Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pictures from the last month in England

Hello, everyone! I won't have time to write posts for my last weekends and adventures in England, so I decided to make a picture post instead. During the last month I visited Devon again, Winchester, Salisbury, the Charles Dickens House Museum, the British Library, the Imperial War Museum, Westminster Abbey, and saw War Horse! Here are some pictures...

Tower poppies being removed
British Museum
Parthenon sculptures 
Writing desk of Charles Dickens at the Charles Dickens House Museum
Inside the British Library
Killerton (Devon):
Winchester City Mill
City Mill garden
Statue of King Alfred the Great

Winchester Cathedral
Grave of Jane Austen
Salisbury Cathedral
Around St. Mary's University:
View of the dorms
Second best dessert at the refectory!
Breakfast line
Mediocre coffee machine 
The pink hallway!
Last night in London: 
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral
View of St. Paul's from Millennium Bridge
"Shakesbear" Paddington Statue outside the Globe Theater
Last morning in Twickenham: 
The Thames
Last coffee trip to Costa with Gabby
Goodbye, England! Until next time!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bristol & Bath

Hi everyone! I've been back in Texas a few weeks now and it sure is great to be back home. Although my study abroad semester is over now, I want to write about my last few trips in England not only so I can share my experiences with everyone who is reading, but also so I can have a record when I look back on the semester. I'll start where my last blog post left off: my trip to Bristol.

Bristol is a pretty cool city, but the reason it was one of the top places to visit during the semester is because it's where my parents met, were married, and lived when Esther was born and for about a year before moving stateside. Planning my trip to Bristol was also exciting because it was the first big trip I'd be making completely on my own. I'd made day trips alone, but not overnight trips. I decided to leave London on a Saturday morning, stay in Bristol Saturday night and Sunday, take a bus to Bath on Sunday night and stay there until Monday, then head back to London on Monday late afternoon.

My megabus trip to Bristol was cheap and went well. After arriving I took a bus to the bed and breakfast where I'd be staying, dropped off my stuff, and then headed out to do some exploring. I stayed in the Cotham area and wanted to go toward Clifton, which is unfortunately up a big hill. On my way I walked through the campus of University of Bristol which looked like a cool place to go to school. I know my mom worked there while she lived in Bristol. I'm not really sure why my dad was in Bristol at the time though. Maybe he was teaching too or working on another degree? I'll have to ask him!

After a little walking I arrived at Clifton Cathedral, where my parents were married. It's a pretty new building, built in the 80's I think, and is a more modern building. It's nothing like the majestic King's Chapel, Cambridge or massive York Minster, but it's a beautiful building in its own way, partially because of its significance in my own personal history.There is a fantastic organ and some colorful abstract stained glass windows which look spectacular when the light shines through.
After checking out the Cathedral and finding out mass times for the next day, I visited the street and flat where my mom used to live, then headed to Clifton Suspension Bridge. The suspension bridge is also new, built in 1864, and goes across River Avon It was cooler than I expected and even more so since the sun was beginning to set. On the opposite side of the bridge is a little visitor center which I visited briefly. Inside there is a display showing the other designs for the bridge which were considered. Some were terrible, but some where pretty cool. My favorite was something that looked like something from Middle Earth. I'm happy with the won they chose, though! At the shop I got a cute little pin that said "I crossed Clifton Suspension Bridge."
Street where my mom used to live!

Near the bridge is a little park with an observatory called Clifton Down which is high up and looks out over the river valley. It provided a great view of the bridge!
When I left Clifton Down it was starting to get dark, so I headed to Clifton Village where there are a lot of little shops and places to eat. I stopped in at a few places and purchased a book called "Exercises in Reasoned Thinking" from an Oxfam. It looks pretty cool! I found a Caffe Nero and sat drinking a latte and looking through brochures and maps of Bristol, making a plan for the next day. I caught a bus back to the B&B, then had a relaxing, early night.

The night morning I woke up bright and early and had breakfast at the B&B then walking over to the Clifton area to try and see the Cabot Tower, which is near Clifton Cathedral, but there was a lot of fog and I couldn't see it very well. I went to a beautiful mass at the Cathedral, and after mass there was an announcement that there was a little free brunch in the Apostle's Room, which is like a little parish hall underneath the main part of the church. I suspected it was the room where my parents met (I knew it was at a little coffee thing at the church), so I decided to check it out. I ended up being the only young person there, but everyone was really nice! The food was good and I had a really nice time. I also found out that one of the new priests at the Cathedral, who was also at the lunch, is an alumni of UST! It's definitely a small world! After the brunch I walked to the an area of southwest Bristol called Bedminster, which is where my parents and Esther used to live. There's not much there, but I successfully located their old house and old home parish. On the walk there I saw some cool stuff, though, including Bristol Cathedral, St. Mary Redcliffe, the ss Great Britain, and the harbour. By the time I visited everywhere I wanted to go I caught a bus back to the B&B, picked up my stuff, then headed to Bristol Bus Station. From there I caught a bus to Bath, which took about an hour and cost about 3.50 GBP- what a steal!
Bristol Cathedral
Holy Cross Parish, Bedminster
Brunel's ss Great Britain
Church of St. Mary Redcliffe
Street art
When I got to Bath it was dark, so I sat in a Caffe Nero again (my go-to coffee place) before heading to the hostel. I caught a bus to the hostel, which is a YHA hostel. It wasn't very crowded and was nice and quiet. Definitely a good hosteling experience! I had a good night's sleep.
YHA Hostel in Bath

The next morning I woke up bright and early so I would have time to see as much as Bath as I could. The weather was much cooler and cloudier than it had been on Sunday, so I had to bundle up! The first place I stopped by Bath Abbey.
The weirdest sculpture I saw on the whole trip
Next, I checked out the Pump Rooms. I didn’t officially visit the Roman Baths, but I got a nice view of them from the back of the Pump Rooms restaurant.
After that I met up with a guide and group for a free walking tour of Bath. On the tour we visited and learned about so many things, including the famous Royal Crescent and Royal Circus.
Royal Crescent
The Circus
When the tour ended I visited the Jane Austen Centre. Although Jane Austen didn't like Bath very much, she did live there for several years and her experiences there influenced her writing. Her book Northanger Abbey, which I read this semester, takes place in Bath. The centre was really cool and interesting, and I even got to dress up in Regency clothes! (It ended up looking really weird but I kind of like it!)
During my visit to Bath there was a Christmas market set up, so after I finished at the Jane Austen Centre I explored the Christmas markets for awhile. There were so many cool things, but the coolest was a little wooden dragon that held incense, so that when the incense was burning the dragon looked like it was breathing smoke. I wish I would have gotten it! Eventually it was time for me to leave, so I said my goodbye to Bath then boarded my bus back to London.
Christmas market outside Bath Abbey