12th January 2021
The tier 5 lockdown has meant that I have continued to focus on cooking. My Meaty Mains section was getting a bit full, so I now also have a Spicy and Meaty Mains section where I have curry’s and other spicy delights. I have also decided to add a new section to my City Breaks– Naples [Napoli] which I visited a few years ago. There will be sections on Pompeii and Herculaneum too. Work is in progress but should be completed in a week or so. Here are some piccies to whet your appetite-
3rd January 2021
A belated Happy New Year to you
I decided to take the plunge and today I booked accommodation in Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves 2021. I used Airbnb and chose a lovely place in the city centre that offers free cancellation just in case the Covid situation is still causing havoc. I’ve also booked two nights accommodation before the festival in Vik through Booking.com which is on the south eastern coast as I want to go to Jokulsarlon and explore the area. I have not booked flights yet or car hire, I’m going to wait a little bit longer before taking the plunge with those! I miss Reykjavik, just over 2 years ago we were there for New Years Eve which was wonderful.
I’m in the process of adding new recipes to my recipe sections which has kept me busy- Veggie nut roast, pan fried scallops, Norwegian inspired baked cod, smoked mackerel pate and more. Click HERE if you want to take a peek.
24th December 2020
MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!
After a really challenging year, it’s going to be a weird and challenging Christmas. We are about to enter a Tier 4 lockdown where I live but I have still been cooking and writing up my recipes.
I’m doing a nut roast over Christmas and a smoked mackerel pate so I will adding these recipes ASAP.
Stay safe, eat food, drink wine, play records, watch telly. xxx
18th December 2020
Well it took some time to compile but I have made a Gruntie’s Top 21 places to see in The Peloponnese. Here is a slideshow to whet your appetite. Click HERE for more info.
I have also compiled a list of my Top 10 things to see in The Mani. Click HERE if you want to find out more.
26th November 2020
YAY ! PUDDIN
I have just uploaded 3 dessert recipes to this site- Leashia’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, Leashia’s Banoffee Pie and Mumsy’s Syrup Steamed Sponge Pudding. All are delicious methinks, check them out here- https://gruntiestravels.com/desserts/
13th November 2020
Gah! Another bloody lockdown. But the good news is that I have been cooking LOADS. I’ve been feeling a bit meaty! New recipes include – Duck in a red wine and orange sauce, Chicken in a beetroot sauce, spicy smokey pork and beef chilli and a couple of curries. Check them out HERE.
29th September 2020
I have been concentrating on building my new recipe pages! This time- Non Greek Recipes. There are meaty, fishy and veggie sections. take a peek!
18th September 2020
I’m writing this on my phone in the Peloponnese. Over the last week we have visited some amazing places- Viros Gorge near Kardamyli, Moni Nestani, Dervanakia as well as revisiting Nafplio, the Taygetos mountains near Stoupa and lots more! So plenty to add to this site when I return. In the meantime here are some piccies-
9th September 2020
Today I launched my Gruntie’s Travels Facebook Blog Page. It will be more ‘bloggy’ than my website and have lots of piccies and updates on travel to places that I like as well as Greek recipes and Icelandic and Norwegian music. In other words- all the things I like bestest. You should be able to find it using the Facebook search feature.
7th September 2020
5 sleeps until we head back to the Peloponnese. The government have added 7 Greek islands to the quarantine list but not the Peloponnese- phew!
26th August 2020
Well it was inevitable I suppose but Iceland Airwaves has been postponed until 2021. Full story here-https://icelandairwaves.is/iceland-airwaves-moves-to-2021/ but still…. BUGGER
On another note- our trip to Plovdiv [which I had already moved from March 2020 to September 2020] currently means we have to self isolate for 14 days on our return to the UK. Well that’s no good, so that trip is abandoned for now and we are revisiting Stoupa again instead! Return flights from Gatwick to Kalamata are currently only around £65.
As our flight departs so early in the morning we are going to stay at Premier Inn Gatwick North on the night before. It is right by the terminal and is only £31 for the night- a bargain methinks. https://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/home.html
18th August 2020
Well, I have been back in England for a week now after a couple of wonderful weeks in the Peloponnese. I have been busy updating this website. There are new entries and photos relating to Sparta and surrounding area, Stoupa, Areopoli, Kalamata and surrounding area, Itylo Bay, Sparta and Kardamyli. Still not finished but in the meantime -take a peek…
12th August 2020
Chaos in Kalamata Airport ! – Well it was not that bad- but it was certainly poorly organised and worse than usual. The reason? Poor scheduling it seems with 3 flights departing within a few hours of each other and the small airport just can’t cope. We flew home yesterday on the Easyjet noon flght. Back in England now in the sweltering heat looking forward to updating my website with some amazing photos and info on more wonderful places that we visited in the Peloponnese. Highlights include several ancient sites on the outskirts of Sparta, the Langada Pass, Kapetanakis castle in the Mani, the Dekoulou Monastery near Areopoli and the Voulcanou Monasteries near Ancient Messene. Here are a few piccies:
4th August 2020
I have just noticed that my blog piece about completing the PLF for Greece has disappeared! I suspect I deleted it by accident when editing on my phone. But as a reminder – one form per family needs to be completed and submitted but I prefer to complete one for myself and my wife does one too. A link to the form and some advice can be found here- https://travel.gov.gr/#/
Dont bother downloading the Visit Greece app. It’s awful.
2nd August 2020
Today Leashia and I visited some amazing sights in Messinia. The Mycenaean Necropolis near Kalamata was wonderful but did involve a bit of scrambling to get to the tombs. We had a picnic by the Northern Walls of Ancient Messene before an exhilarating but exhausting part drive part trek to the Old Voulcanou Monastery. Plenty to add to my website on our return. Here is a sneak preview in photos-
28th July 2020
Well We made it to Kalamata without a problem. Our PLF code was emailed to us as promised on time which we needed to show at Gatwick and at Kalamata airport. Gatwick airport was eerie, especially before security where nothing was open. Thankfully after security Wetherspoons was open for business and so was Pret, so we could buy food for the flight. We had to wear face masks of course which is not comfortable but it had to be done. The flight seemed full which was a surprise. Our experience at Kalamata airport was fine too and we were not selected for a Covid check although I am aware some people were. Stoupa was as delightful as ever- everywhere seems to be open, although it is definitely a bit quieter. I’m glad to be back.
27th July 2020
It appears that us Brits have to complete a PLF before returning to the UK from our holiday. This was news to me!
The link to the form is here- https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/public-health-passenger-locator-form?
And a link to some Gov advice on returning to the UK- https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk
1st July 2020
Well, it was inevitable I suppose but our Peloponnese trip has been cancelled, but still- BUGGERY BUGGER! I have had to cancel our reservations in Areopoli and Nafplio as well as the car hire. If an air corridor is in place between UK and Greece by the end of July we may be able to go then, but we will see. In the meatime I am going to focus on new Greek recipes.
5th June 2020
COVID UPDATE- Well the apocalypse is dragging on, and no sign of any zombies [yet], or of any holidays on the horizon. [But I am well prepared and have the Walking Dead Cookbook and Survival Guide close to hand].
So with under 6 weeks to go before our scheduled trip to The Peloponnese it’s just a waiting game to find out what is going to happen. The UK government are still saying no to non essential travel and anyone entering the UK will need to self isolate for two weeks which will scupper any holiday plans methinks and the travel industry are going to find it difficult to survive given these extreme [but obviously necessary] restrictions.
Given the lack of travel opportunities I decided to add a new section to my Peloponnese guide and have added some of my favourite Greek recipes! So now you can bring a little bit of Greece to your own home. Click the link and it will take you there- https://gruntiestravels.com/greek-recipes/
14th May 2020
COVID UPDATE – I hate not knowing what’s happening. With 3 trips planned this year : Peloponnese in July, Bulgaria in September and Iceland in November, all the uncertainty is killing me ! [luckily not literally]. The Bulgaria trip was originally planned for March. Greece and Iceland are planning to open their borders for toursim soon, so there is some hope. The problem may be having to go into isolation for two weeks on returning to England.
Another BBC article here- https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52646738
14th April 2020
I have been following the serious fires raging near Chernobyl for some time on social media, as it was not being reported over here in England. It’s already destroyed [again] several abandoned buildings and houses and is not far from the main plant and radiation levels have spiked. I was there only 2 years ago.
Today the BBC have posted this interesting article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52274242
11th April 2020
The Athens and Epidavros Festival have provisionally announced their line up for 2020, although due to the pandemic it is subject to change. So I can now go ahead and book accomodation in Nafplio to coincide with this as we want to see a performance at the ancient theatre at Epidavros. Let’s hope the holiday [and festival] goes ahead! Click on the following link for full details of the line up : http://greekfestival.gr/schedule/?lang=en
28th March 2020
Well, no surprise, but I cancelled our trip to Bulgaria and have optimistically rebooked for September. I hope things are back to normal by then, but we will see. I tried to take advantage of Easyjet’s free flight transfer option, it worked for one flight, but not the other!
As I am stuck at home I found the time to add a new page- Further reading and inspiration to my Reykjavik section where I cover some of my favourite books and movies about Iceland.
13th March 2020
Bulgaria have declared a state of emergency. So that may mean that restaurants and museums will be closed. So our trip to Sofia and Plovdiv now looks unlikely, unless we want to sit in a hotel and look at the walls! BUGGER ! Easyjet have not cancelled our flights yet and there are no statement from our Government yet but I have signed up for updates.
13th March 2020
Interesting announcement from Easyjet. They are offering free flight transfer until further notice if you don’t want to travel. I’m still sticking with my flight to Sofia next week until I have no other choice.
5th March 2020
Well, there is a first time for everything. Yesterday Easyjet emailed informing us that our return flight from Sofia to Gatwick had been cancelled, BUGGER! That’s about 3 weeks’ notice, so I had time to sort it out. I have never had this happen to me before. At least the flight to Sofia is ok [at the moment].
Our original plan was to have 4 nights in Plovdiv. We were going via Sofia, staying there a night before getting a coach to Plovdiv for a 4 night stay.
So I considered the options and decided to extend our forthcoming stay in Plovdiv by an extra night and this was simple to ammend on Booking.com. The new flight cost no extra and was also simple to rebook on the Easyjet website. I also had to cancel our coach to Sofia and rebook another, which again was not complicated. I tried to ammend and extend our parking at Gatwick online but managed to balls this up and had to call them, but they were very helpful and an extra 24 hours airport parking at Gatwick was only £4. An extra night at our hotel in Plovdiv was about £38 [inc breakfast] and the rebooked coach from Plovdiv to Sofia was actually a bit cheaper than the original one and I am getting a refund for the original cancelled booking.
So all in all it was a bit of a pain in the arse, but as it stands it is all sorted and we have an extra night in Plovdiv. [shame]
I do not know the reason for the cancellation- the affects of coronavirus on the travel industry maybe? But as it stands we are still going to Plovdiv [via Sofia] and I have no intention of cancelling until our government tells us otherwise. The government’s current stance regarding the virus and travel is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
The other bit of news today was the demise of Flybe, an airline I have never used but it’s still a sad day for their staff and customers.
14th Feb 2020
Happy Valentines Day ! Yesterday Iceland Airwaves announced their first acts for the festival – including Metronomy, Squid, Courtney Barnett, Sin Fang and loads more Icelandic bands I have never heard of [but will find out] ! I hope Sóley plays !!!! https://icelandairwaves.is/first/
28th Jan 2020
Yay! I have finished my blog on Copenhagen. It seemed to take forever!
2nd Jan 2020
HAPPY NEW YEAR !! This year I have Plovdiv, The Peloponnese and Reykjavik to look forward to [and write about]. I have also decided that I will add Copenhagen to this site, so that will keep me busy over the next week or two.
4th Dec 2019
I have finished adding photos to my Pinterest site. Just added photos of my Hurtigruten voyage from Bergen to Tromso in winter. [It was chilly].
4th Dec 2019
Yay! Our Thomas Cook refund has finally arrived!
25th Nov 2019
I have started to research about ways to offset carbon from my travels. It’s fair to say it’s a bit complicated. There are many articles about it on the web. I started with this one from the Beeb which is an interesting read. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48657582
21st Nov 2019
Ooh, an interesting article about Ryanair’s baggage policy. I am no fan of the company and try to avoid flying with them if I can. This ruling may encourage them to be more fair. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50497629
10th Nov 2019
ICELAND AIRWAVES 2020. Very limited Super Early Bird tickets are released today for next year’s Airwaves Festival which is on November 4th – 7th. They are a bargain at £80 and will sell out quickly so snap one up ASAP. https://icelandairwaves.is/
21st Oct 2019
Still no refund for our Thomas Cook holiday, so I rang the CAA and put in a claim over the phone. They were actually very helpful. I was told that Thomas Cook had not given all the information to the CAA about holiday bookings and that is why many people have not received a refund. I also completed an on line form, just in case. The CAA helpline is – 0300 303 2800.
23rd Sept 2019
Thomas Cook is no more, a sad day. We had already booked our trip to The Peloponnese for 2020 with them and were paying by installments. We rebooked with Olympic online instead which was painless, but a little more expensive. We opted to travel on a saturday as the flights are with Easyjet. Flying on the sunday were Thomas Cook flights and we avoided that option for obvious reasons.
As we were paying by Direct Debit we should not need to make a claim. We should get a refund within 14 days. We will see. If you need more adviceregarding Thomas Cook refunds, Money Saving Expert has everything you need to know.
4th Sept 2019
Just booked flights to Sofia so we can visit Plovdiv in March 2020! YAY ! Return flights with Easyjet from Gatwick to Sofia only £50pp! So 5 nights accomodation in decent hotels [inc breakfast] including return flights a real bargain at £161.00 pp!! YAY AGAIN!