tvordlj: (Camera Neon)
Am nearly through organizing all my photos. As usual, i upload many to Kodakgallery, less than that to Flickr and make a highlight set on Flickr. i won't be insulted if nobody bothers with the large sets because i do them mainly for me anyway. But if there's a destination you want to see more of, that's where you should go. I've grouped them by fours, Slideshow one is the four "Europe" albums (Amsterdam, Openair Museum, Brussels, Bruges). Slideshow two is the four UK ones (London and Manchester, Lyme Hall, Martin Mere Wetlands, Eyam the Plague village). I think you can pull just one section out or jump to the album of your choice.

The more digestible sets are in this collection on Flickr. That includes one set that is Highlights of Everything We Did.
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
We are back from "The continent"! Amsterdam was great but missed prime tulip season by a few weeks. Actually saw more tulips in London! Brussels very impressive with great huge buildings on a grand scale. Brugges was really pretty but very full of tourists. Took canal tours of Amsterdam and Brugges, Saw real Rembrandts and musical instrument museum. The Henry VIII exhibit in London was really good. Astonishing that so many documents and books survived 500 years!

I've worn out my feet walking, and the cobbles in the city center of Brussels made our legs and ankles ache. Was so tired Friday night that i refused to walk anywhere and insisted we order room service! I took many many photos (no surprise there!). Went to Regent's Park in London yesterday afternoon for a picnic organized by [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos which was probably the first relaxing thing we did all week and it was really nice to see people from my flist and meet new people and meet baby Catherine who brought her mum [livejournal.com profile] sparklielizard.

Observations: Amsterdam on a Sunday night is unbelievably full of rubbish and litter.
Amsterdam bicyclists are mad!!!
Belgian hand made chocolates really are that good!
Brugges looks like a picture book but heaving with people.
Brussels (according to Graham,) looks like something out of an old WW2 movie with big grand buildings and squares and he said it looked like he might expect to see Ingrid Bergman darting out around a corner running away from the Gestapo or something!
Rembrandt was probably why they coined the term "Master". He knocks the spots off everyone else when it comes to portraits!
Seeing some of the documents from Henry VIII's comings and goings, like the Act of Supremacy and the divorce papers for his marraige to Katherine of Aragon, *original* documents with signatures and seals, can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

We're staying in tonight, relaxing with our feet up.
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
Spent my lunch hour at the travel agent. I don't mind booking some stuff online but when i have to go to a half dozen or more sites, i figure it increases the chances of stuff ups and problems. and if an agent does it, it's one point of contact. I've got my main UK flight booked and i have her working on the flight to Schipol. She already managed to save me a big chunk of change. I had been planning to fly one way direct with KLM and she said that by doing that, without the return part, KLM would charge about $500 per person. If i used British Midland, and changed planes in Heathrow, the cost nosedives to about $100 per person. No argument from me on that. Only, because we're doing that, it takes up most of the day to get to Amsterdam so i though it best to fly out on Sunday instead of Monday. What we've saved more than pays for the hotel the extra night. She's going to book the Tulip Inn Amsterdam Centre for us and probably one of the Ibis hotels in Brussels. She's going to book the Eurostar second class to London. If we had more time and money, i'd love to spend extra days in Belgium. Maybe some other time. I've one friend that has been there several times. I at least want a taste of the city and hopefully, a side trip to Brugges.

I used Londontown.com and booked the Hilton Islington for 68 pounds a night, buffet breakfast included. Oh and it's not the first weekend of May, it's May 9/10 that we'll be there. Since we're staying in Islington, perhaps it'll work out better for a pub up that way. Londoners, we'll talk closer to the time.

I did discover a voucher from Air Canada that would have given me 40 dollars off this booking and i didn't realize i had it until after i booked. Crap. I also had to call AC to get my seat assignment as the website wouldn't let me do it, either when i booked or afterwards. That's sorted, too.

Excited!
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
First day back to work after 2 weeks off. Oh *god* it was hard getting up at 6 and staying up!
To add insult to injury i couldn't remember my network password, that's a first. I tried several and ended up locking my account. Got that sorted by the help desk without too much bother.
Installed my new calendar and desk calendar. I brought my Judoon mug to work. I'm getting quite a collection of mugs here! This one has a little battery compartment underneath it to power the talking stuff. I would guess i should not put the mug in the microwave to reheat it if i want the batteries to survive and there is probably metal bits in the battery compartment too.

So now a new year, and start planning for my trip to see Graham in May. Am now thinking of adding on a couple of nights in Brussels as well as Amsterdam. Hotel prices seem a bit cheaper there and if we go there, we can hop on Eurostar to London for an overnight or so there. I got thinking this morning, One idea might be to go to Amsterdam early on the first day and stay there two nights. The third day, we can still do more of Amsterdam or do a day trip since most things are not very far away anyway. Haarlem or Delft perhaps. We can then take the train around 4 or 5 to Brussels and stay two nights there. We'd have that night, all the next day and most of the day after that, taking the Eurostar to London around the same time of day. We'd then have the evening and another full day in London, going back to Manchester the morning of the last day.

I think that might work quite well, taking a late afternoon/early evening train to the next place on. By May it will still be light well into the evening and we can walk around, find a nice place to have our meal, see the city lit up. So, does anyone have any previous experience with hotels in central Brussels? I shall have to check the travel agents for brochures as well. I already checked the Eurostar site and one way tickets are only about 50 pounds for regular class tickets. It takes less time to get to London from Brussels than it does to get from London to Manchester! I"ve also ordered a Rick Steves book covering Amsterdam, Brussels and the area. I have some Amsterdam books but this one will have Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp too. I really want to go to Bruges which i'm sure we can do for part of the second day as it's not far.

The way things look now, we'll be in London on a Friday and Saturday night so a pub meet will definitely be in order, yes? Looking at the first weekend in May. I think since we will be arriving at St. Pancras and leaving from Euston, i'll get a hotel in that area. It'll be the most useful. Hopefully, the exchange rate will stay really low like it is now and i can get a nicer hotel for the same or cheaper than usual. A £60 hotel used to cost me over $150 CAD and now a £75 one will be in the vicinity of $130 at today's rates. Can't beat that with a stick! The Euro is about $1.65 CAD at the moment which is a little bit better than when we went to Paris. Onward and upward!

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