Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trip to UK

As my dad was 50 last year (while I was down under) and it's an age
that is worth to celebrate a lot, I decided to give him a special gift
(kinda backwards, but better later than never), and I paid for both us
a trip to London and Stonehenge over the Easter. As he's teaching english it's very unique for him as he has never been to UK before.

As I wanted the trip to be perfect, I arranged everything - bought us flight tickets, arranged accommodation and planned 3 days so that we see the most of London's attractions, see Stonehenge (my dad' favourite), see english premier league (EPL) live and try as many cultural stuff such as try english beer, food, have a ride on double-decker etc. Pretty much do everything that he is teaching about at his english lessons.

Start of the trip was pretty horrible, as my dad couldn't find a way out of Bratislava airport. He flew from Kosice - my hometown to Bratislava, but when the plane landed, he took it by mistake across the landing field instead of going to arrivals hall - what a crazy dude he is, isn't he? - and had to be taken out by the police. Fortunately since then everything went smoothly. The flight was ok. Maybe except the prices on-board, but hey what would you expect from a low-cost right?

Day 1

When we got to London, we met with Duncan. Duncan was a trainee through AIESEC in Kosice in 2001 and we're still in touch even after all those years. To my surprise he got married to a nice russian woman called Natasha and they have a lovely little baby called Kate. They all came to meet me and my dad and show us around the London.

I have to say that without them it would probably took us ages to go around all the attractions as London's downtown is pretty big. The tour we did was:

- Royal Courts of Justice
- St. Pauls Cathedral
- Somerset House
- National Gallery and Trafalgar Square with Nelson's Column
- Buckingham Palace
- Horse Guard Parade
- Big Ben and Parliament House
- Westminster Abbey
- London Eye
- Boat trip on River Thames with a view on Tower of London and Tower Bridge
- Greenwich

Seems like a lot stuff in a day, and it really was. We were really tired after the whole-day trip. Thanks to Duncan we had a lovely lunch (Shepherd's Pie) in one of the oldest pubs in London and then in the evening we went to a perfect french restaurant alongside the River Thames with the view on Tower Bridge. We ordered a seafood plate with lots of stuff that I have never eaten before. A lots of various shell-stuff, oysters, langustas, lobster etc. can't even remember the names.

Day 2

In the morning we went to places we've seen on previous day just from the boat. My dad was looking forward especially to Tower of London with a Crown Jewels of all the Kings and Queens of England. And he wasn't disappointed at all. Maybe just one little thing - No photos allowed :-).

From this place we took a tube to Fulham Broadway station, our place-to-be for the whole afernoon. Fulham Broadway is the nearest tube station to Stamford Bridge - a home ground of Chelsea FC. We had to pick up tickets at the box office 2 hours before the start of the game the latest, so we had enough time to look around the stadium and its surroundings. We both enjoyed Chelsea wall with players, and my dad was the lucky one to be probably the oldest kid that took a team photo :-)

The game itself was perfect. Chelsea was playing against Bolton, and it looked like the game is over in about 60 mins as Chelsea - Bolton was already 4:0, but then Bolton suddenly striked 3 times within 15 mins and it even seemed they will score 4th goal in the last minute. Quite a pressure on Chelsea. Anyway the game was great, lots of great actions, kicks, fan songs etc. The atmosphere can't be really described, pretty noisy in certain parts of the game. I was a bit afraid of possible fights as we've seen a few hooligans, but fortunately no conflict whatsoever.

More pics from our first 2 days in London can be seen here

Day 3

We spent the last day outside London. As my dad was very keen to see Stonehenge, I bought us a tour that involved Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Unfortunately as it was Easter Sunday we couldn't visit Windsor Castle as Queen Elisabeth II. was there at the time and for security reasons the whole castle was obviously closed. We went to Hampton Court instead, a place where the infamous Henry the VIII. used to spend a lot of time. The highlight for my dad at Hampton Court was an option to borrow and wear the medieval clothes while having look around the place, which was actually pretty cool for me as well.

From this place we went onto a must-see-place for my dad - Stonehenge. As we were part of tour, we could jump in front of queue which was a thing I appreciate the most while being there. The Stonehenge itself was nice, and my dad enjoyed it as well, but honestly I would say we did expect a little bit more. Not sure what though. Anyway we've been there and we've seen it, so now we have another tick from the list.

The last stop from this long day was an old place built by Romans ages ago called Bath. It used to be baths place for Romans who tried to beat the England back in the old days. I would never say there can be a place like this in England. Very roman-like architecture. I had a feeling we're in Italy or somewhere, but not UK. Anyway the city itself was very beautiful and even those baths (main attraction) looked very nice, so it made us feel very relaxed at the end of the day, which was exactly what we needed. If anyone has a chance to stop by, I really recommend this place.

More pics from our last day can be seen here

Way back to Slovakia was a bit painful for me, as we had to catch a flight at 6am, that forced me to get up 3:30 am. I seriously don't like it too much. We haven't had any problems with the airport transfer or security, and as by chance I met an old-school friend at the airport that is now working as stewardess for Ryanair - a company we flew with - we had a priority check-in as well, which was a very nice thing especially as I wasn't really in a mood that early in the morning.

Since we got back home, my dad is talking about nothing but a London and Stonehenge etc. Seems like the gift was well-worthed and I'm actually quite happy about that. We're now planning to go to London again at the end of the May and we both are looking forward to it.