94 Kms from Southend-on-Sea
London is a magnificent melting pot and an exemplary showcase art, culture and beautiful urban spaces - both contemporary and historical. England’s largest city is home to some of the world’s most magnetic Gothic architecture, and a prolific arts and theatre culture. A few must visit places in London are the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. Head to the Buckingham Palace and catch the changing of the Guard at 11:30am from May until the end of July. Tourists can view the Crown Jewels, and also take a mandatory picture with a guard. Most of London’s museums have free entry, so take it all in from Tate Modern to the City Museum to the National Gallery and the Historical Museum. Make a stop at the Westminster Abbey and revel in the bustling Trafalgar Square that is the heart of London. For something more intimate, take a walk down to the Borough Market that has probably the best food and produce in London. Grab yourself a Cornish pasty or a plateful of the signature fish and chips before you leave the city.
468 Kms from Southend-on-Sea
I have always been in awe of wooden windmills, from the first time I, as a child, attempted to paint a Dutch country side with a windmills-dotted skyline to the time when I visited a windmill-turned-brewery (Browerij’t IJ) in Amsterdam on my student trip in 2011. My short time in Amsterdam had not given me the scope to visit any other windmills around the area and my awe persisted. In my recent Euro-trip, I decided to get a closure on my infatuation and visit the Dutch countryside teeming with these imposing wooden structures. The visit turned out to be much more than windmills and alas, my love for the Dutch countryside continues…In Netherlands, there are two very popular neighborhoods which have been protected and preserved to display the Dutch way of living and trades and crafts from rural Netherlands. One is Kinderdijk (near Rotterdam) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other is Zaanse Schans (near Amsterdam). We decided on Zaanse Schans because it was easier for us travel-wise. We took a bus from Stuttgart to Amsterdam and then bought an Amsterdam & Region Travel Pass, which covers a lot of neighborhoods around Amsterdam including the famous Keukenhof tulip gardens and Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is a short 45 mins trip from Amsterdam Central by bus.We had booked an Airbnb accommodation in Zaandijk, very close to the site of Zaanse Schaans. After freshening up, we took our bicycles and made our way to the site. It was very windy and our hair was windswept. As we neared the place, a strong odour accosted us. We were to find out later that it was the emissions from the chocolate and starch factories in the region.We had a preconceived picture of a few windmills and wooden houses that we would get to see at the site. But the scene that welcomed us transported us immediately to the industrial age in Netherlands. It is like an open-air museum with bakery, cheese factory, clog-making warehouse and wooden houses with barns and working-windmills on the banks of river Zaan that flows in the area. It indeed looked like a painting.
410 Kms from Southend-on-Sea
We took an early morning bus (7am) from Paris to Brussels. We reached Brussels at around 10 am and proceeded to our AirBnB accommodation. We spent just one day at Brussels. We first visited Grand Palais and then walked around till Mannekin Pis statue. There is a Tin Tin Mural at a walking distance. There are awesome Belgian waffles and chocolate shops in the city center. We then took a tram till Atomium and then went to Palais de justice. The Royal gallery hosts great restaurants with reasonable rates.We ended the day with the dinner at the Royal gallery.
368 Kms from Southend-on-Sea
The only August travel was a long weekend of partying in Bristol (one of my favourite UK cities) with friends.This blog was finally launched after 5 months of hard work and teaching myself how to use word press from scratch. Sh*t Just Got Real was my first post, which reflected that suddenly our upcoming adventure was becoming a realityAndy handed in his notice at work and we finished selling, giving away and storing our belongings, and put our Norwich house up for rent. We also spent hours working through our exit plan to ensure we had all loose ends tied up in The UK, a rough idea of our route to Cambodia and that we had the relevant visas sorted out.Selling belongings for long term travelI also spent much of the month caring for my Mum after she’d badly broken her arm falling off her bicycle. All in all it was quite a very busy and quite stressful month. At the end of August it was time to start saying farewell to our friends and family over a string of goodbye catch-ups and one final big leaving party. All great fun but also tinged with sadness!SeptemberAt long last we left the UK to travel, and to live and work abroad in early September.It started with a weeks villa holiday near Santanyi in Mallorca with my family, including my two little nephews. It was a gorgeous villa with a pool in a picturesque setting a bit bit out in the sticks. We had some time relaxing at the villa and a couple of day trips out to nearby beaches and towns. It was lovely to have that week with my family before we left Europe for the foreseeable future
221 Kms from Southend-on-Sea
Since we had a comfortable overnight journey, today we were all fresh and ready to have an exciting day ahead. Today, we are supposed to go to Oxford city in south east of London. It is a 2 hour train journey from London and we reach Oxford by 10 am. There was a city bus tour here again, but since we had the entire day to spend in Oxford our preferred choice of exploring the place was by walking around. We took a map of the city from the train station and we labeled the route we had to take, it was a circular walk around the city.The buildings in Oxford demonstrate an example of every English architectural period and its known as the "city of dreaming spires", a term coined in reference to the harmonious architecture of Oxford's university buildings. The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English speaking world. Our walk leads us through the heart of the historic city centre illustrating in itself the history of Oxford and its university and the map in our hand gave us the description of the architecture and traditions of its most famous buildings and institutions. Even though I was not a good student myself or much of a book reader, I felt it was a prolific day spent in Oxford, a city also prominent for its medieval university. Our day ended with some good coffee and we reached back home in London at around 8 in the evening.