Posts tagged uk trip 2011

UK Trip 2011: London, at last!

We ended my romp around the United Kingdom in London where Nancy and I stayed at the London House Hotel located in Bayswater. Although this hotel wasn’t as cheap as our 20GBP a night Travelodge hotels, it was still within my budget and it was a really nice hotel for the price. I would definitely recommend it to people traveling to London on an average budget. Our rooms were very comfortable, the shower was awesome and the front desk was constantly helpful. A subway station was also easily located around the corner and not hard to navigate to.

London, Day 1

Of course, we spent the first and second day hitting up all the tourist-y fun stuff. We arrived in London from Cambridge late in the afternoon and figured that the one super-touristy thing we could do was The London Eye since it was opened later than most. As anticipated, one ride in the Eye was extremely expensive although the view was pretty spectacular. Though perhaps I wouldn’t recommend it to most travelers on a budget.

On our second full day there, we found an open double-decker bus tour, which is a must for first-timers like me. It was an easy way to get around to see all the main sights. We stopped at the Tower of London and spent a couple of hours poking around within the castle. Definitely an interesting place to see some of London’s older history. We also stopped to look at Cleopatra’s Eye by the Thames River and of course, Buckingham Palace.

London, Day 1

London was very much a city and reminded me of many other cities I’ve been to. It was quite a contrast from all the other places we went to during my trip. Still, I am interested in going back and exploring the city a little deeper. On the third day, we went to the Tate Britain Museum, a smaller museum but stock full of art of different variety. Pilbeam showed me Camden Market aka Camden Lock, an area with open markets and famous for its goth stores. The best thing about the market was discovering the hidden stalls that had artists and crafters selling their own handmade and unique creations. It’s a great place to find cheap accessories too in which I bought many!  Continue reading

UK Trip 2011: Stonehenge

When Pilbeam asked me what I wanted to see while in I visited her in England, the Stonehenge was on my main list of must-see-tourist-attraction. I am a big fan of the wonders of the world (again, somewhat of a history dork). We planned a quick stop to Salisbury between Bath and our trip back to Cambridge- by quick, I mean, quick! We spent less than half a day in town; although I don’t think you needed more than that to marvel at the rocks.

We were a little surprised when we stepped off the Salisbury train station. I suppose we were expecting signs for the Stonehenge everywhere the minute we arrived… but nada! There was one tour bus that offered tourists a ride to the Stonehenge and they were not easily spotted. There didn’t seem to be any other options either besides the single tour bus.

Huh. It boggled us for awhile because we had assumed Salisbury would be milking the Stonehenge for all it’s touristy worth. I suppose that’s a very ‘American-way’ of thinking though. We joked that if the Stonehenge was in the U.S., it would have a mall and a theme park next to it by now.

Later, as we talked to Pilbeam’s friends, it seemed many English people seemed not at all enchanted with “big, old rocks.” Then again, one of them did say that the Pyramids of Egypt were ‘boring’- which I took a personal offense from since Egypt was one of my childhood summer homes. Then again, I suppose I could understand the more jaded views of a local person- especially, when it comes down to it, just big, old rocks with no definite explanation behind them.

Oh well. I still think the Stonehenge were quite neat and the mystery behind it is intriguing. I would like to believe that aliens were most definitely involved too.

The Stonehenge

The Stonehenge tourist center was also small and inconspicuous, somewhat camouflage in the farmland environment. Stonehenge is surrounded by nothing but sheep and green, green, green as far as the eyes could see. Plus, lots of burial mounds. Again, we were blessed with nice weather that day and managed to take some awesome photos of the scenery.  Continue reading

UK Trip 2011: Bath

The rest of our time in Bath was quite lovely and relaxing. The night after our visit to Jane Austen Centre, we took the Bizarre Tour: The Comedy Walk, which I highly recommend as evening entertainment. The tour guide was very funny and did a couple of neat (though somewhat eccentric) magic tricks. One includes tying a woman’s wedding ring to a balloon and letting it fly away… do not volunteer your beloved jewelry to him if you are faint of heart is our advice.

I loved the town’s historical sites like the Roman Baths. It’s amazing how well-preserved it is and how much we can glimpse into the lives of Roman people hundreds of years back. I am a little bit of a geek when it comes to history, mostly because I find it so fascinating to be walking on the same floors and touching the same walls that people did centuries ago. Some times, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the thought that so many civilizations has already run its courses before us… and everything had been vastly different back then.

The Roman Baths was an incredible evidence of lifetimes long gone.

Roman Baths

The bath was built over a natural hot spring and it was easy to imagine why people would spend hours just hanging out there to bathe. One of the historical interpreters explained to us that it was one of the rare and accessible source of hot water for people in England, where the weather was usually pretty cold. Pilbeam and I took advantage of the low tourist crowd and settled down to relax by the water.

Roman Baths

You are not supposed to touch the water. According to wikipedia.com, a young girl died from the brain eating amoeba that lives in these waters… AHHHHHH!!! I totally touched the water, but I guess since I didn’t swallow any, I should be okay…! But yes, the water is not completely safe which is why no one is allowed to swim in these hot springs anymore. There is no harm or rules against sitting right next to the water and lounging as long as you can though. The sun was pretty warm that day too, lucky for us… like they say: ‘when in Rome!’ or at least, when you’re pretending to be Roman.

After the baths, we went to Sally Lunn’s and I had some tea plus really delicious food. They are popular for the Sally Lunn’s buns: giant, brioche bread that they use for everything, including their cream tea and sandwiches. The site that they operate in is also known as the oldest house in the city where they have excavated a cellar and preserved its old kitchen. Continue reading

UK Trip 2011: Cambridge & Ely

Cambridge is a nice, small town and about an hour train ride away from London. I’ve heard locals describe it as a somewhat boring place, but I found it to be a nice break from big and bustling cities. Of course, I was only there for a few days so who knows how I would really feel in the long run! Nevertheless, I did enjoy my stay there. It has quite a few historical site such as the King’s College Chapel which was completed during King Henry VIII’s reign.

King Henry and Anne Boylen even carved their initials onto the organ piano inside the church. Kind of neat to think that they had walked the same church floors as I did, right?

Cambridge, Day 1

Since old church buildings are kind of neat to look at, Pilbeam also took me to a nearby town, Ely. We visited the Ely Cathedral. Along the way, we met a friendly horse looking for sugar cubes and carrots from the tourists passing by.

Ely Cathedral, Day 2

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