The next stage of our journey takes us to the South Island. We leave Wellington by ferry, dumping the car, and three and half hours later are in Picton where we collect another. Like everything so far in New Zealand it’s all gone like clockwork, on time, efficiently and with a smile.Continue reading
New Year’s Day and it’s time to move on. We board the Waiheke ferry and then head south-eastwards then back up north towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Tommy entertains us with various podcasts to pass the time. When we reach the peninsula we decide to go the scenic route up the west side. Continue reading
My New Zealand visit starts badly. I am so obsessed by the thought of the rigorous customs police confiscating our Solomon wooden carvings we have brought as gifts that I completely forget the banana I popped into my bag in the lounge, intending to eat it on the flight. Suffice to say, dear reader, I got done and it cost me $400 – ‘no criminal record’ the official says brightly. I have to admit the officials are charm itself – and I just feel a complete fool.
So here we are in Granada, home to Alhambra, which means the Red Fort. It is correct to simply call it Alhambra as ‘al’ means ‘the’ in Arabic. Granada itself is named after the old Jewish settlement, Medina-al-Granata, or Pomegranate City, the fruit being a symbol of fertility, which is said to contain the same number of seeds as the volumes of the Torah. We have a free day to explore before our extortionate tour; still nervous about whether we have been scammed, we are relieved to get a text confirming the meeting time. Phew! Continue reading
We leave Seville quite late (after our trip to the Alcazar) for Córdoba. On the way we detour to the most extraordinary site, the Madinat Al-Zahra (the shining city) built from 940 AD by the first Caliph of el-Andalus, Abd al Rahman III. Very little remains as, after the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate, the city was ransacked for its stone and marble. It was not excavated until 1911, and now only one-tenth of the site has been revealed. The museum showcases the extraordinary opulence of this period, with carved marble columns, gold ornaments and jewellery, bronzes and ceramic vessels. Continue reading
We have been promising ourselves a trip around the sights of Andalucía for some time and booked it all rather last minute. As it turns out, the experience has been so rich, and we have taken so many photos, that I am forced to divide our week into blogs for each of the three main cities: Seville, Córdoba and Granada. Continue reading