Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trip so far!

I'm still alive, so is Jake, so is Adam (Jake's friend), in case you were wondering. German keyboards are even weirder than English ones, so I think these sentences are all you're getting.

Friday, March 20, 2009

T-Minus 6 hours (ish)

So, we're almost ready to leave.
Plane leaves at 20:35ish from Manchester, we have to be there 2 hours ahead of that, and it takes 75 minutes to get there. We're going to try and catch the 16:55 train, which means we need to leave here in a little over an hour.
Hopefully we have everything we can possibly need for the next 3 weeks.....
That's it really, I don't have much else to say.
Actually, we should prolly go clean the kitchen so it isn't uber nasty when we get back.
Yup. So here's a completely useless entry!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Schedule! Not for stalkers!

Alright, so we finally have a schedule of where we're going for the next *insert number here* days!
And you don't get to know what order we did things until afterwards! Woo!
So, here are the cities, in alphabetical order! (You can guess the country! That makes it harder to find me! Bwa-ha-ha!)


I just realized every sentence so far ends in an exclamation point, and I do not want to ruin this trend! Ok, maybe I do.
So yeah. Internet will only happen when there is internet at hostels or on trains, unless we decide to bring a dongle and see if it works somewhere.
What does that mean for you oh faithful followers of this blog?
Basically, don't check it more than once a week. I'm bringing a notebook to write stuff down in, so I won't forget things, it's just that it won't necessarialy get typed up every night. And as for pictures, those will slowly trickle in over the course of the month and a half left after we get back. They'll go up whenever I have time/feel like it, and considering there's an essay due 3 weeks after we get back, there probably won't be a lot going up at first.
But, I promise you that I will have all the pictures up by the end of the summer!
And now I have to go purchase a return ticket so I'm not stuck on the continent for forever.

Might put up another entry before we leave, dunno.

Edinburgh Pics


Annnnnd Edinburgh pictures are up.
Now for captions!
After all that I'll throw up another entry explaining how the next couple weeks are going to work.

EDIT: Captions are up.

York Pics


As of right now, there aren't captions.
But, rest assured, my witty commentary will appear.. sometime in the near future.
But yeah, you can look at them.
I'm gonna go work on getting Edinburgh up now and then after everything is up I'll caption it.

EDIT: Captions are now up.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This week.

So. What happened this week?
I wrote ANOTHER 2000 word essay. This one was for some reason easier to write, but that didn't change the fact that I was still up at 2am last night working on it. Although, that's partly due to the fact I forgot that I had statics homework and spent a couple hours working on it around midnight-ish before returning to my bibliography.

So quite honestly, my brain is fried. I have no idea how the people who major in history here do it. They all have like 3 essays due today. 3!!! That would require actually starting at least one of them more than a week ahead of time. Crazy. This is why I'm an Engineer. We just have to figure out what the forces in a truss are. Which, by the way, is incredibly tedious and there are computer programs that can do it for you. (That was a jab at my statics homework, if you missed it.)

Anyway... apart from working on the essay nothing happened this week really. We booked plane tickets and a hostel for next Friday, so that's all set. I have to start looking for hostels for the rest of the trip now. Soon as we've got that done, I'll put up what our iten..... (damn my lack of spelling ability) schedule is. The good news, is that we know what we want to do and when and where in Germany, and we know that there are trains that can get us from point A to point B. Bad news? Let me list it out for you:
We don't know how much said trains cost, or when they run.
We don't have reservations yet for the hostels.
We don't have Switzerland planned out yet.
We don't have Italy planned out.
We don't have a way home yet.
We can't get a way home until we plan out Switzerland and Italy.

Luckily, we should have a couple of those taken care of by the begining of next week, namely the hostels and the way home (which implies having Switzerland and Italy figured out).
But, we have a month in which to get home, so I don't think it matters too much that we figure it out now, it's just that it'd be a lot easier.

So the original plan was to continue on to France and Amsterdam after Italy, but after backpacking for just the weekend in Edinburgh, I realized that a whole month was absolutely ridiculous, and have restricted it to 2.5-3 weeks. Then that last week, I think we'll end up going up to Aberdeen, but we might go to Bath & Stonehenge instead. Not sure. So we need to figure that out so we can get train tickets. France and Amsterdam will get pushed to May when Belinda -hopefully- comes to visit. But I need to talk to her to figure that out.

Most of this entry is for me so that I don't forget what all I need to do and by when, so you can probably ignore most of it, unless you have an abnormally large interest in where I'll be. If that's the case, you had better be my parents, Jake's parents, or someone we will be travelling with or visiting (of which there are like... maybe 6 people?). Otherwise you're a stalker and that's just plain creepy.

Anyway.... I know I promised pictures sometime around today, after the essays were done and handed in, but I really don't feel like putting them up right now. Really. So I guess either Monday I'll stay later after classes and put them up, or I'll do it Tuesday while Jake is in class. You can live 4 more days, right? Good.

This weekend we're planning on going to either the Royal Armouries again to look through the second half of it, or to Kirkstall Abby, because it's broken and broken things are fun. So it could turn into 3 or 4 bunches of pictures. Even more exciting, right?

Anyway, I have to go to class now and turn in my statics homework and listen to the teacher talk to us and do examples and give the class a half hour to do it when it really only takes 5 minutes. *sigh*

Monday, March 9, 2009

Edinburgh in slightly more detail and a magical surprise!

So, I have possibly figured out a way around the dongle taking control of the internet. I have yet to see if it works 100%, but currently I'm on the campus wireless, which is awesome. And I didn't have to uninstall the dongle. So this might actually work. We'll see. (That was the magical surprise.)

Now for Edinburgh.
So, train ride was relatively uneventful. We got in at like 6ish, and after being lost for about 5 minutes, we figured out where we were and managed to get to our hostel. Checked in, went up to the room and dropped our stuff off. We had a 4 person room to ourselves the first night, so yay for that. After dropping stuff off, we headed over to Adam's hostel. We would have all been at the same one, but we kept forgetting to book the hostel, and ended up at a different one. Ours was much nicer, just a bit farther away from things, but that was ok. So if you ever have a choice between Argyle Backpackers and Budget Backpackers, go for Argyle. In my opinion.

**six hours later**

So I just got my new video card thingie installed and it seems like it's working, seeing as how I haven't crashed in the hour I've been on, although it only crashed two or three times in the past two weeks and not the crazy way, so dunno.

Back to Edinburgh, that's what y'all really care about.

Anyway, after picking up Adam, we went and got dinner at a pub by his hostel. I had steak & ale pie, which was good, but was lacking in the ale flavoring. I've had better. Then we wandered around Edinburgh for a couple of hours, basically just getting a feel for where things are, and because there was nothing else to do, unless we wanted to get drunk and/or go clubbing, which we didn't want to do. If you all haven't noticed yet, Jake and I aren't big on the whole going out and getting drunk and dancing all night thing.

Around like 10, we started heading back to the hostels, since it was cold out.
The next morning, we met up at like 9:30, and found a place a couple doors down from the pub from Friday night, and had breakfast. When I put up pictures I'll caption the ones with the places we ate, I don't remember their names at the moment. That place had the whole English Breakfast thing, and Scottish breakfast, so if you want one of those, I'd say go there.
Following breakfast, we walked up to Edinburgh Castle and wandered around it. Now, it looks fantastic from the side/bottom. But I think I like broken down castles better than ones that can still be used. It had a bunch of smaller buildings in it and a couple museums, which was all great, but there's something to be said for ruins. Not that I'm saying don't go, you should, but if you have a choice between the castle and some of the other things I'm going to get around to mentioning, I'd almost say do them instead.

After the castle, we started walking down the Royal Mile toward the Palace. The Royal Mile is just another name for the street between the castle & palace, and it's full of stores catering to tourists. Many of them are staffed by Indian guys, which is a bit wierd. I'll come back to that in a bit. The original plan was to do the Palace, but since it was already 2:30 and it closed at 4:30, and since we weren't sure how long it'd take, we decided to climb Arthur's Seat instead, since it was next to the Palace. This ended up being a good decision, since the weather Sunday morning made it impossible to climb.

Arthur's Seat is an inactive volcano mountain thing. I'm not sure exactally what, but volcano was mentioned somewhere. It's a bit steep, but if you have a couple hours on your hand, I would definately reccomend climbing it. The view from the top is pretty awesome. The one downside was that the higher we got, the windier it got. At the top, there were a couple of times that it almost knocked us over. Then it started raining, so we headed down. On the way we found really comfy grass. It was comfy. After that, since it had started raining, we decided to get some food in the hopes that it would stop while we were eating. It sort of did. We went back to Adam's hostel to sort of plot out Germany, then decided to go to ours since I had a headache and wanted painkillers. We sat around for a while, then it started raining harder, and when it finally let up Adam went back to his hostel and we went to bed.

Sunday morning we had originally planned to go to the Palace with Adam before he had to go catch his plane, but he wanted to go look at some other stuff, so we went to Calton Hill and looked around up there. Then Adam had to go catch a bus to the airport and Jake and I went to Holyroodhouse Palace. Definately go to the palace. It's cool. Unfortunately you can't take pictures inside, so you can't see what it looks like unless you go. Also, if you go, get the audio tour (it's included in entrance fee, so no reason to not pick it up), it's very informative. After the palace we wandered down the Royal Mile, had lunch at World's End, and then went and got on a train home.

Back to the whole Indian guys running tourist shops- Jake wanted to get a dirk, but not from an Indian guy, so we found a store with a red-headed scottish lady, and he got it from her.
Also, I have no idea if they sell this in the states or not, but if you are 21, go try and find Bruadar. Best alcohol I've tasted so far. Hooray whiskey.
Yeah, that's it for now. I will try and put pictures up on Friday after classes and after I turn in my essay.

Now, back to working on said essay and away from blogging.
I've wasted enough time today.
Can you believe Apple wanted me to drop the laptop off for 3-5 days? The reason I didn't drop it off 2 weeks ago was because it'd take time and the guy said if I brought it back when the part was in they'd fix it when I brought it in. Instead, I get there, tell the guy why I'm there, and he's all, k, sign this paper saying you're leaving the laptop with us, I'm like, wait, how long is it going to take? Oh, just 3-5 days. Um, the guy before said you could do it while I waited. Hm.. well, let me go ask him. *comes back* well, if you can stick around till 6 (it's 3:15 now) we can fix it today. Ok. *signs paper* *wanders off to find somewhere to read a book on the Black Death for two hours until my eyes are tired of that at which time I go to H&M to try stuff on for fun*
So.. yeah.

Oh. Also, apparently Scotland has coos. Really awesome coos with hair in their eyes. There were pictures of them all over, but I didn't see any real ones. So Jake and I have decided that we would like to go back to Scotland some weekend, probably up to Aberdeen since all in all, Edinburgh really caters to tourists, and we'd rather see the real Scotland.
The end.

EDIT: I lied. One, I posted this and realized how bad it looked without spaces between paragraphs, so I put those in. Then I realized I didn't explain why it was good we did Arthur's Seat Saturday instead of Sunday. Sunday morning it snowed. Enough so all the mountains and cliffs and stuff were covered. That would not have worked out, especially since it had been pouring Saturday night. Would have been super muddy.
Now, THE END. For reals.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Edinburgh Day 1 (briefly)

So.. got in last night, found the hostel, Argyle Backpackers (I think.... It's Argyle something... Anyway, we got our key, dropped our bags off, and went to pick up Jake's friend Adam from his hostel. We got dinner at a pub down the street, and then wandered around Edinburgh for a couple of hours before going back to our respective hostels and sleeping.
Saturday morning, we woke up, went to a little place for breakfast, then went to the castle for a bunch of hours. Then we were going to go to the palace, but decided against it since it was getting close to when it closed, so instead we climbed up to Arthur's Seat, which had an awesome view. It was also uber windy. As in you could be 45 degrees from the ground without falling over, and there were a couple times it was strong enough to almost move us. Then it started raining so we went to an American restaurant we found. After that we went to a little store that had Scottish stuff, I got a flag and Jake got a stabbing implement. And now we're back at our hostel plotting out Europe.
I will put in details on Monday or Tuesday.
Oh, also, the castle had whiskey tasting, and we tasted it, and it was tasty. I think I may have found my alcohol. Heh. Annnnyway, more later when I have more time, just thought I'd put this up since I'm not terribly busy at the moment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Geese Solution

So according to the website Jake's dad found, people brought the geese over to hunt them.
Then some escaped and decided it would be a good idea to block traffic.

For those of you wondering, this means that Jake's dad gets the postcard. And it will be a really cool postcard from Edinburgh too. EDINBURGH! That's Scotland!
This is why everyone should check this more often. I might do something like this again. And if you email me (or leave a comment since they get emailed to me, so technically that counts too), you could get a postcard you would otherwise not get.
Spread the word – tell a friend
Tell them the tale
Get a pic – do a blog
Heroes are over with.....
er... I mean.. let other people know about this blog. Don't keep it to yourself.
Also, if you get what that came from (NO CHEATING) I might, MIGHT, decide to send someone else a postcard.
So, it's worth a try.

Also, I now have 1000 words in my essay and an outline for it, so that's why you all are getting this and a picture of geese.

Monday, March 2, 2009

York Trip!

The original plan was to try and be in York by 10, but we woke up a little late and didn't get there until closer to 11. The first thing we did was go to York Minster, because I figured that it would take the longest to get through. The church part itself was pretty cool, lots of heraldry all over the place, so it was definately worth the money to get in. The undercroft however, was useless. The York Minster is built on the site of a Norman cathedral that was built on top of a Roman fort, so you go down there and they show you the walls of the older two and how everything intersects, but it's rather confusing. They've also got some stuf they found down there (bowls, etc.) from when the Romans were there. Then you go into the Treasury, which is just lots of shiny shiny silver & pewter. After that is the crypt, which looks pretty much nothing like the picture on their website. So, my advice, is if you're going to visit the York Minster, skip the Undercroft portion of it, and just get the Minster & Tower ticket instead. The tower was a little annoying, in that they only let so many people up at once, and you have to wait for that whole group to come down before you can go up, due to the fact that the stairwell is only about two feet wide. But it is cool from the top. It's not quite as big as the super huge Anglican cathedral in Liverpool, but it's still cool going up to the top. You can see Leeds and Edinburgh (only not really). Also, you only get like 10 minutes up there before they make you go down, but if you like climbing stairs 275 at a time, definately go up.

After that we got some lunch at a little Italian place down the street(ish). By the time we got to the restaurant it was like 2:30, and the next place we wanted to go see, Clifford's Tower closed at 4, so we ate rather quickly (as quickly as you can when your pasta just came out of the oven and is really really hot), and then left. Clifford's Tower is at the other end of the city from the Minster, but York is pretty small so it only took like 10 minutes to get there. We got there at 3:40ish. Hooray for just making it!

Now, Clifford's Tower is pretty sweet. It's this cute little castle sitting on this huge hill, and a long time ago it used to have a moat. AWESOME. Also, it's kind of shaped like a four-leaf clover, which is cute too. Luckily it's small, so it doesn't take much more than the 20 minutes we had to look at everything. And, unlike the Undercroft, Clifford's Tower looks EXACTALLY like the picture on the website, which is adorable.

Now, someone is going to need to explain something to me. Canadian geese live in Canada, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too- Canada and the US (where they poop on anything they can get their butts over...ew). So then how did they end up in York? Seriously. I mean, is there some magic portal from York to New York? Is that how they do it? They fly down from Canada, and if they hit the exact right 500m by 500m chunk of sky they're miraculously in England? Because I doubt they could fly across the ocean. So someone needs to look that up and let me know, because there were geese all over York.
While we're on the topic of birds, they have these really awesome black and white ones here. I'll take a picture sometime, because they're really cool looking. There's also a ton of pigeons. What's my favorite game while I'm wandering around the city center, you ask? Chasing pidgeons. They won't fly away from you until you get a foot away. So you can stay 3 feet back and run them where ever you want, until they get frustrated that the piece of bread they were trying to eat is now 20 feet behind them, then they get up and fly away. But seriously, if you ever come to Leeds, chase the pidgeons. It's one of the easiest forms of entertainment here.

EDIT: Yeah, I'm totally against animal violence too, I don't hurt them, just give them some exercise, in case you were worried.

Anyway, back to York. Now, I'm sure that many of you know that York has a wall around it. For those of you who weren't aware of this fact- York has a wall around it. What is cool about this wall, is that you can walk on it, unlike the wall in Newcastle, which you can only walk next to, except for one tiny part that is a dead end that I don't think you're really supposed to go on. So we walked around like 2/3 of it, because by the time we finished the 2nd 3rd of it, it was starting to be 'dusk,' and the gates to the walking on the walls close at 'dusk.' So instead we wandered around the middle until it really did get dark, and then we headed back to the train station and came home.

I apologize for the super-long paragraphs and the two paragraphs about birds. I know no one cares about birds that much, but I really want to know how Canadian geese got here. If you don't believe me, wait till I put up the pictures.

Now, about those pictures. Unfortunately, I have this bad habit of procrastinating. This means that at the moment, I only have 500-something words out of 2000 done for Friday. I have another 2000 word essay due on next Friday, and this weekend, we're going to Edinburgh. All that adds up to one simple fact: Time is short this week. I realize that everyone lives for my pictures, seeing where I go in England is the highlight of your fortnight (woo! big word! also, it's true, since they tend to go up every two weeks... anyway), and that without a constant supply, you'll all have to go through withdrawal. While I feel your pain, really, I do, I don't think you'll be getting York pictures for a while.

But I'm writing this huge blog! I must have time to upload a few pictures! WRONG! I bet you didn't know this, but it takes at LEAST 2 hours for me to sort through the hundreds of pictures I take to get rid of the blurry ones, get rid of the ones with me or Jake with silly faces, get rid of the ones that are similar to others.... and then I have to upload and caption every single one of the hundreds of pictures I decide to upload. I just don't have that time right now. I'm thinking you'll have to wait until after next Friday, unless I manage to finish an essay earlier than Thursday night. Maybe if I have free time I'll put up a handfull of pictures, but I'd rather just put the all up at once instead of a few at a time.

And now, you're all wondering when you'll get your next fix. Well, you might have to wait another two weeks, but when you do get those pictures, it will be even better. Know why? Because there will be pictures from Edinburgh too! It's like two for one!
Yeah, I agree with you, why would I decide to go to Edinburgh when I have an essay due the next week. Well, I have no idea why it was decided that we'd go this week. But that's ok! Theres a 3 hour train ride to read books on. And I can read at the hostel. Yes, *gasp* a hostel. We're going in Friday afternoon, coming back Sunday sometime. I mean, it's a 6+hour round trip, you didn't expect us to do that all in one day, now did you?

Yeah, the only reason I'm writing this much is because Jake is looking for books for one of his essays, and I'm waiting for him to find them to leave, and writing this in the meantime.

Maybe I'll write another short entry later this week with a picture of something random, like those black and white birds, or the milk cartons here. Somthing surprising.

Ooh. Incentive: First person to email me at alottaocelot at gmail dot com with an explanation (backed up with evidence, a website will do) as to how Canadian geese got to York, will get a postcard.

Seriously, I'm that curious.

Anyway, Jake came back, so I have to leave now.