As it’s difficult to sum up three weeks of traveling in a single post, I’m splitting into two: England and Ireland/Scotland. Sharman and I flew in and out of England six times over the course of the trip, mainly visiting three cities during our time there. The old cliché says that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not gonna give 1,000 words per photo but here are a few that I believe really capture our English experience. One per day.
Hard to believe but this was the view as we arrived at London-Heathrow on the plane from Moscow. Talk about a good omen for your travels. We were exhausted after traveling a third of the way across the globe, but got our taxi to from the airport to the nearby B&B without any hiccups. We knew we weren't in Hong Kong anymore when the immigration officer started making small talk with us as he checked our passports.
We arrived in Liverpool in the early afternoon. Still a bit jet lagged, this was an easy day of strolling and napping. I chose this photo for the day as it has some of Liverpool's most famous buildings as well as its most famous export, rock musicians.
Early in the morning, we got in a cab for a Beatles taxi tour. This was one of the true highlights of the trip, and satisfied my yearning to see Liverpool as what it is in my mind, Beatles-ville. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable Beatles fan, but our top-knotch driver Eddie taught us so much about the early lives of the Fab Four. I've never gone on anything I'd call a pilgrimage until this trip. Still get goosebumps thinking about the streets that John, Paul, George and Ringo used to call home.
Finished with our Irish excursion, Sharman and I met my parents in London. The first word I'd use to describe the place was vibrant. Walking from our West End hotel down to Trafalgar Square (pictured) and around the area was overwhelming. So many people, so much architecture, so many shops. You'd think that living in Hong Kong would make me less impressed by urbanity, but this was not the case. London was bustling.
On our first full day sightseeing as a quartet, my parents, Sharman and I managed to see St. Paul's Cathedral, the Shakespeare museum next to the new Globe Theater and the Thames waterfront. It was here that I caught my first glimpse of the Elizabeth Tower aka Big Ben. It's always a special moment to see something you've seen hundreds of photographs of throughout your entire life. Perhaps I'll have a similar experience when I hopefully see the Statue of Liberty some day.
This photo is taken from the London Eye. I've always loved looking down on big cities from high places (the Peak, Taipei 101, Columbia Center, etc.) and this certainly met my expectations. It was helped by some gorgeous weather as well. On this day, we also managed to go to the Charles Dickens' House and Westminister Abbey, which is twice as old as the USA and Hong Kong put together. Wowzers.
This picture was taken outside the backstage entrance of the Noel Coward Theatre, where we had just watched The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe. These are his nightly starstruck fans, waiting to see Harry Potter step out and sign an autograph or two. We didn't wait long enough to see Daniel afterwards, but the play itself was excellent. It was appropriate to see a very Irish play only a few days after leaving Ireland and the specific region the play was set on. The next day, Sharman and I flew to Edinburgh. See the upcoming post for photos of that.
Stonehenge was another one of those things that I couldn't believe I was actually going to see in real life. The trip to Wiltshire was well worth it, despite the fact that it really is just a bunch of rocks. But they are some very mysterious rocks! We also managed to go to Salisbury Cathedral, the last of many impressive church buildings we saw all along the trip.
For our final night of the trip, the four of us went back to the Globe Theater to see Gabriel, a play that had something to do with English composer Henry Purcell and the development of the trumpet in the 17th century. Though the play itself was a bit disjointed, this was another unforgettable experience, especially the scenery, the atmosphere and the music! What glorious music hath awoken the trumpeter in me! We tried and failed to get tickets to a Shakespeare play the week prior, but in the end, we heard some outstanding Baroque stylings we wouldn't have been able to if we'd gone to see Macbeth. Bravo.
We woke for a final breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel, the Dean Street Townhouse, before Sharman and I headed back to Hong Kong. Even with all the sightseeing, being around my parents and staying in that incredible hotel were among the best aspects of the trip. Obviously, it was hard to say goodbye!