Sunday, 3 August 2008

Postcards from England and Amsterdam

I talked Trish and Angie into going to Beatrix Potter country (The Lake District), following AMBEX 2008. Angie was convinced that it would be cheap, faster, and more convienent if we rented a car and drove up. Ian, helpful fellow that he is, did his best to help her convince us. Against my better judgment, we did just that. I decided that since it was her idea, Angie should drive. Of course the fact that any accident would then go on her record and not mine never entered my mind. Not at all. Fortunately, the car rental agency did not inspect the passenger side arm rests, or they would have found permanent impressions of my fingerprints.

We stayed at the Cedar Manor Hotel, hosted by Jonathan and Caroline. This was my second stay there in two years and their hospitality continues to be top notch. If you want to hike the Lake District fells, then you can kill two birds with a single stone. Not only is the Cedar Manor comfortable and cosy, but Jonathan has first hand experience with most of the trails in the area.

Jonathan recommend a loop starting at Nab Scar and curling around to end on the other side of Rydal Hall. We set out from the Ambleside public car park and walked along the road until we arrived at Rydal Hall. A path from the lane behind Rydal Hall lead us up to the top of Nab Scar. If you want to see the route, click on the link below.

View Interactive Map on

We encountered rain, drizzle, and fog about half way. The fog (which was really the rain clouds that had come in) was quite thick and we couldn't see where we were going. There were steep cliffs on either side of the trail and since we did not have a GPS, we turned around and came back the way we came in. I did not relish the local papers displaying huge headlines like "Stupid Canadian Tourists Fall Off Cliffs in Dense Fog". Despite having to turn back we, hiked 10 miles (16 km), with a climb up of over 2200 ft (over 671 m).

We traveled the next day to Keswick and Penrith, where we did the touristy thing and visited the shops and restaurants. Keswick is a very quaint town and is a must see if you ever go to the Lake District.

We didn't get to see Beatrix Potter's place in the end. The parking lots were full and there was no where else to park. The next time we will take a tour bus!

A slide show from our Lake District travels is here.

Angie and I flew to Amsterdam to meet with our friends at RAVU. We also had some time on the last day before our flight to visit more of Amsterdam. It was Angie's birthday, so we packed in as much as we could. We did an early morning walk through the Jordaan district, took in a wonderful organ and flute concert in the Westerkerk, and hit the fabulous science museum (I can't say enough about this place). While we were wandering around the Jordaan district, we saw one of the strangest sights we have ever seen in Mokum: a Smart Car parked between two trees right next to the canal. I cannot figure out how the driver was able to park it there. I can only guess that he picked it up and placed it.

Smart (1)

An even stranger sight was how beer is delivered in Amsterdam. They use a truck similar to how we deliver heating fuel. The driver rolls out a huge hose and drags the nozzle in to the kegs behind the bar and lets fly. I had a grand chat with this guy who says he loves his job because he gets to go to bars all day long and check their beer!

More photos from this Amsterdam trip are here.

EDIT: August 6,2008

I just came across a neat new widget for Blogger that lets me embed a slide show from Flickr onto my blog. I think it makes it a lot easier to look at related photos rather than clicking on a link that takes you to another page. Also, if you click on a photo, it automatically adjusts to give you my commentary on that photo. Leave me a note in the comments below and let me know what you think. Here is the slide show for the Amsterdam piece of the trip:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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