Sunday, 14 March 2010

Spring Break

As I finished my last midterm at 3:51 pm on Thursday afternoon, I cheerfully made my way back to the dorm to finalize Julie's plans for spring break. I couldn't have even imagined how quickly the week was going to go, but all in all we had a great time and saw some really great things!

To sum up the trip, my mom arrived on Friday morning around noon and I took her to see Kensington Gardens, and the basic area near my dorm. Unfortunately, Julie was very sleepy since the time difference is about six hours, so we came back for a nap, which I never, ever turn down. We went to Covent Gardens for a nice dinner at a cute Italian restaurant. Due to my mother's blind eyes, I had to read the menu to her. No worries though, I will be old someday too (Only kidding mother dear)!

The second morning we made our way out to Parliament to see the major "touristy" things, like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the parks. We attempted to see the changing of the guards, but we either missed it (although the sign said 11:30 and indeed it was 11:30) or I didn't fully see the sign that could have said "not on Saturdays." Who knows? We hit the major shopping streets, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Regent Street and made our way to Abercrombie and Fitch because I heard it was basically a castle inside. Well we could find it by the smell from probably 50 feet away. It really was amazing and some of the most beautiful people in London work there. I'll probably go back sometime just to look. That night we went to Les Miserables after having a great meal at the Rainforest Cafe, which was too dark for mom again. Darn cataract doesn't help either. Les Miserables was one of the most beautiful, well done musical I have ever seen, and the music was phenomenal. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Sunday was great, when we finally found where we were going. We went to the pier right off the Thames river and went on a Jazz Cruise Lunch. Live jazz music put us in a really peaceful mood and the views were spectacular. I tried salmon for the first time and enjoyed it and finished the cruise with a spot of tea, which I am finally beginning to like. For some reason, the cruise really made us sleepy so again, another nap was soon to come. We concluded the night with more Italian at Da Mario. For some reason, waiters tend to give us places that are really crammed or have gassy people close by. The dessert treated us quite nicely and then we rested up for Paris.

We left for Paris Monday morning and got there around noon. As we waited for a taxi, two taxi drivers got into a huge fight, and unfortunately I couldn't make out what they were saying, but it looked juicy. We got to our hotel and although it was advertised that it was "close to the major sites", they clearly lied. We were in a very sketchy area outside the city, but luckily were close to the underground. We made our way to the Eiffel Tower and mom had her first Parisian meal. We had a coke, medium size, that cost us each 8 euro. Which is basically a $13 coke. Yikes. I chose an omelette, which they served with fries, delicious! We ventured to the Notre Dame afterwards which halfway through, a service began. Interesting singing, along with incense filled the room. We walked right near the river when the sun was setting and did a little shopping on Rivoli Street, which ended our first night in Paris, of course not with a nutella crepe.

We began our journey to Versailles after a healthy McDonalds breakfast. My orange juice was warm, and I got pancakes, served with jam instead of syrup. Turns out, getting to Versailles was rather complicated. After two hours of waiting for trains, getting on wrong trains, and getting very frustrated, we gave up and went to the Louvre. This was easy to find, but unfortunately the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Shoot. We made our way down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and decided to make our way to the top of it. 282 stairs later, we made it up to the top. The view was gorgeous and it was absolutely beautiful out. I think I got some form of suntan. We came back because Julie had a huge blister on her foot, and we napped it out for a bit before grabbing dinner close by. Although we were in a sketchy neighborhood, we risked our very lives and got pizza. We made it out alive without any English spoken the whole time, well except my mom and I's conversation.

Finally we were heading back to London and the taxi driver we had the hotel call for us was a very old Asian man who drove a black, huge van and had no meter. He was very creepy and charged us ten more euro than the last taxi driver, although his driving was much safer. Our train back to London stopped abruptly because the train apparently hit something. The driver never did tell us what it was, but we made it back 45 minutes later. We got a cheeseburger and a milkshake from Byron, a great restaurant close by, and did some shopping on High Street.

Cardiff, Wales was our next journey on Thursday, which we took a two hour train to. We decided right off the bat to walk to Cardiff Bay, which was my favorite place I've visited yet. There was a Pier House, an old Norwegian Church, a newer shopping area with lots of food selection, and the Assembly of Wales. We chose Italian again, which we ate a lot of non-Italian too, but these always stick out the most to me, because I just love pasta. We saw Cardiff Castle and the major shopping center afterwards and ended up in a bookstore to kill time before our train left for London.

The last day we slept in and went to the Old Dutch for pancakes and poffertjes. Let me tell you Pella people, this place does poffertjes the best. I hate to say that, but Tulip Time needs this place! We had pancakes that were probably 15-20 inches wide, but were super thin. Mine was topped with pears, powdered sugar and ice cream. My mom got ham, mushrooms, and scrambled eggs, the healthier choice. We went to Tower Hill which was humongous! There was so much history and the crown jewels were in a vaulted area. These jewels, cups, clothing, and other possessions kings and queens had were simply unbelievable. Quite unnecessary to spend all that money, but it was quite the site.

Finally, we were back and stayed in for a night to fully soak in the break. We ordered a rocky road sundae for room service, which was a great way to end a wonderful week with my mom!

For pictures press this link: pictures

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