Hadrian's Wall Path

Hadrian’s Wall Walk Tips and Resources

Hadrian's Wall Path

We recently completed our first long-distance walk on Hadrian’s Wall Path in England.

It was a wonderful trip for us, and we would do it again in a heartbeat! (now that my blisters have healed). Here are some tips and resources to help you plan your own Hadrian’s Wall Walk.

How long is Hadrian’s Wall Path?

According to my T-shirt, Hadrian’s Wall Path is 136 km (84 miles), with 80 milecastles and six Roman forts. The length will vary a bit according to where your accommodations are, and detours for food or fort visits. The actual Roman wall itself was 73 miles in length, and the trail follows the wall where it still remains, and along the original route wherever practical.

How long does it take to walk Hadrian’s Wall?

It takes 5 to 7 days to walk the full length of the path, or longer if you want rest days or time to visit attractions along the way. We decided to complete in 6 days, and were committed to the itinerary as our accommodations were booked. After our experience I would say 6 days is doable if you are reasonably fit and don’t have any issues, but it doesn’t allow much time to explore beyond the walk itself. It took longer than we expected to walk the distance each day, especially in the hilly, rugged section in the middle third of the walk. Finding accommodation that aligns with the distance you want to walk each is key to planning your own walk.

When to go?

The path is open year round, but the best weather and peak season is May to September. When we went in June it was never crowded. Most of the time we were alone on the path and we would just meet fellow walkers heading the opposite direction. Outside of peak season there may be even fewer accommodations and pubs open. During the wetter winter months walking the path is not encouraged as it can damage the archaeology of the path.

Our Hadrian’s Wall West-to-East Itinerary

Bowness-on-Solway • Carlisle • Banks • Old Repeater Station • Halton Red House • Newcastle-upon-Tyne • Wallsend

Our hotel at the start was in Carlisle, so the first morning of our walk we took bus #93 at 9:10am from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway. There are only a few buses per day so be sure to confirm the schedule.

Hadrian's Wall Path

Accommodations

One of the highlights of our walk was arriving each day at next cozy B&B. We really enjoyed the three B&B’s below, all located along the path. There are more options in Carlisle and Newcastle, but limited accommodations available along the middle. You don’t want to be stuck for a place to stay after a long day walking, so booking accommodations in advance is a must.

The National Trail website has a map that was a great help in finding accommodations along the wall.

Luggage Transfer

Using a luggage transfer service made our walk much lighter, and was very affordable. We chose Hadrian’s Haul, and they picked up our luggage and had it waiting for us like magic each day at our next destination. We never saw anyone from the company in person but their system worked perfectly, and we highly recommend them.

Preventing Blisters

  • Firstly, don’t have a pedicure before any long walk. I did about a week before the walk, and by the end of the second day I had some nasty blisters. Baby-soft heels are not what you want on a long walk.
  • Carry some duct tape and Second Skin or Compeed to treat blisters if they occur. Duct tape is also great for covering sensitive areas on your feet before blisters occur. It’s easy to carry some wrapped around a pencil instead of a whole roll.
  • Bring extra socks in your daypack in case your feet get wet.
  • Make sure your hiking boots are properly fitted, and break them in before your big hike. The store should have a ramp to test your boots on a downhill slope to be sure your toes don’t rub the front of the boot.

Food & Water

  • Walkers don’t have cars, and our wonderful B&B hosts either drove us to dinner, or made dinner for us. Check with your accommodations about dinner options.
  • There is limited food or water available along the path, so you really need to carry it with you.
  • We had 2 litre water bladders that we filled the first couple sunny days. We carried a little less on the remaining cooler days.
  • Each morning we had a full English breakfast, and a substantial pub dinner most nights, so a few granola bars were enough for us. We were able to stop for a drink or snack at a couple of pubs along the way, but they are few and far between, and sometimes closed.
  • There are also few honesty boxes filled with chocolate bars, chips etc., and you just leave payment for what you chose, so bring a bit of cash.

ATMs

There aren’t always ATMs available so you may need to bring cash with you. Some B&Bs don’t accept credit cards, so you may need enough cash to pay for these.

Resources

Hadrian Wall Path by Gordon Simm and Jacquetta Megarry was an essential guide for our trip. This book has maps and detailed descriptions of the path for west to east walkers, but it also includes notes for those walking east to west.

The National Trail Website has an abundance of info about Hadrian’s Wall Path to help plan your walk.

Transportation along Hadrian’s Wall Path If some days you do find your route is too long, it’s possible to catch a bus to your next destination. You will probably have to do some walking to get to a bus stop.

Note: We haven’t received any compensation for our recommendations, and we this trip was at our own expense.

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Hadrian’s Wall Walk West to East

Hadrian's Wall Path

Hadrian’s Wall Path

“We walked across England!” – Our Hadrian’s Wall Walk, West to East

• Bowness-on-Solway • Carlisle • Banks • Old Repeater Station • Halton Red House • Newcastle-upon-Tyne • Wallsend •

The day finally arrived for our first long distance walk, west to east on Hadrian’s Wall National Trail in England. Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in 122 AD by Roman soldiers, under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. The path follows this stone wall across England from coast to coast, so we could say “we walked across England!” This path seemed doable for our first walk – but still a challenge. Most walk Hadrian’s Wall east to west, but our route was west to east, so we would have the prevailing winds at our back.

According to my Hadrian’s Wall T-shirt, the trail is 136 km (84 miles), with 80 milecastles and six Roman forts. The actual length is probably a bit longer when you go off the path for accommodations, detours, food or fort visits. We decided to complete the walk in 6 days. If you are planning your own Hadrian’s Wall walk, click for more specific tips and resources, and info about our hiking gear.

Here’s how our walk went!

Day 1: Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle

31 km

It was a perfect June morning to begin our walk, with blue sunny skies. We arrived in Carlisle a couple days earlier to have time to explore the city, and recover from jetlag. For the first section we had to take bus #93 to the path’s start at Bowness-on-Solway, then walk back to our Carlisle hotel for one more night.

Bowness-on-Solway is a peaceful village on the Solway Firth. The cute homes here don’t have addresses, but names like Silver Hill, and the White House. We saw the well-known local pub, The Kings Arms, but it doesn’t open until 4pm, which is too late for most west to east walkers.

And so it begins!

7040 miles from home. Across the firth is Scotland.

The official start of Hadrian’s Wall Path is at a small shack along the Firth, which opens into the Irish Sea. At this point the firth is also the border between England and Scotland. The path begins fairly flat with a long stretch along the firth, and lots of birds.

Early on this first section there was an interesting man who had made a road sign, which he updated for each walker to mark the distance to their hometown.

On the first day, there was no actual wall to be seen…at least not in its original form.  After the Romans left the wall was no longer in use, so people used stones from the wall for their own construction needs. An example of this is St Michael’s Church, in Burgh-by-Sands. This 12th century church was built on the foundation of a Roman Fort, with stones from the wall. In 1307 Edward I was brought here to lie in state after being killed during the uprising of Robert the Bruce. It is one of many churches and other attractions to see along the path.

St Michael's Church, Burgh-by-Sands: This 12th century church was built on the foundation of a Roman Fort, with stones from the wall. In 1307 Edward I was brought here to lie in state after being killed during the uprising of Robert the Bruce.

The 12th century St Michael’s Church, in Burgh-by-Sands, was built on the foundation of a Roman Fort, with stones from the wall.

Although we didn’t see remains of the actual wall, there was a lot to make this part of the walk interesting, from listening to birds in the wetlands, cute villages, wooded areas and pastures.

The first of many cows we would meet along the path.

We saw a lot more cows and sheep along the path than people.

Hadrian's Wall gate

Much of the path goes through private property, and there’s an amazing variety of ways to cross through gates or over walls. The acorn on the post is the symbol of Hadrian’s wall path.

Walking into Carlisle we encountered a detour due to the devastating flood in early 2016. By the time we reached our hotel again we had walked 31 km, tired but happy to have completed our first leg. It’s worth spending a day in Carlisle to explore the small city and its castle.

Day 2: Carlisle to Banks

27 km

The Eden Bridge, Carlisle

The Eden Bridge, Carlisle

This morning we rejoined the path at the Eden Bridge, and for the first while the it followed the River Eden. The path leaving Carlisle was beautiful, down a long aisle of spring flowers.

June is a great month for wildflowers along the path.

June is a great month for wildflowers along the path.

The Stall-on-the-Wall honesty box.

The famous Stall-on-the-Wall honesty box.

After a couple of hours, we came across the “famous Stall-on-the-Wall”, which is an honesty box filled with assorted chocolate bars, chips and other treats to maintain your strength during the walk. There are a few of these fun stations along Hadrian’s Path, so if you go bring some small change or bills to enjoy them. One even had a small freezer with ice cream bars.

Much of Hadrian’s Wall path goes right through farmer’s fields, so we passed by lots of sheep, cattle and horses. We enjoyed seeing them, and most animals watched us with mild interest, but this cow right beside the path was a little intimidating. We went off the path to give it as much space as possible, and Darrell promised it he would cut back on beef.

cows

This cow was a little intimidating.

a nice path

After walking 20km we appreciated the comfy wood chips on this path.

Near the end of day two we came across the first substantial section of the wall. It was a fantastic day, but my feet began to protest and I got some nasty blisters. After the last steep hill we were both VERY happy to to reach the Quarryside B&B. After listening to our moans, our host, Elizabeth, asked how far we walked that day, then burst out laughing, “Is that all?”

Hadrian's Wall

Finally, Hadrian’s Wall!

Our Quarryside B&B room with a view

Quarryside B&B room with a view.

The Belted Will Inn, Hallbankgate

The Belted Will Inn, Hallbankgate

Our ensuite room at Quarryside was lovely and spacious with a view of the country. After a short rest, the Elizabeth’s husband drove us to the Belted Will Inn for a pub dinner.  I had a tasty fish pie and Darrell had steak pie, in spite of his promise to the cows earlier that day. After our delicious dinner the pub owner gave us a ride back to our B&B.

Day 3: Banks to Old Repeater Station

27 km (completed 14 km)

Day three started with an excellent breakfast at our B&B, including their own farm fresh eggs and local sausages. We also took Elizabeth up on her option of a packed lunch.

A Milecastle at Hadrian's Wall

A Milecastle at Hadrian’s Wall

Before setting out, I doctored my feet with Second Skin, Compeed, and duct tape. With them fully covered they didn’t feel too bad. The weather had become misty with some rain, but we were prepared with rain coats and covers for our backpacks.  The cooler temperatures were pleasant to walk in so we didn’t mind at all. This section of the path is hilly, very picturesque, and we were seeing a lot more of the wall.

Ready to walk Hadrian's Wall Path - rain or shine!

Ready to walk Hadrian’s Wall Path – rain or shine!

A section of the trail through a quiet woods.

A section of the trail through a quiet woods.

Turret 49B. Two small watchtowers, or turrets, were built between each milecastle.

Turret 49B. Two small watchtowers, or turrets, were built between each milecastle.

Birdoswald, one of the best preserved Roman forts on Hadrian's Wall.

Birdoswald, one of the best preserved Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall.

After about an hour, we reached Birdoswald, one of the best preserved Roman forts on the wall and well worth a stop.

A short time later we arrived at these remains of the Roman Willowford Bridge, which originally crossed the River Irthing. Over time the course of the river changed so these remains are a distance apart from the current modern bridge.

Remains of the Roman Willowford Bridge

Remains of the Roman Willowford Bridge

Some super-cute lambs frolicking on the hill.

Some super-cute lambs frolicking on the hill.

Despite the beautiful scenery, my feet could only make it about 14 km. While walking to a bus stop, a couple of local ladies in an  SUV stopped to ask if we needed a ride. They had noticed me hobbling, and we gladly accepted their ride to our next B&B.

At the Old Repeater Station we had a nice welcome from our host, Les. The room was a small ensuite with a comfortable bed and cozy bedding. There is also a comfortable common lounge and dining room. Les made a delicious dinner for us and his other guests, served family style at his big table. I had steak pie and Darrell had lasagne, served with bowls of mashed potatoes, vegetables and bread.

Day 4: Old Repeater Station to Halton Red House

23 km (Instead, Housesteads Roman Fort to Carrawburgh Temple of Mithras: 10 km)

After another hearty full English breakfast (and a few more packages of Compeed and Second Skin) we were ready for day four.

The previous day we had cut the walk short and missed some of the most spectacular sections, so we took a bus back a few miles to begin our day at Housesteads, the most complete Roman fort in Britain. We were glad to see the fort, and the dramatic landscape in this section was a highlight of our walk.

Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort

The path follows the best preserved section of the wall up and down steep hills, with spectacular views. The ground here is steep and very uneven, but with our hiking boots and walking poles it was a pleasure. This was the busiest section of the path with a lot of day walkers, but not at all overly-crowded.

Rugged terrain and spectacular views on day four.

Rugged terrain and spectacular views on day four.

We were only able to make it 10 km, to Carrawburgh, Temple of Mithras, then I had to stop again because of my feet. So we took a bus to Chollerford, then a taxi to our next B&B, Halton Red House Farm. At this point we changed our goal to walk at least 100 km of the trail. My disappointment at cutting short another day’s walk was soon forgotten when we arrived at Halton Red House Farm, another lovely B&B. Our hostess Sheila drove us to a nearby pub where we had another excellent, hearty meal.

Day 5: Halton Red House to Newcastle

27 km (completed 17 km)

After a perfect English breakfast we set off again towards our next stop at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On day five the rugged terrain was behind us, and the hills flattened to gently rolling farmland that looked beautiful even on this rainy day.

Leaving our pretty B&B, Halton Red House Farm

Leaving our pretty B&B, Halton Red House Farm

A pleasant walk on a grass path.

A pleasant walk on a grass path.

After about 5 km we came across the Robin Hood Inn, where we decided to stop in for an excellent scone with cream and jam.

The Robin Hood Bar & Restaurant

The Robin Hood Bar & Restaurant…

where we had an excellent scone.

…where we had an excellent scone.

We walked 17 km, then stopped at the Three Tuns pub at Heddon-on-the-Wall, then again because of my sad feet, took a taxi to our hotel in Newcastle.

Day 6: Newcastle to Wallsend

8 km

On our final day we hired an Uber driver to take us from Newcastle to Wallsend, which is the eastern terminus of Hadrian’s Wall path. We then walked west back to Newcastle. At Wallsend is the Segedunum Roman Fort and museum. We didn’t visit the museum, but we did go up their tower which looks over the former fort, and has a good video explaining the history of the site through the ages.

The bridges of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The bridges of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Then we walked the 8 km back to Newcastle, which is a very nice urban path once you get past the first bit at Wallsend. Coming into the city the path follows the River Tyne, with Newcastle’s interesting buildings and bridges.

So in the end, we walked 107 km of Hadrian’s Wall path, coast to coast, but with 36km skipped across days 3 to 5.

The only real discomfort was from blisters on my feet. In hindsight I think I caused this by having a pedicure a couple weeks before our walk, which may have made my feet look pretty, but also removed callouses that probably would have been a layer of protection for a long walk. Otherwise, we both felt good, and the hills even became easier as we went. It was a great experience as our first long distance walk, and I’m already thinking of where we could walk next.

The Hadrian’s Wall National Trail itself was fantastic, with a great variety of landscapes as well as the famous wall and Roman forts.  It was a pleasure to get to know the area up close, walking through the many farms, villages or wilderness areas. There are more attractions than we had time for along the way, including Roman forts, and also churches, museums, and villages.

Two resources that helped immensely in planning our trip:

  • The National Trail website: They have a map that was a great help in finding accommodations along the wall.
  • Hadrian’s Wall Path guidebook, by Gordon Simm and Jacquetta Megarry, helped in planning the trip, and kept us on track during the walk.

Check these links for more resources and tips for planning your own Hadrian’s Wall walk, and our gear list.

Pin for later?

Hadrians Wall pin

 

Bluke the cat

How to travel with your cat to Korea

Most people don’t travel internationally with their cat, but we recently brought Bluke from Calgary, Alberta to Seoul, South Korea. Here are a few of our cat travel tips.

The White House

How to See Washington DC, Up Close and Personal

Our visit to Washington DC was going to be just a short side trip to our vacation in New York City. But there is so much to see and do that we stayed longer than originally planned. There are numerous world-class museums, monuments, and tours of Capitol Hill, and much of it is free! There are also great restaurants, theatre and arts. Here are a few ideas to make your Washington visit up close and personal.

Yes, that’s really President Obama waving at me!

I’m mostly a moderate (and anyway I’m Canadian), and not politically for or against Obama. But hey, he’s the President of the United States. I was waving as his motorcade drove by, and was so excited when he waved back. Who knows if you will see him when you visit, but we did see motorcades from the White House leave a couple of times.

President Obama leaving the White House.

President Obama leaving the White House.

The other side of the White House

The other side of the White House

We stayed at the Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square, which is only about a block away from the White House. So we saw it several times from all angles.

The White House is grand-looking, but it lacks the over-the-top opulence and scale seen in the residences of many world leaders…and I like that about it. I can imagine it being a home for a family, like the Obamas.

It would have been great to see the inside, but at this time it doesn’t seem to be possible for international visitors. If you are American, you can contact your Member of Congress to request a visit.

Michelle Obama’s garden at the White House

Michelle Obama’s garden at the White House

The Library of Congress – Thomas Jefferson Building

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

An American in Paris, hand-written score by George Gershwin.

An American in Paris, hand-written score by George Gershwin.

The Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building was completed in 1897. The design was based on the Paris Opera House, and is a feast of marble, granite, bronze, gold, and mahogany. It is of the Beaux Arts style, which is theatrical and ornamented, and the most beautiful of the official Washington government buildings.

Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson’s 6,487 volume library in 1814, and since then the congressional library has grown into the largest in the world. There are several interesting exhibits at the Library, including The Gershwin Room and the Bob Hope Gallery. But the highlight is the building itself.

Tour the United States Capitol Building

If you enjoy architecture, history or art, a tour of the Capitol Building is a must. These tours are free but you need a pass. It is highly recommended to reserve your tour in advance, either online  (local or international visitors) or by contacting your Representative or Senator.

The Capital Dome

In the rotunda of the Capitol Building, looking up at the dome. The fresco at the top is by Italian Constantino Brumidi.

The Baptism of Pocohontas, by John Gadsby Chapman.

The Baptism of Pocohontas, by John Gadsby Chapman.

Sit in on Congress…for a little while

Congress was in session during our visit, so we were able to watch from the upper gallery. Unless there is something really exciting happening, you probably don’t need to stay for long, but it is interesting to go beyond the tourist area and see the government in action.

This isn’t part of the Capitol tour. For non-residents, inquire about gallery passes at the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center when you arrive.  Americans may also obtain gallery passes from the offices of their Senators or Representative.

The Capital Building

The Capital Building

See a Play at Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre

It is nearly 150 years since the tragic day when United States President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, while attending the play “Our American Cousin”. Ford’s Theatre has been restored and renovated, and today it is both a working theatre, and a museum about the Civil War and Lincoln’s presidency. We enjoyed a production there, and seeing the balcony where Lincoln sat watching the play, made it a thought-provoking visit. Click here for more information about Ford’s Theatre and tickets.

That Restaurant where the Obama’s went for Date Night

When the Obama’s went for dinner on one of their date nights, they went to Tosca. They made the reservations under another name, so imagine the surprise of the staff with their unexpected guests!

Since Barrack and Michelle enjoyed Tosca, Darrell and Shelley decided to try it too. It was great! Delicious food, nice atmosphere, and friendly service.

If you go

This is just the beginning of what Washington has to offer. Our visit to DC exceeded our expectations and we left wanting more.

The Lincoln Memorial is a must-see. Also, don’t miss a visit to historic Georgetown, with its quaint cobblestone streets and trendy shops and restaurants.

You will want to visit at least one of the Smithsonian Museums, and probably more. We visited the American History Museum, Air and Space Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. There is also the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Gallery. We could do a whole other trip just to visit more of the museums.

If you have visited Washington DC, which was your favorite museum?

 

Packing List

General Packing Tips

  • Rolling items helps you fit more in and they wrinkle less.
  • Packing cubes are great to keep things neat and organized.
  • Adjust packing list as needed, according to the destination, weather, and your taste. If you like skirts, you may not need as many pants, etc.
  • Pack wrinkle-free items as much as possible.
  • Dark items don’t stain as easily.
  • Pack items that are colour-coordinated to make more outfits.

Clothing

  • 5 pairs of lightweight socks, less for warm weather if you will be wearing sandals
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • pyjamas (T-shirt and shorts or yoga pants)
  • 3-4 short sleeve tops or t-shirts
  • 1 long-sleeve T-shirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 dressy shirt
  • 1 or 2 sweaters (for cooler climate)
  • 1 light cardigan sweater
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 other pair pants
  • 1 or 2 pairs shorts or capris
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • skirt or wrinkle-free dress that go casual or dressed up
  • lightweight jacket (even in cool weather, you can bring a light jacket and add layers as needed)
  • rain/wind resistant jacket (or just use your umbrella in summer)
  • collapsible umbrella
  • scarves/pashmina (great as an accessory and to keep you warm on the plane, or on cool evenings)
  • swimsuit & sarong
  • hats for sun or cold
  • gloves for cool weather
  • inexpensive jewelry

Shoes

(multi-purpose when possible)

  • walking shoes or runners
  • sandals (a nice pair of sandals with thicker soles are more comfortable on cobblestones, and are versatile)
  • flip-flops

Medical

  • prescription drugs
  • Band-Aids
  • Tylenol
  • consider antibiotics prescription depending on destination
  • hand sanitizer

Toiletries

(put all liquids in zip-lock bags to prevent leakage)

  • toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss
  • small bottles of shampoo/conditioner/shower gel
  • make-up (try to bring only what you really want)
  • razor
  • quick drying towel
  • comb/hairbrush
  • hair elastics/bobby pins
  • deodorant
  • feminine hygiene products
  • small mirror
  • moisturizer
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant (if you are going somewhere you will need it)
  • lip balm
  • nail clippers
  • makeup-remover wipes
  • Small packet of tissues, which can be handy when there’s no toilet paper.

Miscellaneous

  • prescription glasses/contacts & solution
  • sunglasses
  • eye mask and ear plugs
  • a zip-lock bag for liquids and extras come in handy to keep to keep camera dry, store food, etc. plus couple large plastic bags for dirty laundry/shoes
  • notepad and pen
  • a good book (it’s not always easy to find English language books or magazines)
  • business cards
  • apps for travel
  • daypack to fit your camera, snacks
  • water bottle

Tech

(in carry-on/backpack)

  • Laptop (and mouse for me) or eReader
  • Digital Camera and extra memory cards
  • Phone
  • GPS – If you need it more than a couple days, it’s often cheaper to buy one than rent
  • Chargers
  • electrical adaptor/converter
  • earphones
  • tripod
  • portable hard drive for backup
  • Swiss army knife
  • mini flashlight

Documents

  • passport and visas
  • travel documents printouts (flights, accommodation, tickets) I use the travel TripIt for this, but keep a printout in my suitcase as a backup
  • travel insurance information
  • international travel vaccinations
  • driver’s licence and International driver’s licence
  • credit cards, debit cards
  • small amount of local currency
  • student ID/senior citizen ID
  • email itinerary to yourself and family member/friend along with a scan of your passport
  • list of usernames and passwords (I keep mine on a password-protected spreadsheet, or there are apps for that)
  • money belt or travel pouch

Amazing Japan: Five Insider Survival Tips

Japan has one of the world’s most fascinating cultures to explore. Our daughter Carlee has spent the last few years living in Asia, much of that time in Japan. We were able to visit her there recently, and her experience made our trip so much easier. Here are some of her insider survival tips to make your visit to amazing Japan even better.

1. Follow Japanese etiquette.

This isn’t really survival but just to avoid annoyed glances, as foreigners may not be aware of many Japanese customs.

  • Stand on the left when riding the escalator so people can pass.
  • Don’t eat while walking on the street and certainly not on the train.
  • It is considered very rude to talk on the phone on the train and there are signs everywhere saying not to do it.
  • Don’t leave your chopsticks sticking upright in your rice, and never pass food directly from chopstick to chopstick.

2. Ask the police…for anything. Seriously.

I wanted to get my hair cut in Shinjuku so my Japanese friend and I walked around for a while but couldn’t find anything affordable. I thought he was joking when he said “let’s ask the police!” I thought they would be offended that I am wasting their time with my hair dilemma. But he ran up to ask and right away the police officer led us down a street to a quaint little hair shop. Perfect price and they did a great job on my hair. There are little police boxes all over the city and if you are ever lost or need to find anything, they are, in my experience, super friendly and helpful.

3. “Service” food.

While there is no need to tip at restaurants and pubs in Japan, you might notice an extra charge added to your bill.  Usually a server brings you a small side dish and may say it is a ‘service’, but you will be charged for it. This is called a “tsukidashi (つきだし)”. This is very common when going out to a restaurant or izakaya so just expect to pay a little extra on top of your order.

4. Express vs. Super Express trains.

Download a map. Especially coming from the airport or other longer routes, there are some trains that stop at every single stop while others skip most stops and just stop at the main hubs. It’s a brilliant idea for those who are commuting to work but can be confusing for a tourist. As someone who is directionally challenged already, I took the wrong train three times last time I was in Tokyo. Basically, the super express shows up in red on the overhead board and express is in orange or yellow. Make sure the super express will stop at your destination before boarding that train. If you aren’t sure, ask the train attendant to double check.

5. Learn Katakana

I know a lot of Japan-bound travelers have studied Japanese or at least watched their share of anime, so getting around in Japan won’t be a problem. However, if you can’t read any Japanese it can be quite difficult to navigate your way in Tokyo independently, and even more so the smaller towns. Even many train station signs do not have an English translation.

The best way I can suggest to help you find your way around is to learn Katakana. Katakana is the phonetic writing system that is used for English words. Yes, even English words are written in Japanese. Many signs around Japan are in fact English words, written with Japanese characters. For example, gelato is ジェラート (je raa to), pizza is ピザ (pi za), spaghetti is スパゲティ (su pa ge tei) etc. (apparently I’m craving Italian). There are only 48 characters and it can be learned in an afternoon or two. If you learn Katakana a whole world of opportunities opens up and you will be much more independent and aware in Japan.

Winston Goes to Spain

“Who will look after my dog?” is a common dilemma when going on vacation.  Our solution was to bring our Yorkshire Terrier, Winston, along with us for a six week trip to Spain.

Winston has travelled with us on several road trips in western Canada and the US, but we have never taken a pet on a transAtlantic flight. If we were taking a shorter trip or one with multiple stops, we wouldn’t take our dog as it wouldn’t be worth the expense, red tape, or the stress on our dog. The experience turned out to be a great one for us as well as Winston.

I'm ready. Let's go!

“I’m ready…let’s go!”

I love the warm Spanish sun on my face.

“I love the warm Spanish sun on my face.”

WINSTON AT THE NERJA FERIA

WINSTON AT THE NERJA FERIA

Why we decided to take Winston on this trip:

  • Our stay was long enough to make the effort and expense worthwhile.
  • Winston is small enough to fly in the cabin with us.
  • We were planning to stay at one location, rather than moving a lot from place to place as we have on other trips.
  • There is no quarantine period for pets entering the EU from Canada.

Pet Travel

Click here for more details on this trip and how you can travel with your pet.

Winston’s Big Adventure

Follow TouristSite’s board Winston’s Big Adventure on Pinterest.

How to Bring Your Dog to Europe

We recently took a six-week trip to the Costa del Sol in Spain, accompanied by our yorkshire terrier, Winston. He has travelled with us on several road trips in western Canada and the US, but we have never taken a pet on a transatlantic flight.  The experience turned out to be a great one for us as well as Winston.

Please note: the following reflects our experience bringing our dog from Canada to Europe. The procedure for pet travel from the United States to Europe is almost the same. Contact the USDA for more information and forms. Check with your veterinarian, preferred airline, and destination authority for travel and pet import requirements specific to your situation. The following information is essentially the same for cats and ferrets. 

Why we decided to take Winston on this trip:

  • Our stay was long enough to make the effort and expense worthwhile.
  • Winston is small enough to fly in the cabin with us.
  • We were planning to stay at one location, rather than moving a lot from place to place as we have on other trips.
  • There is no quarantine period for pets entering the EU from Canada (or the United States).

If we were taking a shorter trip or one with multiple stops, we wouldn’t bring Winston, as it wouldn’t be worth the expense, red tape, or the stress on our pet.

At a glance

  • Our cost: about $600 including airline fees, certification fee, and veterinarian fees.
  • Airline requirements: A pet reservation must be made in advance, and a limited number of pets are allowed in the cabin. Some airlines or specific flights don’t allow pets. Check airline pet policies before booking your flight.
  • Visit veterinarian at least one month prior to travel to check pet’s health, rabies vaccine and microchip. Second visit to veterinarian 7 to 10 days before travel to complete Veterinary Certificate.
  • Cross-border requirements: Completed Veterinary Certificate, endorsed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Planning ahead

  • Check the rules for bringing your pet into your choice of destination. Our dog was traveling from Canada to Spain, and there are different procedures depending on both the country of origin and the destination.
  • Certain dog breeds may be restricted from entering certain countries, so check with your destination country and airline.
  • We chose to avoid connecting through the UK, as they have their own process that would have meant additional paperwork and restrictions. There are also specific country requirements for Finland, Malta, and the Republic of Ireland.
  • Check with your airline for their pet policies, and to make a reservation on your specific flight.
  • Check the location of your nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency office. If there is not one in your city you will need to allow time to have the Veterinary Certificate endorsed.

One month or more before travel

  • Obtain Veterinary Certificate form from a local Canadian Food Inspection Agency office or download the Veterinary Certificate. If convenient I would recommend picking up the form as the CFIA agent can explain how to fill it out.
    • It is recommended that the certificate be printed double-sided on letter-size paper in English and the language of the Member State of entry, and that it be completed in block letters. The reference number of the certificate must appear at the top of each page. The pages should be numbered (page # of total # of pages) so as to make each sheet part of an integrated whole. The signature and stamp must be in a different colour to that of the text of the certificate.
    • The certificate must be completed in English and the official language of the first point of entry into the EU.  (This really means the questions on the form are bilingual, not that your answers need to be.)
  • First visit to your veterinarian (This is not mandatory but recommended to be sure your pets identification and vacinations are in order)
    • Bring Veterinary Certificate. Even though it’s too early to fill out, it may be helpful to your veterinarian to see the form in advance, and know what the requirements are.
    • Pet Identification: make sure your pet’s identification either has a microchip compliant with ISO standard 11784, or a clearly readable tattoo applied before July 3, 2011. If the microchip isn’t compliant you may need to bring your own reader so the border agent can read the microchip.
    • Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. The microchip or tattoo number must appear on the rabies vaccination certificate in order for it to be considered valid. There is a 21-day wait period if this is a primary rabies vaccination or if the booster vaccinations were not kept up-to-date.

One week to 10 days before travel

  • Second visit to the veterinarian for completion of the Veterinary Certificate
    • Note: The certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issue by the licensed veterinarian until the date of the checks at the EU travellers’ point of entry, with the exception of dogs to Finland, Malta, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, where the echinococcus treatment will be the time-limiting factor for length of validity for entry into the EU (i.e. treatment must occur between 120 and 24 hours of entry into the EU). For the purpose of further movements within the Union, the certificate is valid for a total of four months from the date of issue or until the date of expiry of the anti-rabies vaccination, whichever date is earlier.
  • Present certificate to local CFIA office for endorsement
    • Fee is $20
    • When the certificate is presented for CFIA endorsement, it must be accompanied by supporting documentation, or a certified copy of it, including vaccination certificate and official microchip certification. The documentation must bear the identification details of the animal concerned.
    • It is also highly recommended to bring this supporting documentation for presentation at the port of entry in the EU , should it be requested. It is better to overwhelm them with paperwork at the border. Our experience was that it was barely glanced at in Spain, but better to be prepared.

Airline rules and fees

Check with your airline, and find out what their fees and requirements are for accompanying pets. Some allow pets within their weight restriction to fly in the cabin with the owner, and some don’t. There may also be a limit on the number of pets allowed in the cabin, so reservations are a must. Know your pet – if you think your dog will be barking for the whole trip, let him travel in the baggage hold for the consideration of your fellow passengers.

The following info is from KLM, but always check with your specific airline.

Pets in the cabin

  • In a suitable kennel or pet travel bag no higher than 20 cm (7.9 in). Your pet must be able to stand up and lay down comfortably.
  • Total weight of pet + travel bag or kennel may be max. 6 kg (13 lbs).
  • The kennel must fit under the seat in front of you for take off and landing.

Pets as check-in baggage in a ventilated part of the aircraft:

  • In a rigid plastic kennel that complies with IATA rules – for example those of the ‘Sky’ and ‘Vari’ brands. You can purchase such a kennel at larger pet shops or specialist shipping agents. Read more about kennels on www.iata.org.
  • Total weight of your pet and kennel combined may be max. 75 kg (165 lbs).
  • Instead, they are kept in a dark, heated, pressurized hold, which encourages them to sleep for the duration of travel.
  • Please note that airlines may not take pets as check-in baggage on specific flights during certain times of the year, due to risk of heat or cold.

Our experience

  • We purchased Winston’s travel bag a couple weeks before the flight. We used it for car rides and he began to associate being in the travel bag as a positive experience, as it meant he was coming along with us. The bag itself is a lightweight duffle bag specifically for pet travel, with ventilation on both ends as well as the side. This is essential so your pet gets enough air while down at your feet. During takeoff and landing the carrier has to slide under the seat in front of you, but at other times they can be between your feet or on your lap (but never out of the carrier).
  • Winston basically slept through most of the flight and didn’t seem too stressed or excited on the plane.
  • At the airport, let airline personnel know you have your pet with you in case there are any unexpected procedures.  We had to have our pet reservation approved at the airline ticket counter before we could check in.
  • At the advice of the airline, we did not let Winston eat or drink four hours before departure. At our connection we allowed him a tiny bit of water.
  • It is not recommended to tranquilize your pet, as altitude can affect medications.
  • You can’t bring pet food with you, but in Spain it was easy to find in pet stores, as well as larger grocery stores.
  • We unfortunately had two connections, in Amsterdam and in Paris.  In both airports there are no areas within security to take your pet outside to relieve themself. In Amsterdam we didn’t have a long enough layover to go through border control and security, and were told just to let Winston go on the floor, and it would be cleaned up. We actually saw another passenger with a dog lay out papers on the floor for their pet to go.   Winston isn’t used to this and wouldn’t go indoors so he actually didn’t pee until our next connection in Paris, where we had time to exit security and take him outside for a bit. (on a side note, in Paris nobody asked us for Winston’s papers when we went through border control.)
  • This is stating the obvious, but make sure your accommodations allow pets. We chose to stay in an apartment that included a yard which was a great home base.  Our apartment was in Nerja, which is a pet-friendly smaller town, with a lot of areas to go for walks.
  • Pets can be a great conversation starter! Winston enjoyed meeting other dogs and we enjoyed talking to other locals and vacationers.

 

 

 

 

How to See the Statue of Liberty with Crown Access

The first thing to do once you have booked your trip to New York City is to reserve your Statue of Liberty Crown Access ticket.

How to visit the Statue of Liberty Crown

STATUE OF LIBERTY CROWN VISIT

Statue of Liberty Crown Access Tickets go fast and must be booked in advance

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are highlights of a trip to New York, and the $18 ticket including both is already good value. But for only $3 more for a Crown Access Ticket, you will be whisked past the regular line-up, saving you a lot of wait time, and given access to climb the 393 stairs up inside the statue for an unforgettable view from the crown.

The Statue of Liberty was designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, and was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States. Climbing up to the Crown is a much more intimate experience than the regular tour, as only a few people are allowed up at a time. In 1886 the Statue was completed, and she has since become a symbol of freedom to millions around the world.

Statue of Liberty – Original Torch

STATUE OF LIBERTY – ORIGINAL TORCH

This tour would be a great family outing. The climb is equivalent to 27 stories, so might not be suitable for some younger children, while others will love the challenge. (Children 4-12: $12) Children must be at least four feet tall, and must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Plan your visit

  • Tickets can only be booked through Statue Cruises, the official provider. Other ticket sellers either don’t give access to the island, just a view from their boat, or are over-priced/scams.
  • Tickets can be purchased online or by phone: 1-877-LADY-TIX (1-877-523-9849) or 201-604-2800
  • Prices: $21/adult, $12/child, $17/senior
  • Ticket includes ferry and access to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
  • Audio Tours of Liberty and Ellis Islands are included.
  • This is a high security attraction, and it’s essential to visit the National Park Service information page, so you know what to expect.
  • All crown visitors must be able to climb up and down the 393 steps unassisted.
  • There are 162 narrow and tight steps from the top of the pedestal to the crown.
  • There is no elevator from the top of pedestal to the crown (the Statue’s feet to the Statue’s head).
  • The stairs to the crown are in an enclosed area that can have high temperatures in the summer, so bring water.
  • Try to book your tour earlier in the day as afternoon tours (2pm or later) won’t have enough time to stop at the the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
  • Ferries leave from two locations: Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan in New York City, and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

 – Emma Lazarus

CLIMBING TO THE TOP

CLIMBING TO THE TOP

STATUE OF LIBERTY

STATUE OF LIBERTY ISLAND

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How to get tickets to the Statue of Liberty Crown