Travel Theme: Transport

This week’s challenge from Where’s My Backpack is Transport. I give you some examples from the Lakeland Motor Museum, in the south part of the Lake District in England.

LLMBicycles

Motor Bicycles

Penny Farthings

Antique Bicycles and Pennyfarthings

Corgi Scooter

Corgi Scooter

Vincent Black Knight

1950s Vincent Black Knight motorcycle

Garage

Reproduction of a Garage from the 1930s

 

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DP Challenge: Weight

This week’s WordPress challenge is weight, or weightless, anything that might invoke the feeling of either. These photos make me and probably most people wonder how anything this size can get off the ground and fly. The first one is a plane I flew to London in a couple of years ago, quite a bit larger than the usual 767 that normally traverses the route from Toronto to Halifax to Heathrow. Lots of people, once they got off the plane, had a look through the windows of the terminal to see the overall size of it.

Air Canada's 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

Air Canada’s 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

This is the flight deck of the USS Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier that is now a museum in New York City, it’s deck lined with various types of planes and helicopters, including a wicked looking SR71 Blackbird “stealth” plane and some very cool fighter jets, all of which can zip through the air and defy gravity effortlessly.

Intrepid flight deck

A Word a Week – Transportation

This week’s Word a Week challenge is Transportation. I thought about finding some of the odder examples I could find in my archives but decided to post some photos from the Lakeland Motor Museum in the Lake District, England.

Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7, similar to the one that crashed and killed him

Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7, similar to the one that crashed and killed him. It’s a raceboat

LLMPennyFarthings

Penny Farthings

Lakeland Motor Museum

Lakeland Motor Museum

Vincent Black Knight motorbikes

Motorized Bicycles

Mini car!

TVR Cerbera Speed

WordPress Photo Challenge – Spring

This week, WordPress’s challenge is Spring.

Spring usually finds me or my partner on a jet airliner to see the other, either me to the UK, or him to Canada. This big bad boy took me to London in early April this year.

Air Canada's 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

Air Canada’s 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

Classic cars in the Lake District

Lakeland Motor Museum

Lakeland Motor Museum

When last we spoke, I described a nice road trip out for a day in the Lake District. We were last seen heading back towards Manchester in the general direction of Kendal where we could pick up the motorway nearby but went past a sign for the Lakeland Motor Museum. What a better way to end a road trip than to see a museum of classic British cars! We were very glad we decided to stop!

LLMPennyFarthingsWhat an excellent exhibit they have there! Dozens of classic British cars from right back to very early vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, a fire engine, an enormous Cadillac limousine, so many different kinds of vehicles. One area had a display of classic Vincent motorcycles from the 1950s and another had a dozen or more pennyfarthing bicycles with the huge front wheels.

LLMGarage1

Replica of a 1920s garage

They had some mock shop fronts with fashion and items from different eras, a mock up of a 1950s era café, an example of what a garage from the 20s might look like, crowded with tools and parts. There is a display of child sized pedal cars.  They als had some newer model vehicles but still considered classic or unique such as a TVR red race car, a DeLorean with the gullwing doors and several cars from the 1980s that Graham remembered driving or being driven in. That made him feel old! There are models and toys and more gas station and auto parts and product signs all over the museum. There are really odd looking vehicles and some classics. There’s a good vantage point upstairs where you can look down over the lower floor.

I absolutely love old cars and I couldn’t get enough of these! They really need more space. There are smaller vehicles squeezed in between and behind the larger ones and in other rooms they are mounted on walls and shelves and doubled up. Most of them have signs and many have information as well.

Bluebird K7

Bluebird K7

In another building they, too, have a display about Donald Campbell and his father, Sir Malcom, with examples of a few of their vehicles, cars and boats, full size, not just models. There are information boards and video to tell the stories. The vehicles were all named Blue Bird or Bluebird and that came from Malcom Campbell’s early racing days when his efforts were not very successful. He saw a play in London called the Blue Birds and as it was making money he changed the name of his vehicles and started winning. He designed a logo and painted the vehicles bright blue. Thus, in this part of the Lake District you do see a lot of references to Bluebirds (cafes, beer etc.)

There’s also a café there on the site though we didn’t partake as it was still quite a drive back to Manchester. We didn’t really get lucky with the sunshine though it didn’t rain at all. It was a little cool but pleasant. It’s always a nice drive up through the Lake District. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, though, avoid the Easter holidays and steer clear of Windemere and Ambleside as they’re the busiest spots. Grasmere is pretty though can also be busy. Keswick is a nice town, nearer the north part of the Lake area and there are lots of little villages and towns off the beaten track. It’s a popular area for water sports and walking and hiking the hills and countryside as well.

The two weeks in Manchester is done now. Over the two weeks, we’ve seen some interesting museums, lovely scenery and even seen the sun a lot more than I usually do while here in Manchester. It’s been nice catching up with friends, too. Tomorrow we’re up early and off to The Big Smoke for my last couple of days in the U.K.

Peel Trident Bubble car

Peel Trident Bubble car

Ground floor display

Ground floor display

1954 MG

1954 MG

Itinerary building – Accommodations

Abbesses Metro, Paris

Abbesses Metro, Paris

Step one: Book the main flight to the U.K. ….. check
Step two: Book the one way flights to Paris….check.

LeavingParisEurostarStep three:  Pick and book a hotel in Paris (five nights) and one in London (two nights).
Step four: Book the Eurostar Paris to London.

The Eurostar website won’t let me book their own hotels with the ticket as a package unless I book a return ticket. Too bad because you can get some very good package deals from Eurostar with a return ticket.

Requirements: Location, and budget. Budget is very slightly flexible, depending on what’s included we could go a little bit over if necessary. Wi-fi is a must and having a safe deposit box in the room that will fit the laptop is desireable. Breakfast included would be nice but not a deal-breaker.

In Paris, we were thinking of staying around the Opera district, the 8th or 9th district. We want it to be fairly central and we don’t want to be right on top of the train stations (Gare du Nord and Est) because I’ve heard that area is a bit rough even if the hotels are cheaper. Probably a good reason for it, you get what you pay for! The right bank of the Seine will be more convenient this time because we’ll be using Gare St. Lazarre for our day trips and leaving via Gare du Nord on the Eurostar.

I did look on the British Airways site to see if I could get a deal on Paris hotels with the flights but they were still all very expensive. Fail, B.A.

For London, I thought either near Euston station or Bloomsbury might be the most convenient as we’ll arrive at St. Pancras and G. leaves from Euston to go back to Manchester (oh, note to self, make sure he books that train ticket, too!) I will probably get a taxi to Paddington and then the train to Heathrow from there. The Canadian Dollar has taken a hit against the pound lately so hotels are going to cost a bit more than usual but the Euro is still a good exchange rate at this moment in time.

I have been scouring websites like Expedia, Trivago, booking.com and hotels.com, making notes of likely candidates and making the mistake of looking up the TripAdvisor reviews which only further confuses me unless overall it’s generally not so good. Reviews, as I’ve said before, are so subjective and you really have to read between the lines. A lot of people whine about small rooms. I can handle small rooms unless they’re like a closet. Were the rooms as dirty as some people complained when others have found it spotless? I am a bit skeptical of that one as am I about scattered reviews about rude staff. In my mind, it takes two and in general most hotel staff are professional, sometimes a bit business like, and often very friendly,  but never rude.

Yesterday, I visited the hair salon and after that, post-coffee break with some relatives I bumped into, went to the travel agent. The woman I usually deal with wasn’t in and I wanted to get this sorted so sat down with one of the other agents. I have her the list of possibilities but told her I was open to anything else she found that was in the budget range and location. They don’t always have the access through their booking agents to everything you could find online but often they can sometimes get better deals with their sources.

The Welcome Hotel, Paris. It's on the left bank near Odeon stop. Rooms were small, but not closet-sized and it was in a great location.

The Welcome Hotel, Paris. It’s on the left bank near the Odeon Metro stop. Rooms were small, but not closet-sized and it was in a great location.

One of the Paris hotels I’d noted was in one of those sources and she also found another one not far from it which I think I’d seen on my web surfing. She couldn’t book straight away. Some hotels through her booking system are “On Request”, that is, she has to request the availability and wait 24 hours or so until the hotel replies so she’s put in for that for these two hotels: My Hotel Opera St. George, and Hotel Opera Lafayette. I gave TripAdvisor a cursory glance and overall either sounds ok, they’re in our budget range albeit very slightly over the top end. Breakfast is included in both so I think that makes up for the little over-budget because you’d have to buy it anyway. I think we’d be happy with either one.

Ok, so we’re waiting for availability on those. Crossing my bits that at least one of them will be a go.  Next step: Eurostar. That’s pretty straight forward. I knew the time and the class of the ticket we wanted so it’s booked and pre-paid. Check.

Melia White Hotel, London. We bagged a great rate that time. Possibly through the Air Canada website, I seem to recall

Melia White Hotel, London. We bagged a great rate that time. Possibly through the Air Canada website, I seem to recall

On to London. Here’s where I ended up being delighted I had gone to the agent because what we ended up booking was far nicer that I would have found on my own.  I had given her a few names for hotels I’d chosen including one, a Hilton, that had been in the budget range earlier in the week but which, I thought, was a sale that had just ended. She came up with another name, and said it looked like she could get a very good rate. It was just a little over our budget but  it had free cancellation (barring a fee of one night’s accommodation and taxes) and a full breakfast buffet. The location is perfect, the hotel is a luxury four star and I didn’t hesitate. We’re staying at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton. I looked at the cheapest room through the website’s booking widget and we’re paying almost 25% cheaper than that. The equivalent booking on Expedia was a little more expensive again. Result! I never would have considered this hotel otherwise. Booked and prepaid! Check.

Yeah, that’s the other thing, most of the time you get the best rates if you prepay the whole thing. Often you still get free cancellation, sometimes with a fee of one night’s accomodation or even less. Sometimes, though, it’s non-refundable. If you have trip cancellation insurance that will cover you.

Once the Paris hotel is booked, we can book a rental car for the week I’m in Manchester because we like the flexibility for day trips, visiting mates and getting groceries and shopping. That’s pretty much the main items on the list, then we turn to a new list, our itinerary, both in Paris, the Paris day trips, London and things we might do while in Manchester. But that’s something for a future blog post!

Cee’s Black & White Challenge – Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles

I love classic cars and their curves and details often lend themselves well to black and white. Here are some I’ve found and photographed along with a couple taken on my travels of traffic and scooters in Paris and Rome. Most of the others have been taken here at home or close to home.

Cee’s Challenge

 

Quandaries

Here’s the quandary I’ve been tossing about in my head. We are planning to go to Paris from Manchester next spring. There are two ways of getting there and each has advantages and disadvantages. Cost wise and time wise, I don’t think they will be all that far part and both have some messing around and schlepping a big suitcase. We’re planning to do this on the second of the two weeks that I will be overseas and I will be leaving from London to come home at the end, that’s why I’ll have my full size suitcase. I am not capable of living for two weeks out of a rolling carry on size bag. It just won’t happen.

Method 1: Fly from Manchester to Paris, (early arrival at the airport). Go through customs and wait for baggage. Get to the RER train and into Paris, Gare du Nord (there should be elevators from the train to the concourse, right? Or escalators at least?) Taxi to the hotel because lugging a heavy case up stairs from the underground/Metro isn’t going to happen either.

Method 2: Take the train from Manchester to London Euston. Taxi to St. Pancras (I know it’s not too far but we’ll have that luggage to contend with which also leaves out trying to get underground tickets, dragging around on that and up into the train station. Taxi it is.) Get the Eurostart to Paris Gare du Nord and a taxi to the hotel.

Getting to London to Paris  will definitely be on the Eurostar.

The second way sounds like less messing but with both ways, there’s two legs of the journey, either plane to train or train to train, both ending in the same place. Time wise, probably the train to train will take longer, with each train journey a bit over 2 hours plus the time in between that you need to check in to the Eurostar terminal. Cost wise, hard to say. You can get fairly cheap advance tickets for the Manchester to London journey if you’re on top of things and the Eurostar can be fairly cheap too, with advance tickets.

Sometimes you can get good prices on the one way flights. But you have to be at the airport over an hour early, and then wait for your bags at the other end, hoping they arrive. Still, that way will probably take a little less time overall but then, the last time we flew to Paris, we were stuck waiting on the Manchester runway for over an hour and a half with a delay. Planes and trains both get cancelled but I think planes have more chance of delays. Can’t really use that as an excuse though.

Comfort wise, flying is cramped and crowded. The train in second class still has seats with not a lot of leg room but it’s perhaps a bit more comfortable. First class is nice if you can afford it! Perhaps lots of advance booking might get the Eurostar first class in an affordable range, not so sure about the British trains. I know I have signed up in the past for email notice for the cheap seats in second class when they are released but I can’t recall if they do the same for the first class seats.  I’m still kind of leaning to the train except that it will make the journey longer.

I get myself all in a tizzy over little details like this, long before I even need to think about it! My partner will just say he’s fine with whatever I decide.

The next tizzy will be choosing a hotel! That’s something for a whole other blog post!