Warning: Image heavy!!
Wow, I’m still winding down from the trip I took in February with some good friends! It’s already May and I have loads to share. But first, let me tell you a bit about our adventures abroad!
Our original singular destination was London, where we had a friend who would graciously put us up in her centrally-located flat… Upon booking flights through IcelandAir, however, we realized that we could have an extended layover in Iceland either on the way there or back, and… how could we not? So we planned for London, then Iceland for a few days on the way back. And then we spontaneously decided to take the train thru the chunnel to go to Paris. So, three countries, two weeks.
Here is an abbreviate account of the trip.
London/and surrounding area
+ First morning, of course, I’m a tourist so…. full-English breakfast, and tea with milk. Ate it all! Was uncomfortable. But happy.
+ Walked down Baker Street, thought fondly about Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
+ Dental Museum – tiny, but free, and morbid, and fascinating! Look at this old, pretty dentistry kit!
+ Hunterian Museum – one of our major destinations. This was amazing, and easily the most beautiful and extensive collection of organic specimens and historically significant surgery paraphernalia. Photos unfortunately were not allowed, but here are some anyway. I could have spent much more time here. One of the sections I found most interesting was of bones that had been broken and healed, some at rather violent and incorrect angles. I wish I’d gotten pictures of those. It’s amazing how the body can patch itself up together and move past such trauma.
View from the top of the two-story atrium. So pretty!
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), or Stone Man Syndrome.
Seven week old fetus
+ Camden – went to the Lock, and bought Doc Martens. I know, I know. But I’ve always wanted a pair, and I love them.
+ The Hawley Arms – our first pub experience.
+ The Clink Prison Museum – This was fun. A good place for the kids. They even have a photo booth!
We took, like, four of these. This was the last in a series of increasingly violent poses.
+ Borough Market – I had a steak and ale pie. And bought salted ginger black licorice candies. I should have gotten more! And we didn’t see even close to the whole market, rather – we passed through it for food and a restroom.
+ Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret – One of the best things we saw! The herb garret especially, full of old instruments, apothecary knick-knacks and medicinal odds and ends. I came across a really powerful, dark sentence recently that seems to fit here, and which I really love: “We are the granddaughters of all the witches you could not burn.”
The Operating Theatre
An alembic, used to distill and purify medical ingredients from raw materials
Cervical dilator! So much nope!
+ Crossbones Garden (graveyard) – Beautiful and bittersweet. An old burial ground for prostitutes and babies. Sadly, we went at night and also the site was under construction.
Ribbons, beads, wishes and sentiments tied to the gates surrounding the graveyard
+ Victoria and Albert Museum – criminally, I only got an hour in this incredible museum, and didn’t have time to see either the Science museum or the Natural History Museum. Ah well, just have to go back another time!
+ Tower of London – yup, we saw the crown jewels. Rather, waited in line for over an hour then were whisked past them while standing on a conveyor belt. So much gold! Such sickening wealth! Pretty, though. And a wine cistern that can hold 144 bottles of wine! Here’s a tidbit for you, courtesy of the Tower of London’s website: “It weighs 8,000 oz and is 30″ high, 54.5″ long and 40″ wide. With gold at $280 an ounce the value of the gold is $ 2,240,000 not counting the workmanship added!” Photos forbidden.
+ Cellar Door – Okay. This was the best night of the whole trip. We were treated to an unexpected cabaret performance by Busty’s Boudoir. Afterwards we took a black cab home and felt really fancy.
+ Train to Brighton – walked along the alleys, really cool antique shops, went down to the beach. I love this city!
+ East London – Is the up and coming area? We met with our host in East London to go to a fancy three-level pub/club/thing of which I can’t remember the name. You pay a cover, and jam yourself inside with all the other young, well dressed people hoping to get lucky. We weren’t prepared. Amber and I escaped to a smaller, homier pub (Stag’s Head) around the block to meet other friends for a birthday party. Way more comfortable. When we left, birthday boy was drunkenly serenading a mounted deer (oh, a stag’s head. This is just now making sense, duh), trying to lasso it with… a rope? Where did he get a rope?
+ Bus tour to Stonehenge. We all thought it would be bigger. Haha, just kidding. No, but seriously. Why did I think that it would be bigger than this? It’s plenty impressive. It was beautiful, and painfully cold out. We’d planned for a Spinal Tap photo op (metal Ts and hardcore posing), but kept our coats on. This experience was made better by my recently finishing the first book in the Outlander series, which involves henges, time travel and handsome Scotsmen.
+ The City of Bath on the same bus tour. We didn’t know anything about Bath before going, and it turned out to be one of the most impressive and mind-boggling places we saw.
Me, as a Roman bather.
+ Stayed at an Air BnB flat, was awesome. On the way out we locked ourselves out of the apartment and without a way to get out of the locked outside gate. I picked a lock with a credit card for the first time in my life and felt an unreasonable amount of pride.
+ Broke out into a cold sweat waiting to order macarons in a super fancy macaron shop (Laduree, I think?), psyching myself up to order in French and in a complete sentence. Fumbled and was saved by the very kind English-speaking clerk. Ate macarons.
+ Went into a Kusmi Tea shop and wanted to buy everything. Didn’t buy everything.
+ Successfully ordered breakfast in French.
+ Pont de l’Archevêché (?) Love Locks Bridge.
+ the Catacombs – one of the most humbling and devastating places I’ve ever been.
+ Sacre Couer
+ stayed in a youth hostel. The first day, I went up to the counter and asked for recommendations on and directions to the only two things we needed to do: go to some hot springs, and see the penis museum. We were told there are hot springs everywhere, and were encouraged to go to the most famous one, which required a bus ride. Re: the other matter, the very patient and sweet counter girl rolled her eyes, clearly nonplussed that her country is now famous for a museum that caters to those with such tacky taste as us.
+ Hellgrimskirkja – the church of Iceland. From the top you can see all of Reykjavik.
+ Phallological museum – yup. I’d seen the documentary on Netflix, the Final Member. Ahem. Yeah, I know. But it was fun!
+ The Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll – erm, this wasn’t great. And I love Icelandic Rock and Roll!
+ Blue Lagoon geothermal spa – so, so good. You get a plastic bracelet upon entry, which you scan for anything you’d like to purchase (lunch, extra towels, a drink from the bar in the middle of the hot spring, etc.), and also added to the illusion that we were on another planet, in another time. Surreal. The steam coming off the hot water into the cold air inhibits your depth perception and can make you feel completely isolated, even though you’re surrounded by loads of other people. It’s unearthly, and so beautiful.
Good God! So, there’s the “brief” recap. Thanks for sticking with me if you’ve made it this far. All in all, the trip was amazing and too short, especially in Iceland. I’ll go back some day. I hear there’s a museum of witchcraft!
Okay. Till later! It’s good to be back.