In the third week of my holidays I flew up to Brisbane to catch up with Claudette (who you should be very familiar with if you have been following this blog!) I had the most amazing time with her… oh and the expert photos are thanks to Claudette as I forgot my camera (and lets face it … she is much better at taking photos than me!!)
Thurs 5th July – I had an early flight up to Brisbane – can you believe that a 10 hour drive is only a 1 hour flight! Claudette and her brother met me at the airport … was so exciting to see her lovely face again! We drove back to her place (in Capalaba, Redlands) where she pointed out awesome things on the way. Went over the most crazy bridge ever – called “Gateway Bridge” which looked like it just went up and then dropped off! Once at her house we sat outside in the sun and had a cup of tea and talked nonstop! Then we decided to Wellington Point (had my first ever official cold rock experience) and sat on the grass enjoying the sun. We walked out to King Island (yes walked as the tide was low) then drove to Cleaveland to watch the sun set which was absolutely beautiful. That night we planned the rest of our week and spent a bit of time looking up possible camping sites.
Fri 6th July – Had a sleep in as we had stayed up late talking, had breakfast and packed a picnic lunch. We then drove out to Mount Coot-tha (still unsure of how to pronounce it!) The lookout from the top was amazing – such a brilliant view of Brisbane – the cityscape, the port, the surrounding residential areas, the bushland – I loved seeing the Brisbane river winding around. We had our lunch at the top, took some photos and enjoyed the view. Then we drove around to the start of a walking track to Simpson Falls. Was a nice bush walk and a really pretty spot. Took some fun photos but it started to rain a little so we walked back. Driving back to Claudette’s house we took the long/scenic/detour/got a little lost road but did make it back safely!! That night we drove out to Yatala to taste their world famous pies (which did live up to their name) and go to the drive-in movies! One of Claudette’s friends Tim came along. Claudette has the coolest car in the world – a suzuki sierra and we transformed the backseat basically into a lounge room with the help of lots of pillows and blankets. Watched “Ice-Age 4” which was hilarious and I was laughing out loud the whole time followed by a slightly more serious “Spiderman” which was also good. Back at home we returned to our Leeds tradition of Baileys-hot chocolates! A perfect day!
Sat 7th July – We decided to hit the city … we caught a bus into Carindale and then caught a bus into the city (did you know they have bus ways in Brisbane where only the bus can drive!! – so cool so they don’t get stuck in traffic!!) We walked down to the Botanical gardens which were simply lovely… so green and on the water. We had our lunch and got tempted by a man selling strawberries so we bought a punnet which was totally worth it – so delicious!! There was a mangrove boardwalk so we walked along that and then across the Goodwill Bridge to South Bank. I am in love with South Bank!! It was just so beautiful – all the purple flowers lining the footpath! I loved the atmosphere, so many families and people just relaxing on the grass – we sat and read for a bit in the sun before walking past the man-made beach and up to the markets. Tasted a churio and then went into the entertainment hall as the Salvation Army was holding some sort of awareness day. They had their choir and band playing music so we went inside and listened to them for a few songs … they sounded great!! We then walked over the Victoria Bridge to Queen St mall and watched an awesome pair of street artists making paintings using spray paint (so cool!!) We then did a little retail therapy in the form of stationary shopping (my absolute favourite!!) Had a coffee and talked for ages then walked back to the bus stop and that night discussed Claudette’s 21st where she decided on a theme (I don’t want to ruin it cos I’ll write about it later but trust me it’s a cool theme!!)
To be continued…
My last day in England was really sad, but I woke up to a beautiful sight – snow on the terraces even if it was a bit gloomy and cold.
I finished all my packing and walked up to Wimbledon for the last time – it was turning into a crisp and clear day. It was sad looking around the shops and streets for the last time, I tried to take everything in and put it all to memory.
Aunty Susan waved me off as my taxi picked me up and drove me out to the airport. I went through really quickly, the lady checking in my luggage was extremely nice as it was 7kg over and she didn’t charge me anything for it!! Read and waited for my flight. The whole time not comprehending that I was LEAVING ENGLAND!! I felt like I was just going off on another short trip for a week or something but the closer to take off – especially when they called my flight I started to feel so devastated and sad that I was leaving.
My actual flight was pretty uneventful – the first half to Seoul I just couldn’t get comfortable or sleep at all even though I was tired. Watched a lot of movies and just thought about all the wonderful things I was leaving behind in England. My stop-over in Seoul I just walked around and then got onto another plane – I slept most of the way to Sydney. We were ahead of time and very early landing. When I was awake I kept looking at the map which shows where the plane is and once it was over Australia I started to feel very excited. Since it was so early and there were hardly any other flights coming in I sailed through immigration and customs and arrived before my wonderful welcome party! Was engulfed by my family – didn’t recognise Michael (as he is so tall now) and walked right to Mum – special mention to Bethany for the beautiful sign she made!!
And thats it – back in Australia after a semester abroad!!
My last morning in Rome I spent by the Trevi fountain – it really was the place I loved the most in Rome – it just made it feel like I was in Rome so much! I had a cappuccino (yes it was ok to in the morning) and then made my way to the train station to catch my train to Florence. I had a little drama in getting to my train as they announced the platform number only 10 mins before it had to depart. The only problem was that the passageway to get to it was extremely complicated and the stairs to platform 3 were blocked and there was only a sign in Italian which I couldn’t read. Feeling a little anxious that I would miss my train and with no one else around I started panicking before running up to another platform and seeing a small walkway which linked to platform 3. Got there just as the guard was calling for final passengers and when he saw me he waited and let me on – a very close call indeed!! The train ride was very pretty and I got into Florence in the afternoon. My hotel was really close to the train station so I dropped off my luggage and then found the visitors centre where I got a map. I walked into the centre of town along a typical city street with shops on either side but after going around a slight bend in the street I found myself in an enormous open plaza where I seriously stopped in my tracks and laughed out loud to myself ‘wow!!!’ For before me was the Bell Tower, Baptistery and Cathedral in the Piazza de Duomo. It was breathtaking – so ornately decorated and big and just in the middle of a street of shops!! I walked around in awe of them and then sat down in a café overlooking them and wrote some postcards. Had another delicious Italian meal of Pesto gnocchi for dinner at a lovely little restaurant I then did some researching of things to see in Florence. Went to bed but couldn’t really sleep – I had bought a book earlier that day so I stayed up reading til quite late.
Day two in Florence started with the included breakfast at my hotel – a different experience but nice. There was such a change in the weather – a really chilly day – I wore all my layers but still my face was so cold all day! I had planned to go on a walking tour in the morning so went to the meeting spot but no one ever turned up for it so I went to the info centre and bought a self-guided book and walked around myself. Went in the big Cathedral in the piazza and looked inside, walked around the baptistery and read all about the bronze doors with panelling of New Testament stories. Then I went to the Duomo and paid 8 euros to climb to the top. It was a long climb – but half way up we walked around half of the dome at the base of the decorated level which was so cool as it gave a brilliant view of the painted mural depicting heaven and hell. From the ground level when I looked up at the dome I through ‘what pretty paintings’ but when I was at eye level with it I thought ‘how horrible and gross’ (as part of it showed people getting eaten and burnt!) Continued walking up the spiral staircase – the walls were covered in graffiti despite the numerous signs saying not to write on the walls. The view from the top was simply amazing and totally worth the 463 step climb as I got a 360 degree view of Florence and the surrounding mountains area. The houses were all terracotta with flat roofs and there were scattered among them big cathedrals, domes and other towers. It was so cool to see how big Florence was and how the city merged into the mountains. I stayed up there for about 20 mins just enjoying the view – I was there to hear the bells chime at noon.
I then walked to San Lorenzo Piazza where there was another Basilica church and some outdoor markets. After browsing for a little bit I walked up to yet another piazza (they are everywhere!) where I waited for the number 7 bus to Fiesole. The trip took about 20 mins and it was such an enjoyable ride – the views were so beautiful as it left the city and went up in the mountains. It was quite a windy road and Fiesole was the last stop at the very top. It was even colder in Fiesole which was a tiny village and so windy. Got recommended a place that had a pretty view to have lunch at which was a short walk up San Francesco street where I encountered lots of snow and magnificent views!! It was an amazing view back over Florence as I was really was so high up! I could see some of the churches and domes from the morning but they were so tiny now. The place the lady recommended was shut so after gazing at the view for a while walked back down and found a small cosy place that was open with a fireplace. Although the menu was in Italian I recognised the word ‘Risotto’ so went with that and it turned out to be a delicious brown rice, spinach and red wine risotto. Had a walk around the other side of the tiny town before my bus came back – past the cathedral with a strange looking tower, an old roman theatre (which sadly was closed) and along a road which gave views of the opposite direction to Florence – vineyards and villas nestled in the mountains all white with snow. Took some photos although my face was so frozen it was hard to smile! Caught the bus back down and walked back into the centre of Florence. I found an awesome stationary shop and bought some pretty Florentine paper (looking back now I wish I had bought more!) and then because it was still light (even though I was absolutely freezing) I went down to the river and saw the Ponte Vecchio – a bridge that was built up with shops and buildings on it. Was very cool walking along it (all the shops were jewellery shops and expensive looking ones) as it looked just like a street of shops but from the side you could see that it was a bridge over a river! Then I went back to my room and had a hot chocolate and snuggled up in bed with my book. I had such an amazing time in Florence – definitely in my list of top ten favourite places, I wish that I had longer to explore. (I guess I will just have to go back again in the future!!)
Christiane drove me to the bus station where I got my connection to the airport – spent the waiting time talking to Mum on skype which is always nice. After a quick flight into Rome I waited for my luggage and walked straight through customs – no passport check or stamp or anything which I was freaking out about a bit. (but then a French girl told me about the Schengen agreement) Caught a shuttle bus to my hostel – thought they had made a mistake as they dropped me off in a fancy looking street lined with hotels and I had only booked a cheap hostel room! But it was the right number so I tentatively rung the bell and entered the big door and found my hostel inside. My room was not ready so I got a map, left my luggage and went and found somewhere for lunch. It was the start of me discovering delicious Italian food! Had the special of the day at a nice restaurant in the Barabarini piazza which was just across the road from my hostel – tomato and vodka penne pasta and tiramisu and coffee (they just brought out an espresso!) Feeling energised I found my way to the Trevi fountain (less than 5 mins walk) and sat at the fountain for a while in the sun. There were lots of people there all throwing coins into the fountain and such a buzzing place. It was cool just to sit in the sun and enjoy the atmosphere and tried a gelato which was amazing!! Then got a little lost trying to find the Spanish steps but eventually found my way through the numerous narrow winding streets. Randomly bumped into a free walking tour that was about to begin so I went on that – it went for about 3 hours, traipsing around the streets of Rome – went into the Pantheon and an amazing church called St Ignatius with a fake dome that was painted but looked totally real (A true optical illusion!!) Our guide was really funny and told great stories and really knew his history which made it a really enjoyable tour. There are just so many statues, fountains and oblixes in Rome! A great first day in Rome!!
Tuesday I slept in a bit and then found an internet café before walking down to the Colosseum via some interesting streets, it took me a while as I stopped and looked in some shops, explored a supermarket and stopped at the Vittoriano. It was a massive white building which is nicknamed either ‘the white typewriter’ or ‘the white wedding cake.’ It had the tomb of the Unknown Soldier protected by two army soldiers. From there to the Colosseum I passed so many old roman building ruins. I couldn’t’ believe how many there were and how they were just in the middle of busy Rome! They were so big and terracotta brickwork. The Colosseum was just amazing! I bought a guided tour ticket in which the guide did a lot of talking and showing us pictures of what it used to look like. Apparently it used to be all white and sparkling inside as the seating was made from white marble blocks which is all gone now but you could see where the 5 stanza levels were and they went up so steeply! We were allowed to walk around the first and second levels and it was cool to look down onto the arena where they had reconstructed a part of it. The rest showed the passages and elevator systems where gladiators or animals would use to appear on stage to surprise their opponent. Learnt a lot about Gladiators and how the Colosseum worked which I had no idea about before the tour and it was really gruesome! After walking around for a while on my own after the tour and bumping into the two French girls I sat next to on the plane I used my ticket to get into another big area of roman ruins (I didn’t really know much about it like what it was called or what was there as there weren’t any brochures or info around.) Anyway I spent a while walking around this huge area where there were ruins of a big palace, roman baths and pretty much like a whole community. I did see a sign which said that part of it was called ‘Palatino’ and another area ‘Arco di Tito.’ Even though I really had no knowledge of what I was seeing it was still really amazing to see just how civilized the romans were and how it is all still around today for people to see! I saw again the two French girls so we swapped details and decided to meet up for dinner later that night. Got lost walking back to my hostel but it was nice as I saw lots of backstreets and found that everywhere there were fountains or statues – even in the tiny deserted backstreets! I really like the feel and look of Rome – all the houses have flat roofs and are all painted terracotta’s or other warm colours with big windows and shutters. Went back to the Trevi fountain and met up with the Two French girls (Helene and Charlene) and we found a really nice restaurant nearby and we all had yummy pizza. They were really friendly and it was so nice talking to them – they are policewomen and were on holidays as it was Chaleine’s birthday! It was a very fun night and nice not to have to eat alone (as I think that’s the worst part of travelling by yourself) Got back to my hostel rather late – no one was there – I think I was the only guest!!
I woke up to Wednesday and it was pouring with rain! I bought a bus ticket and rode to the Vatican City where I went first to St Peters Basilica. I had an audio guide as I went around inside – again I was blown away at how big a Basilica could be and how ornate it was inside. The dome was amazing – and the big alter was impressive (I had found out on my walking tour that the bronze was taken from the roof pillars of the Pantheon and made into the alter). There were so many memorials and statues for various saints and there was a big nativity scene. Had a true Spaghetti Bolognese for Lunch and an espresso to charge me up for the Vatican Museum. It was such an amazing place and full of so much artwork and sculptures. I made my way to the Sistine Chapel – it took you through some incredible hallways which were completely filled with paintings and murals – the walls and ceilings were covered with frames – no space to see the actual walls!! It was hard to take it all in and in the end you had to keep walking as I could have spent all day walking down one hallway there was that much to see! But going into the Sistine Chapel was just the best experience. It was so quiet but busy at the same time. There were seats along the edge of the room and I was lucky to find a space after standing for a little while which I appreciated as you just wanted to look up at the ceiling which your neck felt after a while!! I had an audio guide which was so helpful in explaining where to start looking as it was such a detailed ceiling. The nine middle panels were where you looked first as they are the famous parts of the Sistine chapel – with God and Adam stretched almost touching fingers. But it was split into 3 sections – depicting God, Man and Noah. The end wall was a massive depiction of the final judgement and the frescos on the side walls were equally amazing – one side depicting Moses’ life and the other side Jesus. There were no photos allowed so I had to make do with a postcard as a memento but I won’t be forgetting what it looked like for some time. I caught the Metro back which was so quick and easy and had an early night packing for my trip to Florence the next day.
We had planned to spend Monday at Versailles but found out that it and most of Paris’ main attractions were closed on a Monday so we decided to go to Disneyland!! I was super excited – maybe a tad too excited but as I’ve never been to Disneyland before I felt I was entitled to feel this way. Luckily I was going with experienced Disneylander Christina. The train trip out was pretty quick and we had no trouble getting in as it was a weekday in low season which meant the whole day we had literally no lines or ques!!! After getting over our initial excitement of being at Disneyland we decided to visit Discoveryland first and went on the spacemountain: Mission 2 Rollercoaster. It said waiting time would be 5 mins but that was just the time it took to walk to the actual ride!! I would hate to have been there when the ques were as long as they cater for! It was an awesome rollercoaster – got quite knocked around as it did lots of loop-the-loops and crazy turns. Got off with shaky legs but a big smile! Next was Autopia – driving cars around a track (I was terrible at steering – hope its not an indicator of what my driving will be like when I return to Australia)
Went to Fantasy land and did the ‘Its a small world’ ride – the song returns to my head even now as I type this up!! It was definitely as they say “The happiest cruise that ever sailed” Spun around in a purple teacup, sailed on the Peter Pan ship and rode the pretttiest horse on the carrosel and felt like I was in Mary Poppins!! Then we went through the massive big castle that was in the centre of Disneyland – Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It was just so pretty and had some nice shops inside and a dragon dungeon below. The music in Fantasy land was just so magical and prncess-like, I loved it!!
Next up was Adventure land – saw Minnie Mouse and a few other characters but everytime we went up to take a photo they were just leaving and would only choose one or two little kids to have photos with … don’t they know I’m a little kid too just wanting a photo with Minnie!?!? There was a Peter Pan show at Adventure land but it was all in French so although cool to watch, we didn’t stay til the end. Walked around getting lost in caves and underground passages the went on the Pirates of the Carribean ride. Went up the treehouse from the Swiss Family Robinsons (want to read the book again) it was amazing – went up so high, seriously the best tree house ever!! Went on the Indianna Jones and the Temple of Peril rollercoaster which was an outside rollercoaster and rather scary – did a little bit of screaming on that one!
Had our lunch on a bench looking at the castle listening to the disneyland music then went to Frontier Land and in the Phantom Manor which was really scary but cool – everyone got squished into a room and then the floor dropped and we then filed into little booths which took us around the house. It was actually really well done and felt like a haunted house! When we were leaving the guy who was helping people get off the rides safely gave Christina a fright by screaming at her!! Was hilarious! (I’ll take a line here to say how amazing all the staff workers uniforms were – they totally matched the land and ride that they were running and made the atmosphere even more disney-like!) Went on the Big Thunder Rollercoaster which was like a train and fun. I loved the music in Frontier land – so ‘American’ !!
Caught the Disneyland railroad steam train which took us around the whole park and we got off at Discoveryland and did the big rollercoaster again. (our photos that the rollercoasters take where so funny the whole day – mostly of us screaming – we dodn’t buy any of them but they were good for a laugh afterwards!) Also went back and did the ‘Its a small world’ ride again before walking down the ‘Main street’ with all the shops. The buildings were so colourful and in-style with disneyland – the detail of the interiors were also amazing – like the lightshades, carpets and lightswitches would match with the type of shop! Every detail was met here at Disneyland – so impressed!! Even the rubbish bins were pretty!!
We found a good spot on the mainstreet to watch the end of the day parade – it was so fun – great music and floats with all the characters (my favourites were the green army men from Toy story and the princess float) Cannot believe we were there from 10:30am-6pm … the day just flew! It was a great change from sightseeing. We got back to Paris pretty tired but went to a nice restaurant for dinner where we had (french) onion soup and a chicken dish. Our waiter was so nice and didn’t mind that we didn’t speak french. A seriously wonderful day!!!
Day two in Paris was much better – we both felt so refreshed and more energetic after a long sleep! We missed breakfast but got a delicious toasted baguette on our way to St Michael’s fountain where the meeting point for the walking tour was. It was about 4 hours in length and we had such a lovely French guide called Camille – she was so funny and vibrant. There were 18 people on our tour and it was nice talking to them as we walked around. Camille took us around the river like we had done the previous day but it was so different having someone tell us what exactly we were looking at and funny stories associated to the monuments etc. We walked over a few different bridges – one was covered with locks people had attached to the sides and written their names on – was very cool! We also went to the little island on the river Seine, hear about Notre Dame, the Oblix, the different arcs, the Louvre etc. We had a hot chocolate break in the middle and at the end we all went to a restaurant that had a special deal for us on the tour and I had salmon and white wine. We decided to sign up for the night walking tour of Montmarte because Camille was also taking it and we had really enjoyed it so we bought tickets there. We had 2 hours before we had to meet up again so we went to look at the Arc de Triomphe. It was unbelievable!! We had seen another arc near the Louvre but this one was so much bigger – again it was difficult to get a photo with it all in it! But I really loved it – it was beautifully designed and the carvings were so detailed. The sculptures at the front were so big as well. Underneath was the grave of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame which was continuously guarded by soldiers after it had been extinguished on two separate occasions previously and (the people who had done it were flown back to their home country immediately!) The arc is on such a busy roundabout – 12 entrances/exits and 6 lanes with no lines on the road!! It goes without saying that we walked underground instead of trying to cross! We walked down the Avenue des Champs-Élyséeswhich was just so busy! We walked down the expensive side! (we didn’t buy anything)
We got the metro to Montmartre and came out right in front of the Moulin Rouge! It was all lit up because it was dark and looked so cool! After a coffee we met up with our walking tour – about 80% were people who had been on the morning walk!! Montmartre is on big hill so the tour was spent walking up the winding cobble streets past houses that artists such as Van Gough and Picasso lived in to the top of the hill where the big white church – Sacré-Cœur stood overlooking Paris. As we walked around Camille showed us these alien murials in the street – it became a game – who could spot it first. Aparently they are all over the world but Paris has the greatest number of them so they think the guy who is putting the up lives in Paris (stay tuned for my Rome posts as I spooted on there!!) We went inside the church and it was another spendid church with decorated murials and stain glass windows. At 8pm we went outside and saw that the Eiffel tower had begun its light show (lasts about 10 mins on the hour every night) We were so high up it and everything was small but you could still see the tower above everything else. The light show was so cool – it looked like it was shimmering and sparkling and there were laser light beams off the top. Camille told us that the man who designed the light show for the Millenium still receives royalties whenever it is on – so if people take professional photos and sell them he gets a share!! Crazy! Afterwards we all went to the bottom of Montmartre to a terribly stereotypical australian bar. It was nice chatting to the people on the tour – stayed there for a couple of hours and got lots of good travelling tips. Got back late but totally in love with Paris!
Christina and I didn’t sleep the night before we left for Paris – our flight left from Manchester which meant we needed to catch a taxi to the Leeds train station and then a train to the Manchester airport! So we stayed up and our taxi came at 2:4 am. We had breakfast in the airport and then got on our flight – it was such a quick flight – only exciting thing was that I was sitting next to the emergency exit so I had extra leg room and had to be told how to open the emergency exit door. I was so exhausted that I slept most of the way. We sailed through immigration (got another stamp in my passport) but it took us a while to work out where we were going and how to get to our hostel as there was not much English around. But we found our train and tram and then walked the rest of the way. It wasn’t the greatest hostel we had stayed in – in fact it was rather small and dirty but we figured we wouldn’t be spending much time there so it didn’t really matter. We got a map from reception and made our way to the Eiffel tower as it was really close to our hostel and got so excited when we could see the top of of it behind some buildings. I was totally gobsmacked at just how big it was – we struggled to get a photo of us and the tower all in!! But it looked beautiful in the BLUE SKY and SUNSHINE!! (such a novelty for us as it had been a long time since we had experienced both!!) It was still very cold though. We spent a while under the Eiffel tower – it was such so incredibly enormous! The four big pillars were just massive and from the base, looking up was insane!! I liked how it was decorated – not just straight pieces of metal but curved details and so many different patterns around the edges which the photos I’d seen of the tower don’t show. We had lunch at a place nearby although we didn’t know really what the menu said so I just pointed to something on the special board and it turned out to be a delicious cheese and ham quiche.
After lunch we walked along the river Seine towards the Louve, it was quite a deceivingly long walk from the map but we were in no hurry so it was nice to be near the water and see the busy traffic jams, the shops on the side of the path selling books and paintings and just be in the sun!!! The Louve was massive – I had no idea it was going to be so impressive!! We went down the glass pyramid to get tickets. We didn’t have a whole lot of time before closing time so we hit up the big things like the Mona Lisa (was bigger than what I was expecting and really cool but crowded so we only had a few minutes in front of it) We decided since we were in Paris we should look at French art so went to that section but we could have seriously spent such a long time there since there was such a huge range of art and so many sections and corridors! We were totally exhausted by closing time so we caught the metro back and went to bed really early.
My hall group has been amazing!
It was run through the University Christian Union.
We met most Wednesday nights at Anna and Megans house which was a short walk from St Mark’s. Kevin, Christina and Claudette also came and I loved meeting at the gate and all walking over together.
Anna and Thomas were our leaders and our numbers varied but Megan, Claudette, Christina, Thomas, Anna, Katie, Joey, Kevin and I made up then core group. For the first half hour or so would drink tea and coffee and talk about what we have been up to that week, play a card or board game or just share funny stories – pretty much talk about anything really! Then we would open the bible, we were looking at Luke and would do a bible study together. It was great to share ideas and thoughts on God’s word as well as be challenged to look deeper at his word.We would end our nights with a big prayer session and we would all go around and share a praise point and a prayer point then have open prayer.
I am going to miss this group of amazing people so much when I return home – they were such a blessing and answer to prayer.
Woke upso refreshed today, Christina and I attempted to make pancakes but they turned out more like crepes which were still nice with blueberries and yughurt. We checked out and then Christina and I went and explored Edinburgh Castle. It was less busy with most of the people in Edinburgh for NYE had already gone home. There was a half hour guided tour which took us around the outside walls and coutyard and our guide pointed out all the places to go see. We headed to the crown jewels first, there were really interesting displays describing the history of them which I had never known like the fact that they were smuggled out of the castle before the Englsih could destroy them, then returned a few years later and then put in a padlocked chest and not opened for 111years beofre finally being opened again and put on display!! They weren’t as the English Crown Jewels at the Tower of London but they were still really impressive! We looked at some rooms which used to be the dinning hall and parlour rooms but now restored and decorated with paintings and big fireplaces but otherwise empty. There was so mauch information about Mary Queen of Scots!! there were POW quarters on display which were really interesting and there was a huge War Memorial Hall which had so many books which had names of soliders killed in battle. After the castle we walked around the castle, it was so sunny – not a cloud in the sky but it was so windy and cold! Did some last minute shopping – finally decided on a tarten scarf pattern and then we all got the train back to Leeds.