May 24 Dubai

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

After bidding Judy and the rest of the dance troupe farewell – they were heading straight on to Europe, Steven and I spend a few hours exploring Dubai. Interesting mix of old and new. We visited an historic area round the old fort, then on to the world’s tallest building before we returned to the airport for our onward flight.

Fahidi historic district, Dubai

Fahidi historic district, Dubai


We noticed a dense plume of smoke as we wandered round. apparently one of the dhows on the riverside went up in flames.

The outside temperature was very hot – thankfully we weren’t there in mid summer. We are glad there are showers in the airport.


A gallery of photos here:

We must go back in winter (cool) and have a few days to explore.


May 27 Madrid

Prado museum, Madrid

Prado museum, Madrid

Here 24th to 28th when we collect our car and head south.


Palace, Madrid

Madrid is an interesting place. We have accommodation right in the centre, 10 mins walk from the Prado etc. A town of twisty little streets heading off in odd directions. Daytime temperatures are very mild – mid 20s, and people seem to live on the streets. Outside cafes are everywhere. People don’t seem to get active until around 9PM and most restaurants are just starting to get going by about 10PM. Lots of galleries, theatres etc etc.

A room in the palace, Madrid

A room in the palace, Madrid


Military museum,Madrid

We spent half of yesterday exploring the Prado. Lots of fantastic art – Goya is a speciality of the house, but there is much, much more.









Here are some more photos of our Madrid travels so far:


2016-05-28 Toledo

After an exciting taxi ride to the depot near the airport (eg 100 kph in a 50 kph zone …) we collected our car and headed south to Toledo, an ancient town on a hill. Wonderful place. This is the first time I have seen a parking house that gives rates by the minute (3 eurocents/min).

G5D26710We took a random walk, finding lots of interesting things. The public library has spectacular views over the town.

We bumped into a couple just married, and took some wedding photos for them.IMG_6698 What a fabulous venue!

We found a cat wedged behind bars at the top of a window.IMG_6715

People in Spain are prone to smoke in public places, alas.







IMG_6736But they do know how to party – like the group we found living it up on their balcony.




And we discovered that the streets are so narrow they have to cut a wedge out of some of the walls so that drivers can fit through without smashing their side mirrors.

And the rain in Spain falls mainly on the Shaws… Fortunately we had almost got back to the car when it started. We had some torrential downpours on our way further south, but thankfully the weather cleared before we reached Cordoba. G5D26752




Lots more photos at

2016-05-28 Cordoba

Booking accommodation in Cordoba turned out to be challenging – not a lot available. When we got there, the reason became clear. There was a huge festival on. Unfortunately everything was in Spanish and English speakers were thin on the ground, so we never got to find out what the festival was about. Lots of fairground fun, including, for an Aussie theme, a Kangaroo ride! Lots of tavern/eateries, lots of lights. lots and lots of people having fun.G5D26757







Next morning, first thing, we headed to the Mezquita, an amazing church/mosque with a rich history.

G5D26882 G5D26890







IMG_6994After we were booted out (they close at 11:30), we indulged in another random walk. Have I mentioned that the streets are narrow? They are barely wide enough for a small car.

Amongst other interesting things, we found a truck and workers laying out a 3 metre wide trail of chopped rosemary onto the road. We knew something was likely to happen.


IMG_7103In the evening when we headed out again, we bumped into a religious procession involving huge numbers of clergy, vast amounts of gold and ornamentation, and a troop or two of military men, tramping along the green trail of chopped rosemary. We never did find out what the procession was about. IMG_7116





After that we photograph the local landmarks at dusk.IMG_7146IMG_7150







Lots  more photos at

2016-05-30 Aguilar de la Frontera

G5D27217On the way from Cordoba to Granada we detoured through Aguilar de la Frontera – seemed like somewhere nice to have a break, not far from the highway. Google told us it had a castle – 9th century ruins. Well worth the detour. The place was so un-touristy, it was a great contrast with Cordoba.G5D27200

Have I mentioned the parking? This image is typical – the mirror is touching the wall, and you could not fit your fingers between the wall and the car side panel. It’s the only way other cars can pass, the streets are so narrow. G5D27225And a woman with a baby in a stroller had to get off the road and onto the tiny footpath (no wider than the stroller) to allow a car to pass.


Here is what passes for a balcony with the resident guard dog. I don’t think there was enough room for the dog to turn around, but the window was open at both sides so the dog could get out.




G5D27211After a km or so of walking the narrow twisty streets we arrived at the castle ruins, currently, it seems, in a state of rebuilding. In a few years there may be a simulacrum of a 9th century castle to amuse the passing tourist.





More pictures at



2016-05-30 Granada and the Alhambra

IMG_7399-EditGranada is home to the Alhambra, a spectacular palace/fortress that was founded about 890 AD and has been added to and remodeled over the centuries. They restrict visitor numbers, so a limited number of tickets are available each day. Half are taken by tour companies and half are available to the public, mostly booked well ahead, and a few of which are sold at the gate on the day. Only 2.4 million people passed through the gates in 2014. We were told to queue up at 6am-7am to be sure of getting a ticket on the daily allocation. So we checked online and snagged a couple of tickets for the next afternoon (morning sold our, 43 places left in the PM).  We decided 6 hours was not nearly enough so we booked again and snagged tickets for the morning. After 12 h we felt we had got to all the places that were open (quite a few were closed). There is so much to see. Fabulous palaces, amazing gardens, diverse styles and ages. IMG_7318 IMG_7378

Lots more photos at

2016-06-02 Gibraltar

IMG_7473We made a brief visit to Gibraltar en route from Granada to Tarifa. A little slice of Britain, including Bobbies on the beat, and people speaking English. And what a spectacular bit of landscape. We took the cable car to the top, Photographed North Africa – Jbel Musra mountains visible through the haze, explored some WW II fortifications, hassled the Barbary Macaques then descended the “Mediteranean steps” a VERY steep plunge down the cliff face. At one point the track is tunnelled through the rock. Interesting views, many seabirds, a snake (according to the rather startled English tourists who were just ahead of us – it was gone when we arrived).

Jebel Musa mountain in Morocco, from Gibraltar

Jebel Musa mountain in Morocco, from Gibraltar

Lots of other photos at

2016-06-03 Tangier

Leaving Tarifa for Tangier. Note the fortifed old town, and the wind generators on the hill. Lots of wind farms in Spain

Leaving Tarifa for Tangier. Note the fortifed old town, and the wind generators on the hill. Lots of wind farms in Spain

Tangier was interesting. We took the option of a day tour since we could book one via the hotel we stayed at in Tarifa (where the tangier ferry leaves from Spain) for substantially less than the ferry alone.


Artisan at work in his workshop

Artisan at work in his workshop

It is a fascinating place. Established around 5 cenuries BCE, and with a very varied history with various civilisations and cultures being dominant at different times. The old town is a maze of twisty passages full of tiny workshops. Easy to get lost if you have no sense of direction.


Lunch in a Moroccan restaurant, with local entertainment

Lunch in a Moroccan restaurant, with local entertainment

Our tour included a nice lunch at a Moroccan restaurant, with traditional musicians playing as we ate.



Street hawker hassling one of our tour party.

Street hawker hassling one of our tour party.

Our guide took us on a wander through the streets, visiting various emporia where we were shown the wares: carpets, pots, herbal remedies, clothing … Fascinating. But the unceasing pestering by people in the street wanting to sell one anything and everything did get tiresome, especially as they had nothing I wanted to buy.


More photos at

2016-06-04 Tarifa to Seville



Our local map of the Tarifa area pointed us to an area called Las Dunas, a short way off the main road, where there were extensive sand dunes, some walks in the hills and some nice coastal scenery. The dunes were quite extensive, and trying hard to cover the road. It was clearly a magnet for the locals who were there in force having fun.



Windfarms are everywhere around this corner of Spain.

We headed north along the coast, passing pueblo blancos high on the hills, and extensive wind farms. Spain must get a lot of power from the wind. Wikipedia tells me it is the world’s second largest producer of wind power.



Passing Cadiz, we dropped into a local RAMSAR wetlands to have a look-see. Looks like a great site to visit at the right time of year, but we saw only a few birds on our visit.

Then it was a quick drive up the highway to the twisty narrow streets of old-town Seville.

More photos at