Posted by: travelrat | October 24, 2017

The Lake District (Not the Cumbrian One)

. Lake Llanquihue

Puerto Varas: 13th February 2017

We’re going to the Lake District, they told us when we got to Puerto Montt. It wasn’t the tidy parcel we have at home, though. You could easily fit ‘our’ Lake District into just one lake here. Lake Llanquihue is the size of Luxembourg! But there is a connection, albeit a very tenuous one. We had lunch at the Cumbres Hotel at Puerto Varas … which isn’t a million miles off the name ‘Cumbria’

Puerto Varas itself is actually an enclave founded by German settlers, so there’s a slight Germanic air about the place.


The dining room looked put over the lake, with the volcano beyond. The theme was Chilean, and of particular note were the Pisco Sours served before the meal. The base is aguardiente, which, if you scroll back far enough is used to make a queimada … delicious, but I wouldn’t think either would take many prisoners. We also had a starter of empanadas or little pastries stuffed with cheese, seafood or meat. They looked like a miniature Cornish pasty … and I think I’ve had something similar before. Maybe at one of the Vaughantown tapas parties?

Pisco Sour

Posted by: travelrat | October 22, 2017

Digging In at the Cathedral


Salisbury: 7th October 2017

They often hold exhibitions and displays in the Cathedral Close, Salisbury, and this time it was a little different. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, they showed a mock-up of a WW1 trench … with re-enactors on hand to answer questions.

David Bremner had his Bristol Scout there, too, which I saw at Larkhill a few weeks ago.


Of course, they couldn’t reproduce it exactly … everyone had nice clean uniforms on, and there wasn’t any mud around. There were a few model rats placed at strategic intervals … but well short of the real thing. I doubt if the ‘Health and Safety Police’ would have allowed it, anyway


Posted by: travelrat | October 16, 2017


Went to Albania yesterday. Another country ticked off!​

Posted by: travelrat | October 12, 2017


I am here!!​

Posted by: travelrat | October 10, 2017

Travelling Again

It’s time to put the blog into ‘sleep mode’ again, as to-morrow, we’re off to Corfu. Only for a week, though … I’ll be back before you know it.

I’ll leave you with some video; just a short one of the Amalia Glacier; music is ‘At Rest’ by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

We’ve now rounded the tip of South America, and, we have volcanos and waterfalls to look forward to.

Posted by: travelrat | October 8, 2017

Amalia Glacier

Amalia Glacier

Amalia Glacier: 11th February 2017

I think we were spoilt when we sailed down Glacier Bay, in Alaska, last year, in almost perfect conditions.

But, we’re at the other end of the world now, and although we were promised great things as we sailed past the Amalia Glacier, when we got there, it was shrouded in mist. Would this turn out to be the second disappointment of the cruise? Julio, the Port Lecturer, giving a commentary from the bridge, said the pilot had said that he had been bringing ships this way for twenty years, and this was only the second time he had seen the glacier so hidden.

But, gradually the mist cleared, and the sun struggled to make an appearance. It didn’t quite make it, but still enough to get a good sight of the glacier.

The original plan was to remain in the vicinity for an hour, like we did in Alaska. But, in the event, we didn’t stay long. An intermittent drizzle and approaching dinner time ensured that!

Posted by: travelrat | October 5, 2017

Travel Theme: Calm


‘Calm down, dear!’ (Michael Winner)

A friend once told me he preferred grandchildren to children ‘… because, you can send them home when they get too bothersome!’  I can’t say I wholly agree with him, but there’s certainly a sort of silence for about an hour after they’ve gone.

Calm reigns!

Then, after a while, someone turns the television on, and the atmosphere is gone. Not permanently, though; there’s usually a little slot around mid-afternoon, when I’ve done all that I have to do, but the neighbours aren’t home from work or school yet. For this golden half-hour or so, I have music. Several Enya albums, Mike Oldfield’s ‘Spheres’ and Craig Ogden are favourites for ‘Music to Inspect the Back of Your Eyelids’ by.

The best time for calm, however, is first thing in the morning … and the best way to portray it is if there’s water in the picture.


This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. More at

Posted by: travelrat | October 3, 2017

The Monkey Stole My Cigarettes

Mount Kenya: 1994

Time to get the ‘Time Machine’ fired up again, and this week, we’re going back to not only before I started the blog, but also before I started the Trip Diary. To 1994, in fact. So, I have just a few scribbled notes and some slides to work with, so I must apologise in advance for any mistakes, and the poor quality of the pictures, for my slide scanner isn’t all that good. But, since I had a prompt from a fellow blogger, wanting to know more about it, here it is …

When you say the words ‘Kenya Safari’, most people thing about plains, grassland and open spaces. But, there are places which seem like a thousand miles from the Kenya of tourist brochures, and one of these places is Mount Kenya, where we stayed at (if I remember rightly) the Mountain Travel Lodge.

When the early explorers brought news of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya, they were greeted with incredulity.

‘Snow so close to the Equator? Surely not!’

Mt Kenya

We didn’t see any snow, though … in fact, few people do. On my picture, you can just about make out the mountain through the haze … and the guides thought we were lucky. Most days, they said, you can’t see it at all.

The Lodge was built into a steep wooded hillside. You entered from the rear, and went down to your room … I think we were on about the fourth floor … and all rooms looked down to a water-hole, where animals came to drink.


A nice touch was, if you wanted to see any particular animal, you told the staff, and, if it came while you were sleeping, they’d give you a call.

We must have been about 40 feet above the level of the water-hole, so we thought we were fairly safe leaving a window slightly open.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I emerged from the shower, to see a monkey, escaping through the window, clutching my cigarettes! The curious thing was my watch, wallet and lighter were on the table beside them, but were undisturbed.

Fortunately, the elephants and buffalo we saw later don’t climb … but we did learn, when in Africa, NEVER leave your window open.


Posted by: travelrat | October 1, 2017

Punta Arenas: Slide Show


Punta Arenas: 10th February 2017

When we don’t have an excursion booked on a cruise call, we usually go ashore anyway, and just wander around. But it isn’t usually an aimless wandering; we can still see and do … and usually bring back some pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: travelrat | September 28, 2017


Cologne: 2001

Cologne (Köln) has always been proud of the diversity of culinary styles it offers. The local Hotel and Catering Trade Association boast that there is ‘virtually no nation on Earth whose cuisine is not represented’.

 But, what about German food? Of course, there are places in the city where unadulterated German cuisine can still be enjoyed, in a traditional setting. These are the historic bierhalle, or beer-halls, which not only sell beer, but also serve food … the real stuff! Be warned, though, that this is ‘hearty peasant fare’. Those partaking would be well advised to do some fasting in advance … and we suggest that nether garments with an elasticated draw-string waist-band be worn!


One of the most famous of the bierhalle is the Malzmühle, at No. 6, Heumarkt, on the left bank of the Rhine, near the Deutzer Brücke. The name means ‘malt-mill’, and this building was originally a malt-house, where barley was malted for the brewing trade. In 1858, they started to brew beer in the Malzmühle, and they still do.

Kölsch is the name to remember. It describes a native of Cologne, the dialect he or she might speak … or the light but highly fermented and hoppy beer peculiar to the area; if it’s not brewed in the Cologne area, it ain’t Kölsch!

 Mühlen Kölsch is brewed on the premises, and served in slim, cylindrical 0.2 litre glasses called stangen (rods) The beer comes from a wooden keg, and is poured into the stangen by the tap-man, or Zappes. The traditionally uniformed waiter or Köbes (a diminutive of ‘Jakob’) carries the stangen around the tables in a kranz, or crown. This is a circular tray with a central handle, with holes into which the glasses fit.

The Köbes simply distributes beer to anyone with an empty glass … unless specifically requested not to. He keeps tally by making a mark with his pencil on the bierdeckel (beer-mat or coaster) and drinkers pay their reckoning at the kiosk at the end of the session.


My first visit to the Malzmühle was purely to check out the beer. I’d already eaten at the hotel, and wished I hadn’t, for the aromas from the passing food-trays were temptation indeed. Sausage of every kind, of course, and the myriad of mouth-watering things German cooks can do with a dead calf or pig were all on offer.

I asked if sandwiches were available, and Köbes suggested a Halve Hahn or Kölsche Kaviar. Both names are deceptive; the ‘half-chicken’ is actually a sandwich of Dutch cheese on rye; ‘Köln Caviar’ has nothing to do with sturgeon, but is blood sausage (or black pudding, as we call it in Britain) on rye.

On my next visit, two weeks later, I was prepared for something more substantial. It wasn’t entirely by design; the buffet-car on the train from Munich was out of commission, which meant that I was more than ready for one of the Malzmühle’s more substantial platters.

I reached for the Foodekaat.


 If your German phrase-book says you should ask for a Speisekarte … it’s quite correct. This isn’t German, though, it’s Kölsch! This shows that the Malzmühle isn’t just for tourists; it’s closer to Dutch than German, so much so that it’s thought necessary to provide a German translation. But, if you don’t read either of these languages, the Köbes will bring you the bill of fare in English, French and Italian. This is actually the better option, because it describes exactly what you’re getting.

You can’t, in my view, get a better description than ‘Substantial joint roasted on a sprit (sic) with fried onions, coleslaw and fried potatoes’. But, maybe you could do without knowing that Himmel un Äd (‘Heaven and Earth’) consists of fried black pudding, mashed potatoes and stewed apples?

I thought I’d play it safe, and stick to what I knew. Goulash soup … the smiling Köbes proffered a knife and fork to eat it with … which wasn’t far off the actuality. When the Jägerschnitzel arrived, I could only greet it with a reverent ‘Oh, my God!’ Thank goodness, I’d cancelled the chips, and requested potato salad instead, and I swear there was a good half-pound of it … and an equal quantity of sauerkraut. The schnitzel itself was in proportion, with, naturally, a mushroom sauce to kill for.


The big surprise is the bill for this indulgence. For all the Malzmühle’s international reputation … former President Bill Clinton once stopped by for a brew during the G8 conference … it’s not going to break the bank. This belt-bustin’ repast came to, not counting the beer, less than £10 English money, or USD15!

Only a restricted selection of sweet courses was on offer. The choice is vanilla ice-cream with hot cherries or raspberries, with or without cream … and that’s it! I’d suggest that there’s not much demand for them except from the most gluttonous!

I admitted defeat. I declined the ice-cream, had a couple more beers, paid my bill, and left. I walked about a mile along the riverside promenade, the Frankenwerft, back to my hotel … and if I’d had a sweet course after that Jägerschnitzel, I’d never have made it; I’d have had to call a taxi!


Please note: I visited in 2001. Prices, and exchange rates have almost certainly changed since then.


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