Thursday, May 28, 2009

London Trip 2!

We left on Sunday for London, got to the train with like 10 minutes to spare this time. Would have been there earlier but I forgot that there's only like 3 busses an hour on Sundays. Meh. So then we got to London, dropped our stuff off at the hostel for an hour while we got lunch and wandered a bit until it was time to check in. Then we put our stuff in our room and went off wandering. Soon as we get off the subway, and I find something to take a picture of, I realize my battery has one bar left. I was very sad. We walked around the parks around Buckingham Palace, and ended up getting dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. That burger was delicious. The British do not know how to make cheeseburgers. So tasty. After, we walked down the street and there were people out with artwork and books and random stuff for sale, and as we were looking at stuff, Belinda runs up, grabs my purse, and goes "GIMME YOUR MONEY!" The funny part is, I was looking through a bin of old coins, and had my hands full of them, so I just kinda turned toward her with my hands open, slightly confused. Hadn't been expecting to run into her. Then we wandered around some more, went past Big Ben at super-happy-magic-sun-time-hour, and then my battery finally died. For those of you who don't know, super-happy-magic-sun-time-hour is that time when the sun turns all the buildings golden and sunny. Somewhere around 7-8pm here, but usually 6-7 in the US I think. It's pretty. After that, we went back to the hostel and slept.

Monday, woke up, put a freshly charged battery in my camera, and we went to the Tower of London. We had originally planned on going to Windsor Castle, but changed our minds when we saw the weather. Tower of London was pretty cool, and we got to see the crown jewels too. After, we walked across Tower Bridge and got some lunch, then spent forever trying to find an ATM. Eventually we decided to get on the subway and go find Eric Clapton, since he was playing and Jake wanted to try and scalp some tickets. Wandered forever, and eventually found a Barclay's ATM. It was out of cash. And it was a bank holiday, so the inside was closed too. Then we decided we'd see how much the scalpers wanted, so we went and did that. Jake says they don't know how to do it right here. They don't know how to do a lot of things right here. Like food. Anyway, we went back to the hostel after that since we didn't really have any money and most things were closed.

Tuesday, we went to Windsor Castle. It was shiny and palace-y like and awesome. One downside to all of London, is that a lot of places won't let you take pictures, like churches and palaces and castles. We got some food at a pub after, then went back to London to try and get into the Clapton concert again, but the scalpers apparently would rather have a useless ticket than sell it for a third of the retail value. So we didn't go, which was probably a good thing since I was really stuffy by then. Good thing is that I'm feeling a bit better by now.

Wednesday we went to Westminster Abbey and St. John's Cathedral, neither of which let you take pictures. It was also rainy outside. After we did the churches, we went to Camden Town Market, and looked around there, didn't get anything though. We went back to King's Cross and had dinner at an Itallian place near the hostel, then went back to the hostel and sat there for a couple hours till it was time for the train. There's nothing to do in the evening, and our train wasn't till 9:30. Then we got on the train and came home.

That's it really. I'm sure there's something I'm missing, and I know there isn't that much detail in this, but I have a final tomorrow that I need to study for. Pictures will be up eventually.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amsterdam & Paris

So, last Friday we left for Amsterdam. Landed around 8 or so, the flight was only an hourish, fairly uneventful. Met up with Belinda and her cousin Wing there, then headed to the hostel. We stayed at the Amigo Hotel, and it's great if you need some place to sleep, but the stairs in it are absolutely ridiculous. More like a ladder than a staircase, and it's spiral on top of that. But it wasn't too bad, I only think it'd be a problem if you had a huge suitcase. So after we dropped all our stuff off, we headed out to see the Red Light District in all its... glory? It was pretty much what you'd expect. Any one want details, feel free to ask, but since I have no idea if my little cousins read this, Imma try and keep this pg-13. On our wandering we stopped by a donner place and got some donners for dinner, then wandered around some more before going back to the hotel to sleep.

Saturday, we woke up, and didn't really know what we wanted to do, so we started wandering around some more, went through the Red Light District again, there's an old church in the middle of it, so we went in to look at it. It was mosty empty, and they had a photography of the year exhibit in it. So, a bit disappointing since all the churchy stuff wasn't there, but it was still cool. After that we ended up going in a sex museum and wandered some more until we found this really awesome cafeteria place. There were tons and tons of kinds of foods there, only problem was how long it took because of the lines there. After, we had kind of planned on going to street market and then a museum, but it was getting kind of late, so we just went to the street market. Then we ended up in a liquor store, and found some butterscotch cream liquor. Decided it might go good over ice cream, so we wanted to go see when the grocery store was open till. By this point I needed money, so I tried to get some out, but it wouldn't give me any. I try another machine, same thing. Called home, turns out the bank had called the house, I'm like great, this'll be fun. So we went back to the hostel so I could call the bank and get my card unfrozen. (If your card doesn't work and you're abroad, call your house and see if the bank just tried calling. If they did, then your card is frozen.) It ONLY took me 45 minutes to get it all fixed, and probably a half hour of that was trying to find a way though the automated system to talk to a representative, then when I finally got to one, I had to be transferred and got put on hold. Pain in the ass. But then it worked! So we went out to start looking for some place to get dinner. On the way, it started raining. We happened to be in Chinatown, so we ran in a random chinese restaurant and ate there. After, we just headed back to the hostel and slept.

Sunday, we woke up, went souviner finding, went through another little street market, then got on the train to Paris. Got to Paris, checked into the hostel, dropped our stuff off and went to go see Sacre Cour. It's a big fancy church in Montmarte, and is the highest ground in Paris. We had wanted to go up to the top, but we didn't since we got there a little late and then missed the sign for the entrance. After, we walked past the Moulin Rouge, and over the cemetary in Montmarte, then decided to find some dinner. We ended up at an Itallian place that had carpets on the walls. Food was ok. After that, we ended up walking to the Arc de Triumph, and from there walked to the Eiffel Tower. Arc is better in the daytime, but the Eiffel Tower is super sparkly if you're there on the hour. Then we went back to the hostel and slept

Monday, woke up, had breakfast at the hostel, then set off for the Louvre, where we spent all day. ALL DAY. After it closed, we went and ate at a Japanese restaurant. I got the only cooked thing on the menu that wasn't fish. Go me! Then we went back to the hostel, stopped and got some ice cream on the way, so that we could have ice cream with the liquor we got in Amsterdam. They're better by themselves. Then we slept.

Tuesday, woke up, eventually made it to Versailles, went through the palace, then the gardens, then went back to Paris, and we had planned on walking down Champs Elluysisihsoihfoishfe street with the trees. I apologize for murdering the French language. We needed to transfer subways, but Jake lost his ticket, at this point we were one stop away, he said he'd walk, I said hang on, we'll all go, and then he disappeared and we waited forever, and eventually went back to the hostel afeter not walking down the street and found him there. So... yeah. That was ridiculous. Then at like 10pm we went to another itallian place for dinner. It was tasty. I got some limoncello after, and then all us girls split a creme brullee. Yeah, this is why I took spanish. It's easy to spell. Then back to the hostel and sleep.

Wednesday, woke up, went to Sacre Cour again to go up to the top of it, that was pretty cool. Then we went to Notre Dame, which was also cool, managed to lose Belinda and Wing for a while, then we found them. We walked around the church to see all of it, then decided to go see the bastille and the garden by Victor Hugo's house that James said was supposed to be nice, but was actually kinda boring. We had dinner at a bar there, then Jake decided he wasn't feeling too good so he went back to the hostel, and we walked down the street with the trees. Finally found a gift shop that had charms for my charm bracelet. Then I decided I wanted to go see the eiffel tower again, so we walked over to it, and stayed there for a while, got to watch them turn the lights on. Then back to the hostel and to sleep.

Woke up Thursday morning, went to the airport. France thinks I'm a terrorist too, got pulled aside for them to go through my bag because I had gotten a bottle shaped like the eiffel tower and they wanted to make sure it was empty. *sigh* I hate going back and forth between England and the continent. Continent always thinks I'm a terrorist, and getting back into the UK is a pain in the ass, because they actually ask you 4093854 questions as to why you're there. Every other country we go into is like, woo hoo! I have a stamp! STAMPY STAMPY STAMPY!
Anyway, no major problems on the trip, other than losing Jake for a bit.

Friday I had my Statics final, it went pretty good, I'm pretty sure I got at least an 80 on it, probably more like a 90, but not sure. Then I went and got my Chivalry essay back and got the grade for the class, ended up being a "low first" which is basically an A. Dunno, grading system here is weird.
Also on Friday, I woke up and realized I was sick. Since yesterday at about 2pm, I've gone through nearly 2 liters of orange juice, a liter of chocolate milk, some regular milk, some water..... Imma drown this sickness, because I don't want to be sick for London tomorrow-Wednesday. And I've still got a liter of apple juice I got that I want to finish before we leave too.
Surprisingly, I think the OJ is working. I'm feeling better today than yesterday. Yay.

Pictures... will be up eventually. Sorry for the delays.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So it would appear I had forgotten all about this.
Or maybe not all about it, but enough so as to not have posted anything in 10 days.
Captions are on all the Italy pictures. Still need to do Switzerland and Signs.
Went to London, Stonehenge/Salisbury, and Dover with Jake and his mom the 1st-3rd; writeup coming soon; pictures coming later.
Had an essay due last Friday, that's why I didn't write last week, was working on that.

Now for a breif tangent that has nothing to do with my travels or studying, and all to do with my top 10 favorite movies.
Like many people, I like some movies more than others. Up until Friday, my top 10 consisted mostly of Pirate movies, cult classics, and chick flicks. This isn't to say I don't like action movies, it's just that there isn't too much room in the top 10 for them, once you get past all 3 pirates movies, Amelie, Rocky Horror, Moulin Rouge, Princess Diaries, Pride & Predjudice, Real Genius and The Great Race. But I do love the Terminator series, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while not the best acting, are pretty awesome movies too. Then you have your obligatory, I-read-and-liked-Harry-Potter-so-I-must-like-all-5-movies, although the director for the third one sucked and I really don't like watching it. And then there's all those other movies that I like watching, but I think I might just stop listing them now so I can actually get to my point. Although I need to add that Johnny Depp movies should also be in the top somewhere, but I'm not sure where they all fit in. I'm begining to suspect that there isn't a "top 10" but more of a "giant conglomeration of movies I like watching repeatedly." Annnyway....
My point is this:
Pirates of the Caribbean, the Curse of the Black Pearl (hereafter to be referred to simply as Pirates) is (was????) my favorite movie of all time, outshining previous favorites. I'd go so far as to say it's my favorite Disney movie as well, but I like to think of Disney movies as the animated ones, and in that case it would be Beauty & the Beast. But--- When Pirates was in theatres, I saw it twice. I had never before seen a movie twice in theatres. I would have seen it more, but if I remember correctly, I was poor and couldn't afford to. Even if I had been able to afford it, I probably only would have seen it a third time and stopped at that, mostly because it's really hard for me to justify spending $9 to see a movie in theatres more than once when the DVD will cost somewhere between $15 and $20. So apart from how awesome Pirates is, the mere fact that I saw it more than once in theatres would probably be enough to classify it as one of my top 10 movies.
At this point, I'd like to describe the reasons I usually go see movies for. I'm sure that a lot of you have the same reasons.
1- The preview made it look cool.
2- It's part of a series of movies.
3- Everyone else is going, the movie doesn't look that bad, it'll be fun.
4- It's an adaptation of a book I like.
5- It has Johnny Depp in it.
6- It's one of those movies that you know everyone is going to see, so I'd have no idea what they were talking about if I didn't go.
Sometimes I see a movie for a combination of reasons. When I decided to see Star Trek, it was because of a combination of numbers 1, 5, and 6, only replace Johnny Depp with Zachary Quintos from Heros. It was also because I had just handed in an essay and felt like I deserved some sort of reward. (I routinely bribe myself in order to get my work done on time.)
I'm not a Trekkie, never have been, never thought I would be. Dad tried to get me to watch when I was little, I'm sure, but the only Star Trek I can remember watching is the episode with the tribbles, and most of the movie with the whales. That's it. So I walked into Star Trek with the expectation that I probably wouldn't know what was going on. But that since I have several friends who are Trekkies, I felt like I ought to go, just to give it a chance. Plus, Zachary Quintos (Sylar) was playing Spock. So the acting wouldn't be terrible even if I didn't get what was going on.
Long story (slightly) short(er): We liked it so much we got tickets to the next showing and saw it a second time.
I liked it so much I went back yesterday and saw it for a third time.
THREE TIMES IN THEATRES. I have a feeling this means it's in my top 10 by default. Also, I'm planning on seeing it more, but not until I get back to the US.
I'm not sure what this says about me. But I'm going to be watching Star Trek in the fall. Like, the real Star Trek.
It's like I had Trekkie-ness sprung on me.... I feel like I had no say in this.

....Yeah, that is totally not neccessary for half of you to know about, but.... if you haven't seen it, go see it, you'll probably like it. It's really funny.

I very nearly missed the train to London, got there with 4 minutes to spare. It's a damn good thing my watch is like 6 minutes fast. Then an uneventful two hour train ride to London. We go drop my stuff off at the hotel room, then went and wandered around and got dinner. We went by Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye.... Went across the river and back, then eventually it got dark and we went back to the hotel and slept.
Woke up Saturday, went to the train station, waited in a really long line to get train tickets, missed one train by like 2 minutes, if that, and waited for the next one. Eventually we got to Salisbury and had some time before the next bus to Old Sarum/Stonehenge left, so we went to the Cathedral for a bit to see it, then went back and caught the bus to Old Sarum. For those of you who don't know, Old Sarum is a castle. Well, it's what's left of a castle, which isn't very much. But it was cool. There were sheep nearby, so we went and looked at them on the way back to the bus stop. Then we got the bus to Stonehenge, and looked at it.... I feel like it has been overhyped my whole life. Yeah, they're big and impressive and all... but... I guess it would have been more impressive if we had been allowed to go out and touch them and stand next to them instead of 20-50 feet back from them. Then we went back to Salisbury and had dinner at the Red Lion, where Jake proceeded to leave his backpack again. Didn't realize it till we were on the train though, and he didn't want to go back and get it since it only had a waterbottle in it. Then back to the hotel and sleep.
Woke up, went to a different train station, got the train to Dover. Then we walked to the castle there, which was huge and still in one piece. I liked it because of how big it was, but I think I'm still partial to the falling down castles. We spent most of the time there, then went down to the beach to try and see the white cliffs, but they were kind of around the corner from the castle, so we didn't get a good view. If you were out in the bay/harbor it would have been a better view. Then we got on the train back to London and I got on the train to Leeds.

Pictures from all that will be up eventually. Probably not for a while- tomorrow we leave for Amsterdam/Paris, get back on the 21st, I have a final on the 22nd, then we're going to do things around Leeds, then 24-27 we're going to London, then studying for a final that I have on the 29th, then we'll be here until June 6th when we go to London, 7th we head home.

So that is what I have been up to lately. I'll try and do captions on all the pictures that need them today. Might get around to putting otheer ones up, but that might have to wait till the 30th or so. Not sure.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I lied... again. Sorry.

So, pictures weren't up by Friday, and the captions on Italy and Switzerland and the signs aren't done yet. But I feel bad that it's taken me 3 weeks to do as much as I have, and I don't much feel like doing captions at the moment, so I'm just going to give you what I have, and if you want to read the captions on Italy and Switzerland and signs, you can go back and do that in the future. I'll let you know when they're done. But here are the links to all the Europe pictures.

Best of Germany

Best of Austria

Best of Italy

Best of Switzerland

Signs of Europe

Also, I apologize for the quality of the Italy captions. Really wasn't feeling like doing it by the time I decided to just post links here. I'll go back and fix them.