Archive for Travel

Where the Good Stuff Went

Steps Walked: 30,294 (23,952 at moderate pace)

Inside the British Museum

Yes, I suppose walking over the Thames (4 times) might be more impressive to a walking audience, but you can only get shots like this (inside the British Museum) on foot.  We did a walking tour of the museum, which was more listening than walking, but, on reflection, it did hit all the tour book sites, including the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles (they don’t like to call them that though!), and much nicer pieces of the Mausoleum than are left in Turkey.

Really.  The Mausoleum is basically just a large lot with a bunch of chunks of marble:

Shot of The Mausoleum Ruins

Bodrum, Turkey

The British Museum has some of the statues that were at the top of the building:

From the British Museum

It does lead to the question of who really should have these antiquities.  When we were in Athens, they made a strong argument that the Elgin Marbles were looted, but in London, there’s a completely different story.  I figure it’s a good thing I don’t have to be the one to make the decision.

Another walking tour around Parliament at night really added steps.  Along with seeing the big fancy lit buildings and Lambeth Palace, we got to wander through alleys still lit with gas lights.  The walking company we used (London Walks: walks.com) was suggested by someone I worked with and was a great way to get us out and somewhere…otherwise, there’s so much to see and do, it’s hard to figure out where to get started.

Pret a Manger is also a good thing.  There’s one right outside the hotel (okay, in London, there’s one outside just about everyplace) and they can always be counted on for good basic affordable food.

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London, Day 1

Steps Walked: 21,170 (15,535 at moderate pace)

Big Ben, London

A Shot From Today's Walk

So, we took a red eye to London and got almost no sleep, but it’s London, so we literally walked ’til we dropped.  It “helped” that the hotel didn’t have a room ready until mid afternoon.  The hotel is wonderfully positioned.  We’re right across from Trafalgar Square and just down the street from Parliament.  We walked there easily, even as tired as we were.

But how else except by walking do you get this close to Big Ben?

Or see signs like this one?

Fortunately, there’s a well-reviewed pub right next to the hotel, so once we woke up again, we didn’t have far to go for dinner.  Surprisingly, there are traces of blue laws there (or maybe it’s just being in an urban setting) so it was closed.  Good thing there was a Thai place even closer that served us before we fell back to sleep.

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Christmas Music, Greek-style

Okay, so the elevators at our hotel in Athens have been playing Christmas music since we arrived Saturday.  This has been peculiar for a number of reasons.

  1. How do they know when to start playing Christmas music?  They don’t have Thanksgiving, so why was it already playing November 28?  Advent hadn’t started, nor had December.
  2. Why is it all in English?  Are there no Greek Christmas songs?
  3. Why is so much of it religious?  This is a fairly international hotel (at least half the entrees are vegetarian, for example and far fewer than half the guests are American), so you’d figure they’d be less likely to play religious music.  But no, lots of it is straight from the hymnal.
  4. And why is so much of it, well, peculiar?  It’s gotten so Charlie’s afraid to get in the elevator.  Of course, I love it.  A new personal favorite is “Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo.”

Yes, “Never do a Tango with an Eskimo.”  A fine piece of music, if you ask me.  (An abomination if you ask anyone else.)  If you haven’t heard it recently, or ever, take a listen at http://www.turnbacktogod.com/never-do-a-tango-with-an-eskimo-song/ .

Besides the joy of the song with a title like that, be sure to notice:

  • Don’t you wish Rankin/Bass (of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer tv special) had found this instead?  I’ve been meaning to try out animation software though.  Maybe I’ve found my muse.  Appropriate, given my location…
  • The end sure sounds more like a cha cha than a tango to me.  But I like this song, so that tells you about my musical knowledge/taste.
  • The site is for born-again Christians.  Umm, and what do Eskimos have to do with that?  Or maybe it’s the tango?
  • But check the lyrics…there’s nothing about Christmas at all in them.  This should get the creative among you writing new verses.  How about:
When Jesus does a tango, he'd prefer to have a mango
In the fruit bowl that he eats from at the break.
But mangoes in the snow just don't have a chance to grow,
So Eskimos have none for goodness sake.

I guess this means I shouldn’t complain about Christmas music when I get home.  But I still will.

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Lights, Cameras, Athens

One of the unexpected benefits of sabbatical is being able to travel at times other than summer and Christmas vacation. So we really took advantage of this by taking a cruise from Rome to Athens, via Turkey, Cyrus, and Egypt.

We’re in Athens now and have seen all the obligatory sites and taken the obligatory photos. But even though it’s been done before, standing in the shadow of the Parthenon is still pretty durn amazing.The Parthenon

Of course, we also get to see the unusual sites, traveling on our own.  At our local Metro station, there’s an archeological display, since apparently you can’t dig anywhere around here without hitting ruins.

Athens Metro Station

Still, it wouldn’t be travel without some fun and games.  The lights in our room in the Athens Hilton have been a source of amusement for me and annoyance for Charlie.  The closet has a light that comes on automatically when you open the closet and, well, stays on.  I can sleep through just about anything when I’m tired enough (and hiking up the Acropolis makes you tired enough), but Charlie was bound and determined to figure out how to turn out the light.

Athens Hilton

We finally discovered if you take the bulb out of the socket, the light goes off.  Then the next night, we got to learn how the night light in the bathroom was controlled.  (By the switch by the bed of course, you silly Americans!)

One of the strange things about traveling in November is going away when people stay and work. In the academic world, when one professor gets a vacation, they all do, so there’s no going back to an office three weeks ahead of you. Things will be interesting Thursday.

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