Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wiser way to visit United Kingdom

I visited United Kingdom twice, once with my family 30 plus years ago when I was a student in Ghent, Belgium, and once on my own. Our first visit was confined to London, in fact, mainly, of all the places, Oxford Street. The second visit was less that 30 years ago, but I can't remember exactly when. But time spent was mainly in the Patent office of London, pouring over the patent documents. Hardly any sight seeing. There are lots more interesting cities in the United Kingdom I would like to visit. One of them is Manchester City. During both periods, no one have any inkling of the coming into existence of the Internet, its widespread use or its usefulness. You only get what they call bricks and mortar shops or physical travel agencies with shop fronts or offices, etc. Mention online merchants, search engines or online hotel booking sites, and people will stare at you with glazed eyes. More about this later.

Manchester City

Manchester City is the second largest city of the United Kingdom. Manchester has a great history. It is said that this is the place where the Industrial Revolution started. You can still see remnants of that glorious past in the form of a network of canals and mills. It is an interesting mix of old and new for you will find shinny sky scrapping skyscrapers there as well. A good example is the Beetham Tower which some refer to also as Hilton Manchester or Hilton Tower. Very nice, but I am sure it would be pretty pricey. But it is now standing proud as the tallest tower in Manchester. Probably not the kind of hotel you would be going for if your aim is ZERO WASTE

But Manchester is not only business and industry. It is also a city of history, art and culture with many museums, classic art galleries and famous theatres. Art galleries include Manchester Art Gallery, Cornerhouse, The Lowry. The little photo you see on the left is a photo of one such Manchester Art Gallery taken from Entertainment Guide To Manchester. This one you cannot miss - Museum of Science and Industry, a museum befitting Manchester as the first industrial city of the world. Here you will get to learn about the history, science and industry of Manchester.

And if you have some interest in Christianity, in the John Ryland Library, which is in an impressive late Victorian Gothic building, you will get to see the oldest fragment of the New Testament.

And every football fan will know about Manchester United and Manchester City, two great football clubs. In fact, my country's budget airline, Air Asia and the first and most successful budget airlines in Asia, is one of the sponsors of Manchester United. Air Asia even have one of its airplane painted with photos the the famous footballers of Manchester United. It will be great to see them in action in Manchester itself. And the former Prime Minister of our northern neighbor, Thailand, just recently bought over Manchester City Football Club.

Now back to this talk about Internet and online hotel booking websites mentioned above. When I visited United Kingdom (and other parts of Europe) 30 years ago, I had to face the horrible experience of having to hunt for suitable accommodation on arrival. These country are not like my own if you arrive in winter. It is hard to imagine what my family then would do if on arrival in winter, we could not find suitable accommodation at the right location and fitting our budget. Even if I arrive in summer, there is still time wasted hunting for accommodation when I could have been doing the things I had planned to do for my visit. That is time and money wasted.

Now, if I am to visit Manchester, all I need to do is to get onto the Internet, surf to a hotel booking site like Manchester Accommodation, search and compare, then book online. Not only will I travel with the peace of mind that my accommodation is waiting for me when I arrive, I also have the assurance that I am getting the best deal, for they have a Lowest Rate Guarantee. You can be assured of getting the best deal online because the guarantee says if you can find the same accommodation on the same day at a cheaper rate, they will refund you the difference. For all this convenience of booking accommodation online plus getting a Lowest Rate Guarantee thrown in, we have got to thank Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web. And such things goes a long way toward achieving ZERO WASTE.


Up north of Manchester is Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. I almost ended up in Edinburgh because I had, at one time, wanted to take up actuarial studies. And Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is the best university to learn actuarial studies. Another famous and highly reputable university is the University of Edinburgh. History tells us of the proud tradition of knowledge and education of Edinburgh. In fact, Edinburgh earned the nickname of the Athens of the North because the city was one of the major centers of the Enlightenment.

While Edinburgh may be a thriving educational and academic center, it is also well known for other things. The people of Edinburgh organized many festivals, is also known as the Festival City the best known of which is the Edinburgh Festival which takes place in the city in August each year. Edinburgh Festival actually comprises many festivals and events like the International Festival, The Fringe, Book Festival, Film Festival, Military Tattoo, Jazz festival and Edinburgh Mela. Then there is the Winter festivals which featuring a month-long Edinburgh's Christmas which ends with the world famous Hogmanay celebrations. In spring, there are the Ceilidh Culture and the Science festival plus the Children's Festival. Other festivals include the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. And for the scientifically inclined, don't forget the Edinburgh International Science Festival which is held from the 25th of March to the 5th April in 2008.

Edinburgh castle
Photo of old Edinburgh castle taken from Edinburgh Castles and Heritage

If you like exploring old castles, you will find lots of them around Edinburgh. There is the Edinburgh Castle, Borthwick Castle, Dalhousie Castle plus a lot more too numerous to list here. You can see a fine example of an old Edinburgh castle in the photo above.

You wouldn't waste your money visiting Edinburgh for there is much to see and do. However, you will of course need accommodation, which for me, I will probably book online before departure via Edinburgh Accommodation. Edinburgh Hotels offers a great varieties of hotels, and if you are going there for the festivals, it is probably better to stay in one of the Edinburgh Hotels in the City Center.