Bob Lowblaw’s Prague Blog

I had a nice time Prague. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I hadn’t done much research at all on it beforehand. The weather was awful, but the city was beautiful. I arrived there last Monday after a long day of travelling from Dublin. The flight was alright. Only about 2 hours, and I slept through most of it. Getting from the airport to my pension was a little more difficult though! I had to take a bus into the city, the metro through the city, and then walk from the metro station to my accommodation. Doesn’t sound too difficult, but, I have this inability to navigate public transportation. That mixed with a language barrier, and my complete ignorance/understanding of the Czech currency made the trip far less than ideal. But, I eventually made it to the correct metro stop! Hazzah!

And then I came out of the subway to find none of the streets had signs on them… What? Are you kidding me, Prague?! After 10 minutes of aimlessly walking in what was potentially the wrong direction with 30 kilos of baggage hanging off of me, I found someone to ask for help. She also turned out to be a tourist and had one of the incredibly handy tourist maps on her. Thank goodness! So, we figured out where we were (as neither of us actually knew) and where I needed to go. She was then so sweet and gave me an extra map she had.

Eventually I found my way to my pension. The owner was so, so nice and helpful. He had a booking mix up and told me that I’d need to switch rooms after the first night. That meant having to stay packed my first night, but it also meant a better room that first night, so, I survived. Unfortunately I was so exhausted that first day that I collapsed on the bed and slept until the following morning. Woops!

The weather was awful my first full day there, which wasn’t ideal. But I walked down to Old Town and saw a bit of it while the weather was still decent. I took a bus tour in the afternoon which wasn’t all that exciting (all pre recorded), but very informative. It took us around Old Town, New Town, and up to Prague Castle. It was downpouring by the time I got off the bus though and I managed to get completely soaked. I ran into a mall and had to buy a shirt and socks at H&M.

Some pictures from my first day:

The weather improved the next day. Still overcast, but at least not raining. I walked back to Old Town and over to Charles Bridge. And, to my surprise, there was a blue sky by the time I arrived!

The following morning I had to leave painfully early to catch a train to Salzburg. But, getting to the train station was far easier than the airport. One stop on the metro and I was there! I like when it’s that simple. When I got on the train I realized I’d forgotten to send postcards. They were written out and stamped, but I forgot to find a mail box! Therefore apologies to those of you who receive a Prague postcard sent from Salzburg!

Anyway, that’s about it for Prague. I took it easy, which I definitely needed at that point!

Ireland, Part Three

On Saturday Orla and I did a hop on hop off bus tour around Dublin. We also took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, an old Irish prison:

On Sunday was the highlight of Dublin: The National Leprechaun Museum. This place was insane! We got to climb around on giant pieces of furniture, have story time with a guide who looked very much like what I imagine a Leprechaun would look like, and colour. It was priceless!

Living like a leprechaun:

Our guide and the pot of gold:

Which Orla tried to steal. Tsk, tsk:

Colouring:

Framed and on the wall:

After that we wandered in search of cupcakes. It was harder than it sounds! Us on the Liffey:

Sadly, Sunday evening Orla had to return home. Aideen and I had a very nice last dinner in Dublin, and then I headed out early Monday morning. The flight to Prague was short, and I slept through it, so that was good. I didn’t do much after arriving yesterday, but saw quite a lot today. I don’t have pictures uploaded yet, but I’ll do a Prague post next.

Thanks for reading! And apologies on the multiple parts. It kept freezing when I put too many pictures in. Strange!

~Spencer

Ireland, Part Two

We hiked around the area, which was lovely:

Lying in the giant’s boot:

On our last day in Belfast we went for lunch at the Crown Bar, a famous pub in Belfast. They had little booth/rooms, which we so cool! And I had my first taste of Irish Champ.

On Thursday we headed down to Dublin. Bright and early! We arrived to the hotel too early to check in, so had to kill a couple of hours. When we went back there was still no room available, and since we were too exhausted to move, we sat ourselves down in the lobby. I think to get rid of us the desk clerk gave us the first available room, which turned out to be some sort of suite. Worked for us!

That afternoon we toured Dublin Castle:

The following day Aideen was kind enough to take us on a mini road trip into the country. I believe the entire area was called Wicklow, but I could be wrong. I know some of it was definitely in Wicklow!

Our first stop was a beautiful park with an old monetary on site:

After that we drove to Enniskerry (the town where P.S. I love you was filmed) for lunch:

And then we drove to a mountain region that was beyond gorgeous:

Continued in Part Three…

Ireland, Part One

Finally! An Ireland blog!

Sorry for the lack of updates. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks! Between non-stop touring, and a lack of Internet, blogging has not made it onto the agenda. Things have calmed down the past couple nights, so, here I am! In Prague, by the way. It’s rainy and cold, but still insanely beautiful.

Jumping ahead of myself though! Back to last week: I had an amazing time in Ireland.  We flew from Edinburgh to Belfast where we spent the next few days. Granted, we didn’t actually spend that much time in Belfast. Day one was a bit of a write off. Bumming around Orla’s apartment and some shopping. The following day, however, we rented a car. I was pretty terrified about this, since I was the one driving. Everything was opposite, roundabouts, miles, strange versions of automatic vehicles, no shoulders, rain- It was quite the experience! No, no, I’m making it sound much worse than it was. I think I did alright. On one or two turns I pulled into the wrong lane, but Orla quickly said something, and the roads were never busy.  Since we’d already been in the UK for two weeks, I’d been making a point to carefully watch which ways cars were driving. But by this time I was actually starting to confuse what I knew with what I’d gotten used to! It was a very odd feeling.

The car:

Anyway! The first day with the car we drove inland to the Marble Arch Caves. It was a good two hours, but I got to see a lot of the countryside, which was nice. And the caves were so neat! There was supposed to be a bit on a boat, but there had been so much rain that the water levels in the caves were too high, so we didn’t get to do that. It was still pretty cool though!

On the second day we drove a coastal road up to the North, which was incredible. We visited Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Giant’s Causeway, and thankfully the weather held out for both.  We were both getting quite nervous coming up to the rope bridge because it was very windy. But, the bridge was sturdy and not as long as we had expected (yes, yes, TWSS).

We were both very excited after making it across!

On the island the bridge crossed to:

Giant’s Causeway was amazing! It’s a rock formation on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It was so beautiful, and I’d never seen anything like it:

Continued in Part Two…

This One Time We Went To Scotland And Didn’t Meet Any Scottish People…

Okay, that’s not completely true. I think we met one, possibly two Scottish people. One was a tour guide who I’m not entirely sure was actually Scottish since was acting in character. But, anyway!

We just spent 4 awesome days in Edinburgh. We mostly wandered, seeing the sights, and in the evenings went to shows at the Fringe Festival. It was great. We saw two comedians, One Man Lord of the Rings, and an insane show put on by some drama students from Cambridge called When In Rome. We visited Edinburgh Castle and went on an underground tour. There was so much going on with the Fringe, it was almost overwhelming! Thousands of shows, street performances, and people everywhere. It was a great atmosphere. You could really spend weeks there during the festival and still not have seen nearly everything. We stayed at someone’s home, through Festival Beds, which was good. We were a little out of the way, but still walking distance which was great. Staying anywhere right in the city centre would be insane, price wise, this time of year. So, we were happy enough to walk!

The weather was lovely. We had rain a couple times, but overall it was great!

We’re in Belfast now. We’ll be spending the next few days exploring around Northern Ireland. I’m so excited! This is the first leg of the trip that’s new to me. Well, I did new things in London Edinburgh, but had been there before. Belfast is completely new! I’m looking forward to Giant’s Causeway and just driving around the coast.

Today we’re just taking it easy. We’re going to go to a local market and wander around some shops. I need sneakers from hiking tomorrow.

Better go get ready now though! Talk soon 🙂

~Spencer

And we’re off!

Ello, ello!

It’s our last few hours in London. So sad! But, we’ve had a fantastic time. We were able to fit in much more stuff than I was expecting, which is great. If anyone is visiting London I highly recommend The London Pass. It was so handy, and saved us a ton of money. Win, win!

On Monday we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, Downing Street, Churchill’s War Rooms, Harrods, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament.

(If you click the photos you can see larger ones)

St. Paul’s Cathedral: We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but it was gorgeous!

10 Downing Street: Orla’s unimpressed with David Cameron face

Inside Churchill’s War Rooms:

Westminster Abbey

Parliament

Shopping at Harrods

And, finally, the highlight of my day: Banoffee Pie! (Kidding, kind of. I’ve been waiting 5 years for this!)

I haven’t uploaded pictures from yesterday yet, but there isn’t much to see (didn’t take many pictures), so, no worries. We visited the British Museum (saw the Rosetta Stone, and some original columns and plaques from the Parthenon), the National Gallery (Renior, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Picasso, general awesomeness!), I had more banoffee pie, and then we went to A Conversation with Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish BFI centre, which was great. Edgar Wright is a director (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and most recently, Scott Pilgram). The show was so funny. I’m really glad we went.

We leave in few hours for Edinburgh. The weather is gorgeous in London, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we have the same luck up there! It’s the Edinburgh International Festival, so there’s a lot happening in the city right now. Should be exciting! Maybe we’ll spot some celebrities. I think Angelina Jolie drove by us the other night as we were eating dinner. We were a few blocks away from the Salt premiere, and a car drove by with papparazzi chasing after it.

Anyway, I should get packing. My things are a mess at the moment.

We won’t have Internet, I don’t think, until Sunday. So, talk to you then!

~Spencer

London, Part 2

It has been a busy couple of days here in London! I’m pretty exhausted and I probably won’t be too detailed in this post. But, I have pictures!

Saturday, August 14th

We started the day out by walk to Trafalger Square, visiting an info centre there, and grabbing some breakfast:

We then took the tube up to Nothing Hill to visit the Portobello Market:

We then took the tube to Earl’s Court to visit one of the city’s few remaining Police Public Call Box’s (Because we’re enormous Doctor Who nerds. Don’t judge!):

After that we got on the tube again and went to Picadilly Circle and wandered around. We then strolled over to Buckingham Palace:

After that we wandered around some shops, got some dinner, and walked along the Thames at night:

Sunday, August 15th

This morning we walked to the Globe Theatre and took a tour:

After that we walked to the London Bridge to go through the London Bridge Experience and Tombs. It was terrifying! I didn’t get any pictures since they weren’t allowed.

We then walked down to Tower Bridge:

Followed by Tower of London:

And finally a 2.5 hour cruise down the River Thames. I took too many pictures and can not decide what to post! I did get a picture of the 500 year old pub where we had dinner:

We have another busy day tomorrow, so I really need to get to sleep. I’m so tired! But feeling great.

Hope everyone is doing well!

~Spencer

London Calling!

Greetings from Londontown! After a long and somewhat painful journey, I finally made it! Exhausted, cranky, and sore, but, still, here in one piece!

The trip did not start off well, unfortunately. My bags were too heavy and I was charged quite a lot to check them. Thankfully the guy working at the counter was very nice and lied about the weight to save my about $45. That made me feel a bit better, until my debit was declined when I went to pay for the baggage charges. Not what I want to hear when I’m about to board a trans Atlantic flight!

Can I also just mention how much I absolutely hate Toronto Pearson Airport? It’s ridiculous. I kept getting turned away at security lines because my gate wasn’t in that section. Fine, but there’s no signs telling you that you need to enter from certain ports for certain gates! And then, of course, I misread my gate as C23, instead of C32, and start to panic because C23 doesn’t appear to exist! Good news though, I used my debit to purchase a bottle of water and it worked. So, I was relieved about that.

I also forgot how much I hate trans Atlantic flights. Long, and cramped, and noisy, and just, ugh. Not fun. I had a window seat though! Not that you can see anything at night over the Atlantic, but, it meant I didn’t have to get up to let the people next to me up. Which made me happy enough.

My view this morning. I wasn’t able to sleep much, but the clouds were lovely to watch this morning. And then of course they start playing Two and a Half Men on the cabin televisions. That annoyed me more than it should have. But, I know a lot of you understand ;).

I had some more stress once getting to London, including getting on the wrong train (the ticket checker on board was very nice though! He didn’t fine me, and told me what to look out for next time.), and having my Visa not work at the hotel. I’m hoping it’s just their machines. I’ll try it out somewhere tomorrow. The last thing I need is to be here with a Visa card that doesn’t work!

I’m feeling much better now, I’m happy to report. I got the hotel, napped, showered, and wandered around for a bit. I just picked up some dinner, and am anxiously awaiting Orla’s arrival. If she ever makes it! Her flight was delayed, so I hope she isn’t stuck too long.

Anyway, I took a few pictures today on the Waterloo Bridge:

Today is pretty overcast and cool, but, since I can’t stand the heat and humidity at home, I’m loving it! I can’t wait to explore the city again. I can’t believe it’s been over 4 years since I was last here. I’ve missed it! Tomorrow Orla and I are going to Portobello Market and possibly starting a hop on, hop off tour. It’s funny, for all the time I’ve spent in London, I’ve never done most of the touristy things. I’m excited! So long as my Visa works…

I think that’s about everything from this end! Hope all is well with everyone!

Cheers, Spencer

The Final Countdown

Two weeks to go! I think I’m just about ready. I have everything pre-booked, confirmations are printed, tickets are waiting, money is exchanged. I still need to pack, but no need to get on that one quite yet! Thank goodness. I’m loathing that bit. Six weeks in one backpack? Major stress occurring with just the thought of it!

I’m not sure that I ever posted a finalized itinerary. I may have, but I don’t remember and can not check! Either way, it’s a new blog, so whether or not it’s been posted before is quite irrelevant.

Where I’ll be going:

England -> Scotland -> Northern Ireland -> Ireland -> Czech Republic -> Austria -> Germany -> Italy -> Northern Ireland -> Spain -> France -> Sweden -> Finland -> England -> Home

The trip will take 6 weeks and I’m insanely excited!

The next two will weeks are going to be quite hectic, so I don’t imagine I’ll be getting the chance to blog before then. That, and I likely won’t have anything exciting to blog about! Everything is booked, so posting a blog to tell you that I purchased travel insurance doesn’t really seem necessary. Heh.

Anywho, I’ll be leaving on Thursday August 12th, and will land in London on the 13th. Talk to you then!