Tag Archives: adventures

Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Market is definitely one London site hyped up by travel books and site seers, and I’d say it does live up to its reputation. People who want to see the whole market and road should start from the north at the Ladbroke Grove tube stop and make their way south east towards the Nottinghill Gate tube stop.

Starting at the top are clothes, clothes and more clothes, vintage and trendy. But here’s the thing – these clothes are cheaper than those down by Nottinghill Gate.

Used clothes and yard sale items.

You will also find more artisans at this part of the road than at the bottom where most of the items tend to be specialized and shop oriented, as well as more expensive.

Bangles and bracelets.

 

Leather bound books.

Further down, things get a little more trendy and mass-produced. A lot of these items can be found elsewhere than Portobello Road Market, so keep than in mind when spending money becuase it’s easy to do here.

Trendy bags.

Soon, one will start to see lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables stands, candy stands, paella stands, bread and cheese stands – all kinds of mouth-watering-food-stands, as well as side-street shops and restaurants at a somewhat affordable price. You just have to scout out where you want to score your bargain. One will also encounter some interesting characters and out of the ordinary street performers who will probably put a smile on your face.

One swinging group.

 

What characters one does find.

Lady singing.

If you’re lucky you’ll spot a cute unique tea set for under 10 Pounds, a vintage film camera, or a zebra skin.

8 Pounds

And then you will notice how posh things are getting. Not only will you be paying attention to pickpocketers, but you’ll be gripping your cash.

Posh car.

 

Posh and colourful.

And, if you pay enough attention and make it to the end of Portebello Road, you may be pleasantly surprized to find the house where George Orwell once resided.

Orwell, writer and literary journalist, lived here.

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Photo of the Day – Imperial War Museum

March 9, 2010

A chunk of the Berlin Wall outside London's Imperial War Museum.

If you’re interested in history or war or both, London’s Imperial War Museum is an educational experience for adults and children alike.

London's Imperial War Museum.

 

The collection boasts exceeding numbers of artifacts from the 20th century. The major exhibits feature World War I and World War II. Not only can one see letters, weapons, uniforms, and read about the tactics of the wars, but a unique trench experience is set up for those who want to walk through the model.

The trench experience.

 

While the exhibits are large, they also wind their way in circles. It’s easy to get a bit turned around, miss something, or look at things backwards rather than forwards. 

Following the world wars are smaller sections on the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and conflicts in the middle east. The most recent war highlighted in the Persian Gulf War, while even smaller exhibits highlight genocide and conflicts within the last few decades.

Some of the most ironic things about the museum is the British school children and teens touring around. While a light shined the words ‘Cold War’ on to a wall, a group of uniformed school girls took their picture below the sign; smiling in a line as if they were posing for a calendar. Around the corner at the Vietnam exhibit, a girl walked up to several TVs playing a montage of war and administrative footage to the music of Jimi Hendrix’s version of  “The Star Spangled Banner,” and said, “Why do we have the same thing playing on three screens, and very weird music playing?” She turned away from the display and went on giggling with her friends.

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Flamenco in Valencia

Having spent a few days in Valencia for a trip outside London, booking a flamenco show was at the top of my list. Of course paella was way up there too, and I did have three paella dinners. 

One night was spent at La Bulería where you could get a combo of a drink, dinner, and/or tapas with a flamenco show. My traveling mate and I booked a tapas plate and a show.

The atmosphere was great and the talent and food was too. Mind you that food is served at 9 p.m. while the show doesn’t start until 11 p.m. This is simply the way they do things in Spain. Expect few restaurants to be open between 4 and 8 p.m.

Anyways, here’s a small video clip of the talent. Enjoy.

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Photo of the Day – Walking Boots

March 8, 2010

These boots were made for walking.

London takes a lot of walking – even with their great metro transportation system – the tube, and their even more detail routed bus system. If there’s one kind of shoe Londoners seem to wear most – it’s the flat knee-high boot. And I’ve worn these since I got to the city in January. Still working head-on strong, these boots will be worn and adventures they have taken and will take.

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Photos of the Day – Plethora Trois

February 13, 2010

In a Swansea club in Wales, there were a significant number of men in kilts because of rugby matches.

February 14, 2010

Journeying 300 feet down into a live mine was one of the unique experiences Wales has to offer.

February 15, 2010

This is the misery of my uploading photos issues.

February 16, 2010

Cheap movie tickets are sold at old theaters like the Coronet on week days.

February 17, 2010

The beauty of a stairwell.

February 18, 2010

Embracing the London rain.

February 19, 2010

Pickled vegetables at Fatoush's Lebanese restaurant.

February 20, 2010

London's China Town has many things to offer: Food, sweets, drinks, and a unique site.

February 21, 2010

Chinese New Year celebrations last a week full on in London.

February 22, 2010

I'm always so intrigued by the Westfield shopping centre.

February 23, 2010

There are some pretty cool tech devices at the London science museum.

February 24, 2010

To me, Frost is New England. One thing I miss while in England.

February 25, 2010

And, still, I embrace London's rain.

February 26, 2010

Around where I work and Westfield shopping centre.

February 27, 2010

While the Millennium Bridge isn't that inspiring, St. Paul's Cathedral always is.

February 28, 2010

The National Gallery is my primary place of retreat in London. Love it to death.

March 1, 2010

Side streets of main streets in London aren't all this boring, but a lot are.

March 2, 2010

Rooms Deluxe in Valencia, Spain offer a wide range of cool and hostel-hotel-like accommodations..

March 3, 2010

From high tours, Valencia offer a beautiful view that rivals even that of Barcelona.

March 4, 2010

Valencia's Botanical Gardens offer impressive landscapes and extreme sixes of cactus and palm trees, as well as numerous stray cats that love your attention.

March 5, 2010

Valencia's aquarium might just be the best museum attraction in all of the city - but be willing to pay big bucks.

 

March 6, 2010

Valencia's "Silk Exchange" is a beautiful building of Arab influence in a trendy part of town, and is free on Saturday.

March 7, 2010

This is the crowd one can wade through when trying to catch the changing of the guards on Sundays.

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Photos of the Day – Plethora deux

February 2, 2010

I call them biscuits, they call them scones.

 

February 3, 2010

When you don't have fresh echinacea from the farm, this is the next best thing.

 

February 4, 2010

Westfield shopping area, by the BBC, by where I work, which isn't the BBC but it's close...

 

February 5, 2010

Obviously today was a let down.

 

February 6, 2010

Crepes in Paris.

 

February 7, 2010

Better than the Louvre.

 

February 8, 2010

This snow severely delayed the tubes - and I'm not even being sarcastic.

 

February 9, 2010

The Wallace Collection. Would this room have not matched my prom dress?

 

February 10, 2010

This is what journalists do.

 

February 11, 2010

View of the Westfield shopping centre from my work... near the BBC.

 

February 12, 2010

The building with all the Windows has the title Telephone Exchange written on it.

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Stonehenge and Bath Day Trip

Stonehenge and Bath

Excursions from London are a definite must to see things other than the major city.

My mates and I, as well as others from our study abroad program, ventured for the day to Stonehenge and Bath.

We left the city at approximately 8 a.m. headed for Stonehenge. The rain was nothing to worry about inside a warm bus, though some photographs taken through the window were obscured most of the way. The hour-long ride took us through slightly less lavish parts of London and through many rolling hills. Much of the landscape was designated and penned off for farming. There were fewer cows grazing in the fields than back home in New England, however, there were a lot more sheep dotting the green. There were also a few horses huddling together, each under a blanket, every other mile. When we hit sections of the road surrounded by thick woods and shrubbery I managed to see a red-coated hawk fluffing his feathers while perched on a limb.

It was still raining when we arrived at Stonehenge, but it wouldn’t be a real United Kingdom vacation if it wasn’t raining on one’s trip to Stonehenge. In person the rocks actually looked small and the construction seemed more compact than in photographs.  But even in the rain, the mysterious stone structure was beautiful, covered in moss and lichens, standing on bright green grass against a grey sky. The exhibit of boulders is quite close to the main roads but the pavement does obscure one’s pictures. What’s good, is that with entry to the site, one has the option of a prerecorded audio tour and can walk out as close as ten feet away from the structure. Two walkways in the shape of a Y give visitors various angles of the structures as well as a safe place to gaze at sheep dotted hills. With patience, it’s possible to snap photos of the structure without tourists. The hardest part is, when it’s raining, dealing with the complaining tourists and trying to keep one’s camera lens dry. Back towards the entry gate is a fairly price gift shop with unique Stonehenge souvenirs, mugs, books, and postcards, as well as an eatery without the typical tourist foods.

Click for a Stonehenge slideshow.

 

As we ventured towards Bath the terrain was continuously gradually sloping with green fields surrounded by thicker woods. Closer to Bath the woods are lusher and the trees are mostly overgrown with emerald ivy and moss. Most of the homes are picturesque farm scenes probably build in the 20th century now fitted for the 21st century. Many smaller properties had small glass greenhouses and shrubbery surrounding them. Some had fences or meager stonewalls. Clusters of these homes were scattered amongst the main roads. Some communities were like American suburbia with a British twist. The houses were certainly not as large and are built sturdier than the average McMansion, but the house, the car and the prim lawn and shrub garden were there. Mini-British-McMansions.

Approaching the city of Bath is an extreme marvel. The city is located on steep hills and a wide valley. The scenery is definitely picturesque as houses are tiny and the architecture is something to admire.

Slideshow coming soon.

 

After a homemade lunch at a Starbucks (there are many independent restaurants with hot, cold and French cuisine.  So don’t settle on the first thing you see unless you’re packing a homemade lunch like us. There are also major stores to buy anything from tea to shoes to lingerie), we took a tour of the city by a very informative guide.

Built by the Romans, Bath is approximately 2000 years old. The Romans built in the area because of it’s hills, similar to Rome, and it’s hot water springs. After the empire ceased to exist, the Romans left.

John Wood started building houses and terraces, which make up most of the city today. Before Ward built the houses, there wasn’t much of a place to live.

Walking around Bath, one might notice a theme of pigs as there are pig statues strewn throughout the city. This theme is based off the legend of Bath. Prince Bladud, who lived in Bath had contracted leprosy. His pigs had also contracted leprosy and noticed, after the pigs had bathed in a mud bath (our guide said the mixture included acorns), their leprosy had been cured. The man followed, thus being cured from the disease.

Slideshow coming soon.

 

Most of Baths’s streets and or sidewalks are cobbles with stone and are narrow passages for cars. Between some of the buildings lining the roads would have been canopies used to shelter citizens and visitors (often the rich) from the rain, according to our guide.

The Cross Bath, which visitors can peer into wasn’t open again until 2006. Visitors can take a dip in the modern-suited room; however, spa treatments are not available in this bath. Across the cobbled way is a the Thermae Bath Spa consisting of four floors where one can dine, take a dip, and get special treatments.

Our guide got excited when talking about the make-up of the time and how the rich were taken around the city. Rat skins, for example, would be used to enhance eyebrows. Hair, often greasy and put up with animal fat, would be covered by a net and wig. The rich would be carried around town and brought to the theatre in a sedan, cautious not to ruin their hair or delicate attire they’ve spent hours to put on.

The famous romantic writer Jane Austen spent much time in Bath during her lifetime, which was paid for by her brother because Austen never married. (During the time period of Austen’s life, if women did not marry, their brothers would have to take care of their sisters financially. Brothers getting their sisters to marry and helping them find a husband was on the top of their brother’s to do list.) The tour guide pointed out many places where Austen conjured up settings for Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice.

Built in the late 1700s, taking eight years to build, the Bath Crescent was a place where the rich would dress up and promenade around to impress one another and picnic. According to our guide, Austen thought the parading of people through the park lawn was ridiculous.

Bath Crescent

 

Our tour concluded by walking through the Assembly Rooms which had been struck several times when Bath was bombed for two months in 1943, according to our guide. The grand rooms, colored coordinated adorning several chandeliers, once used for teas and balls, is now used for conferences and a modern servings of tea.

Click to view slideshow.

 

The Roman baths, restored and still in the process of being restored, have been built into a museum where visitors can listen to an audio guide while feel the mist of the baths touch their skin. The grandest part of the tour is the actual bath. Gutters circulate water to and from the rectangular pool under wide-open atrium. Columns line the rectangle where places for people to sit (where Romans and British once sat) as well as steps leading into the pool. The water should not be touched, as it is not treated. It’s fun to imagine Romans sitting next to mist rising out of the light green water, and tan stone.

Slideshow coming soon.

 

My mates and I spent the last few minutes of our day in Bath in the Bath Abbey built by Oliver King. While much of the Abbey has undergone restoration, the construction and scaffolding still remain. The cathedral is smaller than others but its still just as intricate and beautiful as any other, adorning a rose window, stained glass, and a fine detailed ceiling.

Click to view slideshow.

 

We left Bath at approximately 4:30 p.m. when the sun was setting, the sky still drizzling, our feet worn out, and the light too dark for any more pictures. The trip is a definite must for the day. Despite not being able to explore the entire city, a day is just enough before one hits sensory overload from the admirable architecture.

Stonehenge and Bath day trip taken Friday January 22.

Resources

Anderson Tours

International Friends

Proscenium Tours

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