Finding the nicest places to eat
With family, friends
and a small brown dog.
Finding the nicest places to eat
With family, friends
and a small brown dog.
*Well apart from our permitted hour of outdoor exercise*.*
So with plenty of time on my hands I’ve been looking back at some photos from our trip to Europe in the Autumn. I last posted in November. Back then my main worry was the effect Brexit would have on future trips. And I was sad that it might not be easy to travel around Europe in the same way again…..
France. And DogStarke
How things change. At the beginning of March I spent a couple of days in Edinburgh. MrS was busy with som e research at the Archives. I had fun, meeting a couple of friends for lunch, spending time with Master S., and treating myself to a new phone.
Then the world began to shrink.
Mid March I had a hair appointment, we were being discouraged from too much contact and large gatherings had been banned so I rang ahead to check my stylist was still happy to see me. As I sat in foils under the heater my phone beeped with notifications. Business after business announcing their closure, pubs, restaurants, small shops. The cinema had closed the day before. By the end of that week we had Covid locally and pretty much went into lockdown, lots of my friends went into shielding isolation. Lockdown became official policy the following week.
Spain and DogS again
Our days changed. Normally I walk to our local shop while MrS takes DogS for her walk. But I’ve cut those trips down to once a week and instead we go out for our hour of exercise together. We have a route that avoids livestock*** (completely) and people (mostly) and gives DogS a chance to walk off lead. After that we’re home where MrS has been working in the garden, aided or otherwise by DogS. I’ve been catching up on reading, trying to write, and failing in my attempts to draw trees**** We do a weekly trip to town***** to go to the supermarket or Food Hub.
Portugal, an apposite caricature we saw there, and you know who.
It’s hard not to see friends, difficult not to go out on a sunny evening and scary to hear the news each night. But I’m lucky, I have a house, garden and live in a beautiful part of the world. Tonight there was some good news, a relaxation of restrictions in Austria, a slowing of the pandemic in Spain, and a downward trend in Italy; but still too much grim news.
views from our walks*****,* my attempts with pencils, and DogS
What will life be like after? Different, probably for quite a while. Relaxation of restrictions will be gradual and perhaps not the same everywhere. Many businesses won’t have survived to reopen. There will be hardship and recession.
And too many people missing their family and friends.
Here’s hoping that even though things change, so the good things stay the same.
And looking forward to being with friends again.
**permitted at time of writing, and hoping it continues.
***although we are rural we can’t walk in the fields as it’s lambing/calving season
**** you might imagine I’ve never seen an actual tree
***** it’s about 12 miles to our nearest town
****** we’ve been doing much the same circular walk most days, but in different directions.
It wasn’t the first, nor the longest stop on our holiday but it just might have been our favourite. I didn’t know a lot about it when I chose it as a stop off, and it doesn’t have masses of “must see” sights*, it’s simply a lovely place to be. It was quite astoundingly beautiful, surrounded by mountains, full of attractive buildings and fringed by golden beaches.
It might have been the gorgeous weather, or relief at having parked the car after a fairly relentless drive. You might equate Biarritz with Belle-Epoque splendour and surfer hip but to me it’s a mass of giant lorries hurtling their cargo to Spain and Portugal. Obviously we didn’t actually visit Biarritz, or Bayonne, or straddling the border Irun; but their names flashed past as I gripped the wheel and followed the SatNav. Then when we reached San Sebastian a road close to our hotel was closed forcing us to navigate old school style. I was so pleased to have arrived that I didn’t even baulk at driving into the underground garage. Well not that much.
The previous few days in France MrS had been recovering from a lurgy so it was lovely to sit, soak up the sun, relax and enjoy lunch.
Two important lessons from that first lunch: one, Spanish restaurants are not generally dog friendly, and two, some “menu del dia” include a bottle rather than a glass of wine*.* Actually the last one could be a northern thing as I’ve never come across it on other visits.
We did find one dog friendly*** restaurant in San Sebastian, Kaxilda was a few blocks inland from our hotel and a little hard to find but very friendly and with some nice vegetarian options.
With all that eating we had lots of calories to walk off, luckily San Sebastian is perfect for that, we walked along the paseo de la concha, headed east through the fringes of the old town and were amazed by the waves on the Rio Urumea, surfers rode even bigger ones on Playa de Zurriola.
Next day we had a slightly more strenuous walk up to Monte Urgull
looking down from the top
You can see from the pictures that there’s something for everyone, gorgeous sandy beaches, including one for surfers, grand shopping streets, the old town crowded around the port and delicious food. We didn’t get to try out any of San Sebastian’s Michelin stars and with DogS it was hard to fully experience the pinxtos bars but we ate very well.
this little dog taking advantage of the spillages
At the western continuation of Playa de la Concha, (Playa de Ondaretta) you can board the funicular which climbs up Monte Igueldo
There’s a small funfair at the top, which was closed for the season. As well as the roundabouts and dodgems there was a wooden roller which on first glance seemed very tame, but then I looked at how closely it hugged the cliff and decided I was glad it was shut. There’s not a lot else up at the top but the views are gorgeous and it’s a popular spot in the early evening.
We took the beach back into town, in the evening dogs are allowed to run free.
“it’s my ball”
And after that, it was time for a sundowner.
Until next time
*there are good museums and cultural centres, just not as well known as the Guggenheim, Bilbao.
**we actually started to avoid “drinks included” menus
***by dog friendly I mean places where dogs can join their owners indoors, most places allowed dogs on the terrace.
Don’t misunderstand, I’ve nothing against the other continents, I’m just delighted that we’ve got a little reprieve and still belong to the EU and all the benefits that brings. We’re just back from a three week trip through France, Northern Spain and Portugal, taking advantage of DogStarke’s pet passport for what may be its last outing.
DogStarke on tour
(and a couple of friends she made along the way)
We all did lots of walking, and MrS and I did lots* of eating and drinking.
Discovered that we’d planned much of our journey along the ancient pilgrim routes
And visited lots of Cathedrals…..
I’d intended to blog as we travelled but we all know what happens to good intentions on holiday.
Now I’m trying to get back into blog mode.
So this is just a taster,
Until next time.
*too much in my case.
It’s been a bit dreich* today and so I ditched my plans to visit a local garden and remembered sunny times in April instead. (Caught up on the ironing too)
Alicante. Probably most travellers fly there to reach the resorts of the Costa Blanca but that’s a shame. Our previous visit to Spain had been Seville, a major tourist city full of world famous attractions but Alicante had plenty to occupy us. We climbed up to the Santa Barbara castle, explored colourful streets, ate and drank well. And even though I didn’t brave a sea swim I enjoyed a paddle from El Postiguet beach.
There was a superb exhibition of treasures from Persia (modern day Iran)
And a fascinating municipal museum of Fogueres fantastic sculptures built by neighbourhood organisations then burnt in a festival of bonfires each June
I even managed to find a dress for a wedding next month.
Before MrS retired we did a certain amount of travelling for his work, often to places we wouldn’t have otherwise chosen, and because of that I’ve been lucky to visit some amazing places. This trip was a little like that, determined by time and available flights, but we had a really great time.
And the flight home was pretty spectacular
Until next time,
We stayed at the lovely Hospes Amerigo
*Scottish word meaning wet and grey
Not the musical variety, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever been to one of those home or away. There were Glasgow’s Big Day concerts in 1990, somehow I got into the then Copthorne hotel to watch the George Square gig and then went down to Glasgow Green in the evening (that was the time Sheena Easton got booed* for her Mid Atlantic twang); and I was at the Nelson Mandela Tribute concert at Wembley the same year, but the full mud and music experience? No. The festivals I mean are the holiday ones, Christmas, New Year, Twelfth Night, Thanksgiving. The latter one first, but far from traditionally when two of MrS’s American colleagues invited us to celebrate it with them in Curacao, instead of turkey we ate curry.
Then in 2016 while we were in the throes of building works we sought out some Christmas sunshine in Lanzarote
And last year we welcomed the arrival of the Kings in Tenerife
This year we spent New Year or Saint Sylvestre in France.
Of course there were still signs of Christmas
and portents of L’Epiphanie
But the main event was New Year.
Restaurants offered festival menus
Here are those puds
But it seemed lots of people would be enjoying seafood platters at home
Midnight and the arrival of 2019 was a low key affair. We headed to the Mairie
to watch the clock.
But missed the crowds you’d see in Scotland
It was a little livelier at the casino
where we could hear a party. But we just enjoyed the lights and headed back to our hotel.
Where we might* have had a kiss under the mistletoe**
Best wishes for 2019 and Happy New Year to anyone celebrating it tonight.
***”gui” in French it appeared in the shops on New Year’s Eve
PS Almost back home I became “King” of the day when I found the bean in our pie
What will I write in my diary tonight?
Last Thursday in Deauville was mostly about food!
It might have been a tad chilly outdoors but this was our favourite cafe and we didn’t want to leave @southfieldchat (aka B) behind. That would have added insult to injury. Thursday was “le vet” day, she had to go for her mandatory examination and worm treatment before travelling back to the UK.
After breakfast we had a little urban walk,
made a note to buy our Gallette du Roi, and stopped for another coffee.
After that it was time for “le vet”. Now we’ve been to France twice before with B and had two very different experiences at the vets. First time in Ile de Re was great with a nice young vet who did a very thorough examination and was kind and gentle; second time around in Bergerac, mmm a little less so, the vet had a blood spattered tunic and did a strange “flip” manoeuvre to check B’s bones. She was very much less than impressed. Happily Mme le Vet. in Deauville was lovely and certainly came top in B’s book. She hid the tablet in cheese! B would have stayed there all day.
“What? That was medicine?!?!?”
Wormed, passed fit and with all her papers signed (in all the right places ****) B was legal for re-entry to the UK and we were all free to enjoy the afternoon. So we a took little drive along the coast to Villerville where we popped into a Brocante and took B for a walk on the beach. Because that’s her favourite thing, home or away.
And well, we might have had a spot of lunch……
Villerville was the location for the 1960s movie un Singe en Hiver (in English “A Monkey in Winter” or “It’s Hot in Hell”) and the Cabaret Normand is a restaurant still, but we ate galletes in the creperie across the road.
Now you might think that after all that we’d be done with food for the day, and you could be justified in thinking that. But you’d also be wrong. Very, very wrong.
This was our last evening after all!
We’d booked at one of Deauville’s Michelin starred restaurants***: Maximin Hellio.
I don’t have many photos of the food, we were too busy enjoying it.
We’d chosen our menu when we booked but hadn’t realised it would be at the “chef’s table”, actually a very comfortable banquette looking into the kitchen. Normally that wouldn’t be my choice but this was interesting, and as things got less busy M. Hellio chatted to us, well mostly to MrS. I’m fairly proficient at reading menus and know more food vocab. than any other type but struggle with anything more than basic conversation. But even with my poor language skills I could appreciate the care and pleasure he put into his craft.
We left clutching our loot, boxed up petit fours we were too full to eat and an autographed Michelin guide. Stopping off in the Place for one last look at the Christmas lights and then back to the hotel and our beds.
***the other is L’Essentiel (more about that later)
****VERY IMPORTANT, we’ve seen dogs turned away at Calais even though they’d been to a vet but their passports had been stamped or signed in the wrong place.
Two quite different short trips.
First off to Glasgow for an urban adventure (though we’ve been there lots before).
Our bed for the night was new, both to us and Glasgow at the brand new Motel One ; they even had photos from the West Highland line to make us feel at home. It’s close to Central station and the shops and is very, very dog friendly.
If you don’t know the Motel One brand they are well worth checking out. We’ve stayed at their Princes Street branch and they’re also in Newcastle and Manchester.
I couldn’t go to Glasgow without visiting the shops but it’s not quite as dog friendly as Edinburgh, possibly because a lot of my favourites (eg. Whistles, Space NK ) which are dog friendly there are inside malls in Glasgow. The massive Waterstones branch on Sauchiehall Street is dog friendly though, as is Anta and lots of lovely independents on and around Great Western Road. Luckily it was mostly sunny and MrS was happy to wait outside on Buchanan Street while I shopped, and of course Dog S loved all the attention from passers by.
It wasn’t all consumerism though, nor sitting about for DogS. We had a pretty extensive walkies, in fact I covered more steps than I do at home. I’ve walked all over Edinburgh and explored many overseas cities on foot but apart from shopping trips Glasgow on foot has been a path less travelled.
Glasgow is full of impressive buildings, also some haunting ruins. The city centre is full of memories of Glasgow’s time as “second city of empire” and those Victorians didn’t limit their exuberance to building for commerce; on a hill behind the Cathedral is the Necropolis.
It’s a good place for a walk with views over the whole city – and on a clear day up to the highlands.
I thought back to our visit when I read this post today**.
And our second trip? Quite different, over the sea to ….. Tiree, the most westerly of the Inner Hebrides. Because of its westerly position it’s much sunnier and drier than many of the islands and also much windier! So windy in fact that it’s a hub for surfing and windsurfing, the Tiree Wave Classic had been held the weekend before our visit.
We stayed at The Old Thatch in Scarinish, small and cosy just perfect for two people and one dog. A traditional two roomed cottage it would have housed a large family well into the 20th century.
Now Tiree’s built environment might be a tad less grandiose than Glasgow’s (though very attractive) but its beaches would be hard to beat.
And it was even warm and sunny enough for a picnic
Our lunch spot was close to the Ringing Stone an “Erratic” which landed on Tiree after a volcanic eruption. Don’t worry about getting hit on the head by flying rocks though, it happened millennia ago. Nearby basking seals jumped into the sea and swam close to get a good look at us.
the Ringing Stone
It wasn’t all gorgeous natural beauty though, once again all too much plastic waste washed in by the tide. When the shells are sand the plastic will still be around.
Two short but sweet breaks, each lovely in their own way.
PS. I’m just back from a shorter trip, just one night in Perth. A shout out to Gringos a lovely, lively bar, dog friendly of course with great food and friendly staff. Not the place for a quiet romantic night perhaps but well worth a visit. Another plus for Perth(shire), a selection of libraries have introduced dog friendly Fridays . No accommodation report because I like to post positive reviews, the only plus point being DogS could come too.
*The Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and Infirmary (in the background right).
** I was a bit delayed completing and posting this.
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