Sunday, August 03, 2008

English Roadtrip - July 2008 - The Historic Tour

So there was the "Creation tour". Then, there is the Historic tour, including the pictures below, though of course, these are limited to certain major tourist hotspots since really, every spot may qualify as a historic site in one way or another:

Stonehenge - Of course, this historic site is a must see, dating to between 3000-2000 BC. While we may never know what this circle was meant to be used for, or will never know how much greater the monument used to be, what's left is still an awesome sight. Too bad it was a windy/rainy/cold day that day! This was taken earlier on before the rain came..and my hand was still warm enough to hold the audioguide!

Hadrian's Wall - Built by Emperor Hadrian starting AD 122, Hadrian's Wall spans the width of England to mark his territory and defend against ancient Scottish tribes. The length 84 mile length of the wall is still open for people WALK it. Of course, though this was an attractive option, I decided to forgo that option for a shorter walking trail of 4 miles, of which we likely actually did 0.75 miles. :p Oh well, like a good Chinese bus tour, we saw the wall (and some cows in the field -- yes, Alison would have went nearer if I wasn't as 'chicken' :p), and then went out for a great dinner! Other than the wall, the weather and countryside would have made for a great hike, even if it means that you would hike past the cows. :p

This picture is in the ruins of what likely used to be a fort on a hill.

Bath - Known for its Roman Baths... the remaining architecture, though is an amalgamation of various time periods, was largely developed during the Georgian times (late 1700s to early 1800s) with influential architects John Wood, senior and junior. We were fortunate to have a private resident tour guide for Bath and was introduced to the intricacies of Georgian architecture (have you ever noticed the back of a Georgian building?) and the major outputs from this city: Bath Stone and the Bath chair (which brought you to the spa) :p I won't show typical pictures of the Roman Baths or the Royal Crescent, and you can see the Sally Lunn's bun that covers my face elsewhere, but here is a old post box which has not been changed to the new version. Plus, the pig to the left of it is Bath's version of New York's bulls or Toronto's moose... they were all over the city in many designs and colours. As to why pigs were used... our tour guide couldn't tell us, though he dryly remarked it could reflect an underlying psychological condition of the city.

York - Though I mainly knew about the York Minster, the looming Cathedral, York was also a strategic city in the early Roman empire. This statue of Constantine sits outside of the York Minster. The city is very pretty, lined with stone pathways with different styles of building, and a riverside always makes a city peaceful. The picture of the round tower below is Clifford's Tower, wherein a tragic episode culminated in 1190 when Jews were generally violently persecuted, and a number of Jews took their own lives there.

London - Tower of London - Of course, one of the main attractions of the Tower of London are the crown jewels, which are in a display in a large padded safe in the Tower. But we joined onto a tour by a Yeoman Warder who gave an entertaining count of the stories of torture and execution at various points in the Tower of London, most notably of the wives of Henry VIII.

The National Portrait Gallery also is a great place to go -- best of all, it's free -- to learn about the history of the country in all aspects: cultural, scientific, political, episcopal... collections started in 1856 and now has over 100,000 portraits.

Manchester - Haha, just for the sake of completeness to bring in modern history with a reference to the Industrial Revolution, of which this city played a Central part. We didn't spend much time here, though the honest opinion is that the city still feels very industrial (it wasn't a great feeling). The rain and poor weather may have provided a negative backdrop for our visit. (Plus our parking in the long-term parking at the back of Manchester Picadilly train station, which for a long-term parking lot, where one would expect many people to leave their cars, was a very dodgy place.)

British Airways flight back to Hong Kong - and in the making of modern history with the Beijing 2008 Olympics, it happened that I took a flight with members of the Great Britain Olympic team, namely the womens field hockey, gymnastics, and judo teams. They all boarded the plane later than me, which means that the flight would have waited had I got there a little later ;) [thankfully, I had no problems with my flight plans.] Sorry guys, no pictures, though their uniforms were pretty cute... white tracksuit, lined with blue stripes down the sides with a simple and small studded GB flag on the front, white tanks tops underneath. :p British Airways is the official airline sponsor for the GB Olympic team, though this being a flight to Hong Kong (not sure if they were just laying over in HK or staying in HK first), the pilot's congratulations and wishes of good luck for Team GB were only met with a very unenthusiastic applause from the rest of the cabins... I kind of felt bad for the team. And yes, they flew economy like the rest of us!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

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