The itinerary of this trip was highly customized to my sisters’ taste and preference. Therefore, hiking, musical concerts, and museum visits were excluded.
The size of the group and my mother’s physical constraints, like my previous family trip, I once again decided to travel by rental car instead of by train. In hindsight, it was safer and easier to travel by train for the route between Paris and Amsterdam. The traffic congestion and 14-wheelers infected highway was simply too much of a pain.
We covered England (Bath), Ireland (Dublin), France (Paris), Brussels (Ghent & Charleroi), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Switzerland (St Moritz), and Italy (Milan) in this trip. Please click here for our itinerary.
London & Bath, England (Days 1 – 7)
Prior to the independence in august 31, 1957, Malaysia was colonized by United Kingdom. 60 years have gone by, Her influence on our modern daily lives are still prevalent from the standpoints of our government structure formation, education system, infrastructure, and banking systems. For Malaysians, a trip to Europe without a visit to England seems incomplete.
London was our entry port to Europe. My sisters and cousin arrived three days earlier to visit another cousin in London for sightseeing that both my mother and I had done before.
The famous Lover Embracing statue at St. Pancras Station on the left; the Big Ben on the right
The London Eyes
We met up in Bath at Irene, my cousin’s house for 3 days before flying out to Dublin on Ryanair. This airline might have relaxed its cabin baggage policy, but the 5cm shorter in depth for the non-standard cabin baggage size is ridiculously outrageous. Passengers are left with three choices:
- 1. take risk and potentially face a hefty penalty when spot checked or
- 2. pay for check-in luggage weight, or
- 3. buy the non-standard size of hand luggage from them.
To avoid the possible hefty penalty for a group of five on all three flights with Ryanair, we paid about 170 British Pound for two 15-kg checked-in luggage for three flights and repacked our belongings from two carry-on luggage into two backpacks borrowed from Irene. Fortunately this unexpected expense did not deter us from enjoying the rest of our journey.
The scenic drive between Bath and Bradford-on-Avon was memorable. The winding road on rolling hills divided its vast green pastures dotted with livestock into two. Its beauty is not striking but very soothing. We drove past many little towns filled with centuries old brick cottages.
Strolling in Bath made Jane Austen’s characters come alive. The Royal Crescent building was crowded. People were enjoying the beautiful sunny day, lying on the wide open space facing the front of this amazing landmark.
Cheddar-Gorge, Britain’s biggest gorge is famous for its dramatic cliffs and caves. It is definitely a heaven for rock climbers, motor bikers, and cyclers.
Cheddar CarBoot and Market, situated approximately 1 mile from Cheddar Gorge in the heart of Somerset, is a very interesting outdoor/indoor flea market that opens every Sunday, rain or shine. One could easily lose oneself for hours wandering through an array of items ranges from clothes, furniture, kitchenware, accessories, to other cheap and used products. One’s “trash” may well be other’s treasure. I bought fruits, pastry, and one GBP1 jacket.
Dublin, Ireland (Day 4)
We departed from Bristol at 8:15am and arrived at Dublin an hour later. The driver from Jacobs Inn hostel was already waiting for us. Right across the airport main entrance, there was a big signage of a church saying, “God is love”. It warmed my heart tremendously.
With only 24 hours to spend, we stayed put in Dublin instead of the long drive to the famous Cliff of Maher. Not my ideal plan, but the best I could manage. Jacob Inns Hostel is located 5-minute walking distance to the heart of a low-end shopping area, Talbot Street. After checking out the kitchen and mapping out the places to visit with the help of the receptionist, we ventured out to enjoy what Dublin may offer. It was a comfortable bright sunny day. Walking down on Talbot Street, I became aware of its multiculturalism with lots of deal shops, a few pubs, and some grocery stores. These shops are not impressive nor its goods. However, I do like its rawness, reflecting how the city’s lower class lives.
Talbot Street intersects with O’Connell Street, the spine of Dublin. It houses pubs, restaurants, shopping stores, and hotels. It is full of locals going on their business and visitors shopping and sightseeing. Major bus lines run up and down the street. To save time, we hopped on a tram at Jervis to go to Guinness Stout Storehouse, a huge storehouse spanning a few blocks. We didn’t go in as none of us are beer drinkers. From there, we walked along Thomas Street for most of Dublin’s main attraction sites, such as Christ Church, Trinity College, and Dublin castle. By the time we arrived at Trinity College, it was already too late for admission for Book of Kells. Written around the year 800 AD, this book contains a richly decorated copy of the four gospels in a Latin text, based on the Vulgate edition (completed by St. Jerome in 384 AD). I will save this visit for my next trip.
On the way back to our hostel, we picked up some simple grocery for cooking – spaghetti. It was great to enjoy a simple meal after a long day.
The cost of living in Dublin is comparatively cheaper in terms of food and accommodation.
My thought on Jacobs Inn: Great location and price. The big community kitchen and dining room are a big plus. The temporary luggage storage with your own lock before check-in and/or after check-out is very thoughtful, convenient, and safe. The big lobby with comfy sofas and lively music is perfect for social. I will return if I ever visit Dublin again.
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