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A Day In The Cotswolds

Cotswolds

sunny 21 °C
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After the last 18 months of not getting to go very far, we managed to have a day out to the Cotswolds on one of the few nice summer's days of 2021.

With a lot of leave still to use, we'd taken the week off and spent much of it decorating the living room. But to give us a bit of a break from all the work on a 'week off', we decided to have a day out and picked the best one weather-wise in what had been a pretty miserable summer.

The first place we headed to was Bourton-on-the-Water, which involved driving across country. As we were almost there, the road we needed to take to cross over to Stow-on-the-Wold was closed, with the nearest diversion adding another 30mins to our journey. Feeling that this might be a bit excessive, we decided to try our luck and see how far down the road we could get before cutting around the road closure on country roads.

As we almost entered Stow-on-the-Wold, we cut off and diverted via a suburb to the south. However these tiny narrow lanes were not suitable for the huge cars ignorant people love to drive. Arriving at one bend where there were loads of parked cars, the developing trail of cars I was caught up in met another travelling the opposite way. A trail of three cars had already headed down what had become a de facto single lane highway which our larger trail was already on. As we had right of way, and also nowhere to go, the cars headed towards us had to reverse to allow us to pass. Some of them did so amicably, but one driver decided he would only reverse as far as possible for all our cars to mount the verge and squeeze past - despite him being able to reverse back slightly more and let us drive on the actual carriageway.

My blood was now boiling. How dare this ignorant man just sit there so obnoxiously expecting us to do something so unnecessary. So I sat there waiting for him to reverse further, but he would not. So, as I was forced to mount the verge passing him, I stopped adjacent to his window, wound mine down and absolutely lost it at him - shouting, screaming and swearing right in his face. He probably didn't care but it made me feel better anyway.

As we left the town we could see the huge traffic queue that had formed due to the closure of the important road. Thankfully we were missing it via our reroute, and around 10 minutes later we were in the middle of an extremely busy Bouton-on-the-Water. Despite being a weekday, probably due to the nice weather and the school holidays, it was full of people and we were lucky to get parked.

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water

After a little walk we ended up on the main High Street of this beautiful village, where a small river runs just to the south creating an area of parkland where many families were picnicking. Crossing several of the bridges we started at the west end by the Motoring Museum, before heading into gift shops and ending outside the Model Village. It is quite simply the idealised English village.

But being a Cotswold village, there wasn't much to do, and so after picking up some souvenirs we then headed back to the car park and made our way to the nearby city of Gloucester.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Around half an hour later, and just outside the Cotswolds we arrived and parked in the shopping centre car park. We then went for a wander over to Gloucester Cathedral. This huge cathedral contains the tomb of Edward II, and also served as a filming location for the Harry Potter films.

Cloisters

Cloisters

There, they did the typical thing of providing 'free' entry, whilst in reality trying to force us to give them a donation. So we pretended to leave and then when no one was looking legged it across the vestry - we only wanted a quick look!

Edward II's Tomb

Edward II's Tomb

We went for a little wander into the cloisters and courtyard, before heading back to the exit via the tombs. We then headed back towards the centre, stopping for lunch, before making our way towards the Docks, located on the edge of the River Severn.

On driving into the town it dawned on me that this was also the city where Fred and Rose West had lived and murdered, and their house, where 9 bodies were found in 1994 was just a short walk away. So we decided to walk back via the site, which has since been knocked down and turned into a footpath.

We were now headed back towards home, but we also had another Cotswold village we wanted to stop by at - Bibury.

Bibury

Bibury

Much smaller than Bourton-on-the-Water, it was very scenic. However even at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon, we were lucky to get a space. After driving past the best parking spaces, we could see a learner driver was just getting into the car. After turning around, a stroke of luck, he was trying to pull out. So I let him go and then nabbed his spot.

We then went for a short walk around the village, before making our way back to the car, and a final drive home.

Bibury

Bibury

It may have only been one day, but it was a nice break from the normality of home, and it was very scenic. Would recommend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 19:20 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills river scenery city cathedral quaint Comments (0)

On the Amalfi Coast

Limoncello Adventures - Capri & Positano

semi-overcast 19 °C
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During the planning for this trip, the Amalfi coast was originally overlooked, however after seeing how beautiful it was, we decided we simply had to make room for it amongst the trip.

After our first evening in Sorrento, we arose early for breakfast, before heading down to catch the ferry over to Capri, which was now running on a winter schedule.

Capri Harbour

Capri Harbour

Just 40 minutes later we had arrived on the small touristy island, and quickly bought our tickets for the island tour that was leaving shortly after, and then boarded the small boat. Like a duck we had spent little time on land so far!

Cliffs around Capri

Cliffs around Capri

Moving around and settling on back row seats, we then headed out of the harbour clockwise, past the cliffs and grottos before we made it to the Faraglioni - sea stacks just off the coast, through which we sailed.

Faraglioni

Faraglioni

We then headed around the south of the island, taking in the November sun, and with views of the south side of Capri town and the hills of Anacapri.

South side of Capri town

South side of Capri town

We then headed in to the Grotto Verde, which had beautiful blue water, before heading around the lighthouse towards the northern side with views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius.

Grotto Verde

Grotto Verde

After heading past the Blue Grotto, which was closed due to the high tide and rough seas, we then landed back in Capri harbour and explored the town.

Capri Town

Capri Town

Walking up the hill, being thankful we didn't visit in July, we eventually arrived in the town square, which was full of people. After walking around and viewing the beautiful views of the island from the vantage point around the corner, we then walked back down the hill before catching the ferry back to Sorrento.

Sorrento from the ferry

Sorrento from the ferry

As we had headed out early, we had enough time to spend the afternoon on the Amalfi coast. We therefore headed quickly through the town to the station to catch the bus to Positano, which we boarded not long later.

The bus headed up through the winding hills with beautiful views over the Bay of Naples, before long we were over the top of the hills and heading back down the hillside with views over the Amalfi Coast. The roads were once again windy, and along the coastline they were particularly spectacular, also being perched up on the cliff side.

Cliffside roads

Cliffside roads

After a beautiful drive we soon arrived on the edge of Positano, where we left the bus with views over the beautiful town's gorge, which we then started to head down. Numerous staircases later we entered the heart of the town, where even in November it was full of tourists. Being on the south coast it had glorious sunshine, where there were no mountains to hide the winter sun.

Steep staircases of Positano

Steep staircases of Positano


Positano beach

Positano beach

We took a walk down to the beach, where the scale of the mountains becomes evident, before walking back through the town and on to the bus stop for our return to Sorrento. The buses were pretty busy, and as we arrived at the point where the winter schedule skips a bus, by the time it showed up it was full! Luckily we got a space, but it meant standing room only all the way back to Sorrento.

After almost an hour, the lack of room and constant turns started to give us both travel sickness, but in the nick of time we arrived back in Sorrento and into the fresh air. With today being a busy day we decided to grab pizza from a pizzeria so that we could then chill for the rest of the day. However as it wasn't yet 6pm, there was almost nowhere open!

After walking all around the town, we eventually found a take away close to our hotel, but they wouldn't be ready to serve for another half hour. Therefore we headed back to our hotel for a rest and to drop our bits off, before collecting the pizza later. Eventually grabbing dinner, we then spent the rest of the evening chilling before more excitement tomorrow.

Posted by kmmk17 10:15 Archived in Italy Tagged hills boat coast beach island limoncello Comments (0)

Summer in Sorrento

Limoncello Adventures - Sorrento

sunny 18 °C
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After last year's autumn holiday was postponed, this year we decided to make sure we weren't bored in the Autumn by reviving the plans to visit the Naples area. I had wanted to visit Pompeii for some time, and after some research had seen it was easy to get to Naples, and spend a weekend in the area which was also very beautiful.

After juggling the dates and settling on staying in Sorrento, which in off season was relatively cheap, we headed off on what ended up being one of the many busy Autumn weekends this year. We had an early morning flight on the Friday and after taking off the first drama began...

One of the passengers sat near us had a seizure and collapsed, lying unconscious on the floor. After the flight attendants called for any medically trained passengers on the flight to come over it was decided she was not well enough to make it all the way to Naples as we were still over Germany. Therefore an emergency landing was planned and we were now headed for Milan! She then woke back up and spent the rest of the flight throwing up before we landed safely.

Emergency Landing in Milan

Emergency Landing in Milan

Upon landing she started making a call to her friends to pick her up once she was through immigration, still out of it, and being the only person the flight who didn't know we were actually in Milan. The medics quickly boarded to help her off, but she was having none of it. She complained that they should have just taken her to Naples, and the medics agreed - whilst the flight attendants pointed out that she was not in that condition in the air. After standing their ground and threatening to get the police to remove her if she didn't go with the medics, she eventually left and after refuelling we were able to take off, only an hour and a half behind schedule.

Eventually arriving in Naples at lunchtime, we quickly made our way through the airport to catch the next shuttle transfer bus directly to Sorrento. The small minibus was almost full already, but there was enough space for us, and we were soon leaving the crazy traffic of Naples behind for the crazy roads of the Sorrentine Peninsula.

After a somewhat stressful and cramped hour's journey, we were finally in our base for the weekend. After checking in and dropping off our bits at the hotel we then headed off on a short walk around the small tourist town.

Cliffs on the Bay of Naples

Cliffs on the Bay of Naples

We began by heading towards the cliffs that impose over the coastline, overlooking the Bay of Naples, with views of Mount Vesuvius.

Views of Vesuvius across the bay

Views of Vesuvius across the bay


Sorrento

Sorrento

After walking along the coastline we then headed into the heart of the town, grabbed food in a local restaurant before walking amongst the local streets by night.

The heart of Sorrento

The heart of Sorrento

The last thing to do tonight was to stop via the supermarket for some snacks and drinks before chilling for the evening of a long day.

Posted by kmmk17 09:43 Archived in Italy Tagged hills coast airport city plane drama limoncello Comments (0)

Following Finn McCool

Ireland - Causeway Coast

sunny 20 °C
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With Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK I had yet to visit, it has always been on my list as somewhere to visit. And with Brexit just around the corner causing uncertainty as to how this tense and unique part of the country will look in the not too distant future, we decided to quickly pay a visit and literally walk out of the UK at an unmarked border whilst we still could!

With the weather always being unpredictable, expecting rain constantly, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive to a warm and sunny morning at Belfast Airport.

With the first part of the trip being about seeing the north coast and the Irish border, we hired a car from the airport, being much cheaper than taking our own over on the ferry, and after picking it up we headed out to our first stop, just up the road in Antrim.

We stopped by the shores of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles. The legend states that Finn McCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill), a legend in Irish Mythology, was fighting with a Scottish rival, and scooped a bit of land to throw at him - missed, and this formed the Isle of Man, whilst the missing earth flooded and created the lough. This seems highly unlikely, but nevertheless it was a nice spot to stop after getting used to the car, looking over the lake, which was so big that the other side could not even be seen.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh

After getting back in the car, we then stopped by the Tesco in Antrim to stock up on some supplies, before we made the decision to head up to the north coast today.

After an hour or so driving through the Antrim countryside, we made it to the port town of Ballycastle, where surprisingly the beautiful blue skies had disappeared amongst the mist clinging over the town. worrying, as our first site was on 15 minutes down the road, where we had hoped to obtain views over the Straits of Moyle in the North Channel over to Scotland. As we drove around the hilly rural roads towards Torr Head, with the weather clearing, we found a good vantage point, where it was just possible to see the Mull of Kintyre. Guessing that it would likely be no better down the road, we decided to stop here, enjoy the views, and then continue on our way along the Causeway coast.

Straits of Moyle

Straits of Moyle


Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Our next stop was just half an hour up the road - the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge is a modern version of the traditional bridge in use for almost 400 years to connect a rocky island just off the coast to the mainland, at 30 metres above the sea level below. Upon arrival it was quite busy, being a major stop of the tourist trail, and as we walked the twenty minutes down the beautiful coastline we passed many tourists - mostly Germans and Spanish.

Causeway Coast

Causeway Coast

When we got to the bridge itself there was a little wait, as only 8 people can cross at once - however it didn't take too long before we made it to the other side.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

After returning back to the car, we headed out for another 20 minute drive along the coast towards the jewel in the crown - the Giant's Causeway. However as we left the car park we were stuck behind a German tourist coach, then then proceeded to take the same roads as us, clearly taking the Germans to the causeway too.

Eventually we arrived at the car park for the causeway, and after taking a look at the visitor's centre, we made our way down the coast to the shore, where we could walk along the causeway itself. The legend of it's creation is that Finn McCool (yes, him again) built a causeway to fight a Scottish giant, destroying it upon his return. In reality it's of volcanic origin (with similar landforms in Iceland amongst others) and these are the last bits to remain above sea level, uneroded.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Although busy, the area is big enough to still enjoy it in it's full glory, and with the blocks forming steps it was also super easy to get around.

On the Causeway

On the Causeway

As we started to leave the area, we were stopped by a pushy Russian-American who wanted a photo. Before even answering he has given me his camera and directed how I should take the panoramic photo of his family on the rocks. Cutting out the signpost I swooped around, before stopping to cut out the tourist who had just walked into the area. Handing it back to him he then wanted another one, this time wider, and with less rocks - to which his wife smirked "that's what we're here to see". Next thing I was back taking yet another photo for this rude man. Thankfully he didn't want another perfect photo and we quickly made our mistake back up the hill.

As we got back to the car, it was another relatively short drive to our accommodation for the night - a B&B on the outskirts of Derry, close to the border with the republic. We arrived and checked in, before heading out to get dinner. We did however quickly stop by the village of Muff, just across the border. As we couldn't drive across due to the terms of our rental agreement, we parked up just metres away, and walked across the border, where the only sign of the border was a change in speed (km/h instead of mph) and signs welcoming us to County Donegal.

Muff

Muff

We then made our way to the local McDonald's to grab some food, before we went back to our B&B. We then went for a walk just 15 metres down the road where the rural track crosses the border. Even less noticeable than in Muff - just a solitary speed sign at a stream. As we walked back it occurred to us just how arbitrary this really is, and how deeply affected this part of the word is going to become should Brexit not work out well.

Chris over the border

Chris over the border

After a long day, it was now time to finally sleep, and tomorrow we would explore Derry before making our way back to Belfast.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:50 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills coast borders lake ireland island border geology geography Comments (0)

Castles & Alpine Bavaria

Bavaria - Hohenschwangau

sunny 23 °C
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As like yesterday, the plan for today was to take an excursion on the train, before filling what remained of the day with some sightseeing in Munich.

Waking up at the disgusting time of 6:30am, we headed down for breakfast, before making our way to catch the 8:40 train to Füssen, not far from the Austrian border.

The German Alps

The German Alps

The border area is full of mountain backdrops, which although most of the peaks are in Austria, there are also some German mountains, and thus after yesterday's mild disappointment, we were about to embark on an Alpine experience.

Neuschwanstein overlooking the village

Neuschwanstein overlooking the village

Getting off the train with tonnes of East Asians, we raced to make sure we could get a place on the bus to the next village. Luckily two bendy buses turned up, and so there was plenty of room! 10 minutes later we were in the village of Hohenschwangau, home to the Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Marienbrücke

The Marienbrücke

After a bit of confusion, we took the bus up to the Marienbrücke - a bridge over a gorge with fantastic views of the castle, before we crossed over and walked up a bit of the hill opposite, where views above the castle could be seen.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

The views were very good, but as it was quite steep we headed back towards the castle itself, past the bridge. Not long later we were at the castle itself.

Views over the castle

Views over the castle

We had decided not to go inside as the queues were very long and it didn't seem worth the wait, but we managed to get inside the courtyard itself anyway, and thus we still saw a fair bit.

Inside the Courtyard

Inside the Courtyard

Heading back down the hillside, we eventually ended back in the village, where we then headed towards the lake at the bottom of the road.

Alpensee

Alpensee

Surrounded by mountains with clear water, it was particularly beautiful, and after taking many pictures, we headed back into the pretty village and towards the bus stop to head back to the station.

Alpine Buildings

Alpine Buildings

Whilst Salzburg had felt very generic and city-like, this village on the other hand gave us that Alpine experience we were craving. After a two hour journey back through the countryside, we arrived back in Munich and headed back to the hotel.

Glockenspiel

Glockenspiel

Having a quick rest, we then headed back to the city centre, in time for the Glockenspiel performance at the clock tower, where at 5pm an old story about the city is told through figurines.

Munich buildings

Munich buildings

After grabbing dinner, we then headed for a walk around the city centre sights, heading towards the Englischer Garten - a large landscaped park along the riverside.

Englischer Garten

Englischer Garten


Chinese Tower

Chinese Tower

After walking as far as the Chinese Tower, we headed back towards the city past the university before our last stop, at the Theresienwiese, site of the Oktoberfest, where tents for this year's event were already being assembled.

Oktoberfest site

Oktoberfest site

After a long day of walking and exploring, we headed back to the hotel for a well earned rest, before our final day in the city.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 11:09 Archived in Germany Tagged hills park walking mountain city castle alps bavaria Comments (0)

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