As mentioned in my post yesterday, “The Gut” or Strait Street in Valletta was a place my dad occasionally frequented just after the War. The street is aptly named, as it’s very narrow and it was famous for having many bars. Despite his best efforts, my dad never did manage to have a drink in each one, going from one end to the other. So, during my visit, I had to investigate it further.
I can report that most of the bars are now long gone. I think only 2 remain and I was tempted to “have one for my dad” in Tico Tico’s, but 10:30 in the morning is a little early even for me! The street is now a mix of posh offices (mainly solicitors as the Law Courts are down there too) and derelict, dusty, locked up doorways. But, walking down it even now, you can sense what an atmosphere there must have been with hundreds, if not thousands, of sailors coming ashore. George Cini’s book, Strada Stretta, has interviews with the people who lived and worked there in it’s heyday and is well worth a read, if you have an interest in this historic island.
I’d also read that the “3 Cities” of Senglea (aka Isla), Birgu (Vittoriosa) and Bormla (Cospicua) were well worth a look and so I popped over the Grand Harbour on one of the ferries. The sandstone coloured streets of Vittoriosa were delightful and extremely quiet at this time of the year.
After searching the flights for a late summer/autumn beach holiday, we decided on Mykonos and it proved to be a great choice. Although the wind blew quite strongly some days, the air and sea temperatures were perfect.
As you will see from the selection of suitably watermarked images below, Jude takes much better pictures than I do.
Jude and I have just returned from 2 weeks away, visiting Stockholm and 3 different parts of Finland. We flew to and from Stockholm partly because Easyjet didn’t fly from Geneva to Helsinki, but mainly because Jude was looking forward to sailing between the 6,700 islands which constitute the Åland islands that lie between Sweden and Finland. (No, I didn’t know about them either until we organised this trip).
Anyhow, below is a summary of our time in Stockholm where we meandered the streets, visited the Skansen Park area in Djurgarden (which has a replica village from the late 1800’s and a small zoo) and visited the National Museum.
Before going we’d read that it was very difficult to spend actual cash in Stockholm. So we didn’t take any and easily got by with just a pre-loaded Debit card. (I still don’t know what a Swedish Krona note or coin looks like). Be aware though that Stockholm is quite an expensive place to visit, though the above two attractions are both free.
Below, in a slight departure from my usual posts, I’ve included three separate photo galleries – the first is of the City then Skansen and thirdly the National Museum.
National Museum, Stockholm:
OK, pop-pickers, as I think Alan Freeman used to say on UK Radio 1, here’s an oldie but a goodie (and I don’t mean Tim Brooke-Taylor or Bill Oddie or Graham Garden). This song takes me back to when I was young and hadn’t a care in the world (other than trying to learn ancient Greek at school!) I hope you enjoy! 😊
For our last full day in the NW of Scotland, we drove around Loch Carron to Plockton and treated Jo, Aaron and Jude’s friend, Kate, to a boat ride on one of Calum’s famous* Seal Trips (where you are guaranteed to see seals, or your money back!) I have covered this village before, but I see that it was almost 3 years ago now, so I think it’s worth another post. Especially as, this time, Aaron and I went for a short walk to the viewpoint at An Fhrith Aird, where there is an exceptional view of where Loch Carron meets the Inner Sound between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. (See map at the end of the picture gallery).
*As featured on the BBC TV series “Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs”.
A visit to the Lake District wouldn’t be complete (for Jude anyway) without a trip on a boat. And since the forecast for the day was a sort of cloudy grey, we opted to catch a ‘steamer’* from the aptly named village of Lakeside to Bowness-on-Windermere.
*Our outward journey would be on the MV (Merchant Vessel) Tern, which was built in 1891, but I’ve since learnt that it’s not driven by steam at all but is motor powered.
After a little retail therapy and a nice lunch, we returned on the MV Teal, which was built in 1936. (See pic 8).
The boats link up with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway, which is only 3.2 miles/5k long but, during the season, (broadly April through to the end of October) mostly runs steam trains to take people back and forth, as you will see from the last few pictures.
A perhaps little known, but useful piece of information here, (for keen UK quizzers or maybe those who holiday in exotic locations by the sea) is that all British owned ships must fly a flag with the Union (Jack) flag in the top left corner. The remainder of the flag is either red, indicating a merchant vessel (as with the Tern and Teal); white, together with a St George’s Cross, for the Royal Navy, or blue for other ships, which have a special warrant from the Admiralty.
For more information on Windermere Lake Cruises, check out this Visit Cumbria website.
Today, Judith, her mum, Angela, and I went for a walk along the eastern shores of Lac Léman, (aka Lake Geneva), from Villeneuve to Territet. The lakeside path passes one of Switzerland’s most famous tourist sites – the Chateau de Chillon, which is a medieval fortress built on a tiny island just off the shore.
When the sun shines, there is no finer place to be, with the mountain views, the many and varied colourful flower beds and passing paddle steamers. It’s a must for an visitor to the “Swiss Riviera”. 🙂
I thought I’d finish this Corsican holiday series with a few other photos which didn’t make it into the main series of posts. I hope they’ve all given you a flavour of what Corsica is like.
You will also see below that when I get bored on a beach, I resort to the pastime of stone stacking, which I have to say is very therapeutic. My stacks (pics 26-30) certainly created a lot of interest for the people who were walking along the coastal path. It’s actually easier to do than it might look. You just need a bit of patience! Of course, mine are nowhere near as good as most rock balancers. Check out some of the videos online, but here is a link to a beginners guide that I found. Happy stacking! 😊
I need 6 months holiday. Two times per year!
We deliberately didn’t book any accommodation for the last few days of our holiday in case we found somewhere during our travels where we would like to stay. But that never came to pass, so we went back to Saint-Florent, which we’d enjoyed very much. We also had unfinished business there as we had not yet been to the acclaimed Saleccia beach, nor seen the village of Nonza during the day (see post tomorrow). As you can see from the pictures below, Saleccia is an amazing (kilometre long) beach, with perfect sand which gently shelves away into the clear, turquoise blue water. Absolutely perfect!
For our second full day on Corsica we took a boat trip from St Florent to one of the many fabulous beaches at the northern end of the island with the intention of walking back. We had a choice of either Saleccia or Lotu beach, but the boat company only did return trips to Saleccia, so it had to be the nearer of the two, Lotu. And thankfully it was closer, as again the guidebook advice was a little optimistic on the walk timings, but we had an excellent walk nonetheless.