For the first two weeks of May, I was off gallivanting on another continent. And as you may have gathered from my two previous posts about this trip (here and here), I had a completely fantastic time!
Here, I will share a fraction of my experiences and pictures from my trip to London, Edinburgh, and Paris. If I were to share all the details and all the pictures of my trip, this post would be novella-length!
I have so much love for all things British it seems, so London has always been at the top of places I needed to see in my lifetime. I'm so glad I was finally able to visit and that I was able to take in a great amount of the city's history in the process!
With some of Mary Anning's original marine reptile finds
No pictures were allowed while I was inside Westminster Abbey unfortunately, but it is truly a sight to behold. Most of England's monarchs have been laid to rest here in ornately carved tombs.
An entire day was also spent at the Tower of London, the historic castle that was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 following the Norman conquest of England. The Tower has had many uses over the centuries including a royal residence, an armoury, a menagerie, and a prison for many high-profile persons, so you can imagine how much history there is to take in just in this one place.
Henry VIII's suit of armour to protect his massive frame and umm, other assets...
Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
I spent a not insignificant amount of time hunting along the River Thames for some treasures to take home with me. I found some cool fossils (horse teeth and clam shells) and loads of centuries-old artifacts (bits of pottery and fragments of carved clay pipes, and the like)! In this picture, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge can be seen in the background. In the other direction stands the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Of course I had to make time to go see the five story Waterstone's book store at Piccadilly Circus! I didn't buy anything because I wouldn't have had room in my luggage, but I did spend plenty of time admiring the pretty UK covers of my favourite books.
After binge-watching and loving the TV show Mr. Selfridge last year, I knew I had to see Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street for myself. It is just as grand as it is depicted in the TV show!
This is another one for the paleo-nerds out there. In the 1850's, Waterhouse Hawkins was commissioned to create the first ever models of dinosaurs and other extinct beasties, and these sculptures are still on display in Crystal Palace Park. I can't even say how COOL it was to see these historic sculptures in person finally! You can probably tell that there are some key differences between dinosaur models today and what people thought dinosaurs looked like in the 1850's.
Abbey Road is really just your typical unremarkable crosswalk. And yet, I would have been remiss if hadn't gotten my Beatles photo-op for my dear dad who has been a Beatles super-fan since the beginning.
I also had to check out Fleet Street (à la Sweeney Todd) where I found an old mid-1600's pub from which to order some meat pies. Thankfully, these meat pies contained no human flesh harvested from a demon barber... at least not to my knowledge...
Edinburgh was my favourite of the three cities I visited and may even be my favourite city ever! Of course, I say this having spent only a few days there and it was only on one of those days that it was actually raining. But I just dug the overall vibe of the city. I've never been the most patriotic person, but there was something about strolling the streets of Scotland that made me feel very proud of my Scottish heritage and made it feel like I was coming home.
The Royal Mile
Hill-top view of Arthur's Seat
A historic kirkyard (AKA graveyard) with a view of Holyrood Palace in the background
Edinburgh Castle, a 12th century fortress. I spent an entire day here exploring because hi, CASTLE!!
And it was up on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle that my boyfriend proposed to me! Suffice it to say, YES it was perfect, and YES I said YES!
In Paris, I had the opportunity to break out my very rusty French language skills (I went to a French immersion school from K-9). I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to communicate and comprehend the language fairly effectively! My time in Paris was quite a bit more laid-back than my time in the UK. I spent a lot of time strolling through Paris' many manicured gardens, eating tons of macarons and ice cream, and lounging in the sun. Either exhaustion finally set in after being up on my feet all day every day for over a week in the UK, or the laissez-faire attitude that permeates all Parisians got to me. Probably a bit of both!
Hall of Mirrors
La Tour Eiffel
Cathédrale Notre Dame
Shakespeare and Company! I immediately fell in love with this little charming independent bookstore that's across the street from Notre Dame. Also while I was there, I crossed paths with Natalie Portman who was doing some bookshelf perusing of her own. Random, I know.
Arc de Triomphe
Just like at the equivalent museum in London, I spent a significant amount of time at the Natural History Museum in Paris. The above picture is the hall of comparative anatomy with a mind-blowing skeletal display of every group of vertebrate animal.
With a baleen whale skeleton
With a massive ammonite fossil
But I think my favourite sight seeing attraction in Paris was the Catacombs. Underneath Paris lies miles of excavated limestone filled with millions of human skeletal elements. These 18th century ossuaries hold the remains of 6 million people.
Artfully arranged skeletal elements
There are really no words I can use to describe how hauntingly beautiful this place is. It's not your typical tourist attraction as it was a very sombre and humble experience, but it's also one of the most astounding sights I've ever seen in my life.
Blog Posts in May:
Muggle Monday: In Which Aylee Attempts to Infiltrate the Wizarding World
Muggle Monday: Harry Potter Studio Tour Recap
My Life in April: RENT, Mockingbirds, and a Trip Hiatus
Best Book Read in May: