London Blog

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I can easily imagine spending more time in London Town –may I call it that now with my new-found familiarity?  Traipsing the Burroughs and exploring London’s underbelly, via the tube lends an up close and personal view of what it’s like to live there.

I am assured by those more familiar with London that the tube is usually dependable and user-friendly.  But if you’re traveling there in the near future, beware of extensive line-maintenance closings and spontaneous rerouting–quite a challenge, for the novice, for sure.

*Disability Warning: escalators and elevators (lifts) may be out-of-order, which can be a real hassle.  Luckily, wonderful people saw my dilemma and grabbed our suitcases and carried them up the steep and numerous stairs which made all the difference!  (Bless you all!)

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There are twelve Inner London boroughs and twenty Outer London boroughs–much of which you will miss if you use the tube everywhere you go, so I suggest mixing it up with a tour bus, Uber, taxis or a river cruise to get the whole picture.

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Why haven’t I lost 20 lbs by now, with all that exercise?

Could it be the great food paired with wine or the panoply of British brewed beers? Or the melt-in-your mouth fish ‘n chips, soaked with malt vinegar and dipped in an interesting red curry sauce?  Perhaps England’s boring-food reputation is passe’, because we found the the menus to be both creative and imaginative– quite beyond our expectations.  And if you are a gin-lover, you will feel right at home.

Many neighborhoods have “food co-ops” , small like our convenience stores but packed full with organic and healthy choices.  The prices were more reasonable than I imagined and when you purchase a temporary membership for $10, your discount is immediate and a portion of the price goes to the community.  Impressive.

Friends suggested that we visit Camden Town or Camden Lock, a borough in NW London, located near 3 canals used in the late 1800’s.   Little did we realize that Sunday is Market Day which feels like the circus is in town, with people thronging the streets, music playing mostly American hits, vendors dealing and my senses reeling from all the food aromas, crazy signs and people gathering to do what people do best–socializing and letting their hair down before the work-week begins anew.

 

We took in the traditional sights too– Big Ben, living up to expectations, a sentinel above Westminster Abbey; Buckingham Palace at night with the Queen mum and possibly Kate, locked safely within; and St. Paul’s Cathedral where feeding the birds is more than a scene from Mary Poppins.  Arriving just at evening’s edge, we were beckoned within, silenced by the sacred ambiance, heavy with incense and layered with centuries of prayer.

But my big surprise was walking late at night from Trafalgar Square and arriving at Piccadilly Circus–oh my!  Like Times Square, upbeat with lights flashing, music pulsing, and people lined up to see the next play.  With restaurants and pubs competing for your attention–it’s a haven to your hunger or thirst for the thrill of London’s famous city life.

There appeared to be many homeless people camped on sidewalks or near subway stations but they are polite and careful not to “beg”.  We were told that the police leave them alone as long as they give something in return– such as directions to tourists who obviously need advice (personally speaking).  Everyone said, “thank you”, even if not given money.  So very civilized, those Brits.

England Swings

Cheers!

That’s the definitive greeting of merry old England, gin is the drink of favor and I took both to heart.


We took the train, modern,and restful-to-the travel-weary, to Sheffield, located north of London in Central England, and named after the River Sheaf which runs through the city.  It was a surprising treat. 


In the 19th century, Sheffield gained an international reputation for steel production which put it on the map during the First World War. There is a museum for history buffs (Ellioto), and a nice cafe’ for those waiting for the history buffs (that would be me!).


The city is surrounded by hills, contains 250 parks, woodlands and gardens within the city, and an estimated 2 million trees, giving Sheffield the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe.[5] The city has a long sporting heritage, and is home to the world’s oldest football club (that’s Soccer, you know).


It is home to two major universities– the largest in England. So nightlife was thriving and we had a taste along with some local color.


Vintage shops are big there and I dutifully made the rounds, wearing the wheels right off of the suitcase!

Blogging in Colombia: Manna for the Senses

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I See…

Medellin, a city of 3 million filling a valley and sprawling up the encircling foothills of the Andes Mountains. During the day, the colors are warm orange, foliage green and light baby blue. On the eighth floor, our room is level with the distant mountains, offering a birds’ eye view of the lush growth filling all the available space between and above the teeming array of terra cotta apartments, tenements and shacks. Thus far I have not seen 1 solitary home.  They are tucked away somewhere, out of view.  

The metro system unites the villages above city-proper with cable cars like ski lifts dangling above the metal roofs which are often held in place (or not) by stacks of bricks, old tires and garbage bags full of what– I can only guess. It is surreal when you are  floating in the air, so far removed.

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People, people, everywhere… Walking, bicycling, crazy wild on motorcycles, hanging out of impossibly crowded busses, standing-room-only on the metro, and disappearing into yellow taxis swarming all over the place! Even in jammed-up traffic, I am impressed with the lack of road rage– never a harsh word, have I heard.

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Fruit of the Vine

Old World Wine Country

Packing into Jim and Leslie’s car, the 5 of us set out for wine country, up-country style.  North of Mondovi, the drive gets steep and the scenery is breath-taking as the vineyards create patchwork-patterns below.

Each vineyard has a villa, it seems, and a label to call its own.  In one of the favored towns, we had ample samples of that fermented grape juice and marveled at the elegant taste of each one.  Again, it was difficult to find food with vegetables–meat dominates the northern climes–but olive oil, bread and cheese suits me fine.

Taking a day to stop for pictures, laughing with old friends awhile exploring God’s green earth is just another one of my favorite things.

Chink, chink… (the sound of glasses toasting)…