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Bird of passage

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BOURNEMOUTH: Top 10 Places to Visit

Bournemouth might not be on many people’s list when thinking about destinations in England. It’s a bit underrated. Some haven’t heard of it before and some don’t even know where it is. Well, it’s right by the Jurassic Coast, the South of England.

Bournemouth is known for it’s 7 miles of the UK’s best beach (according to TripAdvisor in 2016). It’s a perfect place for sports and outdoor lovers, with awesome countryside and buzzing nightlife.

For anyone interested, I have a list of places that you should visit while in Bournemouth and a really beautiful cycling route for you! ūüöī

Top 10 Places to Visit in Bournemouth
  1. Bournemouth Parks
    • Lower Gardens
    • Central Gardens
    • Upper Gardens
  2. The Balloon
  3. The Bourne River
  4. Coy Pond
  5. Meyrick Park
  6. St. Peter’s Church
  7. Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff
  8. Bournemouth Beach and Pier
  9. Boscombe Beach and Pier
  10. Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

I. Bournemouth Parks

Bournemouth Parks are separated into 3 areas, the Lower Gardens, Central Gardens and Upper Gardens. These 3 areas are different and each has their own vibes. Though, all of them are perfect for a sweet walk, a quick cycling or for a fun picnic.

The Lower Gardens are the busiest. It’s where most of the actions happen. It’s only 2 minutes walking from the town’s square and only couple of minutes away from the beach. It’s busy with kiosks, young people out and about and there is a Mini Golf as well. ‚õ≥ÔłŹ

The Central Gardens are a little quieter, with a small river along the gardens. Trees and plants here are a little taller and bigger than those in the Lower Gardens. The walk is pleasantly accompanied with beautiful pergola. Here, there is a tennis court and a playground. In the Pleasure Garden, there is a World War I memorial, scripted with beautiful notes.

The Upper Gardens are the most relaxing ones.¬†There are¬†3 different garden’s theme: European, Asia and North America themes. It’s more green here and there are more to see along the way like decorations of each themed gardens, the water tower and long wooden walkways. The gardens take you more or less to Poole.

II. The Balloon

This Hot Air Balloon is one of the landmark of Bournemouth, right at the Lower Gardens. It allows you to see Bournemouth from above and it offers great views of the beach and the piers. Unfortunately, it’s not available at the moment, but hopefully, it’ll reopen soon.

III. The Bourne River

The Bourne River flows through the whole length of Bournemouth Parks and reaches the beach. The stream goes through everything, the paths, the trees and the rose beds. Throughout the parks, there are several cute falls of this stream and it’s actually a really relaxing sight.

IV. Coy Pond

Coy Pond is a Koi pond right by the end of the Upper Gardens, just a bit outside of Bournemouth. The pond is beautifully surrounded by trees around the bank and some other animals like geese and ducks. There is even a small island! It’s a perfect stop after all the traveling through those gardens. Though, if you prefer driving there, there are several parking spots available. It’s one of my most visited spot in the whole Bournemouth and Poole.

V. Meyrick Park

Meyrick Park is a large field area, with many walking and running trails, including the cross-country running trails. I was lucky enough to spot¬†a baby fox here! ūü¶ä

Meyrick Park is also a home to one of the biggest Golf Club in town; The Club at Meyrick Park. It’s also a home of the Oakmeadians RFC Rugby Club. It’s quite fun to watch them doing their things, especially when you have a special¬†seat. This secret seat is by a walking trail, right behind the club.

VI. St. Peter's Church

St. Peter’s Church is right in the¬†heart of¬†Bournemouth. It’s a minute away from the Square, about 5 minutes from the Lower Gardens and less than 10 minutes walking from the beach. The church itself is a very elegance sight, with incredible interior. The churchyard is calmly beautiful and it is protecting the spirits of many novelists, including Mary Shelley, the author¬†of Frankenstein.

VII. Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliffs

Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliffs offer best views of the ocean throughout the length of the beach. From the overcliff, the stunning Old Harry Rocks can be seen as well. Plus, there are many paths that lead you down to the beach.

VIII. Bournemouth Beach and Pier

Bournemouth Beach lies just underneath the overcliffs and it’s accompanied by one of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK. It’s also really clean! Good thing about the beach is that there is so much you could do. It’s great for skaters, runners, swimmers, surfers, campers, families, friends or couples. It’s also really safe and convenience, with lifeguards, free toilets and showers. The beach is perfectly decorated with colorful huts that you could rent to maximize your fun. If you want to know more about these huts, please¬†click here. ūüėä

Bournemouth Pier lies beautifully by the beach and it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset! It’s stunning! It’s also not far from beach facilities and the town’s square. Also, there is so much you could do on the pier such as sipping cocktails at the Aruba Restaurant & Bar. Drinks here are nice!

IX. Boscombe Beach and Pier

Boscombe Beach and Pier is quite similar to the Bournemouth one, but it has more restaurants, cafes and sports facilities. Somehow, it’s a little quieter. Boscombe Beach is actually a perfect place for¬†campfire during warmer nights.

X. Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens are probably the greenest and most tropical area in Bournemouth. It’s perfect for walking around, under the shade of massive trees. There are few small suspension bridges over the gardens as well.

Recommended Cycling Route

I have provided you with a cycling route that’ll take you to other places that you shouldn’t miss. It’s not difficult, but it’s quite a long distance. Though, it’s manageable within a day. So let’s just pack some snacks and drinks!

  • Bournemouth Pier
  • Boscombe Pier
  • Hengistbury Head
  • River Stour
  • New Forest National Park
  • Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
  • Ringwood
  • River Avon
  • Moors Valley¬†Country Park and Forest

So, let’s start at Bournemouth Pier then keep going along¬†the beach,¬†pass¬†Boscombe Pier and stop at the Hengistbury Head. (5 miles, 30 minutes)

From Hengistbury Head, we are heading toward Christchurch, passing the River Stour, then entering the New Forest National Park to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. (16 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes)

After spending sometime inside New Forest National Park, then we are exiting the park, heading to Ringwood, passing the River Avon, checking out the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest and then heading back to Bournemouth. (25 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes)

This route took me 9 hours, including eating, stoping to take pictures, and getting lost. I departed from Bournemouth Pier around 10 a.m. and got back into town around 6 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

BRISTOL: The City on the Rivers

Bristol is one of the cities in England that has the best mixture of culture. By that, I mean it perfectly blends the modern cultures with the older ones. Visiting Bristol will help you get a better idea of English classiness and style. Plus, Bristol is a perfect blend of parks, waterfronts, architectures, and downtown areas.

There are many areas in Bristol to explore, so to make it easier, I come up with a list of where to go in each areas. It’s possible to walk within these areas and even to other areas. Though, to go from one end to the other could take a while because not all these spots are clustered in a short walking distance.

I. Area around the Suspension Bridge

All the main highlights of Bristol are in this area. You got Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve that you could enjoy some shades while having a picnic or take a walk around the park. There are few walking trails, starting from 1 kilometre to no more than 3 kilometres.

Once you get out of the woods, the next stop is Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a landmark of Bristol since Victorian time! You might wanna walk across the bridge and have a look at the Avon George that separates the forest and Hotwell Road.

Once you cross the bridge, Clifton Observatory is near. Paying 4 GBP for full access and you’ll be able to relax around the hill, try the Camera Obscura that¬†projects¬†the surrounding view inside the dark room and follow the tunnel into Giant’s Cave, which leads down to the cave balcony that is somehow almost 80 metres above the Avon George. At this cliff face, you’ll get a picturesque view of the bridge and the river. To be honest, it’s one of the most impressive experience in Bristol for me, because it’s so mysterious and adventurous.

Down the hill of¬†Clifton Observatory, there is Christ Church, Clifton Down. It’s a small church with a 65 metres steeple and surrounded by nice green area.

II. Area around the Brandon Hill

  • Brandon Hill
  • Cabot Tower
  • Wills Memorial Building

Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol. It also comes¬†with a small nature reserve. It’s the most popular picnic spot in Bristol and in some areas of the park, you could have a BBQ or just simply enjoy an ice-cream while admiring the view.

At the peak of the hill, stands the Cabot Tower. Even if you are lost walking around the hill, you’d still be able to spot this tower. You could go inside the tower and climb to the top for best views in Bristol. It offers you the view of the Bradford Hill, the waterfront and the downtown area. From the top of the tower, you could also see¬†College Green, University of Bristol. But what’s outstanding is the Wills Memorial Building.

III. Area close to the River

  • Bristol Cathedral
  • Bristol Harbour
    • Hannover Quay
    • Spike Island
    • Brunel’s SS Great Britain
    • Waterfront Square
    • The Harbourside Market
  • Christmas Steps
  • St Nicholas Market

Now we are moving closer to the waterfront, but before we go there, let’s stop at the Bristol Cathedral, which is only 10 minutes walking from Brandon Hill. Bristol Cathedral has one of the finest interior. It’s beautifully designed with vaulting and windows. There is the Elder Lady Chapel, which was built in the 13th century. Then there is the Chapter House, which has a really complex and beautiful ceiling. And there are the choirs’ organs that stand out in the hall.

Just behind the cathedral, take the Cathedral Walk and follow the trail down the Hannover Quay. You’ll have the Spike Island in front of you. You’ll also be able to spot the magnificent Brunel’s SS Great Britain, a museum ship in a dry dock. Around this area, you’ll see the blended culture of¬†houseboat lifestyles and colorful houses facing the river. To get a better look, you can take a ferry ride along the River Avon.

I’d recommend Bristol Ferry Boats. Their fares start at¬†1.50 GBP and it’s really convenience if you wanna go to some of these tourist attractions: Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Millennium Square, Castle Park and Temple Meads.

Spend some time in this area and you might share the same perspective of Bristol as a mixture of older and modern cultures. There are old bars, harbourside houses, modern pubs and you’ll see teens and elders relaxing just next to the river.

You could walk to Waterfront Square and cross the Pero’s Bridge or eat at the Harbourside Market. About 10 minutes walking from the market, you’ll reach one of the very historic street of Bristol, the Christmas Steps. It holds a great culture and it looks like a romantic movie setting. There are many cute shops here, including potteries, arts, furnitures and clothes.

There is one more market in this area and it is one of the best markets in England; the St Nicholas Market. Located in the middle of Bristol’s old city and with the ambience of over 50 food stalls, this is a perfect place to eat.

IV. Temple Meads Area
  • St Philip and St Jacob Church (Pip ‘n’ Jay)
  • Temple Church (Holy Cross Church)
  • St Mary Redcliffe
  • Bristol Temple Meads Railway¬†Station

Within the Temple Meads area, there are so much to see, but the places you shouldn’t miss are as follow. Firstly, the St Philip and St Jacob Church or what locals call Pip ‘n’ Jay, is one of the older churches in Bristol.

Next, just across the Temple Bridge is the Temple Church or the Holy Cross Church. It’s a ruined church and what remains is the result of the bombing during World ¬†War II. You can still see the vaulting, some memorials and bases of the pillars. Though, what’s interesting is the Leaning Tower.

Not far, is the most famous Parish Church in England, St Mary Redcliffe. This 800-year-old church is a tallest building in Bristol, with beautiful stained glass, unique Lady Chapel and nice¬†organ. It’s stunning!

 

 

 

 

 

OXFORD on Foot: Must Do’s List

Matthew Arnold addressed the amazement of Oxford in his Thyrsis way back in 1865 in which the beauty remains until today, despite over 150 years later.

Oxford is probably the best city to represent the civilization of the Victorian Era, with early establishment back in the 12th century. The result is an architectural masterpieces that keep inspiring artists, writers, fantasists and we travellers for years.

Every corners of this city is awakening, so it’s best to take your time and explore it at your own pace and on foot. Please, let me show you how you could easily wander around Oxford, from my own experience.

How to get there from London?
Must Do’s List (On Foot)

Exploring and covering the whole major scenes in Oxford takes time, not because it’s big but because you’ll stop and be amazed by what you see every 5 minutes.¬†I’d suggest you use this list as a guide, because it’s organized by putting places in the same area together.

I. Magdalen College
  • Punting along River Cherwell
  • Addison’s Walk
  • Magdalen Chapel
    • Daily from 1PM – 6PM
    • Daily from 10AM – 7PM in Jul – Sep
    • Admission fee: 6¬£

Let’s start by heading East toward the farthest spot; the Magdalen College. Once you arrive here, the first thing you could do is punting along the River Cherwell, which you can hire from the Magdalen Bridge. You could also keep going to the Addison’s Walk, which is a trail that goes around a small island that is surrounded by the river. From Addison’s Walk, you’ll be able to see the Deer Park, the Magdalen Tower¬†and the Magdalen Bridge.

After this, you might wanna have look around the College’s buildings and spend some time at the Magdalen Chapel.

II. Queen's Lane to Catte Street

Radcliffe Camera

  • Queen’s College
  • University Church of St Mary the Virgin
    • Mon – Sat from¬†9.30 AM – 5PM
    • ¬†Sun from 1PM – 5PM
    • No entrance fee
    • 4¬£ to climb the tower
  • All Souls College
    • Mon – Fri from¬†2PM – 4PM
    • No Entrance fee
  • Radcliffe Camera
  • Hertford College
    • Daily from 2PM – 4.30 PM
    • No entrance fee
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Trinity College
    • Mon – Fri from 9AM – 4PM
    • Sat – Sun from 1PM – 4PM
    • Admission fee: 3¬£
  • Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre

Five minutes walking from Magdalen College, you’ll ended up at the Queen’s Lane and the first thing you could see is the elegance Queen’s College. You could only go inside if you make an appointment in advance at the Visitor Information Centre. It’s free!

Then from Queen’s College, keep walking along the High Street and you’ll see the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. At this church, you could go on top of the tower and get the best view of the Radcliffe Camera.

After that, turn right to the Catte Street and you’ll be at the Radcliffe Square, where there are so many things to see; All Souls College, Codrington Library, Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, Hertford College and its Bridge of Sighs.

All Souls College

From Bridge of Sighs, you might wanna turn left to Broad Street and check out the Trinity College and the Sheldonian Theatre.

III. Turl Street
  • Exeter College
    • Daily from 2PM – 5PM
    • No entrance fee
  • Brasenose College
    • Mon – Fri from 10AM – 11.30 AM
    • Sat – Sun from 9AM – 10.30 AM
    • Admission fee: 2¬£
  • Covered Market

From Broad Street, turn left onto Turl Street, then take another left to Brasenose Lane and stop at the Exeter College and maybe have a look inside their Dining Hall and the Chapel.

After that, make your way to Brasenose College and have a look around the Covered Market. There, you could buy souvenirs, and get some food.

IV. St Aldate's Street
  • Alice’s Shop
    • Daily from 10.30 AM – 5PM
  • Christ Church Meadow
  • Christ Church College
    • Mon – Sat from 10 AM – 4PM
    • Sat from 2PM – 4PM
    • Admission fee: 7¬£ – 9¬£
  • St Aldates Church
  • Carfax Tower
    • Daily from 10AM – 4.30 PM
    • Admission fee: 2¬£

View from Carfax Tower

From the market, get yourself to St Aldate’s Street and you might want to make your way down first so you could slowly make our way back up.

Continue the street until you reach Alice’s Shop. This is the place that inspires Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland way back over 150 years ago. It’s right next to the¬†Christ Church Meadow, which is a perfect resting place.

From there, you could make your way up¬†by visiting the Christ Church College and have a look inside their Dining Hall, which is the same one as the Hogwart’s. You also don’t wanna miss the Christ Church Cathedral and the Tom Tower. Then you cross over to Christ Church Cathedral School and St Aldates Church.

Keep walking along St Aldate’s Street until you see Carfax Tower on your left. You definitely have to climb this tower as it will give you one of the best Central Oxford skyline view.

V. Cornmarket Street
  • St Michael at the North Gate
  • St Mary Magdalen
  • Martyrs Memorial
  • Gloucester Green Town Square
  • Wesley Memorial Methodist Church
  • Nuffield College
    • Mon – Fri from 9AM – 5PM
    • No entrance fee
  • Oxford Castle
  • Castle Mill Stream

From Carfax Tower, take the exit to Cornmarket Street and keep walking until St Michael at the North Gate is by your right. Not too far, you’ll also see St Mary Magdalen and Martyrs Memorial.

From there, turn left onto Beaumont Street and left again at Gloucester Street. If it’s Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday, you definitely have to check out the Gloucester Green Town Square. During these days, there will be the open air market that sells everything! If you can’t find it, it’s exactly where the National Express Bus Station is.

From there, you should keep walking along New Inn Hall Street and stop at Wesley Memorial Methodist Church. Next, walk toward the Nuffield College, explore the Castle Mound until you reach the Oxford Castle.

From the Castle, turn into Tidmarsh Lane and find the Hythe Bridge. By the bridge, you’ll see a small walking trail that will allow you to walk next to the Castle Mill Stream in which you can choose to turn or stop however you want to. This trail is wonderful! It’s a perfect place to relax and call it a day.

Where to eat best pub meal?

A lot of walking will be done, so there will be a lot of eating as well. Here is the list of where you should eat in Oxford.

  • The Eagle and Child
  • The White Horse
  • Turf Tavern

Where to stay?

  • YHA Hostel
  • Airbnb
    • Unique Artist’s Riverside Studio
    • Narrowboat on idyllic Oxford Canal (Ben the Boat)

 

 

 

 

 

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