Tag: Geocaching (Page 1 of 3)

Free, fun and always eye-opening, these articles discuss geocaching and the various places we have visited.

Sightseeing in Nesebar

After several days relaxing, it’s time to do some sightseeing in the ancient town of Nesebar. The free hotel shuttle bus was packed, so instead we decided to walk into town. We headed down to the beach and noted that there were more waves than on our last visit. We decided to catch the ferry across to Nesebar (15 lev each) so we could better appreciate the views of the Black Sea. There was a little bit of a swell which made the journey quite interesting, accompanied by whoops of excitement from the kids who were on board.

Nesebar itself is pretty, and there are plenty of ancient monuments and sites to check out (along with plenty of shops selling tourist tat). Some of the buildings and ruins are more than 1500 years old – and the foundations of the city walls are at least another 1000 years older…

A picture of Linda and Ben standing in front of the Hagia Sofia Church while sightseeing in Nesebar, Bulgaria
This church is older than the USA. By a considerable distance.

We took a leisurely stroll up the island and took the opportunity to grab two geocaches. Next to the Basilica of the Holy Mother of God Eleusa we stopped for lunch in Bistro Sezony, a little restaurant that looks out over the sea, back towards Sunny Beach. Lin had the grilled sea bream and I had deep fried goby – both were very good. Two mains and two beers cost ~£25. Probably a little over-priced but the food and view were good.

A picture of some deep fried goby I had for lunch while sightseeing in Nesebar
Deep fried goby

On the way back we decided to catch the road train, figuring we would get to see some sights on the way. The man selling tickets (5 lev per person) assured us the “train” went to Sunny Beach – but neglected to tell us that that was just the very edge of the town. When we reached the end of the line, we were still more than 2.5 miles from the city centre and the Aqua Nevis resort. We – and several other passengers – were caught out. 

After walking a few blocks we found a bus stop and were able to continue our journey to Flower Street – just as it began to rain. Tickets cost just 2 lev and it is possible to catch a bus all the way from Flower Street to Nesebar Old Town (or vice versa).

Back at Aqua Nevis there was a Bulgarian theme to dinner this evening, with several local delicacies to try. Kebabs, mish mash and goulash were on offer, along with national desserts. Everything was pretty good – definitely one of the better nights in the restaurant.

Evening entertainment came in the form of a quiz, won by a massive team who were very quick on their mobiles. Afterwards we enjoyed several drinks prepared by the ever-friendly team working the lobby bar.

Top tips:

  • Don’t catch the road train when sightseeing in Nesebar – it probably doesn’t go where you want it to.
  • Make sure you ask the bus driver if they are going to Flower Street – not just Sunny Beach. Otherwise you will probably end up at Sunny Beach bus station which is a slightly further walk back to the hotel.
  • The Aqua Nevis bar staff are happy to make stronger drinks – you just have to ask.

Please note that although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

Climbing a mountain

Having seen most of Prague’s main sights on previous visits, we’re in no real hurry to ‘do’ anything. After breakfast we decide to take a trip up to the Petrin Gardens and have a look at the mirror maze.

We walk up to the Staromestká tram stop, catching the number 15 across to Újezd. There is a long queue at the funicular station and Linda decides we should walk to the top of the (large) hill – even though the queue is actually for tickets (and we already have one).

Top tip: Your public transport tickets are valid for the funicular too. A 24 or 72 hour ticket will not break the bank and will save time and hassle as you move around the city.

Bonus tip: Your public transport ticket is not valid for the AE airport express bus.

We make several stops on the way up the hill, including taking a short detour to find a geocache. The view is absolutely spectacular:

Reaching the top, we realise that the mirror maze is not free – and that we don’t actually want to visit all that much anyway. Instead we stop for a beer at the Petrin lookout tower and then head back down the hill – this time using the funicular.

Afterwards we head over to The Chamber to play their Haunted House escape game. We had tried to book this room on our previous trip to Prague in February, but never quite made it, so we’re looking forward to it. (Prices from 1590 CZK / £55 GBP).

The room is extremely well put together, has some intriguing and clever puzzles and maintains a serious sense of dread throughout. This time we do manage to escape within the 60 minute time limit and have a really good laugh while being slightly on edge.

Going back into the old town, we stop at the Good Food trdelnik shop next door to the Hotel U Zlatého Stromu. Yes, we know that chimney cakes are not a traditional Czech dish, but we need a snack and they look cool. Linda opts for The Devil, black yoghurt poured into a black chimney. I choose the apple strudel variant (caramelised apples, walnuts topped with whipped cream). They are both very good.

Later that evening we go all out with a three course meal at Deer, another Bauer Hotel property. Linda starts with fish and I choose the sampler, which includes a small amount of all the starters. Too late I remember that I hate goats cheese. and there’s a big dollop of it on my plate. The duck pâté tastes like pure butter and the steak tartare is unmemorable. Presentation of all the dishes is incredible though, and the bread rolls with pink butter is a nice touch.

Top tip: If you’re staying at a Bauer Hotel property, reception should be able to make you a table booking at Deer, even if the restaurant is busy.

For main course, Lin has the sea bream because she enjoyed so much during our last visit in February. This time I go for the deer saddle and dumplings. There’s plenty of flavour but my main course is cold. For dessert, Lin selects the ice cream, including a scoop of sea buckthorn gelato; it’s unusual but very tasty and a good partner for the other flavours (mascarpone and blueberry).

Then it’s back to the hotel, another day done. But just as we’re dropping off to sleep, I’m jolted awake by the weirdest creaking noise – there’s someone in our room! We lie awake, waiting to see who it is and what they want.

Creak… creak… creak.

Eventually we realise the noise is coming from the floor above. That pretty painted ceiling can be a little creepy when your upstairs neighbour is walking around late at night.

I guess that’s what happens when you visit a haunted escape room and watch a horror movie on the same day.

Bilbao – Spider

Another day, another port, another stop with no definite plans. Again, Princess has laid on free buses to transfer us from the port in Getxo to the centre of Bilbao, not far from the Bilbao Guggenheim art gallery.

Top tip: Getxo port is miles away from Bilbao city centre. If your cruise line does not provide transfer buses, you may have to catch a local train from Getxo instead.

On the way we decide we should visit the picturesque old town. We also decide to do some geocaches on the way in the hope of finding our 700th, starting on the waterfront behind the gallery.

I have history of getting into trouble when visiting modern art galleries, so we don’t bother going into the Bilbao Guggenheim, opting instead for a walk along the waterfront. There are a couple of inventive geocaches along the way which makes the walk fun.

Eventually we arrive in the old town and head to the Plaza Nueva for a well-earned beer. As we imbibe a Mahou, a group of teenagers on a school trip begin an impromptu sports day. A few relay races are followed by several games of tug o’ war. The kids all look like they are having fun – and this is definitely not something you would ever see in Britain, let alone in the centre of the city.

We walk back towards the drop-off point and collect a few more geocaches on the way. The queue for the coaches to the ship are quite long, but move relatively quickly.

Because we’re back on ship long before sailing, we head down to the Goods Spirits bar and collect a drink (Prosecco for Lin) before going to afternoon tea. Afterwards we watch our departure from our balcony – the Spanish coast is quite impressive.

CA pilgrimage near Coruña

Normally we don’t bother with cruise excursions (too expensive). But given the difficulties of getting to Santiago de Compostela, we have decided to take an official guided tour to ensure we get there and back before the ship leaves. Mainly because it’s too far and too complicated to get there ourselves.

We’re met on the dock by our incredibly enthusiastic tour guide who herds us onto a coach for the journey along “The Way of St James“. We’re treated to a commentary about how Santiago de Compostela came into existence and the legend behind the town. Something to do with a pair of dudes transporting the corpse of St James from Israel to Spain in a stone boat and then leaving it in the forest where it is discovered accidentally by a farmer a few hundreds years later. I think.

Along the way we have been warned that the city is very busy with many more pilgrims visiting than usual. We’re rushed off the bus and into the main square outside the church. We’re given some more details about the church and meaning behind the various figures on its walls.

The queue to get into the church is mercifully small, so we’re set loose for 20 minutes to have a look. To say the altar piece is spectacular would be an understatement. We’ve been to Rome and still not seen anything quite like this.

Outside the church our guide realises that the queue to see the reliquary of the Apostle James is very, very short. So we queue to go into the church again through another door. Apparently we have arrived during the year of jubilee – James’ tomb is only open every ten years, so we have got lucky.

Afterwards we see a few more sights and then are left to our own devices for an hour. After searching for ages we finally find a bar that sells Estrella Galicia – we’ve been waiting to try it ever since watching Money Heist. Fortunately it’s not too bad. we also manage to find our 700th geocache while we wait for the rest of the tour party in the main square.

We head back onto the coach and drive back to the port. We have enough time to take a quick look at A Coruña but decide to head back onboard the ship to grab some lunch. We will have to come back another day to see what we missed.

We’re also “lucky” enough to catch one of the Disney Cruise ships leaving. Although they get a fire ship fountain send-off, the ‘When you wish upon a star’ horn is embarrassingly poor – even Princess’ ‘Love Boat’ theme is meatier. They get a good blast from our captain as they depart.

Again, the view as we leave port is impressive. We can clearly see the Lighthouse of Hercules from our balcony which is a nice treat.

A picture of the Roman lighthouse which can be seen just outside A Coruna
This lighthouse is about 1500 years older than America

The evening is another whirl of drinking and dining. And we have a day at sea tomorrow, which is nice.

Guernsey – Found it at last!

This is our second trip to Guernsey this year – just as well we liked it last time. The trip into anchorage is always interesting, cruising past small rocky outcrops with Alderney and Sark clearly visible in the distance.

We also really like the journey into town on the tenders. We’re lucky to score a seat on the roof – and the weather is spectacular for the 20 minute trip.

On our previous trip we spent a significant amount of time trying (and failing) to find two geocaches. So our first stop is to have another go. The first is located in the middle of a construction site, so that’s out of the question. Then we fail to find the second. Again.

Demoralised we head back into town to check out the VAT-free shopping. We buy nothing. Instead we drop into the Albion House Tavern for a local beer which is welcome.

Having run out of things to do, we decide to have one last stab at the geocache – and we finally find it! Our trip to Guernsey has not been totally wasted.

Top tip: Your medallion is magnetic and will be useful for solving this particular geocache puzzle

Sadly this is our last night onboard Sky Princess. Tomorrow we will wake up in Southampton and it will be time to drive home 🙁

Slow in Oslo

We’ve arrived in Oslo without any firm plans, so there won’t be much on the agenda. After breakfast we fight our way through the crowds down on the dock and indulge our dark tourism tendencies by heading for the Vår Frelsers gravlund (Our Saviour graveyard) and the grave of Edvard Munch.

We make a detour at the Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church) to pick up a geocache (#GC1XE09) and take a quick look at the Devil of Oslo. On our (uphill) journey we notice that just about everyone in Oslo goes running on a Sunday morning – there are packs of joggers everywhere.

Top tip: They take Sunday seriously in Oslo, so all the shops are shut. If you’re going on a shopping spree, visit on a Saturday.

Dark tourism done for the day, we head back down the hill in search of a bar. Passing a pro-Ukraine rally, we take a patio seat at the Williamsburg Bab & Beer kebab restaurant. They may have craft beers and free WiFi, but at more than £22 for two pints, you can’t afford to stay for long.

UPDATE MAY 2024: It appears that the Williamsburg pub has closed and been replaced by The Scotsman bar.

Top tip: Alcohol is ridiculously expensive in Norway. Your best bet is to head back to the ship if you really want a cocktail or second beer.

We squeeze in another geocache (#GCJ3CA) on the way back to the dock and then back onto the ship. Enchanted Princess sails quite early in the afternoon, allowing us to really enjoy the views as we head back to the Baltic.

Copenhagen tomorrow.

Coping in Carlsberg, Copenhagen

Docking at midday, we had initially planned to spend the day at Tivoli. However, the weather looks pretty poor so we decide to try something different.

Boarding the 164 bus from the stop directly opposite the cruise terminal, we head down to the Nordhavn train station. We then jump on the ‘B’ train down to Carlsberg station (definitely not probably the best station in the world).

Top tip: You can buy a 24 hour ticket valid for all public transport for 80 DKK from the vending machine next to the kebab shop opposite the cruise terminal

This area used to be the home of the original Carlsberg brewery and there are some great brick building reminders. However, we’re here for the Elephant Gate:

Suspicious elephant seen, we’re back on the bus towards Assistens Cemetery for some more dark tourism. Here we come across two ‘celebrity’ graves – Hans Christian Andersen and Nils Bohr. The graveyard is surprisingly busy – not with tourists, but dozens of Danes walking and jogging.

There are also some quite unusual headstones to see:

We walk back up to the Nørrebros Runddel metro station and hop on the M3 to Copenhagen central station. We score an outside table at the very welcoming Jernbanecafeen and sample a local ale. The pub is a family-run affair and very well looked after – apparently it is also the third best bar in Copenhagen. Again, not cheap, but more pleasant than many we have visited.

Afterwards it’s back to the ship and a quick snooze before dinner.

Hop on, hop off

We’ve been to Copenhagen before, doing our own whistle-stop tour of sights from The Bridge. Because the ship sails early at 4pm, there isn’t a huge amount of time to do anything.

We decide to take it easy. There’s two or three geocaches (#GC4GQMG, #GC85DRJ and #GC5752N) within easy walking distance of the ship, so we decide to find those, then spend the rest of the day lazing onboard.

The caches take us an hour or two, then we try out the hot tubs. That’s plenty of activity for today.

Skagen tomorrow.

Fishy town

We arrive in Skagen early in the morning. As soon as we open the balcony doors we are greeted by the overwhelming smell of fish – this is very much a working fishing port.

We had planned to do an escape room in Skagen, but realise it’s further from the port than we initially thought. We then discuss doing the six mile round trip to the Skagen lighthouse on foot.

Instead we buy two shuttle bus tickets. One for the short journey into the centre of the town and a second for the trip to Grenen. We take the opportunity to grab a quick geocache (#GC3C3KE) in the centre of town before boarding the second bus. This takes us out to the very end of Denmark, the point where the North and Baltic seas meet.

Even from Grenen car park, it is a considerable walk across sand dunes and the beach, but eventually we reach a very long, thin sand bar that marks the meeting point. Rolling up our trousers we do the tourist thing and stand with one foot in each sea. Clichéd perhaps, but still good fun – and the weather is lovely.

For dark tourists, there are several WW2 bunkers left behind by the Germans in varying states of disrepair.

After the epic walk we are glad we bought the shuttle bus tickets – even though we have to queue for about 45 minutes for the next bus.

Skagen itself is fairly unremarkable, but it was apparently incredibly popular with Danish artists over the years. Something to do with the light apparently. Lin reckons she could spend another day easygoing here, looking around and maybe enjoying one of the local restaurants.

Tonight is formal night and we have been invited to the Elite Captain’s Circle cocktail party. Held in the Vista Lounge, one must pass a phalanx of senior ship crew who applaud you as you enter – a little disconcerting for us as relative newcomers to cruising.

Once seated we are treated to free cocktails and a short presentation by the chief officer for guest loyalty. The three most travelled guests are each awarded a bottle of champagne and then we are sent on our way once more.

Afterwards we take our chances at Crooners Bar once more. It’s fun.

Our first Rhodeo – Rhode Island

The first stop on our journey back to the UK is Newport in Rhode Island.

Newport is ok, pretty much exactly what you imagine a town in New England to look like. The journey into port by tender is pretty good (I always enjoy the tender for some reason).

We do a bit of geocaching (#GC8FWQP, #GC88TKT) and take in some of the sights listed on Atlas Obscura. Newport seems to be a town that doesn’t like to wake up very early, so we have to wander around for some time before the bars open.

Apparently aliens built this tower.

Our dark tourism tendencies draw us to the Rhode Island Jailhouse Inn in search of an atmospheric beer. Too late we discover the Inn is actually a guesthouse. So instead we stop in at the Brick Alley Pub. The beer is ok, the decor suitably cliché and touristy.

A quick nose around the shops, a new Christmas tree decoration bought and then it’s back to the Sky Princess.

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