Palomar of course, which gives the area its name …

This 19th century church has its beginnings in the 10th century. We’d like to have explored it more.

… and then Sant Pacià, which we were keen to see, as its mosaic floor was created by Gaudí in his early days. Irritatingly, both buildings were shut.

Sant Pacià. Firmly shut. Another Gothic Revival church.

Never mind. Mooch about with us and enjoy the cobbled streets of the old town, its Modernista buildings and independent shops: orange tree lined and bougainvillea bedecked. The area has a great feeling of community. We’d cheerfully live here.

Postcards from Badalona

Catalonia, Spain

We love our time with the family in Premià de Mar. Their home here is only some twelve miles from Barcelona, and well connected by rail and road. But it’s a world away. Strictly no tourists. Just everyday people living everyday lives.

Sometimes we venture into neighbouring towns for more of the same. Today it was Badalona and its charming Old Town – Dalt de la Vila. But no town in Catalonia can hold its head up high if it’s not protesting about something. Today we witnessed …

… painted protests against the projected destruction of some of this quarter’s oldest buildings …

… a small protest by and for pensioners (are you sitting comfortably?) …

… a poster near the beach: your struggle has secured freedom for others. We must continue the fight.

… and the inevitable posters proclaiming the need for Catalan independence.

Let’s finish with a few shots demonstrating some of the charms of Dalt de la Vila.

The featured photo, by the way, is of Badalona’s town flag.

A Historical Happy Birthday

Catalonia, Festivals, Spain

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge invites us to focus on birthdays. We’re not big on birthdays in our family, but back in June 2019, something special happened. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

We’re in Spain. Emily and Miquel had invited us to celebrate her 30th birthday with them, so off we went to Barcelona on Thursday. Where they immediately announced ‘Some friends have lent us their holiday home near the coast for the weekend. Don’t unpack. We’re off in an hour.’

The sun was setting as we arrived at a village, somewhere near Girona. As the car came to a stop, I was sure it must be the wrong place – there were cars in the drive, and this was no small holiday cottage. We got out anyway…. and a line of people appeared on the balcony singing ‘Happy Birthday’…. to me!

It was my family. My whole family. My three children, their partners and children had all secretly plotted and contrived to come here for a long-delayed 70th birthday celebration, just for me, here, this weekend. And I hadn’t suspected a thing.

On the actual day, two years ago, Ellie was in the middle of chemotherapy and celebrations were in short supply.

So here we are, all 15 of us, all in the same place at the same time – something that almost never happens. For a whole long weekend of glorious weather, spending our days playing with the children on the beach, and exploring, and our evenings on the terrace outside eating, drinking and talking, always talking…..’

June 1st, 2019

Let’s have a miscellany of the house, the sitting-round-together, the beach, the meals, the Catalonian ambience, and even … a praying mantis.

That first evening
Celebrating in town
Eating out by the beach