Odense, Denmark

Today we set our imaginations free as we visited the home town of author Hans Christian Andersen. From June 29th – August 10th there is a festival in Odense in celebration of his creativity. In front of the H.C. Andersen Museum the local theatre performs three plays a day featuring some of H.C. Andersen’s most popular fairytales. Although they were performeHans Christian Andersen Odense Playd in Danish we could still follow the recognizable stories that were being told such as The Emperor’s New Clothes. H.C. Andersen had talent as both an author and artist with an imagination he described both as a gift and curse. Throughout Denmark sculptures are placed representing some of his fairytales as well as his paper cut outs. 11 of them are in Odense and today we saw the paper boat, the sea horse, the emperors new clothes and the steadfast tin soldier.

This area of Odense is great to walk around in. We came across an old Odense Merchants House 16th Centurymerchants house from the 16th century that has remained unaltered. There isn’t a bathroom in the house and the only change that had been made was the addition of electricity. The antiques within the house are all for sale and come with a both a certificate and written guarentee of their age. The shop is closed on a Sunday so it’s best to visit during the week. Guided tours are available with special activities for kids too.

We spent the afternoon Odense Paper Boat Sculpturewalking along the river that runs through the town. There were plenty of ducks swimming about and the swans were taking bread from people’s hands as they fed them. I would not want to get too close to one of those though. As you walk along the river you can see part of the Odense Zoo. We saw some camels, zebras and goats all from the path.

Horniman Museum

Horniman Museum + Gardens

The Horniman Museum and Gardens contain perfect bite size collections of nature, history and culture with a vast range of display gardens, buildings and sundials in their park. The nature trail is the oldest one in London running along the original site of the Crystal Palace and the South Junction Railway that was closed in 1954. Located in South London’s Forest Hill, the museum is less busy on weekends then the major city attractions, and is also FREE. The museum has been open since Victorian times when Frederick John Horniman showed off his collection to visitors at his house.

The Sound Garden, inspired by the musical instruments collection inside theSound Garden museum, stood out from the others for me. There are over 8,000 objects within this section of the museum, including the oldest pair of bone clappers made in Egypt 3,500 years ago! The garden has giant instruments all tuned in the same key. It would be fun to see a set of musicians jam out on these in the park. For now, kids (as well as my husband) can experiment with the different sounds. While we were there we kept thinking about how perfect this place would be to take our 5 year old nephew.

Victorian ConservatoryThe Victorian Conservatory at the side of the building is an additional architectural bonus to visiting the museum. It was originally built at the Horniman family residence in 1894, however it was moved and restored in 1988 to the museum. You can even rent out the conservatory for special events. From the pavilion you have a perfect view of the London skyline. We didn’t get that good of a photo though due to the lovely London rain.

West End Live

West End Live 2013

The best thing about being in London over the summer is the number of FREE events. Sure the weather might not be the best, but when you can go see performances from We Will Rock You Castevery west end musical over the course of two days, you don’t care if it rains! West End Live provides you with the opportunity to witness a small piece of what each musical will be like. From there you can then decide which one (or few) to go spend the money on. We Will Rock You definitely got the crowd involved while I think I might just have a crush on the Jersey Boys. I will be saving my pennies to go see Top Hat or Singing In The Rain next. For theatre ticket deals check out TravelZoo UK.

If you plan on visiting Trafalgar Square over the summer double check to see what events are taking place. Next one for me will be the Canada Day International on July 1st. I’ll be volunteering in the morning so if you have any questions before the event please comment below.

Dinosaurs, Organs & Harrods

This weekend was the perfect break between David’s job hunting and reading chapter after chapter of my school books. We decided to take advantage of some of the free museums nearby, V&A, Science Museum and The Natural History Museum. After majorly underestimating the size of these museums, thinking we could visit two or three of them in one day, we didn’t even get through one!

We ended up spending almost the entire day in the Natural History Museum (image featured above). The Natural History Museum is broken down into 4 different zones, blue (dinosaurs, mammals & reptiles) , red (the planet and it’s natural forces), green (ecology, bugs, birds & minerals) and orange (wildlife garden & Darwin centre). We got through all of the red zone, green zoTuojiangosaurusne and the dinosaurs from the blue zone.

My favourite part was the Dinosaurs! You had to line up to go see them, or stand in the “queue” as they say here. During the wait you could donate money to light up one of the dinosaurs outside the exhibit and hear it roar. Definitely some good marketing going on. If you donated via text your name would be displayed on the screen beside the dinosaur.

This dino pictured above is a Tuojiangosaurus, pronunciation is two-wang-oh-sore-us. This little guy is 6.7 meters long and a peaceful plant eater. The intimidating plates and spikes are just protecting itself from the meat-eaters so don’t worry. If you don’t eat him, he’ll leave you alone ;)

After the hours flew by in the museum we walked down the street to visit Harrods. The Harrods building is beautifully lit at night (image right) Harrodsand full of clothing, shoes, toys and food that I don’t think I will be able to afford anytime soon. My favourite part of Harrods was of course the chocolate, cheese and then the Christmas section! Part of one of the 5 floors of the store is all Christmas stuff with fake snow and everything.

I also loved/laughed in the “Harrods” section of the store. It’s for people like me who can’t actually afford any line they carry in the store but might be able to splurge a little on one of the stuffed bears with a Harrods sweater on it to feel better about yourself. The bears were very cute though, and I’m sure the sweater muuust have been designer.

David got asked more times then me if he needed help with anything, glad I have a rich looking man at least. I hardly got asked at all for help…it could’ve been my ripped purse I was carrying at the time.

To finish the weekend off we went to an organ recital by Robert Quinney at Westminster Abbey. Most memorable fact for me about the organist himself was that he also played at the Marriage of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The building is unbelievable with so much attention to detail you could just sit and stare at the walls for hours. Westminster AbbeyYou were not allowed to take photos inside the church so included in the post is the photo from the outside (image left). You will just have to go visit Westminster Abbey yourself to see how remarkable it is. If you’re like us and tight on budget go to a recital or service, they are free, otherwise, pay the fee and get the tour because I’m sure the entire building would be fabulous to see.