Tag Archives: london
May 5, 2012

POTD: Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park

speakers corner hyde park

When I lived in London and my friends from the US would visit, I would always take them to Hyde Park. The park itself is lovely, especially on a warm summer’s day when you can enjoy a Pimm’s Cup at one of the hotels near Hyde Park, but the main attraction is really the Speakers’ Corner. Located in the northeast corner of the park, Speakers’ Corner is an area where you will find a number of people standing on stools, yelling about whatever subject they are most passionate about. Since most of the subjects tend to be controversial (politics, religion, etc) you’ll often find audience members arguing with and heckling the speakers standing before them. Robert’s Rules or Order definitely don’t apply here.

Londoners have been debating and heckling each other at Speakers’ Corner since the late 1800s. Some of the most well-known people to drag their soapboxes to Speakers’ Corner have been Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and George Orwell. These days, you’ll often find, within mere feet of each other, a Christian preacher and Muslim imam arguing over religion, a socialist railing against the European Union, and a dejected football fan complaining about his team’s latest loss. Some speakers will have large crowds gathered around them, while others will find themselves ignored entirely. It’s an interesting, and always entertaining, showcase of London’s diversity, so if you find yourself in London on a pleasant Sunday morning, I’d recommend a visit to Speakers’ Corner. The closest London Underground station is Marble Arch on the Central Line.

April 24, 2011

POTD: The Tate Modern

The above photos shows the Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge in London, UK. I lived in London from 2004-05 when I was a student at the London School of Economics. My dorm was located in the Bankside neighborhood, right behind the Tate Modern. At the time, Bankside was undergoing a transition, and many restaurants and businesses were moving into the neighborhood.

The Tate Modern building was probably one of my favorite buildings in London, as I’m just a fan of gritty industrial architecture. The building was originally an oil-fired power station that generated electricity from 1952 to 1981. (Interestingly enough, the building’s architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was also responsible for designing the iconic red telephone boxes that used to be found throughout the UK). In 2000, the Bankside Power Station became home to the Tate Modern, which is now the world’s most-visited modern art gallery. The station’s mammoth turbine hall is the site of large art installations that change every 6-12 months.

In addition to the Tate Modern, there are many other sights to visit in the Bankside neighborhood, including the Globe Theatre and Borough Market. A short stroll across the Millennium Bridge will take you to St. Paul’s Cathedral and then further into the city center.

January 17, 2011

POTD: Buckingham Palace

This is Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British monarch. It did not become the official royal palace of the British monarch until the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Queen Elizabeth II now resides here.

Typically, the public isn’t allowed to tour Buckingham Palace, but in 2009 the Palace began to hold tours during the summer/fall (when the Queen is at her summer residence in Scotland) in exchange for a sum of money from the British government that would pay for repairs to the palace. Tickets to the palace are £17.50, a rather pricey sum (especially for a student – my mom made me go ;)), but well worth it if you have an interest in the royal family and have the funds to splurge after booking a stay at one of the luxury hotels in the UK.

The Buckingham Palace tour takes you through nineteen of the Palace’s State Rooms, which are used by the Royal Family to receive and entertain guests on official occasions. On the tour you will see a ton of chintzy knick knacks as well as museum-worthy paintings and sculptures by some of the world’s greatest artists (which makes one wonder why the UK government is providing the Royals with funds, but I digress…). At the end of the tour, you can walk inside the walled-off Palace garden, which quickly makes you forget that you are in the middle of a huge city. And, of course, if you felt that you haven’t given the Royal Family enough of your money, at the conclusion of the tour you can go into the Palace gift shop and buy a variety of souvenirs (Queen Elizabeth II shot glass, anyone?)

November 1, 2010

POTD: Tate Modern in London

tate modern

tate modern

View of the Tate Modern art museum from the Millennium Bridge. The building that now houses the art museum was formerly the oil-fired Bankside Power Station, which closed in 1981. As a grad student at the LSE, I was lucky enough to live in the Bankside dormitory that was located directly behind the Tate Modern.

September 16, 2010

POTD: City of London Dragon

city of london dragon

city of london dragon

These dragons mark the boundary between the City of London and Greater London:

The City of London is a small area within Greater London, United Kingdom. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though remains a notable part of Central London. It is often referred to as the City (often written on maps as “City”) or the Square Mile, as it is just over one square mile (1.12 sq mi/2.90 km2) in area.”

September 2, 2010

POTD: The Texas Embassy in London

Texas Embassy in London

Texas Embassy in London

The first time I walked by the Texas Embassy, I did a double take. Surely Texas doesn’t have its own embassy in the UK? That would be bizarre, but not completely unexpected given the inflated ego of the state’s residents (and I say this as a Californian 😉 ). Well, as it turns out, it is just the name of a Tex-Mex restaurant near Trafalgar Square. My friends and I spent our 4th of July here in 2005 when the soggy London weather forced us to cancel our plans for an Independence Day barbecue. If you can’t have hot dogs, you might as well celebrate our country’s independence from the Brits with margaritas and nachos.

January 17, 2010

Oh, I could be laughing about it, and making the most of the true British climate

Photos from my January 3-11, 2010 return to London, with day trips to snow-covered Oxford and Gloucester.

December 16, 2007

London photos: Buckingham Palace / Kensington Gardens / Etc.

Buckingham Palace

Yeah, these photos are over two years old (September ’05) and I just got around to uploading them. I’ve only got 100+ more to go.

These were all taken during my last week in London, when I decided to make one more quick visit to some of the sights in the city.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, view from the backyard

Buckingham Palace backyard
As to be expected, the Queen has a ridiculously large backyard

Buckingham Palace
Hanging out in the palace backyard after tea with Lizzie.

royal swan in Round Pond, Kensington Gardens
A royal swan in Round Pond, Kensington Gardens.

royal swan near Round Pond, Kensington Gardens
I didn’t want to get to close to the swans as they might recognize me from previous “incidents” and maul me, or something.

tribute to Diana at Kensington Palace
Tributes to Princess Diana on the gates of Kensington Palace, her former residence

Last night in the old ‘hood

March 14, 2007

London photos: When not in class, we…

Here’s a few more recently upped photos of LSE friends – some from my dorm (Bankside represent) and others from my Russian & Post-Soviet Studies (RPSS) program. The theme for this week is drinking, or whatever.

This is a pic of Omar from the Bankside boat party held at the beginning of term. Possibly the greatest neighbor you could ask for, he had excellent taste in music and was a constant source of entertainment during dinnertime when we were forced to endure the culinary disaster that is British dorm food. “What is this? This…this…fishcake?!” Watch out for this dude, though – he’s like a Moroccan version of Andy Fastow. There’s no telling what he learned in those finance classes…

At a bar in Notting Hill, drinking some of that delicious Belgian fruit flavored beer – Me, Mathias, Taline, Erin, Hudson

Moira, myself, and Jessica at the Great British Beer Festival. I totally shoulda been working on my dissertation instead of spending 12 hours here.

Crystal and I enjoying Snakebites at a pub in Holborn after watching the “Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch” video a million times at the LSE library (Dissertation, whatever)

BBQ on Olga’s rooftop. Olga says she isn’t mentioned enough on this blog except for the snowboarding post, so check it dude, I’m giving you props here. Olga had the effin’ sweetest flat ever right on the Thames. That’s the Tate Modern right there in the back…my dorm was right behind the Tate Modern.

Take some Americans, Russians, Germans, French, British, Canadians and an Iranian. Add vodka. Mix thoroughly. Drink. Repeat. This being a party hosted by Olga, the vodka, of course, was the wonderful Russki Standart:

Hudson, Alec, Olga, Mathias

Erin, I have no idea who this guy is, Crystal, Taline, Hudson

Erin, Taline, Crystal, and I at Taline’s rooftop party in Notting Hill during one of those beautiful summer nights in London. Taline, like Olga, also had an amazing flat that was near some of the greatest pubs in the city.

One of a million toasts at Taline’s infamous birthday party (Taline also thinks she is not on this website enough, hopefully this post will rectify that a bit). I swear to God, everytime a group of us RPSS alums meet up, this party will eventually come up.

“That blood was still on the wall five months later!”

“I was just standing there and someone handed me a plate…that was on fire.”

It never gets old…for us, at least.

And with that, I have to go figure out how to do my taxes.

March 4, 2007

London photos: Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds Brad Pitt Angelia Jolie

Despite having left London in September 2005, I still have yet to upload all the photos from the year I spent there. Here’s a few from the popular London tourist attraction, Madame Tussauds wax museum, otherwise known as the most famous “tourist trap” in the city. Crystal and I went there one late summer afternoon after spending the day stuck inside the library working on our dissertations.

Madame Tussauds Brad Pitt Angelia Jolie
The staff has a lot of fun arranging the wax figures according to the most recent tabloid headlines. When we visited, Brad Pitt was separated from Jennifer Aniston and moved next to Angelina Jolie. Scandalous, indeed.

Brad Pitt’s wax figure is “pinchable.” Other wax figures, such as Vladimir Putin are not.

Madame Tussauds Ronald Reagan
OMGWTF Ronald Reagan is back from the dead

Madame Tussauds Putin
Crystal passing along a few military secrets to Putin

Madame Tussauds John Wayne
A metrosexual, pink shirt-wearing John Wayne

Madame Tussauds George Clooney
George Clooney, such a romantic guy

Madame Tussauds Napoleon
“Uh, I dunno, Napoleon. You really think invading Russia is such a good idea?”

Madame Tussauds Bush Blair
“UN, you have a problem with that? You know what you should do? You should sanction me. Sanction me with your army. Oh!! Wait a minute! You don’t have an army! I guess that means you need to STFU!” (obligatory Chappelle’s Show reference)

Madame Tussauds Saddam Hussein
I met him after Rumsfeld did

Madame Tussauds is more than just wax figures, however. We went into the Chamber of Horrors which was like a haunted house – really scary and made us scream a lot and we ran through it as quickly as possible. The guy dressed up as Hannibal Lecter kept following us, which was totally bizarre. After that we went on the “Spirit of London” ride where you sit in this little black cab and are taken on a ride through 400 years of London’s history. This includes the plague, which is represented by animatronic rats nibbling on dead bodies, and an Austin Powers-ish conclusion starring a psychedelic, rotating Queen Elizabeth.

The last stop on our visit to Madame Tussauds was the planetarium. Yes, a planetarium. It was educational, but after it was over we were like “What does that have to do with celebrity wax figures?”
I know that after reading this, you are all ready to buy a ticket to London so you can see the wax museum for yourself. Well, come Fall 2007, you’ll just have to ride the red/orange/blue lines to Metro Center in order to visit Washington’s very own Madame Tussauds!

The $16 million project, now in design, is slated to include replicas of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence; interactive experiences involving the history of Washington; and a replica of the Oval Office, where visitors can have their picture taken. President Abraham Lincoln is the designated “greeter,” so his likeness is likely to be the first visitors see upon entering.

Replicas of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence? Who needs to see the real things anyways?