Tag: Travel

A holiday in Bristol

In September, I spent a few days staying in Bristol with my partner on the Kyle Blue

The boat is permanently moored in the Bristol Harbor quayside and is really well situated from exploring the city. The top desk of the boat has a really large lounge area with lots of sofas and a couple of dining tables as well as a kitchen area which is pretty small but well equipped enough for self catering. On the lower deck there are a number of private cabins as well as some dormitories. We had a private room which could have actually slept 5 people as there was 2 bunkbeds and 1 single bed.

We arrived on Sunday mid afternoon and wandered from the coach station to the harbour where we were staying. After checking in to our floating home for the next few days and lazing around for a bit, we went out for pizza and gelato at Pepenero (the branch inside the Beer Emporium). I had a tofu sausage and mushroom pizza which was tasty although it was a bit on the floppy side due to the generous toppings. We also had some garlic bread between us and I followed it with 1 scoop of coconut gelato and 1 scoop of tiramisu gelato. It was far too much food to be honest but it was all very good and we couldn’t resist trying lots of things (plus we hadn’t had lunch because we’d been on a coach for hours)

On Monday we caught the ferry just outsides our hostel to the Bristol Temple Mead train station and from there we took the train to Bath. My Mum had kindly brought us a voucher for a spa session at the Thermae Spa. We had visited before but not for a few years and in that time, they had refitted the relaxation suite so instead of just having some steam rooms and a waterfall shower, there was more variety including an infrared sauna, relaxation cosmos room with twinkly lights, 2 steam rooms and an ice chamber which was filled with menthol vapour and had a trough where you could grab a handful of ice chips and run them on your face and body post sauna or steam.

After the spa, we went to Chapel Arts Cafe for lunch as it happened to just be around the corner from where we were. I didn’t really think too much about where to go but this turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I had on the break. I had a marinated mushroom burger with seasoned potatoes. It was the perfect combination of filling food that I needed combined with something that was so delicious but also felt really healthy.

After lunch we had a wander around Bath mainly looking in secondhand book shops and taking the time to visit two of the wonderful independent bookshops that Bath has – Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights and Toppping & Company. The sliding ladders in Toppings are like something out on my wildest home-library based fantasies.

In the evening, we went for some thai food at Koh Thai Tapas. The food was good and vegan options were marked on the menu – however there wasn’t that much choice. What I did have was good though.

After this, we went for a drink at the Bag of Nails – which is a pub that happens to be home to a lot of cats (some websites say 16, some say 15) – either way, we had to have a look. I only spotted 5 cats when I was in the pub – they were happy to lounge on the windowsill, curl up on bar stools and sleep in cardboard boxes on the bar. There were also lots of board games to play, a really good selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and a chilled atmosphere with records being played.

Tuesday morning saw us heading up to the Clifton suspension bridge for a wander across the bridge, taking in the views and going into the museum. The museum wasn’t large but was one of the more fun ones of this type I had seen because there were a lot of interactive elements to it and it also highlighted some of the personality quirks of the bridge’s designer – Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

For lunch we ended up going to Vx. I’d visited the branch in London a few times but the Bristol branch had a larger space which lent itself better to eating in. We both had amazing vego chocolate milkshakes and I had some mac and cheese (which was the best vegan mac and cheese I have ever had) and some fries. I also grabbed a few bits to eat later.

We had a quick wander around the M-Shed in the afternoon which seemed like a pretty good museum but I was honestly pretty exhausted by this point and the weather was getting windy and rainy so we opted to make some food on the boat and have an evening resting.

On our final day, it was still pretty rainy so after loitering in Weatherspoons for a while over breakfast, we collected our bags and slowly wandered up to Stokes Croft to check out the street art, look round Hamilton House and get some lunch at Cafe Kino before it was time for us to get our coach home. I left Bristol feeling like I had only got to see a tiny bit of what it has to offer and I look forward to going back again.

Back in the UK

I’m back from my amazing trip to Tokyo. This isn’t the post where I am going to write about that though as I have been full of germs since my flight back and I’m feeling rough.

Small things that are soothing my poorly soul at the moment
♥ Wearing cozy slipper socks
♥ Burning lots of scented candles
♥ Taking warm baths with Lord of Misrule gel
♥ Knitting yet another pair of socks (this current pair I started on my flight to Tokyo)
♥ Making plans for the last 2 months of 2016
♥ Getting cuddles from a warm, fuzzy cat

I saw a short film the other night called Curmudgeons that Danny Devito directed and it really made me smile. I’ve also been enjoying browsing the animation category on Vimeo
I haven’t got great concentration at the moment but

I’ve also been enjoying the latest EP by Deathsex Bloodbath which they launched the day after I arrived back in the UK, which I may or may not have played some part in.

Now I’m back and my long planned for trip is over, I’m thinking up some survival plans for the rest of the year. I’ve booked tickets to go and see the Adventures in Moominland exhibition in London with a group of pals in December and I’m also going to the Los Campesinos! curated all-dayer in Leeds.

I also want to make another zine, sort more house stuff out and y’know…actually properly empty my suitcase which is currently still in the middle of the living room floor. Oops.

A few days in Luxembourg

I’ve just got back from a short break in Luxembourg city with J. We originally planned to fly from Birmingham with FlyBe but they pushed the flight to Manchester instead which would have been impossible for us to get to at the right time so we re-booked to fly from London City Airport instead with LuxAir.

What a view!

Day 1 – travelling there and wandering around the city

Once we’d landed in Luxembourg it was pretty easy to get to the city from the airport. You can catch the 16 bus outside the terminal and it will cost you €2 to get to Luxembourg city. In fact, the buses are one of the best value for money parts of the country. A single journey is €2 or you can get an all day ticket for €4 which we used for our day trips. You can pretty much travel anywhere in the country by bus or train for this cost.

We did have another slight hiccup as I got on the bus with my case and settled in my seat, only for the bus to pull away and for me to see Joe standing outside on the platform still. Thankfully, it was easy enough for him to get the next bus and we met up by the main station (Gare) which also seemed to be the bus station too. Even the train station had some impressive stained glass in it.

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Our hotel (Ibis Styles) was right by the station – the rooms were small but really clean and comfortable. A continental breakfast was provided each morning including a place to squeeze your own fresh orange juice (I am easily pleased). We got checked it, I used the wifi to download the map of the whole of Luxembourg into GoogleMaps (Seriously – this is one of my main travel tips when going somewhere – download an offline map for the city/country you are visiting and you can use it to navigate even without wifi/data connection – If you want to know how to do that – click here)

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We went off for a wander around the city. We didn’t really have much of a set agenda but just kept wandering and looking for places that looked interesting. We saw some pretty amazing views and eventually ended up by the Bock Casemates. We looked around the Casemates and took lots of photos of the city in the late afternoon sunshine.

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We carried on walking down the hill, away from the centre and found ourselves in an area called Les Rives de Clausen – which is where an old industrial area full of factories has been converted in restaurants and bars. It was pretty trendy and I felt a little out of place wandering around in the same clothes I’d been travelling it but it was a good place to have a drink and unwind before walking back up the hill (urgh!) into the city. We did something like 19,000 steps on our first day so by the time we go back to our hotel, I was truly ready to sleep.

Day 2 – Vianden

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For our first full day in Luxembourg, we headed to the town of Vianden which is right up by the German border. It took us around an hour to get there by bus (we had to change at Ettelbruck – you usually get the train to there and then get on the 570 bus to Vianden but there was a rail replacement bus instead)

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Our first stop after getting our bearings was to take the chairlift up a big mountain so we could eat chips and admire the view at the top. From here, we could see Vianden Castle which was our next stop.

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The castle was originally build in the 11th century but has been added to and altered over time. It’s pretty hard to miss it when you arrive in the town but once you start climbing up the steep road to it, it vanishes from view and you start to wonder where the hell you are going. It may mean when you finally see it, you have to take a picture like this…

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We actually only ended up having a fairly quick look around as we didn’t want to miss the final bus back to the city. It was a really beautiful town and well worth the visit.

Day 3 – Mondorf Thermal Spa and Am Tunnel Gallery

As the other two days had featured a lot of walking, we headed for a more relaxing day for our final full day. We got the bus to the town of Mondorf in order to visit the thermal spa based there. You can take the 177 or 175 bus from the Gare to Mondorf and get off at the stop by Casino 2000 (which is the only casino in Luxembourg). Once you get off, you can walk through the park opposite the casino to the spa. If you see the fountain below, you are in the right place!

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I recommend hiring a towel from the sports shop before you go in. It’s €2.20 and the towels are HUGE. It was easily large enough to wrap around me (and I’m a chubby size 20-22) you can also get robes for around €4 as well. It was pretty hard to find the prices for the spa on the website – for 3 hours, it cost us €24 each and seems to be an extra €2 more if you go on a weekend. There were also options for 2 hours sessions (€18) and 4 hours (€30) and the whole day pass is £37.50.

Once in the spa, there is a main outdoor pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi. There is a thermal pool and a women’s only area that I didn’t venture into. In the outside area, there was a lot of sun loungers and it didn’t seem too busy (however, we were there on a week day). There are also a number of saunas that vary in temperature from 65°C to 95°.

A note of warning – all of the saunas at the spa require you to ditch your swimsuits and go in naked! (you can wrap yourself in a towel though – and in fact, you will be required to sit on a towel in there)

Just before we finished our time at the spa, we went into the largest sauna for what was advertised as a white chocolate session. One of the staff came in and kept putting different scented water onto the coals so the heat increased. He then waved some fans and flags around to waft the hot air. Half way through, we had to go outside and quickly shower, then were given a handful of white chocolate scented scrub to cover ourselves with. Once we’d basted ourselves up as if we were about to get cooked – we went back in the sauna for more of the same. I really thought that towards the end I was going to have to leave before it finished because it was the hottest I can ever recall being in my life, but when we got let out and showered off again, I actually felt really good for having done it.

When we got back to Luxembourg city, we decided to go to an art gallery before going out for dinner in the evening.Am Tunnel is an art gallery that is situated below the ground in tunnels that were originally used to connect a number of banks together. There is a permanent collection of photographs by Edward Steichen and while we were there, we also saw another photography based exhibition by Dimitri Soulas.

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Finally, we fished our break by having a drink on our final night in the Coco Mango bar which is on the top floor of the Sofitel hotel. I had a tasty but expensive cocktail while watching the sunset over the city ♥

Some advice for vegan travellers – there are a few vegan friendly places to eat in Luxembourg city BUT we didn’t get a chance to try many as one was fully booked by the time we found it and many others were closed on Saturday night/Sunday all day. If I visited the city again I would go mid-week.

On our first night we ended up getting a very good avocado salad bagel from Coffee Fellows which was marked as vegan on the menu. There was also another vegan bagel and they had soya milk. I had a really nice banana and chocolate frappe made with soya milk. The other branch (near the Gare) we went to wasn’t quite as good because their blender had broken so they had very few cold drinks on offer and they also only had 2 types of bagels in stock (one of which had cheese on top)

We ate dinner on our last night at Cafe Nirvana which was good value and the staff were very friendly but in all honestly the food was only so so. Another night we ate at Sushi Lovers which was pretty good but expensive (our bill for 2 people came to €60) we did get to order by ipad though which was pretty good cos we had time to study the menu and allergies for all dishes were clearly marked). There was a pretty good choice on the menu but it did seem they had saved all their most experimental ideas for the dishes that featured fish or other seafood.

42 days till Tokyo

As my heading says, I arrive in Tokyo in 42 days time. Due to time zones and the length of the flight I will leave the UK on the Sunday and arrive in Tokyo the following evening.

I’m starting to go into planning/panic mode (which are pretty much just different sides of the same coin for me) Part of the fun in travelling for me is in the planning through so I thought I would jot down where I am at with my planning.

I decided that I really wanted some internet access on phone when I was away so I can check maps, keep in touch with my Mum and J, update instagram with some picture and of course, play Pokémon Go! I considered hiring a pocket wifi but I decided instead to go for a 2 week SIM card from this website. I can’t comment on how well it works yet but I can say that it was straightforward to buy the card and it was delivered (via signed for mail) 2 days later.

I’ve booked myself into this place for a night so I can experience a capsule hotel.

My ticket is booked for the Ghibli museum for my second week. I’m going with friends and we booked our tickets through this site.

I still feel like I have a lot of other planning to do – I need to buy a suitcase cos mine is too small for all the stationery I plan on bringing back. I also need to have a read of the books I brought and decide where I would like to visit aside from lots of shops and the other things I have mentioned. I want to go to an Onsen (Japanese spa) and to visit the sky tree. Other than that, well…I need to get on with reading my guides. The only issue is, the more I read – the more places I discover to go.

Tiny things Tuesday #45

I haven’t been in the mood to write here on a Tuesday for a few weeks (in fact, looking at the calendar, I didn’t post at all in March). I think because I had been attending my evening class and we had tests to study for so I was a little reticent to cut into my studying/panicking time with writing here. Class has now finished and I’m waiting to see if they are going to run one for the summer term (which will be a refresher course rather than covering much new stuff).

I’ve got so much out of taking these classes even if I didn’t actually “succeed” in the sense of passing the certificate. I can now read hiragana pretty well and I’m taking baby steps towards learning katakana ready for my trip later in the year. I would say that I know at least 100 words or phrases which is about 95 more than I knew before I started the class! Plus it’s really increased my confidence in the sense that I am able to set out and do what I planned to.

and that leads me to the exciting news that…I’VE BOOKED MY FLIGHTS! I’ll be taking a solo trip to Tokyo for 11 nights in October. It actually feels real now that I have booked and I’m starting to make many, many lists of things to do and places to visit.

Here’s this weeks things;

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1. I did an order from iHerb a few weeks ago for the first time. One of the things I was excited to get was this lip balm. I have a lot of other crazy rumors balms as they are sold in Holland and Barrett in the UK but they don’t stock this flavour. It’s so good! just like cinnamon rolls with frosting.

2. Life is Strange – I have been re-playing some of my old favourite games recently rather than looking at anything new but then at the weekend – this arrived! I haven’t played much of it yet but it’s an interesting premise and so far I like what I have seen in terms of the application of it. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s not a typical action game – more like an immersive story similar to Gone Home (which I also enjoyed) – I love being able to read through diary entries and look at all the things you encounter in the environment.

3. Zombies, run! – Speaking of games, I got a new phone a few weeks ago and for the first time in years – I actually have some spare space of it. This means I’ve re-installed this game and gone out for some walks while playing it. So far, I’m re-listening to episodes that I have heard before to catch up on the story but I’m looking forward to hearing more.

4. I had a mini bottle of this Chocolate cookie syrup in a gift set a while ago but decided to treat myself to a full size bottle for when I am drinking coffee at home. The other benefit is that I can have fancy coffee at home when I feel like doing that instead of going out to get it.

Till next time…