« TravelBlog: Europe - part 1 | Main | TravelBlog: Europe - part 3 »

June 12, 2002

TravelBlog: Europe - part 2

This is the second of nine letters I wrote to friends and family during a two-month solo trip backpacking through Europe in 2002, a year after I graduated from Haverford College. The photos for this and other entries are on my flickr stream.


Hello again!

When you last left me, I was in Edinburgh. I've since moved on to London and stayed in two more hostels (both YHA run - for those of you that don't know, the Youth Hostel Association is an organization that runs a large number of hostels all over the world. What's special about them is that they all adhere to a certain 'standard' of facilities, and you can only stay there if you're a member of the YHA). London is definitely one of my favorite cities in the world, tied with Paris and NYC, I believe. The London public transportation system is far and away the best I've experienced too - even the busses are great!

My first day in London (a Saturday) began with a walking-tour of the downtown area near the Thames River. I managed to get to the Globe Theatre box office before it closed and purchased a £5 'yard' ticket (i.e. where the peasantry would stand for the show (yes, stand)) for Tuesday night's performance of Twelfth Night. I'd never seen or read that particular play, so I was very much looking forward to it. On my last trip through London (about 5 years ago), I saw a Midsummer's Night Dream there, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As I was strolling along the Queen's Walkway (the path that follows the south side of the Thames), I noted things like the London Eye (big ferris-wheel thing), St. Paul's, the Tate Modern Museum (which now inhabits a converted, former mid-20th century powerstation), the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, etc. Had a nice person take my photo with Big Ben in the background, and then walked up toward Trafalgar Square, Leciester (pronounced 'Lester') Square and finally Piccadilly Circus.

The next few days I spent lots of time in museums. I saw this fabulous exhibit in the Tate Modern on Picasso and Matisse. I had no idea that they had such an interesting relationship. The exhibit also presented their works both chronologically, and paired works that were related to each other in terms of style, meaning and how they were significant to each other (for instance, some of Picasso's paintings served to prompt Matisse to incorporate certain aspects of the Cubist style). Very interesting. The British Museum was an interesting place, as well. I saw the Rosetta Stone, the Sutton Hoo burial mound (which I realized I'd seen once before when my mother had taken me to the British Museum when I was very young - one of my distinct memories associated with the exhibit were these shooting pains in my (little) legs that were tired from walking slowly and methodically around a museum, rather than the running/playing they were used to!). The National Portrait Gallery had a special exhibit on Baroque artists that worked in Genoa, which was pretty good. I realized as I was walking about the Gallery that my endurance for museums was diminishing a little, after having spent the better part of three days on them. I persevered though :) One of the best thing about the National Gallery were the school groups - what seemed to be young people who worked for the Gallery sat with groups of elementary school kids discussing a particular painting. I was surprised at how interested most of the kids seemed in the paintings, and they saw an amazing amount in the paintings with only a little prompting from the guides.

One really can't spend any significant amount of time in London without going to the theatre, which I've done quite a bit. On Monday (and Wednesday), I unsuccessfully tried to get tickets to see Gwenyth Paltrow in "proof". But I did see the Vagina Monologues on Monday night, Twelfth Night at the Globe Theatre Tuesday night, and tonight (Wednesday), I'm going to see "Up For Grabs" with Madonna.

Now Reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book 4). Very good books. I'm very much looking forward to the movie version of book 2 (The Chamber of Secrets) now.

Yesterday, I met an American from Texas named Brett, who was also staying at my hostel. He was in his 4th of five weeks traveling solo, and had left Great Britain for the end, and we had a great time chatting about both traveling and other things. This morning, he left for York, and we swapped emails and promised to keep in touch.

Tomorrow morning, it's off to Paris (7:23a.m. train!), for another long stay.

posted June 12, 2002 04:14 AM in Travel | permalink