travel europe

Seven Sisters : Trek from Seaford to Eastbourne

March’15

A bunch of crazy people of a trekking group randomly meet from different parts of England to spend a day walking from one town to another crossing one of the most iconic natural landmarks of the country.

This is the account of a day long trek of the cliffs of Seven Sisters in East Sussex. And I was one of those crazy trekkers.

Seaford

We all met at Seaford station near the Martello Tower. Led by our guide Lana, we walked towards the seafront. Seaford is a lovely seaside town, east of Brighton and west of Eastbourne, right at the foot of the rolling hills of South Down in East Sussex. It has scenic beaches and is a perfect spot for lazy summers.

It was a cold, misty and cloudy day. Too add to the fun, it was quite breezy.

IMG_0842

A view of one of the beaches of Seaford in South Downs.

South Downs National Park:

Our walk commences into the South Downs National Park which is home to the white chalky cliffs of Seven Sisters with the dreamy blue waters of English Chanel washing their feet. The  The walking trails are clearly defined.

highres1

Commencing the walk. The ascent to the cliffs was right in front of us.

Due to some parts of the South Downs being closed, we had to take a diversion, bit of a roundabout to Cuckmere Valley Park crossing beautiful scenery of Cuckmere Haven

And some stopped by Cuckmere Valley Inn for a quick refreshment

IMG_0825

The beautiful and cute Cuckmere Inn huddled among green bushes and trees.

Continuing our walk, we now approach the majestic chalky cliffs overlooking the vast expanse of the English Channel.

IMG_0780

The Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters are seven cliffs. All of them have different names. They are in a nice sketchy pattern with gradually declining arches. The names of the cliffs from west to east are: Haven Brow, Short Brow, Rough Brow, Brass Point, Flagstaff Brow, Bailey’s Hill and Went Hill.(Source : http://www.visitsoutheastengland.com/places-to-visit/seven-sisters-p274481)

IMG_0888

Birling Gap : A beautiful spot with a restaurant of National Trust from where you can admire some really scenic views and click some envious shots.

Next few hours was trekking up and down all seven cliffs. My pace was falling, so were my legs. The views are worth every painful muscle.

Few shots along the way, a misty and cloudy day throughout with sporadic drizzles.

IMG_0857

These rocks seemed to have the side face of a haggard man. Rather many side profiles. Interesting work of nature

IMG_0930

We can see Beachy Head at a distance which is the highest cliff point. While it looks near, we have a good distance to walk upto it.

IMG_0939

There is a red lighthouse here, very similar to the cliffs of Dover. In contrast to the chalky cliffs and lovely blue waters, this is like a bright color brush stroke on a mundane painting.

IMG_0932

Beachy Head :Chalky Headland on English Channel. Also known as Suicide Point. (No wonder)

 

IMG_0935

The undulating terrain of the cliffs is its real beauty. A motor-able road for those who want to take it easy and chilled out.

 

IMG_0940

Another angle of the winding roads

IMG_0926

The sun is slowly settling down. There are breathtaking views as it plays a hide and seek behind the clouds.

As our lovely walk nears closure, we could get the first sight of the beautiful town of Eastbourne from the vantage point of the South Downs park. We have to walk all the way down to that road. As we walk we decide what to do next in the town, and needless to say the unanimous choice is to rest our limbs and treat our famished self at some very well known fish and chips local joints.

IMG_0960

Eastbourne. Very European, red roofs, terracotta shades and some lovely beaches.

Oh, what a day it has was. As I boarded my train from Eastbourne for a long journey of 2 hours back to my home at Reading, I relaxed and reminisced the day long walk , the strain in my calves and tingling numbness in my toes actually felt very rewarding. I would surely come back for another trip probably in summers when its less windy and we have more sun.

Vital Stats

How to reach Seaford or Eastbourne : Both these stations have railway stations which connect them to London and many other main stations. If you are coming from London, you can take trains from London Victoria to Seaford. There is a change that you have to make at Lewes. The change time is very short and you have to change platforms. So be quick. To book tickets and see timetables refer http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

When to visit Seven Sisters : Even if you are driving up to the South Downs National Park, it will be advisable to visit during summers i.e June-August time frame. If its too wet and windy, it may get difficult to walk around.

Where and What to eat : Both Seaford and Eastbourne are coastal towns and have a great selection of sea food delicacies at their local joints. We had fish and chips in Eastbourne at Qualisea Fish Restaurant which has been dishing mouth watering seafood delights since 1964.

 

Advertisements
Categories: Chalky Cliffs, Cliffs, England coastline, europe, seven sisters, solo travel, travel, travel blog, travel europe, Uncategorized, visit britain, visit england | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Danube Bend : Exploring Hungarian Towns

In my short three days trip to Hungary, I chose one day to step out of the glitz of Budapest. As this was a last minute planned trip, I couldn’t do much of my usual research on where to go. So I browsed and chose a small group tour for a day, Danube Bend which would take me to few towns on the banks of the River Danube.

So here started my Day 2 in Hungary. A small matador picked me and few other travelers from the Chain Bridge in Budapest. As I introduced myself to the group of people from Japan, Spain, Argentina and Belgium, I found that other than the guide only I could speak English fluently. Amusing!

What is Danube Bend?

Danube is the lifeline river which flows from Slovakia into Hungary(Magyarorszag). The Danube Bend is a curve where Danube bends near the town of Visegrad to flow into Budapest. This map below which I clicked explains it all.

IMG_4531

The blue line is the depiction of River Danube’s route with a clear bend which is the theme of this tour

Our guide was a Hungarian-Spanish who was explaining in both English and Spanish. After a short 45 min drive from Budapest, we were on a bridge and voila, he announced we are in Slovakia. Were we being abducted?? Hell no! Slovakia and Hungary share borders alongside Danube. As a small treat to us, we had our first stop-over in Slovakia; so well we can technically say we have visited Slovakia though for a short 20 minutes.

IMG_4481

My first photo of the day from Slovakia of Hungary. While I was standing in Slovakia I clicked this beautiful site of Eztergom Basilica in Hungary across the Danube which would be our next stop

After grabbing a quick bite, we headed back to Hungary to explore our first town.

Esztergom

Esztergom is one of the oldest towns of Hungary and former capital city. It is the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary. It proudly houses the Esztergom Basilica, the largest in Hungary and third largest church in Europe.

IMG_4491

Esztergom Basilica. Its massive structure is truly impressive.

The vast pillars of the Basilica is quite an intimidating site.

IMG_4500

Pillars of Basilica

IMG_4511

The interiors of the Basilica are equally impressive.

After a short visit inside the Basilica, we explored its backyard which gave way to some stunning views back of Slovakia from where we had come across to Esztergom

IMG_4517

The bridge on Danube that connects Hungary and Slovakia

There is this huge statue of the coronation of St Stephen which is equally massive.

IMG_4520

The white statue against the Blue sky

That was Estergom known for its Basilica and Catholic faith. The Basilica appears on currency notes of Hungary as well. We started back on our journey in the company of Danube to the next town.

Visegrad

A quaint town on the Right Bank of Danube. Famous for the remains of Royal Palace of King Charles I.

It is more significant as near this town is where the Danube bends. We stopped at a viewing point from where we could see the famous curve of the Danube as it bends and makes it way into Budapest.

IMG_4545

Danube Bend

After clicking some photos of this picturesque sight, we made our way to grab lunch in the town of Visegrad. the streets were isolated and it did give a village feel.

IMG_4534

A small village ‘mall’ which had some cute handmade knick knack shops. There was a lot of wooden furniture and handicrafts as well

After our lunch we headed to our last destination. A short ride and I took a nap behind my sunglasses and woke up when our matador halted.

Szentendre

Finally we came to a town which looked very touristy. Szentendre is a charming town on banks of Danube close to Budapest. It has every element of a quaint European town. Cobbled streets, quaint interesting antique shops, baroque churches and a small town square.

IMG_4560

Szentendre town

We were given one and a half hour to explore the town. Its just one long cobbled street with many narrow offshoot streets. Most of the time I spent was stepping inside each shop. What I bought? Well the most well known Hungarian Paprika for my sister and some wooden Hungarian dolls. And since it was horribly hot and sultry weather, in the short time, I gobbled two large ice creams.

IMG_4553

There was something very quirky about this whole town. Jazzy shops, cars, bling.

IMG_4562

A beautiful street with lemony colored umbrellas and antique shops

And some interesting alleys…

IMG_4568

An alley with some graffiti.

With aching heels, I was exhausted walking around. And it was time for us to head back. Interestingly our journey back to Budapest was not in our rustic Matador but in a big boat. Our guide met us and bid goodbye handing the boat tickets to us.

A beautiful day was coming to an end. It was almost an hour journey cruising through the beautiful Danube and taking last morsels of its enchanting sights. I would remember this peaceful cruise back as I sat and thanked my stars above for these lovely blessings.

IMG_4573

Starting our cruise on the banks of Danube

IMG_4596

And my last click from the boat as the skies turn crimson

 

Some help?

Booking a Danube Bend Tour is easy. Book through any credible operator online. I booked through the City Discovery Tour which costed £36.

http://www.city-discovery.com/budapest/tour.php?id=699

 

 

Categories: capital city, castle, cathedral, cathedrals of europe, churches, europe, hungary, river cruise, travel, travel blog, travel europe, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Secret; Big Surprise : Gdansk, Poland

Poland was never on my list of ‘To be visited countries’, however my work gave me this glorious opportunity quite a few times, and what more can I say now, I love this country more than any other in Europe.

If you are not able to pronounce ‘Gdansk‘, its acceptable, neither was I. G-dansk or Danzig in German is a small port city on the Baltic sea-coast. Along with its picturesque neighboring cities Gydnia and Sopot, they form the famous ‘Tri-City‘ which is the next most upcoming hot spot for multinational organisations. With its modern infrastructure and lots of skilled workforce, we too went there as part of a project for my organisation.

I stayed here for two days. As part of my work I attended a job fair at Gdansk University, meeting a whole lot of professionals from other organisations and a bright young generation of students who on an average speak 2-4 languages. Our morning started with a quick visit to the beach. The questions in my head ‘Whats there in Gdansk’ were answered as I was stunned by the beauty of its coastline.

The Beaches!

IMG_1116 (2)

Gdansk Beach early morning

IMG_1129 (3)

And a pic in the evening as the sun goes down

The city comes alive during summers when it starts buzzing with tourists. A much cheaper and affordable beach holiday destination compared to its neighbours. My visit was during March which was pretty cold.

IMG_1112 (3)

Gearing up for the oncoming Summers. A beach shack under renovation.

Old Town

Like any other European City, the nucleus of the City is the Old Town which is a legacy of the heritage of the country. Gdansk old town is quaint and picturesque lined with old rustic buildings, churches and narrow cobbled streets. Couple of hours is good enough for a tour. And i would insist as always, to reserve your time for enjoying and clicking after dark.

Gdansk old Town is in the Tentative List to enter the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

IMG_1190 (2)

Old Town, Gdansk

Town Hall

The towering spire of the Town Hall is visible from quite a distance. Gleaming in the setting sun. this clock tower was re-built after it was ruined in the World War II. I didn’t get a chance to visit inside, however I have read about its ornamental painted ceiling and other spectacular exhibits.

IMG_1191 (2)

The Main Town Hall

St Mary’s Church

You would be surprised to know this; St Mary’s Church, in this small city is the largest brick church in the world. The church is massive and certainly an architectural marvel. Located in a congested area, I couldn’t find any spot from where i could click a full photo of the church.

IMG_1167

St Marys Church

The Church has modest interiors at the first look, however a walk around would unearth a beautiful ornate organ…

IMG_1179 (2)

View of the organ

….And many rare Gothic and Baroque paintings in the Church as well.

IMG_1180 (2)

A painting and exhibits on one of the walls of the Church

The Green Gate

Paraded by the Polish Kings, the Royal Route is an architectural delight, starting from the Upland Gate to the Golden Gate thru the Long road which is lined with beautiful monuments and ends at the Green Gate.

Green Gate has now become a tourist spot, famous for its four arches. It houses a museum too. If you are in the center of the Old Town you cannot miss it.

IMG_1201 (2)

The Green Gate

Streets of Gdansk Old Town

Gdansk is a small town out of a Russian Fairy tale. It has lovely streets that you can incessantly admire and photograph.
Small town with colorful buildings and of course the old world charm.

IMG_1145

One of the streets in Old Town of Gdansk

IMG_1182

Another beautiful street at nightfall

River Motlawa

Gdansk perches on River Motlawa. Lined with old houses, few modern buildings and eateries, it does give it a little dreamy Parisian feel. One of my favorite views of the sketchy buildings on the banks of the river.

IMG_1205 (2)

On the banks of River Motlawa

Food

A seaside place has the advantage of treating you with fresh catch. Gdansk like other Polish cities was a delight for food specially meat lovers. We ate at a small restaurant called Big Apple. There is McDonalds, Istanbul Kebab shops and many other fast food joints as well if you want to go with the usual.

DSC_0168

Wild Rice with salad, fried meat liver, fish in a white colored curry and boiled vegetables

DSC_0169

That a giant salmon fillet with carrots in a white curry, tomato flavoured rice, fried meat livers and carrot juice..

Ulica Mariacka

More popularly known among the tourists as St Mary’s Street. Words would be less to describe the enigma of this street which is truly timeless. This is an old secluded street which has attracted lovers and artists for last many years.
Flanked by eateries and museums which are really as small as your washroom, this street was re-constructed after the World War II. A Must click at nightfall. My favourite recommended Must See Destination for All.

IMG_1211

Ulica Mariacka, From St Mary’s Church to Motlawa River

Note for Travelers

How to reach Gdansk – Fly to Gdansk from Warsaw or other European destinations. It has a full fledged airport. You can reach here by train as well from major destinations like Warsaw or Berlin. I traveled from Warsaw to Gdansk by Train and it costed 150 PLN and was about 3 hours.

Where to Stay in Gdansk – Many hotels are there in the city. You could book something a little closer to the beach if you are camping here in summers. I stayed in Golden Beach Resort which was 10 minutes walking distance from the Gdansk Beach.

– Language spoken is Polish, a fair understanding of English is selective. The currency used is Polish Zloty.

Categories: baltic sea coast, basilica, cathedral, cathedrals of europe, catherdals of poland, church, gdansk, must visit in gdansk, old town, places to see in gdansk, poland, streets, travel europe, travel gdansk, travel poland, visit gdansk, visit poland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wavel Castle, Krakow – Walking in the footsteps of Polish Kings

A hot sunny afternoon today and I have been dreaming since last night about being one of the Polish queens walking the Royal route alongside my King in the timeless streets of Krakow. Well sounds preposterous and very bloggish to write some invented crap like this. To be honest I do take my historical travels seriously. Okay!! After these possibly ‘LOL’ statements, I need to really say that I couldn’t help writing this tripping specifically on Wavel Castle; it was indeed one of the most impressive fortress I have visited till date in Europe.

IMG_2059

First sight of Wavel Castle

The mighty Wavel Castle situated on Wavel Hill in Krakow is built in Gothic style. Cited in many records are evidences of earliest settlement on Wavel Hill in Paleolithic age, hence human establishments and trade grew around it. For many centuries this was the royal residence of the Polish Kings. Today this is a symbol of Polish Heritage and a reflection of its rich culture.

IMG_2082

The edifice of the Wavel Castle from mthe riverside

Me and my friend just had an hour in between work which was our lunch break; we decided to munch something on the way as we both wanted to tour the castle. Staying close by was a boon; we grabbed a ‘zapiekanka’ each and walked up the gentle climb to the castle entrance.

castle7

Entrance to the castle. Rather this is the view while we exit.

The giant doors admit everyone in and you can tour the grounds and get great views of River Vistula and a part of Krakow without any entry charges.

IMG_2163

One such view from the grounds of the Castle

As we walked to the main square inside the castle compound, I was suddenly taken aback by the beautiful architecture of the buildings inside, the multiple domes, sculptures, the whole ambience glistening in the sun looked quite a fascinating sight..

castle2

The inside view of the Castle Compound

The Castle compound houses the Wavel Cathedral, Museums, Royal Crypts, State Rooms and Royal Private Apartments, Sigismund Bell. You can take anywhere from an hour to maybe a day to take a tour of the Castle. With the crunch of time we had, we decided to tour the major and most talked about corners of the Castle and the first one being the Wavel Catherdral

IMG_2152

Wavel Cathedral and the domes of the Royal Crypts. The golden dome undoubtedly stands out.

The interior of the Cathedral was stunningly jaw dropping. Its rich golden gilded pillars and altar, silver statues and exuberant tapestries, all spelled luxury and wealth of the Polish Kings. This is supposed to be the third Cathedral as the previous two were destroyed. There are more than 15 chapels inside the Cathedral which are all ostentatiously decorated. Photography is not permitted inside. This is definitely a must visit monument in Krakow.

castle6

The front of The Wavel Cathedral

From the Cathedral, there is an alley leading to the inside of the Castle. The beautiful creamy Castle Courtyard is flanked by stately rooms. There is also an exhibition in one of the ground floor rooms which houses the world famous painting ‘Lady with an ermine’ by Leonardo da Vinci; one of the three of of his oil paintings in the world and a close cousin of Mona Lisa in ‘being mysterious’.

castle3

The Castle Courtyard

Next me and my pal made our way up through a dark cellar with rustic narrow wooden steps to view the Sigismund Bell. The Bell is up at the top of the Tower and its quite a gruesome climb up but an interesting one. While you climb up the dark woody staircase you will cross few huge iron bells as well.

bells

Bells on the climb to the Bell Tower

Finally after all the sweat and strained knees, we reach the belfry of the tower. Hanging from the wooden ceiling is this giant intimidating bronze monster, Sigismund Bell, supposedly weighing 13 tonnes. This bell rings till date on national days and important festivals and the gong is heard as far as 50 kms. A true testimony of Polish heritage.

IMG_2144

The Sigismund Bell

It was truly rewarding to have walked the path of the Polish Kings all the way from the Wavel Cathedral to the Stately Apartments and Courtyard and then shed some sweat on our ascent to the Bell Tower. Before we take a flight down the steps to the Castle grounds, captured some lovely views of Krahow City from behind the ‘bars’ at the Belfry.

DSC_0336

The chariming city of Krakow as seen from the Sigismund Bell Tower at Wavel Castle

*Note to Travelers*

– Tickets to the Wavel Castle can be purchased from the Wavel Castle Office.

– The entry to the Castle Apartments, Bell Tower, Royal Crypts, Exhibition is all through the Wavel cathedral which shall be your entry point to explore all the spots.

Categories: castle, castles of europe, cathedral, cathedrals of europe, catherdals of poland, churches of poland, travel europe, travel krakow, travel poland, visit krakow, visit poland, wavel castle, wavel cathedral | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.