Archive for the ‘Abroadness’ Category

Cheers, England

5 June 2009

EA!P2 was magical. Updates coming soon.

I’m leaving England.

On my way back home…

This is weird.

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The Evolution of Leonore

22 May 2009

During my EAwH (England Adventure with Hannah), I returned to some places that have special significance: Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.

Windsor Castle is the very first place I went in England (that wasn’t on Campus) my 1st weekend in the UK.

Here is me, circa January 10, 2009

windsor 034

and here is me on Monday this week.

May 15 014

And Buckingham Palace is the very first place I went when RoHo took us into London my second weekend here.

This is me, January 17, 2009:

day 10 022

and this is me from Tuesday:

May 15 015

I can’t believe it’s been as long as it has. And it seems like no time at all.

The song that goes “Look how far we’ve come, my baby…” keeps playing in my head whenever I start to think about it.

In other news, I finished my exams!!!! All work is now done for RoHo and junior year!!

AND!

EUROPEAN ADVENTURE! PART 2 begins in like an hour!!!

May 22-24 Lyon, France
May 25-28 Paris
May 29-30, Sommentier + Other parts of Switzerland
May 31-June 3 Madrid + Segovia, Spain

And…June 3 back to London. 

And TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY, I will be flying back to the States.

Crazy.

Three months

9 April 2009

Three Months is:

a) 1/4 of a year.
b) 91.3105496 days.
c) The length of time it took this kid to decompose a plastic bag.
d) How long I’ve been in England.
e) All of the above.
f) A and B only.
g) A and D only.
h) A, C, and D only
i) Yes.

 

I’m sorry. The answer was h) A, C, and D only. 3 months is actually 91.3105497 days, according to the magical calculator that happens when you type things into Google. Also a lot of things about how developed babies should be and how things are at 3 month low/highs come up too.

But anyway.

I’ve been in England for THREE MONTHS. Written down, that seems like a long time. But in my brain, it seems less tangible as a length. Sometimes, it seems like I’ve been here for no time all. Sometimes, it seems like I’ve been here forever. Time is weird like that, you know?

According to Coldplay, some of Britain’s favourite sons, 

But time is on your side
It’s on your side now
Not pushing you down
And all around
It’s no cause for concern

I’m not sure how I feel about that. Is time on my side? Is it really no cause for concern?

Well, if Coldplay says it, it must be so.

The Queen

4 April 2009

I saw The Queen

‘s flag at Buckingham Palace!

march-29-30-042

They only fly that bad boy when the Queen is in residence. Which she was. 

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If only I could see through walls, then I would’ve seen her. CURSE YOU, lame, regular, non-wall-through-seeing eyeballs!

But I’ll tell you who I did see.

Go ahead. Guess.

The President of Mexico, that’s right!! Exactly who you were thinking I’d run into next to St. James Park. In London. England.

While I was becoming one with St. James Park (we bonded for 2.5 hours), I noticed that England was going to a surprising decorative motif: the Mexican flag.

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See them on the left, beyond the oodles of my new favorite flower?

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So I was definitely curious about that. Who knew England had 100s of Mexican flags just lying around? Later, when I finally rendezvoused with the Smiths, we were walking back toward Buckingham Palace when a large herd of Important Looking People in Suits start ambling in our direction. I postulated that they must be the Mexican delegation, due to the fact that they were speaking Spanish and accompanied by what I assumed to be the British version of the secret service (ear pieces and all). They passed us, not 10 feet away, when Mr. Randy says “Well, there goes the President of Mexico!”

And that, ladies and gents, is the story of how I saw the President of Mexico (and unfortunately, not the Queen) in London, England.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!

17 March 2009

st-patricks-snoopymar-6-8-037

Heath(cliff)

14 February 2009

Highlights from last weekend:

  1. Hearing Big Ben strike three o’clock and play the same melody  as the “Westminster” setting on my doorbell.
  2. Venturing up to Hampstead (and it’s heath).
  3. Sliding around in the mud.
  4. Dancing in the mud and having the earth claim our limbs.
  5. Cooking teriyaki chicken.
  6. Seeing this view of London from the Heath:feb-7-038

Highlights from yesterday in London:

  1. 2 for 1 @ BRB!
  2. Eating cold pizza in the snow in Leicester Square.
  3. Making my poor tired sad dead umbrella try to protect me from the snow while everyone laughed at it.
  4. Thinking we got special treatment because we were in the National Portrait gallery after 6.
  5. Discovering that the NPG is open until 9pm on Thursdays.
  6. Seeing this bag head lady photo from the ads all over town (I’ve totally done this a million times…copycat):   bag

We also played a rousing game of  “Pick Three People from the Portraits Who You Would Marry and One Has to be From the Floor with Lots of Ugly Old Portraits.”

I picked:

Michael DahlNPG 3822, Michael Dahl

John Donnejohn-donne

And I realized I forgot to pick a third one, but then we were already in the gift shop, so…

lord-nelson

Pirate Lord Nelson Ornament was my last minute desperation pick. The eye patch is kinda hot. Ignore the saucy lady in red.

It was a lot harder for the friend I was with because there were a lot less lady options, and most of them were…um…let’s just say ugly.

And I don’t know who this is, nor did I see this portrait, but he came up in my search for the other ones:mystery-guy3

HOTTIE! He’s on the top of my “Portraits I would Marry List” most definitely.

Today I bought a really awesome book for £1.99 at an op shoppe (that’s Australian for ‘thrift store’): The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. I’ll leave you with these words, selected at random:

Now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard.

I’ve been here for a month?

9 February 2009

Today is me and England’s one month-iversary!!

Because I’m so helpful, I checked out the traditional anniversary gifts for the one month milestone, and it seems like it’s best to give lots of money, to be used for travel.

Don’t worry. I take checks.

England, honey, here’s hoping that the next 4 months are even more brilliant than this one.champagne_toast1

Cheers!

Slow Train to London

1 February 2009

It’s like the Midnight Train to Georgia, but a whole lot less fun.

Yesterday, a bunch of RoHo homies and I hit up London for the day. We unfortunately ended up on the aforementioned Slow Train to London that makes a ton of stops and takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, instead of the usually 45ish. The good news is when you travel in multiples of four (like 8 for example), you can get tickets for heaps (note: this is my new favorite word) cheaper. So it was 5.90 for roundtrip train travel AND unlimited tube use for the day.

The fine print of this arrangement, however, is that you’re “supposed to always travel with you group,” and if they catch you doing otherwise, you can be fined 20 quid EACH. Obviously, we did split up over the course of the day when people wanted to do different things, and I stealthily avoided detection by those super helpful (yet potentially deadly) station workers who hang around by the turnstiles. In case of emergency, I was fully prepared to say I was lost from my group and trying to find them and please don’t fine me, topped off with an appropriate amount of tears.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering around Camden Market.jan-31-009On the street.

jan-31-0011Looking down at a very small fraction of the sellers.

jan-31-008Camden Lock. 

There’s a TON of stuff to look at it, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I was scene/goth/indie/cool/hippee enough to be there at times. It was after that when people started splitting up, and I went to Islington to hang with Grace and Tyler for dinner. And watch a rather terrible television adaptation of Arabian Nights/Aladdin.

Working back through the week, on Friday I went to Staines on my quest for a new umbrella with a push button/automatic opening thing. Seems like a simple quest, right? You’d think ENGLAND of all places would have a huge selection of umbrellas meeting a variety of specifications. But NO! Eventually, I gave up and just bought another cute manual one, and naturally, found a push button one 30 mins later walking past a sporting store off of High Street. Oh well. Also, it was during this time that we discovered the mysteries of bags of milk. Apparently these are completely normal in places like Canada.

Thursday I also spent in London, hanging out with Beefeaters, ravens, The Crown Jewels, and Colin at the Tower of London.jan-29-050

The rest of the pictures are here, with incredibly detailed captions in which I attempt to impart some of the wisdom I gained while on the tour. 

In conclusion, I have a date with Ruth.

I drank the tea, and I liked it.

27 January 2009

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion…
day-17-135

I drank the tea, and I liked it.

That’s obviously the most important news to report at this point, considering my long, uphill struggle against tea-likeage, but I can safely say that I am committed to being on the (tea) wagon for the foreseeable future.

When I went to this adorable tea shopday-17-123

across from Kew Gardens with Grace, Tyler, Colin, and Annie (friends from home, give or take a thousand miles) on Saturday, I picked Darjeeling tea based partly on curiosity and mostly on my love of the movie The Darjeeling Limited. After mistakenly pouring myself a cup of the hot water they give you to refill the pot of tea, I poured me a cuppa, put in two lumps (but no milk, alas, I’m not authentically English-y in tea consumption) and drank a sip, andLO AND BEHOLD very much enjoyed it. I even had a second cup.

You’re impressed, I know, but please, could you hold your applause? You’re making me blush.

Backtracking a bit though, I took the train from Egham into London Waterloo. The trip reminded me a lot of riding the Long IslandRail Road or NJ Transit. It was the same kind of commuter train type set up. Except for the part (Twickenham, I believe) where we sat in the station for a few minutes, and then started going backwards in what seemed like the way we came. I’m assuming it wasn’t actually the same because I did make it to London (whew).

It was an action packed day for sure. Crepes at Borough Market, a walk along the south bank of the Thames and across the Millenium bridge (while singing “Way Down Upon the Tha-ames River, of course), tuppence (a bag) at St. Paul’s, a mysterious monument or two, Kew Gardens, a walk 60 feet in the air around the treetops, tea, a pub, and a crash course in spending ages and ages on the underground.

Speaking of the tube, here are some thoughts I have on it:

1. I never realized it was actually so…tube-like (I know, duh, right?). But I guess I always just thought of it as a cute name for the subway.

2. It is surprisingly (shockingly even) clean. The tracks looked like tracks and not like a garbage dump (I’m looking at you, 96th/42nd!)

3. The seats are plush/padded, and there are arm rests!

4. There is a transport authority person at every entrance/exit by the turnstiles that will help you and swipe you through when your card mysteriously doesn’t work at all (unlike MTA station agents, who, if they are present, would probably say too bad get a new one).

London day was followed by the superbly successful (though rainy) Surrey Day on Sunday, in which I attempted to recreate (on the cheap) the tour of Windsor we got the 1st weekend. As in we stood outside the castle gates (too expensive to go in) while I tried to remember about pomegranates and keeps and the Order of the Garter.

We also went around to the Long Walk, which I did not get to visit the last time.day-17-004

This is where the queen (or one of her minions) walks her corgis and occasionally goes riding. It stretches about three miles from the castle, through Windsor great park “to the 1829 Copper Horse statue of King George III on Snow Hill, where there are impressive views of the castle” (thanks, Wikipedia). 

And finally!day-17-0071

The sun came out! So we obviously had to take a moment to bask.

Check out more photos in my London is Kew(l) album.

If only Surrey Day could be a real holiday, just like September Day.

Londonlondonlondonlondon. London.

18 January 2009

day-10-0221That’s me, hardly able to contain my “Ohemgee I’m in London!” excitement. It happens to be in front of a picturesque spot (Buckingham Palace) but I promise you, I was walking around like that for most of the time we were there.

So now I’ve been to London. I guess I can go home now.

Just kidding. It was like a Reader’s Digest version of a Reader’s Digest article kind of trip. We had a bit of a drive around town on the bus, hitting some highlights like Ben Big, Houses of Parliament, Westminister, London Eye, St. Paul’s, the South Bank, Harrod’s, Tate Modern, National History Museum, Prince Albert’s museum, and a bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting. We also walked around Buckingham Palace, through St. James’s Park and the Horse Guard, to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.

There was a huuuge protest over what’s happening in Gaza. Apparently it’s been going on for awhile, so it was a bit tense. Lots of extra police, though it seemed mostly ok overall, not too rowdy, but still, it was kinda harshing my mellow/enjoyment of the sites.

Then we sprinted through the Gallery (we stopped at 10 paintings max) and ate a hearty English meat and potatoes dinner at a nearby pub before heading to the East End for a super creepy Jack the Ripper tour. The winds were howling, sign posts squeaking, and there was even an aptly timed scream from an undisclosed location. Overall though, I don’t really understand people’s fascination with it. Most of the tour was like “See that car park? Well there used to be a doss house there that this prostitute stayed at, only she didn’t have enough money this one FATEFUL NIGHT so she got killed in a really gruesome way that I’m going to read aloud to you from the police report.”

What started as a BEAUTIFUL sunny and bright dayday-10-004

ended in the rain (of course) with all of us huddled around hearing about serial killerz. Nice. Fingers crossed that I dream about the queen and not murdered prostitutes.

I’ve added more pictures to the end of this album, and you can check out the full London 1.0 chronicle right here.

Tomorrow=homework like whoa!