RMS Olympic is probably most famous for being one of the sisters of the Titanic. She was built in 1910 and scrapped on the Tyne in 1937. Before she was dismantled completely, many of the fittings and artworks were auctioned. The then-owner of The White Swan bought the Olympic’s first-class dining room and transported it to the hotel, reconstructing it in all its splendour.
The Wieliczka salt mine, excavated from the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world's oldest operating salt mines. Today, it serves as a tourist attraction and is utterly astonishing.
Although we had never been to Auschwitz before, it all looked horribly familiar due to TV and media exposure, particularly when we came to the camp gates with the infamous ARBEIT MACHT FREI sign above them. This translates as "work sets you free" as the prisoners arriving at the camp believed they were being sent there to do hard labour.
Our first visit was to the park at Wawel (pronounced Vavel) Hill to see the legendary Wawel Dragon statue. The statue was designed by Polish sculptor Bronisław Chromy and completed in 1969; it was installed in its present location in 1972. It contains a natural gas supply and is set to ignite roughly every five minutes, leading to its fiery breath! We had noticed, in souvenir shops, there were lots of dragon ornaments and plush dragon soft toys, and now we knew why.
When the alarm shattered the silence at 3.20am it felt as if we had only been asleep for 10 minutes, as we blearily opened our eyes in the darkened Travel Lodge room. Straightaway I put the kettle on and made some coffee; we would have to wait until we were at the airport before having …
As we crossed the Firth of Forth on the new bridge, we spotted the familiar red Fred Olsen logo on the white funnels, and we also saw the former Holland America ship Rotterdam which is soon to join the Fred Olsen fleet as the newly-refurbished Borealis.
York is such a beautiful and striking city, with its old timbered buildings, some dating back to the 14th century. We set off in the direction of the Shambles, probably York's most famous street. It's simply wonderful, with old eclectic buildings, some so close together at the top you would have been able to reach out of the leaded windows and shake hands with the person in the window opposite.