West Bay, a Stunning Dorset Harbour Town

West Bay, also known as Bridport Harbour, is a small and quaint harbour settlement situated in the English county of Dorset. This location is approximately three hours away from London and is the perfect place to experience small town England. Better yet, not only is West Bay at the Southern coast of the country–it is part of a coast line of which is declared a World Heritage Site–The Jurassic Coast.

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Source: Broadchurch, Dir. Chris Chibnall

The first time I laid my eyes on West Bay was when I began watching the ITV British crime drama show called Broadchurch. And–I must digress. As many of you may already know, my favorite actor of all time is David Tennant (most popularly known as the 10th Doctor on Doctor Who. He is also originally from Scotland–which of course makes him awesome by default) and he, as you can probably guess, is one of the main cast members of Broadchurch.

Although this crime drama is positioned in the fictional small town of Broadchurch, the show was actually filmed in West Bay. The cinematography of this show really emphasizes the beauty of West Bay with numerous close ups of its stunning landscape. West Bay Beach is, naturally, a focal point and an iconic symbol of the show with its towering cliffs.

I would absolutely love to get a chance to walk through West Bay and its surrounding areas not only to be able to see some of the locations that are featured in Broadchurch, but to also get a feel for what it is like in small town England. Also, I have always wanted to visit a harbour town as they have always struck me as extremely beautiful and peaceful–a place where you can hear seagulls and the crashing of the ocean waves and visit small cute shops and restaurants.

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Source: dorset-photography.co.uk

In order to get to West Bay, I would first take the Underground Tube from Russell Square (where we are staying at The University of London International Halls) by going on the Piccadilly Line and then transfer on to Leicester Square which takes you directly to Waterloo. Then, I would take the train from Waterloo station to Dorchester South Station (there is not a train station directly from London to West Bay). This train ride will take approximately 2 hours and 43 minutes, according to thetrainline.com and the train will cost around £19.40 to get there and around £14.00 coming back to London. This ends up coming to around $50.00 all together.

When I arrive at Dorchester South I will be about 30 minutes from West Bay. Next, I will take the bus from Dorchester to Bridport (approx. 30 minute ride) and, lastly, a bus from Bridport to West Bay (approx. 10 minute ride). I have calculated that if I were to leave from our accommodation in London to West Bay around 8:00AM, I will arrive at my destination around 11:30-12:00PM. I would then have around 6 hours to explore the town (and, of course, take lots of pictures of the beautiful landscape!) before I would need to leave in order to catch the train from Dorchester back to Waterloo Station that would depart around 8:00PM. Here is a photo of the train route to Dorchester–I highlighted both Waterloo Station and Dorchester South:

So–would anyone like to join me in experiencing small town English living in West Bay harbour as well as enjoy the beach along The Jurassic Coast? Below are videos of both the scenery of West Bay as well as a video from the show Broadchurch (of which I REALLY recommend–the first season is on Netflix! Just putting that out there!).

Cat Cafe… very wow!

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is London’s first official cat cafe. The trend started in Japan, and has gradually spread to other countries. I had previously read that Edinburgh was supposed to be opening a cat cafe in February, but this one has been confirmed up and running with a reasonable 3.8 star rating on google.

As a crazy cat lady with a boyfriend who studies Japanese culture, this location in particular combines both of our interests and gives me a unique opportunity that is not offered in the U.S. specifically. As a future journalist, I’d like to order some food and simply observe activity. Maybe I can figure out the real reasons the U.S. doesn’t have cat cafes. I believe having one in the U.S. would be enormously successful in the right market.

Here is the link to their site, which I could probably get to either via tube or bus.

I hope somebody will go with me on this fun little excursion, or one of my many others.

Beautiful kitty coffee! Taken from Trip Advisor

London Bicycle Tour

One of my favorite things to do here at home is ride my bike. I love finding new bike paths to explore with friends and taking advantage of the somewhat limited scenic areas we have in and around South Bend. I began riding my bike regularly a little over two years ago when i started commuting to school and work. One of the things I began to love about my commute was all of the stuff I saw that I normally whizzed right by in my car. It was really neat to see things from such a different perspective.

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.londonbicycle.com   

While we are staying in London I hope to take a bike tour with The London Bicycle Tour Company. They have multiple different tours that take you around to various and unique parts of London. Ideally I would love to take the evening tour which gives you a glimpse of London at night when the city lights up. In order to participate in the evening tour I would need someone to come along with me! They also have morning and afternoon tours that would be just as fun. The tours last for three hours, and I think it would be a really fun way to spend some of my free time; doing something I love in an exciting new city.

I will need to plan ahead for the tour by choosing a day/night, purchasing a ticket, and finding directions. The cost of the tour is approximately $35 and they have tours every day at their slotted times, however it still might be smart to book ahead of time. They are located on the Southbank of the River Thames in the Gabriel’s Wharf shopping center between the Waterloo Bridge and the Blackfriar Bridge. I could take a bus to either bridge and get off on the South side of the river and the shopping center is within walking distance from both bridges. If I need to go by train, they have helpful directions on their website for which direction to head and which exits to take.

Churchill War Rooms

WWII had quite an impact on London. During the Blitz, Churchill needed a place to take shelter and make plans to defeat the enemies. The Churchill War Rooms is an underground bunker where people that worked in government got their work done while they were being bombed from above. The Churchill War Rooms are now a historic place where you can go now to discover more about Churchill and the people that worked in the bunker.

In one part you get to walk through the Cabinet War Rooms where they actually met and plotted out the path to victory. THe rooms have been left exactly as they were the day that then were no longer needed in 1945. The other part is the Winston Churchill museum where you can learn all about Churchill and his accomplishments. Here they have the speeches the Churchill gave during wartime, letters that Churchill wrote to his wife, and items from his childhood.

The Map Room in the Cabinet War Rooms. Photo taken from:http://www.slowroaming.com/highlights-of-london-churchill-war-rooms/

The Map Room in the Cabinet War Rooms.
Photo taken from:http://www.slowroaming.com/highlights-of-london-churchill-war-rooms/

The Churchill War Rooms are ranked at number 9 on things to do while in London on Trip Advisors website. Some reviews claim that is attraction is a “must see”, “you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this”, and “an excellent audio commentary is included”.

The Churchill War Rooms are located right next to St. James Park at Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ. They are open 9:30am until 6pm.

It is a five minute walk from the Westminster tube station and a eight minute walk from the St. James Park tube station. From Russell Square I would take the Piccadilly line to Green Park. There I would transfer to the Victoria line to Victoria station. There I would need to transfer again to the Circle line to get to the Westminster station and walk to the Churchill War Rooms. Who wants to join me in learning about the unforgettable history of WWII?

Patisserie Deux Amis

The place I want to visit when I am in London is a café! I am in love with them, and I have even worked in a couple different ones in South Bend. The atmosphere is somewhere that I feel very comfortable in, and I would consider myself sort of a coffee snob. I looked up cafés around the place we are going to be staying because I see myself going to get a nice coffee and pastry while relaxing with my journal. The one that stood out to me the most is called Patisserie Deux Amis. The hours are 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. It is located at 63 Judd Street, London WC1H 9QT, United Kingdom. It is only .4 miles away from the University of London, so I will be walking there. I can’t wait until I get to London to start experiencing the new sceneries!

Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre

I have been absolutely in love with Les Misérables since 2008, when I first saw an amateur production of this amazing musical at the local theater in my hometown.

From lesmis.com: “Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Ex-convict Jean Valjean is hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.” Even though it was a bunch of high school students performing, it was still one of the most moving and musically inspiring shows I’d ever experienced. I’ve seen the 2012 movie with Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, watched the 25th Anniversary Concert on Youtube, and listened to the original London cast recording a thousand times, but I have yet to see a professional performance…what better opportunity than while we’re in so close to London’s vibrant theater scene?

Photo from Google Image Search

Photo from Google Image Search

Les Mis has been performed over 11,000 times in London since its opening in 1985, and is the West End’s longest running musical. There are evening shows at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue at 7:30pm, Monday through Saturday. Ticket prices range from £12.50 for standing and restricted view seats to £67.50 for the best seats in the dress circle or stalls (equivalent to $19.37 to $104.59…not too bad for an extremely popular professional production of a full-length musical!). The easiest way to purchase tickets would be online, ahead of time, since good seats seem to sell quickly. It’s a pretty easy journey from the Intercollegiate Halls to the Queen’s Theater – a short walk to King’s Cross St. Pancras, a ride on the tube on the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square Underground Station, and another brief jaunt from the station to the theater.

There are SO many things that I’d love to do in London, but (right alongside the Harry Potter Studio Tour!) Les Mis may just top my list!

Stonehenge

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photo credit: grayline.com

Stonehenge has fascinated me for as long as I can remember because it is surrounded by mystery and intrigue.  Perhaps it is my background in archeology and anthropology which has fueled the fire of my interest.  It is still unknown why Stonehenge was created and what purposes it has served.  Stonehenge could have been a temple for sun worship or a healing place.  It certainly could have served as a burial site, as there are burial mounds nearby, or perhaps a huge calendar.  The unique stone circle with its mammoth sarsens and smaller bluestones was erected in the late Neolithic period around 2500 BC. Archeologists do not know how our ancestors managed to carry the colossal stones from so far away and then, using only the most simple of tools, built this amazing structure. Visiting this one of kind ancient place has been a dream of mine, which I would like to fulfill this summer during my study abroad experience. This legendary prehistoric monument is located in Wiltshire, England, about 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury.  The bus ride to the location is just under two hours and costs around $75 American dollars and admission tickets to see the great stone circle are around $25 dollars. This also includes access to a Neolithic village, visitor center, shop, ancient landscape exhibit, and an on-site café.  So if you are interested, please feel free to join!