Monday, February 19, 2018

Via de la Plata

In 3 weeks I'll be in Spain again!  This year I'm going to tackle part of the Via de la Plata, a long Camino that goes from Seville to Santiago. Because I can't walk as well as I used to, I've researched the public transport options between the major centres. I've also booked most of the accommodation, apart from the final week. There will be no Albergues for me (apart from a couple of highly recommended places). At my age I need a hot shower and a comfy bed. I don't want to be disturbed by snoring pilgrims or other people's visits to the loo! My own ensuite is vital.

I've been following the adventures of a Canadian pilgrim, Sara Dhooma, who posts a short video every day on YouTube. She has just passed Zamora, which is as far as I'll be going. She seems to be a perennial walker and travels from one long distance footpath to another around the globe. She also samples the local beer at every opportunity and this seems to enable her to walk long distances each day!

The first part of my holiday is an Andalusian odyssey organised by Fresco Tours, taking in Cordoba, Granada, Jerez and Seville. There will also be a few walks in the National Parks. It's hot in the south of Spain later in the year, which is why their tour begins in the middle of March.

This is my planning so far:

Accommodation List Via de la Plata 2018

11 Mar  EK dep Perth 10.20 pm arr Madrid 12.40 pm. 

12 Mar Madrid Airport Express to Atocha every 15 mins. Bus takes one hour from Terminal 4 and costs €5.  Stop is on right after exiting terminal. Linea Expres Aeropuerto.

12 Mar  Cordoba Bkd by Fresco at Hotel  NH Amistad, Plaza de Maimonides 3.

13 Mar Fresco Tour starts 3.00 pm.  Cordoba NH Amistad

14 Mar Granada NH Granada Centro Hotel (formerly Hesperia Granada)

15 Mar Granada  NH Granada Centro Hotel

16 Mar  Granada  NH Granada Centro Hotel 8.30 pm  Arriaga Restaurant, Granada.

17 Mar Grazalema Hotel Puerta de la Villa

18 Mar Grazalema Hotel Puerta de la Villa

19 Mar Jerez Casa Grande

20 Mar Jerez Casa Grande

21 Mar Seville Hotel Becquer

22 and 23 Mar Seville Bkd by Fresco at Hotel Becquer 2 nights.  Fresco Tour ends after breakfast on 22 Mar
VdlP Assoc Office at Calle Castilla 82.
ALSA bus Seville to Merida  Book bus asap!
Dep 9.45 am
Arr Zafra  11.15
Arr Merida 12.00

24 Mar  Zafra  Casa Palacio de la Corte bkd

25 Mar  (Sun)  Merida  Parador bkd €15 to visit 6 main Roman sites; €6 to visit ampitheatre.  (NB Semana Sancta is 25 Mar to 1 April)  

26 Mar Aljucen  16.5 kms (via Prosperina Dam) Dam built by Romans to supply water to Merida.
Hotel Rural Termas Aqua Libera   Eat: Sergio’s Restaurant

27 Mar Alcuesca  20 kms  Casa Rural Casa Grande

28 Mar Aldea del Cano 15 kms  Casa Rural Via de la Plata (Pay cash!)

29 Mar  Caceres 22 kms  Maybe a bus from Valdesalor?  Parador bkd for 2 nights incl breakfast 

30 Mar Caceres  - Good Friday.

31 Mar (Sat)  By bus to Canaveral
Caceres - Salamanca bus has 14 stops ; 1st stop Canaveral in 35 mins.  Get timetable!
Albergue de Canaveral  highly recommended!

1 April (Sun) Canaveral to Riolobas           18.6 kms
Riolobos Camping “Los Catalinas” Bkd:
Manager is Nacho who also manages Albergue in Galisteo; offers free ride to Galisteo.

2 April  Galisteo   9.5 kms   ?  or ask for ride to Galisteo on 1 April? Need to save a day.

3 April  Carcaboso            10.2 kms   ? Hotel Ciudad de Caparra? (Cd go by bus /taxi to Plasencia? and back to Arch of Caparra to see Interpretive Centre, opens at 10.00 am)

4 April   Oliva de Plasencia 18 kms from Carcaboso  ?Casa Rural Via Caparra?
5 April  Hervas  Hotel Spa Sinagoga bkd. Avenida de la Provincia 2..

6 April  Banos de Montemayor  Casa Rural “Los Postigos” bkd. Banos has good interpretative  centre. Banos is 10 kms from Aldeanueva. On bus route.

7 April  Bus to Salamanca  (3 buses per day)   Hotel Rector bkd for 2 nights  

8 April  (Sun)  Salamanca  Visit Salamanca Art Deco Museum and CafĂ©.

9 April  Zamora by bus.  Zafra Municipal Albergue outstanding historic bldg with view.

10 April Zamora

11 April Segovia by train

 12 April Madrid by train.                  ?Hotel Tryp Madrid Chamartin

13 April (Fri)     Dep Madrid 15.20 EK

My trusty hiking boots, which have done many Caminos, have developed a large crack in the sole. I can't find any replacements in Perth, so I've had to order them online from Ecco. I hope I can break them in on time.

These boots have cracked up on me!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chinese New Year

When I lived in Singapore there were huge celebrations. People prepared for it by spring cleaning their houses and throwing out old furniture. During my first year there, I would keep an eye out at the side of the road for useful items as I had quite a spacious flat and balcony to fill. This flat was on Jalan Hang Jebat and had been Single Officers Quarters for the British Army. It had two bedrooms and a maid's room round the back. I found a lovely maid called Siti to look after C, who was 7 when we arrived there. I paid $400 pm rent, $400 pm to Siti and we lived on the $400 remaining from my $1200 pm salary. I worked for Inlingua teaching English, but after 6 months found a better job as Librarian at United World College of SE Asia. Those were the days!

Our balcony in Singapore

Huge decorations in Crown Metropole Perth
This is the Year of the Dog. I was born in the Year of the Monkey!

Same decoration in 2017

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fox and Hare

Painting of a fox by "Yorkshire Pudding", one of my favourite English bloggers
Photo of a mountain hare in the Yorkshire Pennines, sent to me by my sister

Sunday, January 28, 2018


The new Perth Stadium opened today with a one day international cricket match, Australia versus England. JL and C were in the crowd, having secured tickets as soon as they came on sale. I dropped them off in the car, then E and I explored the grounds and parklands outside.

This is the view of the stadium at night from our balcony. The lights go round and round and can be changed to reflect the colours of the teams playing. (Green and gold for Australia).

There are lots of playgrounds and picnic areas at the back of the stadium near the river:

It was quite a hot day. JL had had enough by 3.00 pm, when the sun came round and baked that part of the stand. He called me and asked for an immediate evacuation. C remained for another hour or so then walked home, where she could watch the end of the match in air conditioned comfort on TV.  England won!  We then observed the logistics of getting the crowds home by train or bus. All was visible from our balcony. I have never seen so many buses queued up in readiness to move 55,000!

The stadium from the river bank.

Looking downstream from the Windam Bridge. The concrete piers for the new footbridge can be seen near the two boats. This footbridge is still under construction, months behind schedule.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ferry across the Swan

An overcast day was forecast, so I took the opportunity to do a 7 km walk round the river. I persuaded E to come along as she had no "play dates" lined up. We drove to South Perth and took the ferry from Mends Street across to Elizabeth Quay and walked from there back to the starting point.

Looking across to South Perth. I used to live in one of the high rise buildings when I first came to Australia in 1990.

E posing by a tree with a big ugly burl on Heirisson Island.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Mandurah foreshore

On a day that was slightly cooler, we walked from Dolphin Cove, over the footbridge and along the promenade as far as the new road bridge. The old historic bridge, which used to cause such traffic jams, is being demolished:

We had our photo taken on a "swing" in the wall art.

Sculpture of enlarged fruits of a Moreton Bay Fig.

One of the many paintings in our penthouse, which we don't want to leave!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


We enjoyed the gnocchi dish at Flics Kitchen so much that we decided to have a go at making our own from a recipe on the Internet. E claims it was her idea and she even assisted with the preparation. The sauce called for mushrooms, cream, garlic, blue cheese and spinach. It was as good as Flic produced, though I say it myself! Our penthouse was a superior venue because of the view!

A willie wagtail flew onto the balcony looking for crumbs.