Friday, August 21, 2015

Our England Journey: London

You can't do a whirlwind tour of England without visiting London.

And indeed, on our first day, we whirlwind-ed it up.  This was our main tourist day, and we walked down the river to Tower Bridge (which everyone knows as London Bridge, even though that's the name of another bridge), around the Tower of London (we didn't actually go in), up the river to Big Ben/Parliament and over to Buckingham Palace.  It was a pretty exhausting day, though it was made better by the company of a dear friend who also let us crash at her place. Cheap home cooked meals for the win!

Slooowly getting closer.

Made it!

It turns out the part of the Tower of London that is shown in all the photos isn't the whole thing.  The tall square part is surrounded by several layers of walls outside of that, and it's sort of hard to actually see the square part unless you pay to go in (or ride in a helicopter).

I liked this shot with Tower Bridge in the background of the Tower of London.

The second day was a museum day.  Dan and I managed to see much of the British Museum as well as ALL of the National Gallery (I'm still proud of the ALL part, though my feet really hated me for it.)

I did take photos in the British Museum, but you all probably know what the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone look like (or how to use Google), so I'll skip those and just share these two paintings that I adored in the National Gallery.

Portrait of a Lady by Alesso Baldovinetti (1465)
Her dress (or at least the sleeve embroidery)
 may now be on my wish list.
Saint Peter Martyr by Carlo Crivelli (1476)
He was, of course, murdered by both a sword and a

I don't seem to have any photos of our third day.  We spent the morning attending mass at St. Paul's (an excellent way to get in free to churches) and the afternoon visiting the Museum of London.  This was a recommended museum from two different colleagues of mine, both saying it was their favorite London museum, and it didn't disappoint.  Much less crowded than any of the others, it was a really well done history museum--and it was free (though so are most major London Museums).

After our three days tramping around London, it was on to Bath, because how could I not?

Don't miss Eastbourne and Canterbury, the earlier posts in this series.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our England Journey: Canterbury

After Eastbourne, we headed to Canterbury.

And our first stop was, of course, the cathedral.  We ended up spending a whole afternoon here, because as it turns out, there's a lot to see.  The grounds are fairly extensive and contain, among other things, Roman ruins and a boys boarding school.  Canterbury Cathedral is more than just the cathedral.  Who knew?

While we were visiting, an organist was practicing and I got to sit and listen to the most beautiful music reverberate through me and everything else.  It was a really lovely afternoon.

Of course, we took a lot of photos, because it's STUNNING.

Funny faces on the ceiling of the courtyard.

A side chapel

Looking up into the tower.

The next day we explored St. Augustine's Abbey, which served as a Catholic monastery for almost 1000 years until King Henry VIII came along and got rid of most of the abbey's in England, seizing the property for the crown.  An aspect of the English Reformation I hadn't previously considered. After it was dissolved, part of the abbey became a manor house for awhile while much of the rest was torn down and sold off. Now, there are only ruins; but if you do visit Canterbury, the audio guide makes a visit to the Abbey well worth it.

You could just see the tower of Canterbury Cathedral.
That was pretty much it for Canterbury, as we only stayed one night.  Next up, London!

If you haven't yet, feel free to check out the first post in this series on Eastbourne.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Our England Journey: Eastbourne

Ever since we moved to the Netherlands three years ago, I've wanted to do a proper holiday in England. Last year I went to London for a day and a half, and we spent a week in Manchester where Dan had a conference, but I wanted MORE.  And in July, it finally happened.

We started our trip in Eastbourne, along the southern coast (think white cliffs of Dover, but West of Dover). And technically we started our trip at Gatwick Airport, south of London, but were soon in Eastbourne.

Here we spent two days. On the first day, we traveled to Pevensey Castle--which is where William the Conqueror landed, sheltered, and prepared for the battle of Hastings in 1066. What you see there now wasn't actually what William saw (there were still Roman ruins on the site at the time), but it was interesting nonetheless.

And then we tromped through the countryside back to the adjoining town.  This is something so completely English that it seems really weird to Americans.  If you entered someone's paddock in, say, Montana with the intention of 'cutting through' to get where you're going, someone may either call the police or shoot you. But in England, you simply close the gate behind you and try to avoid the cow pies (and the very nearby cows (or sheep or whatever)).  It's really fantastic, once you get used to it.

Our second day was spent hiking along the coast, seeing some really beautiful limestone cliffs as we went, and getting pelted by rain.

In the next photo you can see the cafe where we sheltered for lunch.  We came in sopping wet (I had never stuck my face under a bathroom hand blow dryer before that day.  Oh the warmth was beautiful.) and demanding soup.  We chatted to the locals behind the counter about the weather and they assured us that this was a pretty normal day, that it wasn't bad weather until the sand on the beach (a good few stories below) started blowing up and hitting the windows.  Our soaked selves suddenly appreciated not being there on a 'bad' day.

A good view of some of the Seven Sisters, seven hills just west of where we ate lunch.

And I'm going to leave you with one last photo.  I don't normally take photos of my hotel room, but this one had a most interesting curtain.  I'm pretty sure Sully (the big blue one) from Monsters Inc. got into some shady business dealings with a mobster in Eastbourne and got skinned for his troubles. Not sure how he ended up a curtain though...maybe the mobster owned the hotel and other rooms had curtain-skins of other Monsters?