All posts tagged: travel

From My Holiday – London at Random

My flight back to Sydney from London was at 9:30pm and I had a late check out from my hotel. So I was able to relax on my final morning in London. I slept in after my late night out at the theatre and had a late breakfast, then headed over to St Pancras station to pick up a few touristy things. It was there that I ran into someone from home. That’s right, in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world, I ran into a guy I’ve known since primary school. Also, his parents used to own the house I lived in for almost 10 years, he works across the road from me, and we occasionally catch the same train to work in the morning. Despite this, we’re more like casual acquaintances than the best of friends, but we always say hi when we see each other. When I first saw him waving at me, my brain didn’t really process the fact that he was waving at me, so I just thought …

From My Holiday – Art at The National Gallery, and seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Hamlet’

I spent the morning of my final full day in London at The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square. I had the nicest walk from the hotel to the gallery; the sky was overcast but the sun was trying its hardest to push through, and the streets were packed with people going to work or being a tourist like me, and it was just the best being a part of that hustle and bustle. I hadn’t already fallen completely in love with the city then I would have on this day. I didn’t loiter around in Trafalgar Square for very long, as I was on a very strict time limit for sightseeing since I was off to the theatre that night, but I have to say it’s a pretty impressive place. There were loads of street performers at the front of the gallery too, including one band who played current pop songs using classical instruments – definitely take the time to stop and listen if you see them. As it happened, there was industrial action …

From My Holiday – The Wellcome Collection

After wandering around the Hunterian Museum for a few hours I headed back to my hotel, stopping in at the Wellcome Collection on the way. The Wellcome Collection explores the relationship between life, medicine, and art. If you can manage to do what I did and visit the Hunterian and Wellcome Collection in the same day, then you really should. There are many links that can be drawn between the two, and I found that the information I learned at the Hunterian enhanced my experience of seeing the artefacts in the Wellcome Collection. Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) was a pharmacist and philanthropist, as well as collector of interesting things. He was one of the co-founders of the Burroughs Wellcome & Co. pharmaceutical company, the first to give the world medicine in tablet form in 1884. In later years he would go on to assemble one of the world’s largest collections of medical and health related paraphernalia. On display here are a wide variety items from different cultures around the world. Along with an impressive display of pharmaceutical …

From My Holiday – Read This → Go There (a book to read and its London connection)

This post is inspired by the ‘Read This, Watch That’ posts on River City Reading (a great blog that you should check out if you haven’t already). In this post I’m going to give you a quick rundown on a great book I read a while ago and then tell you all about a completely obscure museum I visited while in London that turned out to be a surprise literary point of interest for me. Read This → The Giant, O’Brien by Hilary Mantel Published in 1998, The Giant, O’Brien by Hilary Mantel, is a fictionalised account of the life of Charles Byrne (O’Brien in the novel), largely focusing on his time spent in London. Standing at 7ft 7″, Byrne towered above the average man at that time (5ft 7″ on average), hence his nickname, ‘The Irish Giant’. He took advantage of his height, travelling around Britain and displaying himself at fairs for money. He arrived in London in 1782, where curiosities and novelties such as himself were a well received and lucrative business. It was …

From My Holiday – The British Museum (and, a little about The British Library)

The day after my adventure in the rain, I made a trip to The British Library, which wasn’t so much a trip as a stroll across the road, as my hotel was basically right next door to the Library. I’m nothing if not an efficient planner of accommodation in relation to tourist spots. The Magna Carta exhibition was on while I was there, which was to celebrate 800 years since the Magna Carta was first agreed on June 15, 1215 (which just so happens to be my birthday) (the June 15 part, not 1215, in case you thought I was a vampire or something). It was an amazing exhibition to see, which included two of the four original Magna Carta documents, as well as Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the US Bill of Rights. How many times do you get to see all of those things together? Apparently once in a lifetime according to all the signage. But though that exhibition may now be over, I can still …

From My Holiday – Getting Caught In the Rain and Visiting Shakespeare’s Globe

My first full day in London was probably my favourite whole day in the entire trip. I’d been to the Charles Dickens Museum that morning (my post about it) and after stepping out of there I was met with a drizzle of rain, which I expected and was prepared for because it’s London and that’s what happens in London. I was heading to the Imperial War Museum, which was about a 30 minute walk away. That 30 minute walk was turned into a roughly 45 minute walk by the torrential downpour I got caught in and which I had to take shelter from more than once. But even though the rain made it very difficult to navigate in a foreign city, it was just the best. Here are some photos I took on my walk, the mostly grey one is the view as I walked across the Thames: The rain had eased up by the time I reached the War Museum. I won’t be doing a full post on this as I didn’t really get …

From My Holiday: The Louvre – Decorative Arts and Napoleon’s Apartments.

The Decorative Arts galleries and Napoleon’s (the III – not THE Napoleon) Apartments were probably my favourite parts of the Louvre. Not having a lot of money to spend on furniture, I’ve never really thought of it as art – I generally consider it firstly based on price, then functionality, then how it looks (unless it’s something I really REALLY want, like my cosy red armchair). Needless to say after wandering through these galleries my mind has been completely changed and I now have a greater appreciation for the beauty of furniture.Words such as sumptuous, decadent, luxurious, and opulent are the only apt ones to describe these rooms. Decorative Arts Furnishings While the Louvre is perhaps most famous for its paintings, the Decorative Arts galleries are no less amazing. The collection is made up of a wide variety of objects such as “jewellery, silverware, enamels, ivories, bronzes, semi-precious stone work, ceramics, glassware, stained glass, furniture, and rugs, and spanning the period from the early Middle Ages to the first half of the 19th century” (louvre.fr). While …

From My Holiday: Inside the Louvre

Last time I was in Paris, I saw the outside of The Louvre. If you’re into buildings that alone is almost enough, as the home to perhaps the most famous art collection in the world is a piece of art in itself. The Louvre Palace dates back to the late 12th century and was originally built as a fortress; the original foundations of the fortress are still visible in the lower ground of the palace which was pretty amazing to walk through. Over time it was extended to become the palace that we know today. It was the home of many French kings, perhaps the most notable – for me anyway, purely for literary reasons – being Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV (the rulers of France in the Alexandre Dumas novels The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask respectively) and was the royal residence until the latter Louis moved his court to Versailles in 1682. From that point the palace began its transformation from palace to museum, but its status …

From My Holiday: Exploring the Panthéon

On my first full day in Paris, I took a walk to the Panthéon. It takes about a day to travel from Australia to Europe (actually, it takes forever to get just about anywhere from Australia, even other parts of Australia), so thankfully it wasn’t too far from my hotel as I was pretty tired from the flight. I’d walked past the Panthéon when I was in Paris last time, but from memory it was closed for renovations so I didn’t get to go in. I made the most of it this time around, and I was in there for at least 2 hours. I can highly recommend getting the audio guide if you ever visit (I got audio guides just about everywhere) as you can learn a little bit more about pieces of art and the building itself. And now, a little history lesson courtesy of some scribbled notes and the souvenir guidebook I picked up: With foundations dating all the way back to 496 (yes, that’s a year with only THREE digits), the Panthéon has a very …

Stuff I Did – Shackleton Exhibition

If you’ve been clicking on this blog for a while, you might have seen me gushing about my love for the Antarctic, and all explorer type things related to it (see here, here, here, and here). So I was REALLY REALLY EXCITED when I saw news of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum here in Sydney, which was to be all about Sir Ernest Shackleton, and his ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. I won’t go into too much detail about it here, otherwise I’ll never get this post finished, but the long and the short of it is that the expedition was a complete disaster. The ship was caught in the ice and eventually crushed to pieces, and the men of the expedition were forced to live on the ice for months until it began to break up and they could attempt an escape. Eventually the crew made it to a small island, and from there Shackleton and five of the crew members sailed 800 miles (1,300 km) in one of the ship’s lifeboats to …