5 Great Trips in 2014

2014 was a great year for travelling for my family and I, and here are 5 of the best places that we went to that year, in chronological order.

  1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

In April 2014, the whole of our family, the Appelquist Family, came to Fort Lauderdale for a reunion. The weather there was sunny and warm (even though it rained cats and dogs on the main day we were there), and that was one of the reasons I liked going to Florida. I also liked the hotel we stayed at: the Hotel Lago Mar. There was a nice restaurant and a huge outdoor pool which I enjoyed swimming in, but my favourite part was walking on the beach with all my family members. While we were there, we were lucky enough to watch a giant cruise ship depart!

A Gigantic Cruise Ship
A Gigantic Cruise Ship
  1. Washington DC, USA

After spending a weekend in Florida, we went to Washington DC to visit my Mom’s mother. While my Mom stayed at my grandmother’s house, my Dad, sister and I went into town and saw some of the sights and museums. To get there, we drove to the nearest metro station, and then got on a metro train that took us into the city. Firstly, we went to the Natural History Museum, which had an exhibit on dinosaurs, and you could see palaeontologists working in a lab! Afterwards, we walked to the National Gallery of Art, which houses lots of paintings and sculptures from the 19th Century and modern times. Next, we went to the Air and Space Museum, where there were lots of exhibits about airplanes and space shuttles. We also saw famous Washington Landmarks such as the Capitol Building and the 169-metre-tall (554 feet) Monument.

The Capitol Building
The Capitol Building
  1. Northumberland, England

In the summer of 2014, we (my Mom, Dad and sister) met up with my mum’s friend, from Boston on the east coast of the USA, and her family in Glasgow, Scotland. We stayed there for a night, and the next day, we all drove to Northumberland, where we stayed in one half of a house in Kilham, a tiny village with just a few other houses. On our first day there, we went to Berwick-upon-Tweed, a seaside town where we saw a city wall and had the best fish and chips. Another day, we went on a long hike from a town called Kirknewton, and the instructions we followed took us through areas of ferns and heather and up a 361-metre-high (1,184 feet) hill. That night, we had a delicious dinner at a restaurant at a hotel in Cornhill-on-Tweed. While we were there, we also saw some pheasants, some very beautiful birds, whilst driving in our car.

The Northumberland Countryside
The Northumberland Countryside
  1. Haarlem, Holland

For October half term of 2014, I went on my first trip to a foreign country without my parents! I was nervous and excited to go, but I ended up having a fabulous time. I went with my choir to Holland and we sang at two concerts: one in Haarlem (a city just west of Amsterdam), and one in Zandvoort (a town on the coast). To get there, I got on a coach with the rest of my choir, to Harwich, and then we got on an overnight ferry to Holland! The coach then took us to Haarlem. As soon as we got there, we went to the Frans Hals Museum, which had lots of 17th century portraits by Frans Hals. Later that day, we sang at our first concert. The next day, we sang in Zandvoort, and also played on the beach. The day after was our last day, and on the way of driving to the Eurotunnel, we stopped in Bruges, Belgium, where we had a hearty lunch and went on a boat tour along the canals. I was extremely glad I had gone!

The Canal-side of Bruges
The Canal-side of Bruges
  1. New Haven and Boston, USA

Over Christmas 2014, we went to see some of our relatives on the East Coast of the USA. I really enjoyed spending time with them, but I also liked exploring New Haven, Connecticut (where my grandparents live) and Boston (where my mum’s friend and her family live). On our first day in New Haven, we hiked to the top of East Rock, a rock that is 111 metres (365 feet) high.  That day, we had New Haven pizza for dinner from a place called Pepe’s. New Haven pizza has its own distinct style, and is delicious. We also saw went to museums: the Yale Art Gallery and the Peabody Museum. The Yale Art Gallery has paintings from every time and place, and the Peabody Museum has exhibits on natural things such as animals and minerals. In Boston, we took the T, the Boston metro, to a diner called Mike’s City Diner for breakfast on our full day, at which I had some very tasty waffles, and then we walked all the way to the Museum of Science, where we saw an exhibit on the Mayas. We then took the T back to our friends’ house.

The View from East Rock, New Haven
The View from East Rock, New Haven

 

A Weekend in Paris

“Do you know what we’re going to do while Mom is away?” Dad told my sister and I one day. “We’re going to go to Paris!”

This made me really excited to go, and I couldn’t wait for it! I spent lots of time looking at guidebooks of the city in the weeks leading up to our trip. These just made me look forward to it even more, though we had to make the most of it, as we only had one full day there.

When it was time to go, Dad, Emily and I packed our bags and took the Underground to St. Pancras Station, and then we went through the Eurostar ticket gates and through security. Afterwards, we waited around, and finally got on a high-speed train that would take us to Paris!

Inside the Eurostar. The yellow doors close when the train is inside the Channel Tunnel.
Inside the Eurostar. The yellow doors close when the train is inside the Channel Tunnel.

The train journey lasted about 2 hours and 30 minutes, and after we arrived at Paris Gare Du Nord, we took the Paris Metro to our hotel, the Hotel Duminy-Vendome. The Paris Metro is known for being beautiful, and many entrances to the stations are in Art Nouveau style.

The entrance to Pont Marie station
The entrance to Pont Marie station

To start our big day there, we had breakfast at the breakfast buffet in the basement of our hotel. The food was very nice, and I had an apricot croissant as well as sausages and baked beans. Afterwards, we walked from the hotel and along the Champs-Élysées Avenue and ended up at our first famous Parisian sight: the Arc de Triomphe. It is a huge arch built on behalf of the people that fought for Napoleon.

The Arc deTriomphe
The Arc de Triomphe

It is built on a traffic island in the middle of a very big roundabout, and to get to it, you have to walk under the road.

Next, we took the Metro back to Tuileries, and then we walked through the Jardin de Tuileries (some beautiful gardens near our hotel) to the Musée d’Orsay.

The Musée d'Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay

I had a great time looking at pieces of artwork by Van Gogh and Renoir. Not only were we at the museum by ourselves, but we also met my dad’s friend and family, who live in Paris themselves. We all had a hearty lunch together at Café Campana, a café next to the 5th floor Impressionist gallery in the museum.

Afterwards, we left the museum and walked down the Seine.  On our way, we saw a bridge covered in locks.

The Pont des Arts, now covered with locks
The Pont des Arts, now covered with locks

The reason for this is that people have been tying locks to the bridge to show their love to someone. Some people like the lovelocks but some think they are a “menace.” We then ended up at another famous Parisian sight- Notre Dame Cathedral. On the Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine, construction began on it in 1163, and it was finally completed in 1345. It is a very old cathedral but very impressive. On another island in the Seine, the Île Saint-Louis (next to the Île de la Cité), we had some melt-in-your-mouth ice cream from a place called Berthillon. There are many flavours to choose from, though I chose to get a double of strawberry and peach.

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Ice cream from Berthillon

After relaxing back at the hotel for a bit, we walked to the stop for the Batobus. Even though it is not as famous as the Bateau-Mouches, it is less expensive and more useful for getting around Paris because it goes in a loop. As we were waiting for our boat, we had a look at the Louvre Museum. We did not go inside, as we would have had to wait in a long line, but we got a glimpse of the glass pyramid. When our Batobus came, we got off at the most famous of all Parisian landmarks- the Eiffel Tower. It was built in 1889 to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution.

The Eiffel Tower from the Batobus
The Eiffel Tower from the Batobus

One negative thing about our trip is that, when we needed to use the toilet, we had to wait in a very long line. But then, we all did something very special- going up the Eiffel Tower! Fortunately, we were able to skip the long queues: we had a pre-booked ticket. And soon after we arrived, we entered a double-decker elevator, which took us up to the second floor. Now it was time to go up to the sommet– the very top. This second elevator was even more crowded than the last one.

When we reached the top, we had magnificent night-time views over Paris (our ticket was for 7:30 PM). We were able to see the Arc De Triomphe, the Jardin des Tuileries, Notre Dame, and all of Paris! I had an incredible time.

A view over night time Paris
A view over night time Paris

Afterwards, we walked to the Metro station, and took it back to the area around our hotel. To end our day in Paris, we had dinner at a welcoming restaurant near our hotel. I had a very nice chicken dish, and we finally walked back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep, as we would be taking the Eurostar back to London tomorrow.

Overall, I had a superb time in Paris, and I think it is a place that everyone should, at some time in their life, check out.IMG_0545

Aspen, Colorado Part 2

On the fourth day, I spent the morning in a ski lesson, though, when the rest of the class went to Bumps (a restaurant at the base of Buttermilk) for lunch, I met my dad, and we took the Summit Express chairlift to have lunch at The Cliffhouse, a restaurant that serves more interesting foods, such as the Mongolian Grill.

Chinese New Year Decorations inside The Cliffhouse
Chinese New Year Decorations inside The Cliffhouse

If you would like a Mongolian dish, then you have to fill your bowl with vegetables and take a card, then mark what meat, sauce, and carbohydrate you want. Next, you hand your bowl and card over to the cook, and they will grill the vegetables in your bowl, and add the sauce, meat, and carbohydrate you requested, and ask you what you want on top. My Mongolian dish was delicious, with beef, teriyaki sauce and brown rice.

On our last day, we went to another ski area called Snowmass, which is further away from Aspen than Buttermilk, though much bigger.

The Big Snowmass Chair
The Big Snowmass Chair

I skied there with my dad while my mum and sister went on a snowshoe tour. The terrain at Snowmass can be very hard, though I managed to tackle the most difficult bits. My mum and sister had already got us a table at Elk Camp Restaurant, and we were very lucky they did as the restaurant was jam-packed when we arrived. Afterwards, we returned our skis and took the bus back to Aspen, and spent the rest of the day relaxing. I think I improved lots since the last time we went skiing!

There are two more restaurants in Aspen that we went to, both of which I enjoyed. The first is Hops Culture, which serves mainly American food. It has a bar and a lot of TV screens, though the bacon and jalapeño macaroni and cheese, which I had ordered, was very tasty and it inspired us to make it at home! My favourite restaurant in Aspen, however, is called Hickory House, and it serves scrumptious barbecued ribs.

Hickory House Ribs
Hickory House Ribs

I ordered a half-rack of ribs (about seven pork ribs) with sides of fries, coleslaw, garlic bread, and especially good baked beans. It was the perfect treat for our last day in Aspen.

Overall, I had a wonderful time in Aspen, and if you are into skiing and good food, it is the place to go!

Aspen, Colorado Part 1

For February half-term break, I was lucky enough to go with my parents and my sister to Aspen, Colorado, in the west of the USA. Aspen is a town in which silver used to be mined, and today it is a famous ski resort with exciting things to do in both the winter and summer.

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The Monorail at Atlanta Airport

It took a long time to get there. Firstly, we flew to Atlanta on Virgin Atlantic. This was one of my favourite parts, as I had never flown through the world’s busiest airport before.  Next, we flew on Delta to Denver, Colorado, the closest big city to Aspen, and then got into a van called the Colorado Mountain Express, which would take us to Aspen in about four hours.

On our first day in Aspen, we mostly relaxed to get used to the altitude before going skiing. But we did do some interesting things. For example, we went to the Pitkin County Library, which has a big selection of different types of books. Afterwards, we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Su Casa, which serves excellent enchiladas, tacos and guacamole. We also went to Four Mountain Sports to rent our skis and snowboards. It had been a great first day in Aspen.

Downtown Aspen
Downtown Aspen

Skiing on the mountain was a great experience. For the first 3 days, I was in a lesson with about 5 other children, and I skied at an area called Buttermilk with a buddy called Spencer who was very helpful. Whilst skiing, we saw two interesting things: a memorial dedicated to three ski instructors called Frog, Toad and Uncle Chuck, and a wooden structure called Fort Frog. At the end of the first and second days, I went with my dad, my sister, my aunt, Karen, and her boyfriend, Chris, for a run down the mountain.

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Skiing is Great!

 

For the rest of my holiday in Aspen, see Part 2!

Food Tour with Eating London

I was very excited to hear that I would be going on a food tour, and I was very much looking forward to it. It was amazing: my dad and I got to taste a wide variety of delicious foods that the East End of London has to offer.

Firstly, my dad and I took the Underground to Old Street station, and walked to the vibrant Old Spitalfields Market, where there were lots of stalls selling clothing and food from around the world. We met our tour guide, Hannah, there, and walked across the road to St. John’s Bread and Wine, where we, along with the other people on the tour, had scrumptious bacon sandwiches. The bread was freshly made and toasted, and the bacon had such a wonderfully smoked, cured flavour. That was only one out of eight stops, though.

St. John's Bread and Wine
St. John’s Bread and Wine

Our next stop was a restaurant called The English Restaurant, where we had some delectably sweet bread pudding. It had bread, eggs, raisins, milk and many other fresh ingredients. The building was built in the late 17th Century, and had been used by many other businesses, including a company that roasted nuts.

Bread Pudding
Bread Pudding

Afterwards, our tour guide led us back to Old Spitalfields Market, through the site where Jack the Ripper murdered someone, and what was a shooting range (there were street names such as Gun Street and Artillery Passage). At the market, we all tried some cheese from a cheese shop called Androuet. I quite liked it, even though I do not normally like cheese, and I was brave enough to try Stilton!

The next few stops all held a part of different groups of people that settled in the East End. We learned about the cultures from which fish and chips originated, after having some from Poppies. Next, we stopped at a pub called The Pride of Spitalfields, where my dad and most of the others on the tour tried some beer and cider, but the tour guide was kind enough to get an alternative for me: a fizzy orange and lemon juice. There was also a handsome cat called Lennie!

Lennie the Pub Cat
Lennie the Pub Cat

One of my favourite stops came next: Bangladeshi curry! We walked up Brick Lane, and settled down at a curry house called Aladdin, which gave us samples of three curries: vegetable, lamb, and the spiciest: chicken. Luckily, there was naan bread to soothe our mouths, which were on fire.

Bagels
What food is this?

Our penultimate stop was for a food that came from the Jewish culture, and if you guessed bagels, then you’re right. After walking further up Brick Lane, my dad and I had bagels with salt beef, pickles and mustard on them. We then followed our tour guide up to Shoreditch, a neighbourhood full of hipsters and young people, and into Pizza East, our final stop, where we had dessert: a piece of salted caramel and chocolate ganache cake.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache
Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache

I had such a good time, not just trying different foods from curry to bagels to fish and chips, but also learning about the East End’s history, that I will remember this amazing tour for the rest of my life! If you would like to go on this tour, then visit Eating London’s website for more info and to book your place.