A Travellerspoint blog

April 2015

Portugal, one day in Porto and two days in Lisbon

April 6,7 and 8

Our next destination was Porto in Portugal. We were leaving Spain and driving to Portugal. When we were in Spain we had some problems in communicating with locals. But we always found some one who could speak English. In the hotels, most of the hotel staff could speak a little English or at least understand English. We had problems only when we had to deal with locals in small cities.
Strangely, in Portugal, most of the people we met, spoke a little English. One young person who served us in a restaurant told us that he learned English in school.
We left Salamanca after breakfast and reached Porto in the early afternoon. Our hotel in Porto was a small Bed and Breakfast hotel with a small number of rooms. We knew it was a very small hotel, but according to Trip Advisor reviews, it was rated as one of the best hotels. When we finally reached the hotel, the hotel owner himself was there to greet us and take us to our rooms. He gave us some small muffins, made coffee for those who wanted coffee and also gave a small bottle of Port wine for us to taste. We had only one night in Porto and had to visit the attractions on the same day we arrived inn the hotel. The hotel owner was very helpful. He marked all the important places to visit on a map.

The Blue House in Porto

The Blue House in Porto

We walked through the city streets for some time. We saw many buildings with outer walls decorated with wall tiles. One such building was the Blue House.

Mala and Helen with a statue in Porto old city

Mala and Helen with a statue in Porto old city

We had lunch in a small café and finally took a taxi to the river banks where the port wine warehouses are located.

Having lunch in Porto

Having lunch in Porto

This area where the Port wine warehouses are located is known as Vila Nova de Gaia. Porto, also known as Oporto, is an ancient city steeped in history and tradition. It is the second largest city in Portugal. This is the city that originated and named Port Wine, and gave birth to one of world history's legendary figures, Prince Henry the Navigator. It is also the birthplace of that world-famous fictional character, Harry Potter -- author J. K. Rowling was living in Oporto as an English teacher when she started writing her first book.

Near Porto river banks

Near Porto river banks

In Porto, there are many wine tours available in Vila Nova de Gaia, most of which include a guide and wine tastings. The area is also the main starting destination for river cruises offering great views of the landscape.
We took a taxi to Vila Nova de Gaia which took nearly 30 minutes due to heavy traffic. After watching the beautiful buildings and the skyline over the buildings on the river banks, we joined a river cruise. It was a good trip allowing us to see the beautiful buildings on the river bank and the many tall bridges built across the river. We came back and walked into one of the Port Wine cellars to taste port wine. We were given free samples of port wine to taste, but the more expensive ten year old port wines were not available for tasting. We ended up buying three bottles of ten year old white port wine bottles. Though we could not taste the ten year old port, the girl who gave free samples of wine assured they are much better than the ones we tasted. We had dinner in one of the restaurants near the river bank and finally came back to the hotel in a taxi.

The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and started early to drive towards Lisbon. On our way, we have planned to have a stop over in Fatima.

Fatima Church closed for repairs

Fatima Church closed for repairs

The history of Fátima is based on three children Lúcia and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta who on 13 May 1917, while guarding their sheep, witnessed an apparition of a lady dressed in white. The lady, later referred to as Our Lady of the Rosary, indicated that she was sent by God with a message of prayer, repentance and consecrations. She visited the children on the 13th day of each month from May to October. The last apparition occurred on 13 October 1917. Lucia became a nun, Jacinta died in 1919 and Francisco in 1920 from the Spanish flu Epidemic. Lúcia meanwhile remained a nun until she herself died in 2005. In order to mark the location of the apparitions, a wooden arch with a cross was initially constructed The faithful began to travel in pilgrimage to the site. On 6 August 1918, with donations from the public, construction on a small chapel was begun.
The construction of the sanctuary brought local development to the region, which eventually allowed the town of Fátima to be elevated to the status of city.

Statues of Fatima children erected near entrance to tghe city

Statues of Fatima children erected near entrance to tghe city



When we arrived in Fatima, the entire church was closed for renovation. The entrance to the church has been blocked by a temporary partition. A temporary alter has been erected in the church yard to celebrate mass. There was a place to light candles. We purchased candles and lit them.
We had lunch in a small restaurant in Fatima and resumed our journey towards Lisbon.

Having lunch in Fatima

Having lunch in Fatima

We have booked the Holiday Inn hotel for two nights in Lisbon. We came to the hotel late in the evening. We had undercover parking in the hotel, but in Spain, parking is very compact. We had to go forth and back several times before fitting into the small parking slot in the underground car park. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant that night.
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of over half million in the city limits. Its urban area has a population of nearly 2.7 million people. Lisbon is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. It is one of the largest container ports on Europe's Atlantic coast. The city is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe. Most of the headquarters of multinationals in the country are located in the Lisbon area.t is also the political centre of the country, as seat of Government and residence of the Head of State.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal.
Lisbon enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Among all the metropolises in Europe, it has the warmest winters, with average temperatures 15 °C during the day and 8 °C at night from December to February.

An old Tram car in Lisbon city

An old Tram car in Lisbon city

On our second day in Lisbon, we went to the city centre and visited most of the tourist attractions. We walked in the city area and entered Alfama areas. The Alfama is the oldest part of Lisbon and yet, it is a fairly small area, filled with old houses and Fado venues, enticing visitors with its historical significance.

Photo taken at Alfama

Photo taken at Alfama

In one place, you get a beautiful view of the sea and the surrounding buildings. We saw an artist who is selling his paintings and bought one to be framed back in Australia. While walking down the narrow alleys, we found a very good tea room called Palacite Chafariz D'El Rei. We had lunch in that restaurant.

Another important place was the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon. This is where Vas Co de Gama's tomb is. Vas Co de Gama was a Portuguese citizen who travelled to India, Sri Lanka and other eastern countries. He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route. De Gama's discovery was significant and opened the way for an age of global imperialism and for the Portuguese to establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia.

After visiting the Monastery, we got into a tram to come back to the city. The tram stopped halfway due to an accident between two other vehicles which blocked the tram rails. We got out of the tram and walked a few blocks in the rain, then finally managed to find a taxi and come back to the hotel.

Posted by fernando65 08:53 Comments (0)

Back to Seville, Spain from Portugal

Two days in Seville, April 9,10

We have spent three days in Portugal, one in Porto and two in Lisbon, and now it is time for us to return to Spain. Our overall experience in Portugal was very good. Portugal is a very peaceful and friendly country. Most people can understand and speak English unlike in Spain. We spoke to a few people in Portugal and found that they learn English as a second language in school. In Spain, normal people do not make an effort to learn English. Spanish is and International language and if you want to visit Spain, it is up to you to learn a few words of Spanish to be able to get along.
When you step into any shop or restaurant, the first word you hear is "Hola" pronounced as "Ola" . Remember that "h" is silent in Spanish. This is a greeting similar to "Hello" in English and "Allo" in French. Another useful word is "Gracias" which means "Thank you".

Small Portugese village

Small Portugese village



On our way to Spain, we stopped in a small Portuguese town and had lunch. Surprisingly, every one we met spoke a little English. We have been using toll ways right through out our trip, to save on travel time. That way, we were avoiding going through big towns and cities. We have spent more money on tolls than on Diesel.

Hilton Garden Hotel

Hilton Garden Hotel

We were planning to spend two days in Seville. We had a booking in Hilton Garden hotel in Seville. Hilton Garden Hotel is a very good hotel, but in a quiet area outside the city centre. We could not see any restaurants in the area. We arrived at the hotel around 4:00PM and still had time to visit a few places.

An artwork in Hiltoln Garden Hotel

An artwork in Hiltoln Garden Hotel



Seville or Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia, has a rich Moorish heritage, and used to be a prosperous port that carried out trade with the Americas.
The streets and squares in the historic quarter of Seville are lively and busy. Seville is also a prominent business and service centre in the south of Spain and has many hotels distributed all over the city.

We have been planning to see a Flamenco dance in Spain. We knew Seville is the best city to do that.
Flamenco is a form of Spanish folk music and dance from the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. Flamenco is often associated with the gitanos (Romani people of Spain) and a number of famous flamenco artists are of this ethnicity. In recent years flamenco has become popular all over the world and is taught in many countries. In Japan there are more flamenco academies than there are in Spain. On November 16, 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Flamenco dancers  in their courful costumes

Flamenco dancers in their courful costumes



While checking in, we talked to the receptionist at Hilton Garden hotel. He immediately arranged for us to go for a Flamenco show in the city at 7:00PM. He suggested that we take the Number 12 or Number 3 bus near the hotel which goes right next to the place, where the Flamenco dance is held. After unpacking our bags and relaxing in our room, we walked out of the hotel and started looking for the bus halt. We talked to a lady who was coming out of an office and asked her where the bus station is. Her advice was that we should take a taxi. The neighborhood where we were walking is not safe to walk freely in the night. It looked a very peaceful neighborhood to us. We decided to take her advice seriously and walked back to the hotel and asked them to get a taxi for us.

Flamenco dancing with increased tempo

Flamenco dancing with increased tempo

The Flamenco show was one of the best shows we have seen. Like all cultural events, Flamenco dancing shows are specially held for tourists. What we saw may not be the purest form of Flamenco dance. But there is no doubt the artists who performed are highly skilled and are the best in the business.

Mala with two Flamenco dancers after the show

Mala with two Flamenco dancers after the show

After the show, the Flamenco dancers came near the exit point to the hall and waited there. We had a chance to greet them and show our appreciation. Mala took a picture with two of the dancers. We came back to the hotel in a taxi and had dinner in the hotel restaurant.

The next day, we had to decide what we were going to see. There were too many things to see and we had to select the places to visit. Our earlier plan was to visit Cordoba and Gibraltar while in Seville. We knew we would miss Seville attractions if we travel to any of those places. We decided to skip visiting Gibraltar and visit Cordoba on our way to Valencia. We had early morning breakfast in the hotel and first took a taxi to Seville Cathedral. We had to wait in a long queue to buy entrance tickets.
Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Inside the cathedral, there were many paintings and statues. One important monument is the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally a Moorish fort. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. Still used today by Spain’s Royal family on state occasions, the Alcazar complex of royal palaces, patios and gardens has undergone many transformations over its more than one-thousand-year history. In the 11th century, Muslim Moors constructed a palace on the site of a 10th-century fort, which was converted to a Gothic-style structure in the 13th century. One hundred years later, King Pedro hired Moorish craftsmen to rebuild and expand the palace in the Mudejar style. From the starry design of the domed ceiling in the Salon de Embajadores (Ambassadors’s Hall) to the delicate arches and plasterwork of the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of Maidens), the Palacio de Don Pedro is considered one of the top tourist attractions in Seville.

Part of Impressive Alcaza

Part of Impressive Alcaza

All the palaces had garden orchards with fruit trees, horticultural produce and a wide variety of fragrant flowers. The garden-orchards not only supplied food for the palace residents but had the aesthetic function of bringing pleasure.

Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Espana

We finally took a taxi and went to see Plaza de Espana. This massive building is Seville's most impressive after the cathedral, for its sheer scale and grandeur. You shouldn't miss it when visiting the city. Plaza de España was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 (Expo 29), along with many of the pavilions you can see in and around the Parque Maria Luisa. It is a semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end. In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal.

Having pre-dinner bites near Plaza Espana

Having pre-dinner bites near Plaza Espana

We had dinner in a restaurant outside plaza Espana and finally came back to the hotel to sleep.

Posted by fernando65 05:58 Comments (0)

From Seville to Granada via Cordoba

April 11 and 12

We left Seville after early breakfast in the hotel. We had no time to visit Gibraltar. The only other option was to visit Cordoba on our way to
Granada.

Cordoba is a small city with a rich cultural heritage. The UNESCO recognized in 1994 the universal importance of Cordoba's historic legacy, and extended the title of World Heritage Site not only to the Mosque-Cathedral, but also to all the streets and buildings around it.

The UNESCO defines the word Heritage as "the legacy we receive from the past, in which we live in the present and which we hand on to the future". The political and cultural leaders in Cordoba, as well as each and every citizen, have been entrusted with the task of keeping watch over, conserving, protecting and encouraging interest in our History. Among many attractions, the most important landmark in Cordoba is the Mezquita and Alcazar.
We arrived in Cordoba and first visited the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos.

Cordoba Alkazar appearance from outside

Cordoba Alkazar appearance from outside

The Alcazar (of the Christian Kings) features a castle, its delightful gardens and a moorish bathhouse. This is a very popular monument.

A Muslim Alcazar once stood where the Episcopal Palace is today - this building was reformed in the Baroque period and was recently reconditioned in order to house the Diocesan Museum. Alongside this museum, the Exhibition Palace occupied what used to be the Church of San Jacinto and the Hospital of San Sebastian, an outstanding construction opposite the Mosque featuring a portico that stands out among the Gothic jewels in Cordoba. Inside, in the Romero de Torres hall, one can admire interesting 16th century frescoes.

One of the water gardens in Cordoba Alkazar

One of the water gardens in Cordoba Alkazar

Despite originating from the Christian era, these gardens are typically Moorish in design with ponds, fountains and aromatic plants. Adjacent to the gardens are the Royal Stables which extend to encompass the Gardens of the Campo Santo de los Márties.

The castle is almost a perfect square in plan of 4.100 square metres. It was rebuilt in 1327 by King Alfonso XI. His aim was to bring European Gothic architecture to the town. The castle walls connect the four (now three) corner towers by walkways.

Having lunch in Cordoba in a restaurant

Having lunch in Cordoba in a restaurant

The other important historical landmark in Cordoba is the mosque Cathedral in Cordoba known as Mezquita. We had no time to visit it.
When first built in the 10th century, the Mezquita was one of the largest mosques in the world. It could accommodate 10,000 worshippers, being second only to Mecca as a pilgrimage site. The Mezquita dates back to the 10th century when Córdoba reached its zenith under a new emir, Abd ar-Rahman 111 who was one of the great rulers of Islamic history. At this time Córdoba was the largest, most prosperous cities of Europe, outshining Byzantium and Baghdad in science, culture and the arts.

We left Cordoba after lunch and drove to Granada.
Granada has a long history. It began as an Iberian settlement in the Albayzín district. Muslim forces took over from the Visigoths in 711, with the aid of the Jewish community who settled near the foot of the Alhambra hill. After the fall of Córdoba (1236) and Seville (1248), Muslims sought refuge in Granada, where Mohammed ibn Yusuf had set up an independent emirate. Stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar to east of Almería, this ‘Nasrid’ emirate became the final remnant of Al-Andalus, ruled from the Alhambra palace for 250 years. Granada became one of the richest cities in medieval Europe.

Our group entering Alhambra Palace

Our group entering Alhambra Palace

But in the 15th century the economy stagnated and violent rivalry developed over the succession. One faction supported the emir, Abu al-Hasan, and his harem favourite Zoraya. The other faction backed Boabdil, Abu al-Hasan’s son by his wife Aixa. In 1482 Boabdil rebelled, setting off a confused civil war. The Christian armies invading the emirate took advantage, besieging towns and devastating the countryside, and in 1491 they finally laid siege to Granada. After eight months, Boabdil agreed to surrender the city in return for the Alpujarras valleys and 30, 000 gold coins, plus political and religious freedom for his subjects. On 2 January 1492 the conquering Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, entered Granada ceremonially in Muslim dress. They set up court in the Alhambra for several years.

Flowering tree near entrance to Alhambra

Flowering tree near entrance to Alhambra

But soon religious persecution followed. Jews were expelled from Spain, and persecution of Muslims led to revolts across the former emirate and their eventual expulsion from Spain in the 17th century. Granada sank into a deep decline Today it has become prosperous again due to tourism.
We bought online tickets at a premium price to visit Alhambra in the morning session. We were picked up at the hotel and dropped near the entrance. A tour guide who speaks English was assigned to our group. We had about thirty people in our group. Alhambra palace is a must visit placed in Spain. It is not easy to describe all the details of the palaces.

Mala,Helen and Sue in the Palace Courtyard

Mala,Helen and Sue in the Palace Courtyard



The central palace complex is the pinnacle of the Alhambra’s design. Though the Nasrid Palaces were erected late in Spain’s Islamic era, when the empire was already well in decline, they make up one of the finest Islamic structures in Europe.
Entrance is through the 14th-century Mexuar. Two centuries later, it was converted to a chapel, with a prayer room at the far end. From the Mexuar, you pass into the Patio del Cuarto Dorado.
Adjacent is the recently restored Patio de los Leones (Courtyard of the Lions), built in the second half of the 14th century under Muhammad V. But the centrepiece, a fountain that channelled water through the mouths of 12 marble lions, dates from the 11th century. The courtyard layout, demonstrates the complexity of Islamic geometric design – the varied columns are placed in such a way that they are symmetrical.
Walking counterclockwise around the patio, you first pass the Sala de Abencerrajes . But the multicoloured tiles on the walls and the great octagonal ceiling are far more eye-catching. In the Sala de los Reyes (Hall of the Kings) at the east end of the patio, the painted leather ceilings depict 10 Nasrid emirs. The European style indicates the cross-cultural foment of the 14th century.

Decorated Palace walls and the ceilings

Decorated Palace walls and the ceilings

We finished our visit around 2:00PM. We walked down the pathway to the city and had lunch in a restaurant. While walking down the steep pathway, we stopped at a souvenir shop and Mala bought a multi-coloured lamp which serves as a cheap imitation of the lamps in that era. We are not sure how we are going to carry it in the plane without breaking it.

Posted by fernando65 22:33 Comments (0)

One night in Valencia and two nights in Barcelona

April 13,14 and 15

We left Granada And drove to Valencia to spend one night in the hotel Tryp Ocean hotel. The drive from Granada to Valencia was nearly 500 KM and we knew this will take the whole day. We started early, but we finally arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon. The hotel was reasonably good and in a good location.

Tryp Valencia Hotel from outside

Tryp Valencia Hotel from outside

We were using Valencia as a stop over on our way to Barcelona. We wanted to break the journey from Granada to Barcelona. Valencia is a fairly big city. Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona, with a population of around 800,000 people. Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC.

We had dinner in a small restaurant in one of the streets near the hotel. The next morning, we wanted to vist the Central Market of Valencia before leaving for Barcelona. We had early breakfast and took a taxi from the hotel to the Central Market.

Mala,Helen and Sue Inside the Central Market in Valencia

Mala,Helen and Sue Inside the Central Market in Valencia

The Central Market of Valencia (Mercado Central) has his origins in the Arabic periods of Valencia. You will see a modern architecture of the year 1914. It’s one of the most fascinating and genius places of Valencia. The central market is a sensorial experience. You will find it in the old town of the city, just next to the Hôme Hostel Valencia. There are hundreds of little food market stands.

We walked through the passages between stalls looking and taking photographs of beautifully presented stalls. We had bread rolls and coffee in one stall. There are no tables to sit. We sat at the bar of the stall and had our food. We bought some fruits and finally came back to the hotel in a taxi. After getting out of the taxi and sending it off, Helen realised that her camera is missing. She had all her photos taken throughout the trip in the camera. There was no backup. It was too late to do anything. We went to the hotel reception and the girl at the reception was very helpful. There are different taxi companies and she called all the taxi companies to ask them whether any taxi diver has reported finding a camera in the taxi. We waited for about ten minutes and the answer came as negative. In our desperation I, Mala and Helen decided to go back to the market and have a look. That was all we could do. We took a taxi and went back to the market and got down from the taxi.

The cab driver where Helen lost and found her Camera

The cab driver where Helen lost and found her Camera

At the taxi stand , all the taxis were waiting in a queue looking for customers. We walked to the taxi line and found the taxi we took to come back to the hotel. Lo and behold, the camera was still sitting on the back seat of the taxi. The taxi driver has not even seen it. He dropped us and came back to the taxi stand near the market to pick up new passengers. We were so lucky to find the camera. We thanked the driver and took the same taxi back to our hotel.

A bull fighting ring on our way to Barcelona

A bull fighting ring on our way to Barcelona

We checked out of the hotel and resumed our drive towards Barcelona. On our way, we stopped at one place to have lunch. We again stopped near a sea town and had coffee and then had a look at bull fighting ring that was in the area. We arrived in Barcelona around 4:00 PM and checked into Holiday Inn Express for two nights. The hotel was in a busy area, close to the city attractions. We still had a little time and decided to see city buildings designed by Gaudi.
Gaudí's work is admired by architects around the World as being one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. His work has greatly influenced the face of Barcelona architecture and you will see stunning examples of Gaudí's work all around the city centre.

Goudi's Casa Batllo seen from outside

Goudi's Casa Batllo seen from outside

We first went to see Casa Batllo that was designed by Gaudi. It's balconies look like sculls and the supports on the windows look like bones.

Stained glass windows in Gaudi's Casa Batllo

Stained glass windows in Gaudi's Casa Batllo

The multicoloured tiles that are used to decorate the walls of Casa Batlló were taken from the colours of natural corals. A little further ahead on th same road, we can find Gaudi's apartments. This is another unique building designed by Gaudi.

Mala on the balcony of Casa Batllo

Mala on the balcony of Casa Batllo

Building showing Gaudi's design

Building showing Gaudi's design

The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we went to see the unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica designed by Gaudi. It is still not fully constructed. We had to wait in a queue to buy tickets and enter the basilica. There is a museum within the basilica premises that has most of the models used to construct the basilica.

Sagrada Familia Basilica designed by Gaudi

Sagrada Familia Basilica designed by Gaudi

Stained glass windows in the Sagrada familia Basilica

Stained glass windows in the Sagrada familia Basilica

The Guell Park is another important place that was fully designed by Gaudi. Behind the park, you can see Gaudi's house. We went to the Guell park in a taxi around 1:30PM. We found the park authorities have stopped issuing tickets to go in atv1:30PM. The next available session was at 5:30PM. We bought tickets for the 5:30 entry and decided to explore La Rambla area till that time.

Lunch at Caravelle in La Rambla area

Lunch at Caravelle in La Rambla area

Sue has a friend called Jacque living in Barcelona. Sue met her at the hotel and came with her to La Rambla to meet us. We all met at the restaurant Caravelle and had lunch there. Jacque is from Australia and now living with her daughter in Barcelona. After lunch, Jacque walked with us to show the narrow allies of Barcelona and then to the Barcelona market. We then went back to the Guell park.

Near the entrance to Park Guell dedsigned by Gaudi

Near the entrance to Park Guell dedsigned by Gaudi

Gaudi's ideas and creations are in full display in this park. we walked around in the park admiring his work and then finally took a taxi to La Rambla area.

La Rambla Street busy with people

La Rambla Street busy with people

La Rambla is a lively street, full of people. Walking along la Rambla and experiencing the happy and exuberant faces of Barcelona people is something you should not miss.

Posted by fernando65 10:11 Comments (0)

One night each in Montpellier, Nice and Turin

April 16,17 and 18

Barcelona was the last city we planned to visit in Spain. We have decided to move back to France and have one night stop overs in Montpellier and Nice. Then drive over to Italy and spend one night in Turin.
We had breakfast at our hotel and started driving towards Montpellier. We have booked a small placed called Park and Suites Elegance in Montpellier. They were one bedroom apartments with small kitchenettes. Our apartments were hidden inside a huge building. We took some time to find it and park the car.
Montpellier is well known for it's reputable university, which has played a large part in the town itself, keeping it young and vibrant. A nice, clean, attractive city, there are several interesting tourist attractions to visit in Montpellier. The main attraction in the city is the beautiful Place de la Comedie.
There was no proper restaurant in the neighborhood of our apartments. We decided to drive to the city centre for dinner and managed to find an underground parking station to park the car near Place de la Comedie. We had dinner in a popular restaurant. Then it started raining which did not allow us to explore the city. Our exploration of the city was limited to having dinner in the city centre.
We left the apartments in the morning. The apartment did not provide breakfast. We made our own breakfast with bread, cheese and jam we bought from a supermarket.
We were heading towards Nice and hoping for better weather in Nice. We were planning to spend only one night in Nice. We had a booking at the Esatitude hotel in Nice for one night.
We decided to visit the small tourist town Eze before going our hotel. Eze is a beautiful small town on the sea route to Monaco from Nice.
Our plan was to visit a perfume factory Fragonard in Eze.

Mala with the tour guide in the perfume factory

Mala with the tour guide in the perfume factory

There are over 30 active perfume companies making their secret essences for a collection of well known brands, but Fragonard is now the perfumery most associated with Grasse and Ezé where its factories are located. Visitors to the factory are offered a free guided tour of the laboratories and workshops, where master perfumers create aromatic magic. The museum in the 19th Century mansion presents objets d’art from over 3,000 years of perfume history and jewelry and clothing designs from the 18th and 19th Century.

At the counter to buy Perfume

At the counter to buy Perfume

We joined the guided tour which took nearly 15 minutes. Mala, Sue and Helen picked up some perfumes and bought them before driving back to our hotel in Nice.

Esatitude hotel from outside

Esatitude hotel from outside

Next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and left for Turin in Italy. We decided to take the sea route and drive along the coast through Monaco.
We stopped in Monaco for a coffee.

Monaco getting ready for car races

Monaco getting ready for car races

Driving to the city centre took some time due to traffic. We managed to find the underground car park and park our car. We were disappointed to see the city has been transformed into a construction site. Monaco was getting ready for its Formnula 1 Grand Prix to be held in May. While having coffee in a restaurant, we saw the expensive Ferraris and other racing cars driving past slowly. There were other small cars making huge noises while passing by. They are obviously motor car racing enthusiasts coming to see the construction site out of curiosity.

Scene from a tourist lookout on the sea route

Scene from a tourist lookout on the sea route



We left Monaco and drove along the scenic sea route up to Savona. The sea route took us through some beautiful small Italian sea towns. There was heavy traffic in those towns created by the heavy inflow of holiday makers and we had to drive very slowly. We could not find any empty parking slots on the road to stop and have a look. In any case, we were not planning a stop over in any of those towns. From Savona, we took the freeway to Turin.
Turin or better known as "Torino" is a very old city with a long history.

The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. The image is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.

Cathedral area in Turin

Cathedral area in Turin

The Shroud was not on display for a long time and was to be shown on Sunday, on the day we were leaving. You have to bub tickets to see it and all the tickets have been sold. We were not able to see the shroud unfortunately. We went to the cathedral area and the tourist office where they sell tickets, but was not in luck.
We left Turin on Sunday morning.

Posted by fernando65 23:44 Comments (0)

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