Because Thomas Becket was murdered for his religious beliefs, his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral soon became a place of pilgrimage, making the cathedral very famous and very wealthy. Unfortunately however, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries King Henry VIII ordered the shrine to be removed, and Becket's tomb, along with his remains, were thrown in the river, never to be seen again....
The Cathedral gets pleasantly filtered light through the most amazing stained glass windows. I always love looking at them, they are such amazing works of art!
We ended our tour with a walk through the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, which are also very much worth a visit, because it offers a great opportunity to better appreciate the architecture on the outside of the cathedral!
After the extensive and informative guided tour, we continued our journey with an hour-long drive around the south of London, to.....
.... Hampton Court Palace, famous as the court of King Henry VIII (and his six wives). As a lifelong fan of all things Tudor this was a dream come true!
During his reign, Henry commissioned the building of the Great Hall, which has an exquisite carved hammer-beam roof. The hall was the most important room of the palace, and the King would dine here seated at a table upon a raised platform. Henry VIII also added the Royal Tennis Court to the Palace, which is now still used by the 450 members (among them the Earl of Wessex) of the Hampton Court Real Tennis Club.
What many people don't know is that apart from a Tudor palace, half of Hampton Court Palace is actually in baroque style. At the request of William of Orange and Queen Mary II it was largely rebuilt at the end of the 17th century by the most eminent architect or the time, Sir Christopher Wren. So when you visit Hampton Court Palace, you basically get two palaces for the price of one ;-)
But for us that was not all that was included in the price of our tickets, because on the day we visited we could also enjoy the many stands (and free food!) during the BBC Good Food Festival in the palace gardens, which was a lot of fun, even more so thanks to the nice weather!
After a quick (alright, not so quick, actually a rather extensive) visit to the gift shop, we drove to our hotel for the night, the Warren Lodge Hotel in Shepperton. Although the rooms are rather small, and it is difficult to find a parking spot, this hotel is definitely worth its money, because it is beautifully located on the bank of the river Thames.
At the end of August, autumn was already showing its colors. That is why I love this photo, definitely one of my favorites of this holiday! This was a great place to unwind after a busy day full of new experiences.
I planned to do all these posts about my trip to England last month right after I returned, but I didn't imagine being a postgraduate student is so much more work! Immediately after returning from this relaxing vacation I was knee deep in research work, writing thesis outlines and preparing oral presentations. It is a lot of fun though, and very interesting, but unfortunately it meant I hardly had time to blog or even check Facebook or Instagram :-(
Anyway, under the motto "Better late, than never" I decided to just write about England now. Gives me the opportunity to revisit some of those great holiday memories!
On the first day we had quite the long drive from Rotterdam, via Belgium, just over the border in France, to take the ferry from Dunkirk to Dover. It was actually raining pretty bad on the continent, but as we approached England the skies cleared (it's usually the other way around :-P), and the famous white cliffs of Dover looked even prettier reflecting some rays of sunshine!
The port of Dover is built immediately against the white cliffs, which is pretty cool, but finding your way out of the port through the maze of roads was a bit of a hassle, especially considering the fact that I also immediately had to switch to driving on the left side of the road :-S
There was still quite a breeze though, so I almost lost my new Beulah 'Eden' scarf while posing for this photo (the HORROR!). For the rest of the outfit I went with something comfortable, yet classy: navy Zara skinny jeans, grey Zara sweater, Mint Velvet 'Bibi' plimsolls, Modalu bag and Mango jacket (which Queen Letizia of Spain also wore recently).
Our first stop in England was just a short drive uphill to the top of the white cliffs, where the impressive Norman Dover Castle dominates the surrounding landscape.
(Btw, if you ever plan to go to England en you love visiting historical places, I recommend to order a 9- or 16-day Overseas Visitor Pass from English Heritage, which can save you a lot of money, if you plan to visit two or more English Heritage sites!)
Dover Castle was built in the 12th Century, but the sight has been of strategic importance since Roman times.
Inside the castle is an exhibition about Henry II (who built the medieval fortress as it still stands today) and various rooms are decorated the way they would have been during his time.
The view from the castle walls is absolutely amazing! You can see all the leaving and arriving ferries, and the weather was just gorgeous!
Dover Castle has been of strategic importance as recently as during the WWII, when the extensive Napoleonic tunnel network underneath the castle functioned as a wartime hospital, and was used as a coordination centre for the evacuation from Dunkirk in May 1940.
After the extensive visit to Dover Castle it was time for a half hour drive to our hotel for the night: the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, situated within the cathedral precincts. Talking about a room with a view....
The price for the rooms not only include a full English breakfast, but also free entrance to the cathedral (worth £10.50 per person), so I'd say that is a pretty good deal, even more so because the main attraction of the town is only a hop, skip and a jump away!
The day ended with exploring a bit of Canterbury, looking for a nice place to eat something (and there are loads!), and really, who can refuse a sign like this:
And an exterior like this! But The Old Weavers' House does not only look good from the outside, but on the inside as well. And the food is great as well!
When we returned to our hotel for a good night's sleep after a rather exhausting, but fun day, we saw Canterbury Cathedral was beautifully lit against the night sky. Pretty impressive sight and a good start to an amazing holiday!
So here is part two of my travelogue of Sicily (read part 1 here). After two days with quite some driving, the last three days the driving time was considerably shorter, traveling from Noto to Syracuse.
Day 3: Noto - Syracuse
We first wandered the (rather steep) streets of Noto, famous for its architectural masterpieces in Sicilian baroque style. Below a picture I took of the Cattedrale di San Nicolò di Mira, which has been restored in all its peachy glory, after it collapsed in 1996 due to structural weakening caused by an earthquake. It is just so beautiful!
Caffe Sicilia, in front of the cathedral, is world famous for its granita, so obviously felt obligated to order a few flavours (almond, wild strawberries and apricot), so I could report back to you (my life is hard...). Over the years I think I tasted my fair share of different ice creams, and theirs is definitely one of the best! Yum yum!
On the way to Sicily, we actually planned to stop for a swim at the beautiful Cavagrande natural reserve, but all the access roads were blocked. So when we arrived at Syracuse we checked their website to see what was going on. Turns out that the whole reserve was completely devastated by a large fire only a week before out arrival, and the entire Cavagrande reserve is closed until further notice. The fire was most likely started by arsonists. Why, why, WHY would someone do such a thing?!! These things make me so angry!
The rest of the day we spent in Syracuse, mainly on the island of Ortygia, doing some people-watching again at the Piazza del Duomo and eating spaghetti with ansjovis while enjoying the sunset. And yes, that pretty much was as heavenly as it sounds ;-)
In Syracuse I stayed at B&B Nostos, a modern and stylish small hotel situated a one-minute walk from the bridge to Ortygia. If you ever visit Syracuse, I would definitely recommend this B&B! It's affordable, there is free parking available, the service is great, the personnel speaks pretty fluently English, and the breakfast buffet offers a wide array of choices.
Day 4: Syracuse - Necropoli di Pantalica - Catania
The next day we tried our luck at another nature reserve, Pantalica, north-west of Syracuse. The reserve is known for the Necropoli di Pantalica, an extensive archeological site, with over 4000 rock-cut chamber tomb cemeteries dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC.
The view there was really spectacular!
In the afternoon we arrived at our final hotel, Grand Hotel Baia Verde. It is situated on the lava rock beach of Catania, so it was the perfect place for a swim in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.
I also tried to prove one can never be too white for a white bikini ;-)
Day 5: Mount Etna
Catania is situated at the foot of Mount Etna, which at almost 11,000 ft towers over the surrounding lands. So naturally on our last day in Sicily, a trip to the top was in order.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and so did my trip to Sicily :-( Luckily, I won't have to wait to long until the next trip, since I am going to England this August. So you can expect new travel posts pretty soon!
View from the plane of Mount Etna
And once again: I'm back, baby! Sicily was fun, interesting, and incredibly hot. Unfortunately, when arriving back home I was welcomed by wind, rain and Netherlands losing from Argentina in the World Cup semi-finals, so I'm a bit blue :-(
Luckily I could look back to a great vacation with some nice holiday photos!
Day 1: Catania - Enna - Agrigento
When we arrived at Catania Airport we picked up our rental car and first drove to Enna (tip: never hire from Greenmotion! We had an awful experience! We were ripped off, and they are totally oblivious to the term 'customer care', both at the counter in Catania and at their 'customer service' in the UK.)
Luckily the rest of the holiday went pretty smoothly!
Jeans: Zara / Top: Mango / Shoes: Mint Velvet / Jacket: Tatiana's Delights on Etsy / Scarf: Alice by Temperley
Belt: Mango / Bag: Longchamp / Sunglasses: H&M / Necklace: Cristalina
Via the hilltop town of Enna we went to the Villa Romana del Casale, famous for its largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaic floors in the world.
If you ever want to spent the night in a hotel room that is completely over the top, B&B La Dolce Vita in Agrigento is a safe bet! I just couldn't say no to that awesome baroque bed when I came across it on Booking.com ! But apart from the crimson red and gold interior, their service is great too!
Day 2: Agrigento - Ragusa - Noto
The next day though, I had rather a loud wake-up call....
After a yummy breakfast, the first stop of the day was at the 'Valle dei Templi', an extensive archeological site of ancient Greek temples and other architecture just outside the town of Agrigento. The photos pretty much speak for themselves. It was gorgeous!
After a 2.5 hour drive in our tiny Smart car, we arrived at the little baroque town of Ragusa. Very picturesque and a great atmosphere, so the perfect place to enjoy some 'Insalata Caprese'.
After getting lost in all the wonderful small streets in Ragusa, we luckily still arrived just in time at the Kallikoros Resort, just outside Noto, for a quick swim in the pool!
To be continued in tomorrow's post!
My, my! We all do a lot of flying these days! So much so, that the 'airport outfit' is very much a thing. The thing to keep in mind though is that when traveling it is much more about being comfortable, than being fashionable. The perfect airport outfit combines both. But where to start?
Well, I'm off to Sicily for a few days, so expect some traveling posts the coming week!
A bit late with this last post, since I am already back from Iceland for more than a week, but you have to finish what you started, right? ;-)
During our last day in Iceland we took a route through the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of the capitol Reykjavik. First we visited Vikingaheimar, a new museum about the Icelandic viking heritage.
The rest of our last day was relatively low-key, just driving through small towns and enjoying the views.
Definitely LOVED my trip to Iceland, and can't wait to visit it again someday!
When we left Hunkubakkar Guesthouse, where we stayed the night, the owner told us there was a really beautiful canyon just 2 km further down the road that we should really see. Nothing about it in our Lonely Planets and Rough Guides, but as it was really close we decided to check it out. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (yes, I am also not quite sure how to pronounce that exactly...) is the perfect example on how beautiful Iceland really is. This thing is literally in someone's backyard (the gravel road going there is the road that takes you to the guesthouse), not even in the tourist guides, but SO stunning! While doing a little research for this post I even found out it served as a filming location for Thor: The Dark World. That Tom Hiddleston might have walked here, makes it even more beautiful ;-)
After a half-an-hour drive we finally reached the southern periphery of the Vatnajökull: Skaftafell National Park. It's many glacier tongues stretch out onto the plains and are clearly visible from the Ringroad. And again, also the Vatnajökull has been the filming location for several movies en television series, including the James Bond movie A View to Kill, Batman Begins and Game of Thrones.
Our last stop before heading back to Reykjavik was the glacial lake Jökulsárlón, another gorgeous place frequently used as a filming location.
The lake is only 60 years old, and was created by the retreating glacier tongue. The deep gorges that the glacier left behind were filled with meltwater and large blocks of ice. These icebergs gather at the mouth of the lake's shallow exit, melt down into smaller ice blocks and roll out into the sea, only a kilometre away. There you can see the ice blocks on the black sand beach , thrown back onto the land by the sea. It really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to....
When we arrived there was a large group of seals fishing in the lake and enjoying the sunshine. Along the coast a group of whales could be seen from the shore. I tried to talk a little 'Seal' to the nearest seal, and although I was a little rusty, I did think he understood what I was talking about (I did however receive some weird looks from some other tourists there) ;-)
After that we had a long ride back to Reykjavik, but it was totally worth it!
On our second day in Iceland we drove along the southern coast to the Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe, covering 8 percent of the surface of Iceland.
To get their we had to take the only existing 'highway' in Iceland: the Ringroad, also known as Route 1. Along the way we stopped at several natural highlights.
The Europeans reading this will remember the air traffic mayhem that was caused by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull vulcano in 2010. I myself was stuck in Madrid at the time and had to take a bus ride of 33 hours back to the Netherlands (with NO toilet, so a stop every 2 hours -_-), so I couldn't resist taking a look in the Eyjafjallajökull Eruption Centre and see what all the fuss was about. I can tell you one thing now: those Icelanders know how to turn a natural disaster into a profit. Eyjafjallajökull merchandise EVERYWHERE! Bottled ash, vulcanic ashtrays (pun intended?!), even Eyjafjallajökull perfume (what?!). Naturally, I fell for it and bought bottled Eyjafjallajökull ash. Just along the road there are still entire fields covered with it, but hey, whatever....
Another waterfall we made a stop for was the Skógafoss. With a width of 25 metres (82 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft) it is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. Legend goes that a giant buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall, because he didn't want his sons to inherit his fortune. Years later a boy found the treasure chest, but was only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The local villagers decided to use the ring as a door ring for the local church, where it can still be found ;-)
The last town along our way was Vík, which is the southernmost town in Iceland and (with barely 300 inhabitants) the largest settlement in the area. It has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, covered with black basalt sand. Vik is easy to spot from a distance, because offshore you can see several pointy basalt rocks, locally known as the 'Troll Rocks'. According to folklore they are trolls who went fishing, and when they weren't back in time they were caught by the rising sun and turned to stone.
After Vik we had a pretty boring (although gorgeous) ride across lava fields to the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. We stayed the night just outside Kirkjubæjarklaustur in one of the small cottages of Hunkubakkar Guesthouse. I would definitely recommend staying there if you ever tour Iceland!
And that was it for day 2!
I just love Iceland's rugged nature! It's bleak, dark, spacious and clean at the same time. It looks almost 'otherworldly'. No wonder Iceland is a popular place for directors to shoot their movies and TV series. Over the last few years, Iceland has been a set for Game of Thrones, Prometheus, Oblivion, and many more. So for our first full day in Iceland we decided to do the 'Golden Circle', a route from Reykjavik to the major touristic sights near the capital.
One of the main tourist sights of Iceland is of course the area of boiling hot springs around Geysir (the 'original' geyser). They are visible from miles away as a pall of steam rising above the plains. Geysir ('the Gusher') has been inactive for decades, but after an earthquake in 2008 things are going again, although unfortunately Geysir's 70 metre high eruptions are still extremely irregular. Luckily his nearby little brother Strokkur ('the Churn'), fires off a 30 metre spout every 4 or 5 minutes and offers the opportunity to make some beautiful pictures.
Coat: TU at Sainsbury's / Scarf: Aquascutum / Skinny jeans: H&M / Suede boots: Pied-a-terre
Turtleneck jumper: H&M / Earrings: Souvenir from my previous visit to Iceland
Of course I was dressed warmly, but with Iceland's icy winds even my Darwin replikate jacket wasn't really enough (that's when you really notice the faux vs. real shearling difference!). Luckily at our last stop there was a warm cafetaria with a magnificent view of the Gullfoss ("Golden Falls") waterfall. Unfortunately, the elves were on strike, so we had to clean up after ourselves ;-)
- ABOUT TATIANA -
Hi there! I am a fashion and travel enthusiast living in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Tatiana's Delights is your online resource for preppy and minimalist fashion, travel tips, affordable home decor and adorable cat photos. You can find out more about Tatiana's Delights here.
- LET'S CONNECT -
- INSTAGRAM -