Category Archives: Travels

How Many $%^&ing Times Can I Miss the Sign?

After Sevilla it was off to Cordoba. Now Cordoba is a nice little city – nothing spectacular but interesting in its own little way. Lots of little alleyways to get lost in, a nice bridge to walk across, decent photo opportunities. You get the idea – nothing much to write about. They do have the Mezquita however. At one time it was a Moorish mosque but the Christians came to town and turned it into a cathedral. Then the businessmen came to town and turned it into a tourist attraction. It is really quite exquisite however.

The archways …

and pillars were spectacular.

The archways and pillars were spectacular

As was the ceiling.

The most interesting story was when I set up my 21″ tripod to get a photo or two – which is exactly what I managed to take before a very stern security guard was in my face, telling me to put it away and that if the security cameras saw me take it out again I would unceremoniously be escorted from the premises – at least that is what his tone implied. After that we just wandered the streets.

Puente Romano crosses the Guadalquivir River.

Terry poses on the Puente Romano crossing the Guadalquivir River.

Jan and Peter pose on the Puente Romano crossing the Guadalquivir River.

One of many tiny side streets

Another narrow passageway

Terry does her happy dance when the sun finally comes out – temporarily. Then we went into the cold Mezquita…sigh

Happy Happy

The smallest Hop on Hop off bus I’ve seen.

Some of the largest doors I’ve seen.

There are no words – except Ale-Hop is a store that just sells everything from toys to scarves to slippers to inexpensive and cheerful gifts to take home (not that we did).

Then it was off to Granada, home to the Alhambra. The Alhambra, for those of you who may not remember their grade 8 Social Studies, is a palace and fortress complex largely built by Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. As with most things in Spain, it was taken over by Christians and  the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition.) But before we got there, we had to get to our hotel, thus the title of this post.

When we arrived in Granada it was raining and I was driving. Granada has more one way streets than any city I have ever been in. The map doesn’t do it justice. Our hotel was about 15 yards off the street which has the little one way arrow. On one side of it was a street which was about 15 feet wide and dead ended at the hotel doors. Unfortunately it also had a wall which blocked the sign that said “Turn here”. On the other side of the hotel was a pedestrian walkway. If you missed the turn – which I did the first two times by, you have to spend 15 minutes to go out of the downtown area and return. Frustrated? Your call. In addition, there were all sorts of demonstrations going on which caused a large police presence. See below

“Women in Spain went on strike on Thursday both from professional and domestic work in the country’s first-ever general feminist strike. To coincide with International Women’s Day, ten Spanish unions on Jan. 14 called for 24-hour strikes and the country’s two most important unions have asked members to stop working for two hours on Thursday.”

Of course we would show up right in the middle of it.

On strike – sort of…

Would you expect Terry and Jan to sit on the sidelines?

After the demonstration we wandered off to – you guessed it – some little lanes and squares. This square – somehow I have lost the photos, had a statue of Neptune. This blonde must have had Chinese blood in her somewhere. She must have seen 15 minutes taking her photo, flicking her hair and just basically demonstrating she was a DIVA!

You’re beautiful – yes you are.

From there it was time to stroll – ha ha – up to Albaicin to get a view of the Alhambra from above. Stroll – ha – how about mountain climb. It was a very healthy climb – my heart handled it – but barely.

A couple of views.

Unfortunately, on the way up we got separated from Pete. He wound up at a different viewpoint which has a fantastic view.

Great view.

After reconnecting we wandered back to the impossible to find in a car hotel. We decided to go to El Conde for dinner – a mere 5 minute walk. We arrived at 7:45 and they didn’t open until 8 and I mean 8. The wait was beyond worth it. There were about 8 of us when it opened and when we left you couldn’t move. As with most restaurants in Spain, it was tapas. They have a strange, but incredibly wonderful custom in Spain. Strangely I didn’t experience this when I was there with a group of grade 10s many years ago. If you order alcohol (which, obviously I would never have done as a responsible adult supervising little children) they bring you a starter. Our starter was a burger and fries.

I’m not sure how small the bird was that dropped the egg was, but it was small.

As most of you know, Geoff does not eat salad – “This was INCREDIBLE,” he said.

The patatas brava had an injected hot sauce. You move the “injector” around from patata to patata. We have discovered, however that spicy in Europe isn’t like spicy at home.

Patatas Bravas

The two guys working there were terrific.

Two great guys

So that was our first day. Next time – The Alhambra. See you then.




Home Sweet Home

Let me say right off that no, we are not home yet. We still have another 10 days or so to enjoy in the sunshine states. However, we have seen a number of heritage homes here in South Carolina.

I’m thinking the description is somewhat ominous, how about you?

This house just down the street from the five star resort we are staying at. Hilton Head has a real mix of homes. From the wealthy huge homes to the double wide trailers which are in somewhat suspect condition.

Meanwhile, up the highway in Bluffton, we came across the Sarah Riley Hooks home. Who was Sarah and why is her home worth noting? Read on.

From The Island Packet” – the local newspaper: “Sarah Riley Hooks was a home health care nurse….Sarah had a son named Tony. He lived with Sarah when he was in town and was a musician who played with Sly and the Family Stone and Bluffton’s own musician John Brannen. …A very bizarre thing happened early one Bluffton morning. Tony was shot dead on Sarah’s front porch. It was a senseless act by a deranged person. The shooter drove off and was chased by our police all the way to Savannah where he was caught. All of Bluffton was in a state of shock. Thirty years or so ago we were a small town, where things of this sort did not happen. Tony was her only child so, as you may imagine, this made it even worse. Sarah was, as were we all, very sad for some time after this.” Bizarre? A very bizarre thing happened? Very sad for some time? This reporter certainly has a way with words.

Then there is The Garvey House.

The interior:After viewing the Garvey House we wandered down to the beach/pier and saw this car. We figured it was something pulled out of the water. There was a woman just leaving the seafood shop and I asked her about the car. She said the car ran and the man who drove it also lived in it. A somewhat different interpretation of home sweet home.

Okay enough about home sweet home. Now just some random stuff.

The Hilton Head school complex is nearby (high school, middle school, elementary school, school for the creative arts, football stadium, lacrosse field, soccer field, baseball diamond and general playing fields) is nearby. Saw this sign. Imagine the idea of a Weather Makeup Day happening in BC – on a Saturday.

We went for a long bike ride this morning looking for the beach. We eventually found it (more on that in a second). It was VERY windy and VERY brisk. There were several kite-sailers out.

So the plan for our bike ride was to get to the beach and ride on the packed sand. After an hour or so we got to the end of Beach City Road, where, according to the map there was a public access to the beach. Instead we saw what you see.

Undaunted I went through the open gate to the house and knocked on the door. After the door opened it went as follows:

Geoff: “Hi. We were looking for the beach access.”

Man. (Turning himself 90 degrees and looking down): “No access here. This is private property.”

Geoff: “Oh, could you tell me where there is access?”

Man. “1/4 mile on the left.” SLAM. Yes folks, I literally had the door slammed in my face – a first.

Now sure it says private property and everything, but the gate was open and I’m just a tourist.

Yesterday we went golfing at The Golden Bear Golf course. Wasn’t a memorable round for sure except for these two that Terry caught.

Now this fellow resides on the bank next to our condo. We are about 15 feet away when we walk by.

I wonder if the sign applies to him too?

My arty photo for today.

And finally – Two Pals

Belfast Day 2

Day 2 was a day of 11789 paces around Belfast. First it was off to the Titanic Experience and then to The Crumlin Street Gaol.

Another cheesy photo

Our cab guide from the day before told us that no Catholic will go to the exhibit because there was a sign at the gates when it was being built “No Dogs, No Blacks and No Catholics.”

I must say that although it was interesting it wasn’t what I expected. There wasn’t really much about the actual sinking but a lot about Belfast life while it was being built and the actual building of it.

I think this is the actual height of the ship that was above the water.

I also think this is the site/slip where it was built and launched from.

A little self-explanatory

From the exhibit it was off to the gaol.

From here to there to there to here

Belfast its called the city of murals. Most are related to The Troubles but there are a few others as well.

This chef looks a little ticked for some reason

Then there was the giant salmon. Have no reason why.

Some cool buildings

And some not so cool buildings

Real “quality” buildings – check out the sign on the chimney

The Crumlin Street Gaol was built across the street from the Justice Building and they were joined by a tunnel.

The Hall of “Justice”

A walk to hell

Stairs to/from the tunnel. It was a very depressing walk

The jail was built to house between 500 and 550 prisoners in single cell accommodation, each cell measuring 12 by 7 feet, and 10 feet in height. In later years, depending on the influx there would be up to 1900 people, with up to 4 prisoners often occupying a single cell, as was the case during the early 1970s with the internment of a significantly disproportionate number of republicans.

Up to 4 prisoners shared this size cell at times

The punishment cell was used to – obviously – punish prisoners. They had only a mattress on the floor and a pot. Could not have been very comfortable and clearly there was a little more punishing that went on. Just sayin…

The punishment cell

and the padded cell

There was also the painting cell where therapy went on. Weird I do say.

Time for art

Then we went in to the condemned man cell. It was quite large and contained a bed, desk, bookshelves. The guide explained that the last hangman got the process down to a fine art. The warden, priest and a couple of guards would come in at the appointed time. Apparently what the condemned man didn’t realize was that the bookshelves just slid aside and there were the gallows. Other than the warders no one else knew since the condemned man wasn’t going to tell anyone. From the time the bookshelves were slid aside until the man died it took eight seconds.

It did seem a little incongruous to come around the corner in “the yard” to see

Like a pint?

On the walk back

Who has one of these in their front yard? And why?

Next – “If you’re brave enough.”

Belfast Day 1

Thus far we have seen or travelled through 15 of the Republic of Ireland’s 26 counties (6 more in Northern Ireland) and have met some wonderful people, seen some incredible scenery, enjoyed many many fine meals and had a pint or two of Ireland’s finest.

The 15 so far: Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath, Longford, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Laois

After a quiet weekend in Skerries however, it was time to take off on our own, leaving Lynne and Martin to get ready for their next guests. Through the pouring rain (Ed. note: Who knows what song that is a line from?) we headed off to Belfast. Now I have certainly driven on “the other side” of the road before, but it has been quite awhile and even then it was an automatic and not a standard. Plus I rented a car (Skoda Superb – think  Chex Malibu but 3 inches wider) that in retrospect might have been a little bigger than we needed. Should be interesting.

We arrived in Belfast with no big to do – clearly motorways aren’t going to be an issue as long as I don’t try to keep up with the traffic going past me at 140+ km/hr. It had been suggested to us that a “Black Cab” tour of Belfast would provide a fascinating look at “The Troubles” and we did that the first afternoon.

Now the driver Chris (“Now folks…”) was quite upfront about the fact that he was Catholic but that that would in no way influence what he told us, that he would provide a very balanced perspective of both sides. Well, that sounded only reasonable. Our first stop was just off the rather well know Shankill Road, in the Protestant area of Belfast.

William of Orange, the man who started it all way back 1690

Chris informed us that William III (Ed. note: more on him in a couple of posts from now) was the fellow who started the Troubles when he defeated James II at the Battle of Boyne, ensuring Protestant control in Ireland and the beginning of discrimination of the Catholics. From there he took us to see the mural of Stephen “Top Gun” McKeag. He was given the nickname because he murdered at least 30 people, many of them innocent individuals. His “signature” was to shoot them in the face so to deny them an open-casket. Now I have checked online and this information is indeed accurate. Chris also talked about the fact that generally speaking the outside world only heard from the media about how the IRA were terrorists and that the British army and Belfast police committed no violent acts except in self-defense. He also pointed out that the Protestants seemed to glorify the “killers” while the Catholics remembered the victims.

Stevie “Top Gun” McKeag

More honoring of “The Murderers” – to quote Chris.  The guns appear to follow your movements.

He continued on with the discrimination theme by pointing out that in order to have a vote in the elections, you had to own a house but if you were Protestant and owned your home, all adults living in the house could vote but if you were Catholic and owned a house, only you could vote. In this way the minority Protestant population ensured they maintained control over the Catholic majority since the judiciary and government controlled everything. It did seem to me that that was a fairly significant level of discrimination.

From there it was off to the Peace Line which divide the two.

Terry looking a little pensive

The wall is forty-five feet high but doesn’t actually split the entire city but rather just some neighborhoods. At one time there was apparently 45 kms of wall but I think that has changed somewhat.

Just some neighborhoods

If you look at the photos above the map you will see the street. These photos were taken on the Protestant side of the wall. All along the street runs a park which further separates the homes from the wall by a further 75 – 100 feet.

There are three gates in the major sections of the wall. Two of them close every night and the third has many security cameras around it. If it looks like some trouble might be brewing, they can be automatically be shut.

One of the gates

This is the opposite side of the wall – in the Catholic neighborhood. They back up right to the fence and have put up these cages to protect themselves from thing, possibly bricks, being thrown over the wall. Compare it to the Protestant side. Perhaps a little more discrimination? 

Nice way to live

He also took us to a memorial garden which listed all the names of the Republican soldiers
and civilians who died and showed us one of the plastic bullets the police and soldiers used. There are several documented cases of the soldiers shooting the bullets directly at civilian’s heads, resulting in their deaths. It was 5 or so inches long with a diameter of about 1 and a half inches.

Did not look anything like what I thought a plastic bullet would look like

Remember how Chris talked about the Protestant murals proudly showing their heroes?

Here are the Catholic heroes.

Perhaps the most famous

Following Sands’s election win in 1980, the British government introduced the Representation of the People Act 1981 which prevents prisoners serving jail terms of more than one year in either the UK or the Republic of Ireland from being nominated as candidates in British elections. The enactment of the law, as a direct response to the election of Sands, consequently prevented other hunger strikers from being elected to the House of Commons. The Catholic perspective is that the government did this because Margaret Thatcher refused to sit in Parliament with Sands. When she died, apparently there was dancing in the streets to the tune of The Witch is dead!

Not as to Chris’s balance perspective. I would have to agree that it was very balanced – every time he told us something good about the Catholics, he told us something bad about the Protestant.

And now for something a little less maudlin and, frankly, depressing.

Just how would this work?

Kelly’s Cellar – this place could never be painted – there is just too much stuff. The ceiling is about 7 feet high.

The Crowne – a rather famous Belfast pub with overpriced wine and not a particularly good pint.

Just stopping in for a pint – on Monday afternoon.

The story about The Crowne is that a married couple – he Irish, she English wanted to open the pub. She wanted to call it The Crowne and his response was that the only way that would happen was if he could put a mosaic of the crown in the floor. She agreed and now everytime an Irishman walks in, he walks all over the crown.


The Shining Light leads us home

The Shoe Blog

And finally – not from Ireland, but from our good friend Peter. I hope he asked!

Belong to a grade 12 student at University Hill Secondary




The Beauty of Ireland – Part 2

After our hearty breakfast we were off. Jackie, our B and B host, told us we should do the Bray Head loop, that it held fantastic vistas. When we got there the signage indicated that the loop was 5k which wouldn’t be a problem for four fit hikers like us.

We crossed over the stile to the unfenced pasture and came face to face with several of the inhabitants.

Just grazing away

Further up

More of the inhabitants


Hope that pink is just paint… and not that, as Martin suggested, there may be a Kerryman in the area.

Now the path up was just a little rocky but not too bad.

Martin on the way up

Looking back dow the trail all you could see was the gorse on the bog.

Looking out just before we start to climb. Skellig Michael (home to the final scene in the last Star Wars movie) in the distance

More cattle – they were bored by the view I guess since they never really looked up.

Remember Where’s Waldo? Well, spot Bessie

Can you find me?

The gorse is quite attractive, unless of course you are looking for a golf ball.

Looking out from the viewpoint.

Skellig Michael

I take Terry taking me taking Lynne and Martin

Terry takes me taking Lynne and Martin

Okay so it looks like a pleasant enough jaunt, doesn’t it. Well it wasn’t. The path to viewpoint was fine as the picture showed. That was about 2200 paces. After that however, there was no gravel path just a frequently walked path through the gorse and heather – and that was covering the wet bog which lay just beneath. If we had known then what we know now I am 100% confident we would have just walked back down the way we came up, but being the intrepid hikers we are, we set out to complete the loop. Terry and Lynne had shoes on while Martin and I were in sandals/flip flops. Have you ever walked through gorse in sandals? It is an experience I would highly recommend if you want to get the feeling of walking over broken glass without actually breaking glass. It was also another 4000 or so paces to get back down and was quite the adventure. We had to wander all over the place looking for the driest way down. Add to that the fact that ever since we had left the car I had needed the facilities and – well, let’s just say that it was a little tight coming down.

Looking back it doesn’t look that bad, does it. That dark green strip in the middle is kind of like Chinese traffic lights – just suggestions since it was often very muddy where that “path” went.

From above you can see the distance but you can’t see the elevation or the vegetation. Even the cows and sheep didn’t bother going up there.

I can’t wait to get back to the KVR trail!

From there it was off to Sneem via a very twisty turn narrow road along the south coast for a spot of lunch.

Beautiful river

Bars, bars and more bars – both the gray and yellow buildings are also bars.

This guy looks about how I felt.

I’ll just have a wee nap…

If you saw this photo on Facebook, I think I mentioned that it had been a loooooonnnnnggggg day. It started with the trek, then took 5 hours of driving time to cover the distance that says it should take 3 hours and 8 minutes to cover.

It never tasted so good!

How does it take so long to get anywhere?

We were also exhausted because we could not find a hotel for the evening – everything was booked for some bizarre reason. We finally found the Hiberian Hotel in Mallow.

If you are going to use the toilet in this hotel, you need a game plan since once you sit down and fully reach out, you are still 18-20 inches away from the roll.

Reach out and I’ll be there

Until next time.

The Beauty of Ireland

Well we reached the south of Ireland.

Here we are – all the way down to Knightstown on Valentia Island an island of 800 people- just across from Cahersiveen.

We’re going to divide this post into Variety and Views. We lead off with variety.

Despite having a somewhat mediocre pint in Castleisland – aptly named since it is land locked we came upon these two signs. The first was in a pub and the second – well, you figure it out.

You Go Mouse!

Just what does that mean?

Not sure how this would even happen. It was on an SUV which had a rear door that opened.


Dyslexic maybe?

These were on the ferry wharf. Pretty sure they caught the lobster that morning that became my dinner that evening -see below – which I had in the cream building just beyond them.

Dinner traps

Nothing fancy – just pure lobster – and fresh crab to replace the bits you don’t eat.

This sign was above the door inside the restaurant. Laughed like a madman…

Politically Correct?

I wanted to sing The Loadout by Jackson Browne to these guys.

Like the supervisor on the left – he was directing them.

Our ferry to Knightstown.

We had five cars on our voyage

Which weed do you think they meant?

I was then confused about the spelling of Knightstown – or is it Knights Town?

Sell pretty much everything, I guess

Anchors away, Terry, anchors away.

Somebody got something wrong

Go right – no left, no…

I quit!

I’m not digging another damn hole.

We stayed at the Atlantic Villa B and B where everything came from their garden – eggs, edible nasturtium garnish, and the wild boar sausage. Not sure how they came from the garden but far be it from me to comment. I will say that I have never eaten sausages so hot. I cut them up into little pieces and still the steam came off them. Left one because it was just too hot.

Fresh eggs for the Atlantic Villa B and B

The obligatory arty photo

See caption below

No words except that Terry found this a little disturbing. How about you?

And now, well almost now, the views.

Terry on the way to the top of the island.

The Three Amigos

Young (ish) love

And NOW the views

Dingle Peninsula

Controversial Skellig Michael – home to the final scene in Star Wars – The Last Jedi

Terry thinks this looks exactly like a breast with the nipple standing – perhaps it is cold?

Really Terry, a breast?

View from the restaurant at dinnertime.

The Sporadic Shoe Blog 

We had a long chat with the owner, Bridie. I told her about the shoe blog and she very graciously allowed me to take the picture


And now, just wait for the next post. The photos are – wait for it –




Too Stupid to Live

Our travels so far

After 7 days in and around Skerries. First two nights were in and around Westport and then we headed off to the south.

One of the first interesting photos we came across was a truck. No on said anything for a while and then the obvious comment came and we all agreed we had been thinking exactly the same thing…

Who needs an entire truck load of Syphilis? and why?

Overlooking County Mayo

More spectacular County Mayo area.

Somewhere along the coast

Terry has taken to collecting signs for redecorating the laundry room at home. Unfortunately none of these were available for sale.

In Ballyvaughan “Cows by the Harbor” – kind of like Dogs Playing Poker

For lunch we stopped at Moran’s On The Weir (Ed. note: Can you figure out where the preposition comes from?). Since we were still in August, we asked the server about the “don’t eat oysters in months without an ‘r’ in them” rule. We were told: “Oh yes, that is true and we don’t serve the local oysters in those months. However, we bring sprats over from BC and plant them in our beds across the the road (literally) and then serve those ones. They develop the same taste and flavour as the ones in the bay outside.” ??? What??? Does this make any sense? By the way, did you know that 3 Pacific salmon have been caught lately in the Thames? Due to global warming they have swimming in via the Bering Sea. They are either really really lost, or have amazing memories!

Fantastic mussels, fish and chips to feed an army and potato fish cakes to feed a nation – oh and Terry had 5 fresh oysters.

From there it was off to the Cliffs of Moher, an absolutely spectacular portion of the Irish coast. (Ed. note: If you have other words for “spectacular” please either send them to me or substitute them when reading this.)

The Stack – well named don’t you think?

Look closely, those little knobs in the distance are people.

Wow – they are about 500 feet high.

More cliffs, more people

The inset in the rather large white square is the ledge to the right.

Up until 5 or 6 years ago, people would sit on the edge…Lynne saw some young people playing cards there once.

More people, more cliff

Terry and friends

No Terry did not break the fence – it was an arty moment.

I heard a woman (not Lynne) ask her partner if her hair was okay. What do you think?

No, that’s not product.

Are you getting the idea that they are amazing?

Looking north

Looking south

And so we move on. This is a view of Lahinch, to the south of the cliffs. They have a spectacular (Ed. note: There’s that word again) golf course I would have loved to play. Besides the $300 price tag, Terry’s shoulder isn’t allowing us any golf this trip. Maybe next time.

Lahinch. The golf course is to the left of the houses.

This is a screenshot of the course from above. I would likely need more than one ball.

Lahinch golf course – I did get a shirt however.

Off to Ennis to visit with Martin’s sister – an absolutely delightful woman. So cute, so funny! Thanks for a great time Anne. Before we got there, however, we passed by these figures as we entered the town..

Just a bad idea!

For Lynne

The Arran Islands

For Martin

To end our “spectacular” day, we went off to Brogan’s for dinner. Lynne opted for the ribs (since the fish and chips which would have fed an army at lunch had well worn off).

First the look as they arrived.


Now a closer look.

The rack is wider than she is!

Finally, we were disappointed she didn’t finish the chips, slaw and salad.

They were damn good! If you ever find yourself in Ennis, you MUST go here. All our meals (I couldn’t finish my steak) were incredible.

Here’s the kicker though. The young girl sitting next to us finished her entire plate AND had a wedge of chocolate cake.

And now the reason  for the title. All along the cliffs are these signs:

Kind of clear, don’t you think

There are also many many signs to sty away from the edge – behind the wall. However

And why wouldn’t you

Until next time.