UK: Stonehenge

It was early in the morning at Bayswater. We woke up early in the morning to catch the tube to Earl's court station where our tour bus gonna pick us up for a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. The day trip was operated by the Anderson Tours. We never really heard of it before but so happen that we found them out when we were surfing the internet. It is among the cheapest tour operators offering budget day trips from London :).

It was some 2 weeks ago that my mates started to talk about day trip in London to Stonehenge, Winsor Castle and Bath. I was not really interested at first and later I found out that since there is no particular destination that I would like to visit, so I joined them up for the trip as I think Stonehenge is worth visitign as it is one of the World Heritage site.

We arrived at Earl's court 8 in the morning to find out that most of the shops were not opened yet. As the pick up time was 9 am, we just walked around places nearby the station and grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich at the convenience store in the station. The coach arrived at around 8:50am and we boarded the coach welcoming by our very friendly tour manager - Alley. We then started our journey to Amesbury, where Stonehenge site is located at. Along the way, Alley explained to us some history about the Stonehenge. The journey took around 2:30 hours from London.

Destination:

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At the entrance to the Stonehenge, it was so crowded and I heard from Alley saying that there are thousands of visitors coming to the site everyweek!







Let me start with a little bit of history on Stonehenge. Stonehenge consists of a series of large rocks which were arranged in a circular format known as a henge (and where we get the name Stonehenge from). The first structure to be built at the site of Stonehenge was the circular ditch and outer bank round 3,000 BC. The first stones were brought here around 2,500 BC fro the Preseli Mountains in the southwest of Wales, around 220 km away from the site. The outer circle was completed around 1,500 BC and consists of the largest stones in the monument.



These stones weigh up to 50 tons each and it is estimated that at least 600 men were required just to move one of these stones. What you see of Stonehenge in the picture is just the remains of what would have stood here thousands of years ago. It is the most outstanding prehistoric monument in the British Isles and is a World Heritage Site.



Some 7-8,000 years ago the area was mixed pine and hazel woodland before becoming downland. The ancient people built the stone monument on the site to map the course of the sun and moon. It is the center of one of the world's earliest cultures. Being a World Heritage site, Stonehenge is protected for the benefit of future generations. Visitors are not allowed to go near the stones monument. This is to prevent further damage on the monument as thousands of visitors come to visit the site every week.









The heel stone.


It was kinda like out of my expectation that the Stonehenge is rather small. I always think that it is something very big in the size as most of the monuments would be. But that is it, nothing much I can complain about as pre-historic men created it with their primitive tools which will make the project a really grand one!

I am not surprised on how well the site was being managed. Given that it is one of the World Heritage sites, attention was all focus on how to preserve the monuments for the benefit of future generations. This is something that we should learn from them. Given that Penang's George town and Malacca were listed as the new World Heritage sites too, we should put in the same amount of effort to protect the historical buildings before they are all gone.

It was a really nice weather that morning other than with a little bit wind. Some random shots of the grassland at the Stonehenge site which I find it kinda mesmerizing :).




UK: Anfield Stadium @ Liverpool

As we drove away from Liverpool city, we were heading to our next destination before Manchester - Anfield Stadium! It is a legendary stadium and well known among all the soccer fans who is used to follow English Premier League. It is the home to one of the most successful English football club - Liverpool Football Club (LFC)!

Anfield stadium was located some 10-15km out of Liverpool city center. I could not remember exactly where it is located at but I do remember that it took us quite sometime to figure out the direction to the stadium after a few checks with some locals. We were told to go north out from the city and after we past a fly over then we need to keep left to spot for road sign board leading to Anfield stadium. We did exactly the same but ended up we round and round and lost in an industrial area. But after some searching around the areas, thank god that we finally found it :).





Out side of the stadium, I took a couple of pictures of the legendary stadium. I remember I was introduce to football by my father when I was 14 years old. We were watching a live broadcast of and FA cup final match between Liverpool and Manchester United. I never had any interested in football before that but high tempo of game play quickly attracted me. I noticed then that the game requires lots of teamwork, personal skills as well as tactics and that bring me to the world of soccer immediately. Although eventually Liverpool lost 1-2 to Man Utd, but since then Liverpool football club always be the one and only soccer team that I am supporting! (Although they haven't won any of the premiership title since 90's =_=")



The club had introduced a lot of world class players to the soccer world such as Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish in the 80's, Robbie Fowler, Steve Mcmanaman and Michael Owen in the 90's and in the big names like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Charagher now! Although many would say that the club is not as competitive as those like Man. Utd., Chelsea or Arsenal, but so what? This is what we called being Loyal! Yea, I am the Kop's fan!

We did not go for the traditional stadium tour due to time constraint. But we did manage to walk around it's museum and club store before we left :p.



The club store was full of merchandises like printed jerseys, tee shirts as well as soccer kits. As Christmas was drawn close, the store was decorated with christmas theme and the red christmas color match perfectly with the club's home kit color - RED!



All the merchandises inside the store were branded with Liverpool Footbal Club (LFC). Although it was a bit pricey, but I did get myself a tee as well as a bag soccer training kits for my brother (who is also a LFC fan). It was really costly - 32 pounds for the 2 items!





We left the stadium after some shopping and walked towards the parking to get our rented car. I spotted something at the back of the stadium - the giant Carlsberg beer cans! Carlsberg, the world's best known lager beer, is the major sponsor of the LFC for as many years as I know. Yea, you will always see a Carlsberg logo printed at the front of the Liverpool jersey, be it home or away kits :).



We headed backed into our car and drove our way to our next destination - Manchester city, leaving the Anfield Stadium behind to fade away from our back mirror. Yes, I have made my childhood dream comes true! I have been to the Anfield although I was not able to go on the pitch :). It was a real good day!

UK: Liverpool City Tour

It was my third week at Nottingham. As usual, weekend was approaching and we were discussing where to visit in the coming weekend. Few ideas pop up - Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester as well as Liverpool! Finally the plan was ironed out with some informal "discussions" between few of us. Our final plan was to drive to Liverpool on Saturday and visiting Manchester together with Peak District on our return journey back to Nottingham.

Direction:

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As our plan was a free and easy kind of weekend trip, we decided to rent a car and drive our own way to the Liverpool. First problem we encountered when we started our journey was that we lost in Nottingham itself, finding it hard to move our way out from the city. Man, that was real hard. I always think that rented car should be installed with GPS as it is meant for tourists like us who is new to the place. Well, we were not fortunate enough to get our's with GPS though. So we ended up with the old way of navigation - map & compass.

It took us some 3-4 hours to arrive finally at Liverpool whereby we made a stop at Derby for lunch. As of Derby, it was just a small town neighboring to Nottingham with nothing interesting though. But yet, we still lost our way in the town after driving thru some housing areas which was very disorientating as most of the buildings look the same. But anyway, thank god that we arrived at Liverpool safely that evening :), though it was a little late...

Slowly Liverpool city was emerging in front of us as we were driving towards the city center.


First glance of the city...


So, we were in a foreign city and without any sense of direction. We decided to park our car and to walk around the city by foot in search of budget hotel for that night. It was a windy evening with a little drizzle, I had no idea where I was heading to but just keeping my mind optimistic that we will be able to get a room somewhere.

After some 20 minutes walking without knowing where we were heading to, I gave up and grab someone on the road asking for nearest budget hotel or hostel. He was a kind lad and pointed me the direction to the nearest budget hotel that he knows. Thank you so much mate! I was so lucky to have met you else we would have to travel to Manchester as we were finding it hard to spot for a budget hotel.

After we checked in to the Ibis hotel which was located right opposite of the Albert dock facing the river, we decided to head back into the city center for a walk. Below are some of the pictures I have taken during my night walk around the city center :).











A beautiful fountain found in front of the city square, with a beautiful monument as it's background.



Just a short history of Liverpool, it is a port city at Merseyside of England. Historically it was a part of Lancashire, the urbanization and expansion of Liverpool were largely brought about by the city's status as a major port. By the 18th century, trade from the West Indies, Ireland and mainland Europe coupled with close links with the Atlantic Slave Trade furthered the economic expansion of Liverpool. By the early 19th century, 40% of the world's trade passed through Liverpool's docks, contributing to Liverpool's rise as a major city.

Early in the morning, I was having a walk at Albert dock so snap a few pictures of the Merseyside river.




There were plenty of shops around Albert dock for touristy shopping. I was enjoying my souvenir shopping there and got my father a Beatles's tee. The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, who became one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. From 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). I was not lucky to have visited the Beatles's Museum which was located at the dock as well. It was not open until 11am but it would be too late for us as we needed to check out from the hotel and head to Manchester city the next.





Inhabitants of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians but are also known as "Scousers", in reference to the local dish known as "scouse", a form of stew. The word "Scouse" has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect. Liverpool's status as a port city has contributed to its diverse population, which, historically, were drawn from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, particularly those from Ireland. It draws immigrants from all over the world. As a symbol of the Chinese community over here, the China town was built right at the center of the town.





We had done our last city tour by driving around the town after checking out from the hotel. The
Liverpool Cathedral marked our last stop at the city center and we head out town straight to our next destination - Anfield Stadium :). Hurray!!!

UK: Bonfire @ Nottingham

It was an ordinary Thursday at Nottingham. Suddenly my mate came to me and started to talk about an annual event in Nottingham - Bonfire for Guy Fawkes Night. It is an annual celebration in Great Britain on the evening of 5th November. The event marks the downfall of the Gunpowder plot of 5th November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes who attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London. The Festivities are centered on the use of the fireworks and the lighting of bonfires.

We got off from work around 7:20pm and quickly rushed back to town to catch a tram to a nearby recreational park - The Forest. It was a windy night with a little drizzle. That marks my first time taking a tram in Nottingham and I was double charged for my fare =_=". It cost me 5.60 pounds for a return ride which will only costs half of the price actually.

Upon arrival to the park, we were walking towards the direction where the spot light was. In the middle of the picture we can see that the bonfire was lit up. Photos below were taken from my mate Marcus as I did not bring along my camera that night :). Thanks a lot mate for your photos contribution.


The overall setting at the park was more like an amusement park as there were lots of rides and other entertainment attractions assembled for the public to have fun.


A game that you can win one of the dolls if you hit the target on the dart board :). 2 pounds for 3 throws, pretty expensive right? I remember that I used to play these kind of games in the fun fare at my hometown when I was a kid, nice!


Bonfire was lit up on a foundation of blocks of woods. Public are banned from walking near to the fire, fences were put on to stop the people from getting close to it. It was burning fiercely there in the middle and it kept everyone warm from the never end drizzle and chilly wind.


Soon around 9pm, the first firework was lit up and that marks the long awaited fireworks session.


Please check out the video on how beautiful the fireworks were that night!
video

video

The fireworks session lasted only for some 20 minutes. We left the place once the fireworks session was over as the rain was getting heavier. We managed to reach catch a tram back to city center afterward. It was a wonderful night with some beautiful fireworks. I was really having fun although it was a little too crowded for me as I don't really like to hang around crowded place. Thank you to all my mates who suggested and invited me along to the annual celebration :). Cheers!

UK: London City Tour

Just to share with everyone the few places I had visited during my trip down to London. This post is more like a random guide to places of interest in London :).

St. Pancras is a the terminus of East Midlands Trains linking London with east midlands cities such as Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. It is a major railway station in United Kingdom which is also the home of the Eurostar train, the default the gateway for your transit to other part of europes.


The statue of John Betjeman in the station, celebrating his role in saving the station from demolition whereby in the 1960s the station was seen as redundant and was about to be closed down. Attempts to close down the station by government provoked strong and successful opposition which was led by John Betjeman.


The station is well celebrated for it's Victorian architecture which is listed as Grade 1 building. The station is located at Euston road in between the British Library and King's Cross Station.




Out from St. Pancras, the King Cross station is the nearest Underground Tube's Station. The London Underground or Tube is a rapid transit system connecting up London and neighboring areas. It is one of the most sophisticated underground rapid transit station which was built up of a total of 11 lines. It has a total of 270 stations and a roughly 400 km of track, making it the longest metro system in the world by route length. Each of the trains of different lines are well defined in different color-code. This was designed in such a way to make it easier to identify the different lines. As shown in picture below, a red line is the Central Line which is operating between west and east bounds neighboring areas cutting across the center London.


The classic red telephone box in London. It was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The telephone box is colored in red to make them easy to spot. It had become one of the classic thingie in London as you can see miniature model of it being made as souvenir key chains as well as fridge magnet :). For those who had checked my souvenir's page will know that I have bought a couple of it too.


As you all know, London is really a world class city and it could have been a city of entertainments. London offers some of the world's best theater and musicals, from West End favorites to cutting edge productions.You will never gonna run out of activities in the city.




Trafalgar Square is a square in central London, England. With its position in the heart of London, it is a tourist attraction; and one of the most famous squares in the United Kingdom and the world. When the square was first built in 1845, the fountains' primary purpose was not aesthetics, but rather to reduce the open space available and the risk of riotous assembly. They were originally fed by a steam engine behind the National Gallery from an artesian well underground.


The Nelson's Column in the center of Trafalgar Square, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. Statues and sculptures are on display in the square, including a fourth plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art, and it is a site of political demonstrations.


The National Gallery of London, it was founded in 1824 and houses a rich collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900 in its home on Trafalgar Square too.




The red double-decker buses are commonly seen at London down town :).




St. James's Palace is one of London's oldest palaces. It is situated in Pall Mall, just north of St. James's Park. Although no sovereign has resided there for almost two centuries, it is considered the most senior royal palace in the UK and gives its name to the Royal Court (the "Court of St. James's").


War memorial monument.




The Monument to the Great Fire of London, is a 202 ft (61.57 metre) tall stone Roman Doric column in the City of London, England near to the northern end of London Bridge.






30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin. It is a skyscraper in London's main financial district, the City of London, completed in December 2003 and opened on 28 April 2004. It is 180 metres (591 ft) tall, with 40 floors. Its erection symbolised the start of a new high-rise construction boom in London.


Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly. In this context a circus, from the Latin word meaning a circle, is a circular open space at a street junction.




A very busy shopping street - Regent Street. Even at night time around 9pm you can still see the crowd walking along the streets doing shopping. A huge variety of goods are selling there and you will easily spend the whole day walking around this place. There are just too many shops for you to visit one by one and I bet you will never be able to finish in a day :). Just too many!