Part 1: Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Gibraltar, UK
Mumisode of the Day: Mum was preparing for a traditional greeting while sitting out on her terrace this evening. She thought Gemma was coming out on the terrace above. Turns out a man emerged instead and Mum had to pause, arm raised and smile graciously.
Another country this evening, and yes while it does come under the banner of the UK, it has its own government and you drive on the right, therefore another country for the count! This blog is going to be fairly short as Gemma is extremely exhausted given a rather sleepless night in Seville. The proximity of the apartment to the city centre and cathedral meant that there was equal proximity to the associated sounds of the city. The cathedral bells toll every 15 minutes all night; there are people partying on the street until the early hours of the morning; and then the various street cleaners and garbage collectors start. Gemma and Gareth really didn't sleep much as a result and seemed to take shifts sleeping overnight.
We had just emerged from the maze of the old city with bags loaded and Claude had finally worked out where we were, when Dad realised that he had left his watch back in the apartment. Mum couldn't believe that we were going to have to re-enter the maze we had just left.
The only stop for the day was the city of Cordoba, famous for its Mezquita, the central cathedral that is a converted mosque. We managed to park a significant distance from this attraction in a parallel park that really deserved a photo but for once Gemma was off her game. The cathedral itself usually costs 18 euro to enter, but as it was Sunday, we managed to slip in between the masses for free. The coloured arches and open spaces are so different from the traditional Gothic cathedrals that we have been seeing. Mum found it especially refreshing.
After a quick wander through the shops, we sat down for a great lunch at an Italian trattoria. Fantastic food and basically free as we had escaped the entrance cost earlier. The drive down to the point of Gibraltar is just beautiful. The rich blue of the Mediterranean stretches on forever and the sky is just so clear.
Crossing the border into Gibraltar was fairly smooth, although it was a little difficult to understand which lane you needed to be in. The German car definitely helped this process and the border police really only just glanced at out passports.
It was a little adventure finding the hotel. We spotted a sign, 'The Rock Hotel' and so pulled into the car park. Emerging from the vehicle, Gemma and Gareth quickly came to a gate with a sign that said "Closed for the season." Gemma tried to check the booking on the iPad while Gareth headed up the hill in search of the hotel. Dad eventually pointed out our massive hotel across the road. Don't know how we missed that one. The pool was closed for the season and not the hotel.
The view from the terrace is just spectacular. A sign on the second floor balcony warns not to feed the monkeys as they can sometimes be spiteful. You can see three countries out the window, Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco. The port with massive ships and the lights just look beautiful at night, and best of all it is blissfully quiet.
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: London, England
Today we caught the train to Harrods blissfully thinking we would go shopping for about an hour and then have a quiet coffee somewhere close by. How wrong we were! Harrods was manic. Word to the wise: AVOID Harrods on a Sunday in the lead up to Christmas. It was absolutely ridiculous. Highlights include: almost passing out from the excessive heating inside - a T-shirt would be appropriate; a journey on the 'Egyptian' escalator where a small group of people decided to stop immediately after getting off the escalator in order to decide which direction to go, thus causing a mild domino effect as those lucky enough to be behind them (us included) were forced into a collision; getting completely disoriented in the multiple designer sections only to finally locate a lift (after choosing to avoid all future escalators) that came and went multiple times completely full; braving the 'Harrods' section where we could hardly move due to people stopping in the aisle/doorway randomly or to take photos next to Harrods bears; and finally, after eventually locating the food hall, we chose to leave Harrods completely due to extreme congestion. We went straight back to the Underground and boarded a train elsewhere!
That elsewhere was St Paul's. After our extraordinary experience at Westminster Abbey yesterday, we decided to attend another Evensong service, this time at St Paul's Cathedral. Sadly, this service doesn't even rate compared with the one we went to yesterday. The inside of the cathedral was more grand than Westminster, but as a result of that grandeur, the choir's singing could barely be heard above the resonating sounds of the pipe organ. That being said, the Organ Voluntary was a J S Bach piece so that was a nice way to end the service.
The highlight for the day, therefore, easily goes to our dinner at Covent Garden in another Italian restaurant. That makes three out of four dinners in London Italian! I think we must be having withdrawals from Italy a month after leaving. This Italian restaurant, however, had something that all previous Italian meals did not include - garlic bread. It was so delicious we ordered a second serve!
Another lucky find was that of 'Laduree', our favourite Parisian patisserie and even though we were full of garlic bread, pizza and banoffee pie, we stopped in to buy some macaroons for later! I plan to go back for a passion fruit and raspberry tart before we leave London, possibly tomorrow!