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Nuremberg Christmas Market

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After Thanksgiving, the bloke and I jetted off to Germany to spend a few days visiting Nuremberg and its famous Christmas market (Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt). We arrived on Friday evening, the opening day of the Christmas market. We headed into the city's main square (Hauptmarkt) after dropping off our luggage at the hotel. As it was the opening day, the market was exceptionally busy.

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On the way to the main square, we walked through Ludwig Platz where we saw a living nativity with donkeys, goats, an alpaca, and a camel. The Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were not living, of course. We saw the animals here almost every day that we walked past the nativity, though they do take them away at night.

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The Christmas Market in Nuremberg consists of the main market, a children's market, and a sister city market. The sister city market is based on Nuremberg's twinned (sister) cities, and each has its own market stall that specialises in its country's products off of the main square. For example, shortbread and whisky were available to buy in the Glasgow stall. American sweets were available from the Atlanta, Georgia stall.

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The Christmas market is huge, and it took us about half of a day to go through it and see everything. We did visit it a few times over the few days that we were there, but we had a proper look around all of the stalls on one of the weekday mornings when the market was quieter.

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The market gets incredibly busy as the day goes on, and dusk is the busiest time to visit the market. At times, such as the weekend and the opening night, it was too busy to browse. I do not enjoy browsing busy places as it is impossible to have a proper look.

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The fountain in the Hauptmarkt is called Schöner Brunnen, and during the Christmas market, all but one side is surrounded by stalls. A gold ring is located on the railing of the fountain, and turning this three times will make wishes come true. The fountain was always surrounded by tour groups during our visits to the market.

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Upon entering the square, visitors will see a large gold tinsel angel. This is one of the symbols of Nuremberg. The golden tinsel angel is made of thin metal and is made to be a tree topper. It is a symbol of the Christkind, translated Christ Child. The Christ Child is a Nuremberg tradition. She is a giver of gifts and became a tradition for the market in the early 1930s.

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Every year, young women between the ages of 16 and 19 can enter the competition to be the Christmas Market's symbol, Christkind. In this tradition, they open the Christmas Market each year with a speech and also visit the market nearly every afternoon. The ChristKind is popular with children, and every child and some adults wanted their photograph taken with her.

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Another area of the square, in front of the Church of Our Lady, is sectioned off and contains the antique nativity scene.

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One of the most popular items for sale are Christmas ornaments and Christmas craft items. Some of these are so beautiful but also so fragile as they are made of delicate glass. I loved looking at them, but I am put off buying them because I am afraid that they would not make the journey back in one piece, and if they did, I would be worried that they would break in storage or fall off the Christmas tree.

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One tradition is the pickle tree ornament. Each year, the pickle is hidden on the tree. When the child discovers it, he/she will receive a special prize. The size of the pickle varies. For younger children, the pickle is larger so that it is easier for them to find. As the children get older, the pickle becomes smaller and more difficult to find.

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The market stalls were covered in ornaments. It was impossible to see all of them. There were so many that I loved.

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In addition to the traditional glass ornaments, visitors could buy ornaments that were cookies baked and then painted into Christmas designs. I remember making these types of ornaments when I was younger. 

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Food is also popular at the Christmas market. Sausages, candy apples, chocolate, gingerbread, and Christmas cake were all popular. Nuremberg is most known for its special Nuremberg sausage and gingerbread. I had some gingerbread, and it was nice, but it was not the type of gingerbread that I am familiar with. A mulled wine drink is also popular, and this goes well with the gingerbread. Gingerbread, known as lebkuchen, dates from medieval times.

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One of the most interesting stalls sold chocolate items that were shaped like tools and other everyday items. At first, I thought that these were antique items because they did look real. However, all items were made from chocolate with a dusting of cocao powder to make them look 'worn' and slightly rusty. Scissors, wrenches, faucets, bottle caps, horseshoes, clothes pegs, cameras, locks, keys, and scissors were some of the items. 

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I also had a wander to the Christmas Children's Market, which was extremely popular with school groups of children. A small ferris wheel, carousel, and other games and crafts were available for the children. Children could make their own candles or ice and decorate their own gingerbread. Between the two markets is also a nativity trail with some nativity scenes. A large model train set with a few running trains was also at the far end of the Children's Christmas Market. Each of the market stalls in the Children's Christmas Market had a decoration on top of it. These varied from a family of bears making treats, a family sitting in a Christmas room, snowmen, Santa and reindeer, and a group of bakers.

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Snowglobes were a popular item in the Christmas markets.

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A couple of stalls also sold a large range of dollhouse items.

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The best architectual structure (and oldest) was Frauenkirche, Church of Our Lady. Visitors could listen to church services here, and they had special advent services. Visitors could also climb up part of the way to the balcony to have an elevated view of the Christmas market, and this is the balcony that the Christkind stands on for the opening ceremony of the Christmas Market every year. At noon each day, the clock on Frauenkirche moves and little figures move around the clockface.

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I took a few photographs from the balcony of Frauenkirche. The market was not the busiest at this time but the crowds were growing.

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Another traditional item to buy at the Nuremberg Christmas Market at the prune men (Zwetschgenmännle). These little men and women are made from prunes and have a walnut head. A few stalls around the Christmas Market were selling these novelty items.

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There are many different designs for the prune men, and a few of my photographs are below. They are said to bring happiness and luck.

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Springerle is another Nuremberg traditional food. It is an embossed white biscuit design, and it is translated to "little knights". This cookie is from Renaissance times, and it is made with egg white and anise. Some of the deisgns have been coloured, otherwise they are simply embossed. I did try these, and they are a wafer-like biscuit with a slight anise taste. A few of the different designs can be seen below.

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Nutcrackers were amongst the popular Christmas crafts.

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Around the Christmas area (though not inside the actual market square itself) and main streets were a couple of different buskers dressed as Santa with small, cute dogs. 

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Last but not least, a twenty-minute dash around the Christmas Market and streets of Nuremberg is possible in the German post (Deutsche Post) stagecoach. The men driving the horse would blow a horn to signal the approach of the carriage as we were taken around the market, and everyone would stop to look. I felt like a celebrity for those twenty minutes.

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Also, if you love postcards and stamps like I do, do not forget to visit the special Christmas market stall for German Post. This is located across the road from the fountain. Tickets for the stagecoach rides mentioned above can be purchased here as well as stamps and postcards. Even if you have written your postcards, stamped or not, you can take your postcards here to receive one of two special Nuremberg German postmark stamps. I went back to this stall several times to receive the special postmarks.

Last but not least, I have put together a list of tips for visiting the Nuremberg Christmas Market. The list below mentions good points and what to avoid.

Tips for Nuremberg Christmas Market:

  • Some of the stallholders are dishonest and rude. I gave money for a glass of mulled punch across from the horse stagecoaches, and the stallholder tried to deny I had given her money even after I kept insisting, and she and her boss were extremely rude to me. I eventually got my money, but I had to make a scene by arguing. Make sure that the stallholder has your full and undivided attention throughout the transaction and force them to make eye contact with you.
  • Prices vary greatly for the same item and change as the market gets busier. Again, some of the stallholders are dishonest and will charge more. Look around first and note the price. If the price is not on display, ask and then continue to look for the best price. Prices can vary greatly fort he exact same item. Also, as I did visit the market several times, I noticed that the stalls changed their prices during busier times. I saw one stall sell one particular item for 2.50, and this price was raised to 3.50 as the day progressed and market got busier.
  • Watch your money and possessions as there are pickpockets. I did not have any trouble, but this was advice given to me.
  • Visit in the morning when it's quiet. The evenings and dusk gets extremely busy, and it's not possible to browse when it's too busy. The market opens at 10:00am, but some stalls open a little later, and the market is relatively quiet then.  
  • Try new things. Sausage, mulled wine, and gingerbread are a few items to try.
  • Get a map of the Christmas Market. A map of all stalls in the main Christmas Market, the Children's Christmas Market, and the International Christmas Market is available in the Tourist Information building on the market square. This is located near the church.
  • Look for prune men. The map available from the Tourist Information centre includes locations of the stalls for the prune men separately. 
  • Get your special stamps and postmarks. For those sending postcards, visit this stall opposite the fountain and receive a special postmark. Postcards and stamps can also be purchased here.
  • See Christkind. She makes an appearance daily at approximately 3:00 in the afternoon on most days. The brochure in the Tourist Information can provide more information as the timing and availability is subject to change.
  • Have fun!

After enjoying our time in the Magical Ice Kingdom at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland this year (read about it here), we headed over to the Bar Ice, where I had a reservation. I think Bar Ice is the same company who run ICE BAR off of Regent's Street, which I went to a couple of summers ago (Nights Out: London ICE BAR). The reservation is for fourty minutes to spend enjoying (and freezing at) the bar. Bar Ice uses the same building as the Magical Ice Kingdom, but I think Bar Ice may have been a little colder.

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Visitors are given jackets and gloves before they head into Bar Ice. This keeps us a little bit warm, and you do need the gloves as the free cocktail comes in a glass made completely from ice.

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The room's walls, tables, seats, and the bar are made completely out of ice. There are a couple of ice sculptures in the room, such as detailing around the wall. This was not as impressive as the ICE BAR off Regent's Street, particularly as we had just come from seeing the Magical Ice Kingdom with its beautiful ice sculptures. We were a little spoiled.

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The cocktails (alcholic and non-alcoholic) had a festive winter theme. I opted for "Cinnamon Sparkler", which contained Eristoff, Goldschlager (cinnamon schnapps with gold flakes), Cosmopolitan mixer, cranberries, limes, and orange. I liked it.

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My partner had either the "Berry Blizzard" or "Jack Frost", but I cannot remember which one. Both of these contained strawberry. His came with a Twizzler straw. 

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Unlike ICE BAR, the ice benches did not have matts to sit on, and I was wearing my dress. I was not about to sit directly onto an ice cold ice bench and freeze. 

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We did not stay long at Bar Ice as my partner was feeling cold. I could have stayed longer and had another festive cocktail, but we decided to leave to beat the rush hour. We also needed to pack and get everything ready for going away on holiday to Germany the next day.

London Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland 2014

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Every Christmas, the area of Hyde Park near Hyde Park Corner tube station is transformed into Winter Wonderland. This tripled in size three years ago to contain new areas, such as a Magical Ice Kingdom and more games and food stalls. Each year, it gets busier and more popular, and I did not go at all last year because I was put off from the crowds the year previously. This year, I decided to go back because it was a few days after the opening of Winter Wonderland for the year and I expected it to be quiet and not popular with crowds of people. I actually went on Thanksgiving, after visiting Christopher's Grill in Covent Garden (Thanksgiving at Christopher's Restaurant in London).

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When arriving at Winter Wonderland from Hyde Park Corner tube station, the first area that one passes through is the Christmas Market. 

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The usual rides are at Winter Wonderland along with new ones, and the ice skating is also available. There are plenty of games and rides to enjoy, and this year there is the Magical Ice Kingdom (featuring ice sculptures) and a special winter/Christmas edition of Ice Bar.

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Food and drink, such as mulled wine, can also be enjoyed.

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These are all available in wooden chalets.

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There are also plenty of photo opportunities with animal sculptures, but there are not quite as many as previous years when people could pose with snowmen and penquins.

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As usual, Winter Wonderland will be popular again this year. To avoid crowds, try to get there early or go during the week. Saturday and Sunday during the day are extremely busy. Transport for London also encourages visitors in peak times to use an alternative tube station as Hyde Park Corner gets congested. Knightsbridge is a short walk away as is Marble Arch.

Thanksgiving was a week ago today. This year, I decided to try something different and go out for Thanksgiving lunch. I reserved a table at Christopher's Grill and Bar in Covent Garden for midday, and we arrived after having a quick look around some of the shops and the Christmas displays. When we arrived, our table was not quite ready for us, so we were seated in the Martini Bar.

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The Martini Bar is impressive and a wall of windows lets in a lot of natural light. Each table had a gold mini pumpkin, which I thought was cute.

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While we waited for our table, we ordered a couple of cocktails. As it was Thanksgiving, they had a couple of special cocktails on the menu. My partner had the Cranberry Martini, and I had an Apple Pie Martini. The Cranberry Martini contains Vanilla Vodka, Limoncello, Chambord, Ginger Syrup and cranberry juice. 

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The Apple Pie Martini contains cinnamon-infused Zubrowka Vodka and fresh apple and maple syrup. I had a taste of the Cranberry Martini, but I much preferred the Apple Pie Martini. It did taste like apple pie. It was delicious, and I would have quite happily had a few more of those had they not been £11.00 a glass.

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I watched the staff make our cocktails, and they were delivered to our table (below).

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We were then shown to our table upstairs in the dining room. We walked up a spiral staircase with an impressive light/sculpture suspended from the ceiling. 

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We were shown our table at the back of the room. (Unfortunately, they would not let us sit by the window, even though the window tables were empty during the duration of our stay; I prefer the window seats as food and drink photographs better in natural light and lack of lighting makes the images look a little grainy.) I was surprised that the restaurant was not nearly as busy as I was expecting. We were the first to arrive and be seated, and by the end of our meal at 13:30, only three or four additional tables were occupied. Many of them were couples like us, but the largest group contained six people.

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We were served a choice of bread while we waited, and we had a choice of plain or herb butter to spread. While we waited, I ordered another cocktail, the Hollywood Star. It contains Vodka, apricot liquer, vanilla sugar syrup, lemon and pineapple juice, cherry syrup, and star fruit. Real vanilla beans were used, and you can see them floating in the cocktail photograph below. This also tasted nice, and it set me back £12.00.

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Cocktail - Hollywood Star

Our starters arrived. My partner had the Maryland crab cake with rocket salad and red pepper mayonnaise. I had the roast corn and chorizo chowder, which had a vegetarian option that I ordered but failed to arrive as the vegetarian option. Despite this and pushing the chorizo aside, the chowder tasted lovely.

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Crab cakes and roast corn chowder

After we finished our starters, the main meals arrived. We both ordered the roast turkey, described as "slow-cooked Ballotine of organic turkey." This was meant to arrive with corn bread, hazelnut and Michigan cherry stuffing, cranberry relish, buttered beans, and creamed potatoes. It did come with an extra miniature sausage too, but we were missing the corn bread. I asked after the corn bread, but the staff did not seem to understand anything and tried to tell me that the stuffing was the corn bread. After some back-and-forth, I think they realised as the manager came over with a plate of cornbread and apologised and stated that it was their first Thanksgiving meal of the day. However, we had nearly finished our meals by the time it arrived.

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Turkey and all the trimmings

My verdict on the main meal was that the turkey was a little bland, and I was disappointed overall with the meal. However, we had our desserts to follow so I was excited to see if they could redeem themselves on these. 

I ordered the pumpkin pie with cream chantilly, and my partner ordered the chocolate fudge brownie with raspberries, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

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Pumpkin pie

For some reason, they cut the crust off my pumpkin pie, so I received the pumpkin triangle slice pictured above. This is a pity, because I do like a little more crust with the pumpkin rather than the little bit of what is underneath the pumpkin. Nonetheless, it was alright but it was not enough to redeem the meal. On the other hand, I had a spoonful of my partner's brownie, and it was delicious.

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Chocolate fudge brownie

While I enjoyed aspects of the meal at Christopher's Bar and Grill in Covent Garden, I thought that the price was expensive for what we received. I was not impressed with the main meal, and the staff did not seem to be as responsive as I would have hoped as I had paid quite a bit, and they did not understand the menu. The cocktails (especially the Apple Pie Martini) were quite good but also expensive, and the desserts also tasted nice. Would I go back? I would go back for cocktails and a dessert, but I would not rush back and would not have another meal there.

After our Thanksgiving meal, we went across London to Hyde Park Corner to go to Winter Wonderland. My verdict on the day was that I had fun doing something a little different on Thanksgiving this year, even if it my expectations were not met.

Our first attraction along the Giant's Causeway was Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge; we visited in the morning after staying the night in Ballycastle (with an evening visit to the Dark Hedges). We were actually not quite sure what to expect from the rope bridge as some visitors found the heights and swaying of the bridge to be too frightening. I'm not the best with heights, but I wanted to see if it was really that bad. There is a small entrance fee, but the walk to the rope bridge is about a fifteen or twenty minute walk along an attractive coastal pathway. There are some steps a slight hill climb along the coastal slopes, but it is an easy walk.

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Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Our morning was overcast, but fortunately the rain was not pouring down. We arrived a little before the rope bridge was opened for the morning, so our first stop was a car park on the hillside above. We had views over the rope bridge and gave us a glimpse of we were about to get ourselves into. Unfortunately, a large tour bus turned up in the same car park not long after we did and they all piled out to get a glimpse, so we got back in the car and hurried down to the attraction's entrance. 

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View of the rope bridge from neighbouring hillside

When the Carrick-a-Rede ticket office opened up, we were the first in queue. The tourist group had turned up, but they were milling around the gift shop and cafe. As a result, we had the pleasant walk to ourselves, though we did walk it quickly so that we could be on the bridge without anyone else in our way. The weather was overcast, but it was a pleasant walk with views over the sea. 

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Cliffs on Giant's Causeway coast during the walk to the rope bridge

There were various information boards on the walk to the rope bridge, and some of these informed us about plants and birds and other wildlife that could be discovered. Lucky visitors can see basking sharks or seals. 

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Carrick-a-Rede island comes into view

The island of Carrick-a-Rede soon came into our view. Notice the colour of the rocks in the photograph above. The island and area around was an ancient volcano that errupted 60 million years ago. The mouth of the volcano is the chasm that visitors cross when they walk over the rope bridge. 

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Approaching the rope bridge

This attraction started its life as a working place. The area was popular with salmon, so fishermen used a bridge to check on salmon nets, which could catch approximately 300 fish a day. In those days, the rope bridge was much less secure. In fact, it only had one hand rail, and the wooden slats were further apart. Fishermen would have to walk across the bridge with only one hand rail, carrying all of their fishing equipment. Some did fall to their deaths here. 

The rope bridge was removed and stored away in the winter months as the fishing did not operate all year around. Since 2002, salmon fishing is banned here as they are endangered, but at one time, approximately 100 people were employed in the fishing trade here.

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The rope bridge

We finally arrived at the rope bridge, and there are a few steps to descend to get to the bridge. The cliff drop has railing around it, so there's no chance of falling as long as visitors do not cross the safety railings in place. We walked down the steps to the rope bridge. The rope bridge is 100 feet above the sea, but it was not too frightening at all. 

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Crossing the rope bridge to Carrick-a-Rede

We made our way across the rope bridge. It did sway a little bit, but it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Once we put our feet on the solid ground of the island of Carrick-a-Rede, we admired the views. By then, a light rain had arrived, but we enjoyed looking over the sea cliffs and Sheep Island in the distance. A small part of the island is not accessible, and it was popular with seagulls. The stone here is the volcanic rock and has formed in columns similar to the famous rock along the Giant's Causeway coast.

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Carrick-a-Rede and Sheep Island in the distance

We saw some beautiful flowers on Carrick-a-Rede. The photograph below shows Sea Pinks.

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Sea Pinks

After admiring the views (and getting a little wet), we decided to go back across the rope bridge. By then, the large tour group that we saw on the hill had come across the bridge to the island. Aftering exiting the bridge, we walked up to a different trail on the coastal slopes above to see views over the rope bridge.

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Carrick-a-Rede

We re-joined the main coastal trail and had to rush back to the car as the rain got a little harder. Overall, it was a nice visit and one of the highlights of our trip to Ireland.

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Coastal path - Giant's Causeway coast walk

Our next stop would be Giant's Causeway, which is located just up the road from the rope bridge. On the way, we made a stop at Dunseverick Castle, which are striking ruins on the side of sea cliffs. This old fort had royal Irish connections and dated from 500 B.C. and the Kingdom of Dalriada ruled here. An ancient road from Tara (where the kings of Ireland ruled) went directly to this castle. St. Patrick visited the castle in the 5th century. It was attacked and captured by the Vikings in 871, and they later destroyed it in 926. 

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Dunseverick Castle

Enchanting Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

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An enchanting roadway of large beech trees on both sides is a popular spot for tourists looking to capture the beauty in photographs and to visit one of the locations for the popular television series Game of Thrones. The trees were planted by the Stuart family who wanted to impress visitors as they approached their home.

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The trees look imposing and beautiful in different lighting at different times of the day, in different weather, and in different seasons. When we visited, it was partially-sunny and in the early evening.  

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The road was slightly tricky to locate, but the postcode should lead you to the right area and there's a restaurant or hotel nearby that uses part of the name 'dark hedges'. Basically, just drive around the vicinity of the postcode and look out for a row of trees. I believe the postcode took us around to the other side of the road where we could not see the trees, near an old field, so we continued around. 

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When we arrived, there was one other parked on the road ahead of us. They had just got out and were taking photographs. They were there a lot longer than we were, still snapping away. Not long after we entered the road, another car turned up. Then another. And another. Pretty soon there were eight cars on this road spoling the view. (Being early evening and approximately 6:30, I would not have expected it to be this busy).

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Snapping photographs of the beautiful Dark Hedges was impossible as there were so many people and cars, so we did not stay long. As there was at least one car in most of my photographs, I had to do some photoshop work to a couple of the pictures.

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The road is meant to be haunted by a ghost called the 'grey lady' that disappears as soon as she passes the last beech tree.

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The beech-tree-lined road is picturesque, so I do recommend it. Perhaps a better time to visit would be very early in the morning, and I think that this would be a beautiful photograph with some fog.

Carrickfergus Castle

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Carrickfergus Castle in located in Northern Ireland on the western coast. It was out final sight to see for the day after we had spent the majority of our time wandering around Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum. The castle is located on the edge of water (Belfast Lough) and a small harbour nearby. The castle was built in three stages; the first stage was built in the 1170s. It is one of the best-preserved Norman castles and was also used in World War II.

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In 1210, King John of England conquered the castle and claimed it. Over the years, it was influenced by the English and built upon further to contain a chapel and other battlements. The Scots also conquered the castle. It was even invaded by the French in the mid-1700s, and they looted the castle and town before they were later caught by the Royal Navy.

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The castle was used as a prison in the Napoleonic Wars, and it was later used as an armoury and then an air raid shelter in World War II. After the castle was regarded as a national historic monument, any additions created in modern times were removed and the Great Hall and other areas were transformed into what the castle would like like in medieval times. Recent excavations this spring have turned up several historical finds related to the castle, including a tunnel that went to the Great Hall and other pieces of the old walls. Pieces of pottery and buttons were recovered. 

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Interior of castle

The interior of the keep has been redecorated to show what it would have looked like in medieval times. This is where King John would have stayed. It is the largest room at the top of the keep with a large window for natural light and a large fireplace. There's a large chess board on the floor and other games that can be played here, and there's also mock weapons and armour.

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Room at the top of the keep

There is also a cellar and a well in the keep. The well can actually be used from the ground floor, but you can also glimpse it in the cellar below.

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Cellar and well

We also got to see the latrine that the king would have used and the Great Hall. There was even a mannequin of King John on the toilet. Outside in the ward, we saw cannons and some of the cannons had the English rose emblem. Apparently these cannons with the emblem on them are rare.

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Latrine, Great Hall, and English rose emblem on cannon

There were battlements all around, including this small room/tower that faced out over the water that allowed archers to have a look at three sides and shoot arrows at enemies approaching.

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Archer in tower over sea

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Battlements

One of the areas of the castle holds an oubilette (jail). The jail does not have a door, but there's a window and it is located over the water. Prisoners were thrown in from the trapdoor above, and this is also where their food was thrown in. There was one prisioner who is said to have escaped through the window.

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Oubilette

Some of the battlements can be walked on by visitors today, and there are some decent views over the harbour.

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Views of the harbour in Carrickfergus

London's Postman's Park

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This scenic space of green park, quite a rarity within the square mile of London, was named after postmen from the General Post Office who used to take their lunch here. These days, City workers use it during their lunch breaks and the odd tourist can also be spotted here.

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The park used to be a cemetary, and London had a lack of space to bury its dead. (Bodies would be piled on top of the ground with thin layers of soil placed on top of them, and sometimes the bodies would be cut up to take up less room.) London's lack of grave space became a major problem until graveyards further afield were open. At this time, Postman's Park became a park. Gravestones can still be seen in the park area.

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The park was used as a setting in the 2004 film "Closer", starring Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, and Jude Law. One of the key elements of the film was taken from this park with one of the characters choosing their identity from one of the names in one of the memorial plaques.

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On one side of the park is a memorial wall. The memorial wall is known as G.F. Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. The wall was unveiled in 1900 and was conceived and undertaken by Victorian artist George Frederic Watts. The wall contains plaques dedicated to those who lost their lives trying to save one another. According to the plaque about the memorial in the park, Watts believed that these "everyday" heroes were models of great behaviour and character. The plaque ends with the quote:

"The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession; the deeds of its people are" - G.F. Watts

Underneath is an excerpt from the Bible, John 15:13:

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

 The wall was proposed as a way to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee Year as Watts wrote in to a newspaper in 1887.

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Here are just a few.

Sarah Smith: Pantomime Artist. January 24, 1864. Died of terrible injuries when attempting in her inflammable dress to extinguish the flames that enveloped her companion.

Arthur Regelous Carman ("Little Peter") aged 25, who with Alice Maud Denman, aged 27, died trying to save her children from a burning house in Bethnal Green. April 20, 1902.

Arthur Strange, carman of London, and Mark Tomlinson. August 25, 1902. On a desperate venture to save two girls from a quicksand in Lincolnshire were themselves engulfed.

Henry James Bristow, aged 8, at Walhamstow. December 30, 1890 - saved his little sister's life by tearing off her faming clothes but caught fire himself and died of burns and shock.

Joseph William Onslow, lighterman, who was drowned at Wapping on May 5, 1885, trying to save a boy's life.

David Selves, aged 12, off Woolwich supported his drowning playfellow and sank with him clasped in his arms. September 12, 1886.

Ernest Benning, composer aged 22. Upset from a boat one dark night off Pimlico Pier. Grasped an oar with one hand supporting a woman with the other but sank as she was rescued. August 25, 1883.

Thomas Simpson. January 25, 1885. Died of exhaustion after saving many lives from the breaking ice at Highgate Ponds.

Richard Farris, labourer. May 20, 1878. Drowned in attempting to save a poor girl who had thrown herself into the canal at Globe Bridge Peckham.

George Lee, fireman. At a fire in Clerkenwell carried an unconscious girl to the escape falling six times and died of his injuries. July 26, 1876.

William Drake. April 2, 1869. Lost his life in averting a serious accident to a lady in Hyde Park whose horses were unmanageable through the breaking of the carriage pole.

For more information about Postman's Park memorial, visit the website: http://postmanspark.org.uk 

An app (available for iOS and Andriod mobile devices) can also be downloaded where visitors to Postman's Park can view more information about those who will never be forgotten by sacrificing themselves.

Ulster Folk Museum

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I have always been fascinated by how people in North America and Europe used to live in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and I always loved to visit living history places. Unfortunately, there were not really many of these where I grew up, and they never compared to Greenfield Village at Ford in Michigan and a couple of the folk parks I visited in Ireland, including the Ulster Folk Museum. Last November, I went to Greenfield Village, and some of my photographs are included in the post Days Out: Henry Ford's Greenfield Village. At the beginning of June this year, I visited the Ulster Folk Museum after A Weekend in Belfast.

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Irish soda bread cooking on the fire in a traditional Irish home

We visited the Ulster Folk Museum, which is a collection of several historic buildings from various parts of Ireland, after leaving Belfast behind us. The majority of the buildings are in the recreated town, named Ballycultra, but there's also some historic farms and other farm-related buildings on a rural trail. The buildings contain historic furniture and items to match the standard of that type of house or building in the time period. 

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The Old Rectory

The house pictured above (The Old Rectory) was built in 1717, and it is English in design. Most of those who settled in Ulster were of Scottish origin. In the late 1700s, a retired captain who fought for the British in the War of American Independence lived in the house. By the 1800s, it was lived in by a minister Rev. McCullough and the house was extended. The house is furnished for a clergyman of the time 1890-1910. In my opinion, it is one of the more unique and nicer buildings.

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Kitchen in Old Rectory

When we entered the house, there were a couple of women in period dress there to chat to us about the house, and they had soda bread on the fire. We explored the house noting all of the cobwebs and spiders in the wooden beams. Upstairs is a large room with the brickwork forming the chimney.

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The furnishings looked modest enough, and the room held two beds, with chamberpots of course. I imagine that the parents and children shared this room.

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After visiting that house, we explored the remainder of the town area. There were plenty of shops and other businesses to visit. We visited the police station and read about a history of the police in late 1800s and early 1900s. We visited the courthouse and read some material about some real cases and punishments.

Afterwards, we visited the printer's and saw a collection of very old newspapers and saw a printing press in action. The upstairs of the printer's is a Newspaper Reading Room. In the 1800s-1900s, these were common in Ulster towns as a way to get news and information before they were replaced by libraries in the 1950s. There would be a subscription fee, but visitors could read newspapers from other parts of the world. Fascinating. This makes me realise how lucky (or unlucky) we are to live in a world where information is literally at our fingertips.

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Old bus driving down road in Ballycultra

There was also a doctor's office, school, pub, post office, bank, clothing shop and factory, hardware shop, and several churches of different Christain faiths to visit and we went into all of these that were opened.

Off of "the triangle" (the town "square" is in a triangle shape in Ireland) is a tearoom, and we had a quick snack here. I had a cinnamon scone, which was really nice. Next door is the Picture House, a cinema for silent films that was used between 1909 and 1931. Refreshments could be purchased, but it was tea and a bun instead of soda and popcorn that we know today. When we visited, Charlie Chaplin was showing. We watched a little bit of it.

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Tearoom and Picture House

A couple of buildings away from the cafe and Picture House is Meeting Street, a row of houses that also contained trades inside some of them, such as a bicycle repair shop and a shoe shop. These houses were built in the late 1800s.

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Meeting Street

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Shoe repairs shop

After wandering around a few of the other buildings in the town, we made our way to the rural trail. We saw this cute young donkey with its mother in one of the fields on the edge of the town.

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Donkey

Coshkib Hill Farm is one of the farms we visited on the rural trail, and the farm had chickens wandering outside. The family who owned the farm contributed to a lot of folklore, which including music and storytelling, and the house was used a lot as a social gathering place.

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Coshkib Hill Farm

A photograph of the kitchen in the farmhouse is below. There are plenty of seats for visitors.

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Coshkib Hill Farm kitchen

These chickens were pecking the ground outside.

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Coshkib Hill Farm chickens

Next, we went to Ballyvollen Houses, a collection of cottages.

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Ballyvollen Houses kitchen

Ballyvollen Houses are unique houses that have their roofs supported by English-style oak cruck-trusses (see photograph below), and they are thought to have originated in the 1600s. They were built by English settlers to the region of Lough Neagh and would have been used for salmon fishing. There is also a basket-maker's house next to these houses as that was an important trade for that particular area.

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Cruck-trusses

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Bedroom - Ballyvollen Houses

Not far from these cottages is a blacksmith's cottage, Ballinderry House. It is a single-story house. 

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Blacksmith - Ballinderry House

Coalisland Spade Mill, located on the rural trail, was used to make spades for farming. It was not running at the time and was locked.

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Coalisland Spade Mill

One of the small cottages on the rural trail is a blacksmith's forge. Unlike the one in the town, this one had someone working inside it.

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Lisrace Forge interior

Off to the side of the rural trail and in a little meadow is this small stone tower, known as Tulylish Bleach Tower. The tower was shelter for a watchman whose duty it was to guard rows of newly-woven linen that were stretched to bleach in the sun in the bleach field. (Linen's natural colour is brown, but it changes to white if left in the sunlight for a period of time.) Stealing this linen as it was bleaching was a common crime in Ulster.

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Tulylish Bleach Tower

Our final stop was The Cornershop. The Cornershop served the immediate neighbourhood in an area of a town or city. This cornershop has less of the goods that would be standard products that would be useful to buy, but sweets can be bought here.

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The Cornershop

There's a really nice guide on the museum's website that explains the history of each of the buildings: http://www.nmni.com/uftm/Collections/buildings 

St. Bartholomew-the-Great Church in London

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The City of London used to be filled with churches, but many of these had perished in the Great Fire and many more that were rebuilt at this time have long gone - damaged and destroyed by falling bombs during World War II or demolished to build up London's businesses. Visitors to London can see blue plaques on the sides of some buildings informing them that a church used to exist on the site and that it was demolished in a particular year. St. Bartholomew-the-Great is one of the oldest (built in 1123) surviving churches in London and it was lucky to have survived the catastrophes that brought down the other churches. 

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One of the entrance ways to the church miraculously survived fire and bombs. In fact, a zepplin air raid caused damage to St. Batholomew's hospital, which is located right outside this gatehouse. The damage can still be seen on the walls of the hospital. This same air raid damaged the building work that covered up this beautiful Elizabethan timber-framed gatehouse. This small glimpse with more modern buildings around it gives a glimpse into how London would have looked in older times.  

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Through the gatehouse is the main entrance to St. Batholomew-the-Great. If you stand with your back to the archway, the hospital is just to your left and the covered wholesale meat market Smithfield's is directly to the right. This contains a plaque to Scottish freedom-supporter William Wallace, who was killed here after he was captured by the English. (This area, along with Tyburn River - near the current location of Marble Arch - was a place of execution.) Directly in front is a green area in the middle of a roundabout, and this is where several Protestants were killed by being burned to death in fires by Catholic Queen Mary. Such a nice place is London!

This is the area of Smithfield Market (read more about the meat market at Smithfield Market), where cattle and other animals were brought to be butchered. As a result, the area was filthy with cow mess, stench, blood and innards which were not properly drained away. Complaints were often lodged against drunken herdsmen and stampeding cattle, which would sometimes damage property.

We saw an information historical board about wife-selling at Smithfield Market, in the days when divorce was not common and too expensive. Yes, men could sell their wives if they were unhappy, but both husband and wife had to agree to this. Some wives also wanted to be sold. More about the practice of wife-selling in old England can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wife_selling_(English_custom)

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After stepping underneath the archway, the church is directly in front. Some gravestones are lined up in the patch of green area around the church. The church was 2-3 pounds per adult to enter. The interior was altered a little bit as the area around the church changed, and at one point, the church was abandoned.

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South aisle

We paid the entrance fee and entered St. Bartholomew-the-Great. We admired the brickwork and the tiles and the old age of the church. The church is also meant to be one of the most haunted, as this area of London is the most haunted. One of the suspected ghosts is meant to be Rahere, the founder of the church who was also jester to King Henry previously. His tomb is inside, and it was moved during work on the church (and a sandal stolen by a builder), and this is what was meant to have woken him up to haunt the area.

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Medieval floor tiles could be seen in one corner in the east ambulatory. Also, in the picture below, note the old brickwork inside the archway. 

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St. Bartholomew-the-Great has been used in the following films: Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Right outside the church is the street named Cloth Fair, which was named after Batholomew Fair in the land outside and where part of the Smithfield Market is now built. (Note that the market building is a newer and Victorian construction; the market itself was open fields and land.) Bartholomew Fair was held annually by the monks to raise income for St. Bartholomew's, and it was essentially a cloth fair. It was the largest of its kind in Europe and attracted international merchants. The fair would attract street performers (wild animals, musicians, puppets, acrobats, prize-fighters, wire-walkers, freaks) and crime. The fair was held on St. Bartholomew's Day until 1855, and it was shut because of the public disorder. (More about the fair can be read here: http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/londons-last-bartholomew-fair)

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