A Travellerspoint blog

Scotland!

Updates are getting more difficult

all seasons in one day 12 °C

Drove all the way from Oxford, England to St. Andrews, Scotland yesterday. Fairly long haul at about 7 and 1/2 hours. Only took one wrong turn and it proved to be scenic and still going in the correct direction. It was pouring rain like I've rarely seen near Edinburgh. St. Andrews was very pretty from the top of the hill against the bay but we didn't stop to take pictures because we were already running behind and it was getting late. Plus Laura was on the verge of having a pee emergency and it wouldn't have been very nice for me to tell her to hold it while I captured a couple pictures.

More pictures than you can deal with are going to be coming in a couple days. I'm not going to have much time to put any updates on until tomorrow or the next day due to internet difficulties but I hope to type out some posts and get some photos ready so that when we get in to Edinburgh it'll be fast and easy to let everybody know what's been going on.

Posted by DavidJFabe 02:41 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Getting to Oxford

More tube-strike headaches

semi-overcast 20 °C

In Oxford now hanging out with Chris. It was really awesome of him to put us up and shepherd us around the city last night. Unfortunately we arrived too late in the day to do much sightseeing beyond walking through the courtyards and facades of the colleges (see soon to be attached photos) but that was plenty nice and we'll be spending a couple more days in Oxford before leaving England.

The trip to Oxford from Southwark, London wasn't particularly easy due to the Tube strike. After some careful reading of a bus schedule we discovered that we had to take the #15 from just north of the London bridge all the way out west to Paddington Train Station but the first three #15 buses said that they weren't going to Paddington and that we had to wait for the next one. Finally, after about 25 minutes a #15 to Paddington stopped by and Laura and I secured the front seat on the top level of the double-decker - prime seating because the #15 is recommended by our guide as a prime sight-seeing bus. So, that was a nice feature but the bus proceeded to take two hours to get to Paddington - arriving an hour after we had told Chris we planned to be in Oxford.

Anyway, we had a nice evening hanging out with Chris drinking beer. Off to Warwick today.

Posted by DavidJFabe 01:27 Archived in England Comments (0)

London Tube Strike

Oh dear, I might be a Mormon

semi-overcast 20 °C

Coming from a perspective of always respecting the worker I can't help but be politically aligned with the Tube strike. They're asking for wage increases concomitant with the rate of inflation which is completely reasonable. However, it's frustrating to have so much trouble crossing London. It took Laura and I far longer than what would have been reasonably expected to reach Kensington today. Thankfully, one of the two Tube lines that we needed to utilize to get to the Albert and Victoria Museum was operational but the effect of the strike on London commuters was wide-spread and obvious. People crammed into every bus and available tube (which were few-and-far-between) to the point of comedy. We were squeezed in until the point that I couldn't tell where I ended and the next person began. In some societies I might be considered married to some of the women that I was forced up against.

Anyway, the Victoria and Albert Museum was spectacular. Their collections were unbelievable. More diamonds that I've ever thought existed and a ridiculous sum of every other sort of riches - truly a sight to behold. I dragged Laura away too soon to go to the London Transportation Museum which, due to the strike, we didn't manage to reach. We did however see Covent Market which was extremely touristy but still quite attractive. One particularly impressive string sextet performed in a courtyard.

Once back "home" we headed to the Brisia Tapas Bar and had a fantastic dinner followed by drinks at The Rake. The Rake is of particular note because A.) they carry a large collection of American beers and B.) they're an up and coming "it" bar in London. The new-found respect for American beer is a welcome change. To illustrate my appreciation for "The Rake" and for those of you who don't mind strong language please read on:

The classic British joke about American beer is as follows: "What does American beer and having sex in a canoe have in common? It's fucking close to water".

Posted by DavidJFabe 13:56 Archived in England Comments (0)

Westminster

Quick post about all we saw yesterday

overcast 17 °C

Got to the Westminster area yesterday. Beautiful spot. Like it you rolled New York and Washington D.C. into one city. Stopped by:

Westminster Abbey (See Michelle Obama post)
Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
the outside of Buckingham Palace
and Parliament

London knows how to display its wealth. Trafalgar Square was certainly the most impressive square I've ever been to. The Parliament building is ridiculously huge - again, Britain knows how to display its power. Laura is more of a fan of visual art than I am but I very much enjoyed seeing the numerous Rembrandt pieces on display at the National Gallery. I couldn't help but be impressed by the size of the art collection even if by the end it was all running together and my feet hurt from standing for 4 hours. Laura's incredibly resilient when it comes to being able to look at things and stay interested.

We watched floor action in both the House of Lords and House of Commons. Neither were terribly interesting in terms of content but the setting was incredible. In the House of Commons we witnessed an accidentally racist speech by a conservative member. I know he meant well but he said a few things cringe-worthy. Oh well, it's hard to fault a guy who probably doesn't have a wide range of personal cultural experience. And again, he obviously meant well.

Off to Kensington. Victoria and Albert Museum and Harrods to name a couple of the sights. Will report back later.

Posted by DavidJFabe 01:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Short-form and some technical difficulties

Upon reflection I think that the post I made about Monday ("First Full Day In London" or something like that) was a little long winded. I'm going to change up the way I make posts about our sight-seeing days by condensing them into one or two anecdotes and a quick run-down of what we did/saw. That should keep readers happier and Laura and me able to spend less time on the internet.

Other detail of note: the wireless access on this Netbook has been spotty on occasion. Hopefully it's cleared up as I did some trouble shooting and I'm online now. However, updates may be sporadic and may come in massive bursts or two or three every few days.

Posted by DavidJFabe 00:33 Comments (0)

Obama'd

Michelle Obama in Westminster Abbey

overcast 17 °C

I figure that this one deserves its own entry - While at Westminster Abbey today Laura and I stood within 5 feet of the First Lady. Unfortunately, due to Westminster's draconian laws regarding photography (and because I'd be liable to die at the hands of Secret Service if I had quickly pulled out a camera to snap a shot) I am not in the possession of photographic evidence. It happened about half way through our tour of the Abbey. We were standing near the rear of the building next to the Coronation Chair when most of the people around us started being told to move along and a large group of men in business suits and ear-pieces came marching forward. For whatever reason we were only pushed aside a matter of two or three feet and moments later up walked Michelle Obama. We were both totally star-struck. Could hardly focus on the rest of the Abbey. Especially because she continued her tour for some time in fairly close proximity to ourselves.

Also saw the Obama daughters and various other members of their entourage.

Posted by DavidJFabe 14:21 Archived in England Comments (0)

Wheatabix!

The first full day of London. My feet hurt.

overcast 17 °C

Woke up at 4:30. I guess Laura wasn't very happy about that. I wasn't really either but I figured I wouldn't be able to sleep any more. Breakfast didn't start until 7:30 so we took an early morning walk around Southwark and took in the view of St. Paul Cathedral across the Thames. Very neo-classical looking from afar with a massive dome. London does things big.

Wheatabix for breakfast! Classic England. Also had some tea and followed it up with a particularly awful cup of instant coffee. I can partially be blamed for the foul flavor due to my exuberant scooping of the "coffee" powder. I probably should have scaled back my application...

Following breakfast we h (teaded into the thick throng of London's rush-hour. People everywhere and of every conceivable description all seemingly heading toward some mythic office on the north side of the river. Because the north side was also our destination (St. Paul Cathedral) the going was slow. Once at the cathedral Laura complained about the entrance fee (11 pounds) but she acquiesced to my desire to see one the most important sights in London.

St. Paul Cathedral was certainly impressive. Up and down many staircases. Ridiculously ornate chapels and shrines and monuments littered the main and lower floors. At the eastern end of the cathedral was a rather touching tribute to the American service-people who died while stationed in the United Kingdom during World War 2. The Whispering Gallery was every bit as impressive as people claim. I could hear Laura speaking to me along the wall from quite a distance. Were it not for the presence of numerous other people I probably would've committed an act of blasphemy by putting on a "voice-of-god" display. From the roof of the dome were incredible views over the whole of the city of London.

After St. Paul we hopped the Millennium pedestrian bridge across the Thames to the Tate Modern museum. Laura's more of a visual art fan than I am but I did my best to enjoy some of the more esoteric pieces and I did genuinely enjoy many of the sculptures. However, after three hours of standing around looking at hyperpretentious drawings of hamburgers and distorted penises I just couldn't remain excited. Thankfully, Laura was also starting to weary of the Tate Modern.

Lunch was enjoyed at "The Anchor". We shared Fish and Chips which were fried in beef fat - apparently the English tradition. It was good but the tartar sauce was particularly terrible and basically tasted like Miracle Whip with three minuscule chunks of dill pickle. Not quite up to SeaJ's standards I must say (though the fries were better).

The last sight-seeing stop of the day was the Tower of London. We crossed the Tower Bridge but decided to forgo actually touring it as the price was too high for what seemed like a fairly average sight. The facade of the bridge is impressive enough - seeing the inside wasn't too high on our priority list. In the London Tower we climbed hundreds upon hundreds of stairs and saw really impressive architecture. However, the Royal Jewels were easily the most impressive thing on display at the Tower. Some of the diamonds were absolutely insane in size. Of note - DeBeers obviously paid for some of the installation because the product placement was sometimes over the top (including a mention about how great Debeers' human-rights record is - ha!).

Some beer and then bed with sore feet.

Posted by DavidJFabe 13:50 Archived in England Comments (0)

Arrived

Just got into London

overcast 16 °C

Laura and I successfully navigated the London Underground. There was a ton of construction and we had to go a bit out of our way but we made it. The hostel room is small (read: tiny - will get a picture up later) but nice-ish. Bunk beds! Great view of a brick wall! Free breakfast!

The flight was fine except for the usual rambunctious children. All-in-all they didn't bother us too much. We managed to get a little sleep and as of the time of writing I don't think we'll have much trouble making it to our goal of a 9pm bed-time. It's 6:30 now and we're going to run down to get some dinner and drinks! First night in London!

Posted by DavidJFabe 10:31 Archived in England Comments (0)

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