A Travellerspoint blog

England

Homeward Bound

I wish I was....

sunny

Well I have now been on the road for 10 weeks, or 70 days as it were. I think that it is a good time to return home. I am sitting in my last hostel, feeling a little apprehensive, anxious i think is a better word. i have seen a lot, met new people, been exposed to new world views and everything else that you are supposed to experience when you leave the country for the first time for an extended period. It has been great, and i don't know yet what kind of effect this will have, if any. So as i pack my bag and hope that the British will allow it as a carry-on, i have just started to think about what it will be like to return to a somewhat normal routine after the longest period of unemployment and vacation that i have ever experienced.

And at the same time I am way excited to see my family and friends again. I really have missed you all, as well as Stillwater, Sussex County, New Jersey, and all the spots that I love to visit contained therein. I can't wait to drive my car, esp b/c it will be on the right (correct) side of the road.

Travel plans for tomorrow:
Take Piccadilly line to Heathrow airport
Get on Flight 111 Air India to JFK
Take AirTrain to NYC Subway
Take A train to Penn Station
Take Train to Dover
Get picked up by dad
Relax
family dinner
see friends?
sleeeeeeep

Wish me luck!

Posted by Brainford 14:58 Archived in England Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

London: Part Deux

The Arrival of Luke

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I arrived back in London on Saturday night, and after overcoming obstacles such as closed tube lines, vague directions to my hostel and a large crowd of sex-toy supermarket go-ers, i was able to find my hostel.

It was in a word: terrible.

Dirty, cluttered, lacking toilet paper, and tending to emit loud drum and bass music at night, i was glad i was only there one evening.

On the next day, i found the hostel that luke and i would be staying in for the next three nights, then went out to ambush luke which i did at the local tube station. we made a deal: he wouldn't succumb to jet lag if i agreed to go to the london dungeon, which was a very disney-fied haunted house that told all the stories of scary london, ie. the plague years, torture in london tower, jack the ripper, and my favorite (and kyle's :) sweeney todd. (btw fleet street is actually a really nice place for food, nothing like the den of murder and terror that it used to be)

Today we woke up early and went to the Tower bridge, which luke fell in love with, and The Tower of London, where we spent almost 5 hours and got our picture taken with a beefeater. Good times. Needless to say i am glad to have a friend with me to wander about the city and sightsee. Although i can no longer make mistakes (like mistakenly order 2 dishes of rice at and indian resturant) without being made fun of. Having a great time! See y'all soon.

-Brian

And introducing a very special guest contributor to the blog, the illustrious Luuuuuuuuke FRANK-liiiiiiin!

Okay so I only have about ten minutes so I'll make this quick. London so far in my less than 48 hours has been awesome. My flight was good though I did sit next to a chatty chelsea on the plane which meant I couldn't just sit and read and fall right asleep. She was a sweet old lady from England, but it was still somewhat annoying.

Anyway, so once I landed I figured out how to get on the train I needed to take to London and then arrived there around 10am UK time. I went to take the tube to the hostel, which was remarkably easy to navigate. This proved a good thing as since it was Sunday there were numerous lines down so I had to go a crazy roundabout way to get where I wanted.

As Brian mentioned, he snuck up on me at the tube station by our hostel. We checked in and then went around as he mentioned. Now he is making fun of me for loving the Tower Bridge, but the thing is so COOL. We do not have bridges like that and I don't know why he doesn't share my affection for it.

We have been wandering around the city a lot which has been great. To be honest, some of the best things we have found so far we have stumbled upon just by getting lost like the pub we ate at tonight and the fake Rockefellar center of London. Well, I have to wrap up this rambling message as our internet time is up. See you all soon.

Posted by Brainford 13:32 Archived in England Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Pictures are up

go to my photo gallery to view selected photos

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more are saved but can't get them all up at once

Posted by Brainford 14:19 Archived in England Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Update

Belfast, Edinburgh, York

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Belfast

Belfast is a really fascinating city and i wish i had more time to spend there, but i did get to wander a bit and this is what i saw. Belfast is a shipping city that didn't not gain city status from the Queen until 1889, so it is relatively new and this can be seen in the mostly well planned street design (in blocks like most american cities) and the architecture which tends to be more in the georgian style in the old parts of town (think large marble and granite buildings, not unlike TCNJ but with more copper roofs and statues). There is also a large redevelopment plan by the river that has created residential buildings, malls and offices that are in the same style as the NJPAC, with large walls of glass, shining copper and brick. Very nice.

I did not see too many signs of the sectarianism that has divided the city for so many years, but there was an Orangemen Rally (Protestant Royalists) the day i left to drum up support for the 7-year vote in which the citizens of northern ireland decide whether or not they want to remain part of the UK.

I had fish and chips for the first time in Belfast. they were really good and really filling. I am trying to justify the amoun of fried greasy food i am eating in two ways 1.) i am walking a ton every day 2.) frying food must be a national pasttime over here.

Leaving Belfast

I woke up at 6 am so that i could shower and then walk all the way across town (about 5km) to get to the Stena Line Fast Ferry (7:35). When i left my hostel i really didn't know how far away it was because on my map it ended before the harbor and just had an arrow pointing north. well of course it was much further than i thought it would be and my watch read 7:25 when i turned a corner and saw stena line office about 300 yards away. i broke into a sprint, got into the office at 7:27 and was told i needed to be there at 7 to buy a ticket and board. needless to say i was a little dissapointed. The next ferry was at 12:20 so i spent a few hours wandering, got some breakfast at subway, joined what i thought was a tour but turned out to be British version of antique road show, and finally got on the ferry.

Stena Line Ferries

Europeans really know how to travel in style. i was expecting a small cafe and prob a bar. what i got was a HUGE sports bar, burger king, 2 star restaurant, movie theatre (watched herbie: fully loaded), slot machines, etc. AND it was one of the smoothest rides ever on a boat.

Edinburgh

was fantastic. prob my favorite city so far. The heart of the city is the Royal Mile, a street that connects The Royal Residence with Edinburgh Castle, a mediveal fort that has been expanded over time. Along the mile are tons of little shops and museums where you can learn about closes (the small alleyways that developed off of the royal mile as the city expanded (vertically for the most part) The most famous close, which you can visit, is the Real Mary Kings Close, an alley where most of the houses have literally been built over and now provide the foundation for the city municipal builing. The rooms are still intact however, and you can see traces of wall-painting decorations on plaster that was made from horse hair and human ash (which was abundant during the plague years) It is supposed to be haunted but i saw little evidence of that. speaking of plague victims, most were buried in pits that have now become the Meadows, large playing fields near the many universities. in the winter a man goes around and pushes down the bones that are forced to the surface by the frost. i tossed a frisbee on top of said bones. :-)

I also got a chnace to go hiking in Andrews park, an area that was formed mostly by volcanic vents which left outcroppings of basalt which would become the basis for defensive fortifications. I scaled the 220 meter "peak" of andrews seat and got some great views of the city and sea.

oh and i stayed with luke and his wife, Haley for 3 days and we had a blast. home cooked meals, real shower, real towel, and real ats to play with = welcome respite from hostels. oh and me and luke played worms 3d on playstation. great game. i am eternall grateful to them for taking me in.

York

My favorite city so far to just walk around, literally. They city walls, which were built on top of norman earthworks, which were in tun bult on Roman walls, still surround the city and you can walk on them. really neat. Seeing evidence of Roman habitation almost 200 years ago really shows how phenomenal their engineering skills were.

I met up with a coupletexan girls and a guy from RI, and a guy from brazil. we went out to pubs and i got to try new beers.

Carling = light beer with a hoppy kick. good and cheap
Kronengburg = real good lager
John Smith = cheap excuse for guinness

Really cool museums/attractions in York. Jorvic, or the viking museum, is kinda disneyfied but does a great job of telling the story of nordic occupation of York. The DIG, an archelogical exhibit designed to get kids interested in archeology. really fantastic. it was also there that i got to touch the largest specimen of viking poop in the world. needless to say after that i left for london. and that is where i am now.

Brian (in London)

ps. miss you guys, but if i don't see some more comments i'm not coming home...just putting it out there

Posted by Brainford 04:22 Archived in England Tagged backpacking Comments (6)

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