Tag archive for "uk"

Dear Bobbi: 21st Century Pen Pals

Blog, Online Goodies, Other, Photography, What I'm thinking

Dear Bobbi: 21st Century Pen Pals

4 Comments 27 August 2013

For anyone who has ever had a pen pal or random travel partner they met in foreign lands who became their best friend – this website is for you.

Those who have been reading my site from the start (LEGENDS!) will know that almost four years ago I was in the running for “The Best Backpacker Job in the World”. There was a YouTube video that involved me scuba diving in a hot tub, which I bothered loads of people to watch to help me win. Sadly – I did not, but weirdly – another girl named Bobbi did.

I went to Australia – where this “best” job took place and ended up “working” it anyway with the other Bobbi (her name is Bobbi-Jo by the way and you can check out her blog here). After surviving shark tanks, monstrous spiders and wild cow stampedes – we parted ways, but never lost touch. In fact, not only did we correspond through emails and Skype over the following years, but we also managed to live in the same countries (New Zealand and England) and even the same city (London) again.

Now that we have the big bad Atlantic between us – as we did when we were just strangers with the same name entering random YouTube contests long ago – we’ve decided to keep in touch as pen pals of the 21st century.

May I introduce – Dear Bobbi.

A tale of two Bobbis. To the left is my photo of the New York skyline, to the right is Bobbi-Jo's of the London skyline.

A tale of two Bobbi’s, to the left is my photo of the New York skyline, to the right is Bobbi-Jo’s of the London skyline.

The website is a transatlantic correspondence between me and my name twin. Twice a week we’ll post photos with the same theme, such as self, skyline and fruit. Follow along as we send photographic love letters across the pond.

Have you ever met a great friend on your travels that you still keep in touch with? Have you ever had a pen pal?

Share your stories below!

If you want more Bobbi: Follow Dear Bobbi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A reintroduction to art in London with Art13

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, The Arts and Cabaret

A reintroduction to art in London with Art13

4 Comments 05 March 2013

One of the things I loved most the last time I was living in London was the UK capital’s thriving arts and theater scene. It was during that six-month study abroad experience over five years ago that I saw a different side of art.

From sliding down one of Carsten Holler’s masterpieces at the Tate Modern to watching an auction at Sotheby’s during which the record was set for the highest sold piece by a living European artist ever with Peter Doig’s White Canoe (sold for $11.3 million), I found out in 2007 just how lively the London art scene can be.

So I was eager to pop right back into it during my current stay and Art13 London seemed like the perfect way to do it. This modern and contemporary art fair featured 129 galleries from 30 countries, giving art lovers a chance to meet new artists and see what is happening around the world in art.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

My friend Bobbi and I chose to visit on the Sunday of this three-day art weekend for the talk on Contemporary photography, community and the positive view. The discussion, which was chaired by Charlotte Cotton, was focused on community-based photography efforts. I loved hearing about how photography has created so many opportunities for people and how the line between artist and subject is being crossed in many efforts, giving more insight to the work and allowing for more people to be involved.

Bobbi peaking in on a piece. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Sometime art can make you giggle. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Since both of us were open to seeing and learning about what the fair had to offer, we didn’t have much of an agenda besides that talk, so we spent the rest of our time wandering the massive Olympia Grand Hall, learning about different works and even catching one of the fair’s live performances: Hugo Dalton’s Movement and Mark, which merged the fluidity of drawing with that of dance.

The windows at Olympia Grand Hall, a really beautiful space that gets even better on sunny days. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Hugo Dalton’s Movement and Mark. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

As far as my taste and knowledge of art goes, well, I’m quite immature. I’ll be completely honest and say that I like things that look interesting, sometimes grotesque, sometimes pretty, as well as things that I can play with or walk through. While I do like to learn about what makes good art, for me, what matters most is that I enjoy it. Some works I really liked include Zhu Jinishi’s Boat and Yi Hwan-Kwon’s A Sitting Woman.

Zhu Jinishi’s Boat. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Yi Hwan-Kwon’s A Sitting Woman. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It was the perfect starting out point for an art lover in London in need of a serious update. I found out about a few upcoming exhibitions and events in the same scene, such as the Positive Vew Foundation’s Landmark: The Fields of Photography, which kicks off at Somerset House on March 14.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It’s good to have a friend that’s an amazing photographer. Bobbi captured me walking through Boat in awe. Photo by Bobbi-Jo O’Gilvie

As you can see Art13 was the perfect event to throw myself back into the vibrant London art world.

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Wish you were here: Liverpool

Blog, Destinations, England, Wish you were here

Wish you were here: Liverpool

4 Comments 09 January 2013

Liverpool.

To people in England, it’s known for the locals’ scouse accent and loyal football supporters. To people around the world, it’s known as the home of Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and of course, The Beatles.

But for Ric and I, it’s actually the first place we’ve ever visited at the same time.

How, you ask, considering we met in Australia in 2010 and until my current trip, I had not visited England since 2007?

Let me start by explaining Ric’s love of Liverpool Football Club. I could go on and on about how he was born supporter and remains one even though he lives about 30-minutes from Old Trafford and most of his friends are Manchester United fans, but I’ll just say this: the first gift Ric ever bought me, was a Liverpool shirt.

What a man!

So of course he was in Liverpool on May 23, 2007 when they played AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final in Athens, Greece.

What’s weird is that, I was there too.

Out of all the days I chose to leave London, where I lived and spent most of my six months in England, out of all the cities in the north I could have visited, it was this day and this city I chose. I must admit though, I knew nothing of football at the time, but friendly northerners persuaded me to stay and watch the game. While I was sad they lost, I’m glad I stayed, because when I met a roaring and very handsome fan only three years later, I had something to wow him with.

So just over five years later, we returned to Liverpool together, with his two brothers, to tour Anfield, home to Liverpool FC, and wander around the city.

A panoramic of Anfield. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This was my first stadium tour ever and it might ruin all stadium tours in the future for a few reasons.

First, is the history. Originally, home to Everton, a rival Liverpool club, Anfield opened in 1884. Since then it’s has seen great triumph; like winning the top league 18 times, great men; like manager Bill Shankly who transformed the club to what it is today and great tragedy; a memorial to the 96 who died in the Hillsborough disaster stands next to Shankly Gates.

Second, is how much visitors see on the tour. In about an hour our group visited the press room, sat in the Kop as well as the team bench. I touched the “This is Anfield” sign before walking out to the pitch. I even sat in Gerrard’s spot in the team changing rooms. During all this, our guide told stories and facts about each stop on the tour.

Me touching the “This is Anfield” sign. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Red seats in The Kop. Did you know this used to be standing space? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Players sit according to their position on the pitch in the dressing room. Shankly enforced this so they would talk about football. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Third, it was made extra special by going with Ric and his brothers. I can’t imagine bigger fans or more fun guys to go with.

Ric’s brother Jim interviews him from the same spot players are interviewed after a match. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Ric and his brother Ste on the waterfront in Liverpool. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The tour costs £16, which includes entrance into the museum. I recommend it to all Liverpool FC fans as well as those who have a general interest in Premiership football or just want to truly visit this northern city.

After the tour we spent a few hours just wandering around Liverpool. I know the city was under a lot of construction the last time I visited, but I was honestly shocked by how much it had changed. Liverpool has a diverse and interesting mix of refurbished and modern buildings. From the 14th century Medieval Church of All Saints, to the reinvigorated 19th century Albert Docks, to the extremely modern Museum of Liverpool, which opened in 2011, it’s impossible to keep your head down in this city. Somehow this combination of architecture and design works in the city. To complete it all is the waterfront, lined with old-fashion street lights.

Contrasting architecture, modern black design in the front and the Royal Liverpool building behind. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Walking to Albert Docks from the city center. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A walkway on the waterfront in Liverpool in the afternoon. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Both times I’ve visited Liverpool I’ve had a reason. Next time, I’m looking forward to just spending the day walking around and finding all it has to offer, because it’s the kind of city that keeps on surprising its visitors, even when they’re as far away as Australia.

Have you ever visited Liverpool? What’s a city that truly surprised you on your travels?

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Wish you were here: Christmas in Bollington

Blog, Destinations, England, Wish you were here

Wish you were here: Christmas in Bollington

6 Comments 07 January 2013

After almost seven weeks in the US, it was time for the third and final part of our four-month world tour, which started in New Zealand in September. With only five days until Christmas, Ric and I boarded separate flights to his homeland, England.

It was a serious homecoming for him, as this is his first visit home in three years, first Christmas home in two and the first holiday season celebrated with his entire family in something like seven years. Ric’s not the only traveller in the Hackey clan. His mom always jokes that they’re going to lock her away for child trafficking. Her three boys are always off to different places around the world.

Brothers: Ste, Jim and Ric opening presents Christmas morning. Photo by Jill Hackey

I was a bit sad not to be there to see everyone’s face when Ric arrived, but my flight to Manchester Airport wasn’t far behind.

For me, this was my first time visiting Ric’s hometown of Bollington, which is about 30 minutes outside Manchester, and my first return to England after studying abroad in London five years ago. During those six months at Westminster University, I didn’t get to see very much of northern England, so we had a lot of exploring to do, but Christmas first.

Every Brit I met in Australia and New Zealand constantly talked about how amazing the holidays are in the UK.

They were right.

It’s not just a day or two-day event here, it’s a month of preparation and pretty much a week of celebration.

My expectations of Bollington after hearing Ric talk about it for the past two years, was that it was a mixture of The Holiday and Green Street Hooligans. Football fanatics in a quaint village. Walking into The Church House Inn with his family the night we arrived, I definitely had deja vu of Jude Law popping into a cozy pub in the country, friends smiling, fire blazing while Frou Frou’s “Let go” plays in the background. Going out with Ric’s friends for a fancy dress night only a few days later and listening to the football-like songs they made up for just about everything, even me, I got that match day feel from Green Street-without the violence.

Photo montage from the top of White Nancy in Bollington. Photos by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

All-in-all, I kind of knew I would love Bollington. For an American, it’s got buildings that date back further than my country. For a suburban girl, it’s nice to pop around the corner to the pub for a drink. And in general everyone has just been extremely friendly and kind.

On the gushy side, it’s amazing to see where Ric came from and get a better understanding of why he’s such a wonderful man.

After a few days of catching up, last minute Christmas shopping and getting into the spirit by visiting things like the Manchester Christmas Markets, it was already Christmas Eve.

Walking around the Manchester Christmas Markets on a very rainy day. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I think our celebrations this year were mild compared to Ric’s in Bollington in the past. He always talked about a Christmas Eve pub crawl that started at about noon. Still recovering from the fancy dress pub crawl a few days before, we opted to spend this one having a few drinks at home and playing Trivial Pursuit with the family, which I must add, the girls team won. We made it out for a few hours to catch up with everyone in town, but we were fast asleep by midnight as Ric advised me, “Father Christmas might miss us if we don’t get to bed now.”.

A very techy Christmas, my dad gave me a new computer before I left for England, Ric bought me about every usb gadget imaginable and his friend gave us a usb fan (how amazing is that!?). Father Christmas gave me a stocking full of magazines, candy, beauty products and money (Thanks Jill!). Ric’s brothers gave us matching monkey onesies. It was a great holiday. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Father Christmas came with massive stalkings for Ric, his two brothers and even myself. He’s pretty good to have found me in Australia, New Zealand and now England. After exchanging gifts, we visited The Church House Inn where everyone had already snapped their Christmas crackers and were wearing those famous paper crowns. We came home to put on our own. Sadly, I didn’t win any of the Christmas cracker wars this holiday. But I did have an amazing dinner with wonderful people and managed to be on the winning team of Trivial pursuit yet again.

Ric and I at his Aunt and Uncle’s house on boxing day. Photo by Jill Hackey

Jumping forward to New Years Eve a week later, we celebrated again in Bollington. Ric and I both have the same mentality towards New Years, an overpriced holiday that usually let’s you down. So we never make grand plans, but this year we wanted to do something as Ric hadn’t celebrated with his friends and family in years.

One of his friends made reservations at an Indian restaurant in town called Viceroy. It was the perfect New Years night for me. We had a massive meal of curries, onion bajies and much more as well as several glasses of cider, sambuca and champagne. We danced for a few hours on a busy but roomy dance floor. Plus, we got to watch fireworks at midnight.

Celebrating New Years at the Viceroy. Photo courtesy of Graham Ratcliffe

We partied well into 2013 and woke up with the usual first day of the year headache.

Plans for 2013? I have a few, but I’m not announcing any of them yet. It’s a year that’s a bit unpredictable for Ric and I but I do have a good feeling about this one. So I’ll just work on keeping my resolutions of drinking more water and being more organized, then see how everything else pans out.

Happy New Year to all of you! What are your resolutions for 2013 and where will this year take you?

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Be Entertained in Liverpool: What’s on in December

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Be Entertained in Liverpool: What’s on in December

No Comments 31 October 2012

Spend an evening in the hustle of bustle of this fabulous northern city and you won’t be disappointed. With so much going on during December, take your pick from the huge selection of attractions and events on offer and leave feeling enlightened.

Why not make an evening of it and stay in local accommodation? Kick back and relax in comfort rather than taking on needless stress such as late transport issues. You can find plenty of hotel options online, many offering fantastic deals if booked early. Check out https://www.travelodge.co.uk/hotels/book/liverpool-hotels for some ideal choices.

Make your way to Liverpool ONE for the Bodies Revealed exhibit that allows its visitors to delve deep within the human body and learn more about how we work. Using innovative preservation techniques, the Bodies exhibit displays the human form like never before, presented in a whole new light for our viewing and educational needs.

Photo provided.

Kris Kristofferson takes to the stage at the Philharmonic Hall on the 4th December to showcase his songwriting and singing prowess. His performance, in support of his new album, “Closer to the Bone”, will no doubt captivate his audience and leave them spellbound.

If you’re in Liverpool on the 7th, head over to the Philharmonic Hall for the second in a music extravaganza, this time celebrating the music of the Beatles. In a year that marks the 50th anniversary of their inception as superstars, The Bootleg Beatles helps you to be transported back to the 60s when Beatlemania was rife. With a multimedia production and a brass and string ensemble, the best known Beatles hits will be paraded in what is traditionally an absolute sell out of a show.

The Royal Court’s Christmas show, Nightmare on Lime Street, will provide its viewers with a wacky and hilarious performance that shouldn’t be missed. On until the 12th January, you have plenty of time to plan your itinerary and get yourself to this awesome show.

If art is more your thing, get yourself over to the Echo Arena on the 11th or 12th for installations and 3D art inspired by surrealist artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Enjoy a riproaring comedy performance at the Echo between the 11th and 15th December, thanks to the hilarious sidesplitting humour of Mrs Brown Rides Again. The brainchild of Irish comedian, Brendan O’Carroll, the smash hit TV series takes to the stage once more in what will surely be the funniest show you’ll see this side of Christmas.

For the skeptics amongst you, make your way to Head of Steam for Mike Hall’s take on the traditional nativity. As president of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, he’ll surely have a lot to say when it comes to this religious icon of Christmas. If this sounds like interesting stuff, you can see it on the 20th December.

Fill your spare time with enlightening trips to further your experiences and broaden your mind. Enjoy a trip to this cultural city and escape the toil of the norm for a refreshing break.

This is a sponsored guest post.

24 hours in London, England

24 hours, Destinations, England, Guides

24 hours in London, England

1 Comment 31 July 2012

The 2012 Olympics are well underway and if you’re in London for the big event chances are you’ll want to take some time away to check out local sights and culture. Unfortunately, attending an event as big as as the Olympics, not to mention staying in an already expensive city during it, will leave visitors with very little spare change to spend on touring.

Not to worry. The city’s free activities and affordable food spots will allow you to have a full day of exploring for under £50. So when you have a day off between women’s skeet shooting and men’s artistic gymnastics, here’s how to see London on a budget.

8 a.m.

First things first, purchase a Day Anytime Travelcard for London’s extensive transportation system. At £8.40, this card will allow you to travel around zones 1 and 2 by Tube, bus and more. If you’re staying in the city and moving about for a longer period of time, look into their 7-day and monthly travel cards or even consider purchasing an Oyster Card. You can purchase cards online and at various tube stations.

Now that transportation is covered for the day, let’s get moving. First stop is the St. James’s Park Tube Station. You’ll exit at a roundabout, head left down Petty France toward Buckingham Gate (these are street names). At the very end of Petty France, on the right corner, you’ll see Bon Gusto, our first stop, a small cafe with blue awnings.

This Italian cafe serves Full English Breakfasts, a staple in any Brit’s diet, at £4.50, which is a great price for the meal anywhere in England, let alone one of its most tourist areas.

So what exactly is a Full English Breakfast?

Photo by JohnEWootton (Flikr)

Bacon, sausage, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, toast and fried eggs. While black pudding is the final ingredient to a full, Full English, you won’t find the pig’s blood delicacy included in every cafe’s breakfast. With or without the black pudding, it’s a hearty meal, perfect for a full day of sightseeing. The total for this meal along with a drink: £6

Total for the day: £14.40

9:30 AM

Whether rolling away or walking, it might be a good idea to get just a little bit of exercise after such a massive breakfast. After your meal head over to St. James’s Park for a quick browse around.

If there’s one thing the English know how to do right, it’s parks, and with this one being pretty much in Queen Elizabeth’s front yard, minutes away from Buckingham Palace, you can bet it’ll be in top form. While an hour isn’t nearly enough time to explore this park to the fullest, here are a few spots to start with: The Blue Bridge, Pelicans (fed daily 2:30-3 p.m.) and Horseguards Parade.

Hyde Park is nearby, but a bit too far to reach in the time allowed. It’s well-worth a visit and a great way to spend a few hours in London in the Summer.

Total for the day: £14.40

To reach St. James’s Park from Bon Gusto, turn right on Buckingham Gate and another right on Birdcage Walk and you’ll see St. James’s Park to the left.

10:30 a.m.

Don’t get too lost in St. James’s Park as you’ll need to head back to Buckingham Palace for its famous Changing of the Guard.

The ceremony kicks off at 11:15/11:30 a.m., but it would be a good idea to arrive somewhat early to find a good viewing spot. This is one of London’s most notable activities. The event will give you time to check out one of the UK’s many castles and watch a royal tradition.

Who knows, maybe Liz will even give a wave from her window.

Note: Changing of the Guard does not happen every day, so check the link above to make sure it is scheduled the day you wish to visit Buckingham Palace.

Total for the day: £14.40

To reach Buckingham Palace from St. James’s Park just head down The Mall in the direction of the Palace. It’s hard to miss.

12 p.m.

After viewing one of the country’s most famous royal traditions, it’s time to take in its political and religious icons. Only a 15-minute walk from Buckingham Palace down Birdcage Walk and right on Abingdon Street is Westminster Abbey, Parliament and of course, Big Ben. (Fun fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell in the tower.) All these attractions are worth a proper visit and tour, but since we’re on a tight time and money budget, a walk around the area and a few photos will suffice.

Marked on this map is all the stops mentioned above in order from A to F.

1 p.m.

One thing you’ll notice about travel in London is that almost everything you do is a cultural, even public transit. Instead of taking the tube again, let’s grab one of England’s red double-decker buses and travel from London’s political Westminster to its old-world and artistic South Bank.

The route will be from where we left off in the Westminster area (ex. Westminster Station) to Borough Market. To avoid getting too technical now, we’ll leave planning of this route up to you on the day and hour you choose to take it. There are a few options available and you can always plan your journey online.

Photo by Danny McLaughlin (Flikr)

Borough Market is not only a great foodie experience, but a serious historical experience. A food market in the Borough area dates back as far as 1014. The current market location on Borough High Street near London Bridge has been there since the 13th Century.

It really feels like you’re visiting another century when walking through the packed market. Traders from all over go there to sell an array of goodies from specialty meats to artisan breads. The market has so much to offer and the best thing about it: free samples! You could literally fill yourself with food just sampling the goods here, but the market also sells affordable food and drinks.

The only drawback is that this place isn’t 24 hours. Closed on Sundays, only open for lunch Monday to Wednesday and offering the full market Thursday to Saturday. Check their website before visiting for updates times and events.

You could spend your whole day as well as all your money here. But since time and money are of the essence, we’re going to say £10 is enough for a decent lunch in the area, whether you buy a savory pie and coffee or a baguette and dips.

Total for the day: £24

2:30 p.m.

South Bank offers two parallels in arts and entertainment. Dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries people can learn about one of the country’s greatest writers by visiting Shakespeare’s Globe. Not far away, people can view some of the country’s most recent treasured masterpieces at the Tate Modern.

While this is a reconstructed version of Shakespeare’s Globe, the real one was located nearby and you can see an outline of its layout there, it will give you an idea of what it was like to be in London during the English Renaissance. The theater is still very active. It features several Shakespearean plays a year as well as tours. Unfortunately, both these things are costly so a quick look around is all for now.

Photo of the Globe by Stephskimo (Flikr)

However, our next stop, Tate Modern, is free. The museum features modern and contemporary art from 1900 to today, including works by Damien Hirst, Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse. Plus, the gallery is always featuring new, exciting and even playful exhibitions. This massive building once hosted three massive silver slides by Carsten Holler, as high as 5 story’s. Now that’s art I think everyone will enjoy. Check their website before visiting to find out what’s on now, or just be surprised upon arrival.

If the modern and contemporary art isn’t your cup of tea, the city has a plethora of museums to visit, most of which are free to enter.

To reach the Shakespeare’s Globe from Borough Market (Southwark/Borough High Street), head northwest on Bedale Street, this becomes Cathedral Street (slight right) and than Winchester Square (slight left). Turn right toward Clink Street and left onto Clink Street. Turn right onto Bank End which becomes Bankside with a left at the Thames. Continue straight until you reach the theater on your left.

Tate Modern is pretty much next door. Continue on Bankside to The Queen’s Walk and you’ll see the museum located in an old power station to the left.

The route from Borough Market to Shakespeare’s Globe. Tate Modern is next door.

Total for the day: £24

4:30 p.m.

Complete your tour of South Bank with a stroll across the Tower Bridge. You might want to call it London Bridge, but the one we’re looking for is called Tower Bridge. Built in 1894, this is the city’s most symbolic bridge, which will feature the five-colored rings on it throughout the Olympic games. While walking across check out the Thames even have a look at the Tower of London when you reach the other side.

Check out this tour by London Toolkit. For this section of our tour take the route from marker 14 (Tate Modern) to the Tower Hill Tube Station.

The walk above provided by London Toolkit offers the most scenic route which will keep you along the Thames as much as possible. Follow markers 14 (Tate Modern) to Tower Hill Station across the Thames. From Tower Hill take the Tube back to your accommodation for a quick rest and shower to get ready for the night.

7 p.m.

While there is much debate over what is England’s national dish these days, chicken tikka masala is definitely a national favorite. For this reason, instead of heading to a chippy for fish and chips or a pub for bangers and mash (you’ll have plenty of chances to do both while in London), you’ll be heading to Brick Lane for curry.

While so much of London is idyllically British, these days the city offers strong influences from all over the world, including Asia. You can sample an array of curries here and for a bargain, literally. Shop workers stand outside their restaurants throwing out deals to passer-bys.

“Free poppadoms.”

“I’ll throw in a bottle of wine.”

Test your haggling skills before sitting down for a serious feast.

We’re going to recommend spending about £20 here for food and drink, maybe less. Regardless, you’ll have enough for a pint at a bar on Brick Lane or at one of the many pubs you passed by during this day of touring London. No recommendations for this item on the agenda. London has plenty of pubs to offer. Whether it be the classic pub look or people singing inside, one is sure to lure you in.

To reach Brick Lane in East London, take the tube to Aldgate East Station. Exit on Whitechapel High Street and head northeast toward Commercial Street. Take a right at Osborn Street, which turns into Brick Lane.

Hope you enjoyed this one-day tour of London. Note that this is only scratching the surface of the British city. There is so much left to see, taste and drink, of course. You might have to stay much longer than just the Olympics.

This photo of Tower Bridge decorated for the 2012 Olympics is by roger.w800 (Flikr)

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10 photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s travels

Online Goodies, Other

10 photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s travels

3 Comments 03 June 2012

Visit anywhere in the world and it’s almost a guarantee that the people there will know of Queen Elizabeth II. The  most recognizable face on earth, which has been used on 33 different foreign currencies, the Queen of England isn’t just known everywhere, she’s also visited just about everywhere.

As people around the world celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend-a 60-year reign-I’m more interested in her travels around the world. And boy has she traveled. Wikipedia has compiled a list of all Queen Elizabeth’s travels, which includes Australia, Canada, Thailand and more.

To celebrate 60 years of Queenship-Heels and Wheels is looking back on Queen Liz’s 60 years of travel. 

India (1961)

The Queen visited the sub continent of India to meet Indira Gandhi, visit the presidential palace and even ride an elephant. The Old Indian Photos has compiled several Life photos of her visit, including the one featured below.

OldIndianPhotos.in.

New Zealand (1958)

Visiting this tiny Commonwealth country more than once, on this trip the Queen visited Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine-producing region. Below you can see her giving a speech in Blenheim.

HistoryPin.com

Nigeria (1956)

Fulfilling military duties in white gloves?

Only Liz could pull that off. In this photo she inspects the Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment during a Commonwealth tour, which included the African country.

TrendCouncil.Wordpress.com

Australia (2011)

While the land down under may laugh at POME’s (prisoners of mother England), they always welcome the Queen who has visited the country several times during her reign. Here she meets one of the Australia’s most recognizable figures, a koala, in Brisbane.

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

South Africa (1947)

It was only a few weeks ago that people were celebrating the Queen’s 86th birthday. But how did she celebrate her 21st? In South Africa of course! She was still a princess then, but here she is at Natal National Park.

AZStarNet.com

Canada (2010)

Sporting red attire for Canada Day, Queen Elizabeth visited the country for eight days two years ago. Still standing out amongst a sea of red, she inspects the guards outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

TheStar.com

USA (2007)

While the US is not a part of the Commonwealth, it was originally an English settlement. The Queen visited the country in 2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. At the end of her trip this photo was captured of her at Andrews Air Force Base boarding a plane back to England.

Time.com

China (1986)

While Queen Elizabeth travels a lot different than most people, she still visits major tourist attractions. Here she is at the Great Wall of China with Prince Phillip.

TNRCommunications.co.uk

Thailand (1996)

While 60 years may be a long monarchy, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has the British Queen beat by six years. The Queen visited Thailand to celebrate the king’s 50th anniversary in 1996.

TheTelegraph.co.uk

England (1960)

When home is Buckingham Palace, there really is no place like it. Here she is riding out of her palace.

MySanAntonio.com

And what about the cover photo?

Queen Elizabeth has been in motion since the first day of her reign. In this photo from Jaunted, she steps off her British Oversea Airways Corporation (now known as British Airways) plane from Kenya at London-Heathrow Airport. On February 7, 1952, a day after King George VI, Elizabeth’s father, died, the princess was proclaimed Queen.

Since her coronation ceremony, the official crowning, did not take place until June 2 of that year, the Jubilee is not celebrated until then.

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Indie 30 #11 Feast: Harrods Food Court

Online Goodies, Other

Indie 30 #11 Feast: Harrods Food Court

No Comments 12 November 2011

(This post is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel series. All are welcome to join.)

This story is actually a little bit embarrassing.

While studying abroad in London in 2007, I gained about 20 lbs and a few more backpacking Europe for three months after.

Damn you Italy.

The UK is well-known for its sweets and in me, the country met its match. I ate just about everything this country had to offer; Tesco cookies, tiny triangular sandwiches at high tea, sausages from illegal vendors that only come out at night and of course Cadbury everything.

But on one fine day in London, all my dreams came true on a personal food tour of Harrods. My friend, who shall remain nameless because I’m not sure he wants to suffer the embarrassment, and I sampled just about everything the upscale department store had to offer; truffles, pralines, expensive deli meats, even a few Krispy Cream Donuts. To top it off we shared a massive banana split at the Ice Cream Parlour at Harrods.

Our eating frenzy continued for a few more stores after Harrods as we made our way home. But it came to a sad end at the lifts in our residency. We hopped on the lift with just a couple other people, the norm, but unlike usual, this time the lift didn’t budge.

We were over capacity.

So with our heads down in shame over how far our fat kid dreams had gone, we hopped off.

It was time to start using the stairs… 

Photo via www.skyscrapercity.com.

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The Reader Love Challenge

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The Reader Love Challenge

7 Comments 05 September 2011

I love going on Google Analytics and checking out where my readers are coming from. It feels like I’m not only visiting the world, but the world is visiting me, which makes me quite happy when I;m not on the road.
So when I saw Waegook Tom’s #ReaderLove Challenge on Twitter, I had to write something. I’m so appreciative to anyone who has clicked to my blog for even seconds. I love writing about my travels and to see people’s responses to that makes me smile.
So thank you to my readers all over the world. Here are the top ten countries you all come from and what I like about them!
10. Germany
Ich bin Berliner! I visited the country for a few weeks almost five years ago now. After all the years and all the new destinations, Berlin remains one of my favorite cities in the world.
When I was there I felt like I was in Paris when modern art was just starting out. Berlin is a very edgy city. Between it’s dark past, represented by remnants of the Berlin Wall, and it’s colorful future, represented by its art scene and graffiti.
I visited _____ when I was there and hung out in a rocket ship, then chatted with local artists in residence. Only in Berlin.
9. Singapore
I almost visited you on my recent trip to SE Asia, but didn’t because I heard it was quite expensive and my bank account was already pretty low.
I have to admit that I was a bit weary about visiting Singapore after hearing from someone that they give you a book of rules upon arrival, that includes things like ‘No chewing gum!’. Later my Uncle told me ‘it was the cleanest place he’d ever been and a gorgeous city’, so my apprehensions disappeared.
I now constantly hear what an amazing city Singapore is and hope to visit one day soon. I’d like to see ________.
8. Thailand
I, and I think the all backpackers, can’t say enough good things about Thailand. What an absolutely amazing place!
For starters-Bangkok was not what I expected. I have to admit I expected the seedy city constantly portrayed in the movies. But I visited and not even choosing to stay away from anything seedy, I saw nothing of the sort. But I did see ____, ____ and Koh San Road. All of which were special in their own ways.
I spent six weeks traveling the country, island-hopping, partying, swimming and eating…A lot!
Since I’ve seen quite a bit of the country, I’ll mention _____, a place I didn’t have time to visit, but would like to on my next visit to the country, and trust me, there will be a next visit.
7. Philippines
Growing up I knew so many people from the Philippines, but never thought of visiting. Then I met a dive instructor in Australia who said, “You MUST go!” He wasn’t kidding.
I was only suppose to visit the country for two weeks or so, but ended up staying for over two months. I saw whalesharks in Donsol, made family in Cebu City and earned my divemaster on Malapascua.
There are plenty of more places I wanted to visit, but didn’t. On the top of the list is Palawan, completely untouched and completely gorgeous. I will be back and I’ll even eat balut again.
6. India
My dream destination. A close friend and I have been talking about visiting India for years and have set 2013 as our year to do it.
Why is India the number one country I want to visit?
The food, the culture, the colors, the yoga, the Taj Mahal, the Goa!
Why have I not been there yet?
I wasn’t ready and still don’t think I am.
Anyone I’ve talked to who has ever been there, either loved it or hated it. Regardless, it changed them. I think India is as distant a culture to me as there is and that’s why I love it and want to go. But I want to love it. So I’ve decided to build my view of the world up before. But trust me I will get there.
Most people have told me to spend at least three months visiting. So during those three months, I hope to see it all then retreat to an Ashram in ____.
5. New Zealand
My new homeland. I have to admit that I never actually thought of visiting your country. After seeing the changing landscapes on my drive from Queenstown to Blenheim, I have no idea why.
I’ll be bold and say that New Zealand IS the most beautiful country I’ve ever been too, hands down. I’ve seen some lookers, but never in my life have I said, “Wow, look at the scenery,” more times and in New Zealand.
Now living in Wellington, I can also say that New Zealand is one of my top ten destinations. As small as Wellington is, it packs so much culture. The city has so much art, sport, coffee and MUSIC! There must be a possibility of at least ten gigs in the city per night.
I live close to and work on Cuba Street, which has the most amazing vibe I’ve ever felt in any city. The kindness of the people living here will make you feel like you’re in a small town, but everything the city has to offer is that of a world-class city.
I love this country more each day and can’t wait to travel around it.
4. Canada
America’s hat! I never really thought much into Canada until I started traveling. I hate to admit it, but amongst the world, they are easily the cooler ones in North America. People love Canadians and so do I. Every Canadian I’ve met has been laid back and great to party with.
I love you all, even though most of you get offended when you’re mistaken for Americans.
After meeting so many Canadians and learning about the country, I’m started to plan a long-term visit for after New Zealand. My first stop is Vancouver.
3. United Kingdom
I’m assuming most of my readers from here are because of Ric, a true Bollingtonian. But I want to send as personal thank you to the first country I lived in outside the United States and all it has to offer.
I became obsessed with London when I studied there in 2007. The city is so classy, so beautiful and so magical. Whenever I thought I had the whole city figured out, I’d find a new alley way full of restaurants or get off at the wrong tube stop and be completely lost in a new place all over again.
I spent many nights tramping around London with uni friends and had some of the best nights of my life, which usually ended in eating multiple hot dogs from illegal vendors.
I saw one side of the country living there and a completely other living with people from the UK in Australia. For starters, not everyone sounds like Hugh Grant. I can’t believe how many accents you have going on there. Given I’ve fallen in love with a Northerner, the Manchester accent is my favorite but I also can’t get enough skowser, especially when spoken by Stevey G.
I’ve only spent a short amount of time visiting Ireland and Scotland, but the time was packed with some amazing experiences and breathtaking sights.
So cheers to the UK for reading, all you have to offer, but most importantly for creating Hurricane Ric!
2. Australia
For starters, the country is stunning. You have rainforest, amazing beaches, great cities, great diving and so much more.
Past the beauty, what an amazing place to live. I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with the fact that you still have all your natural resources to provide money and jobs, but your lifestyle is the best in the world.
It seems that most people live comfortably in Australia. School is free, even university until students make a certain amount of earnings, the healthcare system is fantastic and wages are ridiculously high. Sure the cost of living is a bit high, but it all works out in the people’s favor I think.
Melbourne won most livable city in the world, again, this year and I understand why.
I spent one of the best years of my life in Oz and am so thankful for the work holiday visa. I saw some incredible things and met even more incredible people.
I love Australia.
My favorite stop on my journey around the country is Port Douglas. But I missed the entire West Coast, which I regret and really hope to see one day.
1. United States
My homeland.
I’d say half my visitors from here are family and close friends. I very special thanks to you guys for still loving me when I’m a million miles away. Another thank you to my fellow citizens who follow this blog.
Living 22 years in the States, it’s obviously the one I know most, but is actually one I’ve traveled least. My favorite place in the USA will always be Florida. Despite all the state’s voting problems, it was the first place I ever vacationed to, which I think started my love of travel. St. Augustine, Key West, Miami, South Beach-you’re all beautiful.
I never really wanted to travel the States, because I take the country for granted, which I think a lot of people do with their homeland. But the more and more time I spend talking with people who have visiting and traveled around my country, the more I like the idea of buying a winnebago and hitting each state, especially Montana. This may sound weird, but I want to breath your air.

I love checking Google Analytics to see where my readers are coming from. It feels like I’m not only visiting the world, but the world is visiting me, which is especially special when I’m not on the road.

So when I saw Waegook Tom’s #ReaderLove Challenge on Twitter, I had to write something. I’m so appreciative to anyone who has clicked to my blog for even seconds. Being able to share my experiences is amazing to me, but to see people respond is extraordinary.

So thank you to my readers all over the world. Here are the top ten countries you all come from and what I like about those places.

10. Germany

Ich bin ein Berliner!

I visited the country for a few weeks almost five years ago now. After all the years and all the new destinations, Berlin remains one of my favorite cities in the world.

It seemed like what I imagine Paris was like when modern art was just starting out. Berlin is a very edgy city. Between it’s dark past, represented by remnants of the Berlin Wall, and it’s colorful future, represented by its art scene and graffiti.

My favorite find on the trip was Tacheles, an abandoned mall that artists took over in the 90s. People can walk though the artists residency, view work and meet the creators. The spot also has a bar on the ground floor with a rocket ship for people to sit in. Only in Berlin.

Photo by Joe Dunckley on Flikr

Photo of Tacheles by Joe Dunckley on Flikr

9. Singapore

I almost visited you on my recent trip to SE Asia, but didn’t because I heard it was quite expensive and my bank account was already pretty low.

I have to admit that I was a bit weary about visiting Singapore after hearing from someone that they give you a book of rules upon arrival, that includes things like ‘No chewing gum!’. Later my Uncle told me it was the cleanest place he’d ever been and a gorgeous city, so my apprehensions disappeared.

I now constantly hear what an amazing city Singapore is and hope to visit one day soon. I’d like to swim in the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands.

8. Thailand

I, and I think all backpackers, can’t say enough good things about Thailand. What an absolutely amazing place!

For starters-Bangkok was not what I expected. I have to admit I thought it would be exactly like the seedy city constantly portrayed in the movies. But not even choosing to stay away from anything seedy, I saw nothing of the sort. However, I did see Wat Pho, the Grand Palace and Khao San Road. All of which were special in their own ways.

I spent six weeks traveling the country, island-hopping, partying, swimming and eating…a lot!

Since I’ve seen quite a bit of the country, I’ll mention Koh Lanta, a place I didn’t have time to visit, but would like to on my next visit to the country, and trust me, there will be a next visit.

Photo of Bamboo Island near Ko Phi Phi by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo of Bamboo Island near Ko Phi Phi by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

7. Philippines

Growing up I knew so many people from the Philippines, but never thought of visiting. Then I met a dive instructor in Australia who said, “You MUST go!”

He wasn’t kidding.

I was only suppose to visit the country for two weeks or so, but ended up staying for over two months. I saw whalesharks in Donsol, made family in Cebu City and earned my divemaster on Malapascua.

There are plenty of more places I wanted to visit, but didn’t. On the top of the list is Palawan, completely untouched and completely gorgeous. I will be back and I’ll even eat balut again.

Photo of Malapascua

Photo of Malapascua by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

6. India

My dream destination. A close friend and I have been talking about visiting India for years and have set 2013 as our year to go.

Why is India the number one country I want to visit?

The food, the culture, the colors, the yoga, the Taj Mahal, the Goa!

Why have I not been there yet?

I wasn’t ready and still don’t think I am.

Anyone I’ve talked to who has ever been, either loved it or hated it. Regardless, it changed them. I think India is as distant a culture to me as there is and that’s why I love it and want to go. But I want to love it. So I’ve decided to build my view of the world up before. But trust me I will get there.

Most people have told me to spend at least three months visiting. So during those three months, I hope to see it all then retreat to an Ashram in Rajasthan.

5. New Zealand

My new homeland. I have to admit that I never actually thought of visiting your country. After seeing the changing landscapes on my drive from Queenstown to Blenheim, I have no idea why.

I’ll be bold and say that New Zealand IS the most beautiful country I’ve ever been too, hands down. I’ve seen some lookers, but never in my life have I said, “Wow, look at the scenery,” more times and in New Zealand.

Now living in Wellington, I can also say that New Zealand has my favorite city in the world. As small as Wellington is, it packs so much culture. The city has so much art, sport, coffee and MUSIC! There must be a possibility of at least ten gigs in the city per night.

I live close to and work on Cuba Street, which has the most amazing vibe I’ve ever felt in any city. The kindness of the people living here will make you feel like you’re in a small town, but everything the city has to offer is that of a world-class city.

I love this country more each day and can’t wait to travel around it.

Waking up to snow in Queenstown, NZ. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Waking up to snow in Queenstown, NZ. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

4. Canada

America’s hat!

I never really thought much into Canada until I started traveling. I hate to admit it, but amongst the world, they are easily the cooler ones in North America. People love Canadians and so do I. Every Canadian I’ve met has been laid back and great to party with.

I love you all, even though most of you get offended when you’re mistaken for Americans.

After meeting so many Canadians and learning about the country, I’m started to plan a long-term visit for after New Zealand. My first stop is Vancouver.

3. United Kingdom

I’m assuming most of my readers from here are because of Ric, a true Bollingtonian. But I want to send as personal thank you to the first country I lived in outside the United States and all it has to offer.

I became obsessed with London when I studied there in 2007. The city is so classy, so beautiful and so magical. Whenever I thought I had the whole city figured out, I’d find a new alley full of restaurants or get off at the wrong tube stop and be completely lost in a new place all over again.

I spent many nights tramping around London with Uni friends and had some of the best nights of my life, which usually ended in eating multiple hot dogs from illegal vendors.

I saw one side of the country living there and a completely different side living with people from the UK in Australia. For starters, not everyone sounds like Hugh Grant. I can’t believe how many accents you have going on there. Given I’ve fallen in love with a Northerner, the Manchester accent is my favorite but I also can’t get enough skowser, especially when spoken by Stevey G.

I’ve only spent a short amount of time visiting Ireland and Scotland, but the time was packed with some amazing experiences and breathtaking sights.

So cheers to the UK for reading, all you have to offer, but most importantly for creating my Ric!

2. Australia

For starters, the country is stunning. You have rainforest, amazing beaches, great cities, great diving and so much more.

Past the beauty, what an amazing place to live. I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with the fact that you still have all your natural resources to provide money and jobs, but your lifestyle is the best in the world.

It seems that most people live comfortably in Australia. School is free, even university until students make a certain amount of earnings, the healthcare system is fantastic and wages are ridiculously high. Sure the cost of living is a bit high, but it all works out in the people’s favor I think.

Melbourne won most livable city in the world this year and I understand why.

I spent one of the best years of my life in Oz and am so thankful for the work holiday visa. I saw some incredible things and met even more incredible people.

I love Australia.

My favorite stop on my journey around the country is Port Douglas. But I missed the entire West Coast, which I regret and really hope to see one day.

1. United States

My homeland.

I’d say half my visitors from here are family and close friends. I very special thanks to you guys for still loving me when I’m a million miles away. Another thank you to my fellow citizens who follow this blog.

Living 22 years in the States, it’s obviously the one I know most, but is actually one I’ve traveled least. My favorite place in the USA will always be Florida. Despite all the state’s voting problems, it was the first place I ever vacationed to, which I think started my love of travel. St. Augustine, Key West, Miami, South Beach-you’re all beautiful.

I never really wanted to travel the States, because I take the country for granted, which I think a lot of people do with their homeland. But the more time I spend talking with people who have traveled around my country, the more I like the idea of buying a winnebago and hitting each state, especially Montana. This may sound weird, but I want to breath your air.

You’re turn

Take the #readerlove challenge and give your readers a big shout out on your blog. Write about the top ten countries where your readers come from and reason to visit that place. Leave the link on Waegook Tom’s reader love post then post the story on Twitter with the hashtag #readerlove.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)



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