Saturday 18 August 2018

A visitor from Ukraine!

This summer has been very warm in most parts of Europe and I have been spending time at the pool in my village as usual but less so this year. Sometimes I go to the beach and one of my favourite beaches is at St Martí de Empuries which I can get to by taking the bus to l'Escala and then walking along a path behind the sand dunes. It is a "free" beach meaning that one can wear whatever one likes.. or nothing! I can also get there by taking a train to St Miguel de Fluvia which is very cheap and takes 15 minutes. and then I cycle to St Pere Pescador on the coast and then down to St Martí. The ride takes about 40 minutes so it is not too arduous in the summer heat. I have cycled all the way by bike but it is 75km round trip, so it is not really a good idea when the temperature is 30c.... or more!
In July, Marta came to visit me from Ukraine and stayed for two weeks. It was perfect! The weather was great and she really enjoyed herself. I know I have said it before but my age in years is irrelevant. I can spend 2 weeks with a young girl of 30 as if we are similar ages. And in case you think I am kidding myself, she says the same! We alternated between beach and excursion - we only visited the pool once and that was on the first day. She preferred the sea and even now, I go to the beach more than the pool. We visited Llançà and Colera which are two resorts near to the French border. My favourite is Colera, a picturesque bay, the only snag is that the beach is stone and not sand. The first photo is in a bar at Colera.
We were in Llançà the day France won the World Cup!

Marta loved to collect stones and she painted some afterwards.

I bought her a new suitcase because the one she brought was getting old and one wheel was almost falling off. I liked the suitcase that she chose so much, I bought one for myself as mine was very old and heavy. 

We took lots of photos. Our excursions included Barcelona of course, where we took a tour bus. Marta wanted to see the mountains, so we went to Val de Núria by train.

By car, it is an easy journey and I used to go skiing there but now I have no car. So we took the train down to Granollers Centre which is near to Barcelona, took a 30 minute walk to another station and took the train to Ribes de Freser. From there, there is a rack railway up to Núria. Coming back was complicated! Our scheduled return would have got us back to Girona at 10.15pm but by 3pm we were happy to leave Núria and go back down the mountain but then that would have entailed a long wait for our train back to Granollers. But I could see that there was an earlier train leaving Ripoll which was the next station down the track and that would have meant us getting back at a much more civilised time. I phoned a taxi and the driver said that he was in Ripoll. He calculated that he could drive back to Ribes and get us to the station in time for the earlier train. We waited in Ribes anxiously and, on time, he arrived! We made it to the station with 5 minutes to spare and made high fives in the train which was waiting because it originated in Ripoll. That was great fun, we were happy!
On a previous excursion we took a bus to Olot which is in the (extinct!) volcanic area of Garrotxa. We had some lunch but, like me, Marta eats very little during the day, sometimes no more than an orange shared between us. And then we climbed a volcano. On the way back, we stopped off at Besalú which Marta loved. She took loads of pictures and videos.
In Barcelona, we visited the Rambla, the Cathedral and ended up outside la Sagrada Familia before taking the train back to Girona. We didn't do any formal tours, it was just fun walking around and absorbing the atmosphere.

Marta had ideas about visiting France or even Italy but we ran out of time. Most alternate days, we went to the beach, usually between St Martí de Empuries and l'Escala. 
She was very keen on going out on a bike ride but we only did one short trip, off road, to the woods next to Rio Ter as it passes Celrà. I have two bikes, one is a modern carbon fibre bike and Marta rode that because the adjustments to her size were easier.
We had lots of fun cooking supper. We bought a 3kg salmon and got through most of it during the time she was here. By her own admission she is rather school-mistressy when we were at home, partly on account of it being her job. She left me a list of things to do written on the wall of my kitchen but it was all accepted in good humour. And now my flat is much cleaner and tidier. She had a mantra, "Everything has its place"! I rather enjoyed having someone so nice to tell me what to do! She taught me how to make fish soup!

Breakfast on the terrace was fantastic, on one occasion she was wearing the white bikini which I bought her in Girona. How can things be better than that? 

On one occasion, we stopped off in Figueres on the way to Colera because the strap of one of Marta's shoes needed repairing. And she also wanted to get rid of the colour on her nails.
Then we went to visit the Dalí Theatre Museum. And, finally arrived at the beach!

These photos are from l'Escala 



Shopping heaven! I think this was Bershka.

 I got ripped off by this guy! The idea is that you put money in the tin and the statue springs to life. I only had a euro, nothing less, so I put that it. Nothing!! I came to the conclusion that this was a real statue because when we stopped off for a drink near by, it was still motionless!

This was a great excursion! And my first time there, I am ashamed to say. There is a convenient train from Plaça de España in Barcelona.

A visit to the UK!

I have been neglecting my blog! It is a long time since I wrote a post here. And that was only to say that I was committing the blog to print, which is what I have now done. The printing was much cheaper in Ukraine so my friend Marina organised that with a print shop in her city (which I also know - the print shop and the city!)
They printed two copies which I now have at home and I can lend them out to friends. I had fun reading some of the earlier posts too!
During the summer I have spent quite a lot of time with my friend Orlinda who I met about 2 years ago at my Meetup group. And then we re-made our friendship when I came back from Colombia in March.
In June, she was saying how much she would like to visit the UK and by chance, the fares on Ryanair to Bournemouth the following week were quite cheap. I didn't hesitate, I bought the tickets!
We stayed in Bournemouth for 2 days, went on a bus tour, did all the usual things. And then we took the train to London which was our main objective of course. We stayed slightly out of the centre in Clapham Common which has many memories for me. When I worked for the BBC we used to record Billy Smart's Circus from a large tent on the common.

In London, we also took a tour bus, visited Buckingham Palace (I mean, outside the palace!)... What else? I have forgotten a lot of our visit because it was quite a long time ago. But we had a great time. Ah yes, I remember, we visited Windsor Castle and on the way back to London, we dropped in to see an old friend of mine, Tricia (girlfriend, I mean) because Orlinda wanted to see where I used to live. Addlestone in Surrey is a little to the south of Windsor, just outside London.

We chanced upon a festival on the South Bank, near to Waterloo Station and saw an acrobatic show with a group from Colombia, which was great! Very exciting for Orlinda because, I am sure I have said previously, she is Colombian. On Saturday morning, we took the train back to Bournemouth, took a taxi to the airport and Orlinda's husband picked us up at Girona Airport. We were away for 5 or 6 days. Here are some photos! The first two were in Bournemouth. A tour bus and a view from West Cliff.

This is Orlinda after we arrived in Waterloo Station from Bournemouth.

A trendy bar in Clapham!
 A festival on the South Bank.
This was in Leicester Square on our way back to Girona.

The weather was rather cool and cloudy in Bournemouth but, while we were in London, it was fine and warm as you can probably see from the photos. 

Infantile English humour in the train going back to Bournemouth.
In my next post, I will write about Marta's visit - Marta from Ukraine, that is, who has appeared in previous posts. But this was her first time in Spain.