Results tagged “Hotels” from UK and Japan 2010

Had another crappy nights sleep.  Was too hot (even with aircon on full) and stressing over my dumb body and then the building started humming.. loud enough for at least one other person on the floor to complain about it.  No idea what it was.

So got up fairly late.

Had breakfast at the local Scottish Restaurant (for £5 for the two of us instead of £30 the hotel would have charged).

Then hopped on a tube train then a regular train out to Charlton to walk up to the Thames Flood Barrier (past a half marathon in progress which closed off the road we walked up).  The flood barrier stuff was pretty cool.  Interesting to see how they built it and how it works.  Had a toasted sandwich in the cafe there for lunch.


Security cameras at Charing Cross station
Security cameras at Charing Cross station

Rows of houses outside Waterloo station
Rows of houses outside Waterloo station

Marathon runners on Woolwich Road, Charlton
Marathon runners on Woolwich Road, Charlton

Thames Flood Barrier 
Thames Flood Barrier 

Thames Flood Barrier 
Thames Flood Barrier 

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Model of the flood control system
Model of the flood control system

Stu ponders the denting caused by stress-testing the scale model
Stu ponders the denting caused by stress-testing the scale model

Scale model of the flood control system used for testing the design
Scale model of the flood control system used for testing the design

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Instead of walking back to the station and training it two stops, we decided to walk for a while back along the Thames.  You can actually walk all the way along it, but we cut across the Greenwich peninsula (and cut across the end of the half marathon, and even saw the exact same girl wearing an Elmo on her back that we saw the first time two hours ago!).  


Thames Path National Trail tunnel
Thames Path National Trail tunnel

This wall showed the length and height of the Thames as it comes down from its headwaters
This wall showed the length and height of the Thames as it comes down from its headwaters

Thames heights near Runnymede
Thames heights near Runnymede

Looking towards London and the North Greenwich Arena
Looking towards London and the North Greenwich Arena

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park
Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

Elmo girl!
Elmo girl!

Buzz Lightyear was also running
Buzz Lightyear was also running

So headed into the park at Greenwich and up to the observatory.  Joined the hordes trying to get their photo taken on the prime meridian.  Also had a look at the old telescope buildings.  And got filled with rage at people taking photos of the telescopes when it says all over the place that photography is forbidden :(:(  Epic grunt.  Should have taken some myself :/  The GPS doesn't actually line up with this, as the meridian for GPS is actually about 102m east of the prime meridian.  Go figure.  Headed back to the station and found another marked location of the prime meridian, with (hurrah) no tourists! Win! :)


Sundial in Greenwich Park
Sundial in Greenwich Park

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum

North Greenwich Arena
North Greenwich Arena

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock and Public Standards of Length
Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock and Public Standards of Length

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Stu on the Prime Meridian
Stu on the Prime Meridian

Prime Meridian
Prime Meridian

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens
Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens

Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens
Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens

Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens
Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens

Trained it back to the hotel.  Got our washing together and went and put it on, and had Thai for dinner next door.  Two mains, two desserts and a bottle of wine, and suddenly we have a $100AUD bill :(  This country is so expensive it's more than just a little ridiculous.  Put on the drying and had a McFlurry then back to the hotel to research tomorrow..

Oh I forgot to mention.. I got THE BEST value for money deal possible in this country tonight - sixteen 500mg paracetamol caplets for 16p!!  Yes, that's 1 pence per tablet!!  At that rate I considered buying a whole bunch to stock us up for the next few years .. altho customs might have had something to say about that!!


Geotagging - Day 30
Geotagging - Day 30

Photos on the Canon: 163
Photos on the Sony: 24
Photos on the iPhone: 6
Photos on the Olympus: 9
Photos on the Blackberry: 6
Photos on the Video: 21
Videos on the Video: 11
Steps walked: 18641
Pounds Spent: ?
Got up fairly early and the SUN was SHINING!! In our windows and bright blue sky and everything.  So gently encouraged the sweetie to get up so we could go see white cliffs in the SUN!


Sunrise over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

Headed off around 8:20 and went up to St Margarets Bay.  On the way the clouds started rolling in from the west.  I did the only appropriate thing - burst into tears.  Because I was so completely sick of cloudy and rainy weather.  But the clouds passed a little way north of us, and when we got there it was still a bit sunny on the cliffs.  The view wasn't hugely great - you really need to get out on a boat for the best views.  But hopefully got some ok photos.


Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Entrance to the tunnels at Dover Castle
Entrance to the tunnels at Dover Castle

Buildings under the White Cliffs in Dover
Buildings under the White Cliffs in Dover

White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover

These clouds made me cry
These clouds made me cry

Channel ferry
Channel ferry

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

Second stop was at Samphire Hoe, which is an area of reclaimed land they created by using the diggings from the Channel Tunnel.  The view wasn't great there either - all the cliffs were covered with plants around there.


Heading down to the tunnel to the Chunnel landfill
Heading down to the tunnel to the Chunnel landfill

Going through the tunnel
Going through the tunnel

White Cliffs of Dover from the Chunnel landfill
White Cliffs of Dover from the Chunnel landfill

Chunnel landfill
Chunnel landfill

Dog Poop bin!
Dog Poop bin!

Heading back out
Heading back out

Reminding Europeans to drive on the left
Reminding Europeans to drive on the left

So then we drove on to London, hoping we'd see a roadside Maccas where we could have breakfast.  Except we didn't find any.  We found a Burger King but bypassed that in hopes of a Maccas.  So suddenly we were in London and we hadn't had breakfast :(  Note to self: don't try to attack driving through crazy busy big city streets on no breakfast.  It makes for unhappy campers :(  Stoopid traffic jams too which added to the stress levels.  We'd allowed heaps of time to return the car, but in the end only *just* made it back in time :/  


Naughty person on board!
Naughty person on board!

Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station

So jumped on a train (15 min wait) to Earl's Court to stay at the *other* Earl's Court Best Western - on the north side this time.  The room wasn't ready so left all the bags with the sweetie and headed into town to see Buckingham Palace.  

It was about a half hour queue to get tickets, then the entry was 45 minutes after that, so wandered around Green Park for a while.  They've also resurfaced the road in front of the palace in the past two weeks.  This spot I've been to three times in three weeks, which is all a little odd.  So went back at 2:45 and accidently ended up in the 2:30 queue .. oops.. didn't mean to.. oh well .. 


Gates open at Buckingham Palace
Gates open at Buckingham Palace

Canadian War Memorial in Green Park
Canadian War Memorial in Green Park

Queen Victoria statue from Green Park
Queen Victoria statue from Green Park

The palace state rooms tour was actually pretty good.  Of course you can't take photos :(  But the audio guide was pretty decent.  Lots of very beautiful rooms and only one thing that was too crowded (too much commentary for such a small space).  Quite enjoyed it overall.  Took around an hour and a half to do the whole thing.  Then headed back to the hotel.  


Rear of Buckingham Palace
Rear of Buckingham Palace

Rear of Buckingham Palace
Rear of Buckingham Palace

Pond in Buckingham Palace grounds
Pond in Buckingham Palace grounds

Security at the back of Buckingham Palace
Security at the back of Buckingham Palace

Went for a wander and had a pint at the Kings Head (one of about a billion Kings Head pubs in England - either that or Red Lions) and then across the road to a French restaurant for a very yummy three course meal for £9.95 each.  


Geotagging - Day 29
Geotagging - Day 29

Photos on the Canon: 142
Photos on the Sony: 27
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Video: 1
Videos on the Video: 7
Steps walked: 10086
Pounds Spent: ?
Fairly standard night and breakfast.  Still think it's probably the best hotel we've had so far this trip.  

I went for a walk down to the beach while Stu was getting ready.  Not a terribly nice beach, and separated every twenty metres or so with walls to stop erosion.  Walked west to get a better look at the circus tent looking thing.  Didn't find out what it was until I looked it up just then - it's a Butlins Holiday Park.


Beach at Bognor Regis
Beach at Bognor Regis

Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis
Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis

Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis
Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis

So we headed off.  First stop was Brighton to have a look at the pier and the Royal Pavilion.  Was quite surprised that Brighton actually has no sand beach at all - it's all small rocks!!  Bizarre.  Found the place very noisy (from traffic) and not very pedestrian friendly.  Was quite happy to get out of there before our first hour of parking was used up.


Grand Hotel, Brighton
Grand Hotel, Brighton

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

West Pier at Brighton, finally destroyed by fire in 2003
West Pier at Brighton, finally destroyed by fire in 2003

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Brighton Clock Tower
Brighton Clock Tower

Next headed for a view of the Seven Sisters at Beachy Head.  As we pulled up there was sun on the cliffs.  So jumped out with just my camera and headed off down the path to get a better view.  Well of course, that was my first problem.  Five or ten minutes later, just before I got to the cliff, it decided to start raining.  Rather a lot.  So I ran for the cover of a tree (which was actually quite successful I have to admit - an Australian native would offer no such protection from rain).  Waited waited waited.  Finally it stopped so went down a bit closer to take some photos.  As I was heading back, the sun started to come out on the cliffs.  But this was of course after I'd left the best position to document them.  It was just fail on so many levels.


Seven Sisters at Beachy Head
Seven Sisters at Beachy Head

Seven Sisters at Beachy Head
Seven Sisters at Beachy Head

Decided to skip another view of the cliffs and a drive through Eastbourne in favour of getting to Dover at a reasonable hour.  Actually went past the Long Man of Wilmington which I'd not listed in the day's activities thinking we'd be going around the coast.


Long Man of Wilmington
Long Man of Wilmington

Drove drove drove.  Stopped at a Scottish Restaurant for lunch.  


Getting stuck behind flocks of sheep is a minor hazard travelling in England
Getting stuck behind flocks of sheep is a minor hazard travelling in England

Saw France on the way into Dover :)

And finally made it to Dover Castle just after 4pm.  The place closes at 6pm.  And it was raining.  Have I mentioned how much it rains here?  Decided to go in anyway.  £13.90 each.  We definitely should have gotten English Heritage membership :/ They asked us if we wanted to go on the 5pm secret war tunnels tour and we said yes.  But that was way at the bottom of the castle, and the tower etc were way up the top.  Which meant we had a grand total of half an hour to explore the castle :(:(:( Which was a shame because it was a very cool castle to explore.  Rather than directing you in one way and out another, you can go in and just explore little nooks and crannies and rooms and stairways and corridors.  It was a lot of fun, but we just didn't have the time to do it justice :(  In fact I actually managed to lose the sweetie which was quite stressful because we had to get down to the tunnels. 


Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Entrance gate at Dover Castle
Entrance gate at Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Interior of Dover Castle
Interior of Dover Castle

Interior of Dover Castle
Interior of Dover Castle

Corridor in Dover Castle
Corridor in Dover Castle

View of Dover from the top of the castle
View of Dover from the top of the castle

Top of Dover Castle
Top of Dover Castle

Top of Dover Castle
Top of Dover Castle

English Channel from Dover Castle
English Channel from Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Dover from Dover Castle
Dover from Dover Castle

St Mary in the Castle church
St Mary in the Castle church

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Interior of Dover Castle
Interior of Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

After much stress, we both made it to the tunnels by 5pm. But of course you can't take photos :(:(:(  So was really stressed out and then grumpy as well.  Blah!!  But it was pretty cool to see the tunnels anyway.


Entrance to the tunnels
Entrance to the tunnels

So left when the tour was done and headed for the hotel.

Stopped at the Battle of Britain Memorial.  It was raining.  A lot.  And windy.  Which was bad for my camera but in one way it was good because there was noone else there.  Had the place to myself.  Managed a couple of photos, with and without rain on the lens.  


Battle of Britain Memorial
Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain Memorial
Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain Memorial
Battle of Britain Memorial

Supermarine Spitfire Mark I replica at the Battle of Britain Memorial
Supermarine Spitfire Mark I replica at the Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain Memorial sign
Battle of Britain Memorial sign

Got to the hotel.  Internet access is a pain cause you really need a wifi username and password for each device.  And the fire alarm has gone off for ten seconds tonight.  Yay.  But the nicest thing about this hotel is its location, with an outlook to the English Channel.  Can see France! :)  The moon over the water was amazing before.

Went out to get a pizza for dinner.  At the local Pizza Hut.  Most expensive pizza I've ever eaten.  £11.99 - which is $25AUD for a standard size pizza!! Gah!!!! Just a plain old pepperoni pizza.  Insane, totally insane :(  Still, it was actually quite nice.

Hoping for five minutes of sunlight tomorrow morning to see the cliffs, that's all I'm asking.  It can rain the rest of the day, but some sun on the cliffs would be nice... kthxbai!

Photos on the Canon: 242
Photos on the Sony: 7
Photos on the Video: 6
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 15414
Pounds Spent: ?
Let the sweetie sleep in til 8am this morning and were slow getting going (didn't leave the B&B til 10:20).

First stop was the Headland Hotel, which is is just south-west of Newquay, and was used in the 1990 movie of Roald Dahl's The Witches.  


Newquay
Newquay

Headland Hotel, Newquay, used in the 1990 movie
Headland Hotel, Newquay, used in the 1990 movie "The Witches"

Then we headed east.


Tiny little roads
Tiny little roads

First stop on the south coast was Polperro.  Because my parents went there last year and raved about it and said it was one of the nicest places they went to.  Because obviously they had a good day for it.  For us, it rained.  Of course it rained.  The rain was fairly short lasting and was mostly gone by the time we'd stopped for a drink.  But the tide was all the way out, so the little harbour was just a bit pile of mud.  So didn't leap out for us as a nice place.  Got ourselves a Cornish pastie cause we still hadn't had one, then headed off again.  Had intended to see if we could find somewhere to get some photos of Looe (the next town along), but it was bigger and more crowded and the parking lot looked full to overflowing.  So even though it was now sunny, we ended up just driving through and I didn't get a single photo :(  But the tide was out so I suppose it wouldn't have been that great anyway.


Horse-drawn wagon in Polperro
Horse-drawn wagon in Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Cornish Piskies!
Cornish Piskies!

Muddy harbour in Polperro
Muddy harbour in Polperro

Muddy harbour in Polperro
Muddy harbour in Polperro

Harbour in Polperro
Harbour in Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Cornish Pasties
Cornish Pasties

So then had a big long drive, and stopped again at Lyme Regis.  Walked down to the beach, but couldn't get very far along because the tide had come in and was blocking access.  Don't know if there were other access points.  So really just took some photos of the cliffs then headed off before them impending thunderstorm dumped on us (just made it back to the car in time!)


Seagull at Lyme Regis
Seagull at Lyme Regis

Cliffs at Lyme Regis
Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis

Stu at Lyme Regis - hey look! Sunshine!
Stu at Lyme Regis - hey look! Sunshine!

Stu at Lyme Regis
Stu at Lyme Regis

This is as far as we got before we couldn't go any further
This is as far as we got before we couldn't go any further

Cliffs at Lyme Regis
Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Cliffs at Lyme Regis
Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Lots more driving.  Ended up in Portsmouth around 7pm.  We thought we'd be able to have a wander around the Historic Dockyard.  Except it closes at like 6pm and there's no access at all, just a super high brick wall blocking the view of everything :(  We should have known - the two nearby carparks were closed and we thought we scored by getting a free on-street park.  I thought the place would be somewhat like Darling Harbour where you just wander around.  Instead the place was almost completely dead.  Just a couple of shops open, a couple of restaurants and a night club.  We had expensive pizza and beer for dinner.  Took some photos of the Spinnaker Tower then headed off again.


Cute cloud
Cute cloud

Entrance to Portsmouth
Entrance to Portsmouth

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth
HMS Warrior, Portsmouth

HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior

Spinnaker Tower
Spinnaker Tower

The only things open in Portsmouth after 6pm
The only things open in Portsmouth after 6pm

Spinnaker Tower
Spinnaker Tower

Arrived in Bognor Regis and found our hotel (Best Western Beachcroft).  Probably one of the nicer hotels we've stayed in this trip.  Or maybe it's just the view out to the English Channel with the moon rise over the water.. super awesome :)  And lots of space too.  Although the poor sweetie had to drag our bags up to the second floor.. sorry sweetie!


View from our hotel in Bognor Regis
View from our hotel in Bognor Regis

Geotagging - Day 27
Geotagging - Day 27

Photos on the Canon: 219
Photos on the Sony: 11
Photos on the Video: 3
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 10361
Pounds Spent: ?
Hey it wasn't raining when we got up!  Just a bit overcast.

Got up early and headed out without breakfast to make it to Stonehenge by 8am for the stone circle access tour.  Which, after Dave and Di got up my expectations, they say that you can NOT in fact touch the stones.  So that was a bit of a bummer.  Not that it would have been that exciting, I mean they're just stones right?  But it was pretty cool to walk around in the middle of the circle that you can't do normally.  After the access finished (ours went from 8am to 9am), we waited for the ordinary access to open at 9:30 so we could go round on the audio tour (and actually take better photos of the outer ring without all the other stone circle access people in the way).  It's true what I read somewhere - either pay to go on a stone circle access thingie, or just look in from the fence on the road.  The audio tour isn't that great, (face it you can read about it on the internet) and the best view (with all the horizontal plinths) is from the road anyway.


Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

So it was nearly 10:30 before we headed for our next stop - Longleat Maze, in the grounds of Longleat House.  £3 for just the maze.  I decided before I came away that I wanted to do a maze, and why not pick the biggest? :)  Well it was fun for about 3/4 hour before I kept ending up in the same place no matter where I turned and walked around and around in circles (meeting up over and over again with another couple who were equally frustrated).  After an hour and a half I went out and bought the postcard with a picture of the maze to see what I was doing wrong.  Only took one turn from the picture to get me to the place I wanted to be an hour ago, and solved the thing (this was after standing on the bridge and directing at least two couples to the right place that I couldn't get to).  The other couple went a different way, and we ended up solving the thing at the same time.


Tank Crossing
Tank Crossing

Longleat
Longleat

Longleat Maze.  The objective is to get to that tower in the 

middle
Longleat Maze. The objective is to get to that tower in the middle

It's looking a long way from here..
It's looking a long way from here..

Made it!
Made it!

Longleat House
Longleat House

So after nearly two hours in the maze we headed off again.  Drove by the Westbury white horse.  Got very frustrated with UK signage that thought the best way to see the thing would be to take you to the top of the hill which it's on - ie, so you can't really see it at all.  Bumheads.  So drove all the way back down to find a better view of it.


Westbury White Horse
Westbury White Horse

Next stop was Lacock - because they used Lacock Abbey and a house in Lacock for Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  As a location it was a bit disappointing (and £10 entry which is a bit pricey too).  Especially since so many things I'd seen about the place were just plain wrong.  Even the abbey itself put up the wrong information - they put up pictures of Durham cathedral cloisters, and said it was filmed at Lacock.  Well ok yes it might have been filmed there, but not the shots you posted.  Dumb.  The Sacristy and the Chapter room were the only things that were recognisably correct.  Took a bunch of photos anyway.  What was actually more interesting was the rooms upstairs that had been converted to a private residence with the dissolution of the monastries by Henry VIII.


Entering Lacock Abbey
Entering Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey

Sacristy of Lacock Abbey
Sacristy of Lacock Abbey

Sacristy of Lacock Abbey.  This room was used in Philosopher's 

Stone as Snape's potions room
Sacristy of Lacock Abbey. This room was used in Philosopher's Stone as Snape's potions room

Corridor in Lacock Abbey
Corridor in Lacock Abbey

Chapter House of Lacock Abbey.  This was the study room in 

Chamber of Secrets
Chapter House of Lacock Abbey. This was the study room in Chamber of Secrets

Info board about the movie.  Showing shots from Gloucester and 

Durham cathedrals
Info board about the movie. Showing shots from Gloucester and Durham cathedrals

This was in the Warming House.  I don't think it was used in the 

movies, but the cauldron looks pretty cool
This was in the Warming House. I don't think it was used in the movies, but the cauldron looks pretty cool

There's a shot of Harry in this corridor in Chamber of Secrets
There's a shot of Harry in this corridor in Chamber of Secrets

Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey

Chaplain's Room, Lacock Abbey
Chaplain's Room, Lacock Abbey

Corridor upstairs in Lacock Abbey
Corridor upstairs in Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey rooms
Lacock Abbey rooms

Lacock Abbey rooms
Lacock Abbey rooms

House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's 

house
House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's house

House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's 

house
House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's house

And then we headed for the hotel.  Had to get past peak hour traffic in Bath.  What a pain.  I think noone lives in Bath, they all live in Bristol, and we had to share a road with them all the way to our hotel :/  Hotel is the closest to a real B&B we've had.  I didn't really have to check in at all, the dude just gave me a key.  Very odd.  Went across the road for a couple of pints and some food, then back here to try and book hotels and figure itineraries...

Oh yes, and we finally had a clear night that I could go out and look for stars.  After much peering through sodium (?) vapour lights I finally saw what I thought was the Big Dipper and North Star.  The time on the EEE PC must have been wrong, cause it actually put the thing upside down so took longer to find it.  Had a stone fence to mount the camera on, and it was low enough in the sky that I actually got some semi decent photos of it...!


The Big Dipper
The Big Dipper.  Loses something in the resizing! 

Geotagging - Day 24
Geotagging - Day 24


Photos on the Canon: 469
Photos on the Sony: 8
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Olympus: 75
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 13
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 17139
Pounds Spent: ?
Rain. Rain.

Have I mentioned the rain?

Got up and had breakfast and off we went into the rain.

Rain.

Went under the Menai Bridge to photograph it. Got a crappy one of the Britannia Bridge through the rain. Headed up to Llanfair cause it's just an epic cool place name so took some photos of the place name signs.

Menai Bridge
Menai Bridge

Brittania Bridge
Brittania Bridge

Llanfair station
Llanfair station

Llanfair station
Llanfair station

Then headed out of Wales the way we came in. Dipped into England then back into Wales to see the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Which is like the highest and longest aqueduct in Britain or something, and get this - canal boats go across it!! It's epic cool!! Walked part way across then down to look at it side on.

Welcome to Wales!
Welcome to Wales!

Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Canal boat going across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Canal boat going across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Turning a canal boat
Turning a canal boat

Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

On my quest for bridges, the next stop was Iron Bridge to see the iron bridge - the first ever iron arch bridge built.

Iron Bridge
Iron Bridge

River Severn from Iron Bridge
River Severn from Iron Bridge

Iron Bridge
Iron Bridge

Then we returned to Hogwarts - at Gloucester Cathedral. Pretty cool cathedral. Lots if beautiful stonework and lots of little alcoves and doorways to go through and explore. But of course I mainly wanted to see the cloisters where Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets were filmed. Was epic squee. Of course. :) Found a girls bathroom, altho it was downstairs so Moaning Myrtle couldn't have flooded the corridor, and I didn't see her in the toilet either ;)


Funny sign on the M6 near Birmingham
Funny sign on the M6 near Birmingham

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral
Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral

Interior of Gloucester Cathedral
Interior of Gloucester Cathedral

Organ in Gloucester Cathedral
Organ in Gloucester Cathedral

Quire in Gloucester Cathedral
Quire in Gloucester Cathedral

Altar in Gloucester Cathedral
Altar in Gloucester Cathedral

Roof of Gloucester Cathedral
Roof of Gloucester Cathedral

Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral
Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral

Cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral
Cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral

Harry runs out here when the floor is covered in water
Harry runs out here when the floor is covered in water from Myrtle flooding the bathroom 

This is the corner where the kids see Mrs Norris hung and the writing in blood  
This is the corner where the kids see Mrs Norris hung and the writing in blood 
"enemies of the heir beware" 


Me in Gloucester Cathedral cloisters
Me in Gloucester Cathedral cloisters


"It's written in blood!"

This corridor is used in a couple of scenes too 
This corridor is used in a couple of scenes too 

Chapter house of Gloucester Cathedral 
Chapter house of Gloucester Cathedral.  This is McGonnagal's transfigurations classroom.
This room was being used for a function, and I was able to get a quick snap of the room 
before they locked it up.


No Moaning Myrtle in the girl's bathroom though
No Moaning Myrtle in the girl's bathroom though

The kids walk out this door when Harry remembers Hermione doesn't know about the troll
The kids walk out this door when Harry remembers Hermione doesn't know about the troll

Cloister in Gloucester Cathedral 
Cloister in Gloucester Cathedral 

Gloucester Cathedral 
Gloucester Cathedral 

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Had KFC for lunch/dinner (it was six pm).

Headed for Swindon to go around the Magic Roundabout and nearly didn't get off it. And it's freaky cause you end up going around the wrong way! After several loops we dove for an exit, no idea if legally or not!

Swindon Magic Roundabout
Swindon Magic Roundabout

Then to Salisbury. GPS didn't quite have the location of the hotel right so had to go around a few blocks trying to get back :/ Pretty funky hotel (The Red Lion). Cloud Internet which is a pain. Wanted to book tomorrow night's accommodation which was stressful cause it took forever to find something :/

Blog. Bed.


Geotagging - Day 23
Geotagging - Day 23

Photos on the Canon: 309
Videos on the Canon: 1
Photos on the Sony: 19
Videos on the Sony: 3
Photos on the Olympus: 53
Photos on the Video: 22
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 7883
Pounds Spent: ?
Today was probably the worst day of the trip so far.  Failure after failure after failure.  Tempered by 3/4 bottle of Australian chardonnay tonight so maybe this won't sound as bad as it would have.

So this morning started off very slowly.  The pace set by the hotel and the timing and delivery of breakfast.  *Heaps* of food which is always dangerous heh.  I'm sooo going to need to go on a diet or something when I get home heh.  Had a chat to the owners as we were checking out about the bombing/crash 22 years ago.  They actually knew people on the street that was hit (I'm sure I read about them in wikipedia last night) - the parents and daughter were killed but the two boys were out of the house and survived.  They were given a heap of compensation money and had different lives because of it.  And they're both dead now.  One of them had a son who is destined to be worth £23 million when he comes of age.  Went for a quick drive around Sherwood Crescent to see where it all happened.  11, 13 and 15 where the plane hit are just a garden now, they didn't rebuild the houses there.  Perhaps because noone was left to rebuild them..

Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie.  A large part of the plane fell here
Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie. A large part of the plane fell here

So then headed south.  The idea being to stop at Gretna to see the first/last house in Scotland and stand on the bridge over the river that forms the border with England and get a photo.  Except the exit we wanted wasn't marked and we missed it.  And it was about eight miles further south to the next exit so I decided it wasn't worth it and missed out altogether.

Fail.

Welcome to England!
Welcome to England!

So continued south.  Bought petrol.  Oh yes, this country doesn't believe in windscreen squidgees at service stations, so you can't actually clean your windows here.

Fail. 

Then headed out into the Lakes District.  The idea being to drive a loop around Keswick to some of the lakes then past Windermere and out.  Well first let me warn you.  If you're just here for a drive around and some photos, forget it.  The only way to get photos is if you're a hiker.  This country doesn't believe in cars.  And certainly not in parking.  And views of lakes from the road?  Forget it.  Pretty much no such thing.  Didn't get a single photo of Buttermere and a very crap one of Windermere simply because a) there's nowhere to stop and b) there are so many trees between the roads and the lakes that you can't even get photos from the car.  It was pretty much epic..

Fail.

Heading for the Lakes District.  On the A66 near Threlkeld
Heading for the Lakes District. On the A66 near Threlkeld

Bassenthwaite Lake
Bassenthwaite Lake

Heading down B5289 towards Crummock Water
Heading down B5289 towards Crummock Water

Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water
Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water

Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water
Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water

Sheep on the road
Sheep on the road

Crummock Water
Crummock Water

Crummock Water
Crummock Water

South end of Crummock Water
South end of Crummock Water

Buttermere
Buttermere

Heading up Honister Pass
Heading up Honister Pass

Honister Pass
Honister Pass

Honister Pass
Honister Pass

Derwentwater, south of Keswick
Derwentwater, south of Keswick

Thirlmere
Thirlmere

Windermere
Windermere

We were very excited after four and a half hours driving to finally find somewhere with toilets.  Of course it was a pay and display carpark.  So we found someone else's still valid ticket lying on the ground and used that. 

Small win!

Decided to drive on.  Thought we were up for a quick visit to Chester to see the walls and the Roman Amphitheatre.  Even in the pouring rain.  Because it was 3:30pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast.  So thought we'd go into one of the city parking stations.  Which was gridlock with people trying to get in and out.  We went down one way (after trying to get past someone trying to get out) and found it was actually a dead end.  With nowhere to turn around. 

Epic.  Fricken.  Fail.

So decided "screw you Chester" and got the hell out of there as soon as we could.

Fail.

Part of the wall at Chester
Part of the wall at Chester

So the Welsh border was not far away.  Was watching it coming on the GPS and had the camera ready.  But it was raining so heavily that firstly my camera was focussed on the rain on the windscreen.  And by the time the wipers went, we'd passed the sign.  So missed it.

Fail.

Britannia Bridge near Llanfair
Britannia Bridge near Llanfair

Looking through the rain towards Menai Bridge
Looking through the rain towards Menai Bridge

Island in the water dividing Anglesey from the mainland
Island in the water dividing Anglesey from the mainland

Arrived at the hotel.  Carpark was full.  But someone moved their car so we took their spot.  Checked in ok.  Room is a bit stuffy so we have the window open.  It's raining.  It's actually kinda nice to listen to.

Dinner was in the bistro downstairs.  I just had a starter which was probably a good thing as don't think would have gotten through a main.  There was lots of saladdy stuff, so lots of lovely fibre to counter the meat I've been eating for breakfasts.

8:30pm.  Time to wash hair and go to bed methinks.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow...

Geotagging - Day 22
Geotagging - Day 22


Photos on the Canon: 130
Photos on the Sony: 21
Steps walked: 679 (?)
Pounds Spent: ?
Well the mattress I flipped yesterday was marginally better for being flipped - at least it wasn't lumpy but it was still lopsided.  But the real kicker was a cold shower.  There's not enough water pressure in the hotel for everyone to be having showers at once.  Not if they want hot water anyway.  I waited and waited and waited but nothing.  Attempted to have a cold shower but it was too cold so had a sponge bath in the sink instead.

And then complained to the hotel and Best Western customer support.  Because that is just ridiculous.  Got an answer from customer support, but not from the hotel yet.  Lame.

So headed out to Glencoe first up.  Found the hill behind Clachaig Inn where they built Hagrid's Hut for Prisoner of Azkaban.  Even walked up it too.  But not in the exact right location - I was a bit too far round the hill but it was too hard to get to the right bit.  So I satisfied myself with a view of the valley that was in the movie.  Although I did wait around for some sunlight that never came.  In fact the clouds closed in and it started raining.  Again.  

Loch Leven
Loch Leven

Hills near Glencoe
Hills near Glencoe

Creek behind Clachaig Inn
Creek behind Clachaig Inn

Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban
Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban

Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban
Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban

Hagrid's Hut was probably over there a bit
Hagrid's Hut was probably over there a bit

Clachaig Inn
Clachaig Inn

This shot of the highlands is clearly visible in the movie
This shot of the highlands is clearly visible in the movie

So continued up Glencoe, stopping at every P and taking photos.  Then got to the end and turned around and came back :)

Heading up in to Glencoe
Heading up in to Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Waterfall in Glencoe
Waterfall in Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

St John's Church, Ballachulish
St John's Church, Ballachulish

Loch Leven
Loch Leven

Next up was the Castle Arrggghhhh! (aka Castle Stalker) near Appin.  Stopped at the Castle Stalker View cafe and ended up having lunch there.  Nice, but expensive.  The cheeses weren't as awesome as the ones we had the other day but were still pretty nice.  Then we went past Appin to find a view from the other face.  

Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker

Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker

Mooo
Mooo

And then suddenly it's like 2pm.  Like how did that happen?

So we just drove and drove and drove.  And stopped in heavy traffic around Glasgow.  And drove lots more.

Connel Bridge, Loch Etive
Connel Bridge, Loch Etive

Hills near Loch Awe
Hills near Loch Awe

Wind turbine south of Glasgow
Wind turbine south of Glasgow

Stopped in Lockerbie.  I wanted to find the memorial for the Lockerbie Air Disaster of Pan Am 103.  Didn't have much detail to go on, just that it was west of town.  Found a sign to the Garden of Remembrance, which turned out to be it.  It's in Dryfesdale Cemetary and was a really beautiful spot, especially in the light of the setting sun.  Was a little strange looking up at the planes flying overhead and their contrails.  Can't explain why I wanted to see this.  I don't think I really even remember the event happening in 1988.  I don't know, I have this thing about air disasters.  

Dryfesdale Cemetery
Dryfesdale Cemetery

Aircraft flying overhead
Aircraft flying overhead

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance
Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance
Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance
Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Contrails overhead
Contrails overhead

Sunset at Dryfesdale Cemetery
Sunset at Dryfesdale Cemetery

So then had to find a hotel.  The Best Western was booked out with a wedding (who gets married on a Friday, sheesh ;) ).  Drove out to another hotel that was a big old manor house, but the car park was completely deserted.  No idea if it was open or not, there were no signs.  But it looked a little scary so we didn't look any closer.  Drove through town and saw a couple of B&Bs including one that looked like an ordinary suburban house but they looked too small (where the owners would want to *talk* to us! Can't have that! ;) ).  So found another one that I'd see on the way out to the Garden of Remembrance.  It's a small hotel but they had this massive dinner thing happening.  And, it being our last night in Scotland, and the fact that I haven't had any yet (!!!) I had to try a couple of the single malts they had.  The first was a Ledaig which was quite peaty but very easy to drink.  So had another - a Laphroaig (10) which was even peatier.  Rather enjoyed this one :) So the dinner was this massive buffet of food.  For three couples.  Very very weird.  I had this enormous lamb shank with tonnes of veggies.  Needed the sweetie to help me finish it ;)

The internet here is a little flaky but at least it's here.  Very late night again .. doh!

Geotagging - Day 21
Geotagging - Day 21


Photos on the Canon: 417
Photos on the Sony: 15
Photos on the iPhone: 4
Photos on the Olympus: 53
Photos on the Blackberry: 6
Photos on the Video: 10
Videos on the Video: 9
Steps walked: 8051
Pounds Spent: ?
Got up relatively early today.  We had to be out the door by 9am cause that's when our street parking ran out.

Was a pretty *meh* night.  My mattress had big lumps in it from springs poking through, and was lopsided.  This morning I flipped the mattress and told them they might want to replace it.  Also the internet was pretty much dead on our floor, not giving out ip addresses.  We rebooted the router we found in the hallway on the way to breakfast but it didn't help much (at least with the laptop - the phones were ok).

Breakfast was ok, nothing to write home about.  The waitress staff needed to be told to friggen *smile* as they didn't seem that happy to be there.  We actually got a much nicer good morning from one of the cleaning staff.  

So the plan for the day was to head out in about four different directions from Fort William.  We ended up in three.

So the first stop was Loch Ness.  Which turned out to be an epic waste of time.  There's a small visitors centre at Fort Augustus (complete with pay and display car park).  Skipped that cause there was no Nessie.  Then drove and drove along the northwest side of the lake looking for one of the Nessies my parents found, or at the very least a parking area with a decent view of the lake.  No such luck.  The was absolutely nothing.  And it was a pretty boring loch anyway.  And you couldn't even see it for the entire drive because it was all behind trees.  We went way past our turnoff trying to find a Nessie but never found one.  We stopped to take a photo at Urqhart Castle (a ruin, but they still wanted £7 entry).  And continued to the visitors centre.  But still no Nessie.  Have no idea where the parents found all the Nessies they did.  So declared that mission a failure and headed back.

Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge
Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge

Loch Lochy
Loch Lochy

Hills next to Loch Lochy
Hills next to Loch Lochy

Loch Lochy
Loch Lochy

Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

This photo taken at Drumnadrochit is the furthest north I've been on the planet
This photo taken at Drumnadrochit is the furthest north I've been on the planet

Next headed out west to Eilean Donan Castle.  The drive between Loch Cluanie and Loch Duich was really pretty, but of course it rained for most of it, so little documentation.  Didn't go into Eilean Donan either, but I mainly wanted to see the exterior, which was used in Highlander and The World is Not Enough.  So that was pretty cool.

Dam creating Loch Cluanie
Dam creating Loch Cluanie

Hills around Loch Cluanie
Hills around Loch Cluanie

Hills on the A87
Hills on the A87

Hills on the A87
Hills on the A87

Loch Duich near Invershiel
Loch Duich near Invershiel

Loch Duich near Invershiel
Loch Duich near Invershiel

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

The MacLeod clan went to battle across this bridge
The MacLeod clan went to battle across this bridge

Came back via Fort William and then west out to Glen Finnan.  Found the viaduct (was a bit bummed that you can't drive up the road that goes underneath it, so had to walk).  Found some people that said there was a train coming at 3pm (it was 2:40), so we walked up to the far side of the viaduct for some crappy back-lit photos then came back to wait.  In the meantime it went from sunny to rainy to rainbows to sunny again.  The train came along (twenty minutes late) and it was very squee, but the loco was going backwards ;)  Then went back to the visitors centre to have some lunch.  I climbed the little hill behind the visitors centre to see where they filmed a cut scene from Chamber of Secrets and also get a better view of the viaduct and the loch.  Was pretty cool.

Loch Garry
Loch Garry

Coal
Coal

Coal was a pretty depressing little town
Coal was a pretty depressing little town

Fort William from Caol
Fort William from Caol

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

The Hogwarts Express?  Not quite!
The Hogwarts Express? Not quite!

Train going over the Glenfinnan viaduct
Train going over the Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

Loch Shiel from the lookout
Loch Shiel from the lookout

Glenfinnan Monument to the Jacobites
Glenfinnan Monument to the Jacobites

Kept heading west to find Loch Eilt.  A little island of trees there was used in Prisoner of Azkaban.  Found a little path of sorts next a pullout, so it's obvious other Potterphiles have been there before.  Got my photos, and even some of a train going by right next to the loch.

Island in Loch Eilt featured in Prisoner of Azkaban
Island in Loch Eilt featured in Prisoner of Azkaban

Loch Eilt
Loch Eilt

Harry and Lupin came down here and talked
Harry and Lupin came down here and talked

Train near Loch Eilt
Train near Loch Eilt

We thought we might just head back to the hotel at that point, but Ben Nevis was all shiny in the setting sun, so we headed up the Glen Nevis road.  Was a cool little road full of bumps and bends.  And a nice view of the mountains too.  Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, at 1344m.  Of course, the base is at sea level, so the whole thing just goes straight up in front of you - very cool!

Hills near Loch Linnhe
Hills near Loch Linnhe

Street in Fort William
Street in Fort William

Hills in Glen Nevis
Hills in Glen Nevis

Hills in Glen Nevis
Hills in Glen Nevis

Hills in Glen Nevis, featured as backdrops for Quidditch in Philosopher's Stone
Hills in Glen Nevis, featured as backdrops for Quidditch in Philosopher's Stone

Got back to the hotel then headed out for dinner.  Decided to eat at the "Grog and Gruel" for some very nice beer, an Angus burger for me and curly fries.  The angus burger was a little odd - just meat and cheese on a fairly doughy bun.  Added the supplied relish and a bit of the salad and it was a bit better.

Street in Fort William
Street in Fort William

Then hotel and crashing time :)

addition:
Heading north east first up, as we were driving by Loch Lochy, this jet flew down the valley at low altitude making a lot of noise.  I actually had the camera out so got a couple of pictures of it.  As we came back along the same loch, another jet flew by in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately too many trees obscured it.  Just now (9:42 pm) I heard another one fly by Fort William!  I'd read in one of the Highlander film location pages (a jet does a flyby at the end of that movie) that there's an airbase or something near here, will have to try and figure out where it is.

Military jet flying over Loch Lochy
Military jet flying over Loch Lochy

Geotagging - Day 20
Geotagging - Day 20


Photos on the Canon: 378
Photos on the Sony: 25
Photos on the iPhone: 3
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Photos on the Video: 16
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 8575
Pounds Spent: ?
Was a little bit warm in the hotel room last night (even with aircon on) so didn't sleep as well as could be expected.

No hotel breakfast, and the Laundrette opened at 8am, so we just got up and lugged our washing down the road to the Laundrette.  Set it running then went across the road for breakfast.  I had a "Scottish Breakfast" which included an awful lot of food, including haggis, which I've never had before.  After having tried a little black pudding the other day (which I didn't much fancy), haggis was actually quite nice .. :)  Went and had Starbucks while the washing was in the dryer, then wandered back to the hotel to checkout.  We didn't end up getting charged for the under the hotel parking - win!!

Looking up Montague St, Ediburgh
Looking up Montague St, Ediburgh

So we'd decided last night that we weren't going to try and see anything in Edinburgh.  To do this place justice you'd really need to spend a few days here.  Plus there were so many other things to see out of town.  So we decided just to leave, and come back and spend a few days here on another trip, perhaps when we go to Ireland or other parts of Northern Europe.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

So first stop was Firth of Forth, and the bridges thereover.  Had to wait for little patches of sunlight to shine through between all the clouds.  

Firth of Forth railway bridge
Firth of Forth railway bridge

Firth of Forth railway bridge
Firth of Forth railway bridge

Forth road bridge
Forth road bridge

Then headed north west.  Our next stop being Doune Castle.  Read: Swamp Castle and a couple of other castles from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (but not Camelot - it's only a model - shhh!!).  Had a wander around the castle exterior and squeed quite a bit :)  Also had a look at the river Teith behind the castle which was flowing very high - there must have been heaps of rain around here recently!

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

Trojan Rabbit was just there
Trojan Rabbit was just there

River Teith at the back of the castle
River Teith at the back of the castle

Continued heading north west and did a little detour out to Duke's Pass to see if we could find the quarry of Tim the Enchanter.  Well we found it, but it was a twenty minute hike up the hill to where the filmed it - grunt! So got my photos and ran back down the hill again (before it started raining).

Quarry off Duke's Pass near Aberfoyle
Quarry off Duke's Pass near Aberfoyle

There are some who call me.. Tim
There are some who call me.. Tim

Stopped for lunch at a little cafe on Loch Venacher.  It was pretty awesome.  The cheeses Stu got were epic awesome!

Loch Achray Hotel
Loch Achray Hotel

We had lunch at this cafe on Loch Venachar
We had lunch at this cafe on Loch Venachar

Continued on.  Getting up to Glencoe was exceedingly cool.  The mountains were sooo pretty.  But really hard to document in the failing light and dirty windows.  And then the petrol light came on in the car so didn't want to risk stopping in case we didn't make the town of Glencoe. We'll just have to go back! ;)

Loch Lubnaig
Loch Lubnaig

Loch Lubnaig
Loch Lubnaig

Hills near Kingshouse
Hills near Kingshouse

Hills near Ardveich
Hills near Ardveich

Viaduct near Glenogle
Viaduct near Glenogle

Restaurant near Ardchyle
Restaurant near Ardchyle

The Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum
The Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum

Hills near Clifton
Hills near Clifton

Hills near Auch
Hills near Auch

Hills near Auch
Hills near Auch

Lochan na h-Achlaise
Lochan na h-Achlaise

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

So got to Fort William around 6pm-ish and checked in.  Got quite amused by the crazy path we had to take to get to our room.  Had some time to catch up on news feeds, and do some photo stuff.  Went out around 8:30pm to get some snacks and ended up with a bottle of pinot grigio, cheese balls, toffee popcorn and ice cream.  Yeah real healthy .. hrmm..   Not all consumed, some will carry on to other days...

Bleak looking Loch Linnhe
Bleak looking Loch Linnhe

Geotagging - Day 19
Geotagging - Day 19


Photos on the Canon: 310
Photos on the Sony: 16
Photos on the Olympus: 5
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 23
Videos on the Video: 21
Steps walked: 11060
Pounds Spent: ?
Well the blinds in the hotel at Aylesbury were super awesome.  The sweetie got up to go to the loo and I asked him what the time was and he said 8:00 and I'm *gah* we have to go! heh

So got up and ready fairly quickly and had breakfast (very similar to last hotel but with actual real bacon instead of some weird pressed ham thing).

Headed out, our first stop being Stratford-upon-Avon.  Cute, if very touristy, little town.  Wandered up to see Shakespeare's birthplace building, but at £12.50 each ($50aud for the two of us to go in) we decided to give it a miss, as we weren't all *that* interested anyway.  Instead we went for a little walk down to the Avon river and saw a boat going through a lock and lots of birds and that was actually really quite nice.

Hedge trimming - large scale
Hedge trimming - large scale

Medieval buildings in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Medieval buildings in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Morris Dancers
Morris Dancers

Birthplace of Shakespeare
Birthplace of Shakespeare

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a canal town, so even the ice creams are sold from barges!
Stratford-Upon-Avon is a canal town, so even the ice creams are sold from barges!

Distances via canals and rivers to other towns
Distances via canals and rivers to other towns

Lock
Lock

Canal boat in the lock
Canal boat in the lock

Feeding a goose
Feeding a goose

Swan Water Fountain in Bancroft Gardens
Swan Water Fountain in Bancroft Gardens

Avon River
Avon River

Our next stop was Warwick, as we wanted to see the castle.  Found parking in the castle grounds by accident (although £5 which was a little steep we thought).  Castle itself was also pretty pricey (we got the cheapest option of £17.95 - as the dungeon looked pretty kitschy - and probably a good thing we didn't get it anyway as we were pressed for time enough as it was).  Had a bit of a wander around the outside of the main castle, down to the mill house and around the back to see the trebuchet (didn't get to see it in action though).  Watched the falconry show which was very cool, although I might have taken way too many photos ;) Then went into the castle and around the towers and battlements, which I really enjoyed but Stu nearly died on all the steps.  Then through the chapel, great hall and state rooms, making this one of the rare castles/palaces I've been into that let you take photos!! So quite enjoyed that.

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Entrance to Warwick Castle
Entrance to Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Avon River and turbine room of the castle
Avon River and turbine room of the castle

Trebuchet outside the castle
Trebuchet outside the castle

Victoria, the Crowned Eagle, a new arrival at the castle
Victoria, the Crowned Eagle, a new arrival at the castle

This Golden Eagle is having a bath
This Golden Eagle is having a bath

Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show
Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show

Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show
Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show

Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show
Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Inner part of Warwick Castle
Inner part of Warwick Castle

Inner part of Warwick Castle
Inner part of Warwick Castle

Kids in the stocks
Kids in the stocks

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

My parents have a photo exactly like this one from when they went
My parents have a photo exactly like this one from when they went

Inside the castle there's all these mockups of castle life
Inside the castle there's all these mockups of castle life

Princesses and Knights toilets
Princesses and Knights toilets

No Drinking Brew, or Eating Gruel
No Drinking Brew, or Eating Gruel

Model of Warwick Castle
Model of Warwick Castle

Chapel in Warwick Castle
Chapel in Warwick Castle

State rooms in Warwick Castle
State rooms in Warwick Castle

Armaments
Armaments

Knight on horseback
Knight on horseback

State rooms in Warwick Castle
State rooms in Warwick Castle

Bedroom in Warwick Castle
Bedroom in Warwick Castle

Entrance to the dungeons
Entrance to the dungeons

Entrance to Warwick Castle
Entrance to Warwick Castle

It was getting a bit late by then (4pm) so left and headed for Nottingham.  Did ok until we got into town where we kept getting stuck in the wrong lane and not able to follow the GPS, or having the GPS try and send us the wrong way down one way streets.  Went round in circles just trying to get to the hotel :(

So got in eventually.  The hotel (the Britannia) is a bit of a dump - we got a smoking room so it smells, everything is a little old and sad, no aircon to speak of, security on the door doesn't work at all, parking and access a pain in the posterior.  But it was cheap (£49 including breakfast) so can't complain too much.  It's only saving grace is free wifi, which sort of works if you look the right way at it.

So dumped our stuff and headed out again to go to Di's.  Again we had issues with the GPS and getting stuck in the wrong lane for where it wanted us to go.  Again we went around in circles :(  Was very frustrating.  But escaped eventually and got away without any further dramas, even getting a FREE parking spot right outside their door (first free parking we've had in this country! Unless you count the half hour we got near the hotel when dumping our stuff).  So went out to the local (the Stratford Haven) for a couple of pints, then back to their place for nibblies while Nick cooked up a storm.  Dinner was a high-class bangers and mash - absolutely delicious sausages, a herby mash potato that was lovely, and heaps of delicious gravy .. nom nom nom :) Chatted the whole evening, about all sorts of stuff .. a lot about travel, Paul had to get a mention, their recent dramas with M's mother, cameras etc etc.  Was a really lovely evening and I have a slight hangover headache to prove it :)

Di
Di

Nick
Nick

Kitty! Taken on one of Di's lenses
Kitty! Taken on one of Di's lenses

Made it back to the hotel in one go and collapsed into bed without blogging.

Geotagging - Day 15
Geotagging - Day 15


Photos on the Canon: 549
Photos on the Sony: 6
Photos on the Video: 69
Videos on the Video: 81
Steps walked: 12838
Pounds Spent: 69.29
Got to have a slightly slow start today as we didn't need to pick the car up til middayish and checkout was 11. So caught up on as much internetty stuff as we could before we left.

Hopped on a train to the car rental place and found it quite easily and got all the paperwork sorted. Unfortunately the automatic had a big crack in the windscreen so we got stuck with a manual. We can drive manuals (we both own manuals) but when you're dealing with driving in a foreign country, not having to worry about gears makes a huge difference. The big difference between this trip and our honeymoon of course is that at least here they drive on the *correct* side of the road. The suckiest thing about the car is that the blinkers and windscreen wipers are backwards to most Australian cars. This sux *a lot* as when you want to indicate in a hurry the reflex action will turn on the windscreen wipers :( (indicating when you plenty of time is not such an issue because you have time to remember to hit the opposite lever).

So anyway, after getting honked at by impatient drivers two minutes into the trip, we managed to escape London and headed for Windsor. Didn't get to see the castle except for glimpses of it, and drove past Legoland (coming soon!) with a final destination of Runnymede and the Magna Carta memorial. £1 pay and display parking even in the middle of nowhere.

Teenage swans on the Thames at Runnymede
Teenage swans on the Thames at Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Under the roof of the Magna Carta Memorial
Under the roof of the Magna Carta Memorial

Runnymede
Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Blackberries - yum!
Blackberries - yum!

Runnymede
Runnymede

From there headed back into Windsor to find some lunch. Found a pay and display parking station and a Subway nearby. Then fought with the Tomtom which didn't have a couple of the places in it I wanted to go to. Well it did, but under different location names.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

Itty bitty parking spots in a parking station in Windsor
Itty bitty parking spots in a parking station in Windsor

So the next place I wanted to see was Picket Post Close in Martins Heron (actually Bracknell). Because it also happens to be 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging. (!!!) I squeed lots and lots. Didn't get out of the car though cause it's a tiny culdesac and I didn't want to look toooo much like a stalker ;) There was a van and a skip out the front which didn't help either. So basically did a drive by shoot and headed off again.

Picket Post Close - aka Privet Drive Little Whinging!
Picket Post Close - aka Privet Drive Little Whinging!

Privet Drive Little Whinging
Privet Drive Little Whinging

Privet Drive Little Whinging
Privet Drive Little Whinging

Number 4, Privet Drive Little Whinging - Harry's house!
Number 4, Privet Drive Little Whinging - Harry's house!

Next we headed for Henley on Thames. Just to have a quick look really. We found a shopping centre carpark and walked down to the river and had a half pint of a couple of Brakspeare ales.

Henley on Thames
Henley on Thames

Thames River
Thames River

The Angel pub
The Angel pub

Bridge over the Thames
Bridge over the Thames

Crazy medieval buildings in Henley on Thames
Crazy medieval buildings in Henley on Thames

Next up was Privet Drive number 2, used in the Prisoner of Azkaban. This was Dowding Way, Leavesden, altho the Tomtom couldn't find that so we had to put in Watford. Approaching this I could see the purple Knight Buses across the road in the Leavesden Studios backlot. As you can imagine there was much squeeing on my part :) Got out this time and walked up the same bit of road that Harry did. There's not any swings in the little park where he first sees Padfoot but the grass is there. Also went to the end of the road and could see across into Leavesden studios and the top of the row of houses they used as Privet Drive for movies two and onwards. And one of the hangers (the great hall was built in one if the hangers and was used for all the movies).

Street in Leavesden where Harry walks before seeing Padfoot
Street in Leavesden where Harry walks before seeing Padfoot

There was a roundabout and swings setup for the movie but they're not there anymore
There was a roundabout and swings setup for the movie but they're not there anymore

Where Harry catches the Knight Bus
Where Harry catches the Knight Bus

Leavesden Studios - where Harry Potter was filmed
Leavesden Studios - where Harry Potter was filmed

Possibly sets for the Deathly Hallows movies
Possibly sets for the Deathly Hallows movies

Privet Drive set built for Chamber of Secrets
Privet Drive set built for Chamber of Secrets

Knight buses!
Knight buses!

So then we headed north-west thinking we might stop at Aylesbury or keep going depending how we felt. Just outside of Aylesbury we saw a Holiday Inn so decided to stop. After the London hotel we were very impressed at how much *space* this one has!  I completely repacked my suitcase which made me feel a bit better. The big downer is that the Internet is £15/day.. WTF?? They can take that and shove it :(

Had a beer and a snack dinner at the onsite pub, sharing the area with a wedding reception's pre dinner drinks. And spent the evening repacking suitcases and selecting images to resize for twitpics.


Geotagging - Day 14
Geotagging - Day 14

Photos on the Canon: 139 
Photos on the Sony: 2
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 2
Videos on the Video: 8
Steps walked: 6999
Pounds Spent: 29.58
So my day began twenty three hours ago when I woke up at 4am Tokyo time to go to the toilet and couldn't get back to sleep :( Got up a bit after five to get ready and we were out the door by 6am. Took a Yamonote Line train to Tokyo and caught the 6:30 NEX (after not being sure where it actually left from and getting a bit stressed that we'd miss it before we could find it).

Tintin says have a nice day!
Tintin says have a nice day!

NEX arriving at Tokyo station
NEX arriving at Tokyo station

Had to go to T1 this time at Narita Airport which we'd never been to. Were very impressed with the electronic info boards on the trains that told you which terminal to go to depending which airline you're taking *and* they even have flight details - very cool!

Airport info boards on the NEX
Airport info boards on the NEX

So getting through security/immigration was no problem, then a long walk out to the end of the terminal to see our A380!!! (and about an hour to kill in the terminal but no Yahoo cafe :( There was a Google free wifi desk, but I couldn't get it to work :( ). Was filled with lots of squee going on an A380 - right up until we got to our seats and found it's really really hard to look out the windows :( The walls are really thick (probably 25-30cm) and the windows are positioned a lot higher. So it's practically impossible to get a good view out the windows :( I ended up using random camera exclusively cause the canon is just to unwieldy for that sort of thing :/

My first A380!
My first A380!

Rows 50-59 go left, rows 60-94 go right
Rows 50-59 go left, rows 60-94 go right

Engines of the A380 from the skybridge
Engines of the A380 from the skybridge

Boarding the A380 - economy class section
Boarding the A380 - economy class section

Leg room on the A380.  Pretty standard (ie, non-existent for Stu)
Leg room on the A380. Pretty standard (ie, non-existent for Stu)

The fuselage is very thick at this point, so the windows are a *long* way away :(
The fuselage is very thick at this point, so the windows are a *long* way away :(

So settled in for the flight. I started to watch Robin Hood but the screens just weren't bright enough to see what was going on in the nighttime scenes in the movie. So abandoned that and put on "You've Got Mail" which I'd actually been thinking about only recently.

We flew out to sea then turned 180 degrees when leaving Narita
We flew out to sea then turned 180 degrees when leaving Narita

GPS track of the flight leaving Narita
GPS track of the flight leaving Narita

Engine of the A380
Engine of the A380

Tail cam!
Tail cam!

Ground cam
Ground cam

Snackages on the plane
Snackages on the plane

About 11:25 we hit the coast of Russia and they brought out lunch. Shortly after that we went through some pretty impressive turbulence - the worst I've ever been in. The engines and wings were flexing considerably, but I couldn't document as I needed both hands to hold onto my lunch to stop it sliding or bouncing off the table! Gah!

Landfall in Russia
Landfall in Russia

Real knives!
Real knives!

Google Earth cam?
Google Earth cam?

At 1pm they told us to lower the blinds, which is somewhat annoying for a daytime flight as I want to take photos. But it did make watching movies easier.

I watched Fantastic Mr Fox next which was pretty lame and only very loosely based on the book. Recognised Dumbledore as one of the baddies heh.

Next was The Princess and the Frog which wasn't too bad.

5pm Tokyo time now and I'm getting *hungry*

Next watched Alice in Wonderland which was pretty good.

*Finally* at 19:40 got dinner.

Dinner on the plane
Dinner on the plane

Rhine River near Frankfurt
Rhine River near Frankfurt

Runway 18, Frankfurt Airport (we took off on this later)
Runway 18, Frankfurt Airport (we took off on this later)

Pulling up at the terminal in Frankfurt
Pulling up at the terminal in Frankfurt

Arrival at 21:25 Tokyo time, seven hours before that Frankfurt time.

Me and the plane
Me and the plane

Had a nice long meandering stroll to our next plane. Then had a slight panic because they'd moved the gate of our plane and there was a different one there!  Fortunately they'd only moved our plane three gates away.  And the climate was so much better!  So nice to be out of the oppressive heat of Japan.

Smoking zone - sealed room for smokers
Smoking zone - sealed room for smokers

German toilets and their viewing platforms never fail to amuse me
German toilets and their viewing platforms never fail to amuse me

Our A320 from Frankfurt to Heathrow
Our A320 from Frankfurt to Heathrow

Flight was otherwise uneventful. Missed out on seeing London because we came in from the west, however I did go squeee a lot when I saw Legoland :):):)

Our plane, reflected
Our plane, reflected

Rhine River near Oppenheim
Rhine River near Oppenheim

Cool clouds, over Belgium or possibly the Netherlands
Cool clouds, over Belgium or possibly the Netherlands

Legoland!!
Legoland!!

The Long Walk of trees leading south of Windsor Castle.  We drove down that road in the foreground to get to Runnymede.
The "Long Walk" of trees leading south of Windsor Castle.
We drove down that road in the foreground to get to Runnymede.


Looking out over Old Windsor (Runnymede is in the distance)
Looking out over Old Windsor (Runnymede is in the distance)

Traffic on the M25 west of the airport
Traffic on the M25 west of the airport

Had another very long walk through Heathrow. Immigration took all of a minute, and no customs people even there in the nothing to declare section. I still can't get used to the fact that the rest of the world is not as paranoid as Australia.

Then used our Oyster cards to hop on a Piccadilly Line to Earl's Court where our hotel is. On the train I was a little freaked out at how closely the verges looked like Sydney verges.  Everything from the way they string wires along beside the tracks, the types of trees and foliage, and even the brown paint used to cover the graffiti.  It made me feel like I was home!  Which was kind of good because I'd been feeling a little apprehensive about coming to England - just because I've never been here before.  I was quite relaxed about Japan and Frankfurt, but London is uncharted territory.. 

So the train was pretty easy, altho finding our way out of Earl's Court station was more challenging heh.  Came out of the station and saw my first red double decker bus and black taxi :)   

Checked into our hotel (decent enough place, although very small, but with free internet), dumped our bags, then went out to get some food so we wouldn't end up starving at 3am. Tragically the food that best met this requirement was Burger King. In our defense I'll say that we didn't have MacDonalds once in Japan! Heh

Dinner at Burger King
Dinner at Burger King

My Twitter apps are both broken hence the lack of tweets. I suspect I'll be waking up extremelly early so should have some to look at it then.

Meanwhile, my eyes are swimming so need to get ready for bed.


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7

Photos on the Canon: 31
Photos on the Sony: 329
Videos on the Sony: 4
Photos on the iPhone: 3
Steps walked: 7893
Yen Spent: 1090
Pounds Spent: 7.39
Third day of our Chisun breakfasts but alas no bacon-wrapped asparagus this time. Oh well, three days in a row of takoyaki is nothing to complain about :):)

Breakfast bar at Chi-Sun Shin-Osaka
Breakfast bar at Chi-Sun Shin-Osaka 

Checked out and wandered up to the station and got some reservations for the next Hikari at 10:13.

So sat on the train for the next three hours. Didn't get to see Shiny - it was covered  in clouds again :(

Crossing the Fuji River
Crossing the Fuji River 

Shiny is hiding behind those clouds over there
Shiny is hiding behind those clouds over there 

Freeway bridge on the side of Mount Ashitaka
Freeway bridge on the side of Mount Ashitaka 

Office buildings in Shinagawa, Tokyo
Office buildings in Shinagawa, Tokyo 

Arrived in Tokyo and switched to the Yamonote line to Akihabara. Was exceedingly excited to be back. Felt a bit like we'd never left, especially since the station is still under construction heh :)

Yamonote Line train arriving at Tokyo station
Yamonote Line train arriving at Tokyo station 

Akihabara!
Akihabara! 

Colourful buildings in Akihabara
Colourful buildings in Akihabara 

Big Apple building in Akihabara
Big Apple building in Akihabara 

Denny's!  We had a couple of breakfasts here
Denny's! We had a couple of breakfasts here 

Harbour Bridge in Akihabara
"Harbour Bridge" in Akihabara 

Canal in Akihabara
Canal in Akihabara 

Wandered down to our hotel and suddenly realised why we couldn't book the last one we stayed in - it doesn't friggen exist anymore - it's just a vacant block with some cranes and workers in it - freaky as!!!!

Former site of Green Hotel
Site of former Green Hotel 

View from our hotel room window
View from our hotel room window 

So after cooling off for a little bit we went down to put some washing on (Japan hotels rock by often having coin laundries, other countries should take note). These washing machines were simple as, not requiring you to understand Japanese to understand the intracacies of operating them! Win!

Washing machine!  Europe/UK should take note of this!!
Washing machine! Europe/UK should take note of this!! 

When everything was dried we got ready and headed out for a wander around Akihabara. Looked at a few places selling cables that might work with Stu's laptop. And Stu took fliers for various places :)

Dad would love all the old electronics in Akihabara
Dad would love all the old electronics in Akihabara 

Having your photo taken with the Colonel is the done thing ;)
Having your photo taken with the Colonel is the done thing ;) 

Streetscape
Streetscape 

Buildings on Chuo Dori
Buildings on Chuo Dori 

Chuo Line Train passing overhead
Chuo Line Train passing overhead 

Lights in Akihabara
Lights in Akihabara 

Lights in Akihabara
Lights in Akihabara 

We decided to have dinner and drinks at Cafe Moco which Gaelian had recommended. We had a cheesy hotdog thing which was huge and we ate it Lady and the Tramp style :) Was a good little place and we had a really nice long talk about *stuff* :)

Cafe Moco
Cafe Moco 

Interior of Cafe Moco
Interior of Cafe Moco 

Hot dog in Cafe Moco
Hot dog in Cafe Moco 

So kept wandering til we found one of the Maid Cafes that we had a flier for. There were three guys that were also looking to go there so when we were trying to figure out where to go I said let's just follow them :) I think they understood me cause they talked to us which was cool :) So went up the lift but the non-smoking floor was closed so the other guys said they were going to find somewhere different. I think we both were sad we didn't decide to follow them heh. Anyway we went in and it was bright and colourful, with the waitresses dressed up in cute sort of maid/cats ears costumes. There were several groups of people there, and a single guy as well. Stu said a lot of "otaku" guys go to those sorts of places to pay to have attention payed to them. We had a couple of drinks and I got a bit stressed that people on the next table were laughing at us but one of them came to talk to us. I think generally people were very impressed that the sweetie understood and was able to speak some Japanese (I certainly was :) ) They made a bit of a fuss of him because it was his birthday  and he had his photo taken with Meru-nya :) So a very very bizarre night but still quite fun :)

Stu and Meru-Nya
Stu and Meru-Nya 

Then came back here to blog and do computery things and have a couple of different Asahi beers. The aircon totally works in here, so will get to sleep with the doona tonight hurrah!!

Assortment of local beers :)
Assortment of local beers :) 

Geotagging - Day 4
Geotagging - Day 4 

Photos on the Canon: 52
Videos on the Canon: 3
Photos on the Sony: 71
Videos on the Sony: 9
Photos on the iPhone: 5
Steps walked: 6936
Yen Spent: 11159
Attempting typing up a blog entry on my phone. If it drives me too nuts I'll switch to the laptop.

So day 1 started at 4pm Friday when we needed to leave home. We actually managed to organise a lift this time which was so much nicer than a cab!  Uneventful trip to the airport. Checked in but all the planes were running half an hour late due to single track, er, runway working at Sydney airport. So our 17:35 flight was rescheduled for 18:10 and left the gate at 18:24.

In the meantime we went into the Qantas club and had some champagne so that made the time pass quickly :)

It was dark so got to see the lights of Canberra which were very pretty. And a Federal Highway that was bejewelled  with the lights of dozens of cars leaving Canberra :) Had an interesting approach to Sydney airport - flew up from the south-west, across the top of the north-south runways (parallel to the east-west one) then did a 270 degree turn to the right to come in from the south. Felt like a game of Flight Control or something ;)

Our baggage had been checked through so we just had to hop on the Qantas shuttle (aka free Tarmac tour) bus over to the international terminal. Very squee getting up close to lots of planes :):)

So had a couple of hours to kill in Sydney. Think I spent them mostly just reading news feeds.

Sydney from Sydney Airport Qantas Lounge
Sydney from Sydney Airport Qantas Lounge 

So then piled onto our 747. Pretty much the whole back section of the plane was filled with (older) school kids returning home to Japan.  


Back of our plane
Back of our plane

Took off to the north and sitting on the right side of the plane so nice view of Sydney.

Had our dinner then attempted to sleep. Was moderately successful. It was a mostly full moon which made the whole wing glow. It was actually quite beautiful but impossible to document. At one point we had some decent turbulence while passing through clouds. At another point I looked out and saw Orion on his side. There were some very pretty clouds around sunset.

Breakfast came a bit after 5am for Stu - he wasn't awake yet tho heh. Ours arrived a little later.  Food on the plane was ok - the more processed stuff (chicken at dinner and eggs/sausage for breakfast) were nice but the fresh vegetables sides were very overcooked :(

Sausage and eggs on the plane
Sausage and eggs on the plane 

Sunrise clouds
Sunrise clouds 

Flying into Narita
Flying into Narita 

Flying into Narita
Flying into Narita - golf courses rule! 

Flying into Narita
Flying into Narita - can you see my shadow? :) 

Our plane
Our plane 

Arrival at Narita at 7:10am (Sydney time - 6:10am local time).  Heat!!! Waited quite a while for bags to come through but then immigration and customs were a breeze.

Went and got our JR passes validated then caught the 7:33am NEX into Tokyo. Realised at this point that we were hungry but didn't actually have any cash! Oops. Did I mention the heat? So at Tokyo we got some money out before getting some drinks and snacks and jumping on the Shinkansen to Osaka.

Tokyo Sky Tree
Tokyo Sky Tree under construction
Photo by Stu 

Info boards at Tokyo station
Info boards at Tokyo station 

Hikari 507 to Osaka
Hikari 507 to Osaka 

Shiny in hiding
Shiny would have been behind those clouds on the left 

Japan countryside
Japan countryside 

Statue of Liberty Hotel near Kyoto
Statue of Liberty on top of a hotel north of Kyoto - couldn't actually
geo-locate this! 

Tō-ji temple at Kyoto
Tō-ji temple at Kyoto - next time I go to Kyoto I'm going to visit this
one up close! 

Shall I remind you about the heat? It was pretty much unbearable in Osaka. Regretting my decision not to bring shorts (but then would have needed other shoes too).

Wandered down to the hotel but it was still too early to check in, so dumped our bags and went out to find some lunch. Decided to go into a ramen bar near the hotel. The menu was only in Japanese and while I would have been able to pick something off the pictures, Stu could actually understand enough of the menu and the waitress to figure out some more detail. I was very impressed :) And as an added bonus the place was air-conditioned and they had a big jug of ice water. Afterwards we got some ice creams and went for a bit of a wander. Did I mention the heat?

Super tasty ramen in Osaka
Super tasty ramen in Osaka 

Ramen bar in Osaka
The ramen bar in Osaka that we got some super tasty ramen in 

Ice cream!
Ice cream! 

No bicycle parking
The sign says no bicycle parking - so there's a bicycle parked! 

Got back to the hotel and checked in where the first order of business was a cold shower. Unpacked a bit and got online then did this much of this blog post.

Stu collapsed for several hours while I did things like sort out my photos and read news feeds.  Twitpicced some of my photos but got a bit stuck with photos from my big camera.  They're around five mb each, which is painfully slow to upload over the hotel link as well Twitpic has a five mb limit.  The Eee PC doesn't have anything capable of resizing them (paint will open them but it complains it doesn't have the memory when I try to resize them :( ). Might have to do em on Stu's lappy or something.

Eventually Stu got up and we decided to wander into Osaka.  Last time we were here we took the JR lines around to the Namba area, but getting back late at night took an hour and a half because it was three trains.  So thought, screw that this time, we'll take the local subway.  One train and 270 yen each each way and there in about fifteen minutes. 

Subway to Nanba
Subway to Nanba 

Got out of the station and of course we had no idea where we were :)
Decided (like last time) to pick a direction and walk in it.  And by total fluke happened across the Glico man that we were hoping to find (Stu didn't come with us last time). 

Covered walkway in Nanba
Covered walkway in Nanba 

Asahi Super Dry
Asahi Super Dry 

The Glico Man!
The Glico Man! 

Stu in Osaka
Stu in Osaka 

Canal in Nanba, Osaka
Canal in Nanba, Osaka 

Okonomikayi!
Okonomikayi! Actually I didn't even know what this was until some
time later thanks to Lisa

Stu looking at lights in Nanba
Stu looking at lights in Nanba 

Old Ferris Wheel in Nanba
Old Ferris Wheel in Nanba 

Then we went for a wander down by the canal with the thought of going to find dinner.  As we were walking by some dude stopped us and asked us where we from.  This group of people had been on a drinks and food stand for some charity event, so talked us into getting some beers.  They deep fried some chicken for us as well and asked us to sit and join them.  The dude had been to Australia before - he kept going on and on about smoking in Nimbin ;) One of the girls had lived for a year in Australia working at Nando's at Bondi.  And there was another really cute girl who was 32 but looked about 22 :)  So Stu got to practise his Japanese, and they understood enough English for it to be a very fun evening.  Stu might have drank quite a bit :):)  But a good release for him :)

Girls in Nanba
Girls in Nanba. The one on the left is now a Facebook friend of Stu's.
The one on the right worked in Sydney for a year. 

Us looking very hot and a little drunk
Us looking very hot and a little drunk 

So eventually wandered back to the hotel for another cold shower and bed.


Geotagging - Day 1
Geotagging - Day 1

Photos on the Canon: 140
Videos on the Canon: 2
Photos on the Sony: 183
Videos on the Sony: 5
Photos on the iPhone: 21
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Photos on the Video: 10
Videos on the Video: 18
Steps walked: ? Friday + 8582 Saturday
Yen Spent: 7049