A Travellerspoint blog

The Last Few Days

Watford, St Albans, back to London

sunny 10 °C
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The Englarts are a wonderful retired couple who certainly looked after us on our overnight stay. After a comfortable night's sleep, Trish prepared the "full English" for us, Alan helped me get the car back and then they took us on a very pleasant trip to St Alban's Cathedral, where they have sung in a choir on occasions. Alan entertained us with lots of stories and safely delivered us to the train for the trip back to London.

St Alban's
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Alan and Trish
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After getting back to London, we spent most of Tuesday looking around with Ben who was having a day off to go to the dentist. We walked through Hampstead Heath, took the train over to Hackney, had a late breakfast at Victoria Park and visited several other parks. The weather was warmer and almost sunny and we had a very good day.

Hampstead Heath
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Victoria Park
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Around Grand Union Canal
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Before we flew out, we had a final wander around the centre of London, a quick shopping expedition to the East End area, and an evening visit to the National Gallery.
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Posted by Neil-Sonia 13.01.2009 08:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Malvern Wells

Catching up with Malcolm and Clare

overcast 2 °C
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For the weekend, we hired a car from Watford and drove over to visit Malcolm and Clare in the Malvern Hills area. As we had the loan of a GPS, we ended up going on quite a scenic route that surprised Malcolm somewhat when we explained it to him on arrival. We saw lots of ice covered fields and drove up some country lanes. It is a rather beautiful location and we enjoyed catching up with Malcolm and his wife, Clare. We were able to share some of the Alsace wine we bought in France after a look around the town and a visit to The Nag's Head.

After a rather late night, we went walking in the hills. We climbed an ancient Iron Age fort called British Camp which was very interesting and was part of the area that Sonia and I walked when Malcolm drove us around the area in the Summer of 2005. Following this, we visited Worcester Cathedral and had another drive around.

Malvern Abbey
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View from Malcolm's and Clare's Flat
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The Flat
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British Camp
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View from British Camp
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On Sunday evening, we drove back to Watford to meet Ben and Kate at the Englarts who are family friends of Kate.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 13.01.2009 08:07 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Back in London

sunny 6 °C
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After arriving back in London, we embarked on a round of "last week" sight-seeing. We revisited the Spitalfields area, had some coffees and lunches in Soho, visited the Cabinet War Rooms, went to the National Portrait Gallery and visited St Paul's Cathedral. The amount of detail in each of these places was fascinating, we spent a lot of time reading the walls.
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Posted by Neil-Sonia 13.01.2009 07:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Riquewihr

Sausage, Cabbage, Wine and Snow

snow -5 °C
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After a short train trip to Colmar and a taxi ride, we arrived in the small and picturesque village of Riquewhir. It is one of many villages in the Alscace wine growing region, many of which end in ...wihr. Our accommodation was a beautifully appointed apartment in a row of very old houses built into the side of the old village walls.
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Riquewihr is a very old place with lots of 17xx dates on buildings and shops, narrow cobbled streets and gingerbread style houses. We braved the slippery ice to go walking through the vineyards to a nearby village, it was all very pretty and you could see ancient battlements or castles on the nearby mountains. It would seem that there has been a bit of a dispute over this area at different times. In the evening we dined at a winstub on traditional Alsace food. I had Choucroute which contained 5 different meats laid out on a bed of saukraut with a very boiled potato n the side. Kind of a "farmyard on a plate" arrangement. It was interesting but not the sort of food you would need every day. The reisling and other white wines that we tried from this area were very good.
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On the Monday, it started to snow. Although cold, this made the whole scene very pretty and inspired us to do some more walking. We slipped and slid in the direction of one of the other villages and I was very proud that I only hit the ground three times. After all this exertion, we did some more wine-tasting and some shopping.
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On Tuesday, we took the train back to Paris and then on to London. After getting back to Ben's place, we rushed out for some Thai which was a welcome change from the Munster cheese and other Alsatian delicacies.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 07.01.2009 01:54 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Strasbourg

French and/or German

sunny -6 °C
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Strasbourg is a beautiful smaller city with an historic and car-free "old town". The pace of life is much more relaxed here, as evidenced by the friendly proprietor of our apartment who gave us a 45 minute explanation of how everything in the place worked, right down to the knobs on the stove and the bedroom curtains. The architecture and feel of the city is quite German, it is all rather clean and efficient.
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On the first day we visited the cathedral and the last of the famous Christmas markets which gave us a chance to sample some warm mulled wine. Temperatures are generally below zero here at the moment. It was New Year's Eve and there were massive quantities of fireworks, crackers, sirens, etc. happening but due to a bit of exhaustion, we stayed in and slept.
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For day 2 we went on a boat ride around the old areas and past the European Parliament and offices of various EU commissions that looked like grand havens for cushy jobs. We ate some pizza like things for lunch which are traditional Alsatian food (no, not PAL ... sorry, I think the Germans are having an effect on my sense of humour) and very nice. The reisling here is also very nice.
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Day 3 started with some shopping in a number of beautifully presented businesses in the city centre. Following this, Sonia and I climbed the 330 steps to the viewing platform near the top of the cathedral. We were able to see much of the city from there and the sun came out which made us think that we were warmer. After a walk through the Petite France area, we met Ben and Kate for lunch at a bierstub (basically a pub) where there were all sorts of sausage and cabbage arrangements available. We ate a hearty meal before setting off to invade Germany. We did this by taking a tram and a bus and walking across a pedestrian bridge to a town in Germany.
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In the evening we visited a Museum of Modern Art back in Strasbourg. Tomorrow we go to the village of Riquewhir.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 01.01.2009 14:45 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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