Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday: I had to get from Rome to Edinburgh, so from my hostel in Rome, I had to walk to a bus which took me to the metro, to a bus to the airport. I was afraid I was going to be late to my flight because of the plethora of transportation modes, but made it to the gate on time and then had to wait for a while to start boarding. When we got on the plane, we were further delayed because “it took so long to board” when really they started boarding at the time we were supposed to leave. That’s Italy for you. I was happy to be leaving and going to a country where they spoke English! I arrived in Scotland late, but just in time for the friend of a friend I was staying with, Elisabeth, to come meet me at the airport. We took two more buses to her flat and then had a relaxing evening cooking enchiladas and watching British TV online. One of the shows we watched was called The Inbetweeners, and what was really cool was one of the stars of the show was the brother of one of Elisabeth’s future flatmate! So far I was really loving Scotland!
Saturday: We slept in and hung out in Elisabeth’s flat in the morning and then her and her flatmates jetted off for Christmas, and I walked up the Royal Mile to find my hostel (right outside the castle!). I then went up to the castle, decided I had already seen the inside, and joined a hop-on hop-off tour instead. I visited the Museum of Childhood and when I went outside to hop back on the bus, it started snowing like crazy! I didn’t get off the bus for a while after that. I did a little shopping on the Royal Mile and then went back to the hostel to put on all the clothing I had bought (all purple, all plaid). It was really cold out there! Then it was back down the Royal Mile and over to the Scott Monument where a giant Christmas Fair was waiting for me! I met Erik, who happened to be in the same city at the same time, and we went on a few rides (The Big Wheel and the Giant Swings), froze, and ate some food. We went to an Indian place for dinner that Erik had eaten at with his family when we were in Scotland together 11 years before. It was delicious but we decided I couldn’t leave the UK without trying a deep fried Mars bar. It was disgustingly yummy. Then it was back to the hostel where I ready by the fireplace before falling asleep in my room with 11 other girls.
Sunday: My last full day abroad! I had breakfast at The Elephant House Café, where JK Rowling wrote most of the first Harry Potter book! I walked down the road to see the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, and then rode the tour bus around again, but this time listening to the kid’s commentary, called Horrible Histories. I saw the original inspirational building for Hogwarts, and I got off for a quick stop to see the (outside of the) new Parliament building and the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, Holyrood Palace. It was then back on the bus to the Winter Fair and the Disney Store. I had fish and chips without the fish one last time and then it was back up the Royal Mile for one last shopping trip. I picked up my bag at the hostel, waved goodbye to the castle, walked down the Royal Mile for the last time, and got on a bus to the airport. I was wearing my new purple Scotland Rugby shirt when I saw the entire Bath Rugby team (my first experience with the thrills of rugby took place in Bath at the beginning of the trip) in the Edinburgh airport. What a fantastic sending-off! I made it to London despite the snow in both countries, picked up my luggage that had been stored there, and was taken to my last hostel, which was more like a nice bed and breakfast. I watched an American movie on BBC as I repacked and prepared for my flight.
Monday: To the airport with some difficulties (how my luggage weighed more than an elephant, how I picked the wrong terminal, and how Christmas Crackers are in fact a weapon) but I made it to my gate with little time to spare, and then had to wait as my flight was delayed two hours. Eight and some hours (and some awesome movie/TV/game selections) later, I emerged in Atlanta to fight through passport control, baggage recheck, customs, security rescreening, and booked it down the terminal to barely catch my flight to KC. My family was waiting for me with balloons in the airport and they took me to my favorite Chinese restaurant for a surprise party with my friends from high school. An amazing finish to an amazing trip!
Finally, a big thanks to all of you who have been with me as I travel by reading this blog!!!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday we had free breakfast in our females-only hostel (lots of bread) and then walked up to the Vatican. The line was really short (benefit of visiting Rome in the winter) and we went through the museum and saw the Sistine Chapel-amazing! We also walked around St. Peter's Bascilica and underneath where old popes are buried. Then it was down the street for a big lunch of pasta and pizza. We crossed the river on the Ponte Sant Angelo and saw all the Bernini statues that line the bridge. Then it was up toward the top of the city to see the Piazza del Popolo and then down further south to see the Spanish steps. I had read in the guide book Frances lent me that there was a Keats and Shelley museum right next door to the steps, and the English major in me had to see it! Kelly and Alyssa waited on the steps while I toured the museum and saw the room where Keats died. On the way toward the gelato place we walked down the major shopping street of the city and I visted another Disney store. It has become tradition for me to go in the Disney store at every city I visit! I had three new flavors of gelato and then we strolled back to the hostel for another early night.
Wednesday, we had breakfast in the hostel and then it was more walking! We walked through the Jewish ghetto to Largo di Torre Argentina, ruins turned cat shelter (a mecca for cat calendar lovers everywhere, according to the guide book). The it was off to the Roman forum, and all around those ruins and the ruins on Palatine Hill. After tons of walking, I had some lasagne for lunch and then finally, the Colosseum! I might have made a few more Lizzie McGuire Movie references and annonced myself in a pro-wrestler voice as I entered the stadium. As the sun was setting, we walked down to Circus Maximus, once a giant race track, now a gravel track-not the most exciting ruin we had seen all day. On our way back we found ourselves walking through Capitoline Hill to the gelato place (again-yay!). Then it was back to our hostel. We decided we couldn't stay in every night, so we went out for a late dinner of more pizza and pasta.
Thursday was our last day in Rome. We had walked the entire city a few times over, so we decided to go slightly outside of the city to see some catacombs. Riding the bus for the first time was definitely an experience, but we made it to the Catacombs, got a tour in English (a relief from our usualy aimless walking with the assumption that we're viewing something famous, although what is a little more fuzzy). The weather was a mix of all our previous days. Monday it had been raining, Tuesday and Wednesday sunny but cold. Thursday was all of these, with rain in the morning leading to a sunny afternoon. We saw the Pyramid on the way back into town but didn't have time to visit the non-Catholic graveyard with some famous graves. We did however have time for one last trip to the gelato place across town, and then hung out at the hostel and then at a cafe until Alyssa and Kelly had to leave to catch their flight back to London. They leave for the States on Friday, while I am spending one more night at the hostel in Rome before leaving for Edinburgh Friday morning. Only a few more days before I head for home myself on Monday!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Early Saturday morning I said my last goodbyes to Jena and Amy and met Kelly and Alyssa at 6am to walk to the Falmer train station one last time. It was a good thing they were with me, because I had all my luggage with me and it's hard to toss 100lbs over the gap between train and platform. I stored my luggage at Gatwick Airport for a price that was twice as expensive as I had expected, but it will be nice to have it there waiting when I get back to England to fly home. Because I hadn't slept at all the night before, I fell asleep the second I got on the plane and didn't wake up until we were flying over Italy. We made it to Venice without any problems and took a bus into the actually city where we walked down the Grand Canal (and across it a few times) to find our hostel. The hostel was actually a cute but inexpensive little bed and breakfast, and we were the only guests. We had to wait a bit for the owner to show up but it was nice to finally be settled in. Despite being rather tired, we decided to go exploring and ended up seeing the majority of the city, including Piazza San Marco and Ponte di Rialto. There was also plenty of shopping and our first Italian gelato. We had pizza for dinner and then went to bed super early.
Sunday we woke up (after a good 13 hours of sleep) and had breakfast waiting for us. Nothing too exciting, apparently the Italians like carbs for all of their meals, so we had a lot of bread. We walked to a boat that took us to the nieghboring island of Murano, known for the glass it produces. We shopped here the majority of the day, and had lunch at a small cafe on the island. The boat ride back was long but we squeezed in a little more shopping on the mainland before grabbing sandwiches to go for dinner.
Overall, Venice was gorgeous. We did a lot of shopping and had a relaxing time. It was a bit chilly though, and we saw our first snow of the winter as we were getting on the plane the next morning on our way to Rome.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday: I had my last classes of Jane Austen and Sense and Sexuality and then went back to my dorm to finish my Jane Austen paper on how letters function within the novels (all 4500 words of it) and edited my Sense and Sexuality paper on reason vs emotion in writing on women during the 18th century (only 2000 words). It was a late night.
Tuesday: I turned in my two papers that were finished the night before and then locked myself in the library for four hours, had a break for dinner and then went back for another four hours to write 4000 words on how Wordsworth's Prelude related to his unwritten Recluse. Super fascinating stuff...sort of. I then came back to my room to do the actual homework for class the next day, including writing 10 very terrible lines of iambic pentameter.
Wednesday: I had my last Wordsworth class and then I made myself sit down and attempt to edit the Wordsworth beast. Eventually I gave up, concluding that unlike Wordsworth and The Prelude, I did not have 50 some years to improve my work so I had better just turn it in then and get it over with. So I took the plunge and turned in the paper. I was done!!! To celebrate I went to a delicious pizza place in Brighton with Rachel and Afua and then watched A Very Potter Musical with Nick.
Thursday: I went shopping in Brighton to get last minute gifts with Afua during the morning and then met Jena and Amy for chocolate pudding dessert. Then I dashed over to London to see Potted Potter, a Harry Potter parody-all seven books in seventy minutes. Afua was supposed to meet me, but sadly she had trouble with the trains and didn't make it. Then it was back to Sussex and out on the town for one last night, where I met most of the American kids for the September program at a club called Coalition which was right on Brighton's beach.
Friday: You may be sensing a theme of little sleep this week, and Friday was the ultimate, with no sleep at all! I packed all day, went to Brighton for lunch with Peter, Jena and Amy, walked on the pier one last time, and packed a little more. Then Jena, Amy and I cooked all the food we had left and ate until we couldn't eat anymore. Then we stopped in at the goodbye party for all the Sussex in September kids. Jena, Amy and I hung out together the rest of the night and then I was off for Italy at 6 in the morning.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday: We got up, stopped at a coffee place for breakfast (no free breakfast in this hostel) and then attempted to catch the bus back to the airport. Unfortunately, no one had told us where to catch the bus, so we ended up missing it by seconds. Instead of risking not making our flight, we took a cap to the airport and successfully made it back to Gatwick and then back to campus. Sunday afternoon I did laundry and then Sunday night it was back to real school world so I did homework all night.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Afua at New Moon!
Tuesday: I got work done and talked to two different instructors about my final papers. Then I went to tea with Nick and Serene in Lewes and then we came back to our dorm and had a frozen pizza party. It’s nice to switch up who I do things with. Then I buckled down and wrote some paper. I got a little intimidated by the sheer amount of work I have left to do so I scheduled each day until my departure with a piece of work.
Wednesday: I had Wordsworth class which was painful because I was tired, only part of the class was there and the teacher was disgruntled because of Sussex teacher politics. But then Wednesday after class Jena and her two friends (Bryce and Dan) and I all went to Lewes (the town over) and toured the castle there and saw where Thomas Paine lived before he moved to the States. Then we came back for dinner and Jena, Amy and I decided to go to Athens for our final weekend together! They’re my American floor-mates and we had wanted to all go on a trip together and this is our last chance! I also Skyped with my family (and Allison!) for a couple of hours while they baked which was awesome. Then Amy and I went to the library and worked for a few hours but then I left (during a break in the giant thunderstorm) while Amy pulled an all-nighter.
Jena and I at Lewes Castle
Weekend updates from Belfast to come soon!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Me and Auntie Joy at the Manchester train station
Monday, November 9, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday when much better. Rachel, Amy and I went to tour Windsor Castle. It was about a two and half hour train ride (we got lunch on our train switch) and then we were there! The outside of the castle is very classic and castle-y, so I pretended I was at Hogwarts the whole time. I’m pretty sure the queen was in while we were there, because her flag was flying! We got to see Queen Anne’s dollhouse which was very detailed and gorgeous. Then came the state apartments, and I have to admit that I’m sick of audio tours. The rooms were all very pretty but I think I would have preferred to walk through them on my own without the audio guide yapping in my ear the whole time. But we made it through and had time to make a quick walk around St. George’s Chapel. Outside the castle we hit up a few souvenir shops and McDonalds for a Cadbury caramel and chocolate McFlurry. Then it was already time to head back to campus where I made some dinner. Then some friends and I all went out to a few pubs for the night.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
View from the beach (of the burnt down West Pier) where I did my reading Tuesday afternoon.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
I went to class in the morning and then packed for the trip. I only took a backpack and a purse so I had to pack light! Jena, my traveling buddy for the weekend, and I met up with some other people heading into London for the train ride. We had a little trouble getting train tickets and probably paid too much, but we really didn’t have a choice since we needed to get to London on time to catch the MegaBus to Cardiff. It was close, but we made it on the trains and then on the bus and we were off the Wales! We made it to Cardiff without a problem but we got dropped off in the middle of the city and had to figure out how to get to our hostel. We ended up taking a cab, checked into the hostel and stayed in for the night. The hostel was nice and they provided sheets and I rented a towel for 50p. We stayed in a room with three girls from Germany who were nice but were not very considerate. They definitely had the rule of the room and we tried to stay out of the way.
We got up Friday morning and had the delicious free breakfast provided by the hostel with bacon, eggs, hash browns, croissants, etc. We decided not to spend money on taking a bus so we walked about thirty minutes to the city centre. We visited Cardiff Castle first and spend the morning exploring and taking pictures. We went to Subway for lunch to save money but took it across the street to a really pretty garden and had a picnic in the flowers. We explored another garden after lunch and then went to the National Museum. After the museum we explored some of the little shops in Cardiff, and then came the long hike back to the hostel. We stopped at a grocery store on the way and got this great meal deal for 5 pounds which we cooked up in the hostel kitchen. After dinner we ran into some other girls from Sussex who were staying at the same hostel and went out to dinner with them (minus the food of course since our meal was so cheap and delicious already). We took the notoriously late buses to the City Centre this time though so we wouldn’t be walking in the dark. Then we went to an Irish pub and an 80s dance club before heading back to the hostel for the night.
We decided to spend the day with the other group of seven girls, so after another nice breakfast, we walked across the street from the hostel to Roath Park which had gorgeous gardens, a playground and a lake! We spent the rest of the morning there, taking pictures of the flowers and playing on the playground. We then took a bus to the City Centre where we caught a bus to St. Fagan’s, a historical village a little bit like Williamsburg. We ate Nutella sandwiches made at breakfast for lunch and explored the village. We also found another castle on the grounds which had more gorgeous gardens. We were all pretty tired by this time so we headed back into town and Jena and I separated from the bigger group to get the same meal deal at the grocery, cooked it up, and then went to bed early. Saturday was the only day we didn’t carry all of our stuff around with us because we locked it up with the other girls’ stuff. The other days we had to tote around all that we brought!
We had the free breakfast for the last time and walked into the City Centre. The other group of Sussex girls had left the night before so Jena and I were on our own again. We found that it’s a lot easier to travel with fewer people though, so it was nice that it was just the two of us. Our German roommates had given us some sightseeing bus passes the evening before. They were good for 24 hours so we were able to use them that morning to get from the City Centre to Cardiff Bay. We walked around the bay and got some lunch at a different grocery store. Then we sat on the wharf for a while before deciding to splurge and take a four pound boat trip around the bay. It was really nice and then we got ice cream as a treat for eating so cheaply all weekend. Our bus tickets had expired by this point so we walked from the Bay into the City Centre where we were able to catch the MegaBus into London and then a train and a bus back to campus. There was plenty of walking all weekend, and we traveled pretty cheaply- I think I spend less than 150 pounds for the entire trip. It was also a good practice trip for future trips!