... TRAVEL....repeat

... TRAVEL....repeat

Saturday, October 15, 2016

AMSTERDAM - DAY 2

2nd June...

A new city....a beautiful Motel... and all the excitement of the day ahead had us up early and in search of a cafe for breakfast.
We were not disappointed....the coffee was great....the breakfast delicious and even those of us short of sight could read the menu with ease....what a cool touch.


Our first visit of the day was - Anne Franks House....
We had pre-purchased tickets so not to miss out...which was just as well when we saw the queue on arrival.

 Still to this day it still seems surreal that we were in the actual home...standing in the room that Anne all those years ago wrote her diary entries.
Such a sad time in history.

Another amazing experience in this day of crazy variety was the Body Worlds Exhibition (The Happiness Project). The boys didn't join us on this adventure so Donna and I tackled it alone. I loved the message behind the exhibition.... it was the link between health and happiness. There were moments when it really hit that these were actual bodies...and it was a touching exhibition on many levels.



We never tired of the sights in the shops in Amsterdam.... from their brownies (which we didn't try)..


to their cheese....which we did try...


 We spent some time shopping for souvenirs...we definitely wanted to take clogs home for the girls.


Just loved this patterned delftware ..although I didn't bring any home.


The evening was spent on a very interesting tour.
We took the 'Red Light District Walking tour' ... our guide was very informative...respectful and frank... actually he was rather blunt and to the point at times...but I liked that about him.
Prostitution is legal in Holland and I was surprised at how well regulated and respected it is.. we were guided through past the window prostitutes who were so beautiful.


I think that's one of the things I love most about travel.... the chance to experience and learn about things completely outside of your normal radar.

We were exhausted by evening....it had been a long day of walking.... and we had a big day planned for the following day.


Monday, September 5, 2016

A M S T E R D A M - DAY 1

1st June 2016

Today another chapter of our trip began.... we were up bright and early and saying goodbye to the Princess Caribbean... and catching a taxi to the Southampton Airport.

We caught a flight with Flybe to Amsterdam.

Then a rouge taxi driver from Amsterdam airport into our amazing...awesome...incredible Motel ..
I need to shout out again how much we loved the NH City Centre Motel. It was in the perfect location with the most amazing views from our room.


It was afternoon by the time we arrived and caught our breath ...  we walked.... breathed in the sights... had a leisurely lunch...and took a canal boat ride.



I think I knew right from the first moment that I LOVED Amsterdam....
It had an awesome vibe... it was alive...a little chaotic with the bikes..trams...and pedestrians all moving in some kind of sequence I never really worked out...

I loved the cobble streets... the canals... the cafes....the bikes....the beautiful skinny little homes with their leaning fronts and furniture hooks...the long boats...cathedrals... and their free and easy attitude,
I also loved that there seemed a sense of respect ... if you have visited...I hope you know what I mean.

Did I mention bikes??


....and I don't think I mentioned tulips?







Tuesday, August 9, 2016

L E - H A V R E - Normandy France

31st May..

Let me begin by mentioning that the weather today was so wet and gloomy... there were flood warnings in Europe and there seemed no chance of let up in the rain. Our initial plans to make our way to Honfleur didn't pan out due to the distance and transport woes....so we caught the shuttle into Le Havre for a little look around.

War memorial statue...



Le Havre natural history museum... which housed some lovely exhibits..


Le Havre Cathedral..

...and probably the highlight of our stop... the 'funiculaire' or cable car... that took us to the top of the hill and back down....a beautiful view... out of the rain....and for next to nothing.

 It was then back to the ship.... we needed to pack and and get ready for our early start.
Although this was a sad night...our last evening on the Caribbean Princess we were also excited because  tomorrow morning we had early flights to Amsterdam and that was going to be epic!

E D I N B U R G H - Scotland

29th May..

It was a cold morning as we caught the shuttle from the port into beautiful Edinburgh.
We set out on a lovely walk from the shuttle stop to the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh has more than its share of beautiful buildings... and monuments.... The Scott Monument is an impressive 200+ feet high.


Once again I was mesmerised by the pipers as we passed..... Dad...I wish you still played.

Our first stop was The Edinburgh Dungeons....  we had pre-booked tickets here for a taste of something totally different.... a bit of theatre and suspense. It was a very interactive type of show with some unexpected frights and a giant drop at the end.
It was loosely educational.... but more about the drama and scare factor.



We were always shadowed by the grand scale of  Edinburgh castle  sitting up on the hill overlooking the city.





 We wandered the Royal Mile.... stopping here and there for souvenirs...and to visit some of the woolen /tartan stores.... there is such a lot of history about the clans...tartans... and traditions that we found so interesting.

We may have visited the odd church or maybe two...


After our morning on foot...we pushed our way into a noisy and crowded pub at lunchtime ... and luckily found a table near the back....Donna put on her brave pants and ordered the haggis. We all had a taste and although it wasn't unpleasant...I was happy to leave it to her.



Thanks Scotland for having us.... I really hope I can visit again one day. (although Ill probably skip the haggis)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

I N V E R G O R D O N - SCOTLAND

28th May...



A lovely early start this morning.... we had pre-booked a Highlands Tour with Nigel and we were excited to get started. Nigel was fantastic...so welcoming with a real sense of fun. We were lucky to have Nigels son Thomas as our tour guide for the day.

We set off to lovely Dornoch for our first stop... Ian walked across the greens of the 'Royal Dornoch Gold Course... no time for a game though.

The drive was so scenic...although by now we expected no less.
These Hairy highland cows (Hairy coos) ... were so lovely..

 ...and hairy sheep too..

Our next stop was a castle that appears to be straight from a fairy-tale ....the beautiful 13th century  Dunrobin Castle.

Once again we were greeted by a piper...

Stepping inside we could see it was quite different to Stirling castle... and the tour through the castle was just beautiful... once we stepped out of the foyer...photos were not allowed. Their obvious love of safari hunting was evident in the house and inside the museum onsite.

The view from the castle windows showed spectacular manicured gardens...

Then once down in the gardens....the view back to the front of the castle was breathtaking.

The timing was perfect to attend the falconry display.... gosh that was interesting and a lot of fun. The Falconer had such control of these birds as they swooped in low over our heads and showed us their speed and hunting abilities.
My photos are all of the cute fluffy owl because he was slow enough for me to capture.... the falcons were so fast...all my camera captured was a blur.


From Dunrobin we headed to Shin Falls... these waterfalls are the spot to watch the salmon leaping back up the stream.... we didn't see any ourselves no matter how long and hard we looked.

A quick stop at 'Millionaires View' . with its spectacular view of the mountains of Sutherland and the Shin river.

Our final stop of the day was the Glenmorangie Whiskey Distillery.. we took a very educational tour of the distillery... and a tasting at the end... a lovely way to end the day.

 Thanks for another amazing day Scotland.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

G L A S G O W - Scotland

26th May 

Ummm.... lets face it....what says "We are in Scotland!!" more than a piper greeting us.

After our incredible day in Belfast yesterday we made the decision to find ourselves a taxi driver again and get out into the country. Today's driver was John and he was brilliant. We mapped out the sites we wanted to see...and left the rest to him...and it couldn't have been better.


Our first brief stop was just out of Glasgow at Dumbarton Castle.... just a quick photo opp and then back in the car and onwards.


It was such a scenic drive through to  beautiful Luss...a little spot on the shores of Loch Lommand. It was impossible not to imagine living here.... although the cold might change my mind come winter.




 Just having a chuckle to myself here... photography rule #101 ... wait until tourist gets out of the frame! I captured a lovely sneaky photo moment of one poor unsuspecting tourist..haha



From Luss it was on to Stirling Castle...




Stirling Castle is one of Scotlands largest castles...constructed between 1490 and 1600 and has been besieged 16 times during its long and bloody history.
We really enjoyed or visit here... with entrance to the castle and incredible scenic views from the wall.




The interior was opulent and fit for a castle...although in my opinion it kind of lacked 'warm and cosy'


On the outer wall is a series of 'Stirling Sculptures' telling the story of James V's greatness....  although the one I captured here does look a little ghoulish.



We could see the famous 'Wallace Monument' in the distance....I sort of felt all 'Outlander'ish...

It was then farewell to Stirling....and into Glasgow....because we couldn't visit this part of Scotland and not set foot in Glasgow.

Glasgow Cathedral was on our list for a stop....and we were not disappointed.



 Then with our last final glimpse of this beautiful region we were back to the ship...exhausted and happy to have spent such an amazing day in Scotland.