Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Brave Little Illustrator Goes to Europe PART 11

Things have been going by so fast, I really haven't had time to update until now. We're finally in a hostel where they have some computers with free internet...

Our last day in the UK, we drove out to the port in Dover. We made sure to stop in front of the castle.

Unfortunately, the entry price to it was ridiculous and we didn't end up going inside.

 We did get to see the famous White Cliffs of Dover though, and I made sure to listen to the Eric Johnson song several times while I was there. That's me on the ferry from Dover to France. It was an hour and a half long trip and was our last chance to spend our British pounds. Once we hit France, we started our Continental Road Trip, making our first stop in Brugges, Belgium...

 Where we immediately went for Belgium waffles. There are no words, only the sounds of moaning in ecstasy.

We made sure to get a picture there with the sweet European old-school wind mills. 

And at the heart of Brugges, there was a huge celebration. Apparently, we happened to be there on their National Holiday. There was a huge concert in the plaza at the center of town and tons of people and police. Just about everyone we talked to spoke English though, which was awesome.

 Especially when we went to buy BELGIAN CHOCOLATES. I wish I had spent more money here, and that is a phrase I NEVER use. This chocolate was hands down the best thing eaten on the trip.

 After Brugges, we came to Amsterdam. You can see my disbelief that I'm actually there in this photo. Amsterdam is gorgeous, with large canals running throughout the city and for the first time in our whole trip we had a day devoid of clouds and/or rain. Wearing shorts has never felt so good.

There I am with two of the girls from the group, kicking it back on the giant I AMsterdam monument. While we were there, we went to the Anne Frank memorial/actual Secret Annex that her familz hid in, the Rijk museum that houses Rembrandt's most famous artwork, and the Van Gogh museum that contains over 200 of his paintings. I really liked each one, but I would have LOVED the Van Gogh museum if it wasn't so full of trashz tourists and old people that crowded the whole place. Even for a good art museum, this place was packed and so fast-paced, I didn't even really get to enjoy it all that much. I did see one of his famous Sunflower pieces, his Potato Eaters painting, and a bunch of his reallz good self-portraits, but each time I tried to stand there and appreciate it, a million people would all push and shove to get near it and get in front of me and to listen to some tour guide go on and on and on... Otherwise, it would have been a major highlight.

This building looked important, so I took a picture with it.

 Probably the sketchiest museum in the world. No, we didn't go in.

 The building behind me is Centraal Station, and yeah it's spelled with two A's.

You can't really see it, but that tower behind me has a giant crown on it.

Amsterdam has a great program going to solve public urination for men: putting outdoor urinals around town. Sorry ladies, you're out of luck.

Amsterdam had some great looking people. This was a lad we passed on the street. I couldn't help but snap a photo for fashion's sake. He looked ever so chic. The great thing about Amsterdam was its charming beauty in architecture and the city layout. The annoying thing about Amsterdam were that almost every souvenier you could buy was either about the legalized marijuana or the legalized prostitution. That kind of gave the visit a sour note unfortunately...

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Brave Little Illustrator Goes to Europe PART 10: FINAL HOURS OF THE UK

Tomorrow we're finally leaving the island known as the United Kingdom and heading off to continental Europe! But here's what's been between Edinburgh and now:

On our way back down to England, we dropped by St. Andrew's cathedral, a Catholic church long destroyed by Protestants centuries ago. The church grounds are now a creepy cemetary.  

Right down the road from the cathedral are the ruins of a medieval castle, which wasn't all that interesting except that there was an underground tunnel you could go through.

Later that night we arrived in York!

Which is also the birthplace of Guy Fawkes. V for Vendetta fans much?

There wasn't a whole lot going on around York, but there was the big ol' cathedral Yorkminster. That's me attempting to make a "Y" with my fingers. You know... for Yorkminster. Cuz Yorkminster starts with a... well, you get it.

There were some vacant pedestals in front of the cathedral, so we took it upon ourselves to fill the space. (I'm a gargoyle.) 

The inside of Yorkminster was fantastically beautiful and had loads of great decor.

One of my favorite parts was the line of 13 kings up on the wall. 

Ok, story time: this is James the drunk. After our visit to the Cathedral, we all split up and a few of us stopped to get Fish and Chips for lunch. The restaurant we went to had no place to sit inside, so we left to a nearby plaza area and ate together on a ledge. Enter James, a hammer-drunk Scottsman who surprisingly enough was partially inteligible. James was unabashed and quickly came over to us dancing, telling jokes, playing air guitar, and claiming to have close friendships with Neil Diamond and Sharon Osbourne. We eventually finished our lunch and he asked us for a drink, to which we offered him bottled water. He declined and we offered him our unfinished french fries which he also declined. After realizing that we wouldn't give him any money for alcohol, James started to get agitated and angry and started swearing at us... so we decided to pick up and leave. Except he got aggressive. He leapt up and got in the face of one of the girls with us and started calling her some really nasty things. She asked him to be more of a gentleman, to which he responded, "I'm no gentleman, I'm a lazy bum!" Then he turned on me and started getting angry that I wouldn't give him money when I clearly had enough to buy lunch and have some fries leftover that were thrown away. And as we all know, arguing with a drunk is stupid, so I tried to leave and he kept following me, so I told him to stop and he told me he was going to punch me. When I said I'd call the cops if he did, he shouted, "I'm the chief of police!" and showed me his bus pass. The four of us ducked into a chocolate shop to try and get away from him and, after being shooed out by an employee, he decided to wait outside and watch us through the window. Eventually we dodged him once we got back outside, but what a creep!

Today we arrived at Canterbury! Just in time to attend the Evensong mass at the Canterbury Cathedral.

Another beautiful cathedral, though this was the first one that had an unlit side, which looked awesome in the late afternoon shadows of an overcast sky.

After some drizzling, a rainbow came out as we headed to our current hostel. Here we sleep for the night, for tomorrow, we leave for Amsterdam!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Brave Little Illustrator Goes to Europe PART 9

Scotland! We made it to Edinburgh by Sunday afternoon and immediately started to explore the city.

And throw up gangsta signs.

We're not quite sure why it's here, but it looks like the Scotts want in on some of that Olympic action too.

This is the tower of Sir Walter Scott. Don't really know who he is, but by the looks of his tower, he might be a character from Lord of the Rings.

As we kept exploring, we happened upon a sick graveyard that had a statue of... Abraham Lincoln?

This restaurant claimed that Rowling wrote her books inside of it. Don't know how much I believe that.

Monday we went to Edinburgh castle.

Found some airplane turbines at a gallery of modern art.

And afterwoods took a hike up a cliff that had the best views of the whole city

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Brave Little Illustrator Goes to Europe PART 8

It's been a couple of days, but I've finally been able to get back on the internet - so here's the update:

Stonehenge! We left Tuesday morning from Bath to go see England's oldest monument and the weather couldn't be better. 

You'll notice some dweeby workers in front of the monument. In order to celebrate the upcoming Olympics, Stonehenge was setting up some kind of fire-themed show for later that night. It's only gonna happen this one time and we just happened to show up the day they were setting it up...

After Stonehenge, we went to Stourhead, a massive garden in the countryside. Incredibly beautiful and features this bridge that is supposed to be in a scene in some Keira Knightly movie that is a big deal with girls...

Wednesday, we went to this palace: the house of the Duke of Marlborough, also coincidentally the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

The gardens there were fantastic as well

After the Duke's house, we made a stop in Oxford, which apart from being some kind of prestigious college in the UK really wasn't too interesting otherwise.

Took a break to make out with some horses.

Thursday we went to Stratford upon Avon, and if you're not really sure why that place is important, just take a looksy at the small print in the photo. Yep, that's Shakespeare's grave.

The birds there were huge and creepy. Have you ever stood right in front of a swan and watched it uncoil its neck as it searched you over for food? It's freaking creepy. I held out a cookie to it and it didn't just try to eat it, it tried to devour my hand. Birds are weird.

We were really lucky in Stratford - there was a shop that sold crystal wands. I picked three of them up and could feel their power flowing through my fingertips. I tried to capture this moment with a photograph, but it just doesn't do it justice. There were spellcasting books there too and I really wanted to buffer my witching knowledge, but they were too expensive. That's how you can tell they're legit.

There was a pretty awesome monument to Shakespeare there, so I had to get a picture with it.

Yesterday we visited the Duke of Devonshire's house, but I'm not including photos of that because it's not that exciting. After a lengthy bus ride, we got to the Lake District and this was the view we have from our hostel room:

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Brave Little Illustrator Goes to Europe PART 7

Goodbye London, hello Bath. We left London this morning and traveled by train to a city called Bath, named for the Roman hot springs here (which are really pricey to use). It's been fun in the city, but it's nice to get out of the cramped, crowded atmosphere and out to a more rural and medieval-looking city. It's actually really gorgeous here. Here are some of the views from today:

And here's to catch you up on everything I couldn't cram into the last 3 weeks of London:

At the Tower of London

A dragon made entirely of weapons and armor inside the Tower of London armory.

By the Thames River

In front of St. Paul's cathedral

On top of St. Paul's

Back on the ground by St. Paul's

At Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII

Singin in the rain style in the gardens outside of the Hampton

At the Courtauld collection visiting with my man Van Gogh 

In front of the British Museum

The Victoria & Alberts Museum

And looking through a freak show of medical oddities including this - a literal cut-out of a human face.
Good-bye London!