Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Uh Oh, India and China

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 08 31st, 2010

We just got back from the Indian and Chinese visa offices in London and things do not look good. It looks like we might have to skip these countries.

Indian and Chinese visas are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. We were not able to get the visas before leaving the United States because they would have expired before we arrived in the countries. After some research, Christy and I decided to get the visas in London at the end of the European phase.

We arrived in London three days before our flight to Egypt. We filled out the applications for visas and made appointments for the Indian visa office. At the visa office we were surprised to learn the visa process will take 10-15 business days! We were shocked because we knew the application process took just one day in the United States. Visa processing takes a lot longer in a foreign country because they need to communicate with the United States government before issuing the visa. I would have thought the internet could make the communication faster than 10-15 business days, but what do I know.

Anyway, as it stands now, we do not have Indian or Chinese visas. Our only hope for the visas is to get them while we are in Egypt, since it is the only country we will be in for an extended period of time. We are disappointed that we probably will not be able to visit these countries, but they are far enough away we have not begun planning or getting too excited. I think the disappointment will be greater when we are in the Mumbai airport and have to immediately get on another plane and leave.



Goodbye England

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 12th, 2010

It was our last day in England. We were ready to move on since we thought we would already be in Ireland. After the initial cultural differences wore off, England began to feel a lot like the United States. We had a great time, but we were still ready to begin our next adventure in a non-English speaking country. We were excited for Italy.

Before our flight to Rome we stopped in a pub and watched the United States play England in the World Cup. It was fun watching the game in such a passionate atmosphere. We were happy with the 1 to 1 tie since the US was outplayed all game. The British patrons were not as happy with the outcome.

Christy watching the World Cup in London

After the game we headed to our next hotel… Gatwick airport. We had a 7:10 am flight the next morning so we decided to spend the night in the airport. We found http://www.sleepinginairports.com while making sure Gatwick allowed people to sleep there. We discovered a whole subculture devoted to saving time and money by sleeping in airports. The terminals in Gatwick shuts down at night so we had to sleep outside of security. There were a lot of other people sleeping, but we finally found some cushioned benches we could lay down on. We had a hard time getting comfortable because of the light, noise, and air conditioning.

Christy getting ready to sleep in Gatwick airport

At 2:20 in the morning Christy woke me up because security was reopening the terminals. I was not as eager to change sleeping locations since I was having a wonderful dream about playing dodge ball in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land. Reluctantly, I followed her through security (where there was no line) into the terminal where we found an empty gate. We slept peacefully in our own personal gate 11 the rest of the night in complete peace.

Christy sleeping in Gatwick gate 11



In the Land of Robin Hood…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 06 11th, 2010

As has come custom in our trip, Aaron and I had no clue what we were doing our last two days in England as of yesterday morning. As we were looking at the map, we gazed upon a fairly big city right between Liverpool and London…. Nottingham! The city where the outlaws steal from the rich to give to the poor.

This spot was not highlighted in our guidebook, but we thought we would give it a try.  The results are in, and our decision was declared a success!

Fairly scarce of tourists (and therefore high prices), Nottingham is a treasure right in the middle of the UK. Note, however, a max of two days is needed.

Here were our activities:

Of course, a walk around the ancient castle of Nottingham, and the famous Robin Hood statue (est. in 1949);

Then, a quick tour of the free museum of the history of Robin Hood);

Now, we all know that I love movies, and we had not seen the latest version of Robin Hood on the big screen. SO, what better time to see the film than in the setting of the film itself? (Christy Review: B+, Entertaining, too harshly reviewed by critics; I’m sorry this latest installment was not as fantastic as “Gladiator,” but you can’t get much better than that, so why compare?)

Now, the hostel we are staying at in Nottingham is my favorite thus far, due to the friendly staff and laid back long-term residents. The woman who checked us in recommended two things, which we happily took her advice on: a pub called the Pitcher and Piano, which is unique in that it is placed in a historic old church in the village. Aaron and I enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner there, for the tremendously generous price of five pounds each.

The second was a pub called Ye Olde Salutation Inn. We enjoyed a few pints of beer and cider there, and what made the experience special was not the drinks, but the old caves that still exist under the cavern. Underneath the entire city of Nottingham are caves dug out centuries ago (perhaps by Robin Hood and his merry men?). If you buy a few pints at the pub, they will let you explore the caverns that are still in tact down below.

Yesterday, Aaron and I had grown tired of England and were ready to move on to Italy. Nottingham regenerated our spirits for the country. We are happy to have one more day here, especially since USA is playing England in the World Cup tomorrow. Go USA (like we care)!



Country Cooking English Style

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 6th, 2010

While staying in the English country house, our wonderful host Elaine made us an English country dinner. We had fish pie for the main course. Sorry for the bad picture. It was so good I did not remember to take a picture until after we had devoured most of the dish. For dessert we had rhubarb crumble. The rhubarb was fresh from her garden. The rhubarb was so good by itself I don’t know why we mix it with strawberries in America.

Fish pie Rhubarb crumble



English Countryside

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 6th, 2010

While visiting Bath and Salisbury we were lucky enough to stay with the mother of one of Christy’s coworkers in the English countryside. Elaine was such an amazing host.

We loved her house which was built in the 1690s. It had a thatched roof (made of straw) and beautiful gardens.

Elaine's house in the English country

Christy’s favorite part was the ponies in the field in front of the house.

Christy in front of the Pony field

Thank you Elaine for all of your hospitality.

Christy and Elaine



Salisbury, England

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 6th, 2010

One of the unexpected surprises in our trip outside of London was the town of Salisbury. Salisbury is a pretty English town near Stonehenge, famous for its Cathedral.
Christy with swans in Salisbury

The spire on the Cathedral is the tallest in England.

Christy in front of Salisbury Cathedral

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but the inside is as amazing as the outside. We were allowed to take pictures in the cloisters.

Aaron in fron of the cloisters at Salisbury Cathedral

Just behind where the above picture was taken was a room housing one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. Once again photography was not allowed.

Salisbury was able to avoid getting bombed during World War 2 because the German pilots used the cathedral as a landmark. The German pilots would fly over the English Channel until they found the Salisbury Cathedral, then they would follow rivers and roads to their bombing target. We were glad the city was spared because it is an amazing place.



Stonehenge

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 6th, 2010

The next day we got a bus tour from Salisbury to Stonehenge.
Stonehenge

Admission to Stonehenge includes an audio tour.

Aaron at Stonehenge

The audio tour tells more about the mysteries of Stonehenge. Why was it built? Who built it? No answers provided by the audio tour.

It is becoming a habit of ours to take naps outside whenever the weather is good and we are tired. It helps us keep the balance between seeing sights and staying well rested.

Christy napping at Stonehenge



Bath, England

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 5th, 2010

We headed out of London to visit some of the other sights.

We took a train to Bath which was an old city built by the Romans. The city is centered around an old Roman bath house built on England’s only natural hot spring. The Roman’s built complicated infrastructure around the spring to create warm bathing pools and saunas.

Christy at Bath

The bath house is preserved really well. The pool is still water tight despite being over 1000 years old.

Main bath house in Bath

Next to the bath houses was the Bath Cathedral.

Aaron in Bath cathedral

Christy in Bath Cathedral

We loved walking around Bath, although it felt like we were in Italy more than England.

Christy walking around Bath



London Night Life

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 4th, 2010

Aaron and I didn’t expect to go out at night (we all know how expensive it can be), however, we have found that it is hard to avoid that scene as we are meeting new people who want to socialize over a beer at a pub. Aaron and I have been happy to oblige.

The first night we went to a CouchSurfing event with our host in central London. There we met a few other local hosts, and I discovered my new drink of choice (as expensive cocktails are now a no-no): cider! Since it is made from apples, it has a sweet taste. I will now be drinking cider from here on out.

We then went on to a local gay nightclub with our host and a lesbian couple from Singapore. Please enjoy the pictures and the video of Aaron below:

Christy at the Ku Klub

Aaron at Ku Klub

Last night, we went to another pub near Chinatown with a friend we had met at the CouchSurfing event. A band was playing for the night, and Aaron and I especially enjoyed when they played “Sweet Home Alabama”:

Hopefully we won’t be going out anytime soon to save up some cash, however, if we do, we will update you on the nightlife of the other countries we visit.

Cheers!



Sightseeing in London

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 4th, 2010

There is so much to see in London. After one day of sightseeing, I doubt we will be able to see everything in the 5 days we will be here.

Our sightseeing day started off with Big Ben and the Parliament building.

Christy in from of Big Ben and Parliament

Then we went to Westminster Abbey.

Aaron in front of Westminster Abbey

We saw Buckingham Palace, but did not wait around for the changing of the guard.

Christy and the guard at Buckingham Palace

Can you tell we are in England?

Aaron in London

Hyde park was the perfect place to nap. We needed the rest after all of the walking and jet lag.

Christy napping in Hyde Park

Christy loved the Peter Pan statue in Kensington gardens. This is where J. M. Barrie met the kids who became the inspiration for the lost boys.

Chirsty with the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens

We will probably see a lot of art on this trip, but it is hard to imagine finding a statue that expresses love and passion better than this hugging bear water fountain in Kensington Gardens.

Hugging bear water fountain in Kensington Gardens

Finally, we tried to catch the train to Hogwarts to Harry Potter. Because we are not witches or wizards we could not find platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross station.

Christy looking for the train to Hogwarts

We still have so much to see in London. We will be going sight seeing again today.