Italy, Spain · 34 Days · 67 Moments · August 2017

Ann's journi to Italy Spain and Portugal.


14 September 2017

Thursday September 14th. Madrid day 5. Our last day in Madrid! and the end of our European Journi. The first stop this morning was a visit to Museo Reina Sofia, mainly modern 20th century art with particular focus on art depicting intellectual and social change in a period of major disruption particularly by world wars and civil wars. For us, the significant artists were Miro, Dali and Picasso, and Picasso's major protest painting, black and white tones, " Guernica " A Miro print used to adorn a wall in Ann's flat in the 60s. We used the Metro to the upper Jeronimos area for lunch at a Mexican Restaurant called Lo Lupito, fabulous food, haven't found anything like it in Melbourne. We walked off lunch in the impressive Parque del Retiro, then stopped for an expresso for Ann and a Sabrina for Tom at Plaza de la Independencia, by the independence arch. Finally last minute shopping to purchase several pairs of Espadrilles. We leave tonight for Singapore for a weekend at the Changri laHotel

13 September 2017

Wednesday September 13th Day 4. Today was very disappointing as we had to cancel our trip to Toledo as Tom decided that three weeks with a sore arm required checking before flying home tomorrow, all ok but took some time. Drinks at sunset on our hotel rooftop terrace followed by Tapas and a few glasses of wine. We,went for a final nighttime stroll around the streets including Puerta del sol. This square was originally the Eastern gate house and castle site of the city, and is now notable for a small fountain and a bronze bear eating from a bronze strawberry tree, and crowds of people waiting for something to happen. Police presence was very obvious everywhere.

12 September 2017

Tuesday 12th September Madrid day 3. A late start after a late dinner last night at Lobby market on Gran Via, excellent. A further shopping trip, then a walk to Plaza Espana, noting the Cervantes Monument, towering above Don Quixote in full armour on a horse, and his ever suffering faithful servant Sancho on a donkey. Man of La Mancha was a book Tom read as a boy. We continued on through the gardens by the Royal Palace, light lunch near Theatre Real, and short walk to find Mercado de San Miguel for more snacks. Museo del Pardo then took up the next few hours into the early evening- an overwhelming experience particularly numerous works by Rubens, Goya, Velazquez, and El Greco and other Italians, Flemish, Dutch etc. Did not know that there is a secondary Mona Lisa at the Prado. A short walk to the station for train tickets, home by metro and another late dinner at El Barril .

11 September 2017

Monday September 11th Madrid day 2. Another sunny warm day, a late-ish breakfast. We then devoted several hours sussing out recommended shops, particularly in the up market, Calle de Serrano, shopping precinct looking for Spanish goods, all on foot. Ann had some success. Then a light Jambon and beer lunch, followed by a stroll down Paseo del Prado to Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza. This displays a former private collection of over 1000 paintings from 15c - 20c, absolutely mind blowing to Tom at least. Two hours there passed quickly. Then a very long stroll through old Madrid, with further shopping opportunities for Ann. Tom's navigating went astray, so it was 7p.m. before we made it back to our hotel, ( 81/2 hours on foot !! ) so we won't go far for dinner tonight.
Sunday 10th September. Porto to Madrid. We farewelled Greg and Heather, ( they go onto North Spain) then a driver took us to the airport to fly ) twin prop plane ) to Madrid, we flew over a lot of dry, barren country. Our hotel is on Gran Via ( like Broadway/ Times Square ) It was closed off for the last day of La Veleuta Espana ( Spanish Tour de France ) so our taxi had to drop us off 300m away! The woman's final was on as we rolled our cases down the street amazing. That evening the men's race finished with about 6 laps up and down. Enormous crowds. We had also fitted in a visit to Palacio Real the Royal Palace, ( huge and very lavish ) Then 6p.m. mass at the adjacent Cathedral, the best way of visiting it without hordes of tourists. Then a late, 9.30 p.m. dinner at Cafe Varella a Restaurant which goes back to the 19th Century.

10 September 2017

9 September 2017

Saturday September 9th. Today, the first cool day, around 18o, but good for a central Porto excursion with our very own Tom the tour guide. We taxied up hill ( following the Rick Steves recommended Porto walk ) We started at the Pedro IV statue in the art nouveau/ Art Deco Praca da Liberdade, then up a side road full of shops for Ann and Heather to browse, then up to Praca Fernades ( honouring fire fighter ) with a coffee / pastry stop at Padaria Riberio, ear colourful murals. Then onto the Carmo churches, and past the Lello & Irmao bookstore, where there were long queues to enter as this store inspired J K Rowling for her Harry Potter novels. Then onto the. Lerigos church and tower, ( organ music ) we t Jed across the river to Taylor's Port store for a very long lunch, magnificent views and a few ports and walked off lunch down hill passing the other port stores, along the river, across the enormous steel bridge back to our hotel for a rest before dinner at 8p.m.

8 September 2017

7 September 2017

Friday September 8th. Sambrosa to Porta Music last night till 4a.m.!! Bells, 20 explosions and music !! This is the main festival feast day. At 8 a.m. the band marched through the streets. The church was open with all it's statues mounted on carry frames and decked with masses of flowers, for that evenings procession. We visited the church at 11a.m. for the first 15minutes for a solemn sung mass, very impressive. At 11.30.a.m. Our Hotel owner Theresa drove us to the Regina station where we caught our train to Porto, a 2 hour trip in part along the Douro river. At Porto we settled into our hotel, then walked around the river side Ribera area, and dined at a little cellar restaurant off the main drag called Taberna Esta - se Bem meaning it's all good, which it was.
Thursday September 7th- Sabrosa to Favaios. Bells at 7a.m, loud speaker music and band music shortly after. Festival continues. We took a taxi down the valley. Then up the other side through the vineyards. We stopped to photograph and talk to the grape pickers. All smiles. Up the hill to the wine village of Favaios, dates back to 2nd century BC. It is the Muscatel grape centre. We visited its fascinating bread and wine museum, displaying the Muscatel wine process and the old fashioned way of baking bread. We walked around the bread trail - 6 old fashioned bakeries, pine wood fired ovens, slow cooked sour dough bread. Tom was very interested, remembered this process as a boy at the Callander bakery. Lunched at Cleto a local cafe, funny experience as we cannot speak Portuguese and the waiters spoke no English,however we still managed to get a good salad lunch.Then a quick inspection of the Muscatel wine co-op.A lazy afternoon by the pool followed by dinner at our Hotel Casa dos Barros,

6 September 2017

4 September 2017

Monday September 4th Coimbra. An interesting day in this University town ( 2nd oldest in Europe after Bologna) University buildings a mix of very old 18th Century Baroque and 20th Century Fascist. At the Royal Library ( extraordinary- beats the old Law Library at Melbourne University hands down ) We found an exhibition of old treatises / books in the basement, on the 400th of the death of Francisco Suarez, a famous rector/academic there ( Jesuit Priest- the Jesuits then ran the University) he published treatises against slavery, (around 1600 ) and also against ( I.e. debunked) the notion of the divine right of Kings to rule (think of James 1 of England which also got him into trouble in Monarchial Portugal. The balance of the day was lunch, then a trip out to the Palace in the Bacaco forest ( marvellous pictorial tiles. Later, an expensive dinner at our hotel Kunitz Das Lagrimas, dates back to 1326.

3 September 2017

Sunday September 3rd, to Coimbra. We left Obidos and up to Nazare - spectacular beaches, particularly on the wilder Sitio side, where huge surf occurs around the equinox- the record for the highest wave ridden by surfboard (30m ) occurred here. Then to Alcobaca coffee and cake stop ( double espresso for Tom - more about that shortly) to inspect the wonderful Gothic church of Santa Maria where King Pedro and his murdered Queen Ines are entombed side by side, hands held together ( google the story ) Then to Batalha to inspect its church and royal cloisters. Next the unexpected happened. Tom had a second arrhythmia episode and was taken by ambulance to the Leiria Hospital ( St Andrew's. ) for assessment and tests- a 7 hour experience in it's hectic emergency ward . The double expresso was the main contributing cause. He recovered after an hour and was fine but the waiting for tests and results was long, then a night time drive, 62 km, with a relieved Ann and driver to Coimbra.

2 September 2017

September 2nd Saturday. From Lisbon to Obidos a drive to Estoril and Caiscais , beach resort. Estoril's Casino is where the James Bond character was conceived by Ian Fleming who was a spy there during WW 11 Thern to Caiscais- think of Noosa a hundredth times larger, Tom had a swim, water temperature like the Portsea back beach ( it is the Atlantic) Then onto Coda do Roc- mainland Europe's most Westerly point. Then to the beautiful Sentra and the Bizzare Pene Palace, a mishmish of styles but a fascinating interior left almost intact when royalty fled in 1910 with the public declaration. Another Tapas lunch in Sinatra town then o to Mafra to look at the grandiose palace and Church, a statement of power in the 1700's by the then king Joau. Then onto the fortress town of Obidos for the night. Tom had a long run following an old aqueduct trail, returned feeling unwell and gave us a scare but recovered enough to enjoy dinner in the Pousada Restaurant?

1 September 2017

September 1st Friday Lisbon day 3. A late rise after last nights Fado, then off for a long day exploring ( mainly walking ) the Baixa and the Barro Alto areas. Near the Rossio ( praca dom Pedro IV ) we had a quick coffee and cake and then found the Largo de Sao Domingos where the church was the centre of the Lisbon Inquisition and the Largo outside made us reflect upon the Portuguese treatment of Jewish refugees in 1506 when, during a famine they massacred thousands in the square ( see Tom looking at the Jewish Memorial) harsh times. We caught the Funicular up to. arrow Alto and walked through this up market designer area to Prasa do Pincereal and had another great Tapas lunch ( see photo ) we came across another St Roch's Church, the first Jesuit Church in Portugal, with a seperate room devoted to paintings depicting the Missionary activities of Frances Xavier in the Far East, seem to be a PR exercise to support his canonisation cause three years later! We trammed home.

31 August 2017

30 August 2017

August 31st Lisbon day 2. Disembarked at 10am. ( last off ) checked into Hotel Solar de Castele., within the castle walls. Today was Bellem day 8km west of the city centre. Impressive church and monastery of San Jeronimos cloisters, Tomb of Vasco de Gama- first to sail around the Cape of good hope to India. We ascended the monument to the discoveries, in the shape of a Caravel, and the extraordinary voyage by all the Portuguese sailors to India, Brazil, Timor, Malaca and beyond. Took us back to primary school days when these facts were drummed into us. In the basement was a constructing pictorial exhibition, of the dark side of the Portuguese colonisation - particularly slavery, but also recording the much later recognition of human rights. That night, we experienced Fado music and dinner at Club de Fado with two additional friends from Melbourne, Ray Dawson and Jennifer Wraith. 1a.m. finish. Fabulous music and interesting singing.
Wednesday August 30th. A beautiful sea entry to Lisbon at sunrise. Passed under the 25 April Bridge ( like the Golden Gate Bridge ) with the huge Christu Rei Statue on the top of the southern hill. We spent the day exploring the Alfame area and the old Castele, lunched at the quirky " Miss Can " ( tinned sardines and mackerel). After lunch we discovered a small cafe which was making Portuguese tarts, they were delicious, warm and flaky. Later, we found the Fado Museum and learned about Lisbon's special form of working class heartfelt music ( stemming from the 19th. Century) usually performed by a male or female singer with males accompanying on Portuguese 12 string guitars we could listen to all the famous performers on audio - see photo of them. Then back to the ship for our last night, very pleasant dining on the outdoor Terrazzo Restaurant deck overlooking Lisbon.

29 August 2017

28 August 2017

August 29th Portugal! Portimao. We spent our first day in Portugal at the city/town of Portimao. The old town centre is two or three kms up the river estuary from the Atlantic Ocean, reliant on a fishing fleet and sardine cannery, plus construction support for a very large beachside Holliday and tourist apartments, located on the cliffs behind the 200m wide sandy beach facing the ocean (Praia da Rocha ). Numerous 8-20 storey high rise apartment blocks dating back to the 1960's, with marinas behind in the estuary. Ann had a day off and stayed to rest on the boat whilst Tom Greg and Heather explored the old town and had a local sardine based lunch. That night we celebrated Greg and Heather's 47th Wedding Anniversary on Silver Muse is theme restaurant, a dressed in black tie for the occasion. .
Monday August 28th. We docked at Cadiz, a picturesque port city, smallish almost an island. Another 2 hour bus trip this time to the famous Seville for a tour of the Alcazar, Moorish in architectural style but a royal palace for Enter the Cruel ( look up the story about how he killed the Sultan of Granada to steal his jewels, including a ruby which he gave to England's Black Prince and which now is prominent in the British State Crown ) and since then for the Spanish Kings and Queens. We also visited the largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe ( Columbus' remains are there) the old and the Spanish Plaza, another long day.

27 August 2017

Sunday August 27th. We bussed from Malaga to Granada (2 hours) across a very hilly and Barron terrain except for olive trees everywhere! They are now even being planted in large vineyard fashion keeping the trees small and close together in vineyard type rows for ease of harvesting and profit.Granada was the last Moor stronghold in Spain and famous for the "Alhambra " a mix of Fortresses. Palaces, Patios, Gardens and water fountains fed by an irrigation system from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. (11,000 feet) The last Sultan surrendered Granada to Ferdinand and Isobel in 1492 the same year that Columbus set sail to discover a new route to Asia/ East Indies. Alhambra was everything we had heard about, a wonderful day.

26 August 2017

Saturday August 26th, Cartagena. Tom completed a 20km dawn run on the upper deck ( about 120 times around the ship ) as the ship approached harbour to dock. Much hotter here. We did a town circuit on a tour bus, and then inspected the Roman Amphitheater and discovered many other Roman ruins. Cartagena is a very old coastal town dating back several centuries B.C. From here Hannibal launched his attack with his army and elephants marching up Spain through Gaul, ( France) and across the Alps into Italy. We adjourned back to the boat for lunch and a relaxing afternoon around the pool, Tom however had succumbed to a lingering virus infection and is now on antibiotics. Early night in readiness for a long day tour from Malaga to Granada.

25 August 2017

24 August 2017

Friday August 25th. Another 8aM. Arrival. Tom as usual on upper deck running track watching the intricate entry to the dock. We shuttled bused into the old town by the 13th. century Torres Serranos gateway by bridge across the former Tarnia river course, ( now diverted, ) rcreating a wonderful long linear park for several Klms down to the sea, including the very impressive modern architectural complex of the civic, arts and science precinct ( worth googling ) Old town sites included the usual churches, a ninety year old art nouveau market building, - great produce. Then a leisurely Tapas lunch. Tom got to the beach for a swim, late afternoon, Greg, Heather and Ann returned to the boat to swim in the pool as it was 35o. Tom did notice a lot of leftovers from the Valencia 32nd America's Cup.
Thursday 24th August. Still in Barcelona, a sleep-in after last night, then a leisurely excursion by foot, Sat the Columbus Column, half way up Ramblas to Mercat st Josep Boqueria the famous covered market, huge variety of fish/ seafood and hams of all sorts, as well as everything else food wise - amazing. Them through the old town to St Jaumes Cathedral, a tapas lunch stop, then continued our walk through the old town, with extensive Roman walls, and across to Parc de la Ciutadella. Ann Neather and Greg then gave up exhausted and caught a taxi back to the ship.Tom as usual continued on with a visit to the previous Mercat Born building, now historic, with not only market displays but now exposed 17th Century building foundations and streets, and then an expection to the modern waterfront area, Promenade and Marina area.
Wednesday 23rd August Evening. In the evening Tom took us to Le Petit Comitie just off P de Gracia, in the Eixample area, for a late Tapas style dinner- excellent food and wine. We walked up through Ramla, where was there was a prominent police presence. There were extensive shrines of flowers, candles and soft toys for the victims of last weeks terrorist attack which evoked memories of Melbourne early this year. It was a somber reminder of life's fragility. We are intensely conscious of this with the sad news of the deaths of Annie Moylan and Mark Niall in the past week.

23 August 2017

Wdenesday 23rd August. Part one day. Barcelona ! Our ship approached the city in darkness. Tom was up running on the upper deck as dawn broke, watching the city lights and port lights blend into the emerging buildings as the sun rose. Today was " Gaudi " day- a five hour tour of this most famous of the modernists architects here in the late 19th and early 20th. century. The tour included a visit to the outskirts to see a smallish crypt Gaudi built practising his teniques for Sagrada Familia, a massive Cathedral which is still, after 90 years, still seven years away from completion. This time we could on,y inspect it externally. Then past several Gaudi houses to inspect one we had not seen before. You will get an idea of his style from the two photos, ( still regarded as way out there )
Part two second photo.

22 August 2017

Interestingly the town became a refuge for a number of exiled writers between 1939 and 1942 including Thomas Mann and Bertold Brecht. We stopped for lunch half down the path overlooking the harbour. We left Tom to swim with the locals at a much better beach than St Tropez. There was a lot of sailing activity on the water, particularly dinghy sailing boat races and sail board races. This was a very pretty town and harbour.
August 21st. Silver Muse left Monaco at 6.45a.m. early with Tom on the running de k and Ann still in bed. Magnificent vista leaving the harbour. Five hours later, we anchored off St Tropez, with tender shuttles to the township. The old town was quaint, but not really impressive. Typical narrow streets. Tom had a swim off a small beach whilst Ann, Heather and Greg had a coffee. Lots of tourists but no sign of the wealthy, famous or beautiful. So back to the boat for a special Japanese dinner/ quite outstanding, accompanied by a lot of Sake. We slept well!
St Tropez August 21st Silver. Use left Monaco at 7p.m.

21 August 2017

On Sunday 20th after Tom had his early morning run we packed our bags and left for the station and caught our train to Monaco Monte-Carlo. There was a long delay at the French border where the French police checked each carriage looking for refugees or suspect people- in fact we saw an African with a backpack running from the train along the train tracks, who knows. We proceeded to Our ship Silver Muse, and embarked ahead of time. We met up with Greg and Heather who had arrived from a small coastal village in France. As we had not been here before we left them to explore the city. We decided the quickest way to see the city in a limited time was to ride on the tourist road train. It has a spectacular setting and boat harbour, unreal world full of apartment blocks and very up market shops. We saw the pink palace in the distance. The security here we were told, is one policeman to sixty residents. We enjoyed a superb dinner on a balmy night over looking the marina.

20 August 2017

19 August 2017

Day 3,4,and5. August 18,19, 20th We trained from Genova along the Ligurian coast to San Remo. Marvellous coastal views and many long tunnels through hills. Numerous beach towns / villages with wall to wall coverage of beaches by thousands of umbrellas in the " pay to use " enclosures. From about 15km east of Sam Remo the train diverted inland from the coast by long tunnels. San Remo station is underground, with the longest connecting tunnel to the station opening in San Remo. San Remo dates back to Roman times it has a very large marina, pedestrian shopping/ eating area, a. Each side promenade and a conversation of the former railway in to a 30km long bike and running trail. Our hotel was the refurbished " Hotel Europa " opposite the Casino. San Remo has its own faded rose charm. Tom had two runs on the rail/trail a short 10km through San Remo and on Sunday a longer 18km run. We both had swims in the sea, in a small public area adjacent to one of the many "pay" enclosures.
On Saturday Tom walked Ann about 7kms over two hours up past the marina and through the Botanical Gardens , that cost Tom a long lunch for Ann, very pleasant for both. Tom continued his exploration of the hill top old town. That night we had a faulty towers dinner experience, which looking back was quite humorous. Tom continued the night at the San Remo Jazz festival.

18 August 2017

After arriving back in Genova, we had a late lunch then a two hour exploring walk discovering the principal points of interest in Genova's " old town " This is said to be the largest substantially intact old city town in Europe. We thought the highlights were Two Rubens paintings in the Jesuit church, ( 1, above the high alter, depicting, unusually and graphically, the Circumcision of Christ ) and then an extraordinary Street ( Via Garibaldi/ Strada Niobe ) full of 18th Century Palazzos - now a UNESCO Heritage site. Later, after a nap, we ventured out for an al fresco meal in one of the old town laneways. All in all a fascinating day.
In the cemetery we found an old headstone with the Gattorna Family inscription, but mostly the old headstone writing had vanished. There were many Gattorna's buried in the 19th, 20th and 21st century and I can only presume that the Gattorna's were quite prominent, judging by the numbers in the cemetery, and it would seem likely that some still live there today.
My first gelato.

17 August 2017

Day 2. August 17th. Another warm to hot Genovese day! Tom explored the East side of Genova with a 9a.m. Run before breakfast, which was very pleasant on a terrace by the Marina boats. We planned our excursion to the village of Gattorna, 27 Km up in the hills. We arranged an English speaking taxi driver, Giorgio, who has a 300 year Genovese ancestry, to take us and to translate. It was a beautiful windy drive up to Gattorna. The village has around 360 residents, and is mostly in a valley. After some enquiries we located the church which was built in 1712, and the adjacent cemetery half way up the hill, overlooking the valley. My Great Grandfather emigrated to Australia in 1890 from this village and my mission was to find some information about him and his family. Unfortunately, the local priest was not at the church where the old records of births, marriages and deaths were kept.

16 August 2017

Day 1. August 15. After a " full on "work day for Tom, he arrived home at 5.40 p.m, final sorting out of bags, then we left home at 6.30p.m. Emily as the nominated driver, to catch our Qatar flight. An earlier departure, for a longer flight, given the airspace restrictions by its neighbours. 31 hours later , after flights to Doha and Malpensa and trains to Milano then Genoa we arrived at our Hotel a balmy 33 degrees. Our first coffee stop was at Milano Centrale stationed.

11 August 2017

Hi family and friends, I'm setting up this journal in anticipation of our upcoming trip, hope you enjoy. Ann and Tom x