Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brugge, Belgium: 5 July 2009


When i was in Asia, going to Europe sounds romantic and extremely expensive. But since we are staying just in UK, going to Europe is just like going from Singapore to Malaysia. Nothing 'grand'. However, due to the weak pound stirling, traveling in Europe is indeed more expensive than UK.
This is supposed to be our honeymoon. In consideration with the overall cost and others, we decided to drive from Scotland to as far as Czech Republic and camping all the way. It proved to be quite a good decision. The car did not break down :), we got lost sometimes, but always managed to find our way later. We really had fun, eventhough our 2 weeks journey was not a luxury Europe trip that people would expected for honeymoon.
Well... the 'homework' and preparation for such a DIY trip is very essential. We found all the campsites that we wanted to go and then printed out Google maps for the direction to go from one city/campsite to another. We also had to find out about the driving requirements of different country, such as are our driving licenses accepted and what are the traffic rules. Eg: In Czech Republic, one has to drive with the headlights always on, eventhough it is day time.
We search for visa requirements as well, eventhough we knew that, likely both of us do not need any. This proved to be an extra works, since border crossing by land in Europe does not have border control anymore! We were assuming that, there would be some kind of border control for non-EU citizen, as like in airport, but the fact is, everyone just drive through the border, overpassing the now empty border control offices. The only border control we got is from UK to France and France to UK.

Note: After more than one year of traveling around, we are gradually not very keen in pictures taking. We didn't even use up our 2GB memory card for camera in 2 weeks. I think, after a while, all places look alike, especially in Europe and we enjoy more to soak in the atmosphere rather than snapping around. :)

Our trip started from Scotland. From the last experience, it took us 12 hours to drive from Wales to Central Scotland. So this time, we decided to break our journey to London at The Lake Side District, Morecambe.
Our car is so old that, we do not really mind about it. So we chopped our vegetable on top of the car booth and sometimes even cook on it.

Chocolate, Channel, Romance ...

The only thing that came across my mind with Belgium is: chocolate. That is all i knew about this country. i don't even know that, people here speak Flemish and/or French as their first language. When i left the country, i knew, besides from chocolate, this country has delicious Belgian waffles (gaufres) as well. :)

Chocolate in different shapes, designs, tastes ...

Brugge is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and the largest tourist attraction in the country. Canals carve their way through rows of stone houses.

The dizzying 88m Belfort towers high at the center of town, presiding over the handsome square of the Markt.

The Burg Square is dominated by he flamboyant Gothic facade of the medieval city hall. Around, there are many restaurant and bar for dinning.

Small enough to be thoroughly explored by short walks and lined with the gorgeous canals, Brugge is best seen on foot. The best nightime entertainment is wandering through the city's romantic streets and over its cobblestoned bridges.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Isle of Skye & Inverness, Scotland: 26-27 June 2009

The Inner Hebrides

Skye or the Isle of Skye, is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is often described as the shining jewel in the Hebridean crown. Skye is one of the top three tourist destinations in Scotland besides from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The drive from where we stayed to Isle of Skye was around 6 hours. It was a long ride but yet scenic and pleasant. Along the highway, there are many viewing points where people can stop the car and enjoy the scenery.

The island's capital, Portree, in the northern side. It has busy shops and attractive harbor.
We did camping at a campsite a few mile from the town.
In Summer, the day was so long here that, we woke up at 3.30am, been waken by the sun and thought it was already 9am.
We had to leave the camp at around 8am, as the tent was scorching hot under the sun.

The beautiful harbor is still in used with fishing boats and fishermen busy with their own business, while the eager tourists taking pictures.

In the island, traffic is not that heavy and there are many sheep walking around, sharing the road with the traffic users.

Loch Fada, Trotternish, looking towards The Storr.

We made a loop around the Northern part of the island and passing by Uig, a town in the sheltered bay and also the terminal for ferries to Lochmaddy and Tarbert.

No visit to the Highlands is complete without the sighting of the highland hairy cows.

Inverness, the Highlands Capital

The name Inverness is Gaelic and translates as 'mouth of the river Ness'. This is the city where you will pass by or visit, in hunt of the Loch Ness monster.

Inverness Castle.

The River Ness flowing through the city.

We drove around the other side of Loch Ness in search of Loch Ness Monster or Nessie and to avoid the crowd at the other side.
Loch Ness is large, deep .... and very cold.
It was a bravery to try to swim in it, but unfortunately, without the sun, it was just too cold to even try to deep one's feet, not to mention to swim.