Terrific Tuesday: London Style

Terrific Tuesday: London Style

Today was an action-packed day! To show Georgia and Natisha the full London experience, we went to the London Eye, looked at Westminster and Westminster Abbey from the outside, took pictures at a classic phone booth, and even ate some awesome fish and chips!

 

We began the morning with a tube ride to Westminster. I chose our exit from the station carefully, so we would emerge directly below Big Ben, an awe-inspiring sight especially after emerging from the Underground. We then made our way over to the London Eye, bought tickets, and headed on up to our car in the massive Ferris wheel. It was amazing to see London stretched out below us for as far as the eye could see. The city looked absolutely beautiful in the morning light. Though it was a bit pricy, the Eye was absolutely worth it!

Next, we walked over to around Westminster and Westminster Abbey to see the exteriors. Both were beautiful as usual, but Westminster Abbey was also surrounded by rows of crosses and paper poppies to commemorate the veteran's sacrifices. It was moving to see the thousands upon thousands of miniature memorials.

On a lighter note, we then swung into a phone booth near the tube station to take another quintessential London tourist photo. After all of our Westminster adventuring, we were extra-hungry, so we ventured to The Golden Hind (currently holding the crown for best fish and chips in London in my book) for lunch of fish and chips with mushy peas, tartar sauce, and vinegar. It was as good as ever, and the massive portions of white, flaky fish and perfectly made sides reminded me why this was a great place for fish and chips.

Finally, I headed to class and the gym, per usual. I then made Mac and cheese for dinner, which we all enjoyed as usual. It was so fun to have an extra-packed house!

 

All in all, another great London day! Pictures below!

 

Walking to the Eye

 

In the Eye

 

Westminster from the Eye

 

Pods over London

On Top of the City

 

Hanging Out above the City

 

Another View of Westminster

 

Westminster, Again…

Hello Ben!

 

Westminster Abbey

 

Remembrance

 

The Classic London Shot

 

Calling Everyone

 

Fish and Chips

 

 

Fish and Chips : detail

 

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Sorrento Explorations: Day 1

Sorrento Explorations: Day 1

Our adventure into our Sorrento Hotel last night was a bit… crazy.

After a long train ride from Naples to Sorrento, we had to make it from the Sorrento train station up to our hotel. Unfortunately for us, the bus was not running after 6 PM. And it was POURING. Fortunately though, a can driver took us up and even gave us a bit of a discount off of the labeled fare because we were students and he understood “what a student budget is like!” We were then met by our amazing host, Marco, who explained the area and even directed us to the only open local grocery and restaurant.

We made it into our apartment, set our stuff down, and walked ten minutes on a pitch black road to the small town of Termini. We picked up a few essentials from the small grocer and made our way to the restaurant.

 

The restaurant was a small, family-run place. How small? They didn't have a menu. Instead, the owner came to our table, gave us a basket of bread, and asked us a few questions about what we felt like eating and how much we felt like spending. (In, of course, a mixture of Italian and English, with a small touch of pantomiming involved.) We ended up getting some amazing spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce. It was incredible. The pasta was so fresh and perfectly al dente. The sauce was simple, but immeasurably perfect. It was homemade Italian food, and definitely one of our best meals here. The restaurant was a local hangout, with some regulars sharing drinks on the patio and some young men in the back room watching a soccer football match.

 

After our meal, we trudged home in the pouring rain and fell asleep after some chatting.

 

We woke up this morning to an amazing view.

The island off in the distance is Capri. We are literally on the top of a cliff, overlooking the coast. It's beautiful.

 

After spending some time admiring the extraordinary view from our balcony, we made a light breakfast of eggs and croissants. We needed to get some groceries and hit an ATM, so Marco directed us to the nearest town with an ATM… five kilometers away. Also, there were no buses, as it was All Saints Day. Luckily, it was a beautiful day, so we began hiking down the trail.

 

It was amazing to see the cliffs and all of the extraordinary views. Olive trees lined the road and we could see the waves crashing down on the shore. It was an amazing way to spend the day, and we loved the Italian air and sea.

 

After our long walk, we enjoyed watching the sunset and the coast of Capri light up.

 

For dinner, we returned to the same small Italian restaurant. I had ravioli, homemade and delicious!

 

Pictures below!

 

The View

 

Cliffside Explorations

 

Beautiful Rural Church

 

Another Amazing View

 

Along the Road

Looking Down

Coffee & Pastry (Sfogliatella) Break

 

Balcony View

 

As the Sun Set

 

Sunset over Capri

 

Capri Coast at Night

 

Viewing the Vatican and the Train to Naples

Viewing the Vatican and the Train to Naples

As I write this post, I am sitting in an Italian train carriage. The countryside is whipping by outside as the train speeds along towards Naples. I can see the endless vineyards, dotted with little villas, a splash of golden orange against the greens and grays. We are en route to our final city of the voyage, Sorrento, just south of Naples. It promises to be quite fun, especially if the weather cooperates. We have a four person apartment with a terrace overlooking the sea.

 

This morning, we awoke, got ready, ate the hotel breakfast of coffee and pastries, and headed for the train station. We then deposited our bags in a holding area, caught a subway train to near Vatican City, and walked to St. Peter's Square. We had expected to not encounter much of a wait, (this being a Wednesday morning in late October…) but there was a pretty long line to get in. We waited to enter the square and upon our entry, we immediately realized why the crowd was so massive today; the Pope was giving a speech!

 

We explored the square, took some photos, and marveled at the massive crowds and immense structures. Though we only had a short time, it was well worth seeing and we were pleasantly surprised to get to see the Pope speak. (This did, however, mean that the Basilica was closed to us, but that just means I will have to visit again someday soon.)

 

Rome wasn't built in a day, nor can it be seen in just two, but we really enjoyed seeing the parts we did. We saw the Coliseum, we saw the Pope, and we managed to see countless other ancient buildings. All in all, a pretty amazing city. Onwards to relaxation! Pictures below, per usual.

 

St. Peter's Square

 

Pope on the big screen

 

A Mass for the masses.

Cropped and zoomed from above photo.

 

Amid the sea of umbrellas

Bernini's Fountain

 

The Maderno Obelisk

 

“Rome-ing” Around Rome

“Rome-ing” Around Rome

Today was an sightseeing-packed day!

After a small breakfast at the hotel, we ventured into central Rome. Our first visit was the Severan Complex of Roman ruins. (These are a massive complex of ruins, gardens, paths, and more.) After a few hours of hiking around, taking pictures of the various ruins and the nearby Coliseum, and listening in on tours, we were pretty famished.

 

We had a nice, relaxed dinner at a small restaurant a few blocks away from the ruins. After the ravioli-recharge, I felt great and ready to see some more of Rome. We continued our adventure around the city. We saw tons of amazing sites, from the Pantheon, to the Piazza Navona, to the Piazza del Popolo.

 

Finally exhausted, we returned home to rest and rise again tomorrow. We plan to see the Vatican and then venture onward to our final city of the trip, Sorrento.

 

Stay tuned, and enjoy the pictures!

 

Waiting in line, ready to go.

 

The Coliseum

Ruined Roman Arch

Part of the Severan Complex

Caitlin and I enjoying the Severan Complex

Totally Obeying the Rules

View From the Severan Complex

Ruins

Column I

Column II

Coliseum

View within the Ruins

 

Climbing the Coliseum

 

Group Shot!

Church Bells!

Ruins

Statue

Piazza di San Marcello

Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuel II

Pantheon

 

Oculus Within Pantheon

 

Pantheon Interior

 

Gelato Break! (Mango, Dark Chocolate, & Strawberry)

 

Fountain from Piazza Navona

 

Statue from Piazza del Popolo

 

Final Florence Day!

Final Florence Day!

Today was quite an adventure-filled day! (Also, the sun came out for the first time, which felt incredibly nice after long days of rain.)

 

We started out enjoying the leather markets of Florence, which were vast and filled with tons of amazing items. I ended up getting a wallet and a belt, and even managed to get the belt customized to my waist. Another great find? I met an artist who did engravings of the city and picked out a beautiful print similar to the one in the picture set below. He matted and signed the print and even packaged it nicely for me.

 

After the market, we took a bus to the Piazza Michelangelo. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the amazing view. (Dad, you were right. It was one of the best things I've ever seen.) We took tons of photos, admired the view, and relished the sunshine.

 

Post-Piazza, we ventured back to the train station and caught our train to Rome. After a good amount of walking, we finally reached the hotel. We checked in, ate a small dinner at a nearby restaurant, and have crashed back at home. We will see tons of Rome tomorrow!

 

Enjoy the pictures below!

 

The Market

 

The engraving

 

By the Market

 

By the market

 

Piazza Michelangelo

View From the Piazza Michelangelo

Group shot!

 

The Classic Eric Self-Shot

 

Another View From the Piazza Michelangelo

Another View From the Piazza Michelangelo

 

 

Another View From the Piazza Michelangelo

 

Florentine Days!

Florentine Days!

Today was another day of fun, slightly rainy still, but so much fun!

 

We adventured all around Florence, eating good food and seeing amazing art, including Michelangelo's David in the Academia and Donatello's David in the city squares. Another great find was the Medici palace. It was a fantastic lens into the past, and we recognized many of the artworks inside from our art history course on 14th Century Art From Florence to Flanders. Professor Nuttall, if you are reading this, be proud; we felt so knowledgable thanks to your course! We also saw the Duomo and tons of other fantastic buildings!

 

Tomorrow is another awesome day, with a visit to the Plaza Michelangelo (per the recommendation of the best dad ever, Bomi Mistry) and some leather markets in Florence. Also, as always, good food and plenty of photography.

 

In the evening, we will head to Rome! Stay tuned!

 

As usual, some pictures below…

 

 

 

Medici Palace Courtyard

 

I blend in…

Fantastic artwork in the Medici Palace

Amazing Room in the Medici Palace

Yet another amazing room in the Medici Palace

 

Madonna Di Filippo Lippi (Master to Botticelli)

 

Another courtyardin the Medici Palace

Duomo

Another View

Lunch stop- takeaway pasta or pizza for €5!

 

Lunch: Tortellini con Prosciutto

Square

Square

Donatello's David

Michelangelo's David (the original in the Academia, not the copy in the square.)

 

 

 

Guardian Lion

River near sunset

 

Coffee break… (Note the subtle touch with the artistic leaf in the cream. Very nice.)

 

Dinner: Pizza and salad.

 

Venice with a Touch of Florence

Venice with a Touch of Florence

Today, we began another day of adventure!

We woke up, got ready, and checked out of the hotel. We then made our way to the train station, put our bags in storage, and headed into the main city again.

After a night of rain and a particularly high tide, the streets were flooded! Luckily,pumping efforts were underway and raised platform walkways had been placed out. Unfortunately, San Marco's square was completely underwater by the time we got there, so we had to take a lunch break while the square was drained…

Luckily, a short while later, it was drained and all was well! We adventured through the square, saw gondolas and more glass shops, and even had some more gelato! (I can almost hear the gasps of surprise at that last one…)

Eventually, we made our way back to the train station, had some coffee at a nearby cafe, and boarded the train to Florence. In Florence, we set up base at the hotel, I ate some amazing gnocchi (with Gorgonzola cheese and pine nuts) and sausage pizza, we walked to the riverbank, and I even got a tiny cannoli to sweeten my taste buds.

 

Tomorrow is another day of adventure! Pictures below!

Starting the day

 

The flooded streets

 

 

 

Travel-buddies!

Caitlin on a bridge

 

Myself on a bridge!

 

Venice Canal. Beautiful.

 

Gimme PIZZA.

 

Gorgeous Glass

 

San Marco's Square

 

Me in the Square

 

Gondolas

 

Gondolas

Tracey on the Bridge

Gelato…

 

 

Gnocchi in Florence

 

More P.I.Z.Z.A.! Let's get carried away!

Cute Canoli

 

Florence Bridge

Florence at Night!

 

Italy- the Ad-Ven(ice)-Tures of our first day.

Italy- the Ad-Ven(ice)-Tures of our first day.

It has been a pretty crazy day.

We left the flat at two in the morning, hopped on a bus to Liverpool Street, hopped on another bus to Stansted Airport, made it through security and massive lines, and got on the flight.

 

A few hours later, we landed and walked off the plane into Venice. A short bus ride took us to a station near our hotel and we trekked over to the hotel. We checked in, and the owner gave us a ton of information on how to get into the main, most interesting parts of Venice. After checking in, we took a much needed nap.

 

Post-nap, we set out on our adventures in Venice. It was a drizzly day that devolved into a downpour, which was a bit of a letdown weather wise, but we had a great time anyway. We had some authentic (and amazing) Italian espresso, freshly brewed and with a bit of decadent frothed cream.

My Magnificent Caffè Macchiato

We continued to walks around, exploring Venice. We found countless amazing pieces of glasswork from Murano and other small amazing things. We scurried from shop to shop, flitting between the awnings as the rain poured down.

 

Eventually, we found a really reasonable and tasty restaurant to eat a late lunch/early dinner. I ordered some Gnocchi alla Bolognese and we also shared some pizza. Both were absolutely heavenly. The pizza was delicate, with thin crust, a subtle tomato sauce, and a crispy-but-not-burnt crust. The gnocchi were so freshly made and were complemented by the small amount of meat in the sauce. One thing that really struck us was the portion sizes and the style of cooking. The portions were just big enough and the flavoring was just enough to add a subtle note to each dish. Truly great cooking involves taking the simplest ingredients and letting them shine. I love the Italian style of cooking for its focus on this simplicity and on the love of food inherent in the culture.

 

P-I-Z-Z-A

 

Nom-Nom Gnocchi

 

Post- dinner, we were all hit by a sweet tooth craving and elected to find a gelato stand. Luckily, the Italians love their gelato and this stand looked pretty awesome. We tried a few flavors, I finally opted to get a small with chocolate chip as one flavor and tiramisu as the other. It was amazing.

Gelato Generates Good Feelings

 

After gelato, we continued to shop, it continued to rain, but we decided to enjoy it! We walked through the streets, and saw all sorts of amazing people along the way. Everything went off without a hitch. The adventure continues tomorrow. Half in Venice, and then moving onto Florence.

Stay tuned, and enjoy some pictures.

 

 

 

My Fellow Travelers: (L->R) Tracey, Caitlin, Kate

 

Evans and Peel Detective Agency and more…

Evans and Peel Detective Agency and more…

It was a dark and (slightly) stormy night…

This is London, after all. A little rain comes with the territory. Tonight, we made our way down to the Evans and Peel Detective Agency, a speakeasy-style novelty bar. I had found out about it via some sleuthing online, and it sounded like my kind of place.

This is an establishment that takes its persona very seriously, and to great effect. We found the nondescript door in an alley off of a main street and pressed the intercom buzzer. After a brief exchange where we confirmed our “appointment” with the detective, we were let in and led to a small office. The office looked straight out of the 1920’s, lit with candlelight and complete with an old telephone and typewriter. The detective, in character, asked us about our case. We said we were looking for “a six-fingered swordsman who had killed my father many years ago in Spain.” (Princess Bride, anyone?) The detective said he’d look into it, then swung open a hidden door built into the bookcase and led us inside.

Inside, we found a dark, mysterious dining room, and were led to a table. The menus were wonderful, typewritten on old paper and attached to a filing envelope. The attention to detail was so impressive, and we were having a blast. We ordered some mysterious, old fashioned drinks and a few small appetizers recommended by our waitress, and then reveled in the atmosphere. We felt so classy and like members of a secret club. It was well worth the effort and price.

After stealthily exiting the detective agency, we decided to get some dinner at a nearby pub, the Churchill Arms, a combination English pub/Thai restaurant. After enjoying a pint while we waited, we were finally seated and could enjoy supper. I got the Pad Kee Mao, an extremely spicy and delicious noodle dish with shrimp, chicken, and beef. It was phenomenal.

All in all, another good night. Case closed.

Tower Bridge, Markets, Indian Food, & Bollywood-Style Shakespeare

Tower Bridge, Markets, Indian Food, & Bollywood-Style Shakespeare

If the title didn't give it away already, I've had a fairly intensive and interesting day!

It began this morning with an informative tour of the Tower Bridge area. We explored the areas we had talked about in class, and it was easier to see how crime would have flourished in this area early on in London's history… The boats, morning fog, shipyards, narrow and winding streets, the flurrying populace, and the ever-present River Thames would have made this a criminal's paradise. On a related note, We also walked through Jack the Ripper's stomping grounds and sat in the courtyard where his last victim was found. Slightly creepy, but it was also historically thrilling to be sitting in the exact spot where history happened, walking the same stones as people in the 1800s did.

Post-tour, I hit the gym again and then went home to make a lunch of yogurt with a super wrap: pan-fried salmon filet with a few chorizo slivers, a touch of Brie, and half a bag of spinach (heat-wilted in the pan). It didn't last long.

In the afternoon, we toured a set of market areas (Petticoat Lane, Spittlefields, Bricklane) I've come to know and love for my Cultures of Empire class. It was really interesting to hear and see the layers of history that lay under the structures of today. This was especially interesting in the Petticoat Lane and Bricklane areas, where the early structures and markets were created by the Jewish population in London and today is dominated by African & Asian vendors and Indian, Bengali, and Muslim populations respectively. It is always interesting to consider what all of the areas will look like in fifty-plus years as the city continues to layer histories and cultures over time.

After the tour, I went to an Indian restaurant called Sweet and Spicy, which came highly recommended as a place for locals who want authentic food without fuss. It was amazing, definitely some of the best Indian food I've ever had, and was quite reasonable price-wise as well. I got a samosa, Sikh kebab, cauliflower curry, and two puris for under five pounds. I also snagged a medium chicken curry and a naan for an additional few pounds. I left the restaurant full and happy, with the soul-filling feeling only Indian food can deliver.

As if that wasn't enough for one day, I also made my way down to see a production of Much Ado About Nothing by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was Bollywood-style, which was a phenomenal treat and matched my dinner quite well. It had the actors in full Indian costume and featured a few dance numbers. All in all, a wonderful show that was the perfect way to top off the evening.

 

Pictures below, per usual. Enjoy!