my first holiday in 2005: Warwick Castle, Costa Del Sol and London

Costa Del Sol Travel Blog

 › entry 3 of 17 › view all entries

(copy-paste from old blog)

02/12/2005 - finally holiday

At 2pm a driver from Helping Hands fetched me and brought me to Stratford-Upon-Avon. And so the friendly couple drove me again to their beautiful house in Ettington. I got the same room but this time my stay was for free. What kind words from Brenda: "You´re not a guest but a friend now!".

03/12/2005 - Warwick and X-Mas party

Today, on Saturday, Bob and I went to Warwick Castle (correctly pronounced "Warick", as I learned). At the entrance two fairies waited on stilts.

I took my camera, which wasn´t really fun for the last months and as I feared, it didn´t work. None of the freshly recharged batteries wored and I wanted to smash that stupid thing. Luckily Bob had his camera and so he could take a lot of nice snap shots.
Madame Tussaud´s took over the Castle as a sight and so you could see wax figures everywhere. We saw the 18th century party in the big hall etc, ...
...the Kingmaker (the Earl Of Warwick preparing for war...), ...

...the dungeon (horrible), the arms arsenal (I tried a helmet and tested the weight of swords), ...

...we ate a little a took the spiral staircases to the defense walls, quite an exercise. All over on the area I saw peacocks and although none of the male ones displayed it´s beauty, it was impressive to see them.

At about 4pm we went back to Ettington and I got dressed up for the Christmas party in the evening. It was the celebration of the town guides and bus drivers of Stratford-Upon-Avon. I didn´t think, that I will have my first culture shock in this place. We drove to a wonderful hotel of a golf course and I immediately felt underdressed and in the wrong place.
We went to the bar and drank something. The prices were as expected horrendous. A pianist played Christmas songs and everything was quiet and thoughtful. Brenda and I went to the toilet and were stunned. We found an additional room with armchairs and huge mirrors for doing the make-up... we went to the ballroom and I was irritated by the crackers and blow pipes on the tables. Everything was full of balloons and paper streamers. Wasn´t this supposed to be a Christmas party?

Everybody sat down and all over people started to pull the crackers and blow the pipes. And people were wearing stupid paper crowns. Where was I? Brenda explained to me, that this was normal on British Christmas parties. We ate and I had a nice chat with the busdrivers. I had my first Christmas Cake! Later it got too loud and we went to the bar. Bob came to fetch us. What an exciting day!

04/12/2005 - off to Spain

Brenda and Bob brought me to the airport in the morning. Before saying good bye, I bought something to read ("A Short History Of Nearly Everything") and I entered the Boeing757 to Malaga. On the plane Charlie & The Chocolat Factory was on. And in the on board shop they sold digital cameras for 60£...why not, I thought and took out my credit card! So, I had my camera for the holiday and it wasn´t too bad.
We arrived in Malaga, I got my backpack and went to the coach of First Choice. After one hour we arrived in the hotel Cortijo Blanco. I checked in an had a shower! The room was OK, nothing special, but comfortable to live in for a week, especially for 260£ and All Inclusive.

05/12/2005 - the first day

After the breakfast all the First Choice tourists met for an orientation in the bar. I was there first with Tony, a sympathetic and friendly 2-meter Englishmen. The rep(resentative) told us everything we should know, that you shouldn´t drink the water from the tab and that there is "siesta" from 2 to 5pm and so on...
First Choice offered a range of day trips, which I studied carefully. I booked Gibralta for Wednesday and Granada for Friday for 112€. After the meeting I walked the 800m to the beach and sat alone between rocks and sand. I began to collect shells and little stones. I watched the cold waves and inhaled the ocean breeze! Great!

At some point, Tony joined me and helped collecting shells. We talked and it was really nice. Then Tony took his way off to San Pedro on the beach, where there was a bit more sand. Here in Marbella where only rocks. But anyway it was much too cold to go in the water.
When I went back to the hotel, the sun came out through the clouds and immediately it became really hot! So, I was hoping for less clouds now. Probably there was even a chance to become a bit brown or even to jump in the ocean.
I had my lunch and went to the bar to have a beer. Unfortunately there were a lot of Spanish people here as well and they made a terrible noise. The 5th, 6th and 8th of December were national holidays in Spain and so I had to be prepared for an unpleasant volume of Spanish throughout the holiday. In the evening I had some more fish in the night restaurant and there was my mistake...

06/12/2005 - pukeritis

At 3am I woke up and felt like throwing up. And so I did several times. I thought about the fish and to visit a doctor. Now that it was a national holiday I had to get emergency treatment in the hospital. Luckily there was someone to translate my misery, because the woman at the front desk didn´t speak any English or German. But so I learned a new word: "vomitas".
I sat down in the waiting hall and hoped that I don´t have to vomit again. Suddenly a man in something like a boilersuit stood in front of me and said something in Spanish. I thought, the janitor wants to have a chat with me. But then I saw the stethoscope around his neck and because he was pointing to the treatment room, I understood, that this must be the doctor. It was kind of cute how we found out what I got with some weird English-Spanish mixture. He said, meningitis but that couldn´t got a lot of medication and went back to Marbella by foot to save the 6€ for the taxi.


In the evening I had some soup, which went well and I played Bingo, which didn´t.

07/12/2005 - Gibraltar

My stomach was quite stable again and so I went to do the day trip to Gibraltar. Tony was there, too. For some reason, I didn´t know, that this island is still British and it started to be pretty irritating. After 1 1/2 hours we arrived at the border.

Then we were - kind of - back in England. Strange. And there was a Bobby at the side of the road. By the way, people drive on the right side here. First irritation. The impressing rock called "The rock" takes up nearly the whole of the island and the second irritation was the big dark cloud hanging exactly over it. So, obviously British.
I went together with Tony through the pedestrian area. What a mixture of cultures: I heard Spanish and English, there were read telephone cells, Tapas, an Irish guitar player in front of an Africa shop, restaurants with English and German cards, more Bobbies and so on. Where was I again?
I bought a big pack of cigarettes for unbelievable 13€, I paid in pounds (so, 10 packs for 8£ instead of 50£ in England - I would call that a bargain)!
Tony and I went to a nice English pub to have lunch. I ate typical English food: curry, but my stomach said "nope" after 4 bites, so I had to give it all back...


We met the others of the group and went on with a small bus up to "The Rock". We stopped to have a look at Africa in 14 km distance. Funny!

We drove on to a grotto and I just looked out for the famous apes all over. The only free running apes in Europe. People say, that as long as the apes stay on the island, Gibraltar will still be British. Of course, as it is with the ravens in the Tower Of London, people here make sure that those animals stay where they are...
Somehow you could think, who was more interested in whom? And after a few minutes, the apes started to jump and everybody had a good laugh. And pow, I had one on my head as well. Tony quickly took a picture. Luckily the monkey didn´t find any lice and jumped to the next woman who now had the second monkey on herself.


After this "monkey business" we went back to the hotel.

08/12/2005 - loathing

I lay at the pool with a Pina Colada. Yes, my stomach took it. At some point Tony joined me and we relaxed in the sun.


I decided to go to the beach later on to try my new swim suit. The Spanish people anyway became so loud again, that you couldn´t even read properly.
So, we went to the beach and I went in the water. Tony stayed outside and took pictures of my hazardous business. The water was said to have 17 degrees but it just felt icy.
I played a bit around and enjoyed myself and fortunately the sun was warm enough to dry me while lying on the beach. How wonderful!


09/12/2005 - Granada

Yes, got up at 5am, left at 5.45. God! Then came dawn and we drove into the Sierra Nevada. Veils of mist rose up between the olive trees and the atmosphere seemed to be died in a sleepy blue.


We stopped for a coffee in a lovely little village on a hill and then drove on. We arrived in Granada and got a guided tour through the city. I just wanted to see the Alhambra...
The city of Granada was nice and interesting with all its narrow streets and old buildings but I wasn´t actually enthusiastic about it.


Finally we got up to the Alhambra palace and I was watching those impressing snowy mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the background.

You can´t really decribe the Alhambra. I chose some words from Wikipedia: "The Alhambra (Red Castle) is an ancient palace and fortress complex of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, in southern Spain (
It is simply overwhelming to walk through this palace and I can recommend this sight to everyone who comes near it!
Unfortunately my camera didn´t go on and so I couldn´t make all the pictures, I wanted. But a few good ones I have.


Sad, that we only had 3 hours. The guide chased us through the hallways and rooms, the guiding was in five languages.

10/12/2005 -  beer, the Spanish and an Irish Pub

So, there was the last day. My stomach was restored, so I could enjoy the All Inclusive for a last time.
Luckily it was quite warm and Tony and I drank one beer after another outside the bar and talked about language history. We decided to go to the Irish pub on the other side of the road, because it became quite cold and the bar was too loud to be to considered. I ordered a Strongbow Cider and Tony a Guinness. There were problems with the tab and Tony helped out. So, he got his beer for free and he paid mine - and it was Happy Hour, so the Cider was only 2€.
I went to the pub slot and put 2€ in it and got 13€ out of it! More and more English came in the pub. One man with the words "We have to get away from that bloody noise!" It was a nice evening and I went to bed early.

11/12/2005 - the way back

We had breakfast and I got my lunch pack. I found a nice farewell present in it: a mouldering tomato.

No doubt, that I didn´t ruin my stomach because I´m not used to Spanish food...
The plane went at 12.30pm and they didn´t show a movie this time but crappy English soaps.

Back in Birmingham, Tony and I went to the train station at the airport, said good bye and took different trains.
At 5.15pm I arrived in London ant took a taxi to the hostel "The Generator". This is supposed to be THE party hostel in London, but I was there, because the price was right (
I had a 4-bed girls dorm and paid 12£ per night. I looked around in the hostel, internet stations, billiard tables, lounge with cinema, bar, not bad! I even got a welcome beer. On the whole a nice modern and clean hostel. Back in my room I met my room mates, two Brazilian and one Argentinean girl - a men´s dream. No then, I´m a girl and so we talked the whole evening through, mostly about languages. I didn´t know, that in South America, there´s Spanish spoken in every country, except Brazil, where they speak Portuguese. So I learned something again.

12/12/2005 - the first day in London

This monday was supposed to be very active and so I started early. I went to the CCUSA office in Great Portland Street to fetch my mail. The Brazilians were with me because they were interested in the programs. I had a nice chat with Gloria and Vic, my contacts at CCUSA and I went on.
I was looking for a nice calm café where I could fill in the papers of the Open University. In February I will start studying! Yes! I will head for the Bachelor Of Arts with Honours in European Studies! So, anyway, I didn´t find a café and I walked on over Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square, here they had built up a fairground....

...and above the entrance of the Odeon was still the big advertisement for Harry Potter which was removed two days later for King Kong...

I bought a ticket for one of the Harry Potter shows tomorrow and ate something at Subway. I found a nice pub. I ordered a coffee and paid unbelievable 0,95£! In the middle of London! Wow! It was nice and quiet and I filled in the paper work. And I was happy to start studying soon.
Later I went to Harrod´s to buy Christmas presents for my English relations and friends. It was much too crowded and I left as quickly as possible.

I took the underground to Mornington Crescent to meet Danny. I found the Koko, the venue, where Life Of Agony will be playing in two days! Yeah! We went to a Thai restaurant. That was really good! We had a beer in pubs and luckily caught one of the last tubes out of Camden.

13/12/2005 - the Fiennes day

(Ralph Fiennes)

(Joseph Fiennes)

At 12.30 I went to the Odeon to see the new Harry Potter. In this cinema had been the premiere.
I was a bit disappointed by it and stood for a few minutes outside on Leicester Square to think about it. Suddenly two people approached me and asked, if I´d like to give an interview about the movie. Of course I did. The man asked me a lot of things and particular about Ralph Fiennes performance of Lord Voldemort. I told him about my disappointment.. I said, that I´m a fan of Ralph Fiennes and that he was great, of course. The woman took a picture of me in front of a movie placard and there I had an appearance in a British movie mag...

 Then I had to go to the cultivated theatre. And that was goood! Joseph Fiennes in the main roll in "Epitaph for George Dillon".

You could find a lot of women in the audience and although Joseph changed quite a lot after Shakespeare In Love and became a bit older, he makes me still melt away! *sigh*
And that was the end of my Fiennes day (yes, and I didn´t wait for Joseph outside to get a picture...I behaved).
Now I was looking foreward to the Life Of Agony day and had very sweet dream of Ralph and Joseph...

14/12/2005 - Life Of Agony day

Around 12pm I took my way to Tower Hill Station. I arrived there and found a piece of the ancient Roman city wall. It´s a strange feeling to know, that London was founded by the Romans 2000 years ago... I met Caesar and he was proud to present his wall to me so that I could take a picture.

I drove again to Mornington Crescent and went around the hall and in that moment the nightliner arrived. I was petrified and thought "They are IN there!". I stood for some time like stone in front of the bus and must have looked quite stupid. Roadies started unloading and Joey (guitarist) came out of the bus to do his part. I shortly saw Keith (singer) and Alan (bassist) came out of the bus as well. I was still in trance.


But luckily I woke up and I stopped staring a the bus and went to the pub on the other side of the road called "The Purple Turtle" and had a cider.
I watched the bus from here and had a nice chat with the girl at the bar - a gothic girl with a lot of metal in her face - I told her, that I am a big fan of that band over there in that bus and she tried to make me go over and talk to them. But what was I supposed to say? No, I stayed.
She put Danny and me on the guestlist for the Turtle later in the evening and I went to go shopping, but didn´t find anything I wanted. I had dinner in the Thai restaurant again. I wanted to take a pic of the Koko, but my camera didn´t. A bit angry I went back to the Purple Turtle and after another beer I cued up for the concert, as it is habit in England. I gave my clothes to the cloakroom, went to the loo, got myself a beer and there were still places free in the first row. I got the last one at the a barrier on the very left side at the wall. So, I had a good place where to put my beer. The support bands weren´t that exiting but then LOA entered the stage!

The gig was awesome! It had everything! I sang along, I moshed, I danced, I laught and I cried.
After 1 1/2 hours the gig was over and in the cue for the clothes, someone told me that the aftershow party will be in the Underworld. I planned to have a look at that with Danny later on.
I met Danny in the Purple Turtle. (I love the sentence "I´m on the guestlist!".) We had a beer and I told him like an excited teenager about the gig.
He showed me, where the Underworld is and where to take the bus and we said good bye. I went to the party and after 5 minutes I left again, wasn´t good. So I walked back to Mornington Crescent to take the bus back to the hostel. I saw, that the nightliner and a bunch of people were still standing next to the hall. I had to have a look at that. I saw a guy standing alone by the side and he had Joey´s broken guitar. I said "Oh, lucky you!" and he seemed to be happy to tell someone about his fortune. So we had a nice chat and I thought he was American by his dialect but he told me that he is French and flew from Paris to London just to see Life Of Agony. His name is Jerome.
Then Keith came out of the hall, the rest of the band was in the bus already. I asked him, if I could have a picture with him so he reached out his arm and we posed together for the photo. Jerome took it and I was happy. Good that the camera worked, 2 minutes later, it didn´t switch on again. I wished Keith a good journey home and we left.

I asked Jerome if he´s going to have a beer somewhere and we enjoyed the night in Camden and Soho till 4am.

What a night! Back in the hostel I was still full of adrenaline and it took ages to fall asleep.

15/12/05 - Bob´s birthday

After 3 hours of sleep I woke up and my thoughts were with last night again. I couldn´t sleep anymore. I talked to my two new room mates from the USA.
At 6pm I went to Harrow-On-The-Hill to celebrate Bob´s birthday in a nice French restaurant. When we arrived, I noticed, that there were only Bob, Brenda, their son Gary, his girl-friend Amie and me. I felt quite flattered and as a part of the family. The food was great and later Gary, Amie and me drove back into London. What a lovely evening!

16/12/2005 - back to the real life

I left the hostel around 9am and drove out of London to Harrow again. Bob and Brenda took me back with them into the Midlands.
The old lady was happy to see me again. So I was back on duty. Later Gran said, she was happy to hear an "English" voice again (the girl who was there in the meantime was Polish). That was nice! :-)

So, this was my December holiday! I did and saw a hell of a lot. The next months are going to be very quiet again and that is good. I have a lot to think about and remember from these two weeks. I´m still in contact with Tony and Jerome and we exchange pictures and memories!
I really enjoyed that and I´m looking forward to my next 2-week-adventure (in March: Germany, Wales and probably Paris?).
Supigirl says:
what a long article...great...lovely pics...
Posted on: Jun 14, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Costa Del Sol
photo by: dfoo