My Travel Blog - 2013

October 2013 Madrid, SPAIN
September 2013 Split, CROATIA   &   Kotor and Budva, MONTENEGRO
June 2013 Málaga, SPAIN   &   GIBRALTAR
May 2013 Niagara Falls and Buffalo, UNITED STATES
March 2013 Sofia, BULGARIA


October 2013 - Madrid, SPAIN 

I am staying at the hotel Moderno in the vibrant city of Madrid. My hotel is conveniently located in the centre of Madrid close to the Sol metro station and many tourist attractions are within walking distance. There are also some very good eating places nearby such as the Mercado de San Miguel which has food stalls selling a great selection of tapas.

La Puerta del Sol one of the major squares of Madrid

The Bear and the Strawberry Tree is the emblem of Madrid

The art of levitation being demonstrated

Casa de la Villa the old Town Hall of Madrid

The Catholic cathedral in Madrid was consecrated in 1993

Remains of the original Moorish city walls

The teleférico runs from Rosales to Casa de Campo park

Puerta de Alcalá a monumental city gate was opened in 1778

The Mercado de San Miguel is next to the Plaza Mayor

Sea urchins from Galicia for sale in the Mercado


September 2013 - Split, CROATIA 

Stayed for a couple of days in the historic centre of Split a city built around the remains of the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. Most of Diocletian's residential complex has been destroyed however the basement halls of his palace have remained remarkably well preserved. Excavations from the 1950's have cleared out much of the substructure which is now open to the public.

Entrance to the basement of Diocletian's Palace

Central basement hall with vaulted ceiling

Parts of stone pipes from the ancient Roman sewage system

The Peristyle looking towards the entrance to
Diocletian's Imperial living quarters

Egyptian black-granite sphinx

The old Roman Mausoleum was converted into a
Cathedral complete with bell tower

You can climb the bell tower for great views at the top

Rear view of the Porta Argentea (Silver Gate)

Rita standing outside the Porta Argentea

The Porta Aurea (Golden Gate) was originally
decorated with statues and columns

Statue of Gregory of Nin a medieval Croatian bishop

Two of Diocletian's guards pose for a photograph

The Venetian Citadel was built in the 15th century

View of Split from Marjan hill

A selection of Croatian cheese at Paradox Wine & Cheese Bar

After Split we travelled to Dubrovnik for the rest of our holiday. While there we visited Lopud one of the Elaphiti Islands taking about an hour to reach by boat from Dubrovnik. There is a path leading to the ruins of an old fortress situated on the highest peak of the island which provides spectacular panoramic views.

Heading towards Lopud - the old fortress can
be seen at the top of the hill

Path leading up to the fortress

The fungus Suillus luteus growing with pine trees

Panoramic views from the fortress

There are quite a few olive trees growing amoung the ruins

We also went on a day trip to Montenegro visiting the old towns of Kotor and Budva. Both towns are surrounded by walls built by the Venetians to protect against attack from the Ottoman Empire.

The Sea (Main) Gate in the Venetian walls surrounding Kotor

The winged lion a traditional symbol of the Venetian Republic

Gothic style palace built in 1667 for the Pima family

The coastal town of Budva is also surrounded
by tall walls built by the Venetians

Gate in the Venetian walls of Budva

The Venetian winged lion appears just above the gate

There is a walkway round the top of the walls

Sveti Ivan Church in Budva


June 2013 - Málaga, SPAIN 

I am in Málaga on holiday staying at the MS Maestranza which is within walking distance of the beach and main historical attractions. These include the Alcazaba a Moorish fortified palace dating back to the 11th and 14th centuries. Built mainly of limestone it required exctensive restoration work in 1930. Originally a covered walkway connected the Alcazaba to a castle at the top of the hill called Mount Gibralfaro.

Statue of a Fish-Seller in the centre of Málaga

The Alcazaba of Málaga a Moorish fortified palace

A Roman amphitheatre situated beneath the
Alcazaba dates from the 1st century BC

The Alcazaba was protected by an outer and inner wall -
the inner wall can be seen in the above pictures

Courtyard inside the inner wall where the Palace is located

Walkway round the battlements of the Castle of Gibralfaro

The battlements provide a good view of Málaga

Ruins of the walkway connecting the Castle to the Alcazaba

Sardines cooked over an open fire (Espetos de Sardinas)

You can get a bus from the main bus station in Málaga to La Línea de la Concepción and cross the border into Gibraltar (passport required). The bus trip takes from 2 to 3 hours and costs only €12.5 each way.

The Rock of Gibraltar viewed from La Línea

Grand Casemates Gates the main entrance to Gibraltar

Cable car to the top of the Rock

A Barbary macaque

View of the tip of the Rock from the cable car top station

The Tower of Homage part of the Moorish Castle complex

The World War II Tunnels were excavated during 1939-1944


May 2013 - Niagara Falls and Buffalo, UNITED STATES 

I am in the US for two weeks and wanted to spend the weekend at Niagara Falls. It is a popular tourist destination and I could only get into the The Giacomo Hotel for one night so I spent the second night at the Hyatt Regency in nearby Buffalo. You can easily walk round the waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls in one day with time to cross the bridge into Canada (passport required) and view the falls from the other side.

Rapids just before the American Falls

The American Falls

Sign pointing the way to Canada over the Rainbow Bridge

The American Falls viewed from the Canadian side

The Maid of the Mist

Horseshoe Falls viewed from the Canadian side

Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point on the American side

My hotel in Buffalo was across the road from the Buffalo Savings Bank which dates back to 1901 and has a distinctive gold-leafed dome. While in Buffalo I had the opportunity to sample the local delicacies such as ‘Buffalo Wings’ and 'Beef on Weck'.

Buffalo Savings Bank

Main Street

County Hall

Buffalo City Hall

The Anchor Bar in Buffalo

Chicken Wings

'Beef on Weck'


March 2013 - Sofia, BULGARIA 

I am in Sofia staying at the Arena di Serdica which has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre in its basement. Sofia has an ancient history but remained relatively small until 1879 when it became the capital of Bulgaria following its liberation from Ottoman rule by Russian forces. Therefore the city centre is quite compact and easily walkable. Interesting buildings include the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral built in commemoration of the Russian soldiers who liberated the city and the Russian Church (Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker) created as the official church of the Russian community in Sofia.

Arena di Serdica

Roman amphitheatre of Ulpia Serdica in the Arena di Serdica

Principal street of Serdica

Excavations at a nearby subway have revealed the principal
street of Serdica made from huge stone slabs. Note the
clay water pipes running under the street.

Eastern Gate of Serdica

The Eastern Gate of Serdica is preserved in another subway

The St. George Rotunda

The St. George Rotunda

The St. George Rotunda (Sveti Georgi Rotunda) thought
to have been built during the reign of Constantine

St. Nicholas Russian Church

St. Nicholas Russian Church consecrated in 1914



Trolleybus in the centre of Sofia

Alexander Nevski Cathedral

Alexander Nevski Cathedral completed in 1912

I visited the Boyana Church a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church situated on the outskirts of Sofia in the foothills of Vitosha Mountain - a 20 minute journey by taxi from my hotel in the centre of Sofia. It is famous for its frescoes which cover all the walls of the church but unfortunately you are not allowed to take any photographs inside the building. A guide took me around I had arrived early so there were no other tourists. It must get very busy in the summer since only eight people are allowed inside the church at a time. The frescoes were cleaned by gently rubbing with potatoes cut in half the dirt sticking to the potato then washing with water to clean off the potato residue.

The Boyana Church

The Boyana Church


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