No time to write (or read) a proper travel blog, so I'll just use this and try for short updates.
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  • Day27

    London - Greenwich & British Museum

    August 27, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    After Bletchley Park I made my way to stay with Diane and Luke - thanks so much for having me! For my last full day in London I decided to cram in the two things I had been meaning to do but hadn't managed yet: Greenwich and the British Museum. As an added bonus I got to hang out with Diane all day as she came along too (solid effort after coming back from Japan yesterday)!

    To get to Greenwich we took a tour boat down the Thames (pro tip: 50% off voucher is online), providing a different view and commentary on many of the landmarks I'd seen before. Greenwich itself was a nice little town, and it's only a short walk up the hill to the observatory/museum/vantage point where the meridian line (#2) is drawn. I'm still a little hazy on how places claim to be the first in the new day on the west of that line, given that GMT+12 exists...
    The museum/observatory itself was not free(!) and maybe I've been spoiled but it didn't look worth the price.

    On to a much bigger and freer museum, the British Museum. Huge museum with tons to see - kind of an odd selection of artefacts collected from around the world. We were a bit limited on time so we just looked at the Egyptian, Greek, and Japanese sections mostly. The Rosetta stone was crowded but there was a replica in another section that you could actually touch and see up close. Lots of other cool Egyptian stuff like Cleopatra's mummy & coffin. The Greek section was mostly broken pieces of the Parthenon, a bit disappointing after the beautiful marble carvings in the V&A. The building itself had a very unique architecture too.
    Whew, busy last day!
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  • Day26

    Bletchley Park

    August 26, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Went to see the now-famous (once top secret) wartime codebreaking center. There's actually quite a bit to see around the site and I think I spent a bit too long following around the audio guide (of the outdoors) instead of looking at the displays indoors.

    Most impressive was the working rebuilt replica Bombe (electro-mechanical-)machine, designed (but not built) by Alan Turing, to break the German enigma codes in WW2. Also interesting were the restored huts in which the codebreakers worked.

    I didn't realise until the end that there was a separate National Museum of Computing next door (that is separate because of an ongoing spat between the organisations). They had a separate entry fee and a replica Colossus (the first actual programmable electronic digital computer), also used for codebreaking. Unfortunately by the time I realised this there wasn't time to see it :(

    I did stumble upon an interesting little exhibit on radio, including amateur radio station, near the exit. It was inside Bletchley Park so free bonus!
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  • Day24

    London - Natural History Museum

    August 24, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Another rainy day, another museum... only half of London had the same idea (#1). Even though there wasn't anything stopping people getting in besides how packed the front room was, there was a massive line outside. Luckily the rain paused while I was in line!
    Right inside, there's an almost-complete stegosaurus fossil (#2), awesome! There was also a huge line inside to get into the dinosaur exhibit (#3). You can also see in that photo that it's quite a beautiful building, too.

    And HEAPS of other stuff. (#4 is a whole large room full of different minerals / gemstones, #5 is a ~1500yo giant sequoia with rings labeled for historic events).

    Half an hour before closing time I lined up for the dinosaur exhibit, having rushed through some bits and missed other entire sections. Always cool, the dinosaurs did not disappoint (although I thought the earth/volcanoes/earthquakes section was just as good). I particularly like these fossil teeth where you can see serrations on the edge. Unfortunately I didn't make it through the whole exhibit (going was slow because it was super packed) before the museum closed and they ushered everyone out.

    All up 4 hours spent and needed more time! I should have woken up earlier!
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  • Day23

    London - V&A Museum

    August 23, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Seeing as it was raining, I decided to see a museum. This one wasn't even very crowded (in relative London terms).

    Great museum, mostly of artistic stuff throughout history. I particularly loved the superbly detailed marble statues (#1. Valor crushing Cowardice, #2. Neptune and Triton, #3. Ceres, goddess of agriculture, oak).
    I never knew how large Michelangelo's David was (#4, a plaster cast of the original).
    There was also other interesting stuff. #5: a lamp made out of concrete, bronze circuitry, LEDs, and dandelion heads. #6: Edward Snowden's laptop, destroyed after it held the leaked information. Also a section about glassmaking through history.

    A huge museum! I spent maybe 5 hours here and had to rush through some bits to see it all (although I still feel like I might've missed some stuff).
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  • Day23

    London - Camden Market

    August 23, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Went to Camden Town, a very short tube hop from my hostel. Basically it's a big, busy street market with lots of great crafts and amazing food. The best bit was the free samples from all the food stalls (student instincts in full effect - I sampled everything, some twice). Very cool stuff (although I didn't buy anything because I don't want to carry it for two months).
    Then it rained. Time to make an exit.
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  • Day22

    London - Hyde Park / Portobello market

    August 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Glorious sunny up to 30° day (predicted rain for the next week) so, making the most of it, I rode a bike around Hyde Park. Turned out to be an excellent option because there are paved paths and it's almost flat, although you're restricted to just a few paths in the park. Also it's huge.
    There were some big crowds in places but they certainly had space to spread out (some places were almost empty too). I always like parks in cities.

    Next off to the largest antique market in the world, Portobello markets. This was a long street market (plus shops too) with a focus on antique stuff. I wasn't tempted to buy anything (except food) but it was interesting to see all the weird and old stuff displayed in the stalls.
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  • Day21


    August 21, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Did a day trip to Oxford. What a lovely town (full of (mostly) poor students (some, the children of super wealthy families) living in overpriced, but very pretty, accommodation)!

    I did a walking tour to learn a bit about the history, and saw a lot of pretty buildings, including the inside of a few colleges (each is almost a self contained university, walled off from the outside). Included the place/story where/how Lewis Carroll came up with Alice in Wonderland, and afterwards I had a pint in the pub where CS Lewis and Tolkien met for their weekly writing club.
    There was also the largest single-room book collection and (although I didn't get to see it), there are multiple miles of library tunnels full of books connecting some of the main buildings.
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  • Day20

    London - portrait gallery

    August 20, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After the walking tour I wandered around and ended up at the National Portrait Gallery. Lots of past royalty and other people I didn't know. Here's:
    1: a bust of Edward Elgar (I played some of his music)
    2: Darwin
    3: Elizabeth II, in 1969
    4: George V and Queen Mary, huge with super ornate frame
    5: skeletal "gift horse", with stock tickers scrolling across the bow (temp art installation just outside), thought it was interesting
    6: Canada house, on the corner of Trafalgar Square and Pall Mall, monopoly points!
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