Coast

Beautiful beaches of Lisbon

As an Australian, I really appreciate the coastline of Lisbon – they have actual beaches! not the stoney beaches that I’ve seen in the UK…

And the beaches stretch endlessly – and they are clean! so so beautiful!

The only bad thing that I can say is that I don’t like the development on the beaches ie the stores, cafes, the sun mat hiring places. Beaches should be kept natural – best way to conserve them. I’m so glad that the beaches in Australia don’t have any development on them – I hope it remains like that…

The beaches that we went to were: Estoril and Caparica. Estoril is on the same side of downtown Lisbon whereas Caparica is on the otherside, ie you have to cross the bridge. Both are about 30mins drive from Saldanha and they aren’t over crowded.

The day we went to Caparica, there were a group of kids with bicycles with parachutes attached to the back, where the wind was providing momentum – it looked like so much fun! I walked along this beach, the weather was warm and it reminded me of home…

Seeing this coastline of Lisbon, really makes me want to see the Algarve – which is supposed to be really really nice! Definitely going on the bucket list!

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this is actually a lighthouse (so I'm told...)

this is actually a lighthouse (so I’m told…)

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Caparica

Caparica

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream: An English Wedding in Devon

Day 1 Friday 8th August 2014: Road trip from Cambridge to Kingsbridge, Devon-England

Shaz and I gave our little speed demon a quick check: fuelled up, oil and water were ok, but the tyres needed some pressure. After getting grease all over our hands, the tyres had air in them and we were off! As we began our road trip to southern England, the roads were uncongested and we thought YAAY perhaps it will be smooth sailing all the way down south. However, about 2 hours into our journey, the traffic became gridlocked and was horrendous! So basically, because of the many traffic jams we got caught in, it took us a VERY long time to get to Devon. As it was now dark, we were driving very slowly through the towns as the roads were extremely narrow and to top it off they had HUGE hedges on either side. This made it slightly dangerous, as these so called roads weren’t even lit! Anyway, we found our bed and breakfast without getting lost and we both hit the sack immediately after our long, tiring journey…

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Day 2 Saturday 9th August 2014: The Summersthwaite Wedding, Thurlestone, Devon-England

After having a IMG_7360watermarkednice breakfast, Shaz and I glamourified ourselves and made our way to Thurlestone Church. The sun was shining – twas’ an amazing day to be getting married. As we entered the church, the ushers handed us each a program and we made our way to the stalls. As the bride (Vickie) entered the church with her father, everyone hushed and the ceremony began. This was my first wedding church service, so it was actually quite interesting. Many hymns were sung and a few readings were read. The choir was made up of the bride and grooms (Dom) friends and family – giving it that extra personal touch. There was also an amazing soloist – her voice was angelic… Following the official marriage of Vickie and Dom, we all made our way to the front of the church with a hand full of confetti and sprinkled it upon the newlyweds as they made their way out of the church – both had massive grins across their faces…

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We then made our way to the reception, which was held at Vickie’s parents house located on a property close by. Drinks and canapés were served in the garden as everyone chatted away.

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We all then made our way to the marque and found our seats. The interior of the marque was splendid – subtlety drawing on Vickie’s Mauritian heritage. Each person had their name on a tag that was wrapped around their serviette with a nice wooden fan on top.My favourite was the bunting – a simple yet so effective decorative piece! On the tables they also had a booklet, which had the names of all the guests and a few sentences about them – which I thought was such a nice personal touch. I especially liked what Vickie wrote about me: Ayse was one of the first Australians Vickie had met, and has taught her about all sorts of “far out” vegies including “pet-it-poys” and “mangie toots”. I mean seriously which Aussie knows how to correctly pronounce petit pois and mangetout – nevertheless it was HILARIOUS!!!

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We had a splendid dinner, which was then followed by the speeches. I was informed that traditionally the father of the bride gives a speech embarrassing the bride; followed by the groom’s speech thanking everyone; concluded by a dirty/filthy speech by the best man. The first two were as expected, however, in my opinion the best man did not throw dirt on the groom at all! His speech was actually quite civil – funny of course but no secrets were revealed (slightly disappointed…). In any case, all the speeches were both humorous and emotional at times – simply brilliant! The dancing commenced soon after and there was a band for the “ceilidh” (pronounced Kaylee for all you non-UK folk). All the Brits around educated me – the ceilidh is traditional Celtic dancing where the MC calls out the dance moves and everyone follows. I had a go – it was actually quite a lot of fun! It was great to see the oldies having a go… the night continued on with more and more dancing… all in all, it was a brilliant and enjoyable wedding =)

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Day 3 Sunday 10th August 2014: The journey back to Cambridge

Both Shaz and I thought we should head to the beach after breakfast – we owed it to ourselves after enduring such a long journey down south! So, we headed down to Thurlestone beach, winding our way through the narrowest hedged roads. As we both got out of the car, we were nearly blown away by the gale forced winds! There was actually a weather warning the entire weekend ie Hurricane Bertha… we managed to stay on the beach for a few minutes, snapped a few shots of the actual Thurle Stone and we made our way back home. We had a smooth journey back, with close to no traffic jams, ending our trip on a fantastic note…

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The Authentic Northern Ireland Experience

Day 1 (Friday): I arrived at my friend – Lucy’s house in the evening, which was located on a farm in County Londonderry. On my way to the farm, I noticed that on either side of the road, there were cattle farms – full of sheep and cows. I didn’t realise that Northern Ireland had such a huge cattle economy. I met her mum and dad – who were both such lovely people. Initially I was having trouble understanding her dad, as he had a thicker accent than the rest. But as the conversation went on, I began to understand his pronunciation – o aye!

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Day 2 (Saturday): The following morning, after we had soda bread for breakfast (a Northern Irish treat), Lucy and I set off to the north coast. The sun was out, which made my whole experience in this country all the more enjoyable. As we were driving along, we went past a sign that said “Castle Rock”. As a huge Game of Thrones fan, at first I read the sign as “Casterly Rock”!! We pulled in to discover an amazing beach – and I mean an actual beach! There were lifesavers and all! To top it off, it reminded me of the beaches that I grew up on located on the South Coast of Sydney, Australia. I took my shoes off and went for a walk down the beach, loving the feeling of the sand between my toes.

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IMG_6277watermarkedAs we continued along the coast, my belly started to rumble. We decided it’d be nice to have a spot of lunch at the coastal town of Port Stewart. This was a very nice place – somewhere that you’d come to for brunch on Sunday. We went for a pleasant stroll along the promenade, where there were lots of families with their children and old folks just chillin’ on the park benches – nice vibes in Port Stewart.

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We finally arrived at our main destination – The Giant’s Causeway – one of the wonders of the UK and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A wonder it was indeed! Just a tip – if you are planning on seeing a lot of the UK, I would advise you to become a member of the National Trust. You will gain free entrance into A LOT of places – so it’s definitely worth it! Also make sure you wear sensible footwear here i.e. closed shoes NOT flip-flops, unlike my friend Lucy – she actually got interviewed about her choice of footwear by one of the staff members and even got photos taken of her feet!!!

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The Giant’s Causeway was absolutely breath taking! Interlocking hexagonally shaped basalt pillars lined the cliffs of this beautiful stretch of coastline – the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, with a backdrop of green mountains. It almost felt like I was on the set of Lord of the Rings – the landscape was spectacular! We walked around to the various parts of the Causeway – which slowly was beginning to be overcrowded by Japanese and American tourists. At one point we sat down and chilled for a few minutes – just to take in the natural beauty that was surrounding us.

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Next stop on the coastline tour was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. NOTE: National Trust members have free access. As we made our way down to the bridge, we saw people walking back – they look tired, which made me dread the journey back… We arrived at the rope bridge – which was only about 20m long and 30m above the rocks below. In any case – my inner child came out as I subtlety rocked the bridge as I made my way across…. We then made our way back to the farm for a good nights rest – after all this sight seeing we were knackered.

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Day 3 (Sunday): The next day we drove to Belfast. As a citizen of Northern Ireland, Lucy suggested that we should go on a “hop on hop off” bus tour of the city, as it would be much safer seeing as though we also wanted to see some historic rough neighbourhoods…. You see, it was coming up to Marching Season – this is when the Battle of the Boyne is commemorated and everyone wears orange, as it was “King Billy’s” colour. It is also a time when there is conflict between the Protestants and Catholics. The bus took us to the Shankill and the Fall, which is a renown rough neighbourhood. We also went past the Peace Wall. The neighbourhood did not look particularly safe – so I was glad we were on a tourist bus! We saw the many murals depicting the Hand of Ulster, Ulster Freedom Fighters holding guns and wearing balaclavas, King William and Bobbie Sands. As a street art lover, this is what I really wanted to see. After seeing all of this, its as though I could feel the bitterness in this city… To be quite honest, I didn’t particularly like Belfast as a city – I didn’t feel safe or any charm of the city….

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As the Titanic was built in Belfast, there was a museum, which had an amazing architectural design. The weather was becoming grey, so we made our way to Stormont. We managed to get a car park right out the front – yaaay! We walked through the gates, and as I gazed off to the distance, there was a huge white neo-classical building with columns. Leading up to the Parliamentary building was a maroon road, which has very large trees lining either side of it – simply stunning!

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I really enjoyed my trip to Northern Ireland, and I recommend that you definitely go and explore this beautiful country! I would highly recommend renting a car if you would like to see the north coast – it’s the best way to see it really… And make sure you go beyond Belfast – as I reflect on my trip now, I am so grateful to Lucy for taking me around the north coast – otherwise if I had gone on my own, I would have only seen Belfast. This definitely would have left an unpleasant impression of Northern Ireland… Luckily for me this wasn’t the case! Huge shout out to my friend Lucy and her folks for their warm hospitality – such great people!