OLYMPIC PARK ūüėćūüėćūüėćūüėćūüėćūüėć

Alrighty, I’ll admit. ¬†Despite so many truly historical tours and locations I went to on my trip, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park comes in at number 1. ¬†Sports are in my blood, so naturally, I spent an entire day at the park despite it being partially closed and the gift shop still wasn’t open (huge bummer). ¬†I peeked in the aquatics center and walked around the ground all the afternoon. ¬†Also, I ended up going shopping at Westfield Mall and walked out without any purchases, shocker there. ¬†A lovely day to finish up my study abroad trip and prepare to travel home.

My last tourist stop was Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station. ¬†I waited an hour for my picture, it was definitely worth it!

My trip home consisted of 28 hours of flight, 4 flights, a cab ride, a train ride, and an all nighter (helped the adjustment. ¬†No delays though, hallelujah! ¬†It’s so nice to be home where it’s nice and hot and I can enjoy Texas Barbecue. ¬†I loved my trip and am glad it was so thoroughly planned out. ¬†I saw all sorts of touristy locations, more than I thought were in London, and loved the beauty of the United Kingdom!

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Margherita Crepe

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Falafel Wrap w/ potatoes and salad

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Peanut butter cup and chocolate cupcake

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Nutella Hazelnut and Oreo Cookie gellato

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Beef, it’s what’s NOT for Dinner (post for May 29th)

Food, glorious Food! ¬†Our last day in London and we went out with a bang, thanks to our instructors setting up a fantastic feast at a Pakistani restaurant. ¬†Chicken Tikki Masala is the fastest way to win over 40 college students and their stomachs. ¬†Some of the best ethnic food I’ve even had was served and eaten tonight. ¬†Although my palate was on fire by the time I left the restaurant, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and loved the variety of sauces and meat flavorings.IMG_6147 IMG_6150 IMG_6151 IMG_6152 IMG_6153 IMG_6154 IMG_6155

Last Day of Exploring! (post for May 29th)

Our class took a trip through Smithfield’s Market to the priory church of St. Bartholomew the Great, founded in 1123 A.D. Smaller than the cathedrals I had seen, the church had beautiful stained glass and architecture inside. Fun fact: ¬†The painter of the font in the church was baptized on my birthday!

We went on to the Spitalfield’s¬†City Farm, where we all enjoyed playing with the animals there. ¬†I think the group could agree that the braying donkey and cute little goats were our favorites. ¬†The muddy pigs were quite gross, but seemed to enjoy sitting in smelly muck. ¬†It was a light hearted way to spend our last afternoon together, so I enjoyed taking goofy pictures with the animals and my classmates.IMG_6102 IMG_6105 IMG_6107 IMG_6108 IMG_6109 IMG_6112 IMG_6115 IMG_6116 IMG_6118 IMG_6120 IMG_6124 IMG_6126 IMG_6132 IMG_6133 IMG_6134 IMG_6136 IMG_6149 IMG_6159 IMG_6145

Is the White Man Truly Burdened? (post for May 28th)

The British Empire.  Such a vast territory and incredible feat.  To rule thousands of people across all parts of the globe, many speaking different languages, yet united under one crown.  That is what the British Empire sustained for hundreds of years, and even today, former colonies still remain peaceful with British government policy, despite separation.

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled¬†The White Man’s Burden in which he compares the enslaved people’s troubles to the troubles of those transporting them overseas. ¬†Obviously a biased perspective and quite incorrect, his opinion of human enslavement correlates with the mentality of many white elitists of the 1800’s.

I also tried fish and chips for the second time today, slightly more impressed this go around, but i think I’ll stick to my grease-free diet back at home. :)

Our group headed to the British Museum after lunch.  I could have spent a few more days in there to say the least.  Like the V&A, several floors and vast rooms filled with historical objects, ancient art and missing pieces of our past. The Parthenon exhibit containing the Elgin Marbles from Greece, Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and mummies, Japanese ceramics and samurai outfits, modern medical art, Enlightenment Era discoveries, and Meso-American ruins.  All this and so much more was waiting to be discovered, and I covered all of it.  I walked around for three hours and checked off every room, until I had visited them all.

In the Northern America section, there was a small display about Native American ruins discovered north of Columbus along the Scioto River. ¬†A sacrificial platform and rocks assembled in a ring were dug up in the 90’s and thought to have been from Aztec or Mexican Native descent. ¬†I’m curious about this discovery, might have to take a trip up the river and check out the archaeological site!

The main conflict concerning the British Museum, for those that don’t know, is centered around the Elgin Marbles. The marbles were the stone decorative scenes¬†surrounding¬†the roof border of the Parthenon, an ancient temple to honor the goddess Athena. ¬†The Greeks were under control of Ottoman Empire and the Earl of Elgin “purchased” the marbles during the first decade of the 1800’s, quickly arranging to ship them back to England. ¬†They have since been restored, kept in pristine condition and put on display in the British Museum. ¬†There has been a recent movement to resort the marbles back to their original owners, the Greeks, simply because some deem the acquisition “unfair” due to the Ottoman invasion. ¬†At first I said, HECK NO! Don’t return the marbles. ¬†A deal is a deal and you bought them. ¬†My mind was quickly changed once I saw the exhibit. ¬†There wasn’t anything wrong with the stones, there were just SO SO SO MANY! ¬†And the room they were displayed in was a least two football fields. ¬†Now come on folks, you can’t give back even a third of the marbles? ¬†You’d still have at least 200 pieces left (no exaggeration here). ¬†We actually watched a debate video in class held in England concerning the marbles, it’s apparent many British people want to return them simply because “it’s the classy thing to do.”

On a more childish note, an ancient crystal skull was on display….reminded me of Indiana Jones, one of my favorite movie series!

Welcome to the museum!

Welcome to the museum!

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Cleopatra's sarcophagus

Cleopatra’s sarcophagus

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Japanese ceramics

Japanese ceramics

Shiva

Shiva

Body of a God? Body of a Buddha!

Body of a God? Body of a Buddha!

Double-headed serpent from Ancient Mexican Natives

Double-headed serpent from Ancient Mexican Natives

One of my favorite modern exhibits.  A timeline of an individual's life, as depicted by their medication prescriptions!

One of my favorite modern exhibits. A timeline of an individual’s life, as depicted by their medication prescriptions!

Crystal skull!

Crystal skull!

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

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Elgin Marbles

Elgin Marbles

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40…Love…Ace!

It’s time for some sports action folks! ¬†My attention was diverted on our train ride back to London after Hampton Courts when the conductor announced Wimbledon as the next station. ¬†So of course, I had to get off.

A mile and a half walk to the courts and I walked the same paths some of the greatest players of the game have traversed. ¬†Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, the Williams sisters. ¬†All of their names and photos displayed around the stadium reminded me of their greatness and victorious contributions to the great sport of tennis. ¬†I may not be a tennis player, but I can still appreciate the venue and history of the sport in the UK. ¬†A whopping 22 pounds would get me access to the museum and a tour…my wallet is thin enough being in college, so I passed up on the opportunity. ¬†Looking up a documentary about the history of Wimbledon is now added to my to-do list.

The lush green grass put any golf course to shame.  This is the cream of the crop in terms of finely manicured grass.  I did not get a full glimpse of Centre Court of No. 1 Court, but managed to see other side and practice courts.

After about 45 minutes of exploring what non-roped off areas I could find, I walked through a local neighborhood and found myself back at the train station….2 miles later. ¬†Oh well, it’s all good for the legs!

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side practice courts

side practice courts

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Rolex clock, they were everywhere

Rolex clock, they were everywhere

Hampton Courts

Class field trip this morning to Hampton Courts, which were castle grounds built for show, not for defensive purposes, by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. ¬†Wolsey was Henry the 8th’s right hand man and advised him with all military strategies. ¬†Henry the 8th basically stole the property from Wolsey and made the plot his own. ¬†Interesting how power can enable monarchs to get their hands on anything they desire.

I wandered through the courts and old meat butchering rooms, listened to the choir sing a few hymns in the Great Hall, and toured the apartments (equivalent to royal living quarters). ¬†I learned a more sensitive story about Henry VIII’s struggles with Katherine of Aragon to produce a male heir to secure the crown within the family line. Incredible to think that over a period of 11 years, she gave birth to 6 children of which only one survived, 4 were stillborns, and the last survived only 7 weeks after birth before dying. ¬†Speaks to the struggle many families endured to successfully produce children with terrible medical technology.

Out back, the gardens were beautiful, especially the half acres of thousands of roses in full bloom.  I solved a hedge maze by finding the middle.  A side note, the hedge maze was the oldest of its kind and affirmed by a Guinness Book of World Records plaque by the entrance (pictured below).  It was a rainy and slightly chilly day, about 55 out, but thank goodness for no wind (that would have driven me inside immediately).

 

Sunday Funday

I slept in til 11 this morning and got up for church at St. Patrick’s down the street. To my surprise it was the celebration of First Holy Communion for about 15 youngsters. Same ceremony, different country. The children were all dressed up in cute dresses and suits. Parents were frantically scrambling to get as many pictures as possible before the kids’ attention spans ran out. Just adorable.
Enjoyed a workout and took a nap in St. James park. Sun’s out, it’s about 65 and I don’t have any complaints. Just a beautiful day to enjoy fresh air and get ready for the week. The Olympic Park had reduced hours due to the bank holiday tomorrow and it being Sunday. I’ll plan on that trip for Tuesday, which our instructors kindly gave us off.

Long Legs Are Quite Helpful!

I think today’s touring of Brighton and Lewes incorporated at least 6 miles of walking, hiking and climbing. ¬†I loved every second of it.

I got the chance to meet a former TBDBITL member who currently lives just outside of Brighton and take a whole day to explore the two cities of Brighton and Lewes, courtesy of the OSU alumnus. ¬†For those of you who have no clue what TBDBITL means, I’m referring to The Ohio State’s THE BEST DAMN BAND IN THE LAND, and I highly recommend you google their halftime performances and watch a few shows. ¬†They are truly the best and a real treat to watch.

I arrived to Brighton by train at 10:30, and immediately set off exploring the city. ¬†I walked through gardens surrounding King George III’s childhood home, which was modeled after an Indian palace his father visited. ¬†Just a few blocks away was a pebble beach and the piers, one of which had previously burnt down and the remains were left in the water, the other converted into a carnival entertainment strip. ¬†It was about sixty and quite windy along the shore, but clouds looming overhead suggested rough weather was rolling in, so we quickly made our visit to the pier and then hopped on a bus to Lewes, a small town just 20 minutes north by bus (double-decker too – my first time!).

Walking through the tourist and shopping area of Lewes, I spotted an old church and decided to take a peek inside. ¬†Lo and behold, the building was made back in the 1200’s. ¬†Over 1800 years old and it wasn’t in bad shape at all! ¬†The stained glass, of course, was astounding, and the gold finished architecture added a simple touch of elegance to the inside.

The rain started to fall, so we hurried inside and grabbed lunch. ¬†For the first time I treated myself to the infamous “fish and chips.” ¬†I think I’ll have to try another place, or maybe my expectations were off. ¬†Still not sure how much I like the food since fried things aren’t my usual go to. ¬†Regardless, I’m glad I tried out something different.

On the edge of town, there was a golf club. ¬†The golf club was located at the top of the hill. ¬†To get to the top of the hill was a HUGE steep climb. ¬†In 45 degrees, wind, and pouring rain we hiked to the peak. ¬†By the time we were at the top, clouds were clearing, the sun was out and the rain had stopped. ¬†The view, as justified by the pictures you’ll see below, was incredible. ¬†Almost as beautiful as Edinburgh, Scotland, but not quite. ¬†I’d say a close second. ¬†Such a rewarding feeling to climb up and see such a sight.

Walking back down to town, the weather improved and the sun was back in full view. ¬†We explored some residential areas and walking along the river pathways, passing a famous brewery that had been a central place in the town for work back i the 1700’s.

Took the bus back to Brighton and toured the local museum which gave a depiction of the town’s history. ¬†Plenty of abstract art and random historical objects from the city’s early days. ¬†The book collection, which was an entire art exhibit in itself, was a room filled with old books, each covered with a different patterned fabric. ¬†Slightly overwhelming, the room looked like bookshelves filled with kaleidoscopes, there was that much color (see pic below).

Spent more time wandering around small shops in town. ¬†Cloud 9 was a cute and colorful gelato and dessert shop that had recently opened. ¬†Anything from scoops of ice cream, to cheesecake to the fanciest cupcakes was available. ¬†Everything looked delicious, but I skipped out (no need to come back with an extra 20 pounds to carry around). ¬†Choccywoccydoodah’s (say that 3 times fast) was a hot spot for tourists. ¬†This chocolate shop had elaborate cakes in the windows, similar to one’s you’d see on the the show¬†Cake Boss, as well as other everyday objects made of chocolate, such as shoes. ¬†Check out the Wizard of Oz cake I photographed!

On my way back to the train station, I looked through the window of a sushi bar that struck me as quite unusual.  Similar to a hibachi grill set up, the sushi bar had guests seated in groups of approximately 15 in a square formation.  Instead of eating off plates and being served, the guests ate off a conveyer belt, while a chef in the middle of the table formation made sushi in the middle.  He then placed the food on different colored mini-plates that were on a constantly rotating conveyer belt.  The colored plates were part of a color-coding system that indicated the price of each item. Seemed like a nifty and creative way to serve food and just caught my eye!

Caught a train back to Farringdon and was home by 7:30, exhausted from a long day of travel. ¬†Off to church tomorrow at another cathedral somewhere in the city (I still have to search for a new one to attend), and then Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. ¬†The grounds of the 2012 Olympic Games is probably the most exciting attraction of the trip, and although you may object or ask why…it’s all because of my love for sports. ¬†Until tomorrow, cheers!

King George III's childhood home

King George III’s childhood home

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pebble beaches and the pier; Brighton Eye in the background

pebble beaches and the pier; Brighton Eye in the background

old church from the 1200's

old church from the 1200’s

panoramic atop the hill in Lewes

panoramic atop the hill in Lewes

another Lewes view

another Lewes view

Lewes Castle & Gardens

Lewes Castle & Gardens

Lewes Castle & Gardens

Lewes Castle & Gardens

colorful book art exhibit

colorful book art exhibit

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Choccywoccydoodah's

Choccywoccydoodah’s

Wizard of Oz cake!

Wizard of Oz cake!

Cloud 9 gelato

Cloud 9 gelato

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fountain in the center of town

fountain in the center of town

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