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Entries about mum

Return to the UK: 100th anniversary of start of World War 1

Madrid Airport, London City Airport and St Albans


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At check-in I had to pay about 40 euros because my case was three or four kg over the weight limit. I had a feeling it would go over - I had no way of measuring it beforehand. Unfortunately I had no space in my rucksack or laptop bag to move 3-4 kg worth of stuff into, so I had no choice but to leave it in there and just pay up. At least I got to choose a window seat :-)

Once through security and baggage x-ray I had plenty of time to look round duty-free but not buy anything.

The flight left on time. I managed to get some photos of the Spanish landscape after take-off and then after a while some food was brought round; a pot of couscous and vegetable salad and a pot of chocolate mousse. It felt like quite a novelty to hear English being spoken by British accents by the cabin crew.

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I took some photos of the coast of England as we approached. I noticed white cliffs, but I'm almost certain we were passing over Dorset/ Hampshire rather than the Dover area. Landing in London City Airport was a novelty because I'd never been there before and it was something different to see us land so close to the Thames.

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I had no problems at all in security and my case arrived OK. Emma, Kate and Mum were waiting for me in Arrivals - a wonderful moment.

After looking round the house and settling my stuff back in, Mum and I had some dinner and then watched the service at Westminster Abbey commemorating the beginning of World War One 100 years ago today. We both thought it was exceedingly well done, especially the choice of music (Vaughan Williams' 'A Lark Ascending' worked brilliantly, for example) and the way everyone in the congregation held a lighted candle at the start of the service and then gradually sections of people blew theirs out until only one candle was left, at the grave of the Unknown Warrior. This candle was blown out at 11 pm, the time that war was declared in 1914. The candles going out was done deliberately to echo Sir Edward Grey's famous comment that "The lamps are going out all over Europe".

We also did the 'Lights Out' event, where all households across the country were encouraged to turn their lights off between 10 and 11 pm. We had the TV going to watch the service on, but all other sources of light were switched off.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:22 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom airport spain madrid sisters mum st_albans Comments (1)

Easter Sunday in Quito

Quito


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Emma, Mark and I had to head off to the airport at lunchtime today, I back to Guayaquil and Emma & Mark back to London via Amsterdam, so we decided to just wander around Quito Old Town in the morning and see whether there was anything particularly Easter-related going on.

After having breakfast and opening Easter things from home, we hopped on the Trolebus and got off at Plaza Grande, before heading to the Cathedral. Before going in Emma, Kate and I chose a candle (blue because it was Dad's favourite colour), I bought it and we then lit it inside for him.

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While we were inside an Easter service started, somewhat startlingly with the first couple of lines of the tune to 'Joy to the World' - perhaps in Ecuador it's the tune to an Easter hymn? A little later on the cantor and congregation sang a hymn that we all recognised, despite it being in Latin American Spanish: 'When All the Saints Come Marching In'. It felt a little odd hearing a normally familiar hymn in a foreign language! Shortly before we left they started singing another hymn that was clearly Eastery because it mainly consisted of alleluias, though going by the tune and the proportion of alleluias to other words it wasn't 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today'.

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On the pavement on the road to one side of the cathedral there were some artists working on paintings (in oils I think) with completed works for sale. It was interesting seeing them at work. Emma and I both bought a small painting from one of the artists. We then wandered up to Plaza San Francisco to see whether anything much was going on there. There wasn't really, but we did stop at Tianguez café and some of us had drinks. Kate and I had big glasses of thick, delicious, freshly squeezed guanabana juice.

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After this we wandered round a bit more.

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We went into a centre with a museum in it and, I think, the Ecuadorean national archives, but all we could find was a gift shop and a smallish gallery of religious art, so we didn't stay long. Then we made our way to the right Trolebus stop to get back to the hostel; as we passed through Plaza Grande we stopped to watch some traditional dances that were being performed.

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After getting off the Trolebus at the other end, we nipped into a branch of 'Oki Doki' convenience store for me, Emma and Mark to stock up on snacks for our flights. Then a quick stop back at the hostel to finish packing, check emails and have a lovely unexpected Google Hangouts video chat with Mum, before Emma, Mark and I left for the airport. It was sad saying goodbye both at the hostel and the airport. Their flight left before mine did. Kate and Andrew were staying in Quito for the night and flying back to the UK the next day.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:57 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art airport cathedral sisters dad mum quito andes ecuador explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_grande plaza_san_francisco traditional_customs easter_celebrations Comments (0)

Mum's last day in Guayaquil

Guayaquil

This morning we took advantage of the Grand Hotel's delicious buffet breakfast again. First of all we had some hot stuff and then we went back for cold. I had scrambled eggs, a chicken and vegetable mixture and a couple of mini corviches (mashed yuca mixed with cheese and fried - a bit like a cheesy potato cake but slightly more gooey inside; I've had the big version before with onion mixed in too and they are delicious), followed by lots of fresh pineapple chunks, some papaya, some poached cinnamon pears, a custard bun and a little glazed bun with raisins that looked and tasted like a sausage-shaped hot cross bun. There were other rolls and things too but I was too full to have more! To go with the food we both had coffee and some fruit juice and I also had a small glass of peach drinking yoghurt.

After breakfast I really wanted to get a picture of Mum with an iguana, so we went for a walk round the corner to Iguana Square. I got several photos and we discovered a lot of turtles as well, some bigger ones and some very small and cute ones.

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Then we walked through the cathedral and out of the side. I was really glad I could get pictures of the iguanas and the cathedral while Mum was here because when she walked around both on the morning after her arrival, I wasn't there so she didn't have a camera to get any pictures.

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At about 09.50 I got the bus into work for a teachers' admin meeting, only to find out on arrival that it had been postponed until next week. I checked my email and then got the bus back again.

When I arrived back, we finished packing, checked out and went into the café/restaurant for a coffee. Though actually, although we went in for a coffee we ended up having a 'Chocolate Tradicional' instead! Ecuador is know for its cacao production. It had a little bit of cinnamon in it and was the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my entire life.

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After our amazing chocolate experience we strolled down to the Malecón and along it until we reached the turnoff for the side street where the lunch restaurant 'La Barca Azul' is. We took our time walking there because we weren't under any time pressure. We passed an indoor market which isn't usually there, and stopped at the riverside;

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The sun came out on the way so it got extremely hot. Once at the restaurant I ordered us both Seco de Chivo (traditional goat stew) and a bottle of peach juice.

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After we'd finished our stew we caught a bus to the language school. Mum met some of my teaching colleagues and admin staff and I showed her round the whole building. It felt really surreal to have her there, though in a good way of course.

Then we caught another bus to my flat. The journey took much longer than usual for some reason. I loaded all the photos from her trip so far onto my laptop and we looked through them together. She also had a sit down on the sofa in the living area, in front of the air conditioning, with a bottle of water I'd put in the freezer section for a bit to make colder.

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We didn't have all that long there before we had to get the bus back to my workplace. We did however stop at the fruit shop round the corner first, where I bought a pound of grapes and some light green plums for Mum. Back at the language school Mum washed and ate the fruit, before changing and watching some of the BBC World Service that is usually on the flatscreen TV in reception. Then the taxi arrived to take us to the airport.

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At the airport Mum printed off her boarding pass from one of the self-service machines and we looked round the shops for a while. I decided that when I leave Ecuador this summer, I will buy a 'Republica del Cacao' t-shirt from Guayaquil Airport as a leaving present to myself. Mum bought a Panama-like hat for herself and cloth that can be used as a scarf or put on a table. Then we sat in a café and Mum had some black tea with milk - it tasted better than the tea she had the other day - and I had a big glass of coconut and blackberry juice.

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After Mum had gone through to passport control, out of sight, I got a taxi back to the flat. It was roughly 6.30pm by then.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:29 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel airport cathedral iguanas mum ecuador guayaquil malecon_2000 guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Quito and Grand Hotel Guayaquil

Quito and Guayaquil


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Very sunny again at breakfast; this time the sun lasted all morning. After breakfast we went into the lovely little garden and I took some photos of it with the volcano in the background.

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Then we went back to the shop we we'd gone to the day before, because I'd realised that the security tag had been left in my new shirt and I didn't want to risk ripping the shirt by trying to pull the tag off.

After they'd taken it off for me, Mum and I walked down the road to the Museo Etnográfico de Artesanía de Ecuador, stopping on the way at a lovely little triangular park for a look-around.

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This museum had fascinating displays about the various indigenous tribes in Ecuador and their traditional dress, utensils, musical instruments and art. Between us, our favourite exhibits were some colourful feather crowns, carved wooden guagua de pan moulds (the sweet bread figures sold and eaten in Ecuador on 1st/2nd November - I had some in Cuenca), guitar-shaped instruments where the back of each was made from a large armadillo shell, a 'tuned' wooden log used to send messages (through different sounds) between different communities in the rainforest, and a patterned clay crab with large pincers and a very toothy, rather frightened-looking smile.

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Mum bought some chocolate and two balls of alpaca wool in the shop and then we moved on to the café outside. Mum had a cappucino, I had an iced coffee that turned out to be very big and had lots of whipped cream on top, and we shared a slice of maracuyá (passionfruit) cheesecake. Although it hadn't been described as such, we could tell it was a baked cheesecake. It was lovely. Then I realised it was ten to eleven and we were supposed to check out before eleven, so since she had finished her drink, Mum dashed straight back to the guesthouse to check out and get our valuables from the safe while I finished my drink and portion of the cheesecake slice and walked back via a different route.

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We got the guesthouse to order us a taxi to the airport at 12. This time the driver was very good, so the journey felt smoother.

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Once we got to the airport and had gone though to our boarding gate we got some food from a café; Mum had a fruit salad and I had a large cheese and ham roll. The flight was completely uneventful apart from that I managed to get a good photo of Quito spread out below with the mountains behind it.

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On arrival to Guayaquil we were met at the airport and taken to the hotel. I had another swim in the pool and soon after that we had to change rooms due to an unfortunate bathroom flooding incident!

For dinner we went to a restaurant on site, '1822 Grill Room', after first drinking our free, fruity and delicious cocktails at the Turtle Bar (we got a free cocktail voucher each at check-in).

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The food and drink we had at 1822 was excellent - it started with a shared hors d'ouevre of pepperoni slices, smoked cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles. Mum had a Screwdriver cocktail and I had a delicious 'Pichincha Punch' made from dark & light rum, Cointreau, Vermouth, Dubonnet, Créme de Cacao, pineapple juice, lemon and orange juice. Then for the main course I had amazing mixed skewers of incredibly tender, juicy and tasty chunks of steak and chicken with mushrooms, onion and pepper; Mum had 'Corvina Boyacá', sea bass in a special sauce, with tiny baby potatoes and some steamed vegetables. My skewers came with salad. For pudding I had quite a stiff chocolate mousse in a glass, but Mum just had a coffee.

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On the way back to our room we carried on up another couple of levels to the top of the hotel. I took some more photos of the pool, courtyard and cathedral after dark.

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Before we arrived back at our room I heard the strains of the tune the rubbish collection truck plays on its rounds, so we stopped to listen to it until it went out of earshot. Once I'm back in the UK this summer, if I ever hear this tune again it will instantly transport me back to Guayaquil. It's really catchy.

Posted by 3Traveller 08:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel airport museum cathedral hostel mum quito andes ecuador guayaquil explorations guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: City of Quito

Quito


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We were up bright and early and sat down for our free breakfast as soon as it was available, at 07.30. It was nice and sunny, but we could see clouds moving over Pichincha Volcano in the distance. It looked like we would only get a couple of hours of sunshine before it became overcast. Breakfast was big and lovely; it was a sit-down meal, not a buffet. In succession we were each brought a small plate of fruit (a slice each of papaya, pineapple and apple, with half a banana sliced lengthways), a small glass of drinking yoghurt, a glass of strawberry juice, coffee, a basket to share between us containing two croissants and two slices of bread, two slices of ham and some eggs (Mum had hers scrambled, I had mine fried). We both felt very full, but nicely fortified for the morning ahead.

As soon as we finished breakfast we set off. The trolebus was very crowded, due to rush hour, but we made sure to keep an eye on our pockets and bags. I felt so excited when the sight of the architecture we passed told us that we were now within the Old Town! This excitement intensified even further once we stepped out of the bus, walked along a street to our right and entered Plaza Grande, the main square. Finally I was standing in the middle of Quito's Old Town - fulfilling a dream I had held for many, many years.

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The first thing we saw was a white, cloister-like walkway, with arches along the side, that leads across one side of the plaza. At the pillar by each arch there was a shoe-shiner at work. We saw an open gateway that lead into a very quiet courtyard - it turned out to be a former Archbishop's palace.

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The buildings didn't seem to be open to visitors so we just sat in the courtyard for a bit before going out again into Plaza Grande. As we walked into the courtyard we had noticed a strange bonelike pattern set within the cobblestones; they looked a lot like human vertebrae. On our way out we looked more closely and saw that they were in fact real bones!

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After that we wandered around Plaza Grande for a while. There was a protest going on in front of the Government Palace, with chanting and flag-waving but nothing more vigorous.

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Mum had to sit down for a while because she was feeling the altitude a bit, but I took a few photos. Then we walked along a raised path that runs alongside the cathedral. This gave us a good view of the plaza but meant we were raised up out of the hubbub.

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Just beyond one corner of Plaza Grande was our next destination - the church of La Compañía de Jesús.

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This very old Jesuit church has a stunningly beautiful and eye-catching interior of gold. We spotted indigenous plants painted amongst the carvings on the pillars, as well as one or two indigenous face carvings. The inside of the domes were beautifully painted, too.

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If I could I would have taken loads of photos, but unfortunately I was told that photos weren't allowed. I still managed to take a couple on the sly, having hidden out of view behind a pillar, but I didn't have time to take any close-ups of anything. After looking round the church itself we went into a little room with a display of big heavy bells dated from 1926 and then into a little museum with a temporary display about the history of the Jesuits in Ecuador.

We had entered the church as soon as it opened at 09.30, and we were glad we had, because as we left we saw tour buses outside with groups milling around taking pictures of the church exterior. They were clearly just about to go in, so it looked like we had timed our visit perfectly.

After this Mum felt in need of a drink and a sit down, so we went into a covered courtyard that had a notice outside it saying there was a traditional café inside. The café had its shutters down but there was a large wool and sewing shop close by that Mum wanted a look round. I left her in there while I looked around for a suitable café. When I came back she was pondering buying some balls of alpaca wool, but she decided not to get any in the end. We sat down at a nearby café and had a glass bottle of orangeade (only 50 centavos each).

Next we walked on to Plaza San Francisco. This is also very picturesque because the monastery is the main building and behind it looms Pichincha Volcano. The clouds had come over by now unfortunately, but it didn't rain. Mum sat down on some steps while I walked round the plaza and got some cash out from a Banco Pichincha ATM.

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Once I got back we walked over to a café called 'Tianguez' that has a wonderful Fair Trade shop attached to it that sells genuine handicrafts from all over Ecuador. We had a great time exploring - at the back the rooms turned into an orange-painted narrow corridor that had clearly been part of the monastery's crypt or catacomb. On one wall of the corridor there was painted written information about the different indigenous tribes of Ecuador and their beliefs and mythology; on the opposite wall were examples of their different crafts (masks, pottery figures, bowls, etc.). It was really interesting and I definitely recommend you visit it too. I didn't buy anything but Mum got an alpaca jumper and a packet of 'Yumbo' coffee.

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After using the café's facilities we sat down and looked at the menu, but they didn't have much of a selection, so we moved on. We wandered the streets for a while. Mum really wanted some fruit, so we stopped at a street booth and I got us an apple each and a pound of grapes. Then once we remembered they needed washing in bottled water, I got a bottle of water as well. We carried on back to Plaza Grande and while Mum sat down on a stone bench and started on the fruit, I got up to see what food was on offer in the vicinity. The first place I found, a tiny café under the side of the cathedral, sold pork sandwiches and empanadas and a variety of other snacks, both savoury and sweet, so we both went in and sat down. I ordered us a pork sandwich each and a black coffee (I asked for 'café con leche' for Mum, but they didn't have any milk) and a meringue to share. The sandwiches turned out to be rolls with quite a lot of cold pork in them as well as some raw tomato and purple-stained onion. The whole tasty lot came to only $5.10.

Next we walked to Plaza Santo Domingo, where the Trolebus stop was that we needed to use. There was a parade of teenage schoolchildren in the square marching around, some banging massive drums and others holding metal portable glockenspiels (like the ones I saw at the Independence of Guayaquil processions in October) or nothing at all. Not sure what the occasion was! Before they got properly into their stride, however, our Trolebus arrived to take us back up into the New Town.

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Once we got back to the Travellers Inn we had a bit of a lie down before going out again, this time to a particular handicrafts shop down the road called 'Galería Ecuador Gourmet'. The first thing we did on arrival was have a hot drink - Mum was desperate for a coffee and I had a hot chocolate for the first time in Ecuador.

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Then we had a really good look round the shop, which had two floors. It was brilliant! Some things were quite expensive, but others were much more reasonable. I bought myself a t-shirt and Mum got a few things for people at home. She also bought me a lovely white rather indigenous-looking shirt as part of my birthday present. We also tried some of the chocolate samples that were left out in little bowls. In one of the rooms upstairs I saw giant balls of alpaca wool (large rubber balls really, wrapped in wool) so I had to get a picture of Mum next to them!

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It was around 7 pm by the time we got back and we were quite peckish, so we had a small pepperoni and a medium 'mixed' pizza at the guesthouse instead of going out again for food. Unfortunately they had clearly come straight from the freezer and then cooked so that the top was a little dried out and the bottom not cooked enough, but they were very cheap and we were hungry so we ate them. Then we played cards for a while. First we played 10-card rummy and then whist where you start with 9 cards each and work down. Last of all, before we went to bed, Mum taught/ reminded me of how to play several different versions of Patience.

Posted by 3Traveller 07:31 Archived in Ecuador Tagged museum hostel mum quito andes ecuador procession explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_grande plaza_san_francisco fair_trade_shop plaza_santo_domingo traditional_customs colonial_church Comments (0)

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