Showing posts with label Jack London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jack London. Show all posts

Thursday, October 27, 2011

TP Thursday: London’s San Pancras Station

We love traveling on Europe’s trains.  And we love their historic train stations. 

One of our favorites is  London’s San Pancras International Station, home to the Eurostar (fast train) since 2007. 

The castle-like gothic structure was the largest station in the world when it opened in 1865.  Time took its toll and over the decades it fell into disrepair, coming close to demolition in the 1960’s. A group of visionaries should be thanked for saving it.

Work in recent years has transformed it into a Grand Dame of rail stations – a destination in itself with: a  new Marriott Renaissance Hotel (opened in the station this year),  and nearly 70 retail outlets, restaurants and pubs – my favorite: it’s home to Europe’s longest champagne bar (90 meters/270 feet).

Friends told us not to miss the statue in the Train Shed’s south end – and that would have been hard to do. It’s a  20-ton, 30-foot-tall (9 meters) statue, “The Meeting Place” by British artist Paul Day.

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The two young lovers are so overwhelming that what you could miss are the stories told in the designs that circle the base of the piece. We both got a chuckle, though, after Joel noticed this one:

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Explore other destinations from around the world through travel photos, by clicking the link to  Budget Travelers Sandbox, Nancie McKinnon’s  blog where this all began.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Spring “Grand Tour”

The fellow from California that we met in Madrid said, "Wow! You are taking a real grand tour aren't you?" when we told him of our travels.

And I hadn't even told him that was what I'd been calling this trip long before we left home. Ever since reading about Europe’s “Grand Tours” I have always thought what fun it would be to have taken one. And since it's never too late, I stretched the definition a bit and named our spring trip our “Grand Tour”  although originally. . .

HAL 2009 cruise photos 085Those Grand Tours. . .
. . .served as what you might call an educational ‘rite of passage’ for young, upper-class, European men, that really caught on in the 1660’s and reached its crescendo in the 1840’s or so, after the introduction of large-scale rail travel.

(If you travel, you recognize the name Thomas Cook, don’t you? We flew one of their flights last year and they have money exchanges all over the place. Well, it got his start back in Grand Tour days with his then popular “Cook’s Tours”.)

The tour gave the young aristocrats an opportunity to learn about cultural legacies, view great works of art, listen to music. The tours could last for months, even years. They were not pilgrimages of scholarly or religious sorts, simply opportunities for intellectual and cultural growth.

Our Grand Tour. . .
HAL 2009 cruise photos 068. . .while certainly no where as long as those of olde, we have had wonderful opportunities to expand our cultural and historical knowledge.  From the on-board lecture series (our favorite speaker was English writer Nigel West) and the Corning Glass Museum demonstrations that Celebrity offered, to Madrid where we lived at the point of its Golden Triangle of the Prado MuseumThyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Centro de Arte  Reina Sofia, we have had some great opportunities to pursue that favorite US public school phrase: life-long learning.

We’re concluding our Grand Tour with our brief immersion in London history and culture (and at least a couple trips to The British Museum), before spending a final night in Paris where we plan to educate our palates with French cuisine, and expand our knowledge of wine, perhaps a bit of champagne, and a lot of Sancerre, the favorite white wine of ours from France’s Loire Valley.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More 'Novel' Destinations

I've said before, we think the research is half the fun of the trip, so in preparation of our upcoming trip to Hawaii, we've dug out some of our favorite novels to get us thinking about sun, sand, sea and swaying palm trees. Among our favorite reads: Stories of Hawaii by Jack London, a collection of short stories he wrote as result of his five-month stay in 1907 and subsequent trips in 1915 and 1916.

Another favorite that kept us laughing is Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux -- this is one you either love or hate, as this noted writer tells the tale of a down-and-out writer who becomes manager of the fictional Hotel Honolulu (actually it reminds us both of the places we stayed decades ago just out of college).

Last year a wise publisher began re-issuing the six books that make up Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan mystery series, about the charming Honolulu detective who quickly won our hearts after reading the first book. Trying to make them last as long as possible, we are just reading our third, this one, "The Black Camel" - which was made into a movie in 1931.

Honolulu Stories, Two Centuries of Writing, a tome of more than 1,000 pages, edited by Gavan Daws and Bennett Hymer, is both a history book and a collection of beautiful poetry, lyrics, and stories. We found it at a Costco in Honolulu and debated the wisdom of buying such a bulky, weighty book. . .it is such a treasure we haven't regretted succumbing to its call.


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