Wednesday, October 30, 2013

St James Park

It's no secret that I love London...heck I am in love with London...when someone asks me my favourite place in the world I answer "London" with absolutely no hesitation.  I wasn't feeling the intense love this time around due to not feeling well at all  - but that's happened before (1999/2000 springs to mind immediately - that involved a hospital visit) and the love still goes on.  As I mentioned in a previous post I did feel the love again when I walked on to Waterloo Bridge at sunset and the heart went pitter patter....

My favourite part of London is ironically the most touristy part.  I love the area around St James Park and Trafalgar Square.  St James Park is the first place I make a beeline to - then I know I'm in London.  I find myself drawn to the area numerous times during the trip...I've had more than my share of "cuppas" at Cafe in the Crypt in St Martins-in-the-Field church.

So here is my post paying homage to one of my very favourite places to be in the world...a place I never grow tired of and one I could spend hours at - just sitting on a bench on a fine day watching life go by.

St James Park was established as a park in 1603 so it's been around a very long time.  It's bordered on one end by Buckingham Palace and the other end by the Palace of Whitehall complete with horseguards.  Along it's sides are Threadneedle street and the other St James Palace. 



St James Park has a lot of waterfowl of all types

Pelican yoga

Brightly decorated lawn chairs - you don't see these in the winter!

Now that the pigeons have been "kicked out" of Trafalgar Square  St James Park is one of their favourite haunts


Glimpses of Whitehall and the London Eye

Whitehall Palace from the bridge

I could sit on one of these benches for ages


The waterfowl aren't adverse to any food either....this was taken in the winter...St James Park is a joy year round.

Buckingham Palace from the bridge

One of St James Parks four legged residents


Monday, October 21, 2013

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is probably one of the most popular if not THE most popular tourist attraction in Iceland.  I have heard about it for years now and it was definitely on my list of things to do in Iceland.  I even threw in my bathing suit so I could visit. (you can rent a bathing suit but ewwww....) The lagoon is a man-made lagoon on a lava field which is fed by the water output of a nearby geonthermal plant and is renewed every 2 days.

I decided to go to the Blue Lagoon on my way to the airport for my flight back to Canada...it is just a twenty minute drive from Keflavik airport and on a direct route 40 minutes from Reykjavik.  They would store my luggage for me in the bus while I was there so no worries on having to drag my suitcase around with me. 

Admission was 35 Euros (which was strange as Icelanders use the kroner but this was done in Euros) or 60 Euros for a towel and robe.  You got a coded bracelet which you wore which gave you unlimited access to a good sized locker and also let you charge extras as your credit card was programmed to it.  Dozer here had forgotten my towel so I had to go for the 60 Euro package.  Must admit the robe came in handy until somehow I got it soaking wet...how I did that is a mystery and this was before I even got into the pool.  Sometimes I really amaze myself. 

Finally I got out to the pool....brrrrrr..it was a cold very windy day and I could not get in to that water quickly enough.  The water ranged from lukewarm to fairly hot.  We all tried to find the hot places!!  They had containers of mud to put on your body which I did.   Most of the people in the pool had white masks on their faces! Check this one out - we all looked like mimes!



One thing I did not agree with was people being able to drink beer (with no lids) in the pool.  I got a fruit smoothie which had a lid and even then I was worried about dropping it.  I did spend a bit extra and get a mud pack for my face. Sadly it didn't make me beautiful....sigh...

I stayed in the water for an hour which is all I could stand but it left me thinking "meh....".  I did it but will never do it again....I've been to mineral pools before and with the exception of this being totally outdoors and the water a pretty shade of turquoise blue it was nothing special for me.





I had to have yet another shower so decided to shampoo my hair as well with the body products they had there.    

So that's my experience at the Blue Lagoon - probably the only thing in Iceland that disappointed me.









Walking the Seven Sisters

Okay, let's go for another walk! This was the last strenuous walk I did on my trip sad to say.  So many plans, so many plans....get over it Laurie!  I am so grateful I felt healthy enough to do this walk as the evening of this walk is when I started feeling poorly.

This beautiful walk started at the Seven Sisters Country Park and went over seven chalk cliffs called The Seven Sisters ending up in Eastbourne. A walk of approximately 9.34 miles.  In October of 1997 I did the walk from Beachy Head to the Seven Sisters  and this time I reversed it and extended it as well.  I was accompanied by my friend my friend Claudia from Germany however to respect her privacy you won't see her except from the back or the distance. 

So here we go!!!   We took the bus to the Seven Sisters Country Park and started off on the path...the wrong path but oh well...we got to the top eventually...



Cuckmere River

Well you knew there had to be a sheep didn't you?

Pastoral view as we begin the walk

 First sister - we gave them all names and the names got uglier as the cliffs got higher...
Okay here we go up the second cliff...

Looking back (gasp - as in what beauty AND catching my breath!)

 Oh boy....
here comes a big one but Birling Gap is coming up - lunch time!!!
 
 Okay...here we go again...

Monty is too popped to pop!  

Lunch time with a view - there is a prawn and mayo sandwich with my name on it.

Down to the beach at Birling Gap  


And off we go again!!!  


Beachy Head!  This is sadly a popular suicide spot

Beachy Head lighthouse






Oh oh...no public bus to Eastbourne from Beachy Head except on Sundays...looks like we have to walk the rest of the way...

So after a cuppa off we go...

 We had some horrendously steep steps to go down - no photos taken then - my poor tired knees!  A big thanks to Claudia who helped me.  This was the easy bit.
Eastbourne in the distance

We weren't on the correct trail - we found that out later.

Eastbourne's famous carpet gardens...

And the pier...  


After completing the walk I said never again....I have done it twice both ways but after doing this post I think I will have to do it again someday!!!  It is a beauty.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rambling around Reykjavik

While I loved Iceland I had a particular soft spot for it's capital city of Reykjavik.  It is a quirky city of approximately 200,000 which coincidentally is the same size as the city I live in.

Follow in my footsteps as I walked around the city on Wednesday October 9th...

First we have to say goodbye to Rosie the Icelandic sheep dog (don't worry, you will see more of her later!)  who is sitting on the living room table....when her daddy is gone she sits there...I found out later she isn't supposed to do this.  She can, however sit on the window sill and look out at everyone.  Dogs and cats get a right seeing off but humans are fine!!!


I stayed in the flat on the ground floor of this building

Looking back towards the flat - very quiet road.

I always have to take license plate pictures! 




Loved this - as someone pointed out..it looks like a Banksy (famous London graffiti artist)



Here we are strolling past Tjornin - the lake in the city centre.

Thought this was pretty cool....



Then onto the Hallgrimskirkja which is the sixth highest structure in Iceland and it dominates the Reykjavik skyline.  It was completed in 1986.  The view from the top (with an elevator thank goodness!) is outstanding as you will soon see...that's Leif Erikson in front. 






The interior is quite stark but the organ is playing and it is absolutely amazing.  Wow.  As you can see the view from the tower is fantastic.   I love the colours!!!

Then we are off to the coast line which is a just a fifteen minute walk away...here is a beautiful sculpture of a viking ship...Sun Voyageur


Next up...a stroll down the main shopping street and let's get some coffee and a piece of Icelandic cake...


I must say it's delicious...

Now revived let's head off again...

 No time to visit here I'm afraid - next time!!!  Two days in Reykjavik next visit!
Domkirkjan (another cathedral)  both Lutheran





Next stop the Settlement Museum.  This is built around the remains of a long house from approximately 871. (how they came up with that number I have no idea)  I have one word...VIKINGS!!!  I am a bit obsessed with the Viking period.   For me it was fascinating to visit this and see remnants of a home.

So many museums in Reykjavik that I wanted to visit but not enough time. 



Now it's back to the beautiful harbour and to the Seabaron restaurant for a cod kebob.  Num num!!! 

Then it's back to our airbnb rental to say hello to our friend Rosa!  (who is still sitting on the forbidden table)  Hope you enjoyed walking around Reykavik with me! 

"Well you're back...what took you so long"?