Archive for the ‘travel adventures’ Category

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Somerset Christmas

January 2, 2017

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

cathedral sanctuary with vaulted ceiling and scissor shaped arch

Wells Cathedral

We had a very pleasant Christmas week in Somerset. It wasn’t snowy, but we did get a couple of frozen days with fog and frost. Rupert took us to Bruton and Wells.

coastline and wooden pier

Clevedon Pier

We roamed around Clevedon on Christmas day.

poster for theater performance

Pantomime

Boxing Day involved going to Weston-super-Mare to see the pantomime. The cast was talented, but a pantomime is an acquired taste. I think you have to grow up watching them to find them enjoyable. Per Wikipedia: “Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.” It also involves popular songs with rewritten lyrics and a baking skit involving pie in the face.

TIntern Abbey medieval stone ruin

Tintern Abbey

We went up through the Wye River valley stopping to see the Tintern Abbey. It was a very cold day and everything was beautifully frosted.

medieval cathedral on a foggy day

Hereford Cathedral

We stayed overnight in Hereford meeting with more friends. The next day we were off to Ledbury and caught a train to Oxford. One night in Oxford was too short, but we tried to make the most of it.

medieval church

St Michael at the North Gate, 11th century

Photos:

Somerset – part one – 109 photos

Somerset – part two – 76 photos

Somerset – part three – 14 photos

Tintern – Hereford – Ledbury -Oxford – 328 photos

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Wandering East London

December 24, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

four story brick building

Spitalfields Market

If you have followed our travels previously, you should know that we tend to wander around neighborhoods just to see what we can see, instead of following a typical tourist itinerary filled with museums and touristic sights. We stayed in Whitechapel, but did not bother with the Jack the Ripper tour.

This trip was heavily influenced by the fact that Daddybird has been following the Spitalfields Life blog, so many of the buildings and places we sought out are historical places mentioned in that blog.

neoclassical church colonnade and spire

St Leonard’s Anglican Church, Shoreditch 1740

We wandered into the Shoreditch neighborhood and happened upon St. Leonard’s Church which had a sign announcing a carol service that evening at 6 pm, so we made a point of coming back in time for a bit of Christmas music.

red stone building with arched windows

The Jamaica Wine House – used to be the first coffee house in England ca 1652

Daddybird’s itinerary included buildings like the one above which was the first coffee shop back when coffee was the new, exotic drink.

root beer float

What have we been eating? (surely you wonder about this) Our breakfasts have been English, but all other meals have ranged from Turkish to Pakistani to American. I generally don’t drink soda/pop/cola (whatever you call it), so having a root beer float was a pretty fantastic blast from the past.

fried chicken and waffles

I had not had fried chicken and waffles before, but now I understand. I understand.

See Day 1 pictures here. (129 photos)

See Day 2 pictures here.Β (89 photos, 3 videos)

See Day 3-5 pictures here.Β (131 photos)

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Delhi Days

July 23, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

crowded street

After our time in Ladakh, Leh, India, we returned to Delhi and spent six days. However, it was a mostly unproductive six days. It was extremely hot and humid, so we didn’t really want to go outside. When we did go outside, we encountered some very pushy people trying to tell us where to go and what to do. They were really like gum stuck to the bottom of our shoes and wasted a great deal of our time and all of our patience. We learned to make a plan while coming down in the elevator. We agreed exactly what direction we were going to go and what we were going to do, because stepping out of the building and looking around just made us a target for these “helpers.” Once we reached the metro entrance we were home free, because it would cost them money to follow us that far.

National Museum of Natural History fire damaged building

Our usual style of travel didn’t work well in Delhi. We do not prepare an itinerary or have a detailed plan for what we will do each day. This strategy had us standing outside the natural history museum that had clearly burnt down recently, among other goose chases.

striped squirrel on the trunk of a potted tree

We did succeed in going to Shankar’s International Doll Museum which was very interesting. 1000’s of dolls from all over the world. We also succeeded in going to a Bollywood movie in the cinema near our hotel. The other highlight, if you will, would be the animals. The northern palm squirrels (more the size of a chipmunk than a squirrel) were highly entertaining. We also discovered that an eagle was nesting in the tree just outside the window of the hotel restaurant.

eagle and nest in tree outside a restaurant window

There are an astonishing number of eagles in the city. I had noticed significant numbers of large birds circling high up and wondered what they were.

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Eating for me was more misery than pleasure, but I knew that going in. It was quite a challenge to look over a menu to find something that might be free of chili. I would make my best guess and then suffer the consequences. Happily the chicken alfredo pizza was good, but the smoked chicken and apricot sandwich at the airport was fiery hot. It was a crap shoot.

To see all the pictures, click here. (via Facebook)

To see all the pictures, click here. (via Google photos, for those who don’t Facebook)

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Ladakh – Leh – India

July 13, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

hotel patio with view of the Himalaya mountains

We spent five days in Leh, India which is in the Himalaya mountain range at an altitude of over 11,500 feet. Our first day was spent sleeping and trying to get over the altitude sickness. We woke up around 2 pm, walked to the nearest cafe to have lunch and then right back to the hotel to sleep some more. We were mostly okay by the second day, but were not ready for anything strenuous.

Leh is both beautiful, as you can see above, and rustic.

rough mud brick buildings

We took it easy, ate lots of good food…

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… saw plenty of cows, dogs, and donkeys …

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Why did we go to Leh? You might ask. We were invited by a dear friend to join her and her family to celebrate her birthday. It was a pretty spectacular place for a birthday party. Aside from the altitude sickness and the unseasonable warm weather, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

You can see all the pictures here.

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More Big Bus Tour

July 7, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

makeshift restaurant in an alleyway

We got up late, so our first meal was more of a lunch. We picked this alleyway eatery just a block from our hotel. The waitress didn’t seem too happy about serving foreigners, but it worked out.

view from a ferry boat in Victoria Harbour

We crossed the harbor on the ferry in order to take yet another Big Bus tour, the blue line this time which traverses the Kowloon part of town.

long subterranean tunnel for pedestrians

A word about using the metro train system in Hong Kong — be prepared to walk, a lot. After finishing the blue line tour, we needed to get back to the other side of the harbor and foolishly thought it would be easier to take the metro than to walk back to the pier and take the ferry. Unfortunately, the metro system required a long long goose chase walk through underground tunnels. Would have been shorter to walk to the pier.

toy boxes, one of which is a Star Wart version of the Millennium Falcon

We also took the Big Bus night tour. We got off at the night market stop and walked through the night market. It was mostly disappointing and nothing we would want to buy. Although, the Star Wart Millennium Falcon was tempting (we also saw a Star Wnrt version). It would not fit in our suitcases, so we skipped it. We can probably find this in Shanghai anyway.

sweet and sour pork with pineapple and onions

So, after another metro ride back to the island side of Hong Kong, we stopped into a restaurant close to our hotel and had a third meal. This is the sweet and sour pork, which we technically did not order, but it was very good.

Friday is our last day and will be mainly packing and getting to the airport. So, to sum up our Hong Kong experience and advice:

  • Come when it is cooler, not in the miserable summer months.
  • Be prepared to walk and walk and walk, sometimes at a steep angle.
  • The Big Bus red and green line tours are worth it, but skip the blue line and the night tour.
  • Eating can be very expensive unless you head for the alleys and eat at the scroungy looking places where locals are eating.
  • The Butterfly Hotel on Wellington is a good choice.

See all the pictures here.

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Big Bus Tour

July 6, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

bamboo steam baskets full of dim sum buns

We started our day with breakfast at a dim sum restaurant just down the street from our hotel. A tasty and a fun adventure. About half-way through our meal a family sat down at our table. It was a local family with a teen daughter and her caucasian friend. It was fun to watch them tell her how to make tea. As you can see from the picture above, we were given a teapot. This is not the local way. The covered dish (gaiwan) in the upper left corner of the picture is used to make tea. It is filled with loose tea leaves and water. The first tea is poured out as it is thought to be too bitter (and possibly other ceremonial reasons). The father showed her exactly how to hold the gaiwan with the lid tipped to pour the tea into her cup. The first tea is poured out into the larger bowl (center top of the picture) and then the waiter has to come back to pour more hot water into the gaiwan. The waiters at this restaurant were quick and sloppy, so it wasn’t long until the table was wet.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Next we went down to the waterfront to get on the Big Red Bus tour. As you can see it was a sunny day. Later it was the exact opposite.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel and heavy rain

We took the Green Line route first which took us to the opposite side of the island to Repulse Bay, Stanley, and Aberdeen. We got off at Stanley to do some touristy shopping and have a little snack. When we got back on the bus, the lower level was full, so we had to go up to the top deck (which is uncovered and not air conditioned. It was extremely hot while we were at Stanley (I have a sunburn to prove it), so we weren’t too happy to be going up top. However, it started to rain, no, I mean RAIN, as soon as we got up there. That took the temperature right down, which was nice. It did make it difficult to see much or take pictures, though.

vehicle windshield obscured by rain

At the end of this tour, we took a short break and then got on the Red Line bus for more.

You can see all the pictures here. I hope you like looking at sky scrapers.

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More Hong Kong

July 4, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

two plates of breakfast food

One of the things that is rare outside the U.S. is a good American breakfast restaurant. Flying Pan is the best we have found, so far — Open 24/7, serving a wide variety of breakfast options, and tasty food. The service on the graveyard shift wasn’t exactly swift, but not terrible.

From there we went in search of the textile market, which involved traveling by metro to the other side of the bay. Apparently, the “textile market” is not a building with shops inside, as we have experienced in Shanghai. All we found were shops along the street and stalls in the street, so it was a hot and sweaty experience. Paul was looking for shirt material, but did not find anything that fit his criteria. I was a bit disappointed with what we found, until we found the one shop that had some marvelous brocades.

brocade fabric

I took the piece on the right to the shop owner and asked “how much?” thinking it might be expensive. He said $16 Hong Kong dollars per yard. After he clarified that it was 16 not 60, I asked him to measure what was on the roll (which was near the end). It was 4 yards, so I took it all. $16 HKD is approximately $2 USD. I wanted the black, too, which was the same price. Score! Qipao dresses to come.

We stopped into a little restaurant for a snack of dim sum, then got back on the metro to join the evening commute crowd.

very crowded hallway

See all the pictures here.