Wanderings and Ponderings

My Study Abroad Adventures in England & France


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Easter break – trip around Britain (pt. 1)

In England, it’s common to have a month-long Easter break. That’s right, a whole month :D You’re supposed to use it to study. I did that a bit – luckily my classes are all first year, so they weren’t too-too bad. We decided that it would be good for my mom and cousin to come visit me. We could tailor a trip to our personal interests and I could see part of my family.

Trips happened sort of rapid-fire. One day I was in London watching Phantom of the Opera with my friends, the next I was headed to France to visit Kelsey, and a few days later I landed in London again to meet up with my mom and cousin, sans stopping at Canterbury. But, I made it successfully to each destination without any major disruptions, and that’s all that matters :)

The first place we went was London, of course, where we all landed. We spent ~3 days there wandering around.

Picadilly Circus

Picadilly Circus

We popped past “the sights” but spent most of our time looking at other classic London places. We wandered around Piccadilly Circus for quite a while – my favourite place in all of London. You can really feel the “life” there.

 

 

 

 

 

Hamley's

Hamley’s

Afterwards we went to Hamley’s – a HUGE, 7 floor toy store – where we spent…a long time :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamley's

Hamley’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cambridge punting tour

Cambridge punting tour

The next day we went to Cambridge, woo!! It was even more beautiful than I’d expected. I liked it much better than Oxford, though I can’t really put my finger on why. I think it’s the proximity to the river that Cambridge has that I love. That and the larger amount of vegetation make Cambridge seem much more natural and calm. The very first thing we did was go on a punting tour – a classic thing to do at Cambridge, and something I’ve always wanted to do there. It was one of those rare peaceful moments in life. Floating down the river was just utterly relaxing.

Cambridge punting tour

Cambridge punting tour


Cambridge market

Cambridge market

Afterwards, we explored the city of Cambridge. We spent a good bit of time walking around the local market, then continued on to the city itself, popping in random little shops as we walked around. We grabbed a bite to eat in a local pub before we left, then headed back to London.

 

 

 

Cambridge sweet shop

Cambridge sweet shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cambridge pub

Cambridge pub 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harrod's

Harrod’s

Upon arriving back in London, we decided it would be cool to go to Harrod’s (a huge, deathly expensive department store). We spent a couple hours in there, wandering around all the different sections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harrod's

Harrod’s – perfume

We decided to head back early that night to prepare for the next day. That was nice in that it allowed us to relax for a bit. On our way back to the hotel, we began a tradition of grabbing snacks as a mini-supper from the convenience shop, so I was able to introduce my mom to a few of my new favourite foods.

As we left our hotel the next day, we saw fans, photographers, and reporters outside St. Mary’s hospital. Kate hadn’t gone into labour yet, but they were all prepared!

Borough market

Borough market

Then, we decided to go to Borough Market, an immense food market in central London. It’s really cool to wander around and see just what all is there, but we also grabbed a small variety of food for lunch.

 

 

 

 

Borough market

Borough market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Eye

London Eye

 

Afterwards, we did something I’ve wanted to do for years – ride on the London Eye. It’s such a symbol of London, and you get great views. It is a bit pricey, however ordering online ahead of time helps. I’d like to go up in the Shard someday also, however it’s also expensive, so I’ll have to wait on that :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

From London Eye

From London Eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parliament

Parliament

We had planned on going to see a play in the West End that night, but I suggested we tour the Houses of Parliament. My mom said I could either do the play or the tour – as much as I love plays, touring Parliament really seemed like a special opportunity. It was particularly cool to visit after taking my Modern British History class – I felt like I had a much greater appreciation for it.

 

 

 

Lion & unicorn statues in parliament

Lion & unicorn statues in parliament

You see statues of Lions and Unicorns everywhere – the lion symbolizes England, and the unicorn symbolizes Scotland (Wales is the red dragon, and Ireland doesn’t have a national animal).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, we took a train to Oxford. We set our stuff down in the hotel, and immediately after headed back to the train station to go to Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace). The train ride was adventure enough we accidentally got off a stop too early, where the trains rarely come. Mom wasn’t happy. Luckily though, there was a bus that ran to the station, so we caught it to town centre. It was cool to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, but there wasn’t a ton else in the town. I liked wandering around though, plus the architecture was cool, so I enjoyed it.

That night, we ate dinner at “The Eagle and Child” aka “The Bird and the Baby,” a place frequented by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I’d been there on a previous trip to Oxford, but my mom was eager to try it and it’s really a cool place.

Bath

Bath

We spent a full day in Bath the next day. We’d planned on doing 1/2 a day there and 1/2 a day in Cardiff, but quickly decided that that just wasn’t going to work for either place. Bath was an absolutely beautiful city. Every building is built from a honey-colored limestone (like the Cotswolds), giving the city a warm and unique appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

The hop-on-hop-off bus tour proved to be an efficient way to see and learn about the city. After taking the tour, we walked around the city, popped in a few random different shops, and went to the Roman Baths.

 

 

 

 

Bath

Bath

IMG_0155My cousin added so much humour to our trip. At one point she fell, terrifying us all, but decided to reenact the moment a minute later for a photo op.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was one of my favorite sightseeing days of the entire trip. In case you don’t already know – I am a HUGE Doctor Who fan. So what else am I going to do when I find myself near Cardiff other than see the sights? It’s cool to be able to watch a Doctor Who episode and say “yo, I’ve been there.”

Near Dunraven Bay

Near Dunraven Bay

First off, we went to Dunraven Bay, aka Doomsday beach, the main place I wanted to see. It was a long train ride to get there (I had to beg my mom to go) but it was oh, so worth it. Getting to it was an adventure though. A lady on the bus trying to be helpful told us that we’d arrived at our stop, when we actually still had 2 miles left to go. Mom wasn’t happy. She told me we had to book it to the bay in order to make the next bus which came in an hour. So, we walked as fast as we could, taking pictures as we walked.

Dunraven Bay

Dunraven Bay

Finally, we arrived at the bay, and I climbed down to stand where Billie Piper had once stood, clambering back up as soon as I had gotten there. We ran to the bus stop missing the bus by seconds. Mom wasn’t happy. Since we missed the bus anyway, it would have been nice to spend a bit more time walking and taking pictures and appreciating Dunraven Bay :/

 

 

Llandaff

Llandaff

Next off, we went to Llandaff (population 8,997…I don’t think they get many tourists) aka Amy and Rory’s hometown of Leadworth. The Cathedral Green features in the Eleventh Hour.

 

 

 

 

Llandaff

Llandaff

 

 

 

 

 

 

Llandaff Cathedral

Llandaff Cathedral


Shop mannequins where Rose worked

Shop mannequins where Rose worked

Then, we headed back to Cardiff central to see some locations from the Rose Tyler era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping mall - running from Robot Santas

Shopping mall – running from Robot Santas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie's Diner

Eddie’s Diner

For an afternoon snack, we took a 1-car train to Cardiff bay and went to a place called Eddie’s Diner – the location at which the Doctor delivers his …”invitations”… to River, Amy, and Rory. And we sat in the same booth they did!

 

 

 

 

Eddie's Diner

Eddie’s Diner – TARDIS door


Knickerbocker Glory

Knickerbocker Glory

And just because you’re having a day full of Doctor Who doesn’t mean you can’t still reference Harry Potter. The Knickerbocker Glory we split was delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0638On the train back, we met 2 hilarious guys that we ended up talking to for the whole ride.

 

 

 

 

 

And so concluded the southernmost part of our trip!

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Oxford

Whelp. Day trips sound appealing, but lesson learned: don’t try to cram too much into one day.

My friend and I got up to catch a 5:30 bus at 6:30 (we had to walk to city centre to catch the bus). Despite going to bed early, we only ended up with 1-2 hours of sleep each. That night, our bus was supposed to arrive at 11:45, but due to multiple delays, and having to walk back, I didn’t get to sleep until after 1. All I can say is I’m lucky that I don’t have any Monday classes and could sleep in the day afterwards!!

We wandered around the town for a while, exploring and going in various stores. As much as I like Oxford, I honestly think I’m happier here in Canterbury than I would be there. I keep thinking that about every place I visit. As much as I love visiting them, I still love Canterbury the best.

IMG_6403The weather really wasn’t too terribly bad, but being outside in the elements all day long can be a little much. It was nice to take a break and go into a little pub and got some hot tea to warm up for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6436Then we went to the Oxford Library – unfortunately it’s closed on Sundays, but it still was cool to walk around it. I really felt like I was walking around Hogwarts at some points. Sadly the buildings themselves are closed to visitors, barring quick peeks into the courtyards. I think Sieu and I tried every door we came across in hopes of finding an unlocked one.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_6476One of the highlights of the day for me was going into a toy store. As a kid, I never had a traditional doll house, per se, however I had tree made of paper-mâché with multiple floors. Instead of dolls, I collected little woodland critter figurines that my mom’s always had to order from England. I was so excited when I stumbled upon these very toys while walking around the store. I’m now 20, ergo I know I got some judging looks as I took this picture…but it was worth it :) Wow, I spent a long time explaining that, but hey, it made me happy.

We could have spent much more time in there than we did, but we decided we’d better leave if we were to see everything we wanted to.

 

IMG_6494We looked around Waterstone’s for quite a while as well, and had to drag ourselves out, both agreeing that we could spend forever in there. All of the shops in Oxford were an adventure in and of themselves to explore. Bookshops and pubs are definitely classic Oxford, but there’s so many other random little shops that are fun to explore as well.

 

 

 

 

Sieu @ Schuh

Sieu @ Schuh

IMG_6501For lunch, we met Lee and Rachel who were also visiting Oxford, and ate at the Bird and the Baby (aka the Eagle and Child) – the pub frequented by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11081122_793918587363812_8577664783629409956_nThe pub provides board games, so we played one based on the Chronicles of Narnia after lunch for a few minutes (spending a good bit of time learning the instructions :P ) and enjoyed the pub’s atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6540We wandered around for quite a while looking for the Story Museum, but unfortunately it was closed when we were there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10659364_793917034030634_6225799018209124939_nWe stopped for bubble tea in a shop called Chatime. I decided to try the lychee tea instead of normal tapioca pearls, and it was definitely a good choice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

984295_793916937363977_7260960420769348106_nWe hopped around a few more pubs once shops started to close, and met up with our Rachel and Lee again for dinner. Before too long it was time for us to catch our bus back to London. It was a very long, but very good day :)

 

 

 

 


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I Would Walk 500 Miles

Last weekend, Katie, Alice, and I went to Edinburgh :D

We took the “Megabus Gold” (think Harry Potter Knight Bus) to get from London to Edinburgh. It was ~ an 8 hour ride, so this was definitely the way to do it. We got to sleep in beds on the ride there, and we didn’t have to worry about a hostel or anything. Fyi – if you ever plan on travelling this way, choose the lower level (it’s double-decker) and the top bunk for the best sleep :)

Silly friends

Silly friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 1st night we had a couple hours to kill in London, so we walked from VCS to Trafalgar Sq and back. I was surprised to see we had walked 7 miles in that time period.

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Edinburgh was so much better than I could have expected. The landscape and architecture (and the weather!) combined to make the city perfectly Scottish.

IMG_5556We were fairly starving when we got off the bus, so we stopped in a café for breakfast. I had a haggis sandwich – haggis is delicious, don’t knock it ’till you try it!

 

 

 

 

Afterwards, we went on a walking tour. We did these first in both Dublin and Edinburgh, and I would recommend them highly. They flood you with information about the city, and you gain a sense of direction as you follow someone who knows their way around.

IMG_5561It was frigid, to say the least. Everyone was huddled into themselves trying to keep warm. Umbrellas usually did no good, unless you were good at using them inside-out. As our tour guide stated, “If you’re not up for the rain or the cold, then this is not the tour *OR THE COUNTRY* for you.” Luckily we’d all acclimatized to the English weather with relative success, so the Scottish weather wasn’t too terrible. It gave us an excuse to duck inside a café from time to time for a hot tea!

Edinburgh, like, it seems, all heavily populated areas, was not a pleasant place to live during its early days. Twice a day, the citizens would all dump their chamber pots out their windows. Not a time you wanted to be walking around, but apparently the drunks frequently…had quite the misfortune. And thus was created the expression “S***faced-drunk.”

IMG_5566Those who could afford it had bars put afford it had bars put over their graves. This prevented their bodies from being robbed and sold to the university for science (signing up to donate one’s body to science ante-mortem didn’t happen till later). If a person couldn’t afford the bars, friends / family would watch over the grave at night. So was born “Working the graveyard shift.”

 

 

 

 

"Voldemort's Grave"

“Voldemort’s Grave”

After the walking tour ended, we stopped by “Voldemort’s Grave” just for kicks. Because it’s such a high-traffic area, there is NO grass…just a ton of mud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5570After a nap (wow. such tired. many sleeps), we decided to grab a late lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5675We were originally going to go to the Elephant House (famous for being frequented by J.K. Rowling, but apparently she helped them out by allowing them to claim that she’d spent more time there than she really did. Spoon Café was owned by her brother-in-law, so in her poorer days, it was a place that she could stay and work essentially for free (you learn all sorts of things on these walking tours!)

 

 

IMG_5583The restaurant was very quirky and intriguing. It was easy to see how the place had influenced her, and brought to mind things she’d created for HP. It definitely had a warm, friendly atmosphere evocative of the Three Broomsticks, and the lack of uniformity reminded my of Luna Lovegood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5591Afterwards, we visited the Museum of Scotland. Since it, like everything else, closed fairly early, we only had time for a quick run through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5604Then, we did a bit of aimless wandering and discovering the university, finally making it to Edinburgh Castle. Which, by the way, isn’t on a hill, it’s on an extinct volcano (the whole island was near the equator millions of years ago).

 

 

 

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For dinner, we met one of Alice’s friends, Chet from her home uni. He’s studying abroad in Edinburgh, so he took us to an on-campus pub called “The Library” (notice the bookshelves everywhere). The atmosphere was really quite cool, and it was interesting to see parts another UK university.

 

 

 

IMG_5730We also went to another pub called the Brass Monkey. It was very crowded, so we never got seats, but it was very cool too & the music was good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5733Alice spent the most of the next day with Chet, so Katie and I travelled around together. She wanted to explore town some more though, so I went to tour the castle that morning. It was a bit pricey, but I’m very glad I went. While I was there, I ran into Rachel and Lee, who also happened to be in Edinburgh at the time, so we toured the castle together.

IMG_5739A blurry picture of the Stone of Destiny that I got as they yelled at me XD (I didn’t use a flash!)

It (if you can even tell what it is haha) just looks like a stone, but it’s the coronation stone. In 1296, the stone was taken by Edward I as spoils of war and put under the English coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. Despite the fact that England agreed to return the stone in 1328, it wasn’t actually done. So, in 1950 (they waited a long time), a group of 4 Scottish students decided to steal the stone back, returning it to its rightful country. However, in no time at all, the stone was back in Westminster Abbey. Not until 1996 was the stone returned to Scotland!

IMG_5746Demonstration of how to use a pike. I lifted one later in the day, and they’re actually surprisingly lightweight for their size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful (and rainy) view from the castle

Beautiful (and rainy) view from the castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_5782The Doctor Who-style police boxes are really rare, but are most common in Scotland. Even so, many of them are actually twice as wide as they are in the show – this box-thing is too but I took the photo from the end ;) I did my best :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5800After I finished touring the castle, I rejoined Katie and we took a bus to Leith. I originally wanted to go simply because of the Proclaimers’ song “500 miles” from “Sunshine on Leith.” It turned out to be a little gem of a town though, and we were glad we got to see something other than simply Edinburgh (not that Edinburgh’s not wonderful!)

 

 

IMG_5802Leith’s on the coast, so we saw the water for the first time since we’ve been here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_5840Dinner was absolutely fantastic. We went to a hole-in-the-wall Turkish restaurant that we’d noticed on the way down to Ocean Terminal of Leith. For something as simple as a grilled wrap, the meal was one of the best I’ve had in my life. For dessert we got coconut-dusted Turkish Delight in honor of the Chronicles of Narnia. We forgive Edmund.

 

 

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Train station & mall

Train station & mall

Afterwards, we wandered around town some more. We went to New Town and wandered until all the shops closed and we couldn’t keep popping in anywhere to get warm.

 

 

 

 

 

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Afterwards, we hung out at the bar of a pub (which played Elton John the whole time we were there!) until Alice was able to meet up with us and then caught the Megabus Gold back to London.

 

 

 

 


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Long Time, No See

It’s that time of the semester – projects/essays are due, and, because of stress and bad weather, everyone is getting sick. I recently got a pretty bad cold myself – I ran myself into the ground on the Ireland trip, and it took me quite a while to recover. Good times.

11008057_10204953947186663_343499430995120037_nLuckily, I was able to recover well enough to meet up with one of my oldest friends, Kelsey. She’s studying abroad in Antibes, France at the moment, and decided to tour northern France and London for a few days with her mother. Visit her blog here: https://spring2015laviefrancaise.wordpress.com.

 

 

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We met in London and took a train to Salisbury, where we then caught a bus that took us to Stonehenge.

IMG_5162It’s very cool to stand before Stonehenge in person after having seen photos for years. We walked around for several minutes snapping pictures, and then explored some building ruins. Kelsey and her mom were treated to some traditional English weather – a cold, grey, and gusty day. It seems she’s happy to be back in the warmth of the south of France ;)

 

 

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IMG_5209After we’d toured Stonehenge & the ruins, we visited Sarum, an incredibly quaint town, and I fell in love with it within seconds. I found it to be remarkably similar to Canterbury in terms of size, architecture, shops, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5212We explored some traditional British shops such as Topshop (very popular here!), FatFace (warm clothes!) and a few others. Hopefully they were able to get a feel for the British style/shop personality.

After touring Sarum a bit, we returned to London. Sitting on the train was a nice break from the outdoor elements, and gave us a chance to catch up with each other.

 

IMG_5232Upon reaching London, we headed straight for Victoria Coach Station. Sadly, there wasn’t sufficient time for us to eat dinner together, so we all grabbed a to-go meal at the Coach Station.

 

 

 

 

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It was great to see Kelsey again, especially after our whirlwind study abroad experiences. I’m looking forward to visiting her at her uni over spring break!


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Woke up in London Yesterday…

This past weekend a group of my friends and I went to London. Since it was our first big trip, most of us were relatively new to the lifestyle we led while we were there (aka backpacking, hostels, etc.) However, as we were with two Londoner friends (Lee’s flatmate Jess, and her friend Ling Ling), we were in safe hands. I’m now excited to go explore some more of the world ASAP!

We took an early morning National Express Coach from Uni Kent directly to London. Having only packed the bare necessities in backpacks, we hopped off the bus and started exploring immediately.

The first site we visited was the Victoria & Albert Museum.

"Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer"

“Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer”

Sieu and I went on a search for the Constable paintings, but ended up wandering instead as we passed through intriguing exhibits. I would have pulled out my map to head for a specific exhibit, but we both agreed that wandering was much more fun. I’ve never taken this approach to a museum before, but it was definitely worth it!

Sculpture gallery @ V&A

Sculpture gallery @ V&A

Posing with paintings

Posing with paintings

In our wanderings, we found an entire room dedicated to stained glass! Pictures don’t do it justice – it was beautiful to see in person with the light streaming through them. It created quite the atmosphere of ethereality.

Stained glass @ V&A

Stained glass @ V&A

Stained glass @ V&A

Stained glass @ V&A

We also stumbled upon a room full of tapestries (probably my favorite part of the museum). I was beyond elated to see the unicorn tapestry at the end, as I thought it might be related to the Lady and the Unicorn series. It turns out it  is not part of that series (I don’t even think it’s part of “The Hunt of the Unicorn”) but  I still think it is really very lovely!

Unicorn Millefleurs tapestry @ V&A

Unicorn Millefleurs tapestry @ V&A

At last, we found the Constable paintings (what we had half been searching for the whole time) and were not disappointed.

Constable painting @ V&A

Constable painting @ V&A

Constable painting @ V&A

Constable painting @ V&A

As much as I loved the Constables, I found this Thomas Gainsborough paintings to be particularly intriguing. The oil-on-glass combination gives it the luminescent appearance.

V&A painting

Gainsborough painting @ V&A

“Daydream” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (the woman is Jane Morris, wife of the famous William Morris).

"Daydream" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Daydream” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

After touring the Victoria & Albert museum, we continued on to the science museum. We spent most of our time on the medical floor – our friend found this fascinating since he wants to be a doctor. Hands-on activities geared toward younger children were prevalent in many of the other areas, so we were glad we had spent our time where we did.

I found the cuneiform tablets extremely cool to look at (linguistics!)

Cuneiform tablets @ Science museum

Cuneiform tablets @ Science museum

I’m glad modern dentistry, among other things, has improved since then…

Medical @ Science museum

Medical @ Science museum

The Pilot ACE – the sign said it “embodied Alan Turing’s idea of a universal machine that could perform any logical task. Turing wrote the specification for the ACE computer in 1945 and a prototype, the Pilot ACE, was built many years later at the National Physical Laboratory. In 1951 it went into service performing calculations for the government and scientists.”

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The Pilot ACE Machine

I still don’t know why these people were dressed up as giant bugs but I thought it was amusing :D

People in costumes

People in costumes

Lastly, we visited the Natural History Museum. The line to get inside (stretching for 1/2 a block) made us a little nervous, but we only had to wait 15 minutes or so – it was well worth the wait.

Pano of the main hall (Hintze)

Pano of the main hall (Hintze)

Main hall, National History Museum

Main hall, National History Museum

Me with a diplodocus skeleton

Me with a diplodocus skeleton

The skeletons aren’t bad, but the animatronic ones brought forth memories of the little killer dudes in Jurassic Park and were actually a bit freaky. Luckily the big guy up above is an herbivore.

Dino Exhibit - Mus. Nat. Hist.

Dino Exhibit – Mus. Nat. Hist.

What really happened to the dinosaurs??

Dino theories

Dino theories

Perspective

Perspective

The architecture there is extremely opulent. In the gallery I included more pictures – sometimes there are even carvings of animals in the molding.

The architecture is beautiful

Nat. Hist. Mus.

People were queued up to see the dodos like they’d, well, gone extinct.

Dodos!

Dodos!

By this point we’d toured 3 museums in one day and couldn’t take it any longer. Touring around for that long and actively trying not to get separated makes for a tiring day. In fact, we didn’t really look around the Earth’s core exhibit…but the escalator had been calling us to at least go up to it :P

Earth's Core Escalator

Earth’s Core Escalator

Outside the Volcanoes & Earthquakes Exhibit

Outside the Volcanoes & Earthquakes Exhibit

Outside the Volcanoes and Earthquakes exhibit

Outside the Volcanoes and Earthquakes exhibit

After a multiple failed attempts to find a pub, we ended up going to an Indian restaurant. I should have taken a picture of my meal at this restaurant. I ordered fish which “may contain bones” – I figured that meant a bone was *possible* and they were just telling you to avoid being sued or something. Apparently “may” means “will” though. When my fish came out, eyeballs and everything, I felt slightly like the mom on “A Christmas Story” when she sees that the Christmas duck still has its head. I’ve never eaten a fish while simultaneously trying to dodge bones, but it was good in the end, and most definitely an interesting experience.

Dinner afterwards

Dinner afterwards

We stayed at a hostel called the Pride of Paddington, which was really quite nice. The stairs were crazy though, so I’m glad we just had backpacks and not suitcases. It has a pub downstairs, where breakfast is included in the morning.

Pride of Paddington Pub

Pride of Paddington Pub

Pride of Paddington - stairs to our room

Pride of Paddington – stairs to our room

Some of us tried a dish called “Black Pudding,” which is made from pig’s blood and other things mixed in like oatmeal. The texture was weird, but it tasted, for the most part, like sausage.

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That night we went to a store called Boots (like a giant Walgreens) go get some medicine for my friend who was sick. I got this while I was there – it’s by far my new favorite candy. Milk chocolate with pop rocks and gummy bits mixed in, it’s like a firework in your mouth ^_^

Cadbury Jelly Popping Candy

Cadbury Jelly Popping Candy

The next day we got up and went to a place called “Borough Market” that Jess had highly recommended. Being relatively early on a Sunday, the market was closed, but the area itself was really, really cool. There were countless little shops and restaurants and it was right on the Thames, so we got a great view of it and the London skyline.

On the underground

On the underground

Borough Market

Borough Market

Borough Market

Borough Market

Thames & London Skyline

Thames & London Skyline

Pano of London skyline

Pano of London skyline

 

Near London Eye & Big Ben

Near London Eye & Big Ben

Buskers – an unexpected but pleasant surprise

Buskers

Buskers

The green colour of Westminster bridge matches the seats in the House of Commons, while the red colour of Lambeth bridge matches the seats in the House of Lords.

I worked really hard to get a red bus passing in front of the House of Commons – I thought one would never come!!

Big Ben & Westminster Bridge

Big Ben & Westminster Bridge

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Opposite Big Ben

Opposite Big Ben

Big Ben & Red London Bus

Big Ben & London Bus

Big Ben & London Bus

Big Ben & London Bus

Telephone booth & Big Ben

Telephone booth & Big Ben

Our last stop was Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

@ Buckingham Palace

@ Buckingham Palace

After Buckingham Palace we trudged reluctantly toward Victoria Coach Station to get ready to catch our bus. Lacking the energy to do anything else, we ordered hot chocolate in a shop called Caffé Nero’s to warm up and rest for a while.

It was a very busy, but wonderful weekend! I’m looking forward to going back in a few weeks and exploring some more.

 


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On the Steps of the Palace!

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to get to go to Dover Castle with the International Students. Despite the weather (I’m beginning to get a sense of the English rain! My hair was pretty wet by the end of the trip) the trip was really very lovely. The fact that parts of it were used in the filming of the Into the Woods movie made the trip that much more exciting.

Upon approaching the castle we saw some friendly mountain goats (it’s so fluffy! :D).

Goats @ Dover

Goats @ Dover

The castle itself was really very cool. Literally. It must have been refrigerated! In all seriousness though, I loved seeing the castle. Old structures – centuries old – like Dover Castle are relatively common in Europe, but that’s not the case in the States. It’s amazing to have the chance to get to see them in person.

Dover Castle - view from the rooftop

Dover Castle – view from the rooftop

 

Outside Dover Castle

Outside Dover Castle

Dover Castle - view from the rooftop

Dover Castle – view from the rooftop

View from Dover Castle

View from Dover Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got to explore tunnels that were used in WWII. I’ve heard about these all my life, but it was surreal to learn about them where they actually happened. During WWII they served as air raid shelters and as a military command centre. Dover Castle is referred to as the “Key to England” due to its defensive importance.

Tunnel at Dover Castle

Tunnel at Dover Castle

Dover Castle

Dover Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near the end of the trip we caught a teeny glimpse of the White Cliffs of Dover beside us.

White Cliffs

White Cliffs

P.S. I will generally include several pictures throughout my posts, but I include a gallery with extras to avoid flooding the page :)