Bromo revisited

It’s okay, I spouted with a swagger in my step, I walked there before! Same old type of cheap accommodation with the comfortingly super damp bedding. 

Awake! 2.30 or there abouts, up and at it! Stumbling out into the brisk air we were met by a cachophany of noise. Tailing off onto the distance was a column of roaring jeeps. It’s okay, we’ll walk, not like these pampered softies!!!

Through the town and down a steep slippery slope on our way to the Sea of Sand. Lights and sounds pounded past. But we’ll walk!! Down onto the sea of sand and off we went. Mist enveloped us, but no problem for we had my iPhone torch/lamp. Onwards McDuff.

And then from the rear, column after column of jeeps screamed past us. Entertaining it was, look I’m here said my iPhone torch wanly. And on we went. Again and again like The US army in Desert Storm, metal and light flew past us. 

Eventually a horeseman guided us to the base of Bromo, but we hadn’t been too far out. It says here:-) People and beasts appeared wraith like from the gloom but our goal was in our sights. So sad to see rubbish at the base of the final leg up to the crater rim. Guess that’s progress. The light, the view and the atmosphere was amazing. And then a walk back in the daylight and a stop off for food at the Lava Hotel. Ordered tomato soup. Love tomato soup:-) a bowl, two tomatoes cut up and some boiling water. Wouldn’t it be boring if everything was the same! 

To many jeeps and fumes but nothing can destroy the majesty of Mount Bromo. Not even dodgy tomato soup!

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Spice Islands

Eastwards Ho! Equipment purchased, 10 flights booked and off we toddled to Indonesia. We stayed overnight in Warsaw before our flight to Istanbul in a super little hostel in the new old town of Warsaw. Bunk-beds with all the ensuing claims to sleep up or downstairs. The Cannon was perfect for us.

Flight number one. We flew Turkish Airlines to Istanbul where we had a seven hour lay over. I determined to reduce DVT by walking every part of it, and I can attest to the fact that it is big! Very big!! Then we had an 11 hour flight to Jakarta. The flight was great and the service excellent. Never have so few lavatories been serviced so often, by so few, for so many.

Jakarta. Tired and hung down like overdecorated Christmas trees we trundled into full view of the cab touts. Shouts of Hey Mister, Hey Boss and simply hey assailed our ears. We had originally planned to take  a bus from the airport to the station at Gambir. I had travelled down to Bandung many years ago by train and enjoyed the experience. Sadly our visit coincided with Ramadan and so there was not even room for a slimmed down cockroach. This meant we had to book a hotel, the illustrious Dreamtel Jakarta. Thus a taxi, and the first of many haggles. But to haggle one needs an idea of the going rate. We paid 300,000 IDR for a taxi across town. The lovely people at Dreamtel told us later that it should have been 200,000IDR maximum. Guard up! The hotel was clean with a funky glass elevator that Will Wonka would approve of. The room was good, a double shared with the children. Aghhh…The view was a little less pleasing. A brick wall, although painted off white, about 30cm from our window. Breakfast was very good and the guys behind the counter helpful and a couple spoke good English. Heads up with the Bluedird taxis with meters and asking suitable questions about tolls being included in prices and off we went from Jakarta the next day by plane. The flight was about 3 hours late. About 10 staff behind the counter could giggle flirt with each other beautifully, but giving information was not their forte. We flew up to Sumatra, landed, which was eventful and bumpy, waited 20 minutes and set off for Yogykarta. The flight attendant pointed out a few general facts and asked us to pray to God for a safe flight. That was reassuring for one and all. Yogykarta. Little did we know but we were close to the airport. The taxi driver again charged over the odds. The place we stayed was clean and again we shared with the kids. Breakfast was a greasy mess and the coffee so sweet one shot of it would have given a whale diabetes. We valiantly strolled down the side of the dual carriageway in search of munchies. Amazing to watch whole families, babies included, all perched on weaving mopeds and scooters. Grabbing a taxi, with the meter agreed as arbiter of cost, we set off down town. We spent the evening on Maliobor Street. Locals looked at us as though they hadn’t seen foriegners before!

Memories of Flying in Cuba

Off to Cuba in 1999.  Flew one day late due to engine problems. Should of seen it as a sign. Arrived in Havana and mooched around. For me it was a delight. For the locals a nightmare stuck in time. Remember one shop, a chemists, with only vinegar for sale.

Onwards and another flight. Driven out to an airport that an Estate Agent/Realtor would call ‘’well lived in.’’ There was a plane, shiny and modern. A list of names tramped out and boarded the gleam machine. I waited. Next airplane. Older but relatively new and smaller. Another list, but not for me. Then I spied a relic being towed to  museum or knackers yard. No, wait a minute, it’s stopping. It stopped outside the departure lounge. Departure seemed to take on a new meaning. Everyone left was beckoned onto the relic. An ancient Antonov, probably from the 1950s love festival between Castro and the U.S.S.R.

As we approached the Wright brothers reject an engineer was tapping the nose cone with a mallet. Nervous laughter. On we climbed. The seats gently in their brackets and Russian accompanied Spanish instructions. Gunning the engine outrageously, the pilot got us airborne.

As we straightened out the cabin began to fill with smoke. The steward ran up the aisle to assure us it was harmless and from the old air conditioning  system. More nervous laughter, and a large rum, please. As I sat in the window seat I decided to watch and pray. Then to my dismay a flame shot back out of the engine. A couple of people said, ooh and one person screamed. The steward tried allay our fears by stating that on these engines, ‘’it was normal.’’ He needed to try harder. Well we landed and it was time for a large rum..Return flight to Havana was at night, in a thunderstorm on the same aircraft. It was a very, very quite flight.

Baggage Allowance

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Whitby bound soon. Flying to Newcastle, and later out of Leeds, with Ryanair. Some wags say that is the best thing to do with Leeds. Fly out.

The luggage allowance is so low with Ryanair that I can only pack my emotional luggage. Could still be tricky! Must check how many pairs of socks I can fit on my feet?

Memories of Mount Bromo

We arrived late at our accomodation. It had been a long bumpy ride in a truly old jalopy. Some call it romantic, others called it uncomfortable. The room was basic, but we would only be there a short while. If memory serves me correctly we rose at around 3am. Even the roosters were snoozing still.The last time I had got up so early was when I was born.

In a comatosed state we shuffled to our guide and were led off sheep like into the murkiness. Dark and cold, what was I doing? Where was my ratty bed? We ascended for a short while and came to the valley floor. The braying of donkeys came out of the mist. I decide to walk as did my partner, but her sister had a terrible disease. Born bone-idle, bless her. She mounted one of these small animals with her feet almost dragging along the floor. We trudged onwards through the mist and gloom. Why am I here?

Our sojourn finished at the base of a steep set of timber steps. Just in case we felt in need of civilization, reminders of it were left in the form of plastic bottles, cans and other advanced detrius near the steps. The donkey was unburdened from its not insubstantial load and all three  of us made our way upwards. The donkey had seen the show before.

At the top we stopped to take in the view of the volcano and breath deep the fumes. Not distasteful after a life time of Mother’s cooking. This was more like it! Then someone shouted and we all turned in near seeming unison. The sun was rising. A huge golden, yellow orb of power and light ascended the farthest horizon. Spilling light across the plain as it rose. One of the most fantastic sights I had ever witnessed was taking place before my eyes.

ahh, that was why I was there!! Magnificent and I carry the polaroid like snapshots in my mind for evermore. Truly breathtaking. Now where was that poor donkey?

Further Southwards into France

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Went into Avignon by bus which was cheap, clean and let me have a good gander as I was not driving. I did ask, but the driver said, ”Non”. Avignon was home to the pope between 1309 – 1377. Well he had one advantage then, the walls kept people out. They are still an impressive sight. However Avignon was beset by hoardes of tourists, they swept all before them. Really it was too much. Souvenir shops for instance. A few tacky shops are okay, however Avignon had its fair share. Nice bridge too, but when will it be finished?

Took in Aix-En-Provence which was a combination of the beautiful and the slighty grubby gracefulness. Prices for food were bad. Basically what we will pay in Polish Zlotych cost the same in Euro’s. The best way to negotiate this thorny problem was to stop and buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the roadside stalls. Great food from under the provence sun, and far better prices. Even managed to get service with  smile.

Headin’ down we drove through the Camargue. This is one beautiful place, truly. Low lying and flat, none of those pesky mountain passes with inches to spare! Driving past rice fields and then the most beautiful white horses. There are plenty of places to stop take in this area. We alighted in Cassis. Cassis in the sun is great. A long sweeping esplanade with a great beach and a free pissoir in the car park. What more can you want! Although there were tacky shops the place had a wonderful feel to it. Just walking along the roads one could see it was well looked after, with splashes of colour from beautiful flowers thrown in for measure.

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Pottered around and went to the most unhelpful information lady in history. Her Gallic indifference and shoulder shrugs were superb and her English, well, bazik. Anyway we discovered that safaris into the Camargue cost around 120 Euro for the four of us. So no thanks. Eventually we plumped for the cruise which was about 12 Euro for an adult and discounted for the children. The ferry trip went up the mouth of the (Lesser/smaller?) Rhone and although we draw close to some beautiful views, it was all a bit distant. The chop on the sea as we took in the swell of the sea on the return trip was pretty cool for me. Onwards and along the coast…