Here’s London! Part 1: Buckingham Palace

One of the first rules of traveling is to know your destination. Of course you probably will not be able to absolutely fit in in the span of two days or even two months. But it’s good to have some conversation starts with the locals and to know what’s a conversation ender. In order to know what to do in Rome to do as the Romans do, you have to have done a little research on local customs and peculiarities. So I’ll be lightly touching on some interesting things I’ve learned about each of my destination cities and surrounding sites. At the same time I’ll be able to update my itinerary to include lot’s of famous and cool spots.
Here’s London! Part 1: Before the trip.

Buckingham Palace

This is the Queen’s official residence in London. St. James’s Palace remains the ceremonial residence of the Monarch (which is why Ambassadors to the UK are accredited to the Court of St. James’s. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to take up residence at the Palace. Although the Queen lives there, the Palace serves a dual role, housing her office as the Head of State.
The Palace is home to 30 species of bird and over 350 kinds of wild flower, some being extremely rare. When a royal death or birth occurs, a notice is posted at the Palace railings. For eco-friendly people like myself, you’ll be happy to know that the Palace uses LED lighting to reduce electricity consumption and has onsite recycling for its garden (99%). One of the most interesting features for person’s from countries without monarchies perhaps, is the Royal Standard. This official flag of the currently reigning monarch is flown atop the Palace when the Monarch is present and the UK Flag (Union Jack) is flown when the Monarch is absent.

So what’s in the palace?

Things like a chapel, post office, swimming pool, cafeteria, doctor’s surgery and cinema to name a few!

Does the Queen own Buckingham Palace?

As an individual, the Palace is not the private property of the Queen. The Queen, as Sovereign has use of the this and a few other royal residences such as Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Who’s been to the Palace?

Prominent visitors include:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (when it was still Buckingham House, and he was only a seven-year-old
  • Johann Strauss the Younger
  • Charles Dickens
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • American Presidents including Woodrow Wilson and JF Kennedy
  • Mahatma Gandhi (who wore a loin cloth and sandals to tea with King George V)
  • Neil Armstrong
  • Nelson Mandela

Who else calls the Palace home?

These royals of private offices at the Palace

  • The Duke of Edinburgh
  • The Duke of York
  • The Earl and Countess of Wessex
  • The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra

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Travel Abroad Scavenger Hunt: Earphones

Photo 29 04 12 11 52 03

Earphones are absolutely necessary when you’re traveling long distances, especially the ones to and from your destination country. That part of the journey is usually when peopler are most anxious. Sitting aboard a boat, in a car, or on a plane (like I will be) for more than 4 hours will be very boring after a while and perhaps highly stressful if you don’t bring things along to keep you occupied.

I have fallen asleep on EVERY plan ride I have ever been on… except for two that were between two nearby islands that lasted nearly 15 minutes. This one, I think will not prove the exception, but seeing as my naps usually only last between 2 and 4 hours, I sure will need some music, games, and writing to occupy me. Well, what would I do if my earphones stopped working?Hey, weird things happen to things when you need them most!

So I’m making sure not only to have my trusty old earphones, but I order some cool new red skull candy ones for 1/3 the price thanks to! So if one gets lost or broken, I’ll still be able to jam both ways across the Atlantic and in between!

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Knowing what to say (Spain): Airport

Going to Spain? Want to expand your Spanish vocabulary in the meanwhile? Me too! So, we’ll help each other out. I’m making lists of words I think are important or interesting to know for a trip to Spain. Do you have any words you think that I should know in Spanish? suggest them and I’ll follow up.


airline una línea aérea
airplane un avión
airport el aeropuerto
Arrivals Llegadas
baggage el equipaje
baggage claim la recogida de equipajes
boarding pass la tarjeta de
carry-on luggage el equipaje de mano
cart una carretilla
checked luggage el equipaje facturado
check-in desk el mostrador de
customs la aduana
Departures Salidas
duty-free (store) (una tienda)
libre de impuestos
early temprano
economy (coach) class la clase
first class la primera clase
flight un vuelo
gate una puerta
immigration la inmigración
late tarde
layover una escala
one-way ticket un billete
passport el pasaporte
plane ticket un billete de avión
round trip ticket un billete de ida y vuelta
security check el control de
shuttle un puente
terminal la terminal
visa un visado
to board embarcar
to buy a ticket comprar un
to check bags facturar
to declare declarar
to land aterrizar
to make a reservation hacer una
to take off despegar
passenger pasajero,
pilot el piloto
flight attendant un(a) auxiliar de

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Knowing what to say, A: Endonyms, Exonyms, and Toponyms

In linguistics, the name used to refer to a place in a foreign language is known as an exonym. The name used to refer to a geographical feature in its native language is an endonym. When visiting a foreign place it would be helpful to know both. Here’s a brief list of toponyms (names of places), some of which I plan to use while I’m in Europe!

Country (exonym) Capital (exonym) Country (endonym) Capital (endonym) Official or native language(s) (alphabet/script)
Abkhazia Sukhum Apsny
(Abkhaz Cyrillic script)
(Cyrillic script)
Afghanistan Kabul Afghanestan
[[Dari (Eastern Persian)| PashtuDari
(Perso-Arabic script)
Albania Tirana Shqipëria Tiranë Albanian
Algeria Algiers DzayerAl-Jazā’ir
Berber language
(Arabic script)
American Samoa Pago Pago Amerika Sāmoa
American Samoa
Pago Pago
Pago Pago
Andorra Andorra la Vella Andorra Andorra la Vella Catalan
Angola Luanda Angola Luanda Portuguese
Anguilla The Valley Anguilla The Valley English
Antigua and Barbuda Saint John’s Antigua and Barbuda St. John’s English
Argentina Buenos Aires Argentina Ciudad de Buenos Aires Spanish
Armenia Yerevan Hayastán
(Armenian alphabet)
Aruba Oranjestad Aruba Oranjestad Dutch
Australia Canberra Australia Canberra English/ Aboriginal native languages
Austria Vienna Österreich Wien German
Azerbaijan Baku Azərbaycan Bakı Azeri
(Latin script)


Retrieved from

The peculiarity of the British: Traveling by train

Got a train pass for continental Europe like the Eurail passes?

Sorry to inform you that it won’t work in Great Britain. If you want to travel the Island with unlimited train rides, then one of the Britrail passes are your best bet. I am not sure why the British national railway chose not to accept the pass and enter the combined rail system like most of the other European states. Also, even if you want to cross the tunnel that runs beneath the British Channel (dividing France and Great Britain) known as the chunnel, you should know that neither of the regional pass systems will cover your travel cost. Instead, you will need to invest in another fare: a Eurostar ticket. However, there is some silver lining as a discount is offered for both the Britrail pass system and Eurostar tickets for Eurail passholders.

I had been looking at the travel and oyster cards (prepaid cards used to cover bus fare) and decided that a pass was probably better to use due to the large amount of traveling I have planned. The single fare prices, though low, would add up over time to being more in comparison than the pass. But, if your are staying for less than two weeks and don’t plan to do lots of traveling, then the travel card or oyster card will do well for you.

Once again offers some discounts for those of us who are under 25.