UK Series: daytrip to the Scottish Highlands

(Sept 29, 2015)

For the 2nd day in Edinburgh, I wanted to go outside of the city and see the landscape and nature of Scotland.

My search led me to this daytrip tour from viator which covers a small Scottish town calle Glencoe, the highlands, and the famous Loch Ness!
IMG_4274.jpg

It’s a beautiful drive to Loch ness with all the mountains and green fields we saw along the way.IMG_4263.jpgIMG_4060.jpgUpon arrival to Loch ness we took a cruise around the lake and heard stories of the legends around the Loch Ness monster..
IMG_4106.jpg

IMG_4103.jpg

And also got to see a Scottish highland bull! 😀

IMG_4377.jpg

Overall I would recommend this tour to anyone who wants a taste of what the Scottish highlands has to offer.  Would be much better of course if you are able to drive around yourself to offer more flexibility on the stops and how long you want to stay.  But not a bad introduction that left me wanting to go back here to explore further!

Advertisements

UK series: Scotland pitstop at Melrose

(September 27, 2015)

After a few nights in Lakes District, it was time to say goodbye (wahhh!!) and head to our next destination.

As we drove towards Edinburgh, we found this charming town called Melrose to stay for the night.. IMG_3708.jpg
IMG_3779.jpg

I love the peace and quiet atmosphere of this town.. Because it’s not a popular tourist place, and not easily accessible by public transportation.. it’s not crowded and we could just leisurely stroll around the town.
IMG_3784.jpg
IMG_3780.jpg
The most well known attraction here is the ruins of Melrose Abbey.  Here’s some pictures of the abbey and the unique sculptures found here…
IMG_3719.jpg
IMG_3778.jpgIMG_3755.jpg Continue reading

UK series: Lake District National Park

(Sept 26-27, 2016)

After all the towns and cityscapes of England, I was ready for a nature break.  So Lake District was the perfect next stop in our roadtrip itinerary to get my fix of beautiful landscape sceneries.
IMG_3566.jpgI never heard about this place before, and it was only through a friend’s suggestion that I heard about this place.. But I instantly loved it here when after seeing all these views..
IMG_3575.jpg
IMG_3475.jpg
IMG_3476.jpg
There’s lots of walking trails available all throughout the park in varying levels of difficulty and time.. Since we only had two nights here, we were only able to pick one of the walking trails here. So all my pictures here are from that walking trail..
IMG_3353.jpg
Continue reading

UK series: Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon

(Sept 25, 2015)

From Cotswold we continued the road trip around UK with a pitstop at Stratford-upon-Avon.. a town made famous for being the birthplace of the famous English playwright Shakespeare..
IMG_3311.jpg

Henley street is the most popular area here in town because this is where the house of Shakespeare is located..
IMG_3315.jpg

IMG_3321.jpg

Shakespeare’s home

Besides this street, there are also a number of different attractions to go to in the town. The house pass ticket allows you entry to several of these places.  For us, since we were only passing by and had a limited amount of time, we decided to just pick one place in the list so we won’t be rushing and are able to take our time exploring..

The one we ended up going to is Anne Hathaway’s cottage.  Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare’s wife and this cottage serves as a museum to the life during that time period and the love story between the two..
IMG_3203.jpg
IMG_3228.jpg

Continue reading

UK series: University town of Oxford

(September 24, 2015)

After London, we rented a car and started our UK roadtrip with a day exploring the university town of Oxford.

We only had a day here so we joined a walking tour to get the most out of our time here.  The tour was informative and gave us a glimpse into both the history of the universities and the life and traditions of living and studying here.

The whole place just inspires learning and education! IMG_3112.jpg
IMG_3113.jpg

showing one of the traditions here in Oxford of tapping the book on the student's head

showing one of the traditions here in Oxford of tapping the book on the student’s head

IMG_3101.jpgIMG_3027.jpg Continue reading

UK series: London in 2 days

(Sept 22-23, 2015)

Generally I’m not a fan of big cities.. For me city buildings lack character and all look the same with their glass walls, dull grey colors, and boxy shapes.  I want places where I can explore and see colors, patterns and different architectural styles.. Something that tells me I’m in a new place outside my home.

And although London is known as a busy, commercial city.. It still keeps it’s charm by preserving landmarks and buildings that show you of a past era..

In just 2 days, here are some of the sights we covered!

Leadenhall market – this wasn’t along the way of our planned walking route… But I saw it mentioned that it was used to represent Diagon Alley and Leaky Cauldron from Harry Potter so of course the fangirl in me pushed for a quick stopover here
IMG_2698.jpg

After this we headed off to see the sights around the Southwark district..

Views of the Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and Thames RiverIMG_2715.jpg
Butler’s Wharf..
IMG_2752.jpg

Walking along Tower Bridge
IMG_2736.jpg
IMG_2747.jpg
To get to the Tower of London – must do to see the Crown jewelsA free guided tour by a “Beef Eater” – the guards for the Tower of London

I don’t know what direction we started walking, but we ended up in the Waterloo district where we saw the London Eye

Continue reading

Japan Fangirl travel: For Shonen Jump fans!

(Nov 23, 2014)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. The best part about planning your own travel itinerary is when you find hidden spots not typically found on any tour trip that are specific to your own interests.

For me and my cousin, one of the things we bonded over growing up was our love of animes and mangas.. So now that it was just the two of us travelling to Japan, we scoured the internet for places in Tokyo that had references to our favorite anime and manga.

We found just the place with J-World tokyo, a theme park located inside Sunshine city mall in Ikebukuro.

It’s not a huge place and you can easily see everything here within an hour.  But if you’re a fan like us, it will probably take longer as we wanted to take photos of everything we saw!!IMG_0208.jpgOne Piece is the name of one of the famous long-running series from Shonen Jump manga about a group of pirates adventuring in various lands.. This is a story that I have consistently followed since back in uni.. so was excited to explore the One piece area of the theme park and see all the characters and references to this!
IMG_1123.jpg

main character – Monkey D Luffy!!

The rides.. References only a OP fan would appreciate.. And OP-themed food! And we were pleasantly surprised to find that there were a lot of cosplayers inside the theme park.. so we didn’t even have to go to Harajuku anymore as we got to take pics with cosplayers inside the park! Another popular series that has now ended is all about ninjas.. Naruto!! IMG_1145.jpg
Continue reading

Japan Fangirl travel: Around Asakusa

(Nov 22, 2014)

Since our accommodations is in the Asakusa area, this is the first area we explored in our trip!
IMG_0024.jpgAsakusa is famous for the Sensoji temple and is a good district in Tokyo to explore and get a feel for old Japan. IMG_0001.jpg IMG_0029.jpgThe temple is a popular tourist spot so it was really crowded… still I loved all the activity around the temple and was interesting to see some of the practices done by the locals.  Here we saw all of them crowding around the incense area and waving the smoke towards their face.. Not sure what it means though is it as some sort of good luck maybe??
IMG_0022.jpgAnd of course, lots of street food to try! IMG_9996.jpg
Continue reading

Japan Fangirl travel: Accommodations in Tokyo

(Nov 22, 2014)

For this trip the accommodations we got was a hostel in Asakusa called K’s house Tokyo Oasis.

a cute welcome

We got the double ensuite room which had its own private bathroom and a tatami bench area.  Although small, the room was clean and had enough space for us to sit and lay out all our food and random shopping from the day out.  The interior of the room was minimalistic but had a comfortable homey feel to it.

And if you feel like staying in, there’s a communal area with a TV and various DVDs.  A complete set of kitchen facilities are available as well, so if you are on a tight budget but still want a wide range of food to eat, just go to the nearby supermarket and eat in!

supermarket bought lunch while watching a Studio ghibli movie 😀

all the supermarket choices from sushi, tempura, grilled food and desserts

And for some last minute gift shopping, there’s a 24 hr don quixote store a short walk from the hostel which sells literally EVERYTHING you can think of.. From gadgets, food, household items and clothes.

Summary of pros and cons of this accommodation:

Pros:

  • If you want to stay in the Asakusa area or be near the Akihabara station this place is the ideal base to stay in
  • Affordable rates (even cheaper if you go for the shared rooms)
  • I liked their facilities! There’s free wifi, communal kitchen and living room area, and some weekly events posted in the bulletin board for guests to join in.
  • Walking distance from a train station
  • Friendly and accommodating staff
  • Walking distance to a convenience store, restaurants and a bigger supermarket
  • Near the don quixote shop for last minute gift shopping
  • Homey, quiet atmosphere..

Cons:

  • Getting here is not fully covered by a JR pass.  The closest train station to the hostel is Asakusa (Tsukuba).  And to get here you will have to pay 210 yen to take the Tsukuba express line each time from Akihabara station.
  • The location is not as central as I thought.  If you aim to explore Tokyo and are pressed for time, it might be worthwhile to check for accommodations near the JR Yamanote line.  In order to get to the JR Yamanote line from here, the train ride would take us at least 25 minutes to get to the nearest station of the JR Yamanote line.  From there it’s an additional time to get to the other areas we wanted to go to like Shinjuku, Shibuya or Harajuku.
  • If you plan to go to other cities like Kyoto and Osaka, it again will take time as you need to travel to Tokyo station.

Overall, if I were to go back to Tokyo I would probably try to find accommodations closer to central Tokyo if I was pressed for time.  But if I can’t find anything with a comparable rate to what we got here, I would be happy staying here again!