Exploring

Two quite different short trips.

First off to Glasgow for an urban adventure (though we’ve been there lots before).

on the train

We took plenty of provisions and entertainment for the journey 

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.

B at motelone Glasgow

“What’s next?  I’ve finished my tea”

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.

necropolis1

It’s a good place for a walk with views over the whole city  – and on a clear day up to the highlands.

birthsmarriages deaths

  Births, Marriages and Deaths though not necessarily in that order*

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.

 

through the bathroom window

view from the bath 

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

seals

watching us watching them

 

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 wrecks

the wreck of the schooner Mary Stewart at Scarininsh

 

old me boat

and another old lady retired ashore

 

 

Two short but sweet breaks, each lovely in their own way.

Marina xx

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.

Cartagena

We sneaked away from the Easter snows and enjoyed a few days in the city of Cartagena. The one in Spain, though I’d like to visit the Colombian one too. What a fascinating place, inhabited for nearly three thousand years,  layers peel away,  almost literally in some cases* to display its history.

Now  MrS is the historian so I may get this wrong but New Carthage** has been Punic, Phoenician, Roman, Moorish and now Spanish. There are lots of museums where you can discover all this history or you can simply wander around the streets.

We did quite a bit of both…..

Here’s the Roman theatre where I practised my voice projection

roman theatre

“Can you hear me at the back MrS?”

And he could, those Romans knew a thing or two about acoustics.  Lots of money has been spent, and well spent, on interpreting Cartagena’s rich history.   I found the Roman

remains the easiest to understand of any I’ve visited. All around the city you can come across vestiges of the past,  Roman roads peeking through a square, villas hidden under a  modern street, temples, baths and workshops. Many reused over the centuries and then emerging again, the theatre once lay under the Cathedral, which was itself destroyed during the Civil War.

It’s not just land based history, there are museums of the sea, one the fascinating Museum of Underwater Archeology explores the objects lost overboard or otherwise to the sea over the centuries.  And you can also visit the one of the  first submarines at The Naval Museum although that’s one we had to leave for  another  visit.

We spent most of our time wandering around the city, it’s very walkable, but did take a morning out on the Feve train to Los Nietos on the Mar Menor.  I’d thought of having a swim or perhaps lunch beside this inland sea, Europe’s largest.

 

But.  It was closed. Well not completely, the yacht club, a restaurant  and one other bar was open, but the resort had a desolate air with houses shut up for the season and perhaps permanently? People must visit, the marina was full of boats, many of them very smart motor cruisers;  the beach was clean and being cleaned, we saw  a couple of women settling down for some sun there,  and there were others like us enjoying a stroll along the promenade.  But where was everyone else?  Over on the La Manga strip perhaps?  I don’t know, but we decided to head  back to Cartagena for lunch.

Ah lunch…..We stayed at The NH hotel Cartagena it was comfortable, very central and we had a terrace with a view of the Port. But we stayed on a room only basis so there was none of that filling up on breakfast to see you through the day. Instead we ate breakfast at cafes***

 

……….and had a stop for lunch in the early afternoon;  useful as shops etc tended to close over lunch time.  Lunch became progressively longer and more elaborate as the week went on…

Culminating in a  three hour lunch at La Marquesita  on Friday before leaving for the airport. Excellent food and great people watching too.

That lunch was superb but our best meal was dinner at Magoga.  The Blue Cheesecake being one of my top three puds EVER.

 

The dish on the right? Pork and smoked sardine, sounds odd, looks a bit brown? Tasted amazing.

Four days and we didn’t see everything, though we did our best to eat everything!

Until next time

Marina x

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*many historic 19th and early 20th century facades have been preserved, shored up, behind them empty lots waiting to be rebuilt or perhaps to reveal their pasts.

**those Carthaginians weren’t very imaginative when it came to names.

***actually that coffee in a glass, Cafe Asiatico, a Carthagenian speciality, was an afternoon treat, though we saw it consumed at breakfast.

 

We also visited Muram Cartagena’s museum of modern art in a beautiful modernist mansion the Palacio Aguirre.

Wondering about that spaceship like yacht? Sailing Yacht A

 

Lanzarote, part II

Around and about Arrecife

 

We’ve had cold and windy weather in Scotland and today it’s sleety too. So it’s no surprise that I’m looking back over my holiday snaps for a diversion. And is it a coincidence that while January thoughts so often turn to abstinence and diets,  many of my photos are of food?  And drink.

We started off on a high note at Lilium which fronts onto the new marina in Arrecife.

 

It was fun to have sunshine and warmth (even if a bit windy) at Christmas. We could have morning coffee outside, and on Christmas Day had a lovely long walk along the seafront. We needed it with all that food.

 

Of course we tried to eat healthily

healthy-brekkie

With varying success………….

 

And we did manage to squeeze in some culture…..

sightseeing

And one last lunch

 

Marina x

Places we liked:

Restaurante Lilium

Estrella del Charco

Bar Andalucia

The Altamar restaurant at the Gran Hotel

Casa Amarilla museum

The Contemporary Art museum at Castillo San Jose

juniper

Or more specifically juniper berries or even more specifically their best known product. Gin, which in its Dutch incarnation is Jenever. Ok, ok they are not strictly speaking the same thing but Jenever is the ancestor  from which gin evolved. Both have been considered medicinal, though gin was also known as “Mothers Ruin”.

When I first started drinking gin, it was quite an old fashioned drink. Gin and tonic, the golf club favourite,  or going further back, the gin and lime sundowner.  But there  also was the Martini, the classic cocktail.  Before it had to be renamed “gin Martini”, before Vodkatini, Appletini, Espresso Martini  or any hint of a Cosmopolitan. Martini, gin and  vermouth,  in its elegant glass garnished with an olive. Gin and vermouth in varying proportions,  I affected to prefer Noel Coward’s*.

There were so many delicious drinks to explore, the Negroni, French75, the Singapore Sling, the Gibson,and  the simple but scrumptious pink gin. With one of these I could be transported to 1920s Florence, Raffles Hotel or Raymond Chandler’s LA.

Today gin is very fashionable, bars offer a huge selection and describe their unique botanicals and match them with artisans tonics. Whisky distilleries are branching out into gin production, it doesn’t call for  years of maturing.  You can drink gin made in Edinburgh, Islay and Caithness, or if you have juniper berries and vodka you can try making some of your own.  But the location of juniper berries is likely to be a closely guarded secret.**

I have quite a sweet tooth, see #Blogtober3 for my paean to cake, but when it comes to drinks bitterness wins every time, even for soft drinks.

So at apero time,  it’s a gin for me please.***

 

Marina x

#Blogtober10

 

 

 

*basically neat gin, though that  version also attributed to Sir Winston Churchill

**juniper bushes are under threat of disease too.

***and these days put some vermouth in my Martini