Monday, July 13, 2015

The Grand Tour....London, Europe and the rest #1....

Detail of Medusa, the ruins at Ephesus

Well the next several posts will be holiday memories, so if you're not interested in Theatre, Archaeological ruins or other peoples vacations, now is the time to go and Google a Jamie Oliver recipe. I won't be offended.

I'll also have to jump about a bit with the photos just for today, as The Diva has absconded with the camera, and I only have the photos taken on The Musician Husbands phone to work with. Blast.

So.... we headed off from Brisbane on a Saturday, arriving in London after a stopover in Hong Kong, which stretched our journey out to about 32 hours from our door at home, to our hotel in London. It's always a long stint, but we manage it fairly well these days, so we weren't too jet lagged on our arrival and of course the adrenalin rush of being somewhere different always keeps you going for a while.

The Diva caught up with a friend on the first day, and the remaining three days were devoted to a spot of shopping, both of the window variety in Old Bond Street, and the real variety in Oxford Street. Oh to have the money to drop $25,000 on a little dress in Dolce & Gabbana, but alas not in this life! We were stunned to see Jason Statham exiting Chanel, but I guess Monday morning is a good time for Celebs to be out shopping for that little something for their sweethearts. He looked pretty much just like this....

.... I stared, wondering if my eyes were deceiving me, he looked back and nodded as if to say 'yes I know I'm amazing, and yes it really is me, Jason Statham', and then he was gone into his waiting limo. Oh to be quick enough (gauche enough?) to have asked for a pic or an autograph....for The Diva of course ;-)

The Book of Mormon and Matilda were our choices for theatre this time, although if I'd realised that Bradley Cooper....

...was going to be appearing in The Elephant Man at the Theatre Royal, we may have reconsidered Matilda, which we found uninspiring on the whole. I mean it was okay, and the villain suitably villainous and all, but comparatively speaking, I'd have taken Bradley over Matilda any day of the week.
We also took in some obligatory sight seeing, visiting the National Gallery (a favourite), and were only disappointed that the Impressionists Rooms were closed due to industrial action. A very British luncheon of Green Pea and Watercress Soup, Egg Sandwiches and Victoria Sponge were enjoyed in the lavish dining room at the National Gallery, a welcome respite from the busy crowds outside and a great spot for people viewing. You can bet I'll be recreating that lunch for you very soon!
We braved the Tube (a first!) and took the Thames Clipper from our hotel into London for shopping and sightseeing, got ripped off by a London Black Cab driver (another first and highly unusual!), and admired many iconic buildings while shuttling back and forth, including The Shard, a new building to rival the one much-featured-in-movies, The Gherkin. Needless to say, public transport is not our forte` as we drive ourselves everywhere at home. It's always a bit humbling, I must say!
221B Baker Street got a look-in as the home of Sherlock Holmes (we are fans of the recent series starring Benedict Cumberbatch), and was well worthwhile, if a bit gruesome in it's recreation of his crime solving escapades. A photo with the British Bobby outside was a bit of a highlight I must admit. I'll share that one when the camera returns home!
So if you'll allow me to jump ahead a bit, as my photo today features some of the ruins in Turkey, I promise I'll return to a chronological recount of events when I have the appropriate pics.
One of the archaeological sites we visited was Ephesus near Kusadasi in Turkey. Yes I'm an Arts, Architecture, Archaeology freak when!
These were truly spectacular and perhaps the best we saw, although we missed seeing the Colosseum in Rome, and the Acropolis in Athens, visiting the new Acropolis Museum instead, and preferring a tour to Tuscany in the Italian countryside, to braving the peak holiday season crowds in the 39C heat. We remain convinced that this was a wise decision upon hearing some of the horror stories from other travellers. The behaviour of the crowds in entering the Vatican City and the Colosseum in Rome, and the Acropolis in Athens, was apparently truly disgraceful, with people being elbowed, pushed and shoved, and even injured in the process. You have to wonder, honestly.

This site is also known as Agora, and our tour guide assured us that it was the birthplace of Christianity. The area also boasts the house of the Virgin Mary, but as this was on a separate tour, we didn't visit it, but it seemed an absolute must for many.

It's a huge and very impressive site, and includes the ruins of the Terrace Houses where the wealthy lived, and the façade of the library, both of which were simply amazing.
Library Façade, the ruins at Ephesus
Only 3% of Ephesus has been excavated, with more money and more archaeologists required to excavate any further. Even that 3% though is truly incredible, and well preserved in many areas, and we all found it absolutely riveting. Funnily enough, this was not a place we had intended visiting, and only ended up here as it was a stop on the cruise itinerary, so that was a lesson!

This particular photo at the top, is a detail of Medusa on the ruins of a building façade and when you consider that this dates as far back as 300BC, it bends the brain a bit to imagine how it's survived!

I always get a hint of how insignificant we are in the scheme of things when visiting these sites, and it's a humbling experience. All the little things that we worry about seem crazy, and our time in this life so short, when measured in the thousands of years of history we are now capable of viewing. What impact we can possibly hope to have in our lifetime, compared to such enduring monuments, is mind boggling to say the least.

More tomorrow...if you've read this far, then I thankyou...


  1. It was lovely taking a "tour" memoir with you Mimi. I look forward to more photos and details from you. I really enjoy hearing all about your travel experiences.Xoxo

  2. It sounds like a delightful time, sweet Mimi :) I greatly appreciate the time you took to share your journey with us and I am looking forward to more pictures and sweet thoughts.

    Love and hugs to you!

  3. I so enjoyed your journey experience. Thanks for sharing it with us, that is sweet of you indeed. Hope you post of pics, I love Europe.
    Thanks so much for your sweet and kind visit.


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