The Spring flower season in the Picos de Europa is short but spectacular. There are around three weeks between 20th May and 7th June when the mountains burst into life with a wide array of colourful alpine plants.
Our Deep South USA Road Trip has been such a great experience. Good music, food with soul and one warm welcome after another. never had much time for history at school, but I really enjoyed seeing modern history being brought to life in the Deep South and appreciated how important it is to an understanding of the world we live in today.
These days there is a growing appreciation for the traditional cocktails of the Deep South. Here are my absolute favourites, where best to enjoy them and recipes for re-creating them when you get back home*. The Deep South USA Cocktail Trail will take you on a winding course along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River all the way from New Orleans to Nashville, discovering the fascinating history, toe tapping music and all the fun that this vibrant region has to offer along the way. It is for sure one of the USA's best road trips. Are you ready? "Cheers!"
The Hermitage is a fantastic hotel. If I could sum it up in one word, it would be "PERFECT." If I get the chance to add a few more words, I would pick: elegant, efficient and peaceful. It is the oldest hotel in Nashville and the first million $ hotel to be built here. "Meet me at the Hermitage" is what the locals say - you can certainly see why!
Nashville Day 2 - the city changed its name to Draftsville as the NFL draft got into full swing. Broadway was completely packed out with music ringing from every bar and stage as the crowd worked themselves into a frenzy yelling "The Pick is In".
It took us most of the day to drive from Memphis to Nashville. We arrived to discover that the NFL professional draft had just started - Nashville is the base this year. Nashville has a very upmarket feel to it. It is a booming city with a rising population that is growing fast.
Where to Stay in Memphis - Peabody Hotel It is said that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg…
Two Days in Memphis Day 2 - Start the day at Graceland. Book the VIP tour if you want to avoid the lines.
Two Days in Memphis Day 1 - There is a LOT to do here and you need to be very well organised if you want to do it all! This was how we tackled it.
Twelve things you might not know about Elvis Presley - be prepared for few surprises!
The American Civil War - "There they lay, the blue and grey intermingled; the same rich, young American blood flowing out in little rivulets of crimson, each thinking he was in the right."
The first teddy bear was given life at the Onward Store at Rolling Fork, on Highway 61 between Vicksburg and Memphis.
Anchuca means "happy home" in Chocotaw and this bed and breakfast/hotel certainly makes you feel very welcome. Built in 1830, the house was a hospital after the surrender of Vicksburg in the Civil War and, interestingly, cared for both Confederate and Union soldiers.
Vicksburg is a proud little town which has witnessed tragedy, tribulation, gaiety and grandeur over the years.
Crawfish sauce was the nearest I got to crawfish pie - but I did sample the local catfish at Walnut Hills - 1214 Adams St. and it was delicious. This restaurant is full of old world charm at its best and serves good Southern Plantation cuisine.
Monmouth Historic Inn, Natchez is a really lovely hotel - full of charm and character. The rooms are beautifully furnished and there is great attention to detail throughout. Meticulously maintained grounds; a well stocked cocktail bar with a skilled bar tender that knows exactly how to mix whatever is your favourite tipple and a superb breakfast offering.
The road from Natchez to our next stop in Vicksburg follows the Natchez Trace Pathway, which runs for 444 miles through three states from the southern Appalachian foothills of Tennessee to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River.
Longwood was the dream that never came true, but not for want of trying. An entertaining story of romance, tragedy, trauma and grace. The magnificent octagonal house was never finished - the civil war intervened and changed the lives of its occupants - the Nutt family - irretrievably.
A luxurious place to stay in the heart of Plantation country - although not quite the 5* you might expect.
White City to Natchez via the Louisiana State Penitentiary The great joy of travelling is that you never quite know what the day has in store for you. The Louisiana…
Beautiful as the Nottoway Plantation was, I was left with wanting to know what was life really like on the Deep South Plantation? What were the slave quarters like? Was it really true what you see in films like Roots? We drove back up the River Road towards New Orleans and visited Evergreen Plantation to find out.
Laissez les bons temps roulez - let the good times continue to roll though... We moved on today to White Castle, driving the river road up the great Mississippi River to White Castle. This is sugar plantation country. It was fun to pass road signs to all the places you hear about in the songs you love
Where to Stay in New Orleans - Hotel Monteleone Accommodation Review A lovely hotel - authentic and full of charm. The Carousel Bar is amazing and the rooftop pool is…
The New Orleans School of Cooking was a great place to spend a morning here. The cooking in the Deep South is way different from the rest of the USA. It is Creole - a veritable melting pot of all the nationalities that coalesced in this part of the world (Portugeuse, Spanish, French, Italian) and made it what it is today. Nothing goes to waste - it is "rooter to tooter" as the expression goes - i.e. - everything on the hog is used except it's squeak.
We woke to the smell of beignets wafting in from the street curiously mixed with the scent of lemon from the disinfectant they use to wash the sheets here. Breakfast was served by a cheerful waitress who greeted us with "Morning Sunshines!"
New Orleans has been throbbing 24/7 since 1718. It is the birthplace of jazz and has always had music at its heart. The French Quarter Jazz Festival was in full swing when we arrived - what a great week-end to visit! New Orleans i's way more than honky tonk pianos and saxophones though. The food is great here, the welcome is warm, the people are full of life and colour and the vibe is great.
On Friday, we head to New Orleans for the start of our trip to the Big Easy - Deep South USA Road Trip. We will walk along the sweeping bends of the Mississippi River, visit the bayous of Louisiana and get familiar with the great cities of Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans. I am looking forward to sampling Cajun food and hearing some great live music in the birthplace of soul, jazz, blues, country and rock and roll.
A lovely couple of days spent hiking in the Lake District brought swathes of yellow daffodils, some interesting fauna and some smashing views. A week later and the whole place was covered in snow!
The thermometer is your ally in Gran Canaria! We visited at the end of March when it was grey and wet back home in the UK and were treated to pleasant tempera
Goodbye Hurtigruten - and Tusen Takk - Thank you very much ! Tourism was always part of the basis for the Coastal Express though with brochures printed in several languages…