August 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment
After little sleep, I awoke this morning at 7:30 to begin my journey down the Thames rive; the first event of this trip to really make me feel like I was in London. Coming from New York City, I am used to city life, trains, buses, and lots of people. So exploring the city on our first day and learning the tube was a little less exciting for me. As I walked the streets and rode the train I felt almost like I was still back home, that the plane had circled JFK for 6hrs and 55mins and then just put me back where I started.
But that feeling disappeared as soon as I stepped onto the Ferry boarding dock and spotted Big Ben in the distance. Instantly I realized that there was nothing like this back home. After snapping way too many photos of the distance clock tower, we boarded the Ferry which would take us down the river.
I found the Ferry ride itself to be mostly relaxing, especially considering the low amount of sleep I was running on. We docked near a dirt beach and headed on our long walking tour around Greenwich. Although I found the history and fun facts that we learned along the way interesting, what really got me excited was the details of the architecture. Not only was every single building ornaments with ionic or corinthian columns, but also faces, family crests, and shields. As an art minor, I find the time spent on the monuments and decorative elements of London to be the most beautiful thing about it.
For example, when I visited the Royal Observatory today, it was not the clock museum, the view from the telescope tower, or even the amazing planetarium show that I loved most about that part of our day tour, but rather the gorgeous and detailed buildings that housed these things.
"Astronomia" Mermaid Relief
Just as I left the planetarium show (which I encouraged everyone to attend, and turned out to be a huge success!) I spotted a mermaid relief low on the wall across from the exit. On a closer look I found the word “Astronomia” engraved on it. I found that these small details and reliefs awakened my passion for visual arts that the historical facts and information never could.
That is another element of this city that really differs from my home city. Although the architecture of New York will always have a special place in my heart, it lacks the ancient and authentic hand crafted beauty that the old buildings of London have. There is always something very striking to me about the juxtaposition of the modern buildings against the classical structures that founded this city. It is almost like there is a continuing battle between history and modernization. Unfortunately for my passion, it looks like modernization is winning.
If you would like to continue following my adventures, feel free to visit my photo page for a slide show tour of some of the sites I have seen over the past two days: http://s644.photobucket.com/albums/uu163/mliberty2011/London%20the%20first%20two%20days/?albumview=slideshow
August 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment
From the moment I woke up this morning, the song “London Calling” has been swirling between my earlobes. Appropriate?
We began the day with such an uplifting activity. Our quick boat ride down the Thames was a perfect introduction to each aspect London offers. I feel as though traveling down such a central location allowed each of us to fully understand the development of such an industrial city over an enormous amount of time. Each and every structure, from tower bridge to the egg shaped business building, contains a story and all of which contribute to London’s evolution over time.
This day really initiated continual thought about time. After visiting the Royal observatory, and listening to Qualls explain how his son could not completely comprehend how an 800 YEAR OLD CASTLE was really really old i became interested with how each park, castle, and home, was once home to those who died hundreds of years ago. I view these structures while I recreate a story in my head . I enjoy exploring the endless possibilities of what type of people the Tudors were or how the seamen behaved while staying in the area for just a night. Its fascinating to look beyond the building and search for what lived, dined, and slept within the walls.
After lunch in the pub (Goat cheese Heaven), we explored the market. I believe i have developed a new found obsession with these markets. Coming from phoenix I’m not used to many cultural or funky shopping areas, however, I was completely blown away. I want to see, smell, and observe every single one! After walking around a bit more and visiting the Queens home, we ventured through the walking tunnel, where people DID NOT follow biking rules and which almost killed Amanda. After the walk, we go on the railway. We made our way back to the Arran house, and began to work on our projects.
As 7 pm rolled around our stomachs began to rumble. Megan, Amanda and I wanted to walk around and compare our options. What we did not know, was that many eating establishments decide to clothes at 8!!! So as we continued to look around, the shops we previously viewed were closed as we returned. We finally found a restaurant called The Spaghetti bar, which was fabulous!
Everything I expected of London has for the majority been incorrect. I have really enjoyed the food, I love the walking, everything is clean, and I really like the people. I almost feel empowered each time I have to find my own way on the tube. I have never had such an immense amount of independence, and I’m learning so much more then I ever thought i would.
London is an incredible place, i think I’m already falling in love…..
Tags: Patsy · Uncategorized
August 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment
Today started out bright and early with a trip down the Thames toward Greenwich. The ferry ride offered spectacular views of the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and many other popular attractions everyone expects of London. The Royal Park was beautiful and made me wish I could just picnic and read there all day. I’m glad we got to the top of the hill and the Prime Meridian before all of the crowds. I took the stereotypical picture with one foot on either side of the the Meridian as this is probably the closest to time travel I’ll ever experience. Afterwards, I explored the museum and really enjoyed it. Working in exhibition development this summer helped me to appreciate all of the effort that goes into desiging a museum. There are two things from the museum that particularly stick out in my mind:
1. In the exhibit about time in society where they displayed the evolution of clocks and wristwatches, I noticed that they included a cell phone. I thought this was great social commentary that might not occur to someone right away because recently many people have stopped using wristwatches even and rely only on cellphones for the time (especially younger people, myself included).
2. I appreciated how the museum displayed the comment cards that asked people to share their experiences of “When stopped for me…” I thought this added a more philosophical tone to the exhibit and made the point that the way people notice, remember, and live time in different ways.
After lunch, Alli, Mara, Kim, and I ventured into the Greenwich Market and explored the variety of shops and vendors. We all got henna tattoos and I had a short, but nice conversation with the artist about the significance of henna in South Asian culture. Henna is used to stain the skin in intricate and beautiful designs and it is very popoular for woman to get hennaed for special occassions, especially weddings. In the artist’s words: “An Asian bride is not complete without henna.” She explained to me that hennaing is meant to be a very calming process; therefore, the bride, her sisters, and cousins will have hennaing parties before the event in order to calm the bride’s nerves.
We then ventured beneath the Thames and wandered into the neighborhood on the opposite side of the river. We found Millard Park and stumbled onto a farm just beyond it. There were horses, sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, and one pig. At this point, one of my favorite things about London is the fact that many of the attractions are free to the public. It seems that the city tries to keep culture and recreation much more accessible than do many American cities (or at least the ones I’ve visited).
We journeyed home on the Docklands Light Rail. It was nice to travel above ground on the train. It was faster than the bus would have been, but we also were able to see a bunch of different neighborhoods that seemed to vary in class.
August 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment
I woke up this morning feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of activities and travel planned for the day, but immediately felt at ease as we made our way to the Thames River embankment. I enjoyed watching the scenery and different types of architecture pass by as we made our way to Greenwich, and definitely felt like a tourist while taking what seemed like hundreds of pictures of Big Ben. Since I spend much of my summers in parks in New Jersey, I felt comforted by being in what seemed to be a familiar place to me. The walk helped to wake me up as well 🙂
I was most interested by the museum dealing with the creation and use of early clocks on ships. It truly amazes me that people were able to construct such intricate and elaborate instruments by hand, without the aid of computers or modern technology. I also laughed when I read that early ships planned to calculate their position in relation to other ships by firing a rocket exactly 6440 feet in the air at exactly 12am..it seems silly, but I suppose without clocks or ways to calculate latitude/longitude, it seemed logical. I feel rather inadequate when I realize that I would have absolutely no idea how to even begin to create something like these clocks from scratch, from the plans to making the parts to the actual collaboration and execution of the instrument. I’m also impressed that sailors trusted the instruments enough to actually use them while in the middle of the ocean. I know I would be nervous about being the first one to use something so important to my travels and, in essence, vitality.
I also enjoyed the planetarium and was quite amused by the man running it. Despite the presentation’s humorous aspect, I left feeling like an insignificant part of an infinitely larger being. Although I had learned about the solar system and galaxies in elementary school, I don’t find much use revisiting that information with my English and psychology majors. I liked connecting the passage of time with the movement of planets, stars, and the expansion of space in general. While some of the information was jarring, it was certainly useful and thought provoking.
Visiting the market was also a lovely experience. Navigating the crowds was a bit difficult at times, but I enjoyed being in the midst of so many native Brits and seeing all the items for sale. The food looked amazing, and since I was full from lunch, I plan on going back to taste a few of the dishes. All in all, the day proved to be a success and I feel like I learned a lot about the places to which we traveled.
[[On our way out from the Greenwich Observatory we sat down at the steps and had a short discussion as a group where Professor Qualls spoke on the concept of time, and how we can use it as a tool to observe as well as analyze the different communities we were to explore in our time here. And that is just what I have attempted to do today.]]
Time. I moved slowly.
As a group, we took a somewhat speedy boat ride through the Thames river in order to get to the Greenwich. This boat ride was… fascinating. We saw various popular spaces such as Big Ben, The London Bridge, The Tower Bridge, The Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, among many others. The whole time we were on the boat I only moved if necessary, to get a better view for instance. I was mostly touched by the breath taking view of Big Ben, finally the sight of one of the London’s most popular icons, the one I have always associated with the city. Just yesterday I had only seen the sight of Big Ben in pictures, three thousand four hundred and forty miles (a 6-hr flight) later I am here facing the marvelous structure. It was a slow moment of glory for me.
Time. We moved fast. They moved slow.
After arriving at our final destination Greenwich Pier. We walked through the Royal Park to get to the Greenwich Observatory where the Prime Meridian is located as well as an Astronomy Museum and a really cool clock exhibit. We left here and walked through town a bit, where we saw various interesting places including the architectural marvel of the University of Greenwich. Then went to eat and to a cool market where I purchased earrings made of Chandelier crystals for only 1 pound. All of this was done by approximately 2pm… we were moving fast.
They people in Greenwich moved slow. Since we visited many popular (touristy) locations, mostly frequented by tourist, people moved slow, at their own rhythm. People sat peacefully at the Royal Park, they paced calmly through the museum and through the University. People moved slowly.
Time. People moved fast.
I went to Camden town, a cool funky place filled with young fast moving people. Everyone had lots of energy. There were people everywhere chatting with friends, shopping and eating at various local eateries. For some reason, I was a little surprised to see a few well-know stores from the U.S. such as: The Gap, Aldo, H&M and American Apparel. I liked this place a lot, time went by pretty quickly. People moved quickly and I moved at my own rhythm.
So far, the concept of time in the different communities I have been to has definitely been an interesting variation, influenced by numerous factors such as the location of the community and people’s purpose for being there. Time, whether it goes by slow or fast impressively projects certain truths I have been previously unaware of, I now see time in a different way… and I am glad for my timely lesson. Thanks professor!
My senior year of high school allowed me the opportunity of taking a course entitled The Lost Generation in which we studied American artists that fled to Europe in the 1920s. Those that were in America left quite an impression on the Greenwich Village now found in New York City. Ever since studying about Greenwich Village in that course, I have had a special desire to see Greenwich over in England. On our second day in London (the first that my jet lagged self was actually feeling a bit normal) that wish was granted and I was not in the slightest disappointed.
The day started with us making our way to the Embankment on the Thames River. Starting the day off right, we pulled out the Dickinson Banner and snapped a few shots. We then boarded a boat that took us through the city on the river. What a way to see the city! To see the mixed architectural styles really brought to actuality just how much diversity is to be found in London. The view from the Royal Observatory only emphasized this point. As you take in the panoramic view, you see the Millenium Dome just a hop, skip, and a jump (though maybe a long one) away from Greenwich University. Two different architectural phenomenons are difficult to find, and yet, there they are not only in the same city but also basically right across the river from one another. I, personally, could have stayed on top of the observation hill for hours but (thankfully I’ll admit) Professor Qualls had more on the schedule for the day.
As we journeyed down the hill and passed through a beautiful garden that the Queen had graciously opened to public access (even though few that did not equal her status ever had time to afford to devote to leisure), not only did we realize the diversity of the city but also its hidden secrets. Yes, London is a city full of beauty and power; but it also is one of garbage trucks that smell to the highest of the heavens, old factories that are less than pleasing to the eye, and domes that are built to astonish the world for a day (maybe even a year) and then serve absolutely no purpose after that time is over. It’s a city that blares the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a local pub that is situated right next to the Greenwich Market. In short, it’s a city that puts such opposite ends of the spectrum together and let’s you try to make sense of it. Well, maybe it doesn’t let you- it forces you. Either way, it’s definitely noticeable and demands reflection.
Tags: Audrey · Museums
August 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment
Since I think everyone seemed to enjoy the same things about the first half of today, I thought I’d talk about what I did after we left lunch. Brandon, Grace, Henry and I went to the National Maritime Museum (as did a few others, I believe). It was a fairly big museum with a great variety of exhibits.
Among them was an exhibit on the Atlantic in British maritime history, which covered the slave trade and the American colonies, among other things. Another was on art with British ships and naval battles as its subject. A third was on passenger ships since the early twentieth century which, though undeniably is a part of British maritime history, was less interesting to me. The most important thing I noticed about the museum was how almost all of its patrons were British and not tourists, which was nice to see. I wonder if this is because Brits like to look back upon the naval and trade prowess of their past, despite its negative connotations of war and colonialism, as something unique to Britain and something to be proud of still today.
We then visited, as well as others did I’m sure, the Painted Hall and the Chapel. The Painted Hall, which commemorates and glorifies William and Mary’s 1689 ascension to the throne, was evocative of the Christopher Wren/Isaac Newton/Early Georgian era we’d been seeing bits and pieces of all day. The Painted Hall has grandeur, beauty, innovative architecture, represents England’s growing financial and political power, and throws in some anti-Catholic propaganda, too.
The Naval Chapel was not nearly as ornate and boastful, but was still beautiful. It’s a reminder of the centrality of the Navy in British life, and of the gratitude the British have had and continue to have for those who’ve served their country.
To get to High Street Kensington, we took the Underground (fondly referred to as the Tube) on the Central Line from the Tottenham Court Road station west to Notting Hill Gate where we switched to the Circle District Line to get to our desired High Street Kensington destination. This jaunt was approximately thirty minutes in duration and was made confusing by the indecisiveness of directional walking. Does one stay to the left or to the right when walking through crowds? Apparently no one knows! The locals like to stick to the left but when one finds oneself in more tourist filled locations the rules are discarded completely.
We came out of the station to find a busy street full of shops of all sorts and bustling with people. To get our bearings a bit, we ducked into an alley way that led to a quaint garden and church. Thinking this was where we had to go, we spent time looking around the cemetery, school, park, etc around there. Europe at its finest. You couldn’t even hear the busy street literally right on the other side of the buildings. This was an area in the middle of London that had a true small town feel to it. When we reflected on why we were sent to that area, we realized that we were looking at something that had nothing to do with the name Kensington at all. So, we pulled out our London A-Z maps and discovered that if we continued to walk a block or so we would arrive at Kensington Palace and Gardens. Righto. Still, this microcosm, we think, is representative of London itself. You find this encompassing environment but if you take a step back you find that that very environment is composed of smaller factions that are just as enveloping as the larger one.
Now onto the Kensington we were supposed to find! The station seems to be in place to allow for the public to have access to the gardens. The governing body appears to be Kensington. Never have I seen a prettier place full of not only plants and beautiful vegetation but also just people enjoying themselves in a most relaxed and respectful fashion. People from every race and age were present including the wealthy and those sleeping on benches but we saw mostly young people out enjoying a beautiful day in the garden.
We strolled around what could have been an entire park but truly was only a small fraction of the area. Some of the many sights we saw included Kensington Palace, William the II’s Palace (now a busy tea shop), a statue of Victoria R., and George Frederick Watt’s statue of Physical Motion. Attracted to a shiny, gold something in the distance, we headed to what we later found to be the Albert Memorial across from the Royal Albert Hall. This beacon was truly breathtaking! Prince Albert was the husband of Queen Victoria. A social activist and a financier of the arts and sciences, the hall and this statue are dedicated to his memory as well as Victorian achievement. Perched around a sitting Albert are representations of Africa, America, Europe and Asia, all of which were in some way connected to British imperialism. Above him rest figures of farming, engineering, manufacturing, and commerce. Then at the top of the memorial stand virtuous angels. The monument as a whole is also an acknowledgement of the many artisans that Albert had worked fiercely to promote. Prince Albert not only purchased the land of South Kensington as a means to create an educational and cultural institution, but he also worked to have the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. Both these events may have led him to be memorialized at Kensington Garden. People memorialized King Albert by sitting around the base of his statue smoking (a commercial endeavor indeed!). Mostly middle class people were around the statue and on the street; that is, those who had time to spend on a Thursday afternoon lounging around a statue and park. Tourists were around the more famous locations in the garden but as you ventured further away from statues and palaces, the local people used the gardens for their function as a recreational park.
As we were on Kensington Street, we thought the best way to return to the Arran House would be to either take the Tube or a bus. Confused by which side of the street we had to be on to take the bus, we opted for the former. Taking a different route this time, we took the Circle District line to Glouchester where we transferred onto the Piccadilly Line and went up to Leicester Square. From there we went up the North Line to Nottingham Court Road where we proceeded by foot to the Arran House. We might mention, we were a might bit late. The Central Line proved to have top marks in efficiency that day.
the happy accident
Tags: Andrew R · Audrey · Churches and Cathedrals
We began our tour this morning on a ferry ride along the Thames River. I was a bit confused by the general docking and disembarking procedures… backing up 20 feet to leave? what? We arrived in Greenwich early enough to beat the crowd to the Prime Meridian. Although I remember learning about this in middle school, to actually see it made it “real”… So this is where everything starts… We were then allowed enough time to explore the museum and I think my favorite part was the Christopher Wren octagonal room on the upper level. The dome was so intricately carved, yet the rest of the room was simple. The tall windows, which encircled the room, all provided incredible views. On one of the walls two portraits of Charles II, the reining king at the time, stare down at you. Maybe this is just my observation, but I think there is something effeminate in the Stuart line of kings that I never see in any other portraits of royal British males… thoughts? I also really liked the working telescope at the top of the building and the exhibit just below it that questioned our human concept of time and its importance. However, the tight spiral did scare me a bit. I always wanted to have a spiral staircase in my home. This experience has swayed me.
After a delightful lunch at the Admiral Hardy, Aiden, Henry, Brandon and I set off for the National Maritime Museum. Although I found this museum interesting, some of the exhibits were a bit disappointing. I had high hopes for “Art and the Sea,” but depictions of the Royal Navy conquering all others can only stay interesting for so long. At least there was one contemporary painting tucked away in the last corner of the room. I was expecting the “Passengers” exhibit to relate more to our course and show some of the experiences of immigrating to Britain by sea. Instead, this was more like an advertisement for cruise ships. Although, it did have a few Titanic and Lusitania relics. Of course there were boat models everywhere! In all different shapes, sizes and purposes. From the Museum we headed to the Old Royal Naval College Chapel. Along the way we stopped in the Painted Hall. It was incredible! I have never sen so much Trompe l’oeil in my life! The Chapel was amazing and the way the ceiling was arched made the acoustics of the building near perfect… I only wish I could have heard some of the Trinity College music students performing in there to get the full experience. Our group decided to walk under the Thames to take the DLR train back to the tube. The walk underground was cool (temperature wise) and relatively quick. Once we got on the train it was smooth sailing (or, riding) all the way back to the Arran House. I would have liked to see the Market, but at least I have an excuse to go back and wander the streets of Greenwich.
Tags: Grace · Museums