United Kingdom

stones, spiders in bath, oh my!

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The last fortnight we have stayed in York, Cardiff and now Bath.

Arriving in Bath and staying at Travelodge Bath Waterside – we have never experienced such appalling conditions ANYWHERE. Let’s just name a few of the disasters:

  1. there were spiders EVERYWHERE in the hotel. Webs along the corridors nesting lots of spiders
  2. a spider ran across the bed as we lay in bed
  3. the room smelt like sewerage
  4. used tissue paper stuffed back into the tissue box
  5. extremely incompetent and rude front of desk staff: we were expecting a phone call from some family in Bath and the hotel told them that no one by our names were staying there and apparently they didn’t have stamps for postcards to Australia (whatever that was suppose to mean)

But anyway, enough whinging on our behalf and onto what we actually got up to.

“Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath?” Catherine Morland (Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey) – and we could somewhat agree – Bath is a gorgeous city. It was also a convenient base for us to do a few other things; visiting/meeting family was a major reason!

On one of the days, we visited the Roman Bath Museum and were able to try the natural hot springs bath water – which tasted like stale warm water. But besides that, what a remarkable museum. We are not really museum type of people but thoroughly enjoyed this one.

On another day, we visited Stonehenge and the Avebury Stone Circles – walking around listening to the history behind these rocks. There will always be theories about it but will we ever really know how Stonehenge was built and why? These types of mysteries will all be intriguing. On the road, we also saw 2 of Wiltshire white horses. Gosh, this area of the world fascinates us so much.

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Stonehenge
Stonehenge
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Avebury stone circles
Wiltshire white horse
Wiltshire white horse

edinburgh festival without nessie

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When we booked this leg of the trip, we were completely ignorant of the timing and the significance. We arrived right in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival. We were also completely unaware of the gothic beauty of the city.

Chocolate soup
Chocolate soup

After our adventurous morning trying to get here, we caught the bus from the airport to the city and it is the most picturesque city thus far. The castle stands above the cliff face like Acropolis does in Athens. We are simply in awe at the city’s backdrop! Magnificent! And because of the festival the city is alive, it has added to the experience. Also being able to try chocolate soup might have added to the fond memories we have here 🙂

And you can’t visit Scotland and not go in search of the Loch Ness monster. We booked a 12 hour day tour that would take us to the highlands and see Loch Ness. Let’s just say we were disappointed not because we didn’t spot Nessie but because the tour was pointless. We definitely got to see the lake but only driving by. We did get to stop a little in the highlands and that was it. It was basically a long, very long bus trip to the Loch and back. It was a bad experience!!

Our last day in Scotland was visiting family. It was great to meet cousins and second cousins and to actually be in a “home”. It had been over a month and we felt like nomads, so it was nice to feel like we belonged.

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the day travelling by plane changed forever

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We woke up and switched on the TV as we got ready to go to the airport. BBC news was talking about something about airports and safety and we switched it off because we thought it was just a standard report. Little did we know that we were witnessing the way that flying internationally had changed!

Arriving at the airport, the check-in lines were out the door.  There were people everywhere and we were still oblivious. We saw that all the flights out of Belfast airport had been cancelled and just wanted to make sure that our flight to Edinburgh was still scheduled. So far it was – but had been delayed. So finally we got to the front of the queue and  told that we were NOT allowed to bring anything on the plane except our passports and wallets, nothing else at all! This is when we found out that there had been a terrorism threat on a transatlantic flight. And it was the day that travelling by plane changed forever: it was the birth of the RULING for 100mL maximum for liquids on flights.

As we waited in Belfast airport, we could see all these flights getting cancelled. And we starred in anticipation for the flight to Edinburgh. It didn’t seem to be cancelled, just getting pushed back so we browsed through the news stands and shops and completely lost track of time. Next thing we hear is the announcement that it is the last call for boarding for the flight to Edinburgh – then began the mad dash to the gate!

To think that we not only remembered when air travel changed but we actually experienced it from Day 1.

fee-fi-fo-fum

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It has been a month since we had left and we are in Belfast. We were kindly escorted to our hotel by a stranger who clearly could see we were lost. Our introduction to the country was a thumbs up! We had grown up in an era where there was a lot of negative media attention for Northern Island so let’s just say we were so happy we decided to visit and see what it had to offer.

We have nothing to complain about this city. We did a Black Cab Tour which admittedly wasn’t anything to write home about but we did learn a great deal about the history and the conflict in the area. We witnessed some young boys of about 8 or 9 scale a wall to rip down the UK flag. So it showed to us how conflict still resides.

From city to coast, we visited the Giants Causeway and that would have to be one of the coolest things we have seen. Pictures do not do justice to this natural wonder. The legend goes that the causeway was built by the Irish giant to fight the Scottish giant. The scientific version probably isn’t half as exciting! Walking along the cliff face above the causeway, we were getting pushed along by the gale force wind before we decided to take the safer option for a view of the rocks by taking the shuttle bus to stand amongst them! Definitely worth a visit if this region is on anyone’s itinerary.

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Giant's Causeway
Giant’s Causeway