Pictures from trip

I posted the pictures from my trip to England to my Shutterfly account as well as the ones from my trip to Oakland.

The password is: italia

https://latonjab.shutterfly.com/

Enjoy!

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There and back again…an LTB journey

“Thirteen months to the day since Gandalf sent us on our long journey… we found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on… when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back?”

 

I made it home yesterday evening! Thanks so much for sharing my adventure with me, and I am looking forward to the next one.

 

I got up bright and early and headed to the airport. I don’t think I mentioned this, but when I was coming home from Oxford, the Circle/District Line was having issues, so it made for an interrupted commute for Londoners. I had to redirect myself to another line. Saturday morning, they were doing work on that line, so instead of doing Circle-Paddington from Victoria I had to do Victoria-Bakerloo-Paddington from Victoria. It was too early for that. LOL! The Barkerloo line opens after the Victoria, so I had to wait about 15 minutes for it to open. I took the Heathrow Express. One day, I may just take the tube the entire way, but the Heathrow Express takes 15 minutes from Paddington. It could be a way to save money but not time.

 

I was able to clear customs in Dublin. It makes things so much easier having pre-clearance. After the long flight, it’s nice to just be able to go home. My passport was checked at least seven times between the two airports.

 

Speaking of passports, mine expires in October, so I need to renew it in a few months. It will be nice to have an updated picture. In my current photo, I have an afro and am about 25 pounds heavier. It gets double looks a lot, and I am never able to use the self-check ins because the photos I take and the photo on the passport look so differently. I guess I will commit to the locs. I have thought about cutting them.

 

I was thinking about the places in England that attract Harry Potter fans and the places in New Zealand that attract Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans. I am not sure how the locals feel about all the tourist, but it got me thinking about Salzburg and Sound of Music. When the movie came out, the Austrians hated it. But then the tourists came, and they were able to capitalize on the popularity and decided it wasn’t so bad (chuckle).

 

I forgot to mention Friday when I was walking to St. Paul’s I saw this sign that said, “No Busking.” I wasn’t sure what busking was (and since I had not talked to anyone that day), I asked a police officer, and we had a long chat. Anyway, they are out in London at high tourist areas to assure people and watch. We started talking about “See it, Say it, Sort it.” While I understand it, I told him that in America that hasn’t worked out for black people. People calling the police on people who look “suspicious” aka black. Like the black women who were canvassing to run for offices. The students at their university. The man trying to enter his own apartment building. Then we give the people calling the police on black people doing nothing cute nicknames: BBQ Betty, Permit Paula, Poolside Paula, etc. And of course, it is up to the black person to prove their innocence or justify their being there. I have more to say on this subject because I feel like people have taken it to extreme.

 

Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

 

More London days

While I did not walk a marathon today, I may have walked a half.

 

I started and ended in West London. I walked to the Tate Britain. The gallery focuses on British paintings from the 16th century to modern times. One of the paintings I wanted to see was on loan. I have encountered that a few times this visit.

 

From there, I found my way to the Southbank and walked to the Tate Modern. In case we have not met, I am not a big fan of modern art but there was a piece by Diego Rivera and a couple of pieces by Salvador Dali. I am a big Dali fan. There were a few pieces that did intrigue me, but for the most part, I am like what is this? Or I could have done this i.e. the stack of bricks or the canvases of solid color. I would love to paint a canvas all black and charge you $10,000 for it. Just let me know. I wrote a paper on modern art during my art history class at the UW. I was very vehement in my critique of it. But the views of the city from the tenth floor are amazing.

 

From there I did photo stops at the Shakespeare Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. I love the tower. So much history happened in that place. I love to picture Elizabeth I entering there at the dead of night, unsure of the outcome.

 

From the tower, I took the underground to South Kensington to save time. I loved the neighborhood from the moment I left the station. What a great vibe. Next time I come, I will want to spend more time there. I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. They have a Frida Kahlo special exhibit, but tickets are sold out. They were having a Day of the Dead event so the place was buzzing. I was able to see most of the gallery. Some areas are closed at 5:45 but the rest are open until 10:00 on Fridays. There were a lot of good pieces. I would like to return and really take my time.

 

Tomorrow I start the journey home. I wish I had more time, but it is time to get back to the grind. In the words of world-renowned Michael Buble, “Another summer day has come and gone away in Paris and Rome…”.

 

The area I am staying at is Pimlico/Belgravia. I am about five minutes from the Victoria underground and around the corner from the train and bus station. It’s such a convenient location.

 

I love the underground, but I also love being able to walk around and see how the neighborhoods connect. I love my Rick Steves’ guidebook because everything is broken up by neighborhood. It’s easy to digest, and there are handy maps where I can see where things connect, and which underground serves where I am going. At of all the brands of guidebooks for Europe, I find his the most useful when it comes to planning and implementing.

 

Edits when I get home.

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London chronicles

Today I did a lot of walking in Central London. I am sure I walked a full marathon getting there and back with some backtracking.

 

I walked to take some more pictures of parliament, Big Ben (the structure surrounding it is under construction) and the London Eye. Then up Parliament/Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. From there I hit up Leicester Square, Soho, Chinatown, Piccadilly Circus, and Covent Garden. I ended the day by returning to the National Gallery where I was more focused on seeing the art. When I was at the British Museum, I was so scared I was going to hit some priceless artifact and break it. Oh, the horror!

 

As I was taking pictures of Big Ben, parliament, and the London Eye from the Westminster Bridge, I think it really hit me. I am in London! I guess I am a few days late with the realization. Even though it is not the high summer tourist season, it’s still packed with tourists. I did hear that some countries (like Switzerland) are on a break right now.

 

One of my favorite statues is the one of Boadicea, who was a Celtic queen. I watched a movie about her life and was struck by her courage to go against the Roman invaders. Of course, her ending wasn’t happy, but she did leave the earth on her terms. I walked around Parliament Square then headed to Trafalgar.

 

I enjoyed walking around Chinatown. All the food smelled so good and the window displays looked so great! I need to hit up dim sum when I get home.

 

Both Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus were hopping. I know ultra touristy, but it seems like the tourists walking through it were having a good time and realizing, hey I am in London! I liked Soho. I don’t think I went there last trip. It has a good vibe. I was trying to think of what neighborhood in Seattle it reminded me of, but I came up blank. Maybe old-school Capitol Hill meets Fremont?

 

I had also not been to the Covent Garden area (or at least I have no memory). It was just as packed as Leicester and Piccadilly. It had a good vibe. Some places were definitely pricier.

 

Oh. There are people picketing to do a re-vote on the Brexit referendum. It doesn’t seem like people were informed when they voted and now have voters’ remorse. I talked to one of the picketers on Monday. We commiserated together on the current respective political climates in our nations

 

When I was in the museum, I sat down by an older woman. Then another older couple joined us. Anyway, we started talking. My original neighbor, Marilyn, is from Toronto. Her husband passed away four years ago, but she travels with a friend who is also a widow because they travel well together. She is taking an 18-day transatlantic cruise in a few days back to North America. She said that she and her husband saved money to travel together, and she misses traveling with him, but she is still traveling. She has done quite a bit of traveling and told some interesting stories about traveling in South America in the 1960s and traveling to Morocco. In Morocco, people thought they were American and some of the men spit on her husband, who was 6’2”.

 

Sometimes I will ask older people if they could offer one piece of life advice what would it be. So, I asked Marilyn. She said to live in the moment and to enjoy where ever you are (in life) in your life. She said that she wished she had ignored the chores sometimes and just went on a walk with her husband or did other things together. She also said to remember that we come in with nothing and leave with nothing. Focus less on stuff and more on experiences. Her and the couple encouraged me to travel as much as I can. Marilyn said it’s the best form of education. And the church said, “Amen.”

 

It’s November 1, and it seems likes overnight Christmas decorations sprung up, though merchandise has been in the stores forever.

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A day of London museums

Today I took in some of the “free” activities of Central and North London. There is a recommended 5 pound donation.

 

I started the day at the British Library. I basically took the underground there and walked my way back to where I was staying. When I was at the library, I was remembering visiting it before. It was a weird de-ja-vu moment. It has been many years, and they do circulate items in and out. I love the maps and the sacred texts and early Bibles. They have texts from Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, etc. I was able to see the Codex Sinaiticus but the Codex Alexandrinus was not there. The Gutenberg Bible was there. Of course, documents pertaining to the Magna Carta were there. I am so amazed how these items have been preserved for centuries. There was a letter Jane Austen wrote to her brother. A poem by Emily Bronte. And a book by Charlotte Bronte. Oh, and there was a collection of Raleigh’s works. I also signed up to use the Reading Rooms. I went in and wrote a little (I had to borrow a pencil), and I hope to return before I leave. The card is good for one year.

 

The next stop was the British Museum. I forgot how much art is there. I was wondering what would happen if Egypt asked for its artifacts back. I know there is a push to have all items from there returned. I so need to go to Egypt. My friend Linda is there now. I would also like to go back to Greece. Like last time, the area around the Rosetta Stone was packed. The Greek and Egyptian sections were probably the most crowded. Other sections on Africa, Japan, and North America were less crowded. I only allowed myself two hours in there or I could have been there all day. Last trip, I went twice and the second time, I literally walked in each gallery.

 

When I was there, I chatted with a woman who was from Paris but living in London. Her family came from Africa as immigrants to Paris when she was young. I asked her why she moved, and she said the racism in France was more overt. We talked about colonization (for example the English empire spanned 20 percent of the globe at some point) and the changing demographics of the UK as people from the countries they colonized move here. We also talked about religion. I am Christian, but I have an interest in other religious as well as mythology, so it was an interesting conversation. It amazes me that there are parallels that run in different religions/mythologies. For example, the concept of Ragnarök and the Norse end of the world. Then the parallels between Roman and Greek gods. Anyway, she was born Catholic but converted to Buddhism. It was the longest conversation I have had since leaving Bath. I also notice I end up talking to people who work at the museums a lot. So yeah, I guess I do have a need for some human interaction much to my surprise (smile).

 

After the museum, I made my way to Trafalgar Square.

 

I went to St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The church was built in 1720. There is a Chinese community center there, and the church serves the homeless community in the area. There is a peacefulness there despite its location (the square can be hectic). After visiting the abbey and the minster, it was very understated in a good way. Less glam and more service.

 

The highlight of the day was the National Portrait Gallery, specifically the Tudor and Stuart rooms. I was all giddy. I had been getting tired, but the gallery gave me life. Then to the National Gallery. I got tuckered out about halfway through (in retrospect I should have split the four over two days). I may return and see more. The thing is that I spent a lot of time in both the first time around, so maybe next trip, skip it.

 

I forgot it was Halloween until I saw kids out trick-or-treating. Happy Halloween and here is to Linus seeing the great pumpkin.

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Oxford, Tolkien, and Lewis…oh my!

Today, I took a train to Oxford. I caught the train at Paddington. From there, Oxford is an hour away.

 

My sightseeing was focused around the college, though I did go to Blackwell’s Bookstore, but I did not allow myself to shop.

 

I went to the Weston Library. In its “Treasures” room, there were a few items worth noting. One was a written manuscript of Jane Austen from when she was 12-15 years old. It’s called “Beautiful Consent.” There was a book that then 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) gave to Katherine Parr. Inside is a French poem translated into English. It is believed that she did the binding as well. There was also a book that belonged to Margaret, Queen of Scots. She died in 1093. There was also a prayer book made for an abbess, who was a Benedict nun in what is now Zadar, Croatia, which is such a beautiful place. The abbess died in 1093.

 

The next stop was the Museum of History and Science. What a wonderful place. I was there for over an hour. The people who worked there were really into the pieces, so when I asked questions, the answers were very thorough and informative. I like telescopes, sun dials, sextants, abacuses, microscopes, cameras, sand glasses, and globes/celestial globes. If you want to get me a gift (smile). I was in heaven. The collection included an astrolabe that Robert Dudley gave to Elizabeth I. One of Herschel’s telescopes is there. When I was in Bath, I learned that it was there that he discovered the planet Uranus. The pieces still work. It is amazing how things fall apart so easily today, and medieval equipment is still functioning. Oh, and a board including hand-written equations Einstein made when he gave at a lecture at Oxford was there. It was such a great place to hang out. It may be my favorite place from today.

 

I went into the Divinity School. The infirmary scene from one of the Harry Potters was filmed there. The building has constructed in the 15th century and was the first “purpose-built classroom.” I also went into the Church of St. Mary the Virgin aka The University Church. It had nice windows.

 

I went to Christ Church College. It was founded by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1524, who was Henry VIII’s chancellor before he fell from grace. It is on the site of an abbey that was dissolved under the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Cathedral was quite magnificent. I spent a lot of time there. It was built in the 12th century and is one of the oldest buildings in Oxford.

 

I went to Magdalen College because that is where C.S. Lewis taught for 25 years. It had lovely grounds with a deer park in the back. And of course, I went to Exeter College where Tolkien studied. I went to the Eagle and Child pub where the Inklings used to gather. Imagine all those great minds in one place!

 

It was a great day there. I am going to sleep very well tonight with all the walking I did.

 

Excuse any typos. I am tired (smile). As always, my disclaimer is I will edit when I get home.

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From York to London

I woke up earlier than I intended, and I had the thought that if I could find a place to store my luggage, I could go to the minster before heading to the train station. There is a place called Yorbag around the corner from the minster. It charges 3 pounds.

 

I forgot to mention that when I went to the minster yesterday, there were police acting as security. I don’t think I have ever seen that before. It’s sad. I was thinking more about the synagogue as well as the shooting in Kroger in Kentucky and the words of King Theoden in The Two Towers came to mind. “What Can Men Do Against Such Reckless Hate?” And the current administration of the U.S. is spreading so much dissent. Again, the candidate of the white supremacy groups was the candidate of evangelical Christians. That is a huge problem.

 

I was able to use my ticket from yesterday to reenter the minster. I think it is good for a year (as is the ticket to Jorvik). One of the pieces I was able to see that was of interest is the Horn of Ulf. It’s an elephant’s tusk that was presented to the minster in 1030 by Ulf, who was a Viking nobleman. It symbolized he was dedicating his land to the church. There is also the York Gospels manuscripts. They are a thousand-year old text with the four gospels. They were made by Anglo-Saxon monks at Canterbury and date prior to the Norman Conquest! How exciting they have survived so long. I am glad I was able to see them both!

 

The place I stayed in York, Waggon and Horses, is a 30-minute walk from the train station. I loved the breakfast. There were different choices. I had the Yorkshire breakfast, pancakes/bacon, and eggs on toast with bacon and sausage. There were some other hot choices, including porridge, plus fruit, cereal, and yogurt. I would totally stay there again because I could get to the city center pretty quick. My main needs are: comfortable bed, reliable Wi-Fi, and a hot shower. The staff was also really nice and responsive, and it wasn’t loud at all. On a side note, I like all the random pub names. Rose and Thistle. Rose and Crown. Etc.

 

The two-hour train from York goes through King’s Cross, so of course I had to visit Platform 9 ¾ since I was there. LOL. I have a picture there from my previous trip to London. I have an afro, that is how long ago it was.

 

I went to the Underground/Tube and bought my Oyster Card for the trip. I may need to put some more money on it, we will see. The station went directly to my neighborhood. It’s in the same location that I stayed at during my previous trip here, so I have some ideas of how to get around. I think it’s been eight to nine years, so of course, there are some changes.

 

I checked in and dumped my stuff. I wanted to hit the streets before it got dark. I can walk to Buckingham Palace pretty easily, so I went there to present myself to Her Majesty the Queen and offer my curtsy. I walked through St. James Park and made my way to Parliament and Westminster Abbey. I went to Evensong at the Abbey. I forgot how amazing it is. I am not sure if I will pay to go in or not. I went twice during my previous trip. It will depend on how my budget looks toward the end of the trip.

 

Anyway, today was a travel day and a chance for me to get orientated.

 

Edits when I get home.

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