UK

Enchanting Edinburgh

My visit to Edinburgh was in early September 2015 and I was lucky enough to stay with a friend in Portobello (thanks Sonya!). It was around the time when the Fringe Festival was on, so accommodation was either hard to get or you ended up paying extortionate amounts of money. I enjoyed walking along the Royal Mile and seeing the Old Town. Given that the weather was fantastical (!!!), I also hiked up to Arthur’s seat where the views of Edinburgh were spectacular. I caught the sunset at Calton Hill, which was simply breathtaking. A trip to Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without going on a Harry Potter walking tour (definitely recommend this!!). Our guide was a young undergraduate university student who was dressed in a gown and had a wand in his hand. We were shown where JK Rowling took some of her inspirations for her novels from – for a true fan this was simply awesome. A walk down Portobello “beach” was also very nice – look out for the coffee truck, the locals are extremely friendly while waiting in line. The Mosque Kitchen was my “go to” for really good food which also happened to be cheap. You’ll actually see loads of restaurants called “The Original Mosque Kitchen” but make sure you go to the one that is in the courtyard of the actual mosque – it’s open to all, in fact alot of local businessman go there for lunch.

I would definitely recommend visiting Edinburgh – there is loads to do in this magical enchanting city….

 

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Cambridge vs Oxford Boat Race

A few weeks ago, on a bright sunny day in April, I went into London for the big boat race: Cambridge vs Oxford. It was such a great day out on Thames – ofcourse minus the fact that Cambridge didn’t win ANYTHING…!!! Nevertheless, it was great seeing the University spirit and more so, seeing the women’s side being able to compete for the first time ever on the same day as the men. You see previously the women’s race would take place in Henley and there wasn’t as much “hype” as there was for the men’s race. It was really nice to see this (girl power…!!)

 

 

Seaside escape to Brighton

DISCLAIMER: I am lagging in posting my blogs – so bare with me (am currently in Germany – too much travel!!)

Recently, my friend Amelie who was visiting from Munich Germany and I decided to go on a day trip from Cambridge to Brighton. All in all the journey only took about 2hrs – but as we were profusely catching up, the time just went by….

The seaside was only a short walk from the station – roughly about 10mins. When we arrived at the seaside, I couldn’t help feeling slightly disappointed. You see, I was expecting a nice sandy beach where we could bask in the sun for a few hours, chilling. Instead, the entire beach was ROCKY – not even pebbles, they were rocks! And it actually semi-hurt the bottom my foot (I was wearing thin soled shoes – Toms, but still…). After my initial disappointment, I appreciated the fact that the sun was out, blue skies and I was at the sea! We walked along the shore, occasionally stopping to enjoy the scenery.

We arrived at Brighton Pier – which is basically like a fair/carnival just built on a pier – weird if you ask me… but we still explored the pier, I also thought I’d make use of the workers here and asked them about the “Brighton Beach Huts” – total fail! Whomever I asked had no clue what I was talking about (I’m sure they certainly exist!!)

By this stage we were hungry and decided to go for fish and chips – but we couldn’t find anything close by. We ended up going to a little cafe in the vicinity of the Pavilion. Lunch was followed by exploring the grounds of the Pavilion – such a lovely area with nice gardens.

We decided to also go inside and explore this amazing structure – the exterior had a South Asian design, yet the moment you step into the building it was all Chinese – peculiar but grand! We weren’t allowed to take photos inside – but oh how I wish we were allowed. The interior was designed so spectacularly – every inch totally exaggerated, much to King George’s liking ofcourse… The kitchen was HUGE – what I liked about this kitchen compared to other royal displays was the fact that they had on display ALL the copper pots and pans – the things that were actually used for cooking – as opposed to tea cups and saucers…. We spent about an hour in here – the audio guide was brilliant, although some points could have been alot shorter but its easier to skip…

We then decided to go back to the seaside and go on the Volk’s Electric Train – apparently its the oldest running electric train in the world. So we bought our tickets to the “marina” (mind you we had no idea where this was…) and hopped on the train! The train basically took us to the end of the line, to the “marina” where there were fisherman. Nothing too spectacular to see here – unless you wanted to be at the seaside without all the hundreds of people. We then caught the next train back to the pier.

We each bought gelato and sat on the rocks and enjoyed the moment. We were truly impressed by the amazing weather!

What I found strange is that there was alot of development on the actual seaside itself – lots of shops, kiosks hiring out beach chairs, fish and chips stalls – only to name a few. Back home in Australia, thankfully we don’t have any – well at least none on the south coast. I think the beach and the seaside shouldn’t have development and remain original/natural. We humans tend to spoil wherever we go – tis a sad fact…

I would definitely recommend checking Brighton out – a day trip is surely enough. A must is the Pavilion, it was SPECTACULAR! I would have enjoyed the electric train ride if I were 5 – so you can give that a miss…

 

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Stonehenge: Simply Surreal

Stonehenge – I couldn’t believe that I was actually at Stonehenge! It was a surreal moment for me as I first lay my eyes upon the mysterious stones…

You see, I remember helping my brother who was in primary school with an assignment about Stonehenge. Ever since then, I had always wanted to see it, and now that I was standing before Stonehenge – I simply couldn’t believe it!

As I was on a tour of Stonehenge (see Bath post for tour details), our guide Matt had organised our tickets and audio guides. We got on a bus from the Visitor centre which took us to the Stonehenge site which was located about 2kms away. When we got off, Matt explained the significance of Stonehenge and the recent developments of the theories surrounding the existence of the structure. Interestingly, the BBC recently showed that due to advancing technology, now researchers from the UK together with Austria have been mapping  the entire area via a 3D laser scanner. This has enabled researchers to see through the ground and explore what civilisation looked like thousands of years ago!

Listening to Matt saved me from having to listen to the hour long audio guide – so not a fan!

At our own pace, we then circled Stonehenge. NOTE: you don’t actually get to go right up to it, you’re about 5m away from the structure. BUT if you visit during the Summer or Winter Solstice you are infact allowed to go right into Stonehenge (together with the thousands of people who also visit that day!).

As I walked around Stonehenge, I had a magical feeling – although I can’t quite describe how I felt, it was a unique atmosphere. I took my time circling the structure and enjoyed the moment… As I reached full circle, the wind picked up and I hurried back to the bus which took me back to the Visitor centre.

There was also an exhibition about the civilisation that once lived there – on display were bones, tools, trinkets from years ago. The exhibition is small, so you only need about 10mins or so…

Overall, I really enjoyed Stonehenge and I definitely recommend a visit!

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