Sunday, 21 February 2010

A Rainy Day...

Time in London... 9:45 am. About ready to venture out on my three mile run, when my running partner comes to knock on my door and tell me it's pouring. So I look at the forecast and it's supposed to rain for the next six days, with little to no sun. Welcome to my life.

Since being back from Paris, I have just been coasting. School has not been a priority, due to the fact that I only have to get a C in all of my classes to just get credit for them anyways. Projects are due, tests are beginning to come my way, and really, life should be a lot more stressful than it is. On a typical day, I usually find myself house hunting, job hunting, facebooking, learning more about twitter, running, and hanging out with my pals.

As summer is approaching I have come up with a list of things I want to do...
  • Live close to Drake and hang out with my Drake people I've missed so much
  • Hang out with Katy and watch Glee reruns and movies galore
  • Volunteering in the downtown area with homeless
  • Helping Joey out with IV worship team
  • Get a car that works
  • Visit Morgan and Jackie in MN
  • Run a half-marathon in MN
  • Visit Colorado and do some hiking and relaxing
  • A trip to Chicago, not during Taste of Chicago, most definitely
  • Making it back to Pella to see all my lovely friends that I don't see enough
As of now, I'm half-committed to nannying this summer as well as volunteering at Hoyt Sherman Place to get experience in Event Coordinating. I have a lot to look forward to and so much figuring out to do, but I'm faithful that everything will fall into place as it should.

The last couple weekends have consisted of... visiting Hard Rock Cafe (definitely always worth the wait for legit American food), planning my mom's visit, shopping visit to Anthropologie, eating out Mexican, watching This Is It, Victoria and Albert museum, projects galore, and seeing Valentine's Day.

Julie comes in 12 days, and my trip to Edinburgh, Scotland is in five days. I've essentially been threatened by my younger brother to get pictures of the first golf course although that doesn't sound extremely appealing to me. Anything for you little brother. I'm working on my collection of postcards to send, but surprisingly enough, London doesn't have that many spots to buy touristy things. As the weekend slips away, I am faced with the reality of school yet again.

I gave up complaining for Lent, so if there is any bit of complaining in here, I have failed.


Thursday, 11 February 2010

Bonjour Paris!

The morning before departure started off wonderfully. A run in Kensington Gardens, Naked Juice, and a scone prepared me for the weekend of a lifetime.

Around noon, we set off on our train ride to Paris. The relentless ear popping for the first half hour got pretty old, but I was out for the rest of it. Considering we all had to ride a coach everywhere we went, it took about 7-8 hours from the time of departure in Kensington to finally arrive in Paris. We had an hour to dump our stuff off, eat, and then we were off to see the beautiful city on a boat tour. As we got off the underground, we were only a block away from the magnificent Eiffel Tower. I could never have imagined the size of this, I was in awe. The city looked amazing on the boat, but unfortunately pictures weren't turning out well in the dark. The cold got to me a bit too.

Most people went out to explore afterwards, but I knew we were in for a huge day, so I got some good sleeps. Plus, our hotel was incredibly nice, I had to take advantage of the tres tres comfortable bed, which meant I didn't have springs digging into my back all night.

We started off the morning with a semi-pleasant continental breakfast and then we were off for a bus tour, that would lead us to the Eiffel Tower. Mid-way, the bus stopped at the Notre Dame. This church was incredible as anyone could imagine and we had plenty of time to snap pictures.

The history of France is so rich and there's so many stories behind the buildings and why they were built where they are and how they are. We finally got to the Eiffel Tower around noon, just when it started raining. We waited a good half hour to ride the elevator up. When we finally got up there, despite the fog, it was gorgeous. Paris goes on for miles and miles.

After that cold, rainy experience, we grabbed lunch at a nearby cafe. The language was more of a barrier than I thought. I guess two years in high school did not really do me any good. At least I could semi get by, usually just by smiling. We headed to Le Louvre next and I was so excited because from the boat tour, this place was beyond enormous. I captured so many great photos. Did you know you can take pictures of Mona Lisa WITH the flash? It seemed a little concerning to me. Our last section we visited was Napoleon III's apartments. I couldn't believe that Parisian's taxes went to this place. As incredible as it was, it was a little obnoxious. I got it on video, but it has decided to take hours to upload so check it out on Facebook for those who have it.

The Louvre was completely amazing and when Julie and I go, we are going to explore more. We hiked on over to the Arc de Triomphe, but of course not until we got our crepes. Crepes with nutella are probably one of the best inventions. I say that about a lot of food, but I'm serious. I wish I could send you all one.

Crepes put us all in really giggly moods!

Moving on, we finally made our 1 1/2 mile trek to the Arc and then we were off to the Latin area to get some dinner. People literally stood outside of their restaurants and pressured you to come into their restaurant, dramatically pointing out the menu and speaking english, since apparently we just scream AMERICAN to everyone. We finally picked one because it offered us a free cocktail. I'd never experienced one before so I figured, why not? Not that great, but let me tell you what was. My gnocchi. Okay people, if you haven't tried it, go for it! We Americans love pasta anyways, so I guarantee you will.

We adventured back after dinner and prepared for our next day at Sacre Coeur. Unfortunately it was our last day! There were still so many things I wanted to do, especially go to Versailles, but that can wait for Julie. We ventured out around 10 and made it to the church. Gypsy people were trying to put a bracelet on our wrists and quite honestly, it was really scary. Apparently if they get one on you, you can't get out and then you have to end up paying them. Bess snagged a picture of them and they were not happy. Also, might I mention that there were not only creepy gypsies, but fake statues, a random man that played a harp, an accordion player, and strange men that sold handbags. It's fine, I bought a crepe to relieve those strange feelings.

One of the fake statues. Weird!!!

Go Bulldogs!!

Off we went to the Arc de Triomphe because we needed some good daylight pictures. The highlights from this adventure were...
  • the many, many, many Asians who did the peace sign, no smile thing
  • Jackie getting dodged by a pigeon
  • the Monks who wanted pictures with us
  • being literally in the middle of the city
  • seeing the biggest shopping road and not buying a single thing :)

the monk who LOVED us Americans
this is Jackie after getting hit, pigeon in the back

We ended the day by revisiting the Eiffel Tower in the daylight. We also went to this place with peace written in all different languages and it was really neat. This weekend was about the most adventurous, fun, tiring, silly trip I've ever been on, for FREE! Well I suppose tuition payed for it... but I can't wait to go back! Au revoir!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Who is that?

Welcome to Liverpool was the sign I woke up to just as we pulled into the snowy city after a 5 1/2 hour bus ride. I could not believe it was snowing, I only wore tights and boots with a short sleeve dress-thing and of course, my coat. I knew I was in serious trouble. I got confident about conquering the snow and then moved on to my obsessing that if I didn't get off of that bus in the next twenty minutes, I would throw up everywhere, seeing I was right next to the bathroom... I wish I would've taken a picture of the man who walked back there six times (and that is only counting the times I was awake to see him!). I myself used a coach bathroom for the first time... be proud mom, I made it out alive.

When we arrived at the coach station, I knew it was fate that a pink taxi would pick us up to bring us to Hatters Hostel. Our room was designed for six people so we knew that we could potentially have a couple others in our room. Come to find out, there was another lady (so it appeared) living in the hostel. I know I'm making assumptions, but there was a cross necklace in her armoire so I just left my backpack in there trusting that when I came home later that night, everything would still be there.

We then went on a Magical Mystery Tour of the Beatles. What an incredible experience! I honestly don't know anything about the Beatles, which leads me to address the question in blog title. Bess, my beautiful roommate, loves the Beatles, in fact she may be a little obsessed. So when she stopped abruptly to take a picture by John Lennon, she was shocked when I nonchalantly asked, "who is that"? No big deal, we have a no judging rule, which mainly applies to me. Only kidding.

This is where they used to play, a pub in the basement!
Paul McCartney's last house

Right before the bus tour!

The tour was great and afterwards we went to some family restaurant and had some wonderful food. It was only 8:00 but we decided to head back to the hostel because we had an early morning bus ride to Manchester. Me being my normal self, was in bed by 9:00, and I have no shame. Gracie, our roommate from Portugal, joined us later and was completely astounded that we were in bed. She had never met such quiet ladies.

The half hour bus ride to Manchester made me so sleepy, but a little Caffe Nero would do the trick. Caffe Nero is such a popular place here, and it's got the best hot chocolate in the world.

mmmm :)

In Manchester we conquered shopping on the square, riding a ferris wheel, touring an art museum, and eating at Hard Rock Cafe (thank the good Lord for American food baby!). While shopping, we found a store called Primark and it's like Forever21, but better. Everything was dirt cheap. We went to the art museum to kill time and explore, and it ended up being a really great experience. There was a section where anyone could write their thoughts on the war, or a place where you could put where you would be if you could be anywhere in the world. I, of course, wrote with Edward Cullen, charging through the forest on his lovely vampire back. Anyways... the ferris wheel was great, and there was a heater inside, which actually ended up being the best part. I don't think I really looked outside now that I think about it. I suppose I can do that on the London Eye, whoops! I ended up carrying my backpack the whole day and of course, I overpacked so I'm really feeling some knots in my back these days.

strappin on the backpack... stylish I know
the ferris wheel! weeeeee
chillin at the museum
the awesome "where would you be" collection from lots of visitors

So, that's where I would like to end my blog, telling you that the ride home on the coach was wonderful, quiet, smooth, etc. I can only tell you that I have officially met the loudest people that exist in today's world. The drinking only made things ten times worse. Having a good laugh at a joke is one thing but this, this was torture to the poor souls on the bus. I tried rocking out to my Glee soundtracks but the loudness of everything gave me a throbbing headache. Well, I'll spare you the details, but needless to say, I won't be going on a coach bus again anytime soon. All in all though, planning a trip was super fun and it ended up being fairly cheap. Since the trip, I've done way too much homework, finished Glee, ate a great Ben and Jerry's, started the Happiness Project, and began planning for my mom's visit. I'm so excited!! Countdown to Paris: 2 days.