Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cruise - Bergen 7.7.17

We arrived in Bergen after  a nights smooth sailing.  We left the ship at around 9am to explore the town of Bergen.  We decided not to book an excursion, as we just thought we would wander around the town.  We stopped for coffee in a cafe of a hotel, where we met anAustralian couple from Melbourne.  The man was eventually heading to the UK to play in the over 70's Hockey tournament for Australia.  The suggested we head to the fish market - as it was definitely worth a look.

  


The Fish Market was amazing, but didn't have the normal fish market smells !!! The majority of the stalls were cooking as well selling the fish, prawns.  There was the largest live crab we have have seen!!! There was also a some huge fish.
 Bergen is a lovely town, we would like to have gone up the vehicular, but it was closed !!We had limited time in Bergen only 5 hours.

Cruise - Day at Sea 6.7.17

Today was a Day at Sea. We spent some time getting acquainted with the ship !! Lots to explore, many bars, pools, a theatre and 4D Cinema, Sports Bar complete with a 10 Pin bowling Lane.  Dinner tonight was a Gala night - always great to get all dressed up :)

Hamburg - Cruise 5.7.17

Today we slept in a little,  then had breakfast at the hotel.  We then left our luggage at Reception and walked a little way towards the local shops for a coffee as we had plenty of time before we were due to board the ship.










After a reasonably short taxi ride we arrived at the Port of Hamburg to board the ship.  MSC Prezosia is the largest ship we have been on.  Our cabin is on the Deck 12, about 4 cabins from the from the bridge.  The Balcony Cabin is lovely.  We sailed from Hamburg at approximately 8pmThis is the view if Hamburg from our Cabin and also sailing from Hamburg towards Bergen.  Tomorrow is a Day at Sea - relaxation time :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

London to Hamburg 4/7/17

Taxi arrived just before 10am - Again, it was a very long trip in the Taxi, fortunately it was a fixed rate!! Heathrow seemed very disorganised and going through security was a nightmare - but, who can blame them !!. Flight to Hamburg was good, we arrived about 4.30pm.  Our hotel is absolutely delightful. We have a lovely big room which opens onto the front garden, and it is opposite a canal.  We walked across the road to a lovely Italian Restaurant under the bridge.



 

London 3/7/17

Wow !!! where has the week gone ! Today is our last day in London - I'm not ready to leave yet - just love this city.  We have noticed some differences in London, even though it is only just over 12 months since we were here - The traffic seems so much worse than before - its always been crazy busy, as one expects with 8000 red buses driving around and who knows how many taxis.  This time all the cab drivers are complaining about it, some actually have decided its time to give it a miss !!!.  The other thing we noticed, is that there seems to be more homeless people sleeping on the streets, and around the popular tourist attractions.
Anyway, today we went back to Covent Garden -






today the market was totally different to the other day - it was more like an antique fair.  If only there were no weight restrictions on baggage on the flight home !!!so many things I would like to have bought. On the lower level at Covent Garden there was a string quartet playing followed by a soprano - lovely to have morning tea whilst listening to them.

We were planning on going back to Westminster Abbey, however we had to make a choice  between Yotam Ottolenghi's restaurant and Westminster -  Ottolenghi's won :)  The restaurant is quite of of the way, in a litre lane. From the moment we walked in the service was incredible.  It was busy, but nothing was too much trouble.  We waited for about 5 minutes for a table.  The decor was minimalist and very classy and the food was to die for.  So glad we made the decision to visit this restaurant.






We spent the rest of the afternoon packing bags and getting ready to go to the theatre.

WOW !! what a great way to end our time in London :)  42 Street. The costumes, the dancing, the sets -just the whole show was amazing - John thinks its the best show he has seen, however, I find it hard to make comparisons between shows - I just love them all.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

London 2/7/17

Today went to Brick Lane Market, not far from our apartment.







The atmosphere was fantastic. There were stalls selling everything toys, hats, clothes, and much more.  There were buskers playing all through the markets.  One in particular was really amazing, he definitely was a 1 man band, and he gathered quite a crowd.

The food hall smelt incredible and the choice of food ranged from North Africa, the Middle East, Chinese, Thai, Mexican all cooked on the spot.  We ate Mexican which was true Mexican !!! We wandered further through the market and then caught the bus to the Borough Market on the South Bank in Southwark.  Unfortunately, it closes at 1pm on Sunday as it is purely a food market !!! Across the road to a pub for a beer ! In talking to one of the locals, John asked where the George Inn was ? Lucky for us it was just around the corner.  John had been wanting to go to the George Inn, due to the fact that it is the only intact Coaching Inn left in London.




It belongs to the National Heritage and is managed by one of the big breweries in UK.  It was built in 1676, and fortunately, as it was on the south side of the Thames River, it escaped the Great Fire of London.  As it was a beautiful summers afternoon, we sat in the courtyard and had a drink, before going upstairs to the Gallery Restaurant for an early dinner.  It was evident that we were sitting in a room that was built in 1676.



The food was good and the lady that served us was fantastic, nothing was too much trouble, and we found out during a conversation that she was one of the live-in staff, and had lived there for the past 20 years.
From here we caught a taxi to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, to watch Romeo and Juliette.


It was modern production, but we really enjoyed it.
We caught the ferry back to Tower Bridge and then the bus to the apartment.  We called in to the Mini Supermarket, that is beside the apartment block. that we had been into every morning and night since we arrived, to check the balance on the Oyster Card, and supplies for breakfast, and just to have a chat to the man we had become friendly with :)

London 1/7/17

Today we were up early for our trip to Tamworth to see our dear friends Jo and Chris. On the bus to Aldgate Station by 8.15 am.  Changed from the Underground to the National Rail at Euston, where we had time for a coffee before our train to Tamworth departed at 9.46am.
The train was comfortable, quite and fast.  We were met at Tamworth Station by Chris for the short drive to their house. We spent a couple of hours sitting chatting and cuddling the new arrival Miss Emily Grace, who is very tiny and just perfect.  Jack was understandably shy to start, but that soon wore off:)




We then went to one of the local pubs for lunch, where we spent more time laughing and talking, and before we knew it, it was 4.30pm.  John decided he would walk back along the canal to Jo and Chris's house, apparently chatting to some people who live on their narrow boats.
After a somewhat, short and very sad goodbye to Jo at the house, Chris then drove us back to catch the 5.20pm train - which we missed by about a minute !!! The train was at 6.20pm, and thankfully we had purchased a flexible ticket.  The train was about 10 mins late arriving back into Euston, so we made our way back to the apartment.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

London 30/6/17

Our first stop today was the Royal Courts of Justice.









We did not know what to expect, but on entering we were awestruck by the Cathedral like structure of the main hall.  It is huge, but unfortunately photos were not allowed.  We would have loved to take photos of the ceiling and particularly the mosaic floor.  It is a fine example of Gothic revival, however was opened by Queen Victoria.  Upstairs there numerous court rooms, all relatively small, and the majority were in use, as this is a working Courthouse.  Across the road is The George Hotel, which is one of London's oldest hotels, and predates the Royal Courts of Justice.




Back on the bus to Covent Garden, in search of the London Transport Museum.  Easy to find as it is located in the Old Covent Garden Flower Market.

What a great museum !!! Starting from the 1800's through to the present day transport in London.  It included everything from horse drawn trams, to the earliest of buses and trains.







It showed the development of the railway and bus networks, which in London is super extensive, it has over 8000 Red Buses on over 700 routes







We then wandered through the Jubilee Market before heading to the National Gallery. We spent a couple of hours wandering from Room to Room. The Gallery holds some of the World's greatest artworks, which includes some of our favourite paintings by Gainsborough, Turner, and Monet to name but a few.










On leaving the National Gallery, just across the road, is the church of St Martin's in the Field. Wow !! did we strike it lucky !!! We walked in to the final rehearsal for that nights concert of Bach, Vivaldi and Handel.  It was just amazing to listen too, and to watch them work through the performance.  The acoustics in the church are remarkable, hence why it is used as a performance space and recording studio.
                                                               The view from the Steps of the National Gallery


THEN - back to Covent Gardens for Diner at Jamie Oliver's Italian Restaurant.  It was bloody marvellous !!! we sat with a view to the kitchen, which was amazing.  The service was terrific and the food was delicious - all at a reasonable price.














Friday, June 30, 2017

London 30.6.2017

Today we decided that we would go to Hampstead Heath to visit Kenwood House.  We were a little later leaving the apartment this morning, in hindsight not such a great idea as the bus ride to Trafalgar Square that would normally take 25 minutes took at least an hour. Not only was the traffic congested, due to the Changing of the Guards, but the bus driver was very tentative, as though it was his first time driving!!! We changed buses at Trafalgar Square and headed to Camden Town, changed buses again to Hampstead Heath, a lovely village.







John thought that Kenwood House, would be quite close, however after asking around, we needed to catch another bus to the top of the Heath.  In the end it took us nearly 4 hours to get to Kenwood House.  On arrival at Kenwood House, a lovely Georgian House, on an 18th century estate.










There was a lovely man at the entrance, and after hearing of our travels, took us to what used to be the Dining Room, as he thought we needed a rest.  The first thing we noticed was the Self Portrait by Rembrandt on the wall, along with a Vermeer and a Van Dyck.













After a short time we then toured the house, which has a quite a number of amazing artworks, as well as the most elegant library.



In 1910 the 6th Earl of Mansfield sold Kenwood and it was bought by Edward Guinness to house his art collection.  He never lived in the house and bequeathed it to the Nation. We were very pleased we persisted and made it to look at this beautiful House and its contents.






We then came home via Euston Station,
to purchase our train tickets to Tamworth for Saturday.    This statue of Robert Stevenson is outside the entrance to Euston Station.









We then had an early dinner at Zizzi's at Tower Bridge before heading back to the apartment.