A Travellerspoint blog

Beginning of Scotland

Train through Newcastle by the North Sea and up to Edinburgh

semi-overcast 12 °C

My first real train ride from country to country and I loved it I can see now why Jordan prefers it. Its such a great way to see the country side and all the little towns along the way, it was fast comfortable and empty! I just bounced from booth to booth getting great views the whole way. large_4C3AE9682219AC6817FDE099D61E53F1.jpglarge_4C3EC95E2219AC6817E3C5154A829706.jpglarge_4C66E85A2219AC6817C8E37FD43D28D3.jpglarge_4C6B6A3E2219AC6817DA613D056CC2AA.jpglarge_4C6FFE882219AC6817E04C9FC611D7D4.jpglarge_4C7588702219AC68171F8AEBA5C83E04.jpglarge_4C79F7B82219AC68178FD94327939038.jpglarge_4C7F4A772219AC68173D4A64A7C2CA33.jpg
We got in around 5ish so we found a hostel and dropped our bags and headed to the Grassmarket an area of town that sits below most of the surrounding area, so everywhere you look theres streets above you with more amazing architechture, and the Edinburgh Castle is always in the background, somehow .
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Its filled with pubs restaurants, cafes and shops ,and it seems no matter what direction your heading, your walking up steps, then a hill, than more steps lol. The Grassmarket area used to be the main market area of the city for horse and cattle. It was also where the public executions were held. Theres a pub called The Last Drop, it was where people that were being executed could go for their last drop of whisky before they were hung.large_B3AACEF12219AC681741B536DDE0C5C8.jpg

We went straight to the White Hart Inn where Jordan used to work which is the oldest pub in Edinbugh, dating back to 1516, the cellar even older 1152. Robbie Burns himself and the poet William Woodworth were frequent visitors here.
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After walking around for the night we headed back to our hostel to have a cheap drink in the bar and went to bed early so we could get up in the morning for another full day. We spent the next two days touring around most of old town. We walked up to Calton hill and got some great views of the city.
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Went through some old cemeteries that were really interesting. The headstones and tombs that the rich were buried in were massive. We went on a 3 hour walking tour the next day as well, and learned alot about the old side of town. In some of the cemeteries huge cages that go 6 feet below ground were placed over the graves of loved ones because a common crime was body-snatching. The university encouraged people to donate their bodies for study by offering them around 10£ per body, which would only buy a couple of pints today but was equivalent to a years wages back then. Now because the bodies of the dead were technically no ones property, people were actually allowed to dig up corpses from the cemeteries and take them to the University for money. large_B58E1EA82219AC6817A77B3556FD7C9F.jpg
The city is stunning, its just history right in your face, everywhere you look. You can see it in London too but things are more refurbished and the stone is cleaned. I'm sure it is here too but everything just feels so much older.

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Every little building and pub (there are over 750 pubs in Edinburgh, and a population of 450,000) has a story behind it. Theres a pub called Maggie Dicksons, which is named after a woman known as 'Half-Hangit Maggie", she had a newborn baby that died and when Maggie tried to conceal the body she was accused and convicted of murder, which at the time was a capital pinushment. She was hung in the town square and pronounced dead. She was placed in a coffin and on the way to the cemetery, woke up. It seems she was not killed but had only passed out from the hanging. She was taken back to the town square to be hung again but the Judge had to think about the situation. Due to the law of Double Jeopardy which states a defendant cannot be tried and convicted of the same crime twice, the Judge had to let her go as she was convicted, sentenced to death, hung and pronounced dead. Maggie went on to live another 40 years and had two more children.
We also walked through some beautiful old parks. Always with a view of the castle of course. It seems to always dominate the skyline as it was built on such a massive hill. We stopped one day and had lunch at the Elephant House, a little cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter novels. large_5D6AEBDC2219AC68177323D06F5DD34C.jpglarge_B3F5ACE92219AC68177FB258A354F965.jpglarge_B3FAFD632219AC68170BFF1CD6932FD4.jpglarge_B404A3682219AC68176D7A7E6006DACE.jpglarge_B409C2652219AC6817D4429CD40D4BEE.jpglarge_270_B40E5AE72219AC6817F4B7282BF92DEA.jpglarge_5D31891B2219AC6817486A373019761C.jpglarge_5D39BC4B2219AC681700D1667CF91CDD.jpg
The city has completely blown me away and Jordan was quickly reminded of why he loved it here so much 9 years ago. Sad to leave this city after only 3 days here but we've rented a car to tour around the rest of Scotland, the Highlands and the Isle of Skye one of Scotlands most northernly islands.Not sure how our internet will be for the next week but we will be back in Edinburgh before the 18th of October to fly out to Amsterdam. Will do another update then! Bye for now!
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Posted by apolloandathena 04:09 Archived in Scotland Comments (3)

London

Buses, Beautiful buildings and Blood Pudding!

overcast 12 °C

We flew from Toronto directly to London, about a 6 hour flight through the night, with barely any sleep at all. We arrived at 10am London time in Gatwick, about an hour outside of London, took a tram to the city then two rides on the tube, an hour of walking with our packs and a 10 minute cab ride later, we arrived at our flat! Its in Camberwell a close burrough to downtown. Wikipedia tells me that theories say Camberwell once meant "Cripple Well" and that the area developed as a place where people from the city were expelled to when they had life threatening diseases like leprosy, for treatment by the church and the 'clean' using healing waters from the local wells. Neat huh?
Well its a beautiful neighborhood now and is home to Florence Welch the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Florence and the Machine :) large_F71C2FDE2219AC6817A1E8B144E2020F.jpglarge_F716D57E2219AC6817F24A6C71006C79.jpglarge_F712428C2219AC68172048C4E117BB74.jpg
The place is perfect and its just a 10 minute ride to downtown to see all of the attractions. So we headed that way after dropping off our bags. We seen Big Ben, the London Eye, Piccadilly and Oxford Circus, Trafalgar Square and more before nodding off on the buses because we were so tired.
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We went to bed early so we could get a good start the next day. We headed out to a little cafe down the street for a traditional English breakfast, Jordan insisting that I had to try Blood Pudding, which is made up of exactly what you think. Yup, coagulated blood and other things that make it taste similar to thanksgiving stuffing.
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We took the bus back downtown to the same area as the night before. We went to Big Ben againlarge_270_F772FBE12219AC6817E990BF06469D13.jpglarge_270_F777C9B52219AC68174A77AD27EE0198.jpglarge_F7A4A3E92219AC6817BD1CD4969DABF1.jpg
Westminister Abbeylarge_270_F7907A2F2219AC68172158C2136ED118.jpglarge_F7A06D082219AC6817C7C01B74B490C1.jpg
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Soho shopping area, the theatre district, walked by chinatown, visited the National Museum in Trafalgar Square.
Buckingham Palace where the royal family resides.large_F7B6A2E82219AC6817C54B4EF415B537.jpg
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and much much more! We stopped for some free Wi-fi and green tea at a Japanese restaurant so we could get our plan made for tomorrow. We have a train booked from London to Edinburgh in the afternoon. Now that I'm done this entry were going to head back downtown for some more nightlife! Hope everyone enjoys their turkey dinners this weekend!

Posted by apolloandathena 12:24 Archived in England Comments (3)

Niagara Falls

Back on Canadian soil but not for long..

overcast 12 °C
View Adios Amigos! on apolloandathena's travel map.

We flew from Punta Cana into Toronto and rented a car there with Cam and headed to Niagara that night. Checked into the Hojo and headed downtown.large_F4B489ED2219AC6817E95EB655943371.jpglarge_F4BA28352219AC6817F5CB724AC7B3EF.jpglarge_F4BEE7C82219AC68175ABE31487FF1F3.jpg
We checked out the main drag which was full of people and nightlife. The little city was like an amusement park! Casinos, bars and tons of games and attractions like Ripleys Believe it or Not, Margaritaville, and Haunted houses. We called it an early night so we could get up early the next day and see as much as we could.
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The falls themselves were amazing of course.
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But the thing that impressed me the most were all the parks and old power stations that are now shut down. There were no tourists in these areas at all and were some of the most interesting sights of the day.
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The quick trip was well worth it for sure. We headed back into Toronto to drop off Cam earlier for his flight home said our goodbyes to our last familiar face and waited for our late night flight to London!
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Posted by apolloandathena 11:29 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Punta Canada!!

Palm trees, Rum runners, and lots of sunscreen

sunny 41 °C
View Adios Amigos! on apolloandathena's travel map.

Hi everyone!
Well we made it to the Dreams resort in Punta Cana safe and sound, just a little late and it was amazing!
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We spent the first few days on the beach relaxing before the bride and groom to be, Blair and Stacey showed up. They just spent the last 12 months traveling across 22 countries so it was very exciting chatting with them and getting lots of advice for our trip. They had 45+ people come for the wedding and it was so great getting to know all of their other friends and family. Only an awesome couple like these two could bring together such a great group of people! We couldn't be happier for you two!
The resort itself was so beautiful and the weather was a sweltering 41 degrees everyday with the humidex so we obviously spent most of our time either in the pool or in the ocean with a cold drink in our hands. I think we drank more rum in the last two weeks than I've drank in my whole life combined! Although it was our first all inclusive vacation I think it will be hard to top in the future. All the staff were so friendly and fun , the food was fantastic and the beaches were beautiful! I did get a chance to work on getting over my arachnophobia as there were several tarantulas hanging around the sidewalks eeek! I only got pictures of one and he was the smallest one we seen which was about the size of my palm and I think it was dead lol. ECF9CAD42219AC6817CBFAF6EACBEDF2.jpgED04556A2219AC68171F89B5DBD0449F.jpgED0BB1822219AC68171F630FAA9DB6B6.jpgED1260262219AC6817CF368420633B31.jpgED1A43052219AC68179501877D498FC4.jpg
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I also spent a day at the spa getting a full body deep relaxation massage and spending an hour in the mineral pools which was definitely needed after the last few stressful weeks leading up to our departure! We did a Marinarium excursion with about 8 others from our wedding crew which was also fantastic, we took a bus ride around to the other side of the island which faces Caribbean Sea, and from there hopped on a great big catamaran with a glass bottom and headed out to an area where we snorkeled for about 40 minutes, a first for both of us, which we loved and can't wait to do more of once we get to SE Asia. We swam with nurse sharks and stingrays in a closed off area, the sharks are a friendly breed and the stingers were removed from the stingrays which I think is kinda sad, although interesting none the less. Then the boat took us to some shallow waters along the coast and they fed us rum after rum after rum in the water and by the end of our hour in the water to no surprise, Jordan was singing Johnny Cash on the mic with the locals lol. large_F47CF3572219AC6817180C7B76DB641F.jpglarge_F48159FF2219AC68176135A32A4C6A1D.jpglarge_F4880DA72219AC6817BEBDAB0C90D079.jpglarge_F48ED80E2219AC6817967830EC40C4C3.jpglarge_F494E54A2219AC68177B566BA4E8F2D9.jpglarge_F49A68812219AC68176C684E7E689381.jpglarge_F49F22A42219AC68173EB41B3F162423.jpglarge_F4A3D0AB2219AC6817D8C9BDD363A27A.jpglarge_F4A8FB122219AC6817BA44D1F95240DF.jpglarge_F4AE9D752219AC681763005C1FB87F03.jpg
Both of us left the resort one other night for the Stag and Stagette, Jordan headed to a club called Mango with the boys and I went with the ladies to Imagine a club that was built in a huge underground cave. The whole trip was just what we needed and we enjoyed every minute of it. I am currently having some issues uploading my pictures but Im going to try again soon. When we left Punta Cana we headed off to Niagara Falls new post to come soon!

Posted by apolloandathena 11:13 Archived in Dominican Republic Comments (0)

So lost in goodbyes we forgot to leave!

overcast

Well we have already had our first travel mishap and we havent even left yet! Apparently it was not 16 days and counting at my last post, it should have been 15 days and counting! Yup thats right, we missed our first set of flights by a whole day!

After an emergency phone call to Westet at 4:45 am yesterday morning, we waited a painful 12 1/2 hours to hear back from them regarding our options. With the help of our travel agent and a few others at Westjet Vacations and a whole day of rebooking 3 flights and two weeks at the hotel , we are back on track and leaving tonight! Only having to pay fees to have the flights switched for $150. I can't believe how accomodating Westjet was and we will praise that airline for many years to come!!

We have both promised each other to never miss a flight again and to always triple check our flight times!!
On another positive note, these extra two days have given us that extra time we needed to finish everything up and now instead of leaving rushed and feeling like we have forgotten something, we are 100% ready and waiting for our time to leave for the airport!

Thanks to our families yesterday for sending hopeful thoughts that everything would work out! Because it definitely did!

We are leaving at 8 tonight and should arrive in Punta Cana tomorrow afternoon if all goes according to plan! :)

Bye for now!
J and J

Posted by apolloandathena 08:25 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

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