So it turned out to be very nice out today, even a little hot which was very exciting for us. Instead of class in the morning we went to Brick Lane which was what the book I had to read for class was all about. It was a little different from what they talk about in the actual book, but some of the stuff that is mentioned by the author is actually still there and running which is very cool. The whole time reading the book it was like this, me knowing exactly where the author was talking about, because it all took place right on that block, and in the area that I am staying in. After walking around and seeing some of the cool sights there, we ended up leaving the teacher, not without a free lunch of course, and walked through an Anglican church nearby. The churches in this country are so pretty, the architecture and grace about them. It makes people who are not even religious want to go to a service while in London just to experience it. After that, we headed back to Kensington, where I met my friends and went right back in the same direction, but this time to the DLR line, and off to Greenwich to see the Prime Meridian.
There was a lot to see there. First we went into the National Maritime Museum. There were models of boats, anchors, a wave pool, and a lot of other cool history stuff. After going through there, and getting kicked out (the museum was closing apparently), we walked next door where the queens house is located. This was not as pretty or as elaborate as I thought it was going to be. I think it was just another area where all of the queen’s stuff she doesn’t necessarily need or want goes there. We passed by that after a few quick pictures and headed up the hill to see the actual Prime Meridian line. We took many pictures there after hiking up a hill that reminded me a little too much of the steep hills back at Ithaca. The line had some of the latitudes next to it also so I took a picture by the New York line, after doing the typical, one foot on each side pose. We hung out there and headed back to the dorms after that to get our free dinner. I even got to writing my paper after that. I have officially passed the 1,000 word mark.
Stone henge for Saturday morning !! Can’t wait! (even though it does require waking up at 7am)
So today started off as most of the others, with class in the morning, heading back to the dorm before lunch time. We decided today to try the gardens on the roof that we heard about in one of our tours so long ago (actually not that long I guess .. only about a week and a half… seems longer though). There is a building about 7 stories high, that just has gardens all over its roof top. There are different sections of it as well, one of which had a bridge over water, and 2 real live flamingos. Another area has tables and chairs set up with grass all around. Another just a little patio looking place. All of this not so abnormal for a nice garden on the ground, but it is on top of a building !! and thats what makes it soooo cool !! My friends and I walked around just amazed by what we were witnessing so high off the ground. There is also a restaurant there in the center, where you can get lunch or a meal. Our plan was to go there to eat, but we walked through the door and everyone was in suits and fancy outfits, with us just standing in jeans and some not so fancy shirts. We decided to leave after that, and after looking at the menu and seeing the not so cheap prices. We ended up at Gloucester Arms and I got a ham and tomato sandwich (with butter because apparently no sandwich goes without butter in this country …) on a baguet and chips (french fries) for only 5 pounds. Much better by my standards. After lunch I worked on my paper again because we were going to an early dinner before seeing Peter Pan. (I’m now up to about 600 words … slow and steady wins the race right?).
So after dinner we headed out to collect out Peter Pan tickets and track down the house where James Barrie lived, the person who wrote Peter Pan o so long ago. After stalking that house for a little while (those blue circles with famous people’s names in them showing where they used to live finally came in handy ..) we headed back to the tent to watch the show. It was kind of cool actually, a lot of tech crew stuff, technology and stage settings were very interesting. They had 360 degrees of screens all around the tents with people sitting in stadium seating around the stage in the center (kind of circus – ey). They continued to put background images on the screens, making it look like they were flying instead of just floating in the air, or that there was actually a ship instead of jsut the wooden stage. The props and trap doors were very cool also, although all of the stuff catches my attention usually so thats what I spend most of my time trying to figure out. Overall it was good, probably more exciting for children younger then me, but hey I’m in London, might as well do everythere is to do right? Even if it is a little silly sounding.
After the show, and a failed attempt to meet Michelle who is here through Ithaca College, I made my way back to the dorms. (Got to talk to Nick along the way which made it even better). Hopefully tomorrow will be nice because I’m heading out to the prime meridian if it is!!
Til then – Cheers !
So I’m falling behind yet again because I am simultaneously trying to complete my book for class (which I successfully did Wednesday), as well as get a start on my 2500 word paper (401 done, a lot to go), and travel all over and enjoy my time in London. Too much to do! Anyway, Tuesday was a lot of fun. I went to class, and then directly from there went onto the tube and off to Westminster Abbey stop to go on the London Eye, see Big Ben, Parliament, and the inside of Westminster Abbey, all very cool. First we went onto the London Eye, which is basically the very large Ferris wheel right on Thames River. It continually spins all day while it is open, each “seat” holding about 30 people in its egg shaped compartment. You can see pretty far from the very top, including Parliament and Big Ben which we continued to take a lot of pictures of while we were up in the air because it was the closest thing we could say. There were also these funny “human statues” we saw and went to check them out after getting off of the London Eye. There was a silver statue dancing around, a gold queen lady sitting on a throne, and an invisible man (who was asking for tips…a little weird considering there were only inanimate objects making up the invisible man).
After that we went back across the river and tried to get into Parliament, only to be rejected by some strong big man with a gun (there were many others around like him too). Apparently there is very limited access except on select days, and that was not one of them. After being rejected, we decided to go over the Westminster Abbey and check out that church while we were in the area. It was incredible to walk around and see all the graves everywhere; apparently it is the grave sight of many famous and not so famous people. This included Shakespeare, King Henry VII, as well as Princess Diana’s funeral was held here. They also do this interesting thing where everyone is asked to stand still and a moment of silence is held in memory and celebration of people, and one of the priests comes over the speaker system and says a prayer. This occurs once every hour and I was lucky enough to witness this incredible silence throughout the church.
After going to the gift shop, we headed back to Atlantic House for dinner and to get ready for Spring Awakening. This show was amazing! I absolutely loved it, and have since then downloaded the soundtrack to listen to on ITunes. After a very exciting day and night we headed back to the house to do some much needed homework (on my part anyway), and eventually get to bed.
Wednesday my class was cancelled so I came back to the house and did laundry (after 4 hours it was finally done…) and read my book for class. Finally after laundry was done I went out to walk around, take a break and get some lunch. Ended up back a little later and was able to finish the book and get some work done on my paper. Because it was very rainy and gloomy day I didn’t do that much around town besides this. I guess we’ve been pretty lucky so far on this trip, that was one of the first really bad days that we’ve had. Usually it’ll rain a little in the morning but by the time I get out of class it is basically gone so I can’t be too upset over one or two bad days. After dinner at night we headed over to the pub to watch the championship football (soccer) game, Barcelona verse Manchester. Despite most of the crowd’s wishes, Barcelona won 2-0 victory against the England team. It was a lot of fun, even if everyone was squeezed into a fairly small room. After the game we came back for the night and sleep.
So today I participated (well watched) a famous event that occurs every single year on this weekend in London called Cheese rolling. When advertised to us as students, the sheet said “Don’t ask… This s a bizarre ritual, held in the West of England best summed up as ‘twenty young men and women chase a cheese off a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to the hospital’ A chance to see something different, unique…” And to tell you the truth this was exactly what it was.
I woke up at 7am this morning, got all ready and headed off to get some breakfast before boarding a 8:30am bus and driving 2.5 (almost 3 hours) to “the Hill” where this all occurs. After climbing up a huge hill , and walking almost a full mile (all uphill) to actually get to the location of the event, we finally arrived to a huge crowd of people (thousands or more) who lined both sides of the actual hill and the base of it as well. Everyone was cheering and right as we got there it was the little kid up hill race. This consisted of young kids climbing up the 200 yards of hill (more like vertical cliff) in a race to be the first one to the top and to the cheese. As rediculous as this all sounds, this is what happens.
The following event was even more fun to watch. This consisted of grown men waiting for a ball of cheese (about the size of a beach ball – not even as big as a tire) to be thrown down this cliff, which signaled the beginning of the race. After this happened they then began running after it, to chase it down the hill of course, and end up stumbling, flipping, rolling and anything else you can thing of down the hill until they get to the bottom where there are large rugby players there to catch them before they ended up in the bushes right below the “race course”. They then would be diagnosed for what injuries they got by the many paramedics already there, and based on how hurt they were, would either be wrapped up there on the spot, or some where even shipped off to the hospital in ambulances waiting on call. Some of the races were even postponed because of the fact that they had to wait for the ambulances to come for the previous race.
They did this about 5 times, totaling to about 2 hours of cheese rolling fun. I have to tell you, I was expecting if nothing else, there to be a bigger cheese that they chased. I wish I could explain this more to you but that is basically it. It was very funny to watch as some people came dressed up, with one of the races consisting of only two people dressed in spidermen costumes. Overall this was a very funny experience and if nothing else, something that I will never forget.
We headed home after that only to get back for some dinner, and a relaxing night to start my long paper.
1. You may have to pay money to use the bathroom.
2. If you do not no how to speak French, do not say bon jour to people on the train. They may actually answer you and decide to start a conversation.
3. It is possible to try and take a picture of the Eiffle Tower and actually miss then entire thing and have to re-take the picture (oops …).
4.The Last Supper is actually in Italy, NOT in the Louvre.
5.If someone comes up to you and asks you speak English, say no. They are beggers on the street and will stand there and tell you their whole life story while trying to guilt you into giving them money.
6. People selling souvineers on the street do not understand the word no. They will continue to ask you to buy things as long as you are within 20 feet of them.
7. Avoid sketchy cafes with overly friendly owners.
8. Charge camera before going to the Eiffle Tower, apparently the height drains the batterys. (numerous people’s cameras died all in a matter of 5 minutes after getting to the Eiffle Tower and getting ready to go to the top.
Off to Paris I went on Friday. Turned out to be a lot of fun for the weekend, but not so much for a 6 week trip. I am definately glad I am here for the duration and not there. So to start, I woke up Friday morning just in time for breakfast, got ready, packed and headed off to the meeting point where a coach bus picked us up. Heather, our new tour guide was there to make sure the bus showed up (which it did, 20 minutes late) and to guide us all around Paris for the weekend. Off to St Pancres, the train station which is where the Harry Potter’s train station was filmed (the outside of it anyway). Right next to it was Kings Cross where there is actually a cart going into the wall at the 9 3/4 platform from Harry Potter again. After getting to the train, we had to get all checked in and go through customs (immigration? …can’t really figure out the real name) and baggage check. I got Euros for the first time, decided to do that before getting to the other country this time, and onto the 2.5 hour train. Turns out there is another time change between London and Paris, so instead of being 5 hours ahead I was 6 hours ahead of NY time. The train ride was good, like going into the city just longer, and we went underwater for about 20 minutes also. Then after the train ride was another bus which brought us to our hotel, a small little place right along a train station and a river.
With help from our tour guide, we scheduled a trip all the way up to the top of the Eiffle Tower along with a boat tour down the river past bridges, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsey and many other areas. After dropping everything in our hotel rooms, and running onto the Metro (the tube/subway of Paris) we made it to the Eiffle Tower which was incredible. I was beyond words. We turned the corner after walking for a little ways of not seeing it and it was just there! I just stared up into the base of it in amazement. It was nothing like I had imagined. It just stuck up into the sky almost in the middle of no where but at the same time, it was in the middle of everything. There were people everywhere and people trying to sell us things every second. It was a little overwelming actually. After walking around for a little we set an “appointment” for 12:30 Saturday to go up to the top of the tower, and headed over to the docks for the boat trip. That was about an hour of just going around the river in Paris and seeing a lot of cool stuff all over the shores. This included french people sitting and making fun of us for using the phone looking things. We had to hold them to our ears and press a number (ours being 2) to hear the information about the tour in the language of our choice. Apparently the people on the shore thought it was funny looking, as I am sure it was. After getting back it turned out to be right at 10pm and right in time to see the light up Eiffle Tower sparkle. It does this for 5 mins on the hour every hour that it is dark outside (or getting dark in our case). After walking around a little more and getting a crape (a chocolate crape … it was sooo good) we saw the Eiffle tower sparkling once again and decided to head back to the hotel. We didn’t even get lost on the Metro, although getting from the metro station back to the hotel took a little longer than it should’ve but we made it. I crashed after that, having to be up bright and early Saturday morning for the bus tour in the morning.
We woke up and got breakfast in the morning at the hotel, and headed out to our bus tour of the city. It was pretty good, the tour guide was really good, but there was a lot of history behind everything which got a little boring to me at times (of course that is why I am an business student and not a history major). We got to see the Pantelon, Surbonne University, the Arc de Trimph from far away, and some other sights including being able to get off the bus at Notre Dame. That church was absolutely amazing, so pretty inside and out. We got to walk around there for a while before getting back to the bus, and heading over to the Eiffle Tower. The tour guide told us how in London you have to pay for the “chairs” to sit in at the parks and stuff, but can sit anywhere on the grass, but in Paris you can only sit in the chairs and not the chairs (the French did not like that ..). The way they solved that was by making each day a different piece of grass is available to sit on, and that section changed depending the day. He also said there are about 200,000 trees, but almost 300,000 dogs in Paris.
After the bus tour, we went up the Eiffle tower, all the way to the top. The only time it rained of course the entire trip was when we got up to the mid point of the Eiffle Tower, but luckly it stoped by the time we got to the top. It got pretty nice after it and the view was amazing from the top. The elevator ride was a little frightening I have to admit but once we actually made it to the levels, it was really cool to be there. We also took the elevator down, but got stuck at the middle level and decided to walk down the rest of the way. I never knew that going down stairs could give your legs a work out, but apparently it can. We walked a lot after that. Going to a cafe for lunch, and then the Statue of Liberty (apparently there are two of them…ours of course is much bigger though), the Arc de Trimph, and Luxenberg. The day turned out to be very productive and fun. We finished the night with dinner and then going to sit by the river. Near us, there were 2 litle circles of people dancing to some music. I went over to watch, and it looked like fun even though they were only fooling around a little. We walked back to the hotel for the night after that, and got ready for our last day in Paris.
We went to an early breakfast and checked ourselves out of the hotel, putting our suitcases into lockers in the back of the hotel. We went to Musee d’Orsey to look around there, and turns out the line was way to long to wait on and still get to the Louvre after it, so we decided to forget it and walked across the bridge to the Lovre to start our day off there. The museum was huge! The group leader told us that if you looked at each exhibit for 3 minutes and looked at every single thing in the Louvre, it would take 3 years with no sleep to see everything. I didn’t believe it until I walked around for a few minutes, and it was just giantic. We went to see the Mona Lisa, the statue with no head and wings (I forget the name), the Egyptian wing, Venus de Mailo, and Mary Magdelon. The whole thing was just amazing, although when I went to find the Last Supper, I sadly found out that I was in the wrong country to see that (o well). The guard looked at me funny when I asked where I could find it and he said “Italy” and smiled. I laughed at myself, said thank you very much and walked off just a little embarassed. After going through just a small portion of the museum, we rushed off to the metro and back to the hotel to catch the bus back to the train to go back to London. After sleeping the entire time, we got back into London, back on a bus, and then back to the Atlantic House. After getting some dinner at the Giraffe and doing a little reading, I passed out after a long exciting weekend.
Just one more thing to mention, I was very proud of myself for remember so much French, although I didn’t really speak to many people besides the immigration man while trying to get back into London. The people I did get to talk to turned out to speak Spanish, and decided to come up to me out of all my spanish speaking friends and ask for help taking a picture. So much for using French in France.
So because it is 12:30 am Thursday night Iwill be writing the rest of my week (Tuesday – Thursday) for you here (hopefully) because then this weekend I will be in Paris from tomorrow morning (yey I’m up to date for now) until Sunday night when I will be once again behind schedule and trying to get caught up again. Don’t worry mom, I will be able to catch up on all my sleeping tomorrow while on the bus and train so pay little attention to what time it is when this gets posted. So here it goes.
Tuesday: Class again in the morning. Apparently I am still a little jet lagged because I was very tired in class. Came back to get some work done and ended up passing out for about an hour – this trip is very tiring (although I guess that is a good thing). Then got onto the daunting task of updating the computer (a.k.a. putting pictures onto facebook and learning how to use this blog). Worked out pretty well so far – although you are probably the final judge of that. After relaxing some more and winning the fight against facebook and it’s uploading errors, I decided to call it quits and go to an early dinner before the historical tour of Kensington (the “town” I am living in if you haven’t realized that by this point). Our tour guide was amazing once again (keep getting lucky I guess.. ) and he showed us so many corners of this place that I’ve never knew existed before even though I have walked those same streets numerous times already in my few days of being here. He showed us a building that had many acres of gardens on top of it – which I of course will be going back to- and little alley ways with 4 story high spiral stair cases (and we think that the Lake George one is bad .. you should see this one — pictures will come shortly I hope). He even lead us through an area with the prettiest fountains and gardens and houses, which my roommate and I proceeded to take a picture of. Only to find out later that they were Embassitors houses and it was pretty much illegal to take pictures of it (possibly even the Islamic one which would be even worse). We turned around, caught up with the group, and did not look back after that little piece of information was given. The tour ended pretty soon after that, and so did my night of fun.
Wednesday: Class of course. Then came back to my room to actually do my reading before going to Pizza Hut for lunch. Now let me tell you, this was not your ordinary US Pizza Hut. We walked in, was seated by a very well dressed maitre d, and then noticed that each table was set up with not only forks and knives, but also very fancy wine glasses. This was just as fancy as any other restaurant may be somewhere else, and it was Pizza Hut! I was very shocked. We decided, me and the people I was with, that anyone from London who was going to walk into a Pizza Hut back in the states would be very disapointed. So then we ordered a pizza for ourselves. After receiving it and begining to eat pizza like any American would, by picking it up and putting it directly into your mouth, we were struck by the odd sensation that we were the only ones doing it like that. After examining quite some many tables around us, we realized that everyone was cutting their pizza with a knive and fork, and eating it as if it was like a piece of chicken. So not trying to clash with the culture, I of course tried it. (only to fail less then 5 minutes later and go back to my traditional American pizza eating ways). After our very interesting Pizza Hut experience, we decided to go to the gardens on the roof, only to be denied because they were closed. I will be returning there Monday hopefully after my wonderful cheese rolling experience. Harrods was the next stop on our list, the huge department store I spoke of before. We made it about 3/4 of the way there, and 20 minutes and decided to call it quits, realizing that it was definately a tube trip, not a walking adventure. Instead we stared at Prince Alberts giantic statue and monument. Peter Pan also was near by so we walked over to that statue as well and explored the other half of Kensington gardens that we had not reached on our first trip there. Back to the Atlantic house after that to hurry some dinner in and get all cleaned up for the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We made it with only a little bit of confusion, but still pleanty of time. The show was amazing as always, I sat at the edge of my seat the whole time (part from excitement, and partly because a really tall girl was sitting in front of me). The balcony seats were very good too considering I only paid about 17.50 pounds for it through the program I am with. Back to the dorm after once again to relax and go to bed.
Thursday: Today was a little bit of a slow day. After going to class this morning and deciding that my paper was going to be on the second generation of Sikhs in Britain, I wondered back to my room and then off shopping with Jessica. I finally got a new bag (mine was ripped …) and some lunch. Because I am leaving for London tomorrow, I decided to do more relaxing today than anything else. After our walk around town, we headed back to Atlantic House to do laundry. It still sucks by the way, even in a different country. People still leave stuff in their dryers/washers, so I in turn am still forced to take the clothes out and place them ontop of the dryer/washer.
Over 2 hours later, and multiple spins/cycles of the dryer, my clothes were finally dry (well damp) and brought back up to my room, not without being taken out of my dryer and stuck on top of it first for all the world to see my pretty underwear and bras (the wonderful world of college dorm laundry rooms). After bringing my clothes up the many flights of stairs to my awaiting empty closets, I was able to have some dinner and get ready for my adventures in Paris this weekend.
I will post again once getting back from Paris with all my wonderful trips there.
(the dining hall man says that to me each time I walk past him into the dining hall — I think is so funny – yet fun to close my little letters with)