The Seaside Calls


One girl's mission to escape monotony

Brontë Country | West Yorkshire, England

“I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then, quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks, and wading through marshes”

-Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Most of the Brontë sisters’ writings include descriptions of the Yorkshire moors, and they were truly a sight to behold. I felt like I was in Jane Eyre, or Wuthering Heights! After I’d had enough of the beautiful surrounding landscapes, it was a short car ride to the village of Haworth, where the Brontë sisters lived and died.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Brontë sisters, I’ll give you a little background:  Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë  were stereotypical Victorian girls. Charlotte and Emily, as well as their older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, were sent away to school in early childhood, three years after their mother passed away. They remained there until Maria and Elizabeth became sick and died. Charlotte and Emily returned home to their grieving father, brother, and little sister, Anne. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne turned to writing, and their works were heavily influenced by their own heartbreaking experiences. They all gained fame by 1847, their most notable works being Jane Eyre (written by Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (written by Emily), and Agnes Grey (written by Anne). Unfortunately, like most Victorians, their lives were cut short. Emily caught a severe cold at her brother’s funeral in 1848, which soon developed into tuberculosis and killed her at the age of 30. Anne died the following year of tuberculosis, at the age of 29. After six years without any of her siblings, Charlotte became ill and died three weeks before her 39th birthday, with her unborn child.

These photos are of their home, their grounds, the church they attended, and the church’s graveyard. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed inside the home, which now serves as the Haworth Parsonage Museum, but it was fantastic and full of amazing treasures and artifacts from the family’s time on earth.

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The Brontës were not buried in the church graveyard, but within the church itself. All except Anne, that is, who passed away in Scarborough and was laid to rest there.

Here you can see the names of all of the men who led the local church over the years, including the girls’ father, Patrick.

It was a melancholy experience getting to see this beautiful area fraught with such a tragic history, but I am a lover of the dark and disturbing, and this was one of the best places I’ve ever visited.

That’s all for today, but more is soon to come, so be sure to subscribe below! You’ll also receive a free download of my exclusive guide for taking better travel photos (even if your only camera is a phone!) I made it just for you, my lovely subscribers, so be sure to grab your copy.

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Stonehenge | Salisbury, England

All of my life, I have been infatuated with Stonehenge. In fact, when I was first starting my photography business, I experimented with calling it Stonehenge Photography. Thankfully I came to my senses before ordering any business cards 😅

When I finally stood before this age-old monument, I was absolutely in awe.

This girl totally brought a Gandalf action figure with her and now she’s kind of a hero to me.

I always sound crazy when I try to explain this to people, but when I visit some place new, the first thing I always notice is that the quality of light is so different than any of the other places I’ve been. The way the rays penetrate the clouds, the constant shifting between shadow and direct sunlight… It’s nothing like the consistent, even sunlight in my hometown of San Diego. Stonehenge was no exception, and I still can’t find the words to describe this phenomena. It’s just inexplicably different. One minute the landscape would be engulfed in shadow, and the next minute the amount of light would be blinding.

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It’s estimated that it took the Neolithic peoples about 1,500 years to build Stonehenge. Amazingly, the whole thing is made up of about 100 stones. The bizarre part is that some of these stones were traced to an area in Wales about 200 miles from where Stonehenge sits. How the Neolithics managed to move them that far, no one knows. It’s been suggested that the Druids, or even the wizard Merlin may have actually been responsible for its construction, but historians now believe that it was built thousands of years before Merlin or the Druids inhabited the area. But part of me still wants to believe that it was actually Merlin, because that’s way more fun to think about! No one can say for certain what Stonehenge’s purpose was, but some theories are that it was used as a burial site, an astronomical calendar, a memorial to ancestors, or a religious pilgrimage site.

As amazing as it was to behold these ancient stones, the surroundings served as a constant reminder that the world had outgrown them.

I don’t know why, but when I would envision this moment, sprinklers were never present in my fantasies

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of time. The way it lingers and yet is too fast for anyone to catch. The strange reality of how the earth eventually forgets her past inhabitants. The way man tries to make sense of the remnants of lost societies and cultures.

When I began to notice the wildlife in the area, I started thinking about how weirdly amusing it is that they spend their lives in the presence of one of the most ancient wonders of the world, and they have no idea how important it is.

The English countryside is a sight I can never get enough of. I could have stayed here all day, but, as always, there were more adventures to be had!

England is truly a remarkable place. You can be in the heart of modern civilization and take a two hour drive to one of the world’s most ancient sights. A lot of the most popular destinations are nothing more than tourist traps, but visiting Stonehenge is 100% worth it. I’m so overwhelmed and so grateful that I can finally cross this off my bucket list.

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Black Books | London, England

Collinge & Clark Bookstore

If you have never watched Black Books, you’re missing out.

Black Books was written by and stars Irish comedian, Dylan Moran. It’s about an ornery bookshop owner, Bernard Black, whose worst nightmares include interacting with people and being responsible, both of which are necessary for successfully maintaining a business (in other words, he’s basically me). He hires Manny (played by Bill Bailey), an upbeat and friendly employee who proves to be great help in running the shop, but whose positive attitude and work ethic drive Bernard mad. It’s one of the few shows I can re-watch over and over again and never stop laughing.

To give you a little taste, here is one of my favorite scenes.

Black Books was filmed in a bookshop in London called Collinge & Clark, so obviously that was the #1 attraction I wanted to visit during my stay in the city. Unfortunately, the shop has very irregular hours, so it wasn’t open on the day I could squeeze in a visit, but I was happy enough to see it from the outside. Plus, it gives me a very legitimate reason to visit London again.

If you held a gun to my head and told me to definitively state what the best sitcom of all time was, I’d honestly have to say Black Books. It’s THAT good. I’ve literally seen it at least 30 times all the way through.

I’d like to say I’m a Fran, but in reality, I’m a total Bernard. Chaotic, messy, antisocial… but also strangely attractive 😏💕

I made my brother pose with me.

So that’s all for this short & sweet entry in my travel journal! If you haven’t already, watch the show, visit London, and hunt down Collinge & Clark. The British Museum is within walking distance, and there’s also a Shake Shack nearby, which is by far the best fast food chain ever.

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Looking for a new show to binge? Get the full series on DVD!

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Stone Church Ruins | Eleroy, Illinois

The Old Eleroy Stone Church

You know the best thing about road trips? Besides snacking on beef jerky and slurpees? Finding weird things on the side of the road. Especially abandoned things. If it looks like it’s been forgotten by society, I’m in love. This was one of those discoveries that was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

We were driving from Galena, IL back to my aunt’s home in Chicago, when I noticed this stone church without a roof, and very clear signs of fire damage. Obviously I made my aunt pull over, and I went in to explore. The caution tape did not deter me… in fact, it made my rebellious side come out. I wouldn’t say I break the law often, but I’ve definitely done my fair share of trespassing. I think most photographers have a tendency to do things like that, but it’s totally fine because it’s all in the name of art 😉

 

After doing a little research, I found out that this building actually hadn’t served as a church for a couple decades, and had recently been utilized as an antique shop. The owner lived inside, so unfortunately he lost both his shop and his home… and possibly his cat, from what the locals were saying on Facebook. The fire had taken place a few weeks before I stumbled upon it.

I tried to go in, but I didn’t get far. From wall to wall, the building was completely full of fallen beams, chairs, and other debris.

The stained glass windows had fallen out and were still laying in small fragments on the ground below. The strong scent of fire still lingered in the air.

I don’t know what is to become of this building, or how long it will sit there in this condition, but getting to explore it in its abandoned splendor was exactly the kind of thing I live for.

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Graceland Cemetery | Chicago

Day 1 In Chicago

Half of my family live in Chicago, so I usually visit the city at least once a year. Having been so many times, I wanted to skip the usual attractions and explore corners of the city I’d never seen before. So, naturally, I asked my cousin to take me to a cemetery. I was not disappointed. Graceland Cemetery is one of the largest and grandest graveyards I’ve ever had the pleasure of strolling through. Well, in this case, it was less like strolling and more like trekking. The grounds span nearly 120 acres, so we spent about 3 hours wandering in the horrible humidity of June. I kid you not, the cemetery provides maps for its visitors because it’s so easy to get lost.

The History

Graceland Cemetery was built in 1860. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, many of the bodies which were originally laid to rest in Lincoln Park were transferred to Graceland. Unlike our usual dark and gloomy idea of cemeteries, Graceland was designed to have a comfortable, park-like atmosphere. During the 1800’s, this was actually quite common. When people felt like spending time outside, they would often go for walks through their local graveyards. Victorian-era cemeteries were made to feel welcoming. Unlike the tight, ordered rows of graves in modern cemeteries, the Victorian graves were purposefully placed in an irregular manner, leaving plenty of space for visitors to weave through them as they walked. 

Notable Graves

Here lies Inez Clarke, daughter of John and Mary Clarke (although there is some speculation that she is actually Inez Briggs, Mary’s daughter from a previous marriage). Legend has it that Inez died when struck by lightning, either during a picnic or while being locked outside. They say that her statue disappears during lightning storms because poor Inez is so afraid.

Here lies Dexter Graves. He died in 1845, and was one of the bodies moved to Graceland after the fire. His remains are guarded by a terrifying statue entitled, “Eternal Silence”, which was created by Lorado Taft in 1909. There’s a legend that if you look into the figure’s eyes,  you will be given a vision of your own death.

See anything?

             Jack Johnson

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that this woman’s name was Olive Branch? 

I love finding graves without a death date, especially when there is no possible way that they could still be alive. I like to imagine good ol’ Marie enjoying her golden years (she’d be 128 as of 2016) sipping mimosas on some beach in the Bahamas.

Sorry, kids. Santa has been dead since 1914.

Other Highlights 

Graceland Cemetery, final resting place to so many of Chicago’s elite, was so overwhelming. So much land, so many spectacular graves, some of which don’t even seem like they could possibly be in Chicago. Overall, I give this cemetery an A+, but, if you plan to visit, I suggest that you avoid going on one of the hottest days of the year, because you will be miserable.

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Snæfellsnes | Iceland

Day 9 In Iceland

Snæfellsnes

The peninsula of Snæfellsnes is about a two hour drive from Reykjavik, and spans about 90 kilometers. The area consists of marshes, black sand beaches, mountains, glaciers, and a few small towns.

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Arnarstapi

Iceland restaurant
The little restaurant I ate at at the base of Mt. Stapafell

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Iceland hill
That glacier in the background is called Snæfellsjökull

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Iceland house

Djúpalónssandur beach

As I walked towards the ocean, there were these massive walls made of hardened lava that you had to walk through.
As I walked towards the ocean, there were these massive walls made of hardened lava that you had to walk through.

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One of the beaches even has the remnants of a 1913 shipwreck strewn across the shore, which was super cool to me because I kind of have an obsession with shipwrecks.
One of the beaches even has the remnants of a 1913 shipwreck strewn across the shore, which was super cool to me because I kind of have an obsession with shipwrecks.

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I love the volcanic sand… If you look carefully, theres a couple kissing in the bottom left corner.

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The Blue Lagoon | Iceland

Day 3 In Iceland

The Blue Lagoon

Ahhh, yes. The Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is basically the Eiffel Tower of Iceland- this is what people come here for. This spa, which was actually created on accident, has become such a popular attraction, not only because it is beautiful, but also because this warm water has soothing and healing properties! People come from all over the world to soak in the murky water, and leave with silky smooth skin! Jars of warm earthy clay are situated all over the lagoon, for face masks! The bottom is covered in black sand, and some weirdly smooth rocks that feel more like Venetian glass than part of the natural landscape.

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to add to the relaxation, there is a bar in the middle of the lagoon that you can swim to for a refreshing (and overpriced) slushee or alcoholic beverage.
To add to the relaxation, there is a bar in the middle of the lagoon that you can swim to for a refreshing (and overpriced) slushee or alcoholic beverage.

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The only downside to this place is that you have to shower naked with a million other naked people, most of them elderly and overweight… I’m an art major- I see nudity a hundred times a day and it doesn’t usually phase me, but I saw some things that can never be unseen here. That being said, if you can just close your eyes until you get through the showers, it’s totally worth the experience!

First Night In Reykjavik | Iceland

Day 1 in Iceland

Harpa Music Venue

I decided to end the day with a relaxing walk by the water. The Harpa Music Venue is right behind my apartment, so I headed over in that direction. As the sun started to set, the glass walls caught the light and created these beautiful colors.

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beam me up

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Phallological Museum | Iceland

Day 1 In Iceland

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

After strolling a bit more through the streets of Reykjavik, I found what I was looking for. The Icelandic Phallological Museum: home to over 280 real penises from various species, including human! I am a big fan of all things bizarre and disturbing, and this was one of the more bizarre and disturbing museums I’ve visited. And I loved every minute of it. They claim to have at least one penis from every mammal native to Iceland, and they also have some exotic specimen that have been donated, such as giraffe and zebra.

Penises. Need I say more?
Penises. Need I say more?

penis museum

scrotum lampshades
scrotum lampshades
The penis of a sperm whale is proudly displayed in the center of the museum, and it is as big as me. Talk about awkward.
The penis of a sperm whale is proudly displayed in the center of the museum, and it is as big as me. Talk about awkward.
Human Testicle. The penis itself is in a nearby jar, but these specimen weren't preserved properly, so they became shriveled up and discolored. They are currently looking to acquire a "bigger and better" specimen.
Human Testicle. The penis itself is in a nearby jar, but these specimen weren’t preserved properly, so they became shriveled up and discolored. They are currently looking to acquire a “bigger and better” specimen.
They say this jar contains the penis of an elf (it is believed, in Icelandic Folklore, that elves are invisible)
They say this jar contains the penis of an elf (it is believed, in Icelandic Folklore, that elves are invisible)
Turns out walrus penises have bones in them
Turns out walrus penises have bones in them

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Some of the exotic pieces.
Some of the exotic pieces.

Hallgrímskirkja | Iceland

Day 1 In Iceland

Feels Like Home

I finally landed in beautiful Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland! I had booked a room in an idyllic apartment which I found through Airbnb (I ONLY use Airbnb when I travel, and I strongly recommend it to everyone). I reached my apartment on August 1st, after roughly 13 hours of traveling, and I slept all day! When I woke up around 7pm, it appeared to me  that that’s kind of what you’re supposed to do in Iceland! It seems like everyone sleeps in the daytime and then hits the city around midnight and stays out until the bars close at 5 am. All night, from my window, I could hear loud music playing and see people taking walks, and then at 6am, it all stopped and the city was completely silent. A night owl like myself could definitely get used to living in such a city!

This is my roommate’s friend singing from our balcony… Don’t ask me why.

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My street (Laugavegur)
My neighborhood
My neighborhood

Hallgrímskirkja

The next day around noon, I ventured down to Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik’s iconic church. It can be seen throughout most of the city, and my apartment was no exception. Feeling confident in my navigational skills, I decided to just walk towards it until I got there, no map or anything. So what if I got lost? There is no safer city in the world to get lost in! So I grabbed my walking shoes, my lucky scarf, and my camera bag and started walking. One thing I have noticed every time I’ve visited Europe is that people WALK differently than they do in the States. No one ever seems to be in a rush; while we Americans love to speed walk, Europeans love to stroll. So, when in Rome… Even at my leisurely European walking pace, it only took me about 20 minutes to get there, and when I did, it was as breathtaking as I had imagined.

A shot taken about halfway down Skólavörðustígur, which intersects Laugavegur about 100 feet away from my apartment.
A shot taken about halfway down Skólavörðustígur.

Hallgrímskirkja

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Hallgrímskirkja
A statue of Lief Erikson, the famous Icelandic explorer
This statue of Lief Erikson, the famous Icelandic explorer, stands in front of the church
The back of the church. I wanted to get some shots of the chapel, but there was a wedding going on.
The back of the church.

After basking in its glory for a few minutes, I went inside and bought my ticket for the elevator (I wanted to get some shots of the chapel first, but there was a wedding going on). Once I reached the top, I waited for the other tourists to clear out of the room, and then I rushed to a vacant window from which I could photograph the beautiful rooftops of Reykjavik. It was a pretty high window, and I’m a pretty short girl, so even though I stood on the stool they had provided, I wouldn’t have been able to see out the window if I hadn’t had my camera on me. For someone who loves color as much as I do, this was truly a wonder to behold. As I stared in awe at the beautiful city, I was rudely awakened from my deep thought by a loud “BONG…BONG…BONG…”, which caused me to fall off of my stool. Turns out the church had a functioning bell tower, which was located directly above where I stood. I took that as the church’s way of saying “give the other tourists a chance, Nena! You’ve been hogging the window for 20 minutes!”

The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja
The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja

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I honestly could have stayed there all day, taking in the beauty of the city and the cool ocean breeze, but it was time to start making my way to the next location