Saturday, 22 December 2012

Natural History Museum, London.

The Natural History Museum, London, houses over 70 million items of botany, zoology, minerology, entemology and palaeontology, often described as a 'Cathedral of Nature'. It contains rare specimens, such as those collected by Darwin and several Dinosaur skeletons. It's research is also world-renown, specialising in taxonomy and conservation.
It all started in 1753 when Sir Hans Sloane, a physician and collector of natural curiosities, left his collection to the state. They were held in the British Museum, until, after more additions, they were given their own home in the Waterhouse Building, designed by Liverpool architect Alfred Waterhouse. 
Since then, a Geological Museum, Darwin House (containing tens of millions of preserved specimens) and an Attenborough Studio (a high-tech audio-visual venue which also holds talks and lectures) have been added.
Admission is free, although entrance to some exhibitions may require a fee.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Tower Bridge, London.

Completed in 1894, Tower bridge (named due to it's proximity to the Tower of London) has become one the the most iconic London landmarks to date. The 801 ft suspension bridge crosses over the River Thames allowing both pedestrians and traffic to cross and can be raised to allow ships to pass. For a fee, you can visit the inside of the towers (Tower Bridge Exhibition) and discover more of the history of the bridge.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Shard, London.

This 309.6m, 95-storey sky scraper, completed this year, is the tallest building in the European Union and 2nd tallest in Europe. It boasts a 5-storey viewing deck from the 68th-72nd floor, office space, a hotel, restaurants and a spa.
Made with 11,000 panes of glass, the building reflects the sky above, the appearance changing with the weather and the seasons.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Hofgarten, Munich.

The Hofgarten in Munich was built from 1613-1617 by Maximilian I as an Italian style renaissance garden. After being destroyed in WWII, it was rebuilt with a more modern twist. On the east of the garden is the Bavarian Staatskanzlei (State chancellery - above), whilst a pavilion (Below) for the Goddess Diana (a Goddess associated with animals and woodland), built in 1615, can be found in the centre with a path leading from each of its 8 arches. In the north east of the garden is a granite memorial to White Rose group, a group of people who staged non-violent campaigns against Hitler's regime and were executed as a result.

Monday, 10 December 2012

HMS Belfast, London, England.

HMS Belfast was completed in 1936, being designed for the protection of trade and offensive attack.
She was officially launched on St Patrick's day 1938 by the Prime Minister's wife Anne Chamberlain, before being commissioned into the Royal Navy the following year.  She was the largest and most powerful cruiser in the Royal navy, equipped with the most advanced radar systems.
 She spent much of her time protecting the Arctic convoys, Russia's supply route during the war. She was also involved in the Battle of the North Cape and spent 5 weeks supporting D-Day landings.
 After WWII, HMS Belfast worked with Allied Forces in the Korean War from 1950-1952, supporting American and South Korean forces. She spent the rest of her years on peace-keeping duty until she was retired in 1963.
The Imperial War Museum wanted to preserve the WWII cruiser, forming a trust with Rear-Admiral Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles, one of HMS Belfast's former captains. She was brought to London for the public to see on Trafalgar Day, 21/10/71. Today she can be seen on the Thames, still one of the largest and most powerful light cruisers ever built.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Custom House, London, England.

A view of Custom House on the River Thames, near London Bridge, with the Gherkin in the background.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

My travel map, so far... (2012)

As it is approaching the end of the year, I've posted my travel map for this year. So far, I have travelled to 3 countries:
England (Liverpool, London, Windsor, Isle of Wight)
Germany (Munich, Dachau)
Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Hopefully more to come next year!!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Russian Maslenitsa Festival - Clip

Clip from the Russian Maslenitsa Festival earlier this year in Trafalgar Square, London.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Palace of Westminster and Bonfire Night, England.

The Palace of Westminster (aka Houses of Parliament) is home of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and is situated on the Middlesex bank of the river Thames. Originally, the site was home to the first Royal palace, during the 11th century. However, in 1512, a fire destroyed much of the palace and it was no longer used as a Royal residence, instead being used by parliament from the 13th century. Another fire occurred in 1834, followed by a bombing after WWII. 
Along with Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), it is one of the most recognised and visited attractions in the UK. It also played a fundamental role in the 1605 gunpowder plot in which Guy Fawkes and other Catholics stored gunpowder under the House of Lords in order to kill the Protestant King James I during the State Opening of Parliament on the 5th November. The plan, however, was unsuccessful and us Brits have celebrated Guy Fawkes  Night (or Bonfire Night) ever since!! On this night, fireworks and bonfires are popular, as well as the making of a 'Guy' (an effigy of Guy Fawkes). Kids stand in public places with these Guys and shout 'penny for a Guy' to gain money from passers by. The Guy is then burnt on a bonfire.
"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot..."

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Neues Rathaus, Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Neus Rathaus (New Town Hall), located in the Marienplatz in Munich City Centre, hosts the Munich city government. Built in the early 1900's, after about 41 years of construction, it now hosts offices and a restaurant, as well as gargoyles and other fine architectural details.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

London Eye, London, England.

One of the most famous landmarks of Britain, the London Eye, a 135m ferris wheel, opened back in 2000, shortly after the millennium. As well as being the biggest of its kind in Europe (was the biggest ferris wheel in the world until 2008), it is also the biggest tourist attraction in the UK.

 Standard tickets are about £17 (€21) and offer some of the best views of London. Samsung Galaxy tablets,installed in the pods, offer details and a brief history of the visible landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, the houses of parliament and Westminster Abbey.

It is worth noting, you may have to queue for a while, but it is worth it in the end and there are also fast track tickets available if you are willing to spend a bit more money. You can also buy tickets which include admission to the London Eye, Madam Tussaud's, the London Dungeons and the Sea Life Centre, which is cheaper than buying them all individually. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Munich, Germany

When visiting Munich, my German friend said to me 'I want you to see Munich as a large village, not as a small city', and he was right. Munich, although being Germany's third largest city, it lacks the skyscrapers and city feel that you would expect. Instead, Munich offers a more cosy yet medieval atmosphere with its gothic churches and weekly markets. To reflect this, it has been nicknamed 'Toy town' by the English, because of its safety and quality of life, and 'Millionendorf' by the Germans, meaning 'village of a million people'.
 I found the people of Munich to be friendly and outgoing, and also noted the large amount that spoke English, making it easier to get by there. As well as the people, I also found the scenery itself to be rather charming; whether it was stroll through the Olympic Park, or a wander around the city, there were plenty of landmarks to catch your eye. It also worth noting that, although it may not look so, Munich is a very modern city with host of museums, restaurants, shops and bars, as well as many other things to see and do.
 Due to its location, it is quite possible to go skiing in the Alps, or even hiking along the many mountains near by. The Bavarian capital is also quite close to Dachau, home of the infamous concentration camp, and hohenschwangau, a small Bavarian village which boasts Neuschwanstein Castle (Cinderella's Castle), as well as many, many tourists!!
 Munich is definitely a place to visit if you want a quaint village atmosphere with all the perks of a city, world class museums as well as the chance to do some hiking, and grand Gothic architecture wiv a slight Bavarian twist.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Chinesischer Turm, Englischer Garten, Munich.

Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) is a 5 storey, 25m high tower in Englischer Garten, Munich, built in 1790. It was built to resemble The Pagoda, a similar tower in London. It was burnt down in 1944 after heavy bombing, but rebuilt in 1952. It is a must see if you venture into the Englischer Garten. Here, you can sample typical Bavarian cuisine and, of course, beer!!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

City Hall, London, England.

City Hall, the home of London's government (Mayor of London and the London Assembly) since 2002. It is located in Southwark, on the bank of the River Thames, near Tower Bridge.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Chinatown Gateway, Liverpool.

This is the largest multi-span arch located outside of China (44ft tall) and can be found in Liverpool, which is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe.
The arch contains 200 hand carved dragons, 12 which are pregnant, symbolising good fortune between Liverpool and Shanghai, Liverpool’s twin city.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Transport in Amsterdam

Cycling is a very popular mode of transport in Amsterdam, which is why the city is covered with cycling lanes. You should always take caution when crossing roads as cyclists can come out of nowhere!! You can hire bikes from around 8 Euros per day if you choose to cycle around. 
Trams are a popular way of getting around. You can buy 24 and 48 hour tram passes (longer if needed) for a reasonable price, however I did find the trams to be quite confusing as tram conductors would often tell you the wrong tram to take.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

London 2012 Olympic Games - Olympic Park

Olympic Park & The Orbit

The Orbit

 Gardens in the Olympic Park

London 2012 Paralympic Games - ExCel Arena

Here are some pictures from when I went to see the Paralympic Games in London. I had an ExCel Arena pass so got to see sitting volleyball, wheelchair fencing, boccia and powerlifting. Enjoy!!

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool, England.

The Royal Liver Building from a distance. It is one of, if not the most symbolic building in Liverpool, sitting on Liverpool's famous waterfront as part of the 'three Graces' of Liverpool. It has a clock face bigger than that of Big Ben, which started at the exact time King George V was crowned in 1911 and was once the tallest storied building in Europe.

On top both towers rest the infamous Liver birds. Legend has it that the female looks out across the sea to guard the sailors and the male focuses on the city to protect the people; however, some believe that the female stares at the sea to eye up the sailors and the male likes to see what time the pubs shut!! Nevertheless, if the Liver Birds were to fly off, the City of Liverpool would be no more.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Superlambanana - Liverpool, England.

Created by Japenese artist Tar Chiezo, it was constructed in 2008 to celebrate Liverpool's European Capital of Culture status. It comments on the dangers of genetic engineering, using the lamb and banana (which were both common cargo at one point at Liverpool's docks), and also plays on Liverpool's famous sense of humour.

The 17ft model currently stands on Tithebarn street in the city centre.

There were also more than 150 smaller sculptures scattered throughout the North West, one in London Euston train station, and one on a mountain in Wales.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Saturday, 4 August 2012


Mariensäule in the centre of Marienplatz, erected to celebrate the end of the Swedish invasion. The Virgin Mary sits at the top. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Artis Royal Zoo, Amsterdam

The oldest zoo in The Netherlands, it houses a planetarium, an aquarium and a geological and zoological museum. For around 19 Euros (as of July 2012), you do get quite a lot. There is one part of the zoo where you can walk inside and have monkeys let lose, swinging around you. There was also a butterfly house, with many different species fluttering around. There are numerous feeding stations with fruit, so you can always get a close up when they are feeding. 
Inside the museum/aquarium building, there is a large variety of taxidermy animals, as well as species of fish from the rainforests to the reefs. The planetarium is interesting, but the voice over is in Dutch; so unless you speak fluent Dutch, I would probably give this a miss.

The zoo did house giraffes, zebra and gorillas, but was missing other big animals, such as elephants, rhinos and tigers. Overall, I thought you got a lot for your money.

Sex Museum, Amsterdam

For anyone travelling to Amsterdam, the Sex Museum is a must!! It contains hundreds of photos, paintings and sculptures, creating a timeline of sex and pornography, from vintage to modern day. This isn’t sleazy, however. It does house many tasteful photographs, but does venture into some bizarre sexual acts. You can also hear orgasmic moans in the rooms coming from speakers. All is done in a kind of tongue-in-cheek humour.
Admission is only 4 Euros (as of March 2012) and is well worth the money. You are guaranteed some laughs, amazing novelty photo opportunities and an education in porn. What’s not to love??