Friday, February 19, 2016

Kendal, Lewes, London, Leeds, and Hamburg!

After all the drama of flying into North West England at the peak of the floods (see previous), the rest of December was generally pretty quiet for me.

Kendal Town Hall viewed from Allhallows Lane

I more or less stayed in the old home town of Kendal for a month.  I grew up and went to school there until I was 18, but now I know virtually nobody there anymore apart from my older relatives.  Pretty much all my old friends and contemporaries have moved away over the years, lured away by colleges or job opportunities.

It’s a little strange, to be honest, I know the streets and buildings so well, and the whole place has large amounts of personal history for me, but I am essentially a stranger here now in many respects.

Lower Fellside, Kendal
I did manage to track down a couple of old friends whilst in Kendal, however, who had been away and come back.  I got to chew the fat and catch up with the news about people from school that I’d lost touch with for thirty years or so, which was great!

I had a fairly quiet Christmas and New Year period with the family.  The furthest I traveled was a couple of trips into the Lake District.

The Bridge House in Ambelside - I did managed to make a couple of trips into the Lake District during December.

January was a complete contrast to Deceber, as I started some of my English/European traveling in earnest.

First on the list was a trip down to the South Coast to see my brother and his family in the Brighton/Lewes area.  The South of England has a different feel and culture to the North, for such a small place England manages to have a host of accents, dialects, geography, and cultures.

The narrow streets of Lewes
It was great to see my young nephew.  He’s currently losing his baby teeth and getting his adult ones
My nephew

I also managed to Squeeze in a  day trip to London.  I visited the National Portrait Gallery (mind-blowing!), The National Gallery and the Tate Modern.  As well as a couple of super old pubs on Fleet Street.

Approaching St Paul's Cathedral on Millennium Bridge

Looking down the Thames from Millennium Bridge

Selfie with Van Gogh's Sunflowers behind me

The National Gallery

My second journey was to Leeds, a city I lived in (or thereabouts) for about twenty years.  I met up with friends for a curry and then drinks in the pub.  You don’t really get snow in Florida, so I always hope for a little when I visit colder climes.  Amazingly it snowed that very night, making the meet-up all a little extra magical.

A snowy Chemic pub in Leeds

Towards the end of January I flew to Hamburg, Germany for a few days.  I was getting a bit blasé about traveling by this point so didn’t do a lot of preparation.  Consequently I arrived in the evening with just a crap map that I’d printed off the internet and it took me some time to find the right train and then walk to my friends from the station.

Hamburg was excellent.  My favourite part was the evening spent in the Reeperbahn district with an old German friend, seeing some of the old Beatles haunts, the famous redlight area, and the lively dive bars that never sleep.  Hamburg has definitely joined my (long and growing) list of favourite cities.

The Reeperbahn in Hamburg

Outside the /Star Club, and old Beatles hangout

Birds skating on the ice in central Hamburg

Docks area of the Elbe River

It was a great month with some unforgettable traveling but by the end I felt a little worn out and a rest was in order.  If anything, I knew that February was likely to be just as busy, if not more so!

So I laid low at my parents’ house for ten days or so.

I had Liverpool, Chester, Cornwall, London, Lewes, and at least one trip into the Lake District on the schedule for February.