In a city that has seen centuries of culture and history leave its mark, our generation demands recognition. London’s grounds are covered in ancient buildings, all marvels of architecture at their time. Jutting through the well-preserved art are momentous skyscrapers with innovative designs stealing the surveying tourists eye. The conflict between old and new is viewable in every street. This is London, and it is astounding!
Rob and I were in London for three nights and four days. It was an exceptionally educational trip. Rob is really a magnificent travel buddy. He is very organized and very skilled at finding places to go. We had an itinerary for the entire trip that not only gave an outline of each day, but included the history of places we would visit and a map for each day.
We took a coach into London and arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon. From the coach station we travelled through the London Underground to see the Monument to the Great Fire of London. This is a free standing column. It happens to stand 202 feet tall, making it the tallest isolated stone column in the world. It was impressive, but I was ready to move on to a coffee shop when a lady stopped us. She told us it was worth the 3 pounds to go up the column, just for the view. So we took her advice, and on the way up, I regretted it. Inside the column is a spiral staircase all the way to the top. You can’t just stop to rest on your way up, because other tourists are waiting behind you. We finally made it to the top, and the view absolutely made it worth it. An ancient and modern city stretched out on all the sides of the column. Everywhere we looked was breath-taking.
After the column we made our way to our first of many museums. The first museum was actually a gallery. On the way to the gallery, we stopped at the London Stone. It is said that as long as the London Stone is safe, London will prosper. I wasn’t too impressed. It was just a regular looking rock inside a gate in the middle of the sidewalk. I am sure people (and tourists) walked past it daily with out realizing what it was.
Something I instantly appreciated about London was the free admission to most museums. This included the Guildhall Art Gallery. I love art galleries, so this was the perfect place to start. In addition, Rob loves Roman history. It just so happens that in the basement of the gallery are the remains of a Roman amphitheatre that once stood in London. The gallery itself was beautiful. There were endless paintings, some of which I recall learning about in high school. The centrepiece of the largest gallery is John Singleton Copley’s huge painting The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar.
Below are some of the larger art pieces that I found interesting. The last one is depicting the trial of William Wallace. I thought it was interesting because of how little he looks like Mel Gibson. Rob and I had a good laugh about that.
After the gallery, we walked through a really new/modern part of London, toward the Museum of London. The streets were so clean, lined with glimmering glass skyscrapers. On the streets, everyone was dressed in expensive suits and formal clothing. I was still wearing my travel clothes (sweatpants and a hoodie), thus I felt very out of place. I also had just finished my snack and was walking around with an apple core for 10 minutes. I could not find a trash bin anywhere! It was pretty frustrating and ironic considering it was the cleanest place I have been to in all of England.
Anyway, when we arrived at the Museum of London, we didn’t have a lot of time. It was mostly full of Roman artifacts. Knowing we were going to the British Museum and, a few weeks later, Rome, we rushed through the exhibits. Our main point of going to the museum was to see the remains of the Roman walls that once surrounded London.
When the museum closed at 6, and we left, we made our way to see some of the sites around London. We continued to walk through the new part of London, which I think is called the City of London. We walked past some iconic sky scrapers, including 30 St Mary Axe (widely known informally as “the Gherkin” . I happened to get a great picture with a red bus in it! At first I thought this was such an incredible circumstance. This is not the case. These red buses are literally everywhere. By the time Rob and I left London, we never wanted to see a red bus again!
As twilight was setting on London, Rob and I made it to the Tower of London. It was closed by this time, but we still enjoyed viewing it all lit up. Just past the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge (also lit up). All around us buildings and monuments were lighting up to keep the sky awake as the sun retreated. It almost felt as if the city was putting on a show just for us. We appreciated it by walking around three sides of the Tower and across the Tower bridge. On the other side of the Thames was a view of London that I never thought I would experience. The photos we took, don’t do it justice. No photo will do it justice, but I will share the ones I have anyway.
As the darkness began to take over, it brought a cold with it that we couldn’t ignore. After gazing at the city for a few moments, Rob and I walked back across the Thames, this time using the London Bridge. That children’s song was stuck in my head for the rest of the night. The one that is something like, “London bridge’s falling down, falling down, falling down…”, and that’s all I can remember. Once we got to an underground station, we spent 30 more minutes taking different subways to our hostel. The long day of walking ending in the best night of sleep I have experienced in England.
On our second day in London, we woke up early and made our way to Greenwich (which they pronounce gren-which). Greenwich is famous for the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s House, and the Royal Naval College. The Royal Observatory is on top of a hill that looks out over Greenwich Park. We started our day by walking through some of the park. In this park, the equestrian events of the 2012 Olympics took place. The weather was very cooperative for us, as we strolled through the park. At one point, Rob climbed a tree. After we had our fill of exercise, we climbed the hill to the Royal Observatory. I have been in many places such as this. They tell you about the solar system and the galaxy. It is a great effort to educate the population, but boring if you already know about it. The most interesting point about the Observatory is it’s location. It is located directly on the Prime Meridian. This is the line that divides the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Because of this, we got to stand with our feet on both sides of the line, being in the East and the West at one time.
After fulling appreciating the impact of standing in two places at once, Rob and I walked back down the hill to the National Maritime Museum. The museum was in a beautiful building and everything was very modern. In the beginning, we were really impressed by paintings of boats and miniature complex models of historic boats. After a couple hours and a few hundred boats later, I was done with boats. The sea is no longer interesting.
These photos represent the coolest part of the museum’s collection. Exhausted of all things maritime, we moved on to the Queen’s House. We did not know that the Queen’s House had become a Naval paintings art Gallery. In short, we left a boat museum for a boat gallery. The house itself was gorgeous and full of history. It has a uninterrupted view of the Thames. During the history of the house, the Naval Academy was built. Upon the Queen’s request, the building did not block the view of the Thames. So as one looks out from the house on one side, they would see the Thames flanked my impressive architecture and courtyards. On the other side is a wide view of the park and the Royal Observatory. The gallery’s most impressive piece in the Queen’s House is the original painting of Captain James Cook.
We stayed in the Queen’s House until they closed. After we walked around the Royal Naval College and down the board walk next to the Thames. During that time, we decided to walk to the river to touch the Thames. At a very inopportune time a wave approached that soaked my entire left leg. It was worth being cold for the next hour or so. I can say, I have touched the Thames! The city centre of Greenwich was blessed enough to have a Starbucks. I let the warmth of a cappuccino warm me up while we planned the rest of our evening. Greenwich was a much more pleasant town. It was quiet and sunny. Like a paradise placed in the middle of the chaos of London.
Before we returned to the hostel, we made an additional stop in the London Undergound system. Like most of my generation of tourists, we got off at King’s Cross Station to take a photo at the famous Platform 9 and 3/4. It seems that most of my trips here are connected to Harry Potter. I hope most of my readers will understand the significance of this place. I took the Pottermore quiz and was sorted to the house of Slytherin. So I took a moment to pretend I was heading Hogwarts with a green and silver scarf wrapped around me. The magic of the moment I had hoped for, did not exist. We had to wait in line for quite a while just to take the photo, and we were rushed past the platform quickly after our turn.
For your amuzement, below if my obviously staged photo of my temporary exit from the muggle world.
We dedicated almost all of day three to the British Museum. We spent 5 hours there and still did not see everything.
To get to the museum we took a route filled with more London architecture. We visited St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was once the highest point in London, has been a church since 604, the current church was built in the early 1600’s. You could tell it was built between two architectural periods. It was oddly domed while still containing the two old fashion towers. Unlike older churches, the towers of St. Paul’s Church stand at one end. It was strange and almost unappealing. We also stopped by the St. Etheldreda’s Church, the oldest standing Catholic Church in England. Built in the 1200’s. They were setting up for a wedding so we weren’t able to go in. It was very quaint. Standing amoungst new corporate buildings and cafes, it looked very out of place. At this point, I have seen many, many churches and cathedrals. For a church/cathedral to impress me now, it will have to be exceptionally and incomparably magnificent.
The British museum is the museum of the world for the world. The most capturing artefacts in the British Museum are the Rosetta Stone, pieces of the Parthenon, and Egyptian mummies. The hours we spent there were mostly focused on Mediterranean history. Some of the things we saw were over 5000 years old. This was incredible to me. To see how people lived so long ago. We tend to think of ancient things as being only 500 or so years old. It was eye-opening to see how little I knew of truly ancient civilizations. A lot of the artefacts from these civilizations, that still survive today, are pottery. The age of pottery really climaxed in Greece. This probably brings to mind a lot of pictures of hero’s or geometric designs on massive pots. It makes me think of the animated movie, Hercules. At the British museum, they have the original Greek pottery displaying the acts of Greek heroes and gods. In fact by the time you reach the marble statues area of the museum, you have been overloaded by pottery. The same occurs with the statues. They were unbelievable works of art in the beginning, but by the end of the day, I was becoming a great critic of them.
The British Museum is a highly visited location. The people in those rooms are from all over the world. All over the world, students learn about mummies and the Rosetta stone. Because of this, I had to fight crowds to get a picture of them. Other items were only interesting to me. Due to my studies in math and its history, I have experience with heiroglyphs and cuniform. As other tourists passed the numerous clay and marble tablets covered in ancient languages. I read about their origins and tried to recall what I learned, in hopes to read them. I felt like the things I’ve learned finally became real. The mysterious items teachers have been telling us stories about for years became tangible.
These pictures don’t even begin to touch the surface of the things I saw in the British Museum. I only went through half of it! The museum also has many artefacts that are not on display. This includes the Rhind’s Mathematical Papyrus. This is a powerful key for modern mathematicians to learn about the math of ancient Egypt. To see the Rhind’s Papyrus, one must make an appointment at least 6 weeks in advance. I did not have enough advance time for my trip this time, but I will be returning to London in May. When I return, I will have an appointment to see the Rhind’s Papyrus, and it will be the most magical moment in my mathematical career!
After the museum we walked around London. As it got dark we made it to Trafalgar Square and the Picadilly Circus. In Trafalgar square are many monuments. My favorite monument is a big blue/purple statue of a chicken. I don’t understand it or why it is there, but it was unveiled on my birthday last year. So obviously it is dedicated to me ;). Picadilly Circus is similar to Times Square in NYC, though I have never been. Basically there are hundreds of people and handfuls of street performers surrounded my bright screen covered buildings.
Our last day in London was filled with museums and parks. We had a morning walk through Kensington Park. It was so beautiful and the sun came out to greet us. In the park is the statue of Peter Pan, so, of course, we went to see it. It might be the best statue that I have ever seen. I like book characters a bit more than war heroes, I suppose.
After the park, we went to a couple museums, the National Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The goal in going to the National Science Museum was to see their math exhibit. I was overly excited about this, because I had taken a whole class on the history of math. The exhibit was a bit disappointing. It was more of the history of modern mathematics. I did not know much about it, but it was nice to learn a little about it. They did have copies are some famous notebooks by mathematicians.
Our next museum, the V&A museum was full of artifacts and arts. We stayed in the Renaissance era. Most of it was remains from Roman Catholic churches. There was also some famous art from artists like Donatello. In fact there were a lot of Donatello statues all over the room. At one point, I was stuck in a crowd and ran into the base of one of Donatello’s statues. The bruise still hasn’t gone away, but who can say they were injured by a Donatello?
Below is the Victoria Albert Museum
Quickly after our museum visits, we had to catch our bus back to Bradford. Before leaving we stocked up on treats at the Sainsbury (a convenience store that is EVERYWHERE in England). Our bus back was a long one but made tolerable with intermittent snacks and sleep. You may have noticed that I did not mention seeing any of the typical London things, like Big Ben or Westminster Abbey. Don’t fret! I am returning in just a few weeks to take in the rest of London!
The University culture here, and I am guessing all through England, is so vastly different than that of MSSU (my home institute). The differences are everywhere and everyday I discover something new. I’ve been dedicated to experiencing the life at Bradford to its fullest while I am here.
At the University of Bradford (UoB) there are sports clubs for all the sports you could think of and some you didn’t even know existed, like Netball. In my first week I attended refreshers fair. This is a fair where all the sports clubs and other societies recruit more people. The student centre is full of tables of people trying to get you to join their club. Unlike in the U.S. anyone can join any sport. It doesn’t matter if you don’t even know how to play it. Each week the clubs have practice sessions to train beginners and regulars on the sport. The best of the clubs members represent the club as a team and compete with other Universities. I didn’t reach out to any new sport I’ve never heard of, but rather joined a sport I already love to play, volleyball. Each club also has weekly socials. By going to these socials I have made many friends. They are all very welcoming.
By joining the volleyball club I have been able to participate in some other new adventures. One of which they call intramurals. In the states we know intramurals as when a group of your friends forms a team to compete with other teams at your university in a series of games in only one particular sport. This is not what intramurals are in England. Here, it is when your club or society forms a team of 10 people to compete in 14 sports in two days. At first I was really confused because it would be impossible to compete with all 13 or 14 teams in every sport in only 2 days. It turned out that you only compete with each team once in a different sport. So if you happened to be paired up against the field hockey team in playing field hockey, you were going to lose. This is what happened to my team. Continuing with the volleyball theme, our name was Sets of the Beach. The first day we did rather well, winning rowing, rugby, ultimate frisbee, tug-of-war, and netball and only losing lazer tag and field hockey. I really enjoyed field hockey because you can basically get away with tackling the opponent and stealing the ball. The second day did not go as well, we lost our first event of athletics (essentially we played tag and we were slower.) We came right back with a win in badminton, then lost in archery and pool. Our spirits were pretty down by the time we got to football (soccer), but we managed to win playing 13 on 13. Right after football we played rounders. Its basically wiffleball but with weirder rules and the dumbest ball ever. The ball is almost a baseball so you can’t manage to catch well without gloves. We lost even though we had two Americans on our team, myself included. The order of these games may be well off, but you get the idea. At some point in the day we played volleyball and won by a landslide. This was my favourite moment of day two because I got to make the final point for our team. It didn’t really matter though because we were up by so many points when the time ran out, but I felt like a superstar. At the end of the second day was a huge party with a blow up obstacle course and mini golf. Also this is where we participated in our final sport, rock climbing. We lost due to tiredness (at least that is what I am calling it). At the end of the day our team ended up coming in somewhere around 6th place, but we won Best Team Spirit. We were pretty happy or should I say, spirited ;D .
Another great part of being a member of the volleyball club was attending the Colours Ball. When most of us hear about a Ball we either think of a sphere of fun or dancing in Cinderella dresses. It was neither of these. I would more describe it as an awards banquet. Everyone dresses in fancy dresses and suits and eats dinner in a ballroom (maybe that’s where the ball part comes in) While everyone is eating awards are given out to outstanding athletes/members and clubs/societies. The food was delicious, the company splendid, and I got to dress up. It was a great night. Our president and our VP both won an award, and although we were up for five awards as a club, we didn’t get any. After the dinner most of us went to the student centre and danced with other students.
I haven’t joined any other societies while here, but I have made friends apart from the volleyball club. There is a group of international students that usually hang out on Friday nights, and sometimes I join them. The University is a very diverse school. I have hardly met any students that are actually from England. In fact, I have been keeping a list of countries from which I have met someone. Currently the list is as follows:. I didn’t expect such an environment when anticipating my study abroad experience. In my mind I was going to a stereotypical British town where every one wears bowler hats and speaks with a posh accent. I expected my classmates to regularly (daily even!) enjoy tea time. I thought every one ate a “proper English breakfast” every morning, and scones were everywhere. I have yet to partake in either of these things. It just doesn’t happen, at least not for Uni students. Also Bradford isn’t so quaint and posh. Instead the streets can be pretty dirty and they hand out rape whistles during your first week here. It scared me a bit at first, but I’ve come to find it more dirty than harmful here. There is an exception to the sketchiness of the city. That exception is the city centre. It is full of newer shops, a mall, and a newly added, very pretty fountain. Also in the city centre, is a Starbucks. From my dorm, it is only a 10-15 min walk to get Starbucks or go shopping. My bfb (Best Friend in Britain), Barbora, and I sometimes spend some of our day in the city centre. We get starbucks, sit by the fountain, and try on fun dresses.
Speaking of dresses. University students in Bradford dress so completely different than the students at MSSU. It is not surprising to find most of the girls wearing skirts, dresses, or shorts with tights and a cute top to class. It doesn’t matter if it is below freezing or pouring rain, every student looks like they are going to class to give a presentation. At MSSU and most US colleges it is faily common to see students in sweatpants, t-shirts, gym shorts, and trainers (tennis shoes), but you don’t find that hear. There are no girls chatting with their besties all dressed alike in yoga pants, hoodies, uggs/toms, and Jansport backpacks. In fact, most students don’t use backpacks. They show up to class with a notebook (maybe) and a pen. This is because each class (they call them modules) has a lecture only once a week. It isn’t unlikely that a student would have just one lecture a day. Excluding Mondays, that is the case for me. I still wear my backpack nearly every day, and I usually stick out in my yoga pants, hoodie, and toms.
On my days off of school, its easy to go on a day adventure. I have had a couple to the neighbouring towns of Leeds and Skipton. My trip to Skipton with Barbora and Rob was an athletic one. Like a lot of the international students do, we went hiking. Here is another difference between the U.S. and England. As far as I can remember, trails in the U.S. are pretty well marked. Usually they are worn down enough to tell where you are going, otherwise they have coloured markers. This is absolutely not the case of England trails. There is little to no evidence you are on a trail at some points, and junctions of trials give no indication which route to take. Because of this, we found ourselves wandering lost through fields of heather. With little time left of sunlight, we decided to back track and found our way back to the trail head. Other than getting lost, the hike was exhilarating. As we ascended the “mountain” that overlooked a reservoir, the morning fog was lifting. At one point, we faced the fog and watched as the chased up the hill and broke around us. The view at the top was breath-taking. Just below the fog were fields of heather and pastures of sheep dotted with farmhouses.
This was my first England hike, but I am sure more are to come. There will be plenty more to do in Bradford and all over Europe, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
“I am in love with cities I have never been to and people I have never met.” ~John Green, Paper Towns
That is one of my favourite quotes, because it is true. I have always been a dreamer seeking out a new adventure. I haven’t lived in many cities, but I knew there were ones out there I wanted to be part of. For the first time in my life, I can say I am in love with a city I have been to, Amsterdam.
Many people see Amsterdam as a city of sin. This is only one small part of the city, and not the part I fell in love with. During the day, Amsterdam is alive. Everyone there is moving. In just the short time I was there I used 9 forms of transportation. The whole system is incredible. There are two sets of roads. One of bicycles (complete with stop-lights and road signs) and one for cars. There are also ferries, an underground system, a tram system, and rail-roads. We will get back to that later. The city doesn’t feel like London or New York City (never been but I am assuming) where everyone is rapidly traversing the streets in a frantic state to meet their destination. In Amsterdam, they slowly wind their way through the city, mostly on bicycles, looking as if they didn’t care where they ended up. While sitting in the park, drinking organic fresh squeezed juice that is sold everywhere, one might see hundreds of people on bicycles. Its obvious that everyone in this dynamic city is healthy and happy. There are so many different types of bicycles too! Ones with baby seats in the front, ones with baskets in the back or front or sides, and more commonly with a second passenger riding side-saddle on the back, just over the rear tire. It is easy to see why I fell in love with Amsterdam, with just a few days there.
Now, I will describe my days in Amsterdam.
I left Bradford on a Wednesday. I had to take a bus (coach) to the airport (a 2 1/2 hour trip) then wait for 3 hours in the airport. We boarded the plane just as the sunset. It was spectacular to watch the sunset painted clouds through my window. As we approached Amsterdam the clouds slowly cleared just past twilight to let sneak peaks of a city glowing orange interrupted every so often by the sea.
When I arrived in Amsterdam, I took a train to the centre of Amsterdam to meet my brother-in-law Joe. Walking out of the central station was my first view of Amsterdam. We were on a road that ran parallel with one of the rivers. Ferries were coming in and out bringing people back and forth across the river. On the other side, were new creatively designed buildings lighting up the skyline. We waited on the dock for Joe’s friends (and our hosts) Terry and her boyfriend, to arrive on bicycles. From the station the four of us walked to an Italian restaurant for dinner. The food was incredible. Everything is made with fresh ingredients right in front of you-a common theme I found in Amsterdam. On each of the tables are potted herbs that the customers pick and add to their dishes.
After dinner Joe and I took the underground to meet Terry and Patrick at a cocktail bar. It was a great relaxing end to a long day of travel. By the time we left, the underground had stopped running. For my fifth form of transportation (in just one day!) I hopped on the back of bike as Joe pedalled and Terry hopped on the back of Patrick’s bike. We rode through the lit up streets and canals to their apartment and settled in for the night. The view from her living room was breath-taking. That’s when I fell in love with Amsterdam.
The next day we started off the day by riding the bicycles to the ferry. On the other side of the river we visited the Eye. This is a media museum, cafe, and cinema hosted in a brilliant building. The building was built so not a single wall was straight. Another spectacular concept of the architecture is that the building looks completely different from every viewpoint. The museum wasn’t very interesting, but the cafe served a delicious cappuccino.
It was the perfect start to the perfect day. Continuing on perfection we rode the bicycles, me on the back of Joe’s, to see the Anne Frank house and Westerkerk (the church mentioned in Anne’s diary). Instead of touring either place, we borrowed paddle boats from Terry’s work and toured the city by canal. Our trip was just over an hour of paddling through rows and rows of narrow houses built centuries ago.
Below are some photos from the canal paddle boat ride. Just to brag a bit, I paddled the whole hour of the canal ride :D.
By the end of our canal tour we were ready for lunch. Rather than sitting confined in a restaurant, we found a grocery store and bought fresh squeezed juice, fresh bread and cold salad, then took our meal to go. We enjoyed our meal in the Dam Square on the steps of the National Monument looking across the square of tourists to the Royal Palace. It was the type of moment you read about in books that make you add adventures to your bucket list.
After lunch we met up with Joe’s girlfriend for coffee at local “hipster” cafe. It was quiet in the kind of way that makes you realize you have been around tourists all day. The caffeine from my second cappuccino prepared me for more tourists as we made our way to an outdoor market around the corner from the Amsterdam Opera. The tents and tents of random stuff was interesting but not tempting enough to buy anything. Eventually we made our way to the Opera house. Outside the building is the I amsterdam monument. Joining in the tourist appeal we stopped to take some photos. Just after we walked to the canal to see the “Little Bridge.” This bridge is said to bring forever luck to any couple that kisses while going under the bridge. I added kissing my someday-maybe-future husband under the bridge to my bucket list.
It wasn’t long before darkness began to fall on the city and we made our way to another bar/cafe that the tourists didn’t know about. We relaxed and sipped on a couple drinks. I tried a refreshing cucumber and ginger drink. The cafe was also a gallery of pop art that was highly overpriced. It was a great atmosphere though, again pretty hipster. I loved it.
After drinks we headed to Terry’s and made dinner, carrot and coriander soup. This was another first for me and quite enjoyable. If I would make it, I might try it with anise rather that coriander. Oh right, my internal thoughts on soup are probably not very interesting. Anyway, we finished dinner pretty late and were all exhausted. We let it be an early night for us. Also my bed at Terry’s is the most comfortable bed I have slept in since I moved here. I have decided England does not understand comfort.
The next morning I woke up early and walked to the tram station. The tram took me to the train station which took me to the airport. After arriving in Manchester I waited an hour for my bus and slept the 2 hour ride back to Bradford. I’ve decided being a tourist is exhausting, but I will probably have great legs from so much walking/biking by the time I come home.
This trip to the North Sea town of Whitby was filled with stories of vampires, wizards, and giants. Whitby is a small town with a big history. Most of its history stems from famous works of fiction. It is the town where Dracula was written and based. Nearby the town is a “hole” in the earth, which according to legend, was made by a giant. Also not far from the town is the train station filmed as the Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter movies. The real life history of Whitby is just as enjoyable. It hosts a ruined cathedral, beautiful beaches, and the home of James Cook.
After stopping by this massive unimpressive ‘hole’ in the earth, that kinda just looked like a valley, we continued onto Whitby. We were dropped off by the ruins of a cathedral. It was beautiful and mysterious. Not far from the ruins is a church. it is famous for being the first place Dracula visited in England. The graveyard was particularly interesting at this church, given that each headstone had a skull and crossbones marked somewhere into the stone.
The church and cathedral ruins sit on top of a hill. At the bottom of the hill, 99 steps later, is the city of Whitby and the North Sea. Whitby is a town of small pastel painted houses sandwiched together facing the ocean and bay. The bay opens up to the sea with two long pier. All along the pier children are running, tourist are eating fish-n-chips, and seagulls soar over head hoping for a stranger to gift them with some chips.
Before heading into the city, we walked down to the beach. This is the first beach I have been on since the Florida beach my best friend was married on in August of last year. I am in love with the beach. Every time I see it, I don’t want to leave. This was no exception. I didn’t mind that I was fully dressed in a coat, scarf, and beanie drinking my mocha, I would have stayed all day. Instead of staying, we took some photos, touched the water, and drew our names in the sand, then headed into the winding streets full of shops for sweets, gifts, and local art.
We took a break from the breathtaking views to enjoy fresh and filling fish’n’chips! Whitby is a fishing town, and the difference between the fish there and in Bradford was absolutely noticeable.
After lunch we went on a hunt for the Captain Cook mini ship replica. We found the home he grew up in and a museum dedicated to him, but had no luck in finding his ship. The splendour of all the sweet shops filling the streets turned out to be irresistable, so we stopped to get dessert before heading to the pier. Walking down the pier ended up being a little more difficult than we expected. The wind kept threatening to steal our hats or blow us over the edge. The fight was worth it. At the end of the pier was the most spectacular view of the city. The ocean crept into the streets of neatly lined colourful buildings retreating up a hill. There at the top of the hill, the ruins of a cathedral watches the city live come alive with floods of tourists. A camera simply couldn’t capture the magnificence of it all.
During our remaining hours at Whitby we visited a museum dedicated to lifeboats (which is essentially the idea of a coast guard not life boats to escape a sinking ship) and a statue of Captain cook.
With only a bit of time remaining we wandered the streets looking for something undiscovered. We walked through alleys and past the tourist attractions. The salty air and sounds of seagulls was enough to make me want to return. Even if I never make it back to the mysterious and enchanting Whitby, I cannot wait to see the ocean again.
Here are more photos of Whitby
Before heading home the tour bus took us to a small remote train station. This was special because it served as the Hogsmeade station in the filming of the Harry Potter movies. It is nestled in a cluster of trees and protected by large rolling hills covered in heather. Leaving the station is a staircase climbing the hills of heather. You can almost imagine young Harry walking them on his way into Hogwarts. The train station definitely filled all of us with a sense of magic. Some of my companions even found sticks (or wands) and began to duel. We were all pretty worn out by this point, and spent only the time to take photos before heading home.
My trip to Liverpool can be divided into three types of adventure! We impressively fit sports, culture, and site seeing into one day. Before we get to those three adventures, its important to note that the day started off in Starbucks. Not just any Starbucks, the coolest underground Starbucks ever!
The greatest part of site seeing began early in the day at Albert Dock. This is an old dock built in Liverpool in 1846. It was built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood, the first of its kind. It has been used for many things throughout the years. Now the dock is full of shops and cafes. The weather treated us well with a sunny day. This provided for beautiful views of the sun shining off the water.
Just past the dock, across the water, you can see Whales. We didn’t have time this day to take a ferry over to the other side, but maybe I will return someday. Also on the dock is a statue of Johnnie Walker, the inventor of Scotch Whiskey. Of course I posed for a picture with him.
Just past the docks are four statues. They are replicas of an original statue called the SuperLambanana. The superlambanana was made to represent and fight against the genetic modification of food. It is a large yellow lamb whose tail looks like a banana. We never made it to the original Superlambanana but did take some photos of the ones we saw. They can now be found all over the city.
The city was full of beautiful buildings around every corner. I didn’t know the significance of most of the buildings. The ones I did know were St. George’s Hall, the Royal Liver Building, Port of Liverpool Building, and Lime Street Station (it just looks like a normal train station).
You must be thinking, “Isn’t Liverpool famous for the Beatles?” You would be correct. This might make me some enemies, but I am not a big fan of the Beatles. We had the opportunity to visit the Beatles Story (basically the largest Beatles museum) but decided to spend our time elsewhere. We did stop in at the Cavern Club. This is where the Beatles were discovered. Over the span of their career, the Beatles made 292 appearances.
There was only one more stop to our site seeing. Along the way, we found a Forever 21. This is my favorite store in the U.S. It also happens to be one of my sister’s favourite stores as well. This Forever 21 was significant because of all the malls I have been to, none of them have had a Forever 21. Also this was, by far, the largest Forever 21 I had ever seen.
Now back to the point. We were on our way to the Zanzibar club. I am not sure why the world finds this significant, but it has a special importance to me. My brother (whom I am very close to) loves geography. In particular, he loves learning about small nations with funny names. You may be thinking Liechtenstein. His favourite country though is Zanzibar. We still have debates on whether it still is its own country, but that’s off topic. We went on a detour through the city to find this club, and the club turned out to be closed. Don’t worry, we took a photo of the door.
My travelling buddy for Liverpool was my boyfriend Georgi. Liverpool is the home to both of our favourite football clubs (soccer teams) in England. Considering we don’t support the same club, this makes us rivals. My club is Everton FC that plays in Goodison Park, and Georgi’s club is Liverpool FC that plays in Anfield. Unfortunately there are no tours of Goodison Park on Saturday. We still visited the outside of the park to take some photos. Luckily for Georgi, Anfield does give tours of the stadium on Saturdays. I was supportive and went along, mostly so I could see a EPL field. While there, I made it clear that I did not support the club by carrying an Everton bag.
While I am in England, I hope to return to Goodison Park for more than a tour. I hope to fulfil my dream of watching an Everton game live. I’ll keep you posted if that ever happens.
Our first stop in our cultural experience was the Bluecoat Chambers. This is not a very famous place in Liverpool, but worth the stop. It is a gallery and an institute. They pride themselves on discovering artists and helping to serve the community. Most of their art shown speaks a message to the viewers. In particular, one of the galleries we visited displayed clutter and rubbish found in nature as left by humans. The paintings and photos were beautiful. So beautiful that I wanted to capture of photo of the gallery. On doing so, I got in trouble. Rebelliously, I kept the two photos I had taken. Yes I know, I’m a terrible person. 😀
Our second stop on culture was absolutely breathtaking. This was the Walker Art Gallery. The advantage to visiting art galleries in an old country is seeing art that students like myself have studied for hundreds of year. The gallery contained room after room of magnificent famous art. Being that we were on a tight schedule and getting very hungry, I made Georgi remove me from the gallery early. I am hoping to plan a trip to Liverpool just to visit this gallery again. I would like to spend hours viewing each painting or sculpture. I took some quick photos to capture the feel of this enchanting place.
We ended our day with a different type of culture, the type that comes in a cup. I spent some time before our trip finding the coolest tea rooms and attractions in Liverpool. By far, my greatest find was the LEAF of Bold Street. This is a very chic and hip tea room. I enjoyed a cup of tea and Georgi enjoyed a cappuccino.
As always the tea was the perfect end to a perfect day. While walking through the city, I took many photos in hopes to capture the feel of the city. Here are some of my best (the ones that weren’t blurry from my unsteady caffeinated grip)
I’ve been in the UK for just over a month and have finally gone outside England. This past Saturday, I went on a Don’t Be A Tourist trip to Edinburgh Scotland! Firstly, I need to note that I booked this trip hoping to see Edinburgh not as a tourist, considering the company is called Don’t Be A Tourist. This was not the case. Although it was a lot of fun, it was full of touristy tours and attractions. Maybe that is a good thing though, because I was able to learn some of the history of Edinburgh as well.
The drive to Edinburgh was about 5 hours by bus. We did get to stop at the border and take some photos.
We arrived in Edinburgh ahead of schedule and were rewarded with some free time to explore the city. Most of us were starving and used the time to have lunch. On our first exploration of the city, we found a street performer playing bagpipes!
After lunch we got our free tour of the city. We saw many things and learned a lot about Edinburgh and the history of the country. As part of the tour, we visited a graveyard that was particularly special. Before, I mention why, it is important to know that in Europe, people treat graveyards like parks. It is not uncommon to find someone enjoying the rare sunny days by reading a book in a cemetery. It just so happens that this cemetery was a favourite spot for a famous person. J.K. Rowling would spend time in this graveyard picking out names for the characters of her book. There is one more notable gravestone here. The name on this gravestone is Thomas Riddle. For those who have read Harry Potter, you will understand the significance to this name. This graveyard was actually famous before J.K. Rowling used it for inspiration. This graveyard is also wear Bobby, a guard dog, is buried. It is difficult to explain who Bobby is, so if you’re interested, you can read more about him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyfriars_Bobby.
On the tour, we also learned that the national animal of Scotland is the Unicorn. They picked this when they gained freedom to show the world that they could not be tamed. When they were made part of the United Kingdom, their crest was changed to also contain the Lion of England. The Scots approved of the crest before realizing the Unicorn was chained and the Lion was holding the chain. This was England showing the Scots that they had defeated them. Now if you view the crest in Scotland, they have removed the chain, but it can be seen everywhere else in the UK.
After our tour, Barbora, Julia, and I did some more exploring. We took a walk through the city and a hike to some of the monuments in Edinburgh. These monuments include a replica of the Parthenon that was never completed. Today it is called the shame of Edinburgh. We just thought it was a fun place to take photos. Some other things we saw included St. Giles Cathedral, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Holyroad Palace (where the Queen stays when she visits Scotland.) The day came to a perfect end as we were standing on a hill full of monuments watching the sun set over Edinburgh and the ocean.
On our way back to the city centre of Edinburgh, we visited the Sir Walter Scott monument and the Hard Rock Cafe. This party of the city was more metropolitan. There people everywhere going in and out of large department stores. It made me feel a little bit at home. If you disregarded the view of ancient buildings and a castle.
That evening we joined the rest of the Don’t Be a Tourist group for dinner. I chickened out of getting the haggis and opted for a mac’n’cheese. I did end up tasting someone’s Haggis and it turned out to be delicious. My macaroni and cheese was not quite as satisfying. It was much too soupy. I guess my mac’n’cheese standards are set a little too high.
After dinner we went on a toured Pub Crawl. The plan was to stop at four pubs. My friends and I gave up after the third. We had an early morning we didn’t want to spoil by staying up too late. One of the pub’s was called Dropkick Murphy’s. It turns out there was no relation between the pub and the Celtic band. The pub crawl was so much fun. At one point a pineapple showed up from no where and someone decided to begin eating it. It was one of those great nights where you make a ton of friends, and it lives forever in your memory.
The next day, I continued my tradition of setting out alone to find the personality of the city. While I was doing this, my companions took a hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. This is a volcano that looks much more like a hill. From the top you get a windburn, very cold, and a view of the city. I was not interested in sacrificing warmth and energy for a good view. Instead I wandered the streets in search of book shops, and I was successful. I was able to see editions of my favourite books dating back hundreds of year. I even found a copy of Evelina by Fanny Burney that was printed somewhere between 1909 and 1950.
I quite enjoyed wandering around the city for a few hours. I saw many cute shops and the Edinburgh castle. I also bought a souvenir, a lamb’s wool Scottish clan scarf. It will make it’s début in the pictures of Liverpool. Here are some of the views from my walk.
After my walk, I joined up with the girls again for some tea at a rather new landmark of Edinburgh, the Elephant House. This is known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. When J.K. Rowling first moved to Edinburgh as a poor single mother, she would spend her mornings sitting in this cafe writing. The table at which she regularly sat was against a window with a spectacular view. Outside the window is the Edinburgh castle. This is where she was inspired to write about Hogwarts and where she completed the first four books. Today much of the cafe is dedicated to Rowling, including the bathrooms where hundreds of people from around the world have written grateful messages to her.
After tea we walked a bit more, took in the sites on last time, and gathered our luggage. The return home was long and tiresome, but filled with post excitement. This trip marked a lot of firsts that I will be continuing while in Europe, including my first night in a hostel. Scotland is a beautiful country, and hopefully I will be able to see more of it while I am here.
I am a bit behind on blogging due to an unfortunate series of events including getting the notorious England flu. Apparently it is a right of passage when moving to this miserably cold and wet country. I did manage to get some travelling in these last couple weeks. On Saturday, Feb 8th, I went with a small group of friends to York.
My York experience started off with my first train ride ever. Of course, this shocked my European travelling buddies.
Our first adventure in York was viewing the beautiful York Museum gardens and the ruins of a Catholic church. The garden was breathtaking! I hope to return in the spring to view its full grandeur. The Cathedral ruins were really interesting. The church that stood there had been abandon since Henry VIII denounced the Roman Catholic church and forced all cathedrals in England to be shut down. Our history tour of York continued with a visit to the York Minster. The price to tour the Minster was a little steep, so I just viewed it magnificence from the outside. I didn’t learn much about the history of the Minster while there, so I researched it a bit when returning to Bradford. Here is what I found, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York_Minster.
At this point our group split up. Most of the group were interested in the history of york and continued to view its history through tours. I began my search of the city through its bookshops and tea rooms. My first stop was a four story home converted into a bookstore. I almost got lost in the enchantment of so many books! Everywhere you turned there were more books!
I didn’t find any books for my collection here, but I did have a nice chat about the city with the store owner. She also gave me a map to the city that listed all the antique and second-hand bookshops.
Before making my way through the city to the next bookshop, I dropped into a tearoom for some English Breakfast tea. I had read about this place online while planning my trip, and it was just as relaxing as I had hoped. This place was called the Earl Grey Tea Rooms and it was located on Shambles street. Shambles street is an old street in the city where the buildings almost meet over the incredibly narrow street and everything is just a little tilted from aging. The Earl Grey Tea Rooms shared the effects of old age. They dark wood beams holding the structure leaned in different directions to give each room an erie feel. When entering the shop, I was greeted with smooth old jazz music and a kind old man who directed me to a quiet corner seat. The silence of the room and the warmth of the tea they brought me was the perfect escape from the loud and busy morning I’d had. As I sat there, contemplating my experiences thus far and planning the rest of my day, I felt like a character from an old movie. I had plans to meet the rest of my group for lunch and plenty of bookshops to visit, so I finished my tea and continued my journey.
While walking down the streets, I couldn’t help but stop into a tea shop. The walls of the shop were filled with different jars of tea. I knew I wanted to take a bag home with me, but I couldn’t decide on one. The owner of the shop helped me by showing me his favorites of white, black, and green teas. We talked for a while on different teas we enjoyed, and he educated me on the history of some of the teas. I ended up leaving the shop with my favorite tea, ginger lemon. I am so glad I postponed my book search to stop in this shop. I have been drinking the tea while being sick. It is such a nice treat.
Finally, I was back on my expedition to find bookshops. I ended up going to five bookshops before meeting back up with my friends for lunch. Each bookshop was so different than the rest. Each one had hundreds of books to enchant me with. I was on a mission though. I was in search of old math books and any books by or about Fanny or Charles Burney. According to my family, I am related to both. Charles Burney was a successful musician and composer in England in the late 1700s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Burney). His daughter Fanny Burney was a successful writer. In one of the bookshops, I found the biographies of both Charles Burney and of Fanny Burney. In a couple different bookshops, I continues my successful search by finding three old math books. Everything I found and purchased was at least 50 years old.
At this point our group seperated again. This time I did not continue on alone. For the remaining part of the trip, I was accompanied by my friends, Barbora and Heidi. We did not give up on our hunt for tea. In the end, we found a shop even cuter than the Teddy Bear Tea Room. Upon entering Chloes of York, we were greeted by an old man wearing a red top hat and ascot. He showed us to our table in a room decorated with hearts and chalkboards. It was the perfect combination of cute and chic. All around the room were stands displaying decadent desserts and cakes. I couldn’t resist them! Rather than a cup of tea, I opted for a coffee and meringue. The company of friends, the sweetness of my latte and dessert, and the cheery atmosphere were precisely what I need to rejuvinate me for the rest of the day.
After Chloes, we continued to explore the tourist filled streets. We found a beautiful garden filling an alley. It was mysteriously stuck between enticing gift shops and restaurants.
It wasn’t long before twilight set upon York and all the stores began lighting the streets with their windowed store fronts. We wandered around and stopped in the places we couldn’t resist. This included a candy shop. I gave into the temptation of sweets again to buy some coffee fudge, and Barbora bought a lollipop as a souvenir.
The day ended soon,and we returned to the train station. York was the perfect weekend city. I was so mesmerized by it’s beauty. I cannot wait to return. The following are photos of York and its enticing streets.
This Tuesday I finally did something I have been considering doing for around a year now. I cut off all my hair and got a pixie cut. I love the change. Many people have asked me why I did it. I would hope that when people describe me they would use words synonymous to exuberant and adventurous. I think that finally, with this hair cut, I look the part!
Now I should warn you. Embrace yourself for many selfies.
I couldnt be happier with this change! I am sure this feeling will continue, and soon all of you will be used to it and love it as well.
Our first expidtion in Manchester was to find a cute tea shop someone had read about. Apparently this tea shop is suppose to be themed like Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately when we arrived with a group of around 10 people, they couldn’t seat us. Actually they were booked for three weeks out! I did get a nice picture of the outside of the shop, and I hope to return while I am here.
We did find a tea room where we might enjoy brunch. It was a bit more modern and elegant. I loved it. I could have sat in there all day, mostly because it was cold outside. This place was called Tea 4/2 or in our case, tea for ten!
I opted for just a cup of peach tea, but i took it with almond milk. Such a great decision! Other’s got more decadent orders, like cheesecake. Everything they brought to our table was so perfectly presented and tasted amazing!
After the tea, we walked around Manchester and took in the sites. There was a ferris wheel and streets full of people shopping and celebrating. I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Bradford is much more of a sleepy town. I like my bustling big cities better.
While walking around we found the town hall, but we though we were finding a cathedral. I wasn’t disappointed because I thought the town hall was gorgeous. There was also a wedding going on while we were there, so we weren’t allowed into many different parts of the building.
While continuing our hunt for the cathedral, we came along a few other interesting buildings. One of which was a gorgeous library. About the time we arrived at the library, a few of us decided we were down with sightseeing. Instead, we went on a shopping adventure.
The mall we went to was huge! It had so many stores I had never seen and a couple of American stores. I tried to only shop in English stores (though I don’t know if I was successful). To my astonishment the food court had Taco Bell. the menu was quite different, but the food was just as good. I also introduced my Sweedish friends, Rebecca and Charlotte, to Tace Bell. They liked it! We shopped all day and left as the town was going out to party. The city is even more beautiful at night with all the buildings lit up. The greatest scene was being greeted by the lit up ferris wheel as we left Manchester.