Page 2 of londonpenguin Travel Blog Posts

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh April 18th 2016

Geo: 55.9503, -3.18761On the plane to Edinburgh, while I was eating my Clif bar, I thought how it was such a relief not to have to attempt communication in another language. Since Ireland in 2011, it's been Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Belgium & Holland, France, and Bulgaria, for all of which I tried to learn a little of the language. Not that I didn't get by just fine in those countries, but I always felt a bit guilty about eventually having to default to English. So being in Great Britain is a little less stressful.The City of Edinburgh recently extended its tramline all the way to the airport, so I bought a ticket and hopped on. I kept my eye on the map and the screen showing the upcoming stops, and also listened to the lady who would announce ... read more
View from my window

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London April 17th 2016

Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236Slightly less successful sleep last night, but still not too bad. I don't feel groggy when I wake up, so I guess I'm doing all right.My destination this morning was the Courtauld Gallery, a smallish but amazing art museum. First, there's a small room of Medieval art (i.e., religious paintings), including a nice painting by a Flemish artist of the Madonna and child, where Jesus actually looks like a sweet little baby. But it's the upper floors that really impress. There are Bruegels and Botticellis galore, Rubenses and Gainsboroughs, Reynoldses and Renoirs (one of his female models was known as "fish face"), Lucas Cranach the Elder and Monets. Van Gogh's self-portrait with his bandaged ear is there, as is Manet's "A Bar at the Folies-Bergere." That poor girl behind the bar looks so depressed. ... read more
View from Somerset House's terrace
Somerset House's terrace
Cabmen's shelter

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London April 16th 2016

Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236Woke up a few times in the night, particularly when the person in the room above started clog dancing with hippos. All in all though, I did pretty well sleep-wise. The shower's fine, and — get this — the Worst Hairdryer in the World has gone high-tech! It's now only the Second Worst Hairdryer in the World.I filled up at breakfast. I even had three (half) pieces of toast! Toast that's so cold, butter won't even melt on it. Still, I have a soft spot for toast racks.After breakfast and a futile attempt to keep my hair from looking like a tumbleweed (Seriously, why does my hair get so frizzy now? It's crazy-making. I blame my genes. (Hi, Mary!)), I took the Tube to Liverpool Street Station and promptly got lost. Asked a polite ... read more
Inexplicably popular non-mixing taps
The Geffrye Museum
Drawing room of 1830

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London April 15th 2016

Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236I was supposed to be at the airport three hours before my 7:10 p.m. flight, so we left the house at 3:30 with the idea of getting there around 4:15. It took us 45 minutes just to get to the old Rainier brewery because traffic was so heavy. Got to the airport by 4:30, only to find that my flight was running an hour late. Sigh … So I spent a few hours just wandering around the airport. I ran into James, who used to work for British Airways and got me into the lounge a couple of years ago. He now works at the American Express lounge but couldn't get me in because he was working with someone who's a real stickler. That was all right, though, because I was trying to wear ... read more
The Shard
Not sure what the building with the circles is ...

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle September 17th 2015

Geo: 47.6353, -122.302Three thirty in the morning is way, way too early. I kept waking up because I was afraid my alarm wouldn't go off. Still, I felt reasonably well after four and a half hours of sleep. My taxi came on time, and we were to the airport in somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. It was more expensive than the Metro but a bargain at only 12.33 leva, even though the driver seemed to have only a passing acquaintance with soap.Sofia Airport was already very busy, with a long line for security snaking across the hall. I'd been planning to get something for breakfast while waiting to board, but virtually nothing was open yet. So I got a bottle of water and sat at the gate, which smelled faintly of poo.Again, the flight was ... read more

Europe » Bulgaria September 16th 2015

Geo: 42.7105, 23.3238There was a very large spider in my room last night. I had to knock on Connie and Melanie's door to see if either one of them could deal with creepy-crawlies. Connie sort of got rid of it: it crawled into the wall when she tried to get it onto a piece of paper. Euggh!After breakfast this morning I learned that we have eight sick people. I've been feeling a little intestinally challenged over the last couple of days, but nothing like our sickies. They've got nausea and everything. The bus ride today was pretty much misery for them, and they only participated in our activities minimally. Knock wood I don't get it.Riding along on the highway today, I realize that every single Bulgarian driver's main objective is to overtake everyone else on the ... read more
Reciting a poem
Uncle Rick
The kids and their teddies

Europe » Bulgaria » Veliko Tarnovo Province » Veliko Tarnovo September 15th 2015

Geo: 42.7252, 25.4815The cricket eventually buggered off last night, thank Heaven! The music went on for a while but it was a nice jazzy sound, so I didn't mind it. For a short while, it was just a tenor sax playing, and it sounded happy and mournful at the same time.My aunt asked if there's been any problem here with the migrant crisis. It's certainly in the news (though I haven't been keeping up with the news at all) but I don't think Bulgaria has been directly affected at all.We had our long walking tour of Veliko Tarnovo today; the weather was gorgeous … and hot. I don't know what the temperature got to, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky so the sun was just beating down on us. I may need to think ... read more
Nina puts the finishing touches on a bowl
Demeter decorates a plate

Europe » Bulgaria » Veliko Tarnovo Province » Veliko Tarnovo September 14th 2015

Geo: 42.7252, 25.4815It already seems like Varna was days ago; I can't even properly picture it in my head. It's funny how being on the coach will do that.Our first stop of the day was the Madara Horseman, situated in a national park. We hiked up a little ways to an open area that was once a cave and is, therefore, called the Big Cave. The cliff face looms over the area, so much so that it was hard to bend backward to take a photo. It makes for amazing acoustics, demonstrated by Stefan's clapping, which echoed beautifully. He asked us to be quiet for a moment, and we heard birdsong and trickling water. Due to the presence of water, humans have been there since the 13th century BC.The original cave was used as a temple ... read more
The Big Cave
Madara Horseman
The Madara Horseman

Europe » Bulgaria » Varna Province » Varna September 13th 2015

Geo: 42.7252, 25.4815That damn fridge kept waking me up all night long. I looked before I went to bed last night to see whether or not it could be unplugged, but the cabinet it was in was too close to the wall and I couldn't reach the plug. But at least my room wasn't on the third floor, where a contingent of Belgians managed to wake everyone up at 1:30 a.m. On our drive to Varna, we could see how Sunny Beach — the area visible from the north side of Nesebar — is too built up. There are hotels and big resorts and apartments, apartments, apartments. It's just ugly. There's one absolutely enormous resort that looks like something from Dubai, or Las Vegas. Most of the billboards along the highway are in Russian, trying to ... read more
Cathedral of the Assumption
Showing me how to sharpen my claws

Europe » Bulgaria September 12th 2015

Geo: 42.6622, 27.7075The mini-fridge in my room makes a lot of noise, especially when it cycles on. It woke me up at 3:00 a.m. when my brain interpreted the "on" sound as something crashing through my window.Breakfast was pretty simple: meats, cheeses, breads, and that's about it. No juice even, but at least there was tea. It was just starting to rain a bit when we started out this morning, and it was very windy too. Just our luck to be at a beach resort and to have unsuitable weather. Still, I likely wouldn't have gone down to the beach anyway, so I can't complain (although the wind is giving me wild gypsy hair). Our walking tour started just feet from our hotel at St. John church, a cruciform church with a chimney-like dome built … ... read more
Christ Pantokrator
Archaeological Museum
Old Town Nesebar gates

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