This month I’ve been away on 2 overseas trips and had a fab bank holiday weekend.
I won’t go into the overseas trips in many details, as I’m going to write them up under the travel section.
Main reason for this, is Henrik is mad busy putting the new front end together creating johnsunter.com 3.0 (loads of new features) seems only appropriate that some new content is in place to go with it, and motivates me to catch up with the destination pages (I’m presently 8 countries behind).
First off, a quick thanks.
Although I get to do loads of adventure things, it wouldn’t be possible without the help of other people, who keep things ticking over while I’m away.
Usually, it’s Dan and Adam at work, but just wanted to say a quick thanks to Steve, who fed my fish while I was away.
The month began with a trip to Macedonia.
In case you didn’t know, Macedonia’s most famous son is Alexander the Great and this enormous statue is featured in the main square of their capital city Skopje (which I found out, is pronounced skopier).
As a country it’s not very advanced, but has relatively few visitors, so feels pretty “new”.
The capital is overlook by a mountain called Vodno. Its possible to drive to the halfway point, then get a cable car to the top. We decided to walk up through this forest, then took the cable car to the top.
It was a beautiful day, so we trekked for another 14 miles around the national park, with spectacular views of Skopje.
We discovered some hidden bunkers on the mountain that had been abandoned.
There were small rooms for people, but these 2 were obviously built to house tanks.
After 2 days, we took the bus to Ohrid, a lakeside town halfway down the country, which borders Albania.
Just to show that things don’t always work out as they should, when we arrived, it poured with rain.
Other slight problem, is that my electric razor was in the hold and became switched on. When I arrived it had lost all its charge. It would be 4 days before I found a charging lead at Ohrid market and stopped looking scruffy.
Around the lake was beautiful. We went on an all day boat tour (I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t visit Albania, but was told it hasn’t done that for many years).
As we sailed around the lake, we found this Island village that had been constructed by Archaeologists. The bay of bones.
The next leg of our journey involved a bus ride to Bitola. We had arranged to stay at a mountain hotel near the top of the Pelister Mountain.
The place was quite roomy and comfortable, but he staff there seemed have been there since the communist era and customer service wasn’t what I’d expected (especially since staff outnumbered guests !).
No matter, the mountain walking made up for it. We found the Kopanki mountain hut, which had burned down in Jan 13.
There was a monument nearby. I couldn’t help thinking that he looked like Steve Austin !.
Heading for home, we return to the airport at Skopje.
I mentioned earlier that Macedonia isn’t very advanced, and this ATM at the airport illustrates the point nicely.
Back for 1 day, I washed some clothes, attended a meeting of the Globetrotters, had a few pints with friends, then it was off on my 2nd trip.
Cyprus is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Its a bit more expensive to fly to than many of my budget destinations, but I’ve been told it worth it.
One thing I hadn’t factored, was how far away it is. Tripoli is closer to the UK than Cyprus, so its nearly 5 hours flying time.
I arrive with Dan and Glenn and we make our way to our hotel. Some confusion about rooms, but Glenn took charge and organised things.
We got a complimentary drink and then had a discussion. I had intended to jump on buses and see as much of the Island as possible.
On this occasion it was put to me that since we only had 2 days, had all endured a stressful couple of weeks and were technically on holiday, that we should just visit the beach, sit by the pool and stuff like that.
I’m the guy who bleats about trying new things, and this sounded new to me. So, that’s exactly what we did.
I told everyone that Cyprus was 2 hrs difference. I explained that if we got up at 7am, our body clock would think it was 9am and we’d get more out of the day.
I woke and felt quite hazy. We found a sun lounger on the beach and just relaxed. Its then that I realised it was 2 hrs the other way, and I’d got everyone up at 5am !.
Lying on the beach listening to the waves. A special time.
I’ve said it many times, I’d be nothing without my friends.
Some people don’t realise the lengths a good friend will go to, to help you.
As I stagger across the baking beach, with a tray full of drinks, I realise I have left my camera by the sun lounger.
The flattering picture above, may never have been possible without the initiative of Dan and Glenn, compounded by the irony, that they used my own camera to take it.
Fab trip. Don’t mind that I didn’t see much. I saw enough to know, that I’ll be back there again soon.
Back home, 2 days at work and then its bank holiday weekend.
Takes off with a bang as we head to Blackstocks for fish and chips.
My old boss Philip used to ask why people were determined to make everything cheaper. Why not just make something properly and charge what it’s really worth ?.
That’s what they do at Blackstocks. It’s more expensive than a normal chippy, but this is fish and chips made as god intended and you can taste the difference.
Afterwards went to a new pub called The Church for a drink. Was really nice there, and superb the way they’ve made it look so modern, without fundamentally altering the building.
Unfortunately, the bar staff were all over the place, and with 10 of them, it still took 15 minutes to get a pint of lager.
Brief meet up with Glenn in the Mill (I didn’t take a picture that evening, so here’s a “library” photo of Glenn at a BBQ he hosted).
We discuss the boot camp well be attending this coming Thursday. Hopefully it won’t kill me.
While there, he gave me my birthday present, a rack for my bike.
I’m intending to do a 2nd ultra lightweight trip to Llangollen and this will be essential.
Just to prove I’m not a complete novice, here’s a picture of the rack on my bike, which I fitted myself (I also noticed that the paint in my kitchen is an awful colour and needs changing !).
Next day I’m up early, as I head for Liverpool.
It’s a celebration commemorating The Battle of the Atlantic and Brian from the walking group has organised a day out.
Our first stop is Panoramic 34. We have a drink with spectacular views across the city.
The building in the middle of the window is the Liver building, which gives some idea of the height were at.
It’s only the 4th time I’ve been to Liverpool, you can read about a previous trip here and here.
The Euro fighter wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, since it was just some wings and a cockpit on top of a trailer, rather than the real thing.
There were ships from 17 countries there, and the Royal navy were running manoeuvres on the Mersey, to show how they assist international shipping/stop the spread of drugs, and stuff like that (to basically emphasise that they do a lot more than just fight wars every few years).
One of the ships was Russian and there were loads of sailors wandering around shopping, going to MacDonalds and stuff like that.
Made me think. When I was 15, the “Russians” were bad people who were going to murder us all in our beds. I thought it quite ironic, that in those days, they probably did have plans to doc ships in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, but under an entirely different set of circumstances !.
Nice to see that times have changed.
Shortly after, there was a fly by, by a Spitfire and a Hurricane. They were high overhead, but you could feel the roar of the engines.
Cheryl recommended a vegetarian restaurant. I don’t normally go for that stuff, and normally find places like that to be a bit pretentious and filled with scruffy people with inverse snobbery.
But not so. As its name implied, Mellow Mellow, was rather Mellow. The food and drink were really good, the place had a great vibe, and the staff there were very friendly and helpful. Next time I’m in Liverpool I’ll be going there.
On Sunday morning, I wake to the sound of that most British of activities, lawns being mowed. The sun is beaming in through the windows and it’s going to be a beautiful day.
We head to Brook Street near my house, where there is a festival.
Loads of people had said they were going, but apart from my companions, the only person I recognised was the guy on the far left of the picture above (in a shirt and trousers).
He actually owns a shop on Brook Street. Famous for his Bernard Manning humour, he cuts my hair.
Had a quick look around, then decided to get some lunch nearby.
I have lunch in the Lock Keeper (the first time I’ve eaten there in 5 years). The Sunday lunch was fantastic. Our friend Dave arrives, and we go for a few drinks in the Church.
Heading back to the festival, there’s a band playing on the stage. The Akalites quite good and certainly got the crowd going.
I have to say I don’t go for the whole “Brook Street is Chester’s Notting Hill” idea. To my mind, it has some pretty good shops with 2nd hand stuff and clothes, 2 good curry houses, and numerous other food outlets from around the world.
After several hours, were hungry again. We sit down in India Flava (in my view, the best curry house in Chester) for some food. Through the window I can see some entertainment that isn’t mentioned on the program…
Some drunken loons decide to have a “fight”. I’m amused when somebody puts their “dukes” up and starts revolving their fists ready to start boxing.
That might have been the way to fight in the 1800’s, according to Queensbury rules, but today, is both utterly impractical and makes the “combatant” look ridiculous.
I spend Monday relaxing at home and catch up with TV. In the evening, I go to see Star Trek (which is excellent).