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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.

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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!

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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

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Photos

First day here in Bordeaux, south west France. It has been cloudy almost all day with showers and drizzly rain on and off. I did manage to get out for a while and take some pictures of areas familiar and unfamiliar.

Bordeaux is the kind of place where you can be walking around and suddenly find yourself in a large open space where once buildings stood. Typical is the Place André Meunier, which ages ago was the site of a fort, then of the city abbatoirs (slaughterhouses)and is now a semi-neglected space of grass and gravel. Plans to transform it into a city park have been on hold since 2014, but are supposed to be getting under way later this year. I have more pictures in the album below.

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Nearby is one of Bordeaux’ oldest retail markets, the Marché des Capucins which has been active since 1749. A lot of stallholders must have been on holiday, but there was still enough going on to make it a lively and interesting place to visit. Some of the stuff made me feel unhealthy just looking at it.

Even older and just around the corner is one of the surviving fragments of the city wall, which dates from the 13th century but probably on earlier foundations, perhaps even from 800 years before when it was the Roman city of Burdigala. They needed it! For a long period, the city was attacked and plundered by several famous tribal names including the Vandals, Goths and Visigoths. Then along came the Moors in the 8th century. And if that wasn’t enough, Vikings turned up in the mid 9th century. Nothing much was heard from the city for a good while after that. There is not much left from those times, unsurprisingly.

During the 12th and 13th centuries the city came back to life. Many of the churches were founded, commerce increased vastly. That was the period when Henry II of England was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine. That no doubt helped the wine export trade, which remains to this day! During part of the 14th century the well known Edward the Black Prince of England was head of an independent state centered on the city, but France gradually asserted its influence and eventually absorbed it.

Many of the city’s fine buildings date from the mid 19th century. It easy to slip around a corner in the old part and come across buildings that seem to have hardly been touched in 150 years, other than modern windows and the odd bullet hole, the latter courtesy of some street shooting in the latter stages of World War 2.

Luckily for us in the present day, in 1944 the German demolition expert, a sergeant, refused the order to blow up the seven miles of port installations that then lined the river. Instead he blew up the explosives magazine, which did cause damage and loss of life, but nothing on the scale required by his masters. He surrended to the resistance immediately, a wise move, and lived to the age of 91.

Thus we can still see the impressive sweep of buildings along the river.

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The rest of today’s pictures – click the square below

If it’s a nicer day tomorrow I plan to visit the seaside town of Arcachon, an hour by train from here.

Rainy day in Bordeaux

Tagged: , , on July 12, 2017 by cubsur51

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Some aerial shots on the way home

In Algarve,Portugal on June 1, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: , , , ,

Not very good quality, but I had my camera in hand so took a few shots of things that caught my eye on the flight from London Gatwick to Faro.

Selection – some pretty patterns on the sea just south of the Brittany coast of France

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The town of Olhão as we come in to land.

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We pass low over old city area of Faro just before landing.

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Some more https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgscYG_Ad1pDVxxa5XA

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Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells May 2017

In Pictures from England on May 6, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: , ,

https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgsJKnbzqJRfjn3i6Cg

A quick trip to the UK for a football related event and an excuse to drink huge amounts of proper beer. First few pictures are for rail fans. Taken on Friday 5th May at Tonbridge, they show the sidings at Tonbridge West Yard, which are mainly used as a base for infrastructure maintenance trains operated by GB Railfreight and Network Rail. Various trains were being assembled in advance a large project scheduled for the weekend. Four tracks are used to stable trains overnight.

There is also a snowplough based there, which probably hasn´t moved in years.

The actual station nearby sees twelve passenger trains every hour on weekdays and Saturdays heading to or from London, plus two on the cross country to Redhill.

The western end would be a modellers delight with two main tracks diverging sharply, a complicated set of points (switches) and the network of sidings between. The other direction would be rather more difficult as one set of tracks is dead straight for about 20 miles!

A couple of shots of Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells, one of the few remaining streets of independent shops in an English town of similar size.

In contrast, High Street has some very upmarket shops including a jewellers with £14,000 Cartier watches on display.

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Sunny days still in Albufeira

In Albufeira,Algarve,Portugal on April 19, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: , , , ,

On Monday I was at a wedding and then reception party. I blame the bride’s father totally for my condition on Tuesday morning.

So yesterday afternoon I took a walk into town to try to clear my head and body. Failed dismally, had relapse around tea-time but I did manage to take a few pictures of the busy beaches. It was 26ºC, the beaches were busy with local people and visitors on Easter holidays.

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Albufeira 12th April and 25ºC

In Albufeira,Algarve,Portugal on April 12, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: , , ,

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Fishing harbour

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Boat trips entering and leaving the marina

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Main town beach

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Town beach from up by the lift looking east

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Town Beach, Pier and Inatel Hotel

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Town beach and Sol e Mar hotel

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Visit to a cork factory

In Algarve,Portugal on April 9, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

If you have a car or can arrange a group minibus, you can visit the cork facory just outside São Bras de Alportel, about a 40 minute run from Albufeira. I went with a group of about 20, last Thursday, 6th April.

It is fairly educational. The whole visit last about 90 minutes. The first part is a bit of a talk about cork, how it is grown, cultivated, harvested and then formed into the myriad uses to which it is put. The second part is a visit to the factory floor. Those who like machines that go whirr, hum, clank and bang will like it. There are also smartypants machines that do stuff grade the cork by laser eyes then, with a puff of air, shoot it into the correct bag. There are also ladies who sift through great piles of cork, just in case.

Their main product is the discs that go on the bottom of Champagne corks. No, I didn’t know that either, but next time you uncork a bottle of Dom Perignon or Pol Roger, look closely at the way the stopper is made! Apparently they turn out a million of these a week.

The visit ends in the souvenir shop, of course. A lot of things are rather pricey, but you can buy small bits and pieces.

You need to book in advance and it’s only open on weekdays. Their website is www.novacortica.pt and is in English.

Small warning – there are a dozen or so steps to deal with at the start and end of the visit. Inside the factory it is flat.

My picture set at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgr91Pf5s_yFWHGZObg

Afterwards you can head into the town of São Bras and have a look around. I recommend the old church with its view all the way down the valley to the sea at Faro. There’s also a preserved section of Roman road to see and a nice little garden with an old bandstand and a mysterious sort of shrine and fountain.

(If you don’t have the use of a car while on holiday and want to visit, there are buses from Faro to São Bras de Alportel. However the factory is about 2km from the town centre.)