Posts Tagged With: travel

No Plans

It is important to have some days with no plans and Tuesday was one of those.  This was partly because we were knew we were taking a day-trip to Paris on Wednesday and did not want to be tired before we set out.

When we arrived here in London, I made a ‘to do’ list in my notebook.  This was not an exhaustive list set in stone that we had to race through to complete.  Instead, it was about keeping a record of things that were of interest to us and a reference of what we may (or may not) do.  Some things have been deleted due to timing, weather or lack of interest while others have been added as we have discovered them along the way.

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After a slow start to the day, we caught the train to Tower Hill station near the Tower of London.  A short walk to the Tower Bridge gave us the perfect vantage point to see (and hear) the 62-gun salute fired at 1pm from Tower Wharf to celebrate Prince Charles’ birthday.

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Why 62?  Well, the ‘standard’ is a 21-gun salute but there are an extra 20 fired because the Tower of London is a Royal Palace and a further 21 because it is located in the City of London.

 

It was time for a late lunch and we found The Counting House, located in the heart of the financial district of the City.  It is a former bank and now, a specialty pub.  The old banking chamber has been magnificently restored. We enjoyed our meal before another short train ride to the West End.

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Within a day of arriving in London we discovered that the movie, Paddington 2 was due to be released in the UK on 10th November, so I quickly added that to my ‘to do’ list.  Where better than to see the film than the very city in which it is set?

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Whilst we could have headed to any suburban cinema to see the film, I decided on a somewhat different experience and we went to Picturehouse Central, a short walk from Picadilly Circus.  Our timing was immaculate as the next screening of Paddington 2 was in about 40 minutes.  The tickets are not cheap at this location but it was worth it for the experience.

The whole ‘package’ included a downstairs coffee shop, upstairs restaurant and bar.  As well as the usual offerings of popcorn and other snacks there was an opportunity to purchase unpackaged, serve yourself lollies.

A couple of views of the interior.

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The lolly bar.

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There were so many choices but we agreed on a selection to share.  It was good to see that the containers provided were various sizes of paper cups.

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Once in the cinema, there are comfortable, reclining seats.

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Paddington 2 was an excellent movie and, in my opinion, almost better than the original.

A fun, impromptu day.

 

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A Red Carpet Welcome

It is now two full days since we arrived in the UK but let me rewind to our trip and arrival.

We had an on-time departure and uneventful first leg of the trip to Singapore.  The 3.5 hour stopover had been extended to 5 hours due to rescheduling of the flight to London so we were very pleased that we had pre-booked entrance to the Plaza Lounge where we were able to relax, but most importantly, have a shower.  Once we were suitably refreshed, it was time to embark on the longer haul to London.

Thanks to the delay in the flight from Singapore we joined a rather long queue for immigration clearance at Heathrow which took nearly an hour, however, everything else went smoothly.  A short ride on the Heathrow Express train brought us to Paddington Station.  The Hilton Hotel is immediately adjacent to the station and this is the view that greeted us when we arrived.

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I would love to say that we had a good night’s sleep but unfortunately our body clocks were severely disrupted so that was not the case.  Nevertheless, we were up bright and early and ready to board the train to Swansea for two nights.  More about that in the next post.

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Staying Safe

Apart from the occasional pickpocket or bag-snatcher, safety is not necessarily a prime concern when visiting other developed countries with similar values to our own here in Australia.

However, in the light of the events in various parts of Europe and the UK in recent years, and particularly in the past few weeks and months, it would be remiss of us not to seriously consider our safety while travelling.

We are not about ditch our plans and realise that there are risks whenever you step outside the front door no matter where you are.

Nevertheless, I did say to GMan yesterday that I do not think I will be walking across any bridges while we are in London.  Pedestrians on bridges have been targeted twice in a matter of months in the UK capital.  I can only assume that the ‘reasoning’ of the perpetrators is that there is nowhere for the pedestrians to escape.  What an awful thought process!

Even though I would love to attend a Remembrance Day service in November that may be off the agenda as I feel that being anywhere there is a large gathering may be too great a risk.

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We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months but at this stage I do not envisage making any other adjustments to our plans.

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Countdown – 7 Months

I realised this week that in 7months we will be in London at the beginning of our next overseas adventure.  In the 2 months since my last post we have organised a couple more things.

We booked our accommodation for the night in Cardiff.  As usual, we aimed to find somewhere that was fairly central.  We opted for a large chain hotel which is within walking distance of the train station were we will arrive from Swansea.  It is close to the city walking tour, the stadium as well as the departure point of the cruises to waterfront.  It will be a brief look around but we are looking forward to visiting Cardiff as it will actually be the only place on the trip which we have not been to previously.  The other places on our itinerary are London, Swansea and Cambridge.

The other thing we did was buy a lightweight down jacket for each of us from Uniqlo.  They squash up and can be rolled into quite a small carry bag,

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While it is not high-end fashion, I hope the jacket will not scream ‘tourist’ as I step outside the door.  I chose a mid-grey as it will co-ordinate with the other clothes I will be packing.  I will do a separate post at a later date about what I will be packing but it is mostly black, grey and red and of course, denim jeans.

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Where Next?

At the end of my last post I alluded to the fact that our next major holiday might be within Australia.  I was considering a houseboat trip on the Hawkesbury River but when I began researching the idea it became less appealing.

The lure of overseas travel was just too great so we have opted to go back to the UK in November.  This trip will be somewhat different from our previous trips to the northern hemisphere for several reasons.  We are going in late autumn rather than the height of summer and relying entirely on public transport instead of hiring a car during any part of the trip.  This is because the focus of the trip is quite different – we are not taking a touring holiday and sightseeing along the way but are planning on staying in just a handful of major centres with the majority (3 weeks) of our time in London.

This also means much less time will be spent researching, planning and booking the trip.  In fact, we could pretty well leave tomorrow as we have current passports and have booked our flights, accommodation except for one night in Cardiff and have a list of things we hope to see and do in London.  Hopefully, the queues will not be as long at the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

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Perhaps we will be able to take the tour of the Royal Albert Hall, too.  It was closed for cleaning last time so I only managed a photo of the exterior.

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I have also given brief consideration to what we might need to pack.  As always we have chosen accommodation which includes laundry facilities which allows us to keep the clothes we take to a minimum.  Due to cooler weather, we will need some warmer clothes but I still expect to be able to just have one small suitcase each.  I am looking at buying a lightweight down jacket for each of us.  I think these would be a useful addition and take up minimal space.

 

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A New Country

We have been without internet for a couple of days so I will try and and rewind to fill you in on what we have been doing.

After our visit to the JFK museum we flew from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia and so began the Canadian leg of our trip.  The first night was spent in Halifax where we collected our hire car the next morning. We had booked a medium sedan but were fortunate to have the vehicle upgraded to a SUV.  This is the Fiat we are driving.

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It is comfortable and the additional clearance will come in handy on some of the rural roads.

On our first day we headed to New Ross and visited the New Ross Farm Museum.

There was an excellent display of the history of farm machinery from the very earliest hand-made implements.

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We saw heritage breeds of sheep as well as horses and cows and these very happy geese.

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A special quilt exhibition caught my eye.  I love these words from the lady who curated the display.  To me, this is the essence of patchwork and quilting.

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Here are a couple of examples for my friends who are interested in these crafts.

During my research I had discovered that there is a Nova Scotia Museum Pass which covers about 27 museums all over the province.  We bought a family pass and are confident that this will prove to be good value for money.  More about other museum visits in future posts.

 

 

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Time to Go

Well, I never did get that next post written and now it is almost time to set off on our next adventure.

We bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and have used it a little at home and am confident that it will be the perfect travelling companion and suitable for blogging.  Other than that we are taking our phones (with music loaded), noise-cancelling headphones, Kindles, power board, USA/Canada power adaptor and the various cables and chargers.

I am looking forward to sharing our journey and hope you will come along for the ride.

This is our luggage that we took to the UK in 2014 and the same pieces will be going this time.

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Counting Down in Weeks

It is now less than 13 weeks until we fly from Brisbane to Chicago to begin our next overseas adventure.

As a result of several overseas trips in the last few years, pretty well everything is organised.

DONE

International airfares booked
Domestic airfares booked
All accommodation booked except 1 night in Halifax (Air BnB request currently pending)
Car rental booked
Travel insurance booked
Overnight train Chicago to Boston booked
Tickets to 2 shows booked
Visa waiver requirements completed for USA and Canada

TO DO

Buy tablet (waiting until 60 days prior to be eligible for GST refund)
Decide on phone SIM
Intercity train travel in Canada – probably not until we are in the country

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At the moment my main focus is on finding out as much as I can about the places we want to visit.  I recently bought another book for my Kindle.  This is not a general travel guide but a specific volume about scenic drives in the maritime provinces.  It covers several of the areas we plan to visit so I am enjoying finding more about the things we can see and do.

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Orchard and Orchids

I did not get around to writing this post yesterday evening as we were absolutely shattered after walking somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 20km.

We set off in the morning to take a stroll along Orchard Road and see what all of the fuss is about shopping on Orchard Road.  As I had suspected I was not impressed but definitely not disappointed as it pretty well met my expectations.  However, we did not leave completely empty-handed as we each bought a new umbrella as well as 2 pairs of socks for me – all from Uniqlo.

As we left the retail madness of Orchard Road we walked past a tailoring business where the smooth-talking tailor wanted to make long trousers for GMan.  He was wearing shorts for a reason – it was 33 degrees and we are on holidays!  We had to do a bit of fast talking to shake off this persistent salesman but he did volunteer the information that we were ‘not far’ from the Botanic Gardens.

Since the gardens were on our list of places to go we decided that yesterday was a good day to do it.  We took in about 1/3 of the total area of the gardens but the highlight was definitely the National Orchid Garden for which there is a small admission cost.  There was no doubt of its worth.

Here is a selection of what we saw at the gardens.

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016 098 059To finish off a full day we headed out in the evening to see the Sound & Light Show at Gardens by the Bay.

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My Bags Are Packed,

I’m ready to go………..

2015-09-04 01Actually, it is only one bag as we are travelling light.  Tomorrow we will be flying to Singapore for a week.  It will be quite a change from most of our holidays, both domestic and overseas, because we are staying in one place for the entire trip rather than travelling from place to place.

I am really looking forward to relaxing and discovering all that Singapore has to offer.

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