Archive for the ‘england’ Category

last europe photos

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

The biggest vending machine I have ever seen (in the Brussels train station).

Rue Mouffetard in Paris.

La Grande Arche at La Défense.

Big huge mirrored ball between the Arche and the Christmas market.

At Père Lachaise Cemetary:

(Is that straight out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or what?)

Jim Morrison’s grave.

The cat I made friends with hangin’ out near Jim Morrison’s grave.

I followed the cat to this abandoned sepulture off the beaten track which someone had set up as a little kitty sanctuary. I loved it.

Oscar Wilde’s grave. There’s a little plaque saying “please respect the memory of Oscar Wilde and do not deface this marker,” but can you imagne Oscar Wilde being anything less than thrilled about all these kisses?

I gave him a kiss, too; it seemed like the thing to do.

This little street in London was completely lined with bookshops!

Brits like their personal space, I guess.

Three bridges over the Thames.

The Tate Modern and the Millenium footbridge.

The spider is a statue called Maman (”mom”) by Louise Bourgeois, who has an exhibit in the museum right now.

I think these birch trees are actually part of the “World as a Stage” exhibit I mentioned, but I can’t remember how or why.

The Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, which is the big main entrance hall (and in my opinion a seriously awesome space), is often a site for installation art. This rift in the concrete floor is called Shibboleth and is by Doris Salcedo.

That’s it, guys. Here’s the view out one of the rear windows of my plane home:

last post from this side of the atlantic!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Well, no USB port, so my last photo update will have to wait ’til I get home tomorrow at around 3pm Pacific Standard Time. Yow! Here’s the quick-and-dirty written update:

Yesterday I woke up in Paris and took the Metro out to La Defense to stare up at the Grande Arche and then turn around to wander the… yes… Christmas market that Caitlin had mentioned in passing the night before. Was fun, nothin’ special. Perhaps I am finally getting over the charm of Christmas markets. Good timing!

In the afternoon I went all the way across town to the Pere Lachaise cemetary to pay my respects to Moliere, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, and wander the endless pathways among tombs and tiny chapels (sepultures?) and such. It was really interesting to see tombs so old they are illegible or broken or covered in moss next to headstones put up in 2007 and covered in flowers… and everything in between. The place is huge! I even met a kitty cat hangin’ out by Jim Morrison’s grave.

Then I caught my train to London. Today I went to the Tate Modern and saw an exhibition called “The World As a Stage” that was theoretically about the intersection and relationship between theatre and gallery art, which sounds totally awesome and interesting, right?? It was kind of cool, but was also kind of obviously created mostly by gallery artists and not so much theatre artists, I think. I mean… it was a little opaque.

In the evening I wandered into the carnival they’ve got set up at Leicester Square and watched the faces of the people riding the biggest ride, the sort that puts you at one end of a huge long rotating thing and flips you around a bit. A 40-ish Englishman struck up a conversation with me, which was okay, though I felt a little uncomfortable because I suspected he was flirting with me, and then somehow the topic of race relations came up–what?? (and before that it was religion??) and he kept talking about “colored” people and since the conversation was mostly one-sided as it was, I mostly just kind of winced internally and let him talk and then excused myself.

Hah, so then I went to see Avenue Q, and now, writing this, “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” is stuck in my head. When I bought the ticket this morning I thought about seeing something, you know, more serious and British and all that, but I knew I’d have a blast at Avenue Q and I definitely did. And tomorrow I am getting on a plane.

I have been pretty clumsy and forgetful lately. In the past 24 hours I have locked myself out of my hostel room twice. The first time it was the very wee hours of the morning. I got up to pee, realized I’d forgotten my key, stumbled down the stairs without my glasses to borrow a key from reception, went back to the room, got my key, tripped over the bag of the guy sleeping above me, fell on my ASS, picked myself up, stumbled back downstairs to drop off the key, etc etc etc etc. I think this is another kind of wall, but it’s one I don’t mind so much, provided it doesn’t get me hurt or missing something valuable. When I was in Vienna I almost lost my passport; left it sitting somewhere and a nice Canadian girl came and found me in the hostel’s kitchen to give it to me, thank goodness!! And anyway, tomorrow I am going home.

photos from the english countryside

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

First, a completely ridiculous amount of pictures from my walk from Salisbury to Stonehenge. Okay, maybe just the best ones. There are more at my flickr photostream.

That’s the view of Salisbury from Old Sarum–you can see Salisbury Cathedral. After that cathedral was built, the cathedral at Old Sarum was left to fall to ruins (as well as the market city that supported it). All that’s left are low white stone walls vaguely outlining the various sections of the building, perfect for kids and dogs to play on when it’s sunny outside.

This bench was really in the middle of pretty much nowhere. I appreciated it–thanks, Eddie.

This bit of the path reminded me of the canyon at Reed. :)

Why The English Countryside Is Funny (With Sheep), Exhibit A

Why The English Countryside Is Funny (With Sheep), Exhibit B–that’s one of the ancient burial mounds I mentioned. There were a bunch of them.

Approaching Stonehenge.

To get there I had to cross this INSANELY busy street, though. I kinda thought I might die.

Meanwhile, back in Salisbury–

One of the things I like about old European towns that we don’t get at all in the States is the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern (for example, Stonehenge and the highway above). So here’s the cathedral and a 2004 “Lunar Disk” sculpture, which the plaque says is made out of “billion year old onyx.”

When I was walking around the cathedral I mostly looked at the grave markers on the floor (and found myself wondering, but unsure how to ask, whether Elizabeth, wife of William, son of William and his wife Catherine, etc etc, really lyeth here. Are there remains under the church floor?) and also wondered a little about whether I feel god any more there than any other place in the world, and decided that I really didn’t. Then I thought some more and realized that the question is really which question I am asking: A)Would I feel different if I felt god in the world? or B)Would I feel different if I didn’t feel god in the world? Which probably ultimately makes me an agnostic.


That’s the hostel I stayed in. For real. Have you ever seen a cuter hostel in your life??

And then I went to stay with Vicki and Jess!

This New Forest pony doesn’t look very impressed.

Jess stares intently and waits for me to throw the goddamn stick already come on come on PLEEEEEASE

Now I am in Cork, Ireland. More very very soon. My camera is broken (no idea how it happened!!) and picture quality has, as a result, decreased–it still functions all right but the screen is pretty much shot and you have no idea how crappy the viewfinders are on those tiny point-and-shoot digitals until you are forced to use them. Mom said she’d be willing to loan me hers for the rest of my trip (and send it to Robin or Brook for me to pick up when I visit them), but I’m impatient and I might just replace it because I’ll want to when I get home anyway… still, a bit of a bummer!

climbin’ up on salisbury hill… (salisbury, england)

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Hey!  I’m paying completely absurd amounts of money for this hour of internet time in the reception area of this hostel.  I was hoping to include pictures, but oh well–you have something to look forward to.  Will include: reasons the English countryside is funny (with sheep).

First, from the beginning: the night before I left Sammamish, I spent way too many hours scouring the internet for hostel beds in London. Nothing–the entire city is booked up. Yeah, yeah, I should’ve done it ages ago, but I figured it’s freaking’ NOVEMBER and it’s freakin’ LONDON, with eighty bazillion hostels. Only just realized today why it’s all full of course… Guy Fawkes Day is, what, Monday? Ahhh… I didn’t think it could be because of Halloween.

So anyway, I was just about to throw down way too much £££ for a cheap hotel room on the edge of the city when I realized I could just SKIP London and go somewhere else instead. About three minutes later I had a bed in Salisbury. Why Salisbury? Maybe ‘Salisbury Hill’ was already stuck in my head. It has, in any case, been stuck there since.

So that’s Lesson Number One. Stop try, trying again and just go/do somewhere/thing else.

Salisbury is great. Today I walked from my hostel to Stonehenge. I don’t actually know exactly how far I walked, but I wish I did ’cause I wanna know if I really should be this sore and exhausted. I’m guesstimating 12 miles or so. The walk was pretty fantastic. Started out on a bike/ped path along the little river that runs through town, completely with squabbling swans AND old men feeding them. Then the path turned into a narrower footpath, then a dirt path past fields, then a barely-discernable strip of dirt THROUGH the fields. And back again. And so on. I had to backtrack more than once (the map I used was hand drawn, photocopied, and five years old, but also very charming) and open gates with signs like ‘do not pass if cattle are present, as they may be dangerous’ and close them behind me again. My favorite parts were the stiles. I think that’s what they’re called. Little sections of fence with wood planks set at angles to the fence and parallel to the ground, so you can climb up and over with ease.

For most of the walk I saw very few people, and then mostly dogwalkers. I did see many many sheep, lots of horses, some cows, four rabbits, and some squirrels. I also surprised two deer (and they surprised me!).

I’m getting ahead of myself though. I left the hostel probably around 9. The first part of my walk led me to Old Sarum, this big hill that was a 12th century fortress or castle or all of the above. Ahhh, all the paths you can walk on around here are amazing. I think you could walk across the whole country by followsing these (totally legal!) paths through pastures and fields. And up ancient hills. I saw sheep grazing on Bronze Age burial mounds, I kid you not. Shoot, that was supposed to be part of Why The English Countryside Is Funny (With Sheep).

So that was cool. I got there around 10:30, actually a half hour before the main site opened, and I was curious enough to stick around and pay a few pounds to step into what used to be a Royal Kitchen and look down into what used to be a Royal Privy (that one included an illustration of the king on the privy and a servant handing him a rag to wipe with. Yeah, seriously). It was a beautiful, beautiful day, so I sat at the very top (on the inside of the inner of two moats) and looked over the city for awhile. I don’t know what time I left, but suffice it to say that I got to Stonehenge (8 or so miles later) at 3:53. The last bus back to Salisbury was at 3:30, and the site closed at… 4:00.

Yeah, seriously. I guess it IS November… (but hey it FELT like May today…)

I dunno, entrance cost £6+ anyway and I probably got a nicer view than anyone else, coming down this hill between fields full of sheep grazing on ancient burial mounds, with the sun starting to set and Stonehenge suddenly RIGHT in front of me–man was I happy to see it just then; right up to that moment the endless paths through fields had REALLY lost their novelty.

Lesson Number Two is somewhere in there: probably not worth it to pay twelve buckaroos to see something everyone else has taken better pictures of, anyway, when you can’t really get very close to it these days anyway?

So I asked about the bus despite knowing the answer, and found a woman from SoCal (and she was really SoCal) who was willing to share a taxi. Then they told us there were no taxis available (???) but that one of the women who worked there was willing to drive us into Salisbury because they were getting off and she was headed more or less in that direction anyway (!!!).

So I made it back and got some groceries and shampoo (which I might have to give up when I fly from Dublin next week, but I really really need to wash my hair) and here I am. Tomorrow I’m going to the cathedral (and to see the 1215 Magna Carta, maybe?) and the market and then Vicki’s coming here to pick me up and introduce me to her potter brother, which will be completely fabulous.

I haven’t figured out how the heck I am getting from here (or Vicki’s, rather) to Cork on Monday or Tuesday; any ideas? (I guess I mean, anyone REALLY bored and want to figure out how to do it for me?) Doesn’t matter if it takes both days.

Much love everyone.

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