Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bath, England

River Avon and Bath
    I couldn't wait to get to Bath, England when I heard we were planning on going there on the Scotland and England Study Tour. I am a big fan of Jane Austen so I looked forward to seeing the setting for two of her books, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. It was truly a beautiful city and lived up to what I imagined.
    Bath is located on the River Avon so I was able to walk along the streets by the river. The bridges, houses, and buildings are very ornate, old and beautiful. The Circus is a section of buildings that are attached to each other except for three entrances and they form a circle.
    I stopped by the Jane Austen House, had a Cornish pasty (which is synonymous with the city of Bath), Bath Abbey, toured the Roman Baths, and walked along the streets taking in the old buildings and watching street performers.
The Circus
    The city of Bath is known for its Roman Baths that can be toured. The tour is very informative of the the history of how the Roman's built the baths there. The waters, as you can see in the picture, has a green tinge to it. The water is this color now because it remains uncovered but, historically, it would have been covered and the waters would not have been green. The waters were believed to have healing properties in it with all the minerals that are in the water.
The Roman Baths
    The city is very huge and I was unable to see everything I wanted to but I hope that I will be able to return one day and see anything I might have missed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Post-Trip England

            When we began our trip I could not wait to see London. Being a history major there were a lot of different aspects of London that I knew I would find interesting. I was not let down by the buildings, but I was surprised at how rude the people of London were. This is not how it was in the entire United Kingdom, but in London it was definitely the case. This became really obvious at night when asking locals for directions and other basic questions. Luckily there was more to England than just London.
            Stonehenge was the most exciting part of my trip. For years I have been fascinated with the creation of it and the history associated with it. Stonehenge is one of the greatest mysteries the world has to offer. After all of these years scientists and engineers still are unsure of how it was constructed. After seeing it in person I have created my own theory, but who hasn’t? Stonehenge really inspired me to take a new approach to the creative process and pushed me to think how to do things differently.
            The same day that we went to Stonehenge we also went to Bath. Bath is an ancient Roman city that has remained for the most part intact. The buildings were beautiful and appeared to have only been slightly altered in restoration. Bath and Stonehenge definitely saved England for me. I will definitely travel back to England; I just don’t know how much of that time I will choose to spend in London.

Post-Trip Scotland

This trip was truly all that I had hoped for and much more. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel back to Europe for the third time, and this time I was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland, England, and France. Out of the three nations it was Scotland and France that had the greatest impact. The highlights of the trip were traveling north to the Highlands in Scotland and then traveling back to Edinburgh following the departure of the rest of the group.
            The Highlands more than lived up to my expectations. I was actually really surprised to see that the Highlands had a very similar layout to Washington State. Oddly enough Scotland resembled a green Eastern Washington. The wildlife and vegetation was exactly the same. On one of my walks I was lucky enough to come across several deer and a few grouse. It is safe to say that I felt as if I was looking out at my own backyard.
            While in the Highlands I was amazed to find that we had a Scotch bar in our hotel. I made sure to take advantage of this and tried as many different local whiskeys as I could. This would continue as we moved across Scotland. I found out quite quickly that finding Scotch in Scotland would be easier than shooting fish in a barrel. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the tour of the Scotch distillery that we went on as a group. It was insightful to get a step-by-step walkthrough of the process of making Scotch.
            Once we arrived in Edinburgh I was really able to get an understanding of what the people of Scotland were truly like. For the most part they were friendly and were than willing to answer any questions. Edinburgh was one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever been to. All throughout the city you can look and find old castles, government buildings, and all around amazing Architecture. I fell in love with the city and actually returned for another three days after the rest of the group returned home. I will defiantly be back to Scotland in the near future!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

View of the North Sea from Calton Hill
  If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh (pronounced “Edinbra”) you must visit Calton Hill. This spot is a great place to start your adventure in this city for the view and the historical significance.  There is a lot to see in Edinburgh, in fact, it was my favorite city we visited while on the Scotland and England Study Tour this past May with Columbia College of Missouri. On the east side of the hill you can gaze out over the sea. From the other side you get a wonderful view of the city. From this point you can also see Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat, New Town, and Old Town. There is really no bad view from this hill!
The National Monument of Scotland
     On the hill itself is also many buildings including Nelson’s Monument, Playfair Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument,the City Observatory, and the National Monument of Scotland.  I did not see all the monuments here but a good chunk of them. The hill has many paths that you can walk or hike around.
   The National Monument of Scotland is also known as “Scotland’s Disgrace” as it was never completed. The monument is half of a building with tall pillars. But even unfinished the monument is very impressive! It also is a great spot to get a group photo if you climb up on it.
Nelson's Monument
      Nelson’s Monument is also located on Calton Hill. It is a tower that is near the National Monument of Scotland. You can go up the stairs to the top of the tower to get a lovely 360 degree view of the city. It was designed to look like a telescope which is appropriate since it is on the same hill as the City Observatory.
    The Playfair Monument was named after William Playfair who was the architect of many historical sites, buildings, and monument in Edinburgh, including the National Monument of Scotland and the Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill.
   After we finished taking in the beautiful view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill we stopped in at a tea shop in Holyrood Palace and then were dropped off at St. Giles Cathedral to explore the city. St. Giles Cathedral is a beautiful building with stained glass windows, a large organ, and high ceilings. We walked along the street of old town which is where the famous Elephant House coffee shop is located.  J.K. Rowling was supposed to have written some of Harry Potter from this coffee shop.  The Writer’s Museum was a neat find as well. The National Museum of Scotland is also located in Edinburgh and has free entry! The museum was so huge we only saw part of it including Mary Queen of Scots’ jewelry, whale skeletons, and many mechanical inventions from different time periods.

Edinburgh Castle
      The city of Edinburgh is a huge place and there is something for everyone no matter your interests. Walking along Calton Hill, reading about authors from Scotland at the Writer’s Museum, and walking through the National Museum of Scotland were all highlights for me on this trip! I hope I encourage you to one day go to Edinburgh as it is now one of my favorite places.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


              My favorite place we visited while in Scotland had to be Edinburgh. We did a bus
tour of the city on the first full day there and visited Calton hill along with some other sites. Then the next day we were able to walk around the Royal mile. We had the whole day until we had to meet for dinner to go and explore on our own. Some of the things we went to go and see are: The National museum of Scotland, the Elephant house (where J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter), the street that inspired Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies/books, the library which had a neat exhibit on the plague, and we got to watch a really funny street performer before we headed to dinner.
    I think the street performer had to be one of the best parts of that free day we had in Edinburgh. He said he was a magician, but he was more of a comedian that did some magic tricks. I have never seen a street performer before like this and he was really great at getting the crowd involved along with making us laugh. He did tell us his information right before the show ended and I wish I had written it down, but I didn’t and I cannot remember anything he said otherwise I would leave a link below.
              Other than Edinburgh we were able to see a lot of the country side in Scotland mainly the Highlands. One really interesting thing we did was go to the Loch Ness monster museum where we learned about all the claims of people seeing the Loch Ness monster and then explaining why there really is not a monster in the lake. A fun fact I learned was that Loch means lake I had not known that before. If you have not been to Scotland before the country side of Scotland looks very similar to Colorado just a lot greener and it rains a lot more in Scotland.  I think this is why I really enjoyed Edinburgh and England as much as I did, but I really enjoyed every aspect of my trip just some more than others.
            Some advice for those who have not been abroad or been to Scotland before is that their accents are really hard to understand. I did not have any problem with English accents at all, but Scottish accents, depending on the person, are really thick and they kind of mumble and mush their words together when they are talking. So just know if you go to Scotland you aren’t the only one who has problems understanding their accents.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finally traveled to London and much more!


The study abroad tour I went on we traveled to Scotland and England. I loved the whole tour and everything we saw, but I have to say my favorite part of the trip was England. Now we stayed towards the outskirts of London, but we were within in easy walking distance to a train station. I have always loved London, England, well the idea of London since I had never been there before, because a lot of my favorite shows and actors are from London, England, but let’s be honest I really enjoy English accents too. So when I saw that Columbia was having a tour going to England I had to do it and I was not disappointed.
      I live about an hour north of Chicago, Illinois and I do not like Chicago and rarely go there because I am not a fan of cities I am more of a suburban kid, but I loved London. It is not as crowded, in my opinion, as Chicago, it is a lot cleaner, and I felt it was a lot safer than Chicago too. I really enjoyed using the underground train because I haven’t done that before and they have so many different types of food to try out there. One thing that surprised me was how early shops closed in the UK because in Scotland and England the shops all would close around 6 or 7 at night. So make sure to get up early so you can make it to all the places you want to see that day.
              The things we saw in London are: all the touristy sites, Buckingham palace and the changing of the guard, the National history and Science museum, the Sherlock museum, the British library, the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios (me and my friend Hannah did this on our own), St. Paul’s Cathedral, and that is all I can think of at the moment, but we did see much more. We did get to walk around and see a lot of the different parks, like Green Park, and shops.  On our free day Hannah and I went to the Harry potter studios and we went to hunt down the location of Sherlock’s apartment that is used in the BBC show Sherlock, which is on Gower Street.
  Also, included in the tour was an excursion to Stonehenge and Bath. It was a great experience to get to see Stonehenge I wish we would have been able to get closer to it, but it was pretty surreal still to actually see Stonehenge. The Roman baths in Bath were really neat to see. Also, if you are a Jane Austen fan they have a Jane Austen museum in Bath because that is where she lived and wrote all her novels. I actually was able to visit the museum really quickly and purchased a copy of Pride and Prejudice while I was there, which I am really enjoying reading right now.  It was a less busy type of city/town and again it was laid back compared to cities in the US. I really enjoyed bath also and had a lot of fun walking around checking out the shops and trying one of the Pasties that they are famous for, which was really good!
Overall, I had an amazing experience and made so many new friendships while on this tour. If I had the chance to do it again I would in a heartbeat. If you are debating doing a study abroad tour you should just go for it because you will meet a lot of great people and it really is an experience of a lifetime if you have never been overseas like I hadn’t been before this trip. I plan on trying to do a semester abroad in Canterbury, England this fall 2016 which is about an hour outside of London. I am really looking forward to going back to England and being able to travel to new places while I am out there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A journey into the Gothic Revival

I have been waiting to visit Strawberry Hill and to see the Gothic influence ever since I learned about it during my sophomore year of high school.

Horace Walpole was born Horatio Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford on September 24th 1717. He is partially responsible for the revival of gothic architecture that dominated Europe in the previous centuries. Horace Walpole was the first author to pen a text in what became known as the gothic style. His name is synonymous with Gothic literature thanks to his greatest work The Castle of Otranto. The Castle of Otranto laid the foundation of what the Gothic style should be for other authors that would follow. This would include famous authors such as Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. It was Walpole’s home “Strawberry Hill” which provided him with the inspiration to write his first Gothic novel. “One night Walpole awoke from a dream and imagined he saw a giant armoured fist on the staircase and it was this that inspired the first gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto.” Horace Walpole was also an art historian, a politician, and an architect. His greatest creation in my opinion was the house that he had built in the old Gothic style, which he named Strawberry Hill.

Walpole constructed Strawberry Hill in several stages throughout his lifetime. Walpole did not have a finished design for his property and instead decided to add to the building as he saw fit. This would make construction for all involved an absolute nightmare, but allowed Walpole to make his dream a reality. It all began in 1747 when Walpole leased a five-acre plot of land in Twickenham, London. In 1748 Walpole purchased the house, which had originally been named “Chopped Straw Hill”. He had purchased the home with the intent of constructing a family castle. Walpole eventually expanded his land to a sum of forty-six acres. Walpole’s friend and amateur architect, John Chute, was trusted with developing the design of the exterior of the home. The exterior of the house featured a style that mixed Gothic designs with the castles of the day. This meant that the home would feature turrets and battlements while also containing arched windows with stained glass, similar to the cathedrals of the original Gothic Age. The interior of the home gained most of its character from Walpole’s extensive collection of antiquarian objects. This would include beautiful pieces of art, artifacts, and objects used for the construction of the house such as Robert Adam’s fireplace. The construction process of Strawberry Hill wasn’t smooth sailing to say the least.

It is a nightmare for anyone tasked with constructing a building to have to build the building in stages. Typically there is a complete blueprint, which allows workers to have a simple plan to follow, which allows for quick and easy construction of a building. While Walpole did have sketches and an overall idea of what he hoped to turn his home into, he did not have an actual blueprint thus complicating the entire construction process. By the end of the first stage of construction Walpole was well on his way to having completed “His little Gothic castle”.

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