Results tagged “Monuments” from Eurasia 2012

Alarm went off just after 5am this morning. After a late night this was not welcome. I was barely functioning as I got ready. Headed off a bit before 6am, and hopped on a train to Brussels. I partly dozed but didn't get any sleep. Stoopidly (again) I got an aisle seat. But the train was mostly empty so I took the window seat next to me. Why even bother asking for preferences on seating if you're not going to pay any attention to them??

So got to Brussels Midi and went and dumped my suitcase in a locker (4 euro, but if I'd gone to the place across the way it'd have been 3.60 .. doh!). Then went to figure out how I'd be getting to Amsterdam. Then to go get a Metro ticket. You can get an all day pass for 6 euro which turned out to be really great value (since individual tickets are 2 euro each). Brussels' Metro is a lot smaller that Paris, and generally much better organised and user-friendly. So had no problems figuring out my way around. They have these funky indicator boards that show where all the trains on the line are at (forwards and backwards).

Hopped on a train and headed up to the Atomium! Except for some reason I thought it opened at 9am, when it actually opened at 10am. Doh!

Didn't want to wait an hour there so headed to the Koekelberg basilica. Something like the fifth biggest church in the world or something. This area was completely devoid of any tourists which was a little scary. Walked up to the basilica which was supposed to open at 9am, but there were no signs anywhere. Eventually I found an open door and went in, but it looked like they were about to have a service, so I just took a picture or two and walked out again. I didn't bother going up the dome because it was too hazy.

From there walked down to the "Don't Trip!" sculpture. http://www.neatorama.com/2011/11/30/dont-trip/ The walk down had even less people around, and lots of guys just standing around by themselves. So that was a lot scary. But made it safely through.

Then on another train back up to the Atomium. This thing was built for the 1958 World Expo, and it was so popular they kept it. The view from the top would have been great on a clear day, but as it was it was a bit of a waste. But walking and escalating up and down through the spheres for the exhibitions was pretty cool.

Back into town again and straight out to Jubelpark to see the arch. You can actually go up the arch (and it's free!) via the military museum next to it (you just need to cloak your bags). On the way back out, I went and had a look at the hall of planes which was pretty cool.

Finally into the old town. Got off at Centraal and walked down. Saw a sign for Manneken Pis (translated: little man peeing) and then it was just a matter of following the crowds.

All up and down the alleys here are chocolate shops and waffle shops, as well as the souvenir shops. I got a waffle with brown sugar for 1.80. I have to say I preferred the paris waffle better - this one was quite a bit *heavier*. Also bought some Belgian chocolates .. oops :)

Continued on to the Market Square which was surrounded by beautiful buildings.

And down to Delirium Cafe, which I'd read online had a decent range of Belgian beers. Had an Affligem and a Trapistes Rochefort. Yum.

So headed back to the Midi station feeling slightly merry, and off I went again to Amsterdam.

Three hour train trip, I don't think I slept either :/

Got to Amsterdam and walked down to the hotel. After all the TripAdvisor reviews I'd read I was terrified it was going to be awful. But I ended up getting a room with a shower (I'd paid for a shared one). Yes it's super tiny, but seems relatively clean. And got some help with the suitcase on the super steep steps. Only main problem so far - the window doesn't actually lock :/

Headed out again to find some dinner. There's a laundromat directly opposite the hotel which is super awesome. And a fries and mayo place next door. But I wanted something with salad for dinner, so went for a wander. Walked down a lane that was full of south american grill cafes. Found something there (had chicken schnitzel though not steak).

And then kept wandering. There's such a lot of life going on here. Be better if the sweetie was here ....

And now it's 11pm. How does that work? Will attempt to sleep in... maybe... I was orignally planning to go see Anne Frank's house which opens at 9. Will see how I go. As for the rest of the day, I need some suggestions. What are *must dos* ?


Distance covered on the GPS: 581.1 km
Steps walked: 26891
Photos on the Canon: 207
Photos on the Sony: 67
Videos: 0
EUR Spent: ?

Pretty overwhelming day today.

Got up early and headed out of the hotel, grabbing some takeaway breakfast on the way, and off to St Pancras. I thought I'd left myself plenty of time, but as I was walking through St Pancras I looked at my watch and realised checkin closed in like a minute! Slight panic and a bit of a run, but made it just in time. Through security and passport control and into the Eurostar lounge. Had about a minute there before they opened the train. Sadly I got an aisle seat, and the girl beside me slept the entire way - #grunt. Apparently further back in the train there were *heaps* of seats. Le sigh.

So two and a quarter hours later arrived at Paris Gare du Nord. Pretty good time for 490km!

Walked to my hotel - it's like two minutes from the station - best location ever! Tiny little room, but perfectly adequate. Luckily I was able to check in and dump my crap.

Headed straight out again because it was sunny, and decided to travel light so wouldn't have to lug my backpack around.

Gare du Nord is *huge*. And the automatic ticket machines only seemed to take coins, but I wanted a carnet, which I didn't have enough coins for, so queued to buy tickets. Fifteen minutes later .. hrmm. Eventually got my tickets, and eventually found where to go to get the train I wanted. Paris' metro signage is not nearly as user-friendly as London's :(

So into town I trundled.

Got out of the station and it's freezing cold and cloudy. WTF?? And of course I didn't bring my jacket, because it was *sunny*. Le sigh.

Anyway, got out at Notre Dame. Had a look, but the queue was all the way back along the plaza in front of it. So just wandered up and down the Seine having a look.

Continued walking along the south bank. Came across a bridge that was covered in padlocks. And realised how much I missed the sweetie :(:(:(

Eventually was opposite the Louvre so went across and had a look around. The queue for people *with* tickets was all the way across the plaza. I don't even know where the people were that needed to buy tickets.

Headed west, walking through the little arch, and through the gardens to see the obelisk which is the pair of the one I saw last week in Luxor.

Kept walking up Champs de elysee or however you spell it. It was nice through the park section of it, but then the shops hit and it was crazy crowded.

Finally got to the Arc de Triumphe. Crowded. So crowded. I couldn't remember if this was covered by the museum pass or not, so just decided to do it, since I was there. Fifteen minutes queueing later.. hrmm. I think it was actually on the museum pass, which if I'd had I could have walked straight in. Le sigh.

Went up and the view was pretty good. 194 steps in the sprial staircase to the first layer, more after that to the upper layers.

Came back down and it started raining.

Then it stopped, so kept walking.

Headed south-west and had a look at the Eiffel Tower from the north west side. There was sun for a while, but not when I was in a position to photograph it. Le sigh.

Went under the tower. They were setting up for a concert or something so couldn't stand in the middle and look up :( Why do I always seem to have crap timing for these sorts of things? Sussed out the queues. There's a lift broken so you can't buy tickets in advance (I tried when I was still at home - they were sold out til like June - now they're sold out til July). The lift queue looked *insane* and the stairs queue was like an hour and a half long. :(

I'd had enough at this point so headed back to Gare du Nord. Really don't like the signage here :(

Found a semi user-friendly cafe and had some veal and veggies (I'd been craving meat and veggies since had too much doughy stuff today).

Then back to the hotel. The sweetie was still up after his last day at his Japanese school, so we had a skype chat which was pretty emotional for me. Have I mentioned how much I miss the sweetie?

I can't find my Euro electrical adapter. I had it in Cairo but it's gone now. Will pull apart all my luggage to see if I can find it. Gonna be a pain if I have to buy a new one :/ Also realised this morning that the camel bone letter opener I got in Egypt was smashed in my suitcase :(

*SIGH*


Distance covered on the GPS: 490.3 km on the train, 13.5 km walking around Paris
Steps walked: 26692
Photos on the Canon: 213
Photos on the Sony: 51
Videos: 2
EUR Spent: 43.80

Busy day in London today, but on paper it doesn't look like all that much.

Breakfast was super late today - 8:00!! I woke up at 5:23, so got up and spent some time organising what I'll be doing for the next three days.

After breakfast I headed into town and out to Elephant and Castle to walk down to Old Kent Road to add to my Monopoly street signs collection. I walked a good way down the street before I gave up and headed back (it seems this place suffers from the same problem as other places - they don't label the main road, only side streets). But then on the side of the overpass was a sign! Yay!

Headed for Tower Bridge, getting there around 10am. And there was sun! And the Tower of London wasn't behind white sheeting.

Thought I'd go rephotograph The Leaky Cauldron mark II before heading for Monument. But on the way I walked past the London Bridge Experience. It was on the todo list for another day, but it was just there and there was no queue out the door, so decided to just go in then. I had no idea what to expect. I guess I was expecting more of a museum. So the "experience" was all a little ridiculous. And the "tombs" was kind of like Inifinity on the Gold Coast, except with "scary" stuff, and guys running around yelling boo essentially, but with far too many sudden loud noises for my ears. You have to put your hands on the shoulders of the person in front and trundle through in a little conga line. Silly silly silly. I'm glad it was "free" on my London Pass otherwise I'd have been pretty disappointed. And it wasted an hour of perfectly good sunlight :/

Went and got my photos of the Leaky Cauldron, then walked across the Southwark bridge, and went and found Monument. It was getting a bit cloudy at this point :( But climbed the 311 steps anyway. Took some photos and continued.

Walked up to Leadenhall markets to get a photo I missed last time of the area of the first Leaky Cauldron.

Headed for Bank station, but it seemed like all the lines through it were shut down for the day. Decided it would be easier to walk back to Monument station. Except then I waited and waited for a train to High Street Kensington. So gave up on that idea and decided to go to Gloucester Road instead.

From there walked up to Kensington Palace. Got to walk through the big front gates this time (last time they were working on the gardens and the entrance was closed and you had to go around the other side behind the garden). Going in was a little confusing about where you had to actually go to get in. But got in, and the things you see are all off one central room. So went and saw the Diana exhibition (just a few of her dresses not seen on display before), then the "King's State Rooms" which were the most impressive, the "Queen's State Rooms" for Queen Mary II, and an exhibition called Victoria Revealed which had a whole lot of memorabilia from her life. There was a lot of stuff there and you could have spent ages looking at it if interested. And the best thing: you can take photos of it all!!

Decided I'd walk through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park rather than taking the tube so that I could go up Wellington Arch, which closes at 5pm. I got there at 16:32. Guess what time the place *actually* closes? 16:30. So the buttplugs wouldn't let me in :(:(:( And the place isn't open the next two days, so I missed out completely :(:(:(

So I did the only thing a sane person would do - got depressed, gave up on the day and went back to the hotel. Via KFC.


Distance covered on the GPS: 25.2 km
Steps walked: 26027
Photos on the Canon: 189
Photos on the Sony: 57
Videos: 1 (?)
GBP Spent: 5.58

A day of tombs and temples today. And a 4:30am start :(

First stop, after a forty minute coach ride, was the Valley of the Kings. No cameras allowed in there (xray bag checks) so left them on the bus. The ticket gives you entry to three tombs of your choice (except for Tutenkamen which is extra). Our tour guide recommended doing Ramses III, IX and IV, so that's what we did. They were pretty awesome, although someone said they'd been restoring the paintwork on them to make them look shinier. Will need to see if that is true.

Next stop, round the side of the mountain, was the temple of Hatshepsut. This temple is a very unusual design with ramps and terraces. Unfortunately not much is original - about eighty percent has been restored by a Polish team. Quickly explored that one.

A short hop to our next temple - Habu Temple. This one had some very deep heiroglyphics, and some beautiful paintwork.

A very quick stop at a couple of statues, that I must look up the significance of (one of them was cracked in an earthquake and the wind passing through it made it sound like it was whistling).

Back across the Nile to Karnak Temple. This was by far the most crowded place we have been to on this trip. An avenue of rams head sphynxes, a one hundred and thirty four column room, and two whole obelisks were the highlights of this huge temple complex. At one point one of the armed guards of the place beckoned to Dad and me to follow him to see a part of the temple that was normally fenced off. We tried to tell him we had no change (well I had enough change for two more toilet trips in the country so was saving that) but he said come anyway. Of course he wanted a tip anyway didn't he, so I gave him and the other dude a few of the pens that I brought along.

Just before twelve we drove to the airport and off we went back to Cairo. Sadly on the wrong side of the plane to see anything in Luxor or Cairo (and the plane was pretty much completely full except for the seat next to me), but could see the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez off in the distance.

Got back to the hotel mid-late afternoon and did some photo backups for the parents. Also got all my videos and all my resized photos onto memory sticks that the parents will take home as a backup (my masters take up far too much space..hrmm).

Went with Jan and Howard to dinner at Thomas' again.

Then back here to blog and bed. Was going to wash my hair but think will leave that til London.


Distance covered on the GPS: 650.3 km
Steps walked: 17216
Photos on the Canon: 253
Photos on the Sony: 59
Videos: 3
EGP Spent: 17
USD Spent: 50

Another fairly quiet day today.

Another 5:30 wakeup to be off the boat at 7am.

First up was a minibus ride to the unfinished obelisk (ha, I accidently typed obelix there, must be those years of reading Asterix ;) ). That was pretty cool, and amazing that they never used the granite for anything else. Leaving the place you're channelled through an arcade of vendors that all step in your path and say "come look, no hassle".. umm, dude, you're hassling me now! They just don't get this. So I pretty much bolted through and didn't look at anything. Buttheads.

Then back in the minibus to a motorboat to go to the temples of Philae. These structures were actually partially submerged by the first Aswan dam, and were going to be completely submerged by its extension. So they moved it all to an island, but they had to rearrange a few things to get it all to fit on the island.

The flies were particularly bad when we got off the boat to wait for the minibus. Quite bothersome really.

So back to the big boat with a little time before lunch. I ate way too much meat at lunch, that is still fermenting in my stomach hours later :(

Watched as they cast off from Aswan.

Sat up on the top deck for a while, but some Germans kept smoking upwind from us, so gave up on that and retired to my cabin for the afternoon. Didn't really do anything apart from play games on my phone and rest (couldn't even sleep :( ).

Sunset was viewed from my cabin tonight. I thought about going up on deck and having a drink, but in the end just did my washing. Yay. Still, that should be the last lot of handwashing I have to do in a long time, probably a couple of weeks. Yay for knowing where the laundromat is in Earl's Court! (let's hope it's still operational heh)

For dinner I just had some soup and some salad and a bit of dessert.

While eating we arrived in Edfu.

In Aswan my window faced the dock which was a little boring. During the cruise I just got the hot afternoon sun so couldn't open the blind. When we arrived in Edfu we pulled up with the other side of the ship facing the dock, so I thought I'd have a nice morning view of the Nile. Yeah right. Another ship has pulled up parallel to us and my view is of the next ship :( The next window is literally a metre away from mine :(

I couldn't stay awake for the Egyptian "party" downstairs. It was meant to be dressup. Yeah right. Hrmmm.

Going to bed.

After I clear the bowels. Multiple times. Hope this is done by tomorrow morning :(


Distance covered on the GPS: 138.1 km
Steps walked: 9004
Photos on the Canon: 180
Photos on the Sony: 29
Videos: 4
EGP Spent: 6

So the wakeup call this morning came at 5am.

*groan*

Got ready and picked up our "breakfast boxes" and headed for the bus.

There were a pair of Canadians and a pair of Americans who were on a different Insights tour along for the day as well.

So off we all headed to Alexandria.

Had some of the breakfast box on the bus (but I forgot to document the contents!). There were several rolls (two large - one cheese, one meat, and two small), a croissant, yoghurt, juice, jam, butter, a banana and an apple. Enough for breakfast *and* lunch! Although far too much bread for my liking (and my bowels aren't thanking me either).

Took a little over three hours to get to Alexandria. Apparently today was a public holiday so the traffic was considered to be fairly light.

Our first stop was the Alexandria Museum. The tour guide said "leave your cameras on the bus" so I immediately started stressing out :(:( Took the memory sticks out and brought them with me. The museum does xray bag checks as well as metal detectors. Apparently the rationale is that when it's crowded, people taking photos makes everything take too long. And when they say no flash people would still use flash anyway. So now they ban cameras completely. Which just makes it stressful for people like me who need to be with their cameras at all times :(:(:( Had an hour to wander around the museum, which is relatively small.

Second stop was the catacombs. Again the guide said no cameras. Manual bag searches here and metal detectors. Around the top of the area they have a whole heap of sarcophagi that they've brought up. So you go down this spiral staircase which is where they used to lower sarcophagi down. Then there's chambers off to the sides - a big super fancy one with amazing stone carvings, and then around lots of passages around the sides are the "commercial" areas which were just plain empty holes (the sarcophagi were upstairs, and apparently they only found a very few mummies there as most had been taken, probably for fertiliser).

Third stop was Pompey's Pillar, which apparently is famous..

Fourth stop was the roman theatre and collonaded street.

And the final stop was the Qaitbay Citadel which is a pretty cool castle (although it does look somewhat restored as it looks in a little too perfect condition).

Traffic through some of the small streets in Alexandria was pretty insane. Actually it wasn't even so much that the streets were small, it's just that in recent times illegal street vendors have gathered, taking up lanes and causing traffic chaos. If we thought Jordan was bad it's even crazier here! Road rules and parking rules are non-existent. Whoever's in front (mostly) has right of way. Most of the cars have scrapes from obviously very frequent crashes.

Got to do lots of people watching while negotiating the traffic. One thing I don't like is how many idle men there seem to be. They just stand or sit around either by themselves or in groups and just *stare* at us. Not very pleasant at all. Much fewer women around and almost never with men. When we got to the coast there was a bit more mixing.

So left Alexandria just after 2pm and got back to the hotel just before 6pm.

Went straight out to look for some snackages and also get some dinner.

Then back here to do photos and blog.

I'm almost delirious tonight I'm that tired. I'm forgetting things and everything is that much harder and taking that much longer to do :(:( Need to collapse into bed but need to do washing even more - as tomorrow we don't get back to the hotel til like 9:30pm :(:(:(


Distance covered on the GPS: 460.8 km
Steps walked: 10026
Photos on the Canon: 193
Photos on the Sony: 20
Photos on the iPhone: 4, if my computer would read it
Videos: 10
EGP Spent: 71.50