England!

March 8, 2009

So I know it’s been a long while since I posted up here, but there is a good reason.  Let’s see, on February 19, I left from Frankfurt headed to England.  There, I was met at the airport by Bob from Grace Fellowship in Little Stukeley.  Bob and Debbie were amazing hosts for the time I was helping out Grace Fellowship.  They helped me work out some traveling on my own as well as letting me stay in their house and filling me in on England.

For that week, I’d been on military bases more than ever in my life, save the one time on Memorial Day that Patrick’s sister took us to the naval base for the beach.  It was incredibly weird to be in a place in England that ran like America and took US Dollars.  That was a shock, especially since I haven’t had any US cash on me in about a month.  I got to have meals at the club, which reminded me a little of dining halls, and the bowling alley (yeah AMF :)).  Pastor Paul was really nice, too, and we got him set up with a web page for Grace Fellowship and how to podcast his sermons.  We also cleaned up his computer a little bit, I got to help Bob with his ipod, and got to see some of Huntingdon.

The last full day I was with them, 24 Feb, I took a £6 bus to Cambridge.  That area is absolutely beautiful.  I really wished that I had gone to Cambridge for at least a summer abroad if not a year or more.  The campuses were amazing, and Cambridge is celebrating its 800 year anniversary, which just blows my mind.  My first stop was Trinity college, which has a large courtyard and has claim to fame Isaac Newton.  There are large statues of Newton, Tennyson, among others in their chapel, which felt like home in the Wren chapel.  Speaking of Wren, I took a visit to the Wren Library (the same Christopher), where I got to see a real lock of Newton’s hair, an original marked-up copy of Principia, and the original copy of Whinnie the Pooh.

That was definitely the most adventurous.  From there, I walked around the backs (Cam), ventured through Claire’s College and Kings College.  I also got to see the Mathematical Bridge, which according to legend, can stand on its own even if all the nuts and bolts were removed.  The Fitzwilliam museum also had an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts as well as an extensive collection of art.

After dark, I returned to Huntingdon and prepared to leave the next day for London.  The £21 train ride was mostly uneventful, but put me in King’s Cross train station in about an hour.  By the way, I looked for the pretend legendary platform from Harry Potter, and sadly due to construction, it was hidden from view.  Oh well.  Went straight to the hostel, Astor Quest, got checked in and caught up with a friend.  We then went to see Wicked, which is an awesome musical that I would recommend!

The next three, well four, days were a whirlwind.  The first day, Thursday, we saw the Tower of London complete with Crown Jewels.  We had a wonderful guide with a great sense of humor.  He showed us the original “Watergate” which was of course the entrance for cargo into the castle walls that was later renamed the “Traitor gate” for obvious reasons.   From there, we went to the National Gallery and saw quite a few famous paintings (or, paintings from famous painters, really).  I got to see a Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo (can you tell where this is going?–now, where’s Donatello, again?).  Also got to take in the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  What an adventure :).

Friday was also packed.  We went to see Big Ben and the houses of Parliament.  The walked by the Thames and ended up at the Tate Britian museum, which really pales in comparison to the national gallery :).  We then made it to Buckingham Palace and walked down the Mall (which is just a street) back towards the National Gallery.  Buckingham Palace is not really very fancy, except for the ludicrous gold (or gold-plated) statues and gates, etc, that surround it.   We also ran across the guards on horseback, which had to stand in one place for a long period of time.  As you can image, the horses were not too keen on that.  I wouldn’t be either.  After dinner, I got to dance for the first time in about a month or two.  We went to a salsa club (more like a dance studio), learned the Ruedo and then joined in the open Salsa dancing.  Nice, but expensive.  Why is it that salsa/mambo clubs make you pay for everything?

Saturday presented some problems.  The Circle line of the underground wasn’t running.  So, trips around the circle had to be executed with carefully placed changes.  This worked fine dropping my friend off at the bus station, but then was problematic when I tried to go sight-seeing.  The trains that run alongside of the circle line, stopping at the same stops–including the toursit attractions–do not run their entire length on the weekend.  So, there was no underground service to the tourist attractions!  I took the District line as far as it would go, Embankment, and then walked down the Thames the 3 or so other stops that I needed to get through to get to the sites.  It was a nice walk, but I didn’t quite have the time.  I ventured across the Millenium bridge and into the Globe theatre, where I got to see the actors preparing for the upcoming performace of Romeo and Juliet.  Leaving there, I went next door to the towering Tate Modern.  Without paying money for anything, it appeared that only the 2nd floor was open.  I didn’t spend much time there, just long enough to see the Monet and Picasso, I believe, before running off to the British Museum (again, no small feat with the lack of underground service).  The British Museum was amazing!  To top it off, I only saw about a tenth of it.  I got to see mummies, Egyptian statues, Roman and Greek statues, and so much more.  I would recommend making at least a day trip out of just that museum!

Sunday was the expensive day.  I spent £49 for a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath.  Stonehenge was absolutely amazing.  It was such a short trip that I’m still trying to take it all in.  The stones are probably 4-5 tons each and moved over an expansive amount of land.  That and we don’t know Stonehenge’s original purpose.  Bath was gorgeous.  The city is beautiful and I do believe I wouldn’t mind living there someday.  The baths were pretty impressive, too.

I know I should have gone into more detail there, but that was my trip to England.  I mounted the underground at 8am on Monday, traveling all day to arrive home at about 5pm, and proceeded to get sick along the way.  I’ve been sick (and still am) since Monday, which is why this post has taken almost a week to get up.  Pictures of all these things are on my flickr page (link’s on the right), and if you want more details about anything, feel free to comment.

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