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My Adventures in London

12/15/04 10:51 am

Wow, so I've kept everyone at bay since Thanksgiving -- sorry about that. After Thanksgiving, life was full of papers and journal entries, which I had procrastinated doing. I know I shouldn't have procrastinated, but I couldn't make myself do them before. Anyway, a few all-nighters later, and I'm back at home.

Though I love London, it's wonderful to be at home. On the plane ride back I was so excited -- about 20 minutes before we landed, I got myself all ready to leave. Then we taxied for like, ever. You'd think planes would move faster on the ground ...

When I saw my family I was so happy! Once I had hugged practically all the "Londoners," I left the airport. Funny thing, when I got back in the car, it was almost as if I had never left. Not much had changed in the grand scope of things, not that I really expected them to. It was a weird transition that I'm still getting used to -- was I really in London for the past three months?

Anyway, it's six days later and one of my suitcases is still downstairs and I'm sitting on the computer in my new Hello Kitty pj pants.

Even though I didn't get a chance to write about them, I saw three amazing shows my last two weeks of London life: Romeo and Juliet (Artbox version), Jerry Springer the Opera, and His Dark Materials: Parts I and II.
Click here to seeCollapse )

Whew. So today I'm off to visit Mere-Bear -- yay! I've finished all my holiday shopping and I'm ready to enjoy Christmas. The only thing I need to do is unpack one of my suitcases :P.

Well, by for now!

Lots o' love,

11/25/04 05:41 pm


11/23/04 10:48 pm

Yay, I'm finally updating again. For those of you expecting postcards from me, sorry that I haven't sent any out -- I resumed the post-card-sending yesterday, though, so a few of you should be getting some.

What did I do this past weekend?
I went to VENICE. Yup, that's right, Venice!

Mike, Lauren and I took a plane to Venice for our free weekend, and it was amazing. We stayed at a Best Western on the island of Lido, which is a pretty small place. It was great to be so close to the water and in fresh air (which Mike loved, of course).

Friday, we stayed on Lido and checked it out. We had some Italian pizza (it was good), and walked pretty much the length of the island

Saturday, we took a boat to the island of Murano, on a suggestion from Liz. This place was crazy! The only shops in Murano are glass shops, and the glass itself is gorgeous. We saw a glass blowing demonstration, and the guy made a horse in under two minutes! You have to study for over 15 years before you can become a master glass blower. Lauren and Mike picked up a lot of glass, and I bought a necklace for myself and a gift. The prices were cheap for the quality -- Lauren bought three fairly large pieces for 15 Euros. Many of the shops sold smaller items, but there were others that had ... basically ... art galleries of glass.
Saturday night and most of Sunday, we went to the main island, where we saw the famous gondolas. We decided not to take a ride in one because we had to take boats to get everywhere anyway, and it wasn't that big of a deal. However, it would be a great activity for honeymooners. We went to Piazza San Marco, which is a massive square in the middle of Venice. There are big basilicas around it and the architecture is amazing. Instead of going to museums, we decided to just take in the sites and shop, which was a nice change from our usually intellectually stimulating days ...

One thing that I was nervous about was the language situation. I've only studied French and Spanish, so I really wasn't sure how to accent the words properly. I took time on the plane to read up on the language and memorize some simple phrases. Most Venetians speak a little English, but it was nice to be able to make an effort. It was also good that I was elected the linguist by Mike and Lauren, because I had to speak up more -- usually I'm afraid I'll screw up the words/accents in another language, so I won't speak. We did come across a little old woman in Murano who Lauren and Mike ended up buying some glass from, and she didn't speak English. It was a little difficult to break the language barrier, but we got through it.

I'm very happy that I went to Italy for a few reasons -- I got to deal with a different language; I traveled independently; and I appreciated being in an English-speaking country much more.

I've also seen some very good shows recently. One was The Night Season at The National Theatre. It was so witty, yet heartbreaking at points, and the cast/acting was amazing. Actually, it's the second play I've seen here with a Harry Potter actor in it -- David Bradley (a.k.a. Argus Filch). Last night, I saw Festen -- a play adaptation of the Danish movie, Dogme. The story was just ... wow ... and the acting was probably the best I've seen here. At one point in the second act, the family eats for about ten minutes, and you can just feel the tension. It was such a real play, and very moving -- I cried a little. Tonight, I saw Hard Nut -- a rendition of The Nutcracker. It was really crazy, and I liked it a lot.

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and we'll be doing the annual football game. I get to be a cheerleader, along with Liz and a few others -- yay ...? I'm sure it will all work out fine, lol -- though I'm pretty sure someone is going to be seriously injured in the game.

Today we went to Saatchi Gallery, which is all conceptual art. Some of the stuff was really weird -- there was a dead shark in a tank, a sculpture of an artist's head made entirely with his own blood, and Tracy Emin's famous bed, as well as the painting of the Virgin Mary with elephant dung on it, that was taken out from NY. It was an interesting change from the normal type of art we see. I headed to the Hayward Gallery after that. There was an exhibit on the evolution of optical illusions and the like. It was pretty interesting, and I bought Aurora a gift -- she's going to love it! (Well, I hope.)

My cousin Ryan is going to Roger-Doger next semester -- yay :).

Well, I'll talk to everyone later!

Lots o' love,

11/18/04 12:48 am

YAY! So the pictures from my ordeal are finally up on Bill's webshots page - http://community.webshots.com/album/218104063PfWExT. Thankfully, my ankle isn't nearly as swollen as you'll see it was, and it's not externally bruised much anymore.

Well, I'll update later.

Lots o' love,

11/7/04 08:55 pm

So, here's the update:

Healing normally, though still painful. I'm still on two crutches, and wondering when I should switch to just one. Maybe I'll check out the doctor's this week to see what he thinks.

We saw a show every night every night of this past week:

Monday - Becket; Tuesday - The History Boys; Wedenesday - The Symphony; Thursday - Rambert Dance Company; Friday - Don Giovanni

I think my favorite shows of this week were The History Boys and Rambert. So, get this, Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour were both in The History Boys, and both are in Harry Potter movies. Griffiths plays Uncle Vernon, and la Tour plays Madame Maxime in the next HP movie! I was so excited. The acting in it was great, and the script was really witty. In addition, it featured some really hot boys, one of which is coming to talk to us! The story was about a group of high school boys studying to get into Oxford and Cambridge for History.

The Rambert show was amazing. It was modern dance, but soooo good. I've never seen modern dance like this -- it was so clean and graceful, but sharp. The dancers were phenomenal -- their moves seemed to be from literally, another planet. The last piece of the show was a medley of Cole Porter music, and there was a soloist at some points. It was a really fun piece -- there was this grand staircase that they danced on.

We also saw a "controversial" production of Don Giovanni on Friday. The music and voices were amazing, and the concept was interesting, but I'm not sure that I liked it. It was definitely a modern drama -- there was tons of sex and some blood/violence.

Yesterday, we went to St. Albans. I got to get out of going to Chiswick the day before because both days would have been too much walking, but I went along to St. Albans with Bridget. The cathedral was absolutely gorgeous. We also went to a museum that explored the ancient Roman presence there. Liz thought it would be best for me to take a cab to the cathedral because it was a long walk, so the two of us waited for a cab. Unfortunately, the company that we called didn't go to the museum, which they only told us the third time we had called to see where they were. After a fifty minute wait, we decided to trek it to the cathedral. This was really interesting because I got to talk to Liz alone. It was also a little nerve-wracking, because I have authority issues. Anyway, we had some lovely conversations about US customs vs. British, the past shows we had seen, and my living situation. We had lunch at a pub, then met up with the rest of the group at the cathedral. The cathedral was massive, and it has the longest knave in all of Britain. There was a male choir practice (boys and men), and they sounded so wonderful. The acoustics there were amazing. I was so happy to be there. I picked up a little gift for my mom (but I'm not going to say what!), and I know that she'll like it :).

That night, Adam, Derek, Cat, Bill, and I joined Liz and Robin (her husband) for an optional show called Dead Hands. It was written by Howard Barker. I really liked it, but I don't understand it. It was unbelievably weird, but it wasn't difficult to understand what was being said, just what the emotions behind it were, and the entire story. I can't wait to talk about it at length.

Today, I haven't done much. I did watch Donnie Darko, which Tanya bought yesterday, so that was fun. Joe and Stacy have convinced me to dye my hair a kind of light auburn color -- so we'll be doing that some day soon. Oh, and Zack bleached his hair -- I'm not sure what to think of it yet, but it's a little shocking in the morning, lol.

Well, talk to everyone later!

Lots o' love,

10/30/04 12:01 am

So, let me update a little more now. Well, about half of the group are back from their various holidays. I like that everyone is back -- I'm a lot less lonely. Even though Stacy was here, and I made friends with the others staying here, I'm glad that a lot of us are back. I've been putting a little more weight on my ankle, and it makes my life a little easier -- especially when taking a shower or going up/down the stairs.

Cardiff was great, as I said before. It was pretty industrialized, as it is Wales's capital. The hostel wasn't bad, and Lauren and I picked bunk beds that were away from the others. Though we did meet some anti-American Canadians, the majority of those we met were really nice. Even though it was a more urban area, the people of Wales seemed much friendlier than those in London, not that people in London aren't nice, just that they aren't as open about it -- especially on public transportation. For instance, on the first bus we took, there was a little old lady that everyone on the bus knew and cared about, and people talked to each other. Bill also started up a conversation with an elderly lady on the bus, and she was really nice.

Cardiff Castle
We went to Cardiff Castle, where we got a rockin' tour. Susannah was our tour guide, and she took us around the castle for 45 minutes. We learned a lot, and we didn't become bored. She answered our questions, and joked with us (Bill and I were the only ones taking notes, LoL).

Castell Coch
The next day, we traveled to Castell Coch. It was absolutely gorgeous. Coch and Cardiff were both decorated in the Victorian Era by William Burgess (who was apparently on opium a lot). Anyway, he furnished it beautifully. We had a lot of fun at Castell Coch because there was no guide, and being the extremely curious people we are, we took our time going through the castle and figuring out the symbology in the decoration of each room. It was a great time, and we stayed till it closed.
After, we decided to walk back to Cardiff (it was only 1.5/2 miles). Well, our walk was very scenic, and showed us residential Wales. Unfortunately, 45 minutes had passed when we reached what Lauren pointed out was only the next train stop over. Realizing that we'd arrive back at the hostel around 10:00 PM at this rate, we hopped on the next train.

Betws-y-Coed and Swallow Falls

The next day, we left Cardiff and headed to Betws-y-Coed (nothern Wales, in the Snowdonia region). The train ride was pretty pleasant, though we did have to transfer a few times. Betws-y-Coed was absolutely gorgeous. It reminded me a lot of Vermont, and I kind of missed being home at that time. The station was attatched to some shops/restaurants. I picked up a book on speaking Welsh, and we all got ice cream. We dragged our bags to bus stop 2 and got on the bus to Swallow Falls, where our hostel was.

Click here for The Swallow Falls FiascoCollapse )

So, that's the story, in case you wanted to know. When Bill comes back from Edinburgh, he'll upload the pictures, and I'll send you all the link.

Well, talk to everyone later!

Lots o' love,

10/27/04 06:25 pm

Thanks for the well wishes. Yay! I took a shower. Believe me, it was a process, but I did it. I also went up most of the flights of stairs by crutches and not crawling. I've been working on strengthening my ankle all day, and I have to keep continuing to do it. I am getting more and more used to the crutches, but it is a pain.

Oh! Today I watched A Wrinkle in Time! I had no clue it was made into a movie! It wasn't that bad, either.

Lots o' love,

10/27/04 01:55 pm

Wow. A lot has happened. I stayed two days in Cardiff, Wales, and it was wonderful there. Then, getting off the bus to our hostel in Swallow Falls, Wales (northern), I tripped and sprained my ankle. I'm now on crutches, and can't put any pressure on my right foot. It really sucks. I don't know how I'm going to get along when we have to go on day trips. I couldn't even take a shower today because there's a step up to the shower, and I have to crawl up three flights of stairs to get to my room. Well, at least I'll get more muscle in my arms. People are really nice to handicapped people here, though London is hardly handicapped-friendly -- facility-wise. The tube should be interesting. Bill's going to put up pictures of my incident, but he's away in Edinburgh right now.

Lots o'love,

10/25/04 02:04 am

Don't have much time. In Cardiff, Wales. Having a great time. I love it here -- I've already seen two castles!

Lots o' love,

10/23/04 02:21 am

Announcement from Meg:

I'm heading on my Brit-Rail vacation for eight days throughout the UK, and I won't be back at homebase until October 30th. Well, just wanted to let you know, and don't worry, I'll share all the stories :).

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