Dec 31, 2014

Breakfast At The Blackbird

Full English Breakfast
The Blackbird - Earl's Court - London, UK
We had breakfast at a beautiful pub that's near where we're staying.

Dec 30, 2014

Back At Kensington For Dinner

Zizzi Ristorante
Earls Court Rd - Kensington, London
Today has been a lot of fun, but it's also been very tiring, so we stayed close to "home" and had a nice pasta dinner with sparking apple juice.  The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was very cool.

The Chapter House

The Chapter House
St. John's Street - Salisbury, England
After we explored the Salisbury Cathedral, we walked around town for a bit and found this very cozy little place to stay warm and enjoy a glass of wine.

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury - Wiltshire, UK
This was the last stop on our bus trip, and it felt almost magical - like I was stepping into an Indiana Jones movie.  If I hadn't just been to Stonehenge, I would have said that I've never been this close to things that were this old and historic.  It was truly an experience I'll never forget.

We got to see one of the four existing copies of the Magna Carta in the world, which is on display here.  Photography wasn't allowed in that section of the Cathedral, but it was permitted everywhere else, and as always, I took a ton of photos.  Here are some of the best ones.


Amesbury - Wiltshire, UK
Throughout my life, any time a discussion came up of places that you want to visit, Stonehenge was always on the list.  Usually, those conversations were centered around things that you would do if you hit the lottery, or bucket list dreams that you hope to achieve before you die.  I never thought I'd actually make it, but here I am.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle
Windsor - Berkshire, UK
We took a bus trip with three stops: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral.  Of the three, this is the one that I wish we could have spent more time.  It was fascinating and beautiful beyond my capability to describe it with words.

When we arrived, we were given a headset for an audio tour to help explain the historical context of the castle grounds and of the rooms inside the castle as you visit them.  I've heard of this technology before, but this was the first time I've had the opportunity to experience it, and it really is brilliant.  Unlike guided tours, you can hear the presentation with crystal clarity, and you can pause it whenever you like to soak in your surroundings without missing any of the information.

Windsor Castle was built by William The Conqueror in the 11th Century AD, and it's been the longest occupied palace in Europe since Henry I was the King of England.  The grounds are secured by members of the Queen's Guard.  I got to see a changing of the guard in the section of the grounds that you see below.

Photography wasn't allowed inside, but you could take as many photos as you wanted on the castle grounds outside.  As much as I love taking photos, I'm kind of glad that they had this rule.  If photography was allowed inside, I know that I would have spent too much time framing and trying to get the right light to capture everything.  There simply was so much to see inside that taking pictures would have distracted me from being able to live in the moment and truly experience the castle.

Dec 29, 2014

Masala Zone

Masala Zone
Earls Court - London, UK
I was told that I shouldn't leave London without eating at an Indian restaurant.  Masala Zone came highly recommended, and rightfully so.  Everything was delicious.

The World's Most Famous Cornershop

Fortnum & Mason
Westminster - London, UK
This store has been in business since 1707 and has held the Royal Warrant for groceries and provisions since 1955, and it must be seen to be believed.  It's very posh and very large with six floors of merchandise that ranges from ordinary to exotic.  You could easily spend a few hours wandering around, looking at all of the beautiful displays and unusual foods.

A lot of the items here are quite pricey, but there's plenty of things here that are no more expensive than a store like Wegmans in the United States.  We found a nice set of crocks filled with salt, pepper and herbs, some nice chocolate and coffee, a Christmas ornament and box of Christmas crackers.

Speaking of Christmas, the store is still decked for the holidays with trees, wreaths and other seasonal decorations.  The place was jammed and I didn't want to disturb the other shoppers, so I was only able to get a few photos, but I was able to get one of the Christmas tree by the spiral staircase.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace
Westminster - London, UK
This is the second royal palace that I've had the opportunity to visit in my life.  I saw my first when I was eight years old - Iolani Palace in Honolulu.  It only took 26 years for me to see another.  Unfortunately, Buckingham Palace wasn't open for tours (that's usually limited to the summer and a few select dates in the Fall and Winter), but it was still very cool to see the home of Queen Elizabeth.

Dec 28, 2014

Eating With Gusto

Gusto Restaurant
Earls Court Road - London, UK
On our Christmas Day walk across London, we met a very nice couple from Australia named Phil and Zoe.  They're also staying at the Presidential Apartments in Kensington (just a few doors down from us), and on their recommendation, we visited a nearby restaurant called Gusto to have breakfast.

Gusto is right across the street from Earl's Court Station.  It's very cozy and comfortable and I loved it from the moment I walked in.  There are sofas set up with bug cushy pillows and tables where you can sit and have coffee or something to eat.  There's a small dining room in the back with table and chairs, and there are books laying around throughout the restaurant that you are welcome to read during your visit.

Phil recommended a dish that was made with poached eggs, tomato sauce and cheese, but he couldn't remember exactly what it was called.  When we mentioned it to our server, he knew exactly what we were talking about.  It's called Shakahuka, and I think it was the tastiest breakfast I ever had.  It was still sizzling when it was served to me in the skillet, and every bite was heavenly.  We are definitely coming back here again before we leave.

Dec 27, 2014

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone
The British Museum
Bloomsbury - London, UK
Most of my photos from The British Museum are on a separate page, but The Rosetta Stone deserves its own entry.  It was carved during the Hellenistic Period and was discovered in Egypt by Pierre-Fran├žois Bouchard, a soldier in Napoleon's army, in July 1799.  It contains text written in Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian (Demotic) and Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and it was the key to the first translations of the latter.  It has been on display at The British Museum since 1802.

The front, side and back of The Rosetta Stone in its display case at The British Museum.
Closeup of some of the text on The Rosetta Stone.