England

A Note on Thursday Travels…

These travel posts were originally posted on my old, now-defunct blog that I wrote with my sister Vicky.¬†The majority of them recount our adventures in Europe in May-June 2011 (in all our terrible hair extensions and Ugg-booted glory), but I thought I’d transfer them over anyway. More than anything, we wrote them to keep our memories alive and share our scattered observations — they are by no means meant to be comprehensive travel guides or anything. Just thought I’d clarify that ūüôā

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Thursday Travels: London

LONDON-12Today’s Thursday Travels takes us back to our trip to London (only one of our favourite cities ever). We (Vicky, our mum and I) were there in June, around the time of the Queen’s Jubilee (and a month before the Olympics), and the city was brimming with national pride: lots of Union Jack bunting and special British-themed window displays everywhere. I had been to London a few times before, but the levels of patriotism were definitely higher than usual.

Vicky and I both really loved London — she loved it way more than Paris, but I think I’m a fan of them both in equal measure. While Paris has that certain je ne sais quoi that makes it just so charming and enchanting, London, for me, is a far more liveable kind of place (chiefly due to the fact that it’s English-speaking, I guess). When it comes to big cities, it’s the one place I’ve visited ¬†that I’d actually want to live in at some point. Weirdly enough, I’m not the hugest fan of New York; it just didn’t do it for me as a city, much to my disappointment. Maybe the fact that the one time I was there was in the dead of winter had something to do with it as just I found it dark and dingy and strangely depressing‚Ķ But London?! London I instantly¬†loved.¬†

Here’s a little recap of what we got up to in our few days there:

{We went to the Natural History Museum…}

{…where we saw lots of dinosaurs…}

{…and birds!…}

{…before taking a break to re-fuel.}

{And then it was on to Harrod’s; the Food Hall, specifically…}

{…where I nearly got thrown out for taking these illegal photographs.}

{And then we wandered into a souvenir shop where we saw the ghost of Princess Diana!}

{We paid a trip to Kensington Palace…}

{…and saw Queen Victoria’s dolls’ house…}

{…and these beautiful gardens…}

{…this was before Vicky dropped a tray of china cups on my foot at the cafe (I still have the scar to this day)…}

{We visited my favourite museum in London, the V & A, and fell in love with this 15th-century Islamic minbar. (Of course I misread it as “minibar” and got really excited that not only did the Islamic world have minibars in the 15th century, but that they were of such magnificence!)}

{And then the following day we went to the Ritz…}

{…for a spot of Afternoon Tea…}

{…we’re so fancy, you already kno-ow…}

{We hit the shops on Carnaby Street…}

{…and the stalls of Portobello…}

{…where we stopped for a Hummingbird Bakery cupcake break.}

{Please can I live in this pink house?…}

{…or any of these little gems, I’m not fussy.}

{Last random outing: the Leighton House in Kensington. A bit off the beaten tourist path, but worth a visit if you like that whole Victorian Aesthetic thing.}

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Thursday Travels: Bath, Stonehenge & Stratford-upon-Avon

We started our adventures in England, where I met up with Vicky and Becky in London (they had spent a few days there already, seeing the sights and buying out Primark). The day before we left for France, we took an England-in-a-day trip, taking in Stonehenge, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon.

We started off at Stonehenge, that famous pile of prehistoric stones in Wiltshire, about an hour or so from London. No one really knows exactly why it was constructed (theories include some sort of religious/sacrificial site, a monument to past ancestors, an astronomical observatory…or maybe it was simply a Neolithic theme park?! <— our personal view). Unlike in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, you can’t actually climb around on the stones; in fact, as you can see from the below picture, the whole area is cordoned off at quite a distance.

There ain’t a whole lot to do at Stonehenge, really. You get off the bus, look at the stones, take the pictures and then go off on your merry way.

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{Greetings from Stonehenge!}

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{The grey sky really enhanced the bleak ambience!}

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{Stonehenge gave Vicky the creeps!}

And then it was on to Bath. A city that we found ourselves absolutely loving, for some reason. I’d been there before on a beautifully sunny spring day, but even in the rain it was lovely. It’s just such a classy, elegant kinda city, you know?! The buildings are all Georgian, light-coloured stone, which gives it a majestic but airy sort of feel. A lot of European cities can feel a tad dark and oppressive, but this is definitely not the case with Bath.

We sadly didn’t have too much time to spend in Bath; we really just had time to grab a quick bite to eat and head straight for the city’s most famous landmark, the Roman Baths. Constructed in the 60s AD by the Romans, the waters were believed to have healing properties and became a destination for centuries to come. You can’t actually bathe in them any more, but you can explore the underground Roman ruins in the complex and then just spend a few minutes gazing into the murky green depths of the waters.

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{Street scene}

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{Bath Abbey}

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{Bicky in Bath!}

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{Pret a Manger pizza wrap — my fave!}

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{Murky Baths}

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{It was actually really relaxing to just sit by the water for a bit}

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{Little tucked-away nook}

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{Beautiful countryside}

And then it was on to Stratford-upon-Avon, which was, truth be told, a little bit disappointing. The part we saw of it (around Shakespeare’s Birthplace) was kind of drab and featureless; definitely not as quaint as imagined. The streets just seemed too…wide?

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{Stratford street scene}

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{Ooohh exciting!}

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{All the furniture seemed so small!}

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{And the ceilings were so low!}

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{The man himself}

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{Beautiful garden, ugly Shakespeare Centre}

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{A rose by any other name…}

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{Goodbye, Stratford!}

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