Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tower of London

So far, the Tower of London is one of my favorite attractions here in London. It is astounding to hear and see all of history about the place. For nearly 1,000 years, the Tower of London has been an active royal residence, and still is. The buildings that make up the complex have served many purposes over the years. The Tower has been used as a royal palace, a prison, a zoo, an armory, home of the crown jewels, and much more. Its bloody reputation is what most people know about the Tower, which is quite extensive. 

The Yeomen Warders have been royal bodyguards to the British Monarch, since their formation in 1485 by King Henry VII. They are easily recognizable in their Tudor-style uniforms. In order to be an eligible candidate today as a Yeomen, you must have served at least 22 years in the armed forces of the Commonwealth and have been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal. All of the Yeomen and their families live within the Tower. How cool would that be as kid? Plus, these Yeomen are fantastic tour guides that love to show tourists their historic home. 

 ^^The White Tower is the oldest building within the walls of the Tower of London. It dates back nearly 1,000 years ago!^^

 ^^A girl can only dream...^^

 ^^Houses of the Yeomen Warders^^

 ^^The spot where all of the Tower's beheadings were taken place, including some of Henry VIII's wives.^^

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Local Adventures" - Kensington Gardens Vol. II

Just a few more of photos from my visit to Kensington Gardens a while back. You can read my previous post about this place here.

 ^^The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain is located within Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park. This circular fountain has a continuous flow of water that makes different sounds as it passes through each part of the cycle.^^

 ^^Tea time!^^

 ^^Prince Albert Memorial^^

^^Statue of Queen Victoria in front of her childhood home, Kensington Palace.^^

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Year of the Snake

If you haven't heard, today is the Chinese New Year! 
My flatmates and I have been looking forward to celebrating the new year all week long.
Since we conveniently live a few blocks away from Chinatown, we walked right over there to get some good spots for the parade. Afterwards, we walked through the crowded streets of Chinatown to look at all of the street vendors and taste some awesome traditional Chinese treats. 

As much as we wanted to stay out and see all of the celebrations, we left after a few hours to get out of the rain and wind. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the fireworks show that we had planned to go to. Either way, we still had fun.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Local Adventures" - Kensington Gardens Vol. I

Let me just tell you, I am completely in love with all of the parks nestled in the city of London. The British are well known for their gardens, and I can see why. On my visit to Kensington Gardens, I was just blown away by how beautiful these urban gardens are.

Kensington Gardens is one of the eight Royal Parks in London. These parks are beautifully preserved, and include many architectural landmarks dotted throughout the landscape. So many people come to these parks for all types of recreational activities. There is so much to see and explore within these gardens. I'm making another mental note to visit all of the Royal Parks before I leave. In the meantime, you can see pictures about Kensington Gardens from last week.

^^It was incredibly windy. So, please excuse the wild and crazy hair in this photo.^^

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Local Adventures" - Notting Hill Vol II

Remember when I said that I wanted to come back to Notting Hill during the day? Well, I did. But only for an hour, unfortunately. This part of London is so beautiful. I would just absolutely love to live in Notting Hill. Everything seems so perfect here in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"Museum Moment" - British Museum Vol. II

Round 2! We decided to hit the the North America, Mexico, and Africa galleries on Friday night. All of us agreed that the Africa gallery was curated the best out of all of the galleries we've seen. There was a mixture old and new art/artifacts that connected the deeply rooted cultures in several African countries over many centuries. We all kinda laughed when we saw the Native American exhibit inside the tiny North America gallery. The curator had grouped a few artifacts from several tribes all into one case, as if all Native American tribes can just be clumped together and classified as the same people. Maybe we thought it was funny because we've been in museums in the US where one Native American tribe gets an entire section or gallery just for themselves. Oh well...

^^Indiana Jones moment!! This crystal skull was originally thought to be made by the people of ancient Mexica, but recent studies have proof that this was made in Europe from the 19th century.^^

^^Sacrificial themed reliefs that came from a Mayan temple.^^

^^This turquoise mosaic mask from ancient Mexica has bits and pieces of human skull in it.^^

^^This chair is made out of decommissioned weapons from the civil war in Mozambique. It is named "Throne of Weapons."^^

^^Check out that giant, woven basket in the corner. It must have taken forever to finish it!^^

^^Those plaques hanging on the walls were originally from Oba's palace in Benin. During the construction of the new palace, these 16th century plaques were just thrown away. Luckily they were found by explorers and archaeologists, and now there are hundreds of them in museums around the world.^^

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