A Travellerspoint blog

Heading home

July 14, 2018

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Not much to report on this day. Up early to head to Heathrow - no snags. Got thru dropping the bag and security fairly quickly. Had time to grab breakfast at Wondertree then did a little shopping to use up some of our pounds - bought lots of chocolate, of course. We got a large box of mini choc bars and I could barely fit them into my extra personal size bag - I had to dump them in loose and discard the box.

Had the usual long walk to the far reaches of Term 2 - seems like forever. Plane left on time, flight was fine.

The End.

Posted by u2traveller 11:33 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Last day in London

July 13, 2018

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Our last day in London and we had a vague idea of what to do, but alas, didn't plan very well.

We went over to the museum area and decided (well, hubby decided) to go into the Science Museum again - probably the 3rd time we've visited. I wasn't overly thrilled to go in again. After leaving I got my 'London treat' at Maitre Choix - a lovely pastry/├ęclair - this time I finally got the lemon one (I was too early the year before). We went over to the Parliament Buildings (so I could sit and eat my pastry) to see the Baby Trump balloon - but we missed it - it was only 'flying' for a few hours and we were to late (one X against going into the science museum). OK, well, let's finally do the Churchill War Rooms - nope - there was a bit of a line and between an hour wait for the line and the few hours one of the custodians told us it would take to go thru, we just didn't have time, as we had a timed entrance for the Sky Garden. (Second X against going into the Science Museum). Next time we go to London, I'll be booking our tickets ahead for the War Rooms.

So we went to where the Sky Garden is (in the 'Walkie Talkie' building) - they tell you to arrive a little early but we got there about 40 min before so just chilled and wandered the area for 25 min. The views from Sky Garden are amazing - the bar itself is quite nice as well, tho we didn't have anything. Even better since admission is free (you just have to reserve a time slot). Def an alternative to paying for the London Eye or the Shard. No issues going in - just have to go thru security, then whisked up the elevator and you can wander - I thought there was a time limit, but I don;t think they can enforce it.

After we were getting hungry so we went and wandered a bit before going into Mark's and Spencer (to use the bathroom) and discovered they had a cafeteria on site. The food was OK - my chicken burger was a bit dry, but it was fairly busy. Next we walked over to Leadenhall Market - which I keep doing for some reason, even tho there really aren't any shops there that interest me.

Next thing was to try and find the Thornton's chocolate shop - which was shown at a certain address on their website - and we had been to it the year before. But after walking about 6-8 blocks on Oxford St (which was very busy), we came to where it was supposed to be - only to find it was now a cell phone store I believe. Sigh. (I wish companies would keep their locations up to date - the same thing happened in NYC when we walked blocks and blocks to go to a marbled paper store, only to discover it was now a children's clothing store).

Hunger was kicking in again, and there were some really dark, heavy clouds coming. We walked up and down a few alleys with food shops but nothing was appealing to us. Then, some thunder and huge raindrops started falling. We had just passed a place on S Moulton St called Caffe Concerto - and the desserts in the window looked divine. The prices were a little higher than we are comfortable paying, but between the rain and the desserts, we said the heck with it and went in. So, we ordered some gnocchi (hubby) and a chicken Caesar salad (me). It was pretty good, and nice portions. Then there was a bit of a commotion. Our waitress slipped and hurt her shoulder, and was leaving. But we were apparently in No Man's Land for the other waiters. We sat, and sat, and sat, and finally got the attention of one waiter and asked for the dessert menu. And sat...and sat - I think because the waiter didn't think it was his table/area, but forgetting our waitress was gone. Anyways, we finally got some tea/coffee and a piece of cake (which looked nicer than it tasted, but still). Then sat and sat...finally got the bill, but they only charged us for the dessert. Even tho they had cleaned off our supper dishes. Well, we are honest people, so we told them their mistake and they brought out the correct bill. And with the exchange rate, this was probably the most expensive meal we've had - but that always happens in London because our Canadian dollar is very poor against the pound.

By now, it had stopped raining (thank goodness) and it was time to head back to the room to get the packing sorted out.

Posted by u2traveller 05:58 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Kew Gardens and the British Library

July 12, 2018

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The day started out overcast but cleared up nicely. We decided to revisit Kew Gardens (we first visited in 2010). We didn't see all of the park the first time, so we decided to spend a little more time exploring. We spent about 4 hrs there and still only wandered around 2/3rds of the park. (Next time we'll have to avail ourselves of the Kew train) Last time we visited it was early Oct, so it was in the process of winding down. Well, in July, it was in full bloom. We stopped into Kew Palace which was very interesting. In and out of all the greenhouses. We went to the Great Pagoda which we missed last time. Had a little rest on the grass outside - we couldn't go in as there was something going on - a private affair, I guess. They had dragons all painted up throughout the park. We had a meal in one of the restaurants and I went a bit crazy at the gift shop - they have the nicest gifts! So much I could have bought, but ended up with 3 coffee mugs (one for a gift), a cloth bag and some chocolate. So much more I could have purchased.

Next we decided to head back into London proper and go to the British Library to see the room with all the old manuscripts and the Magna Carta. We had a bit of a wait for the proper tube, but eventually got there. The display was amazing - the detail on these old bibles and books - some hundreds of years old - was incredible. We walked around the library a little more, but hunger was starting to take hold.

We headed towards the Leicester Sq area, first wandering around the Monmouth area so we could do our usual visit to Hotel Chocolat and Forbidden Planet (conveniently across the road from each other). I sat outside waiting for my husband (at the comic shop) and had a lovely chat with a woman who stopped to rest - there were some protests happening and the buses in the area weren't running, so we had a talk for 5 min. Headed towards Shaftsbury and a place we ate at last time we visited London - Bella Italia. We snagged a seat outside and had a really delish - sort of a garlic fingers type thing with caramelized onions and some pasta for our main. We then headed for the Leicester Sq and popped into the M&M store and admired the displays in the Lego Store window.

Then, it was time to head back to the room. One more full day left.

Posted by u2traveller 10:16 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Travel day to London

July 11, 2018

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Today didn't involve much sightseeing. We had to drive back to Nice, drop the car, and catch our flight to London Gatwick.

The drive was fine - our flight was around 2pm or so and we arrived and dropped the car with a few hours to spare. I do have to mention the HUGE toll booth on the way to Nice with 23 (per my quick count) toll booths. No issues dropping the car, and a gas station right there to fill up. We caught the shuttle bus to the airport and got thru passport control fairly quickly. I must mention the people in front of and behind us at the security check. I don't know how any of these people have not learned 'the rules' about liquids when flying. The guy in front didn't have ANY of his toiletries...shampoo, body wash, etc...in the clear bag, so he had to stand there and dig it all out. The family behind us tried to bring thru their 2 giant bottles of water that they just purchased. Sigh.

We got thru and grabbed a bite to eat at Pret a Manger, then went to do a little shopping. Lo and behold - a l'Occitane store!! - hubs was able to get his shaving cream after all. Since we were thru security, he could just buy it and carry it on the plane. We had a few euro left so I hit Laduree and got a few macarons.

This was also the moment the wheel covering on the suitcase decided to shred off.

We got thru passport control at Gatwick very quickly and got right on to the Gatwick express - maybe a few minutes wait. We had to change at London Victoria to catch our tube to Hammersmith and our airbnb. Well, everything was going too smoothly, so of course we got there right around rush hour, and trying to get on the tube (even with our smaller suitcases) with all the commuters wasn't going well. I think we had to wait for 3 diff cars to go by, prob 20 min or so, before we finally just pushed our way on. We arrived at the room around 7 and were delighted to see the nice shopping mall where we picked up some Krispy Kreme and a few snacks at the little grocery store. Our room was nice - in a good spot - only a few minutes walk from the tube station - and 3 diff tube lines to choose from. Hunger was taking over, but it was really getting too late to head to a diff area, so we decided to see what was around. The pubs were PACKED and standing room only, as a World Cup game was on (I believe England lost that one). After about 10 min, we came across an almost deserted Pizza Hut (everyone was at the pubs!) so that was where we went. Had a nice meal, then back to the room to plan the next day.

Posted by u2traveller 11:45 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Exploring Manosque, Moustiers and Valensole

July 10, 2018

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Today we decided to explore Manosque a little bit. Our airbnb was about 10 min walk to the historical downtown, so after having breakfast we headed down. It is a fairly compact center, and the shops were just starting to open. We popped into a few churches and basically wandered the narrow streets for about an hour. I picked up a lemon tart at a bakery, and we decided to pop into a little grocery store and get the fixings for lunch - cold cut meat, cheese - and then into another bakery and got a baguette. Back to the room for lunch, then we decided to drive up to a ruin that we could see from our room. The bad thing was - our GPS couldn't seem to figure out how to get there - sending us up a dead end street full of homes, then up another street that also went nowhere. We finally figured out how to get there - it is quite a steep hill, and you had to park in a lot then walk up to the ruins - which isn't much more than the corners of a wall from...a tower? a castle? It. Was. Just. So. Hot. There was really no shade and the hill was very steep, so we didn't walk all the way up, since I don't believe there was really much to see. But I will say, the views over the town were lovely, and I did get to check out the olive trees. I would think on a cooler day, you could have a nice hike around the area.

Next was a little town called Greoux. It was pretty sleepy - lunchtime was over and there weren't many people around. I did find myself a cooler hat to wear - we had seen the same ones in Gordes, but they cost another 10 euro or so there. This one has a nice brim (it looks like a fancy ball cap) and an open weave, which was really helpful to keep my head cool - my other hats were getting quite hot and sweaty. It was a nice little spot to wander around for an hour, but not a lot to do. Back into the car and passed many beautiful fields.

Our next stop was random - a spot called Moustiers Sainte Marie. We lucked into a parking spot in a little lot just when someone else was leaving. This was my fav village on the trail - there was a gorgeous little waterfall and river that ran thru the center of town. Flowers in containers everywhere. Lovely little shops (I picked up some tea towels for my mom). A golden star strung between the two cliff faces. There was a church or something part way up the cliff that looked like lots of people were hiking to. If I was 5 years younger and it was 10 degrees cooler, we probably would have given it a go - I imagine the views were amazing. They also do a specific pottery to the town - called faience. I picked up a little tree ornament for the tree - it had a bird (maybe a phoenix) on it - all the pieces about the town were so pretty - and so expensive! And generally wouldn't fit into the carry on - hence the ornament.

Next we were heading to Valensole and passed I think what were the best of the fields - some with sunflowers right beside. another one with a mown hayfield beside it, making a nice contrast with the dried yellow field and the purple lavender, with the mountains in the background. Some of the sunflower fields were just coming into bloom - I imagine given another week or two, it would be spectacular. Valensole was a bit of a disappointment. We arrived after all the shops had closed, and had a hard time deciding where to eat. We did indulge in some gelato - you could mix the flavours and hubby had lollipop and marshmallow - which reminded him of Moon Mist - a flavour 'native' to our home province (grape, banana and bubblegum). I think I had blood orange. We finally settled on a spot to eat and hubs had pizza and I opted for a salad.

Since tomorrow was our travel day, we decided to call it a night and head back for Manosque. I finished off my lemon tart, and we deciphered from all the cheers and horns honking that France had won their round of the World Cup!

Posted by u2traveller 07:27 Archived in France Comments (0)

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