Eastern Europe: Pt 9 – The Journey Home

After a fascinating trip which took in the Polish City of Krakow, the haunting remains of Auschwitz/Auschwitz Birkenau, and the town of Zakopane high in the mountains, it was time to head home, but the adventure didn’t stop there. It’s amazing what you can see from a plane on a clear day…

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Krakow – Poland

Flying out of Krakow International Airport, we were able to look back and get the best view yet of the city, as centuries of history lay in 1 great expanse before us. If you actually zoom into the picture a bit, right to the centre you can even make out the towers around the Market Square, of the Cathedral and the former Town Hall, as well as the Castle Complex atop Wawel Hill not far away.

It was a fitting send off to a magnificent city, as we left Poland behind us…

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Pardubice – Czech Republic

Leaving Polish airspace, we began our journey over the neighbouring Czech Republic, and the 1st major place we encountered was the city of Pardubice. It is easily characterised from the air by the airport at the Southern end of town, which, whilst technically a military installation, is also used for commercial flights, particularly during the Summer months.

Pardubice is a very historic city, with a large central square where you will find the “Green Tower”, a large Clock Tower which dominates the skyline. Snaking its way around the town to the North, and just visible in the lower portion of the picture, is the Labe River, the 2nd longest river in the whole country.

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Prague – Czech Republic

Just 62 miles West of Pardubice we flew over a much larger settlement, and when I got home I finally managed to match up the pictures with satellite images of the area, concluding beyond reasonable doubt that it was the city of Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.

Prague was founded over 1000 years ago, and has been the capital city of various Empires and countries ever since. By 1348 Prague was the new capital of the Holy Roman Empire, after Charles IV (1316 – 1378) moved his court there. In 1918 it would also become the capital of Czechoslovakia, a joint state comprised of the Czech Republic and Slovakia which broke away from the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I. The Union remained in place until 1993 when the 2 countries split, and Prague is currently the capital of the Czech Republic.

Its most famous landmark has to be the great Cathedral of St Vitus which towers over much of the city. Not far away lies Prague Castle, whose history can be traced back centuries, although the modern incarnation was only completed in 1929, and is the official residence of the countries President.

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Scarborough – England

Prague was the last stop in mainland Europe I could discern for definite from the pictures I had taken, so it was on to the North Sea, where England came into view. We were level with the Yorkshire town of Scarborough, famous for its charming harbour, sea views, and Medieval Castle Ruins which sit atop the large hill that protrudes seawards from the mainland, shown above.

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North Yorkshire Coast – England

We continued North along the coast, being treated to some truly fantastic views across North East Yorkshire, as we headed for the next major seaside town…

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Whitby – England

We were soon flying past Whitby, easily identifiable thanks to the 2 stone piers that provide shelter for the towns harbour. Whitby has a number of other famous landmarks, including the ruins of Whitby Abbey, which is situated up on top of the cliff just to the left of the river Esk, which empties out into the North Sea here.

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Teeside – England

We soon reached the border between the historic counties of Yorkshire, and County Durham to the North, marked by the River Tees, shown above. It is 1 of three major rivers that we would be flying past before we reached Newcastle Airport, and each has a large industrial setting, along with a major town or city.

The Mouth of the Tees is surrounded by numerous towns, with Redcar in Yorkshire directly to the left of the river, and Hartlepool in County Durham to the right. The largest town in the area, Middlesbrough (Yorkshire), is visible further upstream where the river begins to bend, and includes such famous landmarks as the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough Town Hall and the historic Transporter Bridge. You can find out more about the town of Middlesbrough in my dedicated post from an earlier visit here.

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County Durham Coastline – England

Living in Lancashire, I am used to flights leaving from/arriving into Liverpool John Lennon, Manchester, Blackpool and Leeds/Bradford Airports, so I haven’t actually flown up the English East Coast before. Needless to say it was a fantastic treat for me, and the views continued to be incredible, as we made it to the coastline of County Durham.

A lovely sunset shone across the North Sea, but we still had a few places left to see…

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Wearside – England

The 2nd major river mouth we passed was that of the River Wear, also known as Wearside, still in County Durham. The City of Sunderland is located on both banks of the Wear, and if you look to the centre of the picture, just below the bend in the river you can see the “Stadium of Light”, the home ground of Sunderland A.F.C.. Near the mouth of the river you can see the vast expanse of Sunderland Docks, which historically traded in Coal and Salt.

Protecting the entrance to the harbour are 2 large stone piers, each with a Lighthouse on the end, whilst in the city centre you can visit such sights as the Wearmouth Bridge, the Winter Gardens and take a trip on the Tyne & Wear Metro, which runs from Sunderland round towards the nearby city of Newcastle. You can find out more about the city of Sunderland in my dedicated post here.

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Tyneside – England

Our final picture, and also our 3rd major river, covers the area known as “Tyneside”, located around the River Tyne, which runs into the North Sea near the top of the picture.

On the far side of the river is the settlement of North Shields, historically in County Durham, known for its large parks which lead down to the beach, and impressive Town Hall. Sitting opposite North Shields is Tynemouth on the coast, with its famous Castle Ruins on a hill overlooking the beach. Just to the left of Tynemouth is North Shields’s twin town of South Shields, which it is connected to by the Shields Ferry.

You can find out more about North Shields in my post here, and South Shields in my post here.

The large city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is just out of shot to the right, in the historic county of Northumberland, and holds the distinction of being the largest settlement in the North East of England. Find out more in my post here.

At the bottom of the picture you can see a Lighthouse, which sits on St Mary’s Island, looking back towards the town of Whitley Bay. St Mary’s Lighthouse was built in 1898, by a local company from Tynemouth called John Miller & Co. It was a modern replacement for a small Chapel from the 11th century which had been used as a lantern tower to warn ships of the dangerous rocks as they neared the coast. Although it’s no longer used, it remains an important local landmark, and a popular visitor attraction.

Not long after we flew past the Lighthouse, we were touching down at Newcastle International Airport, back where we started at the beginning of our adventure into Eastern Europe. Although we were home, there were plenty of new adventures around Britain waiting for us…

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