S: GREAT BRITAIN 2011
FC: GREAT BRITAIN 2011
1: On our way! Our adventures began with a very bumpy ride to Atlanta! We thought it was pretty fun, like a roller coaster. The other passengers were not so thrilled. Pansies. | Day 1
2: Since we had all day in Atlanta, we checked out the World of Coca Cola! Even though we aren't die hard fans of soda in general, it was still pretty interesting to learn the history behind this world wide phenomenon. For instance, Coke was: -invented by an Atlanta pharmacist in 1886 - originally sold for 5 cents per glass | At the museum, there were exhibits on the history of Coke, a miniature bottling plant, a 4-D theater presentation on the secret formula of Coke, and best of all a tasting center where Coke beverages from all over the world are available for tasting! There were over 60 international Coke beverages as well as over 100 flavor varieties of beverages sold here in the states. | Our favorite of the international beverages was a bitter lemon soda called Kinley. It was supposedly sold in England, but we never did see any while we were there.
3: Oh, yeah! You get the good stuff in business class! Shrimp... steak... real plates... | e | Finally in London, catching the train at King's Cross Station. (Didn't get to see platform 9 3/4) Here we are desperately trying not to be tired after being awake for over 24 hours!
4: Day 2: On the way up to Edinburgh we stopped in Newcastle with the hope of checking out Hadrian's Wall. Sadly, we couldn't find the place I googled, so we settled for a local university museum. It was actually pretty cool! And free! | NEWCASTLE!
5: DALMAHOY INN Our GORGEOUS hotel in Edinburgh! Yeah... it's a castle!
6: Day 3: Edinburgh Castle! Our first full day in Edinburgh just happened to be the day of the royal wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. It had been declared a national holiday for all of the UK, so even in Edinburgh, people were excited! The ladies in the ticket booth here at the castle were watching the wedding when we got our tickets!
7: It was pretty chilly and EXTREMELY windy while we were there! But aside from the weather, our tour of the castle was fun and informative! There were a lot of museums in the castle, mostly military related; appropriate, since there is an active military garrison stationed there. Also, Edinburgh castle is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland! Unfortunately, photographs aren't allowed. But they were quite magnificent! The crown jewels are part of a collection known as the "Honours of Scotland." Also included in this collection are the Stone of Destiny and the Sword of State.
8: The Royal Palace "The single most important event to take place in the Royal Palace occurred on 19 June 1566 - the birth of James VI of Scotland and I of England." Born to Mary, Queen of Scots, King James united Scotland and England under one crown. | Most of the features seen today in the Royal palace date from a remodeling which took place in honor of King James' Golden Jubilee visit in 1617.
10: After touring the castle, we strolled down the Royal Mile. We checked out the souvenier shops, a museum or two, enjoyed some street performers, and took a ghost tour of the underground streets of Edinburgh!
11: Day 4: Stirling | The National Wallace Monument: We got to hear the story of William Wallace from the perspective of "a man who fought with Wallace." His performance made this one of our favorite experiences from the trip!
12: There were 246 of these tiny, narrow spiral stairs to climb in the monument! At the top you could look out and see where the Battle of Stirling Bridge had been fought It was SUPER windy up there, as you can see! | This, ladies and gentlemen, is William Wallace's actual sword! | There were hiking trails around the monument, we took a little detour to see some countryside. I'm telling you - the grass was definitely softer, if not greener!
13: Stirling Castle! It was a pretty quiet day here, so we enjoyed a nice leisurely "wander-round." | Desmond on the Bowling Green | We finally caught a bus!
14: Once home to the lavish gardens of James IV, these earthworks in the Royal Park date from around 1628.
15: One of the most interesting things we saw at Stirling Castle was an authentic weaving loom where weavers were working to recreate these famous unicorn tapestries. Unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed in the weaving room.
16: It was fun trying out the local fare! We really liked the Rose Lemonade... the Dandelion & Burdock not so much! Irn Bru is a very popular soft drink in Scotland and tastes kind of like cream soda. | American English vs British English: Chips = Crisps Fries = Chips Cookies = Biscuits Jelly = Jam Jello = Jelly Dessert = Pudding Take out = Take Away | A | A T | A "Taste" of Scotland!
17: From the ruggedly beautiful countryside to the snug cozy cottages, Scotland was full to the brim with charm and ambience!
18: Day 5: Saying goodbye to Scotland... We took an early train out of Edinburgh so we could check out the fine city of York on our way down to London.
19: York is famous for it's city walls- centuries old, but still very well preserved. You can pretty much walk around the entire historic city on the wall! | This column is a remnant from Roman times- it is the only surviving column of the original 16 that supported a once great hall in the Roman Garrison.
20: York Minster Cathedral
21: This glorious Gothic cathedral was awe-inspiring! We both thought it would have been interesting to attend a service in one of these amazing churches, but unfortunately we got to York just after services let out. That being the case, we also didn't get to go inside, since it was roped off from tourists. I did get to see a virtual tour online, and learned that it took 250 years to build York Minster, starting1220.
22: We had our first British Pub experience in York. I chose a very traditional roast beef with roasted potatoes, while Desmond opted for carbonara. | Back on the train and London-bound!
23: The Chamberlain Hotel 130-135 Minories City of London, Greater London EC3N 1NU, United Kingdom | We were way too exhausted to go anywhere for dinner by the time we got to our hotel, so we opted to stay in and enjoy some fine room service! My brie and grape chutney baguette was delicious!
24: Our first view of Big Ben! | St Paul's Cathedral- (Where Mary Poppins "fed the birds." | There were still flags flying in the streets from the royal wedding festivities! | Westminster Abbey | Tower Bridge- sometimes mistakenly referred to as "London Bridge." | Supposedly, it's good luck if you get to see the bridge open! | LONDON! | Day 6
25: Our first morning in London we explored the city riding one of those iconic red double-decker buses! We rode the full route first, just to be sure we saw everything at least once!
26: Icons of England | After riding the full bus tour once, we got off near Buckingham Palace and began to explore on foot the areas of Whitehall & Westminster, Soho & Trafalgar Square, and Covent Gardens & The Strand. And of course a trip to London wouldn't be complete without a lunch of fish & chips!
27: Trafalgar Square
28: I just love the names of some of these British pubs! | There are street performers everywhere- these "living statues" were in Trafalgar Square. | Countdown clock in Trafalgar Square for the 2012 Summer Olympics | The Buxton Memorial Fountain commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834 and is dedicated to several abolitionists including Thomas Foxwell Buxton, William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson. | Cleopatra's Needle-Over 3,000 years old, it was a gift from Egypt to Great Britain. Unfortunately, when they put up the sphinxes, t hey actually set them facing the wrong way. They are supposed to face outward, as though guarding the needle. Oops!
29: Around Town!
30: Covent Garden | There's something for everyone at Covent Garden! Even the street performers range from crazy Frenchman juggling knives on ladders to stringed quartets playing Pachelbel!
31: Even the shopping is very diverse- we bought my Mom some tea at a mall-style tea shop and my sister an antique copy of Tennyson at a flea-marked style booth.
32: Couldn't turn down the chance to check out the Sherlock Holmes Restaurant! Every item on the menu was based on a Sherlock Holmes story or character- I had "Inspector Lestrade's Favourite" (shepherd's pie), Desmond chose "Hounds of the Baskerville."('toad in the hole'- sausages in Yorkshire pudding.
33: The London Eye | Riding The Eye is a must in London! You can see as far as 25 miles from the top on a clear day! The wheel never stops- even to load passengers, but it moves so slowly you can hardly tell it's moving at all. It takes about 30 minutes for a full rotation.
34: Changing of the Guard | Day 7
35: Nobody does pomp and ceremony like the British! And of course, no ceremony in England is more iconic than the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace! | Not sure what this "bobby" was grinning at but I love that I caught it on camera!
36: I was really eager to see Westminster Abbey- especially the site where William Wilberforce is buried. Photography isn't allowed inside, so I couldn't get a picture of it, but it was inspiring all the same!
37: Westminster Abbey | My favorite portion of William Wilberforce's epitaph: "In an age and country fertile in great and good men, he was among the foremost of those who fixed the character of their times because to the high and various talents to warm benevolence, and to universal candour, he added the abiding eloquence of a Christian life.".
38: Afternoon Tea
39: Afternoon tea at Harrod's was fantastic! While the dainty finger sandwiches were delectable, and the scones soft and creamy smooth interior just melted in the mouth, I'd have to say my favorite was the crisp flaky eclaire bursting with rich fudgy chocolate filling. And I can say with certainty that the tea was the best I've ever had in my life!
40: Welcome to Bath! | Day 8: We took a day trip out of London. The tour included Bath, the tiny little village of Lacock, and Stonehenge!
41: Since the ninth century BC, the thermal springs at Bath were thought to possess healing powers. When the Romans conquered Britain in the first century AD, they transformed the natural spring into a sophisticated spa.
42: Though the popularity of the spa waned with the demise of the Romans, by the eighteenth century it was once again a fashionable resort. Posh society flocked to Bath every summer both to enjoy the beautiful limestone city and to take in the spa waters to be cured of their various ailments.
43: One cannot visit Bath without sampling the famed "spa water" at the Pump Room. We even bought a souvenir bottle of Bath Water to take home with us. According to the label it cures all manner of "pestiferous contagion."
44: The Village of Lacock | I was really excited to learn that our tour would take us to this village where so many of my favorite Jane Austen movies were filmed! The town was beautifully picturesque and quaint! | The scenes in the village of Merryton in Pride & Prejudice were filmed on this street.
45: Harry Potter's parents house | Horace Slughorn's house | Sticky Toffee Pudding & Steak & Ale pie | Dinner at the George Inn!
47: Normally Stonehenge is roped off and viewed from a distance, but we booked a special sunset tour which allowed us to walk around among the stones! The tour guide said that only about half of 1% of all the people that visit Stonehenge get to do that!
48: We thought it would be fun to check out a local grocery store, just to see what kinds of different products we could find that aren't available in the US. One of my favorites was the "Elevenses!" I bought some Lady Grey tea to take home with us. We also went to McDonald's to see if it tasted differently there- it was actually a little better! The chairs were definitely cooler!
49: The Tower of London | Day 9
50: We took the guided tour, conducted by a genuine "beefeater." As you can probably tell, he was hilarious! He regaled us with true tales of treason, intrigue and executions of both innocent and guilty alike. After which he tells all the Americans in the crowd- "All that history could've been yours if you'd've paid your taxes!" | Touring the Tower
51: After our tour we took a peek at the Crown Jewels! They were pretty incredible, too bad photographs aren't allowed! | The Tower is famous for it's historical role as a prison and a fortress. Hence, the armour! | I love exploring gift shops! This one had some pretty interesting souvenirs!
52: One of the most interesting exhibits at the Tower was the Medieval Palace; a re-creation of what the palace would have looked like in the 15th century.
53: We were surprised at how big the Tower was once we got inside. We had been told that we could cover it in about 3 hours- it actually took closer to 5! It was hard to believe that this was our last day in London! As much as we saw and as wonderful as it was, there were still so many things we would have loved to do!
54: Parts of the Tower are still used for official purposes today. | This memorial is at the scaffold site and commemorates the innocent lives who were executed there. It reads: "Gentle visitor pause awhile. Where you stand death cut away the light of many days. Here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage under these restless skies." | Legend states that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six ravens ever leave the fortress. They keep seven there just in case!
55: The British Museum
56: The British Museum was absolutely INCREDIBLE!!! What I really wanted to see most was the exhibit on Ninevah. These carvings are from the walls of the palace while the statues once guarded monumental gateways.
57: The Rosetta Stone | We were completely awestruck by the Egyptian exhibit. It was unlike anything we had ever seen! Unlike most museums where all the artifacts are roped off or behind glass, many of the artifacts at the British Museum were out in the open where you could really see them clearly. I loved that it gave the whole museum a feeling of airiness that you don't normally get. With the exception of the Rosetta Stone, which was behind glass. Unfortunately we got there only a couple hours before closing time. If we ever go back to London, we definitely want to spend more time here!
58: The Enlightenment Gallery in the Museum houses a permanent exhibition entitled "Discovering the World in the 18th Century." It honors the efforts of 18th century scholars and scientists who were passionate about understanding the world around them. | I was thrilled to find Jarndyce & Jarndyce- an antique bookstore across the street from the British Museum. They had so many beautiful old books I wanted to cry! I bought myself a copy of Villette by Charlotte Bronte from 1906.
59: We were very interested to learn that the district of London known to locals simply as "The City" is actually under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor of London, not the Queen. In fact, the Queen has to ask permission from the Lord Mayor to enter The City. Most major entrances to The City are marked with dragons, like this one.This is the Temple Bar Dragon. | On the way home Desmond happened to look out the window just in time to see Greenland 10,000 feet below! | HOMEWARD BOUND
61: American English vs. British English Exit = Way out Goodbye = Cheers Thank you = Cheers Cool = Brilliant Crazy = Barmy Stroller = Push chair Elevator = Lift Bus = Coach Trunk = Boot For Rent = To Let Gas = Petrol Pants = Trousers Trash Can = Rubbish Bin