Thursday, July 30, 2009

7.29.09 London

Today, like deja vu. We woke up and went to the tube, rode it, then got on a train bound for the town of Stamford. Whats in Stamford you say? We asked ourselves the same question. After a little drive on the bus we arrived at Burghley House, home to a Duke or and Earl or someone of significance.

Honestly, we have seen so many homes I forget who lives in which one. Cool facts about the Burghley house is that is has been used in many movies; such as Pride and Prejudice, as well as The Di Vinci Code.
View from the gate at Burghley

As we were walking to the entrance we saw large hurds of deer just roaming the property, which we found out are owned by Burghley House.

Come to find, they are very tame and friendly deer. Or reindeer as many of the girls were convinced of.

This guy loved my Cliffbar.

I want one for my own.

After frolicing with the deer we went inside for our private tour, which sadly we couldnt take pictures of on the inside. But believe you me, it was cool. Like I said earlier, many rooms in the house have been used for movies and are still used today by the family owning the house. Our tour guide said that have a wedding at the house almost every friday. Burghley was also frequented by Queen Victoria and King Albert.

When the tour was over we spent a good while dining and relaxing in the restaurant where I was introduced to Creamed Tea. Creamed tea...sounds pretty self explanitory right? Wrong. Creamed tea is actually a scone with clotted cream on it. Why it has a referrence to tea the beverage, I have no clue. But it was delicious.

My scone, cream, jam and sandwitch.

The scone not only was amazing, but the clotted cream, which is like a cream cheese/honeybutter consistensy was so good on top! Throw on a little raspberry jam and its a piece of heaven. Due to the rain we spent a good while sitting inside, looking out.

The weather here is bipolar. Literally. It will be warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky and within minutes there is wind, rain and dark skies. We endure that for about ten minutes then its sunny again. All day, everyday. Its strange.

After Burghley house we went into the town of Stamford and again, explored. In and out of shops we went, trying to avoid the rain. I found a great local chocolatier and snagged me some truffles, which are AMAZING! So good. After some time wandering, back on the bus it was, followed by our train ride back to Londons Kings Cross station. We have been waiting to go to Kings Cross because of its significance with Harry Potters Platform 9 3/4.

Final goodbye before going see Harry and the gang. I was excited/ nervous. It shows in my face.

We finally made it home and ate some delicious fried chicken and potatoes, compliments of the girls. Again, I willingly did the dishes for payment in return. After I ate, Courtney and I really wanted to go see a play called the Container. It takes place in a 20' x 40' shipping container that they only allow 28 people into. The story is about 5 illegal immigrants sneaking over to america in a shipping crate, and your inside for the journey. Sounded great! When we got over there though they already sold out. Downer. Determined to do something we went to Leicester Square where all the theares are and saw a comedy club. It was only 6 pounds to go in (indicator number one that it wasnt going to be good). The first guy up solely asked the audience (consisting of about 40 people) questions, then proceeded to make fun of them. After about a half hour of this, and no one laughing, we peaced out and headed back home. Although feeling slightly defeated, we were proud of ourselves for trying and doing something with our evening. To close we shall end with the Mr. Steeze of the day...

The award goes to another Porche. This one however is decked
to the max and scores major stezzy points.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

7.28.09 London

Today was excited seeing as how we got to "sleep in" and meet at the tube station only at 7:50 this time. I am afraid our time here in London is starting to feel a bit like the movie Groundhog Day; wake up early, ride the tube, then the train, see a big house, explore that town, ride the train back to the tube then walk home. Although its been amazing to see so many different places, the days have started to blur. However, today was eventful in many ways.

The train took us to the smashing town of Oxford, famous for its prestigious university and rowing team. And as we learned first hand, its also famous for Blenheim Palace. After arriving in Oxford we got on a double decker bus (our first in the UK) and made our way to the palace.

Fab 5 on the double decker throwing out the BJF's.

The palace was built in 1705 as a home for the Duke at the time, and also was the birthplace to Sir Winston Churchill. We were able to see an exhibit featuring his life, displaying photographs and stories; as well as walk through the bedroom he was born in. However, before we explored that on our own, we were told of an "audio guided tour" that we could go on inside the palace that lasted about a half hour. Thinking this would be like the other audio tours we have been on with a walkie-talkie like device that told us facts as we walk along, we gave it a whirl. It sadly turned into a bad Disney-esque ride gone wrong. Filled with animatronic people with projected faces and sound effects, it was quite the experience. Afterwards we were excited for some fresh air and made our way outside to the incredible gardens.

That lawn literally went on for miles. It was like grass on a fairway
and I wanted to lay upon it.

Everything there was perfectly done. Like a movie.

We walked down a path that lead us to this sign... and how could we not go in?

Not anymore, we found the secret.

We attempted a family photo on this branch. Attempted being the key word there.

Just some bum in the garden.

Ah snap, it was me.

The back view of the palace.

After our adventures at Blenheim we set off to explore the city center of Oxford with two goals at hand. One, to find some food and two, to find Ali and I Oxford sweatshirts.

I will go to school here. Yes I will.

We found the food quite easily and then set out on the sweatshirts. We both wanted hoodless ones, which turned out to be harder then we antcipated. Ali submitted to a hoodie at one store (none of which fit my orangatang torso) so I pressed on to another store. Whats the first thing we see when we walk in? Hoodless sweatshirts. Ali mustered the guts to go back and return hers to the store literally two stores back, while I of course couldnt find a hoodless one that would fit me. I settled with a hoodie, but felt ok about it cause I got a free t-shirt for buying it.

Oxford sweatshirts and BJF's

Proud of our purchases we headed back to the train station and waited for our ride back to London.

The magical train

Hello steezy car of the day. What is this you say? I asked the very same question the first time I saw one here in London. Mistaken at first for a Maserati, upon closer inspection you will find it is the new Jaguar. Minus the jaguar hood ornament, and bearing a new logo, the 2009 Jag is a beauty! Bravo Jaguar for revamping and upgrading.

Once we got off the tube we meandered back to the flat, did some sitting which we havent really done today and just relaxed. After awhile I was startving and the girls werent, so I set off to find me some grub. I came accross a little Italian place and gave it a whirl; which was a great decision. After I ate and was walking back I saw a sign for what? What?! Yes...gelato. The substance of my heart. Of course I snagged me a double scoop, bringing back sweet, sweet memories of Italia.

Yes, gelato is number one. But this is actually for gelto numero 11. I missed it so.
It also much tastier because I was wearing my free Oxford tee.
Win win baby.

It was a bellissimo ending to my day. For old times sake...CIAO!

7.27.09 London

Today started out again with an early morning, followed by heading to the train station to head outside the city to the countryside.

When its 7am and your at the train station,
there's nothing better... oh hot and ready donuts. I love them.

Barely awake, we all ended up sleeping the hourish long ride we took, then hopped on a bus and made our way to the historic Wilton House.

The house has been around for centuries and has been home to the Earl of Pembroke the entire time. To lead us on our tour was our spunky, older tour guide Josie. Throughout the tour we learned quite a few new words from her, such as 'dishy' a substitute for handsome, 'dulahlee' meaning: went crazy, and we also enjoyed her use of 'poo pooed' referring to the British peoples response to the new Pride and Prejudice movie; scenes of which were filmed at Wilton House. The current Earl of Pembroke is 32 and has done alot to ensure the preservation of the house, and also lives in a portion of it himself. The house is filled with alot of original Chippendale furniture, including a peronally signed curio cabinet. One attraction to the house is the cube room; a room perfectly square measuring 30x30x30. The inside was amazing, but what sold me was the grounds outside!

The gardens and lawn are perfectly manicured and I felt like I should be seeing golf carts, tee boxes and flags in the distance it was so pristine.

Cool bridge. It was designed by the same man who
did the Rialto bridge in Venice.

We meandured around a bit and were then informed that they had pasteries and lemonade prepared for us. Gotta love the British hospitality. From the Wilton house we took a bus to the small town of Salisbury, home of the Salisbury Cathedral; which feature the UK's tallest spire.

It would be the tallest in Europe but was beat by inches by another church in Germany. Anywho, we were split up into groups each had a tour guide take us through the chapel.

Charlie greeted us into the chapel, and luckily we barely
made the height requirement for the tower tour.

It was built in 1212 and only took 38 years. While that sounds like a long time, consider that it took 40 years to build the Salt Lake Temple in 1847! So for them to do what they did in 1212 was an incredible accomplishment. Everything inside is very English Gothic, with tall pillars and high fan vaulted ceilings and buttresses.

Very modern alter and back stained glass windows.
The windows were done in the 80's.

View from the balcony

Our tour guide showed us all the interior and then dropped us off to see the Magna Carta. Salisbury Cathedral has one of the last 4 remaining original copies of the Marga Carta in existence. I knew a little about it before, but honestly forgot what its significance was. He explained that it was the document came to be after King John of England called a meeting to discuss the legal rights of citizens at the time (1215) After three days of discussing, the Magna Carta (or Great Charter) was finally agreed over and written in Latin on 9 copies. In it was the outline for their judicial system and was the great precursor to constitutional law; heavily influencing the format of our American Constitution. Snap, learn something new everyday. Sadly we couldnt take picture of it. From there we got to go on another tour up above the vaulted ceiling in the rafters, then farther up to the base of the tower. Remember, this place was built in 1212, almost 800 years ago! The interior structure is just oak beams, very roughly cut, held together with wooden pins. Its remarkable that it hasnt fallen down! The staircase...for lack of a better word were rather snug, and steep, but did the job of getting us up to some amazing views!!

Stairs. Set one of two.

Me, trying to get out of the door and past the pillar.
The shelf butt got in the way...ah snap.

View from the tower. Notice the sprawling mansion below to the
left. To the right is their pool, and above the house to the left
is their grass tennis courts and soccer field. Ah the life....

On the way down. Notice how my feet are double the
depth of the actual stair. It was treacherous.

After our tour of the church we walked accross town to some taxis awaiting us to go to Stonehedge, which was about a half hour ride out into the country side.

This neat gazebo was in the town square as we were going to the taxis.
Notice all the birds underneath it.....?

...they needed a surprise.

The drive out to Stonehenge was gorgeous! Not only is the site itself is cool, but the surroundings are amazing! There is so much intrigue and mystery to Stonehenge that's incredibly fascinating.

The stone was taken from mountains in Wales, which poses the question of how they got it down here, as well as why. The stone and surrounding site has been archeologically tested and dated back to 3100 bc!!

So, with that prehistoric mindset, lets think again about how they got these stone tabs, some of which weighing 15,000 pounds from Wales to England, then stood them upright, carved out notches and got more stone tabs to lay accross one another in a perfectly semetrical circle. Let us not forget a circle that perfectly coincides with the months and solstices of the sun.

Handstands Around the World Campaign

These unexplainable facts I'm sure are reason enough why many feel it was done by Aliens. I have more faith in the human race and think that it was just an incredible engineering feat for the time.

I found it not only really cool, but very fascinating to learn about. After our time there, the taxis took us back to the train station, followed by hour ride home, then the tube and got back here at around 9:30pm. Long day, but great day filled with incredible creations in this beautiful country.