Monday, July 29, 2013

europe collages 6 to 9

Collage #6 - Here and There in London:

   These are photos from "around town". While we wanted to see all the iconic buildings and places I didn't want to spend our limited amount of time taking individual tours so we did a hop on hop off bus tour, one of the best ways to see everything in a general overview type of way. When we wanted to spend more time it was easy to do. We would get off at a stop, visit the "spot", go back to the bus stop, jump on another bus and continue on our way. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy! 
     Our first day in London was all about the first thing we each want to do. Mine was seeing the Palace Guards - I know a little corny, but for me that said I was really in London. When it was MsL's turn she looks at me and says " We've been in the UK for 4 days and I still haven't had fish and chips!" Off we went for lunch. Out of the 4 of us I'm the only one who ordered vegetarian fish and chips (that's exactly how it is listed on the menu). I'm expecting battered fried veggies - not the healthiest but Hey! when in London... I get my meal and it's 4 very large fried cheese balls! The last time I checked cheese was dairy not a vegetable. 
   Collage #7 The British Museum

   Ms.E (my friends daughter) and Ms.L wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, it was created in 196 BC and it was the essential key to modern understanding of Ancient Egyptian literature and civilization. We didn't go through all the galleries, we only had an hour before the museum was closing but we did a quick tour through Ancient Egypt, The Middle East, Ancient Greece and Rome,  Hoa Hakananai'a statue from Easter Island. If you ever go to London be sure to visit the museum, it was amazing.

Collage #8 - Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theater, London

   SB suggested we see the play Wicked, she and Ms.E had seen it in February and had a fun evening. We got there early so we could pop into the bar before it got crowded for a drink. Ms.E really wanted to go, she was a little disappointed because the cauldron behind the bar was suppose to have dry ice in it but I guess someone forgot. No matter... she and I had the same drink called The Yellow Brick Road. These were all the photo's Ms.L and I took, I wanted to get a couple during the performance but between the usher who kept standing near us and Ms.L giving me a hard time about it I put the camera away and enjoyed the play.
Collage #9 - Wicked the play

   First I have to say that I created this collage using production stills that I found on the Apollo Theater website. Going to the play was so much fun. I've read the book and have to say that the play does a good job of following the story line (even if the ending is a little happier). My favorite part is when the main character Elphaba is born, you see the mother in labor then out "pops" a bright green baby! Now I need to find myself a bald baby doll that I can paint.
Chris =]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

europe photo collages 1 to 5

   With over 2000 photos, the easiest way to show off our trip is through photo collages (and I just upgraded my picmonkey account so I get to play with all the collage layouts). Ready?...

Collage #1 - Cardiff Castle and the Animal Wall, Cardiff, Wales

  Actually we didn't see the castle proper so much as the South Wall, the Clock Tower and the Main Range. MsL. and I decided to use the price of admission to the castle for afternoon tea instead. The area where the castle is had been used as a defensive location since the 1st Century, while the actual castle was built starting in the 11th Century. My favorite part is the Animal Wall, the first nine animals were built in 1890 while the last six were added in 1931. The detail on the animals is amazing and something about the eyes makes them look almost real.

Collage #2 - Bute Park and the Pettigrew Tea Rooms, Cardiff, Wales

   Bute Park is 130 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and parkland that once formed the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Everything is so lush and GREEN. There were huge groves of trees, one section was different maples, another section was oaks, evergreen conifers, cypress, gingko, rowans, japanese maples the list is amazingly long. When a tree dies it's turned into a piece of art right where it grew. The tea room is this quaint, cozy, fun little place in the park to have a light lunch and a slice of home made cake. We had Blue Sky Green Tea with real rose petals and blue mallow blossoms - Delish!! The carrot cake was no slouch either.   
Collage #3 - Formal Afternoon Tea the Park Lounge at the Milestone Hotel, Kensington, London
   This one the one thing I wanted to do no matter what. I spent days online researching tea rooms until I found the exact ambiance I was looking for, everything was perfect from the doorman to the fancy conservatory to the French waiter - the best, completely unplanned part? it was within walking distance of our hotel. Everything was traditional English Afternoon Tea, fancy finger sandwiches - I'm glad we don't have grainary bread here or I'd be back to eating carbs, assorted yummy pastries - there was a custard with a crumble topping that was heavenly! (I know, I have a thing for the desserts), assorted flavored scones with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade preserves and a pot of tea - I had Traditional English, MsL. had White Silver Tips, and S&E had Black Currant and Lavender all were very tasty. Luckily we walked because we needed the exercise afterwards.      
Collage #4 - Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff, Wales
    I know I've blathered on about how much fun we had and how it was worth the extra three days so I'll just show a few photos... But, it was Awesome!

Collage #5 -  Household Calvary Mounted Regiment - Horse Guards, Whitehall, London

   The  Household Calvary Mounted Regiment (HCMR) is horsed and carries out mounted and some dismounted ceremonial duties on State and Royal occasions or whenever required by the Monarch. They are divided into two regiments The Life Guards (in the red uniform) and The Blue and Royals. Don't let the fact that since most of their job is ceremonial that it isn't an honor to be chosen.  The Guards had to keep control of their horse on a street filled with vehicles and strange people wandering about. There is a sign that says "Caution horses may bite or kick".
Update 7/23/2013:
The following is from my friend Sacha, she knows lots of interesting tidbits.
 The Guards: they are hard core, definitely not to be messed with. The horses are fully battle-trained (not that there are many mounted battles these days!) and the Guards' training equals any elite military force.
Chris =]

Monday, July 15, 2013

i'm baacckkkk!!!

   Getting home was a little hard, whatever could go wrong did go wrong. A little perseverance and a sleepover in Phoenix, but we made it!!  I won't bore you with tales and endless photos (between MsL and I we took over 2000) ... okay maybe a couple photos.

  This is the photo where I proudly show how much of a nerd we are. I added three days to our trip so we could spend them in Cardiff, Wales at the Dr. Who Experience. Totally worth it! We even made a friend while standing in line, his name is Martin and he's from Australia.
   Did you know that museums are free in London?! We popped into the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone along with the Lion of Knidos a 4th Century Greek Statute and an Easter Island Figure to name a few.  MsL and I like going to museums but rarely go, we need to change that.
    Did you also know that Big Ben is the most famous landmark you can't see!? It's not the clock but the bells.

    We couldn't go to London and not visit 221B Baker Street. Everyone there was dressed in period clothes and the rooms look like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described them in his books.
   Before we left London we had to go for Afternoon Tea. I found the perfect place, The Park Lounge at The Milestone Hotel across the street from Kesington Gardens. It was everything tea is suppose to be then we were off to see the play Wicked. So much fun.
Chris =]