Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Over 70 and Over there!

Yes, on September 2nd I celebrated my 70th birthday in London, with my family and with many friends. As it was a "big" birthday, I had made plans to go on what some people referred to as our "Grand Tour" afterwards.

Most of our journeys were by train. We started by catching the train from Alicante to Barcelona, where we stayed overnight before continuing our journey to Paris for another night. I'm a fan of Eurostar, and it's definitely worth paying a bit more to go first class from Paris to London. We always travel first class in Spain too, as we can buy an annual tarjeta dorada for just over 6 euros, giving us discounts on trains of between 25% and 40%.  Many Spanish stations have what they call Sala Clubs for first class passengers, where you can relax and enjoy free refreshments while waiting for your train. Very civilised!

The day before my birthday I had a lovely day out in York, meeting friends there for afternoon tea in a railway carriage. It seemed very appropriate considering how many trains we were going to take over the next couple of weeks!

On my birthday I was up fairly early, as we had agreed to meet people at our old running club in Hyde Park and I was going to walk around the Serpentine Lake with my friend Bev. It took us a bit longer than when we used to race around it, but we were able to enjoy it more without the pressure of running a pb (personal best time).

I celebrated my birthday in a Spanish-themed wine and tapas bar near Kings Cross station. We'd looked at several venues before stumbling across Camino (Ed. not literally, I hasten to add!)

The above photo shows me with my family in Camino: my two daughters, my son and daughter-in-law, my brother and my husband John. My cousin Judith and my niece Helen and her family also helped me celebrate, as well as many friends.

Next stop was Paris again, where we rented an apartment for four nights. I've always wanted to visit Monet's house and gardens in Giverny, so we had booked a day trip there from Paris. Some friends who live in France joined us for one night in the apartment and we enjoyed another birthday lunch, this time in an Italian restaurant.

We'd visited Reims once a few years ago, however we hadn't really explored the champagne houses, so we stayed in Reims for a couple of nights, visiting Mumm Champagne House for a tour and also taking a coach trip along the Champagne Route.

Note the fashionable accessory on my right hand!

I love the stained glass windows in Reims cathedral. Although we'd been there before, they were definitely worth a second look


We enjoyed the trip around the countryside, where we could see workers busy picking grapes, as well as the Mumm windmill and many champagne houses.

We returned to Paris for another night, before continuing our train journey. Our next stop was Zurich. It was my first visit there and I really wished that we could have stayed a bit longer, as it's a beautiful city. Next time!

Lovely views of the city from the bridge

Sunday market in Zurich station.
The street near our hotel

We set several alarms - and also asked reception in our hotel for an alarm call - as we had to be up early in the morning to catch the train to Chur. I didn't want to risk missing the train, as we had a booking on the Bernina Express and needed to be sure of making the connection.

Below are just a few of the many photos that I took during our trip on the Bernina Express. None of them really do justice to the beautiful scenery. Although it's called the Bernina Express, the journey  from Chur to Tirano in Italy takes over 4 hours, so you can really enjoy the amazing views from the panoramic carriage.




The next leg of our journey was from Tirano to Milan, which we had visited many years ago with friends, so we only stayed overnight, as I was eager to get to the next stop on my Grand Tour: Venice!

I had never visited Venice but I'd heard great things from friends and family who had been there, so I could hardly wait. Again, I took loads of photos so this is only a small selection.

Enjoying a coffee with our friends Ann and John

I can't remember how many times we got lost, as there are so many bridges to cross and everywhere you look there's water. I'm sure we weren't the only ones, as we spotted lots of other people studying maps and looking at street signs, but I have to say that Venice is now my favourite city to get lost in! Venice was everything that I had expected - and more. We will definitely be returning to this beautiful city, and no doubt getting lost again!

We flew back to Spain from Venice and for once we paid for cases in the hold. Apart from needing enough clothes for almost three weeks, we had birthday presents and souvenirs to take home. After all, when you're on a Grand Tour you don't want to skimp!

Finally, I briefly considered changing the name of my blog, now that I'm "Over 70 and Over here". However I don't feel 60, never mind 70, so I decided to leave it as it is!


  1. Wow, a grand tour indeed! Happy Birthday and glad it was fabulous.

  2. Thanks Juhli. We had an amazing time!

  3. Oh my gosh, what a wonderful way to celebrate a milestone birthday! Your trip (all of it!) looks amazing and you look great in all those photos! Love that red coat, especially, and the dress with necklace at your birthday party. Thanks for sharing all the photos, makes me want to jump on a plane, now!

    1. Thanks Andrea. The red coat is my new favourite! I'd seen it online and ordered it before we went on holiday, to be delivered to a store near where we were staying in London. Apart from having to shorten the sleeves, it fit perfectly. As you can see, I wore it a lot on our holiday! I do love travelling by train as you can relax and enjoy the scenery. I have to say though that the Bernina Express was the best train we've ever been on (so far!)