Tag Archives | London

How to See the British Museum in an Hour

The British Museum is massive. Its immense size can be a little intimidating. When it comes to museums, bigger is better. With the help of the British Museum‘s curators, we have come up with a way to see the best of the museum in an hour. Well, it’s more like two…but who is counting?

As you walk into museum, you enter the Great Court. It kind of looks like an egg on a square frying pan. The museum is free or whatever you feel like paying. If you want to support the museum, you can become a member and buy the membership in the Great Court. You can find restrooms and the Court Café is in far corner. The Great Court also acts as a fantastic meeting place. There are some benches to your left as you enter the room. Tell your traveling companions to meet you there if and when you become separated. This is a Fighting Couple rule: Always have a meeting place if you get separated. We learned this the hard way.

The first step is to get yourself a handy British Museum map.   They are available on a small stand right as you enter the Great Court. They ask for a one pound donation for the printing.   This map is key to your success in seeing the museum quickly. Go get one! Guys, I know you are tempted not too, but this is one time you need directions.

Lets go!  Climb the stairs or take the elevator to level III. Below are descriptions of the artifacts paired with letters you will find on your map.

Chess

The Lewis Chessmen

A) The Lewis Chessmen, Room 40

You made it to the first destination! Congrats! In front of you is a medieval chess set made in the 12th century. You have the unique privilege of looking at one of the oldest chess sets known to man. Lucky you. This set was discovered in 1831. Yes, it is missing a few pieces. They are over in Scotland. They seem to think that since it was found there, that is where it should stay. The game of chess was first played 500 BC! Check mate!

Fun Fact: This chess set washed up on the beach on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland.   It is thought that the set belonged to a traveling merchant on the trade route between Norway and Ireland. Who wants to guess how the merchant lost it?

Oxus Treasure

The Oxus Treasure

B) Oxus Treasure, Room 52

Eureka! Gold! You are looking at some serious bling. The Oxus Treasure is a stash of gold that was found along the Oxus River on the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. (Rough neighborhood!) These items were made by Persian craftsmen in 400-500 BC! As you look at this collection of items, it is fascinating to think that something so delicate could last so long. Impressive. My favorite piece is the chariot. Look at the golden ropes! The lion share of the treasure is here in the British Museum, but a couple of items are in the Victoria and Albert Museum and some of the coins are in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Fun Fact: The treasure, once discovered, was being transported by merchants. The merchants were captured by some Afghan robbers. One of the merchant’s servants escaped, and reported the capture to British soldiers. They hastily responded and found the robbers in a cave fighting over the loot.  It didn’t end well for them.

Royal Game of Ur

Royal Game of Ur

C The Royal Game of Ur, Room 56

Feast your eyes on the oldest game board in the world. This game board was made in roughly 2600 BC. It is a great, great-grandfather of today’s backgammon game.

Fun Fact: The game was mentioned in the hit TV series Lost.  John Locke gives a description of the game in “Pilot, Part 2”. Do you want to give the game a try? Click here for the online version.

IMG_1032

The is not the Portland Vase. It was out for cleaning when we were there. Please enjoy this random Greek vase.

D) The Portland Vase

This is one of the most unique vases in history.   This beauty was crafted by Roman artisans in 1 BC. It has inspired an entire decoration style for the next 2,000 years. What makes this vase special, is that it is crafted from cameo glass. The process is extremely meticulous, a similar quality and design has yet to be crafted by any means.

Fun Fact: On Feb. 7, 1845, a drunk student on a bender, named William Lloyd, smashed the vase into 30 some pieces. He was convicted of the crime and had to pay a fine of 10 pounds and spent two months behind bars. The vase was painstakingly restored.

 

Samurai Armor

Samurai Armor

E) Samurai Armor, Room 93

You are looking at an excellent example of traditional warrior armor for the Samurai class of Japan. The Samurai were specially trained fighting nobles. This fighting attire was made in the late 16th century. The helmet was made a little later in the 17th century. The whiskers of the face mask were made to intimidate their foe. Scary!

Fun Fact: Not all Samurai were men, female Samurai were called “Onna-Bugeisha,” and they would fight alongside their male counterparts. Their weapon of choice was usually the naginata, a spear with a curved, sword-like blade. 

Ivory Head Mask

Ceramic Tomb Figures

F) Ceramic Tomb Figures, Room 33

These treasures from the Tang dynasty ( 600-900 AD) were decorations on the to General Liu Ting Xun.  Mean looking dudes?  These statues were placed in the tomb to protect the dead from evil spirits.  There are some other animals that go with the tomb figures including camels and horses.  The tomb was a grand parade!

Fun Fact: The world’s first book was published during the Tang Dynasty (868AD).  This is 600 years before the west started printing books… The name of the first book you ask?  Buddhist scripture.

G) Ivory Pendant mask, Room 25

I couldn’t find this display…sorry.

Easter Island Statue

Easter Island Statue

H) Easter Island Statue Hoa Hakananai’a, Room 24

This is one of our favorite pieces in the entire museum. It is a lovable little guy. This Easter Island Statue was transported to Britain by ship HMS Topaze in late 1869. It is small compared to its brothers that still stand in the South Pacific. It is carved from lava basalt. What makes this statue especially unique are the carvings on the back. This statue was found half buried. It was excavated and given as a present to Queen Victoria.

Fun Fact: The statue makes a “racy” cameo in the movie, “The English Patient”.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

I) The Rosetta Stone, Room 4

Perhaps the best known and most important item in the entire collection is the vaunted Rosetta Stone. There is always going to be a horde of people in front taking pictures. It is located close to the Great Court. Walk by a couple of times and find a time when the crowd is a little smaller to take your picture. This stone solved the riddle of Egyptian hieroglyphics.  It cracked the code to understanding the ancient language. What you are seeing is a royal decree issued by King Ptolemy V. It is written in three different languages: Ancient Egyptian, Demotic script, and Greek. Since it is the same message, it unlocked the understanding of the Egyptian picture writing. That’s it in a nutshell. You could spend a lifetime studying this one item.

Fun Fact: The stone was discovered in 1799. The troops of Napoleon Bonaparte were conducting a campaign in Egypt against the English and a young French officer called Pierre-Francois Bouchard discovered it at Rosetta (Rashid) when his troops were constructing a fort.   Pierre-Francois Bouchard realized the significance of the stone and transported it to Cairo for examination by a team of French scholars and Napoleon himself.   The stone was later “captured” by the Brits, and taken to the British Museum.

Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs

Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs

J) Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs, Room 10

This dramatic display features a lion in the process of meeting its demise. Featured prominently are also the winged bulls that line the entry way. The reliefs show the lion-killing prowess of the last mighty Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal. He lived from 668-631 BC. He commanded his empire from his mansion in Nineveh located in Northern Iraq.

Fun Fact: One of the favorite pastimes of the Assyrian Kings was lion hunting, although his servants actually tracked the animals, beat them to a pulp, then invited the king to finish them off…

Horse from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos

Horse from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos

K) Horse from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, Room 21

This is one of the items that really impressed us. It is absolutely stunning. We are horse people, and this is a striking rendition of a powerful equine. The tomb of Halikarnassos was located in Bodrum, Turkey. The finished structure of the mausoleum was considered to be such an artistic beauty, it has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The tomb was destroyed by massive earthquakes in the 12th through the 15th centuries.

Fun Fact: The tomb serves as an inspiration for the tomb of US President and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant.

Parthenon sculptures

Parthenon sculptures

L) Parthenon Sculptures, Room 18

The largest and perhaps most impressive collection on our tour is the wonderful Greek Parthenon collection.   It is difficult to believe that the Greeks were willing to part with these. The collection is also called the Elgin Marbles, after the man who “brought” them from Athens to Britain.   These statues lined the top of the Parthenon and other buildings on Mt. Acropolis in Athens. Walk up and down the grand hall; each of these tells wonderful stories of strength, feats of the gods, and love stories.

Fun Fact: There are efforts afoot to return these statues to Athens. One of the leading voices is none other than George Clooney. According to him, they belong in Athens. With this authoritative voice added to the mix, it should end the discussion.

That’s it!  Please leave us a comment below on which was your favorite display in the British Museum.

 

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How to avoid shedding “pounds” in London

It’s no secret.  A recent article in the USA today, called out London as the most expensive city to visit in the world.  What is to be done?  No fear, the trusty Fighting Couple is on the case.  We have some helpful hints and tips that will make your British holiday less painful.

Mind the Gap

London is famous for its taxis. They are classy and the drivers well-trained. However, if you use a taxi to see the city, your wallet is going to be a lot lighter. London taxis are horribly expensive.  Use mass transportation instead. The “Tube” as it’s affectionately called is a wonderful, easy, and budget friendly way to the see the city. It’s well-organized, easy to understand, and safe. Most of the best sights in London have their own Tube sights.  Buy a pass. The seven day pass is the best deal depending on how far out of London you want to go, prices range from 24 Pounds to 81 Pounds.

buckingham palace

Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

Changing of the Guard

Getting up close and personal with the royals is a unique opportunity in Britain.  We highly recommend the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace.  Our advice is to get early and pick the right time when they do a full on parade and display.  It is really quite a pageant.  With the tall black hats and crisp red jackets it is a great photo op that does cost a single quid!

 

Big lunch, Small Supper

This is one of the Fighting Couple fave couple travel tips.  We load up on fine food at lunch.  Lunch menus are typically much more affordable than the evening meal.  Then for the evening meal, we hit the sandwich shop or grab a baguette and chips.  One other interesting trend is the increase in the number of street food vendors.  These can offer affordable eats at almost any hour.  During our recent trip to London, we found the best little crepe hut that offered the most delicious desserts.  They were a meal in themselves.

 

Shopping at Harrods

Shopping at Harrods

Window Shopping at Harrod’s

Now this is going to take some strong self-control… but window shopping at Harrod’s can be one of the most fun and free activities in all of London.  It can also be a fine place to do some old fashioned people watching.  Harrod’s was founded in 1834 and is one of the oldest continuously operated department stores in the world. You can find the world’s best brands there.  The Harrod’s motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere.  If you are lucky to visit London during the holidays, their displays are flat out incredible. Harrod’s is beyond expensive. It’s definitely for the well-heeled of the world. I ogled a women’s business suit and it was $800. Buy a tote bag instead. It will cost you $75.

Take a stroll down Jermyn Street and Saville Row to take in the newest fashion trends.  Most have wonderful window displays that are artwork on their own.  Don’t forget to snap a selfie with patron saint of dandyism, Beau Brummell.

 Cheap Show Tickets

Of course any trip to London would not be complete without an evening at the West End.  Personally, we find London theatre even a cut above Broadway and many of the shows that eventually make it to New York City get their start in London. Expect to pay less for a ticket in London, but with the exchange rate it equals more. Just like in New York, London has its own version of TKTS. Scope out their website at http://www.tkts.co.uk/. The website shows what shows are selling and what you’d expect to pay at the theatre and what you’ll pay at TKTS. Bloody Brilliant! Know a couple of shows you want to see before getting to the counter so if they sell out before you get there, you have options. TKTS makes shows so affordable; you can see three shows instead of one!

 

Breakfast and Bed

Another strategy to travel on a budget is staying at Bed and Breakfasts.  We love staying with actual people.  We learn so much more about the place we are visiting.  In addition, they can offer budget saving suggestions.  Try Travelstay.com to find the best rates for Bed and Breakfasts.

london parks

Lovely parks in London

 

A Picnic in the Park

London has some amazing green space.  Take advantage of a romantic setting with you lover!  There are four major “royal” parks.  Each of these are located on former royal hunting grounds: Green Park, St. James, Hyde Park, and our fave Kensington Gardens.  Find a grocery store, load up on your favorite snacks and take along a large blanket, a book and enjoy the scenery.

That’s it!  Our ideas to make your visit to London on a budget less painful.  Enjoy!

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London for Lovers

Paris is known as the city of love and we agree, but don’t discount the land of Kings and Queens: London.  The Fighting Couple proudly declares that London is for Lovers.  The city subtly echoes romance: beautiful parks, a palace, knights, and jewels.  The modern city dotted with history is the perfect place to spend a weekend or a week.  Here’s our top 10 ways to fall in love in London:

Ferris Wheel London

The London Eye at Twilight

1. Ride the “Eye”

The famous Ferris Wheel gives you an eye’s view of the city: Parliament, the River Thames, and on a clear day Windsor Castle about 25 miles away. Tickets start at 19 pounds; save 10 percent if you buy online. Enjoy the view, your love, and a kiss high flying over London.

2. Tower of London and Crown Jewels

See where past loves were executed (Anne Boyelyn) while ruling the realm. Built by William the Conquer almost 1000 years ago, it’s an impressive fortress. Plan on spending at least 4 hours seeing St. John’s Chapel, Traitor’s Gate which let in such famous occupants as Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh as well as looking at the displays of military machinery, and walking the perimeter. You’ll also get a peek at the Crown Jewels on the moving walkway that eases past the diamonds and rubies.

2.5  Take Turns Being on Top

….of the double decker bus that is!   One of the most iconic images of Great Britain are the bright red double deckers.  Needless to say, perched above the traffic you can take in a royal view of the city.  For some of the fascinating history of the red double deckers check out:  http://www.doubledecker-bus.com

London Bridge

The “London Bridge” Picture. (Tower bridge)

3. Tower Bridge Picture

It’s not the London Bridge sung in many a child’s nursery rhymes, but it is still impressive. While many of London’s attractions are pricey, a picture in front of the bridge is free. After seeing the Tower of London, take a few pictures in front of the bridge and prove to your friends you actually were in London together.

For helpful hints with getting around London, check out our recent travel post:  “Mind the Gap!”

4. Westminster Abbey

It’s free and it’s fantastic. See where William and Kate tied the knot and where England’s literary and political leaders are memorialized. No top 10 list of London attractions would be complete without a visit to this church.  C.S. Lewis was recently memorialized there. He joins Shakespeare, Lewis Carrol, Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Drake, John Milton and another 3000 people buried inside the Church. Pictures are not permitted inside, so buy postcards to remember your visit. Check out the Abbey’s website. It’s got some great extra features. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/

5. Find Love at the Theater

The Fighting Couple loves Broadway, but there’s something a cut above about the West End. Many of Broadway’s biggest hits were hits first in London: Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Mamma Mia and the new Tony award winning show Matilda. London has a TKTS too. So watch and enjoy and then brag to your friends how you saw “that” show years before it came to America.

London Cathederal

St. Pauls Cathederal

6. St. Pauls in London:

This mighty church stands like the patriarch of the city, outlasting and surviving the blitz of World War II. It’s the on the highest point in London. A church has occupied the site since 664 AD. See where Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill’s funerals were held as well as Lord Nelson and the marriage of Diana Spencer and Charles.

8. Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace:

– A fairytale trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing some stuffy guards in tall furry hats. The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is a London tradition and it’s also free. Check the Royal’s official website for the schedule. There’s even a Changing of the Guard app on iTunes featuring an interactive map and interviews.

8.5 Find the Lady of Shalott at the Tate Gallery

No picture is more romantic than the Lady of Shalott based on Tennyson’s famous work. But any Anne of Green Gables aficionado knows that the Lady of Shalott is perhaps one of the most romantic scenes in the book and the movie where Gilbert rescues Anne from her sinking canoe and her imagination. Guys, see the picture for your love. It will pay off in the end! The Tate Britain, featuring more than 500 years of British art, is open daily and offers free admission. For a special treat, try their “Tate Tours for Two” tour.

9. Windsor Castle

See where real Kings and Queens live. No trip to London would be complete without a trip to Windsor Castle, the oldest occupied castle in the world. A short 30 minute Tube ride, it’s worth the trip. Wander around the delicate English gardens holding hands. There’s also a Changing of the Guard procession here. The tour features the State Apartments, St. George’s Chapel, and Queen Mary’s Miniature Dollhouse. There’s usually a special exhibition on display as well. Christmas is a beautiful time to visit as the Castle is decorated with garland, trees, and wreaths.

curry

Yummy Curry!

10. Skip the fish and chips and eat Indian

Also, buy Hobnobs for home. There are some swanky places to eat in London, but English food isn’t known for its tasty cuisine. As Great Britain ruled half of the modern world at one time, there is a melting pot of non-English food choices. Skip the greasy fish and chips and try some authentic Indian food. Even better, pack your suitcase with the Fighting Couple’s favorite cookie: chocolate Hobnobs. Sure, you can buy them at international stores like World Market, but fresh Hobnobs are better.

The land of James Bond and Jane Eyre is ready for lovers. Book your trip to London now and discover it’s English charms.  If you are looking for London Hotels, check out Thinkhotels.com.

 

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Finding London’s Famous Faces

Coming from a very young country, visiting London is a journey back in history.  One of the most exciting things about a trip to London is discovering the famous people who have been there before you. Dotted throughout the historic cities of Europe are these round or oval blue colored plaques.

The London blue plaques are a great way of exploring the city’s rich scientific, political, and literary heritage. They allow the lives, births, deaths and achievements of the great and influential to be mapped out across the entire cityscape.  It is a great way to spend a day, or better yet, map out the locations between stops during your exploration of London!

It’s easy to underestimate just how many famous people have graced London’s historic roads and buildings. Here is a look at some of the iconic destinations in the London city center and a guide to the famous faces who have helped make them so recognizable.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Pauls

St Pauls (Photo credit: dicktay2000)

The iconic dome and spires of St Paul’s Cathedral are some of the most recognizable architectural delights of the entire city. With its origins dating back to 604 AD, this important Church of England cathedral has had its fair share of powerful and important people grace its halls. Stand where the powerful and influential stood!

Some of the important services that have taken place in St Paul’s include the funerals for the politician Sir Winston Churchill and the battle leaders Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. The wedding of Charles and Lady Diana Spencer also took place in St Paul’s, as did the 80th Birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Lloyds of London

Lloyds of LondonFor any self-respecting insurance practitioner, a visit to London would not be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal of assurance: Lloyds.  What originally started in the humble beginnings of Lloyds coffee house, has become the leading insurance marketplace in the world.  Today you can stand in the lobby where just above you nearly $50 Billion worth of insurance will be traded.  Look for your blue plaque on Lombard street highlighting the once located coffee house.

While you may not recognize many of the names that acted as brokers or traders on the floor of Lloyd’s. You will certainly appreciate some of the names that have been insured here.  Let’s start with legs and move up.  Betty Grables, Brooke Shields, and of course Tina Turner’s legs were all insured here.    The bosoms of both Tempest Storm and Holly Madison were well endowed with coverage.  Jimmy Durante’s nose was covered for $1 million.  And to top it off, NFL star Troy Polamalu’s thick mane of hair is insured for $1 million.

 

Westminster Abbey

Westminster AbbyWestminster is on the top of every visitor’s must-see list. However, it’s easy to underestimate just how many famous people have graced its magnificent halls.

The Gothic style church has had its fair share of history, from the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066 through to the royal wedding of Catherine Middleton and Prince William in 2011.  Walk down the aisle with your own Prince Charming!

Finally, famous burials in the Abbey have included Isaac Newton, William Wilberforce and Charles Darwin.

If you really want to immerse yourself in the history of our capital then why not spend some time staying within the city limits? If you’re looking for affordable accommodation when visiting these iconic spots, Tower Bridge Hotel is just one of many affordable, comfortable and stylish options which are available.

Enjoy your tour of London!  Please send up you pics with your favorite blue plaque!

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5 Great Cities for Couples

As you know, 1000 Fights is all about encouraging couples to get out and see the world together.   We have put together our 5 favorite couple travel cities.  These are not the “most” romantic cities for couples…look for that post next month!  What we have put together is five great cities to travel as a couple with something for both of you.  Its no secret that we strongly recommend that when couples travel, you spend some “alone” time seeing things that interest you “sans” your mate.  While some folks frown on this, it really works for us.

How did we select these cities?  First of all, it is a bit limited, we only picked cities that we have been to and are very familiar with.  Have you been to a great couple city?  Zing us a comment below.  Besides that, we picked cities that appealed to us individually and collectively.  Cities that could do it both, entertain us on our own and together and do it with panache!

fountain rome italyRome for Couples

For the Gals:

Let us help you plan your “girls” day in Rome.  Start off in the morning at the Villa Borghese.  The Villa is surrounded by a huge central park right smack dab in the middle of Rome.  The villa houses the newly renovated Borghese Gallery.  The Gallery itself is a work of art, not to mention the works of art displayed inside.  Don’t miss Bernini’s famed Apollow and Dahne.  In a word: stunning. (galleriaborghese.it).

After you have taken in the majesty of Borghese, why not hit a famed roman bath/day spa?

For the Guys:

What is more manly than standing in the colosseum and shouting to the world, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?”  Channel your inner Russell Crowe.  Besides Pamela Anderson’s chest….the colosseum is likely one of the most photographed structures that man has ever made.  With that said, both of them are much more impressive in person.  Throw down the extra euros and take a real tour.  The little details on the colosseum are so impressive.  The stadium could seat 50,000 people!

To mark the grand opening of the sporting complex, a hundred-day games were held by Emperor Titus in AD 80. In the process, some 9,000 wild animals were slaughtered!  The entire floor was flooded on occasions and great sea battles were staged!  How cool is that?

Together time:

Rome is a great walking town.  We recommend the Trevi Fountain.  Toss a coin into the fountain and you will return to Rome.  Two coins and a new romance will blossom. (hopefully with the one you are with?)  Three coins a happy marriage.  Four coins?  That just means you don’t have enough for gelato.  Don’t make this mistake.

 

London for Couples

Jane austin London EnglandFor the Gals:

Simple!  Leave the guy behind and rent a car and head to Jane Austen’s house!

For the Guys:

We highly, highly recommend the Imperial War Museum:  http://www.iwm.org.uk/.  For starters the entire museum is free!!!  Save the cash, we won’t tell!

Together time:

We have two really good ideas for you.  The first is to catch a play in the West End.  Dress up to the nines and have a great dinner right on the West End and see some incredible theatre.

For those on  a budget, grab some curry at one of the many little street shops and ride the London Eye together.  The views are to die for!

 

New York for Couples

For the Gals:

New York, New York

Shopping! On you marks… get set… GO!  New York is also a great place to take and do some personal pampering.  There are an endless supply of amazing spas, and salons.

For the Guys:

New York is all about the food and the sports!  There is nothing in the world better than a fat slice of Brooklyn pizza, just dripping with cheese and pepperoni!  BoooYa!  Then take in a game-pick your pleasure:  Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Giants or Jets!  So much to choose from!

Together time:

The Big Apple is a very special place for couples.  Our fave couple experience is take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.   We picked the perfect evening recently, the building was in the clouds and lit up blue!  It was so beautiful.  The view from the top is not to be missed.

 

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver BC for Couples

For the Gals:

Ditch the guy and take a ferry over to Victoria Island for the day!  It is well worth the trip.  Candidly if you pull maps up on google, Victoria is a hop, skip and a jump away from Vancouver.  In reality it is a bit further.  It will take all of a day to get there and back and see a few of the better sites.  The ferry terminal from the mainland is a bit out of Vancouver.  The ferry across the drink will take 90 mins or so.  Bring a girlfriend and chat it up while taking in some truly amazing scenery.  Arriving in Victoria you can take high tea at The Fairmont Empress, then you can hit Butchart Gardens or do some antique shopping in the antique district.

For the Guys:

Vancouver BC is loaded with outdoor adventures.  Take out a kayak, rent a bike or just head for the hills.

We also hear they have a pretty good hockey team.  Watching hockey with a bunch of Canadians is an experience every man should have.

Together time:

Vancouver is a great couples town.  For the best in couple time we suggest a few ideas:  First you must dive into the food scene.  We did a post on some of our faves to give you a head start.  Then we highly recommend taking a stroll down by the waterfront or in one of the many parks in town.

paris franceParis for Couples

For the Gals:

Just go here and thank us later:  http://www.girlsguidetoparis.com/

For the Guys:

France does have something to offer the Hommes.  We recommend taking in the Military Museum aka Les Invalids.  I know what you are thinking…France has one of those?  Yep, and its pretty cool.  See Napoleons tomb as well as tributes to French generals when they knew how to fight wars.

Together time:

If we have to give you ideas for this, you have bigger problems!  For those romantically challenged here is our sure fire recipe for a perfect evening in the City of Love.  In the early evening, hop on hte metro to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.  Watch the sun set over Paris holding the hands of your lover.  Then experience the delicious cuisine of Montmartre.  Then ????

So that is our humble list of great couple cities.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Did we miss a city?  Just click below, we would love to hear from you.

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We won! (well… kinda)

The couple travel bloggers at 1000Fights.com were recently invited to participate in the Accor Hotels City Blogging Tour.    Travel bloggers compete for a grand prize of a round the world trip.  FUN!  In additon to collecting votes (Please VOTE for us), bloggers must write four articles on different featured destination cities.  Every other week, the posts are judged and awarded bonus votes.

Our post titled:  “A love letter to Rio” won first place!  You can read the “award” winning post here.  One down three to go.  The next city is Rome!  What should we write about?

Ok 1000-Fighters, can you imagine how many fights Luci and I would have if we had to spend weeks together going around the globe?  That would make for some great fights!  Please VOTE  for us!  You can VOTE once a day per computer.  Dont make us beg.

Are you looking for cheap flights to Rio?  Look no futher.

 

 

 

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How to “Mind the Gap!” Our Hints for Getting Around London

 

How to “Mind the Gap”

For those of us from the “former colonies” getting around London can be a bit formidable.   With the Olympic Games just around the corner, we figured we could offer a few tips to help those first timers.  We are ashamed to say, our first visit to the “Island”, we were a little naive.  We though, we will just rent a car and drive around the city and see all the sites.  Everything will be fine.  Wrong!  We learned a few things that we want to pass along to you.

1)      Weather-Lets start with the basics.  London has crumby weather.  It rains a ton.  It is cold. It can be miserable.  Likewise, it can be beautiful.  The key is, the weather can be extremely unpredictable.  What does that have to do with getting around?  It is key.  Whatever mode of transport you chose, that you consider this variable.  Taking the double decker bus around to see the town?  Not ever bus top has a nice little heated shelter to wait in.  intervals between buses can be sporadic.  Be prepared.

2)      The Tube—The London Underground is quite extensive, and extremely easy to use.  Step one is getting a good map.  Good maps are available at the airports, and in most of the tube terminals as well.  Each line has its own color, each stop is clearly signed and marked.

Step 2 is buying an Oyster card.  London Oyster cards can be used on all buses, trams, Tube, and nearly all British National Rail services.   You can buy one in advance from the British Tourist office on the interwebs.

Oyster is an electronic smartcard ticket. Simply touch your card on the yellow reader to get through the Tube gates or board other London public transport services. It doesn’t even need to be removed from your purse or wallet to work.  Cool huh?

So why do they call them Oysters?  We were wondering that too.   According to Andrew McCrum, now of Appella brand name consultants, who was brought in to find a name by high priced consultant Saatchi and Saatchi Design, Oyster was selected because of the metaphorical implications of security and value. There is also the connection with the hard bivalve shell and the concealed pearl; the association of London and the River Thames with oysters and the well-known travel-related idiom “the world is your oyster”.  Now you know.  We hear the transit card in Hong Kong is called the Octopus card.  Not sure why.  Ok…moving right along.

Mind the Gap–  Yah…you really need to!  When boarding Tube trains, you should be aware that there is generally a step of up to 8 inches (20cm), either up or down, between the platform and the train.   Our advice?  Mind the Gap.

A word about safety.  Just like anywhere else in the world, exercise caution in using public transit.  Avoid pulling a wad of cash out and begin to count it in front of a car load of passengers.  After dark stick to well lighted areas and if possible stay in areas where there are other people. Common sense stuff huh?  Again, purchasing an Oyster card will prevent you from having to pull out your wallet or purse each time your buy a ticket.  A really good idea that Oyster thing.

Crowds—Be warnded.  During rush hours there are going to be loads of people on the trains.  As a prepared traveler, use these hours to visit museums and to eat.

 

3)      Taxi—The London Taxi Scheme is the very, very best in the world.  Cabs in London are all Black with a for hire light on top.  They are very professional, highly trained drivers.  There know exactly were everything is.  With this perfection comes a cost.  London Taxi’s are also some of the world’s most expensive.  Be smart about your taxi use.  If you are going to see one of the museums, take the underground.  If you are looking for a obscure restaurant in an unfamiliar part of town.  Always take a taxi.

A word about taxi prices.  Fares are metered with a minimum charge of  £2.  Fares to and from London’s airports also have a surcharge.  Most cabs take credit and debit cards, ask your driver before you to too far down the road if the plastic is going to work.  Most have a minimum charge for credit cards and/or a small surcharge of a pound or less.  Tips are not expected, but most folks round up to the nearest pound.  If the driver is helpful with your luggage, it is typicall to add a pound per bag.

Are the taxi drivers really that good?  Yes.  “Before a taxi driver gets his Hackney Cab License he or she must pass a test called ‘The Knowledge’. This is a difficult test and requires the cabbie to know the streets of central London like the palm of their hand.

Taxi drivers in London undergo a demanding and arduous testing of their knowledge of the city, its daily traffic patterns and the fastest routes between locations. Estimates suggest that gathering the basic understanding needed to acquire The Knowledge involves a full-time year of study, absorbing the information provided by street maps and travelling around the city itself.”  http://london-taxi.taxiblog.co.uk/

Have a great trip to London Town!  Have another other really good tips for getting around?  Please leave a comment below and let us know.

 

 

This Post was sponsored by our friends at www.londonnights.com.   London nights can help you find a London Hotels or even tickets for a west end play.  Looking for areas covered by LondonNights?  Give them a try.

 

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The Souvenir Dilemma

Dong Xi’s, Choch-Keys, junk, Dust collectors, trophies…whatever you call them… they are the items that you bring home as little mementos of your travels. The tradition is as old as time: Romans picked up Egyptian Obelisks…Greeks a golden fleece…hundreds of US midwesterns….I heart (insert town). Souvenierring is a time honored tradition. One of my favorites is exhibited above. My prized Whirling Dervish! My wife keeps hiding it as he continues to show up on various “highly visible”-her words not mine– places. I cherish my dervish. It really spins! I remember the tiny shop in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul where I discover this treasure. Tucked way back in vast dark passageways, was this little family selling metal wares. I tried a little Turkish, they a lot better English, and the result was an emigrating Dervish (and a lighter wallet).

Why do we do it? Why must we bring a piece of our travels home? Do we worry that we will forget the sights sounds and smells of _________? I really think so. I think that in our soul, we hope that one day when time creates a great chasm between the now and then, we will find the Dervish and it will bring a smile and a rush of memories to mind.

Sometimes these items represent a victorious negotiation. Perhaps a memorable shopkeeper or locale? Not sure some items will qualify…my I heart NY t-shirt never really spans the distance like my Dervish.

What is your favorite item? What reminds you of your adventure?

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