Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

A Busy Year Of Travel.

My last post - on the 27th August 2018, related to our fabulous P&O Cruises visit to the Scandinavian Capitals of the Baltic including St. Petersburg for an overnight stay during July last year. However, one of the aims of our own travel is to escape the nasty Winter weather of Britain, and the year since then has been no exception.

At the beginning of October we had planned a two month visit once again to Southern Spain in the motorhome. We visit Cabo de Gata, as being so far South the region gives us the best opportunity for fairly reliable decent weather through the Autumn period into the start of Winter. We have done this several times now and on this occasion we travelled there and back to Bilbao from Portsmouth using Brittany Ferries for an overnight passage. Once again that all went without issue and we were lucky enough not to have to experience the sometimes rough sea crossings of the Bay of Biscay. Whilst there we once again hired a car at a very reasonable rate through our campsite Camping Cabo de Gata.

During the Brittany Ferry crossing to Bilbao.

After an overnight stopover at Aranjuez, we are pitched at Cabo de Gata.

Not too far from Cabo is a fantastic new Lidl at San Isidro.

Inside the new store.

During our Spanish stay we used the hire car to visit my brother in Marbella.

Old Marbella Town.

As is usual we made several visits to the beautiful City of Almeria.

And the rural parts of the Cabo de Gata Park Naturel.

A visit to Mojacar Pueblo is another one of our usual haunts for coffee and tapas during a day out.
At the end of November we made our way back home with just enough time to unpack and tidy out the motorhome before we were off again - this time a cruise of the Canary Isles aboard P&O Cruises Oriana with a visit to Madeira on the way out and Lisbon on the way home. This is the ship we first cruised on back in 2010. She was built in 1995 and has recently been sold to the Chinese to become a casino ship there, so this was our opportunity to say goodbye. Once we arrived back in Southampton it was just a few days until Christmas, so we travelled from Southampton to our daughter and her husband's home in Surrey to spend a planned Christmas with them.

Once home from Surrey during the week between Christmas and New Year it was time to pack up again to visit Margaret's sister in Vilamoura, Portugal for a couple of weeks. We once again successfully used Ryanair to get us there and back at a very reasonable price and our stay there was living expenses only.

The best part for us of out of season visits is the lack of others!

On arrival home towards the end of January we had a very exciting time to look forward to. On the 8th February we had arranged to fly to Goa for a couple of weeks in Candolim. After that we would return back to Manchester Airport and home before travelling back to Surrey to meet our newly born granddaughter who arrived while we were there. After a week in Surrey it was then off to Heathrow Airport from there to start our month away to hopefully take us into Spring in the UK once back home. We flew courtesy of British Airways to Delhi and once settled into our lovely hotel we were visited by our friends that we had first met in Shimla in 2015 who live there. We had dinner together before saying farewell to prepare ourselves for our second Golden Triangle tour. After two nights in Delhi, with a day's sight seeing, we were then driven to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal with an overnight stay, followed by a drive to Jaipur to see the amazing sights there with another two night's stay. Then we took an internal Air India flight back to Delhi before boarding an Air India International flight on to Dubai for a few night's stay there. It was then time to make our transfer to Port Rashid to join Arcadia on the last sector of her world cruise back to Southampton via Muscat, Haifa and Cadiz.

We used a great value Tui package to visit Goa. This was our hotel.

The Lui Beach Resort pool.

Candolim Beach.

We also hired a scooter for the duration in Goa. This is us taking the ferry across to Panjim.

The usual chaos joining the Panjim Ferry.

Panjim Market.

A fabulous overnight trip on a Kettuvallam.

And a day out to Monkey Island

I visited a tailor in Panjim to have a new Tux made. Ready in 3 days and a very reasonable price.

We just love to visit India and this was our 6th time, making two visits on the same visa this year. The history, culture and people there are so interesting. Now it is time to think on using the motorhome during our British Summer.

Our first hotel of the India tour in Delhi.

Visited there by local friends for dinner.

The start of our Wendy Wu Golden Triangle tour. This is our lovely guide Vivek.

The sights of New Delhi.

And of Old Delhi.

We are often asked if we will have our photo taken with locals. I agree but insist on one for me too. This then happens!

They asked us for a pic, so I asked them for mine. They appear shy.

Margaret's "Diana" pose in front of the Taj Mahal.

The hotel doormen are often traditionally dressed.

You can arrive at attractions in style if you like.

The amazing Amber Fort in Jaipur.......

Our Dubai Hotel.

The Dubai Skyline.

Joining Arcadia in Dubai.

Lovely restful days at sea after a busy tour of India.

The handmade Tux I had made in Panjim the previous month.

Lunch with our friend - lovely Arcadia crew officer - Samrat.

Cadiz Market.

The start of the very spectacular final sailaway from Cadiz.

Monday, 27 August 2018

An Unexpected Summer Baltic Cruise.

We had planned to spend Summer at home after our return from the month's tour of Europe in the camper in Spring. However, not long after settling back in we received a message from our dear friends Doug and James (ex narrowboat Chance), to tell us they had booked a cruise aboard P&O Cruises Arcadia which had recently been significantly reduced in price. The last line of their message which was received around 7.30pm one evening was "fancy joining us?" or words to that effect. I looked at Margaret, she looked at me, I visited our cruise agent and within half an hour our cruise together was booked and paid for! This was now set for about 4 weeks time ahead.

We drove South the day before our schedule to join the cruise to stay overnight with Doug and James to share a taxi together to Southampton the day after. Our lovely hosts showed us their delightful home in the South of England and the beautiful beach which lay at the end of their street, where we enjoyed the warm evening sun and dinner out later.

Once in Southampton the next day, we were whisked straight on board Arcadia as we arrived at midday, to enjoy our complementary fizz and private buffet before visiting our luxurious outside cabin that we had been upgraded to at no additional cost. After the usual lifeboat drill, it was time to settle down into the carefree routine of cruising again. Unbeknown to us all, Doug's schoolfriend Chris and her husband Kevin were also aboard, and before long we all met up for pre dinner nibbles and enjoyed dinner together at our table for 6 every evening thereafter, with much laughter.

Our cruise was to take us to all the Scandinavian Capitals including Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallin after our first port of call - Skagen. However, the highlight of this cruise was to be St. Petersburg which included an overnight stay on board ship. On Doug's advice we booked what turned out to be a fantastic 2 day independent grand tour by who provided us with the very best of everything St. Petersburg had to offer over 2 days, and included lunch in a 4* hotel and a lovely picnic packed lunch on the second day. We visited all the usual places including the Hermitage Museum and Summer Palace, but also more unusual ones such as a ride on the spectacular underground railway.

There was much spectacular scenery to view from the ship as we cruised in and out of port, the best of which, in our opinion was through the fjord into Oslo. Throughout our two week cruise the weather was also hot and sunny every single day.

The timing of this cruise took us within a few days of my birthday, so using that as an excuse we arranged dinner for us all at the ship's speciality restaurant Ocean Grill where we had the most amazing celebration evening together.

We enjoyed the most fabulous cruise, probably our best yet, and also had the benefit of lovely company throughout. Once disembarked back in Southampton, we again shared a taxi with Doug and James to collect our car from their place, but not before enjoying the most wonderful day out again with them, making our way home the day after.

We really must now gather our thoughts before our next travel adventure which isn't too far away.