Lack of window screens [TIDU]

One of the first things I noticed when we first came to London (as well as when we travel) is that houses do not have screens on windows or doors. I don’t understand why it is this way as I hear people complain about bugs getting into their houses or finding solutions to dealing with bugs getting into the house.

I find it frustrating that if I want to have my window open all day, I run the risk of bugs finding their way into our house but it does get pretty muggy and the air gets a touch stale if I keep the windows closed all the time. It’s frustrating because the UK have been dealing with this problem for way longer than Canada has and just about every house that I know in Canada has a screen on the doors and windows. It’s not hard to install and they allow for fresh air all the time.

Things I don’t understand

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Amsterdam: Electric boogaloo

We headed back to Amsterdam as we wanted to pick up some souvenirs which we didn’t get to pick up the first time we went as well as to explore more of Amsterdam since it wouldn’t be too cold to travel out and about all day.

Our hotel was about a 2 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal station which was pretty awesome as they also gave us a free upgrade to the executive suite. Inside the room had a king size bed and after sleeping on a double for so long, the king sized felt so big. Can’t imagine anybody who would ever really need a king sized bed. Maybe for couples where both of them move a lot in their sleep or I suppose really big people.

The one full day we had there was spent exploring a little bit further from central Amsterdam as we spent most of our time there on our previous trip and it was nice to not be crowded by all the tourists and locals crowding the streets. It was interesting to see how less crowded the streets get as you go further out. It’s almost as if the city becomes a small town by how much room you get.

As we were exploring that evening, we heard music in the distance but it was moving towards us. It turned out to be a band of about 30-40 musicians marching towards their destination. We decided to follow them for the rest of the evening and enjoy their show. They handed out a flyer at one point for their group called Ricciotti Ensemble and they have been playing around Amsterdam the entire day and were nearing the end of today’s tour.

After visiting Amsterdam for the second time, I don’t think we’ll hit any other places we’ve already visited as we found that we actually did most of what we wanted to do the first time and we really should be focusing on visiting new places. Still had a great time in Amsterdam and I am glad we got a chance to visit it.

Paris

Paris has made itself to the top of my favourite places to visit so far. I found everything about it amazing; the people, the food, the architecture. The best part of the trip though was meeting up with our friends¬†Alex and Bonnie from back home as they speak normal with no accent. We took a two hour Eurostar train from London to Paris which was a nice change from flying but for a good chunk of the ride was underground so you couldn’t really see much. The fact that Paris is only a 2 hour train ride away still boggles my mind as that is closer than driving to Calgary from Edmonton. Not as cheap but still closer.

One of the first oddities I noticed was that there was graffiti everywhere. If there was an open wall, there was graffiti. Even in places where you didn’t think people should be able to get to but it was there. All along the walls that follow the train tracks as well as in their metro stations underground between platforms there was graffiti on just about every inch of the wall. Ridiculous when you think about it but I think Paris embraces their graffiti culture as it wasn’t often painted over from what I can tell.

From the train station we exited from, we decided to walk to our hotel as it was a really beautiful day out. I’m not really sure exactly why we decided to walk but I think we thought it wasn’t actually that far but turned out to be about an hour or two walk away and we didn’t even actually make it to our hotel. We were getting pretty tired near the end and called a taxi from the road which drove us about 5 minutes away to our hotel. We were so close yet so far.

The hotel we stayed at was the Platine and it had a hollywood theme going on focused on Marylin Monroe.

After settling into our hotel, we took an hour nap before heading out to explore Paris. Our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and it was quite the sight to see. I never imagined the Eiffel Tower to be as big as it was. I thought it was smaller for some reason. It’s an amazing attraction to see.

The Arc de Triomphe was pretty cool but not as cool as the Eiffel Tower. We ended up not going to the top of it as we were feeling pretty cheap so we walked around the lower areas of it.

While stumbling around Paris, we found Moulin Rouge unintentionally. Not as exciting as I thought it was going to be.

The Notre Dame Cathedral also not as grande as I imagined. For some reason, I either imagine all these attractions to be bigger or smaller than they actually happen to be.

We found our way towards the Louvre and we saw that it didn’t even have that long of a line. I think it had about 30-50 at most and that would probably only take about a half-hour to an hour wait maybe and we still didn’t go inside. We took our pictures outside and moved along. I can’t say exactly why we decided to not go in but I am fine with just being around these attractions everybody in the world talks about.

Paris was beautiful and the food was so tasty after eating in London for so long. Everywhere we went to eat was delicious and I miss it dearly already. The people were extremely friendly even though we spoke with our horrible Canadian french, they never made rude comments or snuffed us on service. Everybody also said that the city had an odor but it didn’t smell like anything.

I’m glad we went and I will have fond memories of Paris.

Bath

The second part of our tour included also seeing Bath, which had Leone getting very excited about finally being able to see these locations after studying them and their histories for about 5 years. Unfortunately, my knowledge of places outside of Canada and part of the United States is extremely limited so I had never heard of Bath until we bought the Groupon to go there.

It turns out, Bath is quite famous and the tour guide also said that one of the flats was owned by Nicolas Cage at one point but had recently sold it, which was quite a neat fact but would have been cooler to actually have known which one it was.

The first place that the tour guide took us was to the the The Circus at the top of the hill in Bath which was really quite interesting to see and be in the center of it all. Afterwards she took us to The Royal Crescent which was about a 3 minute walk from the Circus and that was placed in a much more open area that lets you see over some of Bath

What are we looking at?

The main place that Leone wanted to check out though was the Roman Baths that still pump out their mineral rich waters. They provided more prerecorded devices so you could find out more information as you went along but we didn’t really pay attention to these ones either. The main bath was quite impressive and I was wondering how deep it is but the water is quite rich in something and you can’t really see through it.

There were a few other smaller baths inside but they do not let people near them as there really wasn’t anywhere to stand around them so we had to look through openings in the walls to view them.

What was really fascinating was seeing how well kept the structures were in some areas that showed how they distributed the water and also heated up rooms. The water also for the most part was really quite warm to the touch and near the exit of the Roman Baths has a fountain where you can grab a cup and drink the water if you want. We all tried a sip and it wasn’t too bad but warm water isn’t ever something that I like going out of my way for.

Bath is a beautiful city where the architecture is incredible and it sort of feels like we went back in time walking around everywhere.

Stonehenge

Thanks to Groupon, we were able to visit Stonehenge rather cheaply I think considering we didn’t have to worry about getting there and we also had a tour guide that made the trip really fast as she relayed information about her studies and the sites around us. I can’t remember her name but she was very enthusiastic about it which made for a very engaging trip.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as warm as we hoped it would have been because Stonehenge is in the middle of nowhere with no wind protection so it was pretty windy and it was a touch chilly.

A huge disappointment was that they didn’t let people go up close to the actual stones anymore as they said people were chipping away at the rocks to take as souvenirs for some reason. I suppose to some, having a piece of the actual stone means something but those people ruined it for the rest of us who just want to admire these awesome creations. I think the closest we were able to get was about 20-30 feet away.

I was also quite surprised at how small they were. I don’t know why but I thought they would be a lot bigger than they were. At most, I think they were about 15-20 feet tall and I was expecting that would tower over you casting it’s shadow wherever it pleases. Still awesome to see despite it being just rocks. They’re cool rocks!