Archive for ‘London Adventures’

April 22, 2011

Goodbye round deux


I hope that Italy has some Internet so I can spend part of my upcoming week updating about everything that has happened to me in the past 2 weeks!! PREVIEW: Today was spent riding bikes (CYCLE HIRE as they call it here) through the Royal Parks and on the streets of London (yes, now we can survive anything) and going out to dinner overlooking the Thames with Kelly’s family and our flat!! Up in the A.M to finish cleaning the flat and get our stuff out of here, wish us luck! There are some that will have to be dragged out of this house. Madhouse love 2011! โค

April 22, 2011

So long, farewell…


So, here I am, the day before I get kicked out of Madison House. The level of emotions I’m feeling is absurd. I’m so stressed because despite sending two suitcases home with my parents, I STILL cannot seem to be able to pack up my room. I’m so excited to go back home, to see my friends & family and be in America. I’m so relieved that finals are done and over with, that the weight is lifted over our shoulders. I’m so in shock that it’s already summer, and that I’m now a senior in college. I start real life in one year. I’m so SAD to leave London and Europe. I just spent the past three and a half months living the life. Let’s face it. I’ve been looking forward to studying abroad since college tours in high school. And now it’s over. How did that happen? Bittersweet is the correct word, but there’s so much more to it. What will be the most weird will be next weekend when a few of us are back in London for the Royal wedding (yes :)) but will not be coming home to Madhouse. Or that half of our group, our family, will be home tomorrow. Yes, home in America, back in that time zone 5 hours behind us. We gave back our locks for our safes, our mobile phones and our FSU ID cards today. Things that were such a routine part of my day are now back in the office downstairs, waiting for the next group to waltz in. IT’S SO SAD!

Moving on.

Last night we had our final banquet/dinner. It was at a church over by St. Paul’s, in the crypt of the church. The dinner was amazing. I got a cheese/vegetable souffle for appetizer, chicken with mashed potatoes and greens for main course and chocolate cake and ginger ice cream for dessert. Add in wine and everyone from Madhouse and it was a great night. People gave toasts, we gave gifts to Joan & Charlotte, and took a ton of pictures. Afterwards we went (where else?) to O’Neills to say our farewell to what became our favorite go-to bar this semester.

Saying bye to Mariah ๐Ÿ˜ฆ our house dog!!

ย Before watching the photo slideshow Paul made for the group

ย So London. ^^ Sarah, the spice girl.

Group taking over the street, walking to Holborn

Church we ate in…St. Mary’s

Table arrangements ๐Ÿ™‚

Name tag and chocolate! Happy early Easter!

Scan & the Union flag napkins

First toast of the evening…Annalina

My chicken!! yummm

Joan & Charlotte opening gifts

Flat D roommates with Charlotte, our house mom ๐Ÿ™‚

Hugs all around

Band at O’Neills

I’ll go ahead and update stuff from these past weeks in a different post so I get to break it all up ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers!!

April 17, 2011

Finals Preview


Here’s why I won’t be blogging until mid/end week:

Monday morning: Politics presentation, politics final

Monday afternoon: Theatre final

Tuesday morning: Media & Society presentation, paper due

Thursday afternoon: Pop Culture presentation, paper due

CHEERS

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April 17, 2011

London Marathon!


Today, the world’s largest fundraising event is happening in London: THE LONDON MARATHON! I’m about to go volunteer for Scan’s internship, Kids. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to a marathon…don’t think I could last 26.2 miles but will gladly cheer for those that can =)

April 16, 2011

Random update


For some reason pictures weren’t taking 4 hours to upload last week so I started to update some of the pictures section! Will update tonight or tomorrow about this past week; just a preview, we went to the musical Priscilla, I finished up my last week at my internship and classes, went to mass at Westminster Abbey, had a picnic in the park, browsed around Brick Lane, we did a tour of the National Theatre, Fashion & Textile Museum, Pimms at Borough Market and prepared for finals week! Off to Wimbledon for a tour today—this is our last weekend in Madison House! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Cheers!

April 10, 2011

A Weekend with Mom & Dad (IN THE UK!)


It was so great to see my parents this weekend! Thursday evening I was on my way home from class and I turn the corner to my street and who do I see strolling down past my house? You can probably guess. We said our hellos and I asked them to come up to see my flat and their response (this actually shouldn’t have surprised me) was, “Oh, well, we’ve already been up!” Naturally. They came up anyways, saw my room (again) and I changed quickly before heading with them to their hotel. They stayed right around the corner at Hotel Russell, which was so convenient and nice! After seeing their room we bought them tube tickets and went over near Neal’s Yard for dinner. We went to Cafe Mode and got pizzas and pesto bread to share, and after dinner they were pooped from not sleeping the night before, so they went back to their hotel. Thursday night a bunch of girls went to The Roadhouse in Covent Garden, and it was really fun; they had a live band. As soon as the band finished, our entire flat went home…we were pooped. Friday morning I woke up and met my parents in the lobby of their hotel and we went to Paddington station to catch a train to Windsor Castle. The weather this weekend was absolutely amazing! Bright, sunny, warm, and happy. We had to switch trains at Plough, but the total travel time was not very long. As soon as we got to Windsor we hopped on the double decker sightseeing bus and it took us all around. The ride was about 45 minutes and it was so beautiful! The tour had 11 stops:

1. Castle Hill – Outside Windsor Castle
2. High Street – Parish Church
3. Sheet Street – Victoria Barracks
4. Kings Road – Frogmore Mausoleum
5. Datchet Green – Village & Railway Station
6. Slough Road – Outside Eton College
7. The Brocas – Eton Court
8. Eton High Street
9. Slough Road – Eton College
10. Datchet Road – Riverside Station
11. Thames Street – French Brothers River Cruises

After the bus ride we went inside the castle, but we didn’t get to see the State Apartments because the Queen was there (YES!) running an awards/honors ceremony. We got to see the people leaving from the ceremony though, and they were all dressed up in their dresses and wild hats. After exploring the castle and the chapel we got lunch at a pub right across the street. We took the train back to Paddington and then found Little Venice. Who knew that existed in London? It’s such a quiet, pretty, quaint little area of the canal, and we took a canal cruise from Little Venice to Camden Lock. I think my parents might’ve started cringing as soon as they saw the masses of teenagers outside the bars and shops everywhere, and needless to say we didn’t stay very long. Mom loves the buses in London and hates the tube. So, we rode the bus as often as we could. I’m not going to complain because I FINALLY got to learn and understand how the confusing bus system works (and it’s actually not confusing, at all) and it’s nice to see the city as you’re traveling through it! I went home, showered and changed and then went up to their room to relax a little before we went out for dinner. Mom got a bottle of wine, some croissants, grapes and cheese so we just hung out in their room for a little bit watching London’s version of America’s Funniest Home Videos before heading out. We took the bus over to Waterloo, and then walked back towards the direction of Russell Square to find a restaurant. We ate at an Italian restaurant right in between Embankment and Charing Cross. After dinner we caught another bus home and went to bed. Saturday morning I met them in their lobby at 8 and our adventure was to Dover. We went to Victoria station, caught the 8:52 to Dover, which was close to a 2 hour ride. When we got there we got breakfast at a diner-type restaurant before starting our day. I got an ice cream cone even though it was a tad bit chilly outside. ๐Ÿ™‚ We went into the Dover Museum, and saw the history of the town as well as the oldest boat in the world, the bronze age boat! We saw a film on how it was found and restored and saw the actual boat and the reconstruction and then left the museum. I had to buy a pair of leggings from one of the market stands because it was NOT as warm as the day before. Then we headed off to the castle. We browsed around and saw the castle before our tour of the underground hospital. The tour was really quick but really cool and we got to experience what it would’ve been like to be in the hospital during an attack. There was also a little tram that rode around the castle you could hop on and off after your feet got tired. The castle was huge but so pretty and had great views of The White Cliffs and Shakespeare’s cliff. On a clear day, you can see France from the castle, but we could only barely make it out. After spending the day in the castle we went back to town and grabbed some sandwiches and snacks for the train home. We thought we almost left Mom in Dover (because the train left 10 minutes early!) but luckily she was in the bathroom and not outside the train. When we got back to London, I came back to my flat, showered & changed, and then we went to dinner at a restaurant named Bill’s. Bill’s was a restaurant that you could simultaneously grocery shop at by checking (or, “ticking” as they called it) items off a list and handing it to your waitress. It was definitely a different atmosphere. The food was delicious, and afterwards we went back to Russell Square for the night. Today we woke up and went to Greenwich! We went around the Old Royal Navy College, showed them the Painted Hall & the Chapel, we went into the Maritime Museum for a little bit and then went up to the prime meridian. I realized today why JMU has us go to Greenwich so early in the semester, because it costs 10 pounds to go to it after March 1! We found a fence that had the line continuing on the wall so we snuck a picture and then headed into town. We browsed the Greenwich Markets for approximately one minute before making it out through the crowd and onto the bus. We got off the bus at Tower Bridge, ate Sunday roast at a pub right on the street, and then went in the Tower Bridge exhibition. Dad & I accidentally ate some free food that we didn’t order but got placed on our table (whoops). We saw the engine rooms for how they used to light the bridge, got to go up the towers and walk across the top walkway, and then came back down the other tower. We took a very complicated tube ride home (this was one of my first weekends in London since January! Who knew there were so many tube line and station closings?) and then it was time to split ways. Dad lounged/napped in the lobby while Mom came back to my flat with me, I changed and then we walked back to Russell Square tube station and said goodbye. As I write this, they are just taking off (unless they’re delayed again, knock on wood!!) It was such a fun, busy, beautiful weekend and I’m so happy that it’s only three weeks until I see them again!! Last full week of classes and internship this week, where did the time go?

Cheers!

April 10, 2011

Imperial War Museum, War Horse, Notting Hill, Olympics


Sunday night we got home from Paris and there was a giant puddle on our kitchen floor. We thought someone left the door open the whole weekend. Turns out, our fridge was broken. Our temporary mini fridge didn’t arrive until Wednesday so we ate out a lot until then. Monday for politics we discussed media & war during class, and then had an outing to the Imperial War Museum. It was a really cool museum with a TON going on. If you’re into war, history and have a few hours to kill in London, this would be my suggestion. Monday night for theatre we saw our last show :(, Warhorse. It’s based off a children’s book and the mechanisms used to display the horses are incredible. Sheila warned us to bring our tissue boxes…I wouldn’t say I needed a box, but I definitely teared up. Tuesday morning for Media & Society we talked some more about film and then we went to Notting Hill! We had a guided tour, and saw Portobello Market, where parts of the movie were filmed, and a bunchh of other spots in the area. The interns had to leave a little early to get back to the city in time, and then Tuesday afternoon just worked as usual. Wednesday I was at Wriglesworth all day and then we had our last intern meeting with Charlotte after our weekly group meeting. We answered questionnaires all about London to see how much we learned (a LOT!) about the city, and then we came back to Madhouse to celebrate Kaitlyn’s birthday. Thursday morning I woke up to get MOM & DAD from the airport, but luckily I checked my email before I left and it turned out their flight had been delayed FOUR hours. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I was already awake, so I worked on my papers for finals week, went to the Y and then came back and got ready for class. Right before class I had my time slot to register for classes next fall (senior year, yikes!!) and when I got to class we were watching a movie about the Olympics. Our outing was to the Olympic sites out by Stratford tube stop, and then we had to take the DLR one stop to see the actual sites. Most of it was under construction…actually, almost all of it was under construction, but it was really cool to see the models and the plans for next summer. The area is going to be insanely nice after all of this work is done. After class I raced home because Mom & Dad had arrived in the UK!

 

An entire entry will be dedicated to them ๐Ÿ™‚ Coming up!

 

Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

April 10, 2011

PARIS!


Paris weekend was awesome. It was my third trip to the city and it was just as fabulous as the first two. We took the chunnel Friday morning from St. Pancras, checked into our hostel (St. Christopher’s), and then met back up with the group at the Musee D’Orsay. Rachel and Jay, JMU’s art history and culture by design professors, came on the trip with us to take us through museums and other Paris sights. After the D’Orsay they walked us over to the Louvre, where we ended up waiting outside for at least 30 minutes waiting for them to get tickets. We actually had no idea they were even getting tickets, but it’s what we assumed. By the time they came out to collect us we only had time for about 30 minutes with them guiding us, and the people not in art history (that would be me) got to go along with Jay. We saw the goddess Nike, the Mona Lisa and the Coronation of Napoleon (ginormous) with him and then had time to explore however long we wanted on our own.

We went to Napoleon’s apartments (extravagant) and then walked by the water over to the Eiffel Tower. I met up with Heather, fellow lifeguard at Roton Point, who lived in Nice last semester and is now in Paris until end of May! She took us to a place called Monoprix to pick up baguettes, cheese and wine, and Sarah, Kristine, Erin, Kelly, Heather & I spent the night below the Eiffel Tower sparkling all night until midnight.

Saturday we woke up and met Jay & Rachel at the Notre Dame for our day 2 of excursions. They took us inside but I missed most of it due to a minor freak-out (of forgetting I handed off my camera before going into a cafe to use the bathroom) and by the time I got everything under control it was time to head over to the Eiffel Tower for a quick briefing and then Musee Branly, our final stop with Rachel and Jay. After the museum we went back to the Eiffel Tower, grabbed some delicious soft-serve ice cream then lunch, and then spent a good portion of our day climbing the tower. We met up with Sarah and then went over to the copycat model of Lady Liberty…the Statue of Liberty. We took our time walking along the water, and then eventually went back to the Eiffel area, grabbed McDonalds (We had to. Passport to Paris?) and then went back to our hostel. I’ve got to say, I was a little disappointed in St. Christopher’s in Paris…they usually are known for having such awesome locations. A ride on the metro took close to an hour to get to the Eiffel Tower area. At least we got to know the city! Saturday night we spent the night under the Eiffel Tower again, this time with most of our JMU group. Sarah, Laura & I saw the finale of the Eiffel Tower…in case you were wondering, it stops sparkling and stops lighting up at 1am. We caught the metro back to St. Christopher’s and went to sleep.

Sunday Sarah, Laura & I adventured in the city while most of our group went to Versailles. I went to Versailles with People to People in high school and it was gorgeous, but I didn’t feel the need to go again this year, especially because it was a rainy day on top of everything. We met Heather for breakfast at a place called Breakfast in America and had the most delicious blueberry pancakes and side of homefries I’ve had since actually being in America. Well, it was actually the only time I’ve ordered blueberry pancakes and a side of homefries since being the states, but regardless, they were so good. After breakfast/lunch we said bye to Heather, went to visit Molly (a girl from our group who did not have a healthy weekend in Paris ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ), went to the Arc de Triomphe, walked down Champs-ร‰lysรฉes went to see the Moulin Rouge. After we snapped some pictures we got our much needed crepe and went to the Sacre Coeur on the Montemarte, and then it was time to meet everyone at the train station. We grabbed our bags from the hostel and before we knew it we were on the chunnel back to London. Overall, a great weekend, and on Monday I was still saying “Merci!”

Cheers!!

April 5, 2011

Old Bailey, Ecstasy, Kidulthood & Taylor Swift


The week after traveling the countryside of England flew by. As is the entire semester, I guess. For politics on Monday we talked about the court systems and then, vualah, we went to the Old Bailey and watched a trial for robbery. I felt like we were intruding because we were the only ones in the audience upstairs besides the family. A little uncomfortable. After we watched a good portion of the questioning we headed out. Monday night for theatre we went to see Ecstasy at the Hampstead Theatre, the same theatre we saw Penelope in. Ecstasy is about alcoholism, loneliness, and regret. It sounds really depressing, as it was intended to be, but it was so good. Tuesday for Media & Society we had a discussion on the Saatchi Gallery, led into our film discussion, and then watched a crazy British movie called Kidulthood. Here’s a trailer..

 

Really crazy and violent, I know.

Tuesday afternoon I went to Wriglesworth as per usual, and we spent the day preparing for the next, for the Aviva roundtable debate. Tuesday night for dinner Kelly, Laura, Sarah & I went to Lupita, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants by Embankment. Wednesday I worked at Wriglesworth-worked the roundtable during the morning and the office for the rest of the week. Wednesday night was the Taylor Swift concert!! I’m going to be honest, I liked Taylor Swift before her concert. I loved her after the concert, it was amazing. The concert was in the O2 arena and it was packed with mostly teenage girls…we felt a little old. Regardless, she sounded incredible and we all had so much fun. The end.

Thursday for Pop Culture we didn’t end up going to the Olympic sites for our outing because we had to make up for the class we missed due to the Bath/Stonehenge/Stratford weekend. Instead we talked about Orientalism, watched an insane martial arts movie called Azumi, and went to the British Museum to sketch artifacts that we’ve recognized in movies. A lot of eye opening to crazy, non-American movies this week.

Thursday night we had a pizza party for Madhouse and just relaxed and packed for Paris! Updates on the weekend coming up.

March 28, 2011

Stratford, Oxford, Bath, Castle Combe, Salisbury, Stonehenge


Does that title seemed like I crammed a lot into a small place? Funny, it’s sort of like our past weekend.

We left Thursday afternoon from London to Stratford-upon-Avon. It was absolutely beautiful. The birthplace of Shakespeare had the quaint atmosphere that most would expect. We checked into our bed & breakfast, Craig Cleeve House, and had free time to wander and eat dinner before King Lear. Sarah, Laura, Kelly & I found a cheap pub, and I had my first pie in England. I deemed it appropriate to finally have one in an English village. We saw King Lear Thursday night at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the show was amazing. Afterwards, Charles Aitken, who played Edgar, came to talk to us about the show and his life. He was so outgoing, friendly and played the part really well (plus, he was really cute!) Since the show was about four hours long and he talked to us for about an hour, it was after midnight and we all conked out for the night. We woke up in the morning for a brisk tour of Stratford. We first went to Anne Hathaways cottage (No…not Anne Hathaway the actress.) Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, had a cottage right in the city and it was so cute! Not to mention that the absolutely amazing weather continued to this weekend. After the cottage we went to a the Holy Trinity Church, saw where Shakespeare & family is buried, and then went to Shakespeare’s birthplace. We grabbed a quick bite to eat for the road and hopped back onto our coach. Next stop…Oxford.

Oxford was not what I was expecting. In a nutshell, I expected Harry Potter. (Don’t blame me! It’s based off of there.) Instead, Oxford is it’s own city with massive amounts of colleges making up the university. We went on a two-hour tour and learned about the history, getting in, tuition, different colleges, etc. Speaking of tuition…while we were gone this weekend, London decided to be the home of intense protests. Rioters were lighting things on fire in the streets! I got some worried/curious phone calls from my parents earlier tonight. No worries, we are all safe because we were tucked away in Bath. We all grabbed our Oxford University sweatshirts (of course) and got back on the bus yet again. Next stop…Bath.

Bath! What a beautiful town. We got there around dinner time Friday night so we found a vegetarian pub called The Porter. After eating and drinking for a long time we made it back to our bed and breakfast. Hallelujah, our bed and breakfast had the nicest showers, ever. Such a refreshing thing to have, and how appropriate, being in Bath! Saturday morning we woke up and went on a double-decker city sightseeing tour. After that we had an hour to browse and then did a tour of the Roman Baths. After that we had a free day. Laura, Sarah & I did some shopping and wandering, and after we decided we’d had enough, we found a river walk that we decided would be nice. That was the beginning of an adventure. We get down to the river and there is an outdoor pub, entirely full with a crowd, half in blue, black & white polos and the other half in green, orange and white polos. “Hm, there must be a game going on.” As we keep on walking, we run into the Bath rugby stadium. We asked the ticketholder if there were any for sale, and as we expected, there were not. We found a little hill that we could see the pitch perfectly from, so we decided we would come back there when the game started. We asked the guy checking tickets if we could just sneak into the field to take a picture (since the game didn’t start for another hour.) We took our picture, thinking that was the highlight of the day. Scan ended up being alone and was meeting up with us, so we went back up to the street, found her, and then decided to go to that outdoor pub crawling with rugby fans. A few drinks later we headed over to our hill. We stopped, just to ask, to see what happens to the tickets that people do not claim. Long behold, there were 5 tickets left, and another group of 4 was headed to the spot we were standing in. An impulse decision to the best day of the weekend! We ended up getting third row seats directly next to the pitch. Rugby games are a thousand times better than American football. I’m just throwing it out there. After the game (Bath lost…by a lot) we waited around the locker rooms to get autographs! There we were…a crowd of mostly 10 year olds and the four 19-21 year olds. I really didn’t mind, this was a big day for us. After getting every single autograph and finding out that half of our dream men were, in fact, married, we went to meet up with the rest of our group who were out to dinner. We picked up Kelly because she hadn’t eaten yet and went to Enzo, an Italian restaurant. After a very delicious margherita pizza, we were on our way to go to a bar some of the rugby players said they would be at, when we ran into some people who lived in London, went around the corner to a big bar with them. We only lasted for about one drink due to exhaustion. We went back to the bed & breakfast and fell asleep for a great night’s sleep. Daylights savings time finally happened in Europe, so we lost an hour.

This morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and then took the bus to Castle Combe, a quaint little village that has nothing really going on in it except for the fact it is picturesque. After a couple of photo snaps, we got back on the bus and went to Salisbury. We got to the Salisbury Cathedral, and were expecting to have a guided tour or audio guides. Unfortunately, they did not provide either on Sundays, so we had an unexpected two and a half hour slot in Salisbury. Nobody was really in the mood to shop and there wasn’t much more going on, so we basically ate for two hours. We sat at a place called The Boston Tea Party, and there were great paninis and pastries for us to last for those two hours. We got back on the bus and drove 20 minutes to Stonehenge. What is Stonehenge? Why was it put there? Who made it? These are questions you come to Stonehenge with and you leave with as well. The audio guides basically ask the questions right back at you, and throw possible myths and reasons as to why Stonehenge exists. It is one of the world’s most famous sights though, so I’m glad we got some pictures. After Stonehenge we got back on the bus for the last time this weekend and came back to London! Here we are, the amazing weather still waiting for us when we returned ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming up this week: Ecstasy for theatre, Taylor Swift concert on Wednesday, a tour of the Olympic Sites Thursday and Paris on Friday!

Let the last month fly by…