A Travellerspoint blog

Back to Byron Bay

Picking up the almost obligatory cold on the way

overcast 30 °C
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After an excellent breakfast at our Premier Inn (just moments from Blackfriars Bridge), we strolled across the Bridge to the historically "bad" side of town to take one of the most historic walks in London to visit Southwark Cathedral. We turned left at the end of the Bridge and headed alongside the Thames past the Tate Modern and the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, under Southwark Bridge, past the house where Sir Christopher Wren watched St Paul's being built (and incidentally where Catherine of Aragon stayed on arrival in London), past the ancient (1615) Anchor Pub, past the site of Clink Prison, past the ruins of Winchester Palace (the bishop owned Clink Prison), past the replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship (in which he circumnavigated the world), arriving finally at the Cathedral just steps from London Bridge and the famous Borough High Street

And it was closing in 10 minutes for a funeral! We scurried around, looking at some of the less obvious works of art and were, of course, quickly outside again. We had been in the Cathedral a few years ago, so it wasn't a disaster for us. We were back at the hotel by 11:30 ready for midday check-out. We left all of our bags in their secure luggage store and started the long walk along the Embankment towards Mayfair where we were meeting two yoga friends of Jeni for a long lunch at the excellent Aline Lebanse Kitchen in Maddox Street, just off Regent Street

It was a much slower stroll back to our hotel! We collected our bags and 200 metres later we were in Blackfriars Station where there are trains to Gatwick Airport every few minutes. We had Oyster transport cards but they were down to £1 on both cards and we didn't particularly want to mess around topping them up so there is a nice option for using the Greater London (Gatwick is considered to be in this area!) trains these days: use your "paywave" or "tap and go" credit card. It all works perfectly and easily. The only issue is that the fares they quote online for using paywave can be vastly different to the actual cost. All the trains on this line seem to be new and very fast; in 40-50 minutes you're at the airport

Check in for Premium Economy with China Airlines was very fast (Economy looked fast as well) and the security checks at Gatwick are now so well managed that we were through to the departures lounge in minutes. Pret a Manger has competition at airports now, with Itsu (they are owned by the same company!) offering very good Japanese/Asian food with lots of vegetarian/vegan options

The 13-hour flight to Taipei was excellent, their lounge in Terminal 1 was superb (5,000 points per person if you're not flying Business class) and the final 9-hour flight into Brisbane was again excellent


The last stage from Brisbane Airport to Byron Bay was courtesy of Brisbane2Byron shuttle bus (A$58 each) who dropped us off at the hospital car park, and our very kind neighbour Mick who picked us up there and carried us up the hill to home

Posted by kforge 22:52 Archived in Taiwan Comments (2)

In England for 3 weeks

Lots of day-trips and the final 3 days in London

sunny 25 °C
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Bury St Edmunds

Flatford Mill





Southend-on-Sea in Essex (my home town)

Norwich in Norfolk

Mersea Island and Fingringhoe in Essex

Foxton Locks in Leicestershire






Posted by kforge 21:09 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme to Cockfield in Suffolk

via P&O Ferries

sunny 22 °C
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On Wednesday the 10th of July, Bert and Marina delivered us to the Ferry Terminal in Calais at 12:45 after an easy drive from Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. P&O Ferries is the only company that still lets foot-passengers onto their ships (Eu68 or A$110 for 2 tickets). These days you have to arrive at this terminal at least one hour before sailing as passport control for the UK is done here and not in Dover (for foot passengers anyway)

For anybody going there by car, here are the directions:

1) Follow the road signs to the Ferry Port but instead of driving into ticketing and passport control, follow the signs for parking
2) Turn right and go around the roundabout to the parking/ticket office area (there are signs for this when you come off the motorway)
3) Drive all the way to the passenger terminal at the end where there is free parking for 30 minutes in area P5
4) From there it is just 50 metres to the P&O office

The 90-minute trip was very calm and we even had blue skies as we approached the White Cliffs of Dover (no bluebirds - the American lyricist, Nat Burton, wrote his lyrics unaware that the bluebird is not indigenous to Britain)


It actually took a long time to get to the arrivals hall as you have to go by shuttle bus which has to cross the extremely busy lanes of disembarking lorries and cars. Passport control had already been done and there was no-one in Customs, so we were soon on the road in our gaudy Avis car on the two and a half hour drive to my sister's place in Cockfield, Suffolk


Posted by kforge 01:29 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

In Saint-Valery-sur-Somme

And a visit to Amiens

sunny 25 °C
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On Monday morning we drove back to Amiens in order to visit the amazing Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Amiens, built between 1220 and 1270. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 and is renowned for the quality and quantity of early 13th-century Gothic sculpture in the main west facade and the south transept portal, and a large quantity of polychrome sculpture from later periods inside the building


A short walk from the cathedral and on the banks of the river Somme, we had a fine lunch at Le Quai


From there we took a walk around the Saint Leu area, another redevelopment that looks like it will never be completed


On Tuesday, it was time to do some exploring in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. In 611, the monk Gualaric (Walric), also known as Valery, arrived in the area. He installed himself as a hermit on the headland of the site of Leuconaus, now the Cap Hornu. His virtue and miracles quickly attracted disciples and they formed a primitive abbey where he was buried in 622. The Chapelle des Marins was erected in 628 by Saint Blimont over his burial place - "...he had the gift of relieving sexual dysfunction as well". The relics of the saint attracted many pilgrims to the abbey which had become known as Saint-Valery.

During the 8th and 9th century, the abbey and village were plundered and devastated on several occasions by the Vikings. The village is historically significant as the site where William the Conqueror assembled his fleet before sailing over to England in 1066 - he set sail from Dives in Normandy on the 10th of September but was forced to put into St Valery for 18 days due to bad weather. During the many wars between the French and the English the village passed between French, English and Burgundian ownership. In December 1430, Joan of Arc, captive of the English, was held prisoner in the local prison from which she was then conveyed to Rouen and burned at the stake


Late afternoon, we drove to nearby Le Crotoy for a swim. However the tide was out and by "out" I mean about 2 kilometres out. We also found an interesting photo of Toulouse Lautrec having fun on Le Crotoy beach


Posted by kforge 11:52 Archived in France Comments (0)

Colmar to Nancy to Reims to Saint-Valery-sur-Somme

With stops along the way

sunny 32 °C
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Friday the 5th

Enterprise Car Rental picked us up from the hotel, took us back to their depot and within minutes we were on the road to Kaysersberg, only 20 minutes northwest of Colmar, on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains. It was another impossibly quaint, medieval town but as we had just spent 3 days in Colmar, we moved on after a quick walk around the streets


We arrived at the hotel Residhome in Nancy around 3pm. We knew the hotel was in a redeveloped area (near the Jardin d'Eau) next to the canal but unfortunately, once again, the redevelopment had not been completed (and probably never would be) and what should have been a great area along the canal was really quite seedy - and this was only a 15-minute walk from the majestic Place Stanislas dating from 1752. As it was extremely hot we retreated to the the hotel with plans to visit the Place at 6:30 the next morning


Saturday the 6th

After our early morning jaunt and then checking out, we decided to look for the Art Nouveau area - we found it a couple of kilometres away but, unfortunately, the prime attraction, the Villa Majorelle, was undergoing renovations that were supposed to have been finished in September 2017. But we had the eccentric exterior to admire


We then drove to Reims: founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire. Reims played a prominent ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. The main sites are conveniently situated next to each other: the magnificent 13C Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims, the 1920s Art Deco Andrew Carnegie Library and the 1498 Palace of Tau (it was closed)

Reims Cathedral: with its 1970s Marc Chagall stained glass and the wonderful 15C Horloge du Chapitre


The Library: a public library built with money donated by businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to the city of Reims after World War I. The Art Deco decor of the Carnegie Library, the harmony of its proportions, the elegance of its architecture made it worthy of inclusion in the French inventory of Monuments Historiques


Sunday the 7th

It was a one-hour drive to the medieval town (yes, another one) of Laon. The holy district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance. In the time of Julius Caesar there was a Gallic village named Bibrax. The city contains numerous medieval buildings, including the cathedral Notre-Dame of Laon, dating mostly from the 12th and 13th centuries. The chapter-house and the cloister contain specimens of early 13th century architecture. The old episcopal palace, contiguous to the cathedral, is now used as a court-house


Finally we finished our French road-trip in Amiens where our German friends Marina and Bert picked us up and drove us all to our very eccentric accommodation in St-Valery-sur-Somme, yet another charming medieval town, on the Baie de la Somme


Posted by kforge 00:58 Archived in France Comments (0)

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