Category Archives: Europe

Staying at Mercure Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel & Spa, UK

During our  2-week trip to the UK, we stayed in a lot of hotels, and yet, one of the hotels that I really liked would have to be Mercure Warwickshire. After spending the whole day touring around Chester and Stratford upon Avon (blogging about that soon!), we headed to Mercure, which is just 8 miles from Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

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The view from our hotel room. It overlooks the parking lot actually, but you can also see Walton Hall from here.

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

One of the places I’ve really taken a shine to when we went on our UK trip was Glasgow, particularly the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. Before our trip commenced, I already looked at all the sights and places that we were going to and even before seeing it in the flesh, I already knew that Kelvingrove was going to be a favourite of mine, and I was right!

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My first glimpse of Kelvingrove.

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From Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, we caught a glimpse of the University of Glasgow.

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You may think that this is the front, but this is actually the back of the museum! A popular myth about Kelvingrove is that the building was built the wrong way, while another myth is that the architect committed suicide here by leaping from one of the towers. As most myths usually are, neither of the two is true. Way back in 1901, when Kelvingrove first opened its doors to the public, the main entrance was at the back as visitors came from Kelvingrove part, but fast forward to today, most visitors now enter from the main road located at Argyle Street.

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Exploring Edinburgh, UK

I didn’t really expect to fall in love with Edinburgh – before the start of our trip, I thought that I would moon over London, but that wasn’t the case. Edinburgh was the first stop on our trip; as our flight arrived at 8 in the morning, we immediately got to explore Edinburgh, as well as made a quick stop at Rosslyn Chapel. We were only able to stay in this beautiful city for a day, but I think that we at least saw some of the important sights to be seen here like Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, and, of course, Edinburgh Castle. Too bad though that we weren’t able to go to the Elephant House, where Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, wrote the books while enjoying the cafe’s coffee and cake.

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So as soon as our plane landed at Edinburgh Airport, after getting through customs we were fetched by our coach driver and we headed into the city to start our tour. We first fetched our guide, and then we were off to Rosslyn Chapel, which was quite a drive (around 30 minutes) from Edinburgh, and after staying there for a while, we drove back to the city, went to Calton Hill, and then had lunch. After lunch, we went to Holyrood Palace (which I’ll probably have a short post about it up sometime soon!) and then Edinburgh Castle – on the way, we were greeted by this.. This creature. Haha, I honestly don’t get what it’s supposed to be! 🙂

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A shot of the castle I took while waiting for our tickets. The structure is massive! Images of Game of Thrones popped out unbidden in my mind when I finally saw it for the first time. It doesn’t help that Edinburgh Castle stands on Castle Rock – Castle Rock.. Casterly Rock? Lannisters! I don’t even know anymore, haha.

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La Tasca, London

For our last lunch in London, we ate at a Spanish restaurant. Weird, I know, I mean, shouldn’t we be binging on fish and chips and other English delicacies? Well, not that we could help it – that’s what’s included in our itinerary. So, before heading off to Leavesden to visit the Warner Bros Studios (will write a post about this soon!), we stopped by La Tasca first.
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La Tasca’s a chain of restaurants in the UK that serves traditional Spanish tapas, paellas and desserts. I love the quirky and colourful walls.

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Madame Tussauds, London

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum that has a lot of other branches in other parts of the world, although, the only other Madame Tussauds I’ve ever been to was the one they have in Hong Kong – but that was ages ago and I could barely remember our visit to be honest. Anyway, Madame Tussauds was included in our itinerary and it’s one of the attractions in London that we visited before we headed off to the airport and back home.

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Fashion Week at Madame Tussauds. There’s also a makeshift runway in this part of the museum where you can have your photos taken. Anyway, a not so good photo of the wax figure of Kendall Jenner. 😀

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The London Eye, United Kingdom

Aside from the Big Ben and the iconic red telephone booths, one of the most famous icons of London would be the London Eye.

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The London Eye, or also known as the Millennium Wheel, is a giant Ferris wheel located on the South Bank of the River Thames.  Back in 1999, it was considered to be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel as it is 443 feet tall and the wheel has a diameter of 394 feet. Though these days it does not hold that title any longer, it still is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, and according to its operators the Eye is still ‘the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel’, as unlike the taller wheels built in Singapore and Nanchang, it is supported by an A-frame on one side only.

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A Visit to Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

On our first day in the UK, we visited various places, one being the Palace of Holyroodhouse, or what is more commonly known as the Holyrood Palace. It’s the official residence of the monarch whenever she comes to Edinburgh, and it has been the home of royalty for over 500 years.

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The entrance to Holyrood Palace – we spotted Merida, haha!

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Unicorn! The national animal of Scotland. 😀

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Snapshot: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Around less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, we arrived early in Glasgow. Our coach driver said we were lucky as according to him, there’s usually quite a traffic jam from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

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We were off to a pretty early start, and we began our short walking tour at around 9 AM. The streets in Glasgow was almost deserted, save for a handful of people that crossed our path. I almost thought that this was the norm until we headed to George Square and there were tons of people everywhere.

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Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, London

Another food review post! This time of our dinner at Hard Rock Cafe our last night in London. 😀

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Hard Rock Cafe’s located in a really pretty building. As we waited for our turn to be seated, I couldn’t help but notice the long lines – and the fact that the place was really full of locals too.

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Saw this quirky sign and couldn’t help but snap a photo of it. 😀 Anyway, we didn’t go in the front entrance – there didn’t seem to be any seats left there, but we went inside the side entrance that had a set of stairs leading down to the basement level – which was pretty cool. Although, even there, the place was jam packed! Seeing so many people there, I can’t help but look forward to our dinner. 🙂

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Snapshot: Gretna Green, Scotland

If you love reading cheesy English period romance novels, then you’ve probably read of Gretna Green where heroines of these types of novels are often swept away by their suitors and would head off to Gretna Green – often this is done in haste, and in secret of course. Growing up, I’ve read a lot of these types of novels (Hello, Lisa Kleypas novels! I still vaguely remember a character called Daisy lol), and when I saw that Gretna Green was part of the places we were going to see during our trip to the UK, I have to admit that I was a tad bit excited to finally see the famous Gretna Green often mentioned in the really cheesy novels that I read years back!

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This is one of the sculptures that you can see when you arrive at Gretna Green. It’s a 13 foot sculpture of clasped hands and its called the ‘Big Dance’. This can be found in the sculpture garden of the World Famous Blacksmith Shop. The meaning of the sculpture is more or less open to interpretation, but with Gretna Green being known for marriages, I think that most people would interpret it as the coming together of a couple. Well, this is how I see it anyway.

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