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Posts from the ‘England’ Category

Hills and Home

Unintentionally, my last few days in London involved exploring Primrose Hill and Notting Hill…see a theme? From Primrose Hill there is a nice view out above London. Also it is a lovely walk back down through Regents Park.

View of London from Primrose

Regents Park is full of rose bushes and charming (as long as they are not your own) children playing cricket (which I found to be wonderfully stereotypical and British).

Anyone for a game?

Tree Line(d)

There is also a canal that one has to cross to get into the park (the London Zoo is also in this park) which has barges and reminded me a bit of the canals in Amsterdam:

Canal

This afternoon after my exam and after lunch at a fun sushi place where you sit at a bar and food rotates on a conveyor belt (which leads you to take more food and spend more money than intended), I headed to Notting Hill to find Hugh Grant or just bargain shop (the later and not former happened). Portobello is a great street and has fun house paint colors:

Yellow, Blue and Others

Sadly the weather was being very English, just look at those ominous clouds (which of course led to a huge downpour for about 15 minutes):

Clouds!

Well all of my bags are nearly packed and I am getting myself mentally ready for my long flight home tomorrow. England, it has been fun. God save the Queen and all of that good stuff and Europe we will meet soon again if I have any say in it. It has been a trip to say the least. Here is the count: 7 months, 8 countries, 2 islands, 1 principality and 4 cellphones! Hope to post some photos of California adventures (I have decided to take advantage of my hometown and the great nature around and explore places that I have taken for granted for years) soon. Till then, happy weekend everyone!

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Quick – The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!

The moment finally came this past weekend when I was able to make a “the British are coming” joke, because actually they were coming towards us:

Red Coats

On Saturday a friend and I decided to take a tour outside of the city. The main stops were Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath (it was one of these bus tours and for 64 pounds, including entrance tickets, was a good deal, Premium tours if you are interested). We got on the bus and noticed that there was a large group of Japanese tourists. Our guide was the quintessential older British women. She began explaining our day and then all of sudden started speaking fluent Japanese – it was a bit mind-blowing.

As I said, our first stop was to pay the Queen a visit (she was home, the flag was up). Sadly my people must not have gotten in touch with her people soon enough because I was not invited for tea (my people have since lost their jobs).

A Country Home

Windsor is everything you would expect from a castle fit for royalty:

Tower Power

The part beyond the fence is where they keep the flat screen TVs and everything else (aka the part where the Queen lives).

Where the Queen Lives

During our drive in the country we saw some traditional thatch roof houses:

Thatched Roof

The next stop was by far the best of the day. Okay, I am exaggerating this. Stonehenge must be one of the most talked up things on this Earth and it really just ends up being a large pile of rocks. Nonetheless, I was thoroughly amused and proceeded to take lots of photos. Diana and I also made a nice friend. His name was Arthur. He is a Druid. He discovered he was a Druid when he met other Druids. He told us he really likes nature. Nice guy:

New Best Friend

And here it is in all of its glory:

Awesome Rocks

More Awesomeness

Next up was the town of Bath. Bath really is charming. Jane Austen lived here and we drove by her home.

Bath

Before going to see the Roman baths, we made the right choice of afternoon hot chocolate (dark amazing melted chocolate) and scones. Scones are one thing that the Brits have done incredibly well (and the creme and jam that comes with it isn’t shaddy either):

Scone

In the town of Bath we noticed some odd Donnie Darko-esque scultpures…hmm…

Donnie Darko

Then Diana and I made another new friend. He was a Roman soldier. Now he just hangs out at the Roman baths (which happen to be the only thermal baths in England).

Second BFF

I went against the signs and touched the water, it is actually pretty warm. A dip would have been nice:

Bath

Care for a dip?

And on the way back into London we had about 2.5 hours of nice country views:

In the Land of Jane Austen

Alright back to studying for me, final exam on Friday and then Saturday *gulp* I am finally going back to the States. Weird to think that since I have been gone a new President has been leading our country and California has finally decided on a budget. I’ve also decided to keep this blog for future travels, my writings, things I cook, and because it keeps me taking photos on a regular basis. The posts probably won’t be as frequent when fall semester beings, but I will continue posting. Look for one last post from England in the upcoming days.

I See London…

Nothing is certain in London but expense. – William Shenstone

Still playing catch-up, this post is about my adventures from last weekend which are nothing compared to this weekend but like any good TV show you will have to stayed tuned for that in another posting. As far as London being quite expensive – it is. And as if converting in my head wasn’t getting me down enough, I decided that last Friday I needed to go to Harrods (the Mecca of all department stores). It was incredibly overwhelming to say the least (think everything you could ever want to buy and an entire room on the food floor devoted to chocolate). However, it was very interesting people watching; from posh Londoners to veiled women from the Middle East. If you are wondering if I bought anything, the answer is no, looking was quite enough.

The next day I decided to pay the Tower of London a proper visit. And I bumped into some old friends:

Tower People

The Tower houses the crown jewels as well as foreboding looking towers where naughty people were usually kept before they were disposed of in one way or another.

Not a Happy Place

The guards that work at the Tower actually live there. I don’t think they live in these cute houses though:

House Guard

The Tower is also home to London’s famous ravens. If the ravens ever disappear it won’t be a good thing for London, or so the story goes:

Ravens

After an over-priced panino (because panini is the plural) I went to see Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. It was neat because the actors were rehearsing for the opening of a new show so our tour stayed and watched about 30 minutes of an epic battle sequence:

To Be or Not to Be

Speaking of actors, I walk through Covent Garden often and there are always performers doing something silly and usually telling the same jokes as other performers:

Flying Knives

This Friday, we went on the annual LSE river boat disco (which after a few hours and high drink prices stops being fun rather quickly). The views of London from the Thames were beautiful and the clouds and sky were especially beautiful after a day of rain:

Thames Clouds

Looking Up

Best of luck to everyone starting a new week. Oh Monday…

In the Land of Pubs, Princes and Ponts

This is England/The land of illegal dances/This is England/Land of a thousand stances. – The Clash “This is England”

I am sitting in my dorm room listening to the Beatles (yes, it is wonderfully stereotypical!) and it is raining outside. So I figured I would write about sunny days and avoid my reading (okay I will do it later, but this is a reward for finishing my paper). My class has been really interesting so far. It is about international media and our guest speakers have been fantastic – from BBC  reporters to freelance photographers who were embedded with troops in Afghanistan.

Now for some photos. London has loads of wonderful parks (much larger than Parisian parks) so when the weather is nice everyone heads out:

Sit

When Alana was still here we headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is one of those very symbolic buildings and the Brits did everything to keep the Nazi’s from destroying it during WWII.

St. Paul

You can climb up and get a nice view of the surrounding area (which happens to cover most major monuments, you will be out of breath, or maybe I am just out of shape):

The Higher Up the Better

From Behind

And for those who don’t speak French pont means bridge:

Thames Time

Remember that good old favorite “London Bridge is falling down, falling down?” Well turns out that the real London Bridge is probably the most disappointing bridge I have ever seen:

Disappointing

The Tower bridge on the other hand is quite nice:

A Bridge

Camden Market! Let me sing your praises. This market is fantastic for clothing, jewelry and cool crafty things. It is also fun because you can barter with people (I bought a dress for 15 that was around 20). There are loads of food stands and this area of London seems to be for the punks not the yuppies (and the tourists, of course!).

Bargain Time

I spoke of parks so I should mention Hyde Park. This is a beautiful park and the sunshine made it even nicer. The fountain below is the Princess Diana memorial and it is nicely designed (even if they messed up while building it) and now kids can play in it.

Memorial Fountain

This park seems to be full of memorials. A queen (forgot which one) built this for her husband and I remember reading in my guidebook that she outlived him by 40 years but she stayed in mourning the whole time (I secretly think that she had a harem of men).

Another Memorial

And right in Hyde Park is Kensington Palace and the gardens that go along with it:

Gardens, English Gardens

And now what you have all been waiting for: the food update. I was warned, London will be sad compared to Paris. Truth be told – it’s true. The food here isn’t exactly anything to write home about (although I am told the high end restaurants are quite good, but I am on a student budget and let’s just say the pound is still winning out over the dollar). So fish and chips – are a nice name for glorified fish sticks and french fries. Pub food is cheap and okay but again nothing to tell mom about in a letter. What the Brits did get right is ale and Pim’s (a wonderful liquor). As far as my macaron withdrawals, no need to worry, there is a Laduree here in London because if it’s good, just import it from France!

One feature that I especially like about the parks are the fantastic lounge chairs. Just be forewarned, once you sit down, you will not want to get up!

Lounging

And as they say here in London, cheers, enjoy your Fridays and the weekend.

London Calling

After a week of classes (I am now procrastinating and not doing work – isn’t that what Sunday nights are for?) I am a bit tired. My class is interesting and there are people from all over the world which makes for good discussions. But again, I must play catch up so I will be writing about the glorious sunny days Alana and I had before she went back to the States and before I started class and before it started raining (yes, London can be dreary and depressing).

Union Jack

Alana and I were productive in our sightseeing. In the museum realm, we visited the British Museum (below) where we saw the Rosetta Stone (and of course they have wonderful artifacts that the British stole from all over the world). We also visited the Tate Modern which I highly recommend if you are a fan of modern art.

British Museum

But since the weather was so nice it was hard to stay indoors, but to get places one must take the Underground (which has some of the scariest escalators in a Metro system). The Tube is a bit disappointing; the Metro in Paris was much more regular and had fewer technical issues.

Tube

Down, down, down

On our many walks we saw interesting people. I like the way school kids have to dress here:

Preps

There are many pianos all over the city which are there for anyone to play. I think it is a nice idea:

Play It

And of course there are some amusing street performers. We saw this one right before we got on the London Eye (an overpriced but once in a lifetime necessary ride):

Lost My Head

We got to see some nice views from the Eye and I can’t complain about the weather we had:

Fancy Ride

Behind the Bars

View from the Park

After we got off the Eye we stood by the river for a little. A young girl was blowing some bubbles:

Bubble

The next day Alana and I went to Westminster Abbey (which by the way had the best audio guide of any place I have been to). So after a morning of religion we went to Leister Square to buy theater tickets. Turns out we stumbled into the middle of the Gay Pride parade. That only means one thing – can you guess? Boy George! Yes the man(?) himself was there so we listened to him sing (he is wearing the pink top hat in this photo, okay start playing Where is Boy George?):

Boy oh Boy

Really, it was a fantastic day. I hope everyone has a good Monday. I will post more in the next few days and hopefully finally catch-up with my posts.