Tag Archives: United Kingdom
June 14, 2011

POTD: The Roman Baths

Despite living in London for a year, I didn’t travel around the United Kingdom very much. There were plenty of trips my friends and I contemplated taking, and we would occasionally research rates for a bed and breakfast in the Cotswolds, a few days at the beach in Brighton, a short trip to Edinburgh, or beachfront hotels in Blackpool. Despite this, we usually ended up either going abroad or, if we did travel around the UK, taking short day trips outside the capital.

One trip we did take was to Bath, a very popular tourist destination in the south west of England, located 97 miles west of London. The city is fortunate to host several natural hot springs that provide 1,170,000 litres of water per day at a temperature of 114.8 °F. Throughout its history, these natural hot springs have drawn many visitors to the region, and the city is most well-known for its Roman Baths that are located in the beautiful city center. The original Roman baths were built around 60-70 AD during the Roman conquest of Britain on the orders of Emperor Claudius and contained three baths (a hot bath, warm bath, and cold bath) enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted building. These baths were eventually destroyed in the 6th century, however, after the Romans left and the baths fell into disrepair. The present structures date from the late 1700s, and, although you can no longer bathe in these baths due to the unsafe water, it is still a very interesting place to visit from a historical perspective, especially if you have any interest in Roman history.

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.

April 12, 2011

POTD: Belfast City Hall

The civic building for Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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?)

December 20, 2010

POTD: Gloucester Cathedral

gloucester cathedral

gloucester cathedral

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’d appreciate this cathedral. The cloisters here were transformed into the halls of Hogwarts for several of the movies. Built in 1089, this is probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen, especially with a blanket of snow covering the grounds. I stopped in to the cathedral when I was visiting a longtime friend, Janet, who moved to Gloucester, England several years ago.

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 25, 2010

POTD: Windsor Castle Guard

windsor castle guard

windsor castle guard

This is one of the guards who protects Windsor Castle, an official residence of the British monarch. I’ve always thought these guys sport one of the coolest uniforms out there. The “cap” they wear is 18 inches tall, weighs 1.5 pounds, is made from the fur of the Canadian black bear.

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 5, 2010

POTD: Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, England

Radcliffe Camera in Oxford

Radcliffe Camera in Oxford

Despite living in London for a year, I never made it out to Oxford. I finally ventured out there during a January 2010 trip to London, the day after a major snowstorm hit the region. While it was a pain navigating the snow-covered streets and sidewalks, the scenery was incredibly beautiful. This structure was built in 1737–1749 and originally housed the Radcliffe Science Library at the University of Oxford.

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.