York or Jorvik?

Despite developing a nasty sinus infection before arriving in York, I am still enjoying this historical city immensely. I arrived yesterday at 5:00 pm and my kind hosts, Hannah and Stewart, immediately called a doctor and helped me get some antibiotics, then walked me over to the nearby hospital to pick them up. Seeing I was in no condition to go out, they invited me to share their dinner. I’m telling you…especially if traveling alone, airbnb is the way to go. You feel like you have a friend in town!

This morning I washed clothes, hung them out to dry, then set off for the walled city centre. Parts of the original wall still survive from around 30 ad but that part is underground. My hosts suggested walking on the wall around the city, then browsing through the narrow brick streets – I took their advice and was not disappointed. The wall offered excellent views of the river, York Minster, and most of the city. I’ve never been to Rome (it’s on my bucket list though 🙂 but being in York gives me a feel for it…the arches, the gates, and the wall are amazing!

Rick Steve, the author of excellent travel books (he’s even on the travel channel) strongly suggested visiting York when in the UK. Thanks, Rick! I followed your advice and meandered through the streets and was sure not to miss The Shambles, a very narrow cobblestones street lined with unique shops.

Then I visited the York minster, one of Europes top cathedrals! I sat right next to the choir and listened to the music of angels! So serene! That was definitely the highlight of my day.

Oh…almost forgot…..my title refers to the Vikings who were in possession of York around 850-950AD. They called it Jorvik. In the past 12 years excavations have discovered skeletons, and many artifacts that give clues about the Viking way of life. The Jorvik museum displayed some of these. I hopped on a little tram and rode through a reenactment of Jorvik back in the day (a little cheesy but enjoyable and relaxing.)

And again..,there is music all around me. I heard an awesome classical pop quartet in the main courtyard – another cd for my collection!

England Rocks!

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To Be or Not to Be

I chose “to be” in Stratford and to visit Andrew, a friend I met 3 years ago in a little village in Spain. I’m so glad I decided to stop there to visit Andrew, his sweet roommate, Becky, and my dear friend Shakespeare(okay…he’s dead but I did visit his gravesite, his birthplace, the RSC, and his old schoolrooom, and the lovely Avon so his spirit is certainly being kept alive in this beautiful quaint town.) And just let me say, I had the best tour guide ever! Andrew teaches Shakespeare and has acted in several of Shakespeare’s plays. He is definitely an expert! On Friday night, he took me to see The Tempest which I have never seen or read (Andrew bought me the book afterwards- he’s the sweetest!). Although I enjoyed the play immensely, Andrew had his reservations. But then again, he had seen Patrick Steward play the main role (really! Who could top that!)

Oh…and as you can see in the picture, Andrew lives right across from Shakespeare’s house! So cool!

I loved waking in Shakespeare’s footsteps! And can’t wait to start reading The Tempest!

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Jolly Ol’ London

Dashing around London with my hair on fire. I started the day with a jaunt through the National Gallery. My method of doing museums is to walk to the center of the room, take a quick look to see what catches my eye, read about it, stare a minute, then move on to the next room. What I find interesting is the way that all of the different artists draw biblical scenes (Jesus always looks like he came from the artists country of origin :). My favorite painting today was a huge one of Whistlejacket, an Arabian stallion racehorse on the 1760’s, done by George Stubbs. So real!

Of course, I saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, walked by Westminister Abbey, and stopped at Trafalgar Square to watch the paraolympics on a huge screen(a guy with no arms from Malaysia was doing the backstroke! Such is the human spirit!)

From there, I headed to the tower of London where Henry VII ruled and beheaded Ann Bolin and Katherine Howard! Our tour guide was very funny and shared many gruesome stories! I found the scratchings from the prisoners quite interesting. I didn’t have time to walk over the bridge but enjoyed gazing at it.

But the best part of the day was meeting up with Georgie and Giles, a couple Wes and I met in a little village in Spain a few years ago. They recently married and just bought a house south of here. We shared a wonderful Indian meal and many laughs. Walking back through Covent Garden, we realized that Fashion Week had just begun (of course, I am in my jeans!). We saw some interesting outfits and hairdos.

Must catch the tube to the train station! Had a lovely time in London! Cheers!

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School “Daze”

Yes, I’m back in school! (not Hill Intermediate but LSE, the London school of Economics). I already met one of my flat mates, a sweet Asian girl who is about 30 years younger than I am. The dorm room is small but comfortable, very secure, and in a great spot to explore London. The only drawback is that there is no wifi so I am across the street using Travel Lodges.

As soon as I arrived at 3:00 via train (I love Europe’s public transportation!), I checked in my room and walked 2 blocks to the British museum….first stop the Rosetta Stone! A good buddy of mine (who shall remain nameless) once illegally touched the stone! But because of vandals like “him”, there is now a glass case around it! Nevertheless, it was a sight to behold!

Nothing can top that, but I did enjoy the mummies, Roman busts, and the multitude of other ancient artifacts at the museum. (Jolly Good of the British to keep it free so all can partake of our rich history). Oh yeah, an excellent horse exhibit was also on display. The coolest was a HUGE colorful horse and rider which was done in Arabic verse – so unusual!

On the way back to High Holborn Residence, I stopped off at a pub to sample their fish and chips (with malt vinegar of course). Very tasty!

Back in 1973, I roamed the streets of London in my bell bottoms and crop tops with my good friend, Diane. Styles have certainly changed (I’m now in my skinny jeans… NOT!) but some things never do. I still enjoy the British and their dry sense of humor (like my dad’s). And London is still very much alive and well!

Cheerio, Dear Friends and Fam!

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If these stones could talk

I wonder what the stones that were laid out in Stonehenge roughly 3500 years ago would say to us if only they could talk. Would they tell of astronomical wonders, speak to us of alien visits, or perhaps relay ancient religious rituals? (maybe all 3) These were just a few of my thoughts as I stood in awe before the majestic wonder. I can’t imagine how the stones (one was 45 tons) were moved and placed here….many still remain erect today. The blue stones were said to have come from Wales. And Stonehenge is definitely a calendar which I find intriguing.

I know I must have taken at least 20 pictures, all from different angles! Before I left, I walked around the ancient structure in my bare feet just to feel connected to this amazing place (I know you aren’t surprised 🙂

I also took a picture of a lady dressed as a Druid…she visits the place frequently…today she described it to me as “sleepy”

*check off a major bucket list item! One day, the mystery of Stonehenge will be revealed – until then, I will just relish the mystery!

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Ahhhhh……Bath

Just wrote a LONG post about Bath and lost it so….just let me say this…I love it here! Arrived yesterday and after traipsing up the many stairs of the gregorian townhome where I am staying, was treated with a breathtaking view of Bath…the river, the rolling hills, the red tiled roof of stone homes….and my host, Roger, is great – printing maps for me, giving me directions (you know how I am!) And answering my multitude of questions!

But my favorite spot? Sitting in the courtyard outside the abbey and Roman Baths, sipping on wine and listening to a handsome Spanish guitar player or the lady in red singing opera (she even sang the song from Les Miserable that was sung at my friend Nancy’s funeral). Thinking of you, Nancy!

Today I visited the Roman Baths and stepped back in time. When the temple of Minerva was built in 69AD, the thermal spring was discovered and the baths began to be built. I walked along the Baths visualizing naked slaves, centurions, even priests basking in the warm waters for relaxation or perhaps healing. ( I accidentally touched the water although that is prohibited). Of course, religious rituals were held here as well. 130 curses written on small thin sheets of metal were discovered in the Baths and I found it interesting that one of them was said to have been probably written by a dyslexic person (an ancestor of one of my former students?).

To get a real feel for the place, I drank some of the water in the Pump Room (yuck!), then swam in the thermal pools (the outdoor roof pool was awesome…what a fantastic view). Of course, I had to hit the 4 scented steam rooms as well ( for about 30 seconds!) – oh…and I did NOT do as the Romans did…I wore my swimsuit!

So much to see and do in Bath! (the comedy tour this evening was hysterical) but dont want to go on too much. All I can say is I Love you Bath and hope to return one day!

I will try to add a picture now. If I fail, just know that when my good buddy and tech guru , Wes, arrives in 2 weeks, he will help me 🙂

(I visited Stonehenge today as well…check that off my bucket list…but will write about that tomorrow)

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