Posts by Country

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lost in London

Today I made my first breakfast in the flat kitchen then went out to get a Vodafone wireless device. Turns out the device was useless, so I returned it and went to a Chinese buffet. Then I ran into Annie and Tiana and we went out to get drinks but got lost for three hours in the Soho area looking for Michelle.
Today I went to Camden Market with some of the girls before stopping over at my friend Ross’ house in Wandsworth.
After checking out his terrace and having a drink with his roommate James we went to the Cat’s Back Pub for Bangers and Mash.

Today we went to the Notting Hill Carnival where I had a dumpling with rice and beans and watched human floats walk around with massive contraptions attached to them. Next we went to Harrods and saw some of the most ridiculously overpriced junk I’ve ever seen including a £3000 teddy bear... Later I headed for Wagamama (recommended by Rick Steves) but stopped on the way for the Fruily strawberry beer that James recommended. I ended up hanging out with some guys from Chicago and New York talking about the Yankees.
Today we went to Trafalgar Square and voted for the fourth plinth. The choices were a mountain with a footprint shaped like Great Britain, a guy on a horse covered in jewelry, a blue cock and an ATM that rings bells every time someone makes a withdrawal - alarming the pickpockets of viable victims... 

We also went to the St. Martin-In-The-Fields Church and later some of us went to Wagamama and Tower bridge.

Friday, August 27, 2010



Today I left Edinburgh at 6a for a nine hour bus ride to London. At 3:30p I arrived, set my GPS for the Sidney Webb House, and walked 3.3 miles in the rain with 50+ lbs of stuff and a cold… I arrived about an hour later and was about to pass out when a guy from the lobby showed up with information about a class meeting taking place. After the meeting I took a shower, unpacked and passed out in my dorm.

All Photos


This morning we went on a walk around Southwark (pronounced "suffic"). The first stop was St George the Martyr - a 1726 church with a beacon utilizing three aluminated faces.

Next we went to Southwark Cathedral and Borough (pronounced "burra") Market - the last wholesale food market, where we saw "dead" rabbits hanging around still twitching a bit.

Then we saw a reconstructed galleon called the Golden Hinde. Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world the world from 1577 to 1580 and 140,000 miles in total in the galleon.

Finally, we stopped at The Tate Modern museum where we also saw the Millenium Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and the Globe Theater. 

We took a break and then went to the London Eye where we saw Big Ben, Parliament, etc from a birds eye view. 

All Photos


This morning we went to the British Museum and saw the vast selection of fossils, modern art and artifacts from around the world including the Rosetta Stone - an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BCE on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. The stone provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs.

After the museum I went to Tesco and bought some food and an Ethernet cable then had an LSE student try to log me into the internet with her log in info but it didn’t work… worth a shot.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Arthur's Seat


Today I went to the Babelon Cafe for breakfast where I had two bacon, two sausage, two eggs, a potato scone, hash browns, beans, toast, tea, and a turnip all for £4! Next I set off to look at some impressionist paintings at the National Gallery followed by some photography at the Scottish Parliament. 

Then I climbed Arthur's Seat. 

As I reached the top I realized there was another mountain - the actual Arthur's Seat.

On the way back I took a different route... down a sheer cliff.

Next I went to Carlton Hill where they have an incomplete replica of the Parthenon. 

On the way back I saw some great views from up on the hill.

After a while I headed back into the city for some free comedy shows. 

Then, as I was heading back to my hostel I ran into a lady who directed me to free tea. With the tea they also provided music by a Christian group. There I met a guy named Robert The Bruce and two Scottish girls. Back at my hostel I Skyped a bit and got ready to leave. Before I knew it the clock hit 4a and it was time to go catch my 9 hour bus ride to London.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tales From Edinburgh

Carolo Secundo made a statue of himself, one of his many PR mistakes. He wanted to appear big and powerful so he had the sculptor make him bigger than the horse. Of course, this makes it look like he's riding a pony. He had himself dressed in Roman regalia to resemble Caesar, but the Roman’s were old news so it was just confusing and awkward for everyone. He had a small child place a bronze crown on his lead statue head every day to show public approval, but this caused holes to form and water to fill the statue. This put it off-center making his horse look like it was drunk. To fix this they righted the statue and drilled a drain hole. No good - this just made it look like the horse was peeing every time it rained…

The heart of Edinburgh represents the location of the old tax booths. People hate taxes so they spit on the heart and this is why locals don’t walk there. Apparently a guy once knelt down and proposed in the heart only to hear a disgusted reaction from the crowd. The poor guy had no idea what he had done. Over on Grass Street they have a lot of interesting shops including one that sells deep fried Mars bars.

Many of the characters from Harry Potter, such as: Macgonnagle, Mooney and Tom Riddle, come from the graveyard. The graves of the Greyfriar and his dog Bobby are also famous and are the basis of many dog related shows and movies like “Lassie”. The Greyfriar was a night graveyard patrol preventing grave robberies of people who couldn’t afford the caged off graves. 

The city decided he could use a guard dog so they gave him some extra money and he bought Bobby, a ferocious Terrier. 

When the Greyfriar died Bobby sat at his grave for 14 years waiting for him to return. This prompted the city to award Bobby the keys to the city for his heart warming loyalty shown towards his master. This meant that if you saw Bobby you were to give him water or food, pet him, etc.
The story of the black marketing of corpses is actually based on two guys who attempted to help a dead man pay back his massive debt by selling his body to research. After finding out how much money dead bodies were worth they began robbing graves. This is why cages were deemed necessary - to prevent grave robbers for the first couple weeks while the bodies decomposed (making them unsuitable for dissection and therefore the black market).
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. is also based on a true story. 

Deacon Brody was a guy making an honest living as a cupboard maker by day but was an adulterer with two mistresses by night. He actually had trouble supporting multiple families, as one can imagine, so he started to make extra keys for his cupboards which he would use to rob the rich whom he had sold his cupboards to. This got people suspicious after a while which prompted the city council to found a committee for catching Deacon Brody, this committee lead by none other than Deacon Brody himself! As leader of the committee Deacon Brody knew they were getting closer to catching him so he decided to go all out and hired 6 thieves to rob the town vault which he had keys for. They robbed it each hour on the hour, but the last guy went in at 4a drunk and got caught. In order to get himself out of this pinch he turned in the others thinking he could blackmail Brody and be set for life. Unfortunately for the 4a guy, Brody saw all his pals sitting in jail and ran for the hills. In Amsterdam Brody was about to leave but first sent a letter to his wife explaining the circumstances and he even through in a few details on his mistresses. Brody asked her to join him on his great escape to America. Of course, she turned him in and he was promptly executed.
The stories of the Stone of Destiny have many variations, based in both Ireland and Scotland, but one portion is unquestionably historically accurate. A student by the name of Hamilton was out drinking with his buddies one day and decided to steal the Stone of Destiny from England to bring it home to Scotland. Not the best idea but he carried it out nonetheless. He broke in with a crowbar and accidentally, possibly on purpose, broke the stone in two. This made it easy to take one part back to Scotland, the other was buried in a field. Upon returning to the field, after things had eased up around the borders a bit, Hamilton dug up the stone and tore out the passenger seat of his car to fit it in. After bringing the two halves together in Scotland Hamilton had his friend, the local stone mason, fit the halves back together with a pipe inside containing a copy of The Declaration of Arbroath (freedom for Scotland). Then he daringly returned the stone to England, still somehow managing to elude the authorities throughout the whole act.
After the tour finished we all went to a pub where I had Haggis again. This time it was quite good and part of a great deal - £6 for Haggis, Neeps, Tatties and a drink. When we finished eating I bought a pass for a pub crawl - for £11 we got a free drink, free shot, discounts, free entry to a club called Frankenstein and of course the tour itself. We went to the club last where we were surprised something called a full moon show, a show with dramatic appeal starring Dr. Frankenstein, his monster, and Jason too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hunting for Nessy

Scotland Tour Day 5:

This morning we left the castle and headed for Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.

After seeing some Lochs (lakes) we went to the Commando Memorial.
Next we stopped at the Glencoe Massacre Site.
The Jacobites, having refused King Williams oath of allegiance, made their last stand and were massacred here by King Williams' men. Our last couple stops were Glen Lyon, the longest Glen in Scotland, and Caledonia.  Glen Lyon, as with all glens, was formed by glaciers passing through and scraping out valleys between the hard stone. Caledonia, referring to the beautiful forests, was named that by the Romans back before the actual forests were cut down leading to deforestation of a majority of the land. 

Finally we went back to Edinburgh where I checked back into Brodies Backpackers and went out to explore the Fringe Festival a bit.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Haunted Castle

Scotland Tour Day 4:

Today we woke up and got on the bus back to the ferry. We stopped in Kirkwall to see St Magnus Cathedral.
Next we stopped at the beach again.

Then we took the ferry back to the mainland and drove for a few hours.

We soon arrived at the Falls of Shin where watched salmon jump.

Finally we arrived at our supposedly haunted hostel, Carbisdale Castle.

It had a cool feel to it and would probably creep out most paranoid types but, with the statues and paintings, it really seemed more like a museum than a haunted mansion.

Later in the evening we took a group photo and headed down to Invershin Hotel Pub.

On the way we saw some bulls butting heads in a nearby pasture.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ancient Shenanigans

Scotland Tour Day 3:
Our first stop today was Skara Brae and Skaill House. Skara Brae is a group of 5000 year old dwellings which provide some of the best insight on ancient living.
Skaill House was the home of the man who unearthed Skara Brae and is now a museum of local history.
On the way to our next stop we went to the cliffs to take in some scenery.
Next we went to the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. 
Both are circular groups of standing stones like Stonehenge but without the lintels.
Finally we went over to the Tomb of Maeshowe. Over the years vikings have broken into the tomb to drink and write angry runic graffiti all over the walls. The first time they did this they were trapped inside but managed to break out through the roof then, as the graffiti suggests, they returned and did more drinking. 
Drenched from a torrential downpour we went back to Kirkwall and had some fish and chips at Skippers for Annalise's birthday then stopped in at the Auld Motorhoose to play some darts. On the way back to the hostel our guide Stevie insisted on stopping for Kebabs which resulted in us missing curfew and being locked out. Fortunately Stevie found an open window just big enough for him to slide in and open the door for us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tastes Like Puffin

Scotland Tour Day 2:
Today we headed for Orkney and stopped at some cliffs where some Puffins were nesting.

Then we went to Sticts of Duncensby Beach where some of the others decided to jump into the ocean for some reason... brrr.

We soon arrived at the Tomb of the Eagles and climbed down a tunnel into some caves with skulls. It would seem the neolithic farmers of Scotland weren't so friendly after all...

Finally, on the way to Kirkwall in Orkney, we stopped at a neat little Italian Chapel . After we arrived I had deep fried Haggis. The Haggis didn't really have any definitive flavor - probably because it's deep-fried. I would recommend.