Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Edinburgh and home!

I’m finally home and up ridiculously early (by Emily standards) because of the time difference, so I thought it would be a good time to do my last blog update on my time in Scotland and getting home.

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 CafĂ©, 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

Roma!

Monday we arrived in Rome (from Venice) around lunch time so we grabbed something to eat in the airport and then took a shuttle directly to our hostel. Then it was off to explore the city! Alyssa had visited Rome just a few weeks earlier, so she was our guide. We headed toward the Pantheon, and a gelato place called Della Palm that our American friend from Sussex who had previously spent time in Rome had suggested. There were hundreds of flavors of gelato and for only 2.50 euro, you could have three of them. Can you say new favorite place in Rome? No matter what part of the city we were exploring, we came back to this same place everyday. We did manage to get some sightseeing in as well, and visited the Pantheon, the only gothic church in Rome which was plain on the outside but super pretty on the inside (Minerva), and the Trevi fountain. I pretended I was Lizzie McGuire in the Lizzie McQuire movie when I threw my coin in the fountain. We also visited Piazza Navona and I rode the carosel there. My friend Frances, who visited me in Brighton earlier after studying in Italy, had suggested this restaurant behind the Pantheon called Miscellanea, where the food was cheap and the service was fun. The fantastic owner gave us free "sexy wine" after dinner which was suprisingly delicious. We then walked back to the hostel and decided to play MASH before going to bed early.

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

Venice

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

Last Week at Sussex

Apologies for the lack of pictures-this update comes from a hostel in Rome! I am currently traveling until the 21st but my last day at Sussex was on the 11th. Here is an update of my last week there.

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

from London to Athens

Friday in London: I got up early Friday morning and rode the train into London for one last day of sightseeing there. I toured Westminster Abbey in the morning and absolutely loved Poets Corner (graves/monuments to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Austen, just to name a few that I’ve studied!). I then hopped on the tube for the ride over to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland- a giant Christmas market stuffed with carnival rides, Christmas gifts and food! I had a delicious lunch there and then I rode across to the Tower of London. I spend the afternoon at the Tower and saw the crown jewels. Then I headed over to the hotel that Accent had booked for my night and dropped off my stuff. Then I met the other WashU kids for a four-course meal at Pizza Express which was a lot of fun. Everything was starting to close but I managed to get a peak in the British Museum (without seeing any exhibits though) before calling it a night.
video
Saturday: I got up super early sothat I could walk to the tube to get to the train to get to the airport to catch my plane to Athens. My trip was successful and I arrived in Athens in the early afternoon where I took the metro to meet Jena and Amy who had arrived the day before. After dropping my stuff off at the hostel we went and saw the 1896 Olympic Stadium and were followed by some of the stray dogs that are all over Athens. Then we met Jena’s friend who is studying in Athens, and she took us out to a traditional Greek meal. I had a voracious appetite so we got crepes after dinner and then went back to the hostel. It had rained all day and by this time, we, and all of our belongings were soaked. Jena, Amy and I played MASH and took way too many pictures of ourselves before falling asleep.
Sunday: We greeted the morning on our balcony overlooking the streets of Athens (some more cheerfully than others) and bought breakfast in the hostel. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and we all wore sundresses. We walked up the hill toward the Acropolis and got some great views of the city and saw the Parthenon and the ancient amphitheatre. Then it was time for a midmorning snack of ice cream before seeing an ancient temple at the bottom of the Acropolis. We had our Greek lunch of gyros in a crowded market area and were hit upon by way too many creepy Greek men. Then we went hiking up another hill to see more ancient ruins. We may have eaten a lot this trip but the shear amount of walking and hiking we did easily negated it. We hit up a few tourist shops and walked through a really nice garden before picking up our things at the hostel. Because it was the anniversary of riots that had occurred in Athens the year before, we thought it best to get out of the city before dark, so off to the airport we went. We played some more MASH in the airport and I dozed off on the plane and woke up cranky, just in time for a train to Brighton and a bus to Falmer. It was a fantastic trip, but we were all ready to be “home.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Second to last week at Sussex, already??

my dorm building (with Amy and Jena):
Monday was pretty productive; I went to my two classes and got a bunch of stuff that needed doing out of the way. I did some more reading of The Prelude (turns out 400 pages of poetry isn’t that fun) and hung out with my neighbors Jena and Peter. Tuesday (I was super excited to start my Advent Calendars!) I finished The Prelude and then went to the library and wrote my 2000 word paper. I came back to the dorm for Girl’s Night with Jena and Amy and we had dinner together and hung out. Wednesday I went to Wordsworth class and then Jena and I went to Amy’s last field hockey game. Since I had been so productive the day before I decided to take the day off so Jena and I watched a movie and then Rachel, Afua and Kat came over for a craft night. Thursday I needed to get back to work so after Nick and I got crepes for lunch, we went to library and I worked for five hours straight getting my Wordsworth paper in a state that it could begin to be written. Then I went out to dinner in Brighton with Rachel, Afua and Joya. Friday it’s off to London and then Saturday and Sunday in Athens!