Monday, September 25, 2017

Day 9 & 10 - London, UK

Day 9 - 5th May 2017
After our final meal in Brussels - which was waffles (of course!), we took the Eurostar train back to London. This time we were more prepared and we made sure we had enough time so we did not have to run like a mad girl chasing our trains.

Although it was only a 2 hour train ride, but by the time we went back to our accommodation and left to the city, it was already 5pm. We rushed to one of our first choice for afternoon tea and sad to say we missed it by 10 minutes. The afternoon tea kitchen has closed. T___T We quickly searched for a nearby alternative and decided to go to The Crusting Pipe, located in Covent Garden.

Actually, the outside of the restaurant was so full when we reached, as there was a live band playing. And it was very cold that day although we were already in a building, so we decided to eat indoor and splurge on the afternoon tea set for £18.95 per person. Most expensive afternoon tea I've ever eaten.

Presentation : Pass!! But honestly the food was just okay. It wasn't bad, but not super good. Eating Burger & Lobster is much more worth it. LOL But still, no regrets as we have our afternoon tea in UK bucket list checked! =P

We were so rushed when we arrived at Covent Garden (as we were scared the afternoon tea kitchen are closing soon) that we didn't have time to looked around at the shops. We only did that after the meal which makes us skipped dinner as we were so full!

We have some time to kill before the sky turns super dark, so we headed to Oxford Street, which was also the shopping street in London. Actually our main aim was to just enter Primark, which was me and MeiChi's new favourite shop in London. LOL

I think we spent around 2 hours inside Primark until the shop closes. Then we headed to Tower of London Underground.

Loving thelighted buildings along the river as well. The Shard can be seen!

We braved the cold and only found out that they actually locked the area. Luckily we managed to enter into a pier for our purpose of this journey - to see the lighted Tower Bridge.

Our last night in London, so a wefie!

Day 10 - 6th May 2017
We packed our luggage and then went over to Stratford looking for post office to post some letters to our friends.

And found a cafe that serves yummy breakfast!

We went to Westfield again, and did some last minute souvenir shopping for groceries and headed back home for our final packing. We left the place around 3pm, knowing that we have a long journey to go to the airport. After 30 minutes walk to the tube station and a change of tube to the Piccadilly line (shout out to the strangers that helped us to lift our luggage up the flight of nightmare stairs of the underground stations!), we finally arrived Heathrow Airport 2 hours later. 

We couldn't check-in earlier via online at home, thus we tried to use  the self check-in machine at the airport. We keyed in our confirmation code and when we scanned our passports, it couldn't match our names. So we joined in the queue where an airport staff was helping those who have problems. I think we queued for around 30 minutes, and when it was our turn, we explained that we tried using the machine but it says invalid ticket. It might be due to our name (first name and last name mixed up by the system). She gave us a frustrated look and just typing her way into the system using our printed confirmation. We did not want to annoy her so we did not interrupt her during the process. After 2 minutes of her typing, she gave us back our tickets and say, no tickets issued on our name. WHAT?!?!?! 

I told her that we have tickets and showed her my printed copy of confirmation by the airline. But she just annoying reply something like "YOU DON'T HAVE TICKETS. I COULDN'T FIND YOUR NAME." We tried to explain to her that it might be due to mixed up in first / middle / last name, as Asians always encounter this problem, but she's having a deaf ear. She kept typing and ignored me. We was getting frustrated. She replied again that MeiChi and I don't have tickets and then shoo-ed us away, trying to serve the next customer.

We tried to remain calm and asked if there is anywhere or any counter we could go to help us to check, as we have the confirmation number and all she kept insisting there's no such name in the system. We got mad and since she couldn't redirect me to other place, we just remained standing there and insisted her to check. We refused to move over to let her serve the next customer. She continued to type into her screen angrily and mumbling "NO TICKETS", and then after 5 minutes, she miraculously found our names.

Seriously?!?!! Imagine if we didn't insist her to check and just let her being shoo-ed away, we would've been stranded in London and missed our flight. I remember writing her name down somewhere as I was really ready to complain her "kind" assistant, but I couldn't find the paper after that. LUCKY HER!

After our check-in, we went over to queue for our VAT refund. We queued for half an hour and began to panic as the queue was still very long in front, so MeiChi and I decided to split. She will queue for luggage check-in (as the earlier lady checked-in both me and her luggage under her name) and I would continue to queue for VAT refund.

I queued for another 1 hour when it was finally my turn next. Then MeiChi appeared beside me and said the luggage check-in officer insisted to see my face, although both luggages were checked-in under MeiChi's name. I don't want to start to queue all over again, so we waited until it was my turn. We handed our VAT forms and waited the officer to process the refund. It felt very slow because we were so stressed. Immediately after it was fone, we run our way to the baggage drop off counter. The officer was already serving another customer (so unlucky as it was a troublesome customer as well because they needed to last minute purchase check-in luggages). After another 15 minutes of waiting, finally I went to the officer, and he just "OH, OK" like he has forgotten the case and couldn't be bothered. 

Our plan to have a proper dinner before boarding has to be cancelled, as immediately after we proceed to pass through the immigration and security check. When we finally entered our Terminal, we were left with 30 minutes to grab some food. That's when our wheels of luck has changed and we managed to find a £1.00 salmon and seafood pre-packed meals.

We headed to our gates took the 17+ hours journey back to Penang, Pearl of the Orient! Arrived home way past midnight and off to work the next day!

****THE END****

Read all about :
Day 1 & 2 in London - here.
Day 3,4 & 5 in London - here.
Day 6 in Antwerp - here.
Day 7 in Brussels - here.
Day 8 in Bruges - here.
Day 8 in Ghent - here.
Day 9 &10 in London - here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Day 8 - Ghent, Belgium

Day 8 - 4th May 2017

Right after we left Bruges, we took the train which goes the same way towards Brussels and stopped by at Ghent.

Ghent is a town that is very similar to Bruges but less "famous" thus less tourist, which we quickly noticed. As we stepped off the train, we had trouble buying tram/bus tickets from the ticket machines. They were not in English! And most of the machines looked faulty! And they only take coins! We tried to ask the locals but they don't really know how to operate the machines as well as they usually have their own local transport card, and it doesn't help when the instructions on the machine has faded, thus they couldn't read and help us!! We ended up queuing to ask the attendant at the Information Counter but that took us almost 30 minutes waiting for just one customer in front of us. After all the hoo-haa-s, we finally managed to get our bus ticket and took a trip to canal side of Ghent.

We stopped at a little square (forget the name) and began to explore!

Ghent was indeed a more quiet town compared to Bruges. Maybe it was due to almost late afternoon when we reached, thus the huge tourist crowd has left. We fell in love with this little town immediately!

We also spotted the famous Shoe Bar that you have to give up your shoe as a deposit for your beer that serves in huge test tubes. Don't worry, they don't hang it there but merely put it in a basket and raised it to the ceiling. You can only get back the shoes when you emptied and returned the test tube glass.  

Halfway through exploring and admiring the town, we spotted a street food stall that sells escargot! Well, it was just a few Euros for one big scoop (around 30 pieces) so needless to say, MeiChi and I tried it. Although served in a paper plate, we enjoyed them so much! MeiChi actually went back for second round later, and had the whole serving for herself!

We were joking that these escargots are caught at the seller's backyard, since fine dining escargot wont be so cheap! Hahahhaa

Of course, we had to stop at Graslei and Korenlei for the picturesque view of Ghent. We even decided to have dinner along the beautiful view of Ghent.

We passed by Sint-Michielsbrug, and walked up the bridge.

And also walked passed Sint-Niklaaskerk, but didnt manage to enter the gothic church as it was already late evening.

Another thing beautiful experience was we managed to be there during sunset and it was a lovely sight to see a cultural place like this slowly turned dark.  
Het Belfort van Gent - highest belltower in Belgium
Rare photo of two of us! Thank you stranger for volunteering to help us to take this photo!

Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent

We left the place by taking the tram, which again was another problem because the one and only ticket machine near to the tram stop was a little faulty (the tourist queuing in front of us lost his coin in the machine without getting a ticket), and there were no counter for us to buy from. I can't remember if MeiChi and I ended up got lucky and got our tickets from the faulty machine, or if we risked taking the ride without ticket, but we managed to get to the train station and took our ride back to Brussels!  

And that was our last ride using our Rail Pass! All 10 slots fully utilized!  

I think in total we only managed to spend around 4-5 hours in Ghent, but it was still worth a visit! No regrets!

***to be continued

Read all about :
Day 1 & 2 in London - here.
Day 3,4 & 5 in London - here.
Day 6 in Antwerp - here.
Day 7 in Brussels - here.
Day 8 in Bruges - here.
Day 8 in Ghent - here.
Day 9 &10 in London - here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Day 8 - Bruges, Belgium

Day 8 - 4th May 2017

Using our Rail Pass, we took the IC train all the way towards Bruges (locally spelled as Brugge). The journey took us slightly more than 1 hour.

Bruges is so-called the "fairytale" medieval town of Belgium where the town is oval in shape, with 360 degrees surrounded by moat. Most of the roads in the town are covered by cobblestones. 

It was still very early when we arrived so the town was still quiet. We passed by many roads, meeting little visitors / locals along the way.

After a short walk, we finally reached a place where there were many people. And the sky turned blue to give us a little sunshine too! 

We opened our map and found out that we are at Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) which houses one of Michaelangelo's masterpiece, Madonna and Child.

We had a quick look inside the church and found out that the queue was quite long! And both of us were not very interested to look at the REAL Madonna and Child, so we opted out! Took photo with the poster can already. Hahaha

Nearby this church was also where we found our first beautiful view of the canal. 

We then decided to walk deeper into the town and just enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. 

We finally reached Rozenhoedkaai, which is the infamous postcard view of Bruges. But sorry my photos are a bit fail! Doesn't do the place justice at all! I swear the place is very much prettier! =S

At Rozenhoedkaai, there is also a boat ride tour organised by Bruges tourism. We decided to take the boat ride tour that lasts approximately 30 minutes for €8 per person.

 The boat ride was worth the value in my opinion as they talked a little about the architecture and culture of Bruges citizens.. and many fun facts of the bridges in Bruges! I would recommend to take the boat ride for anyone that is visiting Bruges!

We also passed by Lake of Love, a lake where there were plenty of swans!

My favourite place of the boat tour was at this canal. Love the view!

After our boat ride, we continued our journey towards the Market Square (Markt). Along the way, there were many beautiful shops selling intricate laces, something that Bruges is famous for.  

Also spotted this glass decos and dolls that interests me!

Anyway, back to Market Square!

Time passes very fast and it was almost 3 something when we finally decided to leave Bruges. We planned our journey to pass by the Bonifacius Bridge (Bonifaciusbrug).

On our way out, we decided to use the route that enters the Minnewaterpark. At one of the garden, we spotted rows and rows of lovely colourful flowers.

We finally left the town by crossing the bridge over the moat. 

Bye bye Bruges! You've been a fairytale!

***to be continued....

Read all about :
Day 1 & 2 in London - here.
Day 3,4 & 5 in London - here.
Day 6 in Antwerp - here.
Day 7 in Brussels - here.
Day 8 in Bruges - here.
Day 8 in Ghent - here.
Day 9 &10 in London - here.

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