Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Day 52 Canberra

We flew out of Singapore an hour late at 1.30 am this morning and had a reasonably good flight to Sydney.  We got through the formalities with little fuss and transferred to the domestic terminal where we had a lengthy wait in the Qantas Club until our flight to Canberra.

Megan met us and brought us home and we've been unpacking and sorting and washing.

I think its nice to be home - though I'll need a good night's sleep to be certain.

We've had some great experience and a wonderful trip.

Farewell - for this trip at least - to all our dear readers.  Thank you for your interest and feedback.  We've loved hearing from you.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Day 51 Singapore

Another interesting day in Singapore - it was cloudy and overcast with a nice breeze so wasn't as humid as yesterday, so quite pleasant for all the wandering around we did.

We caught the MRT to Marina Bay and spent the morning visiting the Gardens by the Bay.  The MRT system is great, and so easy to use.  We have had people stand up for us on nearly every trip!!

There are two enormous dome structures in the gardens.  The first was the flower dome.

The other was the Cloud Forest, where there is a 35 metre man made mountain covered in orchids and with a waterfall.  There are also walkways that take you out to the edge of the dome and down several levels.

We also walked on to look at the barrage which separates Singapore harbour from the fresh water in the marina, and also controls flooding.

This afternoon we did a 40 min boat cruise around Marina Bay and up the river, which we found interesting and informative.

Then we went to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, where we got fabulous 360 deg views.

We had a yummy chicken rice dinner with the Fountains, and now it's time to get organised for our flight home.

The end of our holiday is now exceptionally close!!!

Day 50 Singapore

We went to the botanic gardens this morning and had an enjoyable few hours wandering around.  We particularly enjoyed the orchid garden.

We then spent some time wandering down Orchard Road, wandering into some shopping malls and wondering how so many shops can stay in business!

Tonight we went to the marina area where we had dinner, a wander around and watched the laser light show.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Days 48 and 49 London - Singapore

We left the hotel yesterday morning with heavy snow around and with some concerns about whether we would be travelling at all.  However when we got to the airport all was well and we boarded on time at around 10.30.  Our flight was delayed 30 mins while they de-iced, which we were very happy about.

It was a good flight and we were more or less on time into Singapore.  We went through the formalities and caught the MRT to Iris and Philip's.  Philip and Jefrey were at church when we arrived and Iris and Samuel went to join them for lunch.  Alan and I had a rest - it was around midnight London time when we got in so were quite tired.

Iris and Jeffrey


We chatted for a while this afternoon, and then went to Chinatown for a look around, and to have dinner there.  We also planned our strategy for the next few days.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Day 47 London

A very quiet day today - it was so snowy we stayed in.  We ventured out once but it was quite slippery under foot, and the snow was blowing directly in our faces, so we gave up.

We repacked and had a nice relaxing day.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Day 46 London

We heeded the weather warning and came up to London today. It was snowing in Hay this morning and there are all sorts of weather warnings for very heavy snow tomorrow.

Penny and John's back yard this morning

We were disappointed to lose a day with Penny and John and it was sad saying goodbye. We headed out about 11 and drove out of the snow quite quickly.   It turned out to be quite a good trip.  It was as high as 3 deg at times, and we almost saw the sun!!

We dropped the car off and checked into our hotel at Heathrow, and have enjoyed relaxing in our room.

The plus is we can spend tomorrow in London - depending on the weather.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Day 45 Hay on Wye

Another travel day today, but not too far.  Just a 3 hour drive across country to Cusop.  It was quite cold - varying from -3 to 0, and it was very foggy most of the way.

It was good driving and we stopped for a clotted cream tea and had lunch at a pub on the way.

We have been considering our trip to London - we were going to drive up on Friday but the forecast for Friday morning is so dire with heavy snow expected we may have to go tomorrow.  Darn!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Day 44 Wendover

Today was cold, clear and sunny, which was very nice after the snow yesterday.

We visited Oxford today and had a lovely time.  We started by visiting Ashmolean Museum, where we did a quick tour and a very nice morning tea.  We got a map from the visitor information centre and enjoyed wandering around.  We went to the Sheldonian Theatre and got great view over Oxford from the cupola.  From there we wandered past the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera and then followed a walking map around various colleges etc.

We got back to Wendover and had a quick cup of tea and then walked into the village to pick up a few odds and ends.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Day 43 Wendover

The blue skies and warm temperatures of Morocco are behind us and we woke to a snowy landscape this morning.

Julie drove through light snow to Windsor and we spent some time wandering around the castle.  We couldn't get into the state rooms as they are closed for 3 weeks for the annual specialist clean of chandeliers, paintings, glassware etc.  We had our tickets stamped so we can use them for entry for a year, but don't know that that will be terribly useful for us.  We were able to wander around the grounds, enter St George's Chapel and see Queen Mary's Doll's House.  Near the dolls house was the Drawings Gallery which had a display of photos of the queen taken during her reign.  They were interesting to see, but some I wouldn't want to take home.

We had a very snowy return trip, but the weather cleared and there was blue sky late afternoon.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring weather wise.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Day 42 Casablanca to Wendover

Another transit day so not a lot to report.

We bussed to the airport at 9.00 and went through all the formalities.  We (or more precisely I) managed to spend the last of our Dirhams (Alan called them ding-a-lings) and we had coffee with a few of our group who were flying out in different directions around the same time as us.

We were a bit delayed leaving Casablanca, but were more or less on time into Heathrow.  Not too much trouble with formalities or picking up the hire car, and we were on the road to Wendover by 5.30, arriving sound 6.30.

It was lovely to catch up with Johnny and Julie and we had a lovely dinner and a nice night chatting.

More adventures tomorrow - if it doesn't snow too much.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Day 41 Marrakech to Casablanca

Today we headed back to Casablanca and it was a lovely drive through quite green countryside.  It will be our last view of shepherds with their flocks of sheep, donkeys being ridden or grazing while waiting for their owners, and the vast variety of people dressed in all manner of clothes.  It is very noticeable how much more western the people of Casablanca are in their clothes, though there is still a fair percentage of traditional dress and head covering.

Hassan played the film Casablanca for us as we drove and it was a toss up whether to look out the window or watch the film.

We stopped by the Atlantic Ocean for a walk along the waterfront and we had lunch at a seafood restaurant there.

Some of our group stopped for a tour of the Hassan II mosque, which was so interesting.  It is vast inside.

Then on to the hotel where we had some time to get ourselves organised to head out tomorrow.  Alan and I walked to a local souk for a look around but weren't tempted to spend any more money - all bargained out I guess.

Tonight we went to Rick's Cafe for a farewell dinner which was a lot of fun and the food was delicious.  A very nice end to a great tour.  Morocco has been a fascinating experience and we're very glad we came.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Day 40 Marrakech

We have had a great day in Marrakech.  Doesn't it just sound so exotic.

View from our hotel

We started off with a short drive to the Ourika Valley, where we visited a Berber family, and had a look in their home.   The woman of the house showed us how they prepare the traditional mint tea, which was so interesting.  It's nearly always sweetened, though I have had it a couple of times without sugar, which I prefer.  Fortunately Hassan stopped the lady putting too much sugar in. They also served us Moroccan pancakes and bread, with honey and olive oil.

Ourika Valley


Tea ceremony

The woman's daughter and daughter-in-law were there and they explained how the woman arranged the marriage of her son and daughter-in-law, and also about the offers her daughter had received.  When we offered to answer any questions from them, they wanted to know why we didn't cover our hair.

From there we drove to the Medina of Marrakech and visited a berber spice shop and the harem of the Palais de la Bahia, built in the 19th century for the grand vizier of the sultan.

We then drove to the Djemaa El Fna Square where we had lunch while Hassan went to Friday prayers.  We then had a wander in the square, which I didn't enjoy all that much as the snake charmers and people with monkeys were very aggressive.  Hassan then took us into a souk where we did some souvenir shopping - Alan has turned to be an expert bargainer.

We had a chance for a rest at the hotel before we set out for dinner, which was very welcome.

Tonight we went back to the square which was packed.  It was interesting to walk around and see everything going on, and to see the food stalls, outdoor Cafes and all sorts of people selling all sorts of things.  It was much more enjoyable than during the day.We went to a restaurant where we had a traditional Moroccan meal with entertainment, which included a very attractive belly dancer.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Day 39 Ouarzazate to Marrakech

As we left Ouarzazate we left the Sahara and headed for the High Atlas mountains.  On the outskirts, we passed several film studios - its the film capital of Morocco and films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars have been filmed there.


We stopped at Ait Benhaddou, a beautiful Kasbah used in many films.

We called into a woman's cooperative where they processed argan nuts into oil and cosmetics.  We tasted the oil, argan honey and an argan, almond and honey paste that was so yummy.

We crossed the High Atlas Mountains via the Tizi N'Tichka pass at about 2200 metres and then drove down via a series of hairpin bends.

We then drove through a beautiful valley with lots of lovely little villages.

We drove over another pass, and then it was on to Marrakech, where we arrived early afternoon.

There was nothing planned for the afternoon, but our guide and driver took us to a silver jewellery store and then a souvenir store than sold everything from clothes to silver to leather and people were able to indulge in some retail therapy.

We get to sleep in an extra 15 mins tomorrow as we have 2 nights here!!!