A Travellerspoint blog

September 2010


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We took a 4 hour bus ride from The Hague to Brussels, which was spent reading and Jade practised some French. We were a little confused about how to catch trams and purchase tickets (no ticket offices were open when we got in) so we had a free ride on a tram to where our accommodation was located. Our accommodation was B&B Reyers / August Inn - a family home with a young professional couple with a newborn baby and toddler. It was a large house, nicely decorated, and our room was the theme chocolate. Brussels is mainly French speaking - Dutch is spoken in the north of Belgium. Most signs are in French and Dutch and sometimes streets or tram stops have two completely different names. The next day our hosts provided a lovely, simple breakfast, and we took the tram into the city. The shops were just starting to open - the first thing we did was to buy a box of assorted Belgium chocolates (and consume them). We looked around the city, including the Grand Place, and spent some time on the internet pre booking our accommodation for Paris. In the afternoon we took a tram to the outside of Brussels to go the Royal Museum for Central Africa which has a section on colonisation and King Leopold. On the way, our tram abruptly stopped and then we saw a series of police cars pull over on the median strip. The tram driver got out to look at the tram that had stopped in front of us. Apparently there was a man who pulled out a gun on the tram in front but nobody was hurt.

Posted by CJTaylor 06:58 Archived in Belgium

Utrecht, Delft and the Hague.

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We arrived in Utrecht and walked to our accommodation after getting a bite to eat in the city centre. Because of having difficulty finding accommodation in Utrecht, the day before we booked a hotel slightly above our budget being 79 euros for the night. Called Hotel Mitland and located just outside of the city next to a lake, we had a relaxing stay there with our room overlooking the lake. It also helped having access to the sauna, steamer and pool, and a complimentary rubber duckie which has since been posted back to Australia. Utrecht is one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands with 13th century canal wharves below street level, and the home of Dick Bruna the author of Miffy the rabbit. It was quite busy in the city centre because it was market day. But outside of the city it was quiet with flower markets, large boulevards and miniatature sheep in pastures. The next day we took the train to Delft for a 2 night stay. Our interest in Delft came from Delftware, the artist Johannes Vermeer and the book about the painter - Girl with a Pearl Earring. We checked into the Soul Inn, whose owner lived in England during the early 1970s and who is a bit of an ex hippy, with the decor of the B&B being inspired by that era. Our room was Titanium, with absolutely wild wall paper -

The owner was friendly and we had access to a coffee machine in the foyer where music of the 1960s and 1970s was played. In Delft we went to the Het Prinsenhof museum which gave us a better understanding of the Netherlands history, the split between the Catholics and Protestants, the Nassau and Orange royal lineage. It was enjoyable walking around the beautiful city and canals, looking around the town square and in the new and old church. On our second day we hired bicycles and rode from Delft to the Hague. We spent most the day riding around the city parks and green spaces, past residences of the rich and royals. It took a little getting used to the Grandma style bikes but they were actually better and easier to ride than the mountain bikes we hired in Britain (even with 3 gears).

Before talking a bus from the Hague to Brussels, we went to the Mauritshuis Museum which was a really well presented art gallery with Vermeers Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft paintings.

Posted by CJTaylor 06:35 Archived in Netherlands


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We arrived into Amsterdam via a bus we caught from the ferry terminal. We headed straight for the tourist office at the Centraal Train Station in order to find accommodation. After about 1 hour we managed to book accommodation for about 70 euros a night, a canal tour, tickets to the Anne Frank Huis (house) and transport cards for 48 hours. After checking into our hotel, we went out for lunch which was pizza at an Italian restaurant. After lunch we walked along the canals to the city centre for a couple of hours, orientating ourselves to the city. Amsterdam took a little to get used to at first, it is a busy city with cars and bikes seeming to go in every direction in a chaotic fashion. The footpaths seemed to have been sacrificed for bike lanes, so whenever you walk you feel like you could be run over. It is a beautiful city teeming with canals, Renaissance and modern architecture. The beauty of the city was further seen during a canal cruise which took us through the new and old parts of the city, showing off some of the best aspects of Amsterdam, such as the 16th and 17th century buildings and bridges, numerous houseboats, the canal gardens, and tradtitional sailing boats. We also went to the Anne Frank Huis. This building is where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis from 1942 to 1945 in an annex of a jam factory that her father originally owned. If you have read the diary or watched the 1950s movie this museum is great as it shows the rooms that the 2 families lived in for 3 years. We found Amsterdam easy to get around and to communicate in, as almost everybody speaks English. The city quickly grew on us and by the time we left we did not want to go. However, we made plans to explore the country, so on the morning of the 4th of September we left Amsterdam.

Posted by CJTaylor 06:16 Archived in Netherlands

Hadrian's Wall

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On the morning of the 30th we left Fort William for Carlisle via Glasgow on the train. From Carlisle we took a bus to a small village called Greenhead, which is located near Hadrian's Wall. We checked into our accommodation, a bunk barn part of Holmhead Guest House, just outside of the village, surrounded by pastures for cows and sheep. Nearby was the ruins of a castle from the 12th century called Thirwall Castle, really just a small keep, which was built with stones from Hadrian's Wall. We had the barn to ourselves save for a resident cat called Figit who slept on Jade's slepping barn that night, which happened to be the coldest night we had endured in Britain - the first time Chris had been really cold in years. The next morning after breakfast at the Greenhead Inn, which is a great pub with a really nice owner, we began our 20km hike along Hadrian's Wall, which being a defensive barrier was built on the highest ground in the region, meaning that the walk consisted of going up and down steep hills for almost the entire time. The Wall was enjoyable (even with our packs), the views were great, and there were many ruins along the way including original sections of the Roman wall, milecastles, turrets, and a couple of average museums. We also came across two old forts, Housteads being by far the one with the largest remains including well preserved latrines. After about seven hours of hiking, we arrived at our accommodation the Old Repeater station, with was a bit noisy and had the smallest room we've ever slept in, but we managed to get a decent night's sleep. The morning of the 1st of September we took a ferry/cruise ship called the King of Scandanavia from Newcastle to Amsterdam, thus ending our trip in Britain.

Posted by CJTaylor 04:59 Archived in United Kingdom

Fort William

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We had an amazing train journey through the southern and western highlands of Scotland to Fort Williams. Our B&B for 2 nights was the Rhu Mhor Guest House, which was well priced and had a lot of charm, owned by a proud Scottish family and run by a mother and son team. The breakfast was hearty with a good vegetarian option, and was served by the owner who wore his traditional tartan kilt. We had a day trip to Mallaig on the steam train 'The Jacobite', which is said to be one of the best train journey's in the world. It was also made famous by the via-duct in the first Harry Potter movie. We went for a walk in Mallaig around the port and found a path leading into the hills where we came upon fields of wildflowers and waterfalls. Whilst we were on the train back, we saw the shaggy-haired highland cattle. Back in Fort William, we walked to the base of Ben Nevis, which is the highest mountain peak in Scotland and popular with hikers. Cuisine that we recommend is flapjacks and tablet! On the train journey out of Fort William we saw wild roe deear with huge antlers and golden pelts.

Posted by CJTaylor 04:51 Archived in United Kingdom

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