This year, just like last, we spent midsummer in Sweden. As always we had a great time, this year despite the weather. Highlights were the possibly sunniest day which we spent taking the old train between Anten and Gräfsnäs and the two nights we stayed in Trönningenäs just outside of Varberg. I also think that everyone visiting Göteborg should eat at Restaurang Räkan on Lorensbergsgatan, the food is simply heavenly!
Posts tagged ‘trip stories’
Well, we’re back in rainy, dreary Cambridge after a week and a half in rainy, dreary Alingsås. But hey! It was Christmas and we got to spend it with family. The weather really isn’t that important then. Though it would have been nice with snow on the 23rd when we went to Liseberg to see the lights. Also I wouldn’t have minded a dry New Years Eve, walking from the restaurant to the car is so much better than sprinting through heavy rain.
The trip was great. Thea was in great shape and it was good I had been keeping up with the gym during the autumn. Novah was adorable, just as the last time. My sister was tired, but who can blame her? Her partner seemed to attract bugs like crazy. My brother and his partner were great as always. Both sets of parents were going strong. We even got to see my aunt and uncle, my cousins and their kids. Great! What more can one desire for the holidays? Not much, I tell you!
This bank holiday weekend (26-28 August) we went to Cardiff. The drive there was uneventful, just as I had hoped and traffic was less crazy then expected.
The first impression of Cardiff was mixed. We got slightly lost on the way in—print-outs from online route planners can be really confusing to follow. Well, it only meant we got to see a bit more of Cardiff than expected At first Cardiff—actually all of the part of Wales that we saw from the car—looked very run down. It looked old and tired. Then we drove through the university area and the impression changed somewhat. Driving on we went down High Street and I again I was starting to wonder if going to Cardiff was such a hot idea. We found our hotel after a few missed turns and U-turns.
Novotel in Cardiff is made up of two buildings, one old and one new. The old one used to be a fruit warehouse, I think, and the new one is a typical Accor building. The result is a really nice hotel, with an interesting interior. Off course the room was what we expected—after all it’s a chain hotel. We were happy with it.
Since we arrived a bit early we couldn’t get access to our room just yet so we chucked our bags in their luggage room and walked out to find a place to eat lunch. The centre of Cardiff turned out to be nothing special, basically a collection of the same stores you can find in any medium to large town/city in the UK. It was slightly disappointing really. We had lunch at Zushi, a sushi place frequented by Miss Church (personally I think she has a very busy schedule because she seems to frequent every place in Cardiff). Good sushi and not overly expensive. The gyoza was not quite as good as I had hoped though.
After lunch we walked back to the hotel and checked in, then we took off in the opposite direction, away from the city centre, to Cardiff Bay. Now, here’s what sets Cardiff apart from other places! We strolled around a bit enjoying the weather. We went through the Dr. Who exhibit at the Red Dragon. Unfortunately the Norwegian Church was closed so we ended up having a drink at Eddie’s American Diner—very good root beer float!
For dinner we wanted to try The Wharf—a pub we’d seen walking to the bay. It turned out they had stopped serving food. We ended up having dinner at a Thai place in the brewery quarter in the centre instead. The lasting impression of walking around in Cardiff on a Saturday evening is that people in Cardiff go out, a lot, and they drink, a lot. It also seems that people in Wales get married, a lot!
Sunday we went to Cardiff Castle. The guided tour we took mostly concentrated on the last owners of the Castle, the Bute family. Personally I found that to be a little disappointing, but it’s understandable since the Butes had such a big impact on Cardiff in general. We were looking for something Welsh for lunch but the closest we came was a small place just off High Street that served Welsh rarebit and lamb pies. After lunch we relaxed in the hotel spa for a while and then went to the bay to have dinner. The pubs and restaurants were just as busy as the day before and we got the second to last table at a Turkish restaurant located on one of several small piers.
The next day we checked out and once again went down to the bay. During the weekend they had a “festival” (read “a few stands selling stuff”) in the bay and we had noticed a stand selling Kopparberg cider (you can order online from Designa Drinx). After buying 4 bottles and 4 cans of different flavours of cider we headed home.
All in all it was a great weekend and in we both think that Cardiff is well worth a visit. Also, in our experience Wales has very good weather!
After a single night in Singapore we continued on to Indonesia and Jakarta. We didn’t really have any plans for the almost 2 weeks we were going to stay, and to be honest I was a little worried about that. Jakarta just isn’t a very good holiday destination. A few days are fine, but more than a week and I start going nuts
It turned out to be very nice though. We stayed with one of Dita’s uncles. The house was more crowded now than the last time. Two grandsons, twins, [Nina's hubby's name], the husband of Dita’s cousin, and new maids. Luckily there’s a lot of space in the house.
The weather in Jakarta this time around was not as bad as I had expected. Almost cool and dry. Well, not cool and dry at all really, but less hot and humid than then my experience from earlier trips. Even traffic wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I also noticed that the economy is doing better. The last time Mal Ambassador was to a large part empty. This time around there were hardly any empty “boxes” left. They were even selling BMWs on the ground floor. I guess this means the economy is better, it doesn’t mean life is better for the Indonesians though.
When planning the trip Dita had planned about 10 days, uninterrupted stay in Jakarta. After only a few days it became obvious that neither of us would survive for that long in Jakarta though. Luckily there are now low-cost airlines in Asia For about 1M rupiah we got two return tickets to Bali. We only stayed three nights but it was a very nice break from Jakarta. Dita has a cousin in Sanur who put us up for the stay. Cheap and good
Bali took us a bit by surprise this time. While Jakarta was bustling with activity and there were obvious indications that the economy was doing better, Bali was sleepy and void of tourists. We have some postcard like photos from the beach in Sanur, clear blue sky and an empty beach. A few years ago you’d have to be up pretty early in the morning to get such a shot. We took our pictures around noon. I can’t say we were disappointed though, the streets were easy to navigate, no queues anywhere, and we almost had WaterBom to ourselves.
Before starting our return trip we spent a few more days in Jakarta visiting family and friends and “enjoying” the traffic. Travelling back to England took two days, first back to Hong Kong with a short stop in Singapore, then to London’s Heathrow the following day. The flights were like good flights are, boring and uneventful.
The third part of hour trip was a short one, a one-day stop in Singapore. We checked in in-town at the train station in Hong Kong, a very convenient thing indeed, then took a train to the airport and boarded the Singapore Airlines plane to Singapore. The flight lasted 4 hours.
There is a world of difference between KLM and SIA. It’s in the small details and the extraordinary service. I can understand people who refuse to fly anything but SIA.
We arrived at our hotel after a short taxi ride. After a small mix-up with the room we got ready to hit the city. Xavier(X), Tris and Tim were in Singapore at the same time and we met up with X and Tim at the Raffles hotel for a few drinks. Tris was busy with her looks and didn’t arrive until a bit later.
They had made plans for dinner already so we split up. Dita and I walked to Chijmes and found a restaurant that served asian food. After dinner we walked to the river looking for a good bar to spend time waiting for X and parents to make another appearance. Apparently we managed to choose a dodgy bar, one that imports “entertainment girls” from Indonesia. How were we to know? We moved on to a bar with its own micro brewery.
All in all a wonderful day, despite the pressing heat and humidity, in Singapore. Amazingly cool to catch up with friends from Holland while travelling in South East Asia
Since we returned from our trip to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Jakarta on Thursday last week it’s high time I get around to writing something about it. Don’t you think? I’ve split it into three parts, one for Hong Kong (including this introduction), one for the brief stop in Singapore, and the last part covers our stay in Jakarta (and Bali).
We took off to Heathrow early, early in the morning. Parking went as smoothly as we hoped and before we knew it we were queueing for the security check. KLM, true to form, offered us absolutely terrible food on the first leg, London to Amsterdam. The food on the longer leg was much better. I’m just wondering why they insist on having different desserts for Halal meals and regular meals, what’s not Halal about chocolate cake?
Once off the plane in Hong Kong I began being amazed. Organised, clean, everything was working. Not really what I had expected. After a quick lunch we took a cab to Beauty Court on Robinson Road. Wow! Hong Kong was greener than I expected, and the streets were fascinating. Being built on the side of a mountain and being an amazingly crowded city they have some unique problems relating to traffic, and they’ve come up with interesting solutions. It was a long time since I had such an interesting taxi ride.
Our first whole day we spent on Lantau, visiting the monestary there and its large Buddha statue. Despite the rain it was a good day and the mist that came and went added to the experience. The vegetarian food offered in the restaurant in the monestary was delicious and very cheap.
One day we took a bus to Stanley with its rather famous market. I have to admit the market wasn’t as good as I expected. I’d recommend one of the markets in Kowloon instead, though Stanley offered some good vistas that’d be hard for Kowloon to match The most memorable thing in Stanley was the food we had in a small restaurant squeezed in between stalls in the market.
On the only sunny day of our stay in Hong Kong we went up to The Peak. The tram up was impressing, and just a little bit scary. On our hosts’ recommendation we took the bus down rather than the tram–you go down backwards in the tram. The view was as spectacular as expected and as a bonus the shopping centre up there was very reasonable. We had lunch at the Peak Lookout, a bit on the pricey side to say the least, but it’s a must I guess.
We went to Kowloon a few times. The Symphony Lights was fairly entertaining, personally I found the Avenue of The Stars more fun. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had watched a few more Chinese movies. We also tried to get to the night market in Kowloon, but when we got there when they had just started setting it up. Being a bit tired and hungry we decided not to hang around. For lunch one day we went to the Penninsula for high tea. Absolutely brilliant and it delivered that “colonial feeling” I was hoping for We ended our stay in Hong Kong by going to the bar high up in the Penninsula, Felix. Designed by Philippe Stark it will leave an impression, whether you like his style or not. The view is gorgeous, visit it at night and Hong Kong will show its best side. Also have to mention that a visit to the loo is a must!
All through the stay we spent a lot of time with our hosts, Matisse, Beulah and Antony. It was great to meet Matisse for the first time and to catch up with her parents. We are very lucky to have friends like them!
We are amazingly lucky Dita and me. We have some amazing friends and we got to spend Christmas and New Years with them this year. On the 21st I took half a day off and went into Cambridge to meet Dita and pick up a hired car. The next morning (night) we got up at 3am and drove down to Stansted to catch the 6:45 plane to Eindhoven. We arrived on time in the spanking new terminal building in Eindhoven. At least something had changed since we moved.
We went to Aissa to have my hair cut, Dita took the opportunity to catch up on what’s happened since she left TNT. In the evening we went to the cinema and saw Narnia. The next day, Friday, we went to Aachen to catch the last day of the Christmas market. In the evening we met up with Felix and Siarhei at Trafalgar. Good beer, good conversation. Interesting to hear the latest on what’s going on at Philips in general and research in particular
The next two days were filled with “Christmas stuff”. Cooking food, eating food, Tim had some excellent wines, and good friends came visiting. All in all an excellent Christmas!
The days in between Christmas and New Year’s were either filled with activities. We had friends and ex-colleagues to visit, we went to Belgium (twice) and of course we went shopping. All the time it felt just a little bit strange. We were in Eindhoven, but we didn’t live there. Weird feeling somehow.
For New Year’s Eve we ended up in Belgium again, ‘t Hoeveke in Peer. Yet another good nice evening that was over too soon. True to tradition we went to the cinema on New Year’s Day. We saw The Constant Gardner, a very good movie, well worth the admission.
For our last evening in Eindhoven this time around we went to Touch of India with our hosts. A perfect ending to a very good holiday. I hope it won’t take too long until we can go back… or until we have visitors.
We went to London today, the destination was the Finnish Christmas market. We parked by the Millenium Dome since the market was held just next to Excel. At first it looked like no one was there, then we went around a corner and saw the hidden queue of more than 75 people. For some strange reason the market was held in a floating hotel and apparently it was full. A “one-out, one-in” policy was in effect. We spent 5 minutes queueing before we realised we wouldn’t survive as we were both starving and the queue didn’t move at all. We went to Tower Gate and found a Subway, then onto Marylebone and the Swedish Church’s Christmas market. Quite a nice little market. A few stalls with Christmas-related trinkets and food, all Swedish of course. Everything was quite over-prized of course—as expected. Â£10 pounds for a box of Paradis, in Sweden we bought the same thing for SEK45—a third of the prize! Well, it was a little more expensive than I expected, really. We picked up some stuff for gifts and a really nice knife for buttering bread. The highlight was the little cafe, great coffe, absolutely divine “kanelbulle” and good sandwiches.
So, in short. Finnish Christmas market: pants! Swedish Christmas market: good coffee!
Here I am, at the end of an amazingly great week. My Mum, my sister Karin, her partner Erik and their daughter Thea have been spending the last week with us here in Cambourne.
It started last Friday. They arrived later at night, but the plane was slightly early so when Dita and I walked through the doors they were already through all checks and looking around for us. They hired a car, and I was supposed to lead the drive back from Stanstead. Due to a miscommunication I ended up behind him instead (though thankfully Dita was in the car). Then Erik missed an exit in a roundabout and unknowingly I passed them. Thinking that I was still behind I sped up. I heard later that it was quite an eventful ride, Erik driving on the “wrong” side for the first time and there was a problem with the windscreen so all of a sudden he couldn’t see past the bonnet.
Saturday we all went into Cambridge. The weather wasn’t too bad. We spent the day just walking around looking at the buildings.
On Sunday we all jumped into our car and drove down towards London. To Erik the main attraction of England is football, and he had bought tickets for Arsenal vs. Newcastle. The rest of us spent time at IKEA in Edmonton, eating meatballs and Thea tried out the play grounds.
Dita and I both took Monday and Tuesday off to get to spend more time with our family. These days we had real luck with the weather. Monday we took off towards the east coast, past Ipswich. We ended up spending the day in Aldeburgh, and before driving back we stopped for coffee in Thorpeness. Both beautiful places. Tuesday we decided to stay closer to home. The morning we spend at the Shepreth Wildlife Park. We had to drag Thea away from the playground in order to go get some lunch. Afterwards we drove up to Ely and spent the afternoon walking around the cathedral and down by the river.
On Wednesday Dita and I reluctantly went back to work. Thursday evening, being their last evening in Cambridge this time around, we went out to Nando’s to eat some spicy chicken.
They’re flying back tonight so we had to say our goodbyes this morning. We’ve had such a great time, and it’s been wonderful seeing them all again. Hopefully it won’t be too long until the next time.
We’ve put up some pictures we took during the week:
The last day of my Dad’s and Kristina’s stay we spent checking out Oxford. Taking off rather late in order to avoid any peak hour traffic we didn’t arrive until just in time for lunch. The day was perfect, sun shining, but not terribly warm. Great for exploring a city.
We dropped in at the Museum of Oxford. A typical local museum telling the story of the city and the university. It’s almost too much information contained in the relatively few rooms. Items and informational texts all over the place, after a while we did skim over things. It should also be noted that they don’t have a toilet for visitors, the closest one is apparently in the Town Hall.
Then we strolled down to Christ Church. After a few fotographs, and looking at a group of Japanese tourists we coughed up the Â£4.50 per person and went in. After taking in the atmosphere of the place, especially the Hall, we went looking for a place to eat. The folder we had picked up at the tourist information mentioned a place called Chutney on St. Michael Street. We found it, but was immediately put down by the lack of prices on the menu displayed outside. A quick look at the menu inside revelead the place was expensive, for an Indian restaurant. That was probably the reason for the covered-up prices outside. Just up the same street we found a place called Makan La, with Malay food. Reasonable prices, and it turned out the food was good as well!
On the way back we passed time by counting the roundabouts. 45!!