A Travellerspoint blog

September 2019

Israel

The Land of Milk and Honey, Part 1

Greetings! The next adventure is a little different from the rest. I visited Israel for a few days and took a couple of tours around the Golan Heights, the Jerusalem area, and northern Israel (Caesarea, Haifa, Rosh Hanikra, and Akko). The Golan Heights was guided by a friend and I used a tour company for Jerusalem and northern Israel, which I would highly recommend doing. There are so many tour companies to choose from and so many different types of tours you can book. Like every place on earth, each has its own pros and cons and Israel is no exception. Israel has an interesting history and is often a controversial topic to discuss, so I will just stick to basic observations of areas where I visited.

Bein Harim (this was the company my hotel used): https://www.beinharimtours.com

General observations I thought were worth sharing:

The exchange rate is pretty good in Israel, 1 USD was about 3.4 NIS (at the time of my travels), but things are expensive, especially in Tel Aviv. Also of note, like in the US, you are supposed to tip drivers, tour guides, waiters, etc.

Driving: I wouldn't suggest doing that in Israel, at least in my opinion. Drivers drive fast, and move into a lane prior to indicating they want to move into the lane. I would stick to tour companies or friends who know their way around. In the two taxis I took (to and from the airport), I thought I was going to die on more than one occasion. Taxis from the airport were nice because attendants at the airport will give you the total cost of your ride (from the airport to your destination) so you know what to expect before getting into the taxi. Roads can be confusing and parking can be hard to find, especially in Tel Aviv.

Personal space: Forget about it in Israel. Queues for things are a cluster and people constantly invaded my personal bubble. I understand that this is pretty common all over the Middle East.

Fridays and Saturdays in Israel can be tricky because of the Shabbat. Shabbat lasts from sunset on Friday night until Saturday night and is a day of rest for the Jewish people. So, shops, restaurants, and other places are typically closed around Israel in observation of this. There are even special Shabbat elevators in hotels.

Sunsets: Absolutely stunning over the Mediterranean. The sky has so many colors...just gorgeous and best of all they are free :-).

Food: AMAZING...If you love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food. Fresh vegetables, all of the hummus you could want (and it taste so much better than store bought variety) and my personal favorite, falafel! Here are a couple of the restaurants I ate at for dinner:

Boccacio: http://www.boccaccio.rest-e.co.il
Jessica's (right on the beach): https://www.jessica-restro-bar.co.il
Prozdor: https://www.prozdor.co.il/en/

I stayed in the Sheraton in Tel Aviv, between the Frishman and Gordon beaches. It was in a central location and made it easy to walk around to restaurants, shops and the beach. There are tons of hotels along the beach and AirBnbs. I made my tour reservations through the concierge at the hotel. The concierge was very nice and arranged everything. The tour company even picked me up and dropped me off at the hotel.

Views of Tel Aviv:
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Onto Israel part 2...

Posted by LCP 00:14 Archived in Israel Tagged beaches driving tours israel mediterranean been sheraton harim Comments (0)

Audley End House & Gardens

English Heritage Property in Saffron Walden, Essex

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Audley End House and Gardens, just south of Cambridge in Essex. This house is managed by English Heritage. We finally broke down and purchased an English Heritage membership. So now, we have both National Trust and English Heritage. Audley End was the first English Heritage site we chose to visit.

Audley End is a 17th century country house. It was considered a prodigy house, a palace all but in name, and was renowned as one of the finest Jacobean houses in all of England. The house is now one third of its original size. The house was originally a Benedictine monastery but converted to Audley Inn for the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Audley in 1538. Audley's grandson, Thomas Howard, demolished the house and built a much grander mansion, primarily for entertaining the king, James I. The layout of the house reflects the processional route of the king and queen, each having their own suite of rooms, because who doesn't have a processional route in their house. Fast forward a few years to when Charles II bought it in 1668 for £50,000 for use as a home when attending the races at Newmarket. The house has been the family seat of the Barons Braybrooke. Sir John Griffin, fourth Baron Howard de Walden and first Baron Braybrooke, commissioned Capability Brown to landscape the parkland, in 1762.

Scenes for famous TV shows have been filmed at Audley End, including The Crown and Trust. Interior scenes of the Audley Library and Great Hall had been used to portray rooms in Balmoral, Windsor Castle, and Eton.

Audley End: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/audley-end-house-and-gardens/

Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside Audley End (+1 for National Trust), but the gardens certainly make up for some of that.

Audley End:
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One of the front porches:
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Polish Memorial:
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Gardens:
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Kitchen garden:
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Trails:
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Audley End was a lovely house. We were impressed with the interior of the house, but there were a lot of single entry-exit points to rooms which was annoying and interrupted the flow of the tour. I definitely enjoyed the gardens and the trails at the house.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 22:42 Archived in England Tagged gardens end heritage english essex audley braybrooke Comments (1)

Sandringham Estate

Norfolk, England

Greetings! The next adventure took us to Sandringham House, the private home of Queen Elizabeth II. Beginning in the 16th century, the Sandringham area passed through two families: the Cobbes who held the land from 1517 and then the Hostes who took over ownership in 1686. The house and land passed through a few more hands before Queen Victoria purchased the house in 1862 for £220,000 as a country residence for her son The Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, the future King Edward VII, who then put in another £60,000 to make it more "habitable."

Sandringham is classified as a "country house" (still not understanding the country part) and encompasses approximately 20,000-acres. Queen Elizabeth II's father and grandfather both passed away in the house. Queen Elizabeth II spends most of the winter at Sandringham. Sandringham is one of two private residences of the Queen, the other being Balmoral in Scotland (where the Queen spends most of her summer). You can tour the gardens at Balmoral, but you are not allowed inside of the house. Sandringham House was opened for the first time to the public in 1977 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. Fun fact time: Sandringham has a total of 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. Can you imagine the upkeep and cleaning ALL of those rooms?!? Another fun fact, Queen Elizabeth II has a thing for jigsaw puzzles, who knew? There was one out on a table in the Saloon and according to our guide, there are "cabinets full of jigsaw puzzles for Her Majesty." The Queen is officially in residence at Sandringham from around Christmas until early February. She usually leaves after the anniversary of her father's death on February 6th. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were just at Sandringham the previous week and they enjoy having tea just outside of the small drawing room. The tour guide mentioned to us that Prince Phillip lives on Sandringham, since his retirement from royal duties.

Sandringham: https://sandringhamestate.co.uk

Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside of the house.

Sandringham front:
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Rear entrance:
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Horse sculpture of "Estimate" the Queen's favorite horse. And behind the horse is a tree planted by Queen Victoria.
Estimate.jpg

The Church, St. Mary Magdalene. If people-watching interests you, one can line the pathways to the estate to watch the royal family walk from the house to the church for Christmas services on Christmas Day.
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War Memorial:
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Museum:
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Grounds and Gardens:
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I really enjoyed Sandringham House. It definitely feels more "homely" than the royal palaces. You can tell the Queen respects and enjoys the traditions of the royal family. The estate is absolutely beautiful and I particularly enjoyed walking the grounds and gardens. They are phenomena! It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the house during Christmas with all of the members of the royal family in residence.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 00:03 Archived in England Tagged st. queen norfolk family royal ii mary estate elizabeth magdalene sandringham Comments (1)

Plas Newydd

National Trust Property in Llanddaniel Fab, near Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey, Wales

In addition to visiting the Short Stack Lighthouse and Cliffs, we also went to Plas Newydd, another National Trust Property in Wales. Plas Newydd is considered a "country house" and parts of the house date back to the 1470s. The house sits on the Menai Strait and looks across at the Snowdonia Mountains. The house belonged to the Marquess of Anglesey who was awarded his title for bravery during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 where he served under the Duke of Wellington and lost a leg. One of the main claims to fame of the house is the painting by Rex Whistler in the Dining Room.

Plas Newydd: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plas-newydd-country-house-and-gardens

Plas Newydd:
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Bedrooms:
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Study:
Plas_Newydd_study.jpg

Artwork:
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Rex Whistler Painting in the Dining Room:
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Spectacular Gardens:
Plas_Newydd_exterior1.jpg0670c520-aba8-11e9-b20c-3b2275324c15.jpg0654b1a0-aba8-11e9-bd31-d314b98053f3.jpg06a876f0-aba8-11e9-ba3e-ed661bb1a32e.jpgIT1.jpgIT2.jpgIT3.jpgIT4.jpgIT15.jpgIT6.jpgIT7.jpgIT5.jpgIT8.jpgIT9.jpgIT10.jpgIT11.jpgIT12.jpgIT13.jpgIT14.jpgIT16.jpgGardens1.jpg685e80b0-aba8-11e9-b615-3915e730f3a8.jpg668b2040-aba8-11e9-a7d1-2113f3f74c5f.jpg6877fc20-aba8-11e9-a7d1-2113f3f74c5f.jpg67d9e760-aba8-11e9-a7d1-2113f3f74c5f.jpg68825c60-aba8-11e9-b20c-3b2275324c15.jpg63f225e0-aba8-11e9-ba3e-ed661bb1a32e.jpg63d13060-aba8-11e9-b615-3915e730f3a8.jpg647ba130-aba8-11e9-ba3e-ed661bb1a32e.jpg68058b40-aba8-11e9-b615-3915e730f3a8.jpg63b0fe30-aba8-11e9-ba3e-ed661bb1a32e.jpg64a214f0-aba8-11e9-bd31-d314b98053f3.jpg659c7a80-aba8-11e9-b20c-3b2275324c15.jpg647f4ab0-aba8-11e9-b615-3915e730f3a8.jpg64f2f410-aba8-11e9-bd31-d314b98053f3.jpg66397dd0-aba8-11e9-a7d1-2113f3f74c5f.jpg657395c0-aba8-11e9-ba3e-ed661bb1a32e.jpg657d32b0-aba8-11e9-b615-3915e730f3a8.jpg68851b80-aba8-11e9-ba3e-ed661bb1a32e.jpg6562f3f0-aba8-11e9-bd31-d314b98053f3.jpg

That concludes our trip to Wales. I cannot wait to go back and explore other parts of Wales, particularly southern Wales. This was such a great trip!
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On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 01:28 Archived in Wales Tagged national wales trust anglesey plas newydd Comments (1)

South Stack Lighthouse and Cliffs

Holyhead

Our second and last day in Wales, we headed further north to Holyhead to see the South Stack Lighthouse. South Stack Lighthouse was built in 1809 marking the small islet off Anglesey at the northwest tip of Wales. We didn't actually venture out to the lighthouse because as someone who falls up and down stairs, I deemed there to be too many stairs and I didn't want to increase the chances of falling down.

We also stopped by Elin's Tower on the way to the lighthouse, which is now a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) information center. The tower was originally used as a summer house and constructed between 1820 and 1850 by the locally well known Stanley family, from Penrhos. The views from the Tower are impressive and RSPB workers are very knowledgable and friendly. We were told there were 16 puffins along the cliffs and we managed to see at least two on the cliffs and three floating in the sea.

South Stack Lighthouse: https://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouse-visitor-centres/south-stack-lighthouse-visitor-centre

RSPB: https://www.rspb.org.uk

South Stack Lighthouse:
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Birds:
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Cliffs:
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Onto Plas Newydd...

Posted by LCP 10:51 Archived in Wales Tagged cliffs south birding lighthouse wales stack rspb Comments (0)

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