Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We are now in Edinburgh at Jessica's sister's place, which means we have temporary access to her personal computer, which means we can finally post pictures! Here are a few highlights from the first half of our trip.

Drinking the water in Bath, which supposedly has remarkable curative powers, if it doesn't kill you first (it very nearly did Jessica):

The castle in Pembroke, an unplanned stop that turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the trip so far:

The Harry Potter 7 set we stumbled into:

Friendly locals standing guard over Dobby's grave:

Taking pictures of each other from the towers of Conwy Castle:

Cold and wet and dreary in Ireland:

There are more pictures where these came from, and more in my camera (which we didn't upload, out of courtesy to Kirstin), but we'll leave those for a later time.

Friday, May 15, 2009


This is the view of Snowdonia National Park from the top of Mt. Snowdon:

And this (more or less) is what we saw from the summit of Mt. Snowdon:

Mt. Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales. That sounds impressive, but it's no Mt. Everest, or even Mt. Timpanogos. The hike up and back was just a little over four hours, round trip, and we didn't even start it until after noon. By that time we'd already had a hearty English breakfast at our bed-and-breakfast, made a trip to retrieve my camera from the shop I left it at the night before (yes, my camera-losing tendencies have followed me across the Atlantic), a tour of the Conwy Castle, a half-hour internet session at the Conwy library, a drive along the carriageway (which is two lanes - the expressway is three lanes), and a harrowing, high-speed bus ride through a narrow mountain pass from the parking lot to the base of the trails.

But even if it was short, the hike was challenging - lots of climbing up steep rock surfaces, made slippery by the mist. At points the trail disappeared altogether, and experienced Snowdon hikers told us to just head upwards on anything that looks even remotely trail-like, that it all heads to the same place. This went against anything I ever learned about hiking in the mountains. We had visions of getting lost on Mt. Snowdon, especially in the fog that obscured our view most of the way (what little we could see was beautiful, and we did manage to snap a few good pictures which we can post later). But we successfully made it to the summit, then successfully missed our turn onto the Miners trail on the way down and ended up on the Pyg trail instead. Fortunately, of the six trails that run up Snowdon, the Pyg trail happens to be the one that starts at the same place as the Miners trail, and we made it back to our bed-and-breakfast without incident.

Today we're in Dublin. With limited time to spend here, we took a bus tour to get a feel for the city. In between commentary, they played Irish songs sung by a female singer, and one that played at least three times on the tour had the line, "dirty ol' town" repeated over and over. That's kind of our impression of Dublin. It might be a bright, happening place if you like pub-hopping, but we're looking forward to getting out into the Irish country side tomorrow.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Update from Jessica

Many of you may still be very tense from the last post when Amy had no idea where I was. Let me put your mind at ease, I am safe and sound in London with Amy. My flight out of DC was really late due to a runway shutdown due to lightning. By the time I got to Philly my plane was long gone and I was stranded, so I spent the night in the airport. The next day I caught a flight to Charlotte, NC and then made a 6 pm flight to London. I planned to sleep on the plane but that was near impossible seeing those seat are really unconfortable and there was a baby crying sporadically throughout the flight. I arrived in London early Friday morning and made it to the hostel, showered and then set out on day of sight-seeing with Amy.

I must admit I did take a few breaks throughout the day. While I am sure the British Museum of stuff and things had a great collection I didn't make it past the first floor. Instead I took a little nap on the wood bench and had Amy give highlights. I did manage to see the Rosetta Stone. We also visited the Library that has an amazing collection of writings and artifacts from the likes of Shakespear, Jane Austen, and the Beatles, as well as an exhibit on the Magna Carta.
I am already a little tired typing so I will just give some highlights.
-Loved the the Museum of Design and Architecture
-Learned a lot from the Science Museum. Apparently future energy ideas include using human waste. This means that when you go to someones home for a visit instead of using the bathroom and flushing the toilet you will collect it in a little baggy and present it to your host as a thank you present. Hopefully we can load some pictures soon because there is a picture that accompanies this exhibit and they are hilarious.
Tomorrow we are off to Stonehenge and bath, which also mean we will be driving in England! If I don't make it this blog post may be published in a volume of final writings.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quick Update

I was thinking, yesterday, as I was sitting in the Philadephia airport waiting for her, that I should take note of the funny little incidents and mishaps that had happened so far, and which are bound to happen several times throughout this trip. A few of them might be blogworthy. Here's the one that inspired this thought: I stood up to drop something in the trash and became aware of a sort of shortish presence behind me. I thought it was someone's child, but the child seemed to be hovering behind me more than I would expect a child to hover around a stranger. So I turned around and was startled to find myself face-to-face (or leg-to-nose) with a German Shepherd. There was a police officer attached, and he looked at me stonily as the dog began to sniff intently at my jeans. Naturally I assumed he (the dog) could smell Jin on me, and it didn't occur to me until after the officer finally pulled him away that maybe I should have been concerned about the dog's interest in me. He must have been a drug-sniffing dog, and since the only drugs I was carrying on me were Kroger-brand sleeping pills (which, sadly, didn't work very well on the red-eye flight), I didn't have much of anything to worry about.

But these incidents I was supposed to be taking note of didn't seem nearly as significant or blog-worthy when they began boarding for our flight to London and Jessica still hadn't arrived in the terminal. I knew she had left town at approximately the same time I did, and even with an hour delay I had arrived with about two hours to spare. So I finally went up to the desk and was told that her flight from Baltimore hadn't even taken off yet. And then...I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't have my cell phone, and because I didn't have my cell phone I also didn't have Jessica's cell phone number to call her, and the plane was already boarding. Finally I decided there was nothing I could do, and just got on the plane.

I haven't spoken to Jessica in person yet, but I have had some communication and know that she'll be here tomorrow morning. This means that I am spending my first (very jet-lagged) day by myself out here. That's fine. I'll explore a little bit, get situated in the hostel where we'll be spending the weekend so that I can show Jess the ropes when she arrives, and try to figure out the lay of the city. I'll take some pictures (it's a good thing I brought my own camera), then sleep very well tonight, and hopefully the rest of the trip will go a bit more smoothly. I really think it ought to, with a beginning like this.

And now the real adventure begins! For both of us, in different ways...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Countdown begins!

Well, technically the countdown started, like, three months ago. But yesterday Jessica and I had our very last official planning meeting. We've been meeting regularly for quite awhile now, pounding out our itinerary, deciding what sites we want to see along the way, booking rooms in hostels and bed and breakfasts. On Monday, though, Jessica is heading down to D.C. and the next time we will see each other will be in the Philadelphia International Airport where we will board our redeye to London. We trust that the UK is fully equipped with internet access, and so in a couple weeks you should see our real life adventure taking shape on this blog.

Since I have been a poor contributor to our blog lately, Jessica assigned me to write the Official We've Officially Finished Our Official Planning Blog Entry. I struggled mightily to think of some creative way to celebrate this milestone, and finally fell back on my new favorite blogging pastime - a photo montage!

I included approximately every stop on our three-week visit. Can you identify the place associated with each picture?

Thanks to everyone who gave us suggestions - it has been really helpful to hear from people who have been there.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Isle of Eire

This is a plea. Amy and I are going to Ireland and are trying to figure out whether we should spend a night in Dublin or not. We will definitely be going down south to Cork area to kiss the Blarney stone so it you have any info on that area let us know as well.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

London Itinerary Done....Finally

At the outset of this post I just want to say thank you so much to all of you who left suggestions on the London Calling Post, it was all tremendously helpful. Keep those suggestions coming. 

Here is what we have so far for London. I am really excited for our walk-abouts. This is a very English thing. I just read about them in Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island where he describes all these people walking about in high wool socks and hiking boots. I am not sure I will be sporting that fashion but I am excited to have many a walk-about in London and all over the UK. 

Day 1: May 7, 2009



Visit Westminster

Hyde Park and walk-about from Hyde Park back to hostel with a stop at Regents Park

Day 2: May 8, 2009

British library

British museum

Temple to Buckingham Palace walking tour.


   Catch concert St. martin in the fields

Day 3: May 9, 2009

Portebello Road Market

Walking tour London Eye to Design Museum:


London Tower and London Bridge.