A Travellerspoint blog

London again....

catching up!


View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

I am actually sitting on my porch in Amagansett, NY but it is cloudy :( so this is the perfect time to update you since my last post and give you more details on my time in London.

I had a great few days in London and really enjoyed being back and just wandering around. However here are a couple of interesting fun facts from my touristy time at Westminster Abbey and my tour of the houses of Parliment:

  • Queen Elizabeth I is interred above her half sister Queen Mary Tudor (not Queen Mary of Scots she had killed), although the inscription on the tombs says they are equals and shall be so in the afterlife - if so, shouldn't they be interred side by side?
  • allegedly, the term "Lobbying" comes from the the houses of parliment where members of the public were able to meet with their representatives. The representatives would leave the interior chambers and meet them in the central lobby of parliment. Interesting, this doesn't so much happen anymore in London, but we all know the influence of lobbyists in the states.
  • Nearly all of the building of Parliment was recently rebuilt within the past few hundred years after the original building suffered 2 fires since its original construction. They have continued to keep the same style to maintain the appearance and history. There is however one main hall dating to about 800 a.d. It is the largest part of the hall and from time to time is used for funerals/laying in state and significant public appearances by heads of state. Winston Churchill was the only commoner to lay in state here.

ok, enough history. Aside from visiting my old neighborhood and enjoying some pints of beer in the pubs, one fun thing we did was go to an event called Secret Cinema. This is what would be called a fancy dress party in London - or a costume party in the states. One buys a ticket to see the mystery movie and they give you clues as to what the movie will be and you are supposed to dress in costume in theme to the movie. The organizers provide actors, staging, and food and beverages. Our clues were along the line of needing to meet up with our beduoin tribes for which we should bring floor cushions and rugs. We had correctly guessed the film was Lawrence of Arabia (although some poor souls were guessing Aladin) and tried our best to find some appropriate gear at the Portobello road markets. We arrived to see beduoin fighters on horseback and had time to wander through the "souk" or market and watch the belly dancers before the movie. All in all I think it was a fun way to just see a movie!

I have updated my photo gallery with pictures from all stages of my trip so far, so check out pics from VT, Italy and London (including some fun shots from secret cinema)!

Also, here is an update of what I have been reading. I will fess up to the bad british chick lit (really it was that or an italian german dictionary that were left at my hotel...) was Undomestic Goddess, by the Sofie Kinsella - same women who writes the Shoppoholic series. It was a super quick read and it you are lying on a beach you could do worse, but I wouldn't really be buying it unless I was desperate. I followed that with Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd. My friend in London Barb passed this along although she put it down as she couldn't get into this Jane Austen inspired murder mystery and I will say I was just about to do the same but suddenly it got much better so I stuck it out and was glad I did so. The plot really picked up at the end of the novel and I enjoyed it. I just finished Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (this time a strong recommendation from Barb) and it was great and a page turner. It is also a murder mystery, but set in Russia at the end of Stalin's reign of terror. I don't have a lot of knowledge of the normal goings on around that time and loved that the persecution of "anti-state spys" was woven into the story. I would highly recommend it!!

Posted by HMB2010 11:17 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Fw: London

Continued... Dickens used to use. Sadly the old style hop on/hop off double Decker bus has largely been replaced. More updates and pics to come when I get back to the states and get on my computer. Holly
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-----Original Message-----
From: hollymberg@yahoo.com
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2010 15:33:27
To: Blog<hmb2010.2ru8f@moblog.Travellerspoint.com>
Reply-To: hollymberg@yahoo.com
Subject: London

So apparently I should be able to update my blog via email so I am giving it a go. Briefly (in case this really doesn't work well), I am on my way back to NY from London. I lived in London back in 99-01 so the goal of this trip was to visit friends and see some of the sites I missed on my last go around. I spent time at westminster abbey, the houses of parliment the portrait gallery, & the national gallery. I was really pleased to see some of the old British icons are still around such as the red phone boxes, roomy black cabs, and apartment keys that look like charles
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Posted by HMB2010 08:41 Comments (1)

London

So apparently I should be able to update my blog via email so I am giving it a go. Briefly (in case this really doesn't work well), I am on my way back to NY from London. I lived in London back in 99-01 so the goal of this trip was to visit friends and see some of the sites I missed on my last go around. I spent time at westminster abbey, the houses of parliment the portrait gallery, & the national gallery. I was really pleased to see some of the old British icons are still around such as the red phone boxes, roomy black cabs, and apartment keys that look like charles
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Posted by HMB2010 08:36 Comments (1)

Italy

Oh how I have missed siesta....

0 °F
View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

Buon Giorno!!

I am going to apologize in advance for the very long post, but believe or not I have had a hard time getting away from relaxing to get into town to the internet cafe!! Since my last post there is much to update you on. I will try to stick to the fun and interesting items.

After nearly 20 impossibly long hours of travel time across 6 time zones (NY through London to Rome to Cagliari and then an hour car ride to a 1/2 hour ferry ride to the island of San Pietro!) I was more than pleased to meet up with my friend Viviana and her family and friends. Viviana and I were roommates when I first moved to NYC back in 1996 and she was studying for her masters. She is from Cagliari, Italy and usually returns home each summer to visit family and friends. For years we talked about me coming to visit and I am so pleased to finally be able to have made it! First of all, where the heck am I?? I am on a little island of the south west coast of the island of Sardinia. Here is a link for you: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl.

San Pietro I would describe as a little bit of the hamptons of Sardinia. It is a local island where a lot of Sardinians go for a week or so to enjoy the beaches and unwind each summer (btw, not one other american spotted!). Viviana and her family rented a lovely villa in the hills on the northwest coast of the island. First I want to thank them all for their incredibly kind hospitality and welcoming I have received all week. When I think of Italians I always think of a people of warm spirits that enjoy life to fullest, spend time savoring great food with family and friends and are generous beyond compare and I can verify this is actually the case (at least with Viviana and all her family and friends!!). Many thanks for a wonderful week.

I think this is the best time to describe our typical day at the beaches on San Pietro (btw, the only real town on the island is Carloforte and most everyone refers to the island as Carloforte so I will use them interchangably). Wake up about 10 or so; breakfast of a little pastry/cake and fruit; to the beach or exploring the island; return to the house for lunch around 2 or 3; nap; return to another beach around 6 or so or take a stroll around town; dinner around 9 and to bed around midnight or 1. My picture gallery has a photo of one of the beaches as well as a shop in Cagliari (more pics will come when I have more time to manipulate the pics to proper size for uploading). This pretty much covers how I have spent most of the week and it has been delightful!

Some general random thoughts about Italy and/or Carloforte

  • Although enormous US SUVs/cars would eat Italian cars like cocktail peanuts at happy hour, I love the little cars here and they make so much more sense the our huge gas guzzlers (especially while navigating ancient streets and country lanes)
  • The landscapes on these islands are crazy dry and most of the vegetation is scrub grass, cactus, and succulent plants - who knew? Yet the air is slightly humid with lovely sea breezes all day long and San Pietro has the most amazing smell of fresh herbs - think jazmine, sage and rosemary mixed together.
  • The food is every bit as good as you think it is!
  • There are flamingos here - again, who knew?

Mangia!!
I love food and I know most of you all share this love so I thought I would try to describe some of the amazing things I have been eating all week! First, dinner upon my arrival was a home cooked meal by Viviana's mom - what a treat!! We started with a pasta with eggplant and fresh local tuna and olive oil, it was incredible (and not just because I had been travelling for 20 hours) followed by local fritto mixto - fried local seafood - we had sardines, shrimp, calamari and a little local fish called Trilli I think. They were devine. For dessert we had prickly pears. This was a new fruit to me and is the fruit from a cactus plant (carefully picked, peeled and eaten like and apple), it has a mild sweet taste and is full of seeds almost like a pomogranite that you also eat. it was interesting and pretty yummy.

Lunch was a lovely cold rice salad with more fresh cooked tuna, olive oil and some veggies mixed in, it was so tasty and I hope to try and relicate it in NY.... Or a heavy couscous with seafood, or pasta with shrimp, etc. Every single meal consists of local seafood, typically tuna, shrimp, langostines, sardines, mussels, clams, some antipasti - proscuitto, fruits, cheeses. Everything is so fresh and simple. We also had a lot of great local wines and cheese. Sardinia is know for its pecorino and I have to say they are nothing like the pecorino I have had in the states. These cheeses are salty, sweet, semi-hard and beyond incredible. I wish I could bring a wheel or 2 home. It is not unusual to have many different ages of pecorino along with other local cheeses after a meal, they are all incredible. It made me laugh as the few meals we ate out at restaurants or trattorias Viviana was always concerned to show me the best food in town and I always thought the meals were the best I have eaten but she was always quick to point out the imperfections. It was all good to me since the italian in NY, while great, still just can't beat the real thing! Note, we did finally get a few dishes that she stamped with her seal of approval - and they were great.

Gelado - what can be better. There are a ton of geladerias in Italy and we thought it would be best to investigate as many as possible to find the best one in town. We decided it was a good idea to try the same flavors from 2 different places each day - for direct comparison of course :) so I have been trying my best. So far, I can truly say I have enjoyed every bite and now know where to send you if you come to visit!

Last Sunday we came back to the capital city of Cagliari for the rest of my time here in Italy. I have been wandering this ancient city, loving the old architecture, castle keeps and winding streets. Like Carloforte my days have been filled with impossibly good food and afternoon naps - I could live this life very easily!

Tomorrow I fly on to London for a few days.

One last update on what I have been reading... I finished the Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet and I really enjoyed and would recommend it. It was really a little bit of a love story, but set during the internment of the japanese during WWII. Very interesting. English book choices VERY limited (try 2 books to choose from), I am just about to finish Stephen King's On Writing, a memoir of the craft. Not something I would normally pick up, but he explains how he goes about his business of writing and it was a little inspirational, although I am afraid he was be sorely disappointed in this blog post :( I will try better in the future to use his recommendations on good writing!!! Next up, a british chick lit book that someone left in my hotel.

More soon!
H

Posted by HMB2010 07:31 Archived in Italy Comments (5)

En Route to Italy

The most beautiful words to hear after a red eye flight....


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It is roughly 9 a.m. local time (4 a.m. NY time) here in London after a 6 1/2 hour red eye flight and I was just checking in for my Italy flight when the agent informed me - "you know you are in business class right"!!!! Lovely, truly a lovely thing to hear this a.m. I guess when I booked my flights I failed to notice this one leg is in biz class so now I get to enjoy the lounge and some nice breakfast for the next few hours before jetting off to Rome and then Cagliari!!!

I just wanted to share my good travel fortune (oh yeah, my bag made it too and the flight was more or less on time - a trifecta!) before my next post.

I promise to get some pics uploaded as soon as I figure out how to do that with my camera!!

Last, wanted to let you know I finished In the Shadow of Gotham while in NH. I would recommend it as a good period mystery and good easy beach read perfect for the last days of summer. I give it 4 out of 5 stars for really good, but not totally engrossing. I swapped out that book with Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet from the Beaver Island house library mainly b/c I mis-read the cover and thought it was by the same author of Water for Elephants that I really enjoyed (who was in fact just recommending the book). This book is another period fiction, but set in Seattle during WWII and is shaping up to be a very good read. I am afraid it won't last me too much longer so I will need to swap it out soon. I hope to find some english language books somewhere on Cagliari.

One other fun item to note, my friend Katie downloaded some old italian lessons she had from her study abroad days in Florence, Italy and I have been dutifully listening to Italian lessons for the last few weeks. On the plane I enjoyed the "currency" lesson - and I quote "the lira is the currency of italy and one lira is quite small so we will learn to say 1000s of lira"... So now I am all set for some really expensive shopping in the new Euro....

More later!
H

Posted by HMB2010 01:44 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

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