Southampton Photo Dump

So after Oxford, we visited Southampton. Our method of choosing places to visit was extremely scientific–we looked at the map of England on the Megabus website, figured out which places were only a couple of hours away and had inexpensive tickets, and decided to go there. So we didn’t really know what awaited us in Southampton when we went there.

First of all, it was cold! Since it’s a port city, there was a nice cold wind blowing off the ocean. We were glad for our nice little attachable heater (otherwise known as a baby) and our nice warm coats!

The city walls still surrounding a lot of the old city were definitely interesting. They also made for some good photo opportunities with the self-timer.

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It was so neat to walk along the walls, although unfortunately there was only an ugly construction site right next to them. It kind of took away from the idea of resisting the attacking Frenchies and all.

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These walls looked so much more English than the Xi’an city walls. I guess as an American you might think of all city walls being the same, but these were the kind of thing you might see in Robin Hood. And they weren’t nearly so thick, either.

 

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Don’t look down!

Apparently some parts of the city walls used to be merchants’ warehouses that were conscripted to keep the city safe after the French attacked and stole some stuff (this is why I’m not a historian). So they had some really cool arches and doorways.

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I love the framing and focal point of this picture.

 

One thing we hadn’t really known before we left was this little factoid. As Americans, you’d think we’d know this kind of thing!

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In fact, they even named the park right next to the ocean Mayflower Park. And yes, Jared almost lost his hat there.

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There were also some really cool ruins we went and explored, with fun little arches and doorways to peek into.

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The most interesting of these ruins was this old church, called Holyrood Church. It was bombed in WWII, so now it’s been converted into a memorial park of sorts.

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The inside was beautiful–it kind of reminded me of the Lord of the Rings and the dead white tree.

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After we got too cold and it started raining, we decided that was about enough sightseeing for the day. Unfortunately, our train tickets couldn’t be changed, so we had to hang around for another several hours with not much to do.

Then, when our train finally (finally!) did come, it sat on the track for two hours in the middle of nowhere because there was a signal failure further down the line. Let’s just say we were extremely glad to crawl into bed that night around 11:00 when we got home.

And that was the end of our adventures in Southampton.

And since there are so many photos and I’m sure one of them has a focal point, I’ll link up with California to Korea. 

 

The Return of Tourism

Last weekend we finally traveled some in China. And just in case you want to know–if you’re visiting China as a tourist, Xi’an is a great place to start. It’s a beautiful city–way prettier than Beijing!

We left Saturday afternoon at around 4:00 p.m and took a high speed train that went 300 km an hour. It  was amazing how quickly it got us there–1080 km and 6 hours later, we were in Xi’an.

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The inside of the train

Sadly, however, SOMEONE was stupid and left her Kindle behind. So for 6 hours or so, I had nothing to do but take pictures of the dark windows, which led to (I regret to say it) train window selfies. Yeah, I know. Pretty lame. But what’s a girl to do when she has nothing to read?

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I like to call this one “Girl with a Camera.” Sounds more artistic that way.
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And this one makes me look slightly ethereal and like I’m on fire. . .

Once we got there, we were in for a bit of a problem. It was 10:00 at night, and we had no idea where anything was. I’ll skip all the boring details of how many people we asked for directions and how we had printed out directions to the WRONG hostel that we didn’t have reservations for and so ended up there at 11:00 at night, but yes. We survived.

In the morning, we went to church, which was amazing, and wandered around Xi’an for a little while. We stumbled across this really neat street which we had been meaning to visit anyways–it’s called Muslim Street, because I guess it’s where the Muslims in Xi’an sold their food and stuff–and walked around for about an hour and a half. It sort of turned into a maze by the end and we weren’t sure how to get out!.

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As you can see, there were hordes of people!
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A bread stall

Some of them tried to charge us exorbitant amounts (Jared thought they must be unionized or something), but we made it out of there without losing too much money.

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See that bread in the very back? The man tried to charge us 30 kuai for it! By contrast, the ones in the front were only 5.
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On the right of the picture is the grill they use to grill their meat (usually lamb) on a stick.
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Jared with his favorite thing.

This meat on a stick might just be one of the best reasons to come to China. It’s so flavorful and tasty that you’ll always want to make your meat this way. Or maybe move to China just to get it.

As we walked further along, we kept hearing these strange pounding noises. Looking around, we spotted these men with giant hammers pounding something (we never did quite figure out what it was or why it needed pounding). It looks like some sort of candy, but it was too expensive, so we didn’t try it.

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The giant rope thing is like taffy, I think–the kind you have to pull to get to the right consistency. That kid is clearly not impressed.
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Because a goat’s head makes everything better!
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Does he look Chinese yet?

This hat has a funny story. We were walking down the street and Jared picked it up to try it on (it’s just like the ones that the Chinese policemen wear). He asked the lady how much it was, and she said 80 Yuan. That was too expensive, so we started walking away, and she kept calling numbers after us–50? 40? 30? 25? She was really desperate! We still didn’t buy it, though.

You’re probably about pictured out, so I’ll leave you with a picture of a Chinese person cooking soup. He may need to update his equipment soon, I think.

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Yes, that’s fire.

Have I convinced you to come to Xi’an? If not, stay tuned for more pictures and commentary (though I can’t promise it will be more interesting than this post was.)