October 19, 2010

Tower Hill, Aldgate and Liverpool

Please be aware that this post is image heavy if you have a slow browser.


What did I do today? Well to start with, an awful lof of nothing. Which, when summed up in short is, I watched the first episode of the new Sherlock. It's interesting but having been to the real 221B Baker St in the last week, that part is a disappointment. Oh well.

Finally got myself organised and took the tube from Turnpike Lane to King's Cross St Pancras, changed lanes and went on to Tower Hill. When you exit the Tower Hill tube station, I recommend turning left and going up to the giant sundial, because you also see this...
Not taken today but you get the idea - The Tower of London
From here I got my Iphone out and guided myself around on a tour I found on the net, aided by the trusty GPS that is inbuilt in the phone. While I was walking to the starting point of the walk I came across these. I don't know what they are, but they were impressive.


The next two places I'm going to show images of aren't on the walk I found, but it doesn't matter. When you've only got yourself to worry about you go where you feel like.


Inside All Hallows Church - this is the oldest church in London

This next picture shows one of the artworks a group was cleaning. It looked like quality work too, which is nice.

Facing this alter is the organ.


A banner I really liked was hanging on one of the walls.


The Baptistry

William Penn was baptised in this font in 1644

Down some stairs you come to the undercroft. There is a small room for St Clare (the irony) - these pictures are first, and for St Francis. These two rooms however, have an incredible feeling to them. I don't know how long I sat here.





Part of the St Francis room dates back to Saxon England. Those know me, know how exciting this is.


"This is one of the most perfectly preserved tessellated Roman pavements in the city of London, dating from the late 2nd century. It is the floor of a domestic house and has a gully and is thought to be the position of a wall."

Another area of the undercroft

"All Hallows by the Tower possesses one of the finest complete sets of ancient parish registers in southern England. They record a social history of the Tower Hill area, and indeed tell us much of the life of the City of London from the mid-sixteenth century up to the present day.

The registers on display show the names of prominent figures, as well as anonymous citizens of London, who by birth, marriage and death have participated in the history of the parish.


Top of Cross - Probably Saxon - found 1940
Down the road I came to St Olaf's



Then, as I walked on and round a corner, I was met by the gerkin. Apparently this was also the site of an IRA attack.



And from within all the beauty of London, you then get this monstrosity of architecture...


St Katharine Cree was a surprise but a good one.





This isn't the original church. Records have the original in a grave state of disrepair and so it was demolished in 1629 and subsequently rebuilt. The only remaining original feature that remains is three foot of pilar, hidden today by construction work.

Away from things holy and sacred is the spot where one of the victims of Jack the Ripper was found. I wish it still had more of a vibe to it, but this is all that remains.


Next on the walk was another church called St Botolph. I missed out being able to go inside by twenty minutes. I was disappointed by this as this church saw the burial of 5000 bodies in its boundaries during the time of plague. Perhaps it's a little morbid, but I find this fasinating.


The only remaining wooden structure in London to survive the Great Fire.

The Hoop and Grape

Random art works on the walls...



And it was at this point, a few kms and 3.5 hours later, that I gave up on the tour. The heavens opened and I was almost drenched to the skin within minutes. I still don't feel 100% warm. Guess I should get used to it though, it's only going to get worse from here.

October 16, 2010

2 September 2010

This entry is taken from my journal.


We drove from Krak to Damascus today. I still can't get over the garbage, the smell, the poverty. The culture shock kind of got to me today. I very nearly cried looking at it all - but at the same time, its normal for the Syrians. I find it a very harsh reality and can't really reconcile it.

When we reached the camp site in Damascus  we set up an early lunch and then headed into the city centre for the afternoon. Shortly after we got out of the taxi a water bottle got thrown at the two girls cause they were flaunting their own water drinking in the street. Penny caught most of the exploding water.

We were given a brief run down of where everything was and were left to our own devices to explore.

The souk we walked through still had bullet holes in the roof. I can't remember who put them there. Drew told us, and I have a feeling it was the French but I'm not sure.

The souk in Damascus didn't have the same quality of stuff as Aleppo had. It all looked like the cheap shitty quality you can get anywhere.

We went to into the main mosque. It is supposed to be the most beautiful mosque in the world. I can't judge having never been to another.

We had to cover our clothes, put on our scarves and go shoeless.

Image supplied by ACP

Once again the two girls displayed their lack of cutural sensitivity. For a little while they walked around with no head coverings and Amber, when called on her drinking water in public said "so? I don't care". I don't know how people get like that. We pretty much distanced ourselves from them after that.

Our own little group split up at this point. some of the guys wanted to go to the other mosque and some wanted to check emails etc. I went with the guys looking for internet. We eventually found one. It was nice to sit in the aircon for a while. When we all met up again we went through the Christian quarter. It was a slow process as we went into a lot of the shops to look at the different things on sale. The Christian quarter doesn't appear to be all that different on first appearances but the dress code is more Western and relaxed. I even had one lady come up to me speaking Arabic and smiling. I told her I didn't understand. She switched to English and said "I am trying to tell you you have very beautiful eyes". It was sweet.

We found dinner at a street vendor and headed back to camp.
The infamous waffles
And at camp we crawled into the tents we'd set up ourselves earlier in the day.

October 09, 2010

1 September 2010 and 7 October 2010

If you're paying attention to the dates, you'll see that they cover a huge time span. I'm doing a double day post again, but because September is so short, I'm going to bore you by telling you what I did yesterday.


1 September 2010

The tour had quite a drive today. We drove from Aleppo in the north of Syria to the Krak de Chevaliers - Fort of the Knights.

The view from the camp ground (Image supplied by ACP)

Looking up to the main entrance today

The view from the doorway. I love the non-uniform line of the horizon

Ange and I in the doorway (Image supplied by ACP)
 But I do digress. I first need to write about the water wheels in Hama. These water wheels have been controlling and supplying the region with water for a few hundred years. They are massive structures and stand out as you drive / walk towards them. The wheels weren't on today though, so the area was a little fragrant.

Okay. Back to the Krak. These are some impressive ruins. This is also the only site I didn't google before leaving Australia. I think what makes them most interesting to me is the English history side of things. The history goes back to the Marmlukes, Ottomans, Turks etc. Each group adding something to the castle. All up there were seven of these fortresses with beacon houses between. If any castle was attacked the beacons were lit, and as they became visible, the next one was lit. Think Lord of the Rings and the call for Rohan to help Gondor. From the sheer height of the castle on the landscape it is easy to see how visible an invading party would have been.
Taken from the top, outer wall.
Our tour guide was a gent by the name of Walid. (Wal-eed). He was a strange, funny man. Very polite. He always had the elbow or the hand of one of the girls if there was a large step, or if he wanted you to lean over a high point to look at something. He seemed to be giving Ange extra attention so we teased her for that.
Ange and Walid
I found the size of the stairs incredible. You could stand next to one and have it almost reach your knee. When you also know from history, the men on the battlements (perhaps more so the English) were not that much taller than me at 5'4". I might have been considered tall for once. But to know they would have been running at speed, some in full armour is amazing.

We had each other in stitches on the wall. Walid had shown us areas in the wall where the castles defenders would poor burning oil onto the attackers, which, was then followed by three holes where the men went to toilet. Of course this led to what happens when you run out of oil type questions and photo oportunities.
Bruno - Ange - Agnes using the facilities. Not sure on Bruno's pained expression.
The other thing we were laughing at shouldn't need much explaining if I simply put Monty Python and the Holy Grail - with a little bit of Life of Brian thrown in for good measure. The other two, kept glaring at us like we were naughty children.

The best part for me was going into the rooms that were once Richard the Lionhears living quarters. A huge, spacious area where you can imagine him in his livery, attended by trusted friends and advisors, working out what the next best move would be.
Me in Richard the Lionhearts living quarters. No idea why I'm flailing my hands. Also note the infamous green shirt.

You can also see on the roof, the circular outline of Richards round table. It is truely amazing to be that close to a history you've known since you were a kid.

We camped the night at the Krak.

7 October 2010

Ange and I set off in search of Harry Potter film locations. We headed to Turnpike Lane tube station and taking the Picadilly Line, headed for Kings Cross St Pancras. When we got to the stop we wandered around trying to find Platform 9 3/4 but weren't having any luck. We were about to ask when we overheard two other girls asking the same question. We followed them and came to what we wanted.

After Platform 9 3/4 we headed back to the Tube. The above four photos are self explanatory.

The next part of the walk led us past Australia House, or as it's known in the movies, Gringott's Bank.

Our path led us next to St Mary la Strand church. The parents of Charles Dickens got married here.

"The church stands on the site of the old May-pole where the May-day festivals were held in medieval times. But in 1517, on what became known as "Evil May-day", rioting broke out around the May-pole on Strand, and the London Apprentices went on the rampage to protest at the ever increasing number of foreigners that were settling in London. It took three weeks for order to be restored and thereafter the May-day celebrations began to lose their lustre until they were ended altogether by Cromwell's Commonwealth and the May-pole was taken down." Harry Potter Tours http://www.the-magician.co.uk/harry-potter-tours.htm

We then went to Somerset House and played in the fountains.

To finish the day we went met up with the girls for a quick drink before heading to the theatre. As we came out of the club we'd gone to for a drink we walked past James May from Top Gear. I'm kicking myself now that I didn't go over and ask for a photo. Oh well. Soho will be there for a while yet and I'm not going anywhere.

The play we went to is called "Ghost Stories" - I use present tense because the show is going to run into the new year. It is fantastic, and I wish everyone could go and see it. Very clever and not overly scary, even though there were a few screamers in the audience. It is also nice to know how protective my cousin is. As she was getting a huge fright and jumping backwards in her seat, she was also turning to grab me from harms way. Such love.

And that's it for now.