Weekend in Liverpool and North Wales

Once in a while I get a weekend off and I always make sure to make plans with the wife since we rarely get to spend a full day together anymore. So last weekend was a special one because it was also our anniversary – we got married on the same day we got together, only three years later, three years ago. We set this date to avoid confusion. So this year, it wasn’t clear what exactly we celebrated – our third year of marriage or our 6th year together. Not that it mattered because who doesn’t like a celebration or two right?

The truth is, days before the trip we weren’t even sure where to go. We booked an accommodation near Lake Constance and cancelled that because the weather was being a little crazy that week in Germany. So we were back to square one until I stumbled upon a travel post on Facebook about the Llangollen Canal and thought it was amazing. It’s in North Wales, and just an hour’s drive away from Liverpool. We checked for flights and easily found a roundtrip at convenient hours and for a good price, too.

We did not know what to expect from Liverpool and North Wales but we decided to just surprise ourselves and just go.

We arrived in Liverpool on Friday night and picked up our rental car. It’s my wife’s first right-hand drive and I must say, she mastered it pretty quickly!

Llangollen Canal, North Wales

So the photo of this place that I saw on the Internet made me believe it was possible to go kayaking around here but after I spent days trying to look for kayak boat rentals around the area, I have come to accept that it’s not something they offer, probably for safety reasons.

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I mean, the one side does not have any safety rails…
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…and it’s pretty high up there.

Dear readers, this is Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. It’s been around for more than 200 years and was built for industrial use although the route that was supposed to go up to Liverpool was never completed. Today, it’s a popular tourist spot which allows visitors to take tours on a narrow boat and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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But instead of taking the narrow boat tour, we decided to rent some bikes to see more of the surrounding area.

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We were in luck because it was a beautiful day in this part of the UK!

Liverpool

I remember on my post about our trip to London earlier this year I said that we seemed to have waited this long to finally go to the UK together and now, it’s already been our second time there and we even made it back in the same year. I really like being there and I’d love to see more of what it has to offer. But Liverpool is just so much different in comparison to London, understandably. It’s less crowded and more relaxed. It’s home to The Beatles and they couldn’t make it any more obvious. Their songs still play on the radio every so often and their souvenir shops are full of The Beatles merchandise. Hey, even the airport is named in honour of John Lennon.

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It was nice just walking around downtown Liverpool, having dinner at one of the many pubs, enjoying a cold pint of apple cider – just one of the many things I love about the UK.

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We made sure to make a few visits to Albert Dock and Pier Head. This time of the year there is the summer fair called Pier Head Village right by The Beatles’ statue to enjoy on sunny days and the Ferris Wheel that is there all year long for the best views of the city from above.

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To me, that’s an anniversary well spent! 🙂

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Donauwelle: Vienna

The second leg of our trip was Vienna. Its city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s pretty obvious why. If you’ve never been to Vienna, you’d be surprised by how many buildings were actually preserved to make you feel like you’re walking in a different century.

July 29, 2016

We left Bratislava today via boat that took us to Vienna. By land, it would have only been 80km away, about an hour drive. You can even take the bus for only 10€. I chose to proceed by boat because I thought it would be interesting. It’s not the cheapest option, but we wanted to actually do something on the Danube as part of the Donauwelle. It was a 90-minute ride, and it took us straight to Schwedenplatz, Vienna. We’ve arrived at around noon and went straight to our Airbnb. We each bought a 3-day ticket, which later on proved to be worthy because we did take public transportation quite often, as it is the best way to get around. Our Airbnb was close to U6 stop Dresdner Straße, and the area was mostly populated by students, not much by tourists.

Airbnb: 145 € for 3 nights
Twin City Liner boat ride 50 € for two – Bratislava to Vienna
72-hour Wiener Linien public transportation ticket: 16,50€ per person

After checking in, we went to the city centre for some lunch. I had my first Wiener Schnitzel, and it was about the size of my plate.

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After that, we went to Stephansplatz to see the famous Stephansdom and just walked around a little bit in the area before heading to Wien Prater. We went on the ferris wheel and it was nearly empty at around 21:00. It gave an interesting view of the rest of the amusement park’s lights from the top. The ride lasted about 20 minutes.

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Stephansdom
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View from the top of Wiener Riesenrad, looking over the rest of the amusement park
Tickets for 20-minute ride on Wiener Riesenrad: 9,50€ per person


July 30, 2016

Today was an extra exciting day for me because we were bound for the Sigmund Freud Museum. It’s located in Freud’s old apartment/practice. This experience sort of brought me back to my college days, back when I was striving for a degree in Psychology and where Dr. Freud has been an important figure in our studies. In case you’re wondering, his famous couch is not part of the exhibit but it can be found instead at the Freud museum in London.

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Entrace fee to Freud Museum: 10€ per person

We’ve walked some more today around the Ring for some of the best sights in Vienna and just sat in the park when we got tired. One of the best luxuries you can have in this city, in my opinion, is peace. I was surprised about how easy it was to to find a quiet spot where you can just sit back and stop thinking about all the things that stress you out.

Back to the Ring, we got lost in all the old buildings. It was hard to keep up with all of them and we really found ourselves not knowing what building we were taking a picture of anymore. But there is one that really stood out, though, and for obvious reasons:

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I mean, how can it still be photogenic despite bad conditions?!

July 31, 2016

A place I wished we had gone to sooner is Donauinsel. In English, it literally means “Danube Island”, and that’s basically what it is, found in between the Donaukanal and Große Donau. There are a couple of places to just grab drinks from, and there’s also a footbridge leading to the mainland. It’s great for people watching and just enjoying the warm weather by the water. The park is also great for picnics.

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Footbridge from Donauinsel leading to the other side of town.

Our last stop was Schönbrunn Palace, a place one shouldn’t miss when in Vienna (or you can try but somehow everything leads to it anyway, so). We didn’t take the tour inside the palace itself for it’s quite pricey and it seemed so crowded (we witnessed the constant stream of tourists exiting the palace). Instead, we just walked around the park and admired the landscape. The park’s entrances can be found on either end of the premises.

All in all, Vienna, for me, has been a nice and short stop-over. Our stay has not been that eventful but, to say the least, it was quiet and peaceful and maybe that’s exactly what we needed. I still haven’t gotten over the price of coffee, though.

Next stop → Budapest!