Sunday, September 21, 2008

Picture this

So, uh, I took a few pictures.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Journey's End

We have returned to Ottawa safe and sound. Also, exhausted. But I just wanted to post briefly and let everyone know that we are home. Our trip home was uneventful and straightforward, just the way we like them.

We both loved Scotland and have many stories to tell. In total (the whole trip) I took just over 1100 pictures. I will share SOME of them asap. But right now I am going to crash. I may sleep all day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Great Scot!

Just a very quick post tonight to say that we are off to Scotland bright and early tomorrow morning. I don't think we'll have internet access while we're there, so don't worry if you don't see a post from either of us for a couple of days. We'll be back Friday evening, and then back to Ottawa on Saturday.

Today we went to Greenwich and stood on the prime meridian, one foot in the west hemisphere and one in the east. Pretty cool.

Full reports and details coming soon. Hope everyone is well.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's a henge! Made of stone!

Today PetDoc and Noise had to go back to work (suckers!) so Serdic and I decided to get out of the city for a day, and we did a side trip to Salisbury and Stonehenge. I had been before, but not for nearly 15 years, and Serdic had never been, so we decided it would be a worthy way to spend the day. We took the train from London to Salisbury (a journey of about an hour and a half), then caught the "Stonehenge Tour" (of course) by bus to Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is a really interesting and awe-inspiring place. I know many people who say it's just a pile of rocks, but I find it endlessly fascinating. Why is it there? What were the people who built it like? What did it mean to them? They obviously put so much effort and care into building it, but what was it for? Whatever it means, it is a striking sight and we spent a lovely hour circling the stones and examining them from all angles.

We caught the next bus back to Salisbury where we found a 13th century pub for lunch, The Haunch of Venison (gotta love those Ye Olde British Pub names). We had a fantastic lunch -- I had shepherd's pie and Serdic had a chargrilled pork loin with bubble and squeak (!) and a cranberry jus. Delicious.

After lunch we wandered down High Street to Salisbury Cathedral. The cathedral is famous for having the tallest spire in the UK, and it certainly is a beautiful building, situated in a large green space that sets it off to perfection. We spent a lovely hour exploring the church, including the chapter house where one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta is displayed. Eventually we wandered back to the train station and caught a late afternoon train back to London, arriving back in time to have take away fish and chips with PetDoc (Noise had to work late). All in all it was a lovely day. We have been blessed with wonderful weather so far (knock on wood) -- sunny and warm (without being too hot) nearly every day. I even have a bit of a sunburn on my face -- funny that I had to come to England to get too much sun!

I am also told that it is my responsibility to blog about the concert we attended last night, as Serdic fears he wouldn't be able to do it justice. I think that will have to wait for my next entry, as this one is long enough, but let's just say that last night we stood in a crowd of 30,000 people and sang Happy Birthday to Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was awesome.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Buckingham stops here

I'm really kicking myself for leaving my camera cord at home, as I'm taking some really lovely photos and wish I could share them. I guess that'll just have to wait until we get home. I promise not to post more than 500 or so.

We had a lovely day today, and got to spend the whole day with PetDoc and Noise, which was of course the best part. We started with a tour of Buckingham Palace, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was really neat to see all those places I'm familiar with through tv and photos, and to really take in the grandeur of the place. The set up for a grand state dinner was especially interesting ... PetDoc asked me how we get invited to one of those!

After leaving the palace we took the tube over to London Bridge, and walked across the bridge (Noise sang the song for us) to the south bank of the Thames. We found a fun little pub (The Bunch of Grapes) where we had DELICIOUS steak and ale pies, then wandered the Borough Market for awhile, seeing lots of fun things for sale. We also popped into Southwark Cathedral for a quick visit -- I was interested in the cathedral mostly because it's where Shakespeare attended services, but it was also a beautiful building and an oasis of quiet and peace in the middle of the very busy market.

Then we walked a ways down the south bank of the river to the Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian bridge across the Thames. We crossed the river on this bridge, giving us a stunning view of St. Paul's at the other end, and up and down the river to all the sights. The sun had come out at this point (it was grey and cool earlier) and it was just a beautiful, interesting walk. PetDoc and Noise hadn't been on the bridge either, so it was a first for them! I didn't want them to spend the whole time we were here "re-doing" stuff, so I'm glad they saved some stuff (like Buckingham Palace this morning and the Tower of London tomorrow) to do with us!

So now Serdic is cooking dinner in PetDoc and Noise's little flat, and I think we're going to eat out in the garden. So I'd better get going. Hope everyone is well!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rule Britannia

Just a short note to say that we have arrived safely in London. Our trip was slightly more eventful than hoped, as our flight was delayed two hours leaving Ottawa and therefore late getting into London, and we had to wait in line at customs for ninety minutes, but once we collected our bags and made it out into the arrivals area where PetDoc was waiting for us, things picked up considerably. We had a quiet day yesterday, just hanging out with PetDoc and Noise, exploring their neighbourhood a little bit, and having our first meal of "pub grub" (bangers and mash).

Today Serdic and I did the big London tour, starting at Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and walking to St. Paul's, via Trafalgar Square. Lots of walking, lots of quintessential London sights and moments. We are a bit tired tonight, but it was a lovely day and we really feel like we're in London now.

I unfortunately forgot to bring the cord for my camera, so any photos will have to wait until we get home. But rest assured, I have taken many! :-)

Tomorrow we are touring Buckingham Palace, and then going wherever our feet take us. Hopefully it won't rain!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Counting down

Well, the countdown to our trip officially begins today -- we leave one week from tonight (and the Air Canada replacement tickets appeared on my visa statement today, so I guess we really are booked!). I am getting very excited, although I still have a lot left on my To Do list! I am most excited, of course, about seeing PetDoc and Noise. I have missed them dreadfully over the last few months and am very much looking forward to having some time with them and seeing their new "space." This will also be the first major trip Serdic and I have taken together (we have had long weekends in a variety of places, but this will be our first real vacation together) so I am very much looking forward to the experiences we are going to share in one of my favourite cities in the world.

This trip is deliberately being planned to not be planned, if that makes sense. Usually when I go on vacation I have a schedule and an itinerary mapped out for each day, and while I'm a big fan of allowing time for serendipity to take hold and going with the flow, I also like to have a basic idea of what I want to see and where I want to go in order to make the most of my (usually very limited) time in any given city. This time, though, we are planning very little in advance and instead are hoping to each day just pick an area of the city and explore. I have been to London several times and so have done all the big "touristy" stuff, and that's not the stuff that interests Serdic anyway (he much prefers getting off the beaten track and wandering) so we're hoping to really sink our teeth into the city and not be typical tourists.

We do have a couple of things booked and planned. On the Saturday morning all four of us (me, Serdic, PetDoc and Noise) are going to take a tour of Buckingham Palace. I'm a huge royalty buff (although I prefer the history, not the current lot) so I'm looking forward to this. I have, of course, seen Buckingham Palace from the outside several times, but this tour is only available a couple of months a year (usually when the Queen is elsewhere) so this is the first time I've had the chance to go inside.

I think the thing I'm most looking forward to, though, is the concert the four of us will be attending Sunday evening. There's going to be a celebration of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 60th birthday in Hyde Park, complete with performances by some of my favourite theatre people and followed by fireworks. Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows were in many way responsible for sparking my love of theatre and so I have great affection for him in all his wackiness, and the concert should be a grand time.

We also are planning a couple of nights in Edinburgh later in the week. Again we don't have a long list of "must see" items, we mostly want to just wander and get a feel for the city. We do have a day trip booked to Loch Ness ... not so much to look for the monster but because we wanted to get out of the city and see the Highlands, and this tour was an economical and interesting way to do that without renting a car. Also, Rick Steves recommended it, and anyone who has traveled with me knows that I always do what Rick tells me. So I'm really looking forward to adding a new city to my list, and I have my suspicions it will become one of my favourites.

So lots of excitement and planning going on. Given the airline drama of last week I will still worry a little until we are actually sitting on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic (and until I am actually in possession of a refund for the Zoom tickets!), but so far, it seems like everything is a go. And I can't wait!