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Published: March 27th 2019
It's been a long time again since I wrote and I'm falling behind with my blog entries. Hopefully this time I will be able to write more often so I can catch up with all the trips I've made.
I'm still writing about July 2017. After leaving Brussels by bus, I arrived early morning at Victoria station in London. I stayed there, grabbed something to eat while waiting for my other bus to Southampton
. I went to Southampton to visit my friends Tasha and Alistair, both I worked with in New Zealand back in 2014. Of course I visited also to get to know other parts of the United Kingdom. This city of roughly 250.000 people lies at the southern coast of England. The city centre is not very big and is easy to walk through. There aren't that many particular tourist sights. The main attraction would be the old city wall, over which you could walk, and the "Bargate" which is an old city gate. Southampton has one of the most complete historic city walls left, dating back to the late 13th century! I took advantage and did some shopping at Decathlon, and
enjoyed some quality time with my friends.
During my last day in Southampton another friend who I worked with in New Zealand came to see us: Ryan. Together with him we drove for about 1 hour to the north to visit the famous Stonehenge.
It's one of the main landmarks of England and I think almost everyone must have seen at least one picture of Stonehenge. It consists of several megaliths, standing stone monuments dating from more than 3000 BC. The entire complex is set up in the form of a circle. There are several theories about the former function of Stonehenge. Some studies indicate that it was a settlement, a health centre or a cemetery. The entrance fee is 20 British Pounds, which we personally thought is a bit ridiculous to see "just a couple of stones". We decided to take a side road and walk towards the site. You don't get to come very close but it was completely free and we found it close enough.
Back in Southampton I drove with Ryan to his home-town Brighton.
The city lies about 75km south of London at the coast
and is a very popular seaside resort. A vibrant city with many students and many visitors from London, due to the short distance, and also from other parts of Europe. Brighton has about 300.000 inhabitants but in the summer there are more tourists than inhabitants. I really enjoyed Brighton with its nightlife and nice atmosphere in general. The most famous attraction, without a doubt, is the Brighton Pier. The pier is about half a kilometer long and has many arcade games, casino and a fairground with different rides at the end. It is located at the Brighton beach, a long stretch of sand along the city where many take advantage to swim or lay in the sun, when the weather permits. I must say that the weather behaved nicely during most of my stay in the UK. I really like the shopping area with its narrow, colourful streets like the North Laine. Do not miss this area! Not far from here you can also take a look at the Royal Pavilion and its beautiful gardens. It's a former royal house built in Indian style back in the late 18th century. I also wandered around the Brighton Marina which is, of
course, a bit of an upscale area. One day I decided to take the bus and go outside Brighton, about 35km towards East Sussex county. Here I visited the Seven Sisters which are couple of white chalk cliffs along the coast. It is a beautiful and unique sight. To get there I had to walk through the quiet and lovely Seven Sisters Country Park, along the Cuckmere River towards the coast.
I left Brighton by bus towards the north and arrived a couple of hours later in Leeds.
Here I visited Samuel, another former colleague who I worked with in New Zealand in 2014. Leeds has about 800.000 people and has been primarily an industrial city but now it a growing, modern city. The city has nice areas such as the Millennium Square, the Civic Square which is home to the Town Hall, and several beautiful buildings with historical, Victorian architecture among others. What I found interesting in Leeds is seeing the contrast between old and new; older buildings and newer, modern buildings mingle. Do not miss the Leeds City Markets, take a stroll here and have something to eat or drink! Nightlife is lively in Leeds
and you'd notice this because of the large amount of pubs and bars...it's not a secret that the average Brit likes to drink a glass or two. Other than that, there are a couple of museums and art galleries but I do not see Leeds as a city tourists would like to visit. If I didn't know Samuel, I wouldn't have visited Leeds.
On one of the days when Samuel had to work, I went to visit York.
It is easily accessible by train from Leeds and lasts less than one hour. The charming, historical city has about 200.000 inhabitants and over 2000 years of history. I felt like stepping back in time! Take your time and stroll through the historic centre, taste the atmosphere and enjoy it. The city is gorgeous and well maintained! New York in the USA owes its name to this city. New York was named in honor of the former Duke of York, after the British took it over in the 17th century. York is of course touristy and it can get pretty busy at times. There is much to see and do; for example boat trips on the Ouse River are possible. I
also walked on the medieval city wall which is worth the effort. There is a wide range of castles and museums, both inside the historic centre as outside. The most popular attraction is the Saint Peter's Cathedral which was built in different phases between the 7th century and 1472. Visit also Clifford's Tower, part of a former fortified complex called York Castle and was a site of events from the past like battles and massacres. You have to love history, otherwise York might not be an interesting place for you to visit. I was pretty impressed by York and very happy that I decided to make a day-trip here.
Samuel had a day off and we took a bus to Pickering, and then a steam-train via Goathland towards Whitby.
It is a small, picturesque town along the coast of the North Sea and has about 15.000 inhabitants and Samuel's mum lives there. It is known as the place where James Cook grew up, the British explorer from then 18th century who sailed three times to New Zealand. The Esk River splits the town in two, which are connected with a swing bridge. Whitby's little town centre consists of narrow
streets with typical, historical houses and is a lovely place to stroll through. On a hill, with nice views over the town you'll find the Whitby Abbey, ruins of an abbey that was active between the 7th and 16th centuries and is the main attraction in town. Just outside the abbey there is an old cemetery and some graves are in very bad condition and the ones near cliff's edge started to fall apart a little. A visit to Whitby wouldn't be complete without having "fish & chips"; apparently Whitby's restaurants have among the best fish & chips in the UK. We also went to a village just outside of Whitby called "Sandsend", very quiet area with a beach and some fishermen. We walked a small area of the Sandsend Trail, which is part of the much bigger North York Moors National Park, along the cliffs where more than 150 people used to work quarrying shales and processing them to produce alum in the 17th and 18th centuries.
After spending 10 days in the United Kingdom, I left the country from Manchester airport and flew towards southern Europe to a country I had not visited before. More about that
in my next blog entry!
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