Sunday, June 26, 2016


It was the best day ever for our Sunday bushwalk on the Echidna Trail at Walyunga: a cold start of 7 degrees, but sunny and blue skies all day. It was a 12 km walk, with some steep ascents and descents. I became the back marker by default since I couldn't keep up with the youngies!

At the beginning we walked along the river to Syd's Rapids, where lots of kayakers were practising for the Avon Descent in August, some capsizing their boat because the water was a bit shallow in places and rocks took them by surprise.

We shared our lunch stop with some kangaroos that were sunning themselves across the path.

Ellie and the kangaroos

A steep ascent, but E still has energy to climb rocks at the side of the path!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

More Barcelona Delights

Sketch of La Pedrera, but the shop was closed so I couldn't buy it.

Ice cream shop - but I only had a fresh juice

Last supper in Barcelona: rabbit stew, followed by tiramisu 

Across the road from my hotel (unnoticed before) is a botanic garden, where people come to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Two acrobats were practising their moves, two others doing Japanese style fighting with sticks, one woman blowing huge bubbles and an art class sketching everything. Two police arrived on motorbikes to eject a vagrant who was sleeping in the palm house. All human life is here.

Botanic gardens: Palm house

Palm house interior: the roof is not glass, but wooden slats.

Gothic cathedral spire and taxi.

Street corner near my hotel.


Barcelona: so much to see and so little time!

My hotel, the K&K Picasso is in the El Born district, within walking distance of the Gothic Quarter. Last night I explored the area close by, in particular the old covered market which has now become a cultural centre. When the renovations were being done a few years ago, they discovered the remains of the city streets 300 years ago. The ensuing archaeological excavations now form a permanent exhibition "Barcelona 1700".


This morning I made my way first to the Gothic Cathedral, which seemed huge inside, as compared with all the small Romanesque churches I've been seeing on this trip.

There was a service going on, so I sat and listened to the singing for a while. Those not taking part were effectively fenced off at the back; more and more people arrived just wanting to "visit". The singing was beautiful, but many, many people wanted to look around as opposed to the handful going to mass. There were a lot of cathedral officials employed just to man the barricades!

Gothic cathedral

Sculpture of a ballet dancer outside the Cathedral.

Next stop: the blue sightseeing bus, due in 12 mins., so just time to sample a Starbucks flat white with vanilla sprinkles!  A couple of pics taken from the bus:

Armed police on duty outside La Pedrera, a Gaudi house.

I should explain that I did all the Gaudi monuments a few years ago, so no need to do repeat visits and compete with massive crowds!

Looking up from the mini courtyard garden of my hotel.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Zaragoza to Barcelona

I started the day with a visit to the Cathedral, La Seo, primarily to see its collection of medieval tapestries. Info from website:

A collection which is unique in the world.

Located in La Seo Cathedral, the museum is home to a major collection of tapestries belonging to the Cathedral Chapter, which experts consider to be the most important of its kind in the world. It comprises 63 Flemish tapestries and 6 pieces of heraldic embroidery. They are of very high quality, many dating from medieval times in the Gothic style, while others are Renaissance and Baroque. There are currently 11 of these tapestries on show to the public, as well as other items of precious metalwork, religious ornaments and reliquary busts.

See also:


Tapestries Zaragoza  (images)

They are amazing works of art, showing biblical scenes as well as stories from ancient history, but all the figures dressed in 16th century costumes. In fact, if you wanted to study the dress of the nobility at the time, you couldn't have a better source.  Photography was verboten, but I did sneak one when there was no one else in the gallery.

I also strolled around the area, and saw the remains of the Roman city wall, erected during the time of Caesar Augustus. The present Cathedral is built on the site of the Roman forum. 

Being Saturday morning, there was also an event in the Plaza: a display of local vegetable produce, including various competitions for kids.

Then it was time to head for the station, Delicas, to get a train for Barcelona. These run frequently and fast. I caught one within 15 mins of arriving.

  • My secret photo of a tapestry 

    Photo taken from a website
  • Section of Roman wall

    He gave his name to the Plaza

    Celebration of vegetables

    Display of vegetable art

    Church of Our Lady of Pilar

Friday, June 10, 2016

Jaca to Zaragoza

Jaca to Zaragoza

Recent Expenses
Hosteleria Santa Cruz 65€
Taxi to Jaca 30€
Half board at Hotel el Acebo 50.5€
Bus to Zaragoza 15.5€

The bus to Zaragoza left at 11.00 a.m. So I had a bit of time after breakfast to visit the Diocesian Museum, which has a magnificent collection of early medieval wall paintings rescued from various churches in the area. For example, the paintings from Iglesia de San Juan Bautista en Ruesta, Zaragoza are on display in the monks' refectory.   

There is a 2nd room devoted to 1080 to 1096 one huge collection from Bagues in Zaragoza.

The bus took just over 2 hours, most of it on the Motorway. The tourist info office in Jaca had given me a map of Zaragoza so that I could orientate myself and decide where to stay. They also gave me the news that the Spanish trains are now on strike, but fortunately for me it is a "one day on and one day off" affair. I am travelling tomorrow, Saturday, when they are said to be working.

I'm staying tonight at the Hotel Reino de Aragon, one of the Silken Group which I have patronised before. On arrival, I went down the street to the Golden Arches for a quick Quarter Pounder before retiring for a long siesta.

Poster for Diocesian Museum

The Cathedral looking across the cloisters.

Now some pics that will mean something to only one reader of this little blog. What are they?  (Answer tomorrow!)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

San Juan de la Pena

I left at 8.30 this morning to try and get most of the climb done before it got too hot. I had dinner last night with a friendly couple from Belgium, who told me they had done it in 2 hours. My ambition was to do it in 3! I left my backpack at the Hospederia in Santa Cruz and made use of my new lightweight daypack. It was a steep climb, though, lots of wildflowers and stunning views of snow covered Pyrenean peaks in the far distance. As I climbed, I seemed to be matching them in height. The monastery of San Juan de la Pena stands at 1220 m.  It felt a bit like climbing Bluff Knoll. At the time, it seemed perfectly doable, but now at the end of the day I feel worn out!  It was an achievement to get to see this monastery, I think. It's very location is impressive, built into an overhang of the rock.

The church at Santa Cruz floodlit at 10 pm ( the view from my window, yes really!)

This was the view ahead at 8.30 a.m. I was climbing to the highest point on the photo!

After an hour, this was the view of Santa Cruz looking back.

Wildflowers en route

The monastery cut into the Rock

The lower chamber

Wall painting

The Cloisters

Carving in the Cloisters: the Annunciation

Replica of the Holy Grail, which was supposedly hidden in this monastery to save it from the Moslem invaders 

Back at the Hospederia where people were having a drink whilst waiting for their lunch to cook on the grill. I couldn't eat anything except a few peanuts with a beer and a fizzy water. I had begged a lift down with a friendly Spanish couple on a 4WD, but they refused to let me buy them a drink!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Santa Cruz de las Seros

The bus dropped me off on the highway at a run down and closed hotel, and not in the village of Santa Cruz. This is 15 kms short of Jaca, but a place full of historic associations. It is on another Camino route into Pamplona. It was a hot afternoon, and two Spanish pilgrims were having a siesta on the grass. They came to my aid and called a taxi, because I didn't feel like putting on my boots and walking the 4 kms into Santa Cruz. This was 7€ well spent!

I had reserved a room at the Hospederia Santa Cruz, which is right opposite the Romanesque Church in an incredibly picturesque village, with snow covered mountains high in the distance of the Pyrenees on one side and the towering cliffs of the hidden monastery of San Juan de la Pena on the other.

Santa Cruz de la Seros (info obtained from Church)

Convent was oldest in Aragon, 992. A Benedictine community affiliated to the Monastery of St Juan de la Pena. The nuns were known as Sisters of the Holy Cross. Las Sorores became abridged to La Seros.

It gained in importance when three of the daughters of King Ramiro I joined the community between 1061 and 1070.

Secret chamber
An opening high up in the wall on the north side of the nave leads to The Chamber, which could act as a place of sanctuary in troubled times. This is no longer open to the public after a boy fell and was injured. Pest!!!

Shots from the bus window

Hospederia Santa Cruz

Looking down the nave: the stairs (new) leading to the secret chamber, high on the left of the picture.

Tympanum above west door

Fortified tower with the secret chamber inside