A Travellerspoint blog

London & Edinburgh

Day 294 to Day 307

rain 10 °C

London

After a packed week in Berlin we arrived in London the day prior to Remembrance Day which we attended in Trafalgar Square. There was a great ceremony and two minutes silence which included the shutting down of the Trafalgar Square intersection where no traffic could move for the whole two minutes.

Remembrance Day @Trafalgar Square

Remembrance Day @Trafalgar Square

After the Remembrance Day ceremony we headed over to the National Portrait Gallery which we had been meaning to do for some time. We unfortunately did not have enough time to appreciate all of the paintings so we decided to focus on the Royal section. There were so many paintings that all come with a little slice of history so there was lots to learn.

Our next day in London consisted of catching up with some friends for dinner. On our way to this dinner we were walking through Hyde Park and saw the Royal helicopter land at Kensington Palace. Although we do not think Prince William was on board it was nice to think we had maybe seen a Royal on board!

Royal Helicopter @Kensington Palace

Royal Helicopter @Kensington Palace

We also visited the Army Museum and the British Museum. As you may have realised by now this time we were in London was orientated towards visiting Galleries and Museums.

Napoleon's horse @National Army Museum

Napoleon's horse @National Army Museum

Rosetta Stone @British Museum

Rosetta Stone @British Museum

We love looking for a bargain so we visited the Spitalfield markets in Whitechapel. We were lucky enough to actually find something (a small painting of Scottie and Westie dog) we wanted to buy that was a) not too expensive and b) we were able to post home. Whilst in Whitechapel we also visited some of the well-known sites associated with the Jack the Ripper murders (which apparently don’t look much different today compared to back in 1888). Whitechapel is only a short walk from the Tower of London so after this we went and visited the Tower for one last look.

Gunthorpe Street in Whitechapel

Gunthorpe Street in Whitechapel

Henry @Tower Bridge

Henry @Tower Bridge

Still on the topic of markets ever since the start of our trip Rein has wanted to visit the Camden Markets in Camden Town. We went there on a Saturday, apparently the best day to go. We thought we may only need a couple of hours there but we ended up spending most of the day at the stable markets. There was a lot of cheap touristy stuff on the outside, but if you journey a little deeper and are prepared to spend time sifting through stalls, there are some really nice things you can buy. Unfortunately we could not buy a lot of the stuff we liked as we couldn’t fit it in our bags.

Camden Markets

Camden Markets

Our last night in London was spent at the Theatre in the West End. Leah didn’t really have any preference so we went and saw Spamalot as Rein had always wanted to see it. Funnily enough Leah was hiding the Grail throughout the musical and was pulled up on stage at the end of the show for a song with the cast. For this honour she also received an Arthur award and a can of spam. Needless to say Rein was annoyed he was not allowed to take any photos!

Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle


After a week seeing things in London we had previously missed we flew into Edinburgh for the second time on our trip; however, this time we were there to sight see instead of being there on the way to somewhere else. One very cold and windy Edinburgh day we decided to walk to Hollyrood Park and then walk to the top of Arthurs Seat, a high lookout with amazing views over Edinburgh. Rein made the trek all the way to the top; however, Leah and Henry decided to only go half way as they were really cold.

Hollyrood Park

Hollyrood Park

Continuing on from our London theme we visited the Edinburgh Museum. We probably wished we’d spent more time there as once again there was so much stuff to see! We decided to concentrate on Scottish history and went through the museum with that in mind.

National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

Being December the Edinburgh Christmas markets had opened up which were great to visit. There was an ice skating rink, mulled wine, and lots of hot food. It was really starting to feel like winter as it was cold and the sun was setting around 3:30pm in the afternoon. We also took the opportunity whilst in Edinburgh to do some shopping as we knew we were coming to the end of our trip and needed some new clothes for the festive season.

Leah & Rein @Edinburgh Christmas Markets

Leah & Rein @Edinburgh Christmas Markets

After lots of sightseeing in London and Edinburgh we were on our way back to Melfort House in the Scottish Highlands for December and Christmas.

Posted by reinandleah 09:05 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Somme & Berlin

Day 284 to Day 293

overcast 10 °C

Once Leah’s Mum left us, we spent a further five days in Paris. We toured some of the local sights we had missed such as the Sacré Cœur.

We also went on a day trip to the Somme. We took an early train to Ameins where we were picked up by our guide. Our first stop was Villers-Bretonneux. The day included visits to Le Hammel, Thiepval, New Foundland Battlefield (which in our opinion was the best kept battlefield site) Pozieres, and Bullecourt. The second last stop of the day was to Hermies where we saw the grave of Rein’s Great Great Uncle who died at the front in April 1917. It was a touching day out.

The view @Villers-Bretonneux

The view @Villers-Bretonneux

David Walters in Hermies

David Walters in Hermies

Our final day in Paris we went out to lunch at Brasserie Lipp, a 130 year old traditional Parisian restaurant Leah’s dad recommended to us.
Our next trip was a flight to Berlin (now one of our favourite places), where we spent a week. After arriving in Berlin at 2pm and not really having eaten for the day we found a small very traditional pub serving traditional German food which was great for our hungry stomachs. We both had schnitzels and beer (and we went back twice more for dinner!!).

Rein @Zum Schusterjungen

Rein @Zum Schusterjungen

Our week in Berlin was a busy one. We started at the Sunday flea market; the biggest and best we had been to on this trip. On a Sunday the majority of shops in Berlin and the rest of Germany are closed, including supermarkets, so the flea market was packed with people eating and drinking whilst shopping on the very cold day (about 5 degrees).

Leah @Flea Market

Leah @Flea Market

On Monday we went on a walking tour of Berlin, spending most of our time in the East side of Berlin. The East side of Berlin has a very eclectic and bohemian feel to it, and it is funny to think how fashionable it is now. On our walking tour we visited many of the well-known sites of Berlin such as the university where Nazi supporters burnt books on the forecourt, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker (or the ground on top of where it used to be), the Holocaust Memorial, and of course the Brandenburg Gates.

Henry @Brandenburg Gates

Henry @Brandenburg Gates


Night @Berliner Dom

Night @Berliner Dom

We had heard that on Tuesday’s at lunchtime the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performed a free concert (which usually can cost upwards of 100 euros). So on Tuesday we decided to try and get into this performance; however, as we decided to walk and it was on the other side of Berlin (Berlin is quite a spread out city) and we arrived about 5 minutes after it was supposed to begin. Needless to say we were not able to get in as it was at capacity. So it was a disappointing start to the day; however, we roamed around Berlin and looked at some second hand shops.

On the Wednesday we visited the East Side Gallery; for those of you who either haven’t been to Berlin or don’t know it is the largest stretch of the Wall left that many artists have decorated. After this we strolled back towards out hostel and grabbed a great lunch at a butcher. This may sound strange but many butchers in Germany also serve hot food. Rein enjoyed a very large serve of rissoles with sauerkraut and potatoes whilst Leah had a schnitzel, sauerkraut and potatoes. These meals were massive and were under 5 euros each, bargin!

Leah & Rein @Eastside Gallery

Leah & Rein @Eastside Gallery

Thursday we decided to have a rest day (we needed it after all of our walking!) and then headed out for a late lunch at the most famous and reportedly best currywurst (sausages with a tomato sauce poured over them and then curry powder spread on top) place in Berlin. It was a smallish hole in the wall place under an overpass with a few chairs and tables to sit and enjoy your currywurst. Again, a very good value for money lunch, Berlin turned out to be quite cheap for food.

Around the corner from our hostel was the memorial to the Berlin Wall. It was a great memorial and very well thought out. You could climb a tower and view the wall and the ‘death strip’ (the area between the outside wall and inside wall – two walls were eventually built in places to deter people from escaping). After climbing the tower we walked through the ‘death strip’ and looked at one of the last remaining roads in Berlin still to be cut off from the building of the wall (it was never reopened once the wall fell).

'Death Strip'

'Death Strip'

It’s hard to imagine that just under 25 year ago Berlin was reborn from two fractions. They have not shied away from the dark past, erecting various monuments to the different ethnic groups affected by the Nazi and Soviet occupations. We then left Berlin and travelled to London, our last time this trip that we will be in continental Europe.

Posted by reinandleah 15:30 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Episode 15

Italy & France

sunny 18 °C

Travelling with my wife and mother-in-law and finishing in Paris? Shop-shop-shop!

Posted by reinandleah 04:05 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Italy & France

Day 263 to Day 281

overcast 16 °C

Italy
Lake Como – Bellagio
View from our Balcony @Bellagio

View from our Balcony @Bellagio


We caught an overnight train from Budapest to Zürich to meet Leah’s mother at the main train station in Zürich. We then spent a long day travelling on three different trains throughout Switzerland and Italy to reach our destination for the next four days: Bellagio, Lake Como. We arrived at dusk so we couldn’t make out all of our surroundings; however, from what we could see Bellagio seemed like a great little town. The 2 of us then went and did some grocery shopping; walking back to the apartment we got drenched has Bellagio saw some of its heaviest rainfall this year. In the morning we arose to the most amazing views one could hope for. Our balcony overlooked Lake Como and the snow-capped mountains in the distance; it was an amazing sight first thing in the morning. We spent our time in Bellagio going for walks, eating some amazing local food, and shopping in the small boutique shops that were everywhere. It was Rein’s birthday whilst we were in Bellagio and we enjoyed a lovely dinner at a restaurant in one of the quaint little side streets.

Mum, Rein & Leah @Bellagio

Mum, Rein & Leah @Bellagio


Mum & Rein @Birthday Bellagio

Mum & Rein @Birthday Bellagio

Cinque Terre – Monterosso
Mum & Leah @Monterosso

Mum & Leah @Monterosso


After a relaxing four days in Bellagio we moved on to Monterosso, one of the five towns in the Cinque Terre along Italy’s coast. Even in mid-October we could see why so many people would venture here in the summer, the beaches were beautiful and the scenery amazing. On a beautiful sunny day we hiked part of the Cinque Terre from Monterosso to Vernazza. This took about two hours and in the heat (even in mid-October) it was hot work! Although stopping now and then to admire the incredible views made it more than worth it. Henry was the lucky one, getting to admire the views from Rein’s backpack! Of course during our time in Italy we pretty much ate pizza and/or gelato every day, both amazing!
On our final full day in Monterosso we had planned to catch a train to the end of the Cinque Terre, La Spezia; however, in going to the train station to buy tickets we inadvertently found out that there would be an Italy wide train strike from 9pm that day until 9pm the next day. Given we were meant to leave on a train at 7am the next morning we decided to leave Monterosso early; however, the only train we could get was in half an hour! Let’s just say that is the fastest any of us has run back to the apartment, packed, and run back to the train station, it was a very stressful time to say the least!

Leah & Mum @Cinque Terre

Leah & Mum @Cinque Terre

France
Nice
So after leaving Monterosso by Midday and being very stressed for a few hours we arrived in Nice, France. We arrived at 7pm at night with no accommodation but were soon able to find a decent hotel thanks to Leah’s mother. We dumped our luggage and went out for Chinese, as you do in France. The next day our train to Marseille did not leave until 1pm so we did some quick site seeing of Nice in the morning.

Nice

Nice

Marseille
Upon arrival in Marseille we found our apartment, which was a very nice art deco style apartment on the 4th floor (annoying for carry our luggage to!). The man helping us check in spoke no English but we managed to sign language everything so we were fine!
Our time in Marseille was spent wandering through markets, walking along the harbour and visiting Notre Dame de la Garde, a large cathedral on the highest hill near the centre of town. We also ventured on a day trip to Cassis to see the town’s famous white cliffs. We were not disappointed; the cliffs were incredible, as was the small seaside town. We enjoyed gelato in the sun on the beach after our hike to the white cliffs.

Henry @Cassis

Henry @Cassis

Paris
We spent slightly longer in Paris than everywhere else, understandably. We had rented an apartment in the 18th arrondissement which contains the Montmartre district and Sacré-Cœur, A Basilica built on the highest point in the city.
Whilst in Paris it was Leah’s mum’s birthday and to celebrate we all headed to the Champs Élysée and the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t go up the Tower, but we enjoyed a small snack whilst taking in the view of the Tower. That night Leah made a beautiful birthday bouillabaisse which we washed down with French champagne. We spent another of our days shopping at the large (large is an understatement really) shopping centre, the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Whilst it wasn’t Rein’s cup of tea, Leah and her mother enjoyed shopping and spending money!

Leah & Mum @Eiffel Tower

Leah & Mum @Eiffel Tower


Leah, Mum, Henry & Rein @Birthday Bouillabaisse

Leah, Mum, Henry & Rein @Birthday Bouillabaisse

One of the main things Leah’s mum wanted to do in Paris was visit the palace in Versailles. We did so on quite a cold and windy day but the palace did not disappoint. Before arriving we thought it would be a palace and some gardens but for those of you who haven’t been there it is massive (mostly designed by King Louis XIV) on roughly 1766 acres of immaculate gardens and forests. It was a beautiful place to walk around and admire, although you possibly would need more than the almost four hours we spent there to fully take in the palace.

Rein & Leah @Versailles Palace

Rein & Leah @Versailles Palace


Leah, Rein & Mum @Versailles Palace

Leah, Rein & Mum @Versailles Palace


Mum, Henry & Leah @Versailles Palace

Mum, Henry & Leah @Versailles Palace

After a fun-filled three weeks we said goodbye to Leah’s mum early one morning at the train station and we were once again on our own!

Posted by reinandleah 15:28 Archived in France Comments (1)

Episode 14

Eastern Europe

overcast 15 °C

Our Eastern Europe Adventure covers Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia & Hungry. What crazy scenarios can we possibly get into in the East?

Posted by reinandleah 12:41 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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