This month, many old trips, just got back from Budapest!

Been ill, tired, busy, and watching too much football the last month, but feel energised.

Correct, did a week’s travel on some European trains the last month, and ended up in Hungary – will go again. The above shot is, I believe, of a Budapest post box, or something along those lines? My Hungarian is not what it once was!

Whilst there, with a “recommendation” from a friend, just HAD TO go to the New York Café therein. Really? The “New York Café” in Budapest (Ed; NOT Bucharest!). And even (above) after 9.00pm, there’s queues.

This month will definitely will write of this recent foray to Europe, that saw us also in London and Paris – My God, why have I not been there for 30 years? In addition, still want to show some fotos from America, some places in Scotland, more from Germany and a voyage a month ago to Porto.

CB

Belfast, Northern Ireland – Part 1

ICC in Belfast

I’ve been to Belfast / NI, about a half a dozen times the last decade, for a variety of reasons; travel, golf, to see friends, etc, and each time it appears to be more vibrant, cosmo, livelier and “better” if one can use that word.

The Garrick

For today, I decided to have a walk around in the evening with my partner, and after leaving the ICC, we headed for a pub that we’ve been to before, The Garrick.

What a selection of beer, and a simply excellent, hearty menu. Ah tradition, I love it. Equally, there must have been an Erdinger bier promotion (both here and other places in Belfast), as the blau und weiss colours of Bavaria were everywhere.

From here, we had a stroll to Belfast City Hall, a hall that makes the one in Glasgow, look like a dump! I noted this to one of the very kind, security guards inside, and surprisingly, he told me that, that was the second time he had heard someone tell him that, on the day! Whilst inside, we naturally signed the condolence book(s) for Her Majesty, the Queen.

From here, again, we went to a familiar pub, and favourite of mine, The Crown Liquor Saloon, an antique of a bar owned by the National Trust.

A pub that always seems to have a decent pint of real ale on the menu. And equally, seems to always be packed with tourists.

Part 2 to follow, one can hardly wait!

CB

Month Ahead – Various past trips but also a recent one to Northern Ireland

Finally this month, with enough time, will return to blog about recent trips to Germany, America, London for Wimbledon and maybe a few more (Ed: Didn’t you just get back from St Andrews, Scotland, again?).

Belfast City Hall

But the last trip, was a quick 6 days to Northern Ireland, where I stayed in Belfast and had a day trip to the wonderful county of Armagh.

This was probably the sixth or seventh time the last 10 years for me to travel there. And I’ve always wondered just why, more people do not do the voyage? The flight was only about 25 minutes (!) from Glasgow – it literally takes off, and then sets down, stressing the ease of making the trip there.

And speaking of Ireland, both North and South, when back, I decided to go “Oirish” and buy a different type of porridge!

I’ve seen these Flahavan’s for some time, and felt that they would be too expensive when compared to the bog standard, dreadful things that usually come in a plastic sack.

Well, with the recent inflation, they aren’t any more and I can only say, that their “quick oats” design is a winner! In fact, you don’t even need a microwave, boiling water does just fine.

But talking about Northern Ireland, as usual, the people there were incredibly friendly, whether in Belfast or in the country and this week, will put several entries on Belfast, the Churches there, the Titanic Museum (where I had a wonderful dinner), and various things that I encountered there.

CB

Euro Trip – A good idea from Germany – the 9 Euro Ticket

So I’m over there in Deutschland, and the partner says to me, “I’ve got you one of these 9 Euro tickets.”

“Ah, I’ve heard of these.”

Yes I have, due to the online job that I have, where I communicate daily with many Germans.

It’s an (was) interesting idea and one that gave even more benefits, besides just being able to use it on a train.

You could use it on buses, trams, underground systems(?), everything BUT the ICE trains in Germany. The ICEs are the Inter City Express trains, that are not only quicker than normal ones, but have a good deal fewer stops as well.

Not only that, but another huge benefit, was that it did NOT expire after you used it, but was valid for the entire month of August (I believe?).


Many of the trains / buses were packed, and some were not, so it was not a panacea; OTOH, it was just SO convenient to use, and no doubt the German authorities wanted to see just how much of the public transport their citizens would use for one month, if it was, in effect, free.

Why oh why don’t we at least TRY to do this here?

CB

Europe – Start of my last trip, Hull to Rotterdam via the Ferry.

Very comfy bed in a double room cabin

I have to admit, normally I prefer DFDS Ferries, but this slightly older P & O one was perfectly fine, though it was packed with families and their kids.

We had stayed the night before in York (blog soon!), and then caught the evening (early, almost missed it!) ferry to Rotterdam, from Hull. I prefer this, rather than going to Amsterdam, as I’ve always felt (perhaps wrongly) that it is easier to get out of Rotterdam.

And the room was plenty big enough, though it did not have a window. Not really bothered, as I was really only in the room to sleep and shower. Also, there was even a “desk”, though the Wi-Fi was simply too expensive to pay for; I believe it was 9 euros for 3 hours.

The partner in crime had the top bunk, whilst I took the bottom bed, and yes the pillows looked and were, not my cup of tea, but two of them together were just firm enough for a good night’s sleep.

And speaking of showering, it has always amazed me, just how much “kit” there is in one of these ferry’s bathrooms!

Complete, even with shower gel.

Next will be the road trip to the Black Forest.

CB

Euro Trip – Germany and France – A random walk in Bavaria

Yes, in Bavaria again, and have always found it very good, to just go for a walk and see if there is anything different that strikes me.

I’ve been to Germany many times, but something always hit me, that many who have not been here, would probably find quite odd.

Yes, the above is a gigantic (not sure if I’ve blogged on this before) climbing wall, right next to a children’s school or nursery (a KITA perhaps).

With a smaller wall, for the children I presume?


It’s part of a club, and is right in the middle of a housing estate; but looks very well maintained. And the walk there, involved some grapes, growing at the rock wall by the sidewalk! Amazing.

Equally, just round the corner, as this was a Sunday walk, came across one of these huge quality / inexpensive German supermarkets, where the amount and variety of goods is amazing.

This was a Kaufland, and owing to German laws, it is not open on Sundays! In fat, NOTHING is open on Sundays, except bakeries, some restaurants, and petrol stations (maybe more, but am simply not sure).


As you can see, NO ONE is there, as the car park is empty.

Interesting.

CB

This Week – More on trips to Portugal, cafe’s, the Highlands, but first, I went to Wimbledon

Every now and then, I get lucky, and several years ago I did. We received some tickets to the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, and then were, very kindly, allowed to defer them until this year (Hello Covid, etc).

After the Women’s Doubles final

I’ll show more later this week, but will always remember seeing Nick Kyrgios in his first major final.

CB

Portugal – Part 4 – Lisbon City Centre – A brief (again) visit

After the previous day, decided to head to the city centre and away from the Alfama hills.

Lisbon Underground – Compact, efficient

When there, went west! Not to the hills and the hoard of tourists, or so I thought! They were everywhere! The place was crammed with every nationality known.

I managed to go to the go to place, facing the ocean and the huge square there.

There were quite a view people already there, concerning the early morning when I arrived. If you ever come here, go further west, and there are many more opportunities to grab an old street car, but more on this in a few days.

Here I noticed even a beer museum! Why not, but it was not open yet, and I had little time.

Beer Museum, Arco da Rua Augusta

From here, I walked along these streets to the west side, and came across a multitude of pubs, cafes, sights and restaurants.

Lisbon Streets

And saw one of the better tourist “things” to do ever, a mini car, that can be hired for two intrepid adventurers.

Mini cars for rent if Lisbon

CB

Portugal – Part 3, Lisbon Centre (Alfama), food, some notes . . .

After settling into my hotel, and having a overnight sleep, tried out the breakfast; but in this case, there was none? Hence, decided to go around the corner to buy some croissants, etc.

I found a metro market called Auchan – which is actually a French based shop, and noticed one or two peculiar but helpful things.

Order / Collect – Interesting Idea

One was the ability to order and then collect your food in an area at the very front of the entrance. I know there are shops here who do this, but maybe not to this detail; completely in English also!

The other was some bizarre (apologies for the black & white photo) chart on the wall at the entrance, describing something? Ah, the French strike again.

Instructions?

After this and some work, did a wander downtown, mainly to meet up with family in the Alfama region, of the city centre.

If you haven’t been here before, it’s a maze of hills, restaurants, yellow trams and tourists! OTOH, it is brilliant! Just go for a wander here, you CAN NOT go wrong.

Here, I walked by the coast and then by several places (Maritime Museum and a Taylors Port tasting room), that I will save for another day. BTW, the weather was awful, I seriously thought it was going to snow!

After this, I had a simply wonderful meal at one of the hundreds of places to choose from.

Restaurant in Alfama

Afterwards, used the metro to return to my hotel, and loved some of the wallpaper.

Lisbon Underground

CB

Portugal – Part 2, Breakfast, 1st Class train to Lisbon, Lisbon walk & Curry

The next day, after a sound breakfast, which was interesting as the hotel was just opening up from lock-down, I caught the train to Lisbon, via first class (which was quite reasonable – only about £45 for a return).

Breakfast

After a short walk through Faro to the station, I noted that it seemed quiet, but that there appears to be some renovating and modernising going on about here.

Faro shots

After this, I arrived at the station, where I was very pleasantly surprised by the state and style of the train.

First Class section of Portuguese trains

The station was clean and though at first, I thought I would be the only one there, it filled up quite quickly, with many tourists from North America.

Station shots

With my carriage having one of those “old fashioned” type of doors, which I personally, find reassuring.

Old?

We got in to Lisbon Oriente, with it’s stunning ceiling, that looks better at night, if truth be told.

Lisbon station Roof

After disembarking from the train, and leaving the station, I decided to go for a long walk (about 2 hours) along the east side of the city, that included the Marvila section, to arrive at my hotel (via the underground).

The first part was severely modern, though like most major cities nowadays, has rental bikes.

Marvila area and bikes

The next part, appeared to be under renewal, and can only be a positive thing for the city.

Marvila renovations

Finally, after I reached a point just north of the Alfama Old Town section, I got on the very modern underground, to go to my hotel that was only a few stops north.

Lisbon Underground

After I arrived at my room, a very utilitarian one at that, I was starving, so I

went around the corner, and was pleasantly surprised to find a curry house! I must say, it was lovely and had food that was served slightly differently than the places I’ve been to in the UK.

Curry with an attention to detail

CB