I finally have pictures for this series! Hooray! Here’s a couple to whet your appetite and get you up to speed with the visuals for the last entries. All black and white photography is by me, all color photography is courtesy of my sister, Mel Stone.
And back to the adventures of my younger self abroad!
Sutton, Surrey, United Kingdom
I am tired, today was such a long and fulfilling day. I awoke in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep for the life of me. Fortunately for me, the cat got in and Sara, Mel and Jill all woke up too. We chatted until we actually got up bright and early at 6:30. Anita dropped us at Wimbolden station and we took the train to Earl’s Court. It was a super cool day but was mostly spent on a tour coach for our day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. I think we spent a total of 6 hours on that bus!
First stop was Stonehenge. It was freezing! Stonehenge was cool, because it’s so old and mysterious, but somehow I thought it would be bigger. It was impressive nonetheless. There were also a lot of sheep, and we drove through a lot of countryside today. Apparently the area around Stonehenge is militaristic, so there were a lot of “tank crossing” signs.
Bath was amazing! Everything is still in the original Georgian architecture, and so beautiful and picturesque. Very “Pride and Prejudice”. Jane Austen lived there at one time and wrote some of her novels there. She hated it though, because it was a place where pretentious society people went to party and show off their wealth. We passed on paying admission to the Jane Austen Center, because we are cheap like that, and just poked around their shop.
But first we took a self-guided tour around the Roman Baths that the town of Bath is named for. That was partly eerie, but mostly cool. It’s so mind-blowing that they have been there for so long with the same drains and pools. The heat was rising off of the naturally warm baths into the cool air.
After our tour of the baths, we had a picnic lunch of some things we’d picked up the night before at Iceland. Iceland is a local grocery store, we didn’t go all the way to the country for groceries. Hooray for cheap packed lunches! We walked around the town and took in the beauty of it all. It was a quick visit. Bath is definitely a place I’d like to go back to eventually and spend more than just a few hours there.
It was a long ride back to London. Jill and I shared my ipod and attempted to drown out “Dumb and Dumber”, which the tour guide had put on the tv. The bus dropped us in an area called South Kensington, and even though it was cold we walked around. This was a fancy area, with large, imposing and impressive flats with private gardens and expensive cars on the streets. We realized that the Troubador was near by, and since I love anything that incorporates rock music history with food and drink we walked over there.
It was soooo cool. Very worth the long walk. The Troubador in Hollywood is just a bar and club, but this was a cafe, brasserie, and club all put together. We got cider and fries and roast potatoes. There were musical instruments hanging from the ceiling and Johnny Cash droning from the speakers. The food was really good, and they have this special where if you wear a hat indoors on Tuesday you get a free desert. Jill wore my hat and we split a bannoffi pie, which was like pie crust and banana cream and ice cream. It was amazing!!! The cider was yummy as well.
We were pretty knackered after that, so we went to the tube. We were excited to get a car to ourselves. The train started moving, and the lights were flickering a little. Then it stopped at a dark stop. . . that wasn’t our stop. The doors opened and the train turned off. While trying to convince ourselves that zombies weren’t going to kill us, we figured that we’d gone on the wrong train and this was the end of the line. If this was true it would turn around and go in the other direction soon. We hoped. It did start moving in the other direction after a bit, and we all felt better, but still freaked out. We continued to be freaked out when next the train stopped in the middle of the tunnel. . . and we realized that not only were we the only ones in the car, but the only ones on the train. We screamed like little girls and started running through the cars towards the driver, but the train started moving again. We bolted out like startled deer at the stop and got home safe in the end.
Wednesday 4/4/2007 22:43
For some reason I feel pretty worn out although what we did today was not particularly strenuous, or at least not more than the other days. I feel my body getting fitter already, which is great, and my feet are starting to be perpetually tired, which is not.
Today we took my cousin Tilly into London with us. It was nice having her there. She’s a great kid. She had on those funny shoes with wheels in the heels and kept wheeling around everywhere. We took the bus and the tube into St. Paul’s Cathedral station and looked at the cathedral. I forgot how big it is (I’d been to London twice before this trip). It feels like it should be some massive government building rather than a church.
We didn’t want to go inside, so crossed the river Thames to the Tate Modern museum via the metal, futuristic Millenium Bridge. The main attraction at the Tate Modern right now is this installation that pretends to be an art piece, but is really just a series of slides that carry you from the 2nd – 5th floors down to the ground floor. How awesome is that? Really awesome! Slides!!! Like a playground but way cooler. The slides were free but you had to get a ticket. Unfortunately, they were out of tickets until 2 pm when we arrived, so we bid our time having egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwiches, hot dogs, and Cadbury Flake ices from the food court. We poked in the gift shop, which was great. I have a thing for gift shops even though I rarely buy anything in them. At this one I bought a badge that says “Work of art” on it.
We looked at a pointless contemporary exhibit that had something to do with sliding doors that opened and closed and a semi-intriguing Surrealist exhibit. I do have some appreciation of Surrealist art, but I just can’t spend as much time on it as other art. I sort of pass through it, getting impressions of most of the art, like a dream-world where scattered images float in and out. I think Surrealist art is like a dream land anyways. I do like Pollack though. They had some good Pollacks.
When we cued up and got our tickets for the slides, we could only get them for an even later time, so we decided to leave and come back. We never did go back, but it’s alright, even though the slides did seem really groovy. Instead we went to music-lovers mecca: Abbey Road.
Of course, there is not much to see at Abbey Road except Abbey Road Studios and the famous cross-walk where John, Paul, George and Ringo crossed for the cover of the Beatles Abbey Road album. Even so, it was so cool just being there! Gotta love the Beatles, and that is definitely one of my favourite albums ever. Outside the studio is a wall that people sign, some leaving quotes and messages. We all did as well. I left a quote from “She Came in through the Bathroom Window”. That song is my favorite on the Abbey Road album. We had Tilly stand across the street trying to get a break in traffic long enough for all four of us to cross the road and have our own Beatles moment. It took forever, but we finally got it. When we finished, this German family showed up and did the same, only they majorly beat us because the four girls were dressed to match the Beatles and were in the right order as the cover.
I just remembered something pretty cool that happened at the Tate Modern: a girl came up to me and asked if she could take my picture for an art project. She didn’t say why, but that was nifty.
From Abbey Road we went to Harrods’s because Tilly wanted to go and it is a “must-see”, supposedly. According to my Rick Steeve’s guidebook, it is the palace of department stores, and is it ever! Humongous, with expensive designer, top-of-the-line everything, even pet clothes! We had fun ogling the designer fashion and jewelery. The toy section was especially fun, since Jill, Mel and I have all worked in the same toy store, so it was cool comparing things.
All of the guys working in the toy department were hot. That is most unfair, because there are no hot guys at the toy store where I work. But it’s not just them. They were at the Tate Modern this morning, and the Troubador last night, and the Tube is teeming with them. I guess British guys are just hot. And since they tend to take stock in their appearance and look European, artsy, intelligent, and rock and roll, they are all my type.
Good Luck and Happy Travels,