18 Oct 2010

Istanbul - London - Amsterdam

Repin at the Rue Scribe waiting for the Cosmos bus
 From Turkey, we went to London where we stayed at the Novotel in Hammersmith.  It's a 4 star hotel and is not bad actually - its fairly close to the tube and the bus station is within walking distance.We were in London, prior to the tour, for about 5 days. The tour started on 16th October, one day after my birthday which was celebrated with a our friends when we were in Istanbul. It was a surprise actually - one organised by Hanin.

I had a great time in Istanbul and in London, missed my friends for a while. They all went back to KL  after Istanbul. In London, we renewed our acquaintance with this huge city - we walked along the Thames, took a bus through its old streets and rode the London Eye. We went back to Melur the Malaysian restaurant on Edgware Road and had our first Malaysian meal for days. Then we went to Oxford Street and  I bought some pullovers for Shasha, the Kath Kidston bags that both Shasha and Sarah loved and a few souvenirs to take back home. 
( Some of these were stolen subsequently but were later replaced - some, not all).

The Malaysian Restaurant that we frequented is situated nearby!

On the 16th October we started the tour. First we were driven to Dover in a coach. Our tour director would meet us at Dover, it seems. But in Dover we found that our tour director was still in Calais and could not come over because of a labour strike in France. Then we found out that we had to carry our luggage on to the ferry, which was called 'The Pride of Scotland'. It was fairly big, with lots of restaurants catering to the different budgets. The journey was smooth and uneventful - no squalls or heavy seas. In fact the sun was shining brightly!

FRench and Belgian country side

It took us approximately one hour to cross the Channel and even from far we could see the famous "White Cliffs of Dover", made nostalgic by Jim Reeves' song of the same name. I took the time to read my book, window shop at the tax free shopping arcade and Repin had a little nap. At 2.00pm we berthed and an announcement told us to take our bags and walk down to the level 3 floors below us to meet the bus and tour director.

Our bus was waiting for us and so was our Cosmos tour director, Flora Anfuso, an Italian living in England. Flora seems okay, though I noticed that throughout the trip she hardly talked to us (Repin and I as well as Mr and Mrs Ho from Singapore.) Maybe she didn't know what to talk to us about. I find her not rude exactly but not  really friendly and warm. She was also a bit aloof, a bit standoffish. Whenever I said something to her, either she ignored it (if its not a question) or she would answer but very briefly. She definitely wasn't warm towards us. I could see how friendly she was with the others though. For sure I will refuse to take Cosmos again as a tour package. We enjoyed our last trip with Globus so much last year which was the reason we took the Cosmos tour - because it was a sister company. Nevertheless we did have a great time in spite of all this - we were in fun-filled Amsterdam and took a boat ride on the canal, went for a visit at one of  the cheese factories, visited a traditional Dutch village (very touristy though) complete with girls wearing clogs and windmills and also went to the Zuider Zee. At night we went to the red light district, which was really really, interesting! What I really enjoyed was not the Red Light district itself but the funny little jokes that our local tour guide gave us. She was nothing to look at, but she can talk and has a really good sense of humour.


Our walking tour of London started from Big Ben


On the Rhine cruise to Basle

Repin walking along one of the canals in Zaanse Skaans


naida said...

Wow, your trip sounds soooo ncie Kat. Happy belated birthday!

I would love to visit London one day. Fantastic photos! The French countryside must be beautiful.


Kat said...

Yes - in some parts they're just like England though. They share the same climate more or less. I loved Switzerland though - that is simply gorgeous.