It was last December 2015, me and my travel buddy Ai went back home for a two-week holiday. We went to Palawan, and after UK. It was supposedly a Japan trip, but Kris whom we travelled with in Turkey suggested for us to to all go to England and see Banksky’s Dismaland at Somerset. It was supposed to be in September of the same year, so we each got our visas. Then at the last minute, Kris’ said she couldn’t come because she’ll be busy at work. Ai and I were dismayed, but what else can we do? So come December, our Japan trip was scratched off and we’re off to UK!
As usual, it was again another ‘amazing race’ kind of a trip. Our IT was jam-packed as ever and we roam around from, Manchester to London, Liverpool till Northern Ireland. We were supposed to go to Edinburg and Glasgow too but because we had so much fun at the Titanic Museum, we missed our flight!
We arrived at Manchester from Manila, we chose that flight because it was cheaper than going straight to London. Though we really had not roam around the city, at least we had a glimpse of it. We took a train from there to London. We arrived so late in the evening to our hotel. We dragged our luggages in the rain for it felt like days from the bus stop where we got off from the train station. It seemed forever to get to the hotel. I can’t remember arranging a hotel-airpot transfers in all of our travels. I love commuting even with a huge luggage dragging behind me as I pull it through the asphalt pavement and the rough cobbled sidewalks of my commute from the airport to the hotel and back as I leave the country. I feel that I experience the country more when commuting via trains, buses and walking rather than arranging an easy taxi ride or private car ride around the place specially if it is only within the city. Plus, in ‘first-world’ countries, the transport system are very very efficient.
I think we arrived at the hotel around 7 or 8 I can’t remember. Or maybe later, I guess. And when we arrived there, the hotel has no lifts!! I think almost all hotels constructed in old buildings in Europe don’t have lifts to preserve their authentic architecture. So there we were, with no bell boy to even help us, we snaked through the stairs to the very basement floor. The room was almost livable except for the filthy smell of it. Weeks before we came, the city was hit by a massive rain fall and became flooded for days I think. Hence the foul stench of the room that they gave us. I wondered if they gave us that room because we were Asians and came from a ‘third-world’ country and somehow they felt that we won’t notice. Were not as vain and rich as some and most of the westerners, but we know how to live cleanly and with the right amount of sanitation. We requested a new room, good thing they obliged. But no one cared to help us again with our luggage. And they are heavy as a boulder! As a citizen of a tropical country, and a resident of Dubai, the only winter we know is roughly until 16 degrees Celsius. Which is the peak of summertime in most of Europe, some probably colder. So there we were, not knowing what to wear, we really don’t own any winter clothes so we thought layering is best. Like 5 or more layers of cotton clothes! But we are getting better in packing clothes for cold places of our trips now.
We arrived 31st of December. A few more hours and fireworks will be displayed at the River Thames near the London Eye to welcome the new year. Unfortunately, we missed it. Dang! Because we were so tired from our 12-hour or so flight and the non-stop travel till we reached our hotel, we immediately laid down and snored. I woke up hours before the fireworks. Took a shower and was ready to see the display. But Ai wasn’t budging from her sleep!! I was trying to wake her up but as usual, she’s dead rock. I can’t do anything so I slept my frustration away. I knew we will miss it. And we did.
January first, we went to see Stonehenge. It was a rainy day. Well it was for the rest of our trip. I thought we could get near the Stonehenge. That is just in the middle of a field which anyone can just come and have a photo with it. But no, it has been protected and there’s an organized tour where you can get a ticket to see it. After which we roam around Salisbury and saw the Salisbury Cathedral.
January second, we went to Abbey Road Studios. Of course as a Beatle fan, I needed to have a photo crossing that famous pedestrian. And so were the other tourist. We were creating traffic, it was ridiculous. But I enjoyed it very much. Then we headed to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to see the Prime Meridian. In the evening, we went back to see the rest of London. We rode the Eye, crossed the London and the Tower Bridges, ate at Borough market, met an old colleague from the Philippines at the station near the Big Ben. I admit, it was a very short stay and for sure, we have yet to see lots of the city. Hopefully we could have another chance someday.
On the third day, at dawn, we took a bus ride to Liverpool. But we were a bit early at the bus station. So we decided to walk to Westminster Abbey to have at least one photo of it. But it was a bit far from the station so we took a taxi and asked him to take us there and at the Palace front gate. We went to the Palace first. We just got a few photos because we immediately saw the guard inside coming forward the gate which seemed that he wanted us to stop taking pictures. So we ran towards the taxi in frantic. Next stop was Westminster Abbey. As we arrived, we got off the taxi as soon as it stopped. We immediately took like a million photos. But then the driver called our attention. He pointed to the other side, informing us that we are taking pictures of the wrong building. How embarrassing!!!!! So we got like five photos max I think, and headed back to bus station. We boarded the bus and onto Liverpool we go.
At the Liverpool bus station, we have no idea where to go, but we wanted to go to where the Beatle Story exhibit is. So, we wandered a little, found two employees of the station and ask. They said the exhibit is at the Abaduck. So off we went.
When we arrived at the venue, we saw a signage. It says, ‘Albert Dock.’ Oh my gulay! Another embarrassing moment for us. When we climbed in the taxi, we said to go to Abaduck. For some bizarre reason, he understood it. What a thick accent they have!
The exhibit was awesome.
Later that evening, we took another cab to the John Lennon Airport for Northern Ireland. But before we go to the airport, the taxi driver was kind enough to drive us around and stop at John Lennon’s house with Aunt Mimi, Penny Lane and the Strawberry Field Cemetery to take some photos. It’s a pity we didn’t see the city at day time. John Lennon’s childhood home they said was open for tourist during the day. But a photo at the front gate was good enough for me.
Next stop Belfast.
I think we planned to visit Belfast in just a day. I already forgotten what’s the itinerary is, but the plan was to go to the Giant’s Causeway and a tour on the way to where the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series film set are. But the first day, the tour offers only the Causeway tour. It rained almost the entire day. It was gloomy and it was difficult to sight-see.
We thought the Belfast tour is over. The next day I was still under the weather since the Palawan trip, so the following day we stayed at the hotel all morning. And our flight was in the evening same day. Before we headed to the airport to Scotland, we stopped by at the Titanic Museum. It was almost closing time when we arrived and only a few hours from our flight but still we saw it. And it was amazing. Even though I got disheartened when we missed our flight.
So back to our hotel, we booked another Giant Causeway tour and this time with the Game of Thrones tour too. And it was sunnier this time around.
Then it was time to head back to Dubai.