Getting there

We took an Easyjet flight down to Sevilla in Southern Spain on a four night city break. We had thought that September would be cooler but we still had extremely high temperatures , 36 and above , however, no rain.

Getting Around

Sevilla is pretty easy to get around and we took a taxi on arrival because we have never been here before and it was an evening flight and paid 28 euros but we took the shuttle bus , EA back to the airport for 4 euros each which we got at la Plaza de Las Armas . During our stay we walked to many of the sights as Sevilla is a good walking city albeit tiriing as many city breaks are but sometimes we used the Metro L1 or the tram .

The last two days we opted for the Green, Sevirama, Hop on Hop off bus for 18 euros each which was our best buy actually because it is valid for two days. We took it in the afternoon and the following morning of our flight back.

Day One


We headed straight to the market in Triana to fill our backpacks with fresh fruit and cheese. Excellent choices and not expensive at all.

A lively district near the river.

Triana Mercado

After the market we went to the Alcazar and I strongly recommend that you either get there incredibly early or that you purchase a fast track ticket , there are a few options on Trip advisor that you can get before your trip.

We spent two hours at Alcazar which is one of Sevilla s must visits !


After Alcazar we went to the Cathedral which is really unique in its magnificence the visit cost us 9 euros per person but you get to see the tomb of Christopher Columbus , well there is a debate about this.

The Tomb of Christopher Columbus
Sevilla Cathedral

Day Two

Today we went to the Bull ring and took a guided tour , although I am not a fan of bullfighting I still think that it is worth visiting as the guide was very informative and you get and audio with it .

Day Three

This morning we headed over to the Sevilla football stadium which was unfortunately closed for visitors due to refurbishment but the shop is fun.

Football Crazy :District Cartuja

In the afternoon it was our hop on bus to Plaza de España We stayed for two hours before hopping back on to see the Macarena district and la Plaza de Hercules which is where we ate most evenings . If anybody has any good restaurant addresses for our next trip to Sevilla then any feed back would be much appreciated. 🙂

Plaza de España

We chose the hotel Zaida in the old town but regretted not getting one with a pool . Zaida was charming.

Hotel Zaida

Day Four

Morning trip to the Museo de Bellas Artes , just next door to the hotel. Fabulous architecture and Baroque collections. Second best after El Prado .

The Plaza de las Armas is a shopping centre worth seeing to pick up some souvenirs before we got the shuttle from the bus stop opposite.

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Four Nights in Vienna

And you will want to come straight back.

Imperial Vienna

August 2019

Getting there

As Austrian Airlines was fully booked, we opted for a lowcost on the site GO voyages which we had never used before but which found us a really good deal with a Eurowings outward flight and a Wizz on the return flight. Whereas the outbound journey with Eurowings left us pleasantly surprised I would not recommend Wizz at all for many reasons complete chaos as to boarding and seat allocation.

As the flights were more than reasonable 280 return for two we chose a centrally located hotel for a few euros extra so that we could visit the maximum number of places of interest on foot and nip back for a rest whenever we felt like it . Astoria Trend Wien.

Hazelnut speciality

Five days are just not enough to visit half of what Vienna has to offer but that is all we had , the great thing about Vienna is that it is easy to get around on foot, tram or metro U the food is to die for especially the Sachertorte among other cakes .

The Kiss

We took the tram from Mitte station in Vienna to see the Klimt collection , it was cheap and quick and it dropped us off straight opposite the Belvedere . A must among so many others.



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You do not have to break the bank to go on a transatlantic cruise discover repositionning cruises and you will find  there are some very good deals up for grabs

We got our flight back from La Martinique to Europe included in the price which was 1,600 euros for three weeks for two which is a deal in my book!  

It took us a long time to give in to cruising fever but we did finally succomb three years ago with a one week cruise around the Med I was living in Nice, France so it was relatively easy to hop on a cruise liner from Genoa or Marseille.

Last minute deals are Always available wherever you live

We had been on several Mediterrarean cruises many were booked at the last minute and never with a balcony as budget could not stretch to that, plus we discovered that apart from sleeping we were practically never in the stateroom .

 Last November we decided to sail further afield and for a longer period so we did our research and booked to the West Indies from Marseille with MSC. We do sail Costa too.

So here is the tip! Cruise companies like MSC and Costa reposition their cruise ships from the Med to the Caribbean every season in November and sail back to the Med  in March or April , rather then sending an empty ship across the Atlantic , they often offer super deals and we got our flight back from La Martinique to Europe included in the price which was 1,600 euros for three weeks for two which is a deal in my book

Where did we go ? Marseille , Barcelona , Malaga, Santa Cruz, Tenerife then five days at sea (no the sea was not rough and no we did not get bored)  six islands including Barbados, St Kitts, St Martin, and the Martinique

The down side was as the return flight was included  at the end of the cruise we were given no time to visit but were flown straight home from La Martinique ; so that is on the bucket list is for next year  I appreciated the the ship itself , the MSC Presioza which is not a giant ship remains at a humane level , passenger number wise

A few useful links I used but there are a lot more out there 





Please share your cruising tips with us , we would love to know where you went !

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After the Storm St Maarten
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A Christmas in Provence.

Provence s Markets and Traditions
What better time to visit the region of Provence than at Csantonshristmas when the enchantment of its Christmas markets and traditions abound , when its food markets overflow with festive delights and its Santons fairs help adorn the local nativity scenes.

Provence more than any other region seems to not only have safeguarded its Christmas traditions, but also knows how to put them on display and enchant us, a visit to the region now will remind the traveler of what Christmas is really all about, just a short drive from Marseille/Aix or Nice airports this is the home of winter wonderland.
Here the festive season begins on December 4th and continues for eight weeks until Candlemass, February 2nd. It s all about preparations and anticipation and if you  live in Provence then you have two important things to do on December 4th ,the Feast of Saint Barbara, first you need to plant your wheat or lentil seeds in three dishes representing the Holy Trinity, because as the Provincial saying goes “Quand lou blad vèn bèn, tout vèn bèn,” or “When the wheat grows well, everything goes well so if your seeds sprout you are in luck and a prosperous year ahead is assured.

Next you need to get those Santons arranged in your nativity crib as there is no Christmas celebration without them in Provence.  Santons in France date back to 1775 in Marseille, and are handmade, painted (or not) clay figurines of different sizes, there are the traditional religious figures , such as  the Virgin Mary, Joseph the three wise men but Nativity scenes in Provence  also have the people and artisans who would have lived and worked in an 18th and 19th century villages of the region – there is indeed a figurine for each tradesman and craftsman, the miller ,the water carrier the baker ;as  all the decorations are symbolic  you are not allowed to forget the well or the olive tree.The infant Jesus is only placed in the scene on Christmas Eve.

I try to buy one santon a year to add to the family crèche or crib and always enjoy a shopping trip to Marseille’s Santon Fair which runs until December 31st 2014 where the stalls sell  literally hundreds of different santons , along with handmade decorations , gifts and antiques. The most famous Santon fair takes place in  Aubagne – Marcel Pagnol s birthplace -and is well worth the visit to help you complete your  collection.

Many santonniers are family run businesses and most French families  have a favourite ones and stick to them. My favourites are from The Escoffiers based in Aubagne . and the Aix based, Fouques 

Don’t like Christmas pudding? Try their thirteen symbolic desserts , the traditional Provence extravaganza for Christmas Eve the Lou gros soupa with mulled wine includes nuts dried fruit , fresh fruit and candied fruit

You truly can’t beat a traditional Christmas in Provence.

J Bowell originally published @

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The Mississippi Blues Trail – Next Stop Cahors


Southern Music Trails
To Stop or not to Stop ?
Congratulations to Cahors France!

Autumn is the  time of year when I usually  start planning next year’s travel plans which invariably take me along some Blues trail in Mississippi or to music cities of Memphis and Nashville,Tennessee -most of my holidays seem to be music orientated.

This week it just so happens that my itinerary may need to  add on another stop to the Blues trail  but in France this time because Cahors has the new stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail .

This new addition to Mississippi Blues markers is the second out of state marker and was inaugurated on July 14th 2014 in the Fenelon street Cahors .Thanks to Malcolm White of Mississippi tourism and the French Blues magazine SOULBAG.

Not to Stop
On a different note ; Newmarket holidays and their Elvis Tour in Tennessee 2015  are cutting out their Chattanooga visit.

Now I m not that worried as I have been there a few times but I just fancied popping in to my friends on the way back and there are things to do in Chattanooga besides the Choo Choo -maybe they just ran out of time. So “pardon me boys” but this is not a stop.

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Atlanta Nostalgia 2014
Atlanta is a city I love and one that I have visited many times, I was thinking about these previous trips the other day and became quite nostalgic; so I contacted the Georgia Travel Office to request a brochure, yes, I know you can read them online but I still like the real ones. The brochure arrived from the USA in just a few days and immediately the cover reminded me that 2014 is not only the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta –see here, but also the 75th anniversary of the Premiere of Gone with the Wind! Now those are reasons enough to go back.
Battle of Atlanta, 1864
The first time I visited Atlanta I had twenty students following me around, I had taken them on an exchange visit to the USA and one of the golden rules of the trip was that we all “do” one cultural thang every day. I had laid down these rules before we left as part of our student teacher contract. Of course it became quite a game as I always managed to lose a few somewhere in the nearest Nike store. However, the outing to the Atlanta Cyclorama proved to be the most successful and I even had problems getting the students to leave; everybody particularly enjoyed the map making activity as the actual site of the battle has been eaten up by Atlanta city.
Gone With the Wind
My lifelong love affair with “Gone with the Wind”, both the novel and the film, didn’t get off to a very good start. I can remember, back in the 60s when my first date invited me to the cinema, there were two films showing at the local cinema, “Poor Cow”, the kitchen sink drama and a re- release of “Gone With The Wind”; there was no choice at all in fact, as my parents had forbidden me to see the unsavoury,” Up the Junction”, my apologies to Ken Loach. Rather than sit through three hours of some romantic Southern saga Nick I think his name was managed to convince me that the end of part one was in fact the end of the film. Now don t ask me how that happened. Worse still, fate made me wait another decade almost until I had to read the novel for a class I was taking in Southern Literature which , of course is when I discovered the dreadful truth- I often wonder what happened to Nick , whatever he became I am sure he was very successful at it.
There is an online version of the guide here
“Tomorrow is another day”, but it’s going to be the day I buy that ticket to Atlanta just in time for the 75th anniversary of GWTW. I am determined not to miss anything this time.
Many Thanks to Georgia! One of the most exciting states in the USA.

Further Reading @ the Guardian Travel Section

Georgia Historical
Gone with the Wind Premiere


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Testing: Personal Shopper site: Lookiero

I am testing an online personal shopper website and I absolutely love it so far!

LOOKIERO is the name and this is the link to the UK site but I actually use the French site because that is where I am based this winter; they also do business in a couple of other European countries Spain and Portugal, I think .

The idea is simple , you answer questions about your measurements and taste in clothes and every month on your selected date  you receive a selection of five garments that a personal shopper has selected for you .

In fact you can receive a box more frequently than once a month or only occasionally on specific dates , it s up to you. This month I have selected two dates but I may skip next month , I ll see.


What I love about this is that :

1 Postage is free even when you send the items back if you choose not to keep them .

2 You get a great discount if you keep all the five items which is what I did for my first box; I paid 164 euros for the five items after a 25% discount!

What did I receive in my first box ?

One dark blue short sleeved blouse: high neck.

One light blue print blouse with a V neck.

A pair of mustard coloured jeans that I absolutely adore!

One dark brown orange flecked dress . Knee length. I will add photos soon. This dress was lined and reminded me of one I had seen in One Step , which is a shop I love.

I must add the quality is superb and so comfortable , the clothes are by no means cheap looking and shoddy, oh no!

I would love to share your experiences about Lookiero or any other personal shopper sites.

Will be back soon (LKJANE1PTE) if you want to check it out 😉 or check out with it !

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CHEERS and here’s to a wonderful 2015 -full of applause -Live Broadcasts

CHEERS and here’s to a wonderful 2015 -full of applause
Live Broadcasts
How alive is a live Broadcast?
“I will never go to a live broadcast, it’s not the same, nothing will persuade me that a remote camera shot will capture the magic and mystical exchanges between collective audience and actors being watched upon a stage,” that s what I said three years ago but then a Russian colleague persuaded me,” you have to try the live broadcasts from The Bolshoi it’s just like being there you will be surprised when you leave the theatre that you are still in your home town and not in Moscow”. So, dearest colleague I am now eternally grateful to you-Oh me of little faith !
Since then I have been to many live broadcasts, more recently to see The RSC ’s, King Lear The Henry s, Two Gentlemen of Verona among the NT’ s performances,” A Street Car Named Desire”, all wonderful and the recent, Nutcracker live from Moscow, Oh again what a revelation Oh, the joys of live performances, the benefits! The shorter distances travelled, the train fares saved, no London theatre prices Just the price of a local cinema ticket -at last culture to the masses, and more importantly making the impossible become a reality, how could I have flown to Moscow for the evening to see The Nutcracker at the Bolshoi, or had the energy to drive across country to Stratford, to book a hotel for the night etc. after a day at work?
So, what exactly do we lose in transmission? Do we lose anything ? Well, personally I have missed the applause , my fellow spectator s whoops for encores and whistles from the seat next to mine. All replaced by…….silence.
WHY do people not applause at the end of the live performance ? Is it just the places I go to?
The remote audience has only clapped once at any performances that I have been to in the past year and that was n t always the same cinema or theatre or even town. Only one audience clapped themselves silly over King Lear but I don’t think it means that King Lear was a better production then any of the others. Recently I have noticed audiences fidget around uncomfortably in their seats at the end, probably saying to themselves oh well the actors can’t hear me so I’m not going to show myself up and look ridiculous. Applause is what the theatre is all about, surely? defined as “approval publicly expressed (as by clapping the hands)” Being physically removed from the actual live theatre shouldn’t count , it should nt matter that the actual actors can’t hear us and surely the Bolshoi Ballet deserved the round of applause for the behind the scenes interviews of the dancers and scenes of ballet goers in front of the Christmas tree taking photographs –the magnificence of the Bolshoi theatre setting and the orchestra, and the trilingual presenter .

Yes , we observe the ballet through a lens, maybe twice but I can’t have been the only one to clap
Has the 8th Age of Theatre dawned?
Do you clap?
Does your cinema clap?
Please reassure me that people do still clap and holler and whistle and stamp their feet and if they do where you are ?( I’m sure the West End applauds)
Sigh, raise my glass and say CHEERS and here to a wonderful 2015 (full of applause)

J Bowell all rights reserved


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Autumn Sun Destination

Majorca : 

“I can’t believe you have never been to Majorca”, spouted one of my friends last month when I was discussing my upcoming trip to some sun soaked destination before the drabness of a UK winter I was undecided about where to go and it was a somewhat difficult choice as I didn’t feel like spending more than three hours in a plane it’s strange how one can get these preconceived ideas about a place, these prejudices about some destinations. Majorca has been one of those destinations I have avoided maybe because of those disparaging newspaper articles about drunken youths or not so youthful tourists there , mushy peas and chips with paella and everything else; “But it’s not all like that”, my friend promised me. Me of little faith decided to do some research and so I set about compiling a list of books about or set in the island that I could read before I went ,if that was indeed my final destination and surprisingly there are in fact a lot. Of writers who have depicted the island’s charms and, traditions. In An Enigmatic Disappearance, by Roderic Jefferies one character asks, “Can you find anywhere more beautiful than this? Before ….Alvarez stopped .it was even more beautiful when there were no hotels or houses for tourists and only fishermen walked the sand.” The Graves family have documented the island extensively so I started with “Wild Olives “ the moving memoir written by Robert Graves s son about growing up on the island ,it gives insight into his father’s character and describes idyllic island life before the mushy peas and the chips with everything. He chronicles the changes and modernisation of the island. this memoir actually moved me to tears. Then I moved on to Robert Graves translation of George Sand’s, ”Un Hiver a Majorque”, but I soon became disheartened by his lengthy corrections and went on to read the original and I LOVED it, Sand is witty, honest and a true master of her art Next on to Tomas in the Graves family his book about bread and olive oil is a must read,” Bread & Oil: A Celebration of Majorcan Culture” -According to Tomas bread and olive oil can even help one diet!

 Authentic Majorca Cala San Vincente

Finally, I told my friend that I would go but to a quiet resort “Ok, let s try Cala St Vincent in the North Eastern part of the island. Woe oh sorrow a dreadful flight out with Monarch filled with drunken yobs at 7 am why do they let them on board? For the money of course. Was this indeed going to be a trip from hell? Happily, once arrived at the resort the landscape was turned to be breath-taking, with its three coves, and three beaches a quiet pool and day excursions on offer. I plumped for the Island tour with local based “No Frills Excursions” by coach, boat, and tramway and train (1911) Fabulous! A trip to Soller port and Soller village where I indulged in the speciality of orange ice cream which was absolutely divine- to be recommended. This was a package deal –all inclusive and the food was to die for although chips were on the menu every day. If you can ignore the evening entertainment of Karaoke and the pool side trivia quizzes every afternoon you will find that old Majorca is still there, just waiting to be discovered, you just need to get up and go off the beaten track pack your walking shoes as I came across many a happy back packer some touting copies of the books I may well have just read in my armchair.

Now that would have been a pity indeed! sollertown

Helpful Guide book Eye witness guides


Graves, Tomas. Bread & Oil: A Celebration of Majorcan Culture 1 Jun 2013 . 1st June 2013.

Graves, William. Wild Olives. Pimlico, 1995. Jefferies, Roderic.

An Enigmatic Disappearance. collins crime, 1998. Samd, Georges. Un Hiver a Majorque.

Sand, Georges. A Winter in Majorca . 1958. translated by Robert Graves .

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In July, 1923, my two great uncles set sail for France. They took a photo of the white cliffs of Dover as they sailed away; somehow they arrived in Albert where they more than likely checked into the Basilica hotel with its view of the Basilica opposite, and its legendary Golden Madonna.

Probably the next day they travelled out to Mametz woods in an attempt to locate the last place that their brother had been seen, for he had fallen at 3.23 on the morning of July 14th,1916 -having only had time to shout “charge” to his men before a German bullet shot him through the head and as he was the bombing officer that morning,  carrying 20 odd hand grenades –  he may have taken a few of his men and his batman with him. No body was ever found for Archibald, maybe he is one of the 8 or so Leicestershire 8th buried in the Flatiron cemetery that is situated opposite the battlefield now, however, in 1923 that cemetary was not there and the family photos bear witness to two brothers walking around a cornfield, heads down, carrying sunflowers and wondering where to place them.

They were not the only ones,from as early as 1918 British tourists flocked to the Somme to visit the battlefields in an attempt to capture something of what their loved ones must have experienced, to see for themselves where their loved ones had fallen. Veterans from the war returned to aid the clearing of the fields and the government organised trips to the Somme, with record numbers in the 20 s because this had been a civilian s war and ordinary people needed  places to grieve and mourn.

Michelin was among the first to publish and organise tour guides in the 1920 s.bazentinthomasbowell1923

Some say that with time the emotional involvment with such places of pilgrimage change into  something different, a more ordinary form of tourism even, but I cannot see this ever happening in the WW1 battlefields – no one can come away unmoved by them nor should they.

Only last week I came away from the very same field pictured here, 98 years after Archie fell and 93 years after his brothers’ visit and I can assure you I was moved. This is how it will be for generations to come for the beautifully kept cemeteries and monuments ensure that NO SOLDIER will ever be forgotten, nor lost, ever again.


1923, looking for a fallen relative near Bazentin Le Petit




In memory of Archie Bowell killed at Bazentin Ridge 14th July 1916

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Stevie Wonder tonight

Horizons South


So much more than just a beach destination you could be jazzing it up at the Jazz a Juan festival this year.
The ideal July holiday destination this year is just 30 minutes from Nice International airport, at Juan Les Pins, where sun lovers and partygoers have been flocking for decades but what I love about Juan les Pins is the bite- sized nature of it all ,it almost seems to function like a village.
Why particularly “hot” this July? Well because Stevie Wonder will be heading the bill with a one night concert and the rest of the line up is pretty impressive too .

You can book tickets to this year’s festival at the Tourist office which will entitle you to an invitation to the Bastille day on the14th as well ,when Preservation Hall from New Orleans will be…

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