Ironbridge, (United Kingdom)

“Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution”, “First bridge in the world made of cast iron”

Ironbridge, United Kingdom, May 2019

For a long time now I was keen to come and visit this place. Double famous in which it was the area commonly referred as “the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution” since it was at the nearby village of Coalbrookdale where Abraham Darby developed the technique of smelting iron with coke resulting in an infinite cheaper production of iron. And with cheaper iron came railways, factories, infrastructures and unstoppable construction. And secondly, the construction of the first ever cast iron bridge in the world opened in 1782; quite an achievement back in the days, yet gifting the world with a new method of cheap construction of bridges and structures.

This trip happened all in a perfect bank holiday weekend. A long due return to Liverpool and Chester the previous days, while as for the return towards London taking the road into the County of Shropshire, passing through beautiful scenery and villages before reaching Coalbrookdale and the Ironbridge Gorge, all of which listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

While there is not that much over here to keep you busy for a day, nor half a day, it is true that should you be wishing to enter the plenty of museums in the area and considering their opening hours, then you should consider and plan this ahead. Our main aim was to visit the Abraham Darby’s blast furnace and surrounding buildings, and of course, the slender and elegant Iron Bridge. Giving us enough time to walk around the nature and side by side of the canal, and a copious lunch at one of the many beautiful pubs available along the main street in Ironbridge parallel to the River Severn.

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Chester, (United Kingdom)

“Roman Castrum Deva Victrix”, “Best preserved walled city in Britain”, “Black and White City”

Chester, United Kingdom, May 2019

Continuing our trip during this bank holiday long weekend, we move south from Liverpool to Chester, the “black and white city”. One of the most beautiful and unique in the country, and so one of the most perfectly complete from the Victorian era when majority of its buildings date from among some medieval structures and the best preserved walls in the country; first built by the Romans, extended and strengthened thereafter to how we see these today.

Although not much remain from the Roman era bearing what was the largest amphitheatre in Britannia, partly uncovered, and other smaller structures in the walls and gardens around it, columns and some statues; what really makes this city special is the large amount of Tudor revival architecture literally covering the entire city centre core. The characteristics of such style are self-described in one of the city’s nickname, “black and white”. Combining black timber frames and bricks and walls in white. Built during the Victorian era, it is without doubt the largest and finest collection of such houses within a same place.

Another peculiar fact you might realise are the “Rows”, these are covered walkways on the first floor of the buildings where access to shops are. Above these, the residential homes itself, and below the walkway accessed via steps from the street level, more shops. It is a direct legacy from the medieval times put back in practice during the 19th century revival period. (more…)

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Liverpool, (United Kingdom)

“The Pool”, “The World in One City”, “City of Talent”, “City of World’s Firsts”

Liverpool, United Kingdom, May 2019

For a very, very long time now I was keen to have a travel guide for this beautiful and vibrant city, but it was also many years since the last time I was there, long before I even started to create my travel blog hence I knew I had to return one day to get and compile the most up to date information and news, and experience it all once more to finally be able to share with you all what I consider as one of the most fascinating and impressive cities in the United Kingdom. A city that has given the entire world not just its name as such, but an entire institution of what its name means in the world of industry, transport, finances, arts, crafts and yes; music. The Merseybeat era (also known as Beat music or British Beat, with The Beatles the most prestigious band ever in history at the time.

A city not of Roman origin, celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2007. Ever since, the rapid transformation and consciousness in the incredible heritage, rich history from every building’s walls and its magnificent harbour and old docks transformed a decaying and quite dilapidated city into a modern thriving 21st century destination. Project after project, the change became unstoppable and continues to be so, to the point in which the prestigious listing of being an UNESCO World Heritage Site is nowadays in danger to retain. See it for good or for the bad, the organization claims that the continuous rise of taller and taller towers, striking museums and a blend with such post-modern style next to the most celebrated architectural classical icons is distorting the integrity and identity.

Many sites and entire ares in the city are UNESCO designated, notably what refers to its most direct past with the sea as a mercantile city. These are the magnificent Albert Dock and the Pier Head among others. Liverpool was once thriving in trade and transatlantic passengers; and there is another part of the city’s history, home to the Cunard Line and White Star Line, with some of the world’s most famous ocean liners registered in its port such as the Titanic, Olympic or Queen Mary. (more…)

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Manchester, (United Kingdom)

“Roman Mamucium”, “Cottonopolis”, “Warehouse City”, “World’s first industrialised city”

Manchester, United Kingdom, July 2016

Returning to the city where I lived for some months 11 years ago, and to this date, the best city I’ve ever been in the UK; Manchester. Living in London is just for a reason, work. Unfortunately a position as I have in London would be much harder to get in Manchester that’s a fact, otherwise I would not hesitate in coming back to live here. Not only the cost of living is much lower, it is also much lower the housing prices where you can at least afford a very nice house instead of a microscopic apartment in London. People also is way friendlier and nicer in every sense, and they do know how to party! The huge amount of beautiful large pubs, clubs and discos still fascinates me when comparing to tiny, tasteless, and ever crowded places in London.

Manchester although not the next largest city after London, title that goes to Birmingham, it is the second city in importance after London. Both Manchester and Birmingham have a never ending fight in which is the most important, but it is publicly and official for the UK it remains Manchester.

So what makes the city different or from where such importance? Taking a brief look at some of its facts then it comes self-explained: Nicknamed as Cottonopolis back in the industrial era, over 70% of the world’s cotton was produced here. No other city in the world had as many factories as Manchester, and truly became the world’s first industrialised city, where the world’s first industrial estate was created at Trafford Park. Back in its heyday, another unprecedented achievement occurred; the city became one end of the world’s first intercity passenger railway, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Another event at the Midland Hotel saw Mr Rolls and Mr Royce meeting for the first time before the formation of the famous car company Rolls Royce. Pioneering in many aspects, but also a melting pot where great artists and musicians have born. There is a phrase that somewhat in certain aspects, still described itself on the spot: What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow. (more…)

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Isle of Man, (British Isles)

“Latin: Mona”, “Manx: Ellan Vannin”, “Mann”, “Self-governing Crown Dependency”

Isle of Man, British Isles, June 2016

Glad to finally manage great flight tickets to Isle of Man, long time in the bucket list of the “nearby” destinations to go. And with the ongoing shortage of new destinations across Europe still pending to go, it was once more, a perfect choice and a great weekend. Landscapes, nature, city and culture road trip through the entire island which surprisingly has a lot to see and do, and an incredible history and past behind through the millennia. An entire weekend is just perfect time, enough to enjoy every corner of the island which is really pleasant to drive all around. Easy roads and short distances, with many sights along the way: megalithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age monuments; castles, beaches, idyllic villages and impressive Victorian engineering at its purest with the largest water wheel in the world, horse trams in Douglas, a mountain railway, steam train and electric tramways from the past century, just to name a few of the places we would visit.

Starting at Castletown and Douglas, we split between north and south, one area for Saturday, the other for Sunday. Our hotel however, was in Douglas since it’s the capital and largest city in the island and with majority of facilities, entertainment and nightlife. We did not want to be “stranded” in the middle of nowhere and having to depend on the car to even go and find dinner.

The island, on the Irish Sea, is one of the self-governing Crown Dependency of the British Isles where the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, but not part of the United Kingdom. It is an independent country on it’s own, and the people of the island are happy about this. Sometimes people are mistaken in thinking they are part of the United Kingdom but is not. The other such self-governing islands are the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the La Mancha Canal. (more…)

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Southwest England, (United Kingdom)

“The English Riviera”

South West England, United Kingdom, May 2015

After a short visit to Exeter continuing our journey towards the south west of England along the counties of Devon and Cornwall, we arrived in the matter of few minutes’ drive to Torbay in Devon, officially known by its well-deserved nickname, The English Riviera. This name comes back from the Georgian and Victorian eras when the rich and wealthy were coming along this area to spend their holidays in search of the beautiful sandy beaches and small and quiet idyllic villages. It is today that this region still caters for a large number of luxury and high demanding holidaymakers, but now you can find top 5* resorts, hotels and spas next to much more modest properties. A great place to anyone.

Although I was at some of those places many years ago, I barely could remember anything. Not even the larger cities Exeter and Plymouth, for what made it a great weekend to remember and enjoy what I consider the most beautiful region in Britain. So unfortunate that the weather (like everywhere in the UK) is not as good as is in Spain for example, as otherwise this could be the perfect beach holiday destination with nothing to envy to the Mediterranean; but that will never happen though.

While “commuting” from one place to another can be done in different ways, all of them are quite fast. Of course the fastest is having a rental car out of question, but buses and trains connect every of those cities and villages all along the south west mainline railway. Not every train calls at the smaller places but is a fast and efficient way  that won’t take that much time. (more…)

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Exeter, (United Kingdom)

“Roman Isca”, “Old English Escanceaster”,  “Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful”

Exeter, United Kingdom, May 2015

Too many years have passed since I was last here. Easily 12 years, yet I could remember quite well how beautiful this city is. I was only 2 times before coming back this weekend and it felt still as the first time, with a difference; now I was paying way much more attention to its architecture and sights not as back then when is was just a simple visit with friends on our day off when we were on a working and learning English program during the summer months while at University, working at Butlins Minehed, not far from Exeter.

Not every weekend trip is going to be abroad after all. This country has so much to offer but truth is that I’ve been to majority of the places and cities. Unfortunately for most of them a long time ago and therefore will not add a travel guide for them until I come back again so can have recent inputs, and not vague memories and ideas from 10 years back or so.

Exeter is one of the oldest cities in the UK, the most south western post in Britain from the Roman Empire and despite the small size, there is a lot to do and see with a thriving nightlife at the weekends and great large shopping areas. Being until WWII second to Bath for it’s beauty, the damages after the war left the city with half of its historic core and thus, not becoming a major tourist destination after all. (more…)

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Jersey, (British Isles)

“Caesarea”, “Bailiwick of Jersey”, “British Crown Dependency”

Jersey, Jersey, March 2014

Our first time travelling to any of the British Isles and the Channel Islands itself; and that would be the largest in this occasion. Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey all of them are self governing democracies under the constitutional monarchy with independent administered jurisdictions; meaning it does not form part of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth of Nations, or the European Union; although it has special treats with them, being the United Kingdom constitutionally responsible for the defense of Jersey.

Being an island of that small size, it makes it perfect for a weekend. Don’t expect any city though, as even the capital of the island, Saint Helier, has more feeling to a little village than a city. Everywhere else across the island are small villages, some towns, and the beautiful coasts, empty beaches and landscapes.

As a curious fact, until not long ago Jèrriais was the official spoken and written language in the Channel Islands; but since the last decades this has changed in favour of English, still you will find names and translations on both languages, although we did not come across anyone speaking it nor listened in the radio or anywhere a word of it. (more…)

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