2017 London Highlights

This post is the highlights of living in London 2017. It covers everything from the Waitangi Day pub crawl to snow to sketch to Kew Gardens to Wimbledon. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Ibiza!

One long weekend at the end of September, Sally, Char and I set off for a girls weekend in Ibiza, for Sally’s London Hens! We had a lovely weekend sunning ourselves by the pool, partying and exploring the island, with a few dares for Sally thrown in. And with that I give you, the photo highlights!

The Amalfi Coast

With my lovely friend Kristin visiting the northern Hemisphere, what better a time to spend 5 days frolicking around the Amalfi Coast. Over the 5 days we ate lots of delicious food, swam in the delicious waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and explored the coastal towns. 
We stayed in Positano, in a family owned and run bed and breakfast, high up the coastal hills and with spectacular views of the main town. Views aside, it was quite the sweaty climb which made for a great way to burn off all the calories. Amalfi town we explored by getting a ferry down, admiring the coast as we went. We also took a day trip by boat to explore the island of Capri, where we wandered and explored the island, as well as swimming off the boat. 

Unfortunately, a holiday like that can’t last, but I can highly recommend a relaxing few days on the Amalfi Coast. 


In the ‘Dam

Another weekend, another trip away. This time I was off to Amsterdam with Edin and Katharine. After a bit of a rocky start consisting of a cancelled flight, a night in an the Gatwick Hilton and a new 6am flight, we finally made it to Amsterdam and made a beeline for Anne Franks House museum. 

I was somewhat disappointed with this experience. So many rave about this, and although it was surreal being there and seeing where they lived, the place was absolutely jam packed with tourists and this completely ruined the experience for me. 

After depositing of our bags at our vey funky hotel room, we headed out to see the Rijksmuseum, and of course the I Amsterdam sign. This museum was quite incredible, mostly due to the Dutch Grand master paintings by Vemeer and Rembrandt in its collection. These were very stunning to see in real life, especially as these artists were the first to really explore light and depth and accurately illustrate this. 

After the Rijksmuseum and a drink and a snack, we wandered our way along the canals to the meeting point for our red light district tour. This tour was very interesting and informative, and was great way to see this world famous area and learn about it in an objective way. It is definitely strange to walk down a street and see windows with women pouting and smiling and bouncing in their underwear, trying to attract clientele. 

The next day after a bit of a sleep in, Katharine and I hired bikes and rode to meet my friend Julie who is currently living in Amsterdam. After breakfast in the park, Julie took us on a fab bike tour of Amsterdam including Vondelpark and the Jordaan neighbourhood, before heading to De Hallen for lunch. 

After De Hallen it was time for the Van Gough Museum, followed by a ‘rice table’ where Julie and a number of her friends also joined us for dinner, drinks and laughs. 

Our last day was only a half day really, so after another sleep in it was time for another museum, this time the Stedelijk. I found this museum somewhat underwhelming if I’m honest. Next up we went off on a canal boat tour to see the city from the canals and learn a bit more about the history, architecture and neighborhoods. This was our last activity before having to make our way to the airport after a lovely but full on weekend. 

Milano

Oh Italy, how have I managed to live in London for a year and not make it to Italy. Well, let me say, Milan did not disappoint. 

After a late night flight and creeping into my hotel room in an attempt to not wakemy travel  companion, I was reunited with my fab friend Antonia who was on a wee Eurotrip. 

Saturday morning it was all talking a million miles and an hour as we caught up and made our way to breakfast and then the Duomo. The Duomo and its rooftops were absolutely stunning, and provided a fantastic perspective on not only the famous Cathedral but also the city. Next up we wandered through the teeming Galeria, before setting off in search of lunch. We hit the jackpot with a fabulous Mozarella bar and so began our food heaven experience. Truffle pasta, buffalo mozzarella, delicious salad and Aperil spritz. All my food dreams coming true, much to the dismay of my PT. 

After lunch we explored the Castello Sforzesco and wandered the park, before making our way to the Church housing ‘The Last Supper’ to try our luck. Unfortunately there was nothing available so we opted for gelato and some errands before quiet time before dinner. 

Dinner again was food heaven, complete with more Aperol and of course some Italian red wine. With an early flight the next day, this bought my first Italian foray to a close. Bring on the Amalfi Coast! 


Weekend in the Nooowwrrff

This past weekend, I made the train journey north to Manchester to visit my pseudo cousin Charlie and catch up with my friends Will and Kate. As this was my first intra-city train journey, I found it far more amusing and exciting than any of my other fellow passengers. I may or may not have spent more than half the journey staring out the window, taking photos and enjoying passing the quaint English villages and countryside. 


On arrival in Manchester I was met by Charlie, and after taking the scenic route home via the Quays, Salford and Old Trafford, it was off to bed. 

Saturday I was up early, and met Will and Kate for my first ever Full English complete with Buck’s Fizz before our walking tour of Manchester. Manchester has such a rich and interesting history, from the cotton trade, the industrial revolution and trade unionist action. The city was even bombed by the Irish Republican Army in the 1990’s, although no one was injured or killed.  Learning more about the history of Manchester on our walking tour was great, and made all the more interesting by fact the that Manchester was hosting Comicon. So many Captain Americas and Pikachus!

Manchester Central Library and the Old Post Office

Manchester Town Hall

St Ann’s Churst and some old dude.

After the walking tour, Will, Kate and I enjoyed some cider in the sun, before parting ways. 

I continued my self-led tour of Manchester by avoiding the sales and shops, and venturing to the beautiful Manchester Cathedral. On the way I spotted the Manchester working bees, symbols of the many workers of the industrial revolution. I also made my way to the beautiful neo-gothic John Rylands Library. 

The beeeeeeeees 🐝🐝🐝🐝

The beautiful Cathedral.

Stained glass windows in the Cathedral


The John Rylands Library

Pretty grand reading room!

Afterwards, it was time for a quick nap and dinner out Charlie, her partner James and his sister Vanessa. James and Vanessa are from north of Manchester and I absolutely loved their Noooowwrrrfffen accents. I still can’t get over how many different and varied accents there are in England, it’s fantastic. 

Sunday was classic bacon butties for breakfast before heading to Liverpewl for the day. It was such a perfect day for it, so sunny and quite warm. After wandering around the docks, we did an open top bus tour. More wandering and a stop off at the Everton shop finished the day before the journey back to Manchester and then London.

The Pumphouse at Albert Dock.

Outside the Beatles Museum with Charlie. Didn’t go in, saving that for next time! 

Found the yellow submarine!

Open top bus tour with Charlie, Vanessa and James.

Padlocks at the dock. Most of these were tributes to loved ones lost. 

Loving being back in a port city with the sea air

The Royal Liver Building


Me and me meeeytes, the Beatles. I will be back Liverpool!

Kobenhavn

Well, I have now finally made it to continental Europe, arriving into Copenhagen (Kobenhavn in Danish) around midnight Friday after a delayed flight out of Gatwick.  We were those people, rocking into our hostel dorm at 1am, trying to be quiet but really probably waking everyone else up. 

After a bit of a sleep in, and some breakfast which included some great coffee, Jeremy and I were off on our walking tour of the city. We had a fantastic guide, Ben from Canada, who moved to Denmark for looooove ❤️. He did a great job of sharing the varied history of Copenhagen with us as we toured the city. This included Absalon the warrior bishop, the many kings, the great fires, involvement in the many wars that had their battlegrounds in Europe, nazi occupation and much much more. Copenhagen really is a beautiful city, so well planned and designed. It’s a city made for cyclists with special cycling lanes everywhere and bikes generally getting right of way over pedestrians and cars. We were in fact warned about looking out for Danes on bikes as apparently they get a bit aggressive. Our tour included many sites such as the City Hall, Christiansborg palace, the old City Center, picturesque harbour Nyhavn and Royal Palace Amalienborg where Prince Frederick and Princess Mary live. After the tour we took ourselves to see the famous Mermaid sculpture, had a few beers in the sun, and visited the marble church. After a traditional Danish dinner and a quick rest, it was off on a pub crawl. This was a lot of fun and we met some really nice people from all over the world. However, the last club we went to was terrible, complete with a rubbish Danish rap act. 

Sunday after a sleep in, we decided to drive to Sweden for lunch, over the Oresund bridge. The journey starts with a tunnel on the Danish side so as not to interfere with airport traffic. You the. Emerge onto the famous bridge to complete your journey to Sweden. It’s a pretty amazing bridge and it is said that from above, it looks like cars are disappearing into the water when they enter the tunnel. After a break that afternoon and some wandering, we headed off to the Tivoli gardens with our German friends we met on the pub crawl the previous evening. We enjoyed an evening of wandering through the gardens, some Danish hotdogs, beer and chatting with our new friends. Jeremy and I even tried out the oldest roller coaster in the world. Not really sure how it stays on the tracks but it does, and there is even a driver pulling the lever to slow the roller coaster down at the end. 

Monday we hired bikes to see the last of the sites before heading home Monday night. Free Town Christiana was our first stop and definitely an interesting place. Some hippies took up residence in ask e abandoned army barracks and made a little town and that is where they remain. You can quick freely purchase illicit substances there. After this we headed to the for a traditional todo belle for lunch, rye bread with fresh season toppings. We then made our way to Rosenberg palace and explored the palace and botanical gardens complete with guards with giant guns. Our last item of the day was a  freeeeeeezing canal tour around the city, followed by a and delicious pizz in the meat packing district. Then it was off to the airport. 

Overall, I loved visiting Copenhagen. It seems like a very liveable city, how convenient they have a shortage of IT consultants….  Jeremy and blended in very well with our light eyes and blonde hair, on several occasions we were spoken to in Danish, and had to quickly explain, ” sorry I only speak English.” Good thing almost everyone there speaks excellent English there. 

Copenhagen Streets and Canals


Christianborg Palace

Danish hotdog with everything

Nyhavn

Amalienborg Palace changing of the guard 

Being told to back off by the palace guard, got too close for the photo


The Mermaid Statue – Photo by Jeremy Hooper

Traditional Danish food nom nom

Off to Sweden for lunch!

Oresund Bridge to Sweden

Wandering through Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens

Free Town Christiana


Rosenberg Palace