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Ivan Davies's Posts
Ivan has posted 34 reports and 6 photos.

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Albania Visit: 2013-2
2013-03-01 - I arrived in Tirana from bus, after a 3 hour journey from prizren in Kosovo. Tirana was really unexpectedly great on so many levels. First of all the Albanian people went out of their way to help me. If I wanted a Furgon or restaurant suggestion. Amazing. Secondly the museums and teh capital itself were great fun and a joy to walk around. The traffic is strange how it just sort of stops for people to cross major roads without the need for lights! Check out teh communist era buildings painted in different colours, awesome. I left Albania by Furgon to Elbasan and finally Pogradec on an incredible bus ride through the Albanian countryside and then high up into the mountaisn. Awe inspiring. Eventually I got to Pogradec a fairly dull town on the edges of Lake Ohrid (which is beautiful) where I crossed the border on foot and entered Macedonia again. I will definitely be back in Albania one day, one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and easily one of the most dismissed.

Alderney Visit: 2013-7
2013-07-22 - Alderney is amazing. the hardest to get too of any of the Channel islands just because of its remoteness. But Bumblebee boats go 2 or 3 times a week from Guernsey and are great value at £35 each way for an hour and a half trip. Alderney has its own bailiff that is separate from the other channel islands, so its less marketed as a destination. This also means it is less influenced by modern society, its literally feels like a world away from the mainland. St Anne\'s the main town is a delight with a huge Church interesting museum and great pubs and a delicious curry house! Take a bike ride around the island too its beautiful with World War 2 pill boxes still intact and various modern art objects making the ride ever more interesting. 2% of the worlds Sea Gannet population reside on 2 rocks off the north of the islands. many people who are lucky enough to visit Alderney come back again and again.

Andalusia Visit: 2009-6
2012-11-12 - I have visited or driven through Andalusia many times, one of my favourite cities in the world is Sevilla. Its Old Town, the third largest in Europe, contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies, (which if you are a film buff is where George Lucas shot exteriors for the palace scenes for Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace). My favourite reason to visit though is Tapas! Every bar has a speciality all of its own, and for a foody like me I can think of no better reason to visit. The first time my wife and I travelled from seville up into the mountains where they make the famous Iberico ham by feeding the local pigs acorns, this produces a sweet dark ham that in my opinion is the best in the world. The ham is called Jabugo ham from the village of the same name. On this trip we visited Portugal and the Algarve as well as Cadiz, jerez, Ronda, We also visted Seville again in 2009 for my 40th birthday with some friends from London. We had 4 fantastic days revisiting all of our favourite places.

Aosta Valley Visit: 2011-10
2011-11-09 - Aosta valley is a beautiful part of Italy, Aosta itself is a charming town nestling underneath the Mont Blanc mountain and range. I arrived travelling by car from Geneva through the Mont Blanc tunnel. It took about 2 hours drive from Geneva.
It is about a 2 hour drive to Piedmont from Aosta or you could drive up to the Saint Bernard pass into Switzerland like I did and experience some breathtaking Alpine scenery.

Apulia Visit: 2012-9
2012-10-04 - We just returned from a great trip around Southern Italy taking in 3 different regions including Puglia. We flew in to Bari and drove down the coast to Cisternino a beautiful hilltop town with a fantastic old town full of winding alleyways and old churches. Bella Italia is a great little restaurant if you can find it. Otehr notable places we visited on this trip were Locrotondo, Ostuni, lecce the baroque city and Brindisi which although quite industrial is the terminus of the Appian way and has a great monumental pillar from 1AD to show this. We also visted Alberobello home to the Trulli houses, which although very touristy (All of the 1400 trulli homes seem to be gift shops!)is quite good fun. Afterwards we drove north visiting Massafra which is an interesting city built on a ravine to Basilicata and Matera.

Basilicata Visit: 2012-9
2012-10-04 - Oh Matera one of the great places I have been lucky enough to visit, its up there with Guilin on wow places to see. We stayed in Hotel Ridola which is up on the hill overlooking the town and is a short walk from the caves. Matera is where Mel Gibson filmed The Passion of the Christ and just one quick look will tell you why, its stunning and a great double for an arabic town. We spent 3 days there and 2 days just walking around the old town and the incredibly old town! visiting churches looking at ancient frescos and wandering around caves. There are some great places to eat in and around the sassi, but word of warning go early and late as the middle of the ady can be swarming with tourists. Nearby Grottole is worth a half days visit as is Pisticci and the ghost town of Craco if you can find it, as all the road signs have been pulled down!

Belgium Visit: 2008-12
2009-01-04 - Living in the UK on the doorstep of Europe you can often overlook the places of most interest. That was how I felt when I discovered Bruges. It's an absolute delight for a long weekend, the drive from Dunkerque took less than an hour! Its well worth the trip for the fantastic beers and mussels alone. The canal system is fantastic as is the diamond museum, and the people are wonderfully helpful. If you have a few days, just out of town is Ghent another picturesque city worth a visit and on the way back to the UK stop at the historic Ypres and the flanders battlefields.

Bern Visit: 2011-9
2012-10-04 - Bern is beautiful. The only intact Medieval city in Switzerland and well worth a daytrip or weekend. The city has a great nightlife and the oldtown buildings are a joy to walk around for the traveller. From here it was a short trip to Basle our next destination.

Busingen Visit: 2008-10
2012-11-12 - Büsingen am Hochrhein, commonly known as Büsingen, is a German town entirely surrounded by the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen. We visited whilst we were driving to Italy for a friends wedding in Ravello. My wife asked why we were taking a detour to this strange place and I didnt really have an answer except to tell her I wanted to have an ice cream by the lake. It was a pleasant hour and from Busingen we then visited many Swiss cantons and ventured south via Liechentenstein to Campione de Italia and the Italian lakes.

Caicos Islands Visit: 2011-5
2012-10-04 - My brother lives here so we have made a few trips to Providenciales the main island in the Caicos islands. Notable places worth visiting are Grace Bay where all the great bars and hotels are. Also make time for Da Conch shack, one of the best restaurants on earth! My favourite was Curried conch! Other islands nearby are worth a visit too, West Cay if you dive like me, the diving is awesome here as their is an Atlantic drop off going down to 2000 metres! Lots of wildlife too inc rays and Tiger sharks and lemon sharks. Also Parrot Cay is a half hour boat journey and has some beautiful beaches and a great hotel where my bro is head chef! Bruce Willis ha sa ome here and you can see why!

Crete Visit: 2013-4
2013-04-27 - We arrived in Heraklion by ferry from Santorini which took 1.5 hours. I then drove to Chania for a short holiday staying in Hotel Ammos nearby which if you have a young family is an amazing hotel. The White Mountains inland are beautiful as are the many interesting towns and Minoan ruins. We had one of the best meals we have ever eaten at the hospitality of a wonderful Cretian family in Mazo at the tavern next to the 13th century church in the town. The innkeeper holds the keys to the church and you will have to ask him to show you the frescoes.. Unbelievable! Chania itself is a beautiful Venetian harbour town and well worth spending a few days.

Denmark Visit: 2007-12
2012-11-12 - My wife and I visited Copenhagen in December 2007 and it was very cold. We stayed in a nice hotel near to Tivoli gardens which we found to be very touristy and expensive. Things we liked about Copenhagen were Smorebrod which are open sandwiches wityh various toppings, we enjoyed them at Ada Adamsons a very famous restaurant in the heart of the city. We visited all the famous landmarks including the Little mermaid, Amalienborg - beautiful Rococco buildings that are the Queens residence and the beautiful harbour area Nyhavn which again was way too expensive, coffee was 8-10 Euros!. My favourite thing to do however was a visit to Christiania, the freetown of Copenhagen, I went on two separate occasions, it is apparently Europe\'s last Legal commune, artists live work and farm here and many normal Danish people live in the buildings that were once barracks to the danish navy. The grunginess is fascinating and a refreshing alternative to the blandness you find in most cities, the food and drink here was much less expensive too, its also the place to buy Marijuana, although the government was trying to crack down on illegal drugs in the commune. On our last day in Copenhagen we took a train to Malmo in Sweden across the newly constructed bridge linking the 2 countries.

England Visit: 1969-6
2012-10-04 - So i have been here since my birthdate above. I love my country and thought it more beneficial to members if I mentioned some of the lesser known places to visit aside from the obvious draws like London Manchester and Liverpool. Depending on your time here I would suggest an itinery that takes in the following counties. If you just have a week or so drive from the capital to the Cotswolds and take in the cities of Bath and Oxford. If you are here for 2 weeks or more spend some time in Cumbria in the north hoem to the Lake District and a short hop to Yorkshire where you can visit Durham or York. The other side of the country offers Devon and Cornwall as well as the Isle of Man and the Isle of White, The Scilly Isles and Lundy. Other notable places to visit could include our neighbours Wales and Scotland. Whilst in England eat fish and chips British Breakfasts and drink lots of real ale! I love it here!

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Visit: 2007-9
2012-10-04 - On a visit to Croatia and Hvar island in particular we took a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia. The drive from the border to Mostar only took an hour and we were soon confronted with one of the most beautiful bridges I have seen in Europe. We watched as the famous divers jumped from the famous bridge and ate a great lunch beneath it. Afterwards we walked around the town where the signs of the recent war were still very visible. Afterwards we travelled on to Dubrovnik and Montenegro.

Fiji Islands Visit: 2003-5
2012-10-04 - On a trip to New Zealand we stopped off in Fiji flying into Nadi and getting a boat to Beachcomber Isalnd for 4 days. It was a backpackers island but they also had separate beach huts to rent although at night everyone ate together, there isn\'t much to do aside from water sports so if you like scuba diving and just chilling this is definitely a great place to recharge the batteries, its also not as developed as some Polynesian islands.The mainland itself is definitely worth a visit, the capital Nadi is poor but charming. Afterwards we flew to Sydney.

Herm Visit: 2013-7
2013-07-22 - Herm is easily the most relaxed of all the channel islands. a short 20 minute boat ride from Guernsey and you are in a different world, more reminiscent of rolling fields than an island. it is a fascinating place with everything from neolithic burial grounds to old pubs and cliff side walks. The whole island can be traversed in 2 hours, but make sure you have lunch at The Ship, less touristy than other venues on the island. Also try and stay overnight if you can, its a beautiful place to camp.

Isle of Man Visit: 2013-6
2013-06-27 - Ellan Vannin to give the Isle its original moniker is a spectacular, beautiful island very reminiscent of Scotland, Ireland and even North Island New Zealand. beautiful rolling hills and lush exposed beaches are travelled through with ease with the islands many distinct travel possibilities. From the Steam Railway to the trams and mountain railway, but don\'t miss the famous Electric Railway that travels from Douglas (a beautiful quintessential English seaside town) to Ramsey. Remember to make a stop at Laxay to see the famous Laxay Wheel, the worlds largest water wheel. Other notable towns worth a visit are Peel and Castletown. For the best views of the countryside take a bus around the islands roads which follow the famous TT Race, or better still go when the TT race is on in early June. The Isle of Man is the least visited part of The United Kingdom and all the better for it.

ITU (HQ - Geneva) Visit: 2011-9
2012-10-04 - Whilst on a work trip to Geneva I took time out to visit the headquarters of the UN. its an easy trip form Geneva only taking about 10 minutes in the car and the cost was negligible about 15 Euros to enter I think, but it was definitely worth the trip. The great rooms where the worlds dignitaries meet are definitely worth seeing and the tour I was on only took 1.5 hours. The views from the landscaped gardens over the Alps are gorgeous too.

Jordan Visit: 2001-3
2012-11-12 - My brother and I travelled to Jordan by bus in 2001 from Eilat in Israel. From Aquaba on the coast, the city made famous in Lawrence Of Arabia - we had a dusty 3-4 hour bus journey that took us over the pass that is actually the start of The Great African Rift Valley. It was spectacular. The road then winded down into the valleys of Jordan and The Rose Red City or Petra as it is better known. The tour group we took starts the journey with a walk through the canyon which you will be familiar with if you\'ve seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The canyon opens out onto The Treasury Building, the first and most impressive building in Petra, carved out of the sheer rock wall it is amazing and one of the most amazing sites I have seen on my travels. We spent several hours in Petra before continuing our journey through teh Middle East

Kosovo Visit: 2013-2
2013-03-01 - Beautiful Kosovo. I took a bus through the Baltic nations in February 2013 across Serbia and down into Macedonia and managed to detour nicely and easily through Kosovo. The borders took no time at all in the Furlong transport, around 5 minutes either side. The journey from Skopje to the border takes 15 minutes and then another 2 hours to Prizren through brilliant countryside and interesting towns bustling with life. Prizren itself is stunning, a delightful river flows through the city and has great bridges and lovely scenic streets. The backdrop of a castle and mountains are stunning too. From Prizren I took another bus into Albania (30 minutes to the border) eventually to Tirana. Definitely worth a trip if you are in the vicinity.

Liechtenstein Visit: 2008-9
2012-10-04 - We went through this tiny tax haven/country on our way to the Italian lakes through Switzerland in 2008. There isn\'t much to say apart from Vaduz is nice the castle is okay and worth a visit, you can send a postcard home and thats pretty much it. The surrounding areas are so much more interesting and of more historical importance. From Vaduz we drove down to Chur the oldest town in Switzerland and then on through the Alps down to Lugano and Lake Como.

Llivia Visit: 2008-11
2012-10-04 - I visited llivia on a trip to Andorra and got there on market day, I spent an hour in the enclave before heading back through France to Sapin again up into the Pyrenees. It\'s worth a visit if you are curious but aside from that their isn\'t much too report. Its the ancient capital of Cerdanya and remains an enclave because of the Spanish civil war and the treaty with France not recognising it as a city so it remained a Spanish town..weird!

Lundy Visit: 2010-8
2010-11-15 - I recently holidayed in North Devon with my brother who flew over from the Caribbean and we took in the beautiful rugged N Devon coastline. I also took a trip to Lundy for the day, a day is enough unless you camp overnight (There is one campsight that I saw) as you can walk the length of the island in a day easily, its worth noting there are no roads on Lundy. I got there by hiring a fishing boat from Clovelly, it cost about £40 and much quicker and cheaper than getting the main boat from Bideford. About 1.5 hours as opposed to 2.5! Lundy itself is stunning, rugged, beautiful views, great wildlife including seals, puffins (if you are lucky) basking sharks, mountain goats and Lundys very own indigenous species of sheep, There are also 3 great lighthouses that are all worth visiting and a beautiful little village in the south western corner. If I am in this corner of the UK again I will definitely revisit it.

Macedonia, Republic Visit: 2013-2
2013-03-01 - I loved Macedonia. Skopje has a fantastic bazaar and their building program is taking place at incredible speed. They are literally building a capital in 5 years from scratch. In the capital walk across the Stone Bridge and visit the castle. The rest of the city is fairly non-descript but I liked it anyhow. On this trip I also went south to Lake Ohrid which I was really looking forward to as is a Unesco world heritage site. I liked the city itself but was slightly underwhelmed to be honest. I had seen so many great places on this particular trip that Ohrid itself left me a bit cold. Macedonia itself though is a great country, very small and easy to get around with a lot to see.

Malta Visit: 1999-11
2012-11-12 - I visited Malta in 1999 with an army friend of mine. We had both recently split up with girls and we needed a break from it all. 7 days in the sun seemed like the perfect antidote! We stayed in a very cheap hotel, Hotel Concorde in Sliema. We got drunk a lot! But we also managed day trips to the islands of Comino and Gozo to do some snorkelling and diving, the seas are very beautiful in Malta. We also visited the set of Popeye, a terrible Robin Williams film and saw a film crew making a film called Pirates of The Carribean, we assumed it would be awful too. ha ha! On Malta we visited Valletta for 2 days and went to the national Army museum and visited the fortifications which were very impressive. During World War 2 Malta was one of the most heavily bombarded islands but German/Italian landing craft never made it to Maltas\'s shores. The British then used it as a base to launch the assault on Sicily. We also by accident visited the bar that Oliver Reed had died in whilst drinking with British sailors the previous year, there was a plaque on the wall over the chair he was found collapsed on! We also visited the Knights templar buildings and the beautiful winding streets, fortifications and walls of Valletta.

Norway (mainland) Visit: 2012-10
2012-10-22 - I recently was fortunate enough to get a work trip to Western Norway. We visited Bergen and drove to Flam to take the incredible Flam - Myrdal Train journey. Its only 50 mins long and goes from 2m above sea level to 866m in about 40 minutes! Spectacular. We also visited Voss and the beautiful Fjords around Flam. Bergen itself was very clean and nice the Unesco World Heriatge Site of Bryygen is particularly worth a visit.

Oman (other) Visit: 2009-8
2009-08-24 - I traveled to Oman via Fujariah after visiting Ras Musandam and Madha in the UAE, you require a permit for your car insurance from the car rental company to get into the country, the border guards are fair but strict. (Try Dollar car rental for optional Oman travel insurance)and obviously your passport and any other visa. EU residents get a UAE visa upon entry into Dubai which is fine for Oman. I drove to Muscat along the coast taking in some beautiful forts Rustaq and Nakhal,the drive to Muscat takes about 3 hours, after spending a few days in Muscat and observing the various souk, I had dinner in the Al Bustan hotel which is supposed to be one of the finest hotels in the middle east. I then drove into Oman proper towards Nizwa where there is a lively souk and a great fort, but the real highlight was Jabrin Castle, you won't find a more splendid example of architecture and arabic splendor in Oman. The drive from Muscat to Nizwa took about 2 -3 hours through spectacular mountain/desert scenery. The drive back to Abu Dhabi to Al Ain took about 4 -5 hours but goes along the edge of the empty quarter. There are few sites here for the traveller except for abandoned villages and bat caves near Ibri. There are no shortage of petrol stations and great little food cafes on the roads. I even saw 2 guys cleaning the side of the road in the middle of the desert!

Ras Musandam Visit: 2009-8
2009-08-24 - I entered Ras Musandam from the east in a rental car. You require car insurance for Oman if you cross the border but most rental companies will sort it out for you. Dollar car rental was one that did. The border is manned and they are strict about the paperwork so make sure you sort it out beforehand. The drive from Dubai through 5 Emirates to the border takes about 2 hours and the border through to Khasab, about 40 minutes. The coastal drive is well worth the trip the rock strata alone is impressive enough without the odd fort and incredible ocean view. After climbing for about 30 minutes you drop back down into Khasab a rather sleepy little place with a mosque and a fort and a petrol station and not much else. If you want to travel further than Khasab you require a 4 by 4 vehicle. The diving here is okay but not a patch on the red sea, you can also take a Dhow to Telegraph island to see the seals and dolphins, which is worth doing if you spend anytime here. Look out for the Pottery jugs on the roundabouts , in Oman this is a sign of conviviality and means welcome.

San Blas Islands Visit: 2009-6
2009-08-24 - The San Blas islands are very unusual, firstly the ones I arrived in were filthy and really needed cleaning up, (Amritspur and Yandup). Aside from that they are really interesting the locals don't really worry about ripping the tourists off and leave you alone, we hired a boat for 4 days (san blas sailing.com)and sailed around 7-8 of the islands some of which were great to swim on others were infested with mosquitos.Make sure you sort out an itinary with the boats captain before you set off!)If you have longer you can sail to Cartegena in Colombia but you need a minimum 7 nights sailing time. It was a very relaxing break and the 35 minute flight back to Panama city over the Darien jungle is great too. We left from Jesus de Corazon but there are 3 other landing strips.

Serbia (other) Visit: 2013-2
2013-03-01 - I arrived in Belgrade in the rain. It rained the whole time I was there. There was nothing to do in Belgrade in the rain. It rained a lot. I went to the bus station and watched the rain. I left Serbia on a southbound bus heading for Macedonia in the rain. The journey to Skopje from Belgrade took 5 hours and it rained the whole way. It must rain a lot in Serbia. I don\'t want to go back.

Tobago Visit: 2004-4
2012-11-13 - We visited Scarborough in Tobago for a week for a friends wedding. The island is beautiful and yet still quite gritty. Everyday the fishermen were dragging fish from the sea for hastily set up markets which were a joy to buy from. The restaurants on the island were gorgeous as were the Roti huts. We dived off Mount Sinai and saw some pretty impressive sea life and coral. The golf was good too. The best thing though was the hospitality of the locals, we were invited into halls and homes for dancing, drinking and feasting with the wedding party. Excellent time. Sunday School is great fun too, you\'ll know what I mean when you visit.

Tver Oblast Visit: 2010-5
2012-10-04 - I visited Tver oblast for 2 days during a trip from St Petersburg to Moscow.The countryside is beautiful and there are some spectacular monasteries to visit. Tver itself doesnt have much in the way of tourist places to visit but the overall culture and Russian life are wonderful to watch. You can find yourself drifting off to another era as a wagon and horses trundle past.

Uruguay Visit: 2008-10
2012-10-04 - We arrived in Uruguay by ferry from Argentina and visited Colonia del Sacremento on a day trip. It was very nice we hired bikes and had a lovely lunch in the square above the street of sighs. I particularly liked the parked cars with trees growing out of them and the castle walls. We went back to Argentina that night as wehad to fly to iguassu falls the following day, but intend to return one day to visit Montevideo and Punta Del Este which friends said were amazing!

Valencian Community Visit: 2004-8
2012-11-13 - On a work trip to Bunol to film La Tomatina for a client I managed to drag some friends along and we rented a villa in the hills over Valencia. After driving from Madrid to Bunol to our perfect rustic Spanish villa we got ready for the festivals. They were magnificent! although the Tomato festival does tend to sting your eyes after a while! We also found a sausage and wine festival the same week! Aside from travelling around the hills we also visited Valencia itself and went shopping and visited the beach. Generally though we spent a week lying around in a pool making paella having fun and generally loving life. One of my all time favourite weeks!
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