A Travellerspoint blog

Swansea


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

We took a train into Wales and had a short stop in Cardiff before arriving in Swansea. Swansea is a small city, with a population similar to that of Townsville, popular for it's sea side bay. Our train was delayed, and we were worried that we would miss our pre-arranged meeting with Dr. Fry. Chris had written to Dr. Fry last year after receiving a history prize in which Dr. Fry is the benefactor. He used to work as a professor at James Cook University. A gentleman in his 80's, with an interesting background of being a Cambridge Scholar and a RAF WWII pilot. Dr. Fry and his wife had afternoon tea with us and took us for a drive around Swansea before dropping us off at Swansea University where we stayed for the night.

Posted by CJTaylor 01:35 Comments (1)

Bath


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

On the 20th we arrived in Bath in the afternoon, and after checking into our accommodation at the University of Bath we prompty headed to the Roman Baths Museum. For £13 each, we received entry into this museum and the fashion museum, which included a really good audio guide, and a guided tour around the remains of the Roman baths. We both enjoyed the museums, which kept us occupied for 3 hours. The main bath (one of the largest outside of Rome), is still intact after two thousand years, and the drainage and pump system still works. The museum itself contains a number of items found at the site, and the displays are very well done. The next day we returned to the city and visited the Fashion Museum, which had a collection of Princess Diana's outfits. We walked around the city but were quickly fed up by the hordes of tourists and litter, which somewhat spoiled an architecturally wonderful city. We made our way to the River Avon and eventually found our way to the city canals. These were a great find and we happily spent the rest of the day walking along the canals, through the attractive hilly suburbs of Bath. Along a canal heading out of the city, we saw rabbits and a cat sleeping on a river boat, and found a great pub called the George Inn where we had dinner. For the most part, the weather was fine in Bath except for a couple of light showers in the mornings and evenings. Bath is probably better visited in winter when there is less tourists. However, we found the canals enchanting and largely ignored by the other tourists, except for English family's on their houseboats.

Posted by CJTaylor 09:41 Comments (1)

Salisbury


View Chris and Jade Taylor's 2010 Europe trip on CJTaylor's travel map.

We arrived in Salisbury by the National Rail train, which was fast and comfortable, and gave us the change to rest our sore feet. We checked into our accommodation early, a nice bed and breakfast called Wyndham Park Guest House. Prior to our arrival, we had called ahead to hire bikes from Hayball's Cycle Sports. On bike, we rode part of the Woodland circuit, and got the chance to see a bit of the English countryside. It wasn't very well signed, but after quite a few hills, and pushing bikes at certain times through fields, we came upon Stonehenge. The ride there and back took about 4 hours, including a stop at the Bridge Inn for lunch. One feature of the bike trip was viewing the clear water of the River Avon, which appears to be much loved by ducks. Still no hedgehog sightings. That night we rugged up and watched Sense and Sensibility, the background settings you see in those types of movies look unreal but are true testament to the English countryside. In the morning, we went to the large, Gothic style Cathedral - Salisbury Cathedral, which is impressive in itself but also has a copy of the Magna Carter and the world's oldest working clock.

Posted by CJTaylor 09:35 Comments (1)

Our time in London

7 nights in London

We took an AirAsia flight into Kuala Lumpur and stayed at the Swiss Inn in China town. Had a great dinner at the Fat Yan restaurant, which serves Chinese Buddhist vegetarian. The next day, we took another AirAsia flight, 14.5 hours, to Stansted airport - London. We sat next to a young Australian fashion and graphic designer who told us about her own travels throughout Europe. We stayed overnight near the airport at the Holiday Inn Express. The next day we took a bus into London. Our first impressions of London was a rainy but bright, clean city, with wonderful old buildings lining the street with lovely shop fronts. Few high-rise buildings, and a lot of renovation work on the old buildings. While we were walking to find our accommodation, two Londoners asked if we were alright and helped us with directions. Londoners seem quite friendly and don't rush about too much. It stays light until 9pm! There are a lot of corner pubs where business people go after work. For our first two nights, we stayed at Carr-Saunders Hall which is a London School of Economics (LSE) residence. Fantastic for the price and location, great breakfasts. To cut down on costs, we've been going grocery shopping at Sainsbury's and Tesco's. Around this location, we went to the British Museum (great at night time), Regent's Park (where we saw squirrels but no hedgehogs), we've walked around swanky Camden, shop lovers Soho, sat in Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, and gone past University College. Chips and curry sauce highly recommended!

After two nights staying at Carr-Saunders Hall, we booked into another LSE residence for 4 nights - High Holborn. Again, really good, central accommodation for the price. In this section of London, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Hyde Park (not as nice as Regent's Park), and walked along the Thames river to go to the Tower of London. The Tower tour was a lot of fun, long queue to see the Crown Jewels, and the highlight was sitting in the 900 year old White Tower Chapel. We did a tour of Westminster to learn more about the British Parliament, and had a good meal and drink in a pub. One night we splurged and had a delicious dinner at the oldest Northern Indian restaurant in London, the Punjab. Being close to the date of India's Independence day, we did a tour that highlighted significant buildings and points of interest to the Indian community. Another good experience was the National Gallery, with works by Van Gogh, Vermeer, Cezanne, Rodin, Picasso ... you name it. You can hire audio guides that tell you more about the artist, painting techniques and symbols in the painting. There are a lot of Europeans here on vacation, particularly rich Italians. The London Museum seemed to be a bit overlooked by tourists and more popular with locals - it was a real gem of a place. Jade liked the prehistoric Briton's and the suffragettes in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Chris liked the photographs and artefacts of the early 20th century. It inspired us to walk along the banks of the muddy Thames, but we only found old bits of pottery. For our last night, we relocated to the otherside of the Thames to stay at our last LSE residence - Bankside House. It is right next to the Tate Modern Art Gallery and the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. We spent 15 minutes in the Tate compared with 3 hours in the National Gallery - modern art is a bit lost on us. The last night we did a Jack the Ripper tour with London city walks. The speaker was very convincing, made many audience members a bit squirmish with the details of the murders, and set the scene well. The atmosphere in the East End lended itself to the story well. The speaker also emphasized the dire circumstances for London's poor in the 1800's, and how many middle aged women (100,000) turned to prostitution on the side just to survive. All in all we had a great time in London. Check out the photo's.

Posted by CJTaylor 05:30 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

The first part of our trip

Where we'll be staying in the UK

We'll be leaving Townsville for the Gold Coast on the 9th of August. The next day we catch a flight into Kuala Lumpur and stay overnight at the Swiss Inn. Then we fly into Stansted airport and because we get in late we'll be staying there overnight at the Holiday Inn Express. The 12th of August is when we begin our journey in the UK and we start by catching a bus into London. This is where we'll be staying for the 3 weeks:

12th-13th: Carr-Saunders Hall, London School of Economics and Political Science, London
14th-17th: High Holborn, London School of Economics and Political Science, London
18th: Bankside House, London School of Economics and Political Science, London
19th: Wyndham Park Lodge, Salisbury
20th-21st: Eastwood Residence, University of Bath, Bath
22nd: Cefn and Kilvey Residence, Swansea University, Swansea
23rd: Exeter College, University of Oxford, Oxford
24th-25th: Holiday Inn, Liverpool
26th-27th: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
28th-29th: Rhu Mhor Guest House, Fort William
30th: Holmhead Guest House, near Hadrian's Wall, Greenhead
31st: Old Repeater Station, near Hadrian's Wall, Hexham
1st: Catch overnight ferry King of Scandanavia from Newcastle to Amsterdam

We want it to be a surprise what we'll be doing at the different locations, so stay tuned for updates!

Posted by CJTaylor 19:53 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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