A Travellerspoint blog

UK & EUROPE 2006: PART 1

England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria & Italy

The trip to China was an appetiser that made me want to see more of the world but this whirlwind coach tour that covered the iconic highlights of Europe left me with an unquenchable desire to travel.

This trip was also memorable because I met Judith and her wonderful dad. Jude and I have gone on to experience some incredible adventures together.

I’m able to fill out a bit more information on this trip using the itinerary and some notes I wrote while travelling. The photos were taken on film and scanned ( scanned photos = terrible quality).

I arrived in London early on 23 May 2006 and went for a long walk along the Kensington High street and into Hyde Park. It was a lovely warm day and my first impression of London was great … it felt very familiar and I loved it. Back at the hotel I was able to check in and relax. I fell asleep for a couple of hours and woke up at 8pm in a panic … it was so light and sunny that I was sure it must be 8am and I had missed my tour departure.

On 24 May 2006 I started a four day tour that gave me a taste of southern England.

On a rainy day the first stop was for a walk in the gardens at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace. Then on to Oxford for another walk and Bladon to visit Winston Churchill’s grave. In Stratford-upon-Avon we stopped for photos of Anne Hathaway’s cottage and did a tour of the house where Shakespeare was born.

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25 May 2006: We travelled through the rolling green hills of the Cotswolds, with a short stop in the pretty Elizabethan village of Broadway. We entered Wales, drove through the Wye Valley and stopped at the ruins of 12th century Tintern Abbey. Crossing the Severn Bridge we were back in England and continued on to Bath, where we had a tour of the Roman Baths. We had free time to wander in Bath, I had a look in the spectacular cathedral and found the Jane Austen museum. There was a short side trip to the pretty village of Castle Combe, with a visit to the village pub before returning to Bath.

26 May 2006: A very wet and windy day but the bleak conditions created an appropriate atmosphere at Stonehenge. After a walk around Stonehenge we continued on to Salisbury, where we had time to wander and look through the huge Salisbury Cathedral. Then on to Brighton, where we had a guided tour through the opulent Royal Pavillion. Despite the cold weather, after dinner I went for a walk along the esplanade and pier.

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27 May 2006: I braved the early morning cold and went to for a walk along the beach. I’d never walked on a pebble beach before and had to see why the beach at Brighton was so popular. Coming from the land of golden sandy beaches I couldn’t see the appeal, there was no waves and the pebbles were uncomfortable to walk on. After a short stop in Tunbridge Wells we drove on to Leeds Castle, a fabulous castle with a moat and beautiful grounds. The tour ended back in London.

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28 May 2006: I did a sightseeing tour that covered St Paul's Cathedral, travelled through the West End, Mayfair and around Hyde Park, stopped at the Houses of Parliament and Clock Tower (Big Ben) and Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. In the afternoon I walked along Edgeware Road to Oxford Street to look at the shops. And I did an evening cruise along the Thames.

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29 May 2006: After breakfast I went for a long walk. With map in hand I found Lord’s Cricket Ground and the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker St. In the afternoon I met up with a friend and we went to a pub and back to her place for dinner.

30 May 2006: The next morning I met with my new tour group for an 18 day coach tour of Europe. We left for the train station at 8.30am and took the Eurostar train to Brussels. In the afternoon we walked to the Grand Place, a square with beautiful old buildings on each side. Of course we had to stop at a chocolate shop to taste the delicious Belgian chocolate. And we stopped to look at the Manneken Pis, a strange little bronze statue of a boy peeing into a fountain – people make outfits for the little boy and dress him for different occasions.

31 May 2006: We entered Germany and had a quick visit to the Gothic Cathedral in Cologne. Then did a cruise on the Rhine river to Heidelberg – a beautiful section of the river with castles (mostly ruins) on the hills either side.

1 June 2006: An early departure for the Black Forest. Stopped at a place that makes cuckoo clocks … and had a piece of black forest cake. Stopped on the Swiss border to look at the Rhine Falls, then on to Lucerne. We had a wander across the covered bridge and found the Lion Monument, a sculpture carved into the rock, that commemorates the Swiss Guards that were massacred in 1792 in the French Revolution.

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2 June 2006: Although it’s summer, there had been heavy snow overnight. We took a gondola, gliding over the top of snow covered fields dotted with cows and you could hear the cows bells. Then we boarded a cable car to the top of Mt Pilatus, which was covered in a thick layer of snow.

3 June 2006: Departing Lucerne we drove through a valley with spectacular snow-capped mountains on either side. We had a short stop in Vaduz, the capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein. There wasn’t much to see in Vaduz but we did get a Liechtenstein stamp in our passports. We quickly exited the tiny principality and entered Austria, arriving in Innsbruck mid-afternoon. I had a wander to see the Golden Roof and stopped to look through the very large Swarovski shop.

4 June 2006: The drive through the Brenner Pass to Italy was incredible – hours of snow covered alps. We travelled by boat to Venice and we only had the afternoon to explore Venice. St Mark’s Square, demonstration of glass blowing and gondola ride … it was a warm afternoon and far too rushed. I didn’t enjoy Venice but feel I need to come back and spend some time there.

Posted by MissWalker 22:30 Archived in United Kingdom

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