Sunday, March 18, 2018

A day trip to the 'Pool

Liverpool that is...

Being a huge Beatles fan, I have visited Liverpool a few times over the years.  When I learned that China's Terracotta Warriors were going to be at the World Museum there I decided I had to go.  Bonus: I would get to see the Beatles sculpture at the Pier head that was installed shortly after I was last there in 2015.  

I first saw the Terracotta Warriers at the British Museum in London in October of 2007 and they blew me away.  I knew I had to see them again. (does that make me a Terracotta Warriers groupie?)  Why not go to China to see them?  Nope.  China is one country I have absolutely no desire to visit for so many reasons that I won't get into here.  

I booked my ticket from home, managed to get a day return ticket that wasn't too hard on the bank balance and on Wednesday March 14th I was off.  Virgin trains were bang on time both ways and I had no seat mate which was a bonus.  

Upon arrival at Lime Street station I made my way to Albert Dock.  The wind was cold and even worse by the River Mersey.  But I finally found my boys by the Pier Head.




I had to pose with them - beside my favourite of course.  They are a bit more than life sized but then that's what they ARE.


I then went to a Beatles cafe (there are a lot of them!) beside the sculpture and had a cup of tea to warm myself up...and a cherry scone.  Mental note to self:  leave enough room in your suitcase this time to bring home cherry scones.  I keep saying I am going to make my own...HA!!!  Then I went back and got someone else to take MORE photos of me with the boys.


I am holding Seymore the Mouse  (a gift from my friend Eilleen)  who is traveling with me...he kept sliding off of Paul so I had to hold him.  

I then braced myself for the cold walk over to the Beatles story.  Okay, this was my third visit...the only reason I went was to see the exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles trip to India.  Hmmm...should have saved my money.  Oh well.  Another note to self:  this is your last trip to the Beatles story.  Unless there is a real live Beatle there of course....


A replica of the Cavern Club....


This is the piano that John recorded "Imagine" on.

I debated on taking the Ferry Across the Mersey as I haven't done it in years but the ferry only goes once an hour now and I just missed one.  And it was damn cold and windy!

I walked over to Mathew St. where "it all began" and gave my regards to John and Cilla.  This is where the original Cavern Club was until it was demolished in 1973. (sacrilege!)  There is now a replica nearby.



By now I was feeling peckish again as I had done quite a bit of walking around the shopping precinct as well (bought two more coasters because of course owning over 100 drink coasters is not enough!) so popped into another Beatles cafe and had "scouse" which is a beef or lamb stew that is served with beetroot and bread on the side.   The word "scouse" comes from lobscouse, a stew eaten by sailors in Northern Europe and it became popular in seaports such as Liverpool.  Liverpudlians are commonly known as scousers.


I think I will try making it at home...uh huh...sure you will...


"Eleanor Rigby"...all the lonely people.  This sculpture is at the end of Mathew Street.

By now it was time to head over for my late afternoon booking to see the Terracotta Warriors at the World Museum. 

The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 by local farmers near Xi'an, China.  It is estimated there are around 8,000 warriors, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 120 cavalry horses.  Most still lay buried.  They were created to depict the armies of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.  Why?  To protect him in the after life...alrighty then.  Work on this masoleum began in 246 BC when the Emperor took the throne at the age of 13. 700,000 workers were involved in the building of it. They haven't disturbed the actual tomb.  It all sounds very impressive and it is...the detail of the faces is amazing.  Each one is different.  I can only imagine how impressive the actual site is...but sorry, it's still not going to get me to China.  The figures are life sized and were originally painted in brightly coloured pigments however over time it has faded or been chipped off. 

There is a dark side to this amazing monument however.  In the 38 years of construction over 700,000 workers were killed so they could not disclose its location.  Some were buried alive.  When he died his approximately 3,000 concubines (busy guy) were forced to take their own lives.

It is very impressive and I know if I am ever in another place that has a Terracotta warrior exhibition I will go! 

There were 7 Terracotta warriors at this exhibition as well as a couple of chariots with drivers and horses.  And we could take photos without flash.  This is probably because most people have a camera on their phone now and would sneak photos anyway.  I tried to balance between taking a few photos and just " being there" to observe the detail.  I was practically swooning. (yep, definitely I'm a groupie)  So here are a few photos...












I then wandered around the World Museum a bit..their Mummy room is amazing.  Sadly, their world cultural section which took up most of one floor was closed.  I will definitely go back to see it someday. 


I then popped in to visit the beautiful Liverpool central library which has a coffee shop - now that's my kind of library!  I know more and more libraries are doing this and it's such a good idea. 


And here in the library is the Picton Reading Room...so beautiful.  I am such a library geek but I couldn't live without my local library.  I love to visit local libraries wherever I go.



It still wasn't quite time to board the 7:47 p.m. train to Euston so I nipped in here for a drink.  It was beautiful inside.  I ordered a double gin and it went down very well thank you very much.

What a great day!  With the World Museum, the fantastic Museum of Liverpool, the Maritime Museum, the Slavery museum (which I still have to visit) and Albert Dock, Liverpool is so much more than just the Beatles...did I say "just" the Beatles?  What I really meant to say is that it is a place that even those who aren't fortunate enough to be Beatles fans can enjoy.  I will definitely be back..again and again and again... 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Day 9 on the Thames Path - Shepperton to Chertsey

For a long while I didn't think I would ever write that title again...but here I am.  Tired but happy. (might not be so happy tomorrow morning...time will tell!) It was a dream come true to be back on the path again and I had the biggest grin on my face for most of it - even when I was ploughing my way along muddy paths.

Today was a short one - my Garmin watch tells me I walked about nine km.  Probably only about four and a half km (if that) was on the actual path as I had to walk to and from the railway stations at the beginning and the end of my walk.  However it's a start and I proved to myself that I can do it.

Staying in South London has its advantages as I have easy access to the rail network that takes me to the towns along the Thames Path...and I now have a Seniors rail card so save 30% on my rail fares.  It's all good!

I can't remember too much about Shepperton rail station - after all last time I had "celebrated" the end of the walk with a glass of wine on an empty stomach and not enough hydration.... Thank goodness for google maps as I found my way to Shepperton Lock which is where I would have ended up if the ferry had been running that day...but no worries as today I got to see more of the town itself.  Quite nice actually and I wouldn't mind more of a snoop around some day when I am not walking. 



That's tellin' 'em!! 


St Nicholas Church


And there it was...my old friend the Thames. This is the ferry I would have been on if it had been running two years back....but it was cancelled due to high water....which forced me to walk further than perhaps I should have.  My knee did not forgive me for that walk for a long time...




The Thames Path used the road for a while but no worries as it wasn't very busy.


Lots of daffodils to come!


I was so excited to be back on the trail I asked a man passing by if he could take my photo - he happily obliged so he and his wife got to hear all about Thelma and my two year break in walking the path.


This swan came out of the water and striding towards me which was kind of cool until I thought "oh shit maybe he/she has eggs around here and he/she is protecting them" - so I got the "hell out of dodge" fairly quickly. 

How the other half lives - there were some very nice houses in this neck of the woods.


Oh look - a pub!  No Laurie, it's too early to go to the pub....


The road turned inland and the path began...it was fairly muddy as there has been quite a bit of rain lately. 



Lots of canal boats along this part of the river.




A messy "kissing gate" to get through.



The only dog and dog walker today - the doggie's name was Sandy which was the name of my dog so that made me all sentimental and I made a big fuss of her.


Another kissing gate at the other end of the meadow as they graze cattle here... but none today.


Chertsey Bridge and the end of my walk...


And this is where I will start next time!!!

Then it was to a pub to celebrate.  This time I stuck with coke! 


Jacket potato with ooey gooey cheese and prawns.  Yum!

I will be back to see you again my old friend.....soon, very soon....



Saturday, March 10, 2018

Two months on the road - the highlights, lowlights and future plans

Today marks two months since I slunk out of my apartment at an ungodly hour of the morning to begin this adventure.  It has certainly been two months of highs and lows - luckily more of the former.

Places I have been

Toronto
London
Barcelona, Spain
Durham in NE England
Dubai
Sri Lanka
Kerala, India

And now I am back in London

Beds slept in..

14!  

The highlights...

The best thing so far on this trip has been the elephant gathering in Kaudulla park in Sri Lanka.  To see that many elephants in one place was mind boggling and very humbling.  They are such magnificent creatures and I feel so fortunate to have witnessed the gathering.


Lunch on the move...

I also loved my three nights at the Peacock Villa in Mirissa after the tour had finished.  It was perfection.  Sitting on my balcony overlooking this...


and seeing a wild (male) Peacock sitting on the branch of a tree was surreal.  And that was a constant every day occurrence.  Even being woken up every morning to the Peacocks calling was not annoying - and at least they didn't start as early as that &@%^&;%$ bird in Fort Kochi!  I spent hours on that balcony watching the peacocks, monkeys, monitor lizards and various birds do their thing. 



My time in Barcelona was good as well...I enjoyed wandering the city seeing the beautiful creations of Antoni Gaudi. 


La Sagrada Familia blew me away. 




Dubai was amazing but my favourite part was my morning in a nature reserve in the desert.  Not only did I see the UAE's national animal, the Arabian Oryx but I got to be close and personal with a ten month old camel at a camel farm.   




Oh yeah and going up the world's tallest building was kind of cool too!!




Being high up in the hills of Munnar, India was so relaxing.  I could easily have spent another day there just sitting on the balcony of our guest house with my kindle and the never ending cups of tea that seemed to come my way.  I mean, look at the view!!!



And that is tea...not beer.  Honest! (the beer came later...)

Scruffy little Fort Kochi stole my heart..while I probably booked my stay there for a day or two too long I still enjoyed myself.   My homestay was perfect.  It was terribly hot so I would wander in the morning, go back to my air conditioned room for a rest around noon and head out in the late afternoon again. 



I could go on about other experiences as well - there really wasn't anywhere that disappointed me. 

Lowlights

I haven't been the healthiest on this trip.  In fact there were times I lay in bed and wondered if I should go home early. I was on Westjet's website on more than one occasion ready to book a flight home the end of March.  I have been plagued with a cold/flu that just never seems to totally go away but I will soldier on.  I am nothing if not stubborn.  Besides, I have built a lot of rest days on this trip and for that I am grateful. 

Thelma (my knee replacement) 

Thelma has been a star.  Okay I can still feel her in there and it still doesn't feel 'normal' but it's getting better each day.  However she is strong and I can walk with no problems.  I am just super paranoid about falling...

What's next?  

I am in London for approximately two weeks.  One of the highlights will be meeting up with friends.  I will be spending the day with my friend Pat and then being a "tour guide" to my friend June and her family when we stay in a hotel in the Paddington area for a couple of days.  Next week I am off to Liverpool for the day to see the Terracotta Warriers at the World Museum as well as paying my respects to the Beatles statue on Albert Dock, perhaps attending an exhibition at the Beatles museum and having "scouse" (beef stew) at a pub near the rail station before I head back to London.  And somewhere in there (when it's not raining...) I hope to test out Thelma on the Thames Path starting back at Shepperton where I left off two years ago.  (and this time I will resist a glass of wine at the end...well maybe...)  If it goes as I hope it will I will be back on that path in the weeks and months ahead. 

Then it's off to the Channel Islands again - this time to the island of Guernsey for a week.  I hope to visit the nearby islands of Sark, Herm and Alderney.  I am going a little early in the season so we shall see what I can see.  

After that I will be venturing into Eastern Europe.  First to Budapest which is some place I have been wanting to visit for a while.  I will be packing my swimsuit to try out at least one of the thermal baths. After five nights there I will board an overnight train to Krakow, Poland where I will be staying for four nights.  I have heard wonderful things about both places so I can't wait!  And that will bring me into the start of my fourth month but you will just have to wait to hear more about that! 

Bopping around Budapest - The Old Town of Buda

F riends had raved about Budapest and having read quite a bit about it I knew it was on my "to visit" list. And I knew it was goi...