AndromedHa

Hiya…

This early July, I had 2 weeks break from my full time job. Me and my hubby had an idea to do a road trip since we hadn’t really done a road trip before. So, we decided to have a trip to Banff. Total time driving from Vancouver straight to Banff is 10 hours! However, me and my hubby are not fans of long drive. Hence, we stopped approximately half-way from Vancouver to Banff on the way there and on the way home. Our itinerary is Vancouver – Kamloops – Banff – Kelowna – Vancouver. We spent 4 nights 5 days for our trips and we were exhausted by the end of the trip.

 

DAY 1 – Kamloops

We woke up pretty early on our way to Kamloops – 5.00 AM!!! Luckily, it was my hubby turn to drive – so I could have a little nap hahaha… We stopped at Tim Hortons to get a black coffee for my hubby and the strawberry glazed Timbits for me (OMG they are super goooooddd!). From Vancouver, we took Highway 1 East (Trans-Canada Highway) passing Langley, Abbotsford, Chiliwack, and Hope. It was just a straight boring highway so as you know, I fell asleep after eating my Timbits hahaha… Continuing the journey, we took BC Highway 5 North (Coquihalla Highway) passing Merritt and through some beautiful mountainous scenery! We arrived at Kamloops by noon – just in time for lunch. We planned to have Japanese for lunch at Eden Bento Cafe but unfortunately, it was closed. So, we went to Taka Japanese Restaurant. The food and the portion was good for the lunch bento.

Before going to our hotel, my hubby suggested that we visited Peterson Creek Park. We thought this park would be a green lush park with lots of trees where we could relax and enjoy the scenery but we were totally WRONG! The park actually has several hiking trails and apparently, a popular hiking place for Kamloops’ residences. The sturdy bridge built above the park area is actually the Trans-Canada Highway. We accessed the park via Columbia St at Glenfair Drive (see the park map here) where we parked our car. Our goal was to see the Bridal Veil waterfall so we followed Tom Moore trail. On our way, we met a couple who hiked down from the trail and they said that the trail to see the fall was easy. With good confidence, we continued our hike up along the small river. When we were at a trail junction, we were confused as to turn right toward a small wooden bridge or to walk straight toward the area marked “Danger: Unmarked Hazard”. My gut feeling was to follow the river, so we walked to the unmarked area. Little did we know, this was where the very difficult trail began and I only wore my flat shoes, NOT my runners! Since we were already halfway, I braved myself hiking through the slippery stones, crossing the small creek, and climbing the rocky cliffs. As you can see on the pictures below (bottom 3rd from right), hikers only have small rocky area on the right hand side to pass through in order to go to the fall. I felt like as if I was doing those obstacle challenge – like in the Spartan race hahaha… Finally, after 40 minutes, we arrived at the foot of the fall. In order to see the top of the fall, we had to climb a little bit more on the rocky terrain. Yay! The hike down was as difficult as the hike up. Since we already knew what to expect, we were pretty quick to go down and back to the parking lot. Lesson for us: hiking a very difficult terrain is NOT a good way to start our holiday! 😛

1 Peterson Creek Park

Peterson Creek Park

Oh did I tell you that summer at Kamloops was really really really hot! We were sweating non-stop! After a very tiring hike, we checked in to our hotel, Four Points by Sheraton and cooled our selves inside the air conditioned room… ahhh…. The cool thing about the hotel is that it has a small swimming pool with a waterslide and a jacuzzi!!! We immediately marched to the swimming pool and had fun sliding down the waterslide as if it was our private pool hahaha…. In the evening, we went to Pizza Hut – since my hubby craved for it – and ordered 2 medium pizza nyummmm….

 

DAY 2 – Lake Louise, Lake Minnewanka, Banff Downtown

The trip from Kamloops to Banff was about 6 hours drive so we woke up around 6 am in the morning. We drove through Trans-Canada Highway passing Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, and Golden. We stopped at Golden to have a quick breakfast at McDonalds. Along the highway, the beautiful snow capped Rocky mountain was around us. We also passed some small lakes and creeks with sparkling turquoise water. I felt like I could just jump into the lake and swim on the cool water during the scorching hot day. Along this highway, you can stop at some attractions, such as Mt. Revelstoke, Illecillewaet Camp Ground near Rogers Pass, Glacier National Park, Bear Creek Falls, Beaver Valley, Yoho National Park, and Lake O’Hara. The most scenic drive was through Rogers Pass. It’s a straight highway with mountains view in front of us (see picture below: top left). Simply gorgeous! We just had to stop on the side of the road to take picture of the beautiful view.

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Last full day in London! Oh gosh… I was so not ready to end my holiday 😦 Sadly, we had to fly back to Canada in the following day and went back to our routine. Anyhow… We started our day pretty late that day. *See the pattern here?! Yes… We were super tired by the end of our 2.5 weeks of walking around beautiful cities in Europe!*

Our first destination was Natural History Museum. The exhibits in this museum are different than the British Museum we visited the day before. As the name represents, Natural History Museum houses thousands of “life and earth sciences specimens” including “botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaentology, and zoology”[ref]. If you have limited time in London and are unable to visit both museums, here is the simplest term to describe each museum: British Museum = mummy vs. Natural History Museum = dinosaurs! In my opinion, if you have small kids who are eager to learn about COOL things, go to Natural History Museum. There are lots of dinosaur fossils and animal taxidermy that really exciting for small kids – even I was super excited to see different dinosaurs bones! hehehe… Oh did I mention that the museum is FREE!!! 🙂

The romanesque design of the building looked like it was from a Harry Potter’s movie! The museum itself is huge! The museum has 4 big sections: dinosaurs (blue), earth ecology (green), geology (red), and Darwin centre (orange). We didn’t have time to explore all the sections of the museum. We only visited the famous dinosaur section, briskly passed through the glass cases containing animal taxidermy, and took a peek into a massive gemstone collection room. Don’t forget to visit the Vision of Earth room that has a giant globe surrounding the elevator from the Exhibition Road entrace. Sadly, we missed to see this cool feature.

As soon as we entered the building,there is a big dinosaur greeted us. COOL! We found a map on one of the wall and decided to visit the dinosaur exhibit first as it’s the most popular exhibit.

Natural History 1

TOP: The gorgeous romanesque design of British Natural History Museum
BOTTOM: The map of the museum & the awesome Mammoth tusk

Unfortunately, a lot of people thought the same thing too… The dinosaur exhibit was jammed packed with people! Plus it was hot so sweat smell was everywhere. It was hard to get a good picture too since people would just walk in front of you *grrr…* We started the tour by walking up to the upper railing where we could comfortably see some of dinosaur bones closely. The museum hung some of the bones since they were so tall and long. The high railing was a great tool to observe the dinosaur bones on eye level. We then went down to the ground level to explore more of fossils and fun facts about dinosaurs. At the exit door, they have a full scale T-Rex robot that was cute hahaha…

Natural History 2

Cool dinosaurs fossils!

Natural History 3

T-Rex robot & other fossils

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After a long walking the previous day, we woke up a bit late that day. Our first destination was the Sherlock Holmes Museum. From Elephant and Castle station, we took the tube to Baker Street station. As soon as we got off, we saw the famous side face of Sherlock Holmes with its pipe on the station wall. There were signs to direct you toward Baker Street but the thing that I loved the most was the subtlety of the signs. It didn’t say ‘Sherlock Holmes museum’ but instead it discreetly say ‘221b’ with Sherlock logo at the side. Yeah… I loved being a detective too! hahaha…. Near the Sherlock Holmes museum, the Beatles memorabilia shop is nearby. Both had long line ups at the front. The admission ticket to the museum is £8 for adult and £5 for under 16 years old. We decided to skip the tour and went straight to the store in the next building. At the store, you can find all sort of things related to Sherlock Holmes, such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s complete Sherlock Holmes book – that pretty much looked like a bible! for £15-25,  the famous Sherlock’s pipe £28, Sherlock’s hat £30, tie with Sherlock’s motif £14, DVD, keychain, and even hand cuffs! Don’t forget to take Sherlock’s business card laying around the table! *shhh… it’s free! 🙂 *

Sherlock 1

(clockwise from top left): Baker Street station with Sherlock Holmes logo, the big logo is composed of small logos!, the discreet sign for the museum ‘221b’ with Sherlock logo at the side, another street sign of ‘221b’, and the front of Sherlock Holmes museum

Sherlock 2

(clockwise from top left): the living room, the antique light switch and door handle, the antique toilet bowl, and sink

Sherlock 3

(clockwise from top left): Sherlock’s hat, Sherlock’s pipe, and hand cuffs!

Sherlock business card

Sherlock Holmes business card

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After a long tour inside the Tower of London (see London day 15 – part 1), we had a little time to have a quick lunch. Coincidentally, Subway restaurant was the closest restaurant we could find. Even then, at 1 pm, there were lots of people (local & tourists) lining up to have lunch too! We ate quickly since we didn’t want to miss the train to Warner Bros studio for our Harry Potter studio tour! For Harry Potter fans who are planning to visit London, Warner Bros. studio tour is highly recommended!!! This is the actual studio where they filmed the movie! But manage your time wisely as it is located outside London!

Where to get the ticket?
Do book your ticket WAY WAY WAYYYY in ADVANCE as the ticket sells out so fast!!! Especially if you only have couple days in UK! The studio only designated certain amount of visitor each day. It also has different time slots that you can choose. In my opinion, this is very useful to prevent overcrowding inside the studio. After all, you do want to enjoy the tour and too many people won’t allow you to take good picture, right?! Go to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London website to book the ticket. As for now, this is the ONLY way to purchase the tour ticket! You can NOT buy the ticket on-site!!!! The ticket is £29 for adult and £21.50 for child 5-15 years. You can also buy ticket combo with souvenir guide as souvenirs.

How to get there?
Do consider your time for the visit since the studio is NOT in London, but it’s at Watford Junction, 20 minutes south of London by express train (or 1 hour by regular train). There are many alternatives to go to the WB Studio: by car, by rail, and by special tour bus from central London (it costs £57 including the attraction ticket).

Now, for those who wants to enjoy the train ride, I will explain how to get to WB Studio by RAIL (total cost is around £50 including the attraction ticket):

  • From central London, go to Euston Station station to catch train to Watford Junction. The one way ticket is £9.20. There are 2 type of trains: Regular train (will take you 1 hour) and Express train (only 20-30 minutes!). So, obviously you want to catch the EXPRESS train! The regular train will show Watford Junction as its LAST stop; while the Express train shows Watford Junction as its FIRST stop! See the picture below to choose the Express train – the one on the right! (remember…. you’ve been warned!!!)
  • You’ll easily recognize Watford Junction because there are signs of WB Harry Potter Studio Tour around the station. After we got off the train, we walked out the station and took the special WB shuttle bus to the studio. The shuttle bus is covered with Harry Potter sticker all over, you’ll know that’s the one. One way ticket is £1.50 and return is £2.00 (do NOT lose your return ticket!). I was worried for the last bus going back to train station since the website stated that the last shuttle bus left the studio at 7.45 pm during weekday (we visit the studio on Wednesday!). So, we asked the driver to confirm and he said that the last bus was 9.45pm (lucky us!)

Train to Watford JunctionLeft monitor is the schedule for regular train (1 hour to Watford Junction) &
RIGHT monitor is the schedule for EXPRESS train (20 mins to Watford Junction) → CHOOSE THIS!!!

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This particular day, I was SUPER EXCITED! Why? Because my husband agreed to dedicate one special day for us to explore the real Warner Brothers studio used in the making of Harry Potter movie! I will write in detail about where to book the ticket, how to get there, and most of the attractions later in part 2 of the post.

Our Harry Potter tour didn’t start until 4.30 pm, so we decided to visit Tower of London in the morning. To go there, we took the tube toward Tower Hill station. At the exit pointed to Tower of London attraction, there are some posters explaining the history of Tower of London. The ticket booths were noticeable by the crowds of tourists lining up. Here, we took advantage of our Travelcard 2-for-1 coupon (see London day 13 post for more info). We showed both of our Travelcards and we only paid £21.45 for 2 people (regular price is £21.45/person [ref]!). I felt good that my research for Travelcard was actually paid off! The cashier told us that the free tour was available near the entrance gate at the moat. Look for a tour sign before crossing the bridge above the moat. As I remember, the one hour free tour is available every hour. If you choose to explore the Tower by yourself, the audio guide is available for £4. We saw a lot of people already gathered around the sign, so we decided to join the tour. While waiting for the tour, I took a picture of London skyline against the sunny blue sky! We could see The Shard, the highest building in EU!

Tower London 1

Exit from Tower Hill tube & posters explaining the history of Tower of London

Tower London 2

London skyline view from Tower of London (R) and (L) The Shard

Tower of London is a silent witness of London evolution. Since it was built in 1066, it has been a fortress, a prison, an execution ground, a menagerie, and a royal residence. Presently, it is a museum in which the tourists can walk the same path as the King and Queen of England were once there. The tour was led by a Yeoman Warder wearing a unique uniform. He started the tour by explaining about the moat surrounding the Tower. In the past, the moat was filled with standing water to protect the fortress from the invaders. However, Londoners’ sewage ended up in the moat causing a foul smell. At later development, an engineer succeeded to flow the water from Thames river to the moat; hence it was possible to transport the prisoners to the Tower. During the Black Death in 1845, the water was drained to avoid the spread of the plague.  

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After a very good night sleep on the most comfy bed, we woke up feeling refreshed! Our host was kind enough to provide a mini breakfast for us – my hubby said the coffee was really good! We immediately hopped into the tube and went directly to Westminster area to see the mighty Big Ben! My husband went to London when he was young, but it was my first time there – although I saw it numerous times in movies. So, in order to officiate my visit to London, I MUST take a picture in front of Big Ben! hahaha. Tourists can take a guided tour inside the  Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) every Saturday for £16.50 and it also offers afternoon tea too for £25.00 in addition to the tour. However, only UK residents are eligible for a tour inside the Big Ben & the Elizabeth Tower. Next to the Big Ben is the Westminster Bridge. This bridge connects north Westminster and south Lambeth over the River Thames. Overlooking the other side from the bridge, we could see the London Eye, the highest ferris wheel in Europe.

Big Ben

Big Ben2

Big Ben3

Big Ben & Palace of Westminster and Westminster bridge overlooking the London Eye

After we had enough pictures of Big Ben, I led the way back toward  the Westminster Abbey that is just behind the Big Ben or House of Parlianment. This church is famous for many royal events, including the recent royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. The mighty gothic style church witnessed many coronations events and it is also used as burial site of many famous British citizens, such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. When we arrived there in the morning, the line up to enter the church was pretty long. Since we didn’t want to miss changing the guard procession at the Buckingham Palace, we decided to visit the church later.

Westminster Abbey St James Statue

Near the House of Parliament

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Hiya all…

Happy *belated* New Year 2014!!!!

I know I’ve been so quiet lately. There were so much going on in December that I had no spare time to update the blog. I didn’t even bake any special dessert this past Christmas!

To celebrate the new year, I decided to make another blog exclusivelly for my amigurumi and craft projects at CraftyPeachyBunny.wordpress.com. This will serves as my portfolio of my amigurumi plushies that I made so it’s easier for me to manage. I’m hoping that I can open my amigurumi online store sometime this year. *cross my fingers!*

So, what happen with my life from the last November and December? I can say not much but the impact is rather super big! Long story short, me and my husband have to move to another city in another country in less than a year! Exciting?! Yes and no… Yes, because honestly, I’m quite bored with Vancouver life here. No, because it means a massive moving and I have to adapt to new environment -again. Ah… so much stuffs to think and organize :S Anyway, we made this bold decision with a hope that we can have a better future in the new place. Amongst all doubts, I just keep my postive thinking and secretly, my adventurous  mind is challanged 😉 We’ll see how my life would be….

Oh… in December, I was also busy making amigurumi couples for my friends’ wedding. See the post here. I was worried that I couldn’t finish on time so I crochet everyday for 2.5 weeks! Luckily, I was done before the wedding.

So, that’s all the update from me. I will post the London trip series in the upcoming weeks.

Cheers,

M.a.J

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