July 3, 2008

Dublin

Last weekend, me, my rommmate and two of our friends went to Dublin! We left on Thursday and got back late Saturday night. Now, I was really excited to go to Dublin just because I hadn't gone to a city outside of the UK since I got here!

Our flight was a little bit late, and I didn't like the way that they made us wait for the flight. We had our tickets checked and then went into a room that felt like a room in a police station or something! Anyways, once the plane came we all lined up and had to basically shove our way onto the airplane because there were no assigned seats and everyone was trying to get the best possible seat! I ended up getting an aisle seat, so I was happy.

The plane ride wasn't great, but I was just happy to get to the airport. Weird thing was, we got off on moveable stairs! I've never had to get off the plane right onto the tarmac, so that was certainly an experience! Getting through customs was not a problem at all, besides the 15 minute wait, and then we caught a bus into the city. We thought from the signs that the last stop would bring us to city center and then we could figure out where our hostel was from there. Boy, were we wrong! Luckily, the bus driver came back and asked us where we needed to go and ended up dropping us off at the top of the road where our hostel was. He was a pretty funny guy, telling us all about how an when he moved into the city and he told us where we should go and what we needed to see. Turned out that he was from South London too, so he even knew the area where our flats are!

When he dropped us off, we had to walk down about 12 or so blocks to get to our hostel, but it certainly felt like more because none of us were dressed for the weather! When we finally got there, we just paid for our rooms and went in to sleep because we were tired! That certainly wasn't helped by the fact that our room was on the very top floor and we had to go up 6 staircases to get there!

The next morning, we started out early and got breakfast at the hostel. We went into town and looked around in a souvenir shop first because we wanted to see how much their Guinness stuff was so that we'd buy our stuff there if the souvenirs at the storehouse were expensive. Ruth ended up buying a sweatshirt that said Ireland on it (very cute) and then we started off to the Guinness storehouse.

The storehouse was actually pretty cool. I was expecting to be bored and just biding my time till our complementary drink, but I really enjoyed it! They showed us how they make the beer and I ended up taking a handful of barley from this big display that they had and put it into a tic-tac box for Dad. On one of the floors, they even had a "tasting lab" where they gave you samples and they had a video playing that told you how to enjoy the beer, but we all just pretty much drank it right away and then kept on going. When we got to the top, we got our complementary drinks and enjoyed the view. The bar is entirely surrounded by glass, so it gives you a really good view of the city.

After the storehouse, we were pretty hungry (it was after 2) and so we wandered around the city and eventually stopped for paninis. It wasn't very traditional, but it was the cheapest thing we could find! Then we wandered around the city some more and looked into a bunch of shops before stopping to enjoy a park.

After the park, we started our night out and went to the Temple Bar. We ended up staying there all night. When we got there, they were playing traditional Irish music and later they had a dj. It was a really fun pub, and it had been recommended by my supervisor Susan at work, so I'm glad that we went.

The next morning, we were all feeling bad - my roommate actually lost her voice. We'd all gotten something (I assume on the plane) and so we didn't end up getting to all of our intended destinations. We were able to wander around and I was able to get some Guinness beer glasses, which I was pretty excited about! We then walked into the college a bit and explored but then it was time to go and we went to the airport. When we got there, some sort of alarm was going off and they it took almost an hour before they shut it off!

The airport was pretty nice and even though we ended up getting there early, everything worked out well because it allowed me to have time to journal. In getting on the flight back, we had to get on from the tarmac again, and I got a spot on the aisle again. We got home pretty late that day and just went straight to bed, because my roomie and I both wanted to sleep off our cold!

June 24, 2008

Life

Well, I now have a few projects that I am doing at work. I've been working with Susan on casting for their panto, and now James has givn me another task - to assist him in planning a performance in an art gallery! The play Vincent will be coming to Greenwich in January, and it's really quite exciting. It's a play about Vincent van Gogh and it was written by Leonard Nimoy... yes, Mr. Spock himself. It has had a lot of success in the US but is getting it's European premiere at the Edinburgh festival this fall and it's London premiere at the Greenwich Theatre! James gave me the project on Tuesday the 17th of calling up art galleries and finding out which ones have van Gogh paintings and then starting negotiations to get one performance in their space, if possible. Basically, the show is going to run for a week and one of the nights James wants the show to be performed in the space with the van Gogh paintings. After work, I went to class and we talked quite a lot about the show we were going to see, Afterlife, and about the "wee exam" that Ruth had planned for Wednesday.

The play was... not exactly something that I'd recommend. It was visually stunning, with gorgeous moving set pieces, beautiful costumes and great lighting. Unfortunately, the acting and story didn't match up with the beauty of the tech. The story was not very engaging and I was never drawn in, and that wasn't helped by the fact that they drilled 2 points into our head over and OVER - that Max Reinhardt was similar to Everyman (the character of a Medieval play that he staged every summer) and that he had money troubles. the entire first act was the actors repeating those two ideas over and over again until I wanted to get up out of my seat and leave! The second act had Nazis to hate so it was slightly more interesting but it was still rather dull and I was rather enthused to leave when it was done!

On Wednesday, we took the "wee exam" but it wasn't a very difficult test, especially after remembering how hard my theatre history exams with Michal were! I just wrote about how money was an issue in all three of the plays that we saw. We'll see what Ruth thought of my response next week! After class, a group of us went to see Wicked! It was absolutely everything that I wanted it to be - stunning, well-acted, amazingly sung and moving! The Elphaba was very young but her voice was absolutely AMAZING!!! Oh, and the Fiyero wasn't exactly too hard on the eyes either... ;)

Thrusday was a pretty chill day - I worked and kept emailing the srt galleries. It looks like we might be able to do it at the National Gallery and possibly have some connection to the Courtauld as they have a lot of scholars who could (we hope!) come in and have a post-show discussion about van Gogh, his work and life.

I'll update more about the weekend later!

June 15, 2008

A very Royal week!

Well, I guess I need to do a quick update of my last week and a half...

Wednesday I had class in the morning and then I went wandering around Kensington. I had lunch in Kensington Gardens and then walked over to Harrods. Wowza - that is the most blatantly ostentatious place that I have ever been to! I actually got very disoriented inside the store, which is rare for me! I ended up buying about 5 pounds worth of some of the most delicious chocolates I've ever had!

Thursday, I worked from 10-6 and then hung out with the girls in Ruth & Tanya's room afterwards.

On Friday Rachel and I went out and explored the city. We went to the Natural history Museum which I thought was really cool! We saw displays on dinos and lots of other animals and even one on the human brain which was really cool. They even have a display of jewelry and precious gemstones which was very beautiful, and we could take pictures! Huzzah! We also saw a hug cross-section of a redwood tree that had been around for centuries, and it is HUGE!!!

Saturday was Derby Day! Rachel, Ruth, Eric and I all got (slightly) dressed up and packed our lunches and went off to Epsom for the Derby! It was a major hassle trying to get over there because we bought all of our tickets individually and then found out that not only could we have saved money if we had bought them all together, but we were in the wrong station anyways! We had to get over to Victoria (which was a hassle since the Victoria line isn't running on weekends) and then we tried to get a refund for our tickets, but the lady at the counter said that we'd have to go back to Waterloo and return the tickets and buy new ones at Victoria and by that time we all just really wanted to go, so we just counted our losses and took the next train out to Epsom. Once we got there we realized that we were not going to be able to see much of anything but we still had a lot of fun anyways. We ended up seeing the Queen without even realizing it - when we got there I saw the Royal Standard flying over the stands and I saw a woman in a very bright pink hat and commented on it, and it turned out that the woman in the very bright hat was the Queen herself!

On Sunday, Rachel and I went to Hyde Park and enjoyed the very hot weather for a few hours and then just kind of chilled out for the rest of the day. It was really too hot to do much of anything, but it was a fun day anyways.

Monday was another typical work day where I spent all day looking up actors on Spotlight and calling their agents and booking them for auditions for our panto. After that I went to the PELA class which still seems pretty bogus to me so far. The teacher is very nice - I like him - but the class is not hard at all and I don't feel like I'm learning anything at all so far. We spent the whole night making brainstorming lists and then narrowing them down - how much more menial can our tasks get?!

On Tuesday I worked from 10-3:30 and then went to theatre class. We talked a little about Harper Regan, the play that we went to see and then watched a movie version of A Doll's House (which was ruined for me by the horrible rendition I had to see by the BFAs a few years ago, so it has been hard to pay attention). After class we all took the tube over and then walked across the pedestrian bridge to the National Theatre and it was very beautiful. I really liked the play - it's a modern show where a woman leaves her whole life behind and goes around England to find herself. I thought that it was stunning - I definitely need to read more by Simon Stephens who wrote it!

Wednesday was a very chill day. I went to class in the morning and we only stayed until 11:30. I then had lunch with a few of the girls from the class and then got some pics developed (I think I'll wait on the rest of them until I get back home) and then went to the doctor for my INR. After that I felt a little tired since it was also kind of hot and sticky so I went home and watched a little tv in the laundry room (the only place in my building with a tv!) and did a load of laundry.

On Thursday I worked from 10-6 again and then went out with the girls for awhile to a bar in Leicester Square.

Friday was an early day. We had to be ready to leave at CAPA at 8 am for the Bath/Stonehenge trip. The coach ride was not great mostly because the coaches have the WORST seats I've ever experienced on a bus! We went to Stonehenge first and it was cool to get a chance to get out and appreciate the size of the stones! It made me remember the quiet magnificence of Avebury and I thought that it seemed rather sad in comparison. It wasn't majestic - just commercialized. Oh, well - really cool to see anyways!

I really liked Bath. I liked the little taste that I got with Barb & Bill and I enjoyed the half-day I spent there on the trip a bunch too! When we got there, the girls and I ate our lunches in a little square and wandered around a little bit and then went on a walking tour of the city. The tour was really interesting and I was able to see a lot of stuff that I'd missed before. We even saw number nine in the Circus which Nicolas Cage just purchased in the last few months! We also got to go into the assembly rooms which had been closed when Barb & Bill and I went there, which was very cool! Right after the tour we went into the Roman Baths which were very cool, but the audio guide would not stop talking - every single blurb was 2 minutes or more, so I stopped using it after a little while and just read the info that they had around instead. After, I picked up some postcards and tried to ignore the terrible coach ride home in the horrible seats!

Saturday was another early morning, since Rachel and I went out to see Trooping the Colour and we wanted good spots! Trooping the Colour is the Queen's official birthday celebration, and it was full of pageantry and royals! We had to wait around for a really long time but it was very cool to see all of the guards marching around and parading, since we haven't been able to catch changing of the guards yet! We ended up getting a pretty good spot for when everyone paraded back and the royals came back in their carriages, and after they all paraded around people from farther down the route started walking up to the palace behind a row of bobbies and Rachel and I ended up jumping the barricades to join them up near the palace. We're probably in some of the pics in the newspapers! We got to see the royal family one time up close as the RAF did a very long flyover of a bunch of cool planes, and Rachel and I really liked being able to see the princes!

After that, we went over to the National Gallery and looked at a bunch of it but our feet hurt a lot after a long time of standing so we went home early and got some sleep so that we'd be up and ready for the Brighton trip.

Today we went to Brighton, but it didn't start out great. We made it to the bus on time and the coach only left about 5 minutes late but the tour guide (who was entirely unnecessary in my opinion) would not stop talking so I was entirely unable to sleep for the whole (3 hour long!!!!) ride down there. We caught some really bad traffic but it was really just annoying because the tour guide lady kept coming on the intercom and talking innanely about random things that no one was interested in at all! Once we got there, we went through the Royal Pavilion which is quite a bit different from all the other palaces I've seen before. It wasn't my style at all - far too over the top and flashy, but I can see how people would have liked it - it's very different and unique. After that, we went down to the pier and Tanya and Rachel went on a ride and then we got lunch and ate it on the very cold and very rocky beach. Then we went shopping and I stuck to my budget and only bought a pair of very cute shoes for 5 pounds! (WAY worth it!) WE wandered around the lanes for awhile and then it was time to get back on the bus to head back home, and here I am. Right now I'm trying to find cheap flights to some cool locations so that Rachel and I can hopefully go to some fun places, but I am also trying to figure out who's flying out later so that I can tag along with them as they travel. Wish me luck!

June 6, 2008

Work, work, work

Well, on Sunday Ruth and I went on a mission to figure out where my internship is... and it turned into an odyssey! First off, since I am in Greenwich I need to take the tube over to the eastern side of the city and then take the DLR (like our light rail) down to Greenwich, but because of the whole drinking on the tubes fiasco, the trains were not running regularly and the one that I wanted to take was shut down entirely! Because of that, we had to go up to Bank and then get on the DLR to Poplar and THEN take the southern track of the DLR down to Greenwich. After that whole mess, then it took us over 45 minutes of wandering and going up and down a very steep hill before we found the theatre. Once we did, I noticed a bunch of people next door and we happened upon a street market with books and vintage clothing and accessories and jewelry and much, much more! I ended up buying a necklace from Kenya and a white quilted purse from the vintage shop, and together they were less than 20 quid!

The next day, I went to my interview and I got pretty dressed up and very quickly realized that I was WAY overdressed! My interview only lasted a few minutes but I felt like I was going to get along with my supervisor Susan very well. After that, I went home and changed into jeans and then went with my roomie down to CAPA to get our food stipend for the week (Yeay - 40 quid!) and then we went to the police talk. That was pretty bogus, since it only lasted a half-hour and the guys doing it seemed to know that it was pretty bogus. At least they were very entertaining!

On Tuesday, I had my first day of work and all I had to do was show up at 10 and carry a CD player over to the audition site on the other side of Greenwich. I had once again overdressed and made a mental note never to wear a skirt without a t-shirt on to dress it down!!! We were auditioning some teenagers for roles as apprentices for the panto that the theatre is putting on this year (Jack and the Beanstalk). Side note: panto is short for pantomime, and pantos are meant for younger kids. They're traditionally done over Christmastime. Our theatre hires professional actors for the main roles and also has the same number of teenagers and kind of takes them under their wings and pays for them to join the actors equity union (all actors are in the union here) and nurtures them.

That's all I have time for now - I'll update again soon!

June 1, 2008

Last few days...

Well, once Barb & Bill dropped me off at my apartment I got REALLLLY busy right away! My roomie, Rachel, got to the flat just in time so that we could go on a walking tour of our area and then we got some food and had yet another meeting. The next morning we had to go to CAPA headquarters for our orientation, and then we went out wandering around town. Before the meeting Rachel and I tried to get out to see the changing of the guards but we only got to see the very end of it - we took the tube the wrong way, and had to backtrack! In the last few days I have seen the new Sex & The City movie in Kensington (Loved it!), gone shopping in Kensington, taken a bus tour around, gotten lost more than a few times, explored downtown London's nightlife and gotten back on a night bus, gone to see my internship site in Greenwich and stopped at a vintage store and street market, and been on the tube for the last day that you can have open bottles of alcohol or drink on the tube.

Actually, that last thing is a lot bigger deal than you probably expect, since back at home we can't have alcohol on public transport. On my first day here, Rachel and I saw a guy drinking at 10:30 AM while we were on our way downtown, so this was really pretty common. On Saturday, a bunch of people rode the trains all night long drinking and enjoying the last night that they could legally drink on the tube. The circle line had the biggest disruptions since it's just a big circle and people can ride it over and over again. One guy even had all of the tube stops from the Circle line that had toilets on the back of his shirt!

When we rode the tube after the movie, we encountered a big group of the revelers, but the best part was another guy who came into our carriage (2nd to last - the party was in the last carriage of all of the trains). He weaved around for awhile and after realizing that the party people were in the back, he ran out at the next stop and ran into their train and announced, "Cocktail party on the central line! No really, it's free! Cocktail party on the central line!" He was definitely the highlight of that experience for me. Well, that and the roar of the cheers that you could hear every time that we stopped at a station and the doors opened!

Here's an article about it - hilarious! The only frustrating thing was that it meant that some of the lines were partially or wholly closed today when we needed to find our internships. Still, I say that the hilarity was totally worth it!

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1232728.ece

Enjoy!

My future homes... or not.

Well, my last full day with Barb and Bill was a day full of humongous palaces. We started out from Salisbury early and drove to see Hampton Court Palace. The palace is pretty huge, and a bit odd since it has parts that were clearly built in different eras and so they seem a bit disjointed. The palace wasn't too crowded, and we even had some of the rooms to ourselves as we toured around. We first went into an exhibition showing the kitchens as they would have been at the time of Henry VIII. They are massive! It makes sense considering how many people needed to be fed every day, but it's still a huge place! I'm pretty sure that Mom would have loved the bread ovens since she would never run out of places to cook things in that kitchen like we sometimes do at home! Next we went to see Henry VIII's state rooms. Since I've read and watched a lot about the actual history it was very cool to see the actual rooms in which these things happened. As we walked into some of the rooms I kept thinking that they looked pretty much exactly as I had imagined them! They are very beautiful and VERY lavish - one had four huge tapestries hanging on the walls that cost more money than I'll likely ever see in my whole lifetime! We also went through rooms created for William and Mary and they were very beautiful but not quite my style. Finally we went to see the gardens and they were huge and immaculate. They even sculpted the trees! We also saw the grape vine that they have growing there - it's the largest one in the world!

We then left and went to Windsor Castle because it was getting a little late and we wanted to make sure that we had enough time to explore. It is absolutely gigantic! It's the largest occupied castle in the world and let me tell you, that is not at all hard to believe! First we went to St. George's Chapel because it was closing early. It's pretty incredible, especially for it being inside of a castle - I didn't expect the kind of opulence I found there! It has a bunch of royals (including the Queen Mum) buried there and some really beautiful stained glass windows. The Albert Memorial Chapel is even more intricate, which really just takes your breath away! Next we went into the state apartments and they were definitely the best ones we have seen so far! Everything seemed to be designed to awe and it certainly achieved that goal for me! It's so stunning it's hard to describe it all - basically, everything is amazing. You can tell where the fire was, but only because the rooms which were burned are now made with wooden ceilings and look newer. They are still just as opulent as the rest of the castle.

After that we got the train schedules from Reading and then attempted to get to our places to stay for the night. We got lost at first and by the time that we had found Barb & Bill's B&B for the night the lady had rented it out to another couple!!! Then we made our way to my hostel and it took the guy at the desk a really long time to find my reservation since they had it under my first name and not my last name! Then Bill tried calling 3 or 4 B&Bs but wasn't able to find any openings and so Barb & Bill ended up staying in the hostel with me that night! Barb stayed in my room, and we (luckily) were the only ones in a 6-person room. Bill stayed in a room with 2 other guys and had to sleep on a top bunk! Poor Bill! At least we all had somewhere to stay the night, though!

Cathedral Day

I'm going to try to make this quick since I'm pretty far behind on my entries! On the 26th we first went to Salisbury cathedral. It was a pretty crappy start to the day since it was absolutely FREEZING and windy and rainy... as the British like to say, a typical bank holiday! We walked over to the cathedral and it was really beautiful, at least what I could see from underneath my umbrella! It has stunningly beautiful vaulted ceilings and they also have a very cool medieval clock that is still in working order - I bet Dad would have loved it. Bill sure spent awhile trying to figure it out! It doesn't have a clock face but it chimes the hour. I think it was really interesting and very cool that it is still working after all of these centuries.

After we left the cathedral we wandered over to the Mompesson House which is in the Queen Anne style. It's quite a beautiful house and it currently has an exhibition of the largest collection ever of 18th century drinking glasses. They were collected by a tennis player in the 1920s and let me tell you, there are a LOT of them!

Once we went through the house, we drove over to the Winchester Cathedral, which is definitely one of my favs so far. It was started by William the Conqueror and so the outside is in the Norman style (just to make sure that everyone knows who was in charge) but the inside has been almost completely redone in a Gothic style. I also liked that one part of the cathedral was not rebuilt and was left in the Norman style - I liked it for its simplicity after a week of extremely extravagant cathedrals and palaces. The simple style was very beautiful without needing to try very hard. Also we heard a story about a diver who saved the cathedral from sure destruction - ask me later if you want to hear it cuz it's a little long. We even got in to see the Winchester Bible - it was very intricate although it was never finished. Definitely worth the look if you ever get a chance!

May 31, 2008

Circle Day and Camelot

I have been really busy but here's a quick update of a few days that I spent traveling with Barb & Bill. On Saturday we went to Bath and saw the costume museum and it's gorgeous!!! There are some absolutely amazing clothes in there - as well as some very unfortunate 80's clothes that should really be burned... We also saw the circus and wandered around the town and I love it! It's all really stunning Georgian architecture and the whole town seems to fit together so much better than most other cities.

After we left Bath we went to see the Avebury Stone Circles! I'd been looking forward to them since I found out about them so that was awesome! It's just stunning and huge! It's kind of hard to believe it, but the whole town just sort of built around it! Some of the rocks were moved away because the villagers thought that they were idols for ancient gods, but I'm just glad that they didn't get all of them! We were able to walk among them and some people were even climbing up on top of the big ones! Barb and Bill and I walked around the whole circle and it's crazy to believe that it was created so long ago because the stones are so big! I'm really glad that I got to see it because when I go to Stonehenge I won't be able to walk up to the stones. Also, I picked up some stones and chalk from the ground to bring home (just don't tell customs!!).

The next day I was extra refreshed because I had stayed in a hotel instead of a hostel. Barb and Bill stayed in the same hotel so it was really convenient to get going early in the morning. After they'd found their keys (one of them left them in a drawer in the hotel) we drove off to see Glastonbury Abbey and randomly drove past Stonehenge! That was a good sign, even though it was raining and a little bit miserable.

Glastonbury Abbey was absolutely amazing - so powerful! It is huge and it's a little hard to comprehend just how big it would have been when it was still standing! We went down into the chapel first and it was just stunning to know that those stones had been there for so long! Barb & I both threw pennies into St. Joseph's well (mine went in, hers didn't) and then we walked around. AS we got up to the main part of the ruins, Barb put her hand onto one of the largest parts of the ruins and just then the bells from the church next door started to chime! Oh, and I picked up some stones from Glastonbury Abbey too and some of them looked like they'd been part of the actual abbey!

After we left we went over to see the Cerne Abbas Giant, a man carved into the hillside (and he's got all of his parts, btw.). In that part of the country, the chalk is only a little bit down into the ground so it's not really deep or anything. No one knows how old it is - some people think it's really old and others think it's a more modern caricature of Oliver Cromwell. I like to think that it's older than that. Either way though, he's pretty impressive!

Next we drove through the New Forest for a little while and I saw some wild horses! The forest is really dense and very beautiful. After that we went to Salisbury and we decided not to go out to the pub that night because we were really tired. That's all for the weekend!

May 23, 2008

The Castle of a Lifetime!

Another fantastic day! It started out a little rainy and cold and I was a little worried that our streak of good days had come to an end but I was delightfully surprised! Barb & Bill picked me up around 9:30 and we went off to see our final 2 Shakespeare sights.

First we went to his church and burial site - Holy Trinity Church. There was a big old graveyard as we entered the grounds with a bunch of very old headstones. One of them had a hedge growing around it with the stone showing in the front! There was even a little bird living in there and now Barb says that she wants one on her grave! The church is big and very beautiful and old. Shakespeare's grave is in the back of the church and he's alongside some of his family members. The curse on his grave is a little faint by now but can still be picked out and is quite good! It's said that he was very much afraid of getting dug back up (as was common in those days) and so he had himself buried 15 feet underground to make sure he stayed in the ground for good!

We next went to his birthplace and the house of his parents. It looks rather large from the outside but it's only one room wide and so it isn't really all that large. I now understand why he gave his wife the second-best bed, though. The best bed in the hose is placed in the main sitting room and is used for guests and to show off the family's wealth. The second-best bed would have been used by Shakespeare and his wife as their marriage bed. They had a rather interesting setup there, with a little museum-type info display before you got to the house itself, but it was overall very interesting.

After that we went to a chocolatier across the street and had truffles and then went onto Warwick Castle. It's a real big, old castle like one you'd see in the movies about the Medieval ages. We first went through their 1989 display and although it was a little hokey at first it was really cool to see how people actually lived in these castles until rather recently. I also found out that Winston Churchill isn't very tall - only about 5'5" or so! We next went into the state rooms and they are absolutely stunning. They had a great setup and you could see that people really lived in there. Actually, we had to go back for two of the state rooms because the BBC was filming in there when we arrived!

Next we ate and then went on our biggest adventure of the week as far as I'm concerned - we went on the hike along the castle walk and up the turrets! That was pretty strenuous but the view from the top of the turrets made it entirely worth it to me! You could see for miles along the countryside! Next we went down into the dungeon and boy, was it creepy! There were a lot of crosses etched into the stone and names and dates showing just how long certain people were locked into the dungeon! CREEEPY!!!

At the end of the trip to Warwick we went over to see the flowers and it turned out that it was a peacock garden. After sitting down for awhile a few of them even came over to check us out. The peacocks keps showing off their feathers but the peahens did not seem at all interested!

When we got back to Stratford, it was raining a little bit so we decided to go to another pub and have a pint and a quick bit to eat and then go to bed since we all had a very big day! That's all for now - next up is Glastonbury, Bath and Avebury!!!!!!!

May 22, 2008

Another fabulous day!!!

Well, somehow I keep getting all the luck - I keep picking hostels while they have large groups of schoolkids there! Oh, well. They were pretty quiet in Oxford and I'll hope for the same. My room for the next 2 nights is pretty cute - besides the squeaky bed and the shower and bathroom down the hall. It's a nice old, big white house and it seems like it'll be a nice place to stay. This morning we took a walking tour of Oxford and went through a lot of little winding roads through the colleges that we never wouldn've been able to see otherwise! We got to go into one of the colleges and see what their hall (dining hall - just like Harry Potter) and chapel were like, and they're gorgeous!

It's been another great day - a bit cloudy, but the rain held off and it's been nice and warm. After Oxford, we drove through the Cotswolds, and they're adorable! So picture-perfect, it's hard to believe! After we got into Stratford, we went to Anne Hathaway's house (Shakespeare's wife) and toured it and the gardens. It's so quaint and tiny, it's kind of hard to believe!

Barb and Bill and I tried to go out on a ghost tour of Oxford that we'd found out about at the tourist bureau, but no one came to do the tour! We're going to try to call them tomorrow and reserve tickets so that they know to come and tell us about all of the ghosts and goblins haunting the streets! Instead, we went to a cute little pub overlooking the Avon river and had a pint, some onion rings and a cheese platter with some really tasty local cheeses! I've got to get to bed, so that's all for today!

My starter palace...

Well, Wednesday was a very entertaining day! We got up early and went straight to Blenheim Palace. It was absolutely stunning! The gardens are extremely well maintained and beautiful (Barb loved the grounds more than the palace itself) and it didn't even matter that not all of the flowers were planted. It's just so lush and green - absolutely incredible! The tour of the palace was fun, too. The rooms are all extremely opulent and exquisite - they even have 24 carat gold inlaid in the ceilings! It has a really interesting history, too. I think I could definitely see it as a starter palace... heehee

We ate at Blenheim (a tasty veggie soup and spring water) and then came back to Oxford to explore. We wandered around for awhile and then intended on taking a walking tour of the city, but ended up on a bus tour instead since all of the walking tours were done for the day! The bus tour was fun - we took a lot of good (I hope) pictures and learned about the castle and the oodles of colleges.

After, Barb & Bill and I went out for a pizza and then I met some of the girls from my room in the hostel and we all went out to an Irish pub (O'Grady's, I think) and watched a big football (soccer) match between Manchester United and Chelsea. They're both British teams, so the crowd was really fun and very enthusiastic. The match ended up going to a shoot out and then Man U won. It wasn't pretty surprising - as if New England had won the Super Bowl. I'll try to write again soon!!!

Finally here!!!

Well, it's finally offical - I'm 21 in the UK!!! The first night was not great, since I was absolutely exhausted and had a headache on top of it. Those 24 hours were nuts!! The flights all went pretty well - the one from MSP to Toronto was kind of cramped but the seats were leather, so that wasn't too bad. The layover in Toronto would have gone better had a few more places been open!!! There were only a few stores open, and only 2 of them weren't STARBUCKS!!!!!!!! I had a soup and then worked on a Sudoku book that I bought (sigh - pathetic, I know!) out of boredom.

The flight was a little alte because some stupid American couple didn't have a passport for their child who they wanted to bring into Heathrow. That was frustrating, since it cost us about 35 minutes, which was multiplied by barely being able to sleep on the plane. I might have gotten 2 hours or so, but it sure didn't feel like it! I stayed up as late as I could on tuesday night to try to combat jetlag, but ended up falling asleep around 6 or 7 and sleeping for 12 hours! Luckily, I was completely on British time on Wednesday, so that worked out great!

Once I got into the UK, it was very easy to get throug customs and find Barb & Bill. Bill was a little rusty in his driving on the wrong side of the road, but once we figured out how to go through roundabouts we were fine! Once we parked in Oxford, Barb & Bill took me out to a pub (St. Aldates) for a birthday dinner and a half pint (I was already so sleepy, I didn't want a whole pint). I had some battered shrimp and chips (fries), and the food was great! I tried to wander around and stay up later, but ended up crashing early in the night! All in all, though, a pretty good start to my 21st year of life!

May 11, 2008

Possibly a plan?

Well, I may just have figured out the rest of my plans but I won't know for sure until Monday when I get a confirmation email from the Streatey hostel. I emailed the hostel and was told that they still had openings, so I'm hoping for a very good morning tomorrow and an email saying that I actually DO have everything planned out!

I'm almost done with school, and I'm basically just waiting for all of my finals to be over so I can move home and get ready to go! Mom's helping me move tomorrow, so I have a long night ahead of me, packing up everything that I'm not wearing, using, or eating until Wednesday! Hopefully I'll be able to get enough sleep so that I don't crash entirely since i still have to rework my argumentation paper and study for my tech 2 and spanish tests. Oh, well - as long as I remember that it's only 8 days away, I should be able to get through this next week (though work might make me want to pull my hair out!!!).

May 8, 2008

Scratch that

Well, I guess my well-crafted plan was... not so well-crafted. I was able to book Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon without any problems, but I had to book an actual hotel for the next night because the Salisbury hostel didn't have any openings and no other places were open for that night (it's a bank weekend, so it makes sense).

Now, I am currently trying to book my last two nights near Reading, but the place that I was planning on staying (Streatley = adorable!!) is not available!!! Arrrgh!

Now I'm just trying to figure out where else to go and trying to decide whether or not I should call the YMCA or try to see if another place will be cheap...

Once this is all figured out, my life will be SOOOO much less stressful!

May 6, 2008

Getting ready

Well, it's finally really real. I am actually going to England! It's finally becoming real to me right now because I just booked my hostels for my travels with my aunt & uncle (Barb & Bill - love em!). We're traveling around before I actually start the London program, and I'm psyched! We're going to SO MANY AMAZING PLACES!!! YAA!!!!

Well, I figured I'd put the places down so everyone else can see just how incredible this is going to be!!!

First, we're going to stay in Oxford for 2 nights

it looks so adorable!! color me psyched! next up is Stratford-upon-Avon for 2 nights

Yeay!! that one really psyches me up - I'm going to be staying in a Georgian mansion!!! how adorable! the next place we're staying in is Salisbury for 3 nights

I'll be there for 3 days so I hope it's cozy! Aww, who am I kidding?! I'm just happy to be there! (I'm so easy to please, it's ridiculous!) the final place that i'll be staying in is called Streatley on Thames!! It just sounds posh, doesn't it?!

Looks it, too! this one's a Victorian mansion!

Well, while we're there we are going to be taking day trips around since Barb & Bill will be renting a car. We're planning on visiting Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Glastonbury Abbey, Avery (and the stone circle!!), the Isle of Wight, Windsor Palace and Hampton Court along with the cities we're staying in - what a packed week!

I'm going to try to keep this updated with my progress whenever I get a chance to use the internet in London, so hopefully this won't be a one-time occurrence! Till then, au revior!