Thursday, July 24, 2014

Travel like you're 30- some pictures from the UK

Right about this time last summer, I went for a run one sweltering afternoon. I wanted to go for a run because I felt lazy. I felt lazy because I had spent the afternoon watching Le Tour de France with Robin and Preston. I was amazed by how hard the cyclists worked- riding five hours or more nearly every day for three weeks, up treacherous mountains and then down serpentine roads at break-neck speed. It was the first time I'd ever really watched the Tour. I'd always heard about it, but never had really known a cycling enthusiast who could explain it to me. Thanks to Preston and Robin, I developed not only an understanding, but a sort of reverence for the intense athletic achievement that is the Tour de France and for the cyclists who brave the trip around France each summer. I was inspired, but not to become like them- road biking is not this soccer player's all time favorite exercise- but to be active, to be adventurous, to be... in Europe. ;) So it was on this run that I had the hair-brained idea that I should go to Europe next summer and see the Tour de France. And I knew that Robin was just hair-brained enough to go with me. ;) It didn't take much convincing. Robin has adventure in her blood and wanderlust in her eye, she was on board right away. My sweet husband, though a mite jealous of my freedom to travel in the summer, is too good to me to give me anymore than an 'atta girl when it comes to my adventure-seeking. So we bought tickets in the fall, found two other travel partners- Nicole and Chandler- and this July 2nd we were on our way. 

I've recorded a few things from our three week journey on camera. I'm not the best photographer. I struggle with the dynamic between living life and capturing it. A shutter-bug I will never be. But, I did at least try to capture some of the moments to share. So, here some are. These are all from the UK. I'll post more entries from the cities we visited in France and Spain. The funny thing about it is, none of my favorite memories were caught on camera. So I'll just have to figure out a way to tell you. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this writer is dubious- words still suit me just fine. 

Flowers at Covent Garden Market 

Trafalgar Square- which turned into the Tour de France officially fan headquarters a few days later. The energy in the square on the day the Tour came into London was pleasantly intense. I think Brits are too polite to get really, really excited. 

One of my favorite memories came after I took this shot, when the rider told his horse, who was snorting and high-stepping- to "behave."

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey- which we did not go into. Three weeks in Europe is expensive, so I didn't re-do many of the things that I did when I went to Europe with my family ten years ago. 


At King's Cross Station- of Harry Potter Fame. Which brings up another favorite memory, one not caught on camera. On our train back from Yorkshire, Robin and I sat in seats just in front of a most gentle father, who read the third Harry Potter to his son aloud. It was purely magical listening to this patient dad answer his son's questions and bring the story to life as we chugged through the English countryside- all in that magical accent. 

View from Primrose Hill

Restoration of original meadow landscape project in Regent's Park 

I had to visit Worrell House, my brother's old stomping grounds from his time studying abroad a decade ago. 

Worrell House

Beautiful stroll through Regent's Park to get back to Central London 

In Leeds, the morning of the Grand Depart for the Tour de France- crowded, chaotic, charming. :) 

Here they come- their first mile of the 2014 Tour de France

I loved these knit jerseys in a shop window in Leeds. So cute and festive. 

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St. Paul's Cathedral- another favorite memory is connected with this church. While we were on Primrose Hill, a nanny was telling the little girl she looked after about some of the sites in the distance. When she pointed to St. Paul's, she told the little girl that Princess Diana got married there. The little girl, who was probably around four, said, "I know her!" but then asked dozens of questions about Princess Diana's life and her tragic death. Her response, "That's so sad. She was a real princess." 

Aspen tree grove in front of the Tate Modern. I went into the Tate and saw my first real Salvador Dali. 

The Millenium Bridge which connects the old to the new, spanning across the Thames from St. Paul's to the Tate Modern. 

I loved the details of this gate near the Globe Theater. 

The Tower Bridge

I loved this hidden pop of vibrant color. 

The pictures above were all from a shop called Thomas Farthing, which sold reasonably priced, good quality men's clothing- all with a sort of turn-of-the-century twist. I loved it! And wished that my dad, Grant and Andy were all there with me. I did purchase a gift, though. ;) 

At the British Museum

Ceiling at the British Museum

This fossil is catalogued as something like 4 million years old. And they let me hold it! 

Easter Island

The Rosetta Stone, which is impossible to take a good picture of. 

Wedgewood China was designed after this vase . 

A copy of the Rosetta Stone- easier to take pictures of. :) 

The interesting architecture inside the British Museum. 

Me holding a denarius. 

And now, the Tour de France arrives in London. 

I was about 300m from the finish line. 

Giant screens set up to catch the day's stage. 

I didn't take pictures of the cyclists coming in. I got video, and then, to my dismay, accidentally deleted the best one I got. But, it is one of those things that I'll keep in my memory. The speed of them coming down that last stretch, after rounding the curve just in front of Buckingham Palace- it was really a thrill. 

I stumbled upon the awards ceremony for the first stage and snapped a few shots. Lots of people. 

Reformer's Tree- a memorial to the real tree where members of the Protestant Reformation met to share information with one another- the real tree was burned down. 

I got to run through Hyde Park the morning that the Tour came through London. Robin and I woke up early- I think it was like 6AM when we arrived at the Mall, where the Tour would ride through later that afternoon. It was nearly deserted that morning, mostly just French workers preparing for the Tour. After we scoped out the scene that would be filled with excitement later in the day, I went for a run in Hyde Park. It was my favorite run of the trip- crisp, green, quiet. I went back the next morning with my camera, but it doesn't do it justice. 


I can't get enough of English rose gardens. I'd spend hours in one if I could stand to sit still that long. ;) 

One quick, and not very good, snapshot of Leicester Square was all we had time for. Train to France was leaving at 2. 

Robin in the right corner. 

We loved this advice that was hanging in the entry of our hostel. Travel like you're 30- why not? 

This blue door was the entrance to our cozy little hostel - the Astor Museum Inn. It was a great intro to hostel life. Friendly staff, clean accommodations, quiet neighborhood across the street from the British Museum. I would definitely recommend to anyone thinking of doing the hostel thing. 


  1. It sounds like you had a great adventure! Love travelling vicariously with you. Julie

  2. I so enjoyed traveling with you. I loved England. Most of all I loved the flowers. Architecture was next. Keep up the good work for those who are stuck at home. However, I am going on an Amsterdam Viking cruise in March. We are blessed!