Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Short Tour of Gran Canaria

Never having visited this island, when on my cruise I took the opportunity to have a look around - the lazy way on a coach.

Gran Canaria is famous for its variations in temperature. In January when we left Las Palmas (in the north) it was chilly but in Puerto de Mogan - down south - it was warm enough to sunbathe.

Along the east coast there are many resorts which tend to be concrete jungles. For example, Playa da Ingles, through which we drove to Maspolomas in order to admire the sand dunes which are spectacular and made the journey worthwhile.

Back on the coach we took the picturesque coast road which goes through the purpose built resort of Puerto Rico. The hills and valley are filled with characterless blinding white blocks of apartments and hotels which look like a child's painting. Beach and water sports are available.

Our last stop was at Puerto de Mogan where we encountered chaos. It was Friday and Market Day so loads of traffic and locals from nearby villages. Plus - would you believe - road works.

And this is a resort described as small and tranquil. That day it was far from tranquil and I'm sure the locals didn't appreciate the coach loads of tourists

I wandered around the market which, as well as comestibles, was also full of tourist tat. I found a small local minimart, bought some snacks and a bottle of water then searched for somewhere to sit. Away from the market is a small promenade and, miracle of miracles, I found a vacant bench. Sitting in the sun, snacking and reading is my ideal way of passing the best part of an hour.

Our return journey was much quicker as we took the motorway. The only drawback for anyone with claustrophobia are the tunnels. Most of them are quite short, if close together, but there is a long one. I usually close my eyes and think of green fields but with long tunnels the weight overhead gradually impinges. By the time we saw daylight again I was sweating and my hands were clenched. Obviously I shan't go that way again!

I was cruising on my favourite ship - P&O's Oriana. All excursions are graded as to physical abilities - i.e. number of steps, amount of walking etc - but no warnings for claustrophobics. I'm sure all cruise lines use the same method and would suggest they include such a warning.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Finally I've seen La Coruna

The Tower of Hercules
This was not the first time I had been to this city when on a cruise, just that I hadn't, until now, successfully been around it. Previously I had opted to go it alone but it had always rained. Yes, I'm a coward when it comes to bad weather.

This time I was sensible and booked a tour.

Following a boring drive through the port area to get to the exit, the coach did an about turn to drive us back the way we had come, but this time outside the port along Avenida de la Marina where we could admire some of the older buildings. Do you know that La Coruna is also called the 'Crystal City'? This is due to the number of glassed in balconies fronting the apartment blocks. A very wise precaution as many of them face the sea (the Bay of Biscay) so the windows help to keep the wild weather at a distance and also enable people to use their balconies even in winter.

Some of the things of interest we saw in passing were the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Mankind, the Millennium Monument and some excellent beaches.

Heard of Sir John Moore? He was a Lieutenant-General in the British Army which fought Napoleon's troops at La Coruna. There is a memorial to him and the soldiers who lost their lives in that battle in the San Carlos Gardens.

Out of La Coruna we headed to the Tower of Hercules Lighthouse. It was originally built in the 2nd century but this version dates to the 18th century. There is a long slope up towards it but you don't have to struggle up there to see the building.

By the time we reached a large restaurant on the top of a hill we were well ready for our tapas and wine - tea and coffee were also available. The views and the food were fabulous and I suspect some were wishing they had doggy bags. No, I don't really know why because the food on board the ship is some of the best I've ever had.

La Coruna from the restaurant

Back down into town and another drive through La Coruna back to the ship.

If you don't want to take a tour or wander around the city let me recommend some lovely gardens just a couple of minutes from the ship. Stroll out of the port and up to the Avenida. Don't cross the road, but turn left.

This was - of course! - another excursion I took on my P&O cruise on the Oriana.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Nerve Ends and Essential Oils.

Recently someone on Facebook wondered why putting Vicks Vaporub on the soles of her feet overnight helped to clear her cold.

The answer is simple - nerve ends. Our nerve ends are in our extremities - feet, hands and head. This is why when it is cold we should keep them warm with socks, gloves and hat or scarf. Doing that helps to keep the rest of the body warm.

Feeling stressed? Massage your feet - use a massage oil with a few drops of lavender oil. Lavender is a relaxant. When the arthritis in my toes plays up I dab on some lavender oil - pain goes. My shoulder is aching? Lavender oil. Brilliant stuff. Can't sleep? Couple of drops on the pillow.

I learned about essential oils some years ago when I had aromatherapy for my Repetitive Stress Injuries which affected my wrists/hands, elbows and shoulders. My shoulders were almost in total lock down. These days I regularly put my feet into a foot spa of warm water with Tea Tree Oil (antiseptic) for about 15-20 minutes then massage them. Massage oil with a few drops of lavender, peppermint (to warm the nerve ends) and rosemary which helps to mend damaged tissue.

There are many oils now available so if you want to try them for your ailments, do. Only pure oils may help you. There are a few out there which aren't 'pure' so buy them from a reputable source. Which ones to use? Check web sites - there are lots of them - or find a book.

Most chemists now stock essential oils as well as Holland and Barrett.