BrandonoBrien.com

Brandon O'Brien

Travel and Adventure Journal

I wanted a place to journal all my travels and adventures around the world. I always enjoy going back and reflecting on my past travels and getting to relive them through my words and photos.

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Rest day with the family - Day 4 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Saturday, May 26, 2012 @ 5:00 PM in General Travel

Today was simply meant to be a rest day before the big race tomorrow and to handle any recovery from yesterday. I got up around 9:30am which isn't too bad considering I didn't get to bed until about 2:30am. My dad made an eggs and bacon breakfast which was really good and we started trying to figure out what we wanted to do today.

My mom wanted to get me a back and neck massage since I had spent those two full days on my bike so I let her talk me into that. I'm not really a huge fan of massages since I usually come out feeling worse than I did going into them. This one was about as expected but it still felt nice to get some of the tight spots in my back worked on.

We came back to the house and relaxed a bit before lunch which consisted of turkey sandwiches that my dad had smoked a few weeks ago. Smoked turkey sandwiches are the best if you get a chance to make them! We then ran a few errands and came back in time to have dinner with my grandparents.

I found out we were leaving from my friends house tomorrow at 6:00am so it was going to be an early night for me. I relaxed with the family for a bit and started getting ready for bed around 9 in order to get up by 5am.

They're saying tomorrow is supposed to be record setting temperatures so I've decided to bring my 3 liter camelpak with me so I can hopefully stay hydrated during the race tomorrow.

Tags: motorcycle, indy 500

Posted from: United States

Carb Day att the Indy Motor Speedway - Day 3 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Carb Day att the Indy Motor Speedway - Day 3 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Friday, May 25, 2012 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

I was able to get a good night's sleep last night in a real bed. Since I wasn't meeting my friends until 10:00am I didn't have to rush waking up this morning either. After eating some cereal and relaxing for a bit I went to meet with my friends.

We hung out for a bit while waiting for a few people to make it into town then left for the track. We ended up having 15 people with us divided up into 3 cars. Traffic to the track was very minimal since we did get a late start, plus we had a different route to the track that not too many people know about.

Parking was $10 just around the corner from the entrance. We had three coolers full of beer and some chips to munch on. When we got into the track we cracked open some beers and watched some of the practice runs. We soon decided to walk around and see if we could get any free swag from the companies in booths around the infield. Chevy had a big setup with some of their ZR1 and Z06 Corvettes sitting out which were extremely cool looking.

We got a big group photo taken at the Mazda booth while half of us were wearing the Mazda sponsored track suits. Five Hour energy was giving out free samples and Banana Boat was giving out free sunscreen and cozies which came in handy. After collecting all of our free stuff we headed toward the concert area where Lynard Skynard was about to start playing. The concert ended up being a lot of fun. We got to hear a lot of classic songs including Freebird.

No one pushed their limits with the booze at the track today and we didn't see anything really crazy happen either. The temperatures were a little on the warm side but still very tolerable. It's supposed to be a lot warmer for the actual race on Sunday though which isn't going to be too fun.

After getting back from the track I came back to my parents house and showered and got ready to head to another friends house for a party. I hung out there until about 1:45am when things finally wound down and I could barely stay awake.

Teaser photos:

Our group. We're getting another round of beer in before heading into the track.
Our group. We're getting another round of beer in before heading into the track.
I guess we should see some cars
I guess we should see some cars
Heading to the Lynard Skynard concert
Heading to the Lynard Skynard concert
Emptying the coolers so we don't have to carry them all the way back to the car full of ice.
Emptying the coolers so we don't have to carry them all the way back to the car full of ice.

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Tags: motorcycle, indy 500

Posted from: United States

I made it to Carmel - Day 2 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

I made it to Carmel - Day 2 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

Last night was a pretty crappy night to be camping. Now don't get me wrong, it could have been much worse but it was definitely still crappy. After riding in that intense wind and heat all day I just wanted to crash out and get a good night's sleep. After setting my tent up in relative calm I finally tried to fall asleep. It was still pretty hot and the wind was starting to pick up heavily too. Add to that a nice dosage of humidity and you have yourself one hot sticky mess of a sleeping arrangement. It was too hot to try and use my sleeping bag but it was too cool to try and sleep without some kind of cover. I opted for an awkward half covering until I finally fell asleep. Then the wind really picked up. It sounded like it was going to blow the trees down and my tent kept getting blown around with them. After a couple hours of on again, off again sleeping my alarm finally went off at 5:30am.

I got up and immediately set about deflating my sleeping pad and getting my sleeping bag packed back up. After that I put on the same smelly clothes I wore yesterday and went out to start putting stuff away. Since I basically had the entire campground to myself I didn't have to worry about being quiet which made it a lot easier to get everything packed up and put away. I ended up eating a granola bar and chugged a bunch of water before brushing my teeth and putting my jacket and pants back on.

The wind was still howling but it had finally cooled off a bit during the night so the morning was pretty pleasant for a few hours (aside from having to ride sideways against the wind). I eventually made it into some more tree-filled areas and the roads started to get a little more exciting (read: not straight and flat with nothing to see for miles).

Crossing into Missouri was actually quite nice. It seemed like almost immediately the land was a little greener and the roads more hilly and twisty. I just got into the rhythm of riding sideways and following US-54 until finally I met up with I-70 just north of Jefferson City, MO. Getting on the interstate after being on a US highway for essentially all day yesterday and all of today was a bit of a downer. Dealing with semis and a lot of traffic made me realize how nice those lesser used highways really are. I hit a few construction zones and eventually made my way through Missouri and Illinois and finally into Indiana.

Just before getting onto I-465 there was another construction zone where everyone was crawling along at 5mph and this semi just decides it doesn't care if I'm in the left lane and that it was his so he just rolled on over. Fortunately even after 600+ miles and 11 hours of riding for the day I was still aware enough to see what was happening and pulled over and honked while avoiding becoming roadkill like the many deer and other wildlife along the side of the road.

The final stretch to my parents place was pretty uneventful. Fortunately I had missed the evening rush hour and made good time to their place. I got my first shower after two full days of riding which felt great. After that I had a pizza dinner with my parents and grandparents.

Time yet again for bed. Tomorrow is Carb day at the Indy 500 track. This should be a day filled with drinking and debauchery so I'm sure there will be some fun photos and stories to share with you all later.

Stats:

Distance: 635 miles
Time: 12 hours
Near death experiences: 1

Teaser photos:

Riding into the sunrise
Riding into the sunrise
Getting a little greener
Getting a little greener
Pizza with the family
Pizza with the family

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Tags: motorcycle, indy 500

Posted from: United States

Albuquerque to Toronto State Park, KS - Day 1 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Albuquerque to Toronto State Park, KS - Day 1 - 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

I woke up at 5:30am today so I could get an early start considering I had about 675 miles and 12 hours worth of riding to tackle. After eating and finishing some last minute preparations I was able to put up the kickstand and get started at 6:25am.

The ride started fine as I headed out of Albuquerque on I-40 towards Tucumcari. I was riding into the sun for a little while but it wasn't too bad because it was mostly off at an angle and wasn't directly in my line of sight. When I got to Tucumcari I fueled up and jumped on US-54 where I would stay the rest of the day.

I quickly crossed into Texas, then Oklahoma and finally Kansas. When I got into Texas the winds started to pick up but it wasn't really an issue since the wind was at my back and pushing me along. I stopped and ate some lunch jut after crossing into Oklahoma. I had made some turkey sandwiches and brought some apples so I could eat cheaply and quickly. I also had another Red Bull to keep me going since it was getting hotter and hotter with every passing hour.

I can't remember exactly where it was, but I want to say somewhere around the Oklahoma / Kansas border the winds shifted directions so they were coming from the south. Since I was heading east this meant I had a constant 30-40mph crosswind for what seemed like roughly half of the ride. The constant bombardment of wind from both directions was really wearing me down and causing some pain in my neck to keep my head centered on the road.

Just outside of Wichita I started to really debate whether or not I should continue with my original plan of camping or if I should push on and try my luck at finding a cheap hotel. I really didn't want to set up my tent in howling wind and deal with that all night.

Fortunately when I got closer to the Cross Timbers campground the wind had settled down a bit and I was really getting hungry for dinner so I decided I'd just keep with the plan and stay here for the night. I got into the campground around 7:30 pm central time. I picked an available spot, paid for it and then went to go find it… only to find out that someone else had already put their tent there. They said they had paid for it yesterday but their reservation ticket had a date of the 28th which is Memorial Day. I went back to the reservation desk and picked another spot that I saw on my way around that was surrounded by vacancies. Fortunately I was able to get my tent set up just before the sun went down. I quickly scarfed down my second sandwich, had some mac and cheese and an apple. Now I'm writing this post and thinking about how I don't really want to get up at 5:30am again. Anyway, It's off to bed for me. Thanks for tuning in!

Stats:

Distance: 675 miles
Duration: 12 hours
Near death experiences: 0

Tomorrow: Make it to Indy!

Teaser photos:

The bike loaded and ready to go
The bike loaded and ready to go
Riding selfie
Riding selfie
Lunch of champions - sandwich and red bull
Lunch of champions - sandwich and red bull
Sunset at the Cross Timbers campground
Sunset at the Cross Timbers campground

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Tags: motorcycle, indy 500

Posted from: United States

Planning the 2012 Indy 500 Motorcycle Trip

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

In an effort to get my butt in gear for a 17 day 5,500+ mile ride later this summer (link to that ride), I decided I would ride my Triumph Tiger 800 from Albuquerque, NM to Indianapolis, IN for the Indy 500. The route is just over 1,300 miles each way which I plan on breaking up into two days spending the night camping at Toronto Lake (east of Wichita, KS). My parents live just north of Indy so I'll be staying with them for the long weekend.

The Plan:

Day 1 (May 23): Leave Albuquerque at 6am and ride 673 miles to Toronto State Park in southeastern Kansas where I'll be camping for the night. To get there I'll mainly be on US-54 with a little stretch on I-40 at the beginning of the day.

Day 2: Pack up and leave the campsite as early as possible and head to Indy. This is a mix of US-54 and I-70.

Day 3: Get up early and head to the track to attend Carb Day (final practice session before the big race). Much drinking will be involved. After that I'll have some parties with friends.

Day 4: Rest day / family day. Probably hang out with my grandparents, uncle and parents.

Day 5: RACE DAY! Head to the track early and enjoy some infield debauchery that will most likely involve many beers being consumed.

Day 6: Memorial day. Another rest day / family day.

Day 7: Leave Indy and head back to the Toronto State Park (unless it's a crap-hole of a campsite in which case I'll have to re-evaluate my route home).

Day 8: Depart campsite and head back to Albuquerque.

The Equipment:

I'm taking my 2011 Tiger 800 with a little over 4k miles on the clock. I've got a Touratech 25L topcase and two SW-MOTECH TraX Alu-Box 45L panniers plus a Roto-Pax 1.75gal fuel pack.

Tags: motorcycle, indy 500

Posted from: United States

2011 Labor Day Motorcycle Ride - Day 3 - Riding through Colorado National Monument

2011 Labor Day Motorcycle Ride - Day 3 - Riding through Colorado National Monument

Monday, September 5, 2011 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

We woke up before sunrise on Monday to pack up our camp site, eat and get under way. It was in the low 40's when we left around 6:50 in the morning. Today's ride called for heading to Grand Junction to see the Colorado National Monument, then we'd head back to Denver. We stayed on US 50 from our campsite all the way to Grand Junction. We saw a huge herd of bighorned sheep just a few miles away from our camp site on our way west. It's a good idea to have some gas in your tank before taking this part of the journey because there weren't very many gas stations until you get to Montrose. We fueled up there and then made our way through Delta and finally to Grand Junction. In Grand Junction we fueled up again, grabbed a snack and then took US 340 into the Colorado National Monument. Depending on when you get there, it's probably wise to fuel up before entering the park.

If you're afraid of heights, then you might want to pass this ride. It's 26 miles with a lot of spots that have no guard-rail and sheer drops of a couple hundred feet. The road itself is in good condition and has some great curves and twists through some amazing red rock canyons. There are scenic overlooks about every mile or so where you can stop and take photos of the views. We also had to be careful because there were a lot of bicyclists and slow moving traffic to watch out for. The five dollar entrance fee is worth the hour and a half to two hours it takes to get through the Colorado National Monument.

After we got out of the Colorado National Monument we found ourselves in Fruita, Colorado two miles from I-70. We ate lunch at McDonalds and fueled up once again before getting on I-70. We rode in 90 degree heat for the rest of the day. We soon found out you need sun block on the face and hands even when you are wearing a helmet and gloves. The drive from Fruita to Denver is nothing exciting because it's a single straight road and in 90 degree heat you get tired easily. We found our selves stopping every 80 - 100 miles for gas, snacks, and soda. One cool thing about doing I-70 from Grand Junction to Denver is the wide change in scenery. It starts off very sandy looking in Grand Junction, then slowly turns into the ski areas with lots of pine trees. We made our last stop in Frisco, Colorado at a gas station that had two pumps and lots of traffic. Once we got about 5 miles outside of Georgetown we found out everyone was heading back at the same time, so for 25 miles we did anywhere from 3 - 50 mph. This took us about an hour and half to get past Idaho Springs. From there, it was a smooth ride back to Ryan's place.

Some things we learned throughout the trip:

1. Having cigarette adapter plugs for our phones and headsets came in extremely handy. The campsite didn't have any power outlets to charge things, so we wouldn't have had any other way to keep things charged.

2. Put some sunscreen on your wrists, hands and face when you're riding all day. The sun finds strange ways to work into cracks and you end up with sunburns when you thought you'd be fine.

3. Bring a sponge to help clean your cooking gear.

4. When you stop for food, grab some extra napkins and keep them with you. You always seem to find a need for napkins when you're camping.

5. If you’re going to be foraging for wood, bring some tweezers because you’ll probably end up with a splinter at some point.

6. If you don't have anything to start a fire with use antibacterial gel.

Teaser photos:

Riding through Colorado National Monument
Riding through Colorado National Monument

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Tags: motorcycle, labor day 2011

Posted from: United States

2011 Labor Day Motorcycle Ride - Day 2 - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Forest

2011 Labor Day Motorcycle Ride - Day 2 - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Forest

Sunday, September 4, 2011 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

We noticed we had some new neighbors next to us when we woke up. All the screaming and barking was from them. They must have got in after dark and set up their camp site. It was a mom and dad with their 2 year old girl and 2 small yappy dogs. The dad took more care of the dogs than the kid, and you could tell the wife wanted nothing to do with the whole situation because she just sat in the car wrapped in a sleeping bag. Whenever we saw them, you could cut the tension between the mom and dad with a knife. She did not want to be there and she was so annoyed at the dogs and kid. They had also killed their battery in their car during the course of the night, probably due to sitting in it with the heat on but without turning the car on. They had to ask the host to jump it for them.

After eating breakfast, we backtracked to Gunnison to fuel up, then headed west on US 50 to US 92. It was about 66 miles from the campground to north rim of Black Canyon. The ride was well worth the curves, but beware, there are spots without guard rails next to several hundred feet drops. So if you're afraid of heights, you might want to take the south rim drive instead.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park North Rim is at an odd location. US 92 takes you toward Crawford and you're in the middle of farm lands, then you head on some side roads and all of a sudden you're looking down on 2,700 foot drops. Black Canyon is narrower and deeper than the grand canyon. The canyon drops 95 feet per mile. You don't really notice that when you're riding to the north rim, but on your way back you definitely notice the decent toward Gunnison. You should also beware of animals, as there were a bunch of chipmunks, squirrels and birds darting across the road. Whatever you do, don't try to dodge them or else you could fly off the mountain in a ball of flames. Also beware of rocks that have fallen into the road, as they're usually on the curves when you're least prepared to encounter them.

Make sure you take something to eat and have a full tank of gas before heading out to the Black Canyon. There isn't much around in case you run out of fuel or get really hungry. The Black Canyon North Rim isn't paved, but it's groomed gravel. Just keep this in mind when you're going out there. It's washboarded in some spots, but overall not bad. My SV650 handled it just fine. If you're looking for something less frightful and more tourist oriented, you can go to the South Rim of the Black Canyon where it's more developed.

After visiting the north rim, we ate lunch in Crawford, which is just a couple miles north on US 92. The restaurant we stopped at had a Sunday Brunch that was definitely not a diet menu. Roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, bacon, sausage, eggs, etc. The town was really small. it was basically a liquor store, two restaurants, a church and a gas station. We were the first bikers into the restaurant, but soon after a bunch more showed up. After eating lunch there, we fueled up and headed back to the camp ground.

The ride back on 92 to Gunnison seemed to go pretty quick, but the views and curves were amazing. Ryan almost hit a baby hawk at about 65mph, but it shot up at the last second. I saw it fly out of control for about 10 seconds before finally flying off normally. On the way back we also decided to see if we could get down near the river to get some photos of the Blue Mesa dam, but unfortunately the good spot was gated off for dam workers only.

We got back to the camp site around 3:00pm and our tents were completely full of dust, as there are no trees and very little ground cover. Any wind just picks up dirt and dust and blows it around. Even the rainflies put all the way to the ground didn’t keep the dust out. We spent a little time trying to clean our sleeping bags and stuff, then decided to re-build our lake cooled refrigerator and put our liquor back in. We had to move it about 3 feet closer because the water receded a bit during the day. I also had to add a shade attachment to keep the beers from heating up in the sun. We waited about an hour for the liquor to cool and tried getting in the water ourselves, but it was a brisk 65 degrees, so that didn’t work out too well.

After finishing the beers we decided it would be a good idea to give some fish a new home. We weighed down the empty bottles with rocks and sand and threw them in. The only problem is one of mine didn't have enough weight in it to fully sink, so it floated around for a good hour or two. We tried smashing it by throwing rocks at it, but it got too far away for us to do any damage. After the beers we switched our focus to finishing off the vodka and coke. Note: crappy vodka does not taste good when it's not cold or without ice cubes.

We had set up our little cooler near the boat ram and the people camping to the other side of us (not the one with the 2 year old) were bringing their boat in. All the kids were on the front and one of them fell into the cold water and started crying. We saw them throw in a life jacket and one of the adults jumped in after them. It took about 5 minutes for the boat to loop back around and pick them up, meanwhile the kid is crying probably due to the freezing water.

About 7:00pm the booze really started to kick in because we thought it would be a great idea to gather as much driftwood as possible for our fire. We ended up getting a bunch of big logs and a lot of medium sized pieces. We started our fire and waited a bit to eat dinner because we weren't quite hungry yet due to the huge lunch. By now it was about 8:30pm and dark and our fire was huge and blazing. We noticed that everyone else had already gone to bed, which seemed weird because the night before they were all up until 11 or so. We ate dinner around 9 and then kept the fire going for a little longer then went to bed.

Teaser photos:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Extremely steep and long drop into the canyon
Extremely steep and long drop into the canyon

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Tags: motorcycle, labor day 2011

Posted from: United States

2011 Labor Day Motorcycle Ride - Day 1 - Denver to Gunnison

2011 Labor Day Motorcycle Ride - Day 1 - Denver to Gunnison

Saturday, September 3, 2011 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel

This ride report covers a 3 day ride through Colorado over Labor Day weekend 2011. Some of the areas we visited were Gunnison, CO, Black Canyon and Colorado National Monument. The riders were Brandon on his 2004 Suzuki SV650 and Ryan on his 2011 KTM Adventure Dakar. Before the trip started, Brandon rode from Albuquerque to Denver on Friday, then after the trip, he rode back to Albuquerque on Tuesday.

Our first day started off great. We left Denver around 8:45am with temperatures in the 70's. We left by taking US 6 to I-70 out of Denver toward Vail where we would catch US 24. The ride down US 24 toward Leadville was nice. The scenery was beautiful and there were some nice curves.

We stopped for lunch in Leadville at the Golden Burro, which started in 1938 and is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Colorado. The portions were a little smaller than we had expected based on the price we paid, but overall the food was good and the servers were attentive.

From Leadville we continued on US 24 as it merged to US 285 just after Buena Vista. We arrived in Poncha Springs to head west on US 50 toward Gunnison. A lot of these roads are one lane, so long lines of cars stuck behind a camper or truck are very common. Just be prepared for that. We got into Gunnison around 3:00pm and stopped at a liquor store to grab some beers and vodka for the next two nights. We then made our way to the Steven's Creek Campground on the Blue Mesa Reservoir.

The camp site was easy to find, as it was just off of US 50 about 11 miles outside of Gunnison. We setup our tents, unpacked some of the stuff off our bikes and started working on cooling down the beers. The high 80's temperatures had already started to warm them up. We built a small cooler by making a small rocked off area in the water to put the beers and help cool them down. The water was probably around 65 degrees, so it did a good job of keeping the booze chilled.

The campsite host came over as we were setting up our tents and started talking to us about what there is to do around the camping area. He asked us what we were doing tomorrow and we had just planned on riding some curvy roads around the area. He told us about Black Canyon and how there are some great cycling roads on the North Rim on US 92. He gave us a map and we made some notes and figured it sounded like a cool route, so we set the map aside for the morning. The host also told us about a restaurant just outside of Gunnison called the Trough, it’s marked by a pink pig statue outside of the restaurant. They have an adult kids meal for $8.95, which comes with a beer, burger, and fries.

One of the camping spots next to us had two or three families that had all set up camp in the same area. They had a bunch of kids and a boat full of water sport equipment. The camp site to the other side of us was still empty when we had arrived. Steven's Creek allows fires and each camp site has a nice pre-built fire pit. You can purchase firewood or go collect the driftwood that was everywhere. The driftwood burns extremely fast, so you might want to collect a lot of it before it gets dark so you don't run out. The campsite host also let us grab a couple handfuls of wood he had collected from when people left and had extra wood they didn't burn.

The first night started off good. Sunset was really nice because there were some clouds that really picked up the red/orange/pink glows as the sun set. We were tired and went to bed around 9:30 or 10. The neighbors next to us with the kids were up about an hour later than us talking and stuff. It made it a little hard to fall asleep, but we eventually did. Then an hour or so later we were awoken by two barking dogs and a screaming kid. We thought someones dog had got loose and attacked a kid, but weren’t sure. The crying and barking went on the rest of the night. It rained some time between midnight and two in the morning, but when we woke up you couldn't even tell. There weren't even any dust spots on the bikes. It must have been enough rain to make noise on the tents but that's about it.

The temperatures at night dropped into the 30's, so if you're camping in Colorado toward the end of the summer, make sure you bring a nice warm sleeping bag. Ryan got so cold he put on several layers of clothes and used his leather riding jacket to cover his face, and he was still freezing cold. Brandon had a low temperature rated sleeping bag and was comfortable through the night.

Teaser photos:

Loaded and ready to roll
Loaded and ready to roll
Cooling our booze in the reservoir
Cooling our booze in the reservoir
Campsite at sunset
Campsite at sunset

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Tags: motorcycle, labor day 2011

Posted from: United States

Bibury, Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water and Blenheim Palace - Day 8 - London 2011

Bibury, Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water and Blenheim Palace - Day 8 - London 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011 @ 10:45 PM in 2011 London

The weather was pretty much perfect for most of the day. They closed down the Circle line for the weekend, which is what we normally take to get to the Victoria Coach Station to catch our tour. We had take the Piccadilly line and go through a few stations before we finally got there. Fortunately we made it in time and got on our bus. We started out by heading toward Oxford and stopping in a town called Bibury. This was a nice little town that had a stream running through it and several rows of extremely old houses. This was only really a quick photo stop before we got back on the bus and headed for Bourton-on-the-Water.

Bourton-on-the-Water was much more touristy but was still a nice relaxing town. It had a large stream running through it and a bunch of shops. The Cotswolds are known for their sheep and wool. We went into a leather store and I was tempted to buy a leather jacket but they didn't have any I liked that were in my size. Eric ended up buying a new wallet there. After that we relaxed for a bit by the river and then went back to the bus.

The next stop was Burford where we had lunch at The Mermaid. I had some fish n chips and they gave us tea again. This town was really nice but had a huge road running through it which kind of ruined the quaintness of the place. We didn't have too much extra time to spend here, and the weather had started to get cloudy like it was going to rain. We got back on the bus and left for Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace is where Winston Churchill was born and raised. The grounds are 3x larger than Hyde park here in London. The Palace took 22 years to build and another 10 years to groom the grounds. They dug out lakes and made rolling hills on the land. The gardens there were beautiful and had a feel of Versailles in Paris. The palace itself was huge inside and is still lived in by the current Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. You could spend days walking around all the gardens here they were so huge.

The tour finally ended and we ended up going back to Piccadilly Circus to look for some kind of souvenir and then had dinner at Bella Italia, where I had a calzone and Eric had a pizza. We called it an early night so we could get ready for bed and pack up for our flights tomorrow. It has been a fun trip and even though there was a bunch we didn't get to see, everything went well and we got to see some very cool things

Teaser photos:

Cotswolds, England
Cotswolds, England
Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace

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Tags: london, england

Posted from: England

Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover - Day 7 - London 2011

Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover - Day 7 - London 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011 @ 11:45 PM in 2011 London

Today was a long day. We started out by heading to the Victoria station to catch our tour bus. The tour took us to Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover. At Leeds Castle, it started raining as we got off the bus and ended up getting stuck behind several huge groups of French schoolchildren. We finally got passed them and were able to see the castle itself. After walking through the castle we were able to walk around the grounds where they had some gardens and a bird park. Fortunately it had stopped raining by the time we got out. The castle itself is surrounded by a moat several meters deep.

Next was Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral. Again, it was raining when we got off the bus. We headed to lunch at a place called Panteli's Cafe Bar Restaurant where I had chicken and chips and a cider. They served everyone some tea at lunch and then gave us some apple pie afterwards. After eating, we were on our own for a while to explore the cathedral and the town. The cathedral was impressive on the inside. It was extremely large and the architecture was amazing. After the rain let up a bit we walked around the cathedral and got to see some of the gardens and outlying areas.

After that we got back on the bus and headed out to Dover. When we were leaving the rain finally stopped and it cleared up. We got to the coast and it was so clear that we could actually see the coast of France from the shore. We got out of the bus and were able to walk around on the beach and see some of the cliffs and a big entry port for ships from the rest of Europe. We only spent about 15 minutes here, but that's all we really needed to see everything. There was a castle up on top of some of the cliffs that would have been cool to explore if we had a few hours.

We got back into London and headed to Shepherd's bush where we ate at Gourmet Burger Kitchen again and I got a new 2012 Olympics sweatshirt. We got a text from Eric's cousin's friend again asking if we wanted to meet up, so we met up with them again around the Hammersmith station and went to a bar called Blue Anchor. We had a few ciders before they called last call, which is only around 11 here. We came home and went to bed so we could get up for our tour of the Cotswolds tomorrow.

Teaser photos:

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle
Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury

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Tags: london, england

Posted from: England

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