Tokyo, Japan. My day using the Tokyo Free Guide service. 1

Tokyo Free Guide is a nonprofit volunteer service that offers volunteer guides who speak your language and live locally in Tokyo, so they can help you experience Japanese culture and local customs.  I first learned of the service from reading a Travel Blog online, and after some searching I found only great reviews, so I took the plunge and decided to give it a try! The website explains the application process which is really very simple. You just fill in an online form explaining about yourself and the priorities for what you want to see, and wait to hear back if […]

With Ryoko

Japanese lunch

Tokyo, Japan. Expanding my food comfort zone. 1

When traveling I like to try the local delicacies, street food or national dishes, but this has sometimes meant that I really have to push the boundaries of my food comfort zone as I am not naturally adventurous when it comes to food, especially unknown Japanese food.  In fact, I was so unadventurous that my Dad used to tease me about it!  So while in Tokyo I was determined to push through my nervousness because how can you really experience a Country if you don’t eat local foods I had read about Tempura and Ramen while doing my travel homework for Japan and I got the […]

Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent, England.

Hever Castle in Kent is a beautiful, romantic double moated castle, and once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. We visited on a cold morning in late December, with some fog still hanging in the air, which just added to the magical feel.  On arrival we were directed to park in the parking area that took us into the castle grounds via the Lake View entrance, and from there we could pay at a small kiosk that let you through into the gardens.  Between Christmas and New Year they had a special offer, […]

View of Hever Castle

Longleat House

Longleat Safari and Festival of Lights, Wiltshire, England.

Longleat Safari is set in the substantial grounds of Longleat, the beautiful Elizabethan stately home in the English County of Wiltshire, and the home of the 7th Marquis of Bath. He is apparently is quite a character and is a prolific amateur painter who has decorated rooms of his home with erotic scenes from the Kama Sutra!   The Estate is large with many farms and tenants, and with over a thousand acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown.  Part of the house is open to the public, though I doubt you get to see much of the erotic artwork, and back in 1966 it opened the first drive-though Safari Park outside Africa. […]

Berlin, Germany. Exploring western Berlin

Day 6. This was our last day in Berlin before flying back to the UK to see family later in the day.  We took the U-Bahn from the Zoo Station to the Sophie-Charlotte Platz stop and then walked along Schloss St to the Charlottenburg Palace.  As we approached the Palace it became apparent that it was undergoing some renovations as a big portion of the central part was covered in scaffolding.  This was a little disappointing for my photo taking opportunities, but there was still plenty to see so we brought some tour tickets. The ticket we brought gave us […]

Berlin, Germany. Exploring the City.

Day 5. This was the day I could put into practice all the things I had learned about getting around in Berlin – a day on my own to explore! I started by walking to the Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn station.  In the station I noticed a sign showing the name, but on a London Underground sign which intrigued me, so once home I looked up what this was about. Apparently the sign was donated by London Transport in 1952 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U-Bahn, and Wittenbergplatz station is one of the oldest stations in Berlin. I caught a […]

Berlin, Germany. Tour to Potsdam

Day 4. For today I had booked myself once again on an Insider Walking tour, this time a daytrip to Potsdam a town about 40 minutes south west of Berlin.  I met the group as before by the Zoo Station and this time our guide was Jamie who was originally from the Isle of Wright.  We went straight to the Station and boarded a train for the 35 minute or so ride to Potsdam.  Potsdam was designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1990 and it’s not difficult to understand why, as the city is very picturesque and has a fascinating history being […]

Sanssouci Palace

Berlin, Germany. Third Reich tour.

Day 3. Today my husband didn’t have to work which was nice and meant that he got to share some time with me and seeing some of the city.  He had decided that he was interested to do the Insider Walking Tour titled “The Third Reich” as he has always been interested in WWII and that part of history.  This proved to be more of a parking lot tour, as our guide told us after we started, as a number of the sites we visited are no longer there and we had to use our imagination when the guide was telling us what […]

Berlin, Germany. Insider walking tour.

Day 2. After eating breakfast with my husband, he went off to work and I headed out to meet up with my Insider Walking Tour group.  I figured that a walking tour would be a great way to get an overview of Berlin and help me find my way around, so today I was doing their Famous Insider Walk.  I had booked in advance online which got me a 10% discount, and this also saved me from having to pay on the day. I had also read about the Berlin Welcome Card, that gives you unlimited S-Bahn, U-Bahn and Bus […]

Apple Strudel

Berlin, Germany. Arrival and great dinner.

Day 1. Our trip to Berlin came about because my husband had a business trip that took him there, and so I got to go along to do some sight seeing while he worked. I know there is a lot of history in Berlin, but always thought of it as a very drab dull looking city, so I was hoping this visit would teach me otherwise! We arrived in the early afternoon via Tegel airport and got a taxi to our hotel, The Intercontinental Berlin which proved to be in a great location.  After getting settled into our spacious room […]

Cornwall, exploring The Eden Project and Tintagel.

Once again I was in the UK visiting family. I had driven down to the West Country (as us Brits call it) with my mum, to spend the weekend with my dear old school friend, Debbie, who had moved down there the year before.  Debbie actually was living in Bideford, Devon, close to the border with Cornwall,  so we just used her house as a base and drove southwest into Cornwall to explore. The Eden Project Our first day there was very rainy and dreary, so we decided it would be a good day to visit The Eden Project as a lot […]

Ely, Sandringham Estate and Cambridge.

While back in the UK to visit family I had made arrangements with some new friends to visit them for a few days at their home near Cambridge in the region of the UK known as East Anglia. I had hired a car, so left my family’s home in Sussex soon after 9 am in the morning and drove the just over 2 hour drive north to Brian and Janine’s home just north of Cambridge.  This involved driving anticlockwise around the M25 motorway and through the Dartford Tunnel which can often be a headache with bad traffic congestion, but thankfully […]

New York in December. Top of the Rock and Bryant Park

After a good nights rest in, my friend Vicky and I headed out in the morning for our second day in New York. Our first stop was to go up to the Top of the Rock, at Rockefeller Center, so we walked the 8 or 9 blocks there and purchased our tickets. We had seen the Rockefeller Centre Christmas lights the night before, you can see some of them in my other New York post. Once inside, there was a film what was cleverly incorporated into the wait time for going up in the elevators, then we went up to experienced the great views! We […]

New York

Grand Central Station

New York in December. Walking tour and Christmas lights.

My husband had business that took him to White Plains, New York, so I tagged along so that I could take the train down into Manhattan to meet up with a friend.  After arriving the night before at La Guardia, renting a car and driving up to White Plains, we had checked into our hotel, the Cambria Inn and Suites. So on this first morning by husband dropped me at the White Plains train station so that I could catch an express train down into the city, arriving at Grand Central Station in only about 35 minutes.  I’ve been a […]

Vienna, Austria. Wiener Schnitzel and other eats around town.

Weiner Schnitzel, a traditional Austrian dish of Veal that is breaded and fried, is a meal I definitely wanted to try while in Vienna.  I normally don’t eat Veal, but more for the ethical reason that I feel bad for the young cows, than because I don’t like it, but on this occasion I was OK with making an exception so I could try authentic Weiner Schnitzel. Stadtgasthaus Eisvogel close to the Ferris Wheel in the Prater is the restaurant where we got to try it. The Prater is a large public park that as well as plenty of green space, also is […]

Wiener Schnitzel

Front of Upper Belvedere Palace

Vienna, Austria. Belvedere Palace and Opera House tour.

To visit the Belvedere Palace we got on the U-Bahn and rode the train to the Sudtiroler Platz Station.  From here it was a short 10 minute walk to the Palace grounds.  The Palace actually consists of an Upper and Lower Palace which were built in the 18th Century as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736).   We were a little limited on time on this visit as my husband had a work meeting later in the day, so we chose to just buy a ticket for the Upper Palace only, which houses the impressive collection of Austrian art, […]

Day trip from Vienna to Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial

Although I knew it would be difficult, I have long felt the need to visit a Concentration Camp to show my respect and to also honour the victims who lost their lives in the many camps across Europe during WWII. When we knew we were to visit Vienna, Austria, I had discovered that Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial was within in reach for a day trip, so I booked my husband and myself up to do a tour with Vienna a la Carte Tours.  The cost was 148 Euros each for a full (8 hour) day trip, including the Memorial entry and Audio […]

Roll-call area

Morning Exercise

Vienna, Austria. The Spanish Riding School.

The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is famous for it’s Lipizzaner horses and their demonstrations of the ‘haute ecole’ or ‘high school’ movements of the classical dressage. The Lipizzan breed dates back to the 16th century, when is was developed with the support of the Habsburg nobility. They are born dark coloured but usually turn grey by the time they turn 6 years old, however, in rare occasions they stay dark brown or black. Since hearing about my Mother’s visit to the Spanish Riding School (SRS) when she was young, it had long been a dream of mine to visit, especially as […]

Vienna, Austria. Walking and exploring the city.

Our hotel had been selected for convenience for my husbands business rather than it being central for my site seeing.  But the hotel we ended up in, Das Capri, turned out to be in a great location between Stephansplatz and Prater, and with a U-Bahn stop almost directly out the front door!  The rooms and service were great and they served a fabulous breakfast buffet. We had arrived in Vienna around lunchtime, so on our first afternoon we decided to walk to St Stephen’s Cathedral which turned out to be a fairly straightforward 15 minute walk from the hotel (but we […]

View of Schonbrunn

Vienna, Austria. Schonbrunn Palace, Gardens, and Vienna Zoo.

Schonbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence of the Habsburg Monarchs in Vienna. It was built in the baroque style in the 1740’s during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa who was given the estate as a wedding gift, and has 1,441 rooms.  The Palace is one of the most important historical, cultural and architectural monuments in the Country and is a major tourist attraction. We arrived at the Palace by the Vienna Metro/U-Bahn train, and at the entrance decided on the Gold Pass as it gave us admission to all the parts we wanted to visit, including the Palace, […]

Vienna, Austria, Cafes, Cake and Strudel.

Since visiting Austria as a child, Apple Strudel has long been one of my favourite pastries. and so while in Vienna I made it my mission to eat plenty of it, along with the famous Sachertorte and other cakes as well! Viennese Coffeehouses and Cafes are known for their informal pleasantness and over the years they have acted as meeting places for many important writers, artists and philosophers. Although informal, they are often still elegant, with marble table tops and international newspapers at hand for the visitor to peruse while they enjoy the coffee and pastry of their choice. Aida Café […]

Cafe Central