February – A Review

February had been a momentous month for the blog. As you may be aware I had purchased the domain name and I am now blogging as midifewanderlust1965.com. With this I also introduced a brand new look. So far I have received positive feedback.

With the new look there will be some changes. Gone is the monthly stats post. To be honest who is really interested in reading about the number of visitors I receive. Moving foward I will use the first post of the month to review the previous month.

My main travel in February was to visit London to attend “The Times Destination and Holiday Show.” I also had to amend my travel plans for 2014. Given that I had to replace my washing machine, my planned trip to Lisbon in March has been cancelled. Instead, I will be visiting Portugal in June. Also, I have revised my Baltics trip. Sadly, logistics mean that I will have to drop Helsinki from the itinerary. This problems of having to mix work and travel.

Confirmation of the flight to Porto

My plans for March are to travel some more in the UK. So I will be travelling to Leeds, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and London. Also I will be further planning my Baltics trip in September.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo Essay – London

These are some photos from my visits to London in 2013.

Statue of John Wesley
Liverpool Street Station

Brick Lane
Outside Buckingham Palace

As you can tell some of the photos are not of the obvious places you would see. I look forward to visiting London more in 2014.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

The Royal Baby and the World

Well, this has been an extraordinary week by the standards of the UK. Sporting success in the form of the England cricket team trashing the Aussies and Chris Froom winning the Tour de France. However, it is fair to say the only story in the UK has been the birth of the royal baby. You would have thought that nobody else had given birth given the news coverage.

I come to this post as somebody who is really not too bothered about the Royal Family. After all, I suspect they are not too bothered about me. It is the reaction of the rest of the world that interests me.

I received the news of the royal birth while on my way home from work. When I switched on the TV I would have expected that the BBC, ITV and Sky to be over the story like a rash. It was when I started to watch the other news networks that I got the biggest surprise.

CNN were broadcasting from outside Buckingham Palace. It seemed surreal to see Christiane Amanpour conducting interviews as though it was gossip. She was born in London so I could forgive her for that. I switched to France 24 and they had wall to wall coverage. Talk about forgotten history. We have always had a love hate relationship. Turning over to the next channel Japan's NHK World and it had the royal baby, the same with Euronews. It was only when I switched to Al Jazeera that I found a station that was broadcasting other news.

I feel this says a lot about the UK and how it is seen by the rest of the world. London is a hub for visitors from around the world and the royal family with all its history, glamour and tradition is the magnet that draws them over. Those visitors who were in London last week will have had an experience never to be forgotten. This is why the birth of Prince George of Cambridge made news around the world and mattered to a lot of people.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

When Things Do Not Go To Plan

During my travels I have been lucky not to experience many problems.  Sure, there have been some narrow escapes but nothing that could have been catastrophic.  This was until my last trip to Budapest.  The scenario being I was going to return to Vienna by coach on Friday 12 March.  Ticket had been booked for some time so there should not be any problem.

Reality however, proved to be different.  Snow had fallen during the night and with the day being a national holiday in Hungary the police made the decision to close the roads in and out of Budapest.  This meant my coach was cancelled.  While a little shocked I was not unduly worried.  I did not need to be in Vienna until Saturday for my coach back to London. My coach ticket was changed free of charge and I could book another night at the hostel.  I saw this as a bonus.

Saturday came and the snow was thawing.  Surely no problem.  However, I was proved wrong.  Without an explanation why all coaches to Vienna were cancelled.  I was told my best bet would to take a train instead.  The only problem I had, was where was the train station.  Nobody at the coach seemed to know which I found to be odd.  Eventually somebody told me which stop I should head for.

My heart was in my mouth as I was hoping I had enough money for a train ticket.  Fortunately cost of rail travel on mainland Europe is a lot cheaper than the UK and I managed to board a train to Vienna and caught my coach back to London.  For an hour though I was travelling by the seat of my pants.  I was not in control of the situation.  This was the first time something like this had happened to me.  Though I suspect it will happen again on my travels.

So what will I learn from this situation:-

  1. Do not lose your temper at the staff.  They delivered the news and are not the cause of the problem.
  2. Take 5 minutes to assess the situation and weigh up your options.  They might be staring in front of your face.
  3. Research your destination.  Find out where all the transport hubs are located.  The more options, the better chance you have finding a positive outcome.
  4. Ensure you have access to emergency funds for this type of situation.
  5. Chalk it down to experience.  You have something to tell your family and friends about.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Vienna & Budapest – Day 1, 6 March 2013

Well the day has finally arrived, I am about to leave for my trip. Since Christmas this has been the only thing on my mind. I am so ready for it to begin. I managed to get some sleep the night before. It meant missing the Man. U and Real Madrid game but I was not that bothered. I heard that United had lost and Fergie was not happy. Nothing new there.

The taxi came and dropped me to the coach station. So far, so good. While I was waiting for my coach I could see the departure getting later and later. This was beginning to concern me. After all I had a connection to catch. After a few more minutes I asked the information desk if they knew what the problem was with the coach. I was told the coach was held up in traffic congestion. At 2am I found that hard to believe. Then the coach suddenly appeared.

The journey to London went smoothly enough. I had enough time before check-in to buy a sandwich. Again check-in was not a problem and soon we were on the road. While on the coach I sensed that something was not right but I could put my finger on it right away.

Soon the coach was going through France and Belgium then it hit me. The coach does not have any seat belts. I was amazed as surely it would not legal to be on the road without them, especially in the UK.

The rest of the day went smoothly enough. Apart from getting stuck in the traffic in Antwerp. I thought a one-way traffic system allowed traffic to run smoothly. The coach found itself stuck between two trams.

Anyway tomorrow I will be in Vienna so I should try and get some sleep.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – Pall Mall, London

This week’s photo is of one of my favourite spots in London, Pall Mall.

DSC00288

The road leading up to Buckingham Palace is very popular during the summer.  On Sunday’s the road is closed to traffic allowing pedestrians to be able walk down the Mall.  It is a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep on smiling.

Steve

Checklist – Vienna & Budapest

It is now 10 days to go before my trip to Vienna and Budapest.  Now is the time to start preparing so not to leave anything to the last-minute.  So this is my checklist.

  1. Get my rucksack out of the cupboard.  I am sure that it will need airing before I use it.  I can also check for any holes that may have appeared.  I have had my rucksack for 13 years.  It has served me well. 
    Old Faithful Rucksack.
    Old Faithful Rucksack.

     

  2. Check the contents of my first aid kit to make sure that everything is still in date and replace where necessary.
  3. Transfer money to my travel cards.  This will be done during the week to ensure there are funds for the trip.
  4. Purchase some Euro’s.  I will be travelling to Vienna by coach.  I will need some refreshments along the journey.
  5. Pack the rucksack.  I am aiming to do this the weekend before I travel.  I do not want to leave this to the last-minute.  It is going to be an early start on the day of travel and I do not want to spend the time last-minute packing.  You always end up forgetting something.
  6. Get some sleep before I set off.  As I have already mentioned I will be setting off early.  I finish work at 17:00 and it takes me about 90 minutes to get home.  The aim is to have two or three hours sleep.  Must remember to set the alarm.
  7. Ensure all gadgets are fully charged.  This includes back-up batteries.  It is going to be a long journey so I need to keep myself amused.
  8. Ensure all tickets, passports and other documentation is packed.  I tend to double-check, even triple check.  The last thing I want to notice at Birmingham Coach Station is I have forgotten my passport.
  9. Arrange taxi to coach station.  Being a Wednesday morning this should not be a problem but I will have to book it early to be on the safe side.
  10. Finally, if the above has been ticked off then sit back relax and enjoy the trip.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve