And from EU to UK we go………..

Milan – Train – England…..

So Peter had to have a blood test in Milan.  We found the hospital, sourced the right department only to find they only do blood tests in the morning – and of course it was 1pm! So Peter had to go back the next day.  When he did the doctor wouldn’t call Peter to give him the results, Peter had to go back in later that day. We found out why – the doctor wants to move to NZ and wanted to know how to get a job in NZ! Very funny!

Impressions of Milan………… high heeled shoes for women!  Wow – how do they walk in them.  We also took the car out to the airport – yes, me driving again – Phew!! – and dropped it off.  Then it felt a little “empty” not having a car and the independence it gives you. 

Milan had the most beautiful Duomo (cathedral). 

Milan Duomo - the detail is amazing

 

 

Detail of mosaic floor in shopping mall

We found (by mere accident!!) a local restaurant for dinner and it was so good we went back the second night too.  It was jsut down teh street from teh hotel and was packed (which is why we went in).  A shared table arrangment and we eneded up sitting at a table with two locals – who spoke a little english.  GTehy ended up ordering for us and warned of teh HUGE meals.  Here is a photo of theirs (a dish for one):

A dish for one at the "local" in Milan!!

 

Then we had to buy train tickets from Milan to London.  One would think it is easy over here – but no, people at the train ticket stations couldn’t help us!  So we had to find a travel agent – which we did – and it took them an hour to sort it! Rather them than us, as at least they knew the system. 

The train trip was meant to be 5 hours but the train broke down twice – second time just as we entered France.  Have you noticed, this is the THIRD time we have been on a train and the THIRD time it has broken down.  Hmmmmmmm.  Two hours plus delay – but I had some work to do so got the lap top out…….

We met a lovely young lady from Sweden on the train, who spoke four languages and is also learning German. She kindly translated the announcements for us. The train goes maximum 320km/hour. Phew – the countryside just whizzes by!

When we got to Paris it was so hot and we had to get from one side of Paris to the other on a metro – and we had missed our connecting train by 2 hours.  We finally got to the Euro rail ticket station to be told the next train was sold out so we could get the, one an hour later. Thank goodness as we had to do full customs for both France and entering England – which we were not expecting as we’d had no customs all through our other journeys.  We had booked first class so Peter had more leg room and to our surprise and joy it included a first class lounge at the Paris station.  So we rocked up, literally sweat dripping off us, hair lathered to our heads, clothes clinging to us, sweat dripping………..  to an air conditioned first class lounge.  What would they make of these Kiwis!!!   It was very funny.

The train trip itself was great – a proper seat and table with power and internet so I could catch up with all of you.  Turkey for dinner with wine.  And a trip under the channel in the Chunnel.  I was very nervous about going “under” the water but it wasn’t too bad.  Only about 20 minutes, or so it seemed. 

We got to St. Pancras International train station – so large! The queue for a taxi was over an hour long so we caught an illegal taxi which probably cost us a couple of extra pound, but to save an hour at 11pm it was worth it.  So we got to the hotel in Paddington …………… which looked so good on the web, and had guaranteed Kate that it was full accessible.  What a travel nightmare.  First, they don’t have our first night booking. Second, they finally found us a room in a building next door which has seven flights of narrow stairs, in the steaming heat, and no lift!!!!!!! Between us we carried things up but what a mission – poor Peter who did the bulk of the work!  Then the room.  Was so small we had to line the cases up in front of the door and walk Charlie Chaplin style round the bed as there was not enough room to straighten your feet .  They assured us we’d move back to the real hotel the next night…………. The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  Actually, it was a converted night time bar and the cereal and jam was set out on the pool table, there was not much else to eat except hard boiled eggs and a toast. All up and down stairs so by then we were thinking Kate in her chair could not come. Not to mention the dirt, grime and worn out carpets………. Broken tiles, paint peeling…….

So we investigated and there is NO access for a wheelchair.  Problem! Kate was meant to join us that night for a dinner extraordinaire before staying over so the three of us could go to the P!nk concert in Hyde Park the next day.  So after Kate searching and finding no accom in London she decided to come by train just for the night.

We met Kimberly (Peter’s niece living in London) for lunch and saw Westminster Church too. I am fascinated by the churches here having lots of side chapels in them, all different themes and dedicated to different saints or archbishops etc.   Lovely to catch up with Kimberly and we’ll see her again. 

Our train from Milan to Paris

 

Westminster Cathedral

 

How exciting – getting all by ourselves to Victoria Station to meet Kate.  Then off we go to a lovely pub in Mayfair for a pre dinner drink……… or two of French champagne to celebrate seeing each other again.    Had a ball then off to Sketch restaurant for dinner.  What a night! Amazing food, amazing service and amazing environment.  It was a true all round experience.  The toilets were amazing – a white room, white pods like a science fiction movie. The web site is www.sketch.uk.com but took me ages to get in to so hope it doesn’t clog up your system. 

Kate caught the midnight train back to Brighton and we rejoined our “cosy” hotel room…… sigh!!

Next day we were off to go on the London Eye- what a feat of engineering.  And the views! It was surely amazing. 

Us in teh London Eye - up very high!!!!!!

London Eye pod in front of us with Thames in background

Then a lunch in a traditional pub, and back to Victoria station to meet Kate.  By now our excitement levels were surely building as we were off to a music concert in Hyde Park (Hyde park – WOW) to see P!nk (our fav singer and entertainer at the moment).  And, what a concert.  So many people, such great weather and P!nk!!!!  I think Peter sang every word to every song! I wasn’t too far behind.  We were surprised by the amount of food stall options at the Park.  Very good.  Then P!nk was to start – and a huge crane came from behind the sstage and swung over.  On the end was a large box wrapped up like a present with balloons etc.  Once it was over the stage – boom! And out of the box P!nk dropped, down in a wire. 

Peter and Kate positioning in front of P!nk stage, Hyde Park

 

P!nk arriving in big box on Crane

Kate and Jo at P!nk

And her singing started.  Which we LOVE of course.  And then she did a zorb out over the crowd, did her ribbon acrobatics (like they do in Cirque de Soliel – but she was singing all the time) and then during the encore she did a full acrobatic out over the crowd on two wires – wearing nothing but a green sequin body suit and singing full on.  Amazing!!

P!nk on stage, via the big screen

More Peter and Kate at Hyde Park

 

Afterwards we caught a cab and picked up our bags from the “cosy” hotel and then caught the train with Kate back to Brighton.

Brighton – we haven’t seen as much as we want yet as Peter rested up legs and I worked a bit.  But we got to see the Pier and then on the second day, Kate took us to see her allotment. Very nice and quite a fancy idea really – you get to garden a small bit but are surrounded by everyone else’s lovely gardens too.  Then off to a country side place for lunch in the sun, near the seven sister’s cliff.

Kate was kind enough to become our local travel agent via internet and sorted Ireland, trains here there and everywhere, accom etc for England while I worked and Peter entertained himself (sleep, read, TV, Wimbleton……… ).

PS no photos from here on yet – (a) none from Leeds as nothing to photograph (actually there are a few photos of friends and dinners etc) ! And (b) still having issues with camera and laptop talking for the rest.  Will sort it out!!

We left Brighton the next day for London and then on to Leeds for the conference I was attending.   Leeds……… as it was a weekend was full of groups of young fancy-dressed people on hen or stag nights.  Our hotel overlooked the train station so we had many a time watching them alight the train and then later in the night negotiate their way back to the train.  Very amusing indeed. 

The conference went well albeit the content was a bit boring overall.  It was great to see our NZ and Auzzie colleagues.  We left on Sunday to train to York – Kate’s home town.

And we loved York! Such a cute city. Built inside old city walls, a maze of cobbled streets, quaint and lovely shops, history coming out of every turn………  We took the local tour bus, ambled through the streets, visited the amazing Minster (Church / Cathedral) and went to a local pub to watch the final of the World Cup soccer. I even did a little shopping – the first on the trip.  Imagine – 11 weeks and no actual shopping while on holiday.  Peter was starting to think I was ill!!  We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant recommended by Kate’s sister who lives in York. 

Then York to Cambridge today by train.  More later…….. After here we go to London again, Brighton, Ireland, Brighton to pick up our bags and post stuff home! And then to Copenhagen for the Baltic Sea Cruise. It is all going so fast!

 

Love to all

Jo and Peter xx

 

 

 

 

 

Inside old shopping Mall, Milan
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