European Adventure I: Surrey and London

Recently, Vin and I went on a 16-day vacation to Europe. We went to a few countries, visited with many friends and for the first time ever, I travelled around the European continent. Prior to this, I had only been in London for 2 weeks in the winter of 1997.

We started our vacation by flying to Gatwick where we were picked up by Mei Chin (my bestestestestest friend in the whole wide world) and Colin. We were to spend the first part of our trip hanging out with Mei and Colin at their place in England.

*grumble* this is the 2nd time I’m doing this entry. My stupid computer froze and IE died when I was completely done with this entry. All was lost. ūüôĀ

Anyway, we arrived at Gatwick in the morning, and after we dropped our bags off at Mei and Colin’s place, we decided not to waste the first day and tried to stay awake as long as we could to fight off jet lag. We decided to do a “pub walk”. What is a pub walk, you may ask (which I did)? It’s a walk through the English countryside, of varying distances and difficulty, starting from and ending at a public house (with the idea that you would pop into it for refreshments after the nice invigorating walk). We looked through a book of pub walks for Surrey (where Mei and Colin live). Yes, a book of them. In fact, it was called “40 More Surrey Pub Walks” or something to that extent, and yes, this meant that indeed there were OTHER books containing many more Surrey Pub Walks. Anyway, after much debate, we picked a 4-mile walk that would start and end at The Cock Inn.

OK. I admit it. I voted for the Cock Inn walk due to the name of the establishment!! teehee!

So off we went. Surrey is really quite horsey country. There were plenty of stables, and we did walk along a good bit of riding trails. This meant we had to watch where we stepped since there were piles of horse manure running around. Here’s one such horse with his butt to us, conveniently with a pile of horse turd just before it:

[[image:eur01.jpg:Horse’s Ass?:center:0]]

We saw fields of bluebells. It was so cool. I felt like I was finally walking through an Enid Blyton storybook!!

[[image:eur02.jpg:Bluebells:center:0]]

[[image:eur03.jpg:More bluebells:center:0]]

Here’s a sign that I could not help but get my picture taken with:

[[image:eur04.jpg:Laughing at the Cockshott Wood sign:center:0]]

[[image:eur05.jpg:Even Vin wanted a picture with this sign:center:0]]

Eventually we got a little lost. Well, to Colin’s credit (he was the navigator), we could not go the way the book was telling us to go. That way was blocked. So he had to improvise a little.

[[image:eur06.jpg:We have to head in THAT general direction:center:0]]

On our detour, we encountered these cool animals. They are Highland Cattle. Aren’t they cool? I thought they looked like a mixture between cow, yak and a giant long-haired labrador retriever.

[[image:eur08.jpg:Highland Cattle or Shaggy the sheepdog?:center:0]]

[[image:eur07.jpg:Highland Cattle, Sila, Mei and Colin:center:0]]

We walked through meadows, over stiles, through gates and up and down some slopes (yes, couch-potato-Sila had to take some breaks during the uphills), heard gunshot in the distance (pheasant hunting season) and along the way met other pub walkers, horse riders, bicyclists, boy scouts, girl guide/brownies and even some small cars. We ended back at the Cock Inn where we had a lovely lunch (fish and chips anyone?).

[[image:eur09.jpg:Vin by the Cock Inn sign:center:0]]

Usually I try to keep these entries chronological but I want to skip over a couple of days and go straight to our adventures in London. I want to do justice to our day trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury and will make that the next entry. So..moving right along, after a couple of fun filled days, we decided to have a day outing in London. Both Mei and Colin had to work, so Vin and I took the train into London (30 minute train ride) where we were to visit some museums before meeting up with Mei and Colin for dinner and a play.

We had a plan of attack for our 1 day in London. We had some 2-for-1 coupons to enter some museums and other attractions. We asked for a free map at the Information booth in the train station, and decided to go first to the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, a reconstruction of the theatre in which Shakespeare’s works were first performed, by Bankside about 200 metres from the original site of the Globe theatre. We walked from the Waterloo train station to the Thames river, and walked along the Jubilee Walkway.

[[image:eur10.jpg:Lamp post along the Thames:center:0]]

We were just in time for a guided tour of the theatre, and watched a rehearsal of Titus Andronicus, which was to be performed at the Globe shortly. Unfortunately, due to the rehearsal, we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the theatre. However, it was a really cool experience to sit in the audience, pretend to be a ‘groundling,’ watch the rehearsal and imagine how it would have been during Shakespeare’s time. The theatre itself was just so cool too, and authentically built. Here’s a picture of the exterior of the theatre from a distance (it’s the white rounded building with the thatched roof):

[[image:eur17.jpg:Globe Theatre:center:0]]

After a nice lunch and rest at a restaurant on the Thames, we decided to walk to Somerset House which houses the Courtauld Institute. We crossed over to the other side of the Thames on the Millenium Bridge.

[[image:eur11.jpg:Vin on the Millenium Bridge:center:0]]

[[image:eur12.jpg:The Tower Bridge in the distance:center:0]]

We had a little bit of trouble finding Somerset House, but eventually we found it. The Courtauld was really cool, and in the art gallery there we saw such masterpieces as Van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. We spent a good 2-3 hours wandering through the museum.

Somerset House also houses the Hermitage Collection and is a pretty cool looking building.

[[image:eur13.jpg:Courtyard and Fountain at Somerset House:center:0]]

Even though our feet were killing us by this time, we decided to walk from the Courtauld to Piccadilly Circus where we were to meet Mei and Colin. Here are some pictures taken during the walk, and it was drizzling so we didn’t take too many pictures.

[[image:eur14.jpg:Vin and a fountain:center:0]]

[[image:eur15.jpg:Sila at the National Gallery:center:0]]

[[image:eur16.jpg:Vomiting dolphin and child:center:0]]

We had a lovely sushi dinner where we ate enough raw salmon to get checked out for mercury poisoning, then we ran off to catch Breakfast with Mugabe at the Duchess. It turned out to be a fast-paced, excellent play that we all quite enjoyed.

That’s all for now. Part II will follow shortly. ūüôā

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