May 1

May 1 – A final adventure Time to go home! I could have gone to the alps, but it would have been very expensive, and I’m getting rather sore in a few important places. So, what could be simpler than returning the same way that I came – Nice, Marseille, Paris, Caen, ferry to Portsmouth […]

April 17

April 17 – Palazzo Madama The Palazzo Madama was the first Senate of the Kingdom of Italy, and takes its name from the embellishments it received under two queens (madama) of the House of Savoy. Inside is the Turin City Museum of Ancient Art, which is really a large collection of paintings, statues, church ornaments, porcelain, […]

april 16

April 16 – Turin Auto Museum Turin (Torino) is famed for manufacturing cars, including Fiat Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. The most common car on the road is the Fiat Panda. The Auto museum is enormous and includes the early steam-driven tricycles all the way to eco-cars and formula 1. This is what the blurb on […]

April 13

April 13 – The colonnades Wandering along the colonnades is one of the joys of being in Turin. They were designed to connect the royal residences and keep royalty dry in the rare wet weather. They tend to have themes – one (Via Po) is full of second-hand book stalls and antiquities as far as […]

April 10

April 10 – Turin at night On the South East side of the river Po, there are hills from where iconic images of Turin, especially at night, are taken. So, up I went. The video was taken earlier in the day. After taking the iconic shot, with the Piazza Vittorio Veneto just across the river […]

April 3

April 3 First night in Turin – in A&E The first thing I wanted to do after checking in to the flat was to get some food. I was in luck! Lidl had just opened a superstore just across the road so I went for a look. It was astonishing – luxury foods as well […]

April 2

April 2 – From Naples to Turin It would have been a nice cycle, but at 600 miles, I decided to go by train, stopping off at Pisa on the way. I thought I could stay at a cheap hotel in Pisa, as I had done before, but there were non available, so I had […]

March 30

March 30 – Naples National Archaeological Museum There is not much in the way of museums or art galleries in Naples and I wasn’t expecting too much from visiting the Archaeological Museum. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. I’m not particularly interested in Archchaeology, but I could have spent a couple of days […]

March 29

March 29 – Football crazy I’ve never seen anything like it! Napoli are close to clinching the Italian championship, and the town, especially the old town with its narrow streets and chaos, is celebrating. There are shrines to Maradona, who played for Napoli for a while and helped them to their last championship. He died […]

March 28

March 28 – the narrow streets Naples is famed for its narrow busy streets. Cars, scooters and bikes race up and down. There are usually no pavements, so it’s a bit of a free-for-all. Of course, there are main streets which look just like any other major city, but they are not as interesting. In […]

March 26

March 27 – Cathedral of St John the Baptist Naples is ‘busy’, some say chaotic, but people know what they’re doing – they just do it faster and closer together. I’ll post some videos later to show what I mean. In the meantime, I went to the main cathedral, the Duoma, officially known as the […]

March 25

March 25 – To Napoli Easy ferry crossing took 7 hours to Brindisi. There I had a nice airbnb and in the morning four trains to Napoli (to make bike carrying easier than on the high-speed trains). I didn’t have accommodation booked, so I went to tourist information at the station and they found me […]

March 24

March 24 – Leaving Saranda The plan – cycle 65km to Greece and catch ferry to Italy. No steep hills this time! Had to cross a river on a wooden cable ferry, which was fun. On the other side I met a group of bikers from the Czech republic (I think) and we had a […]

March 13

March 13 – A view from  Lëkursi Castle Climbed up to Lëkursi Castle this morning – Saranda to the North, Mountains to the east and the Greek islands to the south and west. Intense blue sky, no wind. The castle was built in 1537 by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. It’s now a […]

March 11

March 11 – Museum of Tradtion Saranda has no theatre or cinema. You really have to go to the capital, Tirana, for that. There is one museum and art gallery squeezed into a tiny building on the Saranda seafront. The museum is devoted to Albanian history and tradition and the art is by local artists. […]

March 7

March 7 – a walk along the seafront. Saranda has a long seafront, around half of it accessible to the public, so I had a wander. Here are a few snaps. All very typical of Albanian resorts.

March 6

March 6 –  View from my balcony I like the idea of really looking hard at a scene and picking out details. So I’ve taken lots of snaps from my balcony on the first floor of my flat in Saranda. They are just to show the wide variety of images you can get while standing […]

March 5

March 5 – Water and Electricity supplies What are the electricity and water supplies like here? Well, power cuts are not uncommon – we had two in Durres and a two hour one here in Saranda last week, which is really long. As for water, the water meters and the equivalent of our stop-cocks are […]

February 28

February 28 – aftermath My journey from Vlore to Saranda was a bit of a challenge. Physically, I seem to have come out of it remarkably well, which is encouraging. But it left me wondering if I ever wanted to do another long bike journey. I’ve always identified myself as being a bike person, and […]

February 26

February 26 – Vlore to Saranda part 3 I woke at 6am intending to give myself as much time as possible, in the light of past experience. Went to the loo, but the flush didn’t work – no water in the cistern. Taps didn’t work – no water anywhere. Switched on the light – no […]

February 25

February 25 – Vlore to Saranda part 2 I hoped that my legs were still working as I woke up, and to my surprise they were in reasonable shape. I had a really good omelet for breakfast (no charge) and set off. Immediately the gradients were too severe to cycle, so I was pushing again, […]

February 24

February 24 – Vlore to Saranda – part 1 It was a lovely sunny day as I headed off from my luxury appartment in Vlore. Google showed three routes to Saranda and I chose the coastal route (see map in photos). The plan was to get to a little place called Dhermi where I would […]

February 21

February 21 – Vlore After staying in Fier the previous night, I arrived in Vlore – a coastal port and beach destination, and the third largest city in Albania. The airbnb is on the 9th floor and is quite luxurious – packed with mod-cons. A balcony overlooks the sea, so I’ve done some washing and […]

February 19

February 19 – Lushnjë The first of three stops on my way to Saranda. Cycling out of Durres was not good – basically along a motorway for ages. Stopping for a snack a couple of times I arrived in Lushnje in good time to find a cheap hotel and had a quick look around the […]

February 12

February 12 – Street Art. One thing I’ve noticed for its absence is street art. Nothing at all – until I chanced upon a side street next to the amphitheatre. I was told that the main artist had some backing from the council, otherwise it wouldn’t have been done. There are plenty of old buildings […]

February 11

February 11 I was beckoned over  by a chap drinking coffee while I walked down the street. We, with his friend, had a good chat. They offered me a cigarette. So I thought I’d show my photos of people on the street – a view that is rare in the UK. Cafe culture?

February 10

February 10 – Byzantine market square The market square was the traditional centre of ancient Durres (then Dyrrah). It was a contemporary public building to emperor Justinian and Anastasios in the early 6th century A.D. There’s a well in the middle, but I don’t know if it still works. This site is about 100 yards […]

February 9

February 9 Durres has an ancient amphitheater that they are quite proud of, so I went to have a look. I must say that it wasn’t that impressive, but this is not Rome. There was a group of people making a Youtube video, so I had a good chat with them. They came from all […]

February 7

February 7 Not a lot to report – we’re having a cold snap at the moment – down to zero at night and up to 6 daytime. So I still haven’t touched my bike. It’ll be a bit warmer by next week and I must get more exercise as I’m putting on weight.  There are […]

January 31

January 31 Seaside! Durres is the main port for Albania, so you’d expect lots happening on the seafront. But it’s not the most popular beach destination – there are better ones further south towards Greece. I’ve only been to the local beach area where there is no sand. I may get down to the sandy […]

January 29

January 29 About food. No problem buying food, just getting used to Euros and Albanian Lek; both are accepted. Credit cards are generally not accepted except in the largest stores and the poshest restaurants.  I’ve eaten out a number of times – pizza, sea-food salad, burgers, kebabs, meat balls. Always good quality and large amounts […]

January 27

January 27 Internet connection is important for my tuition work, which has been going well up to now. The WiFi in the flat is very good, but there has been one problem which was solved fairly quickly. But there’s free WiFi everywhere. My favourite place is a coffee shop called Mon Cheri where you can […]

January 26

Thursday January 26th. I’ve been here over a week now, so I’ve had a chance to look around and take some more snaps. Albania used to be communist, a sort of satellite soviet state, until the fall of the Soviet Union. It was very underdeveloped at the time but is now undergoing westernisation. This is clear […]

January 20

January 20. A quick post about my immediate neighborhood. Photos show my front door, which leads to steps up to my flat on the second floor. Next door is a coffee shop and a mini-market which is very handy. Just up the road is a fruit and veg shop.

January 19

January 19 – Arriving in Albania No problems getting to the airbnb. In fact, the hosts were there cleaning up, so I was able to have a quick chat. Young couple, very nice. They make a thing about being into retro, and it showed in the flat, as you can see below.  Bought a few […]

January 15

January 15-18Off on the trains again. So the plan was to get to Albania and catch the next ferry (they go every week) so I didn’t have time to spend anywhere on the way – maybe on the way back…To Pisa, via Genoa and La Spezia. Stayed at a cheap hotel and off early to […]

January 13-14

January 13-14On the first evening, looking out of the common room window, there was an extraordinary sunset (see photo). So many differently coloured layers. I’ve never seen anything like it. I spent a couple of full days in Bordighera, which I liked a lot. It’s the town where Monet came with Renoir and found inspiration. […]

January 12

January 12.Time to leave Avignon and make a decision about where to go and how long to take. I could have just got on my bike and cycled slowly along the coast, taking in Cannes, Monaco, Nice, and so on. This was my original plan, but, not only was it rather cold and damp, I […]

January 7-11

January 7-11My first proper experience of a small French city. I basically wandered around pretty aimlessly. Notable places included the Pope’s palace, from which I had good views of the river and the famous bridge, the Irish pub and city walls. Otherwise, pretty much as I’d expected with a mixture of old and new. I […]

January 6

January 6.No problems catching the train this time. The journey was pleasant, especially along the banks of the Rhone river and coming into Avignon. I had a nice breakfast at the station as I was a bit early for check-in at the airbnb. When I got there, I was greeted by Camelia and her greyhound. […]

January 5

January 5. Up early to cycle into Caen and catch the train to Paris. My plan was to catch a second train to Lyon after cycling across Paris from station to station. I nearly missed the train in Caen because I couldn’t find an entrance to the station, and it was wet and windy which […]

January 3

Tuesday, Jan 3rd. Didn’t want to get out of bed – it felt so good! Turned on the Google lady giving directions, which worked well. Direct Ferries said I should get there an hour and a half, or more, before the ferry leaves, but it’s a LIE – nobody in sight – deserted. Eventually found […]

January 2

January 2 – train to Portsmouth Off we go! Easy train ride and straight to my airbnb. It was a bit strange – through an open gate, down an alley between two buildings and there was the host urging me on. She was working, so in a rush. ‘Leave the bike out here – it’s […]

About this diary

Day 0 – About this diary. It’s all about my Europe trip, just giving friends and relatives a sense of what I’m doing and thinking, as well as some photos of course.  Main happenings January 2 – 19: Bristol to Durres,  Albania via Caen, Lyon, Avignon, Bordighera, Pisa and and Ancona. Sometimes frantic train journeys […]