Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My first full day in France was spent at the extravagant Versailles palace and grounds. The palace was luxury and wealth to the extreme. The grounds looked magnificent, even during the dreary winter day. If I had come in the spring I think the blooming flowers and gold architecture would have overwhelmed me with its exuberance. A group of us girls had a blast though! We explored the grounds and found Marie Antoinette's hamlet which was a fairytale like village she had made to connect with the peasants. Yeah, well maybe it was more like a huge play village, but Marie Antoinette wasn't known for her thriftiness. We sure enjoyed the ideal village and loved the mill that looks like Belle's house. It was worth the extra hours and miles spent exploring.

J'aime Paris

Ah Paris, the city of lights and lovers. Sometimes a person can dream about a place so much that its reality fades in comparison,an anti-climatic realization. My visit to Paris was not one of those times. All I ever imagined about Paris, the architecture, the art, and the food lived up to or exceeded my imagination. I really enjoyed the pastries and I mean REALLY enjoyed the pastries. Since we had to cram as much as we could see of Paris in 4 days there was little time to sit down and eat meals (that lead to some very sore feet) so around lunch and dinner and well anytime food sounded good, we stopped at a patisierrie. My favorite treat was a tarte aux pommes fine. DELICIOUS.
The museums and sights were also wonderful, but my favorite museums were the Louvre and the Orsay. Sam, Annie, and I went to the Louvre at night which made us feel like kids in a school at night. We had our deep intellectual moments discussing David's Raft of Medusa and Venus de Milo, but the best memory of the night was our speed walk through the Italian Gallery. According to Rick Steves, this gallery can be through in 58 seconds if you walk at a brisk pace. That is a lie. Almost running, Sam and Annie made it in 2 minutes and 50 seconds and I lagged behind for a 3 minutes and 10 seconds time, but before I could make it to the finish line/ doorway one of the security guards looks at me and with a heavy French accent says "you lose". I look back (part of reason for my horrible time) and he's straight faced, but all of us are cracking up. It was wonderful. My other favorite, Musee d'Orsay had impressionist and realist paintings in a railway station turned museum. I liked the relaxing feel of the museum that coincided with its art.
Of course, I can't forget the Eiffel Tower. I took about 20 pictures of the icon of Paris and it was then that I realized why I love the Eiffel tower; it is beautiful from every angle of the city. Paris will always be one of my favorite places and hopefully I'll be able to go back and savor all the city has to offer.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For Tanner

Twice during my escapades I saw something that made me think "Tanner would like this". These pictures are for you Tanner. The first is a gargoyle from Notre Dame and the second is a leaf from Winston Churchill's garden. He might have given those plants steroids. They were gigantic!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Museum Walk

Centers of Learning
1. Science Museum
2. Brompton Church
3. Brompton Oratory
4. V&A Museum
5. Imperial College
6. Holy Trinity Church
7. Royal Music College
8. Royal Albert Hall
As close as South Kensington there are several buildings of spiritual and intellectual growth. I did not fully realize how ideally placed the BYU London center was to some of the best museums in London. All around are these wonderful buildings for learning, most of which were built during the Victorian era. I thought the combination of museums and churches fit with great religious crisis of Victorian times. Both sides, science and religion, were represented by these centers of learning which seems to me that both knowledge and faith can exist side by side. Now I’m building and expanding spiritually and intellectually, so this walk seemed to fit me personally as well as the Victorians I’ve been learning about.

Little Venice

Modes of Transportation
1. Little Venice Canals
2. Driving
3. Biking
4. Walking
5. Boating
6. The View from the Bridge
7. Canal Home
8. Canal Entertainment

Little Venice may not look like the real Venice, but it still had a waterway charm just in the English style. The boats along the canal were sturdy and rustic looking. After a few minutes in the cold November air I was jealous of how they seemed to be snug and cozy on the cold water. During the summer the canals are supposedly bustling, but now they just sat along the canals like ducks on a pond. Just a few streets away the city was moving, but Little Venice stayed calm. It reminded me of outer Denver with the cold day and the city nearby. As I looked around I noticed all the different ways to get around the neighborhood. One thing I’ve noticed about Britain in general is that there are plenty of ways to travel and Little Venice was a perfect example of this.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Walk Among the Superstars

1. The First Star
2. Sir Lawrence Olivier
3. Oscar Wilde
4. Brahm Stoker
5. Keith Richards
6. George Eliot (Marian Evans)
7. Mick Jagger
8. Thomas Carlyle
The walk wasn’t quite the Hollywood tour where you drive by the homes of famous actors, musicians, and athletes, but an interesting walk nonetheless. I saw the homes of writers, philosopher’s, and—well okay—actors and musicians as well as real heroes, the royal army. It seemed amazing that so many great people lived in the Chelsea area. There were not that many memorials or beautiful landscapes along the walk and I felt a bit ridiculous taking pictures of doors, but there was a nice appeal to the walk. Instead of looking at monuments where historic events happened, I was walking the same streets as great people of the last century. It was wonderfully mundane—just a city neighborhood that happened to have famous people living there at one time.

Holland Park Walk

1. Playing Shadows
2. Hillgate Street
3. Hillgate Pub
4. Lonely streets
5. Deep Red
6. Brilliant Orange and Yellow
7. Kyoto Garden
8. Crane in the Garden

Having been thoroughly impressed with Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, I did not expect anything new from Holland Park and the surrounding area, but I was pleasantly surprised. What I found there was a previous luxury in London, quiet solitude. Granted, it wasn’t complete silence or solitude, but the closest I’ve been to it since I came to London. There were times during the walk when I couldn’t hear traffic and saw only a few people on the streets. The charming houses and Kyoto Garden were made more enjoyable by the fact that I didn’t have to dodge crowds to get to them. The fading light heightened the rich yellows and reds of the changing leaves and created shadows on the white washed houses. Autumn has been a long season and this walk was yet another walk that seemed to be made for a brisk autumn afternoon. Paris in the Fall—try London in the Fall—truly spectacular.