Around The World · 52 Days · 185 Moments · May 2018

Singapore / Spain / Portugal / Italy / Croati

21 July 2018

3 planes and 22 hours flying later we are home, but staying awake until bedtime is a killer 😂.
Hellooooo Dunedin - a welcome sight after 7 week’s away. Fantastic holiday and back to work now to pay for the next one 😊

20 July 2018

Our taxi awaits... huge plane back to Singapore!

19 July 2018

Well it’s time to leave our hotel and pack up the car one last time. The Golden Hope In Sittingbourne was arguably the best hotel we’ve stayed in. What a cool place . The rooms are new and perfect. 119 table restaurant spread around the bottom floor in many secluded areas including the old police cells and two outdoor areas. Something like 50 beers at the bar including real English ales and craft beers, all dirt cheap. Great restaurant with terrific service and rock bottom prices. The best toilets I have ever seen in my life!

18 July 2018

We spent a couple of hours visiting Rochester today, which is the town where Debs dad and sisters grew up. Deb has spent a good part of our days cooking lovely meals for Aunty Doreen. She is such a lovely lady and likes all types of food. Since we have been here she has gone from hardly eating anything to hoovering down whole trout and roast dinners. I have to say that Deb gets niece of the year 💕💕 Flying out tomorrow night and back home Saturday.

17 July 2018

Here’s some pics for Deb’s shoe fiend friends ... a little dress shop at Whitstable had a fantastic selection of Irregular Choice shoes retailing at £249 (NZ$500) - Deb bought 2 pairs .... NOT!
Mix of family time and traveling round the district today. Quick shop at Maidstone Sainsburys for ingredients to cook lunch for Doreen - we ended up at Maidstone because Deb was in the wrong lane at the roundabout for Gillingham and traffic was too heavy to change lanes! Headed home with a whole trout and baked it in lemon & herb butter for a tasty wee treat for Doreen - Deb had vege patties & Grant had steak with salad, steamed asparagus & new spuds. Doreen’s got her appetite back & thinks we should stay ... wish we lived closer as she is way less fussy than her brother (poppa bear 🐻)! Will be very sad to leave on Thursday 😪 We visited Canterbury and Whitstable in the afternoon, and had to take the scenic route home when Deb took the wrong exit at the roundabout and ended up back on the M2 instead of the A249 - was nice going the back way through country lanes though & probably much quicker given the 5pm traffic! Note there’s a theme with roundabouts here 🤪

16 July 2018

Dartford’s Bluewater Shopping centre where we shopped today. Built in an abandoned quarry, it’s one of the biggest in Britain. We arrived at 10.30 and didn’t leave til 4.30 - missed the whole day inside there!
Dinner at Los Tacos last night, a surprising find just up the road from where we are staying. Margueritas were great!
This is the Sittingbourne high street; photos taken from the front of Donna’s Ale House. We are staying at the Golden Hope which you can see in one of the photos. Aunty Doreen lives a few streets away. Interestingly, The Golden Hope has an app where you can order and pay for dinner and drinks from your table without having to go to the bar and order. It really works well with drinks arriving in less than 5 minutes from ordering, and meals within 10 minutes. Now that’s a smart business model!!
Fortunately the shop at Bluewater didn’t have Grant’s size in this stunning jacket. He was keen to wear it to Jordan’s 30th 🤪
At Comptoir Libanais in the Bluewater Mall, Dartford enjoying Mezze Platters!

15 July 2018

We’ve had a couple of nights in Sittingbourne and only 3 more til we fly home. Have been spending time with Deb’s aunt, Doreen, and had a family lunch yesterday at The Sun Inn. Gorgeous day - 30 degrees - and a long lazy lunch. Unfortunately Doreen was unable to join us but we took her home a tasty dessert treat. Grant met Deb’s cousins for the first time, and Deb met her other cousins Claire, Sophie & Casper. Casper looks the spitting image of Deb’s dad at the same age. Even though Deb’s been to Sittingbourne a few times, she hadn’t looked around much so before dinner, we went for a walk up the High St & spent an hour at Ypres Tavern enjoying the Karaoke evening & talking to locals. It was more Heff’s Hotel than Heff’s & we were a hit being from New Zealand. One bloke - Mike from Wales, who was a part-time Elvis impersonator - made sure we met his long-time fiancée Maz because she’d never met New Zealanders before. Apparently Deb’s accent is stronger than Grant’s! What accent??

13 July 2018

Last stop Brecon ... a wee wander around the shops and a beer at The Boar’s Head pub beside the Usk River.
Next stop Barry Island for Gavin & Stacey - the dodgem cars were so much fun, but the Minion House a bit disappointing. It’s a kid’s paradise though with lots of rides for toddlers through to adults, games and heaps of junk food places and pubs (for adults). Grant enjoyed his giant hotdog 😊
Oh ... and another gorgeous roadway ... ironically John Denver came on the radio singing ‘Take me home country roads’
First stop on today’s favourite TV show road trip - Pont-y-bery- or Elm St, Ferndale where Stella was filmed. Beautifully kept street but disappointed that Michael’s allotment has been let go 😞

12 July 2018

We stopped for lunch at a village called Hay on Wye where the weekly market was on. The town is famous for having the most bookshops in all of Europe. It also has lots of second clothing and brick-a-brac shops like Nan-Tiques where you can buy stuff that a granny would make or have in her attic 😊 very quirky and a fascinating place to browse for a few hours. Deb was impressed that the market had a Jamaican Vegan food stall and had a jerk soy wrap for lunch - super delicious!
Welsh mountain stream in Brecon Beacons national park. Deb said it was scuzzy, but that was a bit harsh. Glad nobody heard her as we would probably get murdered by Tom Jones or one of his relatives. Now having drinks outside the Tanners Arms Hotel in Defynog where we are staying the next two nights. This has been voted Welsh pub of the year many times by CAMRA the campaign for real ale society. While I was at the bar two old blokes turned up, drunk some beer and gave it a Bronze for 2018. Trees and paddocks across the road. Defynog’s claim to fame is a very old Yew tree in the cemetery that locals say is 5000 years old!
Rental car report. Booked a Nissan but got upgraded to a very new and incredibly powerful Mercedes worth $220k in NZ. Lovely to drive but broke down today in Wales and left us stranded for two hours before an AA breakdown man came and fixed it with some black sticky tape 😂 Honestly, the car connected to his tablet via Bluetooth and told him what was wrong 😳

11 July 2018

Tenby is fascinating with the tides ... here’s some pics of when the tide comes in. So different from the morning pics and the water based activities are very lively late afternoon. Had dinner at a lovely restaurant overlooking the marina before heading to The Crown to watch the Croatia vs England footy semi-final. We were most definitely in the minority supporting Croatia (sorry English family 😬) but we were right ... bring on the final! For our safety we went back to the guest house before the extra time!
Spent the day shopping, sampling beers and sight seeing around Tenby in Wales. A cool 20 degrees. Shops surprisingly cheep even considering a pound is around NZ$2. Now just having a wee time out watching Wimbledon before going out for an early tea and finding a place to watch England versus Croatia in the soccer World Cup semi final. We went down to the betting shop and put a bet on 🇭🇷 Croatia 😁
Loving the Welsh road signs! The Welsh language seems to defy common sense. You can’t even start to pronounce it. Smwddio means “ironing”, cwtsch means cuddle. Were they drunk when they came up with this stuff? I bet they are wicked Scrabble players. 6 letter word with no vowels - not a problem lol
Budget marina in Tenby, Wales. You have to pay extra for actual water 😂

9 July 2018

The road system in Prague was butchered by the Germans during WW2 and has never recovered. Terrible traffic flow and confusion. The middle arrow tells you the street is only 2.2m wide. Our bus driver had to get a van shifted off the footpath so he could drive the bus on the footpath 😂
Hmmmmm no wonder we are exhausted - tried to see all of Prague’s attractions in one day! Found a fantastic restaurant close by for dinner but had to walk a gazillion steps up the hill back to the hotel 😳 Grant had traditional Czech food - cabbage soup with sliced meat followed by pork knuckle. Deb’s beetroot salad was yum also. Guess who will sleep better tonight? Also Grant’s beef soup in a loaf of bread and a tricky signpost where we got a little lost on our way home from tea. Still getting used to the money, last night’s tea cost around 1160 Koruna. Just about shit our pants until we worked out it was only about NZ $80 for two starters, 2 mains and 4 drinks. Tonight’s was only half that much.
Really glad we weren’t driving in Prague today - their road and traffic system is insane! Big traffic jams and people driving all over the road. We did a hop-on-hop-off bus today and were scared for our safety! What do you make of this road sign?
Random photos from Prague. You can see why it is reputed to be one of the worlds most beautiful cities. Took so many photos. Awesome buildings, art and Jewellery.
They claim to have the worlds best toy shop. Hamleys is a fantastic two story shop with a working merry go round, staff flying airplanes and drones all around the place and heaps of things kids can use and play on even if they don’t buy anything. There’s a full playground with tube slide from one level to the other.
Random Prague photos. So glad we came.
Cool buildings with river flowing under.

8 July 2018

Short plane ride from Dubrovnik to Prague this afternoon and arrived to a slightly cooler 24 degrees. Accommodation is very cool with terraces and fantastic views, and in a very cool neighborhood with lots of bars and restaurants. We are quite close to some major attractions which is good because we only have one full day to see everything. We did tick off one thing tonight - going to the best Vegan restaurant in the city - it’s only a 5 minute walk from where we are staying. It didn’t disappoint and was a welcome change for Grant after overindulging at a Bosnian meatfest restaurant last night - it had its own butchery!
Photos from car window on the way to Dubrovnik airport. Such a beautiful country 😢

7 July 2018

Our place in Dubrovnik and the beach below. Croatia beet Russia at soccer last night. OMG town went nuts! We are flying out to Prague in the Czech Republic today and will be sad to leave as we have so enjoyed Croatia.
Dubrovnik the city walls and cliff bars where people dive into the sea.
Very cool little bar handily situated halfway up the hill to our accommodation tonight in Dubrovnik. The chairs are made of baths and the tables the inside of washing machines ... up cycling at its best!
For Vicki ... and Deb’s other shoe loving friends
Bob met a stormtrooper today ... famous person selfie!
Photos from our walk around Dubrovnik and some fab shots of my Darl. Absolutely stunning, though easy to get lost in the maze of narrow streets and many, many steps and archways. We bumped into a local who looked at Grant’s Tyrian T-shirt and said he (actor who plays Tyrian) wasn’t a nice man. Turns out the guy was an extra in a crowd scene and was happy to talk about his experiences. Showed us photos too.

6 July 2018

Alll year round Christmas shop in Dubrovnik - very cool 😎
Did the Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik yesterday and got an insight into the massive undertaking HBO took on when filming the series. Lots of CGI enhancement to create Kings Landing and The Red Keep. See photos from Sersei’s walk of shame stairs and Black Water Bay where Little Finger talked Sansa into leaving on the stone wharf. Pretty cool 😎
Scenery and nice little bay where we pulled in for a swim stop on the way to our last stop at Dubrovnik.

5 July 2018

Sunset at Mljet before the Captain’s Dinner - great food, great company and lots of laughs, dancing and group bonding. According to the crew we are the best group (this week 😂 many nationalities and quite an age range - mid 20’s through to late 50’s but no problems and friendships made. Doing air guitar with a mop to Thunderstruck was so much fun. The day reminded Deb so much of Debby Cooper with the canoeing across the lake and then boogying the night away and being silly. She was here in spirit egging Deb on I reckon. Good night and great memories 😍
Walking to one of the inland lakes in the national park on Mljet (pronounced mmm-yet) Island. We hired a canoe and paddled up the lake, around the island and back with swim stop on the island. An island in a lake on an island...this is a salt water lake full of sea fish. Very very pretty. Perfect place to hire an apartment for a week (55 Euro a night) to just chill and enjoy the beautiful scenery and many outdoorsy activities - anyone keen?!
Our cruise group hard at work as we sail to the island of Mljet 😎
Sunrise this morning at Korcula and all of us boaties in for our morning swim - the water is getting warmer as we head closer to the equator.

4 July 2018

Good to have all facilities in the one place ...
Evening drinks in a bar inside a guard tower on the city wall. Very cool 😎. Access to the top level was a bit tricky lol 😂. Drinks had to be winched up from the bar below using a rope and pulley.
Grant spent the afternoon on the beach at Korcula while Deb hit the shops.
Sailing into the beautiful town of Korcula today and trying the local wine called Grk. It’s a tough job...

3 July 2018

BBQ on board last night followed by learning new card game -Singapore Joe - kind of like Gin Rummy. Lots of fun, laughter and very loud screaming at times. The chef (big Tony) outdid himself and our waiter Zlatko is so funny 😂
Often the cruise boats tie up to eachother. In this photo ours is the fifth one out, so you have to board the one tied to the wharf and walk through them all jumping from one to another.
We are at Vis on the island of Vis for the night. Rented a Scooter to get around the island on. Deb is demonstrating her style with the safety equipment 😍😍😍. Does look a bit like Ponch from the Chips TV show though. Found some fab swimming spots and an awesome bar up on the hill at Fort George.

2 July 2018

Stopped last night at the town of Hvar on the island of Hvar. Harbour full of massive private boats. Town buzzing with the all night party crowd. Not many people up for breakfast this morning lol.
For Susan, who wanted pictures of our boat, Aurora. Cabins are roomier than we expected & ensuite good too. Really spacious with lots of areas to hang out. Typical day, breakfast between 8-9, sailing to new place then swim stop, sunbathing, lunch at 12.30, another swimstop or excursion (optional) then off to explore the island we are docked at. Very relaxing way to holiday.

1 July 2018

Love this sign, they have a signpost specifically for beneficiaries 😊
Dinner tonight was fantastic at Starigrad, a little place called La Gitana that served wicked margueritas. Grant had the ribs in bbq sauce and grilled veges, while Deb had shark in brandy and orange sauce. Super yummy! We loved that the menu catered for kids too. We walked back to the boat watching another gorgeous sunset to hang out with the boat crew to watch the FIFA Croatia vs Denmark game.
Another day on the boat ... stopped for a swim in a little bay just outside of Starigard on the island of Hvar. Deb was very brave and swam in the open water, though to be fair the coast was less than 200m away. Our excursion today was to a vineyard that is UNESCO heritage recognized. Wine tasting involved a liqueur to start with followed by 5 full glasses of wine together with olive oil tasting and a range of local delicacies. A bargain at $35 NZ.
Photos from our boat today. Just watched Croatia beat Denmark in the World Cup. Our boat and the town will not get much sleep tonight. Boat horns honking, people singing and chanting. You can’t block it out, it’s going to be a wild night. Go the Croates!!!!

30 June 2018

Bar in a cave next to our boat in Makarska.
Stunner sunset last night in Makarska and mostly smooth trip there. Deb spent time sunbathing on the top deck and reading until a bit of wake saw the swimming pool dump a significant amount of water out of it onto her and the deck chair! She wasn’t brave enough to go swimming in the open ocean but got wet anyway 😊
Had lunch on our cruise boat as it sailed out of Split. Cabin is nice and people are friendly. Motored down the coast to a spot where Grant got picked up and taken river rafting down the Cetina river. An 11km trip down a gorge in the hills. Beautiful clear water, lots of fish and some white water thrills. Perfect!
Towns always seem to have outdoor fruit and veg markets in Croatia.

29 June 2018

One for the minion files ... Bob was pretty tired after the Krka Falls trip and dinner drinkies ... so all nicely tucked up in bed ready for a snooze
Final dinner in Split last night so we went all out and tried somewhere a bit posh! Augubio Congo is within the palace walls just off the main square - the waiter was great and the food delicious - Grant finally got a decent steak that was perfectly cooked and he could cut with a butter knife. Our starter of warm spinach salad with mushrooms, red onion and crispy pancetta was soooo good; and Deb’s shrimp risotto a taste explosion. The waiter was a bit slow with the desert menu so Grant’s carrot cake was ‘on the house’. We may have tipped ourselves over the edge though as we tried to figure out what the liqueur is that our landlady left in our room - the helpful waiter tried to identify it by giving us tastes of what he thought it might be - Grant is looking pretty happy here. The bill was scarey ... fortunately though with the exchange rate we feel rich carrying around $200 kuna notes (NZ$40-ish)
More shots from Krka national park. Off on our cruise in the morning.
Took a bus ride and then ferry ride to Krka Falls in Croatia today. Grant swam under the falls with the 9998 other people in the park (10,000 visitors per day). So glad we went as the many clear streams and waterfalls are amazing . We walked around 4km on boarded walkways over streams and clear pools full of fish. The whole walk was like Dunedin footpaths the last shopping day before Christmas.

28 June 2018

An after dinner wander tonight across to the FIFA World Cup fan zone where the Belgian fans were celebrating their win over England, before wandering back through the Golden Gate and into the palace alleyways to our apartment. We stopped for a wee nightcap at this lovely bar with a muso playing “lounge versions” of popular songs by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Cold Play, The Verve as well as The Beatles, Kansas and Elvis. It was like listening to a Richard Cheese CD but more fun as we tried to guess the artist and song from the intro bars and first line.
Croatian Kuna! This is funny money. It looks like a lot but it’s only worth $23 NZ. 🍺 18kn, main in restaurant 60 to 120kn. Just divide by four and a bit..,
We bussed out to the end of the Marjan peninsula. Perfect for walking and swimming. We walked back around 2km on a shady walk and cycle trail through the forest. Pristine clear water, tranquil bays and beaches all the way. Very few people and no cars. These people are so lucky! And no sharks 😁
At a remote beach at the end of Marjan Peninsula (Bene), Deb befriended two cats and got talking to a local, who was sort-of their benefactor - he’s their friend he said and he feeds them. Grandpuss (see photo) & Falix followed him wherever he went & sat on his clothes while he swam. Turns out he was a mechanical engineer in his working life and could speak many languages - his English was excellent, though he wished he could speak feline! We chatted for over an hour whilst enjoying the beach and he shared heaps of local knowledge about Croatia and recommended the best place to eat in Split - Buffet Fife - it was excellent. Lovely old guy ... and reinforced that the whole togs togs undies doesn’t matter 😊 Grant found a vegan street cafe for me today ... excellent food and service! Thinking it would make an great food truck in Dunners maybe? Anyone keen for a joint venture???
Wow Split is awesome! Very old and weathered but thriving and full of fun. The range of shops and market stalls is the best we’ve seen. Lots of local artists, but so hard to get it home ☹️. Couldn’t resist doing a bit of shopping though. Much easier for Deb to find food she can eat here.

27 June 2018

We drove 450km back to Rome and flew to Split in Croatia. Stopped in at an old Italian walled town called Tarquinia. It’s pretty cool but needs a lot of work.

26 June 2018

Love these little Piaggeo three wheeled trucks. Handy for the narrow streets. Folleys should get these for their plumbers!
We will be sad to leave our apartment in Levanto. It’s sooo nice. If you like Italian beech towns then it doesn’t get much better 👌.
View from our lunch table today. Deb declined being in the shot as the backdrop was too average? Looks pretty nice to me 👍
Could this be the narrowest street so far?

25 June 2018

Snacks on our balcony after a great day swimming and sightseeing with Deb. Still about 40 children at the park outside our apartment at 10pm 🤔. Makes you wish you grew up Italian lol
Alison Mitchell do these bring back memories?
Random shots of the five Chinque Terra towns. Sooooo spectacular! What an awesome day!
Deb braved the quite warm water at this beech today. Lovely clear water.
Grant had an epic time walking through the arch and snorkelling around the bay. Awesome clear water! British poet Lord Byron swam here.
Lovely Portovenere. Had a big thunder storm while having lunch. Deb keeping a smile on her face as water pores down behind her. We had to shift table and wrap a towel around Deb to keep the water splash off her . Grant had best pizza ever ! 😋
Goodbye to Levanto as we leave on the ferry to see the Chinque Terra (five towns) and also Portovenere. We have a full day hop on- hop off ticket and will return to Levanto on the last ferry.

24 June 2018

Feeling very safe in our Levanto apartment - check out the locks on this door ... feeling very Game of Thrones-like :-)
Having a super relaxing day in Levanto today. Walked 100m to a less crowded beach with shade trees. Grant snorkled around the rocky coastline for an hour or so and enjoyed the beautiful clear water. The main beach is very busy as it is the weekend. $8 gets you a sun umbrella ⛱for the day and $17 gets you umbrella ⛱and loungers. We stick with our tree and beach towels. Home for afternoon snacks and beverages 👍
Bliss! Waking up in Levanto and opening the shutters. View over the town square and rugged mountains. Pop next door to the Supermarketo for local produce and making our own breakfast in a proper little apartment. Deb misses cooking 😂

23 June 2018

Big travel day today. Taxi picked us up at 7am then a three hour flight and 450km drive from Rome up the west coast of Italy. Note the smoking room at Lisbon airport, it was like a nicotine stained fish tank! So gross 😖. The 130kph speed limit was fun whilst driving on right (wrong) side of road and through about 20 tunnels. Also our balcony, the top one above the street light and crowd in Levanto. You can see our front door to the right - still people partying down there now lol.

22 June 2018

So ... a little something from the food diaries ... probably our favourite restaurant on the trip so far has been a little place that looks nothing from the streets - directly over the road from our Sintra accommodation and called “Incomum by Luis Santos”. Photo #6 was dinner on our first night - the meal in the foreground is roasted sweet potato with baked vegetables (Batata-doce corada, legumes no forno e Espinafres). The one in the back is veal with potatoes which Grant said was tasty but meat was tough. We went to this place twice as there were other things we wanted to try ... so check out Creme de Castanhas com pera rocha e ostra (chestnut & pear soup with oyster); Crocante de Parmesao com cogumelos selvagens e rucula (crispy Parmesan with wild mushrooms & rocket); Linguine c/ camaroa e ameijoas (linguine with clams & prawns); Vieras com risotto de cogumelos e salicornia (sauteed scallops with mushroom risotto and samphire). Lynne, isn’t this your wallpaper in pic7?
Thought our house had five levels. It’s actually six. The big open window is the lounge room. We are second level from the bottom.
Arrived at Azenhas do Mar in a lather of sweat and dragged ourselves into the restaurant to find it was very posh. Quite conscious of dripping and smelling bad. They had tanks of live crayfish and brought your dead fish for you to inspect before cooking it. Eventually cooled down and had a nice lunch. You can see the place hanging off the cliff above the beach. Grant swam at both beaches. Cold water and heavy surf but very refreshing.
In Portugal street name signs are works of art. This is the style you find on buildings and walls. Cute 👍
Took local bus to the beach at the small town of Praia das Macus then walked to an even smaller village called Praia das Azenhas do Mar. People were fishing off the cliff tops. Must be fun getting the fish up!

21 June 2018

Lynne ... check out the signage from our room at Chalet Saudade in Sintra ... Fong’s ancestry is all around us from the castle on the hill to our room number!
Nice view from a cafe we visited today. Also three contrasting house styles next to eachother. Ours is the blue one.
The grounds of the palace form a huge park. Like the palace grounds from yesterday they are an amazing botanical garden with streams, ponds and plants from all over the world. We just can’t comprehend the thousands of labourers and degree of insanity it would take to create these places. Cute places to sit, relax and enjoy at every turn.
Took a bus to the Palace of Pena today. Super cute and colourful!
Our accommodation at Chalet Saudade in Sintra is pretty quirky ... we are 2 floors down from the street and our room has an interesting montage as a bed head. Super comfy bed and best shower ever though the plumbing noises and creaks in this old house are quite startling in the middle of the night! There’s a cafe owned by the guesthouse that serves an amazing breakfast as part of the deal - check out the ceiling in pic 2

20 June 2018

You don’t get paving like this in NZ. Lots of marble. Some of it is worn smooth and shaped by a thousand years of foot traffic.
Wow, Sintra is such a beautiful town. Green and shady, on a lush forested hillside. So glad to be out of the city. This place is quirky and cool with some amazing building designs. The hill is so steep the house we are staying in has five levels!
More photos from Quinta da Regaleira. The inside of the castle was spectacular as well. Grant is so envious of the people who lived in this beautiful place.
We walked from Sintra to Palacio e Quinta da Regaleira. OMG this is one of the most amazing properties on the planet. A huge hillside forest park. Castles, mazes of tunnels, ponds, sculptures, waterfalls, grottos, towers, water wells, streams, seats, and spiral stairs carved out of stone... mind blowing. You can go down the spiral inside of the well and go through underground grottos to come out behind a waterfall hundreds of metres down the hillside. Sorry about the raving and the many photos...
We flew out of Madrid and into Lisbon Portugal. About 1.5 hours flying time. This shot is flying into Lisbon. We took trains straight from Lisbon airport to the small town of Sintra where we are staying for three nights.

19 June 2018

Another big day in a Madrid. We’ve clocked up around 30 subway and bus rides. So much to see here. We are both impressed. And found An awesome place for tea around 10pm. Couldn’t believe it when we ordered a wine for 2 euro and 90 cents and it was a whole bottle. Not bad either.
At last a theme park ride that Deb approves of 😂😂😂. Double decker merry go round.
Even the homeless street people have style here.
Foodie & other interesting ‘stuff’ now ... best vegan pizza ever in a Gastronomy mall (9th floor!) of a mall in Gran Vie; very cool bloke shoes for that special occasion and Grant taking me for a wee boat ride at Parque de el Retiro (whilst humming who pays the ferryman?). People were feeding the carp which was pretty neat and guys were playing basketball on their kayaks.
We also visited Museo de el Thyssen, a huge art gallery with many paintings from Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Paul Lacroix (which was incredible - it’s the fruit one) plus more modern day artists too.

18 June 2018

Deb is a work of art! Or part of one at least.
More from today’s epic adventure in Madrid.
Deb loved these cow caricatures
Many subway journeys and km walked around Madrid today. Most of these photos are from around the Palacio Real and Cathedral. Photos from top of Cathedral show great city views. Lots of parks and green spaces.
Cool sculptures. Deb wouldn’t get in the photo so you got some random lady sorry ☹️

17 June 2018

Resting up after hotel dinner watching Switzerland play Brazil in FIFA World Cup. Commentary in Spanish but we making our own commentary up ... boy there’s some drama queens and prima Dona’s on both teams. Dad would have loved that we are in the northern hemisphere soaking up the atmosphere - cheers to you poppa bear!
Made a long train trip to Madrid in central Spain today and then figured out the subway system and got across town to our hotel. It’s flash and new, out by the airport, but we will have to master the public transport to get about the city as it is huge with 3.2 million people. It’s 8pm and time to go get some dinner. A lot of food places don’t open until around 8pm.

16 June 2018

Air pollution makes seriously pretty sunsets! Just back to our room and took this photo at 10.15 pm after a yummy meal at our hotel. Deb maxed out as there were great vegetables. Awesome buffet meals $25 NZ each and bottle of wine for $8 NZ. Can of beer only 45 cents from the shop. Interesting fact for the day - having been up and down many lifts in Spain we have noticed that Spanish people are short, but very polite. Had two swims in the sea today. Awesome hotel here which we will miss. Off to Madrid in the morning.
The Spanish GST system is way better than ours. The call it IVA and you can see from this receipt that only 4% was charged on the lettuce and tomato compared to 21% for my beer. NZ should have this... could ramp up the GST on junk food, booze, smokes etc and drop it on healthy food 🤔
Good to see the Cadizians looking after their stray cats - all the ones we saw were ginger!
Nice warm day to stroll around Cádiz. Didn’t have togs which was a bummer because the beaches looked great.
Other tasty seafood at the market - never seen anything quite like it!
Hmmmm ... goose barnacles anyone. Just one of many delicacies at the Cadiz Nuevo Mercado Gastronomic market today
Took a Catamaran ferry across the bay to Cádiz this morning.

15 June 2018

We are in Valdelagrana across the bay from Cádiz. Maybe 28 degrees today. Nice swim in hotel pool and long walk along beach before going out for tea around 9pm. Town is crazy because Spain is playing Portugal in the World Cup. This is like NZ versus the Aussie as they are neighbouring countries. It was a draw. The sea is warm but looks a bit brown. Lots of smog over the sea. Not sure why it’s so smoggy as there are no big populations or log burners?
Travel day as we head off to Cádiz, about 100km from Seville & where the river that runs through Seville meets the sea. A quick breakfast of McDonalds (!!) at the train station ... they do GF buns here 😊 ... & we were off on the train. We are quite liking the train travel - very relaxing. We get to Cádiz & Grant scores a win with the ticket machine & buys us the regional train tickets we need to get to our hotel around the bay - 20 minutes on from Cadiz. A quick 15 minute walk from la tren estacion & we are at the hotel. Finally a room with a view AND a balcony. Being the geeks we are, we did some washing & put it out to dry! Off to the beach now & will explore Cadiz properly tomorrow. The red dot on the map is our hotel & the blue dot is Cadiz. This is a gorgeous part of Spain & it’s clear lots of Seville locals as well as tourists flock here at weekends. Looks like there may be entertainment here over the weekend too as we’ve spotted a sound stage in the hotel grounds.

14 June 2018

Vicki how would your navigation skills go in Seville?
Found shade and aircon in a bar on our walk back to hotel and listened to some vibes
Nice paintings at a local bar
We got access to state of the art computer software. If Deb and Grant had a son he would look like this. Technology is amazing!! He looks just like us 😁😁😁
Timeless fermented snail sunscreen! 😂😂😂
So many photos and what a fantastic place - Real Alcazar de Seville - otherwise recognizable as the Water Gardens of Dorne from Game of Thrones.
And a few indoor shots of Real Alcazar de Seville - the castle and grounds are huge with lots of Spanish, Catholic and Moor influences. It really is a special place and you wouldn’t know how fantastic it is from the outside walls

13 June 2018

Ok vegan foodies out there ... after a day or two of finding food options challenging, we used Google and Trip Advisor to find a vegan option. However we stumbled on a place at lunchtime that catered for us both. Malavida was fantastic with the pear and goat cheese salad, grilled vegetables, spinach and chickpea dishes plus chicken cacciatore for meat lover Grant. Then after a wander some more and checking out monuments and various Jardines (gardens) we did some washing at the local laundromat before heading to Alameda Rocks, a vegan restaurant that specializes in rock music - beautiful meal whilst listening to Black Sabbath, Rainbow, The Doris, The Rolling Stones etc. Grant particularly liked the no meatballs and no pork dishes and said it tasted the same as if meat were in them. The big treat for me was the pizza 😊 all in all a good day and feeling much better.
Genius! Tequila and beer in the same can. It’s big over here.
The city is full of proper little shops. These are the fruit shops, appliance stores, baby shops, bed shops, dentists, hairdressers, corner stores etc
Plaza De Espana and the royal palace pictured from our horse and buggy.
Deb and I gave our feet a rest for an hour and when around the royal gardens and some of the other sights by horse and buggy. Jessie the horse was 11 and not too speedy.
It sure is hot here ... Bob was hanging out for a beer and we found a tree that was raining flowers for our next photo challenge sitting at an outdoor jazz bar in the gardens near the university - near Plaza Espana
Most of the streets are very narrow. It’s hard not to get run over. The footpaths are often just a strip of the road that’s paved with smaller bricks.
Bonnie you need this place lol
No PaknSave or Countdown in Spain. Fish , meat, fruit, veg, cheese etc comes from the local markets.
It’s going to very hot in Seville next couple of days .... and it’s only spring!

12 June 2018

Got to love this place!
Can anybody figure out why Mr Gold Finger doesn’t fall down? It’s not an action shot, he just sits like that... 😳
Down town Seville. Spain hasn’t sold its soul to mega malls and chain stores. It’s quite old fashioned in that all buildings in the CBD are packed with tiny little shops selling everything from shoes to bread to electric drills. It’s cool!
Photos from our river cruise of Seville today.
We traveled around 800km through the centre of Spain in 3.5 hours. Central Spain is dry. Olive trees grow even in the high country. Never saw a sheep, cow, farmer or tractor for most of the journi. No big farm homesteads. Just broken down mud brick cottages here and there. There is no irrigation and nobody working the land. It appears that crops like grapes and olives are extremely hardy and pretty much look after themselves until harvest time.
Woohoo on an AVE train to Seville and just hit 299kph!! Beautiful countryside heading inland. Mostly small farms growing grapes, olives and oranges.

11 June 2018

As Grant said with the pool photos, Mauricio’s Beach was quite something and we’ve had a lovely relaxing day. We walked around the marina which went for miles with multi-colored apartment blocks right beside the wharf and boats tied to the jetty. You can buy a 90sqm apartment here for around 215,000 Euro it seems ... very tempting!! My minion enjoyed his time in the sun whilst Grant and I swam. We wandered into a really large store called AlCampo which was a paknsave style supermarket at one end and a store like The Warehouse at the other. So many cool things to check out! Getting our breath and tidying ourselves up to go out for our last meal in Valencia ... a gastro food and craft beer place. Grant is hanging out for a Pilsner rather than the local brew which is similar to Corona.
It’s a warm 29 degrees today and we are over walking the streets so headed for the beach. Found a great little public pool on the edge of the beach with comfy loungers and a cafe with full bar facilities. Odd to see booze and ashtrays at a public pool 🤔. So close to the sea u could have a dip in the ocean then back to pool and a beer. It’s been a most relaxing day.

10 June 2018

Scenes from our walk through the Valencia historic quarter today. Quite a different vibe and architecture from Barcelona, and somehow much more laid back and relaxing. It’s Sunday for us so we got a chance to sit in on a catholic service at one of the historic churches. There was a christening happening and the family was dressed to the nines and looked stunning. It was fascinating people watching as we sipped our pre lunch beer and pimms. Observations from the last few days: 1. Lots of tagging, rubbish and waste areas which detracts from the city’s lovely feel ... this could be said of Barcelona also 2. Sewer smells that catch you unawares from time to time - we should be grateful to our DCC water & waste team! 3. Don’t eat in the main tourist areas - expensive and lots of Americanized non authentic food 4. Avoid the many North African people’s selling knock-off Levi’s, Nike, Chanel & labeled products.
People eat late in Valencia so lunch for us was at 2.30pm today. We searched on Trip Advisor and found an Argentinian restaurant with great reviews within 5 minutes of where we were ... Grant was hanging out for steak! What a fantastic meal with our waiter, Andres, being very patient explaining what we didn’t understand. We were treated to a complimentary entree of which the salsa was amazing .... I’ve included the recipe for those that might want to try it ... even by itself on bread, it was divine the bubbly rose was just the ticket too as was my grilled pear & goat cheese salad. Andres provided 2 complimentary liqueurs which were also lovely and tipped us over the edge so we had to go back to the hotel for a siesta!
Deb looking gorgeous today 💕💕

9 June 2018

Found a machine where u put in a 1Euro coin and wind the handle to squish it into a medallion. How cool is that? 😎
Had a nice walk through the Valencia City of Science area. Museum of sciences, arts, opera house, marine park and I-Max theatre. Very flash, but too late in the day to see/do anything. Wanted to watch a 3D I-Max Dinosaur movie but it was sold out.
Another action-packed day as we caught the high speed train (200km/hr) from Barcelona to Valencia. Arrived in 3.5 hours and Grant queued to get tickets to our next destination so we might get a bit more of a sleep in on Tuesday - we’ve got an early start. Of course, our minion was chilled and checking out the gorgeous tiling of the railway station ceiling. Checked in to our hotel which is close to all the main attractions. Late lunch at a tapas bar round the corner from the hotel - see Grant sipping his 1 Euro blanco el vino - no idea what type of white wine but it was ok! Wandered off to check out a couple of sights - see Grant’s post soon - and walked a few hours before ending up at the marina where we had a nice meal and some tasty beverages. Taxis are super cheap here though we aren’t sure what the road rules are or the speed limit - they go very fast and will happily stop traffic and beckon you across a few lanes of passing cars to get your business!

8 June 2018

Another minion challenge completed Annette! The lovely young officer wouldn’t hold the minion though which is why I’m in the photo too. Clearly I’m a suspicious character! FYI, all the police here seem very young and attractive. Didn’t see any police puppies though Em.
Apart from the Sagrada Familia visit yesterday, we checked out another Gaudi property, Park Güell. Really pretty with his quirky influence throughout this gorgeous green belt above the city. We are certainly getting fitter during this holiday! We spent a bit of time on the bus getting the layout of the city and seeing other sights before trying a gorgeous tapas bar called La Pepita that got a good write up in the inflight magazine - it was worth the walk to get there! We then headed to the La Rambla district which has lots of stalls and many food markets over 10-12 blocks from mid city to the sea. It was pretty cool I have to say and yes, we purchased stuff to have for tea instead of going out. We are generally pretty tired being out in the sun and walking heaps, one of us went to sleep on the bus 😴
Visited the Sagrada Família today. Designed by Antoni Gaudí. OMG this has to be the most fantastic building on Earth!! They have been building it for 120 years and hope to finish it in another 8. Honestly we have never experienced anything like it. The camera just can’t do it justice. Everywhere you look is more amazing and crazy than the last...
Sagrada Família - some of the zany details on the towers

7 June 2018

Love countries that still have ‘P’ for when you get a cold. Nothing clears the nose like it.
Cultural and historical day today ... jumped on the “hop on hop off tourist bus” to zip around the city quickly and see ‘the good stuff’. I have to say that Gaudi is one of our favourite architects - total brilliance way before his time. Dr Seuss was clearly inspired by him! Visited a castle, two amazing churches and two Gaudi structures. Pics follow.
Another fantastic food day too. Visited the El born district and found a little unnamed tapas bar for lunch - sangria & shrimp/calamari paella and then dinner tonight at Spanish/Asian infusion tapas place that had amazing tapas and staff with huge friendly personalities.
Obviously a quality cafe as the entire ceiling was hung with cured meat. The photo shows about a quarter of it 🤔
Deb Sutton overcame fear of Gondolas today!
View of Barcelona from Castell de Montjuic
We’ve had a big nights sleep and feel 100% better. Grant had been across the road for coffee. You’re not a proper cafe unless you have cured legs of meet on display. Note the two legs on the bar lol

6 June 2018

From the food diaries ... found this great tapas bar on the rooftop of Arenas de las Barcelona for lunch ... check it out at ... my fave - crumbed olives! Must try making these when back home. The restaurant had a fridge full of aged steak for the meataterians out there. So tired yesterday that we flagged going out for dinner and just bought a few groceries from the Mercadona - see if you can figure out what we bought. Our Spanish is improving ... we know that ‘Sin gluten’ is gluten free and anything that’s colored black is ‘negre’. Going to the supermarket is quite an adventure! Makes our fish counters look very sad I have to say. Our hotel is centrally located but I’m sure there’s only cardboard walls separating the rooms ... we could hear EVERYTHING going on in the room next door - fortunately we were so tired we slept like the dead. I entertained myself watching Spanish soap operas and putting my own interpretation into what was going on.
Well we made it to Barcelona. After a full day around town in the Singapore heat we headed for the airport late afternoon for 17 hours of travel via Milan in Italy. Managed to get a few hours sleep, but arrived exhausted early morning Barcelona time. Not able to check in until 3pm, so no choice but to explore. Found Arenas de Barcelona which is the amazing round brick arena converted to high tech shopping mall with viewing platforms and restaurants on top. Such a long day... at least it wasn’t hot. Only 20 degrees and rain showers. Managed to stay up until around 6pm!

5 June 2018

Went to Santosa Island today. With the Trump/Kim summit happening any day now there’s some big name people in town. They love Kiwis!

4 June 2018

Got the right day for breakfast with orangutans ... they are really cool and the whole zoo was pretty well laid out and open with animals not in cages. Selection of pics here but our faves were the meerkats (we helped them look for Alan!). Lots and lots of different types of monkeys, some with serious red lumpy butt issues but the many baby monkeys were very cute. Surprisingly the snake we held was very cool - I can totally understand why people have them as pets. Sooo hot today that we just grabbed lunch at a food court then headed to the hotel pool for the afternoon.
Our hotel room is pretty average but the rooftop pool is a life saver.

3 June 2018

Well it turned out the Breakfast with the orangutans wasn’t until Monday so decided to walk through the city to visit Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay which includes the two huge domes and towers as well as miles of other attractions. One dome is the forest in the clouds and the other is the flower dome. They are awesome!
Botanist’s paradise!
Themed areas at the flower dome - Gardens by the bay - yes, some if the plants are lego!
A mix of photos from both domes ... just so many stunning displays
Love the baobab trees ... a little touch of Dr Seuss!
After the gardens we made it our mission to have a drinks break at the top of the staggering Marina Sands Hotel. Rather than pay $40 to visit the viewing platform we found a restaurant/bar on the top you could visit for free. That said, two drinks cost $50 but so glad we did it. View to die for...
Deb on our way to Gardens By The Bay
Foodie photos now ... super yummy breakfast of eggs bene for Grant & vegan banana & oat pancakes for me; followed by drinks/nibbles at the downstairs lounge of Marina Bay Sands Hotel - such a full-on busy place! The coconut blossom mocktail was divine. Check out the cakes display - all mini masterpieces. The minion moment for the day is at the rooftop bar at Marina Bay Sands, the Froze cocktail tipped him on his ear ... vodka, rose wine & raspberry slushy. We also got a tip off from the taxi driver on the way back to our hotel to try the food court at Orchard Tower for authentic Singaporean food - quite an experience as the only Europeans there dining in a cacophony of loud chatter - but the food was amazing and definitely the best squid I’ve ever eaten. We had a swim in the hotel pool on our return and then a wee lie down ... slept 12 hours and missed dinner completely!
Anyone for a nice Depresso to start the day with? Made fresh by Rocky Master, “The Choice Caffe”

2 June 2018

Great Singapore Airlines flight and arrived at Hotel around 10.30 NZ time which is early evening in a Singapore. Time for a wine and a walk down the famous Orchard Road. Considered visit to the HardRock Cafe but Grant freaked out at the sign advertising $98 beers. Such a stinge!!
Our Orchard Rd stroll saw a little something for everyone ... a black Dog ornament for Holly that looked spookily like Indie; the cone lights at the entrance to M&S for my shopaholic friends; Jamie Oliver’s restaurant for Vicki Renalson; and a happy Grant who felt right at home outside The House of Hung! Tired now ... it’s 1am Sunday NZ time.
Minion challenge accepted by work colleague Annette ... heading to Koru for snack before boarding for Singapore. Woop woop, can’t believe the holiday is finally here!

1 June 2018

I’ll miss this kind of crazy ... but signed off at work and only one more sleep!

30 May 2018

Two sleeps to go before heading off on our 7-week adventure - first stop Singapore! At this point, the only person chilling out is Saffy whilst G and I finish chores and start to pack