Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Articles

Short visit to UK

In Pictures from England on October 25, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

I have spent a few days in the UK, staying with friends in Eastbourne. Unfortunately most of the weather has been grey, raining and generally not very nice at all. Not worth removing camera from bag since the Tonbridge visit on Saturday. Returning home this evening.

Articles

Visit to Tonbridge 21st October 2017

In Pictures from England on October 22, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Back in the old home town to see the people, drink far too much beer and watch a football match. It was a very windy day with frequent heavy showers courtesy of Storm Brian.

Some pictures at https://1drv.ms/i/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqguwryr-6gcQDnRlUeQ

Sample

DSC04919

Tonbridge Castle

The gatehouse is the substantial remains of the 11th Century castle that protected the important bridge that crosses the River Medway.

Photos

Just a few pictures from my trip over to Royan earlier this month.

Traditional nets and cranes are still used by fisherman in these parts. These are fairly new but many are sadly no longer used.

Royan-030817-001

Traditional fishermen cabins Royan, France

This small beach just north of the town centre has the distinction (I found out later) of being the third public beach in France to be declared a non-smoking zone. It’s the Plage du Pigonnier, so if you like sit on sand rather than in a giant ashtray, this could be the place to go!

Royan-030817-002

Plage du Pigonnier, Royan, France

Further west are long stretches of sand in the towns of Vaux-sur-Mer and La Palmyre. Bike trails run all the way along the coast, sometimes beside roads, often on well maintained bike trails through the woods. They were very, very, busy the day I rode. I managed 22km before my knee started protesting. But I still had to ride back 22km to the ferry!

Royan-030817-004

Beach near Royan, France

As the ferry leaves Royan, there are some good views of parts of the town and the busy water. Most of the town, as I have previously written, was destroyed in a botched Allied bombing raid in World War Two, but to the east and west of the centre there remain many of the large houes with the distinctive tiled towers, built a century ago by the rich.

Royan, France, seen from the ferry.

This is a better picture, piched from a lettings website.

Typical villa in Royan, France

Gironde estuary at Royan, France.

The estuary was very busy with all kinds of boats, yachts, water skiers, jetboats and this great big ferry kind of pushing its way slowly through!

Busy water, Gironde, Royan, France.

Royan, France

Tagged: , , on August 21, 2017 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Photos

Some more from Bordeaux

On my last couple of days I took some long walks around, including a visit to the Gallien ‘Palace’.

I saw this company sign above an old building. No, it isn’t anything to do with the guillotine I found out!

Bordeaux-060817021

Guillot & Cie facade

The Gallien ‘Palace’ is so named because it was once thought to be a palace built for the wife of Charlemagne. Not so, it is definitely the remains of the arena of the Roman city of Burdaglia as it was then called. It is perhaps named for the Emperor Gallienus, who reigned in the middle of the 3rd century AD. Seems that having a stadium named after you for personal vanity is not a new thing!

The stadium is a little way from the city, so I imagined the fans complaining as they do now about the difficulty in getting to the ground, the traffic, the parking and I will be they had trouble getting into the bar for a swift vino or cerevisia

Very little remains of what was once a 15 – 17,000 seater stadium (about the size of Centre Court at Wimbledon) that fell into disuse after the city was sacked by the usual suspects, Goths, Vandals, Visigoths etc. Substantial remains stood until the time after the French Revolution when they were built over with new housing. That was in 1793! The ones you see today are the same.

This drawing shows the remains around that time, with most of the outer walls still intact.

Bordeaux-060817047

Gallien remains late 18th century

Take a close look at the Google satellite view below. It’s possible to trace the curved stadium shape, particularly on the right hand side, where the older houses were built up against the then-standing wall. The newer houses lie along the cross streets that fill what was the stadium floor.

Gallien_map

Gallien map

The main part to see is one of the entrances.

Bordeaux-060817044

Gallien entrance

Bordeaux-060817045

Gallien

Bordeaux-060817046

Gallien – the two people there give you an idea of the size of it

Bordeaux-060817050

Gallien

Some of the inside – some decent brickwork and a slot drain, all attention to detail that wouldn’t be seen again for several hundred years.

Bordeaux-060817052

Brickwork at Gallien

Bordeaux-060817051

slot drain at Gallien

This next picture was taken from the Rue du Colisée, more or less on what would have been the middle of the ground.

Bordeaux-060817048

Gallien from ‘inside’

Bordeaux-060817049

As I walked back along the Rue du Colisée, I spotted a bit of Roman brickwork up among the roofs of the 18th centtury buildings. A puzzle to me as to how it is still there or if it serves a purpose to this day.

Bordeaux-060817053

Brick arch Gallien

Bordeaux-060817054

Brick arch Gallien

Moving away from ancient times, some of Bordeaux’s history can be seen in the street signs. Here’s just a couple from near the Gallien site.

Often you can see the original street names carved into the stone, above it the post revolutionary names and on the blue plaques the present day name, which although the same here is often different. Many street names commemorate World War 2 heroes and battles. I dare say there aren’t many Avenues Louis XIV or Allées du Dauphin in France, but everywhere has a Rue 11 Novembre or 8 Mai etc. Avenues General de Gaulle abound. I searched Google maps in vain for a Field Marshal Montgomery Street but Winston Churchill does have an Avenue in Southsea.

Bordeaux-060817055

Street sign Bordeaux

Bordeaux-060817056

Street sign Bordeaux

The late afternoon sunshine caught this gilded statue nicely. It’s on the Cathedrale Saint Andre, Place Pey Berland.
Bordeaux-060817057
That’s all from this visit to Bordeaux. If I can find those from Royan, I will post them in a day or two.

Some more from Bordeaux

Tagged: , on August 15, 2017 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Photos

Soulac sur Mer 1945 and 2017 comparison; trip home from Bordeaux via Lisbon

I finally solved a mystery that had been bugging me for years! Turned out to be quite simple in the end.

During the closing weeks of World War Two, mid-April 1945, Soulac sur mer and the surrounding area was the scene of several days close combat between French forces and the occupying Germans, who were in no mood to surrender without a fight.

Many books have been published about these battles. One I bought a while back contained a couple of pictures of close quarter action. I was pretty sure I knew the place, but somehow couldn’t figure it. So this year I scanned the pictures and went looking. It didn’t take long as it turned out. Here is the result.

soulac_3

Soulac sur mer in 1945 and 2017

The location is just to the south of the railway station, the line crosses the road to the right where the two tall masts can be seen. the new tree obscures the view of the electrical substation, the equipment of which can be seen to the left of the psot above the soldier. Google view, the red mark shows where I stood. Not quite the same place as the chap in 1945 as the road was a little busier when I was there!

soulac-5

Location for comparison photos, Soulac sur mer

The German forces was pushed back from Soulac on the 17th and 18th April 1945. Their last stand was at the fortfications of Le Verdon a few km to the north. Surrender came on 20th April 1945. The two sides lost 1050 men during the week’s combats.

I have a few more photos from a bike ride around Royan, Vaux Sur Mer and La Palmyre. These I shall add in a day or two.

My train ride home from Bordeaux was very agreeable. Here is what I posted on Trip Advisor :

I travelled on the Sud Express from Írun to Lisbon Tuesday night / this morning.

Some observations – the train was full. I was expecting the farce of heavy handed security and lines for baggage checks at Írun as per my previous trip a few years ago. No such thing, people in seated cars simply walked on board and those of us in sleeper cars showed our tickets to the hostess who made sure we went in the right one – some obviously didn’t! No one demanded to see my passport or made me take my shoes off. All very civilised.

Train left 2 minutes late. The first hour or so of the trip is through the Basque country with its station signs and almost everything else in that incomprehensible language. Nice wooded and hilly scenery, some rain and mist on the tallest peaks.

There are no announcements on board, so if getting off before Lisbon best set a good alarm. One thing will cause despondency among the internet junkies – there is no wifi, no electrical sockets other than a shaver socket in the sleeper compartments, no USB sockets, no nothing like that on board. Your 3G roaming will work for a good while, but once out into the remote country areas, forget it.

I know this may mean actually having to engage in conversation, the hardship is noted.

The train does rumble and clank, although I did sleep reasonably well most of the way. The exception was around 2am (Spanish time) or 1am (Portuguese time), when it sounded like we were running over corrugated iron sheets for quite a time.

The air con /heating system worked well, neither too hot nor too cold, but then the outside weather wasn’t exactly summer. There is no longer a full meal service, just an on board café / bar car. Almost everyone, myself included, was well supplied with their own stuff.

Arrival in Lisbon Oriente was 1 minute ahead of schedule. I then waited for my train down to Albufeira.

I arrived exactly on time in Albufeira this morning after a trip of a 21hrs 57 minutes involving four different trains and crossing two national borders. All tickets bought on line except for the 3 minute ride from Hendaye to Írun on Euskotren’s nice new train, which cost me €1,70 from the machine.

Yes it costs more than flying and is slower, but a much less stressful way to travel IMHO. A nice winding down it was for me after a six week trip around various places.

I started my journey on the TGV from Bordeaux. This was one of the new Duplex (double deck) trains introduced upon the opening of the new high speed line between Tours and Bordeaux. It was absolutely full on leaving. There were no ticket checks at all, my upper deck window seat was occupied by someone with a vaid ticket but in the wrong coach. He had to move!

Passengers alighted in numbers at every stop, by the time we reached the end of the line at Hendaye few were left. Arrival was on time but the schedule has been padded to allow for a few miles of painfull slow running between Bayonne and St Jean de Luz.  Subsidence has caused some minor track damage which has yet to be repaired. Trains must therefore run slowly, for that reason (but excuse actually) SNCF no longer extends most of its trains the extra distance across the border and to Írun.

So, at Hendaye it’s a short walk out of the main station to the Euskotren station. A couple of staff were on hand to assist the many foreigners with the ticket machines (there is no ticket office) and my €1,70 ticket across the border was easily obtained. The trip to the Euskotren station at Írun Colon takes 4 minutes, from there is it 3 minutes easy walk to the main station.

 

Soulac sur Mer 1945 and 2017 comparison; trip home from Bordeaux via Lisbon

Tagged: , , on August 12, 2017 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Articles

Bordeaux Sunday 6th August

In Bordeaux,France on August 7, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: , ,

I had never seen the Pont Chaban Delmas being raised before. The presence in the city of the cruise ship Sirena and its planned departure on Sunday evening gave me the chance. Sirena is just over 30,000 tons and a pretty big vessel to be in that river.

Before that I had a chance for a general wander about the city, on what was a very sunny summer day.

A popular attraction is the Water Mirror at Place de la Bourse. As I passed, a misty spray was being made, children and dogs liked it.

Bordeaux-060817008

Water Mirror spray Bordeaux

As I have mentioned before the tram stop at Place de la Bourse is completely bare of anything remotely tram station like, so as not to spoil the view.

Bordeaux-060817009

Tram stopped at Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux.

The Sirena is a big vessel, taller than most of the buildings around it.

Bordeaux-060817013

Sirena

Just behind the busy tourist-filled streets is the heart of Bordeaux. Buildings well over 200 years old in narrow streets are typical. This is Rue Ducau.

Bordeaux-060817016

Rue Ducau, Bordeaux

The nearby Jardin Publique has been a feature of city life since 1746. There is very little green space in the old city. As it expanded, well meaning city elders thought it a good idea. Some of the cast iron fences around the park are the originals.

I don’t know the name of the statue or what it represents.

Bordeaux-060817019

Statue in Jardin Publique, Bordeaux.

Elsewhere, a most elegant boot scraper. Very necessary in times past to scrape mud and worse off your footwear before entering the homes of the great and good. There are still many to be seen. I wonder if anyone makes a study of them or collects them.

Bordeaux-060817023

Boot scraper, Bordeaux

And so to the main event. The Pont Chaban Delmas was due to raised at 1734hrs (note how precise) to allow the Sirena to leave the port. Quite a few people gathered to watch the raising of the bridge, which starts about an hour before any big ship passes through.

Bordeaux-060817030

Pont Chaban Delmas lowered.

At the appointed hour, loud announcements in French and English warn that the bridge is about to operate. A squad of functionaries heads out to the the barriers at each end. At a signal, the barriers are lowered, by hand, to close the bridge to traffic and pedestrians. A few minutes pass then slowly the bridge starts to move upwards. There is a control tower on the side opposite the city. The towers house the cables that do the lifting.

Bordeaux-060817032

Pont Chaban Delmas going up.

The operation is almost silent, at least from where I was about 150 metres away. The river, by the way, really is that colour. Of mud.

After about 20 minutes, the centre section reaches the top.

Bordeaux-060817033

Pont Chaban Delmas at the top.

Meanwhile, Sirena was moving ever so slowly away from its berth to pass between the towers and under the raised bridge.

Bordeaux-060817035

Sirena passing through Pont Chaban Delmas

Once clear, the ship goes on its way at not much more than walking speed, down the Garonne and towards the sea, 90km away.

Bordeaux-060817042

Sirena on its way out to sea.

Some more pictures from Bordeaux tomorrow.

I leave Bordeaux tomorrow after lunch to return to Lisbon by train, only the second time I will have gone that way. Since my previous trip, the trains used have become Spanish ‘hotel trains’ which, according to everything I have read, tells me that it is trip to be enjoyed. Expensive, but will it be a better experience than flying cattle class? I shall report!

Articles

Last day by the coast – updated with more pictures

In France,Médoc on August 4, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: , ,

Once again the sun stayed behind cloud until late afternoon, but the beaches were packed nevertheless. It was rather windy, plenty of surf for the afficionados. The picture below was taken at Soulac-sur-mer about an hour after high tide.

Update

I began the day with a short bike ride to the north of Soulac to an area known as ‘Les Cantines’, a long wide beach stretching to the Pointe de Grave, the very northern tip of the Médoc peninsular. It was around 12noon, a very grey and windy day and almost no-one to be seen. The area has sea defences dating from the 1930’s. These were, understandably, neglected during the Second World War and only partly repaired in the 1950’s. Some token efforts have been made since, but wind and tide are slowly prevailing.

Pictures here – will open a new window.

The poor weather lasted a couple of hours, drove me to lunch! But, by 1700hrs (5pm) the sun was out, the temperature a respectable 25ºC and the beaches very busy as the final few pictures show.