ENGLAND

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We continued our journey driving around the UK (United Kingdom) and entered England. IMG_4427

First we visited Liverpool and spent the day on the waterfront.  First stop:   the Beatles Museum.  I learned a lot about the Beatles while I was here.  In the museum we learned about each of the Beatles lives, their manager, the story behind the songs, and where they went on tour.  Each of the singers had rooms dedicated to them and it explained about their lives while in the band and after leaving the band.  They all went their separate ways and became successful singers/songwriters of their own.   The Beatles had so many hit songs, my parents know all of them.Image result for beatles museum liverpool Image result for statue of the beatles in liverpool we ate lunch right on a bench next to these statues of the Beatles.

Fun Facts: “Ringo” was the first voice of the original “Thomas the Train.” His voice can be heard on all the old DVD’s.

* The Beatles names are Paul, Ringo, John, and George.  Ringo’s real name is “Richard.”

In April, 1964 the Beatles had the top 5 songs in America. First time an English Band ever did that.  They went on to have 17 number one hits!!

 

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In Liverpool we also visited the Liverpool museum, which was free and located right on the waterfront.  In fact, the waterfront is very nice. Liverpool used to be a working class/factory town but in the last 10 years it has transformed itself to a nice city for tourists and residents to enjoy.   The Liverpool museum had movies about the history and people of Liverpool.  In fact, we saw photo’s and video’s of the Liverpool vs. Everton soccer games.  We learned about how people were killed when the fans rushed the field during the games. Image result for liverpool city Image result for liverpool vs. everton It was interesting to learn why Everton Football team left Liverpool and moved its team a few towns away, although still having the fan base of Liverpool residence.   It is still a HUGE rivalry between the 2 clubs as half of Liverpool residence wear RED to support Liverpool and the other BLUE to support Everton. A lot of soccer/football history here.  It is similar to Manchester United vs. Manchester City or closer to home… It is like the Mets vs. Yankees rivalry in NY.  I wish we were here for a game.

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STONEHENGE:Image result for stonehenge

We continued our journey to Stonehenge.  It was awesome, its history really fascinates me. I wonder how these statues got here… there are different theories.  It is not complete as we see it now, it has been destroyed.  No one knows why Stonehenge was built, could have been a calendar, or built by aliens or used as a funeral place for people.  These are some of the theories.   The Stones are about 25 feet high.  Why it is here is one of the BIGGEST MYSTERIES in history.  The night before we visited we watched a ton of documentaries and read up on Stonehenge and the surrounding areas. I wrote a paper on what I learned.   Youtube has the best history channels.  Stonehenge has a triangular shaped  stone which stands a little bit away from the main stones, and on the summer and winter solstice the light casts a shadow directly on the the center stones in the circle. This is not a coinsicence.  That’s why some people think it was used as a calendar.  We were not able to touch the rocks at Stonehenge but we could see everything from where we were. iceland-UK+June-July 2016 862 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 860 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 870iceland-UK+June-July 2016 832iceland-UK+June-July 2016 897 At another ancient site called AVEBURY a half hour drive from Stonehenge. Here there are stones forming giant circles that you can touch and walk around.  Sawyer and I ran all over here.  Hardly no one was here, as most people only go to Stonehenge and not the outer areas. We watched a documentary on the whole area of this part of England.

Fun Fact: The Avebury Ring is one of the greatest stone circles in Britain. The whole of the surrounding area is full of pre-historic monuments – Stonehenge, the Ridgeway and the Long Barrows.
Interesting thing:  When we arrived at the actual site of Stonehenge….you can either take a bus (which costs 16 pounds each, that is $22) or you could walk the ancient paths through the fields for 45 minutes until you reach Stonehenge for free.  Guess what we did…….we walked it.  SO COOOOL, went over ancient mounds of Earth and followed the trail through wandering sheep foraging through the field.  Met interesting people…the most interesting people are the ones NOT doing the organized tours.

iceland-UK+June-July 2016 848 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 841 This is us walking the beautiful path to Stonehenge. Image result for stonehenge area

We talked with a young man who was walking all around England and camping. He was from up north in England and just wanted to take 3 months to himself and walk to historical sites.  He witnessed Stonehenge at the exact same time my family did. It was his first time here too.  He thought it was cool that we were doing this as kids. The Museum in the visitors center has models of Stonehenge in its entirety, some video’s, displays, etc. Here we tried pulling one of the stones, you can see the logs under the board. This is perhaps how the people moved such heavy stones to the site.iceland-UK+June-July 2016 881

Fun Facts: * Built in several stages, Stonehenge began about 5,000 years ago as a simple earthwork enclosure where prehistoric people buried their cremated dead. The stone circle was erected in the centre of the monument in the late Neolithic period, around 2500 BC.

  • In the 1880s, after carrying out some of the first scientifically recorded excavations at the site, Charles Darwin concluded that earthworms were largely to blame for the Stonehenge stones sinking through the soil.

We spent an entire day exploring Stonehenge and Avebury. We ate a picnic lunch at Avebury and thought about what may have happened here thousands of years ago.

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LONDON:  We returned our rental car that we drove through Scotland and England at the airport in London.  Took the train (called the “tube”) from the rental station to our hotel. Settled into our hotel located next to Hyde Park in the central part of London where we stayed for the last week of our WORLD ADVENTURE.  We figure we would end in style at a nice hotel.

Image result for the tube london long escalators The “tube” has these crazy long underground escalators to get down to some terminals.

Image result for hyde park london images Hyde Park, we passed through here every day while exploring London.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE and the changing of the guards.  We walked here early to get a great spot.  This is huge tourist attraction and we waited for the guards to do their thing.  The changing of the guards takes place daily and the guards march down the street to change shifts with the guards on duty.  They wear colorful red jackets and tall , fluffy hats that are at least 12 inches high.  They play instruments and some ride on horse back and some walk in unison together.  The ceremony goes on for about an hour, the guards had perfect timing when they marched and were always together.  The hats look very fuzzy and it must be hot to wear in the summer time.  We had a great spring day. We kept looking in the windows of the palace wondering if Queen Elizabeth or the Prince and Princess (Will and Kate) or their kids were peeking out. Image result for buckingham palace guards iceland-UK+June-July 2016 970 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 918

While we were walking from Buckingham Palace to the city center we passed the theatre district…We decided right then and there to see what was playing that afternoon.  We saw  “Michael Jacksons Thriller” show which was awesome.  I learned about his life and the singers sang so many of his songs and the dancers were great. There were 5 different singers that did his songs.  There was even a boy who did the songs from his days with the “Jackson 5  We enjoyed this show. I now have a new love for his music. Sawyer and I were singing the entire way home. We ate dinner at a Chinese take out place across the street from the theatre and ate with the actor/singer from the show (Hello Alex from England). He said he’s been doing this show for 7 years now.    We recognized him right away and told him how awesome he was.  He told us about his performances and how he wants to visit the theatre district in NY. We enjoyed our experience in the Theatre District so much that we purchased more tickets to different show another night…more on that later.

iceland-UK+June-July 2016 991 Here we are waiting at the corner. Image result for london theatre district iceland-UK+June-July 2016 982 a huge monopoly game outside the Natural History Museum in London. Image result for london michael jackson show.

We walked around Picadilly Circus, which is just an area that people hang about and “people watch.”  We walked back to our hotel enjoying the city at night.  iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1014 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 993 Back at the hotel we downloaded some Michael Jackson songs to our Kindles.  Some of the other things we did in London included, playing soccer in Hyde Park, which is like Central Park.  The grass was nice and the days were warm for spring. We took the “tube” everywhere or walked.  Our days in London were all full, we planned the evening before, often watching a documentary on London history or the museums or researching the Royal Family. We wanted to take in all the major sights and some minor ones too.

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BIG BEN:  FUN FACT: The real name of Big Ben is the Elizabeth Tower.

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iceland-UK+June-July 2016 998 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1017This was exactly what I thought it would be from the photos I saw.  I did not expect it to be in the middle of traffic and buildings.  It is connected to the Parliament buildings, which are nice, and located on the River Thames.  We walked along the River for a long time taking in the sights of the city. iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1008 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1003 The London Eye (the big ferris wheel) was right here. It was a tourist trap, long lines and 30 pounds to get in. Waste of money especially on a cloudy day. We did not do it.  Image result for big ben and parliament We crossed over bridges on the River Thames.

We also visited Westminster Abby.  The church is adjacent to Big Ben and in a square that is a popular destination to wander about.  There are statues of important English people in History lining the park and Westminster Abby is across the street. This is a statue of Winston Churchill.  Churchill was the British Prime Minister in the 1940’s then elected again in the 1950’s. He also wrote many books.  iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1025

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Once you walk into this church you can feel its importance in History.  Over 3000 people are buried here , including Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists of all times, he discovered what we know as  “gravity.” On the outside Westminster Abby does not look that spectacular but on the inside it is spectacular, in fact, I think it is one of the most beautiful churches I ever saw….AND I’ve been to the Vatican (Rome) and the Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) and Notre Dame (Paris) and Westminster is just as beautiful.

We purposely went when we were able to attend a Sunday Mass. We arrived an hour early and got our seat. The mass was easily understood as it was in English and there were visiting choir boys from Australia singing.  The mass was 2 hours and there were singing and a gigantic organ that was loud.  This is the church where Prince William and Princess Kate got married. I walked down the same Isle as they did on their wedding day.  Here is a picture of the Royal Wedding ( which I remember I saw on TV when I was in 1st grade).

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iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1030 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1038the façade has very intricate detailed carvings.

Westminster Abby is very unique and has a lot of history. We learned a great deal about it.

THE BRITISH MUSEUM:  We walked one day to the British Museum. It took an hour to walk from our hotel to this museum but it was a nice day., its free to enter. We really went here to see the one thing I have been studying…THE ROSETTA STONE. It was completely amazing that I got to see a stone that played an important part of history, without this we would have no idea how the Egyptians used to live.  We looked at it very closely from all angles it was cool to see the carvings in it.  There is a great story about the Rosetta Stone and it’s significance and how it was found accidentally.  Only part of it remains today but it is especially historical.

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Fun Facts: The Rosetta Stone was found in 1799.  It is a stone of black granite. It has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802. It is the most-visited object in the British Museum.

In 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian conquests, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.

I wish we learned about this in History at school.  I cant wait for higher level history classes so I can share with the class all about this discovery and what it meant to historians. By the way, the history channel on line has excellent shows on the Rosetta Stone.  You can watch them and learn a lot.

This reminds me of when I saw the “Book of Kells” in Ireland (see that post) there is so much history in Literature all over the world. I love that!!!   The night before we visited the Museum we looked up info on the Rosetta Stone and learned a lot.   iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1041 Image result for british museumThe interior of the British Museum. The above photo  is us having lunch outside the British Museum. In fact, my Grandma Janet happen to call us just then and Mom actually had the phone on because the museum had free wifi..

There were a lot of other displays in this museum that we quickly visited not spending much time, there was an Egyptian display that was cool as well as artifacts and such.   We really only wanted to see the Rosetta Stone.   By this point we have been to so many museums that we had one purpose here and we spent a great deal of time examining the Stone.

THEATRE DISTRICT AGAIN: MAMA MIA

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We are huge fans of ABBA so we purchase tickets to MAMA MIA right after we saw the Michael Jackson Thriller show.  This time it was a late evening performance and the songs and dances and story was really cool.  It was like a musical play.  The songs were awesome, at the end we were all on our feet dancing to “Waterloo” and other popular ABBA songs.  Sawyer and I are big fans now.Image result for mamma mia show

The city of London is  not  special looking (like Amsterdam or Chaing Mai) but it is almost like NY.  Less crowded, more double decker busses and we enjoyed listing and talking to the local people with their cool accents. We walked a lot.

THE TOWER OF LONDON:

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This was a huge castle that’s been around forever. This was basically like a small town inside the walls.  I got to stand in the moat and go into the chapel. They used this castle during World War II to keep prisoners.  There was also wild animals held here 100’s of years ago ( I wonder how they got the tigers, monkeys, polar bears into the dungons).

iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1058 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1064iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1047iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1043iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1065 Here is Sawyer observing where the wild animals were once kept. .

Fun Facts: The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armory, a treasury , the home of the Royal Mint ,  a public records office  and the home of the Crown Jewels of England  From the early 14th century until the reign of  Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abby on the coronation of a monarch.

My favorite part about the Tower of London (the palace) was visiting the rooms with the Crown Jewels.  It is a British Law that the Crown Jewels must be on display to the public when they are not being used by Royalty.  I have to say it was unbelieveable.    It is heavily guarded and you move along on a conveyer belt and go round and round to see the items displayed. You can not linger over an object ,you see it as you slowly move by.  The crowns, tiara’s, plates, septors, necklaces, earrings, rings, swords, etc.   THE DIAMONDS.  The gems , emeralds, rubies,  There is this one room that has the most diamonds on display found anywhere else on Earth.   Different Kings and Queens had their crowns made for them. I got to see how they became more elaborate over the hundreds of years.  The first being just a gold crown with no gems to what we see today. It really is fascinating. Look at the size of that ruby….

Image result for the crown jewels tower of london Image result for the crown jewels tower of london

Image result for the crown jewels tower of london  Image result for the crown jewels tower of london Image result for the crown jewels tower of londonlook at the size of that diamond. It is as big as my fist. This is the building located inside the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept.  We had no line getting in.  The guards outside were changing their shifts so we got to see another “changing of the guards” here too.

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I noticed all the jewels are symmetrically organized. Each crown is unique.  We even saw the carrying cases for each and every piece especially made. We saw a video of Queen Elizabeth.  Her crown is the most prettiest and she wore it while being coronated and every year since.  I wonder how heavy it is????   When we were here Queen Elizabeth was going to turn 90 the following week. I think its cool I got to see the crown jewels, I feel (since Queen Elizabeth is 90 years old) I probably get to see 2 more Royal Coronations.  Now I know what they use at these events and I saw them in person. Here she is when she was coronated (at age  24) and here she is recently wearing HER crown and jewelry.

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The Tower of London also has a chapel and a residence for the Queen that is still in use today.  It has lots of other buildings and mini museums to look around.  Once inside the grounds we joined up with a guide dressed in costume and he explained about the way life was here 100’s of years ago and all the uses for the Tower (which is a Castle).

TOWER BRIDGE:  People think this bridge is called London Bridge, it is not. I liked looking at this bridge, we ate lunch by the bridge, it started to rain so we went under the part of the bridge that meets up with the road  to wait out the rain with other people.  The bridge goes over the Thames River and cars can drive over it. It is a draw bridge that can open to let ships go by. It has been restored over the years. The Tower Bridge was the last and final thing on our list of things to do while in London. We took a long walk along the river after that and went back to the hotel.

It was raining when this photo was taken. iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1085 Image result for tower bridge iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1080 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1092 this is where we waited while the rain storm passed, right under the Tower Bridge. We heard all the cars passing above and watched the ships in the Thames River go by.

We spent all of our days in London enjoying ourselves. It was interesting about the weather, one minute it was sunny and nice, then the next a thunderstorm.  We had our umbrella’s in the backpack at all times and used them everyday. I guess late April  is odd weather for London.

The next morning we prepared for our journey back to NY.  Normally packing up our things gets us excited about the “next destination” we are going.  But the day we left was different…We packed up one final time, this time with many memories of our amazing world trip.  We will all miss this time together.   My parents say it was the best time of their lives (because they got to be with us kids…) probably.   We are thinking about another journey in the future to South America.   I will write a summary of my thoughts on this trip at a later time. I have so much to say that it really needs it’s own page.  Throughout this world trip I have kept a written journal, it is 2 inches thick and I am on my second book.  I write about everything so I will always remember.   I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures, the little that I shared with you along this blog.  It is my first blog ever. I enjoyed sharing these stories with you.

If you are just finding my blog or reading it for the first time, my stories go in reverse chronological order, from last to first so keep scrolling down to read more. OR, better yet, if you are reading on a desktop or laptop (better than on a phone) you can chose a country from the list on the left side and click to read away.  Periodically I will be updating and adding more photo’s too. 

Riley

rileymeckley@yahoo.com