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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 | Japan in winter 2017 | Great Britain in 2017 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997



2017/08/21 Lava Beds National Park
π 2017-08-21 00:00 in Hiking, Trips
After flying from Madras to Klamath falls right after the total solar eclipse was over, we picked up a rental car waiting for us, and arrived at Lava Beds a mere 3h after having left Madras, while most everyone was probably still trying ot get out of the traffic jams. As a result the park was pretty much empty all afternoon, so we had a good 6H of visiting time until we watched sunset and went back to our campsite for the night.

Lava Beds NP is full of caves and lava tubes


The rangers in the visitor center were quite helpful at suggesting extra places to visit, and we started by doing a few caves on Cave Loop:




caves were dark, even when some light came in, this is without firesword
caves were dark, even when some light came in, this is without firesword

and lit with firesword, 4000 lumens
and lit with firesword, 4000 lumens

actually I had 2 fireswords, one set on low (1000 lumens), and one set on high (4000 lumens)
actually I had 2 fireswords, one set on low (1000 lumens), and one set on high (4000 lumens)

some lava tubes were quite big
some lava tubes were quite big

sometimes the cave split up, more than once even
sometimes the cave split up, more than once even

at times, it really looked like a tube
at times, it really looked like a tube

other times, it was triangular
other times, it was triangular

Nice ceiling formations:





Some caves required a bit of hiking:






We then did a hike to and around Mammoth Crater. It wasn't the best lighting, but still nice crater to hike around:


path around the crater
path around the crater


We still had a bit of time, so we went to check out skull cave. a huge cave opening with ice at the bottom floor:


it was quite hot outside, and yet cool enough for ice at the bottom
it was quite hot outside, and yet cool enough for ice at the bottom

We used to the rest of the time to hike up Schonchin Butte Cinder Cone for sunset views, an easy 25mn hike up:





nice plaques explaining the views
nice plaques explaining the views



We then went back to our campsite for dinner and stargazing:


we had a nice roomy tent
we had a nice roomy tent



We started the 2nd day with what we should have done the first day: the beginner intro mushpot cave, all lit up and full of signs, including an interpretative walk, there:









Next, we went to check out Valentine Cave, a pretty huge and interesting cave:



the roof got low eventually, Jennifer went to check it out (my light)
the roof got low eventually, Jennifer went to check it out (my light)

that was Jennifer coming back with only her light on
that was Jennifer coming back with only her light on


We then hiked to symbol bridge and big painted cave, which had indian cave pictographs:








I found a hole at the end of the cave and was able to descend to a smaller cave with ice
I found a hole at the end of the cave and was able to descend to a smaller cave with ice

Jennifer was a bit worried, the path in looked like it could collapse, but she came to check it out too
Jennifer was a bit worried, the path in looked like it could collapse, but she came to check it out too

more ice
more ice

the pictographs by the entrance were hard to find, but Jennifer found them
the pictographs by the entrance were hard to find, but Jennifer found them


By then, we were pretty much done, so on the way out, we stopped by the Black Crater lava flow:






One the way back to Klamath Falls, we stopped by Captains Jacks Stronghold, where he basically fought and chased off the native americans who were happily there. To be honest, the trail wasn't that interesting or really worth the time:





the native americans lived in small cool caves like this one
the native americans lived in small cool caves like this one

the battle was fought here apparently
the battle was fought here apparently

Lava Beds National Park was actually very nice. I had never heard about it, and that was a mistake. Thanks go to Arturo for recommending the place, we got to see more lava tubes than we had seen anywhere, including Hawaii. The only thing Hawaii has that Lava Beds doesn't, is fresh lava, and freshly cooled lava. Apart from that, this national park has a great variety of things to see and learn from.

See more images for Lava Beds National Park
2017/08/20 Total Solar Eclipse at Madras, Oregon
π 2017-08-20 00:00 in Flying, Trips
After a longish flight from Palo Alto in a slow C172, we arrived at Madras Airport, smack in the middle of the path of totality for the eclipse, the first total eclipse in the US since the 1970's. Needless to say that everything on the path of the eclipse, was packed, and so was the airport, as well as camping sites nearby.

Solartown, north of the airport
Solartown, north of the airport

the rest of the year, Madras has a small racetrack and drag racing strip
the rest of the year, Madras has a small racetrack and drag racing strip

when we landed on sunday morning, a few planes were there already, but many more arrived
when we landed on sunday morning, a few planes were there already, but many more arrived

I was able to negotiate a parking spot closer to the exit for the next morning, and we setup our camp
I was able to negotiate a parking spot closer to the exit for the next morning, and we setup our camp

some amount of vendors at the airport
some amount of vendors at the airport


We then took our foldable bikes and biked to Solarfest, a few miles south:

Madras was ready for visitors
Madras was ready for visitors

and their money :)
and their money :)

we met Arturo at Solarfest
we met Arturo at Solarfest



Nasa had a display room, but hard to get into due to crowds
Nasa had a display room, but hard to get into due to crowds




Nasa gave talks
Nasa gave talks


lots of vendors
lots of vendors

I then went to Solartown to meet Arturo and Louis at their RV:




It was then time to get back to the airport for sunset pictures:










We then tried to sleep in our tent, and I very much appreciated the jet that landed at 05:02 and stayed idling close to our tent for a good 5mn :)

people getting ready early
people getting ready early

I packed up our camp and turned the plane around in the direction of 'get the f out of here' :)
I packed up our camp and turned the plane around in the direction of 'get the f out of here' :)

I was one plane away from the last taxiway to the runway
I was one plane away from the last taxiway to the runway

Tim, one of my many coworkers who went to the event
Tim, one of my many coworkers who went to the event

In case the sun disappearance brought a big flood, some were ready :)
In case the sun disappearance brought a big flood, some were ready :)

And then, it started:



this lucky guy landed 1mn before the runway closed
this lucky guy landed 1mn before the runway closed

getting closer
getting closer

that little sun left, is still very bright
that little sun left, is still very bright

without a filter, it was still super bright
without a filter, it was still super bright


almost there, but still way too bright to look with naked eyes
almost there, but still way too bright to look with naked eyes

and finally!
and finally!

the corona of hot plasma around the sun, only visible during an eclipse
the corona of hot plasma around the sun, only visible during an eclipse

mercury became visible
mercury became visible

So, it's hard to explain, but it does get quite dark, and cold. The cold was really noticeable, which is surprising how quickly it changed in just a portion of a minute:



and then, after barely 2mn, it was over
and then, after barely 2mn, it was over

Just to give a feel for what it looked like, here are 4mn starting just before totality:

Those 2mn were as cool as they went by quickly. As soon as totality was over, we rushed to the plane, and went in line for the runway, got the first spot and I was the first person to take off when the runway re-opened. While waiting over 30mn, I took a few more pictures from inside the plane before finally being able to take off:



in the 40mn I waited before taking off, the roads were filled up already
in the 40mn I waited before taking off, the roads were filled up already





jets were the only ones allowed to take off for about 1h after I left
jets were the only ones allowed to take off for about 1h after I left

solarfest
solarfest

a long road home
a long road home

And one last shot of the partial eclipse still going on while we were flying to Klammath Falls:


We had a great time, definitely an at least once in a lifetime experience.

2017/08/16 Great Britain Trip Wrapup, and Thoughts
π 2017-08-16 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips
Just like our Taiwan, Germany and France trips, Jennifer spent a great amount of time planning this. Despite help from the Rick Steve's book, it was still a lot of effort.
A lot of the UK is not that easily accessible by public transport (unlike let's say Japan), so we made good use of our car. We drove 1300 miles (all the way to Edinburgh), and then were able to take trains to York and London for the way back. We lucked out with the rental car by getting a Vauxhall Astra turbo 1.4l, which had 150HP, making it quite swift when I had to pass (it wasn't mclaren fast of course, but for a rental car, it did well).

So, here are some random thoughts:

Driving

  • It starts with Motorways, the good roads. Sadly not nearly enough of them. Then, it goes to A roads, the more digits they have, the worse they get on average. A1 = good, A2345 = bad. And then it goes to B roads. By the time you're on B369, you are totally screwed :)
  • I realize we did go in the countryside to see some small villages, but England definitely had more crappy roads that often weren't wide enough for 2 cars and where I'd worry about scrapping the car on the left, or getting my right mirror taken out by an oncoming car every time one showed up
  • Roundabouts everywhere: those did not bother me, they are known to increase traffic flow. It's a shame the US doesn't use them (they did freak Jennifer out a little bit, they take some getting used to when they're 2-3 lanes wide and have 5 or more entrances and exits).
  • speed limits: they were not unreasonably slow, actually some country roads took rally driving skills to drive at their posted limit, especially in the rain, of which we got plenty.
  • there were plenty of radars that picture your plate and send you a ticket if you speed. I used android apps to get warnings of where most of them were, but they also put signs to tell you about them. However, there are also plenty of fake signs that warn you of radars that don't exist
  • People

  • overall people were nice, if not a bit rigid at times, which was not a surprise since I was ready for it. It's also worth noting that there is an incredible amount of variety in people and customs within GB, especially if you consider that Wales, Scotland and Ireland are virtually different countries within GB.
  • While we saw a comic who made fun of Americans for being fat, we felt that many british were not really in a position to make fun.
  • Could that be the reason that they still use stones as a unit of weight, something I thought they had gotten rid of. Dear brits, if you think it's cute, it's not, it really feels dumb, sorry.
  • As a cross between people and cars: let's talk about walking on sideways. What the hell is going on here? You drive left, most people seem to agree with that, which is good for overall life expectancy of motorists, but once you get on a sidewalk, it becomes a total clusterfuck. Most brits actually seem to walk on the right for no good reason that I could find. Some subways even tell you to do so. But in other places, they walk left, just so that you have on idea what's going to happen in a given city or location, and you'll end up being wrong most of the time. Seriously people, fix this.
  • Weather

  • it sucked about as much as I was ready for. We got rain every day (although thankfully not all day every day) of our first 14 consecutive days. It was just a question of how much and what time.
  • we did often get 3 seasons' worth of weather in a single day, thankfully no snow in August, but it was damn cold on many days
  • only by the time we got back to london was I able to stop carrying a wind/cold/rain jacket with me
  • Food

  • I was kind of prepared for the worst, but it was actually ok. Breakfast was pretty much the same eggs, tomato, beans, bacon that isn't US like, and sausage which was to be avoided in many places. It wasn't bad, but after 21 days of mostly the same thing, it got old.
  • Dinner were actually ok, but we carefully avoided fish and chips and pubs (setting the bar at gastro-pubs).
  • Like other trips, no time for lunch, that gets in the way of visiting stuff, and with the limited opening hours, we used every one of them.
  • Train

  • After doing trains in Japan, nothing really compares. The signaling in Japan is big and colorful, and trains run on time. In the UK neither was true, but oh well we got to our destinations anyway.
  • Our 2nd train left and arrived on time, but the carriage numbers written outside did not match the markings on the floor, and worse, once we got in, the number inside did not match the one marked outside, so we had to walk the entire train inside with our luggage, along with everyone else who also ended up in the wrong carriages. And just to make things more "fun", the numbers are not consecutive either, so you don't even know if you're walking in the right direction.
  • On the plus side, they at least had power for laptops once inside.
  • I feel that French and even Italian trains were better, but we got to where we needed to go, which is what matters ultimately
  • The subways in London definitely look dated by now, but on the plus side they run with a very high frequency
  • The one thing with the london subways is that they ring a tone to tell you the doors are closing at the same time. What's the point of that? I literally got in a train and heard the sound while I was going through the door that closed on my bag, trying to crush it, and leaving Jennifer stuck on the platform. This is just stupid, every other subway system I know rings a tone first, gives you a few seconds and then closes the door.
  • Another minus is while in Japan or Paris you have cell phone signal throughout the subway system (which is no small feat), in London, you do not. You might get signal here and there if you're lucky, but it's very inconsistent. This is mostly an issue if you're using data to look up destinations or even doing routing with google maps.
  • Misc

  • London has a mix of world class free museums that worked on donations, and other locations that were very overpriced (like the churches that effectively charge a hefty admission price of more than $30 per person), or the tower of london. It evened out in the end, the contrast was weird.
  • Jennifer had a sample of Georgian and Victonrian houses to visit. Honestly, maybe seeing one is worth it, at best.
  • All in all, we got quite lucky with avoiding long lines in London (although it wasn't luck, we planned for that, but we're lucky it worked out).
  • Locations

  • We could have spent more time in Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • Some of the Cotswold was skipable for someone with more limited time
  • Wales was nice though, especially its castles (which unfortunately were actually built by the british to control the local population)
  • I also quite enjoyed seeing about and visiting the Hadrian Wall
  • York was also worth a stop at least for the very good city museum and learning about how the Vikings invaded, but was worth 1.5 days, not 2.
  • Last Impressions, Conclusions

    While there were some neat things to see, and London alone is a reason to go to great britain, I wouldn't put it ahead of France, Germany, or Italy (in random order). They did have some very impressive cathedrals size-wise, not as well decorated as in Italy or Germany.
    As for the british people, I actually learned that they did have a republic for a short while (10-ish years) after killing their Monarch, ahead of the French doing the same later, but they somehow asked that dead monarch's son to rule the country again, which seemed like a mistake to me :)
    2017/08/11 Great Britain Day 17-21: 4.5 Days in London
    π 2017-08-11 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips
    Our last destination in Great Britain was London. I knew before we even arrived in Great Britain, that 4.5 days wasn't quite enough to visit London properly, but we made our best of it and did a reasonable job, considering: we probably did in 4.5 days what other people do in 6 or 7 :)

    Day 1 (half day)

    We started early in York with a direct train to London:

    Haha, no offence, but English trains are so far from matching Japanese trains
    Haha, no offence, but English trains are so far from matching Japanese trains

    case in point...
    case in point...

    After arriving in London we dropped our luggage and went directly to Westminster Abbey. Very nice Abbey, but not only quite expensive to get in, and then to thank you for the good money you just spent, no pictures allowed inside (they used to be allowed apparently). Needless to say that, that didn't stop me, especially with the hefty entrance fee:







    We then headed to the parliament for self guided tour:




    Next was the Churchill war rooms, a complex of underground rooms where most of the british high command, including Churchill, were bunkered during the war. Outside of the war, they had lots of information on Churchill's life:




    Next, still, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design. We saw half of it during a 4H visit during its extended hours (18:00 to 22:00).
    It was a really interesting visit, despite half the museum being closed, which meant I had to go back a few days later. But wait, the day was not over yet, it was just about time for me to head over to the ministry of sound to go see andrew rayel who happened to be playing that night.

    Day 2

    After not quite enough sleep, I got up and headed over to the British Museum, another awesome museum that kept me busy from open to close (10:00 to 17:30).

    After the british museum, I went to check out Tate Modern. Honestly, except for the views from the top of the building, it was a bit of a waste:




    Given the Tate Modern wasn't that good, I had just enough time to go to the theatre district and go catch a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I had mixed feelings about it. It was interesting in some ways, but boring and too long in others:


    theatre seats were also most small and uncomfortable
    theatre seats were also most small and uncomfortable

    Jennifer spent the day with her friend Anna who came from nearby, given that they hadn't seen one another and she had already been to the british museum anyway.

    Day 3

    We started from our hotel and took a quick bus ride to the Sherlock Holmes museum. Honestly, we went because it was in the list of recommended things, but it was a waste for us since we haven't read the books:




    people send him letters from around the world
    people send him letters from around the world


    Next door, beatles store:


    We then walked to the free Wallace Collection, a very nice building with a great collection:








    After a good tour of the Wallace Collection, we headed to London War Museum, which took much longer than I had planned, it's quite out of the way, but worth it for sure.

    Once done, we headed back to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. Barely had over an hour for both, but turned out to be just enough for me :)







    Once we got kicked out at 18:00, we had just enough time to walk to Rodizio to get BBQ meats served at our table, and walk to our theatre for our evening show. That show was the play that goes wrong, a nice idea, but the theatre staff was a bunch of dicks and totally ruined our experience before we even got in, by trying to steal all the food we had in our backpacks, claiming we could not carry it in, or check the bags in, we just had to throw it out (which is actually not written anywhere in their terms and conditions):





    Day 4

    The next morning, went to St Paul's Cathedral, because it opens early (08:30) while everyone else seems lazy in England/London and opens at 10:00 (a bit earlier if you're lucky). Very nice cathedral, interesting crypt with famous people burried there, and a cool climb to the top. For some reason another place that thought it would make sense to disallow pictures, sigh...










    Next, we walked to the Tower of London, which thankfully was not too busy on a monday (some other days have stupid lines to get in). Interesting castle to visit, many displays:





    got to see the other crown jewels
    got to see the other crown jewels



    multiple tours and performances
    multiple tours and performances



    they had beafeaters giving tours of the monument
    they had beafeaters giving tours of the monument



    the tower of london had a few pet ravens
    the tower of london had a few pet ravens

    Great views of the London Bridge from there:




    Next, we went to the monument of the great london fire, lots of steps, but nice views from the top:




    The museum of london was not far nearby, so we went there:



    My plan was next to go to the British Library, which had extended opening hours on mondays, but just to screw with us, that did not include the famous room with all the manuscripts that we specifically went there to see. In other words, we went there for absolutely nothing, grr...


    That evening, we then had a dinner at Google, and I got to see one of my schoolmates and friends

    Day 5

    I started early by going to Tate Britain. It was all right, but nothing beyond that. Maybe worth 1H for me:




    More things to see that day (on separate pages):

  • Next, I went back to the V&Albert Museum, where I had a lot left to see
  • the London Science Museum, which ended up taking a lot longer than I thought it would
  • The included the plane section of the museum
  • The science museum actually took the rest of my day, and I never made it to the nearby natural science museum, which had a stupid 1H+ line outside every time I looked at it. I guess it'll be for another time (and my understanding is that it take a full day to visit anyway). I just had enough time to meet Jennifer at the theatre where we went to see Matilda, a nice musical:


    City Views

    Since I have a fair amount of city view shots from bridges and higher buildings, I thought I'd put them all together, here:

    City Views from bridges:






    From higher up:



    St Paul's
    St Paul's









    Day 6, trip home

    Our last day was just a trip to the airport, and enjoy the indeed worth to visit Virgin Lounge, which had food, cocktails and smoothies to order of course, but also a hairdresser, pool table, terrace with view, and more. The lounge was much better than the plane, which while not uncomfortable, was dated:





    light snack to order during the flight :)
    light snack to order during the flight :)

    2017/08/09 Great Britain Day 15-16: York
    π 2017-08-09 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips

    We took an early train from Edinburgh to York, went to our B&B to drop our luggage, and went right away to the nearby National Railway Museum (on its own page)

    not a super bad ass looking train, but it got us there
    not a super bad ass looking train, but it got us there

    After the train museum, we went to York Minster, the local cathedral:



    It was a bit of a mess getting tickets for it, but we did the climb to the top, which was fun and had good views:




    We got a few views of town:



    Pictures from inside:







    During the day, we went to the museum by St Mary's Abbey:






    We then had an early dinner and went for the evening walking tour through town (2H):







    The next morning, we went early for the Jorvik Viking Center, which has nice exhibits and a nice tour/ride, but ridiculous lines, which thankfully I was able to get through with a fasttrack ticket:





    Last, but not least, the poorly named "York Castle Wall", which is actually a fairly large museum of lots of things, including an old town recreation, and much more:







    And it's also a bit of a museum of everything:




    Once I was done with York, we could/should have just left early and gone to London, but we had a prebooked night in the B&B plus a prebooked train, so since we had time left in York one way or another, I took an uber to the nearby Yorkshire Air Museum

    See more images for Great Britain Day 15-16: York
    2017/08/06 Great Britain Day 12-14: Edinburgh
    π 2017-08-06 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips

    Days #12-14: more rain on and off. until finally, on the 14th day, UK-wide rain stopped.

    We left Durham early in the morning and drove to Scotland:


    We first headed out to the retired Royal Yacht Britannia, which you can enter from a shopping mall. It's the Yacht where the royal family would travel the world and "be royal" and go on vacation, with the UK taxpayer's money. Good scheme they have running... In some ways, it's not quite unlike airforce one, except much slower, and bigger of course:






    onboard doctor
    onboard doctor

    with so much uniform changing, because uniforms are important, a huge washing station
    with so much uniform changing, because uniforms are important, a huge washing station

    Nice machine room
    Nice machine room

    After the boat, we drove to another Georgian House for a tour:



    We then used our last few hours in the rental car and drove to Holyrood Park and hiked up to Arthur's Seat for an elevated view of the city:







    the castle, and old town
    the castle, and old town

    never had the time to look that one up, maybe a ski slope in the winter?
    never had the time to look that one up, maybe a ski slope in the winter?

    We then went to drop off the car, and we walked to our B&B to drop off our luggage:

    the park shortcut was scenic but not faster
    the park shortcut was scenic but not faster


    We then went out for our nice dinner at Number One





    Sightseeing-wise, it was kind of a short day since we only arrived in Edinburgh a bit after noon due to the longish drive.

    The next morning, we started with the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the queen stays when she's around. Sadly, no pictures in the palace:





    what's left of the chapel attached to the Palace
    what's left of the chapel attached to the Palace

    Next, we went to the Scottish Parliament Building for a guided tour. Yes, Scotland has its own Parliament as they are given some autonomy and self rule. You can tell the parliament is recent, it's extremely well designed and with a fair system that puts broken systems like the US one to shame (with stupid things like filibusturing):


    each MP gets a small pod office where tthey can work in between sessions
    each MP gets a small pod office where tthey can work in between sessions

    this is where they get to reflect
    this is where they get to reflect

    the parliament building has a very nice architecture, but no pictures inside
    the parliament building has a very nice architecture, but no pictures inside

    From the parliament we walked up the royal mile:

    we got stopped by this in the street
    we got stopped by this in the street

    oink, why don't we have an oink where we live?
    oink, why don't we have an oink where we live?

    A few things on the way, several churches, a museum of Edinburgh which sadly we didn't have the time to see later, and a few more things:




    St. Giles Cathedral was quite nice:



    National Convenant
    National Convenant





    We then ended up at the museum of scotland, a museum of everything, and that sucked the rest of the time we had that day

    Since sadly this was another museum that closed as dearly as 17:00, we had another 4H of daylight left. In July/August, the whole city has a big festival with hundreds of things happening every day. I got a ticket for a student designed video game room, and then a play for an incredibly cheap price (and yet it was well acted):




    this game designed on a single neopixel strip was actually brilliant
    this game designed on a single neopixel strip was actually brilliant

    We then went to check out Camera Obscura, which had decent surrounding views from its top, and some illusions on its floors below:












    Last, but not least, we headed for our play, departure lounge, which had simplistic decors, but was well acted:


    The next morning, we went first thing to the Edinburgh Castle and as soon as we got in, we made a beeline for the Scottish Crown Jewels, which quickly had a 30-45mn line soon after we went (we beat everyone there and got in with no line at all). I got tickets online which while print at home ended up working fine on my phone, they scanned us and we got straight in:


    line starts early
    line starts early



    crown jewels
    crown jewels



    Nice views from the castle:





    Next, we went to the national gallery (I opted to skip the portrait gallery):




    The had an annex with other art :)



    We then walked around town a bit to hit some waypoints Jennifer set :)



    museum of the mound is a former bank and a museum of money
    museum of the mound is a former bank and a museum of money

    million pounds
    million pounds

    Next was another victorian house, which honestly was a full waste of time which would have been better spent at the Edinburgh museum or the dynamic earth. Oh well...


    Since everything useful was closing early again, Jennifer went to do some scotch tasting:



    We then walked around town a bit, and took a bus to our anniversary dinner at The Kitchin.


    2017/08/05 Great Britain Day 11: Keswick Scenic Drive, Castlerigg, on to Durham
    π 2017-08-05 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips

    Day #11: heavy rain at times

    After breakfast in our B&B, we were supposed to go for a scenic loop around the lake and the hills. As a reward for trying, we got pretty bad rain, so I drove the loop quickly and may have set a lap time record for wet conditions :)



    'fantastic' views
    'fantastic' views


    The highlight was 'surprise view' up a crappy road. I still had to take these pictures under an umbrella:




    Before leaving the area, we stopped by Castlerigg Stone Circle which is another version of stonehenge, just less famous and with smaller rocks:




    We then drove to Hadrian's Wall. That was quite interesting, I didno't know the Romans had invaded England all the way to Scotland, and after dealing with the crazies of the north, they figured it was easier to build a very long wall across a narrow part of England, and hold their position. Most people don't know that there is a second wall higher north, Antonine Wall which was the 2nd line the Romans built as they proceeded further north, but eventually they gave up the fight, and retreated to the Handrian Wall.

    After holding the line for a few hundred years, the romans eventually decided that England didn't really have much value and wasn't worth all the effort they put into keeping it, so they just let it go. In the meantime, Hadrian's Wall was a formidable construction at the time (likely only rivalled by the Great Wall of China). I think the only problem is that they built the wall, but they didn't get Scotland to pay for it :)

    The Romans had impressive positions in England
    The Romans had impressive positions in England




    Along the wall, they had forts, and I think with the crappy british weather and the mud, many artifacts were preserved in the mud and are now being unearthed, giving lots of valueable info on the Roman Empire:


    Next door was Vindolanda, a big fort:







    sadly the buildings didn't really survive the passage of time
    sadly the buildings didn't really survive the passage of time


    Nearby you could hike next to remaining bits of the wall:




    every roman mile, there was a small fort to keep the line
    every roman mile, there was a small fort to keep the line

    And we went to see Housesteads Roman Fort, where we got poured on by the end of our visit:


    the wall keeps going but is missing most of its height
    the wall keeps going but is missing most of its height



    After we were done, we drove to Durham to see the cathedral and castle where we slept:

    city tour under the rain
    city tour under the rain











    the cathedral got rebuilt in legos
    the cathedral got rebuilt in legos





    The next morning, we had breakfast in the great hall:



    2017/08/04 Great Britain Day 10: Hiking around the Lake District (Glenridding, Howtown, Keswick)
    π 2017-08-04 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Hiking, Trips

    Day #10: very occasional light rain, aka a fine sunny day in Great Britain (good given the hours of hiking we did)

    On the way to the lake district, we stopped by Dove Cottage/Wordsworth Museum, which while having some nice cottages, was kind of boring given that I had no idea who the former inhabitant (poet/writer) was



    But this put us on the way to the hilly region around lakes, where we did a couple of hikes:



    after parking our car, we took the boat across the lake
    after parking our car, we took the boat across the lake

    and we did that hike back (11km, 2h20-ish)
    and we did that hike back (11km, 2h20-ish)







    We then got back to our car, and we drove to the next lake by Keswick, and did the catbell hike to the local top. Thank god for long days, we were able to start late-ish in the afternoon when there was room in the 8 car only trailhead location. That hike was a lot more steep and gave better views:




    welcome to the top, although a real 'Arturo' would have been standing on top of the marker :)
    welcome to the top, although a real 'Arturo' would have been standing on top of the marker :)


    then we hiked down around and back down to the lake
    then we hiked down around and back down to the lake

    those were all over
    those were all over



    And after close to 20km/4.5h of hiking, we drove to our gastro pub for well needed food :)

    2017/08/03 Great Britain Day 09: Conwy and on to Liverpool
    π 2017-08-03 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips

    Day #9: light rain, some sun

    We did a tour of Conwy in the evening and the next morning, including walking the medieval city walls which are in surprisingly good shape. Conwy castle was actually built by the British to rule the surrounding Welsh, and it was nice to visit:

    only a few ways in the city
    only a few ways in the city


    found during our walk of the city walls
    found during our walk of the city walls

    Castle:










    The bridge to the next town had an old bridge built to match the castle, a 2nd castle like bridge for the train, and then an uninspiring bridge for more cars:


    Rest of the city:




    you could play catch and release crab fishing
    you could play catch and release crab fishing



    the seagulls didn't release as much the crabs they caught
    the seagulls didn't release as much the crabs they caught


    not big indeed :)
    not big indeed :)



    Plas Mawr was another house from that time:




    By then, it was noon-ish, so we left to go to Liverpool and started with the metropolitan cathedral, which was built recently and is definitely modern looking:






    the crypt underneath is much older
    the crypt underneath is much older


    We then moved our car next to our hotel and went to see the Museum of Liverpool as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, but sadly we had only 2 hours for both, which wasn't close to being enough:







    examples of smuggling in the maritime museum
    examples of smuggling in the maritime museum

    slavery section of the museum
    slavery section of the museum



    By 18:00, we got kicked out, and we took an uber (or first one) back to the other cathedral in liverpool (the main one). It is absolutely huge







    We then got tickets for a tour to the top:





    And then we got to learn about the church bells and saw folks who were practising playing them. The impressive part was that they could ring the bells while having the bells not actually make sound, and then had a computer that would reproduce the exact sound the bells should make. This allowed them to practise playing without actually bothering everyone around in the city. Super nice!


    Jennifer even got to try a bell simulator
    Jennifer even got to try a bell simulator

    We then finished the (long) day by walking to Chinatown, which outside of the big gate and a few Chinese restaurants, was not that impressive:



    2017/08/02 Great Britain Day 08: Caernarfon's Castle, Beddgelert Village, Snowdon
    π 2017-08-02 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips

    Day #8: Rain, and more rain that ruined our time around Snowdon, especially the ride to the top :(

    our B&B had breakfast in an old church, cool :)
    our B&B had breakfast in an old church, cool :)

    After breakfast, a short-ish drive to Caernarfon's Castle, an old british fort, still in good shape:






    We got to see someone play the organ in the nearby church, very cool:


    We then drove to Beddgelert, which was supposed to be for a nice walk around, but it was just pouring rain:




    Next, we drove back to snowdon, a mining town where slate is harvested, for our train tour to the top:







    And last was going to be our mining train tour, but the weather was just bad and we didn't get to see much for more than half the trip:


    diesel vs steam
    diesel vs steam


    poor hikers who did all this in the rain for no views
    poor hikers who did all this in the rain for no views

    yeah coal!
    yeah coal!

    great views
    great views

    note the rack and pinion track
    note the rack and pinion track


    And that was it for the day, honestly it the weather ruined a lot of it.

    2017/08/01 Great Britain Day 07: From Birmingham, to Blists Hill Village, back to Wales and Llechwedd Mine Tour, and on to Conwy
    π 2017-08-01 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Trips

    Day #7: Rain and a bit of sun, and rain

    I started the day by taking a few pictures of downtown Birmingham around our hotel:







    Next, we drove to Blists Hill Victorian Town, a recreated mining town. It was not as good as Ballarat in Australia, but still decent:















    And then we had a long drive to Llechwedd for its deep mine tour, which we barely got there in time, for:









    and from there, more driving still, to reach Conwy, our base for the next 2 nights.


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