Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 6 in the UK!

DAY 6- March 12, 2013
The next morning, we had breakfast and then headed back to the train station for our two hour train ride to London! We arrived at King's Cross Station where I experienced another moment of Harry Potter joy.

The inside of the shop at Platform 9 3/4.  

I loved the creativity of all these wands!!!

The Marauder's Map unfolded.

Wand selection.

Nerding out.  :)
So after that unexpected moment of pure happiness, we took the Tube to our hotel, which was ready for us even though it was before check-in time!  
At My Place Hotel in Earl's Court.

Tiny, but kind of charming!!
 So, we hopped back on the Tube to start our London experience the only way one should--at Big Ben, Parliament, and the Thames!
The London Eye on the banks of the Thames.

The sun came out--it didn't make it any less cold by the water though!!

Check my new Gryffiindor scarf :)

Since we were there, we went to Westminster Abbey.  We couldn't take pictures of the inside, but here are a few of the outside and a few from the Internet.
The exterior of Westminster Abbey.

The view from the east side of the building.

Poet's Corner.

Curious that Abraham Lincoln would have a statue in Parliament Square.
Here you can see a bit more of the Houses of Parliament.
After the Abbey, we took a walk up Whitehall to end up in Trafalgar Square.

The Horse Guards.

In Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery.
After our walk, we were very cold and very hungry, so we popped into St. Martin-in-the-fields' Cafe in the Crypt.  A very good move.  It was cafeteria style, but delicious.  And we got our first introduction to pouring warm vanilla custard over our desert--in my case an apple crumble, in Jordan's case, a plum and berry tart.  Yummmmm.

Next, we intended on going back down Whitehall to the tube stop, but got turned around.  We ended up taking another road and walking across the Thames via the Golden Jubilee pedestrian bridge.  It was a good thing, because we got some great pictures and it was very romantic :)

We ran across the Sherlock Holmes pub and restaurant--when we went back a different day, it was too busy to eat in :(

Jordan on the Golden Jubilee Bridge!

How could you not feel romantic when you happen upon a view like this?? :)
Anyway, we walked back to the houses of Parliament and got visitor badges to see a debate in the House of Lords.  It was pretty cool to get to sit up there while they talked about labor laws for awhile.  We didn't see the house of commons, but I can't imagine it being more ornate than the house of lords.  It was beautiful.  Again, no pictures were allowed once inside the chamber, but here are a few of Westminster Hall and some from the Internet.
Inside Westminster Hall- this building was once the Palace of Westminster and England's medieval kings.

Inside the chamber of the House of Lords.  This was not this full the night we were there to observe.

When we were watching, it was conducted in a very genteel manner.... "I concur with my most honorable Lord So-and-So..."
After watching for a bit, we got sleepy and decided to call it a night, and went back to our hotel in Earl's Court.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 5 in the UK!

DAY 5- March 11, 2013
We woke up feeling pretty well rested (finally) and after breakfast, we bundled up to do another free walking tour of the city, this time led by a woman named Vera.  She was a bit older than our last guide, but had a wealth of knowledge--even if it did take some time for her to spit it out :)
I quite enjoyed the addition of baked beans to the traditional breakfast, actually.

Everything had a frosting of snow on it!

The market.

Bootham Bar.  In York, "bar" means gate, and "gate" means street.  We were told to blame the Vikings.

Exhibition Square, Bootham Bar, and the Minster in the distance.  This is where our tour started.

The inside of that tower we saw the day before.  The red band of bricks separate the Roman wall (below) and the Medieval Wall (above).  And, yes, it was snowing.

The medieval wall surrounding the city.
The levels of wall on the right represent the many different times York was conquered--Roman,  Norman, Saxon, Viking....

Vera, telling us about this courtyard inside the King's Manor, which is part of the University of York.

We passed York Minster again, by way of the Dean's Park snickelway.

Couldn't agree more....
A look through a gate at a snickelway leading to the Holy Trinity Church with the Minster in the distance.  This courtyard is called Tonge's Court.

Following Vera to entering the above courtyard by another snickelway called  Hornpot Lane.

Jordan in front of the small Holy Trinity Church.

The Holy Trinity Church.

Box pews--that would keep your kids sitting still, eh?

Looking out on Tonge's Court.

See, I am not making that word up.
After a quick and forgettable (hey they can't all be winners) lunch, we headed out to the Jorvik Viking Centre, where we got to see how the Vikings lived.  Between 1976 and 1981, over 40,000 Viking artifacts were dug up right in downtown York.  We also learned that because they couldn't figure out how to keep their water from being contaminated (something about having a latrine right next to their well), they only drank beer, starting at the age of three.
Fine-toothed combs.

Beads and pottery.

Replica of a Viking helmet.

Really tiny work instruments and tools.

Largest piece of petrified human feces.  The kids in our group loved this part.
After the Viking center, we headed out to the York Castle Museum.  The North building was basically a Victorian home show, displaying how people lived and worked in Victorian York.  The South building had exhibits on Britain in WWII, a toy gallery, an exhibit on the 60s, and finally the York Castle Prison, with stories on all its prisoners.
A typical Victorian sitting room.
Part of the Wedding dress exhibit during the Victorian era.
Jordan in the museum's recreated Kirkgate- a street from the Victorian era.  
Display of "scientific instruments" in Victorian times.

The Millinery shop.


This is the way they measured things.  Number 11 is a "Bushel" and number 7 is a "peck" :)

Inside the toy exhibit :)

Entrance to the military exhibit in the South Building.

We were pretty famished after all these museums, so we stopped in to the York Cocoa House for some hot chocolate and treats.   It was a welcome break for our cold hands and tired feet.
See how steamy and warm it looks in there?!

MMMM.  My chocolate was HUGE.  Jordan got a caramel hot chocolate and we both got some more sweets to go with it.

This is my perfect shop.  It even has Christmas lights in it.

And I'll have you know I almost finished that whole bowl cup of hot chocolate.

 Then, we grabbed more of Drake's delicious fish and chips and ate back in our room to give our feet a break.  That evening, we headed back out to go on a ghost hunt!!  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, York is the world's most haunted city, so we had to take a ghost tour of the city!!  It was wonderful.  We chose the "Ghost Hunt" and met our guide at the Shambles.  He took our small group through all sorts of snickelways to the most haunted sites in the city, telling us of ghost sightings and entertaining us the whole way.  He even got me to participate when he started cutting off his own hand by having me wipe the blood off of his wrist.  Jordan was another participant in the evening and it turned out to be some of the most fun we had all trip!  It was funny, scary, and thoroughly enjoyable!!!

Jordan and our guide, Andy Dextrous.

Where a full battalion of Roman soldiers have been seen.


 We returned to our hotel exhausted and excited by our visit to the wonderful city of York!!