England Trip, 2016: Leeds Castle

These photos are from my second visit to Leeds Castle (I had taken a tour of the castle back in the summer of 2014). This time, I was there for a Valentine’s Day wedding. Unfortunately, I had caught a terrible flu in London and was barely able to function, so I took far fewer photos on this visit, but I did manage to get a few outside and several inside, including pics of our awesome room. We spent the night in the castle, which was really cool, though I didn’t get to savor much of it as I ended up sleeping through most of my stay there . . . still, I’ll always be able to say that I slept in an English castle. 🙂

Click on any photo to open up a gallery.

View More Photos This Trip

London Trip, 2016: Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

These photos are from my stroll through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens up to Kensington Palace back in February of 2016.

Click on any photo to open up a gallery.

View More Photos This Trip

London Trip, 2016: Carnaby Market and Picadilly Circus

A few photos from the Carnaby pedestrian shopping market and Picadilly Circus (London’s version of Times Square), shot during my brief visit to London in February, 2016 for my sister-in-law’s wedding.

Click on any photo to open up a gallery.

View More Photos This Trip

London Trip, 2016: Buckingham Palace and St. James Park

Back in February of 2016, my wife Jen and I traveled to London for her sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, I fell deathly ill on the second night, forcing us to cancel a planned excursion to Bath. I had already visited Bath in 2014, but I wanted to take Jen there (since a trip to the Scottish Highlands was out of the question in the middle of February). Instead, I slept in our hotel bed on the third day while she walked around Picadilly Circus looking for medicine.

By the end of our trip Jen had caught the bug and was too sick to fly, so we had to extend our stay by a day at a hotel not far from Victoria Station. I was still recovering myself but felt well enough to do a little walking while Jen slept in the hotel.

The hotel was literally a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, so I walked around there, through St. James Park, and back along The Mall. I also visited nearby Westminster Cathedral and the Horse Guards Parade area. These photos are from that walk.

Click on any photo to open up a gallery.

View More Photos This Trip

Eurotrip 2014, Part 18: In Bruges (Briefly)

At long, long last, I’m sharing the final chapter of my 2014 Eurotrip, nearly three years after the previous installment. I suppose that I delayed this entry for so long because of how disappointing the day was. I had originally planned an extensive recounting of the problems encountered on this tour (which I alluded to earlier in this series), but in the end I decided it’s not worth it, especially since the company did give me a partial refund, so I’m just going to briefly summarize the events of the day.

July 13, 2014: We got a late start when we departed Amsterdam for Bruges because we had to wait roughly 30 minutes on the bus for our guide to arrive with the group from the hostel. When we finally reached Bruges, the bus driver drove around for another 20 minutes not knowing where to park. He eventually figured it out but then got into an argument with the guide about how much time we would spend there, which the bus driver apparently won. So by the time we finally departed the bus, we had already lost about an hour.

Then, after hustling to the center of the city, we were informed that we had to meet back at the bus in just over two hours. I was stunned. Two hours? What was the point of even stopping here? That was barely enough time to grab a bite to eat and run around to snap a few photos. I certainly didn’t have time to wait in line and climb to the top of the famous bell tower. To make matters worse, it was raining pretty heavily, so I decided to eat first in the hope that the rain would clear. For the most part it continued to rain, though it did finally clear during the last half-hour of my visit, so I hustled around to fit in as many rainless photos as I could.

Bruges had been the entire reason I booked this particular tour, so to barely spend any time there was a massive disappointment. Needless to say, I (and many others on the tour) felt a bit ripped off. On top of that, it was my last day in Europe before flying home the following morning, so an otherwise fantastic trip ended on a sour note, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Such is travel.

Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make a special trip to Belgium in the future so I can take my time and really experience this lovely city. In the meantime, here are a few of the photos I managed to take during my short visit. Click on any photo to open a gallery.

View more of my photos from Amsterdam and Bruges.

Related Posts:

Photo of the Day: Colosseum from Palatine Hill

Looking down on the Colosseum from the Palatine Hill above the Roman Forum. From here you can get a sense of how much it once towered over the rest of the city (to a large extent it still does).

Date: 10/19/2011
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ40
Click for larger view

You can view more featured photos at my Photo of the Day Collection.

Photo of the Day: Nymphenburg Reflection

This photo is from my second Eurotrip in 2009 (and second time accompanying my uncle’s German class as a chaperone). Since this was also my second visit to Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, Germany, I decided on this occasion to spend more time walking around the front of the palace so I could capture photos like this, with the palace reflecting on a pond full of swans.

Date: 4/6/2009
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FX8
Click for larger view

You can view more featured photos at my Photo of the Day Collection.

Photo of the Day: Lake Mondsee

This is from my very first Eurotrip back in 2007, a photo of Lake Mondsee in Austria, originally shot in color on my old pocket cam and converted to black and white. Keen observers will note that a heavily photoshopped version of this photo appears on the cover of my novel.

Date: 4/1/2007
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FX8
Click for larger view

You can view more featured photos at my Photo of the Day Collection.

Eurotrip 2014, Part 17: My Amsterdam Walkabout

It has been five months since the last installment of my Eurotrip journal (and two years since the trip actually happened), but we are finally hitting the home stretch with this penultimate chapter covering my one full day in Amsterdam.


July 12, 2014: My first morning in Amsterdam began with breakfast at the hotel, where I enjoyed American-style bacon for the first time on this two-week trip (bacon in the U.K. is more like ham). I chose to skip my tour group’s morning excursion to Zaanse Schans since we had not had the opportunity on the previous day to see much of Amsterdam. From what I’ve read, Zaanse Schans sounds a bit like a tourist trap anyway, so although it would have been neat to see the old windmills, I don’t feel as if I missed much overall.

Instead, I preferred to spend my only full day in Amsterdam exploring the city, so I began the long walk toward the city center from my hotel, which was located far outside the main part of the city. When I later spoke to other members of my group, they were stunned that I had walked all the way to the city center and back again–one guy said a taxi had cost him 26 Euros each way. But, as I’ve learned from my travel-savvy uncle as well as through my own experience, a long walk is the best way to truly experience a city.

Along the way, I meandered through areas with hardly any tourists and stumbled onto a large outdoor market where I was able to buy an authentic stroopwaffle. I also diverted my route to swing by an old windmill in town, so I didn’t leave Amsterdam without seeing at least one classic windmill. Between these diversions and numerous photo stops, it took me about two hours to reach the city center.

Here are some photos from my walk:

The walk back to the hotel took much longer than expected. For some reason, although I normally have a very good sense of direction, I kept getting turned around and walking in circles. Eventually, I found my way out of the circular city center and on the road back home. I kept looking for somewhere to eat dinner but nothing was striking my fancy, and before I knew it, I was back at the hotel.

I had been walking basically nonstop for five straight hours over hard surfaces on a hot summer day, so I was pretty beat and not feeling up to heading back out to look for somewhere to eat, especially since the hotel wasn’t really located near anything. So I settled for eating in the hotel, which turned out to be one of the worst meals I’ve ever had: a chorizo sandwich with such a thin slice of meat that it was basically like eating bread, and a bland appetizer platter which came out with raw ground sausage. I took a little bite just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me, but it was indeed raw. Perhaps it is a delicacy there, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

I then headed back to my room to pack, thus ending my time in Amsterdam. When I had first seen the city via cruise on the previous day, I hadn’t been overwhelmed, but it grew more charming during my long walk off the beaten path and into the old city center, then less charming when I reached the red light district. In the end, I was glad to have visited once, as it is a very unique city with its various canals, waterfront buildings, and heavy bike traffic (as well as some other amenities you don’t find in other cities), but I was already looking forward to the next day’s visit to Bruges, which, for me, had been the main attraction of this entire tour. Unfortunately, my time in Bruges would be mostly ill-fated, but that’s a story for the next installment.

View more of my photos from Amsterdam and Bruges.

Related Posts: