To state the obvious, Switzerland is beautiful. Everything is chocolate box cute. The grass is so green; the mountains stunning and scenic. The cities are in equal part architecturally beautiful, and achingly hip (in Zurich’s case – who knew?!).
But it comes at a price. Switzerland is Freakin Expensive!!! A meal for two in a middle of the road Mexican restaurant (I mean it was nice but not posh, not that it was in a central reservation 😉 ) in Zurich was 77 CHF (around £50). Continue reading →
… So said my Dad, although I don’t think he was the first one to say it – I think it was Samuel Johnson. Anyhoo, it is a fair comment. There’s a lot to do and see!
One of my favourite places in London is Southbank, by the Tate Modern. The Millennium bridge (which was a laughing stock when it was built as it was wobbly and they had to close it) is fabulous. The view of St Pauls and the towers of the City, against a brooding sky is stunning. The Tate Modern is cool (and free) but you do get searched on the way in which is a faff, especially if you’ve traveled a long way and you have a suitcase with you, which they insist on looking inside!
Also along the River Thames is the London Eye. In my view this is really overpriced at £19.50 for an adult. But if you can afford it, it’s a fantastic thing to do once-in-a-lifetime. Continue reading →
Let me start by saying I did not take to Dubai. It is what I imagine you would get if you had zillions of pounds and decided to buy everything imaginable and plonk it in a desert. It was very hedonistic – you can stuff your face with ice cream all day, eat pizza, shop til you drop, and even do skiing or ice skating in a mall. If you have money to spend, there are a plethora of places to spend it.
Everything is the Biggest and the Best. We saw the Biggest gold ring in the world and then we went to the Biggest Mall in the world, which is next to the Biggest building in the world. Inside the Biggest Mall in the world is the Biggest single screen aquarium in the world. I was a bit sick of it by the end and longed for mediocrity – why can’t a mall be “average” or “OK”?! I guess I’m not coming from the right mindset, coming from a country where there is a book series called “Crap Towns” (and “Crap Towns 2”, because there were too many to fit in the first book!) Continue reading →
If I had to sum up Hanoi in 3 words it would be (1) humid, (2) motorbikes, (3) bustling. Before I went, a colleague told me about her trip to Hanoi– she met two British ladies there who were too scared to leave the hotel because of all the motorbikes everywhere! My colleague ended up taking them round with her, or they’d have stayed in the hotel all week! I thought this was ridiculous – surely even if you’re not brave enough to cross a road, you’d be able to walk around the block on the pavement? Now, I still think it’s ridiculous, but less so. I do kinda understand where they were coming from. The motorbikes are everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. They are coming at you from all directions, often on the wrong side of the road, sometimes on the pavement, and normally packed with people. It is not for the feint-hearted!
We learnt a few tricks:-
To cross the road, don’t bother stopping on the kerb, looking around for traffic, and when it is clear, crossing. You’ll be there forever! Continue reading →
Money will always be a sensitive subject. Many people have asked me how we have afforded our travels, including colleagues who were much more senior, earning around twice what I did. So I thought I would de-mystify this a bit. This blog should perhaps be called “how we did it”, rather than “how to do it”. The simple answer is we earnt money, we saved money, and we didn’t spend money. And crucially, we decided to spend our money on travel. Continue reading →
From Beppu we meandered our way back to Tokyo, stopping at Kyoto again along the way. By this stage we had found that the easiest way to find a hotel for the night was to call into the tourist information at the train station. We did this at Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kagoshima and Beppu. In all cases, tourist information was friendly and spoke English. They also had great links with local hotels and could phone through for you to check availability and the hotel would hold it for you. This system worked well in every city, so we thought we would try it in Tokyo. We expected to find the tourist information office in the station, like all the other cities…. Guess where we found it? That’s right … one train stop away from central station, in a building opposite the train station, on the 16th floor. Hmmmmm. I have no idea what the reasoning behind this is. Maybe their strategy is to focus on helping only the most determined tourists?… 😉
After that, we did struggle to find a hotel. I won’t tell you how many hours we spent walking around looking for one with availability that we could afford. I would definitely recommend booking ahead.We celebrated our last night in Tokyo (and our last night in Japan) in style, visiting a sushi bar and trying out kareoke in one of the private Kareoke booths – this was AMAZING! Continue reading →