Results tagged “Trains” from UK and Japan 2010

These last entries are always pretty epic, because of the times and distances involved.  A little over 48 hours ago I was on the other side of the planet!

So woke up in the hotel in London at 6am and got ready.  Tried to get a takeaway breakfast at Maccas but there were like six people in front of me and only one dude serving, so gave up on that idea and just hopped on a train to the airport.  Still have like £10 left on our Oyster cards - doh!

It was pretty foggy, and when we arrived at the airport they had to try and fit us onto an earlier flight, as our scheduled flight was delayed, and we'd miss our connecting flight from Frankfurt to Narita.  So they sorted that, but we both had middle seats :(  Turns out the earlier flight they put us on was also delayed, so it left only just before our other one was meant to.  


Yay going home!
Yay going home!

Got to see a little of London from the middle seat, and stuck random camera out to get a few photos. Didn't see much else after landfall in France, as the continent was clouded over.


City of London from the plane
City of London from the plane

Passing through Frankfurt was pretty painless.  Had to do the long walk between the terminals in reverse to what we did on the way in the first time.


Air traffic control tower at Frankfurt airport
Air traffic control tower at Frankfurt airport

Same seat in the A380, so facing south this time instead of north.  If I travel again on an A380 will see if can get an upper deck seat and see if they're any closer to the windows than the lower deck.


Our A380 - the first one Lufthansa purchased
Our A380 - the first one Lufthansa purchased

I watched a few movies.  Firstly The Spy Next Door, which was a kids movie so a little silly, but had Jackie Chan in it so was kinda fun.  Then Young Victoria which I really enjoyed.  This was filmed around Blenheim Palace which we might have gone and seen on our Oxford day except that we didn't have the time.  Then Prince of Persia, which was utterly ridiculuous (but it was a Bruckheimer film, so you go in with an expectation that it will be thus) but still quite fun.  I also started to watch The Karate Kid, but it made me grunty because they'd cut heaps and heaps out of it - shortening scenes all over the place.  So skipped through to the bit they filmed in the mountains and just watched the second half of it.


Clouds over Europe
Clouds over Europe

A380 wingtip in the sunset
A380 wingtip in the sunset

So arrived in Narita about 11:30pm London time.  It was 7:30am in Narita (Friday 1st), and our next flight wasn't til 8:30.  PM.  So a stoopid thirteen hour layover.  So caught the yellow inter terminal bus around to T2 to see about checking in but nothing was open for Qantas, so we dumped our bags in some lockers (conveniently located right there in the check in terminal) and hopped on a train into Narita.  Took the Keisei line cause we found the machines for that line first.  It having been nineteen hours since our last shower we both felt a little disgusting.  Stopped in maccas first for some breakfast, then got the zombie that was the sweetie moving.  Headed slowly up to the temples/shrines in Narita.  Found a nice spot under a bit of wisteria to just sit for a while, but I couldn't sit still because of restless legs, so paced until my feet hurt from standing.  Stu was having a lie down (there was actually *seating* all around this park, which is unusual for Japan!) but eventually we kept walking slowly.  I was starting to fade at this point too.  Got down to the lake and looked at the fishies and tortoises.  Then kept wandering, even more slowly now.  We were hot again too which didn't help.  


Narita!
Narita!

Cleaner robots at Narita airport
Cleaner robots at Narita airport

Welcome to Narita sign
Welcome to Narita sign

Stone animals in Narita
Stone animals in Narita

Walking down to the temples in Narita
Walking down to the temples in Narita

Walking down to the temples in Narita
Walking down to the temples in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Tortoises!
Tortoises!

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Incense burning
Incense burning

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Gardens in Narita
Gardens in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

The wisteria we rested under
The wisteria we rested under

Gardens in Narita
Gardens in Narita

Gardens in Narita
Gardens in Narita

Gardens in Narita
Gardens in Narita

Gardens in Narita
Gardens in Narita

Tortoise
Tortoise

Koi feeding frenzy
Koi feeding frenzy

Gardens in Narita
Gardens in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

Temple area in Narita
Temple area in Narita

So hopped on another train back to the airport and arrived around 2:15pm.

Except the Qantas terminal (we asked) didn't open til 5pm.  Doh!

So went downstairs and used a shower room each.  Best inventions ever those things, and only 500 yen for half an hour.  Felt a lot more human after that.  Then proceeded to find somewhere to have a beer.  Was quite taken by a place called "Beer and Takoyaki" so headed for that.  Nom! :)  But pretty expensive of course.  Wandered round some more and found somewhere to sit looking at the planes and dozed on the chairs (very uncomfortable tho!)


Beer and Takoyaki!
Beer and Takoyaki!

5pm came round and we went down to check in (and there was a massive queue! What the??)  Presumably lots of other people like us in similar layover situations.  So checked in and went through security and into the Qantas Club.  Found some computers with interwebs and had some snacks and some Moet and Chandon while looking at the planes and using the internet.  Was the best I'd felt all day heh.  We were right next to our departure gate, so could see our plane being brought in and made ready for our flight.


Our plane, seen from the Qantas lounge
Our plane, seen from the Qantas lounge

Dozed on the plane before take off and could barely keep my eyes open to watch the take off.  Forced myself to eat dinner even though I didn't really feel like it.  Then brushed my teeth and attempted to sleep.  Was only moderately successful.  Probably got a couple of hours sleep.  Got to see the moon around the equator, which looked like a big smiling mouth, and horizontal to the horizon too.  And Orion was there too on his side.  As the night progressed the moon returned to its correct orientation (the moon in the northern hemisphere is upside down - a little freaky!).  Got a little bit more sleep but not much.  Breakfast was around 4:30am Narita time, and landed around 6:30 (7:30 Sydney time, Saturday 2nd).  Got the best view of my house I'd ever seen from a plane coming into Sydney airport (in from the north, then out over the National Park and round to the left to land from the south on 34L).  


Sunrise over Australia
Sunrise over Australia

Middle Harbour, Sydney
Middle Harbour, Sydney

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney CBD
Sydney CBD

Pyrmont
Pyrmont

Rockdale shops on West Botany Street
Rockdale shops on West Botany Street

Look mum I can see my house from here!
Look mum I can see my house from here!

Caringbah
Caringbah

Immigration and customs were really painful.  The ePassport system wasn't working at all and the other queues were going really slowly.  I of course got the slowest lane in the room and ended up switching when the room was just about empty.  Lame.  Customs was also pretty painful - really long queues and seemingly not very organised (people wandering about all over the place trying to figure out where to be :/ ).  

Finally escaped for a short break in the Qantas Club for a drink and an apple, then onto our Dash 8 (a teeny 300 series one - only 12 rows!).  Surprisingly we took off on 34L as well, rather than the third runway.


Canal, Mascot
Canal, Mascot

Sydney
Sydney

Arrival in Canberra ten minutes late, and then a lift home.


Kevin Rudd at the airport
Kevin Rudd at the airport

Souvenirs and gifts picked up along the way
Souvenirs and gifts picked up along the way

Geotagging - Day 34
Geotagging - Day 34


Geotagging - Day 34
Geotagging - Day 34

Photos on the Canon: 237
Photos on the Sony: 343
Videos on the Sony: 2
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Steps walked: 4268 + 14373
Pounds Spent: ?
So yeah last night my world fell apart because I looked to find out what time Legoland opened, and found that it doesn't open at all on Tuesdays and Wednesdays :(
Actually a single sad face doesn't even begin to cover my devastation :(

So we slept in late.

Maccas for breakfast - but only just - got there at 10:40 and had the last of their hash browns and two of the last four sausage and egg McMuffins.

Then trained it into Leicester Square.  Stu went and got a haircut and I went to get photos of a couple of Monopoly streets I somehow missed last time.


Kate Winslet's handprints at Leicester Square
Kate Winslet's handprints at Leicester Square

Stu outside the barber shop he got his hair cut at
Stu outside the barber shop he got his hair cut at
Then we went to a couple of book stores - Orbital and Forbidden Planet - the latter being more interesting (for me) and bigger, but Stu bought a couple of books from the former.  


Jareth and Hoggle
Jareth and Hoggle
Carried on walking.  Arrived at Temple Church just before 2pm, which is when it was opening for the day, then had a look around inside.


Telephone boxes
Telephone boxes

Australia House - Gringotts!
Australia House - Gringotts!

Foyer of Australia House
Foyer of Australia House

Bus on Fleet Street
Bus on Fleet Street

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Angry looking pegasus
Angry looking pegasus

Temple Church in stained glass
Temple Church in stained glass
Up to St Pauls to get a few more photos of the exterior (because it was raining last time which made it quite difficult to get photos).  


St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral
Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral

Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral
Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral
Then headed for St Mary-Le-Bow church, to find the vegetarian cafe (Cafe Below) which Stu had read about in his Secret London book.  Had a bit of lunch there (it was about 3:30pm by now).


Royal Exchange, Bank
Royal Exchange, Bank
Then Stu found a Starbucks to have a coffee in while I went and climbed the 311 steps of the Monument.  Kicking myself I didn't get the chance to go up it when it cost me £1, so I had to pay an additional £3 today - doh!  Was a crap day for a view, but did get to see Tower Bridge open up for a cruise liner to go through it.


Monument
Monument

Looking up the stairs of Monument
Looking up the stairs of Monument

London from Monument
London from Monument

Tower Bridge from Monument
Tower Bridge from Monument

The Shard under construction
The Shard under construction

London Eye and Tate Modern
London Eye and Tate Modern

Golden Hinde and Pickfords Wharf
Golden Hinde and Pickfords Wharf

Strata SE1 (aka Isengard)
Strata SE1 (aka Isengard)

Tower Bride opening
Tower Bride opening

Alexander von Humbolt going through Tower Bridge
Alexander von Humbolt going through Tower Bridge

The Gherkin
The Gherkin

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Gold top of Monument
Gold top of Monument

Top of Monument
Top of Monument
Finally headed up past Liverpool St station to meet Campbell for dinner in a restaurant called Ping Pong hehee.  Was a pretty good yum cha sort of a meal, and it was super awesome to catch up with Campbell.


The Gherkin
The Gherkin
Then headed back to the hotel to try and sort out our finances (we seem to have gone over our travel card limit by £13 so not sure what's going to happen there) and sort out paperwork.


Geotagging - Day 32
Geotagging - Day 32

Photos on the Canon: 194
Photos on the Sony: 103
Photos on the iPhone: 27
Photos on the Olympus: 3
Photos on the Blackberry: 9
Photos on the Video: 9
Videos on the Video: 9
Steps walked: 16521
Pounds Spent: ?
So was awake for two and a half hours in the middle of the night cause it hurt *sigh*

Got up around 7:20 and convinced the sweetie to get up too.

Had a repeat of Maccas breakfast and then headed for Paddington.  Discovered the different ticket machines give different priced tickets - go figure.  Found one that did a return for the same price as a single (again, go figure) and booked it.  9:21 to Oxford.

Had a pretty good day in Oxford.

It rained nearly all day.

First headed for the Bodleian Library to get on a tour of the Divinity School and the Duke Humfrey's Library.  Had twenty minutes to spare so wandered around and got the sweetie a coffee.


Sheldonian Theatre
Sheldonian Theatre

Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs

The Bodleian Library tour went for an hour and was quite interesting.  I would have enjoyed it even if it wasn't a Harry Potter location ;)


Divinity School
Divinity School

Convocation House, next to the Divinity School
Convocation House, next to the Divinity School

The Tower of the Five Orders
The Tower of the Five Orders

Silence Please!
Silence Please!

Went and climbed the University Church tower for some nice views

Radcliffe Camera from the University Church
Radcliffe Camera from the University Church

Looking into All Souls College
Looking into All Souls College

Looking into Brasenose College
Looking into Brasenose College

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Next went to find some lunch.  As we were both low on energy levels it took us a little while to find something suitable.


The Saxon tower of St Michael at the North Gate
The Saxon tower of St Michael at the North Gate

After lunch wandered back up to where we'd seen a walking tour advertised.

The walking tour turned out to be really good.  The dude took us into four colleges (Jesus, Exeter, Lincoln and New), and we saw quadrangles and dining halls and chapels for most of them.  It was just nice cause he took us behind doors and down paths we probably would not have thought to have gone down if we were doing things by ourselves.  Even came across a couple of Australian Rhodes Scholars (a girl from Brisbane doing law, and a guy (who looked about 16) from Adelaide doing inorganic chemistry).  They'd only been in the country a few days.  The tour finished in the cloisters of New College, where Goblet of Fire was filmed :)


Entrance to Jesus College
Entrance to Jesus College

Jesus College dining hall
Jesus College dining hall

Jesus College quadrangle
Jesus College quadrangle

Jesus College chapel
Jesus College chapel

Jesus College chapel
Jesus College chapel

Exeter College quadrangle
Exeter College quadrangle

Exeter College chapel
Exeter College chapel

Exeter College chapel
Exeter College chapel

I love the detail on the organ of Exeter College chapel
I love the detail on the organ of Exeter College chapel

Exeter College chapel
Exeter College chapel

Exeter College quadrangle
Exeter College quadrangle

South side of the Divinity School
South side of the Divinity School

Radcliffe Camera
Radcliffe Camera

Lincoln College quadrangle
Lincoln College quadrangle

Lincoln College dining hall
Lincoln College dining hall

New College quadrangle
New College quadrangle

New College grounds including the old Oxford city wall
New College grounds including the old Oxford city wall

New College chapel
New College chapel

Beautiful stained glass in New College chapel
Beautiful stained glass in New College chapel

Crook of the crozier of William of Wykeham
Crook of the crozier of William of Wykeham

New College chapel
New College chapel

Cloister of New College featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Cloister of New College featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

New College quadrangle
New College quadrangle

New College quadrangle
New College quadrangle

New College quadrangle featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
New College quadrangle featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Draco gets turned into a ferret under this tree
Draco gets turned into a ferret under this tree

After talking to Cedric, Harry walks through this gate
After talking to Cedric, Harry walks through this gate

So next headed down to Christ Church to go in and see the hall and cathedral.  The hall being the inspiration for the great hall in Harry Potter, and they used the entrance staircase in Philosopher's Stone.  So that was pretty squee.  


Christ Church college
Christ Church college

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church quadrangle
Christ Church quadrangle

There's a shot of Ron and Hermione at the top of these steps at the end of Chamber of Secrets
There's a shot of Ron and Hermione at the top of these steps at the end of Chamber of Secrets

Entrance to Hogwarts!
Entrance to Hogwarts!

Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies
Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies

Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies
Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies

McGonnagal stood at the top of these stairs to welcome the first years
McGonnagal stood at the top of these stairs to welcome the first years

The kids all walk up here
The kids all walk up here

The real entrance to the Great Hall
The real entrance to the Great Hall

Christ Church dining room
Christ Church dining room

Christ Church dining room
Christ Church dining room

Christ Church ceiling - does it look anything like Hogwarts?
Christ Church ceiling - does it look anything like Hogwarts?

Christ Church dining room
Christ Church dining room

The fireplace with the
The fireplace with the "long necks" that inspired Lewis Carroll

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

Another Christ Church quadrangle
Another Christ Church quadrangle

Feet were dead by this point and we were hungry so we headed back to London.


Bicycle parking at Oxford Station
Bicycle parking at Oxford Station

UK trains with built-in GPS and airline style entertainment system (that you had to pay for)
UK trains with built-in GPS and airline style entertainment system (that you had to pay for)

Stopped at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel for dinner - had some very nice szechuan twice fried pork and bok choi in oyster sauce.

Got back to the hotel and my world fell apart...


Geotagging - Day 21
Geotagging - Day 31 

Geotagging - Day 21
Geotagging - Day 31

Photos on the Canon: 294
Photos on the Sony: 158
Photos on the Video: 1
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 15637
Pounds Spent: ?
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 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: ?
Woke up relatively early (with slight hangover headache) so got up and did computery stuff.

First stop was the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.  The GPS took us around the long way to the road we needed to be on (lame), so actually went past it on the first loop because it brought us in from the north instead of the south that we were expecting.  #grunt.  Anyways so went in (£3 parking) and of course there's a whole visitors centre setup with bows and arrows etc for sale.  Went for a walk to find the tree, which would have been quite pleasant, except for all the screaming kids.  The tree itself is huge - well at least in girth anyway. :)

Robin Hood and Little John fighting
Robin Hood and Little John fighting

Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest

The Major Oak
The Major Oak

The Major Oak
The Major Oak

Next we went a little out of the way to Chesterfield to see the church with the crooked spire.  Cute and all, but it did take at least half an hour out of our day.  

Chesterfield's Crooked Spire
Chesterfield's Crooked Spire

Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle

And then onto York.  I was hoping to get there around lunch time, but everything else took so long we didn't arrive til around 2:30pm and didn't get into the town to start exploring til after 3pm :(  So I was a bit stressed that I wouldn't be able to do the couple of things I wanted to.  In the end Cliftons Tower got dropped off.  So wandered in through the west gate and through the old town up to the minster.  It was enormous!  Obviously not as an enormous as Cologne's (we've been totally spoilt by that cathedral!!) but still pretty huge.  Paid the £8 each to go in, and I paid £5 to go up the tower.  Wandered around inside (you can take photos in this one hurrah!) then went up the tower at 3:45pm.  The tower was pretty cool, I enjoyed that.  After that I went back down and found the sweetie and we wandered off again.

St Pauls Church, York
St Pauls Church, York

Micklegate
Micklegate

River Ouse
River Ouse

All Saints Church
All Saints Church

Newgate Market
Newgate Market

Roman Bath Museum
Roman Bath Museum

Stained glass windows inside York Minster
Stained glass windows inside York Minster

Ceiling of York Minster
Ceiling of York Minster

Ceiling of York Minster
Ceiling of York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

Beautiful stonework
Beautiful stonework

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

The next stop was the National Railway Museum.  I wasn't counting on the Hogwarts Express still being there, but I asked when we went in and she said it was! So did a wander through the Great Hall, and up there back was the Hogwarts Express!!!!!  There was much squeeing on my part :)  

Guy Fawkes Inn - birthplace of Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes Inn - birthplace of Guy Fawkes

High Petergate Road
High Petergate Road

River Ouse
River Ouse

Tunnel through to the National Railway Museum
Tunnel through to the National Railway Museum

Loco 737
Loco 737

Duchess of Hamilton
Duchess of Hamilton

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Me and the Hogwarts Express!
Me and the Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Stu and an early bullet train
Stu and an early bullet train

Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine

Channel Tunnel cross section
Channel Tunnel cross section

The Warehouse was filled with all sorts of cool railway artifacts
The Warehouse was filled with all sorts of cool railway artifacts

Platform 9 3/4
Platform 9 3/4

Victoria Line cross section
Victoria Line cross section

Finally, around 5:30, we went looking for food.  Wandered back into York and found an all-you-can eat Chinese buffet, so went in there for a decent variety of food.  

York city wall
York city wall

Looking towards the minster from Station Road
Looking towards the minster from Station Road

Micklegate
Micklegate

York city wall
York city wall

Sunset from the city wall
Sunset from the city wall

Then back to the hotel to collapse.

Geotagging - Day 16
Geotagging - Day 16


Photos on the Canon: 391
Photos on the Sony: 27
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Video: 4
Videos on the Video: 13
Steps walked: 15008
Pounds Spent: 64.23
Woke up by Stu's phone buzzing at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep :/

Breakfast - same.

Today we decided to go our own separate ways for the day. The sun was out so I wanted to do some touristy things while Stu had a relaxing day off.

So my first stop was Buckingham Palace. I considered going in, but the sun was out! So decided to go down past Westminster station to photograph the barriers (a la Order of the Phoenix), across the Westminster bridge, and up the London Eye.

Buckingham Palace in sunlight
Buckingham Palace in sunlight

Queen Victoria Monument in sunlight
Queen Victoria Monument in sunlight

Buckingham Palace gates in sunlight
Buckingham Palace gates in sunlight

Westminster Station, as seen in Order of the Phoenix
Westminster Station, as seen in Order of the Phoenix

London Eye
London Eye

London Eye
London Eye

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Had about a fifteen minute wait in the queue to get tickets, then a fifteen minute wait to get on. There were some pretty annoying people (a couple of girls and also a bunch of guys that just wanted to pose for each other non stop through the whole ride). The view was decent enough and the clouds parted enough for me to get some ok photos.

Charing Cross station
Charing Cross station

The Thames
The Thames

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

At the top of the London Eye
At the top of the London Eye

Guys taking photos of themselves
Guys taking photos of themselves

Government buildings including 10 Downing Street and Treasury
Government buildings including 10 Downing Street and Treasury

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Tower of Big Ben
Tower of Big Ben

Clock tower and Westminster Abbey
Clock tower and Westminster Abbey

Hopped on a train (when I eventually found the right line at Waterloo station) to London Bridge. And from there went across and up Tower Bridge. You go up in a lift in the north tower, then you walk across to the south tower across the top. There are all these info boards setup to read. Then you can go across the top on the other half as well - this part was only opened a few months ago. Then you take steps most of the way down the south tower (there is a toilet near the top of the south tower you can use - this would be one of the cooler places I've gone to the toilet :) ).  After the bridge tour you can also go see the old steam engine rooms that were in use until 1976. They were pretty cool to look at with lots of useful info.

Waterloo Station
Waterloo Station

Crossing Tower Bridge I had to stop because it was opening!
Crossing Tower Bridge I had to stop because it was opening!

Interior of Tower Bridge
Interior of Tower Bridge

Tower of London
Tower of London

London office buildings
London office buildings

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast

Looking up the Thames
Looking up the Thames

Inside the top of Tower Bridge
Inside the top of Tower Bridge

Looking down on the road
Looking down on the road

Furnaces
Furnaces

Engine room
Engine room

It was pouring with rain at this point. !? So walked across the bridge and it was already clearing up again.

Tower Bridge, with tide as high as I ever saw it
Tower Bridge, with tide as high as I ever saw it

At this point I didn't know what to do next. Stu would have been interested in the Tower of London. But it was just there. Or I could have gone into Buckingham Palace. Either way I was going to miss out on the Monument because it was getting too late in the day. Even considered doing the Monument and the Belfast. So sat there for about ten minutes trying to decide what to do. In the end I went to Tower of London.

Went in around 3pm and stayed til closing at 5:30. And probably only saw half of it - and a lot of that was rushed :/ The place generally works pretty well in terms of crowd control - everything has an entrance and an exit so you're not battling through people going the other way. However some of the rooms are quite small so it's still a people battle that I find quite stressful. And that was late in the afternoon when the numbers were dwindling - I'd hate to see the place in the morning!! Anyway the main thing I wanted to see were the crown jewels. Which are spec-fricking-tacular :) The Cullinan I diamond in the sceptre is truly a sight to behold. Would loved to have been able to take photos, but alas not. Did a bit more wandering until closing time.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Traitors' Gate from the outside
Traitors' Gate from the outside

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

Traitors' Gate from the inside
Traitors' Gate from the inside

State room
State room

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

Buildings in the Tower of London
Buildings in the Tower of London

Buildings in the Tower of London
Buildings in the Tower of London

The Crown Jewels are in there!
The Crown Jewels are in there!

Model of the Tower of London
Model of the Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

The Rack!  Part of the torture exhibition
The Rack! Part of the torture exhibition

Canons
Canons

Tower of London
Tower of London

Obligatory me in front of Tower Bridge shot
Obligatory me in front of Tower Bridge shot

Last stop of the day was The Leaky Cauldron!!! This was the first one in Leadenhall Markets. Extremelly squee :):):)

The Leaky Cauldron!
The Leaky Cauldron!

Harry and Hagrid walk here in the Philosopher's Stone
Harry and Hagrid walk here in the Philosopher's Stone

And then back to the hotel to collapse.

Last night of guaranteed internet for who knows how long.  So I've been trying to do things that require internet.  And not succeeding very well and doing any of it :/

Geotagging - Day 13
Geotagging - Day 13


Photos on the Canon: 443
Photos on the Sony: 40
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the iPhone: 2
Steps walked: 16056
Pounds Spent: 148.57
Sleep - same
Breakfast - same

So there was a tube strike planned for today.  While there were some services still running, we decided we'd have a day of "local" to the hotel things. ie, things we could walk to from the hotel.  

So we headed in the general direction of what we thought was the Natural History Museum, but the road curled around to the north instead of staying going north east, so we decided to have a look at Kensington Palace first up. Just the exterior, didn't go in.  Went down to the pond where The Birds were gathered.  Got some way cool photos of some starlings on a dude's hand.

Doggy poop bins in Kensington Gardens
Doggy poop bins in Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace gardens
Kensington Palace gardens

Geese in Kensington Gardens
Geese in Kensington Gardens

Swan in Kensington Gardens
Swan in Kensington Gardens

Starlings in Kensington Gardens
Starlings in Kensington Gardens

Starlings in Kensington Gardens
Starlings in Kensington Gardens

Starlings in Kensington Gardens
Starlings in Kensington Gardens

Swan in Kensington Gardens
Swan in Kensington Gardens

Feeding the geese
Feeding the geese

Kensington Palace gates
Kensington Palace gates

Then we meandered through Kensington Gardens, and had a look at the Albert Memorial, and the Royal Albert Hall.

South Flower Walk
South Flower Walk

Albert Memorial
Albert Memorial

Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall

Albert Memorial
Albert Memorial

And then down to the Natural History Museum.  It wasn't as good as I thought it would be.  Maybe it was trying to cover too much.  I was expecting it to be choc-full of stuff, but it was a little bit spartan, representing whole swathes of things (eg all of mammals or all of fish) with just a few cabinets.  Actually one of the best displays in terms of sheer volume was the mineral displays.  It took up a whole big room!  Stu also liked the contents of the cocoon (some detail on the scientific and museum process), but by that time we were exhausted on our feet and didn't really have the energy to look at it on more depth.

Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum

Amazing stone carvings were all over the building - inside and out!
Amazing stone carvings were all over the building - inside and out!

Central Hall
Central Hall

Moose I think
Moose I think

Whales
Whales

Whale
Whale

Sensory and Motor models of the body
Sensory and Motor models of the body

Dinosaur
Dinosaur

Dinosaur
Dinosaur

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Central Hall
Central Hall

Giant Sequoia cross section
Giant Sequoia cross section

Giant Sequoia cross section
Giant Sequoia cross section

Mineral hall
Mineral hall

Iridescent Stalactites
Iridescent Stalactites

Mocha Stone
Mocha Stone

Fluorescent diamonds
Fluorescent diamonds

Agate
Agate

This looks like a cityscape or something
This looks like a cityscape or something

Side of the cacoon
Side of the cacoon

Genes V!  I had this book in uni!
Genes V! I had this book in uni!

Petrified wood
Petrified wood

So at this point Stu headed back to the hotel and I decided to go to Harrods (just to say I'd been).  Oh. Fricken. Dear.  First of all you need a map to find your way around (and even then you still got turned around and upside down).  I was constantly trying to figure out how to get out of where I was.  The whole bottom floor of course is the super exclusive perfumes and handbags.  With an Egyptian theme (!).  Went up to the fourth floor to look at toys.  Had to walk through the childrenswear section.  £300 for an outfit?? hrmm.  They did have RC which I'd not seen in stores (only online) for £79.  Lego was comparable to our pricing (perhaps more with the dollar the way it is).  Went downstairs to have a look at electronics stuff, but if they had memory sticks I didn't find them.  TinTin books were £7. The coolest part of the whole store (that I saw) was the fossil and mineral gallery.  Having literally just seen some of this stuff at the museum, to see it for sale was super cool.  Horrendously expensive, but super cool :)  I didn't find the statue my parents found last year, or the Dodi and Diana one (I didn't even know it existed til just then), but did find a gold Egyptian thing.  At this point I figured any exit was a good exit, so bolted for the door before I got lost again!

Harrods
Harrods

Rhodocrosite
Rhodocrosite

Petrified wood
Petrified wood

Shells
Shells

Gold Egyptian thing
Gold Egyptian thing

Harrods
Harrods

Twenty five minute walk back to the hotel, then went out again to get dinner (KFC - I know, lame) and back to *sit*.  Another ten kilometre walking day today, not including walking around the museum or Harrods or the walk to KFC and back.  Feet. Very. Sore.

Geotagging - Day 11
Geotagging - Day 11


Photos on the Canon: 320
Videos on the Canon: 5
Photos on the Sony: 88
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Videos on the Video: 13
Steps walked: 18836
Pounds Spent: 28.53
Woke up very early this morning. Like maybe 4am or something. That'll learn us to go to bed at 9pm. Lay there for ages and finally got up at 6am to use the puta.

Breakfast the same as last two days. Out the door a bit after 9am.

Checked out a local laundromat on the way to the station which should work for us later in the week.

Bicycles for hire in Earl's Court
Bicycles for hire in Earl's Court. They had these all over the place. We might have
used them except the process seemed overly complicated so thought it was all too hard.


So headed into town.

Our first stop (after passing Piccadilly, Mayfair and Vine St) was the Apple Store on Regent St.  Unfortunately they don't do iPhone unlocking.  So I am royally screwed :( $20000/gb because Optus and/or Apple couldn't get their act together.  Bastards.  Epic hate. So switched off data and will only use data in emergencies. 

Toilet at Mayfair
Toilet at Mayfair. Yes even the toilets are fancy in this part of town!

Ritz Hotel
Ritz Hotel

Burlington House
Burlington House

Old building on Great Marlborough St
Old building on Great Marlborough St

Apple Store on Regent St
Apple Store on Regent St

Continued up Regent St and along Oxford St, past Park Lane to Hyde Park.  Had a bit of a meander through the park and took lots of photos of gooses and stuff.  

Clock on Selfridges
Clock on Selfridges

Marble Arch, Hyde Park
Marble Arch, Hyde Park

Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park
Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park

Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park
Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park

Hyde Park deckchairs
Hyde Park deckchairs

Hyde Park deckchairs can be hired - £1.50 an hour!
Hyde Park deckchairs can be hired - £1.50 an hour!

Reformer's Tree mosaic
Reformer's Tree mosaic

Geese on the march!
Geese on the march!

Heron
Heron

Flowers
Flowers

Monkey Puzzle Tree
Monkey Puzzle Tree

Flowers
Flowers

Gum tree outside a toilet block
Gum tree outside a toilet block

Queen Elizabeth Gate, aka The Queen Mother Gates
Queen Elizabeth Gate, aka The Queen Mother Gates

Grand Entrance gates
Grand Entrance gates

Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch

Then hopped on a train to Temple.

Got out and wandered up to the Temple Church, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance.  Was very cool walking amongst the buildings around the church - little passageways between and through the buildings - very cool!

Entrance to Pump Court
Entrance to Pump Court

Cloisters
Cloisters

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Column dedicated to the Knights Templar
Column dedicated to the Knights Templar

Column dedicated to the Knights Templar
Column dedicated to the Knights Templar

Walking up Inner Temple Lane
Walking up Inner Temple Lane

Came out onto Fleet St and saw the Royal Courts of Justice, which I'd never seen before.  It was a pretty spectacular building too.  Walked down and back past that.

My attempt to get a red double decker bus, a black taxi, a pillar box and a phone box all in one shot.  Sorta worked.
My attempt to get a red double decker bus, a black taxi, a pillar box and a
phone box all in one shot. Sorta worked.


Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice

Continued up Fleet St.  Stopped for lunch and a pint at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which is a funky little pub rebuilt 1667 (after the great fire of London).  It had a whole series of little rooms and bars, which would make it a bit of a fun place to explore.  We found a room with a free table and I had bangers and mash (which had to be done being in England and all :) ).  Also had a couple of Samuel Smith beers - I had an alpine lager and Stu had a brewers bitter.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Continued on.  Had a quick detour up past the Old Bailey (which has been restored nicely after being blown up in V for Vendetta ;) ) and continued on to St Paul's Cathedral.  It was raining at this point which made photography somewhat tricky.  Went into the entrance of the cathedral.  It's £12.50 to go in but of course there is no photography permitted. Stu has been in this one before, so if we're going to shell out that much money with no photos to show for it, we might do Westminster Abbey.

The Old Bailey
The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey
The Old Bailey

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's
Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Then we walked across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern, to see an exhibition - "Exposed - Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera".  Some of it was pretty interesting.  Some of it was a bit meh.  My favourite thing was a serious of webcam grabs of Linz in Austria.  A dude had gone down the plaza in front of the webcam at the same time each day and taken a grab of the webcam at the time.  There were a series of short comments as well.  For some reason I really liked this display :)  By the time we'd finished looking at this it was nearly 6pm, so we walked back across the bridge, up to Mansion House station and back to the hotel (via Burger King for a snack dinner).

Heading down to the Millennium Bridge
Heading down to the Millennium Bridge

Seagull on the Millennium Bridge
Seagull on the Millennium Bridge

Looking down the Thames
Looking down the Thames

Crossing the Millennium Bridge
Crossing the Millennium Bridge

Jurgita & Peter Forever.  Says so on the label.
Jurgita & Peter Forever. Says so on the label.

St Paul's from the Millennium Bridge
St Paul's from the Millennium Bridge

South end of the Millennium Bridge
South end of the Millennium Bridge

St Paul's and the Millennium Bridge
St Paul's and the Millennium Bridge

Interior of Tate Modern
Interior of Tate Modern

Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge

Looking up the brick tower of Tate Modern
Looking up the brick tower of Tate Modern

Geotagging - Day 10
Geotagging - Day 10


Photos on the Canon: 297
Photos on the Sony: 163
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Blackberry: 3
Photos on the Video: 13
Videos on the Video: 22
Steps walked: 16133
Pounds Spent: 58.31

Had a pretty good sleep last night. Woke up at 7am :)

Breakfast much the same as yesterday. Got out the door closer to 9:30, slightly later than I wanted.

Headed to Victoria (the station was open today). Had a quick look at Westminster Cathedral (not the abbey).

Victoria Station
Victoria Station

Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral

Then headed to Buckingham Palace. There was the mayor's bike ride so The Mall and the roads in front of the palace were closed to traffic. This meant we were able to wander around the whole area that would normally be teeming with cars. Was very cool.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Beefeater
Beefeater

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Palace gates
Palace gates

Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial

Looking down The Mall
Looking down The Mall

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Canada Gate
Canada Gate

Victoria Memorial through the Australia Gate
Victoria Memorial through the Australia Gate

Next we had a bit of a wander through St James's Park and saw lots of birds and SQUIRRELs.

Flowers in St James's Park
Flowers in St James's Park

St James's Park
St James's Park

St James's Park
St James's Park

Geese in St James's Park
Geese in St James's Park

Heron in St James's Park
Heron in St James's Park

Seagull in St James's Park
Seagull in St James's Park

Swan in St James's Park
Swan in St James's Park

Seagull in St James's Park
Seagull in St James's Park

St James's Park
St James's Park

Squirrel!
Squirrel!

Got to the end of The Mall to Trafalgar Square.

Looking up The Mall
Looking up The Mall

Duke of York Column
Duke of York Column

Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch

Looking up The Mall
Looking up The Mall

Mounted police coming through Admiralty Arch
Mounted police coming through Admiralty Arch

Nelson's Column
Nelson's Column

Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson

Then down Whitehall and across to the Ministry of Magic's visitor's entrance (they've repaved the bit of footpath they used in the movie and the rest of the street is a bit of a mess too). Up past Northumberland to Strand then around the back of the National Gallery to Leicester Square.

Visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic
Visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic

Me standing where the visitors entrance was located
Me standing where the visitors entrance was located

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square

Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square
Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square

At this point we decided to stop for a pint and a rest.

Decided to go to Notting Hill and the Portobello Markets, thinking it might be better on a weekend.

It took five trains to get there due to line closures :/

The poms are mental.  You have to keep left basically everywhere *except* on elevators.
The poms are mental. You have to keep left basically everywhere *except* on escalators 

Same station, but keep left on the paths.  Make up your mind England!
Same station, but keep left on the paths. Make up your mind England!

When we got to Notting Hill I saw an O2 store so went in to see if I could get a sim (and see if my phone was unlocked). Well surprise surprise it's not unlocked. Whether it's Optus or iTunes I don't know but it made me pretty depressed :/

Wandered up Portobello Road and had some lunch (nice lunch but $60aud :/ ). Then basically just came back to the hotel to try and do some planning for the rest of the week.

Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill
Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill

I thought this might have been some dealer in antique sewing machines, but no actually it's a clothing store!
I thought this might have been some dealer in antique sewing machines, but no actually it's a clothing store!

Earl's Court Station
Earl's Court Station

Geotagging - Day 9
Geotagging - Day 9


Photos on the Canon: 329
Photos on the Sony: 60
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Videos on the Video: 23
Steps walked: 12594
Pounds Spent: 66.39
We went to bed quite early last night (like 8pm or something). Slept quite well until 2:39am when the hotel fire alarm went off #grunt. Had almost finished getting dressed when it stopped. Then it started again. And stopped/started/stopped again :/ Went out and some people had gone down to find out what was up. Yup false alarm. Was worried that I wouldn't get back to sleep but think I must have eventually. Woke up a little while later maybe around 4am but couldn't get back to sleep so got up early and did computery stuff.

Around 8 we went down for breakfast. It was actually pretty good with a decent selection of cooked and other food.

The Tardis!! At Earl's Court
The Tardis!! At Earl's Court

Then we headed out for the day. I thought that it might be good to do a bit of a walk around the place to get a feel for the place, and we could plan the rest of the days at night. So started by getting off at St James Park (Victoria station was closed due to a security alert). This was around 9:30-10am.

So the day turned out to be a nine-hour long walk with pitstops :) We didn't go into anything, this was just a walk by with photos.

Started with New Scotland Yard, then Westminster Abbey (huge), Houses of Parliament (I was squeeing lots at being in London at this point), across the Lambeth Bridge, then meandered slowly north then east along the southbank walkway seeing lots of bridges and buildings and stuff. Ended up crossing Tower Bridge around 4pm. Was a super awesome day of seeing stuff and finally getting to see stuff I'd only ever seen in pictures/tv/movies.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Clock face of Big Ben
Clock face of Big Ben

Westminster Abbey
Back of Westminster Abbey

I think this lion on the Houses of Parliament is poking its tongue out at me!
I think this lion on the Houses of Parliament is poking its tongue out at me!

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Buxton Memorial
Buxton Memorial

Lambeth Bridge
Lambeth Bridge

Looking down the Thames
Looking down the Thames

Bus on the Lambeth Bridge
Bus on the Lambeth Bridge. This is where the Knight Bus passed between two regular buses in Prisoner of Azkaban

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament
Photo by Stu


South Bank of the Thames
South Bank of the Thames

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Me in London!!
Me in London!!

The Southbank Lion, and the London Eye
The Southbank Lion, and the London Eye

Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament
Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament

London Eye
London Eye

Queues for the London Eye
Queues for the London Eye

Hungerford Bridge
Hungerford Bridge

Blue Morris Dancers
Blue Morris Dancers

Underground Skate Park
Underground Skate Park

St Paul's
St Paul's

London CBD across the Thames
London CBD across the Thames

St Paul's
St Paul's

Millennium Bridge and St Paul's
Millennium Bridge and St Paul's

Tate Modern
Tate Modern

Shakespeare's Globe (it's only a model! shh!)
Shakespeare's Globe (it's only a model! shh!)

Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge

Borough Markets
Borough Markets

Location of the Leaky Cauldron in Prisoner of Azkaban.  It's now a florist.
Location of the Leaky Cauldron in Prisoner of Azkaban. It's now a florist.

Winchester Palace - the remains of
Winchester Palace - the remains of

The Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde

The Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde

London Bridge
London Bridge (boring!)

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast

City Hall
City Hall

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast

Tower of London
Tower of London

Decided to get some food at this point, so stopped at a fancy(ish) Italian place at St Katherine Dock.

Didn't think we had much energy left so decided to see Fenchurch St station and then Liverpool St station. Found those so decided to head for home. But home had the option of going via Kings Cross so that's what we did. First I found Euston Road but went the wrong direction to find Pentonville Road so had to go back, after photographing the outside of St Pancras station (trees have grown a bit since Chamber of Secrets was filmed). Then of course was the mission to find platform 9 3/4. They're making a real mess of the station at the moment, and sadly the little bridge where Hagrid gives Harry his ticket has been pulled down (at the end of 2008). I didn't even try to find the waiting room from Order of the Phoenix.  But back to 9 3/4. Well it seems they filmed this between platforms 6 and 7. Or maybe it was between 2 and 3. Not quite sure now, will need to go back to check. Anyways. The trolley they have set into the wall is actually just past the bike racks 2/3 the way along platform 8.

Old London red bus
Old London red bus

St Pancras Station - recognise this from Chamber of Secrets?
St Pancras Station - recognise this from Chamber of Secrets?

King's Cross station
King's Cross station

All that's left of the bridge across the platforms where Hagrid gave Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express
All that's left of the bridge across the platforms where Hagrid gave Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express

Platform 9 3/4!!  This has been moved as of 2012 apparently
Platform 9 3/4!! This has been moved as of 2012 apparently

The brickwork between platforms 4 and 5 where they filmed the entrance to Platform 9 3/4
The brickwork between platforms 4 and 5 where they filmed the entrance to Platform 9 3/4

Finally got out of there, and went via the supermarket to get a snack so we won't need dinner.


Geotagging - Day 8
Geotagging - Day 8

Photos on the Canon: 578
Photos on the Sony: 30
Photos on the Olympus: 65
Photos on the Blackberry: 11
Photos on the Video: 11
Videos on the Video: 22
Steps walked: 21557
Pounds Spent: 55.65
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
Had another slow start this morning. Didn't get out the door til 10:30 am.

The first stop was to climb a building in Akihabara. Just before the trip I'd seen a video that showed shots from a building in this location, so I went looking to find where it was. Turns out it was an apartment building with an external staircase. There was nothing saying no entry, so up I climbed!

Looking towards Ochanomizu from a building in Akihabara
Looking towards Ochanomizu from a building in Akihabara 

Looking towards Ochanomizu from a building in Akihabara
Looking towards Suidobashi from a building in Akihabara 

The building I climbed up was an apartment building
The building I climbed up was an apartment building 

Train on the Harbour Bridge
Train on the "Harbour Bridge" 

Chuo Line Train
Chuo Line Train 

Went to Denny's again cause it's local and convenient.

Stu eating natto in Denny's
Stu eating natto in Denny's 

After breakfast we went to Ueno to go to the Tokyo National Museum. There were lots if cool bits and pieces there, and with lots of stops we didn't end up leaving til about 4:30pm.

National Museum of Nature and Science
National Museum of Nature and Science (didn't go in here today) 

Fountain in Ueno Park
Fountain in Ueno Park 

Vending machines to buy tickets for the Tokyo National Museum
Vending machines to buy tickets for the Tokyo National Museum 

Honkan Building, Tokyo National Museum
Honkan Building, Tokyo National Museum 

Hyokeikan Building, Tokyo National Museum
Hyokeikan Building, Tokyo National Museum 

Flowers in the grounds of the museum
Flowers in the grounds of the museum 

Keiseikan Building, Tokyo National Museum - we went in here first
Keiseikan Building, Tokyo National Museum - we went in here first 

Mummy of Pasherienptah, excavated at Thebes, Egypt
Mummy of Pasherienptah, excavated at Thebes, Egypt 

Agate and glass Kodama Beads
I really liked the colours of these agate and glass Kodama Beads 

I think the backs of these were mirrors
I think the backs of these were mirrors 

Really cool looking pottery
Really cool looking pottery 

Main staircase in the Honkan Building, which we went into next
Main staircase in the Honkan Building, which we went into next 

Funky glass ball light
Funky glass ball light 

Tierd Box With Cover
Tierd Box With Cover, with camellia, pine, bamboo and plum design in
overglaze enamel with openwork. Kyoto ware, Edo period, 18th century 

More really nice pottery
More really nice pottery 

Up close
Up close 

Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer - these things were amazing!
Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer - these things were amazing! 

Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer - these things were amazing!
Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer.  The resized photos really don't do them justice!

Bamboo comb
Bamboo comb 

Cormorant painting
Cormorant painting 

Arashiyama! We were there a couple of days ago! :)
Arashiyama! We were there a couple of days ago! :) 

Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (we didn't go in here)
Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (we didn't go in here) 

Had a bit of a walk through Ueno Park and it was a little freaky to see all the cherry trees in full leaf after last seeing them a year and a half ago in the beginnings of their blossomming.  And the park on a Thursday is so desolate compared to a Sunday - and no cool food stalls setup anywhere :(

Fountain in Ueno Park
Fountain in Ueno Park 

Ueno Park
Ueno Park 

Tokyo Sky Tree under construction
Tokyo Sky Tree under construction 

So headed back to Ueno station to make our seat reservations on the NEX tomorrow then back to Akihabara.

Had a quiet night in - got our lunch/dinner from the Family Mart downstairs and apart from some washing did a whole lot of nothing :)

Assortment of beers
Assortment of beers 

Geotagging - Day 6
Geotagging - Day 6 

Photos on the Canon: 211
Photos on the Sony: 28
Videos on the Sony: 2
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 7276
Yen Spent: 8980
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
So I decided it was just going to be too hot and miserable to go to Universal Studios. So I guess I'll never get to go on the Back to the Future ride :( Unless by some miracle it's still there next time we come to Osaka.

Stu did some research last night and thought a nice long air-conditioned train trip would be in order. There are JR lines that go all the way around the Kii Peninsula, a lot of it on the coast so we decided to do that.

Little did we know the whole trip would take thirteen hours and nine trains :)

But since the journey was the destination and the whole point of the day was to sit in relative comfort, the day was a win :)

Warning: the rest of this entry is going to be really boring.. just sayin'

10:00 Our first, shortest, trip was from Shin-Osaka to Osaka. Getting the hang of the Osaka train system and reading the boards so was pretty easy.

~10:10 Our second train was the Osaka loop line. Also easy to find - platforms 1 and 2, and which one you go to determines whether you clockwise around the loop or anti clockwise. There was a train on the platform so we got on that and went clockwise. Never actually been that way around the loop before.

10:42 Our third train was a local train from Tennoji headed for Wakayama. This was going quite slowly so we decided to ditch that one at Otori and swap to a Rapid train (we passed the slow one a little way down the line).

Train #3: Tennoji (Osaka) to Otori
Train #3: Tennoji (Osaka) to Otori 

On the train to Otori
On the train to Otori 

11:26 Our fourth train was a Rapid from where we got on at Otori. We were a little concerned that train was headed for both Kansai Airport and Wakayama, when these are on different branches, but the train actually got split at Hineno! And as an added bonus we were in the correct half of the train so didn't need to move.

Train #4: Rapid from Otori to Wakayama
Train #4: Rapid from Otori to Wakayama 

Canal near Higashisano
Canal near Higashisano 

12:21 Our fifth train was from Wakayama. We were out of the city now but still a lot of built up areas between rice paddies and mountains. Not much in the way of coastline. This train terminated unexpectedly (for us) at Gobo, so we had to sit on a platform in the middle of nowhere until the next train came along.

Train #5: Wakayama to Gobo
Train #5: Wakayama to Gobo 

Looking across Wakaura Bay
Looking across Wakaura Bay. There's actually an amusement park over there! 

Shiotsu
Shiotsu 

Refinery and gas storage at Hatsushima
Refinery and gas storage at Hatsushima 

Mystery building in Oshima
Mystery building in Oshima 

Cute little seaside town of Nishihiro
Cute little seaside town of Nishihiro 

13:47 Our sixth train was a limited express. We were originally going to get off at Tanabe but the place didn't look very inspiring so we decided to stay on till it terminated at Shirahama.

Train #6: Limited Express from Gobo to Shirahama
Train #6: Limited Express from Gobo to Shirahama 

Coastline near Iwashiro
Coastline near Iwashiro 

14:30 Arrival at Shirahama. On the way out of the station we had a look at what time the next train was. It was either 15:17 or 16:52(!) So we decided to just have a quick lunch and then keep going. Which is a bit of a shame cause it looks like it might have been a nice place to spend some time in. Although everything is a fair hike from the station so would have had to take an infrequent bus or a taxi. Oh well, maybe next time.

Where we had lunch in Shirahama
Where we had lunch in Shirahama 

Shirahama train station
Shirahama train station 

15:17 Our seventh train was another limited express "Ocean Arrow". The was probably the best leg of the day. Quite a lot if it was along the coast, although photography opportunities were limited by trees and power lines obstructing the view. This train terminated at Shingu so sat on the platform there (in a little air-conditioned room) for twenty minutes.

Train #7: Limited Express (Ocean Arrow) from Shirahama to Shingu
Train #7: Limited Express (Ocean Arrow) from Shirahama to Shingu 

Coastline near Mirozu
Coastline near Mirozu 

Mirozu
Mirozu 

Beach at Wabuka
Beach at Wabuka
Photo by Stu 

Coast near Tsuga
Coast near Tsuga 

Coast near Tawara
Coast near Tawara 

Coast near Shimosato
Coast near Shimosato 

Coast near Shimosato
Coast near Shimosato 

River in Shimosato
River in Shimosato 

Coast near Yukawa
Coast near Yukawa 

Beach near Shingu
Beach near Shingu 

17:28 Our eighth train was another limited express "Nanki 8". What we didn't realise was that this wasn't a JR train! When the ticket inspector came along he said it was a company train not a JR one.. Major doh!! The fare was 800 yen each, which really isn't too bad for what was to be a three hour trip! Imagine trying to that in Australia you'd be up for $50 or something silly!? There were some pretty towns along this trip, but the light was fading so didn't get to document them. 


Train #8: Nanki 8 from Shingu to Nagoya
Train #8: Nanki 8 from Shingu to Nagoya 

Factory at Udono
Factory at Udono 

Train going through Udono Station
Train going through Udono Station 
20:42 Arrival at Nagoya. So at this point we were both very tired and hungry, and then we went outside to find food and the heat and hurty zapped any remaining strength. So spent nearly half an hour wandering around trying to find food. In the end we ended up back at the station where there was a little alcove of restaurants under the station. Shared a ramen dish (a really tasty tsuke ramen) then headed upstairs to catch what a paper timetable said would be a 21:53 hikari. However the electronic boards said the next one would be a 22:11 .. grunt 


View west of Nagoya from the station
View west of Nagoya from the station

22:11 Our ninth and final train of the day was a Hikari Shinkansen from Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. After having eaten and cooled down in the train and painkillers kicked in I was feeling human again by the time we arrived at 23:10. 


Train #9: Hikari Shinkansen from Nagoya to Shin-Osaka
Train #9: Hikari Shinkansen from Nagoya to Shin-Osaka

So yeah. Super long day.


Geotagging - Day 3
Geotagging - Day 3

Photos on the Canon: 169
Photos on the Sony: 95
Videos on the Sony: 2
Photos on the Olympus: 1
Photos on the Video: 29
Videos on the Video: 48
Steps walked: 5535
Yen Spent: 6200
Woke a bit before 8am. Only remember waking up once in the middle of the night so think I slept fairly well.

Got ready and went down for breakfast. This hotel does awesome breakfasts. They even had takoyaki!! Win!! (that's octopus balls for the uninitiated - an Osaka specialty.  Stu first introduced them to me the day I stayed home sick in this hotel last time.  And burnt my mouth on them last night when the locals brought us some to share with them heh).

Takoyaki for breakfast!
Takoyaki for breakfast! 

Small carparks, Japan style
Small carparks, Japan style, near Shin-Osaka station 

Came back upstairs to have a look at the Kyoto map I had done last time. Decided we'd head for the monkeys first and Kiyomizu-dera temple near Gion. And the tower.

So we caught the 10:13 hikari to Kyoto. Just about melted into a puddle waiting though. Have I mentioned how bad the heat is here? The train trip is so short (~15min) that I hadn't finished cooling off before we arrived.

Interior of Kyoto Station
Interior of Kyoto Station 

Astroboy!
Astroboy! 

Kimba!
Kimba! 

Decided we'd go up the tower first. It was actually pretty cool, and it was a lovely clear day for it. Could see all the way to Osaka in the distance. There were too many bits of the tower in the way to do a decent panorama - at least on the top level - the lower level was better - and no people in the way there either heh. Nowhere really to sit though (I've mentioned before the lack of seatage is one major gripe I have with this country).

Kyoto Tower
Kyoto Tower 

Kyoto Tower
Kyoto Tower 

View north-west from Kyoto Tower
View north-west from Kyoto Tower 

View west from Kyoto Tower
View west from Kyoto Tower 

View towards Osaka from Kyoto Tower
View towards Osaka from Kyoto Tower - you can see Osaka in the distance! 

Taxis outside Kyoto Station
Taxis outside Kyoto Station 

Kyoto Station
Kyoto Station 

So headed back down and back across to the station to find a map (I like having them on paper, and I'd stoopidly left the one I got last year at home. Went to the tourist information office (which had moved) and got some maps and the exact location of the Iwatayama monkey park.

Waited about fifteen minutes for a train, which thankfully was air conditioned.

Old steam train near Arashiyama station
Old steam train near Arashiyama station 

Wandered slowly down from the station to Togetsukyo Bridge. Then across it and wandered east along the Oi River. That was actually relatively pleasant as it was shady and there was a bit of a breeze.

Ōi River at Arashiyama
Ōi River at Arashiyama 

Togetsukyō Bridge
Togetsukyō Bridge 

Walk along the river at the base of Iwatayama
Walk along the river at the base of Iwatayama 

Canoeing on the river
Canoeing on the river 

Ōi River
Ōi River 

Canoes by the river
Canoes by the river 

Spent a little while there and had to decide whether or not to climb up to see the monkeys. Because, you know, EPIC HEAT!! In the end we decided we would make the climb. And it actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was all in the shade in the forest, and definitely cooler than outside the forest. And when you get to the top they direct you to a "rest room" where they hand out refresher towels! Very cool :)

Walking up Iwatayama
Walking up Iwatayama 

So anyway, inside the building you can buy nuts to feed the monkeys and they sit around the outside with their arms stretched in through the fencing expecting a handout. Some of them took the nuts very gently, others a bit rougher heh.

Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park
Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park 

Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park
Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park 

Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park
Monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park 

After we cooled down a bit we went outside to look at the view. They also did a feeding and all the monkeys came from all over to feed.

Cooling off in the pool
Cooling off in the pool 

Looking across to Kyoto
Looking across to Kyoto 

Looking across to Kyoto
Looking across to Kyoto 

Baby monkey
Baby monkey 

Feeding time!
Feeding time! 

Feeding time!
Feeding time! 

Was a very cool place, glad we decided to go. Nat would definitely have gone nuts with photos there hehe :)

So headed back down. It was nearly 3pm by this point and we'd pretty much had enough. So found an airconditioned restaurant on the main road and had some nice food and a couple of very big Sapporo beers (633mL- yipe!).

We decided we didn't have the energy to go to Kiyomizu-dera so just did a bit of a wander up to the bamboo grove. It was very still air though which was a bit unpleasant. I was feeling utterly miserable by this point. I really don't like heat :(

Sagano bamboo forest
Sagano bamboo forest 

Train at a level crossing in the middle of the bamboo grove
Train at a level crossing in the middle of the bamboo grove 

So we hopped in a train back into Kyoto and a hikari back to Osaka and into a cold shower.

Three drivers?
It amused us that there were not one, not two, but three JR staff in the Kyoto trains 

Had some snacks for dinner. Then was quite distressed to find that Stu's laptop has an iec cable which we don't have a dongle for. So only a couple of hours of battery left on it, which is most annoying since I wanted to do some photo stuff on it.

Early night tonight!

Oh, I also fixed the comments on this blog.. so please leave a comment if you're reading :)


Geotagging - Day 2
Geotagging - Day 2 

Geotagging - Day 2
Geotagging - Day 2

Photos on the Canon: 323
Photos on the Sony: 115
Videos on the Sony: 2
Photos on the Olympus: 5
Photos on the Video: 1
Videos on the Video: 44
Steps walked: 16610
Yen Spent: 7400
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