CBMVC end of season concert

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Jun 302015
 

DSCF3536 (800x520)The Choir finished its season in the magnificent ampitheatre at the home of Darrell and Sally Clayton in Gata de Gorgos. The Choir was part of a high class evening of various styles of music. It truly was a ‘Glyndebourne at Gata’ experience for those who came to support this great charity evening. Despite singing outdoors, plus it was a little warm, the Choir did itself proud and sang a wide selection of music from it’s extensive repetoire! A deserved rest now and we start again on the 8th September.

The Land of the Templars – a tour of the Maestrazgo region

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Jun 092015
 

Continuing our exploration of the country which is now our home, we chose in June another tour from our book ‘The Back Roads of Spain’, covering an area about 3 hours north of us near Castellon. The tour was called ‘The Land of the Templars’, after the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar, who controlled this region, straddling the Aragon and Valencia borders, during the war against the Muslims in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Morella town (800x436)Our first night was spent in Morella, a magnificent, medieval, walled town, perched on a high rock outcrop and dominated by a ruined castle. The town has retained its ancient charm and has a collonaded street where our hotel, Cardenal Ram, was situated. Our visit to the castle in the afternoon was interrupted by a heavy rain shower but we to had already explored the rest of the town

Mirambel street5 (800x517)The next day, after a breakfast of freshly-made, local hazel nut meringues, we set off to visit a series of medieval towns and villages that have been frozen in time, with castles and beautiful churches, old walls and gateways, narrow cobbled streets of three-story houses, many with balconies colourfully decorated with flowers. In Mirambel and Cantavieja we walked around streets as if we were still in the middle ages.

We spent our second night at Mora de Rubielos in another old town centre hotel, Jaime 1, at which we were the only guests!

Ares8 (800x534)We set off the next morning along some of the twistiest and worst-paved roads we have experienced in Spain, encountering more charming and ancient towns and villages – Mosqueruela, Iglesuala del Cid and ending our tour in Ares del Maestre, which is perched 1500m up with a castle commanding a magnificent view for 50kms+ in all directions.

Peniscola hotel view (800x437)We had decided to spend the last night of our trip in the coastal resort of Peniscola, which we had never visited before. Our hotel, MuvaBeach, was right on the beach and our room had a fantastic sea view. Peniscola is built on a peninsula, the headland of which is dominated by a wonderfully-restored castle in which is situated the narrow streets  of the old town.

The following day before returning home, we spent a number of hours exploring the castle and enjoying the magnificent views over the town and along the coast. Enjoy the photo slideshow below or a slideshow set to music here.

A Rhine Cruise to celebrate our ruby wedding anniversary

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Mar 242015
 

This year is a very special one for us, because we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in March, a milestone in any couple’s life but especially these days when marriages seem to fall apart so easily! We therefore decided to do something special to mark the occasion and having been fascinated by the TV adverts for Viking River Cruises, decided this might be an ideal solution. We decided to explore the river Rhine and see something of the Black Forest, an area that had fascinated Vernon since he visited it as a teenager.

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The Viking longship Idi

The cruise on the Viking Idi started in Amsterdam and from the moment we approached the gangway on Saturday afternoon, we knew our experience was going to be special – some of the crew were lined up in reception and we were immediately made to feel welcome. Our stateroom was surprisingly spacious and well-equipped with floor-to-ceiling glass doors giving us a wonderul view of the passing scenery. It was to be the start of a magical 8 days, with wonderful food, cossetted by friendly, well-trained staff and we wanted for nothing.

DSCF2568 (800x534)On Sunday we cruised to Kinderdijk, a World Heritage Site where we saw 9 restored windmills still pumping water off the land, which like much of the Netherlands is below sea level. Kinderdijk is the only place in the world with so many windmills so close together. The weather was grey and cold but we enjoyed a well-guided tour inside one of the windmills, where we saw at first hand the actual workings and how the original miller and his family lived.

 

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Marksburg Castle

That evening we set sail for Cologne, arriving the following morning for a tour of the city and its breathtakingly-beautiful cathedral. After a quiet beer in the sun alongside the river Rhine, dinner and evening entertainment, we cast off at midnight to sail to Koblenz. Here we were taken to the wonderful medieval Marksburg castle, from the ramparts of which we had a stunning view of the river. By now the weather had improved and we spent the aftenoon on the top deck in the sun, admiring the scenery of the Rhine gorge as we sailed on to Rudesheim.

 

Wednesday saw us arriving in Mannheim for a shore visit to Heidelberg, home to another wonderful castle and this time views over the river Neckar. We rejoined the ship at Speyer and sailed on towards Kehl for a visit the following day to Strasbourg, enjoying a traditional German meal of sausages and sauerkraut en route.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

The next morning, now on the French side of the river Rhine, we were taken on a tour of the city of Strasbourg, with its beautiful, old half-timbered houses and yet another great cathedral. That evening, we set sail again, this time for Breisach, the gateway to the Black Forest.

 

 

 

We arrived in Breisach just before breakfast and joined the fleet of buses for a tour into some of the highest and most beautiful parts of the Black Forest. Snow was still lying on the highest hills and in sheltered places alongside the road. We visited a centre that made cuckoo clocks and also watched a chef preparing the famous Black Forest gateau.

Sadly this was our last night on board the Viking Idi, as by the following morning we had docked in Basel. After an early walk around the city centre, we took our sad leave of the ship and said farewell to the crew. For the first time at the end of a holiday, we didn’t want to return home and both agree it was our best holiday ever.

You can watch a slideshow of some of our photos set to music here.