The City of Lights: Paris Part 3&4.

2 Dec

On our third day in Paris we first headed toward the lock bridge. This bridge is just a small little bridge in a neighborhood that has turned into a huge attraction. People from all over the world come to put a lock on the bridge that has their name and the person they love, throwing the key into the river. It’s a symbol of everlasting love. Although it might be kind of gimmicky, this place gave me the goosebumps. Everyone was so in love and had such faith in this place. I was surrounds by thousands of locks that symbolized the love in the world. It was a really moving experience for me.

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Next door to the bridge is Notre Dame Cathedral. I enjoyed my chocolate croissant while waiting to enter the free cathedral. It looked just like I had imagined on the outside and I couldn’t help looking for the hunchback ūüôā Inside the cathedral was really moving as well. Holy music played throughout and candles were lit everywhere. The stained glass windows were beautiful. We sat and listened to part of a service but because it was in French we moved on pretty quickly.

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We walked through market places, outside art exhibits, and Christmas displays, enjoying the city for our last full day. Ultimately we were passing some time before the sun set so we could head back to the Eiffel Tower. That night we would see the tower all lit up. It was something on my bucket list I couldn’t leave the country without doing. Right as we got underneath the tower the entire thing turned on. I looked straight up above me and it was so magical. It twinkled and shone bright. Everyone around us was so excited too and the energy was amazing.

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On our last day in Paris we didn’t have much time before our flight back. Our main goal was to make it the Moulin Rouge. I had seen the musical a hundred times and was dying to see the landmark in person. When we came off the metro and walked up the stairs I knew I would love this neighborhood. The club was surrounded by quirky bars and little shops. The area felt young and fun and alive. The Moulin Rouge was red and covered with big wall murals. The windmill on top was exactly like the pictures. I wanted to go in and have a drink and sing haha. I loved it here.

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For our final hour or two in Paris we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower one last time and say goodbye. I tried to take in the entire situation and remember every detail. I hope I make it back to this amazing city. It was beautiful and I will never forget it.

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Literally on Top of the World: Paris Part 1&2.

2 Dec

For our first day in Paris we wanted to get up early and head to the Louvre. This place is a HUGE art museum that contains paintings and sculptures I’ve seen in books and movies. I was most excited about seeing the glass prisms outside the museum and the Mona Lisa inside. The real Mona Lisa!! The museum was amazing and had four huge floors of different artifacts.

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After the museum we headed towards the Eiffel Tower. It poured rain on us the entire way there but we were so excited to be in Paris we didn’t even mind. We jumped in puddles the whole way there. Finally the rain stopped and we looked up and standing proud above us was the beautiful Eiffel Tower. It literally took my breath away. We found a little cafe right next to the tower and had a lunch people watching and scarfing down delicious pizza. Finished with lunch we walked the park that the tower is in, taking hundreds of pictures.

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We passed the time until it was the scheduled time for our trip to the top of the tower. I was so scared to go all the way up there and my stomach was flipping the entire way. It started raining again and was so windy when we got out of the elevator. It was terrifying! After about twenty minutes the rain finally let up and we were able to actually see the scenery. It was incredible. I was standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower looking out on all of Paris. I am so glad I conquered my fear of heights for this experience.

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Passing a lot of shopping and cafes, we decided to look around and relax. It was nice to just explore the streets and take in our surroundings. That’s so important on trips like these to not only see the tourist spots, but to take in the everyday streets. They can be the best part.

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For our second day in Paris we went to the Palace of Versailles. This is where Marie Antoinette lived. It was gorgeous, gold and huge! The gardens in back were massive and perfectly landscaped. It was insane thinking this is where people used to live.

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After the palace we did more shopping and then headed the long trek to the Arc de Triumph. I had seen this landmark in so many movies and was so excited to see it in person. It was so much bigger than I ever imagined and so ornately detailed. I was entranced by its beauty.

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As the sun was setting we headed back to our severely creepy hotel. It was in a really weird part of Paris that didn’t always feel so safe. We liked to be back before it got very late. This experience taught me to research my hotels as much as possible before booking!! After day two we were ready for days three and four in Paris. The city had so much more to offer us.

The Most Beautiful Place in the World: Ibiza, Spain

21 Oct

Waking up in our hotel room the first morning in Spain we had no idea what to expect. ¬†All we knew was that Ibiza was the island off the coast of Spain, meaning it had plenty of beaches. ¬†Celebrating our half way point through the semester we were more than ready for a weekend of sun, beaches, sangria, and relaxation. ¬†Because we had gotten there the night before in the dark we didn’t even really know where we were. As we made our way out of the hotel building we immediately were faced with the ocean, blue and beautiful as ever. ¬†It definitely took my breath away. ¬†I knew I was going to like this place.

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We had reservations set up with a company online to rent scooters to drive around the city.  So after taking a taxi down to the location we were ready to zoom around and have some fun.  Neither of us had ever driven a scooter before and I was more than sure this was a disaster waiting to happen.  I was terrified.  But the lady helped us figure out the basics and soon sent us on our way.  We slowly but surely made our way through the streets.  Trying to keep my cool but also take in my surroundings I suddenly realized what a beautiful place I was in.  Spain has a definite different culture of its own.

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The buildings are much different than England, all in bright beachy colors. ¬†It was exactly like I had imagined. ¬†Everything was warm looking, with murals and graffiti, and Spanish music floating around everywhere. ¬†Everyone seemed so free, happy, and relaxed. ¬†Not one person seemed to have a care in the world. ¬†People in the streets were all dressed in bright, flowy clothing, or swim suits. ¬†It’s really hard to explain the feeling and emotion of a place… but just trust me that I don’t think you can even be unhappy in Ibiza. It’s not possible.

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After a horrible attempt to put gas in our scooters, with many Spanish boys laughing at us, we made our way to the beach. ¬†We immediately ran towards the sand. ¬†The sun was shining and the water was lively. ¬†There were families and couples strolling the beach but it wasn’t too crowded, given it was the tourist off season. ¬† I just stopped on the beach staring out into the ocean and again had that feeling like how in the world was I so lucky to get here??? Neither Katie or I talked for awhile just trying to take the moment in and capture it forever. ¬†We walked down the coast line for awhile, sinking our feet in the sand and taking pictures by the water. ¬†

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Hungry for lunch we drove down to another beach with restaurants that sat at the shore.  We ate and drank tequila sunrises, watching people play on the beach.  Sitting and people watching in another country is one of the most interesting things.  You learn so much about culture just by watching and paying attention.  After lunch we decided to just drive around and see what happened.  We are definitely learning to simply go with the flow and see where our adventures take us.  

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We ended up driving up these steep hills, not having any clue where to go. ¬†It was really scary driving the hills on a scooter for the first time and we almost debated turning around. ¬†Since there wasn’t any place to really do so we decided to keep going to find a place that was easier to turn around at. ¬†I am SO glad we didn’t turn around. ¬†We were stopped at the top of a steep road that led out onto cliffs that overlooked the water. ¬†It was by far the most beautiful place I had ever seen. ¬†

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Hopping off our scooters we walked through the rustic trails over to the edge of the cliff and looked out all around us. ¬†We could see over the whole city of Ibiza on one side and overlooked the ocean on the other. ¬†I just looked at Katie and asked her if this was really happening. ¬†So many of these experiences just don’t seem real until you’re looking back on them. ¬†It’s too surreal at that moment. ¬†We looked out at the islands, the harbors of boats, the sailboats out at sea, the beaches filled with people, and just the beauty in the natural surroundings.

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No pictures or explanations of this place will ever do it justice. ¬†I’m just hoping I will be able to hold on to this place as long as possible. ¬†I never want to forget the magic of it. ¬†I could feel myself getting a major sunburn standing on a cliff under the heat so we decided to head down. ¬†After dropping our scooters back off at the rental place we walked on foot back to near where our hotel was. ¬†The streets were quiet and the businesses closed for siesta. ¬†This is when for a couple hours everyday Spanish businesses close down to relax and rest. It is the strangest thing, but completely matches the lifestyle and vibe of this country. ¬†We decided to partake in a little siesta of our own and relaxed at the beach.

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Hungry for dinner we grabbed a pizza from a nearby restaurant, bought a bottle of sangria at a local supermarket, and headed back to our hotel.  For the rest of the night we relaxed on our hotel balcony that looked out on the hotel pool, and part of the beach.  We drank and talked and relaxed, embracing the free way of life the Ibiza people seem to have perfected.

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All day Saturday we did what Ibiza does best… sat on the beach, drank sangria, ate near the water, shopped in little souvenir shops, and sat on the beach some more. ¬†This place didn’t have great architectural buildings of history, or crowded streets, or anything like that. ¬†But Ibiza definitely holds a special place in my heart. ¬†It’s a place where you can feel free, at peace, happy, and full. ¬†It is beautiful in ways many places wish they could be. ¬†And I am so happy that I got the pleasure of falling in love with it for two short days. ¬†It wasn’t goodbye….. it was just see you next time I have more money.

Shop till You Drop: Rome Part Two.

21 Oct

For our last day in Rome we decided to slow things down and just try to enjoy the city. Sometimes when you’re traveling you get so caught up in the checklist of things you want to see that you forget to just take in the city in itself. So for that Saturday we decided to walk the streets with no plan… other than to buy a lot of stuff.

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We roamed aimlessly around going in souvenir shops, street vendor carts, and anywhere else that looked appealing. It was so nice to just weave through the streets. I was trying so hard to remember every detail about everything. I am just so afraid of not remembering it exactly as it was.

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And somehow…. not sure how ūüôā after wandering for awhile we ended up back at the Trevi Fountain. It was only right to come say goodbye. We sat there at the fountain for about a half hour just staring at it not really saying anything. It was one of those places that just shook up my whole perspective and washed me over with a feeling of pure happiness. It’s one of those places where you feel like nothing can go wrong.

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Unfortunately the rain shooed us away and pushed us on-wards to buy more stuff. The fashion in Italy at some of the stores was a little too intense for me, with fur, bright colors, sequence, and way too much going on. On the other hand some of it was extremely sophisticated, expensive, and high fashion. Italy was such an interesting place.

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The food was amazing everywhere we went. Everything was made on the spot with fresh ingredients. I will definitely miss the food a lot. Pizza Hut will never ever be the same. I will also miss the passion I felt in Rome. Couples who couldn’t keep their hands off one another, protests in the streets with songs and chants, the dramatic fashion and music, songs on the radio that are emotional and romantic, everything about this place. I never wanted to leave.

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But after a bottle of Italian wine and a good night’s sleep we headed back to the airport and flew to England… where the signs were readable and the people are almost all as pale as I am. I guess England’s not all bad.

Watch Out for the Gladiators: Rome Part One.

21 Oct

Bright and early we jumped out of bed to tackle the city of Rome by storm. We wanted to hit all the famous landmarks with no time to waste. Right outside our hotel was the bus station that would take us to the city center. Unfortunately all the signs were in Italian so we were kind of clueless as to what we were doing. But eventually we just kind of used common sense and put it all together and took a leap of faith. And after about a twenty minute bus ride we were put right next to the Vatican City. Inside I was amazed by the architecture and hugeness of the Vatican. The roof of the Sistine Chapel rose above everything else in its grandness. All around us were statues, huge columns, and immense white buildings that were ornately decorated in marble. Everything seemed so pure white and important, symbolizing the sacredness of the entire thing. There were people around us from every possible nationality, with a hundred different languages bouncing around. I truly felt like I was standing somewhere great.

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After the walk through the gift shop near by with every product known to man with the Pope’s face on it we got out our map to head toward the Pantheon. Navigating through the Roman streets can be extremely confusing. It has tons of tiny, winding roads with vespas and smart cars zooming through them. But walking through these streets and ally ways I began to really feel emotional. It was like a scene straight out of a movie, the Rome I had always dreamed of. The colors, the houses, the cobble stone streets. It was absolutely perfect.

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We found the Pantheon, tucked away in between houses and little restaurants. It seemed so out of place in this modern place, a historical landmark symbolizing one of the oldest buildings in the world.It was huge and worn, but still so beautiful. The columns rose up for what seemed like forever and I couldn’t wait to go inside. The inside was quiet, with alters all around for kings, saints, and other prominent figures. People were praying, taking pictures, and just staring in awe. I really felt like a part of history in this place.

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Next we decided to tackle the task of finding the Trevi Fountain. This landmark was probably the one thing I have been most excited about ever since I decided to come to Europe. I feel like there’s something magical about this place and the way people come from all over the world just to toss their wishes inside. It is not an easy place to find and we walked in many a circles trying to track it down. But from about a block away I swear I could literally feel the excitement. I knew it had to be close and I started to walk faster and faster. Also, tucked in the middle of normal shops and cafes, just plopped in the middle of everyday life, was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It was exactly like I had imagined. Huge, white statues of sea creatures and warriors. The bluest water imaginable with coins sprawled all over the bottom. Hundreds upon hundreds of people everywhere. I felt tears come up. I never in my life thought I would have the experience of being in this place and being there was a feeling I can’t even describe. I felt like I had really been blessed.

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Making our way to the water I was so excited to throw my coin in and make my wish. But what do you really have to wish for when you’re standing in front of the Trevi Fountain? My only wish was that I could see more places like this and feel the way I felt standing there forever. It was amazing. I never wanted to leave.

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But…. there was more to see. Soon we found the capital building with its gardens, pigeons everywhere, and food carts that smelled oh so good. We hunkered down for a lunch outside with paninis and cokes, soaking up the sun and the sites. We decided the Colosseum would be next. After scarfing down our food we walked the long road to the landmark. The street was covered in vendors, street artists, musicians, and anyone trying to make money off the tourists. There were also men dressed as gladiators everywhere! Little did we know… these guys pull you in for pictures and give you little choice about the matter. Then they charge you five euros each for pictures you took on your own camera. Beware my fellow travelers. Beware.

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Finally we saw the Colosseum and I began to get butterflies in my stomach. This couldn’t be really happening. It was so tall and immense, and I was just too excited. I started thinking off all the history this building contains and how lucky we are to still be able to witness it. I was standing where gladiators fought. How stinking cool is that?! We decided to pay to go inside, which was completely worth the money.

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Exhausted and with sore feet we headed back to our hotel with gelato in hand. It was so refreshing and just delicious. Later we visited the restaurant near our hotel again and scarfed down more pizza… what can I say? It was too good not to. Italian pizza should be tasted by all. Then after a few hours of Italian MTV I was out for the night, reliving the day over and over again in my head.

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Confessions of a European Shopaholic: York Trip

23 Sep

On Saturday I headed to York about two hours north of Harlaxton.  I had heard good reviews of previous students that had gone on the trip and one characteristic of the place definitely stood out.  It has the best shopping.  And those people were right.  York is street after street of shops.

There are high end shops, antique shops, boutiques, and everything you could possibly imagine.  Kristina, Katie, and I just dove in right away weaving through  the streets and going into any store that looked promising.  I found the cutest art shop that sold prints of lots of different art works.  I bought a painting of London that had  the Eye, a double-Decker bus, the bridge, and many other things that I loved oh so much in London.  It looks exactly like the illustrations in a Madeline book which made it all the better.

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I also ended up buying clothes and jewelry from multiple places.¬† The fashion here is much more sophisticated and put together than in the States. I feel like it’s so much classier and attractive than the shopping at home and I feel like it fits me more than anything in America.¬† And I’m definitely showing my love for it by buying way too much…. Oh well, I’ll be very well dressed when I get home.

In a couple stores we ended up talking to sales associates who were beyond fascinated with our accents and wanted to talk to us about our language, culture, and other things.¬† I learned a lot of new things from these people about words used in British I had never heard before.¬† I learned more about how Americans are depicted as obnoxious and rude, thankfully she said we were the opposite of what she expected.¬† It is SOOO interesting talking to these people and learning about British culture in such a hands on way.¬† It’s also really fun to tell people about home and to show them that not all Americans are the same.

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For lunch we stopped by the Blue Fly where again we felt extremely awkward not knowing whether to sit down, how to order, or anything we were supposed to do.¬† But eventually we figured it out and my chicken and chipotle mayo pita was probably the most delicious thing I’ve had since I left the states.¬† It gave me just enough energy to keep moving throughout the city shopping and sightseeing.¬† York also had beautiful castles and cathedrals similar to the ones we had seen the day before.

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By 4:00 I was exhausted and broke so we headed back to the bus to go home…. it was actually the first day I referred to Harlaxton as home.¬† It was strange and a bit heartbreaking making me feel like a traitor.¬† But I guess this place really is my home.¬† My second home.

British Lesson for the Day: A ladybug is called a ladybird.¬† Isn’t that the cutest thing ever?!

A Literal Walk Through History: Lincoln Field Trip

23 Sep

So last Friday everyone in Harlaxton was required to take a field trip to Lincoln.¬† We were told that Lincoln would bring to life many of the concepts we were learning about in our lectures.¬† And it’s crazy how accurate that is.

First arriving to Lincoln it was a quaint little town lined with shops, cafes, coffee shops, and souvenir stands.  I loved it already.  It had a peaceful, historical vibe that I have never felt in the states.  History was actually created here.  There were pubs in that town that were older than the country I was born in.  It is a surreal feeling being in places like that.  I will never forget it.

My first stop was Lincoln Castle.¬† Unfortunately most of the site was under construction but I got to see bits and pieces.¬† The castle itself is from the first century, built by the Romans when they took control of England.¬† It actually has a wall built around it for defensive purposes and a big grass area in the middle where there used to be a little Roman town where they could live and defend themselves.¬† I took a walk on the wall and could see basically the whole town from up there.¬† I tried to imagine what it must have felt like living here, trying to rule a city like this in the FIRST century.¬† I can’t even wrap my brain around that.SAM_0931

Our second tour was in the Lincoln Cathedral, built by the Normans when they invaded England and took control I think in about the 5th century…. My test isn’t until next week so give me a break.¬† This cathedral was actually the first Catholic church I have ever been in and it was an amazing experience.¬† When you step inside you immediately have a new feeling wash over you of serenity and peace and spirituality.¬† It was an intense visit.¬† The place is lit by intricate and vibrant stain glass windows. The worship area was huge and beautiful with carvings in the walls and gorgeous archways.

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We also saw in the cathedral multiple tombs of bishops, wives of the monarchs, saints, and many other influential figures.  It was eery in a way but the tombs were beautiful, like everything else.  I also walked around to see the chapter house where the heads of the church would meet and the place where the clergy would be seated during Mass.

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Outside the cathedral we saw the engravings in the walls and the beautiful doorways and archways.¬† This was another extremely surreal moment when we were looking at these.¬† One thing that hit me was how much religion and spirituality played a role in these people’s lives.¬† There were little stories engraved above the doors of the good people being sent up to heaven, while the naked lustful sinners were being dragged down to the devil’s mouth.¬† It was really creepy and disturbing.¬† The second surreal moment came when I saw a saint statue on the side of the building beheaded.¬† This happened during the Reformation when Catholicism was taken out of the country and the church wanted to show their power over the Pope.¬† It was like history hit me like a ton of bricks.¬† I’ve been learning about these things my whole life but it didn’t feel real until that moment.¬† These things really happened.

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Next we went on a Roman walk through town where we saw various Roman remains throughout the city.¬† I saw a Roman underground well used for “running” water during the time.¬† I saw a Roman wall used to defend against foreign enemies that cars still drive under today.¬† I saw the layout of a Roman church that had been engraved into the ground.¬† And lastly I saw the ruins of a Roman defense building that let people in and out of the city.

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After a quick shopping stop at Primark…. I seriously have an addiction to this place… we hopped back on the bus to make the hour trek back to campus.¬† It was a tiring and extremely educational day that really made me look back on history with a whole new perspective.

British Lesson for the Day:  The English are much quieter in general than we are.  Our obnoxious laughing and our loud conversations really thrown some of them off. So watch your volume in public places!

I Need New Shoes. London Part Three.

9 Sep

On Sunday morning I will admit… It was hard getting out of bed. My feet hurt to stand on them, my back ached, and I was exhausted. But it was our final day in the city and I was determined not to miss a thing. At 9am we packed our stuff and headed back on the coach buses where we took the hour drive to Hampton Court Palace.

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This palace is where members of the royal family once stayed including King Henry, King William, Queen Mary, Queen Anne, and a whole lot of other people. The palace was also made in two parts. The first is a much older looking half, made in the baroque period. This is where we first walked in and saw different exhibits about King Henry’s life.

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In the second half, built during the Renaissance we saw more of the palace. Parts of it were not available because of a fire that ruined certain floors. The queen reopened certain floors in 1992 but certain parts are still under construction. Here we saw the King’s private apartments, dining rooms, the queen’s bedrooms, and an exhibit on the Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber.

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These rooms were beautiful with gold everywhere, red velvet, huge portraits, and intricate ceilings and walls. It hit me at times that I was literally standing where women in big poofy dresses walking under candlelight went to meet the king. I can’t really describe that feeling but it just isn’t something I’ve ever experienced in the states. I feel like I’m a part of real history here. I’m seeing everything I’ve heard about in history classes that always just sounded like a fairy tale.

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Outside we scoured the palace gardens. This was incredible with fountains, perfectly lined shrubs, and bright beautiful flowers. The sunshine outside made it the perfect morning. I could just imagine the king courting women out there with their parasols. It was pretty stinking cool.

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After the palace we headed across the street to a little town area with food and shops. We stopped at an Italian place with a cranky old very Italian woman that I could barely understand. I ordered a pasta I don’t even know how to pronounce and it was the BEST pasta I have ever experienced. I can’t even wait to see how it is in actual Italy. Before we had to go back to the buses Katie and I went antique shopping where I found really pretty jewelry that I bought to take home. It was a really fun afternoon.

We then took a half hour bus ride to Runny Mede, the location where the Magna Carta was signed. The memorial was very cool but I have to admit I was kinda too tired to really appreciate anything anymore. It was just time to take the three hour bus ride back to the manor. A really big wave of sadness hit me on the drive back leaving London. It was one of the best weekends of my life. I will remember it forever and I hope to be back again and again.

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British Lesson for the Day: In restaurants if you are ready to pay you have to ask sometimes. Otherwise they will leave you sitting there for days.

I’m Feeling Royal. London Part Two.

9 Sep

Early Saturday morning my feet were so sore I think I had least five blisters on each foot. But I was determined to take the city by storm for the second day. And this day was going to the best of days. We were headed to a part of the city shown in every movie and plastered all over every postcard. After breakfast we hit the tube and took a twenty minute ride to the platform labeled Westminster.

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Immediately coming out of the underground I looked up and towering above me was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Big Ben in all it’s glory. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. We quickly hurried around to the front to take pictures but nothing on my camera can really portray it correctly. Attached to Big Ben is the Westminster Parliament Building. This might be the second most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It is so intricately designed and detailed towering above you that it almost doesn’t seem real.

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Across the street is Westminster Abbey, the cathedral. And believe it or not…. Beautiful too. It has tall stained glass windows and amazing stone scenes engraved in the sides. This church is hauntingly amazing.

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Heading through St. James Park, flocked by pigeons, we headed towards Buckingham Palace. Because we were there in time for the changing of the guard, there were THOUSANDS of people there from all over the world. We were crammed into the area by the gate and saw royal guards lining up in front of the palace. Then from across the street a sort of royal guard marching band came in to the gates to stand in line too. They did a lot of marching and yelling and apparently something important. I couldn’t really see but it seemed like an intense process.

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We headed back through the park to the restaurant right in the middle of it for a traditional fish and chips lunch. It was absolutely delicious. My Victorian Lemonade which was a carbonated lemonade with ginger and some other stuff was really good too!!

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After lunch we headed for our school group tour of the Churchill War Rooms. Underneath the treasury building is a whole kind of underground community where Winston Churchill, his workers, his wife, and many others actually worked and lived everyday during World War II. This was when the bombings were intense and Churchill couldn’t safely live above ground. It was really interesting and really sort of eery. It brought the war back to life a little for me.

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It took about an hour for the war rooms and then we headed back to Buckingham for some pictures now that everyone wasn’t crowding the place as much as the morning. Next we walked a few blocks over to the River Thames where we bought our tickets for the London Eye. This a basically a HUGE Ferris wheel that has glass pods that hold about twenty people that goes to overlook the entire city. Being afraid of heights this activity was a struggle for me but I did it all the same. The city looked insanely beautiful from above and I’m glad I faced my fear.

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Heading back to the hotel for dinner we stopped in a telephone booth from some traditional London pictures. The booth smelled horribly like a porter potty but I had to do it. We had dinner at the hotel again and I tackled a roasted chicken, sweet corn, and red pepper pizza. It was different but absolutely delicious. After some Ben and Jerry’s from a vending machine (who knew?) I went straight to bed.

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British Lesson for the Day: You say “pardon” instead of “excuse me”. Don’t be rude!!

Is This Real Life? London Part One.

9 Sep

On Thursday night at 6:30 we all loaded the coach buses to made the two hour trek to the city of London. It wasn’t until we hit the city limits that I started to feel an excitement hit the air. I was excited beyond words but also a little intimidated by this huge city. I had no idea what to expect. Inside the hotel lobby there were so many people all speaking differs languages and I was immediately overwhelmed. My friend Katie and I immediately headed towards our room, a tiny little area with two twin beds and a television. Ready to explore for a little bit we headed with Megan down the street our hotel was on. It was filled with souvenir shops, pubs, cafes, hotels, grocery shops, and everything else imaginable. We checked out some of the souvenir places and then went to find food. Not knowing the area, and seeing as everything was closing, we weren’t sure what to do. In true American fashion we ended up at subway. Not exactly what I pictured my first London meal as, but the drinks had ice so I was content. Afterwards we headed straight for bed to get up early the next day.

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Early Friday morning, after a breakfast at the hotel, we were led by Dr. Kingsley to King’s Cross Station where we were instructed to get on the tube underground transport system. It is basically like the metro link at home but I was still overwhelmed by all the trains and routes and people. About fifteen minutes later we arrived at the Tower of London. It had started raining but in a way it was kind of perfect. I mean…. I was in London. Outside of the tower I realized that it wasn’t just a solitary talk building. It was actually like a village. Anxious to get inside we headed straight for the building that housed the Crown Jewels. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside but it was breathtaking. I saw royal crowns, dresses, spoons, clocks, swords, and so much more. Next we saw little museums of military weapons, suits of armor, and the burial site of royals such as Anne Boleyn. I even saw my first Royal Guard!! One of the most interesting buildings was the original tower where prisoners were kept. You could even read the messages in the walls they had engraved. It was the most interesting history lesson of my life.

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About two hours later we left the tower, took a quick picture by the London Bridge directly outside, and headed for the tube again. This time we headed straight for Picadilly Circus. I had no real expectations for this Times Square look alike, but it was by far one of the coolest things ever. There were insanely tall buildings with the big scrolling advertisements, a huge Ripley Believe it or Not Museum, tons of shopping and restaurants, and best of all M&M World.

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It sounds silly but M&M Word was one of the coolest things all weekend. It was four floors of M&M souvenirs and products, huge tubes of the candy to fill your own bags, and really cool life size figurines that I took tons of pictures by. After the intense smell of the chocolate we were starving and had lunch at Garfunkel’s.

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Next we decided to tackle Oxford Street, known for being shopping heaven. There were lines and lines of high end shopping stores, none of which I could even afford to step into. But further down we saw H&M’s literally four stories tall. Seeing a Primark a block long and four stories tall, I couldn’t help myself. This place is very very similar to Forever 21 and I picked up a few things for myself.

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With our extremely sore feet we scuffled to the British Museum which is too gorgeous to be just a museum. The place has to be at least a city block long and contains history from Western Europe, Greece, Egypt, North America, and so many more places. I got to see Egyptian mummies, roman ruins, Celtic remains, and tons of places I have been learning about for years. It was amazing to see it all in person.

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At about 7:00 we headed back to the hotel restaurant, scarfed down panini’s and coca cola from glass bottles and hit the bed.

British Lesson for the Day: The roads are tiny. The cars are fast. Walk quickly or you will get run over. Oh and make sure you’re looking the right way before you cross the street.