Greece 2021 – On Holiday At Last

They make a spectacular sight against a blue sky.

We first booked a trip to Greece, to sail the Faraway Islands, north of Corfu, for spring 2020.

Of course, Covid-19 scuppered those plans, so we rearranged the trip for spring 2021. Then we realised a May holiday could clash with my sons’ rearranged wedding, leaving us no time to isolate if that was the current rules, so we moved it forward a couple of weeks.

Then COVID came back with a vengeance and we asked Sailing Holidays to just find us a sailing trip in Greece for October. We had to avoid the 13th as that was Barbara’s 90th birthday party, so we booked the delivery trip from Nidri to Gouvie for the following weekend.

As the pandemic is still very much with us, we had to be tested, and fill in lots of forms.

Eventually it was time, and off we flew, after an early departure from Pete’s on Sunday, we arrived mid afternoon at the Hotel Iris and were shown our yacht, Elara, a Beneteau 331.

After welcomes, and more testing and forms, we settled on the boat and dined in the restaurant. The weather was a bit glum, but we had a rainbow to give us hope.

The following day, after briefing and shopping, we left Nidri for Spartakhori.

We were delighted to get our sails up, and as we headed into a bay for a swim, we spotted a few dolphins a short distance away.

We have visited Spartakhori a few times before, and as it was a team meal, I forgot to take any new photos.

Next day we set off for Kamalos. the sun was shining but not much wind. We had hoped to meet up with Mary-Ann and Colin, as they were also sailing in the area, but our plans didn’t match up, so we motored down the Meganissi chanel and stopped in Port Leone for a swim.

We anchored just outside the old windmill, before setting off up to Kalamos.

Goerge, who owns the tavern on the quay, is renown for getting any boats into his harbour, even if it seems full. Luckily it was fairly quiet as this was approaching the end of season.

Wednesday we set off to Sivota, with a bit of early wind, and we were delighted to see 3 dolphins swim past our yacht. We kept sailing all the way across the top of Meganissi and downto Sivota.

There is a beach near to the marina so todays swim was sorted on arrival. We also had a punch party on the beach as dusk set.

Sailing this late in the year means we were up before dawn most mornings, and we had some spectacular sunrises.

Thursday started with little wind so we motored most of the way to Little Vathi on Meganissi, only getting the sails up after a stop in Abeliki bay, where a flash new house was being built. This was a feature of the holiday we had not seen before, lots of modern buildings arising everywhere.

We did mange a short stretch sailing Goose wing, which is always a delight.

After an evening briefing, we slept ready for an early start.

The next trip was through the Lefkas Canal, all the way to Gaios, so we had to set off at 07:30.

Another sunrise rose behind us as we set off north to Lefkas.

The morning had a surreal feel to it, as it was so calm and still, with only our 2 flotillas out on the water.

A bit of chaos ensued at the canal, as first one boat had rushed across under full speed and had overheated their engine, then another boat ran aground in the mud in the canal. Then a third yacht had its anchor drop mid canal, meaning the lead crews had to haul it back up while we dodged the obstruction.

So when the horn blasted for the bridge to open, for 5 minutes, it was a crazy dash to get through, and the horn to signal its closing blasted as we motored past. Our lead crew failed to get past and had to wait an hour for the next opening.

We motor sailed part of the way, then dropped the sails and carried on under engine. It’s a long trip, with Paxos only becoming visible after a couple of hours, but luckily the weather was good and not too much swell, as this is my least favourite part of the trip.

After that long trip, we only had to get to Lakka the next day. The wind was stronger and we reefed our sails and had a good play, with more goosewinging.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner at NioNios of Pork Hock, then we wandered round the town, finding a children’s clothes shop that had to be visited. That’s 2 Christmas presents sorted.

Next we returned to the mainland, to Sivota Mourtos, stopping on the pontoon in the next bay. Our yacht was moored nearest to the land, and I had my best swim yet along the rocky shore, with many different types of fish.

There is a fancy new taverna in the bay, but other people weren’t impressed, so we dined on board, then as dusk started we walked into town, which is a steep 1. We do werer arround 5km walk. we treated ourselves to a great ice-cream and walked back in the dark.

Monday we sailed up to Plataria, having a good tack with reefed sails before mooring uplowed them orarouhalfnd h on the town quay.

We dined in Olgas fish restaurant and I shared the fish platter with Phil, yum.

A new port for us the next day, Sayiadha. It sits behind mud flats which are very shallow, and we were lucky to spot a turtle just before it disappeared, then some dolphins came swimming nearby, with one of them coming within a couple of meters of us. We were able to follow them for about half an hour.

The tavernas here specialise in local caught prawn, which I had with spaghetti.

A few pelicans were floating just outside the harbour the next morning, and another turtle passed us on our way out.

We finally reach Corfu on Wednesday, stopping in Petitri.

Due to a river entering behind the marina, this bay is very atmospheric.

On a previous trip here I had photographed the dawn, and this year we had a similar experience, with thick mist rolling out from the bay.

Thursday was a trip up the coast, stopping in a bay enroute for a lovely swim, and into Corfu Yacht Club. We were lucky to get a spot on the quay side, but it proved a rocky night.

We walked into town late afternoon, and smelt a great curry cooking in the Yacht Club taverna, so rather than return to town, we dined there.

I found this amazing fruit on the quay.

We still had a couple of days before returning to base, so we now venture to a new area, visiting Kassiopi, which is very close to the Albanian shores.

We had a lot of spare time today, so had a swim and sat and read for a while.

Our last day was a gentle trip back round to Gouvia, with a bay stop for my last swim.

We had a team cocktail party and prize giving, we got the ‘David Attenborough’ award for our wildlife spotting.

The following day we didn’t have to leave the marina until 16:00. The staff had already started work on readying the yachts for winter, opening up the genoas to dry.

They make a spectacular sight against a blue sky.

That sadly is the end of a wonderful trip, lots of sunshine, wildlife, swimming, great food and company, but short of good wind.

Dystopian Beauty

‘the sea had just scattered the remains across the beach’

2020 has been a very strange year, and sometimes we just needed to escape, and for me that means the seaside.

Our campervan has not been used much this year, so we decided on a few days trip mid September. Our normal breaks take us westward, so for a change we opted to go North Easterly to the Yorkshire coast, to places we had not been to before.

As we were booking late, and due to Coronavirus, many more people were holidaying in the UK, we couldn’t get the first night where we wanted, and opted to stop in Snaith, on the way there. The site was small, and we were the only guests when we arrived, sharing the field with some chickens who soon departed once the dogs were let out.

The site had caught my eye as the pillars from an old bridge remained in the river behind the site. So we went to have a look, but as the banks were overgrown and fenced off, we only got distant views.

This used to be a toll bridge, charging an awful lot of money to cross when it was built. The 2 small church like building across the river are the toll booths.

We carried on our walk with a visit to Snaith town. To get to the town we passed underneath the road bridge, and a Barn Owl flew out, too quick for a photo.

We found a wonderful cake shop, so took a couple of huge yummy cakes back with us for afternoon tea.

The next morning we continued on to Spurn Head, and the Yorkshire coast.

Our campsite was a small tidy site with around 8 other vans. We quickly realised that Spurn Head is a great venue for Bird Watching, as everyone else there seemed to be in Camouflaged clothing carrying huge binoculars and cameras.

A quick check of Google told us that a rare sighting of a Rosy Starling was todays excitement, but as we only had small binoculars with us, we left that to the twitchers.

If you don’t know the area, Spurn Head is the long strip of sand and dunes the curves around the end of the Humber estuary, and is one of the most easterly points on this part of the coast, which is why random birds appear here, having been blown across the North Sea.

As we had arrived early, we set of for a stroll by the sea, after all, that’s why we were here. Dogs are not allowed on the main Headland as it is a nature reserve, but we stopped at the cafe for a quick drink, no ice-creams! Then we set off along the beach.

The sea is constantly eroding this part of the coast, moving it ever Westwards. As a result, the beach is now scattered with the ruins of war time lookout building, and the static caravan park is slowly being reclaimed by the sea.

The dogs were glad to be free on the beach, with Rita making sure she collected lots of sand to take back to the van.

Lookin gout to sea there is a large Wind farm, gently spinning turbines making pretty patterns as they lined up.

I never imaged lumps of old brickwork could be so beautiful, eroded by sea and sand.

The large concrete blocks are part of the sea defenses. Further along we came to the ruins of WW2 gun turrets.

The first sight of them has a shape that resembles a huge bird, until you venture closer.

These make for a very dystopian lands scape, and truly show the power of the sea. They were very solidly built to withstand bombing, but the sea had just scattered the remains across the beach, at crazy angles.

It is an almost alien scene, with crooked staircases going nowhere, and weird round shapes like UFOs.

Eventually I was dragged away to continue our walk, knowing we would return the next day for more photo opportunities.

We booked ourselves a meal at the nearby pub, which overlooks the Estuary, facing West, towards Grimsby .

The meal was delicious, and we were treated to their ‘cabaret’ – the sun setting into the water. As I have usually visited the west coast, this feel right – I’m never comfortable with the sun sinking behind me as I look out to sea.

The next day, still hot and sunny, we set off from where we left off along the beach.

There is a Sound mirror inland a short way, but we didnt find the footpath to it, so only got a distant shot.

The signs of erosion are everywhere, the caravan site had lost a row of plots, and the road hangs over the edge.

On the dunes we found a ‘sculpture’ of several lobster pots and some rubbish, with a poem written on.

At one point the dogs started barking when they were close to the sea defenses, and I soon realized they had come across a young seal.

It wasn’t too concerned by them, as I called them away, and it flopped back into the sea.

I grabbed a shot of the starlings on the telegraph wires, one of them might be a rosy Starling, but I doubt it.

After another good night, despite me finding a wasp in my cider, and getting stung on my lip, we set off to our next stay. I was for once glad to wear a mask, as my lip and cheek swelled from the sting.

First we called in at Bridlington, a very typical seaside town, all rocks shops, arcades and tacky souvernirs.

We just had to stop on the prom for fish’n’chips, and took a stroll around town. It was busy due to the lovely weather, but the breeze was a bit brisk.

Our final site was on Flamborough Head, just round the coast.

The next day we walked from our site to the lighthouse on the Head, passing the old Chalk tower, which was the first lighthouse here. But the charges for this service were voluntary, so it quickly fell into disrepair.

The Greenwich Meridian crosses the head and is marked by a plaque. This can be confusing, as many maps of Britain are tilted, so you would imagine it passed further inland than this.

The modern lighthouse is now a popular destination for more bird watchers and has a small cafe. It also has a shop where I found a souvenir pencil for my collection and a badge for my camera bag – result.

From here we set off round the Southern side of the head, where we could sea bird strewn cliffs.

Part of the route passed through a Sculpture park, but is seems most of the sculptures have gone, leaving only a totem pole and a wonderful Whale Bone bridge

The final part of the walk we dropped down to the beach below the chalk cliffs, and then back to the campsite, warmed by the sun, and tired from our great walks.

We were so glad we decided on tis trip, adding new locations to our travels.

Can’t wait for our next trip.

Costa Rica, 2011, final part

As we travel on, we are now approaching the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Our next adventure was as exciting as the zip-wire and far wetter, white water rafting down the Reventazon River.

Since we visited a hydro-electric dam has been built, but this has not stopped the fun, if fact the dam now provides a steady flow down the river.

We were kitted out in life belts and helmets, and met our trainer, a lady who was part of Costa Ricas’ national team and had won several medals, so we were in safe hands.

And off we set, in two rafts, down the bubbling river. Luckily we all managed to stay onboard our raft, while a couple fell overboard on the other, but were quickly retrieved from the waves.

This didn’t mean we stayed dry by any means.

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And safely back on shore.

Once we had dried off, we continued on to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast.

We stayed in the Totem Hotel, set on the coast road right opposite the beach, backed by jungle.

To show how close to the jungle it is, I pointed out this Iguana from our bedroom window, it was so close that Ian looked past it and couldn’t see it, it was about 2 meters away

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The grounds were planted with a wonderous array of flowers and foliage.

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The swimming pool had a waterfall, and great statues.

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It was a wonderful place to relax and recover from the busy weeks before.

The following day we visited the Jaguar Rescue centre,  where we met some delightful baby sloths, and saw snakes and birds and other wildlife they had rescued.

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This caterpillar was walking along a handrail, and is Very poisonous

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I later went for a swim in the warm Caribbean, but nearly got caught out by the rip tides.

Our last day took us back to San Jose.

The next day was Sunday, and the mayor of San Jose had decreed that one Sunday a month was Family Day, so the main road into town was closed and filled with activities for children and their families.

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P1030538Climbing walls, music stages, mini zip wire, face painting, stunt biking and lots more.

The road carried on to a huge park, with footballs and many other sports going on.

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It was heartwarming to see so many families out enjoying their time together, but sadly it was time to return to the airport and leave this wonderful country.

I would say this was a once in a lifetime holiday, but fingers crossed we shall return.

One last sloth to keep you going.

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Costa Rica 2011 Part 3

spread warm volcanic mud over ourselves with paint brushes

Back to our Costa Rica travels, following on from Part 2

Our next days adventure included a stop in the Carara National Park for a Crocodile cruise.

We set off along the river in a smallish boat similar to this.

P1030231We caught sight of lots of wildlife as we motored along this wide river,  as this is a Biological Reserve known for its birdlife.

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Then we stopped at the side of our river where our skipper had seen a large crocodile, and he proceeded to jump ashore and feed this 4 meter croc some chicken.

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Rather him than me, but I presume this is a daily occurrence, and they know the croc well, and he is well fed.

More bird spotting on the return trip

 

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and I spotted this turtle on the bank

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I decided not to use the facilities onshore!

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Back on the minibus and onwards to the Rincon de la Vieja national Park and volcano. This is part of the Cordillera de Guanacaste, a great central volcanic massif made up of 5 active volcanoes.

Our residence here was the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin,  an acrtve cattle ranch,with stables housing the horses nearby.

The first evening we were taken out to a Rodeo, which was just an entertainment, with no harm to any beasts, showing off the skills of the cowboys.

 

The first days we walked around the flank of the volcano, seeing where their geothermal power station was, and checking out the wildlife.

In the afternoon, I took the option activity of tubing down a nearby canyon, while Ian relaxed in the hammock strung across the hassienda supports.

The next day we had a horse ride up the volcano to a mud spa. Ian had not ridden horses before, so I arranged for him to have a few lessons during the autumn, to give him more confidence for this.

First we visited the Oropendola waterfall, 25 metre high, and a chance to swim in the cold water below.

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The ride gave us great scenery, and took us up to the spa, where we could see mud bubbling away

 

and lots of wildlife

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Hummingbird

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Leaving our steeds at the gate, we walked up to the spa.

For the spa, we had a sauna, then spread warm volcanic mud over ourselves with paint brushes, and laid down in the sun to dry.

Then after a shower, we sat in thermal pools, dipping our toes in each to find one of a suitable temperature.

Relaxed and freshened, if still a little muddy, we returned to the horses for the ride back down, and to dinner, and a stunning sunset over the volcano.

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Buxton and The Roaches 2020

I will drag you away from exotic travels for a quick trip to the Peak District, while its fresh in my mind. Having had a busy Christmas and start to New year 2020 with appointments etc, we decided to escape for a couple of days before my granddaughter arrives on the scene.

As the weather has been very wet, we opted to leave Connie campervan at home, and go Airbnb. After a busy day, we arrived in the dark, and settled in with an Indian takeaway. The cottage was very cosy, and quiet despite being on a busy junction, but had no garden or yard to let the dogs out.

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The following morning was bright and sunny, so we set out to investigate the town, starting with the park.

Next to this splendid park is the Pavillion Gardens. Sadly, dogs couldn’t go in, but the shop was full of goodies, arts, crafts and food I would have loved to buy, but I restricted myself to a souvenir pencil.

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DSC_5184and we continued through the park

 

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and on up to town.

There are lots of elegant sandstone buildings, all very gentile and lovely, with interesting shops.

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DSC_5194We found an arcade with bright stained glass roof and a little cafe up the steps that allowed dogs in.

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DSC_5200Having warmed up with a Baileys Hot chocolate, we wandered round to the Crescent, which is a full semi-circle, unlike Baths’ Crescent, and is currently being converted into a  spa hotel.

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It should be very splendid when complete, Buxton is a spa town, as warm waters rise here.

After taking advantage of the bread and scones kindly left by the cottage owner, we set off to the Monsal trail for a walk. This is a 8.5 mile walking and riding track made from a railway that closed in 1968, and it is well surfaced and almost flat, so a good walk for soggy days.

 

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We started at the Buxton end, where a pay and display car park starts the walk along the river, then up some steps to the viaduct above and the start of the trail. In summer there is a cafe and cycle hire shop near the start.

The Pulis enjoyed the chance to run around, and we saw a dipper and some mandarin ducks in the river.

There are several tunnels along the route, some short, others longer and lit during daylight hours, so check your time before you go in winter. This photo is a long exposure, and I’m not that steady, but it gives the idea.

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Look away now if you are scared of heights, as the path goes over some impressive viaducts, crossing the river and road many times.

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Millers Dale station has a cafe if you need a break along the way. We turned around not far after this, and retraced our path back to the start.

We had planned to dine out in Buxton that evening, but eventually decided to fetch fish and chips, a rare treat for us, and sit by the fire with a glass of wine.

Wednesday was leaving day, so up and packed. Ian wanted to visit the marvelous Scriveners bookstore just around the corner, and they allowed myself and the dogs to sit in a cosy chair while he browsed the 5 floors.

We then set off for The Roaches, a prominent rocky ridge above Tittesworth Reservoir. The weather was putting on a great show, with sunshine interspersed with cloud and mist and fog. On the way there I had to stop to catch the wide scene.

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DSC_5218At first we thought this might be a waste of views due the fog dropping, but were relieved when it lifted.

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There is a moderately steep climb up to the ridge, and it was muddy and rocky, which made some of it hard going, as we kept the dogs on lead for safety. But the views were awesome.

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View down to Tittesworth reservoir

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Along the top there are pools and views across the moors, as well as the rock structures.

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a red grouse

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Rita posing by the pool.

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The walk down involved a climb down steps carved into a sunken path between the cliff rocks. There were a couple of school parties enjoying the climb too, but from the size of the laybys, it must get very busy in summer.

There is a private house set against the cliffs near the bootm, and the path goes through old larch woods.

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We finished our visit with a rest at Tittesworth reservoir visitor centre, where it was luckily warm enough to sit outside as dogs were not allowed in. We had a tasty bacon bap, and set off for home after a good break.

 

 

Costa Rica 2011 Part 2

After a tranquil nights sleep, we were woken by the sounds of the jungle, and some cheeky white faced Capuchin monkeys crawling around the site.

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Any food we took into our cabin had to be shut away in the lockable cupboard, as these monkeys happily climb in and raid the cabins.

Todays activity was a Nature walk, and boy, did we see nature!

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Ginger bushes

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Pelicans

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Fungii

The scarlet macaws are very noisy, but you wouldn’t believe how well they hide in trees.

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Frigate bird

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Sloth

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Sloth

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White-nosed Coati

After all that adventure, Ian decided to try the sloth way of life

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And another sunset to end day 2 here

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Day 3 activity was snorkeling on the reef, one of my favourite activities, but Ian is not a great swimmer, so was not as excited.

Off we set in a small boat to the island of Cano would could see from camp.

En-route, our guide spotted a sea snake swimming along – these are deadly, and can jump from the water, so after a quick look we moved on

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A few other boats were visiting the reef, but it was very organised, and I was soon enjoying the sea life

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Eventually I had to end this adventure and head back to the lodge.

This was our last night here, but we ended with a night nature walk – no photos, as it really was dark, but very interesting – we saw a tarantula hiding in a log, and narrowly avoided a venomous Fer-de-lance snake resting in a branch we crept under.

We left Corcavado Lodge by boat again, and picked up our van for the rest of the trip, plus the remainder of our luggage, as the small plane couldn’t take it all, they had arranged for some bags to be left behind.

First stop was at Canta De Ballenas Hotel, in Bahia, a short distance from the Marina Bellina National park.

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Iguana

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Bird of paradise Flower

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Scarlet Rumped Tanager

I don’t seem to have many photos of this park – I think I might have forgotten to take the camera. The park is shaped like a whales tail, jutting out into the ocean.

On Friday we moved on again, this time to Manuel Antonio National Park.

This park has a split personallity – it has stupendous wildlife all through it, but it also hosts some of the worlds best beaches. In order to maintain the park, there is a limit on the number of people in the park at any time. Despite this, I felt some resentment to people there just to sunbathe, with no interest in the scenery or wildlife.

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As soon as we walked into the park, we saw sloths, weird insects, tree frogs and spiders.

However, when we took a rest on the beach, the raccoons soon appeared, and more monkeys, all very cheeky and unafraid of the people.

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You can see why the beach is so popular – Ian even had a swim – this is almost unheard of, but the water was bath temperature.

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One animal we hoped to see in the park was the squirrel monkey, but none appeared. But at breakfast at our hotel Manuel Antonio the next morning, this pair turned up, sat on the kitchen roof, so we didn’t leave disappointed.

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Costa Rica 2011 Part 1

This is a throwback special. A friend has said they have booked flights to Costa Rica, and wanted to know if I had blogged my trip. This was before my blogging days, so lets do one now!

The trip was Ian and my main honeymoon, we got married the year before, but wanted to miss the rainy season, so chose February 2011 for our trip.

We had no idea where we wanted to go, and I didn’t know where Costa Rica was exactly, but this trip stood out in the travel brochures. It was also an activity trip, whereas we wanted to see the wildlife, but it turned out the best option.

CIMG1949Our holiday began with flights into San José, the capital, and an overnight stay at the Rosa Del Paseo Hotel on the main road through the city. It is a quaint Victorian building, within easy walking of the centre, and here we met the rest of our party and our tour guide.

CIMG1950The second day began with a flight from San José out to Palma Sur airport in  a tiny plane, where they had to weigh us as well as our luggage, and they decided that our bags had to follow on the next plane out.

The flight was not going high, so was not pressurized – this meant it could have huge windows, giving us a great view of the scenery as we travelled.CIMG1953

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Soon we reached a Palma Sur airport, and transferred to a coach, and then travelled down to the river Sierpe, where we were loaded onto a barge like boat, and set off towards the sea.

P1030010However, we had noticed that this boat had rather impressive outboard engines, and once out of the town, the gentle trip turned into a  white water ride! Wheee.

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After an hour we reached the sea, and then went down the coast to reach our next stay – the Danta Corcavoda Eco Lodge, on the Pacific Coast of the Corcadavo National Park.

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First sight of the lodges at Corcavado Lodge

There are few roads in the park, so boat is the best way to arrive, even if this meant paddling ashore from the dingy to the beach.

CIMG1969We carried our bags up the hill to find our lodge, a wooden building with mesh windows, and a balcony facing the ocean.

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The view from our balcony.

We still had some daylight left so wandered down to the exquisite beach.

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The beach was covered in tiny hermit crabs, making it appear as if the sand was alive.

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Back to the lodges for dinner, and then time to relax on our balcony. My one ‘must see’ on this trip were Macaws, and on our first evening we saw several fly across the jungle between us and the sea – Wow.

Sunset across this peaceful corner of our planet – bliss.

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USA Part 4, Onwards to Boston, MA

So with the wedding celebrations over, we leave Sturbridge and head towards Boston.

As we couldn’t book another night at the lodges, we had arranged an Airbnb in Westborough, not too far from either end.

When I mentioned this to Jenn, she asked ‘Why?’.

We had told the host we thought we would arrive around 17:00, so she had got painters in. But we arrived earlier, so stopped in town for lunch. And as Ian put it ‘You can’t even watch the traffic lights change, as there aren’t any’.

But we had a pleasant pizza and lasagna, and then stopped at a nearby reservoir for a while.

 

Our Airbnb was a huge rambling old house, full of lovely furniture and decor. Our host, Geraldine was very welcoming, explaining she was going out for that night. Then she mentioned that there was a lodger who had been in the loft for 4.5 years. Oh, not up there all the time, he did come down sometimes!

After some card games to end Ian’s birthday, we all needed some sleep so had an early night.

As we only had the hire car until the afternoon, Kirsty requested we visit Boston Zoo, as zoos are a bit of a family hobby. When we arrived at the zoo there was a marathon being run though the zoo, but a policeman guided us the wrong way up a street and to some parking, and we set off into the zoo.

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a lego gorilla

The first animals we saw were red pandas, a favourite of us all, and they were very active, we we stayed here for a long time.

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Red Pandas

While this is a fairly small zoo, and some enclosures were rather mean, overall it was good, and we had a good visit. I won’t bore you with yet more animal photos, as I know I have posted a lot before.

One exhibit we got excited about was a kiwi, which Kelsey said must have got lost on it’s way to their wedding.

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With car return time looming, we got permission to enter our Boston Airbnb a bit early, so once the cleaners had left, we settled in and Jason returned the car.

We then walked along part of the greenway to Back Bay Fens before deciding we were hungry.

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Kirsty and Jason chose The Cheesecake Factory, and as reviews suggested it could be busy we headed there early.

We needn’t have worried, we were seated right away, and presented with a HUGE menu, including dozens of cheesecake options.

I decided to be sensible and leave lots of room for dessert, so chose a delectable small beetroot and avocado salad, but Jason opted for a chicken sandwich – there were two huge battered chicken breasts topped with a bun and chips, and Kirsty chose the burrito – about a foot long. Of course, I helped them out when they couldn’t finish their meals.

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Then to choose dessert! Go check out the menu

I had Key Lime, and we all decided they were heavenly, and were pleasantly surprised by the low cost of the meal, given the huge mouth-watering portions.

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So fully fed, we headed back to the apartment, which sadly only had comfortable seating for three, and our bed creaked every time we moved, and the second bed just had a futon mattress. For some odd reason it also only had 1 fork, and 3 knives?

On Monday Kirsty and Jason had a trip to the Sam Adams Brewery, while Ian and I decided to follow the Freedom Trail through Boston, a walk recommended by our guide book. The route is marked by red bricks along the pavements, and takes you to the prominent places in American Independence history.

We started in Boston Public Gardens, where a children’s fun run was taking place – this was Columbus day weekend, so a holiday.

 

It was a very interesting walk, with lots to see. We stopped in the Haymarket for a bagel for lunch, which we ate in the Rose Kennedy Greenway, then continued over the bridge to USS Constitution museum.

 

From here we caught the inner harbour ferry across to near the Aquarium.

and continued around the Harborwalk

until we reached the Tea Party Museum.

We then strolled back along the Greenway

and through China town. As Kirsty and Jason were not very hungry, we walked round to Frenchie restaurant, for a light meal, delectable mussels for me and a succulent beef bourguignon for Ian.

And so we reach our final day, but as our flight was early evening, we dropped our bags at a Bagbnb, and caught the ‘T’ railway to Macy’s, where we had to buy some beautiful clothes for my future granddaughter.

Ian and I then followed the South Side walk in our guide book, through the stately houses and elegant streets,

then back to the park to see the Make Way for Ducklings statue

We met Kirsty and Jason again, they pointed out that we had seen the fake Cheers bar, the real one was next to the park.

With a couple of hours left, we asked to visit the Mapparium, a huge stained glass globe created in 1935 of the world as it was then, that you can walk through. We were just in time for the next tour, and found it fascinating, noting changes in ‘ownership’ of the planet. Sadly, they don’t allow photos.

Oh, did I mention, we popped into The Cheesecake Factory again, well, it was scrumptious?

And so our time in Boston, and USA came to an end, picked up our bags and set off on the T to the airport, meeting Pete and Jess there.

Thank you to Andy and Kelsey for giving us a wonderful reason to visit, and choosing the best time of year, and to New England for putting on a grand show for us.

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Our favourite places were Wilmington (in Part 2) and Boston.

Can’t wait for our next adventure, see you soon.

USA Part 3, Portland to Sturbridge

and THE WEDDING !!

If you missed part 1 and 2, here they are : USA Trip Part 1, and Part 2.

You find us on day 8 of our trip, leaving the peace and tranquility of Toddy Pond, near Surry, and setting off down to Portland, retracing some of our step from 2 days ago.

This time we took pictures of the Penobscot Narrows bridge, and Fort Knox on Verona island as we passed by, plus a house with crazy stuff outside. I love the watering cans feature.

As we had to leave Portland early the next day, we hurried this trip to give us time in Portland.

Our Airbnb was a good walk out of town, but through a nice park. However, having arrived in town, we struggled to find anything of interest. After a lot of walking around, and finding a restaurant recommended by Kelsey, but finding they only offered sea food, and the men saying no thanks, we split up (not with the men!).

Ian and I stopped for an ice-cream, then wandered around the few posh shops we found, and saw a couple of old buildings.

We then decided to just find food, and go back to the apartment.

We dined in Rosie’s, and cut across the hill, a rather dull and uninspiring walk until we reached Back Cove Park. We realised later that Kirsty and Jason had dined, in the same seats even, as us, just before we arrived at Rosie’s.

That evening I googled what to do in Portland for a day, and most of the suggestions seemed to suggest drive out of Portland! Sorry Portland.

Even though we had to leave early, I insisted we stop at at least one lighthouse while on this coast, so Jason drove us over to Bug Light, a cute light lighthouse across the Fore River for a few photos.

Satisfied with that, we set off down the coast, and as I never obtained a pencil (did I mention I collect Souvenir Destination pencils?) or a patch for my camera bag from new Hampshire, we stopped off in Portsmouth, as it sits just below the border from Maine.

IMG_1355After a couple of circuits of the one-way system, we parked and wandered into town, finding more cute shops, and a patch, but no pencil. We had a delicious Maple Mocha coffee and set off again, and arrived early afternoon at Old Sturbridge Inn Lodges

The plan had been for me to join a hike with Kelsey and Co as part of her hen do, but the weather was turning wet, and our delays travelling and checking in to the Lodges meant I was too late. However Kelsey, Jen and Susan had a good hike despite the rain.

We got ourselves ready for the evening. The men were off to a relatives barn for Andy’s stag do, and we girls first went to Cedar Street Grille for food to sustain us.

Most of the ladies chose the Cedar Mac’n’Cheese and were not disappointed, while I opted for the Pumpkin and Squash Risotto with Scallops – this was definitely the best meal of my trip, delicious. It was also a great chance to finally meet the ladies in Kelsey’s family.

We then moved on to Rapscallion Brewery for beer, and fun and games, and a few tears when Jen played the video of messages and photos the ladies had sent in for the happy couple.

Being a sensible bunch, and as many of the party had driven out to the brewery, we all departed fairly early (and fairy sober), back to our residences.

I later found that the men were not so well behaved, and Andy (the groom-to-be) was so drunk, he had fallen over and cut his eyebrow, and was taken back to Richards where he was sick in his bed. Men! Luckily, the wedding make-up artist managed to cover his black eye for the wedding.

Thursday was a free day until the evening, so after breakfast at the Hotel ( a very poor affair with lots of single use plastic dishes/cups etc), we wandered around town to while away the morning.

Later on we visited Old Sturbridge Museum, a village of buildings rebuilt or recreated to show New England life in the past.

It is really pretty and lots to look at and do. The tavern here was the venue for the wedding reception tomorrow.

 

Pete and Jess arrived that afternoon, and a minibus came to take a crowd of us to the wedding rehearsal meal.

This was held at The Lost Towns micro brewery, they had named 2 beers after the bride and groom, and a mobile catering van provided a delicious spread for us.

We started with wonderful nibbles, then had pulled pork, and some beef, all very tasty. The bad news is that Ian swallowed a chunk of pork belly Burnt Ends that was too large, and it stuck, meaning he couldn’t eat or drink any more, but hoping it would clear itself we stayed to the end, and had a good chat to Kelsey’s relatives and friends

IMG_4419The minibus driver eventually dragged us out and took us back. Ian was still not right, but felt OK, and managed to get some sleep.

However the next morning (wedding day!), he was still unable to swallow, so Jason took us to the local hospital, where they gave him a couple of injections, and when that didn’t clear it, suggested we go to a larger hospital.

But we had come here for the wedding, and while in discomfort, he wasn’t in any danger, we chose to go to the wedding, and then find the hospital, so he discharged himself.

So again we got our glad rags on, and all glammed up, set off to Richard and Susan’s house, where the ceremony was to take place.

What a gorgeous house, set in lovely fall woodlands.

The wedding ceremony was wonderful, with charming readings, and Andy and Kelsey had appropriate vows, and their dog, Higgs, got lots of mentions, and was there in cardboard form if not in person dogson. Thank you to the official photographer for these shots, I’m sure Kelsey will post more in her blog.

Congratulations to the happy couple, and welcome to our family Kelsey ❤️.

And a huge thank you to Richard and Susan for helping arrange such a wonderful day, and their great hospitality.

With my son married, the rest of the guests headed back to Sturbridge for the reception, while we went to Baystate Hospital, where we were treated like royalty, due to our finery, and us missing the wedding party, and eventually the offending Burnt End was removed, and Ian was sorted. So we caught an Uber back, and managed to join the last hour of the party. I won’t embarrass everyone with the drunken photos.

To finish on a happy note, the next morning was a post wedding brunch, in the Garden Room at Sturbridge Museum, and Andy had arranged a cake for Ian’s 60th birthday.

 

DSC_4995My crazy family!

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It all turned out well in the end, so I will leave here, to pick up the end of our trip in Part 4.

 

USA Part 2, Vermont, New Hampshire

Following our hectic few days in New York, USA Trip Part 1, on Friday we picked up our hire car and set off for New England, while Pete and Jess picked up another and set off for Rhode Island to start their trip. We planned this part of the trip with the help of our trust Lonely Planet guide, and using Google maps to plot the track and work out mileage and time for each journey.

It didn’t take us long to reach the forests in their wonderful Autumn colours,

and we enjoyed a few hours travelling through the incredible scenery along Route 100 until we reached our Airbnb in Wilmington, VT.

The apartment is above Ratu’s Liquor Store, a wonderful store with every kind of liquor. Part of the rental was a free growler, which Kirsty grabbed as they had an alcohol free beer, but Jason acquired some cans too, and we bought more still. Well, its a long trip..

The apartment backs onto the Deerfield River, with lovely views.

As it was still early afternoon, we wandered into Wilmington for a nosey, and loved the town.

It is full of quirky little shops and eateries, and pretty buildings and river views.

Ian found himself the second hand bookshop, which extended out into a yurt, full of books, cd’s, even 8 track tapes, while I found the Norton House Quilting Store and the 1836 Country Store, both full of gorgeous stuff begging me to buy them.

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We dined in Jezebel’s Eatery, a lovely cosy restaurant, where we enjoyed some Mac’n’cheese, before retiring to test the beers.

Saturday morning, we first stopped at the aptly named ‘100 Mile View’, where a walkway along the side of the Hogsback Mountain provides distant views, looking their best at this time of year.

As you can see, the weather was endless blue skies all day.

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and a wonderful gift shop full of maple syrup, moose souvenirs, and anything else you should want to remember your trip here.

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Still full from last nights dinner, we bought picnic supplies and set off up route 100 on the look out for a lunch stop.

And found the best! The end of Lake Penelope, a picture postcard place to stop.

Next we called in at Killerton for supplies, and the gentleman in the Visitor Centre told us to take the road opposite for a couple of miles, where we would see snow and fall colours together. We stopped at Mad Hatter’s ice cream cabin, where we found great photo opportunities, and saw the snow at the top of the ski resort in the distance.

After many more beautiful miles, and interesting buildings

we arrived in New Hampshire, and reached our next destination, Bethlehem.

Our Airbnb here was a little out of town (or we were feeling lazy) so we drove into town looking for somewhere to eat, but it seems the whole of Bethlehem eats out at 18:00 on a Saturday, so we gave up and bought dinner from the supermarket.

It was only later we realised the irony of this, there was no room in the inn for my pregnant daughter, in Bethlehem! Only that story didn’t end with frozen pizza, beer and TV.

Sunday we set off for Surry, stopping at Walmart, Jason wanted to see if they had a gun store, just out of curiosity. They didn’t, so we just stocked up on food.

Miles and miles of scenery passed by.

The cog railway for Mt Washington.

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Then we called in at Belfast, a coastal town with some nice shops, for a leg stretch.

We found a great children’s shop where we bought baby stuff and a 2000 piece jigsaw just made for me!

We eventually reached our cabin, set right on the shore of Toddy Pond.

We had bought marshmallows, with the plan of lighting the fire pit, but by then it was getting cold and dreary, so instead we got the fire inside going, and cosied up in the blankets for a relaxing evening.

With showers forecast, we drove into Bar Harbor, a pretty harbour town, but now overrun with souvenir shops selling Bar Harbor t-shirts and hoodies.

I finally got my lobster roll!

The weather was drizzly so we decided to drive around Arcadia Park, rather than go for a walk, and then went back to the cabin for cards, food and TV.

Next morning was still and bright, after heavy rain all night, so more photos of this gorgeous spot. I thought I spotted a Loon, but it might have been a cormorant instead, but we did see chipmunks.

I will leave you as we set off down the Maine Coast to Portland, back soon..