Buried treasure, and back on the left

10 June 2013

Site of our penultimate continental coffee somewhere in France.

Since my last post we have been to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium. Today we returned to the UK from Calais via the excellent Euro-Tunnel train, in a whole carriage full of bikes. Time to drive on the left again, fortunately I had a pillion passenger to remind me! This marks a milestone in our journey, having covered some 13,000km in 14 countries in ten weeks, it is now only three weeks before we have to say goodbye and hang a for sale sign on Howard. Just a short trip up to Scotland to finish off, hopefully the weather will be kind?


Stuttgart, many thanks Georg!

As we’ve come to the end of the continental part of our adventure I thought it might be good to rediscover images that I had overlooked on first perusal, and to link these to the “buried treasures” we have found along the way, the places we went through that weren’t even marked on our inadequate map, places that you would not hear of amongst the well known icons that we have visited. When you dig down, every village or hamlet has a story to tell, a fascinating, gruesome, sordid or delightful history, a link to a person or event you had heard about at school all those years ago, or an amazing, unheralded architectural or art treasure right there in Normalville or Blandhamlet

I’ll kick off with this wonderful image of an old man walking under a wisteria arch in Ronda, Spain. The arch is the final of three consecutive such arches along the path. To me the image suggests a life well lived, heralded by the flamboyant wisteria in all its glory, but this is just my buried treasure, maybe you see something else?


A life well lived, Ronda, ESP


Nonna's wisteria, Guadalcanal, ESP

While we’re on wisteria I can’t help posting another picture of “nonna’s wisteria” from Guadalcanal, a tiny unheralded village in Andalucia which we discovered on a day ride out from Cordoba in Spain. We had had a few days in the city and felt we needed to warm the tyres on the bike and picked a winding road on the map. This led us through some lovely dehesa country full of spring wildflowers. Guadalcanal was at the top of the loop and this lovely wisteria covered patio was a suitable landmark to make a satisfying return point for the journey. There was not a lot else to get excited about in Guadalcanal but little Beja to the south and west was more charming. We stumbled on this by chance, being where we got to at the end of a days ride with no where in particular to go. The weather was warm and we enjoyed a lovely stroll in the evening after dinner, finding the old city walls, cathedral and charming buildings.


Beja, PRT

IMGP8814 - Beja

Evening light, Beja, PRT

Hartberg (Austria) was another little treasure that we passed through courtesy of an interesting looking road on the map.


Hartburg, AUT


Hartburg, AUT

Further west in the Alsace region of France we chanced upon Bar le Duc, which had a substantial and still living and breathing medieval heart. A man who worked for the local authority was so excited and enthusiastic about his lovely town that he urged us to stay longer, after pointing several little treasures that we should not miss, including Bridget Bardot’s family home, a 14th Century ornately carved wooden house still in original condition, and a series of gargoyles and stone carvings on building facades.We really loved this little town.


Evening light, Bar le Duc, FRA


Little treasures, Bar le Duc, FRA

While in northern France we took the opportunity to visit the Somme region, home to a significant part of Australia’s WWI history. The area around Villers-Bretonneaux is most well known and and this is where the principal Australian memorial is. It is near here that an offensive led by the Australians finally halted and reversed the German advance, contributing substantially to the armistice a few weeks later. There are quite a few sombre reminders of that wretched war across the region. Just north of Suippes there is an ossuary with the remains of 10,000 unidentified men, it has a lovely statue on the top.


The tomb of 10,000 near Suippes, FRA


Suippes, FRA

Even when I’m in a place where there doesn’t seem to be anything substantive to see or photograph, I can still find little treasures, just by scaling down. You should try it some time!…..


Scaling down, Beauvais, FRA


Scaling down, Brugge, BEL


The passion of the olives! Ronda, ESP

Well I hope you enjoyed my “buried treasures”, don’t forget to look for your own as you move about the place, I’m sure you can even find some in your own home town. I’ll be back soon with news of our travels in the UK.


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