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|19th October 2016, 02:13||#1|
The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
A dream or a wish! Am confused. Be it a long time dream of walking together on a Europe trip or a much awaited urge to drive an Alfa Romeo. A drop of tear that silently touches the cheek on seeing "The Icons", as if the eyes still can't believe! or a chill running down the spine while standing on the "Ganguly Balcony" with an eager eye looking to recreate the culminating ceremony of the glory of 1983. A 1000 mile road trip from the "Fairest place on Earth" to the loneliness of the actual place that makes us feel the "Silence of Hebrides" from inside. From the negativity of the Torture cells to the extravagant display of Crown Jewels. A trip that was a mixture of dreams, wishes and emotions!
Some beautiful Cityscapes
And breathtaking landscapes
A journey that sets us free..
...and calms our Soul
Pride of driving a Dream..
..or the simple Joy of Relaxation
A place straight out of Fairytale..
..that welcomes Us with open arms
The place He called the "The Fairest place on Earth"..
..to the place where His soul rests
A Victorian cemetery where..
..the Nature has put Strokes of Colors
The "Iconic" places which still feels like a Dream..
..to the "Iconic" arena which means so much to "Us"
A Journey of Togetherness
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 19th October 2016 at 03:29.
|21st October 2016, 03:29||#2|
"Onsite", "Onshore Deputation", "Visa", "Work Permit" - the words has a special charm on the mind of the Professionals. Why shouldn't it be! It brings along Money, Client exposure and an opportunity of a lifetime to visit the places which, for some, would have been a distant dream otherwise. And for someone who is a true BHPian by heart, mix this with the chance to drive some of the mean machines in some of the best roads - An intriguing cocktail indeed!
But it is also associated with the pain of staying away from the surroundings in which one grew up, the People who means so much in our life and also our beautiful Country - in short staying away from "Our Own World". Personally, I have always found myself allergic to "Long Term" association with such "pain".
Whether to my liking or not, due to professional demand, I was here in United Kingdom in June 2016. Only icing on the cake for me was that my wife would joining me later. An Europe trip with my wife was a dream and that may be the only reason for my happiness. In October, my wife managed to get a 12 day off from work and joined me in Glasgow, Scotland.
This travelogue is all about those memorable 12 days - that "Happiness in a small package"!
Union, after a long time, at Glasgow Airport:
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 27th November 2016 at 04:26.
|25th October 2016, 05:26||#3|
Journey To the Capital - Edinburgh
As my wife had a long flight the day before, we decided to take it easy on this day. But when it is about Holidays and Tour, be it in India or overseas, our day always start early. We woke up early, had our breakfast, loaded our backpack with some dry foods, and off we go.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, was the first chapter of our journey in UK. As we walked towards the Queen Street station in Glasgow, I could see the happiness in my wife's face. She was singing by herself and clicking random pictures.
The Saturday morning was cold and foggy, the Glasgow city was waking up slowly.
A random shot of a Church in Glasgow
A few weeks back, when I was planning for the things to do on this day, I was feeling that we could be short of time. But when we were together, the plans, timings, "ticking the checkboxes" etc went out of sight.
It was instinctive, that we let the "Time" control ourselves.
We strolled around the George Square, taking pictures.
A random shot in George Square
After spending some time in and around George Square, we went to the Queen Street station for our onward journey to Edinburgh.
The Queen Street station
As soon as our train left the city of Glasgow, the Scottish countryside gifted us with some amazing view of the landscape. The sky was clear with white Cirrus clouds in blotches. The sight of farmlands with scattered hay bales in the foreground with hilly areas of Scottish Highlands in the background made for an amazing view to cherish. We were indeed lucky to have this kind of weather.
View from the moving train
In about 50 minutes, we reached the Edinburgh Waverley station. It was a chilly day and a warm cup of Coffee was much needed. Costa Coffee to the rescue.
A view after coming out of Waverley station
Our plan was to visit the St Giles Cathedral and National Museum of Scotland and then reach the Edinburgh Castle before 1 pm to see the firing 1 O'Clock Gun. Only Edinburgh Castle requires an entry ticket and we had it booked online.
We took the Royal Mile and reached St Giles' Cathedral. The cathedral's architectural feature is noteworthy and the surrounding area is strictly pedestrian zone. The sound of the Bagpiper playing his tunes on the street added to the magic.
St Giles Cathedral
Our next destination would be the National Museum of Scotland.
The road leading to the National Museum of Scotland
Some clicks inside the Museum
After spending a good couple of hours in the Museum, we marched towards the Edinburgh Castle. The Castle is one of the most sought after places of interest in Edinburgh. The Castle has witnessed many historical incidents, many of which are related to the British Colonial rule across the globe including the Indian subcontinent. A simple walk around the Castle is bound to leave an imprint on one's mind, whether good or bad - it depends! Link
Start of the Royal Mile
At the Castle Entrance
As said earlier, the Castle is one of the most sought after places to visit in Edinburgh. As a result, there is a huge demand and queue for tickets, specially on a weekend. So, its highly recommended to get the ticket booked online.
The firing of the 1 O'Clock Gun [Link], a ritual in practice in the Castle, is one of the most recommended "Things to do" as mentioned in various travel portals. Although its not something one would rue to have missed, but it is a nice spectacle.
The 1 O'Clock Gun
One of the best features of the Castle is the magnificent panoramic view of the city of Edinburgh it offers. The strategic location of the Castle renders it this advantage.
A few snaps of the view of Edinburgh from the Castle
There are a lot of things to see and explore in the Castle. Starting from the weapons used in the various battles to the formation of Armies, from the Attire used by various sections of the Army to the dwelling place of the Prisoners of War, it has everything. Personally, we didn't like the Prisoner's of War section, as it still has the eerie feeling attached to it. No, the eerie feeling is not the effect of any ghosts as such, but the place had a lot of negativity and pain attached to it.
Some random shots inside the Castle
We spent a good 3 hours inside the Castle. We explored some Souvenir shops as well but the items were terribly overpriced. Its recommended to buy the souvenir's from any shops outside the Castle.
A last shot on the Royal Mile
We had a late lunch with the traditional Fish N' Chips. Then we bade farewell to Edinburgh and went back to Glasgow. After some shopping in Glasgow, we returned to our house.
The next three days would be something we were looking forward to. After all, it would be a 3 day dream Road Trip across Scotland and England.
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 28th October 2016 at 06:10.
|28th October 2016, 06:07||#4|
Road trip to Scottish Highlands Part 1 - Glenfinnan and Kyle of Lochalsh
The day finally arrived! The day we were waiting for, the day that transformed "A beautiful journey" to a "Dream".
"The Journey is more important than the Destination" - A simple sentence indeed!
But what makes the Journey so important? For someone who has not undertaken a Road Trip, this may be a nice little sentence straight out of a literature book. But for some, the single word "Journey" means the world!
A journey which starts from the coordinates on the google maps instead of rail/travel portals, a journey which empowers one to decide on the connecting lines instead of only the points, a journey as Captains and Navigators and not tourists.
The planning for this road trip began about two months back. After deciding on the date, the first thing was to book a car. From my past hassle free experience with Sixt, I decided to book an Audi A1 Sportback for three days. A deal was available at that time for this car and I went ahead with the booking. Then came the route plotting, coordinate marking, hotel booking, points of interests etc. My wife brought my SJ1000 dashcam from India along with her. So, we were ready for a drive in an Audi.
We went to Sixt Reception and handed over the reservation confirmation. A reply came like "We don't have any Audi A1 at this moment". I was completely broken on hearing this. While I was in Geneva four years back, I booked the Alfa Romeo Giulietta twice, but ended up driving BMW 3 series and BMW 1 Series respectively, as Giulietta was not available at that time. And now, it seemed like I will never be able to drive my choice. I reluctantly asked the guy at the reception what car will I get. He briefly chatted with another guy and handed over a key to me. I couldn't believe my luck - it's an Alfa Romeo. I asked again - Which model? And the reply was Giulietta! I just smiled and looked at my wife. She also smiled and asked - "It's the same car you wanted to drive in Geneva?" I affirmed.
Icing on the cake - Color : "Alfa Red"
It was time to meet the beauty in person. Our model was a red Giulietta with manual gearbox, 1.4 turbocharged petrol, churning out 150 bhp. (Facts collected later)
I got myself familiar with the controls in the car. Only difficulty was knowing how to engage the reverse gear. A plastic covering like thing on the gear stick had to be pulled up and the gear stick had to be slotted in 1st gear position at the same time to engage the reverse gear. This plastic covering retracts back automatically.
After setting the Navigation device and fixing my SJ1000 on the windscreen, we were off towards the highway! As soon as I stepped on the accelerator, I knew what this beast was capable of. It was a powerhouse. I have never driven something like this. It requires some skill to stay in speed limit with this monster!
On the way to Loch Lomond
When we started our journey, the weather was foggy. But suddenly it cleared up revealing clear blue sky. At this moment we knew that we are going to witness the Scottish Highlands in the most appropriate weather possible. The dashcam was turned on, the music kept playing in a reasonable volume and we sometimes sang together with bursts of laughter now and then from jugaad lyrics
Approaching Loch Lomond
A mesmerizing drive beside Loch Lomond
The clear weather rendered an unmatched beauty to the landscape. The road, though not a divided carriageway, was superb. We were enjoying the drive in true holiday spirit. A stretch of the road beside the Loch Lomond was narrow and undivided with a few twists and turns, but it is easily negotiable with careful driving.
We decided to have our lunch a bit early at Best Western Hotel, Crianlarich. We found this hotel while on the move and it turned out to be a very good choice. At the time of our entry, the restaurant was not open. We had to wait for 20 minutes in the reception area and I utilized the time to get some snaps of the Giulietta.
Gorgeous yet Powerful - The Giulietta
Soon, the restaurant was open and we were the first guests. The restaurant had neutral decoration and a nice ambiance. The food was served in 10-15 minutes.
Inside the restaurant
Waiting for the food
And a click while having our lunch
After lunch, it was time to continue our journey towards the Scottish Highlands and onward to the Isle of Skye.
A parting shot in the hotel compound with the Giulietta
The scenic beauty of the landscape increased as we were moving towards the Highlands. The weather too was absolutely perfect.
The route was so scenic that we made multiple stops for photography as well to soak in the beauty of the place.
Clouds playing around with the Hills..
..In a place so beautiful!
The heart is full of happiness
The happiness of Exploring! Presenting to you - The Highlands
On crossing Fort William, we made a detour towards Glenfinnan. The purpose was to see the famous Viaduct known to many as the "Harry Potter Bridge". It is located about 17 miles from Fort William and is worth the visit.
On reaching Glenfinnan, we had to park our car and walk for about 5 minutes to see the Viaduct. The car park was full but we managed a side parking.
First view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct
My wife is a big Harry Potter fan. She was very happy to see the rail bridge with her own eyes. The clear weather and the surrounding mountains made the Viaduct look awesome.
Jumping in the air..Yippee!
Another shot of the Viaduct
We were taking pictures when suddenly a whistle was blown. We couldn't believe our luck. It was the "Hogwarts Express". My wife couldn't stop herself from screaming out load!
Here comes the Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express up close!
We spent quite some time here, relaxing in the field with the sight of the Viaduct giving us company!
After spending some good time together,we left Glenfinnan for our stay for the night. We had booked a hotel called Glenarroch in Kyleakin, Isle of Skye. We picked up some ready to eat dinner from Coop on the way towards Kyleakin.
A random shot on the way to Skye
Soon, we crossed the Skye Bridge, took a left turn and reached Kyleakin at 7 pm. Kyleakin is a small village adjacent Loch Alsh (Loch means Lake). The village is nice and clean with a very small population.
Glenarroch, our stay for the night
Next day, we would head into the Isle of Skye, arguably the best place in the Highlands.
The route we covered on this day
Route Map Link
To end the day, a sample time lapse video of the day:
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 22nd November 2016 at 04:42.
|4th November 2016, 06:18||#5|
Road trip to Scottish Highlands Part 2 - Isle of Skye : Portree,Old Man of Storr,Kilt Rock, Quiraing
The small village of Kyleakin is located beside the Loch(Lake) Alsh and has a small population. The hotel, Glenarroch, where we stayed is a B&B with double bed facilities and attached bath. The same owner runs a Backpackers hostel adjacent to Glenarroch along with the Saucy and Mary's bar cum restaurant. The owner was kind enough to inform us that we could use the shared Kitchen in the Hostel, if we needed. The last night being chilly with temperatures dropping below 5 degrees, there was a decent gathering at Saucy and Mary's bar. I went down once to pick up some luggage from my car, when one guy inquired about the Giulietta. He was an admirer of the Italian beauty and shared some fascinating stories of his Alfa.
We had a complimentary breakfast along with our room package which would be served from 8:30 am at the bar cum restaurant. We woke up around 7 am, packed our luggage and decided to walk around the village. It was wonderful morning with seagulls screaming beside the lake and the village waking up with the crimson touch of the Sun.
A beautiful morning in Kyleakin
Surely someone takes all the cake!
The Skye Bridge, as seen from Kyleakin
A broken Castle at a distance, at Kyleakin Jetty
The breakfast was also pretty nice at the restaurant. I would recommend this hotel for anyone visiting this region.
After having our breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed towards the interior parts of the Isle of Skye. The Northern part of Skye is arguably the most beautiful with all the amazing landscapes and some interesting walking trails as well.
Soon, we crossed Broadford and from there the landscapes started getting more and more beautiful. With the deep blue lakes and barren yet colorful mountains, the landscape looked similar to what we have seen between Gnathang to Kupup (East Sikkim,India). The pitch black road cutting through the landscape added to the magic. The cruising Red Colored Giulietta looked awesome with the surrounding and the way it handled in the twists and turns - A driver's delight!
My Wife with the Giulietta
A road, up close!
Stunning Italian beauty with a complementing background
We hit the roads again. Next stop for us would be Portree, a harbor town in the Northern Skye.
We reached Portree and parked our car in the dedicated Parking area. Portree is a small yet beautiful town with a nice harbor. We spent some nice time walking around the town. We went to the harbor as well.
The weather in Isle of Skye is generally windy and cold, specially the Northern part. We ordered a hot cup of coffee from a local store which was a respite from the cold.
Some snaps in Portree Town
We then moved on towards the Northern side of Skye. The road from Portree is a narrow road with passing places. Our first destination would be the Old Man of Storr. The Storr is a magnificent example of the natural phenomenon called Wind Erosion. The Storr offers a mild trek of 2.5 - 3 hours return journey to the top with mesmerizing panoramic beauty of the landscape below. The trek is highly recommended, though we could not manage ourselves to the top of Storr due to extreme cold and wind.
Overlooking the Storr
We parked our car at the starting point of the walking trail to the Old Man of Storr. The trail is about 4.5 kms in length and is moderately steep.
At the start of the walking trail
Skye is normally windy and cold, but that day it was too windy. We could barely keep our eyes open. We went up towards the view point but could manage climbing only a part of the trail. We spent some time enjoying the Rock formation on one side and panoramic view of Norwegian Sea on the other.
A few pictures enroute the Storr
We then came down to the parking bay and started moving further North.
Last view of Old Man of Storr
On our way up North, we stopped at a view point called "Kilt Rock". It has 200 feet waterfall and an amazing formation of rocks beside an endless blue Sea.
Some pictures of Kilt Rock view point
Then, it was turn for the highest rated and most recommended point of interest in Isle of Skye - The Quiraing. Link
"In spite of being a part of the modern world, it seems that this place belongs to and has remained in the past. As if it refuses to accept the modernization, like a hermit meditating for years."
Words can't explain the strangeness of the place. It is also highly rated for some awesome but tough walking trails. We didn't had time nor mindset for such walks, but we wanted to spend some time and soak in the calmness of this place.
My wife at Quiraing
Some Gaelic touch
An ideal place to relax and unwind
After spending some nice time at Quiraing, it was time for one last view point. The view point in question, is the one I discovered during my last trip to Skye with friends. I have kept this in the itinerary due to the serenity and calmness of the place and it was a surprise for my wife.
The view point lies on the extreme north of Skye, unmarked and thus very easy to miss. Driving to this place gives a feeling like approaching the end of the world. There were very few houses and a vast expanse of undulated landscape followed by an unending blue Sea. The Hebrides island could be seen at a distance. The place is so silent and calm that it seems that the strong wind blowing over the land wants to say something. The place is not where your heart will be filled with joy - there was a feeling of pain and sorrow in the air. The place where we realized what Wordsworth actually meant by "The Silence of Hebrides".
Some pictures in and around the view point
After spending some time here, we started our journey back to Glasgow. We started at 3 pm in the afternoon and drove continuously for 6.5 hours and reached Glasgow around 9:30 pm. A highlight of the return journey was spotting a fawn by the roadside in pitch dark while driving through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
A picture taken on the way back
We had our dinner and retired for the day. Next day, would be another day of road trip to the beautiful Lake District, UK.
A video of the awesome day spent together
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 19th November 2016 at 00:46.
|14th November 2016, 03:38||#6|
Road trip to Lake District - Bowness on Windermere, Dove Cottage and Grasmere
The last two days of the road trip provided us not only with the visual beauty of the remarkable landscapes but it allowed us to experience an unknown and strange environment which, otherwise, was hard even for our imagination. As they say travel opens up one's mind. No other source can give such feeling of completeness as travel does.
The concluding day of our road trip was planned to another gorgeous place on the surface of Earth - The Lake District. As our's was a day trip (due to time crunch), we restricted our plan to Bowness on Windermere and Grasmere only.
We woke up a bit late that day, reminiscing the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. It was indeed a superb journey! We started from our home at around 9:30 am for our first destination - Bowness on Windermere.
Unlike the two lane undivided road leading to and even narrower road inside Skye, the road to Lake District is a 6 lane motorway (at least 90 percent of the road). With the powerful Giulietta carrying us, this meant we made good progress without any delay.
Down the way...
After driving for about 2 hours on the motorway, we took an exit for Bowness on Windermere.
On the way to Windermere
We entered the bustling town of Bowness on Windermere through the Rayrigg road and parked our car close to the Bowness Bay.
The beautiful town of Bowness-on-Windermere is located beside the crystal clear Windermere lake. Lake Windermere is surrounded by greenery all around and the brilliant strokes of Fall Color created a panorama worth remembering for life.
The Bowness Bay was surrounded by variety of birds flocking together along with a flock of Swans, playing with the tourists. The tourists in turn were feeding the birds and there prevailed a joyous atmosphere with the pleasant chirping of the birds and happy faces everywhere. There were wooden benches right in front of the Bay. We sat down and watched the beautiful game the birds were playing while munching on some snacks and chocolates.
The beautiful Bowness Bay area
She is indeed happy!
There were some package cruise available to be booked from the Bowness Bay, some covering short distances while others a 4-5 hour journey across the lake of Windemere. But we decided to stroll around the lake exploring the beautiful place ourselves. It was a lovely day and we took our own time to relax and enjoy. The silence and serenity of place coupled with the song of the variety of birds outshone the cacophony of the tourists.
Some more pictures around Bowness on Windermere
The town of Bowness have the restaurants and cafes lined along the roads with their open air dine out offerings. We had our lunch from one such restaurant. It was too nice a day to have our lunch inside the restaurant and we took our lunch outside. It seemed that we have fallen in love with the place!
Lunch in the open air
After spending a nice time around Windermere Lake, we moved to our next destination which is referred to as "The Fairest place on Earth" by William Wordsworth. Grasmere, situated at the centre of Lake District, is very much connected to the poet and is indeed a beautiful place. Dove Cottage, where the poet lived for nine years, is now a museum accessible to public.
The Dove Cottage entrance
Clean and beautiful!
The Dove Cottage
We were running short of time and after inquiry we found that the museum would be closed in 30-40 minutes time. The staff inside the museum were very polite and asked us to visit the Grasmere village instead of the museum, as we were short on time.
The village of Grasmere is just 5 minutes walk from Dove Cottage. We were told that the poet spent a lot of time in the St. Oswald's Church located in the village and wrote many of his masterpieces there itself. This invigorated our interest about the village.
While walking towards the village we realized why the poet called this the fairest place. The houses were built with stones each with contrasting and bright colored window and door panes. The locality was clean and there were green open fields where a flock of sheep were grazing along with a hill view at distance. It looked like a picture straight out of a dream.
On the way to Grasmere village
We entered the courtyard of St Oswald's Church. It was a nice and serene place with the gurgling sound of a stream flowing nearby. Under the shade of Yew trees lies the grave of the famous Poet and His family.
..And dances with the Daffodils
We went inside the St. Oswalds church as well. The church did not have any remodeling done on its inside. It still has the age old structure resonating the feeling of the past. When we went inside the church, the Church bell started ringing breaking the absolute silence dominating the interior. There were small gifts on display inside the church, which one can buy. The voluntary payment is accepted as a donation for the betterment of the poor as well as contributing towards the running cost of the Church.
We bought some gifts as a gesture of goodwill and also as a memento for ourselves. We shared a few lines on feedback register kept inside the Church.
It was a wonderful feeling to be there at Grasmere!
That was a day very well spent indeed. The beauty of Lake District will remain etched in our memories for long.
We started driving back to Glasgow around 5 pm and reached our house at around 7:30 pm.
We spent a lot of time discussing about the road trip, the lovely places we have seen. The beautiful Lake District where Mother Nature has poured all her blessings. A place where magnificent lakes are lined by hills covered with green and orange hued vegetation, a place where a variety of birds sings their heart out.
And the contrasting beauty of Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye which offers us another side of Mother Nature in an enchanting and rugged avatar. With landscapes having minimal vegetation and rock formations straight out of a fantasy world, where the howling of winds mixed with the croaking sound of Ravens overpowers the drizzling sound of waterfalls.
This road trip will remain as one of our memorable trips ever!
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 23rd November 2016 at 04:39.
|22nd November 2016, 07:18||#7|
Journey to another Capital - London
After three days of a memorable road trip, it was back to normal life at Glasgow. For the three remaining days of the week, I had to be in office and my wife went on visiting the places in Glasgow like Glasgow Cathedral, Necropolis, George Square etc and doing some shopping as well. I joined her during lunch time and after office. We had our plan in place for London and we couldn't for our Friday night train to London Euston.
Soon enough arrived the much awaited Friday! Our bags were already packed the night before. I left office early as we had our train at 4:40 pm from Glasgow Central Station. I went home, picked up our luggage and headed straight for Glasgow Central. We had to wait for about 10 minutes in the station before the "Virgin Train" was assigned a platform. We were very excited about this trip right from the planning stage and thus could not still believe that the dream was becoming a reality!
A selfie before the dream trip to London
Soon we boarded the red and grey themed train. Although we had packed some snacks and biscuits, there were options inside the compartment as well. There was a snack parlor inside the compartment serving hot and cold beverages along with sandwiches and other ready to eat food items. We were happy with the services on offer inside the train compartment. It was 4.5 hours journey to London Euston and we arrived at Euston station exactly at 9:15 pm.
Our hotel was booked at Clapham South, about 20 minutes journey from Euston via London Underground metro service. There was a Burger King outlet inside the station and we decided to pack our dinner before heading towards our hotel.
After packing our dinner, we bought the Oyster cards (prepaid cards to be used to avail Underground rail services and Bus services in London). The oyster cards are readily available from the ticket vending machines(using cash or debit card) with a refundable deposit of 10 pounds per card. The underground lines seemed a bit confusing at first with multiple criss-cross lines tracing the entire London city. A railway official confirmed that we had to take the "Northern Line" for our destination - Clapham South.
We found the London Underground stations pretty dirty. I feel proud in saying that Kolkata Metro is much cleaner than the London counterpart.
We followed the instruction and after about 20 minutes we reached our hotel, Euro Lodge Clapham. The hotel was located near the underground station beside the main road and we had no difficulty finding that. We checked in, had our dinner and retired for the day.
Next morning, we had our eyes set on all the iconic places and buildings we were to visit. Our plan was simple - to walk alongside our "Dream" and let our eyes soak in the pleasure!
We had our breakfast and took the Underground service for Westminster station.
Outside view of our Hotel
The iconic London Red Bus
Westminster station lies in close proximity to London Eye as well as Big Ben, House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. As soon as we came out of the Westminster underground station, the first view that our eyes were set on was that of a Giant Wheel beside the Thames river. It was the "London Eye"!! Our eyes couldn't believe and it seemed like a dream come true. We were thrilled to the limit. I suddenly turned around to see the iconic "Big Ben" just behind us. My wife was clicking the pictures of London Eye when I asked her to turn around. Her first reaction was a smile in her face and she was speechless! Such was the feeling that it took us some time to get our feet back to reality.
The London Eye
The Big Ben
A closer view of London Eye
Boarding the Coca Cola London Eye was part of our plan. Tourists having the National Rail ticket are eligible to get 2For1 tickets for a host of sightseeing places in London. The tickets are expensive and that's why 2For1 comes handy to ease the pockets.
We made our way to London Eye clicking pictures as we went. Before the London Eye, there were a host of attractions for tourists like the Shrek's Adventure souvenir shop as well as London Sea Life Aquarium. As we have seen the Siam Ocean World in Thailand, we skipped the Sea Life Aquarium. We went inside the Shrek's Adventure shop and found it beautifully decorated with all characters and accessories of Shrek movie.
Inside the Shrek's Adventure shop
Then we queued up for London Eye tickets. The tickets cost 24.99 pound sterling per Adult, but as we had 2For1 coupon we got two tickets for 24.99 pound sterling on showing our rail tickets. Icing on the cake was the complimentary 4D experience which beautifully depicted the various iconic places in London in 4D virtual reality.
Such was our emotion, that there was tears in the eyes of my wife and smile on her face after the show. She thanked me for bringing her to this place while silently wiping her tears. - A Priceless Gift for me!!
There was a complimentary service offered for tourists whereby they have the option of clicking pictures together and a London Eye Team would superimpose the picture on a theme picture of London Eye and that would be displayed on the LCD displays. Then the tourists have the option to buy the pictures. The buying option was a bit expensive, but nothing compared to the memory it bears! In addition, the package in which our picture was delivered was exceptional.
Then we boarded the renowned Coca Cola London Eye. London Eye offers a panoramic view of the city of London. The slow rotation lets the boarders ample time (about 30 minutes) to click as many pictures as one likes. For us, just being on the London Eye felt special!
The panoramic view of London
House of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in a single frame
A little zoom out, and the picture is enhanced
After a much awaited and scintillating visit of the London Eye, it was time to move on towards the other attractions.
Big Ben was a favorite
A must visit to the Westminster Abbey
It was hard to resist bringing the London Eye and Big Ben in the same frame
The Supreme Court building came as a surprise..
...but the Justice was not!
The road from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace is popularly known as the Birdcage Walk. It was a beautiful and serene walkway alongside St James Park and under the canopy of trees.
The Birdcage walk
Soon we were at the Buckingham Palace. The palace area is super clean and tidy. So much so, that we couldn't even find a dustbin in a radius of one kilometer or so! Not sure if that can be treated as a positive comment.
A snap with the Buckingham Palace
Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham palace.
In front of the main entrance to the Buckingham Palace
The elite Royal Guards in the palace compound
Black and Gold!
After spending some time around the Buckingham palace, we walked to Trafalgar Square.
We decided to have our lunch here while taking some rest as well.
The four Lions of Trafalgar Square
Big Ben, again! From Trafalgar Square
Our next destination was Tower of London. St. Paul's Cathedral was also in our list, but it was already 4 pm and we knew that the last entry to the Tower of London was at 5 pm. So we dropped St Paul's and decided to go to Tower of London directly.
The Underground service line from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill was closed due to maintenance work and we were advised to avail the bus service. We boarded the bus for Tower Hill, but after about three to four stoppages there was massive congestion and the bus driver advised us to walk to Tower of London, which would be about 8-10 minutes walk.
It was already 4:35 pm when we reached the Tower of London. We went to the ticket shop (as usual, we had the 2For1 pass). The gentleman at the ticket shop was very courteous and advised us not to visit the Tower of London today, as it normally takes minimum of 3 to 4 hours for the Tower of London tour and we had hardly 1 hour before the guards starts to close the gate and ask the tourists to leave. We took his advise and promised to come back early next day.
The Tower of London
The decision of not entering the Tower of London came as a boon for us. We now had the beautiful evening beside River Thames all for ourselves. Also, the majestic view of Tower Bridge was an icing on the cake!
We visited the Tower Souvenir shop and bought a souvenir for ourselves.
The Tower of London souvenir shop
Awesome sight of London Tower Bridge Lift
We spent a lot of time lazing around the place. The evening made way for the beautiful night, only to reveal another beautiful aspect of London nightscape.
London, wonderfully lit-up
The majestic Tower Bridge at night
After spending some time here, we went back to our hotel.
We spent some time recapitulating the entire day, watching TV etc. Next day, we planned to head straight for Tower of London in the morning. Then we had our dinner and retired for the day.
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 26th November 2016 at 23:18.
|25th November 2016, 04:55||#8|
Journey to another Capital - London (Continued on Day 2)
It was a wonderful morning with clear blue sky. We had to pack our luggage and check out from the hotel as we would be heading back to Glasgow that night.
The morning view from our Hotel
We went straight towards Clapham South Underground station. We were now accustomed with the Underground routes and the metro lines and we figured out the route plan for ourselves till London Bridge Underground station. Then we planned to walk our way to Tower of London.
"Borough Market", a wholesale food market, was in our itinerary for the first day. But we couldn't manage time for that on the first day in London, nor did we wanted to rush things. But as we made our way outside the London Bridge station, we spotted the Borough Market. We instantly decided to spend some inside the market before moving on. But our happiness soon faded a bit, as it was a Sunday and the Market was closed. Nevertheless, the the happiness of being in the place to witness the Market area lifted our spirit up.
The Borough Market
We walked across the London Bridge. The sight of St Paul's Cathedral on the left and Tower Bridge on the right on a clear day was simply breathtaking. The presence of HMS Belfast (Link here) on River Thames added to the viewing pleasure!
Welcome to London Bridge!
The St Pauls Cathedral, shining at a distance
The HMS Belfast with the Tower Bridge as background
The London Bridge
After walking for about 15 minutes along the river Thames with the Tower Bridge in our constant view, we reached the Tower of London.
We had our breakfast with sandwiches and cookies from a Subway outlet, close to the Tower of London.
We bought the entry tickets for the Tower and the 2For1 pass saved us 25 pound sterling here too. A guided tour was offered as complimentary service with the tickets, but we decided against that.
Outside the Tower of London
The Tower of London is a castle located beside the River Thames. There are exhibitions inside the Tower depicting the lifestyle of the Kings, some antique items, many Royal arms, clothing and furniture. The Tower was also believed to house 60+ species of wild animals.
One of the main attractions of the castle are the famous Raven trio kept as a pet and fed regularly on 250 gm of meat each. These three Ravens have their own enclosure but are not tied or caged. They are free to roam around and their size is worth mentioning!
Its believed that the Raven's are a good luck charm for the Tower of London and if they leave the Tower it would bring about bad luck or even downfall of the Tower.
In front of the White Tower
King Edwards bed room
One can touch and feel the cloth used as Royal Upholstery
Along the fortified boundary wall
The most attractive exhibition inside the Tower of London is that of Crown Jewels. There was a queue before the building which housed the Crown jewels. Each and every tourists wanted a glimpse of the Cullinan I, Cullinan II and famous Koh-i-noor along with extravagant display of Royal items made of Gold.
The Crown Jewels entry
A snap with the The Royal Guards
We entered the Crown Jewels building. There were a lot of Security Staffs inside guarding the Royal wealth along with multiple security cameras. No photography was permitted inside the building. The steel doors of the vaults weighed 2 tonnes each.
We were simply overwhelmed by the extravagant display of Gold and Diamonds. As an example, there was a fountain of 4 feet height and 3 feet wide made of Gold with extraordinary designs all across its body. Its impossible to summarize the list of Gold and Diamond items on display, but if there is anything beyond normal human imagination, then this was it!
Then there was eye-scorching display of diamonds from all across the world. Cullinan I (530.4 carats, South Africa) fitted on the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross (Link) and Cullinan II (317.4 carats, South Africa) fitted on Imperial State Crown (Link).
The world famous Koh-I-Noor (105.6 carats, India) not only has a special place in the heart of us Indians. The diamond is so valuable due to its cut, that it now sees itself fitted to the Crown of Queen Elizabeth (Link)
These diamonds were displayed inside a glass enclosure with walkalators on both sides. We missed the Koh-I-Noor first time as we only saw one side of the Crown. But on inquiring with the Security officials, we were shown the legendary diamond. The feeling on seeing the Koh-I-Noor, which we only read in books till date, was a dream come true.
Our next plan was to visit the Marylebone Cricket Club popularly know as the Lords - The Home of Cricket. So we rounded off our tour of Tower of London quickly.
My wife with a parting shot of the Tower Bridge!
It was already 2 pm and we had to walk quickly towards the London Bridge station.
At the London Bridge station
We had to take the Underground rail service to St. John's Wood station in order to reach Lord's Cricket Ground.
The Jubilee Line service was good, and we reached St John's Wood around 2:35 pm.
Lord's ground is around 5 minutes walking distance from the station. We were much excited with the prospect of a Lord's tour, which includes visiting the Museum, the Long Room, the Players dressing rooms (Home and Away) and a visit to the ground as well.
Outside the Lord's Cricket Stadium
We asked a security personnel about the Lord's tour and he said that the tickets are available from a counter on the other side of the stadium. We walked to the Ticket Counter and showed our 2For1 passes and asked for the tickets for two of us. The reply we received broke our hearts! The gentlemen at the counter said that all the tickets were booked in advance and only two tickets have been cancelled just now and those have also been assigned to a couple who were before us in the queue. He asked us to book a the tickets for tomorrow, but we didn't had that option as we had our train for Glasgow that night. We were also confirmed that the last tour would be from 3 pm to 5 pm and it was already 2:55 pm.
We stood before the counter, helpless! We saw the couple who were just ahead of us in the queue got their tickets and went inside. But we stood there firmly. We didn't move an inch. The gentleman at the counter was constantly watching us. He had a chat with another gentleman and called me forward. He said-
"Do you have any problem if you were to miss the first 10 minutes of the tour? We could see a group of 4 has not yet arrived and as per rule we have to wait for 10 minutes for them."
I promptly said we are ready to wait. Those 10 minutes both of us prayed innumerable times for the group not to arrive.
After 10 long minutes, we were given the tickets and we were like "Yippee!!"
First view of the Iconic Cricket ground
The guided tour had already started and we were told to rush to the Museum. We hurried and found a group of 20 odd people, majority of them being Indians and a very knowledgeable English guide. The group also included 1 English gentleman and 2 gentlemen from Australia.
The guide was very optimistic and sentimental about English Cricket. He shared some interesting stories about the various incidents from the era of W.G. Grace to Donald Bradman to Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He also shared very interesting facts regarding the Ashes Series, without missing a single opportunity to crack jokes about Aussies, sportingly though!
The Ashes replica that goes to the Winner each Year
The original Ashes trophy that stays in Marylebone CC, all the time
Then he showed us the Prudential Cup lifted by India in the year 1983. He was present in the stadium at the time India lifted the World Cup in 1983. He said that India were underdogs against the mighty West Indies. Then, he said, came the catch taken by Kapil Dev. The next sentence he said made me proud as an Indian. He said:
"The catch taken by Kapil Dev in 1983 World Cup Final not only changed the balance of the game in India's favor that day, but that also started the process due to which today, after 33 years, India Cricket Board (BCCI) is the majority stakeholder of International Cricket".
The Prudential Cup
A view inside the Museum
The guide then took us to the famous Long Room of Lords. Here the elite members of Marylebone Cricket Club sit during a match and players move into and out of the ground through the Long Room walking beside the members. We were shown the door which the players use to move into and out of the ground, and there was a thrill running down our spines.
Then we were taken to the Home Dressing room. Here the guide shared some interesting facts about Batsmen and Bowler's record at Lord's. There is no Sachin and Lara in List of 100 runs scorers in Lords. Even there is no Warne, Muralitharan or Kumble in 5 wicket takers list. In fact the most successful batsmen from India in Test Cricket in Lords is Dilip Vengsarkar.
The English gentleman in the group was allowed into the Home balcony attached to the dressing room, and the rest of us were promised to be allowed in the Visitor Balcony, which the guide referred to as the "Ganguly Balcony", provided we don't perform the theatrics that "Dada" (Sourav Ganguly) did (Link)
Record boards on display at the Home dressing room
The Middle balcony where Kapil lifted the World Cup in 1983
Then we were taken to the Visitor's dressing room. Everybody in the group was getting impatient to stand on the famous "Ganguly Balcony". The guide allowed 3 persons each time to take photographs, selfies etc in the Ganguly Balcony. We patiently awaited our turn. Then we were allowed and as we stepped on the balcony, it seemed that the past incidents were repeating itself all over again. "India has won", "Look at Sourav waving his Tshirt!", "India are the Champions!" all those words were humming in the ears. We stood there for sometime without taking any pictures, taking a feel of the atmosphere. Only after a few minutes we could get back to reality and take some pictures of ourselves.
Lord's ground as seen from the visitor's balcony
At the Ganguly balcony
Next, we visited the ground itself. The guide took us to the spectator gallery to get a feel of the ground as well as to show the sloping outfield of Lords.
The Media center at Lords
Some other view of Lord's
We rounded off the tour with a visit to the Souvenir shop and as usual bought a Souvenir for ourselves.
It was 5 pm in the clock and we still had 2.5 hours for our train from Euston.
It was "Ashtami" of Durga Puja and we decided to visit the L N Mittal's Durga Puja at Camden. We spent some time there and there we felt a touch of Home as well. No doubt that we were missing the Durga Puja back home, but this did came as a respite.
L N Mittal's Durga Puja at Camden, London
We then packed our snacks and dinner from Sainsbury's and went straight London Euston station.
Time to say - Goodbye London! at London Euston
After a long day, we ate some snacks and sandwiches in the train and slept for the entire journey. We woke up only to realize that we were already at Glasgow Central station and the Train was empty.
It was 12 O' Clock in the night and went back to our home and retired for the day.
A day later my wife went back to India.
This brought an end to this fantastic journey together in United Kingdom. A trip that fulfilled many of our dreams, filling our eyes with tears and making us smile at the same time. A grand trip that included a Road Trip in Europe together!
Vacation, Journey and Road Trips to far off places have become an integral part of our life. Even when writing the trip logs these days, I can now see the visuals of what I write.
Until another journey and some more logging of the events, Ciao!
Last edited by gearhead_mait : 27th November 2016 at 04:29.
|28th November 2016, 07:30||#9|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 25,486 Times
re: The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
|28th November 2016, 14:21||#10|
Join Date: Nov 2016
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Re: The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
Lovely photologue. your trip to London brings back memories of our(Me & wifey) trip in 2007. London is always exciting. Especially when you are around big ben & London eye, time really files by. You could have taken a cruise trip to/from Cutty Sark garden.
Once you understand London tube network & the 6 zones, moving around such a big city is a breeze for an outsider - along with Oyster card of course.
Thanks again for bringing back my memories. My picture at London Victoria station has remained my mobile home page ever since it was clicked by my wife
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|28th November 2016, 15:26||#11|
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Re: The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
Amazing travelogue and wonderful pictures! Have been to UK only once and wasn't able to explore London much given time constraints at that time. Been wanting to go there with my wife this time and explore Scotland as well. Looks like my work on planning out the itinerary would be cut short thanks to you. Can simply follow your plan!
Can you please share the approx. costs of the overall trip including the car rental cost? Also, do you need an international driving license to drive in the UK or can do with the existing India license?
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|29th November 2016, 01:35||#12|
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Re: Journey to another Capital - London (Continued on Day 2)
Awesome travelogue. The pics are excellent too. Rated 5*.
Driving a red Alfa Romeo on the streets of Europe is a dream for many, but you achieved it!
I guess if you had the chance to drive your Eon on that route, you would have been more happier than driving an Alfa Romeo!
I don't know why, even if i am driving a much better and costlier car than my own car, i keep on missing my own car somewhere at the back of my mind!
Your post on the Lords was the icing on the cake. Reading this part of the travelogue made me nostalgic of our old cricket days. On a lighter note you travelled all the way from Eden gardens to Lords!
Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful memories with us. Wish you and your better half all the best for your future travel plans.
Last edited by Samba : 29th November 2016 at 01:43.
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|29th November 2016, 03:22||#13|
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Re: The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
Wow, today I have had two wonderful tours of my mother country, courtesy of Team-BHPers! One down in the South West, and one, mostly, up North.
A super story of a great trip! And, actually, I have never been to Scotland! But I lived and worked in London for thirty years (Thanks for getting "Tower" and "London" Bridges right! ) and last visited Windermere and Bowness in July '15.
Thanks for a great travel/photo-logue.
|29th November 2016, 07:12||#14|
Re: The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
I have driven in Switzerland and Germany (in 2012-2013 period) and this time through Scotland and England using my Indian Driving License. Indian Driving License is valid for 1 year in these countries.
These things definitely made us draw comparison to our EON, which has tackled the roughest of roads or no roads and taken a series of stones pelted towards it from the trucks carrying stone chips, without any problems.
May be that is the reason my wife named our EON as "SherDil" and yes I forgot, my wife named the Giulietta as "Funtoosh!"
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|29th November 2016, 15:15||#15|
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Re: The journey continues...together! Across the British Isles - Scotland & England
Fantastic gearhead_mait. The simplicity with which you pen your travelogues makes them very relatable. I could sense your excitement & emotions sitting infront of my Laptop. I am so glad you wrote a travelogue on this trip. Brilliant pictures.
Keep Traveling & Keep Writing
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