With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Iceland: Campervans

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 20, 2018

Monday, September 4th – 17th, 2017

I was so excited about the trip to Iceland. I had been dreaming about it since we left Japan about 6 months earlier. Iceland just seem so far away and exotic, like it stood at the end of the world.

We met up with the South African friends we made in Japan and together we drove the ring road. Roland did most of the planning. Mark and I were so relieved at this. After traveling for 6 months, we got to a point where we dreaded planning. There is just so much that goes into it. In fact, sometimes we just don’t. We cheat.

We like getting a tourist pass of some sort, like we did in Jaipur. Once you have a pass, you have a list of things to see. Or, we would get a membership to some sort of heritage society, like would we did in Scotland. So when we return to Scotland we don’t have to plan that much. There is an entire book of things to see in the many cities throughout Scotland.

It’s even better when you don’t have to do any work at all. We just followed Roland where ever he went. Both Mark and I were very grateful to be able to enjoy a trip to Iceland without having to plan a thing.

Camper Van

I’m not sure if it was done on purpose, in other words, I don’t remember if we copied Freda and Roland, but we ended up renting camper vans from the same company, Trip Campers. The company is run by some very friendly and talkative guys. Overall, I was very satisfied with the car and the company.

One thing I would do differently, if I were to do this trip again would be to get a bigger van. Mark had the hardest time getting in and out of the van at night when the bed was down. He would knock over everything near him. Then when I’m in bed and want to listen to some music on my phone I think, “Gosh, where did I put that thing?”

Then in the morning when I wanted to make coffee, it took ages. First I had to hunt down the coffee, then find the milk. Then I had to put up the bed so I could reach the kettle. Then I stood out in the cold for 10 minutes trying to remember which bag the sugar was in.

By the second day, Mark and I settled on the best way to pack the van so that we could find the things we needed throughout the day. But, if we had a bigger van, not only would everything be more organized, we wouldn’t have to keep putting the bed away to get to things. We could have some coffee and still rest in bed for a bit before starting the day.

BTW: Be careful when shifting your bed from sofa-mode to bed-mode. Many people break their beds.

Shopping

Before hitting the road, we stopped at Costco. Iceland is expensive so we planned to cook almost all our meals. The prices for things at Costco are low compared to the rest of Iceland. We bought things like pasta, canned tuna, snacks, nuts, and other things that don’t need refrigeration and that we would use large quantities of.

For things we didn’t want in bulk, we went to the Bonus next door. We did most of our extra shopping at Bonuses around the island. Their prices are lower than other stores. Other stores are a little nicer, but their prices are also higher.

If we needed something along the way, we could usually find it at an N1, one of the chains of gas stations on the island. They sell stuff like camping supplies, food, clothes, electronics… Most will have a nice looking restaurant. The prices of these items are pretty high, but you will find what you need. This is where we went to use the bathroom for free during the day. The gas prices weren’t too bad. And it helped that our vans came with discount cards for a couple of the gas station chains. So we were able to save a good 3USD at every fill up.

If I were to do this again, I would also stop at IKEA and pick up an extra blanket. The blanket that came with the van was okay, I just wanted one with a little more snuggliness. I’ve also heard of people saving money by buying a table and chairs there rather than renting them from the van company.

Freda and Roland rented a table and chairs, but they didn’t use them that much. Our trip was in September. In the evening, when we ate dinner, it was too cold to be outside. We usually ate in whatever shelter the campsites provided.

Other things I would get at IKEA for the van or bring with me to Iceland would be…

  • a lantern
    • some campsites were not very well lit
  • a power strip
    • many campsites only had a few outlets
  • a clothes line, clothes horse (That’s what Freda calls it), or “clothes octopus” (You know what I’m talking about?)
    • You will also have wet clothes either from the rain or a trip to a hot spring.
  • an audio auxiliary cable (They probably don’t sell these at IKEA)
    • I had to buy one at the N1. It was quite expensive.
    • The drive was long, we needed to listen to something, but the Bluetooth connection in our van wasn’t working.
  • a car USB charger.

After day 3, the vans were always dirty.

The Drive

The drive was long and there were fewer and fewer cars the further we got from Reykjavik. Sometimes the roads were unpaved. It was not too bad, but it could be bumpy for 30 minutes at a time. There were worse roads, but the vans we rented were not to be driven on F roads. Those mostly go inland.

But with so few cars around, when we saw lots of cars parked somewhere we would stop and check it out. Sometimes, it was just a photo opportunity. Other times, there was something like a waterfall we didn’t know about behind some rocks. Those types of finds were magical and made us glad we chose Iceland to visit.

You Cannot Just Camp Any Where

People keep saying this and it’s really not true. You cannot just put your camper anywhere and spend the night. Maybe it was true 10 years ago, before all the tourists started coming to Iceland. But, it is not true now.

Most rest stops will allow you to park for free during the day. You can have lunch there. It’s okay to take a nap or rest for a few hours, but you cannot stay the night. There are signs stating this. If you look really hard, you will find some places throughout the island that do not discourage the overnight parking of camper vans, but there aren’t many.

Camper vans, and people in tents, have to find campsites and pay fees to spend the night. Some of these have better amenities than others. Personally, I liked the camps at the national parks best. Some of the private campsites make you pay a lot then offer nothing more than just a place to park.

If you’re lucky you will get a cooking room. There you can cook your food out of the rain, wind, and cold. You can charge your phone and talk with other travelers. Many campsites had one of these areas, though only some provided a light bulb. Usually, there is a table somewhere in the room where you take or leave items for your trip. People usually leave food or fuel. The closer to Reykjavik you are, the more stuff you will find on this table. Wait until after your first campsite to pick up things like salt, sugar, and coffee.

The public pool

At some campsites showers are free. The ones with the free showers, tend to be near natural hot springs. Other places charge about 200ISK for an unlimited hot shower, others give you a set time. We only used the camp showers when it was free. Camp showers are usually not very nice. So we paid extra money and did most of our showering at public pools around Iceland, which cost about 700ISK. There, we had all the hot water we wanted and use of the heated pools and sometimes even water slides. Plus, the shampoo and soap were free and they had hair dryers. We did bring our own towel, rather than renting one of theirs.

Keep your tanks full and your car clean

The water in Iceland is very clean. It’s also free. You can drink any non-hot water anywhere you find in Iceland. So when we were at a campsite, we made sure to fill the van’s water tank. There was no need to run low on water.

If you go to Iceland, just remember before drinking hot water, smell it first. A lot of places in Iceland use hot water heated by a geothermal spring. It smells like sulfur. I don’t think it would kill you if you drank it, but it can’t be healthy.

Washing the car at most gas stations is free. When we returned our cars, we washed them first. It cost nothing and the van guys really appreciated it.

General Advice When Traveling in a Camper around Iceland:

  • Pay attention when the van company guy shows you around the car on the first day.
    • They give you a lot of information in a short amount of time, but try to remember.
  • Use a zip-lock bag to put your trash in during the day.
    • The trash won’t make the car stink.
    • It won’t matter if your garbage rolls around on a bumpy road.
  • Be careful when transitioning the bed.
    • Some of them break easily.
  • Use the facilities at N1 gas stations.
    • You can go hours without seeing a public bathroom otherwise.
    • These bathrooms are free, unlike the bathrooms at some tourist sites.
  • Use your GPS and/ or google maps.
    • Sometimes it’s hard to type in those Icelandic names in the GPS that comes with the car.
      • Another reason why you need to pay attention to the van guy.
  • Stay off F roads.
  • Don’t camp at places that say “No over night camping”.
  • Watch out for sheep.
    • Those fluffy monsters like to dart out into the road.

Iceland

How to get there:

You have to fly or get a boat from Scotland or Denmark.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • 1777 for weather information

Downloads:

Website:

Data:

  • Siminn
  • You can easily get one at most convenience stores in Reykjavik.

Videos:

Notes:

  • The weather can change quickly. Make sure to dress in layers.
  • Assume that it will rain.
  • It will also be very, very windy.
  • Everything is very expensive in Iceland.
  • Don’t touch the moss.

Blue Lagoon

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 6100ISK is the most basic ticket
    • The next ticket is about 20USD more and it come with a towel, a drink, and an algae mask
    • I don’t think it’s worth the 20USD extra.

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 22:00

Video

Notes:

  • Always buy your ticket ahead of time.
  • In the showers, there is complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion for everyone to use.
  • There are lots of water fountains are the pool with fresh water for you to drink.
  • What you should bring:
    • a towel – so you don’t have to rent one
    • extra money – in case you buy something at the bar
    • a bag for your wet swim suit
    • a hair tie – You want as little contact between your hair and the pool as possible.
  • What you can bring, but don’t really need:
    • flip-flops – You will do very little walking around the pool.
    • a water bottle – There are plenty of water fountains; you don’t need to bring water
    • a robe – You will spend most of your time in the water where a robe does you no good.
      • Most people who have robes spend 3 minutes in them, then hang them up to get in the water.
  • What you really don’t need: (All these things are provided)
    • Shampoo
    • Body wash
    • Conditioner
    • Lotion
    • A hair dryer

Hallgrímskirkja
and the Leif Erickson Statue

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • October – April: 9 am – 5 pm
  • May – September: 9 am – 9 pm

Video


Saga Museum

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 2,100 ISK

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 18:00

Notes:

  • Start you visit with some Viking dress-up.

Sægreifinn
(Sea Barron)

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 11:30 – 22:00

Video

Notes:

  • The lobster soups is fantastic.
  • It’s a small restaurant and it gets very crowded.
    • There are more rooms up stairs and in the back.
    • But, when we were there, they had only one very crowded area open.

Costco

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • About 60USD / year for membership
    • The price is different in different countries.
    • Membership will get you into any Costco around the world

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 21:00 Su – F
  • 9:30 – 20:30 Su

Notes:

  • We took our Costco card we got in Japan and did some major shopping in Iceland before starting our Ring Road Trip.
    • Generally one Costco Member can bring in only one friend, but they didn’t seem to care that much here.
  • There is also an IKEA across the street.
  • Buy all the non-perishable items you need here.
    • If there is something you don’t want by the gallon, get it from the Bonus next door.

The Settlement Center

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • Museum
    • ISK 2500
    • Include an aduio guide
    • 2 exhibits
  • Buffette ISK 2200
    • 11:30 am -15:00 pm

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 21:00

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

Basic Information

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • There’s a cafe in the parking lot.
  • It’s about a one hour hike from where you park your car.
  • Many people ride horses on this trail, so watch out for horse poo.
    • You might want to wear rain boots and hose them off afterwards.
    • There’s A LOT of poo!
  • There are places to change near the hot river, but it does not provide a whole lot of privacy.
    • Be careful when taking photos near the river…
    • Don’t be a jerk and change at the front door of the cafe in the parking lot, even when it’s raining.
      • I saw many people doing this and they blocked the way for paying customers to enter.
      • It doesn’t give you much privacy or shelter from the rain anyway.

Barnafoss and Hraunfossar

Basic Information

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • No camping here
  • There is a cafe nearby

Rauðfeldsgjá

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • no camping
  • Bring rain boots

Don’t Miss:

Some Pools:

Campsites:

Map:

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Travel Tips for The United Kingdom

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 15, 2018

2017

You have to bring:

  • Just your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
    • But, some hostels do not have elevators.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here.
    • Try to shop at duty free stores and ask the clerk for the duty free paper work.
      • Fill out the forms.
      • Mail it at the airport you use to leave the European Union.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
    • You are never given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store or grocery store.
      • Personally, I prefer to shop at bigger grocery stores like Tesco Extra rather than a Tesco Express.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
    • hiking shoes
    • Rain jacket
    • Rain pants
    • Rain boots
  9. If you need to buy outdoor equipment, I recommend:
    • Mountain Warehouse 
      • They are always having a sale
      • Their prices for non-sale items are still generally lower than at other outdoor stores.
    • Cotswold
      • They are a bit pricier, but you can get up to a 20% discount (at the shops in Wales and England) if you have a YHA membership.

Cliffs of Dover

General Tips:

Weather:

  • Always check the weather report before going out.
    • Just because it was warm yesterday, doesn’t mean it won’t be cold today.

Food:

  • Shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, or other grocery stores for ready to eat lunches.
    • Many of them have a £3 lunch deal where you choose a main, a drink, and a snack.
  • For cooking your own meals, shop at the bigger grocery stores rather than the Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local.
    • The bigger stores have more products and cheaper generic versions of products.
    • Morrisons is my favorite, but I also like Tesco Extra.
    • You can save a lot of money by cooking your own meals.
  • Try Scotch eggs!
    • They are actually from London, not Scotland.
  • Try Haggis when you’re in Scotland.
    • Get the type without the sheep stomach casing.
  • Try Cornish Pasties.

Transportation:

  • Get a railway card, if you’re going to ride the train a lot.
  • Get a bus pass if you are going to take many buses.
    • National Express Coach Card
    • You can get a 7-day pass to travel about in certain areas.
  • In smaller towns it’s best to rent a car.
    • It’s a lot cheaper to rent a standard car than it is to rent an automatic.
    • So, learn to drive stick before you go, to save about £50 a day.
    • If you want an automatic, make sure to reserve one ahead of time.
      • They don’t have too many of them.
  • Don’t use the black taxis in London.
    • They are more expensive.
    • If you don’t mind paying more for a cab once for a photo or something go for it.
      • They are really nice.

I’m a Scottish Heritage member!

Get Membership:

  • You should get membership at one of the following depending on where you will travel:
    • English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
    • The memberships really do pay for themselves.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.

Money:

  • Change money at the Post Office.
  • Or, get cash from ATMs.
    • Most ATMs have no ATM fees, but you might not get a good exchange rate…
  • Don’t tip.

Scams:

  • Not many scams to look out for, just use common sense.

The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.

Posted in United Kingdom, The | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Edinburgh

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 10, 2018

Friday, September 1st – 3rd, 2017

“This is what I thought the whole of England would look like.” – Mark

Paris vs The Whole of Britain

When Mark got to Paris, it dazzled him. All the museums and palaces where shiny and fancy. In fact, most of the buildings in Paris were sparkly. It set the standard of opulence high in Mark’s mind. He expected every city in Europe to go all out with gold plated this and diamond encrusted that.

London failed him spectacularly. In London everything is functional, user friendly, and efficient. Very few things are unnecessarily lavish. Personally, I prefer that, but not Mark.

“I want to be wowed,” he whined. “There is no wow in London. It’s just nice. When can we go back to Paris?”

He’s a ‘Racine”. The French are just harder to please.

Our first day walking up the Royal Mile and down Princes street I heard him say, “This looks like Hogwarts!” He let out a little squeal and took photos for a good 20 minutes. After Edinburgh, I never heard Mark speak of Paris again.

Edinburgh is not fancy. But, it has a fairy-tale like feel to it. It looks like it could be inhabited by ghosts yet, be the setting for A Christmas Carol. (Come to think of it, A Christmas Carol was a story about 3 ghosts…) It’s hauntingly beautiful and the bag-pipers everywhere really set the mood of the city.

What do you think of Scotland?

The interesting part of all this, is that Mark didn’t even want to go to Scotland in the first place. I had to beg, bribe, and threaten to get him there. He wanted to go to Ireland or back to France. “I know nothing about Scotland,” he complained. “I’ve heard of Irish cities and towns. Irish dancing, Irish pubs. Irish coffee. French stuff sounds nice too. But can you name one thing you know about Scotland!”

“Well,” I told him. “My grandmother is from Scotland…”

I wanted to see the land of my ancestors. I have ancestors from all over the world. But, being the descendant of slaves and orphans, it’s hard to tell where most of them came from. But I do know for sure that my mother’s mother came from Scotland. According to my mom, the family came from a town just south of Edinburgh. So, I wanted to do a tour of Scotland.

The Scottish tour would not begin here, but after we returned from Iceland. We would rent a car and see as much of Scotland we could fit in 2 weeks. We would do it properly. And, at the end Mark fell in love with Scotland. Now, I don’t think he can even pronounce the name “Ireland”.

Don’t disturb him, he’s learning about Scotland.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Edinburgh Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £17.00
    • Free with Historic Scotland membership
  • Adult £3.50
    • 20% discount for Historic Scotland Members

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 17:00

Video

Notes:


Things to look out for:

Map:

Posted in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Lake District

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 1, 2018

Tuesday, August 29th – 31st

Before we left Liverpool, Mark picked up a car. He was tired of dealing with public transportation in England. The buses and trains in the city are fantastic, but out in the country they come by only every once in a while. Also, there is seldom a direct route to where you want to go, unless you are going from one hub to another. Taking the train from Liverpool to the YHA in Windermere would have taken many transfers.

Mark had driven stick before… in college a long time ago, in a land far, far away… on the right side of the road. He had to quickly remember how to shift, with the other hand, while negotiating the traffic in Liverpool. I couldn’t help. Not only have I only ever driven automatic cars, but adding a second driver when renting a car raises the cost. So, Mark was on his own.

Also, roundabouts are the bane of an American’s existence. Yes, we do have a lot of them in Washington, D.C. But, when I lived there I cursed the Marquis de Lafayette every time I entered one. I have always assumed that he, somehow, had something to do with the absurd number of traffic circles in DC.

Typically, Americans don’t encounter roundabouts. I hate them. They make everything in your car pitch to the right, or left depending on what country you’re in. All this just so you don’t have to stop? How much time can it possibly save?

Once Mark left the city and the roads got less congested, he relaxed and it was smooth sailing to Windermere. The YHA there was very nice with a good view of the lake and some nearby trails. But, this time we weren’t restricted to just these trails. We could drive to any we liked.

We hiked a few trails around town. But, since we had a car we mostly drove to different spots then walked for about 15 minutes. Most of what we did, did not require us to bring snacks, water, or even a map. We still had fun though.

I understand English… I think

One day Mark and I found a place called “Holiday Park” that was very near the lake. It sounded perfect for us. We were on holiday and we wanted to walk through a park. We drove over there. We were a little surprised when we found a gate at the entrance of the park requiring a pass-code. We parked the car and went into the nearby office.

We asked the lady at the desk if the park was opened. From her response I realized that there was a misunderstanding. We weren’t at a place called, “Holiday Park” we were at a holiday park.

Hoping that my American accent would explain my ignorance of holiday parks and that this lady didn’t assume I was a moron, I asked for more information. She gladly explained the rates and when the park was available, which did not help me understand what a holiday park was at all. I had to state my problem very plainly. “I know the words ‘holiday,’ a time away from work, and ‘park,’ a place where you go to be closer to nature. But I’m sorry, I’m just unfamiliar with the term ‘holiday park’. Is it a park or not?”

She gave us more information about contracts and request forms, completely missing my last few questions. She handed us a stack of brochures that said, “Windermere Holiday Park”. I turned to Mark and he shrugged. He didn’t know what was going on either.

“Can we just walk to the lake for now?” Mark asked, handing back all the papers we were just given. The lady told us we could as long as we didn’t bother anyone. “Also,” she added. “Parking in the holiday park is only for guests.” We awkwardly walked out promising not to break any of the rules and headed to the lake. “Okay, no parking in the park. Got it!”

A few yards past the gate we understood what a holiday park was. It was a cross between a trailer park and a time share. People rent these trailers during the summer or on weekends when they head up to the Lake District. This was not what we wanted, so we left to find a real park.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Windermere

Basic Information

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Just pay for parking

Hours:

  • Daylight hours

Videos:

Notes:

  • Be safe while on long hikes.
  • Remember to close the gates behind you.
    • Don’t let any of the sheep escape.

Map:

Posted in England, United Kingdom, The, Windermere | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Liverpool

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 30, 2017

Monday, August 29th, 2017

What is there to do in Liverpool?

I guess one could go check out some factories or a tunnel, but Liverpool is best known as the home of the Beatles.

So we went to a museum that told the story of the Beatles. It explained how they met, why some of them were so close, and how they became musical legends.

Mark’s and my timing was a little off that day. We entered the museum between two tour groups of huge Beatles fans. Personally, I like the Beatles. Their music was great. But, I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fan of the Beatles or any musician for that matter.

The fans in the museum were serious. They read every sign and piece of paper on display. Many of them took photos of everything as if it were their personal duty to keep a record of the museum. It became very hard to move through the museum.

I wanted to listen to the audio guide and look at the “relics” being talked about. I would try to stand off to the corner out of the way of the die-hard fans around me. But, no matter where I stood, I was always in someone’s way. I would move and wonder why anyone would want a photo of that. After 300 photos were taken, and the fan had moved on, I would have a look at the item that I thought was nothing. “Oh, I see. It’s a genuine replica of the synthesizer used on the Sgt. Pepper album.”

I guess I had never encountered fandom at this level. These guys acted like the Beatles were the gods of their cult. I didn’t understand it. I walked through the museum thinking, “This is nice, but it’s not like any of these singers cured cancer, ended world hunger, or cause peace in the middle east. They just sang nice songs.”

I tried to think of it in terms that suit me better. I love reading. According to goodreads.com my most read authors are Orson Scott CardBill Bryson, and Stephen King. It is true that I have read a ton of their work. I would even throw Malcolm Gladwell into the mix. I read every book he writes, he just hasn’t written as much as the other three.

I really enjoy their writing, but I don’t know how I feel about them as people. I would never deify them. As far as I know all of them could be huge jerks. I love the writing and appreciate the writer. If I were to notice one of them eating lunch at the same restaurant I were in, I don’t think I would even go over to him and ask for an autograph. To me, the writing and the writer are two different things.

So, I like the Beatles Story. I like the Beatles. I appreciate their music, but that’s all.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

The Beatles Story

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £15.95
  • Comes with a complimentary audio guide

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 18:00

Video

Notes:

  • Don’t forget the British Invasion exhibit at Pier Head.

The Museum of Liverpool

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 17:00

Video:


Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 10:30 – 17:00
  • Closed Mondays

Videos:

Notes:

  • You will have to wear a hard-hat.

Map:

Posted in England, Liverpool, United Kingdom, The | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Walk the Wall

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 25, 2017

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

This was my second time in Chester. I spent a Fourth of July here when I was in grad school in Manchester. So I knew that I didn’t have to do too much planning. There is an old Roman wall encircling the city. All we had to do was find the wall, walk around it, and we would see all the good stuff in town.

From the train station we walked to the northern gate of the wall and headed in a clockwise direction. There were lots of little shops and cafes on the wall that I wanted to go into. We didn’t. Mark isn’t that into having tea in a shop. Something about paying £15 for tea and scones for two, when a box of tea, a quart of milk, and a 6 pack of scones at Morrisons is less than £6 makes it hard for me to argue with him. So I made a mental note to have tea at home and keep walking.

The next thing we came to was a tower. It had something to do with Charles I, the king who was beheaded. During some battle, he supposedly stood in the tower to watch the fight. Some people say he actually stood in the cathedral. Whether he stood in the tower or not, it is named for him. It is also locked.

Next we stopped by the cathedral and had a good walk around grounds. We didn’t go in because it was Sunday. Although we could have gone in if we wanted, it just didn’t feel right. We let the worshipers worship without the addition of two tourist gawking at their church.

 We saw the Eastgate clock. We exited the wall to stop by the Roman amphitheater and the Roman gardens before returning to the wall. We walked past the river and kept going until we found Chester Castle. It is usually closed, but for part of the summer of 2017 it was open to the public free of charge.

The city of Chester brought in volunteers to dress as people from the castle’s history. They had short presentations about their historical lives after which we could ask them questions. I think Mark and I spent a few hours here. We were offered free tea and cookies, but we were so engrossed in the exhibits, we forgot to get any treats. This was the high light of our time in Chester. We made sure to put some money in the donation box before we left.

I sincerely hope that they open Chester Castle like this again next year. More people should have an opportunity to see history presented to them in this way.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Chester city walls

Basic Information

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • 24hrs

Video

Notes:


Chester Cathedral

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £4  – the gardens

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 18:00 M – Sa

Video

Notes:


Chester Roman Amphitheatre

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Day light hours

Notes:

  • There are picnic benches nearby where you can eat your lunch.
  • The Roman Gardens are very near the Amphitheater.

Chester Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • ??

Hours:

  • ??

Videos:

Notes:

  • Normally, you can only get in with a schedule guided.
  • Chester is usually closed, but it happened to be open last summer when Mark and I were in town.
    • Lucky us!

Map:

Posted in Chester, England, United Kingdom, The | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Northern Wales

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 20, 2017

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Without a car, Mark and I had to use public transportation to get around. None of the towns in the coastal area of Wales seemed interesting enough to justify all the time and effort it would take to get there and stay only a few days. Moving around in Wales is a pain when taking the train or bus. Many of the routes we looked at took 7 or 8 hours because to go from point A in Wales to point B in Wales, one would have to go through Manchester, England. The equivalent would be… going from Miami, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia, by way of Austin, Texas.

To see northern Wales, first Mark and I found accommodations in a Welch town, very near to the English border, called Shotton. At Shotton we bought return (round-trip) tickets to Holyhead. With these tickets we could get off and on as many times as we liked on the way to Holyhead and back.

The only restriction was that the tickets could only be used on off-peak trains. I searched the Arriva website for when exactly the off-peak hours were. I looked through forums and even a few Reddit pages. No one had any clue as to when the train’s off-peak hours were. On the train I asked the conductor who checked my ticket, “When is off-peak anyway?” He looked at Mark’s and my tickets and said, “Well, it’s Saturday. You shouldn’t have a problem using these anytime today.” Everyone knows that the whole weekend is considered off-peak for traveling in most places. So, I got the feeling that the train guy didn’t know the actual off-peak hours either.

I do love a good obelisk

The first stop was at Holyhead. We had a little over one hour in the town before it was time to get on the next train out. It was just enough time for us to see an obelisk near the station, cross the Celtic Gateway Bridge, and see a church near the remnants of an old Roman fort. In fact, we even stopped to grab a bite to eat from a small grocery store in town. Had we had a car that day, we would have driven to the west coast of Holyhead to see the South Stack Lighthouse.

The next stop was at the town with the really long name. Here we had exactly one hour. In that time we bought a bunch of post cards from James Pringle Weavers, wrote on them, ran to the post office to mail them, and then ran back to the station with 3 minutes to spare to get on the next train out.

At the store James Pringle Weavers, there is a translation of the town’s name in English. It still doesn’t fully make sense, but I love this sort of thing.

The next stop was in the town of Llandudno at Llandudno Station. Initially, we were going to stay here for 2 hours, but stayed for 4 because it was so nice. We walked around looking for Alice in Wonderland characters. We soaked up the sunshine along both the shores and on the walk down the pier.

This was actually my second time in Llandudno. I came here years ago when I lived in Manchester and was a grad student. It was a nice little break in my bleak student life. It was wonderful then and it is still just as lovely now.

Our last stop was in the town of Flint to see Flint Castle. But we actually stopped here because Mark lived near Flint, Michigan. The two Flints are a drastic contrast of each other.

That ended our tour of Wales.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Holyhead

Basic Information

Cost:

  • Everything at this stop is free

Hours:

  • all the sights here are available 24hrs a day

Videos:

Notes:

  • The town’s name is pronounced “Holly-head”.

Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch 
Llanfair PG

Basic Information

Cost:

  • I think we got 6 post cards for 2 pounds.
  • It cost about 80p each to mail the post cards, I think.

Videos:

Notes:

  • There isn’t really much to do in this town.
  • This town is a requested stop.
    • The train will not stop at this station unless there are people waiting for the train at the station, or someone on the train has asked for the train to stop there so they can get off.

Llandudno

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • Everything but the items in the shops and parking are free.

Video

Notes:

  • There are many characters from Alice in Wonderland in statute-form around the town.

Flint

Basic Information

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • 24hrs

Notes:

  • You cannot enter the castle.
  • The grounds around the castle is basically a park.

Map:

Posted in Flint, Holyhead, Llandudno, Llanfair PG, Shotton, United Kingdom, The, Wales | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brecon

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 15, 2017

Monday, August 21st – 25th, 2017

We took a public bus from Cardiff to get to the YHA (Youth Hostel) in Brecon. We know that the bus passed by the hostel only once every 2 hours, so we did our grocery shopping before getting on the bus in Cardiff. By this time on our trip, cooking our own meals was not just about saving money any more. We wanted to eat at “home”. We were tired of restaurants and sometimes, we just wanted to stay in.

The YHA at Brecon

The YHA in Brecon was very quiet and peaceful. It was a fantastic place to get away and relax. Unfortunately that works better if you have a car and don’t depend on public transportation. There are a few trails that start right outside the hostel’s door. But, for more options, it’s better to have a car.

We, didn’t really go to Brecon for hiking. We went there for the caves… and because it was in the middle of Wales. We were working our way through Wales with the goal of getting to Scotland by September.

To get anywhere in the Brecon area, you first have to take a bus to the town of Brecon. We got up very early on morning to catch the 7:00AM bus downtown. Once there we had to wait at the bus depot for 2 hours for the next bus to the caves. If we had a car, the drive from the YHA to the caves would have been about half an hour.

We thought we would spend the whole day in the park. It is advertised as having 3 caves with one being called the “Cathedral Cave”. The first cave was nice and took about 40 minutes to an hour to walk through. The second cave, the Cathedral Cave, was very beautiful. But, the walk through that one took about 20 minutes. The walk up to the last cave took longer than the walk in the cave.

In fact, there was no walk in the cave. The cave was very small compared to the other two. Everyone just stood around and watched a video of the history of the cave. The video was interesting. It talked about the people who used the cave throughout history; first neolithic men, then Romans, and now us. But the video was about 15 minutes long.

The rest of the park is mainly for little kids. There are plastic dinosaurs throughout the park which all the children really enjoyed. But by noon, Mark and I had seen everything we were interested in seeing. We ate our lunch then waited for the bus back to the YHA. Since it was still the middle of the day, we had more than enough time to hike a trail near the YHA before sunset. That would be our new plan so the afternoon wouldn’t be a total loss.

The bus back to town had such great timing. The bus we needed to transfer to, to get back to the YHA left just 5 minutes after we arrived at the bus depot. But, of course we had to do some shopping before heading back. The next bus after that wasn’t for another 2 hours.

By the time we got back to the YHA it was about 16:00. We did walk about for 30 minutes but not on any of the trails. We saved that for the next day.

The next day we focus more on doing laundry and relaxing, but we did manage to get in a nice late morning hike. On the trail we speculated on where we could have gone had there been a better bus system in the area.

“You know, it’s not that expensive to rent a car here,” Mark told me.

“Yes, but they mostly rent stick-shift,” I replied.

“I can drive stick,” Mark said.

The seed was planted on our imagination. The freedom that would come with renting a car would be amazing, even if the car was a stick-shift.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.

National Show Caves

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 15:00

Video

Notes:

  • One of the caves was used as a filming location for the Doctor Who serial The Pirate Planet.
  • There is one very long cave, but you can’t see most of it.
    • It takes about 30 minutes to walk through it.
  • There is one really nice cave, but it’s not very big.
  • There is one cave that is very small and all you do in there is watch a video.
  • It’s a great place for kids, but not that entertaining for adults on their own.

Map:

Posted in Brecon, United Kingdom, The, Wales | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Cardiff

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 10, 2017

Sunday, August 20th – 21st, 2017

In Cardiff we visited Cardiff Castle, which comes with an okay audio guide. The castle is very nice and the interior was unexpected.

Cardiff Castle was built in the late 1200’s. When I think of old castles I think of cold, dark, and dank (and not the good meme-like dank) places. Like the Tower of London which gave off a very dank vibe. Cardiff Castle felt more like a home; a home that was turned into a museum, but still a home.

We had a very nice time at Cardiff Castle. It’s wasn’t too eventful, just nice.

Saving Money While Backpacking

Some of the hostels Mark and I have been staying in have been okay, but lacked something… We stay at hostels because they are a lot cheaper than hotels and because we want to meet other travelers. But many of our hostels act more like bars with rooms.

The accommodations are inexpensive, but you are highly encouraged to eat and drink at their overpriced pubs. Some ban guests from bringing outside food into the hostels. Others provide a kitchen just big enough for them to advertise that they have a kitchen, but not big enough for more than one person to cook at the same time.

If you are traveling for a weekend, those kind of hostels would do. But for Mark and me, traveling the world, we want to save money where ever we can. Cooking for ourselves is a great way to keep costs down. So in Europe, we needed to find hostels that would allow us to do that.

Mark in the kitchen

In Cardiff we bought memberships in YHA which is the youth hostel organisation in Wales. YHA is a subsidiary of Hosteling International (HI). After enjoying our first night in Cardiff, we have tried to stay in an HI hostel whenever we can. There is a long list of benefits for choosing an HI hostel over other hostels.

They are generally cleaner. Like any chain brand, they have a reputation to keep up. Hostels in HI have to meet a certain level of cleanliness and they have to be environmentally friendly as they do it.

They have better kitchen and clothes washing facilities. Although they do have cafes and bars, no one is pushing you to eat and drink there. Because of this, they tend to have less drunk travelers.

They are more family friendly. The downside is that you’ve traded in loud drunk backpackers for loud annoying kids. But, I’d take the kids over the backpackers because children have a bedtime. Besides, kids staying at an HI hostel will be placed in a private room with their parents.

The HI hostels are less expensive, generally. Plus, as a member you get £3 off per night per member for your stay. Also, when renting a car it’s good to know that most, but not all, come with free parking.

Overall, HI hostels helped Mark and I to save money on our trip. I feel more comfortable and at home in these hostels. The employees act more in control of the running of the hostel. For example, if something is broken, they will fix it or call someone who will, rather than waiting until the end of their shift and letting some other staff member deal with it.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.

Cardiff Castle

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • £12.50
  • You get discount if you have downloaded the audio guide app.
    • You can still use their audio if one is available.

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 16:00

Video

Notes:

  • Built in the late 11th century.

Map:

Posted in Cardiff, United Kingdom, The, Wales | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bath & a Mound

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 5, 2017

Friday, August 19th – 20th, 2017

On our first day in bath we checked into our hostel and walked to the Roman Bath. The museum there had a nice audio guide and the tour was very nice. We spent about 2 hours there. But when we were done, we couldn’t think of anything else we wanted to do in bath.

There was a nice garden, but it cost money to enter. There was a Jane Austin tour, but I don’t really care for her work. There were other museums, but none of them interest us… except for…

With these tools, I’ll make my own telescope!

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy is a little apartment where William and Caroline Herschel discovered Uranus. It just blows my mind that this brother and sister team weren’t even astronomers, scientists, or teachers. They were musicians. They just liked looking into the night’s sky for fun.

This was their hobby. And, they took it to lengths where they needed better and better telescopes. After a point, they could not buy strong enough telescopes, so they had to make their own; which they did.

A replica of the telescope used to discover Uranus

They discovered a new planet one day and the accolades poured in. They made bigger and stronger telescopes and went on to discover more sciency stuff like infrared radiation,  Messier 110, and many comets. But, that’s all; this was just a hobby.

My hobby is reading, but that will never get me any accolades… 😦

We took about 5 buses to get here.

We also visited Avebury to see their mound, stone circles, and other neolithic delights. I enjoyed walking through the little village and seeing the really old rocks.

What I did not like was the many buses and trains needed to go from Bath to Avebury. It took about 2.5 hours one way just to see these things. While we were walking around we had to keep track of time. The bus back to the train station came by only once an hour, then once every 2 hours after a certain time of day. We had to either hurry up, or slow down.

This meant that we could either follow the path all the way, then wait a long time for the next bus. Or, we could hurry up and quickly see only some of the path and not wait too long on the bus. We chose the latter.

Eventually, we would rent a car. But, that wouldn’t be until much later in the trip.

It helps to listen to podcasts as you wait.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

The Roman Bath

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £15.50
  • Complimentary audio guide
    • There are 3 types of audio files:
    • One for adults
    • One for kids
    • And where Bill Bryson talks about his visit to Bath.

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00

Videos:

Notes:

  • Built in 60-70 AD.
  • Don’t touch the water. The pool and pipes are lined with lead.

Avebury Stone Circle

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Parking is free for only National Trust and English Heritage members.

Hours:

  • day light hours

Videos:

Notes:


Herschel Museum of Astronomy

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £6.50

Hours:

  • M – F 13:00 – 17:00
  • Sa – Su 11:00 – 17:00

Videos:

Notes:

  • The garden in the back is where Uranus was discovered.

Map:

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