Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where in the World...?

Musical Influence: "Transcendence" Audiomachine (Epica,  2012)

I've been reading historical romance since before I became a teenagers. History fascinates me and has since before I can remember. The way that historians can wax poetical about war, famine, political strain in a way that keeps people intrigued is certainly some sort of art form. And to hear a country with rich history like England tell their side of the story (while an American listens in the background) amused me. But history is recounted in just one side of the story. Rarely can you hear all sides without exaggeration. This is why I made a list of places in London I wanted to see.

I've always wanted to take a stroll through Hyde Park. I'm a lover of the outdoors. I like to be surrounded by just the rustling of leaves and the tweet of birds. I love the sun beaming down over me and feeling like I'm alone. The sun was starting to set over the horizon, the air was brisk. Lovers held hands as they strolled down the paths and disappeared into mazes. Kids giggled as they roller skated past with their parents riding slowly behind them on bicycles.

In a bustling city, where people are constantly streaming by and cars are honking and zooming past, it was a place of solace and beauty hidden away for someone to stumble upon it.

I've always wanted to see Covent Garden as well but by the time I dallied at the pub where GPS met her across the pond twin, Yvette, and promptly made a new drinking buddy we'd drank the daylight away. So we headed into Covent Garden where the roads were lined in stone and the store fronts were lit up to entice patrons inside. I didn't get any pictures of the Royal Opera House or pictures of the lit up lined roads. I stared in awe at everything, soaking it up and storing it in my memory for later thought.

I'm in the middle of writing for NaNoWriMo and my fantasy story is based off legends and myths. I walked up to Stonehenge, the wind whipped around me. The magic of Stonehenge stole my breath away. There was something about stepping onto those hollowed grounds. I'm unsure I can explain it. To feel the grass beneath my hand, to step around the circle memorizing the pattern. How many people have done it before me? How many people stood in that same spot and fed their energy to the spirits. Awe-inspiring.

Have you ever wanted to visit a place you read in a book? Do you prefer to make up places when writing or use the actual city? To my NaNo writers, how are you doing so far this month?


quantum said...

Last week I felt a vibration in the aether together with a sense of foreboding, as though some momentous event was about to occur. I was expecting a cosmic explosion, possibly a new nova appearing in the sky. Now I understand that it was Sin coming to England!

Welcome Sin and alas Goodbye!

You feature three of my favourite places:

Stonehenge is awesome. I was there some months ago, trying to dowse for earth energies with a pendulum. Unfortunately the wind was such that the pendulum was blown to a horizontal position so I didn't locate the Ley lines. I now have a bobber which is more robust so will try again soon.

I remember having tea just outside the entrance. A large crow or raven with rumpled feathers and a crooked beak, perched on the wall a few feet from my head and focussed on the scone in my hand. Talk about an evil omen! An American tourist took a photo of me and the crow and asked my permission after taking it. Now that wouldn't have been you would it Sin? LOL

Hyde Park is beautiful in the sunshine. I spent six years at the Royal College of Science, a few yards from the Albert Hall, and would often stroll through the park, entering by the Albert memorial. I guess New York is similar, with parks like this forming havens from the hustle and bustle of a busy city.

Covent Garden Ah! what memories! I first heard Kiri Te Kanawa sing here along with many other famous sopranos. My first Mary Balogh novel (Secret Pearl) also began with an meeting outside the opera house. I'm starting to drift down memory lane!

Hope you had an interesting and enjoyable time Sin.

It would have been fun to bump into one of my favourite pirates. I will definitely take more notice of the aether vibrations in future! *smile*

Sin said...

Q, the world would've never been the same had you and I met.

TerriOsburn said...

I want to take this trip! This exact trip. I've wanted to go to Europe for years, but especially the UK. It's still a matter of "someday" but that someday is getting closer. I can feel it.

So cool that you got to visit these amazing places. And thanks for bring back pictures.

Sin said...

I've heard that London is a lot like New York City in general. I've never been to NYC, but the amount of people bustling down the street kinda stunned my poor country sensibilities. Columbia Missouri is a far cry from real city life. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed riding the Tube and figuring out the lines and walking across the street in great droves of people. I rode the Eye and saw London in all her glory lit up at night. I never once felt unsafe and considering a city of this magnitude and sheer volume of people, that's pretty astounding.

We went to the British Museum. There was an exhibit of Runic and Celtic artifacts. I spent hours just in that section making notes on my phone and studying every little detail.

Such fascinating stuff- especially the coins and swords. And the mummies! Q, if you haven't been to see the mummies you must. Of course you have to go through the entire museum's top floor to get to them, but I think it's worth it.

While we were in Scotland we toured a lot of the ruined castles in the Highlands. Went out on a boat tour of Loch Ness (didn't see Nessie). But really it's the landscape and the lands that interests me the most. The town we stopped in to do the boat tour of Loch Ness was just the size of my hometown. Barely big enough for a 4 way stop. And I loved the signs in Gaelic as well as English.

Really, had I been by myself, I would've spent my entire time in all the parks of London. I doubt I would've seen much else. I would've taken my notebook, plopped down in the grass under the brilliant sun (with a umbrella handy) and written until my hand cramped.

And I would've spent more time in Covent Garden.

And Bath. We toured the Roman baths, but the town of Bath is gorgeous. I would've loved to spend two or three days there.

Sin said...

Ter, it isn't nearly as expensive as you might think. Food is comparatively priced there as it is here and in some cases cheaper than you can get here in the states. I tried to do all the free things I possibly could fit in and a lot of the touristy things that people do I wasn't interested in- like the Tower of London and seeing the crown jewels. And had GPS not been with me, I wouldn't have toured the inside of Westminster Abbey (even though it's absolutely breathtaking).

We paid for a few things ahead of time. But if you go, I think definitely a turn on the London Eye (it's a giant Ferris wheel that allows you to see 360 degrees of London). Take a tour of the whole of London so you can see a lot of the landmarks without necessarily stopping a whole lot. See a show on the West End. Go to Covent Garden. Ride the Tube (but get an Oyster card, it makes life easier).

I'd love to go again. But I think I'd only stay one night in London, and move on to Bath for a few days. So my plan is go to Ireland, go to England, move on to Scotland, up to the Shetland Islands so the ponies can meet their Queen and ferry up to Sweden. The DH is not keen on my new idea. He's a fuddyduddy.

TerriOsburn said...

I want to take Kiddo and make it our special trip. We love the same things so seeing it all with her would be even more amazing.

Boo on the fuddyduddy.

I think the difference between us is that I'd be really interested in meeting the people too. I know you're not a people person. LOL! I'm not as much about the outdoors but how could you NOT want to see the English countryside? I mean, come on!

MsHellion said...

England. Though I do have a fantasy about traveling to Scotland and visiting the place where J.K. Rowling would work on her book. And I so definitely wanted to visit Hogwarts. I mean, the Orlando version is okay...but I'd rather go to the real castle. And I'd like to see a lot of the Scottish places outlined in Monica McCarty's series of the Highland Guard.

I'm not sure of books where I wanted to go places--but I wanted to go to Italy after watching UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and DANGEROUS BEAUTY; go to Ireland after watching PS I LOVE YOU; Scotland after BRAVEHEART; and England after BRIDGET JONES'...and every Jane Austen adaptation.

Whenever I read something about New England, I usually want to visit Salem... *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Your trip sounds awesome, Sin--though I'm not sure I would have liked coming to the realization that London is like NYC since I wasn't a big fan of NYC (though agree I felt safe there even in the big crowds--just don't like that much bustle or that many people.)

irisheyes said...

Wow Sin, that's my dream vacation. I keep telling the DH I want to do England, Scotland and Ireland. I'd like to do it with a native guide, though. I've taken a few vacations where I've visited friends (NYC, Washington DC, CA) and they've shown me the sites. Having someone there who knows what their doing would be awesome. So, I'm trying to talk my daughter into being an exchange student in England her junior year of college. The DH and I can join her and have her show us around!

How long were you there? Did you map out your trip yourself or did you have a guide?

irisheyes said...

I always want to visit places I read about or see in movies. I did get to go to Europe on my senior class trip. It was amazing. We hit 10 countries in 10 days, though. A bus full of 40 catholic girls, 2 nuns, our bus driver and tour guide. It was a bit of a whirlwind. I was obsessed with seeing France and the Eiffel Tower. Never made it... got my passport stolen in front of Notre Dame and spent the rest of the day at the police station and US Embassy getting me a new passport. Never did England or Italy either.

I like history too. So, seeing the places I've read about or seen preserved or kept the way they used to be hundreds of years ago is a real kick. You never really understand how "new" America is until you've been to Europe and see how "old" everything there is.

TerriOsburn said...

I feel the exact same way, Irish. I have the luxury of visiting Williamsburg regularly, and love knowing I'm walking where people walked hundreds of years ago. Sitting in church pews that held our founding fathers.

But Europe is thousands of years and I cannot wait to get there.

irisheyes said...

Williamsburg is on my list too, Ter! I've been researching Revolutionary and Civil War sites for a while now. I think once I get these kids off to college, the DH and I are going to travel. At least that's my plan. We all know how well those go these days! LOL

TerriOsburn said...

That was my plan too. Get Kiddo off to college and see the world. But then I realized I want to see the world WITH Kiddo so a) there's no need to wait and b) I don't have to go alone. :)

Maureen said...

Ah...Ireland calls to me and one day I'll visit. And back to Barcelona and Spain. I so want to see the tip of South America...and plan on traveling extensively in the Americas...

I wanted to see Alaska after reading Jack London and got it. I wanted to visit Barcelona after the Olympics were there and got it. But still so many places on my list...

So, so many!

P. Kirby said...

Went to London back in college with the marching band. Bunch of teen/twenty-something Americans let loose in the big city. Fun.

Not a book, but a movie...after seeing the Lord of the Rings movies, I really wanted to go to New Zealand. Went with the in-laws several years ago, north island, and OMG, it was awesome! I'd love to move to and do the ex-patriot thing there.

In addition to seeing the rest of Europe, I'd like to go to Morocco and Russia.

As for writing, I like the "idea" of writing in fantastical places, but my voice is stronger when I write in a place I know. Oh, well.

Maureen said...

Oh, yeah, Pat...New Zealand is on my list, too!

Marnee Bailey said...

I SOOO want to go to England and Ireland. They're both on my list. In fact, I want to go through all of Europe. Someday. Hopefully someday soon.

I'm doing half a Nano. I'm not doing well. But that's going to start changing. Today. Now that I'm through watching/reading election coverage, I'm back on the wagon.

Sin said...


I was only there six days. I spent four in London, 2 in Edinburgh (and surrounding area). We did some tours with a tour guide, but the whole trip overall wasn't guided. I'm a bit of a wanderer. And the things that most people want to see, I don't care about seeing. So those parts of being guided don't interest me much.

However, in Bath, I talked to the tour guide and told him I wasn't too keen on spending 1.5 hours in the Roman bath and it prompted him to say that if I was done early, to meet him out front and he'd take me on a walking tour of Bath. He was quite the gentleman. And the walking tour was way more fascinating to me than the Roman baths themselves. I mean, I enjoyed the baths, but 1.5 hours in them is too much for me.

I if you want to be guided the entire time, or feel uncomfortable wandering around, you definitely should get a guide who knows the area well and the history surrounding. Otherwise, I think, for me, getting off the beaten path was a much better experience.

Sin said...


I didn't get to see the castle that inspired J.K Rowling, but tour guide that day (while driving the bus) talked about J.K Rowling at length while we zoomed down this little back road in the Highlands.

I can certainly see how the area and all of Scotland may have been quite the creative inspiration. The Highlands are breathtaking.

Sin said...

I'm like you Chanceroo. There are so many places I want to see that I could spend the rest of my life exploring the countries and cities and never get bored.

Sin said...

Marn, I have yet to get on my NaNo bandwagon. I'm sucking at the word count so far. I claim that work has sucked my soul out and that I'm just gonna have to work extra hard to catch up after I catch the office up from being away.

But I know you'll get to it. You'll be kicking NaNo rear in no time.

Sin said...

Pat, you have a wonderful voice. Don't knock it regardless if you think you write better in a place you know vs one you don't. That sounds like confidence strain. I know you have it in you. You're excellent at description.

JulieJustJulie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JulieJustJulie said...

Thanks for sharing pictures and tales of your exploits, SIN. Looks ( and sounds) like you had a wonderful trip. Briton would be lovely to wander around. And since I am as fond of cities as I am of the countryside I’d probably need a few weeks… or years for exploring. : ) I have no doubt I’ll make it over there one of these days… Though any serious traveling will have to be after my youngest finishes her schooling. Sigh….

JulieJustJulie said...

Have you ever wanted to visit a place you read in a book?

Years ago a friend showed my husband, son and i around her old alma mater, Georgetown University. Because she was an alumnus we were able to see places that were not normally open to the public. It was a fascinating tour full of history…. both good and bad. Or should I say Evil with a capital E? Yes, my friend took us on the “American History” tour. Then she showed us “The Book” tour. They made a movie of the book too. You might have heard of it. It was called … the Exorcist.

That long long stairwell was very Creepy, let me tell you.