Chateau Musar

In the cellars of Chateau Musar.

In the cellars of Chateau Musar.

Suffering the torturous maze of Iranian bureaucracy with a visa as likely as John Carney securing a credit card we decided on heading to Lebanon, a country prominent in my teens for all the wrong reasons .

One distinctive memory I had of the Pacific Club was enjoying a bottle of Chateau Musar with Rene H, the characteristics of this wine plus its distant origin stuck in my memory.It was always a great curiosity and one I was determined to quench giving the opportunity.
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Bilbao ,is located in the Basque region of Spain , it’s been a trading city built around the Bilbao river , it’s a city you can walk .
The most historic sites can be seen in a few days . Best views of the city can be seen from Mount Artxanda .

Due to the Guggenheim in this city , there are many small boutique galleries and high end restaurants as well as many music performances weekly .

We took half a day visiting the Guggenheim Museum ., Richard Serra’s installation ” the matter of time ” is on permanent display that takes up the area of a football field .
The current exhibit during our visit included , the period of 1938 to 1948 , showcasing artists from Picasso , Miro to Dubuffet , who were ostracized by the Government and puppets of the regime .

Andy Warhol’s pieces included his prints of Marilyn Monroe as well as video art .

Museum is alone worth this stop on our travels . The matter of time ...Richard Serra,s “The matter of time” …Richard SerraGuggenheim Guggenheim

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PIngus Winery

Pingus Cellar

Pingus Cellar

Thanks to a longtime acquaince and friend Clare Burke, we were able to visit Peter Sisseck’s project in Quintanilla de Onesimo , Valladolid .
We were carefully guided through the process of making this wine by one of his winemaker’s , keeping with the precise rhythm of nature through the biodynamic life cycle .(yes used the quotation from their material for that )

Our winemaker guide Yulia , carefully explained the winery functions, where they produce PSI , Flor , and Domino de Pingus ,the elite wine which they only produce around 600 cases a year .

While we were touring the winery they were preparing to bottle the 2012 vintage .
The winery is immaculate , and is located in a centuries old mill , PIngus was created since only 1995 , by Peter Sisseck but already has a cult status , and a bottle can command over a thousand dollar on many wine lists around the world , that’s if you are lucky to find it .

We were lucky to taste their 2012 Flor de Pingus and Domino de Pingus before leaving .
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Recent Travels



Budapest Hungary
Bratasliva Slovakia
Prague Czech republic

Standby airline ticket , we left Istanbul for two weeks , originally this period was for our Iran trip .

First stop Budapest , Hungary . A turbulent and sad history before its independence and freedom .One our memorable visits was the house of terror museum , which was witness to two shameful and tragic periods in Hungary ,s past-
1944 this site was the ” house of loyalty ” for the Nazis headquarters and between 1945 and 56 it was the location of the notorious communist terror organizations.

It’s a very sad museum to be expected requiring a uplifting pilsner afterwards !

The museum is now a memorial to the many victims with the area outside a shrine covered with candles , flowers and family snaps .

The architecture of the city is amazing,hostels we have stayed are cheap and located in centuries old buildings.
The city is really up and coming , great bars , restaurants as well as many options for tourists . Wines are plentiful , good quality and reasonably priced. Quite a few hospitality concepts with amazing designs . Eating out is great value with prices being the lowest so far. Other places of interest to visit include ,Andrassy Avenue , Pest Broadway and Liszt square . There are some excellent bookstores also along Museum street .

Bratsliva , a quaint city in Slovakia , we spent two nights here on the way to Prague . We stayed in the old town , where most of the attractions and famous sights are located . It’s worth the stopover , 2 days being sufficient enough . Continue reading

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Wednesday feb 27th Tuesday March 5th

This trip keeps throwing obstacles in our way . The Iranian visa application was not going as planned (well as we expected ) so we went to plan B and booked a flight to Beirut ,typically what happens , Noel booked the flights on last and a few minutes later we received our codes for the Iran visa process via email . Iran will have to wait another time , so if anyone out there needsimage advice on Iranian visa application etc , we are available for free advice.

Beirut , Paris of the east , finally a warm location . Lebanon has population of 3 million and 18 million overseas due to the 15 year civil war . Remnants of the war is still evident , but they are rebuilding the city as best they can to pre war condition , the new downtown is a Mecca of 5 star brands for shopping ,with the usual high street labels available to those with a platinum credit cards , if one day peace prevails I can see Chinese buying up the waterfront. Continue reading

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£anking System

Since starting this trip I have had trouble procuring cash from my array of Hk Bank accounts.

Now my little lambs ,you are wondering why a person of my stature should have such a problem. Continue reading

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Beirut , Lebanon

Costa Condardia Hotel , Beirut .

Costa Condardia Hotel , Beirut .


Thanks to the people who responded generously to our previous appeal for funds. To the person who sent lidl vouchers we know where you live.

Our hotel in Beirut needs a bit of work but the views are amazing , from all angles , floor , ceiling , bathroom you can see the Mediterranean.

One minor complaint, the rooms
Can get rather stuffy as you can’t open the windows.

Oscar and Felix




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To be added later ….


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Sofia , Bulgaria

It seems we attract tensions on our travels so far ,more on that later .
Last weekend we decided to travel to Bulgaria , while we are waiting for the now infamous Iranian Visa process , and we are still no wiser whether we will get it .
A Bus ride of 9 hours from Istanbul ,Bulgaria last member to join the European
Union , they must have missed the party with funding , as the roads were in bad shape as we travelled across the whole country to our destination the capital city Sofia .
Turkish Buses are well equipped , Internet , recharger and video channel . Metro is the main Bus company to do trans European treks .

Reminders of its history , of communism can be seen throughout the bus ride . Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU .
Arriving in Sofia , we took a taxi to hotel , English is spoken reasonable well , our driver had lived in Savannah in US for 5 years , but got deported and cannot go back . As usual recommendations of places to go and what to see .

The first night we visited Hambara , it’s a shebeen , literally , from the past communist era , no electricity ….it’s an artist and writers hangout, off the beating track , worth a visit for a few beers .
Wine , the Bulgarians know their trade , great variety on offer ,recommend the Malbec /Merlot wines , and the prices after last few countries its value for money , average good bottle of wine can be bought in a restaurant for 10 euro .

Over the few days there we easily got to see all major attractions and museums . Some though were closed for winter holidays . Some of our places we went to included Alexander Cathedral,National Assembly Sq, National Archaeological Museum , and outside the city the National Museum of History . See photos post for some pics.

Sofia is a popular destination for skiing , unfortunately not my forte .
We were restricted to go certain streets on Saturday and Sunday due to protests , yes this is Bulgaria not Cairo !! We picked the only week end that the Bulgarian Prime MInster and Finance minster resigned due to mass protests regarding inflation , especially electricity prices , which they had tripled recently .


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Squeal like a piggy

Trying to keep expenses under wraps is difficult when you head out for an afternoon sight seeing only to end up with carpets , fez hats and other non essentials mostly made in China. !

Keeping off the touristy areas of course is the smart ploy but i sense North Face have a lot too answer for ,and maybe a perma tan might be an additional deterrent.
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