Irregular Post; Malta

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 Hi,           “Say WHAT! Malta? 2017?”           “Well, Yeah, Malta. Sliema, Malta; across the harbor from Valleta, the capital.” Christmas weekend in Nice we had some cool weather and clouds. But in the afternoon, the clouds gapped at the horizon and partly broke overhead. Some amazing sunset colors appeared along the Cote d’Azur. I think I sent them last week. Bagnols was nice after Nice. We had a fine time with David, Alice and the two grandsons, Tristan and Gabriel. Gabriel was in the depths of bronchitis and unhappy when we arrived at lunch time. He had seen the doctor in the morning but Tristan was in good spirits. We had time to tour some small hill towns and wineries, drove some narrow curvy roads, ate some yummy home made food and drank some excellent local beverages. We were in bed by 10P every night including New Year’s eve. Weather was fine with frost in the AM and mid 50s by late afternoon. “Malta?” “Oh yeah.” Last summer while waiting for a plane from Newcastle to Nice, we had talked to an English couple who were heading to Malta for their 15th time. Having never been to Malta, it seemed like a good idea to fit it in when we planned this trip. So here we are, in a Sliema guest house at 30 euro a night, across the harbor by water taxi from Valleta. Malta is a mix of many Mediterranean influences; Sicilian (90 minutes away by ferry), English, Continental, North African and Turkish. Approaching Valleta by ferry it visually reminded both of us...

Irregular Post; Bagnols en Foret

Dec 29 BonSoir,           Chilling in Bagnols with the family.  Nice was lovely around Christmas weekend.  Sunsets were amazing because the clouds were above the horizon and the sun lit them from below.            Bagnols is an hour away by highway and then some narrow winding roads.  LOOVELLY to see everyone and the two little ones; 2 1/2 and 1 years old.  Tristan is trilingual in French Mandarin and English, and Gabriel is monolingual in baby. “travel light and wear a...

Irregular Post; Nice France

Monday Dec 26 Bonjour,           A Christmas weekend in Nice; Lovely. We are a few blocks away from the Promenade Ingles and the beach. Too anyone to be in the water, but everyone is out walking and using new roller blades and scooters and radio cars and … There is a dedicated two lane bike section and very wide walking, jogging promenade beside the roadway for cars and buses. Busy place. And to think this is where the truck massacre took place 6 months ago on Bastile Day.           Friday, 24th the open air market had flowers in addition to the foods, fruits, vegetables etc. Open markets are marvelous things to experience and to shop in. As a traveler, they say a lot about the culture and I prefer his to supermarkets. The variety and convenience is lacking but the vitality and immediacy is great. Dinner on Christmas Eve was of local choices. Daube (beef stew) is very tender long cooked beef with carrots in a rich gravy. It is served with some kind of pasta!! Mine came with gnocci and Meg had it on Monday with ravioli that resembled tortellini. Meg had stuffed vegetables. Very nice with a local red wine. Dessert was crème marron, a mousse of chestnuts!, with a whipped crème topping. It was so rich we needed coffee to end.           Christmas day we walked the promenade in the morning with many others. Meg posed with a bunch of jogging Santas. New roller blades on kids wearing color coordinated kneepads and helmets, pink scooters, Santa hats on many. As usual, there were a handful of...

Irregular Post; Gran Canaria to Nice

Friday Dec 23rd Hola et Bonjour,           We used the last day in Gran Canaria closer to home. Downtown Puerto Tico to get stamps to send postcards to dos nietos in Hong Kong. This village is larger than our neighborhood of Playa Amadores. Vacation condos are carved chocker-block into the barrancas walls, all the way to the top. If there is a “next time” to Gran Canaria, we will definitely stay in the north where the locals live.           Arguinegiun was a working fishing village with some tourist condos away from the rocky beaches. Interesting local pleasant grittiness here. But still too many condos. Further afield we went uphill and away from the coast to a “preserved” village; Aguemas. Oops here. The “business model” was to preserve the old look of Gran Canaria  but in the process it became sterile!! After noon is quiet time and few people are about except for a few tourists. Tiendas were cerrado until 3P; siesta. A few restaurants/cafes were open but all had the same menu in four languages. I did shoot some and probably got a couple of OK ones  but I felt it was a movie set waiting for the actors.           Dinner was at the upscale AQUI restaurant in one of the beach resorts in Playa Amadores. They had seven starters and seven mains along with some nice inexpensive house wine by the glass. We had a lovely tasty olive salad with shaved parmesan after a nice squash soup amuse bouche that you drank from a translucent cone. Meg had sea bass with a spanish risotto and I had filet of beef...

Irregular Post; Gran Canaria2

Thursday  Dec 21, 2016 Buenas, “So! Where and What?” “In the car and about the island.. We finally stopped at the beach Playa Amadores where our home is located.”           Gran Canaria is a small circular island that is about 6000ft altitude in the center; 3D shape like a volcano. Barrancos, steep ravines, start very narrow as run-offs from the rains on the peak. The steepen and widen as they descend to the ocean. Between these barranco outlets, there are sandy playas in the south (tourist resort country) and high headlands, especially in the north. Most of the locals live in the north near Las Palmas.           Roads to the interior are carved in terraces that wind along the steep barranco walls. Speeds are slow as the road, which is well surfaced, twists and climbs/descends. There are a few turn outs where less familiar drivers might pull over and let the cars behind go past.           We have spent most of the time exploring the interior; San Lucia, San Bartholme, Tejeda and Roque Nublo. Tejeda is high up, 5000 ft, and a beautiful town carved into the barranco wall facing south. White painted stucco with red tile roofs. Flat cobbles for street pavement. Here they make the famous almond delights noted across Spain and Europe. We can vouch that they are tasty!           Roque Nublo is a thumb of basalt that was a throat of lava in the ancient volcano. Softer rock eroded leaving Nublo pointing to the sky. This iconic symbol can be seen from many place on the shore. In an art museum in Galdor on the...

Irregular Posts; Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria,

Sunday Dec 18 2016, Hola,           Gran Canaria belongs to Spain and sits just off the African coast. We are ensconced in Puerto Rica at Playa Amadores in a times share. Folks from northern Europe are the guests; they thought we were English. We are the only North Americans.           The resort, like all the others built in the past few years, is terraced into the steep walls of the barancas where the headlands meet the Atlantic. Roads thread their way up, around, down, twist the curves of the walls of the canyons. Narrow. 2nd and 3rd gear manual driving 40 km/hr maximum speed. The few main highways are 5th gear and are 100 km/hr.            We arrived from Paris via Brussels on Brussels Airlines; a budget airline under the Air France alliance. We left the hotel on Saturday at 5:30A. Landed at Las Palmas 6 hours later with a 1 hour change planes in Brussels. The plane to Brussels was very mixed race and age. The plane to Gran Canaria was mostly northern European and a lot of families with children. The same at all the car rental booths in the airport. The road from the airport was a highway with many tunnels though mountain flanks. The south of the island is dry, temperatures in the 60s and partly cloudy. It gets its winds over the oceean from Africa and the Sahara. No real trees, a lot of cactus and scrub vegetation. AND a lot of resorts near the coast for northern Europeans.            After a leisurly breakfast, laundry etc, we drove west the then north along GC...