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It's time. So many feelings at going home but leaving home. Anybody who's emigrated and lives away from their land of birth, friends and their family will recognise all the emotions, heartache, excitement, loss, despair and exhilaration that this travel moment brings. Hugs to all those world travellers out there facing this moment - stay strong and be kind to yourself - allow yourself to grieve even though you're going back home. xoxo
Sunday, March 26, 2017
|on the move yet again|
Where next - why London of course! Final leg of the Spring Break Tour 2017.
- Rental car return to Newcastle Airport
- Metro from airport to main rail station
- Direct train from Newcastle Central to Kings Cross (check out the onboard wifi and Virgin streaming entertainment app for unlimited films,etc.). I booked this by Trainline and used our Family and Friends railcard to seriously knock the price of tickets down.
- Check in to our accommodation
... and since we had some time to spare with our early arrival, we checked out both the British Library and the British Museum (open late on Fridays) on two whistlestop fly bys.
|collecting lions as we go: this one is nebuchadnezzar's|
Very whistle stop - short attention spans and whatnot.
But we 'got' the general atmosphere.
|chessmen ahoy! prepare to be captured|
And we saw the Lewis chessmen 'in the flesh' so to speak.
Mission accomplished :)
Have I mentioned how very much in love I am right now with Google Maps? (and btw, here's a link to the location sharing feature coming soon: https://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2017/03/google-maps-location-sharing-latitude/). As a smartphone app, it has almost completely taken over from guidebooks. It was great for navigating in Venice and is now proving ideal for route finding in London.
How did I ever manage before?
Saturday, March 25, 2017
|border hopping on a sunny but windy day (ahead of the snow)|
Spoiler: we did make it back to Edinburgh and escaped the industrial action. Apart from not much sleep the evening before, we landed in Edinburgh unscathed to pick up our hire car.
Dear reader - I sped over the Scottish border in a Smart Car...
lets it sink in ...
A four-door Smart car.
Not great for long distance, and it catches the wind like a kite.
So maybe I should say that we sailed over the scottish border into Northumberland.
|in its natural habitat|
This is by no means because of a late night out with friends, catching up with old times, cheering absent friends or playing Exploding Kittens.
Wee Guy and I checked out Barter Books, the British Library of secondhand books, which is conveniently within a 10 minute walk of our rental. It was busy around lunchtime but we still managed to find odd nooks to tuck ourselves into next to the books.
|most perfect bacon sandwich ever IMO ...|
|books. cohen. trains|
After a wander round Alnwick centre we ended up back at Barter Books for book #2 and cake :)
|stables and ghost|
Day 14 was family day, catching up with mother-in-law/Granny Kate for a chilly but enjoyable day at Seaton Delaval Hall. As stately homes go, this one went up with a whoosh! in 1822, with the west wing remaining roofless for around 40 years. Today it is an amazing architectural skeleton that allows visitors to see the bare bones that usually hide under layers of plaster and wood panelling.
The west wing is roofed and undergoing restoration - speaking with the guides gave us some insight into the history and the work currently underway to preserve the building. We also learned about the ghosts but luckily after we'd scrambled through the cellars.
More stately home visiting and this time to Bamburgh Castle on the coast. Wee Guy and I bounced up the winding roads in the Smart car (nope - never buying one) and spent the day checking out Lord Armstrong's pile and then paying our respects to Grace Darling.
... followed by packing ... where next?
Not much to note here, except that if we'd been visiting more National Trust properties like Seaton Delaval Hall it would have made sense to buy a membership to decrease admission fees.
Oh, and not sure if this is relevant but beware booking car hire online. Sometimes the cheapest option might not be as good as it sounds. I booked through what looked like an aggregator since the rates quoted were extremely low. however, when I checked the find print for zero deductible premiums I found out that even with zero, you still have to pay up. What brings it to zero is that you then have to put in a claim to the aggregator company ... ho hum.
I rented directly from Europcar, picking up at one airport and getting one-way hire (extra 46GBP) to drop off at another. My premium package to reduce the deductible to zero cost around 75GBP for four days hire plus around 30GBP for roadside assist. And I bought a full tank of gas for around 33GBP so I didn't need to hunt out a refueling stop before return.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
|my travel sidekick|
On our second day in Venice with vaporetto tickets, or in other words day ten of our spring break vacation (please try to pay attention), we vaporettoed the heck out of our travel privileges!
First stop - the Lido. Where we experienced cars on roads and the faded excellence of a seaside resort out of season. Closed down arcades and fenced off lookout towers. A chilly beach and grey skies.
|Guidecca seaside stroll|
|dragster from 18th century Venice, i presume|
... which of course is day four in Venice and thus day -1 of unlimited 48-hour vaporetto travel (you are paying attention?) was palazzo or bust. We ticked off the textile and costume museum at Palazzo Mocenigo and then navigated thru Dorsoduro to Ca' Rezzonica. The displays are incredible but what's even more impressive are the surroundings they are in - these are impressive palaces along the Grand Canal.
Even if you don't like the subject matter, the ornate staircases, mouldings, strangely lopsided door hanging and remnants of an opulent days-gone-by lifestyle are worth the visit. Again, the museums pass from Venezia Unica is worth the price. We didn't stay longer than about two hours in each museum so far on this trip; we stayed longer in the Doges Palace on our last, but paying full price imposes an arbitrary time-to-cost benefit ratio that discount passes don't guilt you with.
|yes, of course i managed another aperol spritzer :)|
|lots of floors of really expensive shopping|
and a good cafe
Packing took the rest of the evening, punctuated by taking the recycling out and then worrying about the Italian air handlers strike for the next day ... spoilers!