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Table of Content for greatbritain2017:

More pages: July 2017 August 2017





2017/07/26 Great Britain Day 01: Bath
π 2017-07-26 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #1: Rain.

After landing in Heathrow and picking up our rental car, we drove directly to Bath. We got there by 16:00-ish and that was just enough time to check in our B&B and go to Bath Abbey, visit and take the tower tour for nice views of the area from high up:










Next, we went to the Roman Baths who got excavated pretty recently. They have the only natural hot source of water in the UK:






warm and full of minerals
warm and full of minerals


In the evening (daylight until 21:30), we did the bizarre path night comedy tour. The humour was ok depending on who you ask :) but it also included a few acts of magic that were actually not bad. Not essential to do, but not a waste of time and money either :)





And that was it for our first half day in England.

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2017/07/27 Great Britain Day 02: Bath, Avebury and Stonehenge
π 2017-07-27 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #2: Rain

Since the walking tour of Bath only started at 10:30, we had some time to kill and we went to a nearby park to get a nice elevated view of bath, before going back down and joining our tour:










Next, we went towards Avebury for its random Stonehenge Area stones and burial sites:





For stonehenge, we avoided the complicated 2H+ tour that doesn't even let you walk to the site anymore (just around) and went to view it from a public road without dealing with the shuttles and time we didn't have:




what they found
what they found

what it's supposed to look like :)
what it's supposed to look like :)

And that was it for day #2. It may seem short but really it wasn't due to the amount of driving involved...

2017/07/28 Great Britain Day 03: Salisbury and Wells
π 2017-07-28 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #3: Rain

We started with Salisbury's Cathedral, super nice. It was moved from a nearby city, old sarum some many years back, and it was beautiful:





nice fountain
nice fountain





one of the 4 remaining copies of the magna carta (basically making the kings be nicer to their people)
one of the 4 remaining copies of the magna carta (basically making the kings be nicer to their people)


The best part was the tower tour:



the big wheel was used to take building material to the top of the church to build the huge spire that was added (and added enough weight to almost collapse the entire church)
the big wheel was used to take building material to the top of the church to build the huge spire that was added (and added enough weight to almost collapse the entire church)

it went much higher, but on percarious ladders, the tour itself stopped half way up
it went much higher, but on percarious ladders, the tour itself stopped half way up

view of sunny england :)
view of sunny england :)


We then went to the nearby museum:





Next, we drove to Wells, who has its own nice cathedral:







Nextdoor was Bishop's Palace:






And we finished at Glastonbury Abbey, "england's finest ruins" as they say ;)



Another day over, lots of driving, including many crappy roads again :)

2017/07/29 Great Britain Day 04: Wales: Tintern Abbey, Caerphilly, Welsh Folk Museum, Cardiff Bay
π 2017-07-29 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #4: Light Rain

For our 3rd B&B, this was our best breakfast so far. English breakfasts haven't been bad as a whole as long as you avoid the sausage :)

We then had a longish drive to Whales and started with the Tintern Abbey ruins:




Next, we drove to Caerphilly Castle which was interesting, but sadly we came the weekend of a festival, so the place was packed and most of the castle was closed:


interesting that this is still standing
interesting that this is still standing




After that we went to Fagans National History Museum which is an open air Welsh folk museum:





interesting decors in the small church
interesting decors in the small church




From there, we headed to Cardiff for the night and went to the Bay for a walk in rain (not fun) and dinner, before heading back to our room:



fishing in the rain while covered
fishing in the rain while covered

nice beach, great sunbathing :)
nice beach, great sunbathing :)


2017/07/30 Great Britain Day 05: Driving around Cotswold, Snowshill Manor and Blenheim Palace
π 2017-07-30 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #5: Rain, Sun, Rain

We started the morning by driving around Cotswold to burn time until we could get to Snowshill Manor that only opened at 11:00





Once we got to Snowshill Manor, we got a ticket to visit the manor at noon, and visited the grounds until then. The manor has a great collection of just about everything:










Last we Blenheim Palace, a huge palace with great gardens, where Churchill was brought up and used to live:








Then we went to see the several gardens:



a maze under the rain, good way to be motivated to get out quickly :)
a maze under the rain, good way to be motivated to get out quickly :)




We then finished in Northleach for the night. I found a tempting car to switch my rental car, for :)



2017/07/31 Bourton-on-the-Water Car Museum
π 2017-07-31 01:01 in Cars, Greatbritain2017, Ncars
Bourbon on the Water is a charming little town in England, and happens to have a small car museum, so we went to visit it:
















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2017/07/31 Great Britain Day 06: Cotswold - Stratford-upon-Avon - Birmingham
π 2017-07-31 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #6: More rain

We started the day by going to Bourton-on-the-Water, a nice little town by a river:



Next, we went through Stow-on-the-Wold and then Bourton-on-the-Hill:









sun dials need sun to work
sun dials need sun to work


From there, we drove to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare:












Shakespeare's tomb
Shakespeare's tomb


Shakespeare theatre
Shakespeare theatre




We then finished the day by driving to Birmingham for the night.

2017/08/01 Great Britain Day 07: From Birmingham, to Blists Hill Village, back to Wales and Llechwedd Mine Tour, and on to Conwy
π 2017-08-01 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #7: Rain and a bit of sun, and rain

I started the day by taking a few pictures of downtown Birmingham around our hotel:







Next, we drove to Blists Hill Victorian Town, a recreated mining town. It was not as good as Ballarat in Australia, but still decent:














And then we had a long drive to Llechwedd for its deep mine tour, which we barely got there in time, for:









and from there, more driving still, to reach Conwy, our base for the next 2 nights.

2017/08/02 Great Britain Day 08: Caernarfon's Castle, Beddgelert Village, Snowdon
π 2017-08-02 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #8: Rain, and more rain that ruined our time around Snowdon, especially the ride to the top :(

After breakfast, a short-ish drive to Caernarfon's Castle, an old british fort, still in good shape:






We got to see someone play the organ in the nearby church, very cool:


We then drove to Beddgelert, which was supposed to be for a nice walk around, but it was just pouring rain:




Next, we drove back to snowdon, a mining town where slate is harvested, for our train tour to the top:







And last was going to be our mining train tour, but the weather was just bad and we didn't get to see much for more than half the trip:


diesel vs steam
diesel vs steam

poor hikers who did all this in the rain for no views
poor hikers who did all this in the rain for no views

yeah coal!
yeah coal!

great views
great views

note the rack and pinion track
note the rack and pinion track


And that was it for the day, honestly it the weather ruined a lot of it.

2017/08/03 Great Britain Day 09: Conwy and on to Liverpool
π 2017-08-03 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #9: light rain, some sun

We did a tour of Conwy in the evening and the next morning, including walking the medieval city walls which are in surprisingly good shape. Conwy castle was actually built by the British to rule the surrounding Welsh, and it was nice to visit:

only a few ways in the city
only a few ways in the city


found during our walk of the city walls
found during our walk of the city walls

Castle:










The bridge to the next town had an old bridge built to match the castle, a 2nd castle like bridge for the train, and then an uninspiring bridge for more cars:


Rest of the city:




you could play catch and release crab fishing
you could play catch and release crab fishing



the seagulls didn't release as much the crabs they caught
the seagulls didn't release as much the crabs they caught

not big indeed :)
not big indeed :)



Plas Mawr was another house from that time:




By then, it was noon-ish, so we left to go to Liverpool and started with the metropolitan cathedral, which was built recently and is definitely modern looking:






the crypt underneath is much older
the crypt underneath is much older


We then moved our car next to our hotel and went to see the Museum of Liverpool as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, but sadly we had only 2 hours for both, which wasn't close to being enough:







examples of smuggling in the maritime museum
examples of smuggling in the maritime museum

slavery section of the museum
slavery section of the museum



By 18:00, we got kicked out, and we took an uber (or first one) back to the other cathedral in liverpool (the main one). It is absolutely huge







We then got tickets for a tour to the top:





And then we got to learn about the church bells and saw folks who were practising playing them. The impressive part was that they could ring the bells while having the bells not actually make sound, and then had a computer that would reproduce the exact sound the bells should make. This allowed them to practise playing without actually bothering everyone around in the city. Super nice!


We then finished the (long) day by walking to Chinatown, which outside of the big gate and a few Chinese restaurants, was not that impressive:



2017/08/04 Great Britain Day 10: Hiking around the Lake District (Glenridding, Howtown, Keswick)
π 2017-08-04 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Hiking, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #10: very occasional light rain, aka a fine sunny day in Great Britain (good given the hours of hiking we did)

On the way to the lake district, we stopped by Dove Cottage/Wordsworth Museum, which while having some nice cottages, was kind of boring given that I had no idea who the former inhabitant (poet/writer) was



But this put us on the way to the hilly region around lakes, where we did a couple of hikes:



after parking our car, we took the boat across the lake
after parking our car, we took the boat across the lake

and we did that hike back (11km, 2h20-ish)
and we did that hike back (11km, 2h20-ish)






We then got back to our car, and we drove to the next lake by Keswick, and did the catbell hike to the local top. Thank god for long days, we were able to start late-ish in the afternoon when there was room in the 8 car only trailhead location. That hike was a lot more steep and gave better views:



then we hiked down around and back down to the lake
then we hiked down around and back down to the lake

those were all over
those were all over


And after close to 20km/4.5h of hiking, we drove to our gastro pub for well needed food :)

2017/08/05 Great Britain Day 11: Keswick Scenic Drive, Castlerigg, on to Durham
π 2017-08-05 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Day #11: heavy rain at times

After breakfast in our B&B, we were supposed to go for a scenic loop around the lake and the hills. As a reward for trying, we got pretty bad rain, so I drove the loop quickly and may have set a lap time record for wet conditions :)


'fantastic' views
'fantastic' views


The highlight was 'surprise view' up a crappy road. I still had to take these pictures under an umbrella:




Before leaving the area, we stopped by Castlerigg Stone Circle which is another version of stonehenge, just less famous and with smaller rocks:




We then drove to Hadrian's Wall. That was quite interesting, I didno't know the Romans had invaded England all the way to Scotland, and after dealing with the crazies of the north, they figured it was easier to build a very long wall across a narrow part of England, and hold their position. Most people don't know that there is a second wall higher north, Antonine Wall which was the 2nd line the Romans built as they proceeded further north, but eventually they gave up the fight, and retreated to the Handrian Wall.

After holding the line for a few hundred years, the romans eventually decided that England didn't really have much value and wasn't worth all the effort they put into keeping it, so they just let it go. In the meantime, Hadrian's Wall was a formidable construction at the time (likely only rivalled by the Great Wall of China). I think the only problem is that they built the wall, but they didn't get Scotland to pay for it :)

The Romans had impressive positions in England
The Romans had impressive positions in England




Along the wall, they had forts, and I think with the crappy british weather and the mud, many artifacts were preserved in the mud and are now being unearthed, giving lots of valueable info on the Roman Empire:


Next door was Vindolanda, a big fort:







sadly the buildings didn't really survive the passage of time
sadly the buildings didn't really survive the passage of time


Nearby you could hike next to remaining bits of the wall:




every roman mile, there was a small fort to keep the line
every roman mile, there was a small fort to keep the line

And we went to see Housesteads Roman Fort, where we got poured on by the end of our visit:


the wall keeps going but is missing most of its height
the wall keeps going but is missing most of its height



After we were done, we drove to Durham to see the cathedral and castle where we slept:

city tour under the rain
city tour under the rain











the cathedral got rebuilt in legos
the cathedral got rebuilt in legos





The next morning, we had breakfast in the great hall:


2017/08/06 Two michelin rated restaurants in Edinburgh: Number One and Anniversary Dinner at The Kitchin
π 2017-08-06 01:01 in Dining, Greatbritain2017, Ndining
While I was prepared for pretty bad food in the UK, it's actually plenty of decent to good restaurants, and we went to visit some of them. Edinburgh (Scotland), has plenty of good restaurants, and we went to try 2 Michelin rated ones.

Number one had a tasting menu of 4, 7, or 10 courses. For that day, we figured the 7 course one would be enough. Jennifer got the premium wine pairing to go with it:









a few deserts to finish the meal :)
a few deserts to finish the meal :)

Two days later was our anniversary and Jennifer booked a dinner for us at The Kitchin (yes, it's spelled that way), another michelin rated restaurant. We took the premium tasting menu and Jennifer got the premium wine pairing:









Neither were amongst the top restaurants we've eaten at in Paris or California, but they were both a good dining experience, although not quite competitive in price with similarly good options in California (price was similar except it was UK pounds instead of dollars)

2017/08/06 Great Britain Day 12-14: Edinburgh
π 2017-08-06 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

Days #12-14: more rain on and off. until finally, on the 14th day, UK-wide rain stopped.

We left Durham early in the morning and drove to Scotland:


We first headed out to the retired Royal Yacht Britannia, which you can enter from a shopping mall. It's the Yacht where the royal family would travel the world and "be royal" and go on vacation, with the UK taxpayer's money. Good scheme they have running... In some ways, it's not quite unlike airforce one, except much slower, and bigger of course:





onboard doctor
onboard doctor

with so much uniform changing, because uniforms are important, a huge washing station
with so much uniform changing, because uniforms are important, a huge washing station

Nice machine room
Nice machine room

After the boat, we drove to another Georgian House for a tour:



We then used our last few hours in the rental car and drove to Holyrood Park and hiked up to Arthur's Seat for an elevated view of the city:







the castle, and old town
the castle, and old town

never had the time to look that one up, maybe a ski slope in the winter?
never had the time to look that one up, maybe a ski slope in the winter?

We then went to drop off the car, and we walked to our B&B to drop off our luggage:

the park shortcut was scenic but not faster
the park shortcut was scenic but not faster


We then went out for our nice dinner at Number One





Sightseeing-wise, it was kind of a short day since we only arrived in Edinburgh a bit after noon due to the longish drive.

The next morning, we started with the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the queen stays when she's around. Sadly, no pictures in the palace:





what's left of the chapel attached to the Palace
what's left of the chapel attached to the Palace

Next, we went to the Scottish Parliament Building for a guided tour. Yes, Scotland has its own Parliament as they are given some autonomy and self rule. You can tell the parliament is recent, it's extremely well designed and with a fair system that puts broken systems like the US one to shame (with stupid things like filibusturing):


each MP gets a small pod office where tthey can work in between sessions
each MP gets a small pod office where tthey can work in between sessions

the parliament building has a very nice architecture, but no pictures inside
the parliament building has a very nice architecture, but no pictures inside

From the parliament we walked up the royal mile:

we got stopped by this in the street
we got stopped by this in the street

oink, why don't we have an oink where we live?
oink, why don't we have an oink where we live?

A few things on the way, several churches, a museum of Edinburgh which sadly we didn't have the time to see later, and a few more things:




St. Giles Cathedral was quite nice:



National Convenant
National Convenant





We then ended up at the museum of scotland, a museum of everything, and that sucked the rest of the time we had that day

Since sadly this was another museum that closed as dearly as 17:00, we had another 4H of daylight left. In July/August, the whole city has a big festival with hundreds of things happening every day. I got a ticket for a student designed video game room, and then a play for an incredibly cheap price (and yet it was well acted):



this game designed on a single neopixel strip was actually brilliant
this game designed on a single neopixel strip was actually brilliant

We then went to check out Camera Obscura, which had decent surrounding views from its top, and some illusions on its floors below:











Last, but not least, we headed for our play, departure lounge, which had simplistic decors, but was well acted:


The next morning, we went first thing to the Edinburgh Castle and as soon as we got in, we made a beeline for the Scottish Crown Jewels, which quickly had a 30-45mn line soon after we went (we beat everyone there and got in with no line at all). I got tickets online which while print at home ended up working fine on my phone, they scanned us and we got straight in:


line starts early
line starts early



crown jewels
crown jewels



Nice views from the castle:





Next, we went to the national gallery (I opted to skip the portrait gallery):




The had an annex with other art :)



We then walked around town a bit to hit some waypoints Jennifer set :)



million pounds
million pounds

Next was another victorian house, which honestly was a full waste of time which would have been better spent at the Edinburgh museum or the dynamic earth. Oh well...


Since everything useful was closing early again, Jennifer went to do some scotch tasting:


We then walked around town a bit, and took a bus to our anniversary dinner at The Kitchin.


2017/08/07 Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland
π 2017-08-07 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Sciencemuseums
Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland is a almost a museum of everything, well not quite, but it's 5 museums in one:
  • history museum of scotland (all the way back to prehistoric)
  • museum of natural history
  • science museum
  • how scotland used to be part of the tech industry
  • art museum
  • I naively thought 4H woudl do it, but honestly not quite. Had I known I'd have started a bit more quickly than I actually did.

    I probably spent a bit too long in the prehistoric section, which was nice:


    A good section of the people who used to live in Scotland, all the way back to the Romans and Vikings:



    how scotland was fighting england
    how scotland was fighting england

    coins for all occasions
    coins for all occasions


    cigarette for soldiers in hospitals, brilliant!
    cigarette for soldiers in hospitals, brilliant!

    A good portion of the museum was a nice natural history museum:



    funny how that old dinosaur looks a lot like the pretended lock ness monster :)
    funny how that old dinosaur looks a lot like the pretended lock ness monster :)




    nice collection of felines :)
    nice collection of felines :)


    did I mention felines? :)
    did I mention felines? :)


    The science museum section also had good displays:




    dolly the sheep, the one that was cloned
    dolly the sheep, the one that was cloned


    printing press
    printing press

    Peter Higgs who theorized the Higgs boson over 50 years before Cern was finally able to confirm its existence
    Peter Higgs who theorized the Higgs boson over 50 years before Cern was finally able to confirm its existence




    nice collection of computers, most european:
    nice collection of computers, most european:




    A floor showed how Scotland was very much involved in the tech industry, including semi conductors:

    huge silicon lingo that wafers and chips are made from
    huge silicon lingo that wafers and chips are made from



    A nice collection of art from around the world:






    I so barely finished in 4H and had to rush some bits. Without a proper map and navigation it's a bit of a mess to visit though due to multiple kinds of museums all mixed into one. That said, well worth the visit, too bad it closes kind of early (17:00).

    2017/08/09 York National Railway Museum
    π 2017-08-09 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Sciencemuseums
    While I'm not a huge train nerd, I do enjoy train technology, so it was nice to see the York National Railway Museum. While it doesn't match the best train museumf I've seen in the world, namely Nagoya's SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, it was a good one too, and worth a 2H+ visit:




    the mail train allowed agents to sort the mail while it was transiting to its destination
    the mail train allowed agents to sort the mail while it was transiting to its destination

    the eurostar that takes you from Paris to London, based on the TGV
    the eurostar that takes you from Paris to London, based on the TGV

    they had an original japanese bullet train
    they had an original japanese bullet train

    that original train was very spacious inside, probably too much so for real speed
    that original train was very spacious inside, probably too much so for real speed


    nice diesel engine
    nice diesel engine

    nice cutout of a steam engine
    nice cutout of a steam engine

    I had no idea it went through a bunch of tubes like this
    I had no idea it went through a bunch of tubes like this



    Mallard, fastest steam train in the world at the time
    Mallard, fastest steam train in the world at the time


    The back had a shop where they work on old trains:




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    2017/08/09 Great Britain Day 15-16: York
    π 2017-08-09 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk

    We took an early train from Edinburgh to York, went to our B&B to drop our luggage, and went right away to the nearby National Railway Museum (on its own page)

    not a super bad ass looking train, but it got us there
    not a super bad ass looking train, but it got us there

    After the train museum, we went to York Minster, the local cathedral:



    It was a bit of a mess getting tickets for it, but we did the climb to the top, which was fun and had good views:




    We got a few views of town:



    Pictures from inside:







    During the day, we went to the museum by St Mary's Abbey:






    We then had an early dinner and went for the evening walking tour through town (2H):







    The next morning, we went early for the Jorvik Viking Center, which has nice exhibits and a nice tour/ride, but ridiculous lines, which thankfully I was able to get through with a fasttrack ticket:





    Last, but not least, the poorly named "York Castle Wall", which is actually a fairly large museum of lots of things, including an old town recreation, and much more:







    And it's also a bit of a museum of everything:




    Once I was done with York, we could/should have just left early and gone to London, but we had a prebooked night in the B&B plus a prebooked train, so since we had time left in York one way or another, I took an uber to the nearby Yorkshire Air Museum

    See more images for Great Britain Day 15-16: York
    2017/08/10 Yorkshire Air Museum
    π 2017-08-10 01:01 in Flying, Greatbritain2017, Nflying
    York didn't require as much time to visit as originally planned, so I had 3.5H to spare, and figured I would visit the nearby Yorkshire Air Museum. There are only 2 busses a day that go there and I had already missed the 2nd one, but uber got me there.
    At the entrance, I was told that 3H would be barely enough, so I rushed a bit, but in the end, 2.5H ended up being enough to see the whole thing. Thankfully I got a ride back from a nice museum visitor. While it's not a huge museum, and not the best one in the UK, it has some interesting and a few rare planes:




    love the windshield wipers :)
    love the windshield wipers :)




    Mirage III
    Mirage III

    Mirage IV nuclear bomber, the only one outside of France
    Mirage IV nuclear bomber, the only one outside of France








    this one got me excited, the electric lightening, one of the highest flying jet planes outside of the US
    this one got me excited, the electric lightening, one of the highest flying jet planes outside of the US


    a 5000 ton bomb, to penetrate tunnels and caves
    a 5000 ton bomb, to penetrate tunnels and caves

    an early glider prototype
    an early glider prototype



    GB put effort into big airships too, but they prooved too problematic and dangerous in the end
    GB put effort into big airships too, but they prooved too problematic and dangerous in the end


    They had a control tower, and copy of the french pilots quarters




    While I kind of regret not having had the chance to see bigger aviation museums while in the UK, but this one at least gave me a taste :)

    See more images for Yorkshire Air Museum
    2017/08/11 Seeing Andrew Rayel at Ministry of Sound, London
    π 2017-08-11 01:01 in Clubbing, Greatbritain2017
    While randomly looking at Google Maps on my phone for an upcoming trip to London, I got a reminder to go check out Ministry of Sound, a legendary club for anyone who's been listening to essential mix back to the early 2000's when many trance mixes were played, and some came from that club.

    The small problem, was that going to a club all night between a 12h+ day of sightseeing and 4 more such days right after that, was not the best timing ever, but at the same time, it was not an opportunity I wanted to miss. So, after leaving the V&A Museum when it closed at 22:00, I went straight to Ministry of Sound which was opening at 22:30, and only got back to bed around 03:00 or so. I was not in good shape the next day, but so be it :)

    Ministry of Sound is an interesting club, it's not huge, but has 4 different rooms, with the main room being totally packed when Andrew was playing. Sadly, as a state of affairs in London, and the radical inclusion, they end up having to search everyone everywhere to pretty severe extremes. They had TSA style gates with full searches, making getting in a lot less fun...
    Anyway, once in, I had a good time, and glad I went despite what it cost me in lost sleep :)















    Here's a video summary with good trance bits:

    2017/08/11 London's V&A Museum
    π 2017-08-11 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Museums
    The V&A Museum is another huge London museum of almost everything. It's a very nice set of buildings and rooms connected together on multiple floors with a nice courtyard in the middle:




    I was a bit annoyed the first day we went since we went during their extended hours (once a week 17:00 to 22:00), but turns out more than half the rooms were actually closed. In the end, however, whatever was left was enough to fill the 4H+ I had there that first time, and I just went back another time for another 4H-ish. This is another way to say that it's a full day museum (and more if you're thorough).

    The breath of collections there is also awesome, without abusing the word. The building itself has lots of art on the walls and ceilings:



    interesting modern and less modern art:




    religious art:











    Some parts of V&A felt like they just didn't fit in the British Museum:



    great room with marble and statues:
    great room with marble and statues:






    Some rooms had what looked like rooms from Versailles, and other big castles and mansions:





    The included a really cool collection of locks and keys:






    Other rooms had cultural art:

    I'm still a sucker for fine Japanese clothing
    I'm still a sucker for fine Japanese clothing



    Another section was on musicals, which London is known for:





    and of course, arts of all kinds:


    I need one of those in my living room :)
    I need one of those in my living room :)

    This doesn't even count other random stuff, like 3D printing and a copy of this first 3D printed gun:


    See more images for London's V&A Museum
    2017/08/11 Great Britain Day 17-21: 4.5 Days in London
    π 2017-08-11 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips, Uk
    Our last destination in Great Britain was London. I knew before we even arrived in Great Britain, that 4.5 days wasn't quite enough to visit London properly, but we made our best of it and did a reasonable job, considering: we probably did in 4.5 days what other people do in 6 or 7 :)

    Day 1 (half day)

    We started early in York with a direct train to London:

    Haha, no offence, but English trains are so far from matching Japanese trains
    Haha, no offence, but English trains are so far from matching Japanese trains

    case in point...
    case in point...

    After arriving in London we dropped our luggage and went directly to Westminster Abbey. Very nice Abbey, but not only quite expensive to get in, and then to thank you for the good money you just spent, no pictures allowed inside (they used to be allowed apparently). Needless to say that, that didn't stop me, especially with the hefty entrance fee:







    We then headed to the parliament for self guided tour:




    Next was the Churchill war rooms, a complex of underground rooms where most of the british high command, including Churchill, were bunkered during the war. Outside of the war, they had lots of information on Churchill's life:




    Next, still, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design. We saw half of it during a 4H visit during its extended hours (18:00 to 22:00).
    It was a really interesting visit, despite half the museum being closed, which meant I had to go back a few days later. But wait, the day was not over yet, it was just about time for me to head over to the ministry of sound to go see andrew rayel who happened to be playing that night.

    Day 2

    After not quite enough sleep, I got up and headed over to the British Museum, another awesome museum that kept me busy from open to close (10:00 to 17:30).

    After the british museum, I went to check out Tate Modern. Honestly, except for the views from the top of the building, it was a bit of a waste:




    Given the Tate Modern wasn't that good, I had just enough time to go to the theatre district and go catch a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I had mixed feelings about it. It was interesting in some ways, but boring and too long in others:


    theatre seats were also most small and uncomfortable
    theatre seats were also most small and uncomfortable

    Jennifer spent the day with her friend Anna who came from nearby, given that they hadn't seen one another and she had already been to the british museum anyway.

    Day 3

    We started from our hotel and took a quick bus ride to the Sherlock Holmes museum. Honestly, we went because it was in the list of recommended things, but it was a waste for us since we haven't read the books:




    people send him letters from around the world
    people send him letters from around the world


    Next door, beatles store:


    We then walked to the free Wallace Collection, a very nice building with a great collection:







    After a good tour of the Wallace Collection, we headed to London War Museum, which took much longer than I had planned, it's quite out of the way, but worth it for sure.

    Once done, we headed back to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. Barely had over an hour for both, but turned out to be just enough for me :)







    Once we got kicked out at 18:00, we had just enough time to walk to Rodizio to get BBQ meats served at our table, and walk to our theatre for our evening show. That show was the play that goes wrong, a nice idea, but the theatre staff was a bunch of dicks and totally ruined our experience before we even got in, by trying to steal all the food we had in our backpacks, claiming we could not carry it in, or check the bags in, we just had to throw it out (which is actually not written anywhere in their terms and conditions):




    Day 4

    The next morning, went to St Paul's Cathedral, because it opens early (08:30) while everyone else seems lazy in England/London and opens at 10:00 (a bit earlier if you're lucky). Very nice cathedral, interesting crypt with famous people burried there, and a cool climb to the top. For some reason another place that thought it would make sense to disallow pictures, sigh...










    Next, we walked to the Tower of London, which thankfully was not too busy on a monday (some other days have stupid lines to get in). Interesting castle to visit, many displays:





    got to see the other crown jewels
    got to see the other crown jewels



    multiple tours and performances
    multiple tours and performances



    they had beafeaters giving tours of the monument
    they had beafeaters giving tours of the monument



    Great views of the London Bridge from there:




    Next, we went to the monument of the great london fire, lots of steps, but nice views from the top:




    The museum of london was not far nearby, so we went there:


    My plan was next to go to the British Library, which had extended opening hours on mondays, but just to screw with us, that did not include the famous room with all the manuscripts that we specifically went there to see. In other words, we went there for absolutely nothing, grr...


    That evening, we then had a dinner at Google, and I got to see one of my schoolmates and friends

    Day 5

    I started early by going to Tate Britain. It was all right, but nothing beyond that. Maybe worth 1H for me:




    More things to see that day (on separate pages):

  • Next, I went back to the V&Albert Museum, where I had a lot left to see
  • the London Science Museum, which ended up taking a lot longer than I thought it would
  • The included the plane section of the museum
  • The science museum actually took the rest of my day, and I never made it to the nearby natural science museum, which had a stupid 1H+ line outside every time I looked at it. I guess it'll be for another time (and my understanding is that it take a full day to visit anyway). I just had enough time to meet Jennifer at the theatre where we went to see Matilda, a nice musical:


    City Views

    Since I have a fair amount of city view shots from bridges and higher buildings, I thought I'd put them all together, here:

    City Views from bridges:






    From higher up:



    St Paul's
    St Paul's








    Day 6, trip home

    Our last day was just a trip to the airport, and enjoy the indeed worth to visit Virgin Lounge, which had food, cocktails and smoothies to order of course, but also a hairdresser, pool table, terrace with view, and more. The lounge was much better than the plane, which while not uncomfortable, was dated:




    light snack to order during the flight :)
    light snack to order during the flight :)

    2017/08/12 London's British Museum
    π 2017-08-12 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Museums
    Originally, Jennifer had the British Museum slotted between two other things in our of our days in London. I stepped in an said "I don't really care what else there is, that museum is going to be a full day". Sadly, it opens late (10:00) and closes early (17:30 although it was posted as 17:00). While 10:00 is actually late for an opening, because I had gone to the ministry of sound night club the previous night/morning and had gone to bed quite late, I showed up there with little sleep, but was there on time :)

    security line
    security line


    Once inside, it was a race to see everything in just 7H. While it's not as big as the Louvre in Paris, it's still huge if you have a decent look at displays, and 2 days or more if you look at everything carefully. The aramaic and egyptian collections were nothing but impressive:


    silly me thought that the rosetta stone was at the Louvre, but Paris only has a copy since the British re-stole the original from the French :)
    silly me thought that the rosetta stone was at the Louvre, but Paris only has a copy since the British re-stole the original from the French :)









    cat mummies
    cat mummies





    egyptian game
    egyptian game



    The other collections were good too:










    The greek temple bits were good too (some original, some copies):






    And I literally finished within minutes of the museum closing, and really had to go at a good pace. It's definitely a great museum, glad I went.

    See more images for London's British Museum
    2017/08/13 London War Museum
    π 2017-08-13 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Museums
    The london war museum was another place that was worth the time. It is in an inconvenient place away from town center, but has 5 floors of displays on multiple war periods, including recent wars, and even a section on the whole recent mess in Syria.




    nice V2 rocket
    nice V2 rocket






    human guided torpedo
    human guided torpedo


    They had a nice display about Mi6, the secret intelligence (as opposed to the MI5 james bond agents). Several of them infiltrated France during WWII and helped the French resistance to fight the germans:


    spy equipment
    spy equipment


    fake papers
    fake papers


    See more images for London War Museum
    2017/08/14 Quick Visit of the London Kings Cross Google Building
    π 2017-08-14 01:01 in Google, Greatbritain2017, Uk
    My coworkers were complaining that their office wasn't much to look at, they are waiting to move into a new uber office that will be awesome, but unfortunately the foundations were just being laid, so it's going to be a little while before it's ready. Still, got a few pictures:





    One nice feature was all the post it ASCII art :)





    bubble bobble!
    bubble bobble!

    Nice views from the cafe terrace:




    got to see my school friend Jerome, who works from that office
    got to see my school friend Jerome, who works from that office


    2017/08/15 London Science Museum's Airplane Section
    π 2017-08-15 01:01 in Flying, Greatbritain2017, Nflying
    Usually I would only feature an airplane museum in the flying section, but the London Science Museum's section of airplanes is big enough that it deserves its own mention. Later, I went to see a few more, to total:
  • London Science Museum's Airplane Section (this one)
  • RAF Museum North of London
  • RAF Museum in Cosford (30mn from Birmingham and Stafford)
  • Imperial War Museum in Duxford
  • There was a good history of early planes:


    a good reminder that the first aircraft that was heavier than air was French, even if it didn't fly far
    a good reminder that the first aircraft that was heavier than air was French, even if it didn't fly far

    very bird-like aircraft
    very bird-like aircraft

    of course the wright brothers are mentioned, along with their patents and thirst for money that caused the US to slip back decades while France quickly took over the world of flying machines
    of course the wright brothers are mentioned, along with their patents and thirst for money that caused the US to slip back decades while France quickly took over the world of flying machines

    one impressive thing on the wright brothers' airplane was the engine: light and efficient
    one impressive thing on the wright brothers' airplane was the engine: light and efficient


    lots of early french planes
    lots of early french planes

    While most people know about the French Mongolfier brothers and their hot air balloon, few know about all the dirigeables that many countries experimented with, including England:



    The section on VTOL aircraft was very nice. I didn't know about the pre-harrier prototypes:

    VTOL thrust vectoring prototype
    VTOL thrust vectoring prototype


    Short SC-1, first UK VTOL aircraft
    Short SC-1, first UK VTOL aircraft


    and harrier
    and harrier

    Other random planes:



    first german jet aircraft
    first german jet aircraft




    early airplane with inefficient propeller
    early airplane with inefficient propeller

    So again, while it was not an aviation museum, it sure had a worthwhile collection to check out.

    2017/08/15 London Science Museum
    π 2017-08-15 01:01 in Greatbritain2017, Sciencemuseums
    I had planned to spend 2-3H in London's Science Museum, and ended up spending 4H+ until they closed and kicked me out :)

    It definitely had interesting and unusal exhibits (at least for adults) and I smiled when I saw reviews that they didn't have enough basic things for small kids to bang violently on until they broke :)

    The aviation part of that museum itself was quite impressive and I put it in its own page


    nice to see a streetview bike
    nice to see a streetview bike










    I got to learn how multicord encoding worked at the time
    I got to learn how multicord encoding worked at the time

    kind of sad when I know some historical communication devices :)
    kind of sad when I know some historical communication devices :)

    nice to see more silicon lingots in museums, that's where all our chips come from
    nice to see more silicon lingots in museums, that's where all our chips come from




    the UK has several crappy 3 wheeled cars because taxes/insurance for them was cheaper
    the UK has several crappy 3 wheeled cars because taxes/insurance for them was cheaper


    gotta love old commercials
    gotta love old commercials

    even a section on genetics, including this 7 toed cat.
    even a section on genetics, including this 7 toed cat.

    or less fun, but good to mention, this euthanasia machine
    or less fun, but good to mention, this euthanasia machine

    See more images for London Science Museum
    2017/08/16 Great Britain Trip Wrapup, and Thoughts
    π 2017-08-16 00:00 in Greatbritain2017, Ntrips, Trips
    Just like our Taiwan, Germany and France trips, Jennifer spent a great amount of time planning this. Despite help from the Rick Steve's book, it was still a lot of effort.
    A lot of the UK is not that easily accessible by public transport (unlike let's say Japan), so we made good use of our car. We drove 1300 miles (all the way to Edinburgh), and then were able to take trains to York and London for the way back. We lucked out with the rental car by getting a Vauxhall Astra turbo 1.4l, which had 150HP, making it quite swift when I had to pass (it wasn't mclaren fast of course, but for a rental car, it did well).

    Here's a map that what we covered:

    So, here are some random thoughts:

    Driving

  • It starts with Motorways, the good roads. Sadly not nearly enough of them. Then, it goes to A roads, the more digits they have, the worse they get on average. A1 = good, A2345 = bad. And then it goes to B roads. By the time you're on B369, you are totally screwed :)
  • I realize we did go in the countryside to see some small villages, but England definitely had more crappy roads that often weren't wide enough for 2 cars and where I'd worry about scrapping the car on the left, or getting my right mirror taken out by an oncoming car every time one showed up
  • Roundabouts everywhere: those did not bother me, they are known to increase traffic flow. It's a shame the US doesn't use them (they did freak Jennifer out a little bit, they take some getting used to when they're 2-3 lanes wide and have 5 or more entrances and exits).
  • speed limits: they were not unreasonably slow, actually some country roads took rally driving skills to drive at their posted limit, especially in the rain, of which we got plenty.
  • there were plenty of radars that picture your plate and send you a ticket if you speed. I used android apps to get warnings of where most of them were, but they also put signs to tell you about them. However, there are also plenty of fake signs that warn you of radars that don't exist
  • People

  • overall people were nice, if not a bit rigid at times, which was not a surprise since I was ready for it. It's also worth noting that there is an incredible amount of variety in people and customs within GB, especially if you consider that Wales, Scotland and Ireland are virtually different countries within GB.
  • While we saw a comic who made fun of Americans for being fat, we felt that many british were not really in a position to make fun.
  • Could that be the reason that they still use stones as a unit of weight, something I thought they had gotten rid of. Dear brits, if you think it's cute, it's not, it really feels dumb, sorry.
  • As a cross between people and cars: let's talk about walking on sideways. What the hell is going on here? You drive left, most people seem to agree with that, which is good for overall life expectancy of motorists, but once you get on a sidewalk, it becomes a total clusterfuck. Most brits actually seem to walk on the right for no good reason that I could find. Some subways even tell you to do so. But in other places, they walk left, just so that you have on idea what's going to happen in a given city or location, and you'll end up being wrong most of the time. Seriously people, fix this.
  • Weather

  • it sucked about as much as I was ready for. We got rain every day (although thankfully not all day every day) of our first 14 consecutive days. It was just a question of how much and what time.
  • we did often get 3 seasons' worth of weather in a single day, thankfully no snow in August, but it was damn cold on many days
  • only by the time we got back to london was I able to stop carrying a wind/cold/rain jacket with me
  • Food

  • I was kind of prepared for the worst, but it was actually ok. Breakfast was pretty much the same eggs, tomato, beans, bacon that isn't US like, and sausage which was to be avoided in many places. It wasn't bad, but after 21 days of mostly the same thing, it got old.
  • Dinner were actually ok, but we carefully avoided fish and chips and pubs (setting the bar at gastro-pubs).
  • Like other trips, no time for lunch, that gets in the way of visiting stuff, and with the limited opening hours, we used every one of them.
  • Train

  • After doing trains in Japan, nothing really compares. The signaling in Japan is big and colorful, and trains run on time. In the UK neither was true, but oh well we got to our destinations anyway.
  • Our 2nd train left and arrived on time, but the carriage numbers written outside did not match the markings on the floor, and worse, once we got in, the number inside did not match the one marked outside, so we had to walk the entire train inside with our luggage, along with everyone else who also ended up in the wrong carriages. And just to make things more "fun", the numbers are not consecutive either, so you don't even know if you're walking in the right direction.
  • On the plus side, they at least had power for laptops once inside.
  • I feel that French and even Italian trains were better, but we got to where we needed to go, which is what matters ultimately
  • The subways in London definitely look dated by now, but on the plus side they run with a very high frequency
  • The one thing with the london subways is that they ring a tone to tell you the doors are closing at the same time. What's the point of that? I literally got in a train and heard the sound while I was going through the door that closed on my bag, trying to crush it, and leaving Jennifer stuck on the platform. This is just stupid, every other subway system I know rings a tone first, gives you a few seconds and then closes the door.
  • Another minus is while in Japan or Paris you have cell phone signal throughout the subway system (which is no small feat), in London, you do not. You might get signal here and there if you're lucky, but it's very inconsistent. This is mostly an issue if you're using data to look up destinations or even doing routing with google maps.
  • Misc

  • London has a mix of world class free museums that worked on donations, and other locations that were very overpriced (like the churches that effectively charge a hefty admission price of more than $30 per person), or the tower of london. It evened out in the end, the contrast was weird.
  • Jennifer had a sample of Georgian and Victonrian houses to visit. Honestly, maybe seeing one is worth it, at best.
  • All in all, we got quite lucky with avoiding long lines in London (although it wasn't luck, we planned for that, but we're lucky it worked out).
  • Locations

  • We could have spent more time in Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • Some of the Cotswold was skipable for someone with more limited time
  • Wales was nice though, especially its castles (which unfortunately were actually built by the british to control the local population)
  • I also quite enjoyed seeing about and visiting the Hadrian Wall
  • York was also worth a stop at least for the very good city museum and learning about how the Vikings invaded, but was worth 1.5 days, not 2.
  • Last Impressions, Conclusions

    While there were some neat things to see, and London alone is a reason to go to great britain, I wouldn't put it ahead of France, Germany, or Italy (in random order). They did have some very impressive cathedrals size-wise, not as well decorated as in Italy or Germany.
    As for the british people, I actually learned that they did have a republic for a short while (10-ish years) after killing their Monarch, ahead of the French doing the same later, but they somehow asked that dead monarch's son to rule the country again, which seemed like a mistake to me :)

    More pages: July 2017 August 2017

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