My A – Z of Travel

Life’s good sometimes, isn’t it?  I was just recovering from being awarded the ABC Award (Awesome Blog Content) by lovely Alyson Weldrake of, when Lucy Dodsworth, of, another favourite blog, passed me this challenge.  Well, I have a lot to live up to, but I get to revisit some really happy memories.  Then I pass it on and take time out to read all those other A-Z’s- pure pleasure!  So, here goes:

A : Age at which you went on your first trip abroad:

My Mum’s idea of a holiday was a cottage near Scarborough, so trips abroad didn’t figure in my childhood.  My first ever bid for “freedom” was aged 21, when, quite pregnant with my daughter, I could see the world slipping away from me and booked myself solo on a flight to Paris.  It took me 40+ years to return but I managed to spend my Silver Wedding anniversary in the gardens at Giverny, and Versailles. (my husband is a garden designer, so he was easily persuaded)

B : Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:

Truthfully I’m not much of a one for beer.  Occasionally, after a long hot day, one hits the spot.  You wouldn’t go with one of my recommendations though.

Beer in Turkey

Can’t dispute photographic evidence- Turkish beer?

C : Cuisine : 

Probably Italian, but I’m quite versatile and will try most things.  Could quite easily become vegetarian.  Not sushi please, and never try to make me eat any of those spicy sausage, chourico-types.  Big shout up for Polish pierogi and soups, (my Dad would be proud), and I like a bit of spice.

D : Destinations, favourite, least favourite, and why:

Ponte Romana at Tavira

Anyone who knows me will know that I have a second home in the Algarve and that I am passionate about Portugal as a destination.  For me it has everything, from glorious beaches to stunning sierras, a fascinating history and a wealth of places to explore, many of which I have yet to reach.  Least favourite?  Wouldn’t really want to pin that on anywhere specific, that’s a bit unkind.  I’ll just say that I’m a Scorpio and anywhere that doesn’t have water nearby, I struggle with.  Lakes and mountains are great, but not fussy on flat open spaces.  

E : Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Festa dos Tabuleiros

Festa dos Tabuleiros- the procession

“Wow” in a good way?  The Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar last July was pretty special.  The event is only held once every 4 years and when you see the effort that goes into it you can well understand why.  Given my love of boats and water, the Tall Ships Races have great pulling power for me too.  I totally loved having my home town Hartlepool, in North East England, host the final leg last year, and am hoping to make it to Cadiz in July to see them again- breathtaking!


Dewaruci- one of my Favourite Tall Ships

F : Favourite mode of transportation :

Everyone loves trains.  Me too, but I have to say that I do love flying.  Not the boring waiting about, and the confined space and recycled air on board, but that awesome experience of looking down at my world.  Torture for me is one of those really cloudy flights that you sometimes get- zero visibility.  Nightmare!  Once we start to taxi along the runway I put on my specs and prepare to glue my nose to the window.  (I’m no fun if I haven’t got a window seat)  Love trying to identify which part I’m overflying (stunning views of Porto once) and I always mean to travel with a detailed map on my knee, but usually forget!

G : Greatest feeling while travelling :

Anticipation!  I just love it when I’m heading for somewhere new.

The prettiest little Greek church?

H : Hottest place you’ve travelled to :

Haven’t been to any of the world’s truly hot places, and most of my experiences have been European but I can remember melting in Venice once (worth it, of course and I’ve been back twice in cooler temperatures).  The Samaria Gorge in Crete wasn’t exactly cool, and I always seemed to toil up to the top of a Greek Island in heat, no matter what time of day I set off!  Terrible planning.

Hot in the Samaria Gorge

I : Incredible service you’ve experienced and why :

I’m going local with this one- local to Tavira, that is!  We have a lovely little riverfront bar, called Anazu.  From the moment we first set foot in there 9 years ago, Paula, her husband and Luis have made us welcome.  There’s always a smile, and an enquiry after the family.  Two glasses of port appear in front of us unsummoned.  The cares of the world just roll away.  We’re home again.

J : Journey that took the longest :

Hmmh, that would be the first trip to America.  We checked into Newcastle airport, only to be told to hang onto our cases as we were being transferred by coach to Manchester.  Strike action was afoot and bodies littered the concourse when we did get there.  Many wearying hours spent at Manchester, we arrived in the States at entirely the wrong time of day to pick up the hire car and head out into the dark with a sketchy bit of paper showing our destination.  “You’re the navigator” said my tired and irritable husband, trying to fathom junctions and overhead signs.  Happy days!

K : Keepsake from your travels :

Postcards for me too (can they be an addiction?) but I am often to be found pocketing shells and stones from some of the lovely beaches I’ve wandered on.  I have a wonderfully creative daughter who endeavoured to use them up by making me jewellery Christmas presents this year.

Shell necklace

Shell necklace

L : Let-down sight, where and why :

St Wolfgang in the sunshine

St Wolfgang, in the sunshine

It was clear and pleasant when we left the lakeside at St Wolfgang to rack and pinion our way up to the peaks.  Alas, when we got there the promised spectacular mountain views had “disappeared” in thick, cold, Alpine fog.

M : Moment when you fell in love with travel :

Afraid I’ve always been restless- must be in the genes.  At 18 I left home and friends to live in London and I explored that city to within an inch of its life!  With prescious little money in my pocket, I walked till I couldn’t any more.  Love the city still, though I’m more for the quiet life these days.  My lady friends and I made a celebratory visit there last August (coincided with the riots, of course).  Oh, did we have fun!

Tea at the Ritz

Tea at the Ritz

N  : Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in :

Sadly, don’t do posh hotels in the main.  We usually travel as cheaply as possible.  A couple are memorable; notably Hotel Guadeloupe, which was ideally placed for the Alhambra; Solar de Monfalim in Evora, such a gracious Portuguese mansion in the most atmospheric of cities; and a lovely family-owned small hotel in Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda, whose name escapes me (it WAS 18years ago, but the pasta was amazing).

Hotel Solar Monfalim, Evora

O : Obsession : what are you obsessed with taking photos of when you travel :

Boats and water mainly:

Turkish Gulet

Mooring at Kas

The harbour at Fethiye

Or anything I want to retain as a memory:

The backgammon ace!

P : Passport stamps, how many and from where :

Not many I don’t suppose, but I’ve visited Austria, Belgium, Canaries, Corfu, Crete, Croatia, Cyclades, Denmark, France, Greek Mainland, Italy, Madeira, Poland, Portugal, Rhodes, Spain, Turkey, the USA, Zante  (alphabetically, of course).  The wish list is huge.

Q : Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where :


Parsley the Dragon

I can remember following a green dragon called Prezzemolo (Parsley) in a procession at Gardaland in Italy many years ago.  The things we’ve done to keep our son amused!  Also in Italy, Il Vittoriale, high above Gardone Riviera, sports a large battleship, Puglia, in it’s gardens.  Definitely landlocked!

Puglia, Il Vittoriale

Stand by for blast off! On board Puglia

R : Recommended sight, event or experience :

Hotel Coronado

Hotel Coronado-not a great shot,but what a destination!

Where do you start?  One that stays with me and I would love to revisit with more time to spare is San Diego Bay.  On the beach by Hotel Coronado I had a Marilyn Monroe moment, and the views out across the water from the restaurants were superb.  Or incredible Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore- water AND gardens, the perfect confection.  So different, but I was also wholeheartedly in love with Warsaw’s Stare Miasto- impossible to believe that so much of it was reconstruction after the Nazis raized it to the ground.

Isola Bela, Lake Maggiore

Stare Miasto, Warsaw

S : Splurge ; something you have no problem forking out money for when travelling :

If I can find somewhere with a lovely view I’m happy to sit indefinitely with a glass or two of wine.

Porto Moniz, Madeira

A smiling husband in Cordoba

Real Alcazhar, Seville

T : Touristy thing you’ve done :

Breakfast with Dale

Have to confess to absolutely loving the Disney parades.  I was ecstatic to have Buzz Lightyear kiss my hand, and Chip and Dale- who wouldn’t want to take them home?

U : Unforgettable travel memory :

Gulet sunset

Gulet sunset

Gulet cruise from Bodrum to Fethiye- a little strange in that it was a late honeymoon, but we couldn’t afford to do it at any other time.  Certainly we weren’t sure if we wanted to share with 10 other people and 3 crew, but it was a fabulous holiday, despite my being stung on the bum by a wasp.

V : Visas ; how many and for where :

Easy answer- none.  Have led a sheltered life!

W :  Wine, best glass of wine while travelling and where :

Welcome to Obidos! The gateway

Obidos. O Conquistador restaurant.  We were taking a breather in a long day’s travelling and opted to eat before returning to the fun of the Medieval Fair.  The restaurant was quiet as everyone was at the fair and the owner was wonderfully relaxed.  The wine was served in earthenware tumblers and was as good as any I’ve ever tasted.  Portuguese Dao and Alentejan wines are generally superb.

X : eXcellent view and from where :

So many it’s an impossible choice but I’ll go with the view of the River Guadiana down to the Alqueva Dam, from the turrets of Monsaraz in Portugal.

A grey day at Monsaraz- imagine it in sunshine

Y : Years spent travelling :

Embarrassingly 40+.  Wish it had been constant though.  Much of my travelling is done fairly locally, but it’s all world, and so much to enjoy.

Z : Zealous sports fans and where :

I’m not a huge sports enthusiast but I rarely miss Nadal playing tennis (on TV).  My husband and son are passionate about football and never pass up an opportunity to see a live match.  Las Palmas on Tenerife was a rowdy and memorable one but the Portuguese take some beating when it comes to “excitability” for a normally calm and courteous race.

I’ve really enjoyed doing this.  Good old Memory Lane.  Now, who else would appreciate this challenge? Have Bag/ Will Travel  La Chica Writes  Meg Travels  Shipscook Stuff  The Nappy Wanderer


    1. Thank you Viv, you’ve just cheered me up a bit. I’ve managed to delete a 1000 word post I had ready to paste into my A-Z of Poland. Wish I was a bit better at the techie side.


  1. Brilliant as always Jo – always told you to write a book!! See you when we get back from our travels to Tenerife.


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