Sarah Coles

Travel Blog

April 2nd, 2016

2 THAILAND – Temples of the North

These Buddhist temples glitter like a fairground mirrors.  Gold everywhere.  They are fun – they’re holy but there’s also jolliness, unlike the basic sadness of Christianity and its churches.  The roofs of the main vihara or preaching hall are orange edged with blackest blue and yellow tiles, and they are not straightforward; they look as if a smaller temple has been built over by a later temple, and then a further temple, all overlapping like a house of cards.  This lets in the breeze but keeps out the rain?  All traditional...

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March 30th, 2016

1. THAILAND: Mooching Around

Just catch someone’s eye, even a passing motor cyclist, and they smile.  Westerners scowl.    This may be partly the weather, weeks of cold rain freezing faces into disappointment.   We fly from Heathrow.  The relief of getting in the plane and sitting down.  The man in front of me has biceps tattooed with a glaring skull.  The plane bumpily trundles along, trying to get up speed, it’s not going to make it then miraculously it rises and we are off.  By night we are flying over the snowy mountains of Asia, and at a dawn of...

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November 18th, 2015

3. GREECE 2015 – DELPHI AND ATHENS AGAIN

22 Still raining, so nice proprietor of Mythos b & b drives us to bus centre to get next bus to Delphi. Long wait, but we have our ipads. Off through the mountains, and a change of buses and a wait at Amfissa. But we arrive! Rain has stopped for a few hours. Bus snakes up from Itea on the Gulf of Corinth to Delphi, and we head straight to the Hermes hotel, where we have stayed before. Room and balcony looking down on the gulf, the mountains, distant Itea and the soft grey green of the largest olive grove in Greece. So welcoming...

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November 17th, 2015

2. GREECE 2015 – METEORA MONASTERIES

We want to get to Meteora, so, trundle along our wheelies and get bus from Verria to Larisa where we are dumped at vast grand bus depot miles out of town. Set upon by taxi driver who wants vast sum to take us to another bus depot – his acolytes who are supposed to sell bus tickets swerve glances away, just nod their heads. Then B sees a local bus, and the driver says yes, he will take us to town centre where we can get bus to Trikala, then Meteora. So B waves and missing my coffee I join him, and we are driven to the town centre. This...

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November 15th, 2015

1. GREECE 2015, ATHENS, THESSALONIKI AND GOLD

11th October   Athens airport, where the first thing is an aquarium of smoke, a thoughtfully placed smoking room where those desperate after the flight can find solace. By metro to Thisio, and find the Jason Inn which I picked because you sit on the roof and glory in the Acropolis, all lit in the darkness (it looks splendid at a distance – close up it is entangled by the girders and cranes of perpetual renovation.  Supper. (12 euros, tourist menu, including wine).   12   Breakfast on the roof, and off to the Acropolis,...

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November 17th, 2014

MALTA 2014

RYAN AIR  Ryan Air is rough.  Hard narrow seats which do not recline.  Paid £2 for extra leg room, and £8 for priority boarding, and 4 + euros for tea & biscuit.  But it got us there on time.   VALLETTA.   I was in Malta as a baby and christened at the Holy Trinity Church, Sliema – then war broke out, and Pa who served at Bighi Royal Naval Hospital, was rapidly sent back to the UK.  Ma stuffed every crack in a room with paper, so we wouldn’t inhale poison gas if the Germans released it over the island (presumably...

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April 24th, 2014

South Vietnam, seaside resorts, the ghastly and the great

    ASIDE RESORTS – THE AGREABLE AND THE GHASTLY  Quy Nong  A fishing resort where the water bounces with coracles like St Columba’s – the one he used to sail to Iona.  We are in a marble workers hotel  – v. grand indeed, and where everyone is young enough to be our grandchild and friendly and speaks no English, except for the receptionist a bit.  Are we the only guests?  Man in Saigon said they were taught Russian as 2nd language.  We meet Ronnie Reynolds, an American who has been travelling for five years because...

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January 10th, 2014

Jerusalem the Golden 2010

JERUSALEM    Below is what I sent to my sister Lavender (her husband Charlie being Jewish wanted to know how it went) :  Jerusalem is beautiful – partly because all of it, even the new city, is all built in creamy gold limestone. I stayed at a Lutheran guesthouse in the Armenian quarter of the old city, spotless & with a garden with views over domes, spires, minarets and satellite dishes.  Here is the view from my room at night.   The other guests – they only stayed a night or two – were pilgrims in groups, a few...

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December 23rd, 2013

West Highland Way 2010

From central Glasgow, walking through Kelvingrove Park up river to Milngavie, I stayed at a seedy but ok b & b in Renfew St – Paki owner and Polish girls, he v. nice & efficient but oh, these people of the east and south do not smile as much as they do in their own lands.  Leave bag for carrier to take to Milngavie for tonight.  The euphoria of walking in early morning sunshine through Glasgow, the trees, the great Stewart fountain, the sweetness of people who always greet, young women, old women, quicker greetings from men,...

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December 21st, 2013

Croatia autumn 2014

Fly into Dubrovnik, airport surrounded by spires of cypress & domes of pines.  Zig zag along coast, misty & scenic & stippled with islands, to old city.  Fight our way through tourists beside the walls who have just poured out of dozens of buses – 3 or 4 cruise liners each holding 5 – 6000 people have docked today, says waiter where we collapse for coffee.  They shuffle like caterpillars after leaders who hold aloft flags or furled umbrellas.   They bring in no money at all, says waiter, they get everything from the ships...

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