The bank holiday weekends in May are always welcome since it means an extra Monday of holidays and a relatively shorter week, even for an investment banker! Ashwina and I decided to visit Kew Gardens and Kew Palace early May. This was one of the many places we had in mind given our Historic Royal Palaces membership. We were joined by Vincent and Indrita.
Kew Gardens is located about a short walk from Kew Gardens Underground station which is the second last station on the District Line and good hours journey from where I stay in London. There are four gates where you can enter from and the Victoria Gate is the closest to the station. However, given the size of the line, we decided to enter via the Lion Gate which is around 5 minutes away.
Kew Palace is located within the gardens. However, since the gardens and the palace are managed by different entities, our membership does not cover entry into the palace. However, it doesn’t cover the entry to Kew Gardens, which means that you still need to pay to enter. There are several attractions in Kew Gardens and we decided we would try to cover as many as possible.
I grew up reading Enid Blyton‘s series of books especially Famous Five and Secret Seven. And, one thing that is common to them all was the country side.
During my trip to Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye, I got a taste of the Scottish countryside and it was befitting that we visited the English countryside as well. A few of my regular readers might recall that I married Ashwina last February and to celebrate our anniversary, I took the week off from work.
Ashwina came up with the brilliant suggestion of taking a trip to Dunwich Heath which is located in Saxmundham which lies on the east coast of England. So, we made our way on Monday of this week via train from London to Darsham via Ipswich.
Darsham was the closest train station to Dunwich and when we reached there we were a bit surprised to see a very deserted station. The big taxi signs painted on the cafe in front of us were hard to resist and we ended up booking a taxi to take us to the Coastguard Cottages at Dunwich Heath.
We were at the cottages in around 15 minutes and the drive there was a teaser for the splendid view that was to come as we reached.
In spite of being in London for nearly 3 years now, I applied for a Schengen visa a few months back. To open the visa you’re required to visit the country your applying from and what better place to visit than France and isn’t Paris the romantic capital of the world!
So, Ashwina and me planned a three day trip to visit Paris the week before Christmas. Paris is a little over two hours from London with the Eurostar and it is a comfortable trip from St. Pancras International to Gare du Nord.
We stayed at Hotel Le Petit Paris, which is just close to the Panthéon. We reached there late in the afternoon and being December, it was also starting to get dark. We went off to Montparnasse Tower and went up to the 59th floor to get a glimpse of the whole of Paris including a beautifully lit up Eiffel Tower!
After we had sunk in the Paris lights, since we weren’t ready to call it a night, Ashwina and me took a walk down the beautifully lit Champs-Élysées past the Christmas markets to finally reach the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a long long walk and if you’re as unfit as I am, then it feels even longer…
Post this we headed back to the hotel, grabbed some dinner at an Italian restaurant close to the hotel and then called it a night.
When we had visited Scotland back in September, we used to get up early in the morning. This time we decided to take it a bit easy and actually got out only at lunch time.
Remembering names of restaurants in Paris is definitely not my strong point, but we did manage to get a good lunch at one just opposite the Panthéon, which was our first museum visit. Ashwina tried her French skills to order the food while I nodded my head and pointed fingers at the menu 😉
Come new years eve, most people stop and take a look at the year that was past. I am no different. The end of 2010 also brings together the end of the first decade of the new millennium. And, what a decade it has been! And, what a year 2010 has been!
For me 2010 has been one of best years professionally and one of my worst personally (or so I think currently). I began 2010 with a clear future in mind. I had my usual 5 year plan ready, complete with a Plan B in place!
But, as they say, man proposes, God disposes, little did I know how my plans would all go for a toss.