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The direct ten-hour flight went reasonably well. I might have gotten six hours
of sleep on the plane, although it is hard to tell how much time I spent
semi-conscious wishing I were asleep.
There was no bank ATM in the airport, so I had to buy pounds at one of the
rip-off currency exchanges. That is the last time I will do that; I saved
pounds and euros from this trip for the next trip, so that I can get away from
the airport before I need to buy local currency.
My first stop picked up where I left off in 2003, at the London Science Museum. I revisited Babbage Difference Engine #2 #1. They have it in a transparent case, and it looks like they do not demonstrate it. The Computer History Museum in Mountain View demonstrated the Babbage Difference Engine #2 #2 every day. The science museum also displays slightly over one-half of Charles Babbage’s brain. I am not sure what we are supposed to learn from that.
Another interesting exhibit in the computer section is
a machine that models
the national economy using water. It has valves and other controls to
adjust spending on health or edducation, tax rates, savings, and so on.
|Tidal motion model.|
The model rotates around a hole in the center, modeling how the Earth and moon
rotate around a point between them. When the model is spun at the right speed,
the centrifugal force on the Earth sphere balances the pull of the weight, and
the sphere hangs straight down. At that time, the outer ocean sphere hangs out,
away from the Earth, because it experiences greater centrifugal force but a
lesser pull toward the moon. The inner ocean hangs toward the moon, away from
the Earth, because it experiences less centrifigul force but greater pull
toward the moon. So oceans on both sides of the Earth are pulled away from the
Earth, causing two high tides.
|Artisan du Chocolat.||Artisan’s Couture chocolates.|
After the museum, I had fish and chips at a local shop. Then I walked to Lower
Sloane Street to visit Artisan du
Chocolat. I took two pictures in front of the shop. One was of the shop, of
course. The other was to post to Facebook as evidence I had arrived in London.
Since I was not visiting tourist spots, I selected something else distinctive.
|Evidence of London.|
Artisan du Chocolat is very nice, and the price for their Couture chocolates is
pretty good. It should be your first stop in London.
Around 14:00, a couple asked me for directions to Victoria station, keeping my being-asked-for-directions streak going.
My final task in town was a visit to
Bobbin Bicycles. They carry
Yakkay helmets, which are designed to look
more like regular headgear than bicycle helmets. Unfortunately, Bobbin is also
closed on Sundays.
Finally, I took the train to Cambridge, where signs at the train station
boasted that Cambridge is the “Home of
Anglia Ruskin University.”
I photographed and weighed my samples from Artisan du Chocolat. (I have a very
for this.) What torture to have to carry fine chocolate for hours before I can
taste any. It was hot in London and Cambridge, but my chocolate survived well
|The Wrestlers, a Thai restaurant.||Red Lion, a Thai restaurant.|
We went into town for dinner, passing the Eagle Pub, where Francis Crick and
James Watson announced their discovery of how DNA carries genetic information.
I had a quick chance to survey a few of the chocolate stores in town, including
Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons, and Chocolat Chocolat, none
of which I characterize as noteworthy.
|Plaque for DNA announcement.|
Robert, one of the locals we were working with, took us punting. Robert punted
us up the Cam, and a few of us took tried it on the way back. It is not
straightforward. You have to push backward to move the boat forward, but you
also have to get it pointed in the right direction, which requires pushing left
or right to start it turning and pushing the other way to stop it turning. You
can also trail the pole in the water to use as a rudder. The pole has to be
pulled hand-over-hand out of the water, dropped in, and twisted out after it
has been pushed into the mud. When the pole is on your right, pushing the boat
right requires pushing the pole left under the boat.
|The Cam.||The Cam.||Punting dock.|
|Boarding.||Starting out.||Leaving the dock.|
|Passing under the Mathematical Bridge.||Clare College and King’s College Chapel.||Approaching north dock.|
|North punt dock.||Plant life in the Cam.||Whale skeleton.|
|Rose Crescent Street.|
Then I headed for the center of town and got you this
video (8.6 MiB) of the
|College buildings viewed across the Cam.|
For lunch, I had my first pasty at West Cornwall Pasty Company, a
“traditional” pasty. Then I explored the downtown/river area some
more before starting a self-guided walking tour, Cambridge
Past and Present, a podcast I had downloaded at home. It was a decent
tour, and an iPod tour is a nice way to see a bit of town. After the tour, I
walked back to the hotel.
I was largely insulated from the news media while traveling in Europe. This
was a good time for that, since it shielded me from the overdose of Michael
My TD Bank card was rejected by an ATM, even though I called TD Bank before
leaving to inform them I would be using the card in England, and they told me
the withdrawal limit was $762 per day. Yes, they actually said $762. However,
they meant zero, as in “You did not use that card for a year, so we
canceled it without telling you, and we are not telling you now.”
Fortunately, my Chase card worked, although that limits the cash I can get per
day to a little less than I would like.
|Wilton & Noble.||Melt.|
Melt was my next stop. It is a much nicer chocolate store. In addition to several truffles, I bought a few bars to take home. My chocolate reviews focus on confections such as pralines, truffles, and other filled chocolates, so I do not buy bars much. However, Melt had several intriguing bars, including a pine nut and raisin bar and a sea salted caramel bar, and I figured they might travel well enough to make it home in good condition.
That finished my required work for the day (sampling chocolate stores), so I
took a walk using one of the cards from City
Walks London, part of the City
Walks line. It was a decent route, passing through unexpected terrain,
including Regent’s Park, a canal, some burrowing warthogs, a pirate
castle, some canal locks, under and over various bridges, and through Camden
|Path in Regent’s Park.||Field in Regent’s Park.||Leaving the park.|
|Hills. What are those doing in London?||Canal.||Burrowing warthogs.|
|Canal.||Pirate Castle.||Approaching Camden Town.|
During the two partial days I was in London, I used nine of the Underground’s twelve lines, several simply because I was forced onto alternate lines by closures due to engineering work. Camden Town station had a working line direct to the Angel station, so I visited the bicycle shop, now open, before leaving town. I saw the Yakkay helmets and covers, but they are quite expensive (£95). Also, the helmets have only a few air holes, which the cloth covers block, so I am concerned they will be hot. I expect they are designed for the casual short rides that are common in Europe and not for sporting use. However, I think they might be too hot even for my 20-minute ride to work, unless I slowed it down quite a bit.
In the afternoon, I took a train to Liverpool and checked into the Britannia Adelphi Hotel. Perhaps it was a grand hotel 180 years ago, but it has not been well maintained or upgraded. I am accustomed to small hotel rooms in Europe, but have some sense about it. My room had a large, wood, upholstered chair that neither fit under the desk nor allowed room to pass to the other side of the bed. There was no Internet service. Although it was cool on ground level, my room on the fifth floor was hot, and there was no air conditioning or through-ventilation, just a window that could be opened only a few inches.
However, I was prepared by reviews before I booked to the hotel and accepted
the shortcomings because the hotel is in the city center and very close to the
two train stations I used in Liverpool. I will spare you other shortcomings of
the hotel. No, wait, I cannot resist. No batteries in the television remote. A
tissue box holder mounted so it would not hold the tissue box. A shower curtain
too high or too short to stay inside the tub. Television by bad antenna
reception, not cable. Okay, now I am done.
|Part of Albert Dock.|
At Albert Dock, I visited the International Slavery Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum and walked around the rest of the dock. There are some shops and restaurants and a few boats perhaps using the place as an actual dock, and The Beatles Story.
Then I took the Yellow
Duckmarine tour. It was a reasonable tour for the price (€10, much
less than the $35 for the Boston Duck Tour) but not the most fascinating tour.
|The Yellow Duckmarine.||Entering the water.||In the water.|
|Humped Zebra Crossing sign.|
|Chocolate Cellar chocolates.|
Liverpool has a huge pedestrian shopping area, containing multiple malls and plazas and so on. At the edge is The Chocolate Cellar. It is not bad, but they are not making the best use of their Callebaut chocolate.
Further on I saw an impressive Dr. Who cake in a closed bakery, but I could not
get a good photograph through the window.
|Part of Liverpool ONE.||Chavasse Park.|
|Liverpool seen from World Museum.||Cacao pod, cacao beans, cacao butter.|
When I saw a place calling itself American Pizza Slice I had to test it. To my
surprise, the cheese pizza was passable, certainly closer to New York pizza
than some pretenders I have had.
|88% of the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch sign.|
|Leaving Holyhead, United Kingdom.||Approaching Dún Laoghaire, Ireland.|
In Holyhead, I boarded a ferry to Ireland, my 13th country (not including those I only passed through in transit). The ferry docks in Dún Laoghaire, south of Dublin. I quickly got an impression that the people are friendly but speak too softly. I bought a bus pass and headed to Dublin. The pass is interesting; it has an antenna embedded in the paper, and you just hold it on (probably even just near) the reader. All the buses I rode in Dublin were double-deckers.
The ABC Guesthouse is decent. My
room was not quite as small as in Alington House, perhaps the size of the
Adelphi room but laid out much better. And the hotel has WiFi, so I was
connected for the rest of my trip.
|Butlers’ chocolates. That smudge is from the packaging; I did not put a fingerprint on the chocolate!|
Years ago, Butlers Chocolates contacted me and asked me to review their products. As with many chocolatiers, I could only list them in my directory and add them to my long queue of places to review. This trip gave me the opportunity to try out their chocolate cafés in Dublin. Unfortunately, I found the experience disappointing. Their chocolates were more what I classify as Standard, not Fine. Perhaps their beverages and pastries were better, but those are not what I review.
My hotel room was at the top of the stairs, so I had a skylight. I was
concerned because sunset was at 21:52 and sunrise was at 5:06. (Dublin is at
53.37° north latitude.) With twilight, it was dark for only 5½
hours, from 22:43 to 4:15. However, a shade covered the skylight very well, and
I slept better than most nights at home.
I took a no-fee, tips-only tour with New
Europe Tours. Here are a few things from the tour.
|Maybe Jonathan Swift was born around here somewhere.|
|Christ Church Cathedral.||Former Viking buildings.|
The tour paused for lunch (Queen of
Tarts, yum) and then continued over the River Liffey via the Ha’penny Bridge,
named for the original toll, past the Houses of Parliament and Trinity College,
and into Saint Stephen’s Green.
|River Liffey.||Ha’penny Bridge.|
I made my way back to Trinity College and visisted
Infectious: Stay Away. It
seemed more entertainment than informative, and I like my science exhibits to
|Punny bicycle store.|
During my days in Dublin, I frequently visited O’Connell Street. It is a main street, site of the former Nelson Pillar and now Spire of Dublin, a bus transfer center, and a retail area.
Dublin appeared to have many bus routes. I saw plenty of three-digit route
numbers and two-digit-plus-letter routes. Catching a bus to the hotel from
O’Connell Street was a bit tricky. There were nine bus routes I could use
to get to the hotel, and they had different stops along O’Connell Street,
with more than a bus length between them. So I had to position myself near the
middle, scout the buses coming down the street, and hustle to the matching
stop, trying to remember whether it was ahead of or behind me.
|View from top deck of bus.|
At most bus stops, signs listed all the origin times for all the buses serving the stop. Unfortunately, I had no idea where those origins were or how long it took the bus to get from the origin to the stop. Of course, being European, the service was frequent enough that particular bus times were usually not important.
Observation suggested pedestrians do not have the rights of way in Dublin they have in other cities. I do not just mean that there are a lot of drivers (and pedestrians) pushing the limits like in other cities. It really seemed like the rules were different. Even in calm traffic away from the center of the city, I saw drivers cutting off pedestrians to turn into a driveway.
In the evening, I went looking for a place to eat in Dublin.
Milano looked interesting, and I was
reading the menu when I realized it was the same place as
PizzaExpress in Cambridge.
|Sphere sculpture at the math building.||Museum foyer.|
|Extinct giant deer.||Double Helix sculpture at biology building.|
Then I went to Trinity College for the self-guided Science Safari: The Trinity
Trail using audio downloaded to my iPod. The tour started with
Usher’s calculation of Earth’s age, not good for a science tour. It
included another scientist adjusting their age calculation from 2.5 billion
years to hundreds of millions of years because they did not want to allow time
for Darwin’s ideas to have worked. The tour picked up from there, but the
Cambrige podcast tour was better.
|Park in Saint Stephen’s Green.|
There is not much to write about the rest of the day; I spent a fair amount of
time just walking around and seeing the city. A few sights are shown along the
right. I had lunch at Gallaghers Boxty House. I looked for building numbers
from time to time to figure out where I was, but their scarcity suggsted the
city council had banned public display of building numbers. I only recall
seeing three scofflaws during my visit.
The Ghostbus tour was okay but rather weak. To the left is a photograph from
a cemetery where they dug up all the bodies, cremated them, and moved the
headstones to the edges.
|Dublin Bus logo.|
|Dubh Linh field.|
To the left is a picture of the Dublin Bus logo. I thought it was clever, combining the “d” and “b” of Dublin Bus into a castle tower.
Below that is the field over the former Dubh Linh I returned to photograph for you. The design is an artistic Celtic design; it does not have any particular meaning I can find.
I tried to open an account at Ulster bank, to have an easy way to pay for an
occasional mail-order purchase from a European merchant and to manage cash on
future vacations. Ireland would be a good place for that, since the accounts
are denominated in Euros and they speak English. The receptionist initially
said I could, but it turned out I lacked sufficient proof of address. My
California driver’s license is insufficient for Irish legal evidence,
even though it is under the jurisdiction of a famous former European national.
So next trip, I have to bring six months of utility bills or bank statements.
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© Copyright 2009 by Eric Postpischil.