Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Back to UK, Up to Stoke-on-Trent and Then to Newcastle


Sorry for the delay in the travelogue update. LOng way to go, and most of them I don't remember much. Oh well, they're hazy memories now.

But what I for sure remember is the fun and a strong sense of belonging I felt there!

Let's continue from where we left off.

Coming back from Paris at St. Pancras, we immediately made our way to Victoria Station to catch our National Express coach to Stoke-on-Trent, which would stop at nearby Hanley. Aitelyu... Ala-ala Amazing Race la jugak sebab we had quaite a difficulty trying to find the Victoria Coach Station outside the main station cause it was quite a long walking distance, and we were dragging our luggages, plus some treasure from Paris!

We made it on time and hopped on the bus about 5 minutes before it was due to depart at 3 PM. It was actually enroute to Liverpool and hanley was one of the major stops. Along the way, the bus stopped at Milton Keynes to pick up more passengers, and one service stop so we could stretch our legs. We arrived at Stoke on time, close to 7PM, and we waited for about 20 minutes before our cousin picked us up.

Early the next morning, we woke up early and I went with my cousin to pick up our rented car from Enterprise office about 15 minutes away from home. We had some problems with the paperwork, and around 11 AM, we departed for Newcastle. That was the first destination of our 3-night road trip which would cover Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. For this road tirp, we stayed mainly at various Travelodge motels.

The journey from Stoke to Newcastle took about 5 hours, and we were to meet with my old school friend, Q, who was in Newcastle doing her PhD. She's also knows my cousin and sister as all went to the same school.

The view along the journey. Very pristine, and Wuthering Heights-like!

Anyway, right before we entered Newcastle, we stopped by at Angel of The North sculpture at Gateshead. Really majestic and gigantic, the view was also fantastic! Whatt?? They rhyme!:))

Ok photos!

It was late afternoon, almost dark by then. We then made our way the motel, checked in and left again to my friend's house in Newcastle and lepak at her place for dinner. Another mutual friends who were also residing in the UK for their PhD. After dinner, off we went down town to the Gateshead Millenium Bridge and to check out Newcastle night life.

The next morning, off we checked out early and made our way back to Q's place to meet her for breakfast and more exploration of Newcastle. She wanted to take us to St. Mary's Island and it's lighthouse as well as the highlight of the day - visiting Dalton Park Factory Outlet!:) So happy!

The lighthouse

Inside the lighthouse

After that, off we drove along the Tyneside coastal road towards the...

Tyneside Priory and Castle! It's right by the Tyneside cliff, the weather was nice and the view was beautiful!

After that, off we go to Dalton Park. Sorry, sibuk shopping, takde gambar ye..:)). I liked Dalton Park just nice, and here, my sister and I got our best-valued acquisition - a pair of GBP10 Levi's each! Seriously, mana nak dapat Levi's jeans for RM50?? Bought a few more items, but I seriously can't remember the exact details:))

After Dalton Park, it was getting into late afternoon already. before heading back to Q's house, we stopped by at the Newcastle town centre to pop by at St. James' Park, home of the Newcastle United. Well, being football fans, we thought we should visit as many stadiums as we could, even if we didn't support the team.

We rested for a bit at Q's place, before we made our way to the next destination. Thanks a lot friend for your hospitality! Who would've thought that the tomboyish girl I knew in school is now a soon-to-be-called Dr. Eaqerzilla Phang and mother of 5 (or is it 6??) kids! She was also kind enough to help me set my iPad with the locations of our next destinations, and gave us tips of places to go up north, as well as where we should be on the lookout for, i.e interesting points along the way!

We said bye, and around 6.30 started our journey up north towards Edinburgh. But along the way, we were to singgah at Bambaugh Castle to check it out. Too bad we when arrived it was already 7PM, so it was closed already. Jadnya ambik gambar kat luar aje lah!

Bambaugh Castle from afar

Spooky woods by the castle!

Overlooking the North Sea

Before it gets too dark, we made our way back to the main freeway and headed to our next destination: north country, Scotland.

Next entry ehhs?:)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Paris (Part 2)


OK I swear this will be the last part of this leg of my travelogue. You know why? Cause I was in paris for only 2 nights! Hahahaha...

Anyway, let's continue with our Paris story. The next day tu, we left the hostel early to get on our Seine River-Canal St. Martin cruise. It would take half day. Seriously, I didn't know what I was thinking booking a half-day cruise. But we enjoyed in nonetheless.And I got the tickets here, bought a few days before we left Malaysia.

Here's a bit of info of the cruise that we were on:
This half-day cruise brings you the best of both worlds: the grandeur of the Seine together with the quiet intimacy of Napoleon’s canals. Embarkation just below the Musée d’Orsay. From here you will glide serenely past the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Ile Saint Louis, before arriving at the entrance to the canal Saint Martin whose first section is an astonishing, eerily lit tunnel, passing directly underneath the Place de la Bastille. Once again in the light of day, you will discover the most romantic street in Paris..2 miles of of pure poetry. Old swing bridges, half-moon footbridges and maple trees line the canal, which climbs its way through a series of 19th century locks and some enchanting old areas of the city, until 26 metres above the Seine it comes to the Parc de la Villette, with its magnificent themed gardens and museums. Or the same cruise in the opposite direction, leaving from la Villette and terminating at the Musée d’Orsay.

Ok then, let's just have a look at what we saw along the way:

Oooppss..! Hahaha.. I was so in my Parisien mode, I wore my French beret the whole day. Oh well, I bought it near Eiffel Tower the day before actually.

While still at Musee d'Orsay, waiting for the boat? Ship? to load. We met many other foreign tourists on the cruise. The guide, Arnaud, while we were checking in, was so excited upon finding out that we were Malaysian that he immediately greeted and spoke to us in some basic Malay! That's cause he goes to Malaysia and Indonesia practically every year just to dive. That's nice ain't it. Wahhh.. kaki diving jugak cruise guide kitorang nih!

Institut de Paris

Notre Dame

This is Arnaud, our Malay-speaking cruise guide. Throughout the cruise he would explain everything first in French, then English.

Nearing Bastille. We would be entering about 2 miles of the canal underneath Bastille and the city itself, so cruising in the dark la kekdahnyerr..

Poyo!! mau jugak pakai sunglasses dalam gelap kaa?? Hahahahaha...

Occasionally we gte under the vent hole thingy and we know we were right under a street.

The light at the end of the tunnel hehehh...

Waterlocks over the canal. Throughout the cruise we went pass about 7 of them, and on each lock, we were elevated approximately 3 meters. So by the end of the cruise we were raised for a total of 21 meters in height.

Notice this half-moon bridge? Right in front of it is this bridge-road thingy that can rotate to make way for ships to sail through.

From afar, it was still a road.

Then it rotated to the side to make way, and we stopped right over it into a waterlock.

Once we were done, it swung back into its normal position and resumes it's function as a road! Nice ehh? *mode jakun jap!*

Leaving the canal, back to the river.

Mau jugak posing-posing kaaa?

We disembarked at Parc de la Villette. Had lunch at a Lebanese restaurant we found near the Metro before we headed back to the city centre. Next destination, the Louvre!

We could only hang around the compound as the queue to enter this massive museum was very long. And of course, not to mention the prospect of the long queue of those who wanted to pay homage to Mona Lisa.

But still, the compound, and it's equally famous pyramid made our time spent there worthwhile.

The back of the Louvre.

On the way to the famous frontyard, you'll get a glimpse of what is inside the museum. But you've got to pay to get in la..

Posing saje-saje..

This is the pyramid made famous by the movie The Da Vinci Code. Truly, the Louvre is massive! More than massive, it's gigantic, being the biggest museum in the world. It is said that even if you devote one week of your time in paris just to explore the Louvre, you still won't have covered all.

These people are queueing up just to get into the museum.

I went across the road just to get this shot. But even then, I still missed a large part of it.
And of course, across the Louvre is also a nice Parisien landmark:

Jardin du Carrousel!

Granted, it's not as big nor as famous as Arc de Triomph, but it still draws the tourists and has its own attraction.

After that, back to the Louve yard for one last round of photo taking.

And hey...we managed to find one of the secret clues found in The Da Vinci code! It was the original Rose Line ke or what? Sorry I can't remember. Do read the book again then you will know what I mean:)

We then left and went to the Boulevard Haussman at Rue de Lafayetter to visit Gallerie Lafayette and Printemps. Did a bit of retail therapy, and then off to Montmarte to go for my must-go spot, the Hard Rock Cafe:)

Gallerie Lafayette

Hard Rock Cafe

It was late evening by then, and we also popped by at the Paris Loewe boutique to get the silk scarf my friend asked me to buy. Back to the hostel after that, just to rest and chill, and of course, to pack, as we were heading back to London early the next day. Au revoir, Paris:((..I'll be back, simply because banyak tempat lagi tak cover!!!

The next day, we checked out around 10++ in the morning, and immediately made our way back to Gare du Nord by metro to get on our noon train back to St. Pancras.

This is Gare du Nord

Inside the station. Au revoir again Paghee...:(

And upon our arrival at St. Pancras, this awaited..

Done with London, done with Paris, now off to the whole of British isle, next entries ok!:)