Friday, February 28, 2014

5years

67000km

City, 300CE, 325Ci, 200SLK, E220, 525i, SC430, 523i, XJ6L, MX-5, Commodore, Fiesta, Tucson, V70, Superb, Megane, Meriva, Golf, Altis, 4200GT

Thursday, January 02, 2014

2013

EXC 10th Anniversary

Sheffield

Copenhagen

DTU

Prague

Aurora borealis

Reykjavik

London

Helsinki

Oslo

Bergen

Copenhagen

Den Røde Cottage

Brussels

Tivoli

Paris Disney

Paris Disney

Walt Disney Studios

Tours

Nikon D800

Tsinghua University

Beijing

Birthday

Birthday

MX-5

Aella and Teddy

EXC at Served Chilled Christmas Edition

EXC Christmas

Blue noses

Friday, March 01, 2013

127th


Here may it stand from year to year
emblem of grand endeavour
The regions round echo the sound
of A.C.S. forever.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

56'000km of protection

Honda MkIV City
Mercedes-Benz W124 300CE
BMW E30 325Ci
Mercedes-Benz R170 200SLK
Mercedes-Benz W121 E220CDI
BMW E60 525i
Lexus UZZ40 SC430
BMW F10 523i
Jaguar X350 XJ6L
Mazda NC MX-5
Holden MkIV Commodore
Ford MkVI Fiesta

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Studying in denmark

While preparing for my semester in Denmark, I realised that many online guides and help sites are written in Danish. While Google Chrome did help a fair bit, many technical terms could not be accurately described in English. In addition, some things can only be learnt hands-on. With too much time on my hands, I have decided to try and explain some important things about settling and living in Denmark.

An Amateur's Guide to Studying in Denmark

I am a 23 year old exchange student from Singapore (National University of Singapore, NUS), studying in Denmark (Technical University of Denmark, DTU) for one semester, from February to June 2013. Hence, this guide is written primarily for NUS students on exchange to DTU. Many sections will probably be relevant to all students coming to Denmark, including those from Europe on Erasmus. This guide is divided into several sections: must haves, residence permit/CPR-number, accommodation, DTU, transport, daily living (map, groceries, mobile phone, banking/money, medical care, other errands, food around lyngby), language, and travel. I hope it helps you! To give me feedback about this guide or to ask a question, click here.

Must Haves

1. CPR number (apply upon arrival)
2. Cash (especially if your credit card doesn't have a PIN)
3. Credit card (ideally with PIN number, create a bank acc after obtaining a CPR number) - Singapore cards don't have a PIN, tell the cashier that it's signature-based. The PIN (4 digits) is not the same as the PIN (6 digits) used by debit cards at the Singapore ATM, it's a European thing to fight fraud.

Residence Permit / CPR-number

Students are required to apply for a Residence Permit from the Royal Danish Embassy. After confirming the exchange with your local uni, the Danish host uni should send you papers which include a letter confirming that you are accepted on exchange and a Resident Permit Application form.

Visit the Danish immigration website (https://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/) to create a case number. Drop by the Danish embassy to apply for the Residence Permit (email to make an appointment first). Singaporeans are not required to apply for a visa, the Residence Permit is sufficient.

Once the Residence Permit is approved, the Danish embassy will email you, print a copy and bring it along to the Danish local authorities within 5 days of arriving in Denmark. Ask your accommodation office which authority your should visit. There are 98 Danish Kommunes managing the country, each takes care of a specific area. You must visit the Kommune that is in charge of your residential address.

For students living in DTU's Campus Village, the Lyngby-Taarbæk Kommune is located in Lyngby Storcentre (see map below). Bring the Residence Permit email there to apply for a CPR-number. The CPR number is a personal identification number (like Singapore's NRIC number), it is required for many applications, including bank account, prepaid mobile phone online log-in and medical care.

Accommodation

I stayed in DTU's Campus Village. Living on campus is really convenient, partly because transport is expensive, and partly because DTU has no train station of it's own so chances are you will have to make 1-2 transits if you stay nearer to Copenhagen central.

Campus Village costs around 2500kr per month, utilities and internet are provided free. There are ten single-rooms in each "container", one pantry, one shower, one toilet and one broom cupboard. There are some household items like a mop, broom and vacuum in the broom cupboard. The pantry has an oven, a stove and two refrigerators. Some container might have additional items like a microwave, kettle or rice cooker. Each room has a wardrobe, bed, table and chair. Some rooms might have more items, probably left behind by previous tenants. Some containers have a washing machine and dryer, if not, there are shared washing machines and dryers (2 each) in a central container. The Accommodation Office provides you with a "linen pack" when you move in, it contains bed sheets, blanket, pillow+case and towels (quite low quality). Here are some photos of Campus Village:

DTU Campus Village in winter
DTU Campus Village in spring
Pantry
Toilet
Shower
To be honest, Campus Village is pretty rural and communal, but it's better than nothing. Housing is in short supply, and there are a number of scams on rental websites/forums, so I decided to take what the DTU Accommodation Office offered. If possible, I would have picked a residence hall (kollegiet) on campus (eg. Kampax Kollegiet or William Demant Kollegiet), but priority for these are given to masters students. In my opinion, if you're an exchange student from Asia who's used to living at home, Campus Village is bearable for one semester. It's not ideal, but given the cheap price, it's worth putting up with the conditions and using the money to travel more. I mean, it's not all that bad.

Here are pictures of my room, when I first got the key, and after I visited Ikea. I spent about 700kr at Ikea buying rugs and a clothes rack, and 150kr buying a small kettle. Remember these are panoramic photos, the room is big, but not as big as it looks here:

Campus Village room
My room, after visiting Ikea

DTU

Some websites/links that might be helpful:
DTU
DTU Course Catalogue
DTU CampusNet (For admin purposes, similar to NUS IVLE and CORS)
DTU Portalen (For admin purposes, similar to NUS MyISIS)

DTU follows a 5-day timetable, each day is broken into two halves (morning 8am-12pm, and afternoon 1-5pm), this gives 10 groups/blocks per week. Some courses/modules might be scheduled in the evening, this might occur if the time slot allocated in the course catalog is not one of those shown in the image below (Timetable)
Timetable
A course with a time slot "F3B", means that it is held in Spring (Feb-May), occurs weekly on Fridays, from 1pm to 5pm. A course with a time slot "F2", means that it occupies both the F2A and F2B time slots (ie. Mondays 1-5pm and Thursdays 8am-12pm).

There are quite a lot of study areas in DTU, you need your student card to tap into the buildings after office hours. Printing is available for free, at the library and at some computer labs (databars/winbars - http://www.winbar.dtu.dk/).

Study area in DTU building 308
There's a canteen in DTU (building 101A), it's pretty small. There are two stores (chinese food and european food), a salad bar (serves salad, maybe pasta, smorrebrod - Danish open sandwich) and a drinks store which also has pastries. Meals cost 30kr, bottled drinks and pastries around 12kr.


DTU Canteen
DTU Canteen
DTU Canteen

Transport

In all honesty, the Danish transport system is complex and complicated, but is really more of an organised mess. In a good sense. Once you understand the system, it becomes quite manageable. One thing that confused me when I read up on the transport system was the use of the word "zone".

The word "zone" is used in two senses. Firstly, your location - which "zone" you are in, or which "zone" you wish to travel to. In the map below (Copenhagen Transport Zones), each zone is labelled, from 1 to 99. In Singapore, it's a little like saying you are in Bukit Timah - district 10.
Copenhagen Transport Zones
Secondly, the word "zone" also refers to your distance traveled. This will tell you how much your transport fare is. For example, the map above is something that appears at bus stops and trains stations. The red colored zone (zone 1, above) shows where you currently are. Let's say you want to travel from Kobenhavn H (Copenhagen Central Station, zone 1, shown in red) to DTU (zone 51, shown in purple).

Refer to the table at the bottom right corner, the rows (farve-zone) show you how many zones (distance) you are traveling, and hence how much fare is required. A number '5' is printed over the purple color row. This means your journey from Kobenhavn (zone 1) to DTU (zone 51) will cost "5 zones".

There are several ways to pay for your journey. I recommend using the klippekort for the first week or so, afterwhich you can decide if you'd rather the Rejsekort (more convenient) or the monthly pass (cheaper if you travel a lot). Find a travel route and fare on the Rejseplanen website, similar to gothere.sg. There is a counter at the airport, so you can purchase train tickets there, they're quite helpful.

(1) Single trip ticket
Purchased from ticket machines (use coins or card) or on your mobile phone (1415.dk or Mobilbilletter app), enter your start location and destination, and pay for a single trip.

(2) Klippekort (clip-card)
Purchased from ticket machines or stores (eg. 7-Eleven). The photo below (Klippekort) shows two 2-zoner clip-cards (blue), and one 3-zoner clip-card (yellow). The blue 2-zoner card allows you to take 10 2-zone journeys. The card is valid for one hour from the time stamped by the machine, meaning that you must complete your journey within one hour. Looking at the middle clip-card, the stamp at the bottom reads 15-15-27-\-41-P18.

This means that it was stamped at 15:15 (3:15pm), on 27 Jan, in zone 41, by machine P18. Since it is a 2-zoner card, this means I am allowed to travel anywhere within zone 41, and any zone adjacent (see the map above: zones 31, 40, 42, 51, 52) from 3:15pm to 4:15pm. I can make multiple trips, or go back and forth, so long as I stay within the zones allowed and within the time limit.

Before boarding the train, or upon boarding the bus, insert the clip-card in the yellow box to get it "clipped". To travel from Kobehavn (zone 1) to DTU (zone 51), which costs 5 zones, you can use a 5-zoner clip-card (cheapest), or use a combination of 2s and 3s. I can clip the 2-zoner once and the 3-zoner once, this gives me 5 zones worth (2+3), just show both clip-cards if the inspector comes along.

I can also clip the 3-zoner twice, or the 2-zoner thrice, giving me 6 zones worth (wasting 1 zone worth), clipping more is fine. If traveling with a friend, I can clip the 2-zoner twice and the 3-zoner twice, giving me 10 zones worth. So my friend and I both get 5 zones each. It's alright to share clip-cards, so long as the total zones clipped meets your fare requirements.
***I think the klippekorts might be phased out soon
Klippekort

(3) Rejsekort
Purchased online (requires CPR number) or in stores, works as a stored value card. Tap when you board the bus/train, tap when you alight, the fare is automatically calculated and deducted. Works like Singapore's EZ-link.

(4) Multitrip ticket
Purchased on the Mobilbilletter app

(5) Monthly pass
Purchased in stores (eg. 7-Eleven), bring a passport photo.

The closest station to DTU is Lyngby Station, there are a few buses that connect DTU to the station, it's about 1.2km away, which is a pleasant walk when the weather is good.

Red DSB S-Train
Lyngby Station
Movia bus
Copenhagen Central Station

Daily Living

The cost of living in Denmark is high, prices in general are higher than in Singapore and the UK. Meals at a cafe start around 80-120dkk per person. A five minute taxi ride will cost 80dkk at least, public transport fares start from 15dkk (DTU to Kobehavn will cost 30dkk). Car rental is surprisingly affordable though, it might be more worth it to rent a car if you need to move luggage to/from the airport. A taxi will cost 600kr, a car will be around 650kr for one day, cheaper for longer periods. I recommend DanTaxi (good service, http://www.dantaxi.dk/) and Europcar (good prices and there's an outlet near Lyngby station, http://www.europcar.com/car-DENMARK.html).

On the map below (Lyngby-DTU), I marked out several areas which might be helpful.
Lyngby-DTU
101A: DTU Building 101A (Admin building, library, canteen)
X: DTU Campus Village
A: Lyngby Station (7-Eleven, Fakta supermarket, Netto supermarket, post office across the road)
B: Lyngby Hovedgade (couple of eateries and cafes including a kebab store and an Indian take-away)
C: Danske Bank, Nordea Bank (Magasin opposite)
D: Lyngby Storcenter (Kommune, Fotex supermarket, cafes, restaurants and retail shops, cinema opposite)
E: Lyngby Lokal Station (kind of like a Singapore LRT station, nothing much there)
F: Ikea, McDonald's, Toys R Us, Giganten (IT/home appliance store)
G: ALDI supermarket, some small cafes (seems like a small quiet heartland centre)
H: DognNetto supermarket

Lyngby Hovedgade
Ikea Gentofte


Groceries
The price of groceries can vary, depending on the supermarket. On a thrifty budget, weekly groceries for one person would probably start around 300kr, assuming you cook most meals. There are several supermarkets within walking distance of DTU.

Fakta, Netto and ALDI are the cheapest supermarkets, although the selection can be quite limited. Fotex is mid-range and has a good spread of goods. The DognNetto located in DTU is expensive, it seems more like a larger version of 7-Eleven, I'd probably only go there if I need food urgently, or if I'm really too lazy to walk to Storcentre. Opposite Storcenter is a department store Magasin which has premium brands that are generally more expensive.
Dogn Netto in DTU
Mobile Phone
Once you have a CPR number, you can visit lebara.dk to obtain a SIM card for free (plus complementary 10dkk credit). Alternative if you have yet to receive your CPR number, you can ask Lebara to verify your address by post, they send the verification letter (in Danish) within a few days. I used a prepaid SIM card and added data for 49dkk (1GB, 31days).

Banking/Money
From what I understand, there isn't any Danish Bank with a retail presence in Singapore, nor is there any international bank with a headquarters in Denmark. I brought cash to Denmark and opened an account at Nordea Bank. The account was free, and they gave a Visa Electron card which could be used at ATMs and in stores. The card has no chip though, it has to be swiped. The exchange rate was really good when I used the card to draw Euro in Paris, about 0.5% away from the interbank rate, much better than money changers.

You might want also to consider Danske Bank (they have an ATM right in DTU building 101A). I didn't use Danske because the queue was too long when I went to open an account, and Nordea was right across the road with no queue. Note that Danske might charge for account opening, around 400dkk when I emailed to ask. Danske Bank also has a Foreign Student Service, which allows you to open an account before reaching Denmark, and before obtaining your CPR number. However, the admin charges etc cost around 600dkk.

The exchange rate to buy krone at money changers differ greatly from the interbank rates (about 5-12%, rates are equally lousy in Denmark and abroad. Singaporeans might consider checking out Change Alley, the rates are pretty competitive there). In addition, many money changers don't hold much Krone, so obtaining Danish Krone might be a hassle. If you are unable to obtain a decent exchange rate, you might want to consider doing a bank draft (ask your local bank), or a bank transfer (telegraphic transfer). The bank transfer can be done via DBS iBanking, the admin details can be obtained from the Nordea Bank website.

If you'll only be in Denmark for one semester, it might be much more convenient to simply use your  card and draw from any ATM. Most ATMs have the Cirrus and Maestro logos, so an international ATM/credit card will work. Find out about the admin charges (usually S$5-15, or 1-3%) and exchange rate charges (usually 1.5%-2.5%) first though.

As a side note, it might be possible to work part-time in Denmark, hourly pay starts around S$20 (100kr). A number of my classmates work part-time on weekends, like delivering newspapers or at fast-food chains, or even at the school office. DTU hires students to assist with admin work at various offices.

Another side note, many restaurants and stores charge about 3-4% surcharge if you use a foreign credit card. The best option is really to bring cash and deposit it in any Danish bank.

Nordea Bank Visa Electron card
Medical Care
After registering at the kommune, you will be assigned to a doctor nearby and you should receive a yellow colored health insurance card. I was assigned to a doctor located about 1km from DTU. The nearest hospital is in Gentofte, which is about 10mins drive from DTU (close to where Ikea is, http://www.gentoftehospital.dk/menu/).

Alternatively, you can visit a pharmacy for less urgent issues. Matas runs a health-care store, mainly with non-prescription medicine or creams. There are Matas outlets in Lyngby Storcentre and along Lyngby Hovegade, there are also outlets elsewhere, like at Copenhagen Central Station (http://www.matas.dk/). For pharmacy-medicine, visit an Apotek. There is one along Lyngby Hovegade, and near Copenhagen Central Station. They are pretty helpful, and medicine is decently priced (http://www.apoteket.dk/).

Other errands
There's a post office opposite Lyngby station, there's also an automated machine to weigh parcels buy stamps (http://www.postdanmark.dk/). There's parcel delivery thing next the Dogn Netto in DTU, for receiving parcels (I think).

There's a gym (Fitness World) opposite Lyngby station, next to the post office, membership is about 250kr per month (http://www.fitnessworld.dk/). There's also a gym in DTU building 101B, membership is about 500kr for a semester (http://www.idraet.dtu.dk/Fitness/). The school gym is decently quiet in the morning, and on weekends. It closes once in a while, for major events held in the sports hall, like open houses or exams.

There's a photo shop near Lyngby station (the row of shops just outside Lyngby station), in case you need to get a passport photo. Highly recommended, the owner is really friendly and helpful. He even helped me google and print contact information for a bigger camera store, when I walked in to ask if he did Nikon lens rentals.

There are a few computer shops in Lyngby Storcentre, and one more near Lyngby station, for computer accessories.

Food around Lyngby
Lyngby Storcentre has a few cafes which are decent priced for Danish standards. Kong Kaffe has a lunch burger promotion (79kr), Cafe Fratelli has nice pasta and pizza (a little salty, around 80kr per dish), Butterfly Cafe has nice pasta (80kr).

Opposite Storcentre, beside the cinema box office, there are some eateries. The chinese food was below average, burger king was nice (75kr for a meal), shawarma was nice (40-90kr depending).

Along Lyngby Hovegade (see map above), there are retail shops and cafes. Lagkagehuset has a wide selection of Danish pastries (60kr for a bun and coffee), Baresso serves nice coffee (Danish company, 40kr for a cup), there's an indian cafe, a few quiet pubs, and a few more coffee houses/cafes. If you like coffee, you must visit Baresso, it's the only place I could find decent coffee in Denmark (and maybe Starbucks bottled coffee).

Pasta at Butterfly Cafe
Shawarma

Language 

So far everyone I've spoken to can understand English, and speak it to a decent extent. Communication definitely isn't an issue. The only problem occurs when trying to read a restaurant menu, use a Danish-only automated machine, open a bank account (documents are in Danish, the bank staff might briefly explain it to you), or read a letter (from a mobile phone company, or from the bank). I ended up translating phrases of Danish using Google Translate, to find out what the letter that came with my ATM card meant.

Surviving without Danish is possible, but learning phrases would probably make things slightly more convenient. Personally, I think it depends on how long you'll be in Denmark. For a semester-long exchange, a couple of phrases should be sufficient (try looking for Danish language podcasts online, there are some short lessons available for free). For a 2-year masters, you might want to consider taking Danish language classes available at DTU and at the Kommune for free (ask when you settle your residence permit).

Travel

Copenhagen Airport is small but pleasant, the security checkpoint is really efficient. I was really impressed one day when the baggage system broke down, and they had to revert to a manual system, announcements were clear and my flight wasn't delayed at all. If you travel on budget airlines, like EasyJet, expect a long walk to the gate. There are many eateries and shops in the airport, if you plan to shop, you must produce a boarding pass to a non European country to enjoy a tax refund. If you shop in Copenhagen (or any where in Europe), try to shop at stores which tie up with Tax Refund or Global Blue, else getting a tax refund is pretty troublesome. You'll have to get a customs stamp at the airport, then post the receipt back to the store to get a refund (if that's even possible). If the store tied up with Tax Refund or Global Blue, you can bring the item to the counter at the airport and get the money back immediately.

Copenhagen Airport

Here are the places I visited, Copenhagen is my favourite, followed closely by Reykjavik then Bergen. Click here for photos I took in Europe, or click on the links below for a specific destination.

Belgium - Brussels
Date: 19-22 Apr 2013
Not much to see around Brussels centre, but a must go for chocolate lovers. I don't regret going, Brussels is probably a second priority destination, if you've seen other places or if you find a good deal. (Photos here)
Grote Markt, Brussels
Czech Republic - Prague
Date: 22-25 Feb 2013
Many old building and nice architecture, but way too many tourists. Attractions could have been organized better. A must go for people who like old buildings, skip this if you prefer large open spaces. (Photos here)
Old Royal Palace, Prague
Denmark - Copenhagen
Date: 28-31 Jan 2013, 25-28 Apr 2013
Small number of museums and palaces, but very well conserved and maintained, impressive organization and presentation. Highly recommended, surprising why Scandinavia isn't a more popular tourist destinations in Europe. I wouldn't mind going back to Copenhagen. (Photos - here and here)
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen

Denmark - Odense, Billund
Date: 1-5 Apr 2013
Can consider renting a car if you want to travel across Denmark. Odense was a quiet town, fans of H. C. Anderson's works should visit Odense and Funen. I went to Billund to see the Legoland, but it's really quite kiddy, similar to the Windsor legoland. I would recommend Odense. (Photos here)
Funen Village, Odense

Finland - Helsinki
Date: 23-24 Mar 2013
Pretty quiet, maybe because it was close a weekend, I didn't get to see much and most of the shops and restaurants were closed. I took an overnight cruise to Stockholm, it was a pretty nice experience. (Tallink M/S Silja Serenade) I would not recommend Helsinki. (Photos here)
Senate Square, Helsinki

France - Paris Disney
Date: 8-10 May 2013
Nice experience. The Disney Village was smaller than expected though (Smaller the California's Universal CityWalk). Budget extra, everything is expensive. Must go if you haven't visited a Disneyland. Or if you have, why not go again, it's Disney! (Photos here)
Main Street, Disneyland, Paris

France - Tours (Loire Valley)
Date: 11-13 Mar 2013
If you're coming down from Paris, you might want to consider a nearer town along the Loire (eg. Orleans). That being said, I've no regrets picking Tours. The chateaus are nice and well conserved (though somewhat pricey). If you're a fan of castles, a week might be more appropriate, and you probably can drive along the Loire. Rent a car, it's much easier than looking for public transport. I would recommend Tours. (Photos here)
Château de Villandry, Villadry

Iceland - Reykjavik
Date: 1-4 Mar 2013
Highly recommended. I went mainly for the northern lights, but I really enjoyed the open space and the carefree feel. I visited Blue Lagoon, which is an outdoor thermal "pool", it's nice, better designed than the one I visited in Japan. Thingvellir National Park (or Pingvellir or Þingvellir) is nice too, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site. Rent a car and drive out of the city, or if you've enough time drive further north. I would like to go again. (Photos here)
Thingvellir National Park, Blaskogabyggo

Netherlands - Amsterdam
Date: 9-11 Feb 2013
I was pretty unimpressed by the tourist attractions, and the dutch people weren't exactly friendly. The train station staff were really hostile. De Wallen, the famous red light district, was also much small and much more run down than expected. Don't buy the tourist card, it's overpriced and not worth it at all. I would not recommend Amsterdam, unless you find a really good deal or you have nowhere else to go. (Photos here)
De Wallen, Amsterdam

Norway - Oslo
Date: 26-28 Mar 2013
A nice city. Many museums, and supposedly famous for coffee. There are museums around the Viking Ship Museum, around the city centre, and near the botanical gardens, they're all pretty nice. The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology isn't too bad also, if you have extra time on the way to the airport. I tried Java Espressobar (Tim Wendelboe was closed), the coffee is really smooth. I would recommend Oslo. (Photos here)
Akershus Fortress, Oslo

Norway - Bergen
Date: 28-30 Mar 2013
A really nice seaside town. The famous Bryggen habour is beautiful (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the fishmarket was a nice experience. If you've time you might want to drive further or take a tour to one of the nicer fjords. The floibanen funicular is a must see, a train takes you up to the top of mt floyen, which overlooks Bergen. The Maritime Museum and the Aquarium are nice too. I wouldn't mind going back to Bergen. (Photos here)
View from My Floyen, Bergen
Bryggen at night, Bergen

Sweden - Stockholm
Date: 25-26 Mar 2013
I took an overnight cruise from Helsinki, which was a nice experience. Stockholm central was interesting, and the old town Gamla Stan is pretty quaint. There are many H&M stores all over, with different retail spreads in each. I would recommend Stockholm. (Photos here)
Old Town Square, Stockholm
UK - Bicester
Date: 23 Jan 2013
A shopping holiday. The brand names in Bicester were more expensive than expected though. I was expecting a factory outlet like those in US, with more mid-range brands in addition to high level brands. Still, many good deals if you're patient and energetic enough. I stayed at a Premier Inn, really good value, highly recommended. Must go if you like shopping, or if you know what you want. (Photos here)
Bicester Village, Bicester

UK - London
Date: 15-18 Mar 2013
When I went the weather was rainy and dreary. Having been twice before, this visit was a bit boring because of the weather. But still, it's London. Recommended if you haven't been before, or if you've been and like it, I guess. (Photos here)
Westminster, London

UK - Sheffield
Date: 12-21 Jan 2013
A university town, quiet and peaceful. Not much to see, unless you like hiking and walking. (Photos here and from my previous trip, here)
City Centre, Sheffield

UK - Stratford-upon-Avon
Date: 22 Jan 2013
A must see for Shakespeare fans. It's a quaint old town, a nice stop over place. I would recommend Stratford-upon-Avon (Photos here)
Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon

UK - Warwick
Date: 24 Jan 2013
Warwick castle was somewhat disappointing. It seems overly tourisy, and doesn't really feel like a medival castle. I seems a bit like a museum exhibition. Still it's not bad, many old quaint tea rooms. If you're driving north from Bicester, Warwick is a nice place to stop by. (Photos here)
Warwick Castle, Warwick