Tag Archives: Cityscapes

Day 2 – Lugo. Not at all lugobrious.

Monday 29 April 2024 – We squeezed rather more into the day than had been our original plan, because today the sun was shining but the weather forecast for the coming days was gloomy at best, dire at worst. We had originally planned just to potter over to Lugo via an archaeological site today, and leave the morrow for wandering around Lugo itself. But time permitted us to do both in the one day, and the good weather encouraged us to adopt that as plan A. The result was a good day – we even had time for another decent and copious lunch.

First challenge, though, was to get the panzer tank beemer out of the underground car park at the hotel, which we managed without incident by dint of Jane watching closely from outside the car as I negotiated exit barriers. It’s a lovely car in many respects, and probably not actually that much larger than my old Citroën. But it feels fucking huge!


Jane had, as ever, spotted a potentially interesting site to visit as we made our way to Lugo. I tried putting the name Viladonga into our TomTom satnav, and it was not at all impressed. But Google Maps came to the rescue and so we found ourselves at Castro Viladonga, the site of a mainly Roman hill fort, where there’s a rather nicely laid-out and totally free museum beside the remains of the castro itself. The museum has a model of what it’s imagined the place looked like in its day.

and, particularly given the lovely weather, this cried out to me that I needed to get the drone up and over the site.

Whilst I was busy dealing with the drone, Jane was taking photos of the site itself, which has some quite remarkable stonework still visible.

There’s a lot of detail visible for those who want to dive into it.  For example, as you enter the site, there’s a stone in the middle of the path.

The groove in it indicates that at one stage a gate would lodge in place there, and one can see at the sides the ridges which would support the gate.  Looking at the stone from further away

shows that there would be a second gate, for added security. The museum also has several interesting artefacts, including fragments that show that glass was being blown during the time of the greatest occupation of the encampment (2nd – 5th Century AD).  They also had a booth with a cute video simulation of some of the activities that would be daily tasks of the time.

All in all, it was a pleasant diversion from the journey to Lugo and we’re glad we took the time to nose around it. There was a tiny treat for us as we drove off the motorway to reach it – a stork’s nest with a stork on it! Sadly, traffic meant we couldn’t stop without causing an unacceptable amount of tutting from the drivers behind us, but it was lovely to see. On the way back from the Castro, we did manage to stop, and Jane got a snap of the three chicks that were in the nest.

With luck, we’ll see more of these during our time in Galicia. We saw plenty of nests here last autumn, but never ones with actual occupants.

Lugo is a town best known for its Roman Walls, which was the main reason for us to visit, obvs. Our hotel is the Hotel Méndez Núñez. Now, this is the second time we’ve come across the name, as, you’ll of course remember, there was a park of this name in A Coruña. It turns out that Castro Méndez Núñez was a Galician who fought Filipino pirates, won a war, scared and intimidated the British and American navies and was the first to sail around the world in command of a battleship. Who knew, eh?

Anyway, we arrived with a determination to exploit the day’s nice weather to walk the Roman walls which have made Lugo world famous in Spain. First , though, we had to wrestle the tank beemer through one of the Roman (i.e. chariot-sized, rather than SUV-sized) gates and along a typically Roman Old Town set of narrow streets to find the recommended car park somewhere near our hotel. Remarkably, in another of the day’s small and somewhat unexpected treats, not only did we manage to get into the Anxel Fole car park with the paintwork intact, but there was also a space big enough for it there. What larks!

We were further delighted to note that we had time to eat lunch and use the walls as a post-prandial constitutional, since it was only about 2pm when we got to Lugo. Conveniently, the hotel features a restaurant and the receptionist told us that it would be open for lunch until about 3pm.  So we headed with alacrity to the 6th floor terrace, where it looked like we might have a desultory hotel lunch alongside the other couple who were there.  We ordered food and noted that after a while a few groups came in. And then a few more.

By about 3.30pm, the place was practically full, so our rush to get there was, after all, not necesary. It did, though, enable us to have a decent and copious lunch whilst still having plenty of time to walk the walls.

The walls that I’ve been banging on about are ancient Roman defensive walls stretching a couple of kilometres and completely surrounding the Old Town – I think it’s the only city which has an intact set of completely surrounding walls; York runs it a close second, but there are a few gaps there. The Lugo walls were built in the third century AD to defend the ancient Roman town of Lucus Augusti. The fortifications were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Deservedly, they’re a popular tourist attraction.  Here are some photos from our walk round them.

It looks to us as though the walls have had some restoration work done on them, even if we can’t immediately find verification one way or the other.  They’re just somehow in suspiciously good nick for construction that old.  Sure, the Romans knew how to build stuff, but still….anyway, they’re wonderful to behold, and the city obviously takes great care of them.

Jane had a quick chat with these guys and, yes, it’s a year-round task to keep the walls looking good.

The feeling we’d got from various sources was that there wasn’t much else to see in Lugo apart from the walls. On the basis of our short stroll around today, I think we’d beg to differ; it’s a charming place

This chap was outside the place we stopped at for a well-deserved coffee after walking the walls

and we haven’t explored the cathedral or other churches yet – we’ll leave that for the morrow. There’s even a statue of the chap who lent his name to our car park.

Anxel Fole was a writer, well-known in Galicia, since he wrote books, poems and stories in the Galician language.

As the evening drew to a close, we wrung the last photographic drops out of the city, as it’s quite attractive lit up at night.

First prize for photogenicity has to go to this view of the back of the cathedral, though.

We really enjoyed the day and being able to take advantage of the good weather. Tomorrow – who knows? If it rains, perhaps we can find some indoor places to explore.  Come back soon and find out whether we were lucky or not, eh?

No Fundy Sundy

Sundy Sunday 2 October 2022 – Our itinerary for today featured, as its main event, a tour round the Bay of Fundy, a bay some 90km north of Halifax, on the border with New Brunswick. “Tour” in this case, meant a hike of about 17km in total, and the reason for going there was to witness the tides, which are the highest in the world – as much as 50 feet between low and high water levels. We had instructions to present ourselves at the Maritime Museum entrance, about 15 minutes’ walk away, at 0830. So we got up nice and early (‘coz we’re on bloody holiday) and shot down to the hotel lobby at 0730 to discover that breakfast on Sunday didn’t start until 0800.


There wasn’t much we could do about that, so we just dressed ourselves up in the expectations of a cool (10°C) windy (northerly, 20mph) day (yes, I know that’s mixed unit systems. Deal with it) and set off breakfastless to our rendezvous.

Which didn’t happen. No-one turned up to collect us.*

To be honest, we weren’t altogether surprised. Jane had tried to contact the operators of this particular tour to confirm things, and there had been no answer on their phone number over a couple of days. We gave them until 0900 and then gave up, but used the time in going back to the hotel to see a few new things on the streets of Halifax that we’d missed before: artworks;

a shack which would offer the Canadian national dish were it open, which thankfully it wasn’t;

more artworks;

some buildings of curiosity – the Pacifico Dance Club and the Press Block, the remains of which are shored up in dramatic fashion in order to act as façade for new apartments yet to be built;

and a chance to get some photos on the Grand Parade unobstructed by the celebrations of other folk – the town hall, the monument and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest building in Halifax and the oldest Anglican Church in Canada.

So we got our breakfast after all. Having partaken, we rested a while and then went out for a walk. Obviously.

Before we had our chat with Tim the concierge, he had been giving another couple some tips about places to go and things to do. Jane had earwigged this and used it formulate a Plan B – take the ferry across the harbour to Dartmouth and take a late lunch at a restaurant called the Wooden Monkey. So we walked to the Ferry Terminal via the Historic Properties

which now house various small boutique-y businesses.

I noted this highly retro offering in the ferry terminal.

The ferry is astoundingly good value for money. Two dollars will get you across the water to the Alderney Landing in Dartmouth and that price also includes what they call the “transfer” – a return journey if undertaken within two hours of the start. The only hurdle put in our way was that not only did they only accept cash, but also you had to proffer the exact amount. We managed to get some notes from an ATM (which was erroneously marked as Out of Service) and thus some change from a change machine, but this was the first time that only cash was acceptable for such a long time that I had given up taking any with us.

Anyhoo… the ferry journey gives some decent views in the 10 minutes it’s in motion: views of Halifax city

(our hotel visible between the two buildings), including the large Casino complex;

a view of the Alderney Landing, unsurprisingly;

and a view of the two major bridges across the water, the Macdonald Bridge and, through it, the Mackay Bridge.

Seeing the two bridges gave an opportunity to reflect on something I’d never come across before we visited Canada (first mention of it was in my brother Chris’s blog post on his earlier visit here) – the Halifax Explosion of 1917, the largest man-made explosion before the first atomic bomb. On the morning of 6 December 1917, the French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the area between where those two bridges now stand. The Mont-Blanc, laden with high explosives, caught fire and exploded, devastating the Richmond district of Halifax. 1,782 people were killed, largely in Halifax and Dartmouth, by the blast, debris, fires, or collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured, many by flying glass. It’s amazing that I’d never heard of this incident until this year.

Dartmouth is quite a large area in Halifax, but the downtown part near the ferry terminal is quite limited. We had time before our restaurant reservation, so we walked around a bit. Obviously. There’s a waterside trail which features a couple of curiosities: the propeller of HMCS Macdonald, broken by ice when assisting another vessel in crossing the North West Passage (astonishingly the damage was only discovered later in dry dock);

the World Peace Pavilion, dating from the 1995 Global Economic Summit and containing symbols of peace from nations around the globe;

and a decent view back over to Halifax.

We had an excellent meal in the Wooden Monkey,

(above – the lift lobby going up to it from the ferry terminal)

which takes local produce and environmental issues very seriously. My theory about the restaurant name was that it was called such because it wooden monkey around with the quality of its offerings (actually, we were told that it came into being in the Chinese Year of the Monkey when wood was the element associated with that year).

Afterwards, wandering back for the return ferry journey, we came across more artworks.

It really is a pleasure to see such trouble being taken, pretty much wherever we’ve been in Canada – and Alaska – to use art in various forms to make places more attractive. I hadn’t got a mental picture of Halifax before I arrived, but such a bounty of interesting and quirky touches was not something I had expected, and they make it a nice place to be.

Whilst waiting for the ferry to go back to the city, I caught sight of this chap in a wheelchair, nonchalantly doing stationary wheelies; very impressive balance and control.

And, as we walked back to the hotel, we passed yet another mural that we hadn’t seen before.

We decided to try to find a Pedway route back to the hotel, doing which gave us this final nugget about the city.

One hopes the future will see the place developing and improving itself even further. It’s been a pleasure discovering the city. Even though we missed out on the Bay of Fundy hike, we’ve had a really nice two days here.

We leave tomorrow to go to the final new adventure before we return home – St. Johns, Newfoundland. Here’s hoping that our last couple of days on this nine-week odyssey will be a pleasant conclusion to what has been an excellent holiday. Join us, if you will, to find out….

* It turns out that there has been a miscommunication between the various agencies behind our intricate and ever-evolving itinerary. Our UK agency had thought the Canadian agency had nailed it down whereas the local operator had cancelled. It’s a shame, but it did mean we had a more relaxed day here.