We left home on Thursday, August 16th 2012.
On arrival in Singapore we caught the great airport train to Terminal Three and the Hotel Crowne Plaza just next to the station.
It was so dark in the foyer you could hardly see and check in was slow. The room was pleasant but my heart sank when I saw the clear
glass bathroom, where all would be displayed. Thankfully we found the blind.
At the airport in the morning we found our seats had not been allocated as we had arranged, but they were able to give us adjoining aisle seats which was fine. When we got to the leaving gate, however, they had organised the inside 2 seats of the 3 side seats next to the window which meant climbing over someone for frequent toilet trips all the way to London, not to mention the claustrophobic urge to scream and punch my way to freedom.
As usual we were economising so decided to get the Hoppa Bus to our hotel near Heathrow. It sounded easy. After an endless hike across the whole airport and a long wait at the lifts because only one was working, we finally located the Central Bus Station outside and deciphered the signs as to which bus went to our hotel, the Thistle. It cost us 9 pounds and the driver was in such a hurry round corners that all the suitcases tipped off the racks, even though it was only us and one other couple on the bus.
The Thistle room was very basic, boiling hot and with a window that didn't open but there was an old air conditioner which worked noisily. The bar was still open at about 11 pm and we were able to have a nice sandwich which came with chips and salad. The bed and pillows were rock hard but we slept well anyway.Breakfast was also excellent in the restaurant right next to one of the runways at Heathrow. It was fascinating watching the planes land and there were lots of photographers trying to get good shots, including me.
It cost us 10 pounds for a taxi back to the airport to pick up a rental car so we might as well have used a taxi the previous night.
Then it was off to Windsor Castle guided by the second hand GPS I'd bought at a garage sale the year before. It wasn't very good but Peter had worked the route out anyway. Parking in Windsor was OK because we got there early but the ticket machine didn't work and we felt sort of worried about it the whole time. Tourist after tourist struggled with the machine, but no help was forthcoming from authorities or the many tourist shops opposite the car park.
It was the hottest day they'd had all year at 31 degrees C, and people were out in droves. The castle was very beautiful and must have been cleaned recently because the bricks looked fresh and bright.The guards marched in splendidly and the chapel was magnificent. We went on a short guided tour but were very tired so ate at a nice cafe in the town and enjoyed people watching. On Sunday we left for Folkestone in Kent in search of family history for Tapleys, Stevensons and Morfords. The drive was OK once you found the correct motorway. We went straight to the public library in Folkestone as I had arranged for some information to be left there for me. The library was run down, and there wasn't even a toilet. I wasn't expecting a fuss, but I got the impression they were not going to put themselves out for some blow-in from the colonies. No wonder Thomas and Elizabeth Tapley left for South Australia with 9 of their 14 children in 1838. It probably had nothing to do wih smuggling at all.
There were some lovely buildings in Folkestone but the place had certainly seen better days. The traffic was overwhelming and you couldn't stop anywhere because every single parking place was occupied. We should have been more careful about the timing because it was just after the Olympics, during the Paralympics and at the end of the school holidays, so we can only presume that it isn't always as bad. We were able to get a room at a Holiday Inn Express outside town after going back to the library and booking online. On returning to town for tea we had trouble finding a place to eat so settled for a cheerful looking outdoor cafe near the beach. The food was disgusting.
On returning to town the next morning, we resolved to be organised and find the tourist office. We parked nervously in a seedy area and walked, but the office had closed down-though we saw tourist material inside. We then searched for the parish church where all the Tapleys had been christened and even that was very difficult to find using the black and white much photocopied map we had got from the library. Nobody on the street knew where it was either.
The church of St Mary & St Eanswythe was very old and beautiful inside. A kind man gave us a brief tour and showed us the christening font that would have been used by the Tapley family. The graveyard seemed to go on forever but we found that it is almost impossible to read gravestones more than a hundred years old.We drove around Folkestone along the cliffs towards Dover where we knew the family had lived, but it was hard to locate any place of significance. Rather disappointed, we left for Dover nearby, following 'i' for information signs to a carpark in the centre of town where numerous tourists were milling around looking puzzled. It was then we realised the only 'information' was contained on a big advertising sign which had a few places in the town listed. No tourist bureau.
On the road next to the harbour we found a Premier Holiday Inn where a tavern owned by the Tapleys had once stood.
From there we made our way to the Visitor Centre of the White Cliffs, and that was a professional and well planned site with parking, food and toilets. The cliffs were beautiful but I was amazed there were no fences. I felt as though I might tumble over the edge any minute.
By then it was getting late so we looked for a hotel but there were no vacancies. One place rang around for us and booked a room at the Premier Inn, Whitstable. It was 20 kms away and about 30 pounds more expensive but we were getting desperate. It looked nice and the setting was pretty but there was no air conditioning and the room and whole hotel was like a furnace-and the place was new! The window only opened a little way and the room stayed about 29 degrees all night, despite the fan they gave us at reception. We ate at their restaurant next door and were again impressed by the standard of food. Dessert included mini profiteroles which we came across a number of times, and they were very nice. Back in our room we had learnt our lesson and booked ahead for the next night via computer.
Tuesday morning involved a return drive to Broadstairs to see the North Foreland Lighthouse of which a 5G Grandfather, John Frederick Hiller (1742-1816), supported by his wife Esther nee Morgan, (1742-1818) had been the keeper. He was a mariner but became the keeper from 1764-1766 They had 12 children of whom Captain Thomas Hiller (1768-1849), their 3rd child, born at the lighthouse, was our 4G Grandfather. He seems to have been an interesting man. Unfortunately we couldn't look over the lighthouse but we walked around it into a field next door where there were dozens of the most enchanting horses I have ever seen. It was a riding school, I think. The Hillers had owned farmland close to the lighthouse. From the lighthouse we travelled to St Peter's Church at Broadstairs in Thanet, Kent, which the Hiller family had attended- before they became Swedenborgians, I presume. It was another amazing church with graveyard. Sadly there was scaffolding all over the place for restoration so it was hard to get a good picture. The ceiling had glorious mosaics dating from the 1800s though the church itself has been there since 1128. We spoke to the minister who hadn't heard of Swedenborgians. Apparently John Frederick Hiller declared himself a Swedenborgian at Margate in 1798.
It was a busy parish and quite modern but there wasn't much information about the history of the church.
That night we stayed at Wood Fen Lodge near Ely because we wanted to be out in the country. It was hard to find as the web site did not have the correct address-just Little Downham, Ely. Ely was a bigger town and little Downham quite small but the spa was not in either of them! We eventually located it but a number and street would have been helpful. This happened several times with accommodation we booked over the internet-the addresses given were not explicit enough.
The room the man took us to at the spa was so small that we didn't have anywhere to put our suitcases so he moved us to a larger room. It was dusty and the shower cubicle had been repaired but not cleaned up. There weren't any staff around but the place was comfortable and the grounds pretty, with farm animals. We drove into Ely for tea checking out the various eating places before settling on the Lamb Inn. The food was excellent and we got a very good impression of British pubs, where we found salads were generous and tasty and chips crisp and golden. The choice was limited but always included lasagna which you almost never get in Adelaide anymore.We wandered around Ely and were impressed by the lovely multi layered pots of flowers.
Breakfast in the morning was full English and very nice and then it was back to Ely to check out the sensational cathedral. The stained glass glowed with colour and the whole place was spectacular. A lovely lady showed me over her beautiful cottage garden just near the cathedral. She had a spectacular display of red geraniums out front-quite different from our long limbed straggly specimens. The place was so gorgeous with a greenhouse for preparing plants and just the kind of dense, mixed planting that I really love. Nearby we visited Oliver Cromwell's cottage and that was well done.
It was then quite a long way to the Mercure at Wetherby where we had booked to stay. It had a weird lift for luggage but I couldn't manage the very steep stairs because for the whole trip my feet gave me hell, so we used the lift too.The room was OK and we ate in town at a good pub again.
We were very amused by the plumbing in all the British hotels. Many had been modernised but the tilers had gone crazy with silica gel everywhere and the water heaters came in an infinite variety-one was an Aqua 3000. Sometimes you had to turn the water heaters on outside the bathroom which you only discovered when you were undressed and standing under the anticipated shower, and then you had to turn a dial at the shower but directions were never clear so it was trial and error every time.
York was our next stop. We visited the lovely cathedral but we had been spoilt by Ely which was smaller but so glorious. It was interesting to see all the workshops outside where
they were making sculptures and cutting bricks for the renovation of the cathedral. We walked around the city walls which gave excellent views of the town and went on a round trip with the hop on, hop off bus. It was a lovely town but very crowded with tourists so we headed off in to the country to see Castle Howard, famous because it was used in the making of Brideshead Revisited. It was very attractive place but patchy in quality and I heard a couple of ladies behind us comment dispaprovingly on the ostentation. From the castle we went to our hotel, The Old Royal Oak, at Knaresborough. It was more like a motel room at the back but pleasant and comfortable. After breakfast the next day we went down the main street to look at the ruins of Knaresborough Castle. There were beautiful views over the River Nidd, flowers and crumbling stone walls, a feast for the eyes.Next stop was Chester Roman Fort on Hadrian's Wall which we explored at length. Those Romans were fantastic builders.
We had booked the Cheviot Hotel at Bellingham, Northumberland that night. The town was hilly and it was hard to know where to park. "Just outside the door," the lady in charge of the bar said, so we put the car in the driveway among the tables and at an awful lean. That's our black Ford below. They were renovating the hotel and had gone to great trouble to make the rooms nice with a lovely soft bed, coffee machine and sheep toy (not to keep, worse luck, as it was so cute.) It was raining as we crossed the Scottish border on Saturday, August 25th. We looked at a house occupied by Mary Queen of Scots in Jedburgh and were delighted to finally find an excellent tourist bureau with lots of info about Scotland. They advised us not to consider driving in Edinburgh but to use the park and ride bus, which we did. We had to ask to be let off at the 'Tron' or something-we never did find out what that was. Of course, completely without planning and by pure and unadulterated bad luck, we had made it to Edinburgh on a Saturday, in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival, Fringe, Tattoo and book week. We weren't actually interested in any of those things-we just wanted to see the place. It was a nightmare. Roads were closed everywhere, the place was packed, and when I asked for a baked potato with cheese, coleslaw AND ham at a cafe the guy nearly had a heart attack-you could have cheese or ham but you couldn't pay a bit more and have both, apparently.|
We were amazed to find that the arena where the tattoo is held is about the size of a tennis court. The castle looked spectacular but my feet were in agony as usual and I knew that I couldn't wait for an hour and then trudge up all those stairs inside the castle so we went down the hill and decided to go to our hotel. We plodded through the middle of the book week event and on to catch the park and ride bus, but the road had been blocked off and there were no buses. Peter knew the general direction so he reconnoitred ahead while I waited on the street and tried to find someone who actually lived in Edinburgh to ask them. In about 30 minutes I didn't find a native. Finally he came back and had found a place where we could catch the bus. It was quite a long ride back to where we had parked and the streets looked a mess. The lady in front of us said it was because of the train line they were constructing to the airport, and that it had been going on for years-she said it wasn't going to even be any use to most of the locals.
We were delighted to head out to Gifford to the Tweeddale Arms. It was quite comfortable and the tiny town was lovely though empty shops suggested it had shrunken in size.
On Sunday we drove to Leith to see the royal yacht, "Britannia." It was very interesting and good value at 10 pounds each and the souvenir shop was wonderful. You can see the Queen's bedroom and the family lounge below.From there we went to the Botanic Gardens. Feeling happy in the lovely weather, I strode out, tripped over the edge of a brick and went flying into the footpath, scraping my knees, hands and thumping my shoulder badly. It hurt and I felt embarrassed and shaky. The gardens were gorgeous with a 100 year old beech hedge, a giant holly hedge, many flowers and herbaceous borders.
Back at Gifford we opted to eat at the other hotel this time, the Goblin Ha. It was OK but I got into difficulties when I decided to order a gin squash for a change. I tried to explain what that was but ended up with a glass of lemon cordial-I think gin is the same in England and Australia. The host was good fun, however.
In the room we had a 1000XT Thermostatic shower-it was like being hit by a fire hose. We were very impressed by breakfast-full Scottish. Tea and coffee was always served in pots, as it used to be in Australia-certainly beats the half a cup of water and a tea bag you now get at home.
On Monday it was on to family history at Stirling, stopping at the Wallace Monument which looked sensational on top of a hill. We bought tickets but service was casual and we only found out by watching other people that we were supposed to be waiting for a bus outside. The memorial was built like a medieval castle in 1859 and just for authenticity they had a treacherous stone staircase with huge steps and no handrails. The staff were defensive and surly-don't mention Mel Gibson or complain about the dangerous stairs. There were several times on this trip that I was surprised at the lack of warnings and safety measures.
It was raining hard by the time we got to Balfron, where I was investigating the Smith family from my mother's side. It was so wet it was hard to get out of the car but we had a nice lunch at a cafe in the main street and were interested to see many students from the local high school crowd in to the shop for service. They seemed to be a nice looking and well behaved lot. We received generous help from the local librarian and visited the records office looking for information about Jane Smith. We should have allocated more time and given the memorial a miss.
Our next hotel, The Fishermman's Tavern, was at Broughty Ferry, Dundee. My heart sank at first as it looked small and run down. In fact, it was just very old and most historical. The rooms had been modernised and were quite comfortable and we ate in the bar for tea. It was amazing with lots of wood panelling and low ceilings and the food was good. We were happy to find a laundromat down the street. There were no instructions but the lady in charge finally unbent enough to give us the necessary change and soap. It turned out she had a daughter in Australia and had been there several times. The place was packed with bags of laundry. She said that people bring in their dunas and bedding to be washed and because they live in small places, only come back to get it when they want it. If it were me, I'd be putting it out the front for people to take, as you could hardly move.
From Broughty Ferry beside the sea we travelled to St. Andrews where the tourists were out in force. We wanted to get some tourist information but found a place to park and walked around the ruins of a cathedral nearby before going along a cliff path with a wonderful view.We visited a lovely garden and then went back to the car before time ran out. I was confident there would be a toilet in the tourist office but no, it was about 3 blocks from the office. I tried to find it but couldn't. I went back to the car and Peter drove around nearby until we found a sign. He had to stop on one side of a busy road while I crossed, went round 2 corners and past the church and when I got inside I had to pay 30p-thank goodness I had money as it had been a problem getting the right change for the whole trip. If they are going to have that many tourists they need a lot more toilets and they need to be clearly marked. Everywhere we went in England and Scotland it was difficult to find public toilets unless you were at a particular tourist place with facilities.
Thoroughly irritated, we headed out into the country to Kellie's Castle where we had a tasty lunch and an interesting tour.Outside we walked around a glorious garden in lovely weather. That night we stayed at the Avonbridge Hotel in Hamilton. It looked rather glamorous and we had tea in the conservatory restaurant where the food was awful and the service bizarre-we had to give up on dessert and tea eventually for lack of service and then they had a tantrum at the cash register because we didn't offer a tip. We headed next day to Gretna Green. It was very commercial but they had really nice souvenirs and shops and an interesting museum. With our impeccable timing we managed to make it to Blackpool on the day the illuminations were to be switched on! The town was packed and, as usual there was absolutely no parking. We drove through slowly but kept going. The displays were sensational. I would have loved to see them lit up. The sky was an incredible dark grey over the sea as we left.
From Blackpool it was on to the Hampton by Hilton, Liverpool, in a run down area but excellently situated across the road from the Albert docks and within walking distance of a fabulous shopping centre which seemed to be a series of malls connected overhead. I was looking for comfortable shoes and couldn't find a thing-just lots and lots of shops selling the same shoes-mainly sandshoes with white soles. After a rest at the hotel we went back to the same centre and had a fabulous meal at a huge place, Red Hot World Buffet and Bar. Half of Liverpool was there and the range and quality of the help-yourself buffet food was excellent.
Next morning we had to return the car to Hertz. We were going to let Hertz do the fuel but it was double normal price so we went out and found a petrol station. After finalising the car return we caught the bus in the street outside. The driver was irritated that we didn't have the right money and said he wasn't going to the Albert docks, but we worked out that he would be eventually if we went the full circuit, so he reluctantly got money out of his pocket and gave us change. There were only a few people on the commuter style bus and they all got off after a while. The driver then became quite friendly and before long it was a proper guided tour as he explained what some of the buildings were.
He dropped us off at the Beatles Museum and we thanked him profusely as he had been so nice. We weren't that interested in the Beatles Museum as everything seemed expensive and overdone. We opted for the free Maritime Museum and it was excellent. |
We learnt that Liverpool had been heavily involved in the slave trade because it was such a busy port.
When we went past the maritime museum archives, I thought I'd enquire as to whether they had any information on the København as I knew there was a connection with Scotland. The man at the desk was very rude. He'd never heard of the København and wasn't interested in finding out and I was momentarily stunned and didn't remember until later that it had been built at Leith. I'd spent so much time on family history before we went I'd forgetten exact details about all my other research interests. It looked like huge amounts of money had been spent on the docks and they were very beautiful, almost as nice as Venice in places, but there was also a hint of neglect about the area, not helped by the attitude of staff at various places. There were a number of sculptures called lambanana. They were apparently invented for some festival about genetically modified food, but have become an unofficial icon for Liverpool. Only a few remain.
We saw a fabulous old Scandinavian Seamen's church, Gustaf Adolfs Kirka.
Next morning it was off to the Isle of Man by ferry 'Mannanan' to see where my maternal Great Grandfather had come from and to meet up with some Kermodes still living there. Arriving on the island, we hired a taxi to take us to our hotel which turned out to be only a few hundred metres up the road, but the lady taxi driver was very nice about it.
We were staying at Admiral House Hotel, one of many beautiful but decaying buildings along the Esplanade. They kindly upgraded us to the executive suite with a gorgeous view straight out over the road, foreshore and bay. The room was large but the vase of faded and dusty artificial flowers in the bathroom suggested it was lucky we were upgraded.
We walked to the imuseum but had to go up the hill, via lift to the new Genealogy museum further along. It was well appointed and the librarian helpful, though peculiar.
On the way back we went along the shopping mall and I bought a child's ten pound watch which was just what I wanted. For tea we went to a pretentious Italian cafe where the food was poor and the service from Eastern European waitresses awful. We would have left but couldn't make an inconspicuous exit down steep stairs.
In fact, tourism in England seems to be managed by these humourless, angry girls. It's similar in Australia in the outback now, where backpackers are equally dour. They may be cheap but they are often rude and make the tourist experience unpleasant.
The Isle of Man is very beautiful but not the tourist haven it once was, apparently. They now specialise in high finance. We loved the many sights including the horse tram clip clopping past the hotel window, the steam train, Castle Rushen and the glorious harbours.
We hired a car to go to Ramsay and decided on a Smart because I have always loved how cute and small they are and it seemed perfect for the narrow roads of the Isle of Man. Sadly, it turned out to be a less happy experience than expected. The boot is big enough as we were later able to fit both big suitcases in it together with our hand luggage, but it was the width that was a problem. Every time Peter changed gears we were banging elbows - it wasn't automatic transmission but some weird hybrid so that meant there was a lot of elbow banging going on. There was just nowhere to put my arm.
In Ramsay we visited relatives, looked at the shop where my forebears had had their iron mongery business and then drove to Peel which was glorious in perfect weather - beautiful boats and a pefect harbour. I was wanting to buy souvenirs as time was running out but it was very hard to find anything good with the 3 leg symbol.
The Isle of Man was beautiful-the buildings, the sea, the weather, the sights, the countryside, the history. We had the best fish and chips I've ever tasted one night and the worst curry ever, another, but I would gladly have spent a lot longer there.
On Monday, September 3, we headed for Ireland after a long wait at the airport. The road signage to the I.O.M. airport and the directions at the airport were hopeless. They assume that everyone has a GPS or lives there.
On arrival in Ireland it was a long wait at the car hire desk and then a bus trip to where the cars were kept nearby in some industrial park. (This became relevant when we tried to return the car at the end of our stay in Ireland as being an industrial area it didn't have a proper address) The bus was maddening because they didn't let you on unless you had the right money and having just flown in you don't usually have the right money. It turned out there were change machines if you could work out how to use them. The people running airports, car hire, airport buses etc ought to be forced to travel somewhere they've never been before to give them a bit of empathy with the difficulties of tourists who have just arrived in a new place.
Eventually we got going and headed straight out of Dublin, stopping for lunch at quite a good service station. We went to the Clanard Court Hotel, just outside Athy. It was very nice aimed at conferences and wedding receptions and they were next to a paddock with the most amazing sheep, called Jacob sheep, looking like small spotted cows.They were guarded by a couple of fierce llamas. It was a pleasure looking out the window to see such lovely animals and farm land.
On first impressions, Athy (pronounced A-thigh) looked run down and depressed. Duke Street, where my relatives had lived, was a two lane highway between shops right up to the footpath and the traffic was endless. It wasn't helped by the fact that they were doing major roadworks in the few days we were there.
A river ran under a bridge in Duke Street and right next to it was the beautiful small White Castle which had apparently sold recently for about 200,000 Euro-that's a lot less than a house in Adelaide.
The town was remarkably similar to Folkestone in atmosphere. Other towns we visited in County Kildare looked quite prosperous and pretty with fresh paint and flower boxes.
We walked along the canal which was lovely and got some help with family background from the stressed and angry lady at the local Catholic Church. She explained that she hadn't had a raise in years and that the demands were endless, but she managed to find something for us almost immediately and it was very helpful, though it didn't solve the mystery of where my GG Grandfather had lived in Ireland. We visited a genealogy library at Newbridge and several graveyards but didn't find out anything new.
We enjoyed looking out for McEvoy signs and they were all over the place, the name so common that tracing one person would take much more time than we had.
On September 6 we headed back to Dublin to the Ballymun Travelodge. The area looked like the Jasmine Allen estates from "The Bill" and our room was awful-tiny, the sun blazing in and the only window opening onto a small ledge which was crammed with cigarette butts. When we turned on the tap, the basin drain was blocked and shreds of cigarette tobacco floated up to the surface. We had to return the car so told the receptionist, another Eastern European worker, and she said that she would attend to it personally. When we got back much later in the day, the drain was still blocked and another receptionist on the front desk kindly moved us to a nicer room on the second floor. Next morning the other worker was back and had the cheek to confront us about the drain, saying she had unblocked it, when obviously nothing at all had been done.
I arranged to have my hair done at a salon in part of the building on the ground floor. They said the area was a lot better than it had been because a tower block had recently been knocked down, but their shop windows had been smashed so many times that they had more or less given up. You could see bits of broken glass jammed around some of the fittings. The girls themselves were lovely.
In Dublin we wasted time going to the Archives where I thought I might be able to get some family history help. The bureaucracy was intense but I can go back as I have a reader's card which will last until 2014.You had to do an interview with an archivist. She turned out to be a McEvoy, but that didn't matter as she was very negative about us finding anything and recommended we go elsewhere-probably to the Public Library, after we had wasted about an hour waiting to see her. That was it for me, family history research was over.
Dublin was packed with tourists and the weather lovely. We went on the Hop on and Hop off bus, walked through the gorgeous mall and bought some small souvenirs. We also did a tour of the Guinness factory-Interesting but very commercial with a good souvenir shop.
It was an early start for Copenhagen on September 8. No packed lunch in a cute container this trip, just a paper cup of tea or coffee during the 1 hour 45 minute trip. Usual brouhaha at the airport to get the hire car. It was a black Volvo. I waited in the road with the cases for Peter to back it out but he was struggling desperately for ages. We have only ever had old cars so are not up to date with the latest vehicular technology and Peter couldn't get the key in to start. It turned out you simply had to press a button. That was only one of our problems as the damn thing kept stalling. We found out later this was a fuel saving device and that it started up again when you put your foot on the accelerator. It was most disconcerting and half way through our stay, Eilif showed Peter how to turn it off.
It was wonderful to be back in clean and well organised Denmark, where everything works efficiently. The trip to Jutland was as fascinating as ever, across Lillebælt and Storebælt looking out at windmills anchored in deep water. It was great to see the family in Vejle and they kindly gave us free room and board again.
During our stay in Vejle we visited friends and family. In Arhus we went to the open air museum, the cathedral and the new art gallery with the amazing circular glass birds nest on top.
Running out of time, we had a rushed trip to South Jutland to see the town of Højer where the noir film "Terribly Happy" or "Frygtelig lykkelig" was made (Peter's choice). We couldn't believe that such a run down place could be found in Denmark and were right-it was just a couple of run down streets. We also visited a terrific museum in Tonder and had hot dogs for lunch
On September 17 we headed again for Copenhagen, dropping off Lis, our suitcases at the Hotel Opera and then the car. We walked to the railway station and bought rail tickets as the hotel was close to a train station. Copenhagen is beautiful with glorious buildings but Strøjet, the mall, looked nowhere near as prosperous as on previous visits and there were quite a few empty shops.
The hotel room was cramped, but the hotel in an excellent location. We had tea at a Chinese restaurant and went for a walk along Nyhavn. It is spectacular- you feel like a movie star just being there.
We went to see the royal palace but didn't get a glimpse of Mary, did a trip along the canal, walked around Christiania and went to the navy museum, visited Rosenborg Castle, and had tea at our niece's place. One lunch time we went into a simple looking cafe and it was like the Tardis-a huge place just below ground level with many tables and rooms full of hearty Danes eating Danish open sandwiches which were served with great style. It was like a secret Viking feast.
On Thursday morning, September 20, we caught the train to the Copenhagen airport with no problems at all, despite my worries. The trip was noisy as there were quite a few bogan Danes headed for the Grand Prix in Singapore. They acted as though they were on a train, hanging around the toilets drinking and talking in loud voices. A couple of times the seat belt sign came on just to get them to sit down. Still, it made for an interesting journey and the time passed quickly.
We arrived very early in the morning in Singapore and the warmth immediately relieved my aches and pains. Our nice lady taxi driver gave us a guided tour on the way from the airport to the M Hotel. Check in wasn't until afternoon but they said we could have the room at 10.30 am and told us to go upstairs to the gym for a shower and they would store our suitcases. We did that but still had about 2 hours to fill in so asked one of the staff if there were any shops open. He told us about Mustafa's in Little India which was open 24 hours. We caught a taxi again.
Mustafa's was fascinating but still no comfortable shoes. They had hundreds and hundreds of watches and Peter would have liked to buy one, but they were not at all helpful. We went to Chinatown and had breakfast at a McDonalds before walking around a bit and then going back to the hotel. After a couple of hours sleep we went to Vivo City, a huge shopping centre by the waterfront then back to the hotel for another sleep before hitting China town for tea. It was gorgeous, being the Moon Festival, and everyone was out and about-tourists from the Grand Prix and the locals.
Next day we visted Sentosa Island going via the cable car. It was a fabulous place and we even dared a 5 minute segway 'experience.' There were so many warnings, forms to complete and safety gear to don, not to mention thumb prints because we didn't have our passports with us, that I was shaking like a leaf by the time we got to use the segways, and it was hard not to panic on the rather bumpy track, but we stayed on. We wandered around looking at the many attractions but caught the cable car up to Mt Faber for lunch so that we could get our free Angry Birds drink with container and inspect their public toilets, judged the best in the world.
We were leaving on Sunday evening so went to the new Gardens by the Bay in the morning. It was spectacular and beautiful and not to be missed.
It was a long wait at Singapore airport but there is always plenty to see and do. The trip home was uneventful and we were happy to see Michael there to meet us. As usual we did too much and travelled too far but it was amazing. No one at home wants to see our pictures or hear about the trip, of course, so well done if you have read this far!
Holiday 2008 Beijing, Europe, Delhi