Posts Tagged With: travel

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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.

 

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Another angle of the winding roads

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Solo Travel v/s Not a Very Solo Travel

The quintessential debate on Solo Travel vs Travel with a companion or a group…And the argument continues…

Today is International Women’s Day . As I reflect back on all my travels in last one decade, they have mostly been Solo, however I am not a hardliner to over sell the concept of traveling alone. Yes Solo travel is fun, high on learning and it’s liberating, however travelling with a partner or a group of explorers is equally exciting, jovial and high on discovery.

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Sometimes Solo, Sometimes Together!

Why I started traveling Solo?

As a child I was an exceptionally travel sick kid. Travel was equal to nausea, puking, headache or some new ailment which did not happen to me before. The smallest journey from my school to home was a suffering with me puking almost thrice a week (good stats!). And my big sissy always leaving her friends behind to take care of Me. Honestly I could write a separate post on My many embarrassing puking moments in public. My family and Me were all on the same page – I never ever can travel alone.

Life changed and i landed up in a job which made me live out of suitcase for 25 days a month. Traveling alone for a girl in India is neither safe nor a very pleasant experience, however when you have less options you start loving what you are doing. What started as a drudgery, soon became fun. I started loving my solo trips mixed with work and exploration. Thereafter there was no looking back.

You Love it? I Love it too. Whats so wonderful about Solo Travel?

Its so exciting to travel Solo. Really?? I must be an old mad cynical woman to say this. Well traveling all by yourself has certainly lot of merits to it which i can explain from my first-hand experience. And yes it’s a fast catching up trend now.

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The tension free Solo swim.

Tough Decisions…Whats that?

When both of you or many of you are traveling together, don’t you spend endless hours first to decide where to go, how much to spend, how to share expenses, where to stay, where to eat, how to travel, what to carry, phew! endless decisions over which you squabble endlessly. Traveling Solo is so peaceful, you know where you want to go and where to eat and you freeze it then and there.

Freedom Unlimited

Solo Travel gives you the space you always want. Wake up when you want, go to your choice of places. You can decide your itinerary. You can explore places at your own pace. I have discovered more places by myself on solo trips than I have with others. Sometimes I do the touristy thing of seeing more places in a packed time, sometimes I do a traveller thing of soaking myself at one single place which I love.

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No one is seeing you. Sit freely where you like. This is yours truly at a railway station in Switzerland.

I don’t have like-minded travel friends

I love historic places. I love going to museums as well. There have been times when I have gone with friends who are not fond of museums. While I admire the sculptures and paintings they fret whats so marvelous in twisted figures and admiring overdressed Victorian portraits. By the time we walk out of the museum, we have to walk to the nearest pub to chill our disagreements. Phew! Unless you have like-minded travelers, it maybe sometimes harrowing and at times compromising situations in your travel plans.

I don’t have to impress anyone

Yes I know all you Men have this complaint that women take ages to make an appearance from the powder room even on a holiday. Don’t all shops sell exotic bikinis to sun tans to coolers all for vacations? I have waited for fellow travelers who are busy striking the right combination between their footwear and lipcolor, after all, those pouts in selfie on Facebook will call for many Likes. I am at my filthiest best when I travel alone and trust me its very relaxing to wear the same jeans or shorts for the whole trip. No makeup and a bad hair day is all mine; and I am happy.(I seldom have my own travel photos on Facebook or my blog, now you know why)

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And you can cleverly hide that unstylish outfit with some silhouette photography 🙂 I did it in the deserts of Emirates

More the Merrier! Travel with Companions is not bad at all.       

There are lots and lots of pros of travelling with a companion and friends. You are certainly in for a lot of fun and exciting times. I have traveled with family, friends in India and abroad; I had the most memorable trips.

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Catch up time. Being together is good!

Someone to look behind your back….SAFETY!

I recall one silly solo trip I did in 2007 in India. While traveling in the state of Kerala from Kovalam Beach to Trivandrum, I boarded a city bus, being tired, I slept, rather slumbered. I have no clue when I reached Trivandrum. When I opened my eyes, I was being shaken awake by the Bus Driver and Conductor and the bus was empty with only me and the two of them. Though they meant no harm to me, I was petrified to my bones being alone. I am sure many of you share this great habit of dozing off on travel like me. I miss a companion to watch over me when I land in such situations.

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A Companion in the journey of Life!

I am Sick! I am Stranded! SAVE ME!

While Solo Travel rocks, you can actually go down to rocks if you fall sick. I remember on one trip to Chandigarh in India, I was gripped by a bout of viral fever and simply couldn’t even get up from my bed in the hotel. Fortunately my cousin drove all the way from Shimla to rescue me. Have you missed flights or been sometimes in a tight spot during travel? I have been plenty of times. One horror experience was being stranded in a small place Raniganj in East India at mid-night with no communication channel. At such times, all I can think about is to have someone along with Me.

Tired of Selfies! CLICK ME!

We endlessly click photos to preserve memories. When it comes to clicking your own photos, Solo Travel really sucks. Though you can stand anywhere and make those weird faces and click selfies for Instant Messaging, a better click with the landscape in background may be a better one to preserve in your Album. Traveling with friends really is the best solution to click happy photos. Thanks to such friends who traveled with me, I could get some decent profile pictures as well.

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Clicking together, Experiencing together, traveling together!

The Itch of saying it all….SHARING!

You see Eiffel Tower, or Grand Canyon or Alps and you are just Wow. And then you want to incessantly rave about the beauty of these places. Or you expected a lot and got too less, you want to rant. Each of us want to express what we feel when we see these amazing places. There are jokes, and you want to comment on just everything to someone, don’t you miss a companion that time. I saw this grumpy portrait in Tate Modern, London who exactly resembled a person I despise at my work place. I burst out laughing in a relatively quiet gallery. Quite a shame, but I had this bad itch to tell someone about it.

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Yes only with a partner in crime can you do all under the table conspiracies.

Friends, Friends and MORE FRIENDS!

Probably the best part of traveling with people is knowing them and then befriending them. I am sure each of you would have at least one friend you would have made in your life from any of your travels. I too made quite a few, and its so good to know people of different nationalities, different walks of life and then staying in touch with them for more good times. And you never know, your soul mate may be a fellow traveler too 🙂

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Friends Forever! Friends for Life!

So whats the conclusion? I would take the middle path, as I travel heavily Solo but love going with a companion as well. My big problem is I feel my trip is ruined if I am not with like-minded friends. Glancing through my 2015 travel plans, all I can see are Solo trips. So I guess I am going to auction my companion spot. What you get is an adventurous and funny companion in return. Are you game?

Write back to me on sonalbhardwaj2006@gmail.com Would love to hear and publish your travel stories too.

Categories: solo travel, travel, travel blog | Tags: , | 7 Comments

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