Sunday, October 28, 2012

Brighton 21st Oct 2012

This one will be slightly shorter than the last as we, Brittany and I, only spent a half day in Brighton.  It's only about 1.5 hours or so by direct train, which is nice.  The day we picked was grey, chilly and slightly rainy.  However, I liked Brighton, it's a nice little town, much like Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, but with a little bit of carnival thrown in, like from Atlantic City/Ocean City, etc... with the boardwalk atmosphere.

The first thing we did was walk down from the train station along the water to try and find the Royal Pavilion which was the main reason we went down there in the first place.  We wandered by the pier and finally turned around and headed into the town part.  This is where the Martha Vineyard/Nantucket aspect comes in as they're old buildings with old and new shops in them, along with pubs, restaurants, hotels, b&bs, etc... There was a Nordic bar/restaurant on the same street as a Baby Gap- just a few doors down.  A nice mix of old and new.

The Royal Pavilion is really cool. It was built in the early 1800s for George IV as a getaway from London.  You aren't allowed to take pictures inside, so this is the link to its website: 

The inside looked like it came out of a China/India/Asia hybrid.  There were dragons, bamboo, red and gold wallpapers, oriental drawings and decorations, and, as always in a palace, wonderfully outfitted rooms to just look at in awe.  The Indian aspect comes from the architecture of the building itself, it kind of looks like a miniature Taj Mahal, because of the way the domes were, which I guess doesn't really mean it looks like it, that was only a helpful guide, as it is white stone with the dome that is associate with the Taj Mahal.

That tour took about 45min (We walked fast and didn't take the audio guides), and afterwards we walked down to the Pier where I proceeded to lose about 4 pounds to the multitude of arcade and carnival games that were present.  They had the classic ones like trying to knock the cans off, and everything.  I almost won the game where you had the roll balls through different colors to make the dolphin move, but some kids dropped his ball and I accidentally kicked it while trying to move it closer to his mom, so I gave him one of mine. (she replaced it with the one he dropped and thanked me).  oh well.  Inside the buildings on the pier it's like 1000 types of 1 game.  The one you see at places like Chuck E. Cheese's where you drop a coin in and it rolls down to the ledge and gets pushed off onto another ledge and all the coins are hanging off the end and you keep putting coins in waiting for all of them to come down?  Yeah....  oh well, you played with 2p coins that you could get from a machine- I didn't realize this at first when I put a pound coin in and 50 coins started pouring out into the slot.  That's about all we did, Brittany watched as I lost money, and then we walked around the pier to look at the different rides and attractions, watched the crazy seagulls divebomb a couple of people for their food, and then we went to JB's Diner for dinner because it was an American diner.

Well we both ordered milkshakes , she got banana and I got mint chocolate chips.!   We also ordered southern fried chicken fingers.... the first time they came out it looked like grilled chicken wings so we sent it back.  The second time it was right , but they looked like Burger king's chicken fries...which doesn't mean they were mad, just not even close to what I was expecting.  They were actually pretty good! The cheesy fries not so much.  And then we went to the train station, began making plans for Thanksgiving- mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, and apple pie.  We think it sounds good!

All in all a good day and a good end to a pretty fun weekend!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Canterbury Cathedral 20 Oct 2012

Apologies for not keeping up with my blog!  I'm finally starting to study some....

Last weekend was super busy, mainly in terms of traveling.  On the 20th of October I went to Canterbury with a couple of friends which was super fun!  And on the 21st I went to Brighton with another friend.  Brighton was really cool because I had never been before, but Canterbury was fun because the last time I was there I was on a tour and so everything was timed.  So. Canterbury first.

We left London around 11ish since we missed the train we wanted by about 1 min.  Literally 1 min...  It's about a 1 1/2 hour train ride give or take, which is nice, and it was a direct train- no changing anywhere which is always nice.  We got there and the first thing we did was look for something to eat since we missed brunch, and it was lunch time when we got into town.  We ended up at a pizza hut because it was fast, and who doesn't love pizza hut pizza?  We had looked at a couple of other places, but paying 10 bucks for a a main dish at a Mexican restaurant just doesn't sit well with me...

So we walked on to the Cathedral since that was the main reason we traveled there.  Like the first time I went, this Cathedral is magnificent!  You go through this archway and it's like BAM! 1000 year old Cathedral!    Even if you're not studying history (like the 3 of us are) it's still really amazing to look at it and think, damn. this has been here for 1000 years.

Stepping inside is like a time warp, (If you ignore all of the tourists and displays, etc...) The stained glass windows are amazing and the stonework is phenomenal. (Yes I realize that it sounds like I'm using a thesaurus, but there are just so many words to describe this place!)  The way that you're supposed to go is in a big circle around the cathedral and then there's the crypt in the middle.  So that's what we did.  There's a lot of really cool burial memorial/stone coffins of archbishops, the shrine of Thomas a Beckett (St. Thomas a Beckett), King Henry IV and his wife Joan of Navarre, Edward the Black Prince , etc... so as someone studying European History (Or really any history, or any subject...) this place is really, really cool.

The spot where Thomas a Beckett was murdered
Where the shrine to Thomas a Beckett used to be
King Henry IV and Joan of Navarre
The Black Prince

 Most of the following pictures are of the older sections of the cathedral and of the Norman Ruins which I did not get to see on my tour 4 years ago, so it was pretty cool.

  We also wandered around looking for the Canterbury Tales museum, which was supposedly very cheesy but very awesome, but it cost like 6-8 pounds so we decided to skip that.  I might go back in the Spring, who knows?   At that point, the 2 people I was with went on to the Norman castle and I went back to London to have dinner with an old CISV friend I hadn't seen since our interchange in 2000!  I know it's crazy right?  Since I've been here I've seen 2 of the British people from my interchange that I haven't seen in 12 years, and 1 person I haven't seen in 14 years, who was one of the JCs in my village in 1998.  Yes 1998.  A long time ago.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Battle of Hastings Reenactment - October 13, 2012

Well last week, October 13th, I decided to take a trip to Battle, to see where the Battle of Hastings was fought...that's right, it was fought at Battle, not at Hastings which is another 10min train ride from Battle.  when I bought my train ticket and entry ticket to the site, I didn't realize that it was the weekend of the reenactment!  Needless  to say, I was pretty stoked about this!

It was a pretty nice 1.5 hour train ride over, no changes or anything which is always nice.  I got there too early, because when I travel by myself I tend to look at things pretty quickly, even though I might go back and look again later on, which  I did here.  I got in around 11 and walked up from the station to the entry- not far, about a 15-20min walk.  It had rained when the train pulled into the station, which was annoying, but by the time I walked it was blue skies...but not for long.

So I got in, after buying my English heritage pass...which I'm pretty excited about using!  So I went in, and you're immediately by the gatehouse museum, which has some pretty steep windy steps (Mom you would have hated them and stood outside) .  There's also a school (Private property so you don't go wandering around), but still pretty cool it's a pretty old building, and how cool would that be as a kid to go to school on a battlefield!?

The Gatehouse Museum was interesting, if a little bare- just basically the inside of the building plus some old stones from earlier foundations, etc...  Still pretty cool, and a lot of little nooks and crannies to stick your head into and look around, and the room where the garderobe would have been (That's the toilet)...a nice hole in a stone wall.

After that I wandered around, following the trail to where the battle actually took place (although you couldn't go that far when I visited because of all the re-enactors, vendors, tents, etc...)  It was still a really nice day, a little chilly and windy...but it's England, you expect it.  I walked over to the ruins of the abbey, which was basically an old, empty stone building, but still pretty cool since it's almost 1000 years old!

That was basically all there was to do there- wander around looking at the battlefield, and ruins- and the spot where King Harold was killed during the battle is marked, which is also pretty cool!

The reenactment started, and so did the rain- off and on.  The reenactment began slow, the Anglo-Saxons came out and waited, then King Harold came out.  Then we waited and the Normans began to appear from the trees, and then the Norman knights came out (Everyone else was on foot), and then William, Duke of Normandy came riding out!  There was also a running commentary going on during all of this to let everyone know what exactly was happening. It was pretty much a general reenactment, they ran up, fought, ran back, fought, etc... and I left about half way through because there were some big black clouds coming our way, and I wanted to beat the crowd to the very small railway station.

The exterior of the Abbey
Overall it was a pretty fun day!  I highly recommend visiting Battle if you have the chance!
The stairs going down in the gatehouse museum

The exterior of the abbey
Where King Harold was killed
The crypt

This is what I stood for the reenactment
The Anglo Saxons are the ones closest to all the people

The ones in the distance are the Normans

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The gatehouse

The battlefield

The inside of the Abbey