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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Normal service will be resumed......

I'm interrupting my London 2013 posts to tell you that today I booked our next big holiday!   It's quite soon, September 15th, which means I can get excited about it straight away.  The map below shows the route we will be taking on the Rocky Mountain Railtour.

Rocky Mountain Railtour, map 

Here's our itinerary.

Day 1 London - Calgary - Banff

Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service® transports you from your front door to London’s Heathrow Airport and your scheduled Air Canada flight to Calgary. On arrival our coach transports you to Banff, set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and our hotel the Banff International.

Day 2 Banff - Lake Louise - Banff

Today we tour the surrounds of Banff and also visit famous lake Louise. Take a stroll by the lakeside and visit the Chateau, a luxury hotel, with cafes and bars to enjoy. This is Canada’s best known lake, renowned for its beautiful setting and magical view of the Victoria Glacier. Returning to Banff and our hotel, we are free this evening to discover some of the town’s nightlife that includes a good selection of restaurants.

Day 3 Banff - Columbia - Icefield Jasper

This morning we take the Icefields Parkway from Banff National Park. This stunningly scenic road links these two great parks, and for over 140 miles takes us through jagged mountain peaks and high forested valleys, passing emerald lakes and mountain fed streams, waterfalls and rivers. The halfway point is the spectacular Columbia Icefield, one of the biggest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Artic Circle. Here we take an included Ice Explorer ride on to the surface of the Athabasca Glacier( subject to favourable weather conditions). Your journey is lead by an experienced driverguide, who shares a wealth of fascinating information about glaciers, icefields and their impact on our environment. There is also the opportunity to safely step out onto the glacier and stand on this powerful ancient ice. Turning west we enter Jasper National Park; 4,200 acres of alpine forests, natural hot springs, white – water rivers, tranquil valleys and jagged snow-capped mountains. We drive to the centre of Jasper town and our hotel for the next two nights, the Chateau Jasper.

Day 4 Jasper

Today we enjoy an unforgettable journey to Maligne Canyon and then to one of the most photographed spots in the world, the breathtaking Maligne Lake. Here we may have the opportunity for an optional cruise to Spirit Island. We return to Jasper where time is free to relax and enjoy the town. This evening we have included a dinner.

Day 5 Jasper - Kamloops

This morning we have an early start to board the Rocky Mountaineer train for what has been called the most spectacular train journey in the world. Your journey offers an exhilarating range of scenery as you pass by Mount Robson, the expansive glaciers of the Albreda Icefields and the Pyramid Falls. Travel through the snowy peaks of the Monashee Mountains and then follow the Thompson River before arriving into historic Kamloops, the gateway to the Interior of British Columbia. Your accommodation in Kamloops is arranged by Rocky Mountaineer.

Day 6 Kamloops - Vancouver

Our second day aboard the Rocky Mountaineer and another exciting journey of stunning vistas awaits us. You will see dramatic changes in scenery, from the desert- like environment of the interior, through winding river canyons and forests surrounded by peaks of the Coast and Cascade Mountains, to the lush green fields of the Fraser River Valley. Highlights include the steep slopes and rock sheds along the Thompson River and the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon. As the end of our journey draws near, the skyline of Vancouver is soon in sight. On arrival our coach awaits to transfer us to our hotel, the Coast Coal Harbour.

Day 7 Vancouver

This morning we have arranged a short orientation tour of Vancouver. After this you are free to explore at your leisure or join our optional excursion to Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge. In quaint Gastown you will find many interesting shops, caf├ęs and restaurants. Chinatown is well worth a visit to experience the bustle of this always exciting area of the city.

Day 8 Vancouver - Victoria

This morning we drive to Tsawwassen, to take the ferry through the glorious Gulf Islands region with towering Douglas Fir trees climbing the hills on all sides to Swartz Bay. We continue to the world famous Butchart Gardens, reclaimed from a limestone quarry in 1904 and now a riot of colour and fragrance covering over 30 acres. These beautiful gardens have long been one of Vancouver Island’s premier attractions and include Rose, Japanese, and Italian gardens. Later this afternoon we continue to the Victoria, provincial capital of British Columbia and our hotel the Executive House Hotel.

Day 9 Victoria

Today is free for you to enjoy and explore Victoria and its many attractions, shops and perhaps some of its colonial heritage, such as the Legislative Building and the Empress Hotel for afternoon tea. The evening offers a chance to sample the range of fine restaurants around the harbour.

Day 10 Victoria - Vancouver - London

This morning we leave Victoria behind and drive to Nanaimo, where we take the spectacular ferry crossing through the Strait of Georgia to Horseshoe Bay. There may be some time for last minute shopping in Vancouver before transferring to the airport, for your Air Canada scheduled flight to London Heathrow.

Day 11 London

Arrival at London Heathrow Airport where our staff will greet and transfer you to Titan transport for the journey home.


The tour company we have booked with, Titan, pick us up from our front door to take us to the airport and on our return they collect us from the airport and return us to our front door.  We have booked The Gold Leaf Service for the Rocky Mountaineer, for that extra comfort and luxury, you can see the details here.

We have read numerous reviews, which are all really good, especially the ones about Gold Leaf Service.   It's an expensive trip but it is one that MWM particularly wants to do (you know how much he loves trains) and as it's his 65th birthday this year I let him choose - aren't I kind?

So now we are waiting for all the paperwork, oh and we are waiting for our renewed passports, our passports were valid until February 2014 but as we have to have six months on them to travel we had to renew them.

If any of you have actually done this trip I'd love to hear your thoughts on it and if you happen to live in any of the places we will be visiting maybe we could meet up.   Any tips on what the weather may be like and what clothes would be suitable to take with us would be appreciated.

I'm excited!



Wednesday, 19 June 2013

London 2013 Part 1........

We had a fabulous time in London last weekend!   We travelled down by train from Manchester First Class for the 2 hour 12 minute journey to Euston Station.



We got a taxi from Euston Station to our hotel (The Caring Hotel) in Bayswater, our base for three nights, where we quickly unpacked.    After getting settled in we walked the short way to the nearest tube station (Queensway) to catch the tube to Oxford Circus to have a walk around and find our destination for that evening.  On the way to the tube on Leinster Gardens, just round the corner from our hotel, we noticed a terrace of houses that seemed a bit odd.






It's maybe hard to tell from the photos but on number 23 and 24 the windows and doors are blanked out, this is because they are literally just a facade.   When the underground railway route of the line between Paddington and Bayswater (opened in 1868) it necessitated the demolition of 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens, situated on a long, upmarket terrace of five story houses, and it was decided to build a 5ft-thick facade which matched the houses either side of the break, hence the facades.  You can read more about them and see photographs of the backs here.



When we got to the city centre the first place of interest we found was





and some Hare Krishna devotees dancing and chanting.






Our next stop was St. James' Tavern for some liquid refreshment, we didn't want to eat as we had already booked dinner at a restaurant but the food they were serving looked really good and very popular.



We finished our drinks and made our way to Grace Bar at 6 p.m. for a pre-theatre dinner, which we had booked as part of a package which included tickets to see Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre.   Our two course meal was delicious, I had a starter and a main and MWM had a main and a dessert - you can tell who has the sweet tooth. 


 Inside Grace Bar


We thought we had got a really good deal on the tickets for the show and the pre-theatre meal at £44 each, though the seats for the show were 'up in the gods'.  However when we arrived at the theatre they were offering upgrades on our tickets for £10 each to seats in the stalls, which we jumped at and ended up with the best seats in the house which should have cost £84 each!

 The stage at Prince Edward Theatre from where we were sitting.



 I can honestly say the show was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.!  The actor playing Frankie Valli sounded exactly like the man himself, the scene changes were effortless and amazing and the whole cast were superb!   If the show ever comes to Manchester we would definitely go to see it again, even MWM, who went to see the show for my benefit said he would like to see it again, it was that good.

Once the show had finished we had to catch the tube back to Bayswater but we called in a little pub not far from our hotel (The Leinster Arms)  for a nightcap, before retiring for the night.

Join me next time for sightseeing in London 2013 Part 2.


Monday, 17 June 2013

Signs....

 Sign  over a Gynecologist's Office:  "Dr.  Jones, at your cervix." 
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   In a  Podiatrist's office: "Time  wounds all heels."  

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 In  a Vets waiting room:  "Be  back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"  

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In  a Restaurant window:  "Don't  stand there and be hungry; come on in and get  fed up." 

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In  the front yard of a Funeral Home:  "Drive  carefully. We'll wait."  

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And  don't forget the sign at a 
RADIATOR  SHOP: "Best  place in town to take a leak." 
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Sign  on the back of yet another 
Septic  Tank Truck:
"Caution  - This Truck is full of Political  Promises"
  

On a  Septic Tank Truck: Yesterday's  Meals on Wheels 

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On  a Plumber's  truck:  "We  repair what your husband fixed."  

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 On  another Plumber's truck:  "Don't  sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."  

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On  a Church's Bill board:  "7  days without God makes one weak."
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At  a Tyre Store  "Invite  us to your next blowout."  

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On  an Electrician's truck:  "Let  us remove your shorts."
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In  a Non-smoking Area:  "If  we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and  take appropriate action.."  

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 On  a Maternity Room door:  "Push.  Push. Push." 

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At  an Optometrist's Office:  "If  you don't see what you're looking for, you've  come to the right place."  

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  On a  Taxidermist's window:  "We  really know our stuff." 
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 On  a Fence: "Salesmen  welcome! Dog food is expensive!"
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 At  a Car Dealership: "The  best way to get back on your feet - miss a car  payment." 

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 Outside  a Car Exhaust Store:  "No  appointment necessary. We hear you  coming." 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Off to London to see The Queen.....

We're off on our trip to London today, back on Sunday.  We have so many things planned starting with the theatre tonight to seeThe Jersey Boys.  We will be taking lots of photos whilst sightseeing of cours and  I will tell you all about what we do and see in the coming weeks.   We found out it's Trouping The Colour on Saturday, which we didn't realise when we booked the trip, so Saturday morning will find us with the throngs on The Mall and hopefully we will see the Queen!

See you soon.