My Travel Blog - 2009

June 2009 Dordogne, FRANCE
May 2009 LaGrange, UNITED STATES
April 2009 Delhi and Agra, INDIA
March 2009 Thessaloniki and Xanthi, GREECE


June 2009 - Dordogne, FRANCE 

In June we took our annual holiday in the Dordogne and Lot region of France an area we had not visited before. We had a lovely time with fine weather every day and the hotel had an outdoor pool so I managed to get some swimming in. Our hotel was the Inter-Hotel Le Relais De Castelnau at Loubressac a small village set on a rocky outcrop surrounded by woods and open fields with an excellent view to Castelnau and across the Dordogne Valley. There is good walking country all around with quiet roads and dramatic scenery.



Country road

A quiet country road near Loubressac

Cliff edge path

Rita walking a cliff edge path near Loubressac

Places we visited included Cahors with its medieval bridge and Rocamadour a small town with a dramatic setting built on a cliff side. Rocamadour has just a single road lined with houses and passing through fortified gateways. Steps ascend from the lower town to sanctuaries dating from the 12th century where seven chapels are grouped together half-way up the cliff. Originally pilgrims climbed these steps on their knees. Today there is an elevator for those who find the steps too difficult. On the summit of the cliff stands a château built to defend the sanctuaries where you get a very good view of the town and surrounding countryside.

Statue of Gambetta in Cahors

Rita by statue of Gambetta in Cahors

Pont de Valentré

Pont de Valentré a medieval fortified stone arch bridge crossing the river
Lot and said to be the most photographed sight in France, outside Paris



The sanctuaries and château

Looking up to the sanctuaries and the château


Rocamadour - is that a train?

Defence systems of Rocamadour

Defence of Rocamadour

View of Rocamadour

View of Rocamadour from the château

Specialities of the region include Rocamadour goat’s cheese, foie gras and confit of duck (confit de canard). Unfortunately it was the wrong time of the year for fresh black Périgord truffles.


May 2009 - LaGrange, UNITED STATES 

During May I found myself in LaGrange a small town (population around 30,000) in Georgia, USA. I got a flight to Hartsville International Airport (Atlanta) and then took the Groome shuttle bus going to Columbus telling the driver to drop me off in LaGrange. I stayed in the Best Western hotel. The town is named after the country estate in France of the Marquis de La Fayette, a French aristocrat and a general in the American War of Independence serving under George Washington. He is commemorated by a statue in the town square. The statue is a cast of the original that stands in Le Puy, Auvergne, France.

Statute of the Marquis de La Fayette

Statute of the Marquis de La Fayette


April 2009 - Delhi and Agra, INDIA 

April and I was back in India for the third time but based in Delhi for a change so took the opportunity to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. It was an eight hour journey by car there and back but well worth it – in India you can hire a car with driver for around £20 a day. In Delhi they still have bicycle rickshaws unlike Mumbai where only auto rickshaws are allowed.

The Red Fort

The Red Fort in Delhi

Bicycle rickshaws

Bicycle rickshaws

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal at Agra

Taj Mahal


March 2009 - Thessaloniki and Xanthi, GREECE 

I had time to explore Greece’s second largest city on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon. Thessaloniki has some interesting historical sites and there are fantastic panoramic views from the old Byzantine walls of the city. I stayed at the ABC Hotel in Thessaloniki which is placed in an ideal location close to the White Tower, the Rotonda, and the Palace and Arch of Galerius. I travelled to the hotel using a 78 bus from the Airport at a cost of just one euro getting off at the ΧΑΝθ (YMCA) stop. The hotel is only a short walk away. You can pay using the machine on the bus and then you have to date stamp the ticket. The bus stop to get back to the airport is near the White Tower since the ΧΑΝθ stop is on a one way street. The hotel room was adequate for my purposes and clean. French windows opened out onto a small balcony with a good view of the old city walls going all the way up to the Ottoman citadel. The road outside was a busy junction but with the windows closed the soundproofing was effective. I had an excellent pan fried sole in the hotel restaurant accompanied by a bottle of Chateau Lazaridi from the Drama region. The staff were friendly and helpful and bearing in mind the central location of the hotel I considered the cost to be reasonable. I stayed at the hotel again in March 2013 and some of the pictures are from this time.

View from the balcony of my hotel room of the Trigonion tower
and the Heptapyrgion fortress situated on the acropolis

The White Tower was originally part of the defences
located where the seaward and eastern walls met

The Arch of Galerius (299 AD) formed part of an
imperial precinct linked to the palace

Arch of Galerius

Marble slabs on the arch depicting the wars against the Persians

Arch of Galerius

A mounted Galerius attacks the Persian Shah Narses

The Rotunda of Galerius was built in 306 AD probably as a
temple and later used as a church then a mosque

Remains of the palace of the Roman Emperor
Galerius Maximianus (250 - 311 AD)

Cats find a refuge amoungst the ruins

Thessaloniki - view from the Byzantine walls

Thessaloniki - view from the Byzantine walls

Trigonio artllery tower built late 15th or early 16th century

Xanthi -   On Monday I hired a car and drove to Xanthi about a two hour drive from Thessaloniki. Built at the foot of the Rodopi mountain range which extends into Bulgaria, Xanthi is located in Thrace (Northern Greece), a crossroads between Europe and Asia. Originally a Thracian village the passing through of the Roman road ‘Via Egnatia’ allowed the community to prosper (Via Egnatia together with the Via Appia in Italy linked ancient Rome with Byzantium). The historical part of Xanthi known as the Old Town with its cobbled narrow streets is situated at the north of the city. The oldest buildings date from the mid-19th Century since two consecutive earthquakes in 1829 demolished the former settlement. However, at this time there was economic prosperity due to the cultivation and processing of tobacco so the city was soon rebuilt and many of the mansions were built for wealthy tobacco merchants. Xanthi is famous throughout Greece for its 'Mardi Gras' carnival which had just finished when I arrived. I stayed at the Hotel Z-Palace on the outskirts of the city but you can easily walk from the hotel to the central square of Xanthi then on to the historical Old Town.

View of Xanthi from my room in Hotel Z-Palace

central square of Xanthi

Central square of Xanthi

Loukoumi (Greek Delight) with powdered sugar or sesame seeds

Old Town

Towards the Old Town

Xanthi Town Hall

Town Hall

Mansion in the Old Town

Cobbled street

The narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town

View of the river Kosynthos which flows through the city


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