A Rejuvenating Bath Wednesday, Jan 20 2010 

Bath may have been established in the first century, but its architecture remains in the Georgian style of when Jane Austen was its resident.  Still, the biggest tourist draw still remains the Roman Baths, which were built on hot springs, although the Romans believed it was due to the goddess Minerva and named the city Sulis Minerva to honor her.  The bath as a museum still has bubbling pools and steam rooms, with explanations of the temple’s remains by an interesting audio guide.  Apparently the pagan Romans conducted business in el delicato in the pools surrounded by former Roman emperors, while the Britons of the 18th century flocked there for health ailments.

Jane Austen wrote about Bath in her last novel Persuasion and now her former home is a museum for the author.  The museum includes a short talk on Austen’s family life and the sad circumstances that brought her to a city she did not care for.  The museum also includes costumes and artifacts for daily life in 19th century bath, including film clips and a demonstration of the art of the fan.

Bath Abbey is one of the oldest churches in England and an incredibly elegant one surviving wars and destruction.

One thing we learned from our trip to Bath is how similar the trains in England are to airplanes.  They both feature a drink service where you can purchase refreshments, have plush seats, in-seat magazines, and can cause travel problems when they are delayed.  However, there often are trains quick to go to your next destination listed on the electronic departure board, but beware that your ticket is not for a specific time or else you could be charged more for a new ticket.

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Medevial Edinburgh Wednesday, Jan 20 2010 

Edinburgh is a wonderful city on a hill.  Edinburgh Castle is situated on a volcanic mountain as a means to view and protect the stone street city, as further means of protection from enemies, English or otherwise, the castle is still armed with cannons and iron gates.  While it used to be the home of Mary Queen of Scots, today the castle is the home to the Scottish crown jewels, which were hidden by peasants when the castle was seized, along with the Stone of Scone, which is placed under the coronation throne when a new monarch of England is crowned.  From the castle’s height you can see the whole city and the lochs and hills beyond it.

Edinburgh is made up of the Old Town where most of the city used to reside and contains the Royal Mile where you can take historic ghost tours along with the New Town where the modern shopping and industry are located.  In Old Town there is the philanphropy-minded Elephant House that was once frequented by J.K. Rowling along with the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre with the world’s largest collection of Scotch Whisky.  The New Town also is home to the Scott Monument, honoring author Sir Walter Scott, and the National Gallery of Scotland, which has huge canvases painted by famous Scotts and other European artists like Rembrandt, Degas, and Van Gogh.

Industries of Manchester Wednesday, Jan 20 2010 

Manchester has a similar history to Liverpool’s, as we learned about at the Museum of Science and Industry.  It too was a city that flourished during the Industrial Revolution when factories worked to produce cotton for around the world.  At the museum there is even an exhibit demonstrating the process of creating textiles with 19th century machines.  This museum also highlighted Manchester as the first English city to have a 1830-built railroad warehouse (which is the building that houses the museum) along with toting the University of Manchester as the creator of one of the first computers.

The city even features a historic pub with Sinclair’s Oyster Bar that still features inexpensive pints and food in its original interior, even though the building was bombed away from its bombed location to today’s tourist center.  World War II also took its toll on this Northwestern city as did foreign competition causing the factories to close.  Today Manchester is home to department stores, a big wheel, and the glass-pyramid shaped Urbis, which will soon be changed into a football museum instead of showing traveling art exhibits.

Meet the Beatles While in Liverpool Wednesday, Jan 20 2010 

Liverpool is a wonderful, revitalized city.  Because it was chosen as the European Union’s Capital of Culture in 2008, when we were there in the Fall of 2009 we witnessed new infrastructure and brightly lit shopping arcades with glass staircases.  Beautiful sites to see included the Liverpool Cathedral and the Metropolitan Cathedral.  The Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, built between 1903 and 1978 and one of the largest churches in England, is very traditional with its stained glass alcoves and gilt carvings but it is also holds neon signs advertising its coffee on the walls.  The Metropolitan Cathedral is known for is glass-funnel shape that is one of the most unique designs for a church.

The modern developments in Liverpool have brought tourism back to a city that used to be the gateway to the sea, which fell on hard times after the bombings during World War II and the end of the Industrial Revolution.  Even with its new construction projects, there are still startling reminders of the past with bombed out churches and barbed wire walls present in the outskirts of the city.  A reminder of Liverpool’s importance in history is demonstrated at the historic Albert Dock where the stone streets and brick buildings house  the Merseyside Maritime Museum.  The International Slavery Museum is housed on the top floor with the rest of the museum detailing Liverpool’s maritime history through the age of the Cunard (Queen Elizabeth II) and White Star (Titanic) cruise lines to the wars and up to the age of smuggling.

Albert Dock is also the home of the Tate Modern and one of the most popular reasons to visit Liverpool, the Beatles Story.  This museum features an amazing audio tour with sound clips from the Fab Four and the people who helped them become the most famous band in the world.  Their photos and artifacts detail the band’s history from their start at the Casbah club through all the albums and their independent careers post-Beatles.  Not too far away is the rebuilt Cavern Club on the famous Matthews Street, with A Hard Day’s Night Hotel next door, completing the Liverpool tour for any Beatle-maniac.

The Serene Lake District Monday, Nov 23 2009 

For my first trip upon arriving to study abroad at Lancaster University, I travelled to the nearby Lake District.  This was one of my first experiences riding the famous double decker buses, which are quite commonplace in the United Kingdom.  It was also my first time experiencing the highway system in England and I must say I admire the bus drivers so much since they need to navigate a double-decker manual monster through incredibly curvy streets.  I have decided I would never be able to drive over here since if the driving on the left side of the street is not enough to throw me off, but their circle circles (here called round abouts) are present at every exit.  On the topic of vehicles, I did not go on a boat trip on the lake, but instead walked around the green fields.  This was back when the weather was cold but actually featured blue skies, something I sorely miss now in November.  Being in the English air, yet surrounded by a landscape so similar to the one I had left in the US was exhilarating.  That was the first time since my arrival some days earlier that I felt truly giddy to be in England.  I am still pleased that I was in the same villages that the Romantic writers lived in and even saw the tiny house where William Wordsworth wrote his poetry.  The Lake District would only be the beginning of my encounters with sites of historical and literary importance.

Hello world! Monday, Nov 16 2009 

This is my first blog and I apologize for its crudeness.  I am an American student studying abroad in Europe for the first time.  More specifically, I am from Binghamton University in the Northeast on exchange to Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.  I will devote this blog to describing my sometimes comical experiences while I am studying abroad.  Along with displaying a vast array of photos from my travels, this blog will include my opinions on cultural differences and blurbs on the trips I make across Europe.  I hope that you enjoy it and feel free to leave comments!

A bientot,

Kelsey

PS:  If there are any mistakes or corrections that need to be made, feel free to let me know.

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