A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

Day 27 to 38

sunny 20 °C

Stansted airport
With a 6am flight from London’s Stansted airport to Valencia in Spain we had (what we thought) was a smart idea of catching one of the last London-to-Stansted airport buses the night before and sleeping at the airport until we could check into their flight at 4am. However, upon getting to Stansted airport at nearly 1am (after the bus was late) we realised that we weren’t the only people that had this idea. When we walked into the airport literally all of the available chairs were taken with people sleeping, waiting to be able to check into their early flights (Cheap skates). So, a little disheartened we found a place on the cold, tiled floor, got out our sleeping bag, and tried to make the most of the situation. The time went quicker than expected and after three and a bit hours we were able to check in and move through Customs to the part of the airport that has shops and more chairs. It was party because of sleeping on the cold floor that contributed to the first illness of the trip; It of course was Leah, although after a rest day in Valencia was able to battle on.

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Valencia
Upon arriving in Valencia, on apparently the only day in the year that it rains, we were able to check into the hostel (and a private room!) and have a much needed sleep after being awake going on 36 hours. After a few hours’ sleep (in our room with cows painted on the walls!) we thought we should get some food for dinner so ventured out to find the local supermercado, Mercadona (Leah can’t stop calling it Mikado). We found an amazing range of seafood in the Mikado (there she did it again!), and it was so cheap. After much deliberation we ended up purchasing a cold seafood dish which includes octopus, muscles, scallops, crab, olives, and pickled onions and comes with vinaigrette you marinate the seafood with. We combined this with crusty bread, salad and smoked salmon; all for a lazy $10 for the both of us. We have been amazed at how cheap food (and especially alcohol, but we’ll get to that in a minute) has been so far).

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We decided to make use of the free walking tour offered by our hostel and set out on the warmest day of our time in Spain (22 degrees). Our Valencian tour guide was a Scottish exchange student; however, had lived in Valencia for almost five years. He was extremely knowledgeable and I think we came away from the two hour tour overloaded with knowledge of Valencia, including that Valencia was originally a retirement place for Romans. We even learnt that apparently the Holy Grail is located in the main church in Valencia, this knowledge would have saved Robert Langden (Tom Hanks) a lot of time if he knew this.

After the walking tour of Valencia we wanted to try a restaurant that was recommended by our hostel for good paella. In typical Spain style the restaurant is open from 2pm to 4pm for lunch and then from 9pm to 12pm for dinner, so we decided lunch was the go as Leah couldn’t wait to 9pm for dinner! Anyway, we got there and got a table and knew we would order the traditional Valencian paella (chicken and rabbit) so didn’t really need to look at the menu. We also ordered a jug of beer. When our paella came it was in the pan it was cooked in and smelt amazing. It was so creamy and was one of the best paella’s we’d had (although we probably don’t have much to compare it to!). So after a massive paella and jug of beer the bill only came to $38.

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In Spain we have learnt many things; however, three of the most prominent for us were: Valencia has many, many big doors. These were wooden, steel, and sometimes came with gold knockers attached. But all were very large. We also learnt that Spain has a very forward thinking social conscience that we were not aware of. When a priest living in the main church in Valencia was looking out the window one day he saw the mentally ill being hung in the town’s square. He decided that this was not right and was the first in the world to build a dedicated home for the mentally ill. This all occurred in the 15th century, long before many other countries even acknowledged the mentally ill. After many years of suppression under the Dictator (NAME) from around the 2nd World War until 1975, Spain has since made many moves forward socially. They have legalised gay marriage, have an amazing recycling regime, and have many, many food products that are gluten free (for you Jeanette!). Finally, we also learnt that in Spain, alcohol is sooooooooooooooo cheap!! We bought a six pack of local Spanish beer 500ml cans and they were $2.80…….for the whole six pack! That’s right; they were a whopping 47 cents a can! Wine is also pretty cheap, with a $4 bottle being very good and the most expensive on the shelf only being $10.

Dènia
After spending time in Valencia we ventured south to a port town called Dènia. It was a two hour bus ride along the main highway which highlighted two things: there are lots of oranges grown in Valencia and its surrounds (Leah was very proud of herself when she put Oranges and Valencia together thus getting Valencian oranges) and apparently prostitutes are allowed to stand on the side of the highway and scout for business.

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Dènia is a port town that dates back to the 5th century BC and is largely a town built around its large castle, which dates back to Roman times. It really has a feeling of a larger Sorrento, as when the summer month’s role around I’m sure it would be almost unbearable to be in. It would be so busy with tourists and people wanting to go to the beach that it would lose its charm.

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After walking around Dènia and working up an appetite we wanted to find somewhere to have lunch. It was only 1pm (too early for Spanish lunch) and many of the restaurants along the waterfront were open but not very busy and we didn’t want to be the only ones in the restaurants. We kept looking and found this place that had tables outside in the sun and there were people eating there so we didn’t feel awkward. It also had a menu in English which helps. We ordered the set lunch and were amazed at the food. For entrée we shared an antipasto plate and freshly fried small squid/calamari. Then for mains we also shared fish (swordfish) and chips and a paella with calamari. This was all washed down with a beer each and a coffee and tea afterwards. We assumed the drinks were not included in the meal deal (2 courses); however, upon seeing the bill all drinks were also included! So 2 courses of food and 2 drinks each came to an amazing $24!!

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As we post this we are back in Valencia for one night before we head back to the UK. As it happens today was the start of Las Fallas, a fire festival in Valencia celebrating the end of the winter and the beginning of spring. To kick this festival off they hold a day time (yes that’s right day time) fireworks display in one of the town plazas. The aim of this display is to set off the loudest fireworks, and can we tell you, it was probably the loudest thing we’ve ever heard. So loud in fact that you literally could FEEL the sound.

Leah, Rein & Henry

Posted by reinandleah 09:35 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Episode 2

Cornwall, UK

rain 5 °C

Here's what you have been asking for, episode 2 of Rein and Leah's European Adventure! This trip is to Cornwall, searching for ancestors, marveling at the countryside and stopping for a cleansing Ale along the way. Clearer narration to enjoy the learning.

Keep on the lookout for our new travel companion

Posted by reinandleah 02:49 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

UK - Cornwall

Day 12 to Day 19

rain 5 °C

Sorry for the delay with a post everyone, have been without free Wi-Fi for a week and you know Leah and I, short pockets.

This entry is all about our trip to Cornwall which is in south west England. Our first stop was Clowance Country Estate in Praze-an-Beeble a tiny town south of Camborne. Here we spent 4 nights in an A-frame log cabin. It was very big and we had the place to ourselves which was very nice for a change. From here we did a day trip to Lands End stopping off at Penzance and St Just on the way. Penzance had no theatrical pirates to my disappointment; however, it was funny to notice a sign advertising the Penzance Amateur Operatic Society’s new show, The Mikado. Then it was on to St Just. Researching the family tree it was here that Rein’s Grandmothers Mothers family came from. As many as 5 generations were born and raised in and around St Just. It was a very well laid out town neither too big nor too small. It had a butcher, a baker and of course a fish and chip shop along with 3 pubs around the town centre.

Clowance Country Estate

Clowance Country Estate

St Just Parish

St Just Parish

At Lands End everything was closed. Most things are this time of year; however, Lands End was open on reduced hours and we arrived there just outside of those hours. It was no drama. I was impressed with the views of the low winter sun in the afternoon sky while Leah just complained of being cold and worried about being blown off the cliff.

Lands End

Lands End

After our stay at Clowance it was off to Golant, a short trip north but we had many stops along the extended journey. Our first 2 being Stithians and Gwennap to see where Leah’s distant family had come from. Then we made a our way through the back country around the main towns and back again through meadows and forests until we made it to St Michaels Penkivel. A very tiny town (no pub) that backs onto Tregothian Estate, which once housed Leah’s ancestors. Strange and unfortunate it was closed on a Saturday, but with no signs to stop us we had a look around. Later a cook caught up to us and explained it was closed and was private property. She did it in a nice manner so I didn’t pull her up on the descendant she was addressing.

Gwennap Church

Gwennap Church

Back in the car and it was onto Goran, a town neither on our map nor that big on Google maps, but a decent size compared to the others we had driven through. This was where Rein’s Grandfather’s father’s mother’s mother's family had come from. Records show that 7 generations were from Gorran with the first birth listed about 1610.

At the end of our family search we had covered 5 small Parish’s with grave yards attached. Unfortunately we found no one in our direct line, many of the grave stones had worn out over the years. We did come across possible extended family which was good enough to suffice our genealogy ambitions.
We then made our way to Golant, via Mevagissey, a seaside town with a busy harbour. It was here we stopped and had our first Cornish ale.

The Harbour Inn

The Harbour Inn

Our time at Golant was to be restful but the manager of the Hostel gave us some great local hang out advice. We went and spent half a day at Fowey (pronounced Foi) another seaside town with a busy harbour. Its narrow streets were full of great little shops and its pub was very busy for a Monday lunch.

The Streets of Fowey

The Streets of Fowey

The day before we had gone to Lostwithel and had our own little antiques roadshow. The town was lovely but closed (as it was a Sunday) and the only thing opened was the antiques fair. Here we spent an hour roaming around the little stalls full of things from the local collectors. It was here we picked up our newest member of our trip. An English Teddy bear (Rein and I had toyed with the idea of a Mascot and when Rein saw him he was hooked). I asked the lady at the stall if he had a name but he was nameless so we called him Henry. Henry will be part of our Adventure now so you will see a lot of him.

Henry sitting on the Lostwithel sign

Henry sitting on the Lostwithel sign

We then left Golant and Cornwall and drove up to Salisbury. Maybe there we can rest a little.

Love
Leah, Rein and Henry

Rein & Henry in his front pack

Rein & Henry in his front pack

Posted by reinandleah 13:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

UK - London

Day 4 to Day 11

overcast 7 °C

Greetings Everyone!

I hope you are all well. You will be glad to hear that Leah and I are still together and have not yet bitten each others heads off, however there have been snaps.

We have been staying in a 28 bed dorm at the Palmers Lodge in Swiss Cottage, which is North London on the Jubilee line. It is very quiet as far as hostels go which is right up our old married couple ally. The staff are very friendly and the other travelers are very considerate.

Day 4,5
Upon arrival we dropped off our bags and rested in the lounge. Then after a few hours we went to explore Swiss Cottage. Leah picked up a nice warm coat at an Op shop no less (was only 15 pounds), which just happens to be red.

Day 6,7 Lodge Days
These 2 days consisted of booking future accommodation on our journey and my attempts at editing our UAE video. (which I hope you have all seen, Leah's attempted belly dancing is hilarious, bless her)

Day 8 National Gallery
Having been couped up for 2 days we ventured out to Trafalgar Square and the National gallery. So many works of art, we were never going to see them all (although did see some Rembrandt, Monet, and Van Gogh). We went for coffee afterwards and found a very decent coffee near by in a place called Notes. Felt very much like a Melbourne coffee shop style which was great cause I hear that London coffee is below average.

Rein & Trafalgar Lion

Rein & Trafalgar Lion

Day 9 Portobello Road
Saturday at Portobello Road Market was freezing! It was supposedly 4 degrees Celsius but with the wind chill it felt a lot colder. Leah purchased a woolen sweater (second hand again not less). She obviously didn't pack for the right conditions. Because it was Saturday we got to check out the antique dealers which was something I was hanging out for. I wanted to sing "Portobello Roooaaad" but Leah kept giving me the look and unfortunately there was no room for folkdancing.

Rein & Leah @ Portobello Road

Rein & Leah @ Portobello Road

Portobello Markets

Portobello Markets

Leah @Portobello Markets

Leah @Portobello Markets

Day 10 National History and Science Museum
Not really much to tell about this, it is a museum, very similar to ours at home. The Great hall was most impressive with its architecture. This is also were we met our traveling buddy Jess H. We spent most of the time walking around and talking with each other rather than paying attention to the exhibits. So we made our way to the local pub, The Hoop and Toy in South Kensington and spent the afternoon sinking Guinness and watching the 6 nations rugby in the warmth. Actually that's what I did, I don't know what the girls got up too.

Day 11 London Bridge
Our final day was a quiet stroll around the London Bridge/Tower Bridge area taking photos of the local sites. We also visited All Hallows Church which parts of the building date back 300 years earlier than the Tower of London. I highly recommend this underpopulated tourist attraction.

All Hallows-by-the-Tower

All Hallows-by-the-Tower

Rein & Leah @Tower Bridge

Rein & Leah @Tower Bridge

Tomorrow we will brave the UK roads and weather as we drive down to Cornwall.

Love Rein & Leah

Posted by reinandleah 12:32 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

Episode 1

UAE

sunny 27 °C

Oh boy was this tough. I thought I had all the tools to create simple travel videos, I was wrong. Camera is working fantastic, It may get out of focus at times but that is user error which I will perfect in future episodes. My editing software however has been a pain in the rear. Windows Movie Maker is like Apple iMovie's uncoordinated sibling. This lead to narration difficulties in parts. Hopefully you can hear it clear enough.

Everything you expect from a pilot episode of your soon to be 12th favorite web travel video.

P.S. Listen out for the chuckle, That's my favorite part.

Posted by reinandleah 00:15 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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