Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and it's one of the more interesting and larger cities in Scotland, in north UK. I've heard that it is the second largest city there, after Glasgow, and many of my friends tell me that it is slightly more interesting than Manchester, and has a mountain/hill or something like that to climb. Sounded rather interesting and exciting to me. Here are some pictures from Edinburgh courtesy of my travel companions, who have had the opportunity to visit Scotland :)
There are many other interesting places in the UK that my friends visited, and they were kind enough to send me pictures to include on my travel blog. I didn't have the good opportunities to travel to those places, but pictures and commentaries from friends would do, as well as the ubiquitous and very helpful... Wikipedia :)
Later on in this travel blog, I will be presenting:
Edinburgh and North Wales and more, thanks to my reliable, erstwhile travelling companions and friends!
(I think my other friends also travelled to Dublin, Liverpool, Birmingham and the Lake District as well, so I will see if I can feature those here on this blog with a write up... it's quite interesting that we can actually go around and "travel" around the world without actually leaving the safety and comfort of the room, but that's a philosophical stance and has nothing to do with my travel blog... haha :) Special thanks here to Ai Lian and Gladys)
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Oxford is very beautiful!
We landed at the Oxford Railway station late at night instead of the bus station due to some unforseen circumstances, and walked for 40 mins all around Oxford to visit my friend's friend's house. It was very interesting to land in Oxford because it was very different from Manchester, striking me as something like a cross between a very quiet London, and York.
Oxford has two main roads here that everyone should know about when visiting Oxford, namely: High Street and Broad Street. Those two streets had most of the buildings and attractions that people want to visit, for instance the famous Covered Market, the Town Hall, and the various colleges that make up Oxford University. That's what our friendly tour guide (that's our friend) told us as he brought us around his homeground. He also showed us Cornmarket Street, which is like the equivalent of Singapore's Orchard Road, with all the shops and eateries, only that it was smaller and narrower of course.
Oxford University, if I am not wrong, follows a collegiate system where it is made up of many colleges, each having their own admissions systems, but collectively making up the University. I had wanted to study in Queen's College there many years ago but had, of all things, forgotten to bring my documents and my photograph on the day of the second interview. Long story there. I ended up visiting Queen's College and saw the various cafes outside that wanted to get the title of oldest Queen's College cafe. Our friendly tour guide told me that one of the colleges had so much money and funding that it owns most of Oxford Street in London - refer to my earlier post on London to see what Oxford street actually is. Thus some colleges in Oxford are richer and some are poorer than their cousins, and they all have different cultures, traditions and fees, of course.
You might want to visit Carfax Tower, as I did, because the view of the Oxford from the top was rather good. The whole area is rather small of course, but the view is quite good, all considered. Also, St Mary offers a view of the area and is reportedly taller than Carfax Tower.
Not forgetting the very "touristy" dining hall at Christ Church, where you already know that many people visit day in and day out to see the Harry Potter site here: it is a beautiful college surrounded by a gigantic park. The dining hall was very interesting and very popular, but I felt that the park outside was more beautiful and far more enjoyable as a place to visit. It was quite fun walking all around that big park and seeing people punting down the river, as a river ran through the greenery. You can see all the beautiful pictures of Oxford here on my website. Later, we went punting in that area, thereabouts.
It was my first time punting a boat down the river and I was quite sure initially that I would capsize it and get all my friends killed. But I didn't, surprisingly, and turned out to be quite good at it, and we ended up enjoying ourselves boating down the river and back. I managed to park my boat in one move, and that really amazed me, actually. I would love to visit Oxford again just to go punting down that same river again as it was a beautiful experience.
Many parks; beautiful scenery; nice river and nice waterways - what more could we ask for? It was beautiful to visit Oxford and I love it very much.
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Harry Potter filming location
Here are some pictures from Urbis, the Triangle, and other places here in Manchester. They look kinda different from the other great pictures I have on my blog, don't they? You guessed it: Urbis was having a manga and Japanese animation exhibition, that's right! The whole place was full of Japanese manga and stuff for the entire month. Please enjoy!
More on Manchester?
Currently, since I am based here in Manchester, I should also give some information here about Manchester that I know of, I guess.
Greater Manchester is the bigger, larger area which has Trafford and Salford and Manchester City Centre, as you know already, I'm sure. Manchester itself has two universities, UOM and MMU - University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Naturally, if one comes here to Manchester, one thing would be to see the Sportscity, where, nearby, Manchester City stadium stands. Manchester United fans would also want to visit Old Trafford. Here, both clubs are well supported, City and United. I usually go to the pub called Varsity which is near Rusholme, the famous Curry Mile full of Indian/Pakistani cuisine. I watch most of my daily dose of football there and the atmosphere is incredible, especially when our team scores a goal. The people make the entire place come alive with their shouting and cheering.
By the way, Magic Bus/ Stagecoach 250 goes to Trafford and Trafford Centre. You might want to visit and see the Manchester United museum as well :)
Primark is all over England, and here is where one can get cheap clothes and housebrands. As for Marks and Spencer, Manchester apparently is its birthplace, so welcome to Manchester - if you want to eat lots of good chocolate and buy lots of stuff from Marks & Spencer. Lots of people love it.
That's about it for now, and I am going off to Oxford for a visit soon.
I'll probably write one long rambling final post on Manchester two months from now when I leave for home, where I will cover all or most of Manchester. Stay tuned :)
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My adventures at the Lake District
Imagine lots of mountains, rivers, lakes, rivers, water, sheep, swans and ducks. Well, I had lots of those at the Lake District. My friends and I travelled via coach from Oxford Road at Manchester early in the morning and went to visit Aira Force Waterfall, which was very beautiful but very cold, with the rain splashing on us again and again as the waterfall splashed on us. It was freezing yet it was very exciting. You can see the pictures in the next post on this blog.
Later on, the coach brought us from there to Ambleside, which is a nice little town. It was quaint and beautiful, and very York-like, only that it was more comfortable here, quiet and very secluded. It was rather delicate and very ancient here, with the walls made of stone and the roads paved with cobblestones. The walls and hedges were short stone walls cobbled together. It was a very pleasant feeling to visit such a beautiful place, only that the rain pattered down nonstop and kept on coming. Yet it did not dampen the enjoyment, especially when we sat in a comfortable cafe for a nice meal.
We didn't take any cruises and we weren't allowed to rent a boat since it was not summer, so we fed ducks and swans by the lake instead. If you can't row a boat or cruise in the lake, feed ducks and swans! It was very fun, and I would love to revisit this place just to feed the birds again.
Interestingly, on our way back, the other bus broke down and left its passengers stranded at Windermere. There was little space on our bus, so we could not let those 40 or more people into our full bus. There they were stuck at the site for hours! Poor fellas!
Highlights of London
From 23rd Feb to 24th Feb, I was in London! You can see pictures in the next post. I took a coach down from Oxford Road at Manchester and landed in YHA somewhere in London. I took the Metro around (the famous Tube).
Coming out of the station, the Big Ben was the first thing I saw and the gigantic "Wheel of Fortune". The London Eye stared at me as I went up the stairs to see the Big Ben and Westminster also staring at me from across the street. Winston Churchill stood on his pedestal, staring across the street at parliament. Not to mention, his compatriots, the other famous men, including David Lloyd George.
I went down the road to Buckingham Palace, which was next to Hyde Park. It was incredibly huge and very majestic, but it was Sat and Sun so there was no entry for inquisitive visitors, and no chance to try to poke the noses of the guards! (I would love to return just to try to do that...)
Hyde Park and the Speaker's Corner
Hyde Park was colossal and very interesting, with many things to do and see. It was rather romantic in some parts as well. The other parts of the park were full of football players, rollerbladers, little children, and old couples sitting on benches; a very typical park scene. The Speaker's Corner was quiet on Sat, but on Sun, when we were waiting for the bus to come here to Park Lane to pick us up, it was incredible. Some Catholic apologists were speaking, some foreign people were swearing in foreign languages, a Muslim speaker, and a Christian speaker were all talking loudly and attracting their own respective crowds. The site is very interesting and full of people!
Something like Singapore's Orchard Road, but much longer and more crowded, and full of shops! It was impossible to go into any shop due to the human traffic. People were paid money to just stand on the street with a sign pointing to a shop. It was like the United Nations, with every nationality. And oh yes, there were many statues along the way, of humanitarians, soldiers, statesmen, and the like. It was a lovely place.
"London bridge is falling down!" That famous song was revisited when I visited London Bridge.
This was very exciting, and I even caught a glimpse of a rare moment - the bridge parted into two for a ship to pass by. It happened at night and was very beautiful. On the one side, it was the City of Westminster, and on the other, the City of London (the City). London actually comprises two cities, London being about 2000 years and founded during Roman times, and Westminster, being about 1000 years old.
Admiral Nelson stood grandly and lonely atop his pedestal, while two other statues of famous British soldiers stood around guarding his base. It was an amazing place, huge and grand, and even more imposing when you consider that it was flanked by many old buildings and a gigantic library/museum in the background. It was magnificent and marvellous.
St Paul's Church
I also visited a beautiful, gigantic Anglican Church.