Thursday, March 31, 2011

Foggy London Town

'Ello Guvnah!
As you may have noticed it has been a few days since the last post. The reason being that once you get into London there is so much to do and see that most other things get ignored. Every time you turn a corner a new building or monument is there that you have to stop and admire.

London Eye
Waldo shops at Sainsbury.
We started with the world famous Westminster Abbey (home to remains of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, among many others.) I am trying not to take the Lord's name in vain in attempting to describe it. The painstaking craftsmanship put into all of the sculptures and architecture is amazing. They told us that no pictures were allowed, but being the good Seifert that I am I may have taken a couple while security wasn't looking.

Westminster Abbey
We decided to walk through central London after that and ended up in Trafalgar square. Now I am going to give you a little world news. London had a protest over Libya and Government spending and some of the protesters decided to get creative.

Wanna be a balla
We walked along the south bank of the Thames river taking in sights on our way to the Tate Modern Art Museum. I can usually get behind most art, but modern art still escapes me. That being said i have to give it to the artists that thought of something that....interesting.

Millions of individually hand painted porcelain sunflower seeds.
Later on we met up with a friend of Dave's from school named Sebastian.  He's currently studying in London and showed us around his favorite part of town - Camden Town.  It's a semi-hidden marketplace that sells anything and everything imaginable.   The best way I can describe it is if a whole load of hippies embraced capitalism.  

Hippies in their natural environment
We left for Bath yesterday and will be returning to London soon. The bus here was amazing. We got to stretch out and lean back. Not quite the case of the 9 hour bus ride to London from Edinburgh. Take a look of what was going on for about 4hrs straight below. WARNING: it is a bunch of drunk Scottish guys cursing like sailors.
video

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Hangover with Kilts



I have heard some crazy bachelor stories in my day, but we should hang our American heads in shame based on what you can see every 5 minutes here. I don't expect to see so many cross dressed guys until Amsterdam. A bachelor party back home is maybe ten guys, not so in Scotland. The bachelor must invite every guy he has ever met. A group of around 30 guys will be out essentially heckling the groom relentlessly.

One afternoon I decided to visit the scotch distillery here and walked into the sight of a groom in a clear plastic tuxedo in his underwear.

PG courtesy of the bar
I'm pretty sure they were all drunk too and considering this was around noon, it must have started in the morning.... or possibly the night before. Either way, impressive.

The next day as Dave and myself sat on the square we joked about dressing the groom in a flowing dress. About thirty seconds after that we were blessed with this gem.
Searching for his glass slipper

Several minutes after that...
Trust me, it's better blurry


And again...

Superbald

Point of the story: NEVER have a Scottish best man.

Oh, and we are leaving on a night bus to London later tonight. Nothing says comfort like a packed 9 hour bus ride.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Last Hanging in Scotland

Bah

So we are staying in a hostel that is located just below the Edinburgh castle. There is a market just up the road that has a lot of nice pubs and such. We noticed though that the pubs had some interesting names and there was a strange platform right outside (that we jumped around on.) A new friend Thomas later informed us that this square is famous as the place of the last public hanging in Scotland. Kinda killed our buzz.

People are dying to hang out here


After a night out the only real feasible thing is to climb a mountain to go to the castle. The castle is amazing, it towers over the city as a reminder of times past. You could really feel the history as you walked around it. We joined in on a tour to get some history lessons. As I was up there I was sure it was the best view of the city...
 
From the top of the castle

I was wrong. Earlier today we had one of the guys here, Ben, drop us off so we could climb Arthur's Seat. He said it was a 15min hike. What a friggin liar. Check it out below.



Spence relaxing on the hill
"15 minute hike"

While it was a pain to climb, it did give a breathtaking view of the city. We sat on the edge of one of the hills for a while just taking in the city. It was up there we decided to stay for at least a couple more days. Between the friendly people and the historic yet youthful city, it was an easy call.
Enjoying the first and last sunny day in Scotland
Before the hike we visited Rosslyn Chapel. It was a bit pricy to get out there and see it, but in my opinion well worth it. I could talk forever about the detail stonework and the history of the chapel, but for the sake of time I will just say it blew me away.


I guess all I can really say is that I understand Sharon's obsession with Scotland and with the way things are going I will be right there with her.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For Those About to Rock, We Salute You

"Slappa da bass"
We saw this bad ass at the Botanical gardens near Queen University. In attempts to get into the slower pace of life here we lounged around the garden for a long time. Probably creeped out some of the locals, but what are you gonna do? It is strange to me to see some much greenery even in the winter. If I lived there I think i could easily visit there daily.

Earlier in the day we went for a city hall tour. The architecture and history behind the building was just amazing to me. As the guide pointed out a number of times, the Titanic was built in the Belfast shipyards and they had a number of artifacts from the ship. While being amazed by all the history is well and good, we have to have some fun too.


We also came across our second leprechaun sighting of the trip...AND we got pictures. Not only was he (it?) on our tour, but later that night while we were at the pub he came hopping in like any leprechaun worth his weight.

A Baby GAP spokesperson.
Speaking of pubs, I've had a question asked about the beer and whiskey. The beer is surprisingly cold when dispensed through the taps and the whiskey is great. When I ordered a whiskey and coke the bartender asked me if I wanted coke and i must have given him a look that said "stop asking stupid questions" because he immediately put in in the glass.

One of the more famous (read: expensive) pubs in Belfast.
While we were roaming around the streets we noticed a lot of people looking up and yelling. As any reasonable person would, we assumed there was a jumper, but actually people were repelling down a hotel. Why, we don't know, but it is the Irish and I don't think the needs reasons to do anything.



Who needs mountains when you have a hotel?
As of now, we are on a ferry leaving Ireland and heading to Scotland. One country down, 16 to go. Well this post is getting a bit long and I am dangerously close to a ranting stage so I'm signing off. To all those reading, rock on.
"The sea was angry that day; like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli." - George Constanza

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Goodbye Dublin, Hello Belfast

Out with the old, in with the new.

Today we hopped a bus from Dublin to Northern Ireland - Belfast, specifically.  The bus ride was pretty painless as there weren't many stops and the scenery was nice.  I know now why lamb is an option at most restaurants and shops as most of the countryside as occupied by sheep.

The city of Belfast definitely has a slower pace of life than the hustle and bustle of Dublin.  It has a more authentic, small town feel for sure.  The hostel we're staying at (Arnie's Backpackers) is comfortable and the people have been very welcoming and hospitable.  we got placed on the third floor which is only accessible through a narrow and steep set of stairs that is a blast to climb with a thirty pound pack. After unloading we took a stroll around the city and sat around City Hall for a bit.
An old white guy

It turns out only a thing of crackers in the morning makes you really hungry at around 5 so we saw a restaurant that cook up spuds and we figured that if there was a place that should be able to make a mean potato it would be Ireland. A potato never tasted so good, but that could have been the ravenous hunger.

The City overall has a completely different personality to Dublin. While Dublin seems like it was always a large city, Belfast seems to have first been a small town that was centered around the City Hall and a few Churches then had building come up around it. You can see a modern sky scraper right beside a church that looks like it is hundreds of years old. Sometimes it isn't a church at all, but rather a shopping mall.


Church or shopping center?



Queens University is near our hostel and it is breath taking. I couldn't imagine attending a university that every time you step into a building you are stepping into a piece of history.


Even though we have only been here a few hours I think it is safe to say we are excited to see the rest of the town. Till next time, by the way, I need to give Dave credit for the first part of the blog post. He will be updating periodically as well.

Real quick, We saw this and decided to let Zach get a glimpse at his dream car. This is for you Buddy.


 


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dublin on St. Patty's

Well we are in Dublin. I must say, these people know how to have a good time. I mean really know how. It was the most impressive Thursday ever. Even the kids got in the action. In fact, most of the people we saw on the streets were teenagers. While on the subject of Irish teenagers, I must say that the advertising guy for Adias deserves a raise. Every teenage guy we saw was wearing adias pants and jackets. Made them pretty easy to spot, well that and the drinking in public.

We all have heard how crazy St Patty's day in Ireland, they were wrong. It is insane. They had to close down most of the city center and even then there were streets completely covered with people.

Despite all the people i never found a leprechaun, until the bus ride back home. It was perfect. He had the long red hair, the thick accent and when he sat on the bus seat his feet didn't touch the floor. It was perfect.

Overall we got to see a lot of places today. We saw some of the more well known places, Christ Church, Dublin castle, and ..... temple bar. Mom if your reading, disregard the last one. Anyway, Dublin is an amazing city and I'm one day in and I feel like i have seen a ton. Well I'm running on like 4hrs of sleep for the past 48hrs so I'm signing off. Till next time.

Wait, real quick. We also saw the worlds largest dog. Seriously.