Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Trip to the UK - London and Cardiff

After our main holiday to the USA in April, The Beard and I had no major holiday plans. I took a trip home alone, to spend a week with my family. For the most part I was in Cornwall, but the week started with trips to London and Cardiff.

I have a love/hate relationship with London. Well, probably mostly hate, although every time I go there I seem to find something that I like. This time I had a nice time, mostly on the South Bank.

I flew direct from Vienna to Heathrow with Austrian Airlines. Star Alliance airlines are my first choice always, mainly to get the airmiles. My flight arrived at lunchtime, which gave me plenty of time to get into Central London and get my bags sorted before meeting my sister in the evening.

I decided to take the Tube, as it is a lot cheaper than the train. I was wanting to drop my bags somewhere, and decided on Victoria Station as the baggage drop is open later than the one at Euston where we had to get a train back to my sister's. With an Oyster card the Tube is £3 one way from Heathrow to London Victoria.

After I'd dropped my bags I decided I'd walk to the river then walk along it to Somerset House where there was an exhibition I wanted to see. Except my geography of London failed me slightly, and I had left my A-Z at home in Vienna. With a dead mobile battery, I had to rely on the street maps that are helpfully dotted around. I was tempted at one point to grab a Boris Bike, but decided against it as I don't like cycling at home, and London traffic looked a lot scarier than Vienna traffic. After a little walk, I found myself at Pimlico and decided to just jump on the Tube again as it was getting late.

Once I'd got to Embankment, I walked through the park to Somerset House. I've never actually been there before, so it was quite nice just to be there. The exhibition was of artwork by tattoo artists, in other mediums.

 The exhibition is called Time: Tattoo Art Today and is on until October 5th.

After this I wandered along the South Bank taking in the sights until I got to near London Bridge where I was meeting my sister.

 After a drink in the bar next to HMS Belfast we headed over to the Shard for our trip to the top. Having been up the Top of the Rock in New York earlier this year, I was excited to go up the Shard, which is London's tallest building.

Sadly it was a bit of a grey day which meant that the view wasn't brilliant. We could just see Wembley Stadium then the gloom thickened and it was gone. Instead we had some champagne and watched people down below us.

Obligatory Shard Selfie

After the Shard came a fanastic dinner at Black and Blue at Borough Market. Steak, fries and good wine were had and enjoyed!

All that was left to do was to meander down to London Victoria to collect my case and then head back. The London skyline at night, especially between London Bridge and Westminster, is quite pretty (and it gave me a chance to play with the fancy night scene setting on my camera!).

After getting distracted by gin and tonics on the way, we finally arrived back at my sister's place at around 1.30am.

On Saturday we headed to Cardiff, to watch the British Speedway Grand Prix. We do this every year - I've been coming along for a few years now, but my Dad, sister and a family friend have been every year except the first year.

We park up in Newport and take the train into Cardiff after having some lunch in Weatherspoons. As you can imagine Cardiff is incredibly busy on Grand Prix day, and it is a lot easier to get food in Newport. Especially as it always takes so long to get into Wales - the M4 seems to grind to a halt.

It was a good meeting, with apparently record attendances. The racing was great, with quite a bit of overtaking going on, something that can be difficult on longer speedway tracks. The day was eventually won by the USA's Greg Hancock, with the UK's Tai Woffinden coming in a close second.

 After the Speedway I went back to Cornwall with my dad, to start a week of relaxing.

Coming tomorrow, Part 1 of my week in Cornwall!

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