Tag Archives: Mini Trip

Amsterdam

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Amsterdam

Well it’s to Holland this time, to the stunning city of Amsterdam. This trip all came about one afternoon having some lunch and a drink in a pub in my home town of Lincoln UK, when I was checking my emails, I received an email from Ryanair advertising one of their many sales, so I fired up the iPad looked at some dates and prices to  the various locations on offer and it was unanimously agreed that we should take a trip to Amsterdam, and so with a tap of a finger flights and hotel were booked. We found our accommodation on the trusty Booking.com website, and after viewing a few possibilities we settled on the Blue Tower Hotel. The hotel was just on the outskirts of the main city centre but in a great location for transport links and was very nice indeed.

When we arrived it was pouring with rain as it was when we left the UK but undeterred and with bags dropped in hotel it was off exploring. We took the tram to the city centre. “Top Tip” A good option if you intend to travel around the city is to buy a 24hr travel card which can be used on buses, trams and metro the cost at time of writing is €13.50 and is much cheaper than paying for individual journeys. After a stroll around the harbour area and as the day was getting on we decided to find a nice restaurant bar to have a meal and plan our next couple of days in Amsterdam.

It was decided that our first full day in the city a must visit would be the House Of Anne Frank Now its worth mentioning if you don’t like queues you can book tickets online to the house but as it was May we thought we would just turn up but in the summer months I would advise anyone to book in advance. When we arrived the queue was fairly long but not horrendous but moved very quickly and as the weather had turned out nice it was quite pleasant to admire the surroundings and to people watch. The admission ticket also includes an audio guide. The whole tour was excellent but very sad and thought provoking as you can imagine. One thing to point out that when you reach the top of the house there are some very steep stairs to the attic where the family hid, this could be a problem for the less mobile it.

After our visit it was time to head off explore some more of the city. Now as you can imagine Amsterdam has some amazing architecture, very tall and narrow buildings, beautifully designed, and if you look up they all seem to be leaning forward , in fact they are IMG_2996 but this is not because of bad workmanship or subsidence but in fact a very clever inherent design, you will notice all the buildings have a wooden or steel girder protruding from the top with a pulley attached, this enables items of furniture or goods to be hauled up the outside and enter the building through the very large windows as bringing  the items in through the front door  and up the internal staircase would be virtually impossible as the staircases inside are very steep and very narrow.

Another must do whilst in the city is to sample some of the excellent gouda cheese, I did not realise there were so many different varieties, “Top Tip” visit one of the many shops selling the cheeses, most of which offer small pieces to sample.IMG_2997

Another thing Amsterdam is famous for its cycling, although it is impossible to say city authorities estimate this figure to be around 600,000 other sites on the web suggest this figure could be as high as 1,000,000 who knows, all I know is there seems to be as many cycle routes as there are roads, and the cycle paths even have their own traffic lights, and its the first place I have seen on my travels which have multi story parking just  for bicycles, amazing.

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Finally a visit to Amsterdam would not be complete without a trip on one of the cities glass roofed canal boats we took a trip on one which we boarded in the Rembrandt area of the city near the Hard Rock Cafe, tours last approx one hour and are a great way to see the cities canal ways, our trip was made especially good-by the fact we had glorious spring sunshine.

Finally, I know I’ve already said that but I do mean it this time, I have to mention Amsterdam’s nightlife now I’m sure everyone is aware of the famous of infamous red light area of the city for nightlife amongst other things but there is more to the city in the way of nightlife other than the reeperbahn, we found a great little bar/club called Bourbon Street, the club is situated in Leidsekruisstraat 6-8 which is in the Rembrandt area which is near to the Hard Rock Cafe, Live music is played most nights, entrance is free on a Monday, coincidently the night we was there, a great night was had by all

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Well that’s it for this trip, next up is the big tour of India, so watch this space. So its bye from me, stay safe, keep well but most importantly keep following

You can find many more photo’s of our trip to Amsterdam along with lots from our previous exploits on my Flickr photo stream, just click on the link at the top of the page.

Manchester and Leeds

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Well after our relatively disappointing day at the travel show, it was up bright and early to explore the city of Manchester. Our first stop was the town hall, now in case you are wondering what on earth would be of interest in a town or city’s town hall, well firstly a lot of our Town Hall’s in the UK are magnificent buildings and excellent pieces of architecture and probably get overlooked as tourist attractions, and secondly not many people know that many of them allow visitors to wander through their halls and chambers, and entrance to these is normally free. So after consulting my trusty Tripadvisor app on my phone and learning that the cities town hall was in the top 10 places to see we decided to give it a look, and we were not disappointed. Manchester Town Hall is a very large and imposing Victorian building built-in 1877 and designed by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, unfortunately the day we visited the main staircase and grand hall upstairs was closed due to meetings but what we did see was very impressive indeed. After our walk around the town hall it was time for a coffee and onto our next stop the John Rylands Library, as this too was on the list of must see attractions in Manchester. John Rylands Library is another impressive Victorian building, it was opened to the public in 1900 and like the town hall entrance is free. There are 4 or 5 levels, with plenty to exhibitions to peruse through, a must see if you are in the city. One thing not to miss if you visit the library is the toilet, strange you may think especially if you don’t need to go, but I did need to go and was amazed on entering the said loo (at the bottom of the grand staircase). it was like being transported back in time, seems like nothing had changed in over 100 years, apart from the cleaning thankfully so give them a look.

Well after a full day it was time to move onto our next stop on our mini trip and that was the City of Leeds. We had booked a hotel on the outskirts of Leeds, so after a very nice evening meal and a good nights sleep it was up bright and early for our next full day touring the city of Leeds. Now like Manchester I consulted my trusty Trip Advisor app and our first port of call was the cities Corn Exchange, but before we moved onto the Corn Exchange, where we had parked we had to walk through the city’s Kirkgate Market, which as it turned out was very pleasant surprise indeed, the market is another grand Victorian building, first opened in 1822 as an open air market and was later covered between 1850 to 1875. The structure is well worth the walk through to view the workmanship and excellent architecture. After walking through the market we turned the corner and we were confronted by the Corn Exchange building which was built-in 1862. the corn exchange is now occupied by shops and restaurants, and has been restored to its former beauty I must add very well indeed, well worth the visit.

After the Corn Exchange our next stop was the amazingly restored Victorian Quarter  shopping arcade, another piece of excellent Victorian architecture. Now I know there are a lot of very good, modern architectural wonders today but considering the lack of technology and machinery in those days you can’t help but marvel at the workmanship. Our final stop on our day tour of Leeds was the Royal Armoury now even if weapons and conflict are not your thing I have to say the Armoury is well worth the visit just for the amazing workmanship that went into the making of the many suits of armour and weaponry, even my travelling companions both women found it interesting and were glad they went. So a great couple of days were had by all, as always. Next trip our big one to Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam. So stay safe, keep well and keep following

Destinations, Travel and Holiday Show

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Firstly an update from my last blog post for those of you that read it, the Vietnamese visa’s arrived just as promised, in five working days. So anyone who is planning on visiting Vietnam, just follow my advice on obtaining the visa’s and you should be fine well that said onto our latest mini trip.

It was that time of year for our annual pilgrimage to the Destinations travel show to get some ideas for our future travels. This year we decided to have a change and visit the show at Event City Manchester, having a change from previous years where we visited the show held in London’s Earls court. So we waited for the good old Travelodge sale and booked an overnight stay at Travelodge Trafford Park and another nights stay at the Travelodge in Morley Leeds, but more on that later. Back to the show. After queuing in traffic for the car park and by the amount of people arriving we thought we would be in for a good show and come away with lot’s of ideas for our next trip but once inside it was a different story we were confronted by a fraction of the stalls and exhibitors than at the London event’s we had previously attended, also a good many countries we were used to seeing were not represented, the whole thing was a bitter disappointment. Also the events website promoted a new feature for this year, a stand which supposingly was to showcase some 700 foods and wines from around the globe which I was looking forward too but this turned out to be an absolute joke. It consisted of a stand with a few items of food in paper cup cake cases which were to change every hour, we had only one tasting, pepper chocolate which incidentally was very nice but when we returned later to see what next they had to offer the stand was empty, so much for that , and quite how they intended to have 700 foods, one every hour in a four-day event which only has 32 hours of opening times is beyond me, it was a good job we had complimentary tickets as if we had to pay for such a disappointing event it would have been robbery.

Oh well, but being the eternal optimist I am, every cloud has a silver lining and this day was no exception, you see one of the guest speakers was the radio DJ, journalist and traveller Andy Kershaw, now I have listened to Andy quite a lot on the radio on the various shows he has presented, mainly because he has a very broad taste in music like myself, but surprisingly during his talk I learned not only was he a seasoned traveller, he also has been a war correspondent. He spoke for nearly an hour and I was enthralled by his stories, really interesting stuff. I was so impressed that I bought his new book “No Off Switch” which I shall read during our trip to Vietnam:- To Be Cont’d in next post, so stay following.