Just where is Whitby?
Let's start by making sure that we know where Whitby is. I gather that there are other towns with same name around the world. The Whitby in question here is in the North East of England on the River Esk.
It is close to seaside resorts such as Scarborough, Bridlington and Robin Hood's Bay. However unlike some British seaside resorts it has retained much of its charm and has limited its modern development. This means that, unless things have drastically changed recently, you will not find masses of amusement arcades and the like.
Whitby is primarily a fishing town but has much to attract visitors.
Whitby is easily accessible by road either by car or bus.
From where I live in Yorkshire Whitby is not very far. However getting there can be a little tricky unless you have your own vehicle or are able to hire one. There is a train link but this only takes me as far as Scarborough; then I have to travel by bus. This can make the journey a little long for a day visit. However there are coach trips which are much better for a day visit. If I visit by my local bus service it would take over fours hours to get to Whitby, without local travel counted in, and the same for a return journey; it is much better then if we visit for a short or long weekend.
Trains do visit Whitby but only from certain places and some are not direct.
Whitby is good for short breaks as it has many Bed and Breakfast, B & Bs, that are perfect for short or long vacations.
The one thing you have to remember is that as Whitby is in the North of England the weather can be a little cooler even in summer. However we have always been lucky when we have visited. At times Whitby does suffer from sea fog but this makes the place all the more atmospheric with its Dracula links.
As a child Whitby was one of those places that we visited but only occasionally. As it was a little further than resorts nearer home, such as Scarborough, Hornsea and Withernsea, Whitby was a special destination. As we still do not drive it is still a little off our beaten track.
The last time we visited we took the Northern Rail train from Kingston-Upon-Hull to Scarborough. This journey took just over an hour. We then took a bus from Scarborough to Whitby which was around a half-hour journey. This bus journey is lovely as you travel over the moors. At some times of the year the landscape is bare but at others it may be lush or even full of wild growing purple heather. The journey takes in the quaint resort of Robin Hood's Bay and then you make your dramatic entrance into Whitby.
The bus travels over a high road bridge, Scarborough Road Bridge, from which you can see Whitby before you. The Abbey, the harbour, the boats and the sea front are all visible as long as there is no fog.
We usually choose one of the B & Bs that sit at the top of the cliff near the whale bones. These huge bones are stood on the cliff opposite to Whitby Abbey. The Crescent here has a range of tall old buildings which make for a great base. If you choose to walk and explore you can set off along the cliffs. If not you can walk down to the town or across to the other side of the bay. The beach is just a short distance in front of you. Across the bay you will get a splendid view of Whitby Abbey.
There is no escaping steps so if you do not like walking or are less mobile research Whitby further. We heard a rather large young lady shout in no uncertain terms to her guy that she was "NOT WALKING UP ANYMORE BLOODY STEPS" last time we visited.
The abbey is accessed via 199 steps or a steep road. You can take a more round about means of visiting but will have to walk further. Take the steps and stop for breathers if necessary to take in the beautiful view. The red roofs of Whitby, the harbour, bridges, boats and, in general, the scenery is lovely.
There is an entrance fee to enter the Abbey but you can just wander around the church, the nearby ancient seafarer's cemetery or take a picnic on the cliffs. We chose to take a long walk along part of the Cleveland Way to Robin Hood's Bay. At 7 miles it is rather long and at times precarious but it was a beautiful sunny day. Approaching Robin Hood's Bay along the cliffs you are treat to a view that has been painted many times by various artists.
The shops around Whitby used to be full of black Whitby Jet. These days it is a scarcer commodity and, although still sold, is a little pricey and rarer.
With people's fascination with Dracula, Whitby has decided to utilise its links. Stoker's book has Dracula landing at Whitby in England. From our accommodation, looking across to the Abbey ruins at night one can almost believe it for real.
Many Goths now visit Whitby and there is a Dracula museum.
Whitby also has a Captain Cook Museum. It is housed in an old house where Cook lodged when he was an apprentice back in the 1800s. This museum is at the side of Whitby where the Abbey is. It is quite central and well sign-posted.
Cook's first sea journeys were out of Whitby. Running between the old houses there are more steps and little alleyways. As you explore it is easy to envisage a Whitby of the past with people such as Cook milling around.
Attractions and events
Whitby has a full program of events throughout the year. Some of these are simply tea dances at the old Pavilion but there are craft fairs and the like.
For many years now Whitby has held a folk festival at the end of August. This is usually well attended and it can be hard to find accommodation at short notice. However there are plenty of campsites if you feel like roughing it a little.
In 2017 the festival runs from August 18 for one week.
If the festivities are held later, as they are some years, remember the last Monday in August is a Bank Holiday and so public transport may be less frequent. Also shops away from tourist areas may be closed. As it is the last weekend, almost, before children return to school expect Whitby to be busy.
Whitby has a large park set high above the main town of Whitby. It is arranged beautifully on the slopes and so offers yet more great views of the town, the harbour and more.
Nearby places of interest
I have already touched upon Robin Hood's Bay but there is much more nearby.
Goathland is within easy reach of Whitby. In recent years this has been the setting for Yorkshire television's Heartbeat series. However now this program has finished Goathland may become quieter again. It is a small village that is set in beautiful countryside with lots of sheep, rolling hills and long nature walks. You will encounter small villages such as Beckhole, stumble across natural waterfalls and just feel at one with the world. It is a beautiful place.
Nearby Pickering is a larger village, perhaps a town. It has shops, lovely old world pubs and at times old working steam trains. It is possible to book a journey on one of these trains.
Walking along, the opposite direction from the Abbey in Whitby will bring you to tiny Sands End. This small village is literally at the end of the sand. It is quiet, and peaceful with a nice pub where you can drink or lunch and watch the world go by.
Hopefully this diary has given you a taster of Whitby and its local area. Whitby attracts visitors of all ages and tends to be loved for being different by youngsters but still enjoyed by older people for its quaint charm.
There are local restaurants which serve dishes such as local trout with almonds, without charging you an arm and a leg (Yorkshire saying). Alternatively there is one of the best Fish and Chip shops around where you can buy locally caught fish and eat it either in the shop or sit at the harbour, and go thoroughly British as you eat your meal out of the paper.
Many of the local pubs have a great atmosphere and also serve lovely, good value pub meals. Wander away from the main streets to find the best value and food.
At night Whitby is lively but not too much so. I guess it depends what time of year you visit. During the annual Folk Festival week everywhere will be overflowing with tourists. However, visit in late spring and you will find that there is plenty of room to breathe; just bear in mind that the weather could be inclement at such a time of year.
If you visit out of season, and the weather gets foggy, you may hear the constant droning of fog horns, throughout the night, which can be very annoying.
Cyprus is often in the news in the 21st Century due to its useful strategic location for British military forces overseas but it remains a good holiday destination.
Cyprus is the third largest Island in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its location it has a climate that is sufficiently warm to support an all year tourist industry. However if you visit from November to around March the weather may be a little unpredictable. However, on the whole the temperatures should be warm and definitely much warmer than in the UK.
Our two-week vacation
We visited a few years ago now. Our holiday began the last week in January and was for two weeks. We picked this time of year as Hubby's work, at the time, had meant working through all of the Christmas period.
The added bonus was the holiday price which at £149 each for a two-week self-catering stay, including flights, was a bargain basement price, with the resort and accommodation allocated on arrival.
Imagine our shock then when, talking with two elderly ladies, they informed us that their 8 week holiday had cost only £129 each!
Of course prices will be more expensive now, but you should still be able to get a great deal if you want to visit Cyprus outside of what is normally thought of as the main holiday period.
Bear in mind though that those prices do rise a little over the actual Christmas Holiday week.
So what did we make of the Greek half of Cyprus?
Of course we loved it and here is why.
Cyprus or as it is known in Greek, Kypros
First let me say that we have always been lucky when we have booked holidays that have the resort and accommodation allocated on arrival. The apartments where we stayed were away from the bustling centre of Paphos and on the road that leads to The Tomb of The Kings and Coral Bay.
Our apartments were not luxurious but for what we paid they were more than adequate. The apartment owner was a lovely eccentric Greek Man. By day he was a Bank Manager in the city. By night, as the hotel owner, he would serve drinks behind the bar and entertain guests. His party piece was dancing with a tea towel on his head. So what I hear you say. Well on top of this piece of material there were bottles of booze and glasses balanced. It made the film Cocktail look pathetic by comparison.
Arriving on the island of Cyprus
Our flight into Cyprus was fairly unspectacular, until the last few minutes.
In order to land at the tiny coastal airport the pilot had to bank the plane over sharply. So much so that we were almost upside down. The views over the Med were stunning but not everyone thought so.
As I looked across, to get the best view of the sea, I saw that the female passenger opposite me was sat with her opened book held tightly over her head, as if she was trying to disappear.
The short landing strip was surrounded by water but we soon made it down safely.
After an efficient meet with the travel rep we were on our coach and heading to our allocated destination, Paphos. It was the January 26 and the temperature was a pleasant 56F although it was only early in the morning. The sun was shining and all was definitely right with the world.
Paphos, especially in recent years, has become quite developed. However, out of the main tourist season it was a great place to visit. It is quite a sprawling area and so we would walk into the main harbour area or the town.
Paphos has a wealth of shops, some of which can be found at home in the UK however. The locals are fluent in speaking English but still enjoy the odd Greek word if you can manage it.
There are some four star hotels near the sea front of Paphos but they can be a little pricey. However getting around and shopping on Cyprus is not too expensive.
We travelled around on the local buses a few times and also booked a couple of tours through local agents. These were good value and interesting. We visited Coral Bay, Limassol, Nicosia, The Troodos Mountains and Polis.
My husband jokingly called Coral Bay a one cat town. This was because as we approached the resort it was small and almost had tumbleweed tumbling around. However it has a great sandy beach which is sheltered by low cliffs. Despite visiting in January it was warm enough to wear swimwear and sunbathe on this beach. Not warm enough to venture into the sea though.
Limassol is a large coastal town which has many hotels. We enjoyed our visit but were glad this was not our resort. There was a medium sized zoo here which we felt uncomfortable visiting. For one thing there was a huge Tiger prowling a tiny cage which seemed to have nothing more than a weak catch holding him in. None of the animals looked unwell but their surroundings were less than ideal. Perhaps these days this zoo has improved. I certainly hope so.
We enjoyed our two visits to Nicosia. As the capital of Cyprus it certainly lived up to its title. Here you can actually see the Green Line and glimpse the Turkish half of Cyprus. Nicosia is a vibrant city and well worth a visit. We visited the Archbishop Makarios Palace in Nicosia. This is now called the Byzantine Museum. There was an impressive huge, and formidable, statute of Makarios in the grounds. In 2008 this statue was replaced with one that was a little more conservative as its predecessor was now deemed an eyesore.
Nicosia has a strange diversity of architecture which includes Turkish mosques and more.
The Troodos mountains
The Troodos Mountains are in the interior of Cyprus. The scenery is breath-taking and here you will experience many traditional Greek Villages, sights and sounds. Even in summer it can be cool in the mountains and so you need to take suitable clothing with you. One young man on our visit, in early February, wore sandals, shorts and a T Shirt. He shivered the whole day as there was snow in some of the highest parts we visited. Thankfully we had enough scarves and the like to help him out. There is skiing in the mountains in winter.
Polis and Latchi
Polis was a largely unspoilt place with much to offer. I would imagine it would be a great place to stay.
With such a diverse history there are many other attractions to visit around Cyprus. The baths of Aphrodite,The Tombs of the Kings, Aphrodite's Rock and more.
If you enjoy a lively night-life Ayia Napa may be for you.
The restaurants serve a good mixture of Greek and English dishes. For those who are unadventurous there are burger bars, English pubs and the like. However if you look around you will find that there are plenty of traditional Greek Restaurants or tavernas. The speciality is often Meze which includes small amounts of many different Greek dishes. This is a great way to find out what Greek food you like and is ideal for sharing. It is also good value.
Brandy Sours are the local tipple and use locally made Brandy. They are served in huge glasses and include:-
50 ml Brandy
25 ml Lemon squash
2 dr Angostura bitters
1 slice of fresh lemon
At the end of a meal, more often than not, the waiter will bring you a complimentary Brandy Sour or a Schnapps drink. When I declined a Brandy Sour, due to my medication, the lovely waiter kindly returned with a huge glass of ice cream, which he said was for the ladies.
Cyprus adds a tourist tax onto the price of food and dining out. You will see this added onto the bill in restaurants, for example. I think the money raised helps those citizens who were displaced when the Turks invaded in 1974.
Some places also add a tip which you have no choice about. It is up to you whether or not you leave an additional tip.
If you visit out of season you may find that the tourists tend to be older. Many older visitors travel to Cyprus for the winter and stay for extended periods of time.
Some of our fellow holidaymakers looked at buying a holiday home on Cyprus. You need to exercise caution though as this Island still has a lot of problems. Until the problems between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots are resolved remember you could easily end up in a conflict or lose your property.
Some of those who have already bought homes on the Turkish side of the Island have recently lost their homes. The properties that are for sale are often those which were left behind when Greek Cypriots fled during the Turkish invasion.
The Greek Cypriots are a lovely people. They are warm and welcoming and positively love children. Children are made welcome in restaurants and the like. In the busy tourist areas you may come across some Greeks that have become cynical due to the tourists. However, it is easy to step back in time in Cyprus and meet genuine local folk.
Please note: - The Turkish and Greek Cypriot problem is not detailed here as this is a travel journal. However the links supplied will lead any interested reader to a little of Cyprus's troubled history.
We visited in the early 90s so expect some changes although our experiences will still act as a rough guide to Cyprus.
Why we chose Malta
Hubby and I were late starters as far as foreign travel goes. We finally booked a holiday abroad that included a plane journey back in 1991. It was to Yugoslavia.
As we excitedly returned home the turned on the TV we were greeted by the sight of unrest in Yugoslavia. This quickly turned into a full scale conflict and we were left wondering just what would happen by September when we were due to visit.
Our £100 deposit would be lost if we chose to cancel and so we sat it out.
When finally later in the year the UK foreign office advised its citizens not to travel to Yugoslavia we had our deposit returned but where would we choose to visit with such short notice?
Having finally plucked up the courage and found the money to travel abroad we were determined to have a two-week vacation in a 'foreign' land.
Malta was the choice for a multitude of reasons.
Did we enjoy our holiday?
People the world over will tell you that you will either love or hate Malta and thankfully we loved it.
We flew out of Manchester airport and both Hubby and I were absolutely terrified believing we would run away when faced with getting on the plane. Somehow or another we managed it and had a fairly settled night flight to Malta.
We arrived and disembarked the plane around 7am
Despite the time and the fact that it was early September the weather was hot. It was very humid and the temperature was in the high 70s fahrenheit.
Most people had told us that it was a different heat abroad to that experienced in Summer in the UK but the weather in Malta for our vacation was similar to back home as it was so humid. Apparently it was unusual for Malta. The heat though was nothing like the UK summer and as the temperature began to rise each day we sizzled.
We had also been informed that Malta was very British and that you would come across old English telephone boxes and the like. Well, although this is true, Malta felt very foreign to us. It was our first encounter with armed army personnel in an airport and they looked very scary. The skyline of Malta was full of TV aerials and had a strange feel to it. Also, if our first glimpses of Malta were anything to go by it resembled Beirut during its worst bombings.
Our accommodation was in Bugibba, which is in St Paul's Bay
We stayed at the Santa Maria Hotel and it was fine. It was not the best hotel we have ever stayed but nowhere near the worst. As it was toward the end of the season there were a few minor problems in the room but reception tried to get things fixed. We were on a half board basis which meant we had breakfast and an evening meal in the hotel each day.
The sun was very hot each day and the air dry and dusty. The first day we browsed the books outside a nearby shop we thought that the colours were faded but itnwas as they were all covered with a fine dust.
The buildings are all pale coloured anyway as they are constructed from local stone.
The local buses are fun, if not a bit of a white knuckle ride. The driver usually have lots of crucifixes, pictures of saints and the like hanging in their seating area adding to the quirky feel.
The bus fares are quite reasonable. The main bus station is in Valletta, the island's capital.
The Sunday market in Valletta is huge but it does get very crowded.
You may see small wild birds, hi g high outside of residential properties in small cages. These are captured as they fly over Malta to migrate and make a sad sight. But worse still Malta continues to have a bad record for shooting and killing migratory birds as they wing their way over this island.
The locals speak fluent English and are very friendly.
Malta can suffer from power cuts
One night during our holiday even the street lights went out. This happened around 8pm. Any beer for sale was warm as cooling equipment stopped working. Everyone was sweating profusely.
Following a friend's advice before our vacation we had packed a torch in our luggage and were glad of this. We usually slept with the large ceiling fan switched on all night to keep cool. The power suddenly resumed at around 4am and the fan shot to life nearly frightening us to death.
We avoided tours offered by the reps as they were quite pricey
We opted for TIS Tours, which stands for tourist information. The vehicles were smaller and the excursions more personal. However the back seats of the mini vans were very bouncy and not for those who do not travel well.
The Malta Experience, in historic Valletta, details the fierce battle these plucky islanders put up against the German Nazis. Walk around Valletta or take a horse draw carriage ride. Remember to barter for the best price available.
Hubby was fascinated by the seemingly ancient models of cars being driven around the island. It would seem that Malta's dry climate has extended the life of these cars by years.
We visited Sicily and Mount Etna on a day trip. It is a long journey. Overall it was not a great visit. A better option would be an overnight stay.
We used the local bus to visit Mosta, Valletta, Sliema and took a tour to Mdina.
In Mosta there is a famous domed church which still has the huge second world war bomb, in situ, that dropped through the dome whilst the church was full. Thankfully it did not detonate.
Remember if you want to enter a church in Malta ladies must cover their shoulders and men their knees. So, women no strappy tops and men trousers, not shorts.
Our trip to Gozo and Comino was part of an organised TIS tour and the price included the ferry ticket plus transport on themislamd of Gozo.
Golden Bay has a beautiful beach area and will be perfect for those wanting a quiet vacation.
Bugibba was fine in September but does get busy and commercial in high season.
St George's and St Julian's Bay have a great nightlife if you like clubbing, loud music and a European feel. It was not for us.
We visited Mellieha quite a few times on the bus and enjoyed the sandy beach. Most of Malta's beaches are not sand. From Mellieha we took the short walk to Popeye Village on the south of the Island of Malta.
This is a small theme park built around the set of Robin Williams film Popeye. The beach here was a lovely soft sand and the waters a clear turquoise blue.
Although the water in Malta is safe for using to clean your teeth and the like it is advised that you buy bottled water.
At the time of our visit canned drinks were not sold. Drinks such as Coca-cola came in bottles which you could return to the shop when empty. We had to buy a small bottle opener though so if this is still the case it might be worth packing one.
At the time of our vacation Malta had an unfinished feel to it. There were cranes all over the island and half finished buildings. However fellow travellers told us they had visited ten years earlier and it had been the same.
Of course all of this building work means that Malta may be completely spoiled by now.
Malta has a year round tourist trade with many older people taking an extended vacation through the winter months. It does however have something for all ages.
If you accept Malta, warts and all, it is a great place to visit.
Note: Although our visit was some years ago a relative visited tecently and it seems little has changed except that in 2008 the country adopted the Euro as its currency.
Where in the world do you want to go today? One Woman uses personal experiences to show you some of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom and beyond. Enjoy!
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