Ethlam Palace

"Time is much slower here. You have time to stop and take pictures and breathe and just take it all in. You’re still in the city, in fact you can see the skyline if you look out past the open horse fields. This contrast between old and new creates a sort of imbalance, like one of these two things is out of place. Whichever you believe to be the thing that’s out of place is entirely up to you—it just depends on how you see London. Eltham Palace had that power over you though—to take its guests in the modern era and transport them back to the Victorian era in which it was inhabited and even the several centuries prior to then. It took you back to a time when that classical Victorian quote wasn’t cliché or overdramatic, but hopelessly romantic and fitting. The palace’s exuding elegance and class made for any ordinary Westerner (hi), with all my Americanness, modernity, and lack of elegance seem quite unfit. Yet, at the same time, its budding orchids and open daffodils that peaked out of the vibrant green and freshly cut grass that contrasted perfectly against the tainted, dusted, and weathered brown brick that laid the exterior of the palace could make any foreigner feel at home." - Kelly Schwager

Victoria and Albert Art 

"I’ve always been interested in Middle Eastern art and it was a must see for me. Surprisingly it was practically deserted. Every piece they had displayed in the room was intricately detailed and absolutely stunning to behold. Even the pieces one might consider humbler were artfully crafted. Metal, glasswork, tiles, and tapestries bedecked the walls, each piece telling a different tale of royal leaders and religious influences on numerous different cultures around the Middle East. Tantalizing designs on mosaics and stained glass beg you to come closer and stand back at the same time.  I could have spent the entire day in that room and still not have taken in every artifact as much as it deserved. The best I could do was to just sit in the room and soak it in."   - Bailey Rafter

Library of London

As an English academic being in any library is like coming home. But the Library of London is a whole different ball game. Unlike your local public library, where you can browse the shelves and pick up whatever suits your fancy, the Library of London is so large you have to check out you book hours, even days or months, in advance in order to guarantee they have a copy of what you need.  Once you’ve reserved your books you go to the public reading rooms. The only sounds to be heard were turning pages , the occasional clicking of keys, or scratching of notes of paper with pencil. The seclusion absorbs you into the spaces and whether you are doing research for your next big paper or just looking for a quiet place to enjoy a book this library has everything you could want.  -Bailey Rafter

Holland Park

 Today I was walking with my professor and we found a place called Holland park that made me feel so wonderful. It made me feel as though, as long as this park existed, I could handle the rest of London, and even enjoy it, with this as my reprieve. Oh, whomever is reading this, it was lovely. Winding paths that led to more and more beauty, planted crocuses and tulips in bloom. A cozy, local, vibe that made me feel like I wasn't a foreigner, and the beautiful trees that welcomed you. I could go on. It is very hard not to feel like tourist in London, but there is a place where you can wander and truly feel as though you belong to the culture. Holland Park is a semblance of beauty and exploration that is well worth the detour from your daily plans.

 - Ralph Black

Photo credits: 

Eltham Palace - Sarah 

V&A - Bailey Rafter

Library - Bailey Rafter

Hyde Park - Bailey Rafter