A Travellerspoint blog

While everyone is away...

...Lindsay and Emily shall play.

sunny

This weekend pretty much all of our class is in Paris so Emily and I had to come up with things to do!

We started Friday off with a tour of the Tower Bridge. It was pretty neat walking up above the bridge and seeing the views from up there. We also got to see the engine room, which consisted of a lot of things we didn't understand. Neat nonetheless!

London Tower Bridge

London Tower Bridge

Then we wandered around the wharf area on the other side of the Thames. Seeing all the little Italian places made us hungry so instead of heading over to The Monument, we crossed back over the bridge and ended up at this tiny family run Italian place. We ate delicious pasta and dessert out on the sidewalk. Good thing we did that instead, because we would not have been able to climb the 315 steps to the top of The Monument on empty stomachs and aching feet.

Around the wharf...

Around the wharf...

Coffee ice cream in espresso. YUM.

Coffee ice cream in espresso. YUM.

After dinner we wandered into Primark again, but this time with every intention to shop. I am in love. Such cute things at ridiculously low prices. I'm so sad these don't exist at home.

GOLD SHOES!

GOLD SHOES!

On our way home we walked through Kensington Gardens and hung out with the swans for a while. Then called it a night!

Me, Emily, and Swans

Me, Emily, and Swans

Today we woke up a tad too late and encountered way more congestion in the tube and train stations than we expected and missed two trains to Kingham in West Oxfordshire. We planned on going to the Cotswolds and riding bikes in the country, but as it turns out Kingham is barely a town at all, nor is Chipping North (aka Chippy) so we didn't find any bikes to rent. I think we had to head a little further in before we found big enough towns, but seeing as it was already so late in the day, we wouldn't have made a bus back to the train station later. Still, the town was really neat! Probably the smallest town I've been in.

Paddington Bear in Paddington Station

Paddington Bear in Paddington Station


BIG Puppy.

BIG Puppy.


Best sign so far.

Best sign so far.


My future neighborhood.

My future neighborhood.

More countryside

More countryside

More...

More...


Little Cemetary

Little Cemetary

Even though it doesn't seem like we did a lot today, we are both exhausted! Can't wait for a good night's sleep!

Posted by laporlier 07:36 Archived in England Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

Wednesday already?

How can that be?

sunny

The days are going by so quickly! I can barely keep up! I hope I'm not forgetting to write about anything...

Monday morning about half of our group and our teacher, Catherine got up early to go read William Wordsworth's "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" on Westminster Bridge. The poem is all about the silence and beauty of the morning. Too bad it was loud and kind of busy already. Wordsworth is such a liar. After that we roamed around by the Eye for an hour and then headed over to Parliament where we were able to take a tour. On the way to Parliament we passed by Democracy Village. They've been protesting there since 2001. Just yesterday a court order passed that they have to clear out by Friday.

Democracy Village

Democracy Village

While we were waiting for our tour to start I decided my new goal these next few months is to get a picture with one of the coppers. But he has to be wearing the cool hat.

Super happy copper.  I think he knew I was sneaking photos of him.

Super happy copper. I think he knew I was sneaking photos of him.

One entrance to Parliament

One entrance to Parliament

Parliament was really neat. I only wish there weren't so many tour groups. I could barely hear my guide. Still, it was awesome to see Westminster Palace and hear about all of the important events that happened right where we were standing. I was in the exact same spot that many incredibly important people since... well, I can tell you after I study for my Humanities test tomorrow. A long time though. We only were allowed to take pictures inside Westminster Hall, which was unfortunate as the whole building had a lot of ornate paintings and architecture. I'm thinking I might want to head over sometime to watch Parliament in session. Fun fact: you can always tell whether the Houses are still working by looking at the light on Big Ben. If it is on, they are still hard at work.

Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall

In the floor of Westminster Hall

In the floor of Westminster Hall

Another in the floor of Westminster Hall

Another in the floor of Westminster Hall

Tuesday night our theatre class went to see the play "Like A Fishbone." The acting was brilliant and the set up was pretty cool. One room for bout 80 audience members right up close with the three actors. At first, I wasn't too thrilled about the play. It was based around a debate regarding truth vs. faith encompassing religion, parenting, art, so on, and so on. But the more we talked about it the more interesting the play became. Our class discussion was great today because everybody has such different personal beliefs and interpretations of the play.

Bush Theatre in Shepherd's Bush

Bush Theatre in Shepherd's Bush

P1010805.jpg

Today we decided it was time for our first laundry adventure. Emily, Diana, Kelsey, and I walked about a block away with our laundry to try to use the few machines in Metrogate (like the home base for our FIE program). No such luck. All the machines were taken. So we trekked down the street and up one block to a laundromat on Gloucester Road. This is the first laundromat I have ever been in. I was kind of excited. We were confused though. Not only did we not know exactly how to go about doing things, the machines were kind of goofy too. But we figured it out because we are smart college students. The washing and drying went by a lot quicker than we thought, but it was kind of pricey. And hot. So hot. So I had to get an ice cream bar.

What are these?

What are these?

Laundry time!

Laundry time!

Tonight I will be writing another English journal, reading Women Beware Women, and studying for Humanities. I will also be scouring the internet in the off chance there is a flight to somewhere for incredibly cheap (not likely) since the rest of our class will be going to Paris this weekend. More than likely Emily and I will continue to roam around London, which is still more than perfect.

Posted by laporlier 11:06 Archived in England Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Take Two

aka I wrote an entire entry and deleted it on accident. Yeah.

sunny

Friday was an eventful day! Emily and I got up early to catch a train to Canterbury where we met up with my Aunt Karen and Uncle Duane. There we had coffee and poked around Canterbury Cathedral. Its really pretty, but apparently nothing compared to what I will see later in my travels.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

After Canterbury I got to experience being in a car on what they call the right side of the road. Wrong. Oh, and the round abouts. Boy, that was an experience! We drove to Dover to check out the White Cliffs which were pretty foggy that day. You could just barely make out France across the water. Next came a delicious lunch of what else but fish 'n chips and beer at Freehouse down on the water.

White Cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs of Dover

Once we finished lunch we drove a ways to see Brighton. This sea town is completely different than anything I've seen in England so far. Emily and I felt like we were in California. The pier and boardwalk gave the city a Santa Monica/Venice sort of feel. We walked along the boardwalk and the pier and back. On the way back I commented on how I kept seeing signs for Ben & Jerry's but have yet to see one. Of course about five steps later we see one. So we got ice cream! It was a good week in terms of ice cream...

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

After a bit of a traffic jam ordeal Karen and Duane dropped us off at the train station in Brighton. Now, up until this point we felt fairly confident in our ability to navigate trains and such. This little trip reminded us that we're not that great at it. We couldn't quite figure out which train to hop on so we asked someone who told us where to go, but we still had no idea why we were going that way. Regardless, it all worked out in the end.

Oh, public transportation.

Oh, public transportation.

Saturday was a little more laid back. Emily, Kelsey, and I slept in then decided to head over to Speakers' Corner. Too bad when we got there, there were no speakers to be found. Instead we found the Hard Rock Calling Festival. The park was full of people heading inside the venue and others hanging out on the grass around the venue soaking in the music they could hear. We got ice cream and walked around listening to music while we headed over to the Marble Arch.

Next we hopped on to the tube and headed over to Piccadilly Circus to find cheap tickets to any show. Not exactly as cheap as we thought. We're going to look into that again some other time. By the way, the tube in even just warm weather is probably one of the last places I'd like to be. There is no air conditioning and on top of that there are currently tube line strikes so rides are VERY crowded. Anyways, we opted to see a movie since it was hot and humid outside and a movie theatre sounded like the perfect place to cool off. I'm not sure if all British theatres are like this, but we walked into a theatre with only six rows of seats. And this is a nice theatre. Very strange. We thought it was so funny we had to get a picture. I'm sure the other woman in there thought we were crazy. That's okay. We saw "Wild Target," which I recommend to everyone! It's a quirky British movie staring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, and Rupert Grint (the reason we went to see it) about a con artist who gets in trouble and hires the hit-man who was supposed to kill her protect her. It was great.

British Theatre

British Theatre

After the movie we attempted a little shopping, but that didn't exactly pan out due to lack of funds and my extreme back pain. We popped into a pharmacy then decided to find somewhere to eat. We decided on Uli, a Chinese-Thai-Laotian restaurant near Notting Hill. This was probably the best (and best valued) meal we've had since we arrived! We all got wonton soup, egg fried rice, and malay curry chicken, and a desert. I had delicious banana fritters and ice cream. SO GOOD.

On our way back we helped out a confused North African man find his way around the tube system. So, we are slowly getting better at this public transportation thing. We waited for the train with our new friend, Wali, and he told us about the engagement party he had just come from (he showed us a video) and about how he is trying to improve his English before getting a job here. Once we were on the train we made another friend, a British guy, who asked us what part of America we are from. He was excited when we told him California, and he told us all about how he used to live in Santa Monica. Then he told Wali that LA is full of crazy people and to never, ever go there. It was hilarious. When we got to our stop we said good bye to Wali and British Guy (who hopefully helped Wali figure out the rest of the trip) and headed back home for the night.

Today was even less eventful, but I was productive. We went grocery shopping then spent the day doing homework. Our classes require a lot of reading and writing. More than what I would expect for a summer quarter. Its not too terrible though. I do enjoy the topics.

Tomorrow I'm getting up bright and early to go read some Wordsworth with a couple of people and my English teacher, Catherine, on Westminster Bridge. How very Romantic of us.

Posted by laporlier 07:05 Archived in England Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

This ones a doozy folks...

One week of school down. Five to go. Also, dad has made a request for more photos. I will try to make this happen, but uploading on here is kind of slow. Especially with the spotty internet in my flat.

sunny

My classes are all very interesting (even though Makey, who I've decided looks like a cross between Paul McCartney and Spock, has a voice that lulls me to sleep), but I am so happy it is the weekend. I just have a play to go to tonight, but I don't really consider that school at all. I LOVE my theatre class! I already have a lot of work to get done for all of my classes though so I'll be up late tonight doing that after we go see 39 Steps. Then more exploring!

I have a few days of updates to get through. Let's see...

Tuesday was our first field trip and our first play so that meant a LONG day. I left my flat at 8:30AM and got home around 11:15PM. I was tired, but the day was so fun!

After class finished Makey took us to the Inns of Court and we learned a little about barristers and the differences between them and American lawyers.

Inns of Court

Inns of Court

Next we went around the corner to see the Temple Church. It was built in the 12th century for the Knights Templar. It was really neat to hear all the stories and little known facts Makey had to tell us. He is brilliant.

Temple Church

Temple Church

Temple Church

Temple Church

Then we headed to the Museum of London to check out the exhibit on Roman London which is what we are currently studying. The museum had much more than that though. There were amazing exhibits for every time period up until now.

I must find this hat... Think it will fit in my suitcase?

I must find this hat... Think it will fit in my suitcase?

After that we waited outside the museum for Josh to pick us up to take us to the play. While waiting we found an American kid playing on one of the pianos from the City of London Festival. The idea is so neat! In addition to a bunch of other street performing stuff, they've placed 32 pianos around the city for anyone to just sit down and play. So far I've seen two. This first kid we saw was amazing. We all sang along as he played Beatles, Journey, and some show tunes. Then one of our own music majors sat down to play a bit too.

One of the 32 pianos

One of the 32 pianos

So then Josh showed up and took us to one of the oldest pubs in London, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, of which Mark Twain and Charles Dickens among others were regulars. I found three bars in the place as well as several dining rooms, but there may have been more. It was like a maze! And for very short people. Even I had to bend down to get through doorways and up stairs. I ordered my fish and chips and drink in the downstairs bar which used to be part of a Carmelite Monastery. The whole place was exactly what I'd expect of an old English pub--small and slightly gloomy, but homey at the same time.

Walkig down the street...

Walkig down the street...

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

After we'd all had our food and drink we made our way across the Millennium Bridge to the Globe Theatre to see Macbeth. Being inside the Globe was great since it was rebuilt to mirror the original. It is the only wooden building allowed in London and is made of exactly what they would have used way back when. The play itself was brilliant. Very gruesome and very raunchy as can be expected of Shakespeare. Since we'd been walking around all day many of us opted to sit up in the seats, but half of us chose to be groundlings. I really wanted to since they got to be part of the "lowest level of hell" as described by Dante. Most of the groundlings stood with their heads poking out of a huge black tarp. They stood the entire play and were subject to buckets of water, bloody moaning bodies, and witches who apparently now owe Josh dinner... I'm glad I did sit though because by the end of the night everyone who was standing felt about ready to die.

Macbeth

Macbeth

Yesterday was a little slower, but we did have another play to go to. We met Josh and took the tube to Temple where we walked to some abandoned tunnels the play was being held in. On the way we saw some great graffiti. The walk into the tunnels creeped us all out quite a bit. It was dark and damp with a weird type of walk through set composed of bloody animal hides, strange dismantled trees, and other completely random things. This walk led us too the bunker bar where we hung out for a bit waiting for the show to start. The play was set up right in the cross of the tunnels. We had water dripping on us from the stone walls, it was freezing, and we could hear the trains passing over us. It was all very spooky, but great. The play was set in the future during some sort of world war in which the characters are security in charge of killing illegals and just trying to stay alive. Despite having a couple of flaws, it was actually pretty good, but we did all leave feeling completely depressed. So, to help liven things up, Josh took us on a walk past the Eye, Parliament, and Big Ben so we could see how everything looks lit up at night. SO PRETTY. Unfortunately, my camera died so I didn't get as much as I'd have liked.

Graffiti

Graffiti

Bunker Bar at Ditch

Bunker Bar at Ditch

Nighttime London

Nighttime London

Me!

Me!

All in all a VERY eventful first week of classes. Everyone is exhausted. All I wanted to do when I got back was to take a nap, but I had to make my bed since they did the laundry today. I can safely say I know hate bunk beds with a passion. I don't know how they made my bed the first time (I suspect elves), but there was no way to do it nicely. I have rails around my bed (I'm on the top) so I don't roll off and die, and they get in the way of tucking in the sheets. My hands couldn't even fit between them. I was very frustrated and my bed looks ridiculous, but now I intend to take a nap before we go cook dinner.

P.S. I finally just heard the traditional wee-woo-wee-woo siren I've been waiting to hear. I am happy.

Posted by laporlier 14:19 Archived in England Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

And so school has begun.

Yeah, I forgot I came here for class too...

sunny

Yesterday was magnificent! I got to sleep in! Why would I sleep in when I have a whole city to explore? Because I was EXHAUSTED. That's why.

Emily, Kelsey, and I finally left the flat around twelve and made our way to the Natural History Museum. It's about three blocks away from us so it was a nice short walk through the busy London streets. One of the many wonderful things about London is that many of the museums are free! So of course we plan on visiting as many as we can. The only thing is, because it is free, and we went on a Sunday afternoon, it was absolutely packed. Never have a been in a museum where I was basically inching through a line through exhibits. We got through about three areas and decided it was enough for the day and that we'd come back.

Natural History Museum of London

Natural History Museum of London

Me!

Me!

Aside from the many museums I want to visit, I also intend to see as many of the markets as I can. We got on the tube (which was a bit of a challenge since the Circle Line was closed and the trains were very crowded) and headed to Camden Market. The birthplace of Punk. This was a side of London we had definitely not seen yet. Camden is completely different from Kensington. The whole area is so incredibly eclectic--the people, shops, and food. I didn't buy anything that time, but with all the cute clothes I may have to go back. The best part of Camden was the FOOD! We wandered into Camden Village Market and found countless mini restaurants of so many different origins, and every single one wants you to sample their food. I could make a meal of just samples. Its like Homer's Sunday brunch at Costco. But better. The food in Camden is SO much cheaper than it is in Kensington (big surprise). I got food enough for two meals for £5. Chicken curry, noodles, rice, and a coke. We brought our food down by the canal and ate on the grass. Perfect.

Lindsay, Emily, and Kelsey at Camden Village Market

Lindsay, Emily, and Kelsey at Camden Village Market

Today we did not explore. Today we went to class. Class is Monday through Thursday 9-2. Except some days we take field trips or go to plays. Tomorrow we have class from 9AM-10PM since we are taking a trip with Humanities and also going to see Macbeth at The Globe. First up today was English Romantic Literature with Katherine Waitinas. I love Katherine (we are to call them by their first names here)! I've had her for one of my Core classes and she is so excited about everything she teaches. Next came World Theatre with Josh Machamer. He is hilarious. I laughed a ridiculous amount just going through roll today. Lastly we had Humanities with John Mackey. John is our British adjunct teacher and also seems very nice and witty. What is great about all of my classes is that they are tailored to enhance our experience here. They each have projects and writing assignments, but hopefully aren't too much work so we still have plenty of time to go out on our own.

After class we went grocery shopping (hopefully we now have enough food to last us a couple weeks) then headed to Kensington Gardens to do some homework. Diana, Emily, Kelsey, and I read through our poetry together then called it quits. We decided it was much more enjoyable to lay in the grass and soak up the sun in front of Kensington Palace. Wonderful. After a while we headed back home, made dinner, and have been doing homework until just now.

It's been a long day, and tomorrow will be much, much, longer. I can't wait.

Posted by laporlier 16:00 Archived in England Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

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