Lincoln and Newark, Lincolnshire

I got stuck. It’s taken me ages to finish this post! I get the urge to write something more often, but then I get busy, distracted by other things, hence the delay. I wish I had more time, but one has to earn money and live a little… Still, one year delay is pretty shameful… I’ll just humbly proceed with the posts…

I was getting itchy feet again and in October (last year, of course, lol) my usual English co-traveller contacted me asking if and where I would like to go to next. The way we made the choice was quite spooky. I just finished watching Simon Schama’s ‘The Story of Jews’ where in one episode he talked about the story of the Jewish community in Lincoln and I THOUGHT, ‘I wish I went there’. In the next message from my friend she asked me, ‘How about Lincoln?’ Whoa! Mind reader!

So the first weekend of November we went to Lincoln and Newark nearby.

It was easier and more economical for me to go to Lincoln by train, meet my friends there, who came by car and continue the trip together. I left sunny King’s Cross & St Pancras behind, had a change at Nottingham to more crowded and non air-conditioned train (felt like being back in Poland), passed Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station with gigantic chimneys which looked like the ones used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and finally arrived in Lincoln after midday. Saturday was wet. Frequent showers ‘forced’ us to frequent visits to second hand bookshops and tea rooms on the way up the hill where the Cathedral and Castle were. One of them was Jewish House, where I bought Gombrich’s “The Story of Art” for £2.50!

Entry to the Cathedral was paid and the Castle ‘next door’ was already closed, because it was off season, so we decided to eat dinner by Brayford Pool, bought some cheese and wine, because on the next day was my Name Day and head to our hostel to have a rest. After taking shower, we enjoyed wine while watching 50 Years of National Theatre Live on BBC2.

On Sunday the weather was much better. We strolled familiar streets and went up the hill again. We visited the Castle. The ticket was very cheap, only £2 to enter Castle Square. The Castle itself was closed, because of the renovations. We could go inside only with a guided tour which was in an hour, but we didn’t want to wait. The view on the Cathedral from the wall was a disappointment. One side was blocked with rubbish and the tower with the best view was closed to the visitors without the guide.

Good thing we managed to go into the Cathedral for free, because it was right after the Sunday Mass. The highlight of this trip for me was to see one of the copies of Magna Carta from 1215 signed by King John.

After having one foot long hot dogs, we went to Newark, a small town with a lovely square and castle ruins. When we walked around the town, I had a bizarre feeling, because I didn’t hear any English, just Polish absolutely everywhere! I felt that my friends were only English in town. It wasn’t a complete truth, but seriously, it was too much.

In the evening my friends left and I waited in a pub for my train back to London.

That was on 2-3 November, 2013.

Milford Sound

THURSDAY, 3rd November

Queenstown was sunny, but I thought I wouldn’t see Milford Sound, because the further south we were getting, the colder and rainy it was. Sometimes it was literally pouring. I had a great respect towards the cyclists taking part in The 2011 Tour of Southland Cycle Race which passed us by.

I was ready to stay in Te Anau, because I did have no hope in seeing anything in Milford Sound in that weather. I suspected that the mountains were going to be covered with clouds and we’d see nothing. At the Visitor Centre we were told that it was raining that day in Milford Sound, but the next day it would be snowing. We thought we had no choice but to go then.

When we were driving up to, through Homer Tunnel and then down a mountain, it was snowing. Really snowing so hard that we couldn’t see anything, just a white wall of snow. I started to worry, because I didn’t think we had winter tires and we had no chains. But luckily, when we got to the lower parts of the mountain it just rained again.

Finally, we arrived in Milford Sound before 2 p.m. and bought a 2 hour cruise with Southern Discoveries at 3 p.m. ($65). We waited at the café in the same building as the information centre and we could see the weather changing every 10 minutes from rain to sun and back again. I was happy that I could see the mountains at all!

And this is what the cruise looked like. One way to Tasman Sea it was freaking cold and rainy but on the way back we had the sun and when we got wet under one of the falls, I was dry soon after that.

Tasman Sea

and back

some seals enjoying the sun on the rocks

I was glad we stuck to the plan and went to see the fiords that day. On the way back, we stopped behind the Tunnel to take some photos of kea, a native New Zealand parrot. They’re always up to no good and one of them flew on our car!

We stayed at Lakefront Backpackers in Te Anau for one night (I had been recommended Rosie’s Backpacker Homestay, but it was more expensive than the Lakefront and the majority chose the cheaper option). We got a really cool room, en-suite with a toilet and kitchen. Had I mentioned that our Italian friend from Queenstown joined us for this part of the trip? We did the shopping and even though it was my turn to cook, D. had a cheaper idea for a meal, so actually he ended up making dinner and I just helped him cutting an onion, rolling meat balls and later washing up. He looked very professional in what he was doing.

The meatballs with pasta in tomato sauce were amazing and a complement slipped through my mouth that D. was a great guy who could satisfy three women in one evening. I was talking about food! My mum’s text reminded me that it was also my Name Day, so my Chilean friends had one more reason to open a bottle of wine.