A Travellerspoint blog


8 Days in the heart of a 21st Century city with roots dating back to the Romans.

sunny 6 °C


Here are some photos that Colleen took out of the window of our aircraft as we crossed the Pyrennes and as we came into land in London.

London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire cIty.

Saturday promised good weather. We had a very late start and took the Underground from Southwark to London Bridge. We wanted to visit Southwark Cathedral and the Borough Markets.

Here is the view from ourhotel window.

On the way we saw one of the old London Buses and perhaps dozens of the new buses.

Southwark Cathedral or The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, Southwark, lies on the south bank of the River Thames close to London Bridge. It is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. It has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years, but a cathedral only since the creation of the diocese of Southwark in 1905.

Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory, Southwark Priory, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church, with the new dedication of St Saviour's. The church was in the diocese of Winchester until 1877, when the parish of St Saviour's, along with other South London parishes, was transferred to the diocese of Rochester. The present building retains the basic form of the Gothic structure built between 1220 and 1420, although the nave is a late 19th-century reconstruction.

John Harvard was born in the parish, and baptised in the church on 29 November 1607. He is commemorated by the Harvard Chapel in the north transept, [16] paid for by Harvard University alumni resident in England. His father, Robert, a local butcher and inn-holder, was a business associate of Shakespeare's family and a parochial, school and church officer with the playwright's colleagues. Harvard, as a young teacher, went to the United Stated to open a school.

The first photo is inside the Harvard Chapel and the second is a memorial to Shakespeare.

The Shard can be seen in the background of this picture.

The replica of Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hinde is twenty metres from here.

The Borough Markets were busy with the crowds and very good displays of fresh produce for sale.

The Imperial War Museum london at Southwark is the headquarters and one of five War Museums that include the Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast and an airfield at Duxford.

The building was situated in part of the old Bethlem Royal Hospital. There are excellent displays including that if The Holocaust. No photography allowed.

The fifth floor has the Lord Holcroft Gallery of 150 plus Victoria Cross and George Cross winners. Although women are eligible for the Victoria Cross, unfortunately there has never been a single awardee.

World War 2 military vehicles - a Long Range Desert Patrol truck from North Africa, Field Marshal Lord Mobtgomery's Humbe staff car and a foldable motorcycle used by paratroopers.

The Lord Holcroft Gallery

The Atomic Bomb known as "Little Boy".

Russian T 34 Tank

There is a fabulous WW1 display

MONDAY 6 FEBRUARY - The British Library and the Wallace Collection

Firstly, this morning we visited the British Library, It was opened in 1997 and is the biggest public building project of the 20th Century. The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the second largest library in the world by number of items catalogued. Formally, officially classified and certified in the U.K. as a Grade I listed building "of exceptional interest" because of its special architectural and historic interest, the library is a major research library, holding well over 150 million items from many countries, and receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland (approximately 8,000 per day). Items are in many languages[6] and in many formats, both print and digital: books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, videos, play-scripts, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings. The Library's collections include around 14 million books,[7] along with substantial holdings of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 2000 BC.

As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. It also has a programme for content acquisitions. The British Library adds some three million items every year occupying 9.6 kilometres of new shelf space.

We went there to look at the Sir John Ritblat Gallery that is the Treasures Room. The Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery hosts more than 200 beautiful and fascinating items: magnificent hand-painted books from many faiths, maps and views, early printed books, literary, historical, scientific and musical works from over the centuries and around the world. Here are just a few of the objects you can see:
Gutenberg's Bible of 1455, Magna Carta, The Lindisfarne Gospels, Codex Sinaiticus, Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, Handel's Messiah - in the composer's hand, Celestial globe, 110cm across, Handwritten lyrics by the Beatles, Beowulf. Beside one of only four copies of the Magna carts there is the Papal Bull of Pope Innocent 111 dateed 10 days later declaring the Magna Carta null and void.
Leonardo Da zvinci's hand written notes. He wrote in mirror reverse in Italian using his left hand from right to left.
From top to bottom are the gandwritten songs by John Lennon - Ticket to Ride, Hard Day's Night and Michelle.

We took the underground to Leicester Square to buy tickets to The Mouse Trap, the world's longest running show now in its 65th year.

A rare find for us at Manchester Square was the Wallace Collection. It is an art collection in London open to the public, housed at Hertford House in Manchester Square, in the City of Westminster, the former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. It comprises a world-famous range of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with large holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms & armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings arranged into 25 galleries.

It was established in 1897 from the private collection mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800–1870), who left both it and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890), whose widow bequeathed the entire collection to the nation. The collection opened to permanent public view in 1900 in Hertford House, and remains there to this day. A condition of the bequest was that no object should ever leave the collection, even for loan exhibitions. Admission is free. We took a guided tour with a hugely knowledgeable volunteer.

We walked back along Bond Street, one of the more upmarket areas of London.


It is always a beautiful sight to look around Westminster Square and see Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), the Houses of Parliament, St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey and the bronze statues of very notable leaders such as Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi.


Situated beside the side entrance of Westminster is St Margaret's Church. The Church of St Margaret, Westminster Abbey, is situated in the grounds of Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square, and is the Anglican parish church of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in London. It is dedicated to Margaret of Antioch with construction started in 1486.

Westminster Abbey has been the Coronation Church since 1066 and fir many other events such as 16 royal weddings. It is the burial place of kings and queens and of other distinguished figures in the nation's history.

One of the oldest parts of the Abbey is the Styx Chamber, now a chapel but previously the strong room for treasures.

One of my favourite sections is known as Poets Corner.

Here are some views inside the Abbey.

We were booked to see Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. This is a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie. The Mousetrap opened in London's West End in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. The longest running West End show, it has by far the longest initial run of any play in history, with its 25,000th performance taking place on 18 November 2012. The play is known for its twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre. We saw the Show number 26 777.

Today, we did the usual thing people do when in London. We went to Green Park underground to walk across to Buckingham Palace. The Queen was in residence as the flag was flying at full mast.
Above is the Mall.

We saw Matilda the Musical. It is a stage musical based on the children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. The musical's narrative centres on Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old girl with the gift of telekinesis who loves reading, overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school, and helps her teacher to reclaim her life. After a twelve-week trial run staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon from November 2010 to January 2011, it received its West End premiere on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre where we saw the show. Though we were in the Upper Circle we really had good seats.

As today, Thursday 9 February was our last full day of sight seeing we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and Harrods.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A is located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in an area that has become known as "Albertopolis" because of its association with Prince Albert, the Albert Memorial and the major cultural institutions with which he was associated. These include the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

We had a very knowledgeable volunteer takes us on a tour. Here are some pictures of the items from the tour.
Above is a Tabernacle from the 12th Century with a wooden box inside that was used to hold the host.

Below is an enamelled tryptych from the 15th Century depicting the marriage of Charles V111 of France to Anne of Brittany. The photo below one that of a set of 9 Flemish tapestries bought by Charles for his wedding.

The Virgin and Child with Four Angels, before 1456, Donatello, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Glass mould of The Virgin and Child with Four Angels, before 1456, Donatello, V&A Museum no. A.1-1976
The Virgin and Child with Four Angels, also known as the Chellini Madonna, is a bronze roundel by the Florentine artist Donatello in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The roundel was given by Donatello to his doctor Giovanni Chellini in 1456. This was documented in the physician's account book on 27 August 1456: "while I was treating Donato called Donatello, the singular and principal master in making figures of bronze of wood and terracotta... he of his kindness and in consideration of the medical treatment which I had given and was giving for his illness gave me a roundel the size of a trencher in which was sculpted the Virgin Mary with the Child at her neck and two angels on each side." The reverse of the roundel is hollowed out, creating a mould for casting replicas of the image in molten glass. In order to test out this unique feature, copies of the roundel were made from which glass versions were cast.

Wood and iron doors from France thst are more than 700 years old. The trunk in the picture below this is a thousand years old.

Here are a few more favourites. The first picture of a tryptych altar piece from a church at Boppard on the Rhine.

The picture above is interesting as it comes from a person's living room. The tables are from 1800 but the porcelain vase known as a bell krater is 390 BC and is exactly what your kids are likely to throw out as 'shit' after your death.

Last stop was at Harrods. Harrods is a luxury department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London. It is owned by the state of Qatar. The store occupies a 5-acre (20,000 m2) site and has 330 departments covering 90,000 m2 of retail space.

The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique, which is Latin for "all things for all people, everywhere". Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the food halls, are well known.

I loved the food halls. Colleen went off shopping while I went to a tea house to have a Harrod's beer.

The Wellington Arch is a famous landmark. It is far more important for us in that it is the site of Anzac Day celebrations in London and it has a really interesting little WW1 Museum within the arch.

Tomorrow we leave our hotel at Southwark for another hotel at Heathrow as we need to be in the terminal at Heathrow at 4.00 am for our flight to Barcelona to connect with our Emirates flight to Dubai. We have been able to use our points to fly Business Class from Barcelona to Dubai then on to Brisbane three days later. We are back home on Wednesday 15 February.

Posted by Kangatraveller 10:10 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)


The Gothic Quarter, Gaudi, Familia Sagrada and much more

sunny 15 °C


SATURDAY 28 JANUARY - Chill out day and SUNDAY 29 JANUARY - watching the best Australian Open tennis final between Federer and Nadal.


Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is known for its art and architecture. The fantastical Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes. City history museum MUHBA, includes several Roman archaeological sites.

We booked a 2 day pass on the Barcelona BusTuristic Hop On Hop Off buses. Our hotel, the Hotel Olivia, fronts one side of the Placa Catalunya, the main square in the centre of this city of 1.7 million people in the metropolitan are with more than 4.6 million in the surrounding areas. We had stayed previously in this hotel which fronts the area between La Ramblas and Via Laeitana which define the Gothic Quarter (Barrio Gotic).

The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere. It is a part of Ciutat Vella district.

The quarter was built primarily in the late 19th and early 20th century, though several buildings date from medieval times. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter, is located within this area too.

The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis.

Here are some photos we took today around this area. Firstly, remains of the old Roman wall from 4 AD, Gaudi Museum and Cathedral of San Jaume.

Below are some random shots of interest. Firstly, the Barcelona Railway Station with hundresds if taxis, the Old bull Fighting Ring now converted to shops, the 1929 World Exhibition Site and the Stadium used firstly for the 1929 Expo then enlarged for the 1992 Olympics.
Above photo is of the Christopher Columbus Memorial near the Aduana de Barcelona, the Customs Building built in 1902.
The above sculpture in El Cap de Barcelona by Roy Lichtenstein.

Here we are "on the buses'.
Barcelona has some wonderful examples of interesting and diverse architecture and art. Gaudi, Joan Miro, Roy Lichtenstein, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry are just the tip of the talents who have cintributed to making Barcelona the spectacular city it is. Of course, much of this was ignored until the 1992 Olympics.

Below is the Futbol Club Barcelona. It is the largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 100 000.
Above photo is of Joan Miro's sculpture! Dona i Ocell "Woman and Bird") is a 22-metre high sculpture by Joan Miró located in the Parc Joan Miró in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The sculpture was covered in tiles by the artist's collaborator Joan Gardy Artigas. The sculpture is part of an artwork trilogy commissioned from Miró to welcome visitors to Barcelona.

My favourite is possibly Antoni Gaudí who was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí's works reflect an individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.

Gaudí's work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís which used waste ceramic pieces.

Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms. Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he conceived them.

Gaudí's work enjoys global popularity and continuing admiration and study by architects. His masterpiece, the still-incomplete Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Gaudí's Roman Catholic faith intensified during his life and religious images appear in many of his works. This earned him the nickname "God's Architect" and led to calls for his beatification.

La Pedrera shown above wasdesigned and built by Gaudi between 1906 and 1910.

Gaudi designed Casa Batllo which was built in 1904. It is the building in the middle. To the left is the Casa Amattler by Puigi i Cadafalch to the right is Domenich Montaner's Casa Lleo i Morera.

We had most of one day at La Sagrada Familia. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Gaudí's work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which must be the seat of a bishop.

Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 by architect Francisco Paula de Villar with Gaudí becoming involved in 1883 after Francisco resigned as the head architect. Taking over the project, Gaudí transformed it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Sagrada Familia's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death.

The photos we took really don't do justice to the sheer scale, majesty and innovational brilliance of this building.

Below are two pictures of the Passion Facade. The eastern facade is the Nativity Facade.

Below two photos show the Nativity facade.

Gaudi designed the interior pillars to represent trees in the forest. He was inspired by nature and sculptures from nature of birds, lizards, grasses, fruits and seeds are used extensively.

The stained glass eindows maximise light. The eastern side represents sunrisewith light and bright colours while the western side represents sunset with warmer colours. Below is the Apse with a simple altar.

The photo above is a view looking up to the light source above the altar.

Below is the crypt 10 metres below the Apse. In fact it is so big it is used as the parish church. This view looks through windows at floor level down into the crypt with Gaudi's tomb.

Front entrance allowed horse-drawn carriages to enter the home through one door and exit through the other.
The Palau Güell (Catalan pronunciation: [pəˈɫaw ˈɣweʎ], English: Güell Palace) is a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell, and built between 1886 and 1888. It is situated in the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, in the El Raval neighbourhood of the city of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".

The home is centered on a main room for entertaining high society guests. Guests entered the home in horse-drawn carriages through the front iron gates, which featured a parabolic arch and intricate patterns of forged iron-work resembling seaweed and in some parts a horsewhip. Animals could be taken down a ramp and kept in the livery stable in the basement where the servants resided, while the guests went up the stairs to the receiving room. The ornate walls and ceilings of the receiving room disguised small viewing windows high on the walls where the owners of the home could view their guests from the upper floor and get a 'sneak peek' before greeting them, in case they needed to adjust their attire accordingly.

The main party room has a high ceiling with small holes near the top where lanterns were hung at night from the outside to give the appearance of a starlit sky.
The photo above is of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 when he consecrated the church as a Minor Basilica.

Here are some close ups of the doors on the Nativity side designed by Japanese sculptor Sootoo who has worked at this site for the last 40 years.
large_270_DSC04943.jpg large_270_DSC04944.jpg
These are the doors from the Passion facade.


In the afternoon we visited Park Guell, a public park, where Gaudi's house is now a Museum. It was built in 1906 and he lived there for twenty years.
Gaudi also designed the gatehouses and gates for Park Guell.

Wednesday, we rambled down the La Rambla. It is an area in the Gothic Quarter rambling streets.


We returned to the Picasso Museum to see once again the 58 paintings by Picasso done in late 1957 known as Las Meninas. The Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. With 4,251 works exhibited by the painter, the museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of works. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona's La Ribera and is located on Montcada Street in the (Bank District) of Barcelona. It opened to the public on 9 March 1963, becoming the first museum dedicated to Picasso's work and the only one created during the artist's life. It has since been declared a (museum of national interest) by the Government of Catalonia.

Highlights of the collection include two of his first major works, The First Communion (1896), and Science and Charity (1897). In particular, the Museu Picasso reveals Picasso's relationship with the city of Barcelona, a relationship that was shaped in his youth and adolescence, and continued until his death.
Montcada Street

Las Meninas is a series of 58 paintings that Pablo Picasso painted in 1957 by performing a comprehensive analysis, reinterpreting and recreating several times Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez. The suite is fully preserved at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona and is the only complete series of the artist that remains together. This is a very extensive survey work which consists of 45 performances of the original picture, nine scenes of a dove,three landscapes and a portrait of Jacqueline.

The first picture is Velasquez's Las Meninas and the following are just three of Picasso's interpretations.

Today was our last full day in Barcelona. I did a search of the "must see" places and came across the Palau Guell. It turned out to be a truly must see and our visit would have been poorer if we had missed it. It is on the Noue de Rambla in a very ordinary street. The outside does not do the interior justice.The front entrance allowed horse-drawn carriages to enter the home through one door and exit through the other.
The first picture is the street view, the second is a view from inside through the wrought iron gates designed for seeing out but not in.

The Palau Güell is a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Count Eusebi Güell, and built between 1886 and 1888. It is situated in the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, in the El Raval neighbourhood of the city of Barcelona. Count Guell was estimated by Forbes Magazine to be in the teelve richest people in contemporary history with a net worth in today's money of 70 billion Euros.

The home is centered on a main room for entertaining high society guests. Guests entered the home in horse-drawn carriages through the front iron gates, which featured a parabolic arch and intricate patterns of forged iron-work resembling seaweed and in some parts a horsewhip. Animals could be taken down a ramp and kept in the livery stable in the basement where the servants resided, while the guests went up the stairs to the receiving room. The ornate walls and ceilings of the receiving room disguised small viewing windows high on the walls where the owners of the home could view their guests from the upper floor and get a 'sneak peek' before greeting them, in case they needed to adjust their attire accordingly.

The main party room has a high ceiling with small holes near the top where lanterns were hung at night from the outside to give the appearance of a starlit sky.


The next two photos are from the roof. There is a viewing platform with views to Monjuic and across the city. Gaudi created coulourful chimney pots for the more than a dozen chimneys in the palace.

In the morning we fly to London for the next eight days.

Posted by Kangatraveller 11:32 Archived in Spain Comments (0)



sunny 14 °C

SATURDAY 21 JANUARY - Travel from Rome to Malaga via Madrid

Andalusia is a Spanish region established as an autonomous community. It is the most populated and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities in the country. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as "historical nationality". The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its capital is the city of Seville.

Andalusia is in the south of the Iberian peninsula, in south-western Europe, immediately south of the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha; west of the autonomous community of Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea; east of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean; and north of the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. Andalusia is the only European region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. The small British overseas territory of Gibraltar shares a three-quarter-mile land border with the Andalusian province of Cádiz at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar.

The name "Andalusia" is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus. As well as Romani influences, the region's history and culture have been influenced by the earlier Iberians, Carthaginians/Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, Muslim Moors and as well as the later Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who conquered and settled the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista. Including an intense relationship with Naples, Italy.

Andalusia has been a traditionally agricultural region, compared to the rest of Spain and the rest of Europe. However, the growth of the community especially in the sectors of industry and services was above average in Spain and higher than many communities in the Eurozone. The region has, however, a rich culture and a strong cultural identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco and, to a lesser extent, bullfighting and Hispano-Moorish architectural styles.

SUNDAY 22 JANUARY 2017 - An absolutely fabulous day travelling to Frigiliana, the seaside at El Torres del Mar and to a mountain top town and f Colmares. The weather was perfect - sunny and warm and the landscape was simply stunning. We are staying in the two story townhouse below and are being chauffeured by our hosts, Shane and Jess, of Spanish Detours. This is really living the dream.


Frigiliana is a labyrinth of zigzagging streets and cobblestone lanes, darkened tunnels, obscure passageways, and inviting cul-de-sacs that often end in pretty courtyards or ornately decorated patios. You will be intrigued at every turn as you weave your way up, along, through, down and around a fascinating maze of limewashed stone and adobe houses.


One of the most conspicuous historical buildings in Frigiliana and the first one that most visitors see on arrival is the Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana (El Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana), a Renaissance palace built during the sixteenth century, which was later converted to a sugar mill and which continues to this day in full operation as such. It is the last remaining sugarcane factory still in operation in Europe. Known locally simply as “El Ingenio”, its proper commercial name is The Cane Honey Factory Our Lady Carmen (La Fábrica de Miel de Caña Nuestra Señora del Carmen). The walls of the front façade and other structural elements were built with stones derived from the destroyed Arab castle of Castillo Lízar (Lízar Castle), the Arab fortress that once served as an important defensive structure and refuge for the village folk during times of conflict or attack from opportunistic marauding bands of corsairs coming up from the coast.


During the 14th and 15th centuries, Frigiliana maintained an important administrative position over numerous other villages and towns in the Axarquía, having had jurisdiction over many much larger towns and villages in the region, even as far away as Periana. Furthermore, it would be neglectful not to mention that, during this time, considered to be its most opulent and prosperous period, Frigiliana held important economic and political status in the region, proving to be a major centre of commerce and trade as a consequence of the esteemed quality of its products in both local and international markets, the productivity of its arable land, and the exploitation of the profuse natural resources of its immediate mountain environment.

Another of the most prominent landmarks in Frigiliana is The Church of San Antonio de Padua (La Iglesia de San Antonio of Padua). The church dates to the sixteenth century and is an architectural statement and religious symbol of celebration of the successful reconquest of Frigiliana from the Moors by the Christians. We had coffee in the little square in front of the church.


he events of Frigiliana’s past has left an important historical legacy and a fascinating anthropological record during the course of its history. By far, the most extensive and pervasive of these events was the Moorish presence during more than eight centuries (711 – 1569), which certainly had a profound and long-lasting influence on all aspects of life, even to this present day. Frigiliana is also known as the “Village of the Three Cultures”, which refers to the period when Jews, Muslims and Christians co-existed in the village.


We took a circuitous route down to the coast to have lunch at El Torres del Mar, a Mediterranean Sea side village. Casa Miguel does a barbecued Sea Bream for 10 Euros. Beer is incredibly cheap. The fish are s barbecued on the beach.


After lunch we drove on up to Colmares a spectacularly pretty 'white village' high up in the mountains. The origin of the name Comares is from the Arabic word Qumaris or Hins Comarix, which means "Castle in the height." Comares was not founded by the Arabs, but by the Greeks and Phoenicians who arrived on the coast of Málaga in the seventh century BC. It was a Moorish fortress since the eighth century CE.


We walked down through the cemetery. As the ground is rock, people cannot be buried underground so they use above ground crypts. It is quite competitive to get and keep a space. The crypts are leased for 10 years after which people must pay 5000 euros for the next ten years or they are removed.



The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance tastes. In 1526 Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the revolutionary Mannerist style influenced by Humanist philosophy in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture, but which was ultimately never completed due to Morisco rebellions in Granada.

The first picture shows the scenery on the early morning drive to Granada.



Alhambra's late flowering of Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty who were increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site, the re-discoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.

Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. The palace complex was designed with the mountainous site in mind and many forms of technology were considered. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra), which is overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges, and myrtles; its most characteristic feature, however, is the dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park has a multitude of nightingales and is usually filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. These are supplied through a conduit 8 km (5.0 mi) long, which is connected with the Darro at the monastery of Jesus del Valle above Granada.

We had fabulous weather once again. The walk in is lined with English Elms brought here by the Duke of a Wellington in 1812.


Our first stop was at Generalife. The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace and country estate of the Nasrid rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus, now beside the city of Granada in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.


On the way to the Alcabaza we passed through La Puerto del Vino (Wine Gate) and then went to see La Puerto de la Justica (Gate of Justice) which was just an external Gate dating from 1354. The bolts are original.


The triangular Alcazaba (citadel) with its thick walls and towers was the main form of defence for the Alhambra against attack. This is the oldest part of the Alhambra complex and was the site of the original red castle. It was Mohammed I who built the surrounding walls and the three towers: the Torre de la Vela (Watchtower) in the far-right corner, the Torre Quebrada (the “Broken” Tower) and the Torre del Homenaje (the Keep). A further tower was added subsequently: the Torre de la Pólvora (the "Gunpowder" Tower). Work on the palaces began later and the Sultan lived here until they were finished. In the photo on the left, you can see the Torre de la Vela with its flags and belltower and the citadel.

The first picture is the view from the Alcazaba?


The Palace of Charles V is a Renaissance building in Granada, southern Spain, located on the top of the hill of the Assabica, inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra. The building has never been a home to a monarch and stood roofless until 1957.[1][2]

The structure was commanded by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to establish his residence close to the Alhambra palaces. Although the Catholic Monarchs had already altered some rooms of the Alhambra after the conquest of the city in 1492, Charles V intended to construct a permanent residence befitting an emperor.


We had to get in line and enter the Nasrid Palaces at a particular time ie between 1.00 pm and 1.29 pm or miss out.

Mohammed ben Al-Hamar (Mohammed I) was the first king to move to the Alcazaba and no records about a new palace being built are kept until those of Abu l-Walid Ismail (fifth king of the dynasty). A palace was built near the Great Mosque (Gran Mezquita) but only the Mexuar is now left because Yusuf I destroyed it completely. He started some improvements in the Comares Tower (Torre de Comares), the Court of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes) and the Baths (Baños). These improvements were finished by Mohammed V, who added them all to the Mexuar, extended the gallery that would later be called Machuca and constructed the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones). These two kings were the most important ones as regards the construction, reconstruction, and decoration of the Alhambra.

There are three independent areas in the Nasrid Palaces (Palacios Nazaríes): the Mexuar, which corresponds to the semipublic part of the palace or selamlik, for justice administration and State affairs; the Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares), which was the official residence of the king; and the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones), which was the private area of the palace, where the Harem was located. Not only were these areas different because of their functions, but also because of their artistic characteristics. The Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares) was decorated in a typically Muslim way, but the Palace of the Lions (Patio de los Leones) presents Christian influences, probably as a consequence of the friendship between Mohammed V and his Castilian counterpart Pedro I, the Cruel.

Here are some pictures taken on our walk through.




We took a taxi up to the hill opposite the Alhambra. This area is called the Albaicin, the Arab Quarter. In the 756 Arabs are already in the peninsula. It is the time of Independent Emirate. The Arab population is manifested in two centers: the Albaicín and the Alhambra.

This neighborhood had its greatest influence at the time of the Nazari. The Albaicín maintains the urban fabric of the Moorish period, with narrow streets, in an intricate network that extends from the top (St. Nicholas) through the course of the river Darro and Calle Elvira, both located in Plaza Nueva.

In December 1499, Albaicín become the starting point of a rebellion throughout Granada, which were triggered by the forced conversions of the Muslim population to Christianity.

The traditional type of house is the carmen, consisting of a free house surrounded by a high wall that separates it from the street and includes a small orchard or garden.

We walked from the top down through narrow winding streets with souk like shops.



We had a later start today to drive up to El Torcal. El Torcal de Antequera is a nature reserve in the Sierra del Torcal mountain range located south of the city of Antequera, in the province of Málaga off the A45 road in Andalusia, Spain. It is known for its unusual landforms, and is one of the most impressive karst landscapes in Europe. The area was designated a Natural Site of National Interest in July 1929, and a Natural Park Reserve of about 17 square kilometres was created in October 1978.


Spain does not allow any roadside advertising. The first joy one allowed are the Osborne Bulls - 14 metres high showing El Toro in profile. There are 23 of these in Andalusia.


We drove down to Malaga. It is a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, known for its high-rise hotels and resorts jutting up from yellow-sand beaches. Looming over that modern skyline are the city’s 2 massive hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of Moorish rule.

Here is a photo of the Alcazaba, the Moorish fortress, with a Roman Amphitheatre at the base.


We walked through narrow streets without cars to the City Markets where there was an an abundance of fresh produce. We had beer, wine and tapas and then moved to a historic bar selling a unique fortified wine Pajarete, a sweet wine reminiscent of port.


The markets were amazing. One end has a very large stained glass window.



More wine at this very old establishment.


The city's soaring Renaissance cathedral is nicknamed La Manquita ("one-armed lady") because one of its towers was curiously left unbuilt. The third picture is the Bishop' Residence just across from the Cathedral.


We visited the Picasso Museum. Pablo Picasso was born here in Malaga. The first picture shows the building where he was born. It is the second floor apartment on the right hand building.


The Picasso Museum. No photos allowed.


Ronda is a mountaintop city in Spain’s Malaga province in Andalusia that’s set dramatically above a deep gorge. This gorge (El Tajo) separates the city’s circa-15th-century new town from its old town, dating to Moorish rule. Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge, has a lookout offering views. New town’s Plaza de Toros, a legendary 18th-century bullring, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

It was a stunningly beautiful day with blue sky and warm weather despite this town being more than three times higher than Mt Coot-tha at home.

Our guide Jesus was excellent. In fact, he was the guide for Michelle Obama when she visited Ronda.


The new bridge was built in 1789.


The Bull ring is now in the new town. large_DSC04170.jpg

Previously it was in the square in the old town in front of the oldest church, St Maria della Mare. The balconies were added to the church in the mid 18 th Century to allow visitors to sit and watch the bull fights and other important events.


View from the old bridge which sits beside the even older bridge. The old bridge was built in medieval times while the even older bridge was built by the Moors.


We left Ronda for Setenil de las Bodegas. It is a town (pueblo) in the province of Cádiz, Spain, famous for its dwellings built into rock overhangs above the Rio Trejo. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 3,016 inhabitants. It has an exact antipodal city: Auckland, New Zealand.

This small town is located 157 kilometres northeast of Cádiz. It has a distinctive setting along a narrow river gorge. The town extends along the course of the Rio Trejo with some houses being built into the rock walls of the gorge itself, created by enlarging natural caves or overhangs and adding an external wall.


This one is for sale and would appear to be a bargain for the handyman. Perhaps a lick of paint might do the job!


Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It's famous for flamenco dancing, particularly in its Triana neighborhood. Major landmakrs include the ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty, and the 18th-century Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza bullring. The Gothic Seville Cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and a minaret turned bell tower, the Giralda.

Marta was our guide in Seville today. She was excellent as an official guide with just the two of us. First stop was the Alcazar. The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.


The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville (Andalusia). It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It is also the largest cathedral in the world, as the two larger churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter's Basilica, are not the seats of bishops. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies.

After its completion in the early 16th century, the Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years. The cathedral is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus. The Archbishop's Palace is located on the northeastern side of the cathedral.


The Giralda is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral in Seville, Spain. It was originally built as a minaret during the Moorish period, with a Renaissance style top subsequently added by Spaniards. The Giralda was registered in 1987 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with the Alcazar and the General Archive of the Indies. The tower is 104.1 m (342 ft) in height and remains one of the most important symbols of the city, as it has been since medieval times.

Construction of the tower began under architect Ahmad Ben Baso in 1184. The tower was completed March 10, 1198 with the installation of copper spheres on the tower's top. The Almohads built similar towers in what are now Spain and Morocco during this period. The tower of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh served as a model for the Giralda and its sister, the Hassan Tower in Rabat.

The addition of the bell tower on the was in the Christian Era.

View of Giralda from cathedral.

Colleen and Jess walked to the The Plaza de España ("Spain Square", in English). It is a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), in Seville, Spain, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture.


Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.


We walked through the Jewish Quarter. In the 15th Century, Ferdinand and Isobella, the monarchs who finally ousted the Moors from the last outpost in Granada, ruled that all non Christians were to be given 3 months to convert or they would have to leave the country without any possessions.

Posted by Kangatraveller 11:49 Archived in Spain Comments (0)


The Vatican and the Galleria Borghese

semi-overcast 13 °C

WEDNESDAY 18 JANUARY - Train from Civitavecchia to Rome. Quite a warm day so we went for a walk and called into the most amazing Basilica a few hundred metres from our hotel - Basilica Di Santa Maria deg like Angeli e dei Martiri.

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is a titular basilica church in Rome, Italy built inside the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian in the Piazza della Repubblica.


The basilica is dedicated to the Christian martyrs, known and unknown. Impetus for this dedication had been generated by the account of a vision experienced in the ruins of the Baths in 1541 by a Sicilian monk, Antonio del Duca, who had been lobbying for decades for papal authorization of a more formal veneration of the Angelic Princes. A story that these Martyrs were Christian slave labourers who had been set to constructing the Baths is modern. It was also a personal monument of Pope Pius IV, whose tomb is in the apsidal tribune that culminates the series of spaces.


The thermae of Diocletian dominated the Quirinal Hill with their ruined mass and had successfully resisted Christianization. MichelangeLo designed the church inside the ruined baths already 1200 years old. Here is a view from of the exterior of The Baths of Diocletian. The Basilica was built in one section of the baths.


At Santa Maria degli Angeli, Michelangelo achieved an unexampled sequence of shaped architectural spaces with few precedents or followers. There is no true facade; the simple entrance is set within one of the coved apses of a main space of the thermae. The plan is developed from a Greek cross, with a transept so dominant, with its cubical chapels at each end, that the effect is of a transverse nave.

The great vaulted transept gives a striking display of the magnificent scale of Roman constructions, 90.8 meters long, and with the floor that Michelangelo raised to bring it up to the Seicento street level, 28 meters high. Raising the floor truncated the red granite Roman columns that articulate the transept and its flanking spaces. Michelangelo made the transept 27 meters wide, thus providing vast cubical spaces at each end of the transept.

In 2006, Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj created new bronze doors as well as a statue of John the Baptist for the basilica. In April 2010, a five metre high bronze statue of Galileo Galilei Divine Man (designed by 1957 Nobel laureate Tsung-Dao Lee) was unveiled in a courtyard within the complex.

Santa Maria degli Angeli was the official state church during the Kingdom of Italy (1870-1946).

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Pope Clement XI (1649-1721) commissioned Francesco Bianchini (1662-1729) to build a meridian line within the basilica to check the accuracy of the Gregorian reformation of the calendar (1582).


The sun shines through a small hole in the southern wall to cast its light on the meridian line each day.


THURSDAY 19 JANUARY - a visit to the Galleria Borghese.

The Galleria Borghesese is housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. At the outset, the gallery building was integrated with its gardens, but nowadays the Villa Borghese gardens are considered a separate tourist attraction. The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (reign 1605–1621). The Villa was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio, developing sketches by Scipione Borghese himself, who used it as a villa suburbana, a party villa at the edge of Rome. scipione Borghese was not particularly religious but was made a Cardinal at the age of 26 by his uncle, Pope Paul V despite never having been a priest.


Scipione Borghese was an early patron of Bernini and an avid collector of works by Caravaggio, who is well represented in the collection by his Boy with a Basket of Fruit, St Jerome Writing, Sick Bacchus and others. Other paintings of note include Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael's Entombment of Christ and works by Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocci.

Many of the sculptures are displayed in the spaces for which they were intended, including many works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which comprise a significant percentage of his output of secular sculpture, starting with early works such as the Goat Amalthea with Infant Jupiter and Faun (1615) and Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius (1618–19) to his dynamic Rape of Proserpine (1621–22), Apollo and Daphne (1622–25) and David (1623) which are considered seminal works of baroque sculpture.

Here we s Bernini's Rape of Persephone and a close up of the hands on flesh. Bernini did this work when he was 21 years old.


Bernini's Apollo and Daphne and his David.


Antonio Canova's Venus was modelled by Pasolini Borghese, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. When asked how she could pose nude, she said it was quite warm in the studio.


Now from the world of art to the ridiculous - parking in Rome. I think it is a real art to getting a parking space.


FRIDAY 20 JANUARY 2017 - Most of the day at The Vatican, a city-state (44 hectares) surrounded by Rome, is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It's home to the Pope and a trove of iconic art and architecture. Its Vatican Museums house ancient Roman sculptures such as the famed “Laocoön and His Sons” as well as Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.

The photos show St Peter's Basilica, The ugly red brick triangular structure being the exterior of the very beautiful Sistine Chapel, Bernini's 89 columns.

The Vatican Obelisk was originally taken by Caligula from Heliopolis in Egypt to decorate the spina of his circus and is thus its last visible remnant. This area became the site of martyrdom of many Christians after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. Ancient tradition holds that it was in this circus that Saint Peter was crucified upside-down.


Vast galleries and many steps take us through many galleries including Ancient Greece and Rome, the Tapestries Gallery, The Map Gallery and the four rooms of the Raphael Rooms before we get to the Sistine Chapel. The first picture is of Laocoon and Sons from 1 AD.


Art works from the Raphael Rooms of the early 1500's.


The Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 as s 32 year old. He painted the Day of Judgement many years later as a sixty year old. He looked fed a very lng life and died st the age of 89.


We walked through to St Peter's Basilica. The pictures below show the Holy Door generally only opened every 25 years to admit pilgrims, the Nave, the Dome, Bernini's Baldachin and Mother chelangelo's Pieta.

The Holy Door

The Nave

Michelangelo's Pieta was done when he was a 23 year old.

The Dome of St Peter's

The tomb of Pope John Paul 11 who was made a Saint 9 years after his death.

St. Peter's Baldachin is a large Baroque sculpted bronze canopy, technically called a ciborium or baldachin, over the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave surrounded by Rome, Italy. The baldachin is at the centre of the crossing and directly under the dome of the basilica. Designed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, it was intended to mark, in a monumental way, the place of Saint Peter's tomb underneath. Under its canopy is the high altar of the basilica. Commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, the work began in 1623 and ended in 1634.

The bronze for this was taken from the roof of the Pantheon by the Barberini's one of whom was the Pope. The saying was, "What the Barbarians didn't take was taken by the Barbarinis".

What a wonderful day! We leave for Rio Gordo, a little village outside Malaga, Andalucia, Spain, in the morning for an eight day stay. We have to endure a long day tomorrow with two flights from Rome to Madrid then Madrid to Malaga.

Posted by Kangatraveller 08:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

MSC MAGNIFICA 12 day cruise

Eastern Mediterranean - GREECE, MALTA, CYPRUS, ITALY

sunny 12 °C

SATURDAY 7 JANUARY 2017 - On board the MSC MAGNIFICAlarge_DSC02597.jpg

Genoa, the capital of Liguria is located in the Gulf of Genoa in front of the Ligurian Sea and is the sixth largest city in Italy with a population of 588,688[1] within its administrative limits on a land area of 243.6 km2. The urban area of Genoa, coinciding with its metropolitan city, has a population of 862,885.[2] Over 1.5 million people live in a wider metropolitan area that stretches all along the Riviera. Genoa is one of Europe's largest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy. Genoa is set in a mountainous area with large elevation changes in its urban area.





Malta officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km south of Italy, 284 km east of Tunisia,and 333 km north of Libya. The country covers just over 316 km2, with a population of just under 450,000,making it one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. The capital of Malta is Valletta, which at 0.8 km2, is the smallest national capital in the European Union. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.

Malta's location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British, have ruled the islands.

King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the George Cross to Malta in 1942 for the country's bravery in the Second World War. The George Cross continues to appear on Malta's national flag. Under the Malta Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1964, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom as an independent sovereign Commonwealth realm, officially known from 1964 to 1974 as the State of Malta, with Elizabeth II as its head of state. The country became a republic in 1974, and although no longer a Commonwealth realm, remains a current member state of the Commonwealth of Nations. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.

Malta has a long Christian legacy and its Archdiocese of Malta is claimed to be an apostolic see because, according to tradition dating to around the 12th century and the Acts of the Apostles as interpreted by the faithful, St Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta.



The old fashioned and the new fashioned - old telephone box and electric cabs.

Napoleon stayed here. The current Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tradition - the firing of the cannon at Noon.

WEDNESDAY 11 JANUARY - At Sea Rough conditions so we could not dock at Kolokoton.


Piraeus is a port city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens urban area, 12 kilometres southwest from its city center (municipality of Athens), and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf.

Piraeus has a long recorded history, dating to ancient Greece. The city was largely developed in the early 5th century BC, when it was selected to serve as the port city of classical Athens and was transformed into a prototype harbour, concentrating all the import and transit trade of Athens. During the Golden Age of Athens the Long Walls were constructed to connect Athens with Piraeus. Consequently, it became the chief harbour of ancient Greece, but declined gradually after the 4th century AD, growing once more in the 19th century, especially after Athens' declaration as the capital of Greece. In the modern era, Piraeus is a large city, bustling with activity and an integral part of Athens, acting as home to the country's biggest harbour and bearing all the characteristics of a huge marine and commercial-industrial centre.


Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years, and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennia BC.Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus, which had been a distinct city prior to its 5th century BC incorporation with Athens. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, and in particular the Romans. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2015, Athens was ranked the world's 29th richest city by purchasing power[9] and the 67th most expensive in a UBS study.

Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Zeus

The Acropolis with views of the Parthenon. THe Acropolis can be seen from many vantage points around Athens.

Parliament House and the guards in traditional uniform.

Street scenes with many yellow cabs and lots of traffic.

FRIDAY 13 JANUARY - At sea between Piraeus and Limassol, Cyprus

A beautiful day where we were able to sit out on the balcony. We still needed to wear a coat. Colleen took these pictures of sunset and a n island we slipped past through the day.



Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey. After Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Although the island is geographically in Asia it is politically a European country and is a member of the European Union.

The Republic of Cyprus occupies the southern part of the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. The island (and capital city Nicosia) is divided with Turkey to the north. Known for beaches, it also has a rugged interior with wine regions. Coastal Paphos is famed for its archaeological sites relating to the cult of Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs and mosaic-tiled villas.


14 degrees Celsius today. Limassol has a beautiful promenade and many fishing boats.


We walked through the Old Town Centre.

The 11th Century Medieval Castle was the Sed in 1191 for the marriage to f Richard the Lionhearted and Berengaria the f Navarre.


The Cathedral in Limassol and dancing in the square.



Rhodes is only 19 kms off the Turkish Coast, it is the main island of the Dodecanese, which literally means "12 islands" in Greek. Rhodes is the name of the main town as well as the Island and actually consists of three different cities: Ancient, Medieval and Modern.

The main tourist attraction in Rhodes' fabulous walled old town, Europe's largest inhabited medieval city. The history of Rhodes' Old Town is fascinating. Divided into three sectors - the Knights', the Turkish and Jewish - it contains the island's entire chequers history.

Enter via St Catherine's Gate and head right to discover the Avenue of the Knights, a magnificent medieval thoroughfare which houses the immense 14th-century Palace of the Grand Masters. This was partially destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in 1856 and reconstructed in Grand style by the Italians. It is now a Museum, containing fine antique furniture, sculptures and mosaics.


The Street of the Knights and the Grand Master's Palace.



It was thirsty work walking down the Street of Knights where Knights from various countries had their own houses along this street from the 5th Century AD.


MONDAY - 16 JANUARY - HERAKLION - The Minoan Palace of Knossos and the fabled Labyrinth f the Minotaur. These ruins are 3700 years old.

Heraklion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete. It is the fourth largest city in Greece.


We had a little light rain today.


All in all, there are s not much happening.


We have another 40 hours from Hareaklion to Civittavecha, the port for Rome. So, I will post this blog now and then the second part of Rome next Saturday before we fly to Malaga, Andaluca, Spain.

Posted by Kangatraveller 01:35 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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