Well we are now on board the Cap Finisterre heading for Portsmouth and this will be the last blog we send covering our fantastic Grand Tour.
Before we try to capture our thoughts and set out some highlights, lowlights and facts about our journey we just need to say a bit about Bilbao. We visited the Guggenheim Museum yesterday and wow what a building. I know that you will all be sick and tired of hearing me go on about buildings and we have seen quite a few special ones over the last 3 months. But Frank Gearey's Guggenheim Museum is a masterpiece. I won't go on about it except to say that the building outshines the content and the content was interesting enough. I will post a few photos to give an impression but the only way to really appreciate it is to visit. I know that Bilbao is a bit off the beaten track but if ever you get the chance I would recommend going to see it. One of the exhibits was a series of enormous steel sculptures that filled the space in a large hall as big as two football fields end to end. (except that the hall was not rectangular as the only flat and level surfaces in the building are the floors!) You could walk around and through this sculpture and it made you feel dizzy and disorientated to do so. Christine really enjoyed this and seemed less affected by dizziness (C: I just liked the idea of 'torqued elipses' - I think I just liked finding out what they were actually but don't ask me to explain them)
So on to the summary of our travels. We can start with the blog. We were a bit unsure about the idea of blogging our journey before we set off but we have really enjoyed posting the blogs. We have been amazed at the numbers of people who have looked at the blog. Initially each posting was getting about 400 hits and by the second month this had slowed down a bit and now we are getting about 100 hits per posting which still amazes us. It also surprised us that within seconds of posting a blog, someone somewhere was reading it. So thanks to all our "readers" and those who have made online comments. Zoe incidentally is the most frequent commentator so thanks to her and to all who have made a comment we have enjoyed reading them. One really useful outcome from the blog is that we now have a very detailed diary of our travels when we get back!
Thanks also to the folk who came out to visit us, and also to those who kept an eye on Lark Way and the allotment.
Total number of blog entries 147 (of which most are individual photos)
Total number of blog comments 50
Total number of visits 6012 (total number of page visits 7508)
Highest number of hits on any page - the first one with 475!
Total time on the road 14 weeks and 3 days
Number of miles travelled - 7,750 by car plus say another 1,500 by ferry
Total number of ferries - 5
Number of countries visited 12
Number of capital cities visited 7
City that surprised us the most - Riga in Latvia - we really liked it
Favourite City - Barcelona .... sorry Stockholm you came a close second
Least favourite City - Oslo ... sorry Oslo the weather and traffic jams were against you!
Best coffee and cake - definitely in Stockholm in a cafe in a park ...oh yes and then there was the sacher torte in Innsbruck and then there was .................
Worst meal - in a very posh restaurant in Carcassonne (every course was cold - it was meant to be but nicely cold, not awful as well as expensive!)
Most expensive tea - St Marks Square in Venice - 25 Euros for a pot of tea for two .. oh yes and an orchestra was playing and we knew we would pay through the nose but we enjoyed it.
Cheapest cup of coffee in Copenhagen 2.50 Euros for 2 cups of very nice coffee in a quiet cafe.
Best roads for driving on definitely in Northern Spain - well maintained and not busy
Worst roads definitely those in Italy driving along the mediterranean coast to the French border - mostly in tunnels with narrow lanes and at speeds in excess of 80mph - a complete nightmare.
Best modern building - we have to name 2 here the Sagrada Familia in Barca and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao - yes that's a cop out I know.
Best historic building hmmmmm that's difficult so much to choose from but without cheating too much we nominate the whole of Venice.
Worst hotel - The Reval Park and Casino in Tallinn and only just worse than "Ellen's" in southern Denmark where we the only residents and there were no staff!
Most groovy hotel .. The Tivoli Hotel in Copenhagen, we liked the Sky Bar with its swings for grown ups and views out over the city
Best campsite - Ramvic in Sweden where we were pitched by the side of a lovely lake
Worst campsite - Oslo .... we must give Norway another chance some time!
Most amusing driving experience (well embarrassing actually) I was driving in Montpellier city centre trying to find my way to a car park when I suddenly found myself in the middle of the central and busiest pedestrianised area of the city. Not phased by that I then turned on to a tram track and followed a city tram along its route into the busiest tram only interchange you can imagine there seemed to be no way out! The passengers (Christine, Lol and Kathy) were in hysterics and no help at all!
Things lost on the way -picnic butter knife, two walking poles, Christine's nice little white cardi, Frank's prescription sunglasses (now at the bottom of the Grand Canal) and sadly one of the tiny little diamonds from Christine's ring. Hmmm, mostly Christine's stuff apart from the sunglasses.
Things brought back - a tan (not that it will last long), a fair amount of wine (same probably applies to that) and a few treasures, the photos taken, and this blog
Most magic moment - watching Lauren enjoy the sea and the beach for the first time,
Most botanical moment - Lauren identifies Bamboo
Total number of photos taken - 1,309 - yes I know that's ridiculous and I promise not to make anyone sit through that lot
Biggest frustration lack of free and consistent wifi especially in France and Italy
Most sobering moment - the Holocaust Museum in Berlin
Most spectacular cultural event - Opera (Verdi's Aida) open air in the (Roman) Arena in Verona
Enough, we could go on and on,
Thanks again to everyone
Sent from my iPad