Posted by: jodester87 | April 27, 2009

Ireland’s Calling

 

 

24 April 2009

Well, today was the day that I would go to Ireland to visit my friend Sarah in Limerick. A place I’m pretty sure my sister didn’t visit during her semester abroad in Dublin. Anyhoo, I flew out of Gatwick, which isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. There’s shopping to keep you entertained and it’s easy to get into London from it (Gatwick Express baby).

Now here’s a helpful hint for anyone flying to Ireland on RyanAir, even if you do online check in you still have to go to the desk and get a nice little stamp on your boarding pass.

On my flight was a ruby team and the one who sat next to me felt he had to tell me that he and his team had been drinking since 10 am. All I did was ask about the tacky Irish hats they were wearing and should only be worn on St. Patrick’s Day.

Getting to Shannon Airport no problem. It was the first time going into a new country that they had asked me the reason for my visit. Apparently Ireland’s really strick on who they let into their country. But I got through no problem, and once I found the bus that would take me into Limerick I was a bit more at ease.

To cut things down a bit, waited a while for the bus, caught the bus, made it into Limerick. Then I waited at the station for Sarah. We found each other then went grocery shopping for the next two dinners. Then it was back to her place, prep dinner, eat dinner, then go out to the student union pub. The pub was rather empty for a Friday night, but apparently all the Irish students go home on the weekends. Lucky them right?

We drank, laughed, talked, and not hit on (what is the world coming to?). Then we went back to Sarah’s for ice cream and sleep because we would have to get up early on Saturday for the bus tour.

25 April 2009

Bus tour day! I got up at an hour I usually get up at, but for Sarah it’s an ungodly hour, 7:15 AM. Got ready then headed to the Limerick tourist center where the tour was going to start.

Well the tour consisted of six tourists and the bus driver. Small, but some times those are the best tours. We got to see the Burren, which is a part of Ireland that is basically covered in limestone. It almost looks like the surface of the moon with some green poking out in places and cows. While in the Burren we learned about ring forts, which is basically Ireland’s early idea of a richman’s home. It’s a home built around a stone ring wall and it was made to protect their livestock. We visited one of the most complete ones in Ireland known as Caherconnel Stone Fort. Now this one they’re still making discoveries on because back in 2008 they found a skeleton. No, no one was murdered and dropped there, carbon dating but this skeleton as a 15 year old girl back in the 15th century. What’s odd is that they figured she would be a Christian but she didn’t have a Christian burial.

Our next stop was a portal tomb that was once where all the big wigs of Ireland use to be burried, there were thirty found here. Talk about keeping it in the family (not really).

Portal Tomb in the Burren

Portal Tomb in the Burren

We continuing driving along the Earth’s version of lunar surfacing. Eventually we stopped at an area that had some cliffs and could see the Cliffs of Moher in the distance. Well there was this cool cut in the cliff and trying to get the perfect angle was rather difficult because one it was really windy and I could feel it wanting to throw me off and two the rocks were not as smooth as one would like. But I did get the angle I wanted. HA take that weather.

Crevice in the Cliff

Crevice in the Cliff

We continued driving, stopped for lunch at a pub then made our way to the Cliffs of Moher.

Outside the pub (lunch)

Outside the pub (lunch)

The entire day had been gray, slightly rainy, and very windy. We got there and the sun had come out but the wind didn’t like us there. These cliffs are beyond words. You can see the layering in them, and just how tall they are. Birds are flying below you to nests that you can’t see. One side of the area there’s a lookout castle-like post built in the 1800s. The other is a dangerous path that a ton of people walk on that backs up into a cow paddock. Sarah and I walked towards the castle first but the wind had other ideas so we went in the other direction.

Now you come to end of the paved path and there’s a plague that says to everyone who lost their lives there. Really reassuring that is. Hopping the barrier we made our way onto a dirt, slightly muddy path, with another sign that’s telling us to not go on because it’s dangerous. Phesh. I’m young no big deal. Every view it beyond belief. There were times on this path that we had to stop moving because the wind was so strong and to move would have been to risk being blown off the cliffs to a very long fall down to the turbulent Atlantic Ocean.

Sarah's Cliffs of Moher Green Screen Moment

 Flowers on Cliffs of Moher

 At one point on the path there was a point where Sarah walked to the edge and with the background she had it almost looked as if she were in front of green screen, it didn’t looked like she should have been there. As if someone was projecting the cliffs behind her.

 

We would have continued on this path but suddenly we saw this white flashing things going in every direction. What the hell was that? Well one got my ear, it was rain. It was coming from the side, above, at an angle, and even up off the cliff. It was very much a Forrest Gump moment when he’s describing the rain in Vietnam.  It was a quick turn around and head back.

After that it was the drive back to Limerick. The driver was nice enough to drop us off at Sarah’s place. There we ate spaghetti for dinner, watched Enchanted before it went bonkers. Ate ice cream while watching Stardust. We had planned to go out to the club but I was tired and we would have to get up early again the next day so I could get to the airport on time. Bed it was.

26 April 2009

Another early wake up for Sarah. After having cinnamon toast, thanks to oh so lovely Sarah, we took a cab to the bus station. Waited a while, I got on my bus and said goodbye to her. I wouldn’t see her again until late August. I got the Shannon Airport with time to spare. Geez, talk about boring. Nothing to do there.

Got my flight went home to London. There I got online and saw things about the Swine Flu…oh goody and my going home to the States in two weeks. Not what I wanted to hear. I think I’m going to cut pork out of my diet now. But my host family and I ate dinner outside. I never thought we would but we did. Who would have thought that I would have done that when my second day in London there was that massive snow storm. Not I, but cool right?

Now it’s back to the grind stone of papers and prepping for finals.

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Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Edinburgh The Last Two Days

17 April 2009

Breakfast was at 8:30 am where Joyce and I met a couple staying at the Bed and Breakfast from Australia. Well the gray overcast was suppose to lift during the day (it never did). We hiked up the extinct volcano to Edinburgh Castle. It cost 12 pounds to get in and at the time there were no lines (pays to be early). When we had gone through the gateway the wind had picked up and I could feel it wanting to toss me about. However, the view over Old Town and the West Side was beautiful. While at the castle we saw St. Margaret’s chapel (really tiny, probably a late Romanesque church based on its architecture), the Honors of Scotland (‘Stone of Destiny’ crown, sceptor, and sword), the royal chambers, great hall, and war memorial. We also saw the Half Moon Battery that has Robert the Bruce’s son burried beneath it. I’ve noticed this about my time in the Isles, the royals like being burried underneath things such as that.

After seeing everything we wanted to see Joyce and I made our way down to the Royal Mile yet again so we could climb Arthur’s Seat. Now for those who don’t know the reason why the street is called the Royal Mile is because at one end of the street there is Edinburgh Castle and a mile down the road is Holyrood Palace. A little over halfway down we stopped at a snack shop in order to warm up a bit with hot chocolate. Really reasonably priced and you get a student discount.

With warmer bodied we turned right at the end of the street, seeing glimpses of the palace and seeing the very modern Parliament building. Going past a parking lot and crossing yet another street we started our ascent of the mountain. It gave amazing views of the city. you could even see the North Sea from thre. It wasn’t until we reached the top that we realized I had led us up the wrong path and we had climbed to the top of Holyrood Park. Oops, sorry. We could see Arthur’s Seat, but we ate lunch first (being beaten by the wind).

Then we started the steep climb up. Oh was it steep. Joyce led the way at a grueling pace and ended up leaving me behind several times. I’m one of the people that’s very much the turtle when climbing up mountains (a steady leisurely pace) so I would stop to rest my muscles because I didn’t want to pull and damage them and I wanted to enjoy the view. But whenever I looked furthur up the path I would have to go as fast as I could, almost slipping several times on the rocky and narrow path, in an attempt to catch up. She never looked back and didn’t hear me when I called out to her asking to slow the pace down. Towards the top I said fuck and then collasped at the top as I tried to catch my breath for the first reasonable stop. When I stood up my body could feel the force of the North Sea wind wanting to hurl me off the mountain. By this time my hands were froze and slightly swollen (it was suppose to warm up that day and it didn’t). I also swore that I felt a snow flake while up there.

Fed up, tired, and cold we eventually made our way back down the mountains through a bog, back up the Royal Mile, to our Bed and Breakfast where we dethawed, drank tea, and rested a bit before dinner.

Dinner was at a place called the Filling Station on the Royal Mile. It was one of those places that takes the American road trip idea and transports it to the local culture. The waiter was really kind and got us our food and drinks really quickly. Joyce had a Magners for dessert, and when she was thinking out a math I had to apologize yet again for irritating her when I said that the amount wasn’t enough but she left out a fact that I didn’t hear. Hell I apologized for being irritated at being left behind on the mountain earlier as we were coming down.

Early night yet again.

18 April 2009

Sleeping in can be very nice. Well I tried and didn’t succeed all that well for reason I won’t explain. Had breakfast at 9 am, checked out, and did some last minute shopping. I was still hunting for the perfect Campbell memento. I finally settled for a clan crest necklace. It has the family motto of Forget Not, which I do believe works for me because it is sometimes very difficult for me to let go of the past.

The last Edinburgh thing we did was walk through a hillside park that had been previously closed off to us. This park was littered with daffodils of varying shades of yellow and degrees of life. The castle stands sentinle over it. Very picturesque. We went back to grab our things and headed to the train station to leave.

Outside the national gallery there was a street preformance advertising the Beltane Festival that was to come up in 10 days. There were drums with an awesome beat, dancers, and fire twillers. Why couldn’t we have seen these people sooner? Oh well.

The train leaving Edinburgh teased me with glimpses of the sea coast before it would disappear behing hills, houses, and trees. Not even thirty minutes into the journey home Joyce needed to get a new seat because the people around her were drinking and she was scared that they would start harassing her. After telling her to talk to a member of the staff she got a new seat. Luckily the ones behind me were vacant and that was her new location. Granted the guys got off after a couple of stops but when they got off two babies and loud mobil phone talker got on.

But eventually we got back home and this was posted.

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Exploring the Highlands

16 April 2009

We had to get up early because it was highland tour day! The tour was with Haggis, which is located on High Stree portion of the Royal Mile. Check-in was at 8:30 and departure at 8:45. Everyone checked in on time, there were only 12 of us. So we hopped on the yellow bus and started our journey to the Highlands.

Our first stop was the William Wallace Monument in Stirling. The driver/guide told us the story behind the legend and how the Battle of Stirling/ Abbey Craig went down. Really bloody, along with Wallace’s execution. We were dropped off at the based of the steep hill where the monument is located. All twelve of us walked up the paved path, getting sneak views of Stirling. Close to half way up the hill we got off the paved path for a dirt one. There you zig and zag until reaching the peak. After taking a moment to catch my breath from the climb and the view I explored the area for a bit. There’s a statue of Wallace holding a sword attached to the tower portion of the monument. You can see Stirling Castle at the top of another mountain that I believe is also an extinct volcanoe, just like Edinburgh. We then made our way back down to the Wild and Sexy bus. As we were leaving Stirling I saw a pub called the William Wallace. (OH I should mention that according to Celtic tradition that if you see seven white horses in one day the next person you shake hands with is to be your true love. I saw ten so what does that mean?)

As we were heading to our next stop the guide pointed out a castle that they filmed Monty Python and the Holy Grail at. With Joyce’s exuburant response we were able to stop and take photos. I could see the whole French at the castle scene. Awesome!

We then loaded back on the bus and headed deeper into the highlands. As we moved further in I fell in love…with the countryside. The mountains, or bens as the Scots called them, each have their own personality. Some are rockey and tall, others grassy, cut up with creeks, patched with last remnants of snow, steep, and the list could go on. Yellow patches of flowers were everywehre, along with varying shades of green for grass and trees. At one pint we came across an area completely over run with heather. It wasn’t in bloom so it looked dead.

Eventually we came to our ‘surprise.’ Hammish the Highland cow. Here people had a chance to feed him, get some caffiene, and use the toilettes. It was also the first time we could really take photos of the landscape, before had been on the bus. Hammish kind of reminded me of a smaller, wider, furrier Texas Longhorn with shorter horns as well.

The following stop was the falls of Dochart in Killin. Now these falls are more like rapids and it almost appears as if two rivers are converging. This area is the ancestral home of the MacGregors. It was also a favorite spot of Queen Victoria, which caused it to be one of the most painted areas at the time. Joyce and I climbed down to the river’s edge, where you can climb the slippery rocks. Taking our photos we headed to the Bake Shop for lunch, and it is extremely reasonably priced.

When everyone loaded back on the bus we circled around Loch Tay, which is the largest (surface) loch in Scotland. At one point in Time (Neolithic) it was also one of the more populated areas because farmers would creater their own islands on the loch so the hunters wouldn’t kill their animals. We briefly saw one that was 4,000 years old. Unfortunately we couldn’t stop because the driver couldn’t find a place to park.

From there we drove through the country for a long time getting to Scotland’s oldest whiskey distillery. The distillery is owned by Famous Grouse, but is called Glenturret. People started to fall asleep on the bus. I couldn’t because of my enamored state of bens covered in heather and picturing story scenes being played out here. We did take a stop to stretch our legs at a place that was guarded by an almost vertical mountain, a river banked by trees, and a grazing acrea across from it.

Ten of us when on the Famous Grouse Experience tour (5 pounds with Haggis) and learned how its single malt whiskey is made. At the end of the tour we did a scratch and sniff to figure out what flavours we would be sampling romt he whiskey (vanilla, mequite, chocolate, and citrus). The sips went down rather smoothly for me. Joyce did the funny face. No I did not buy or consume any more whiskey after that. It’s not bad whiskey, I just wasn’t interested in buying any. Oh the grouse mascot’s name is Gilbert (random fact I know)

With this the Highlander tour was almost over. We still saw some beautiful countryside and dilapidated castles and where Ewan MacGregor is from as well.  But I could tell we were getting closer to Edingburgh because there were less and less mountains. Wen we got near Perth we were told the story and legend of the Stone of Destiny.

The last tour group stop was the Forth Bridge, which was inspired by the Loch Ness Monster. It is a railway bridge so no walking on it. But down the road overlooking the water is a pub where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island. There’s also the Scotland version of Alcatraz in the water near the bridge as well. After that we went back to the headquarters and went our seperate ways.

Joyce and I then saw the Scott Monument (Sir Walter Scott). Then we went up Calton Hill that has buildings modeled after the Partheon up there. It is a steep climb but you can really see the differences between Old and New Town Edinburgh from there.

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Easter Break: Edinburgh Day One

15 April 2009

6:30 am. I have another half an hour of sleep and I couldn’t. So, I got up and got going on the next leg of my Easter Break. Since the train was going to put Joyce and me in Edinburgh I picked up a lunch before heading to Kings Cross Station. Made it there and hour before departure, Joyce had beat me.

We hoped to sit next to each other but we weren’t so lucky. I wondered if the same countryside I was viewing was what JK Rowling saw when she came up with the idea of the Hogwarts Express. It’s so green even with a fog hanging over several parts of the journey. Almost imagine a Catherine’s ‘Heathcliffe’ moment only not as desperate or dreary and that’s what I saw. We passed several lakes where the fishermen were out, a few tents for campers rested near the pond’s edges. At one point on the ride I looked out the window and saw streaking of yellow and green, some farm. It was a change.

1:36 pm we arrived in Edinburgh. I was finally in Scotland. Since Joyce booked the hotel I followed her to the bed and breakfast. We walked down Princes Street for a long time, and at one point because of road work. There was a heavy mist over the city and gradually worsened throughout the rest of the day. As we continued to walk down the street there was no sign of Canning. i was a tad worried we had gone in the wrong direction. Finally we see it. We turn off of it onto a side brick road street. My first reaction was “Where has Joyce booked us?’ and ‘I’m gonna hate walking down this at night.’

We met the owner, who had to leave shortly after we arrived for Australia. After getting the low down on the rules Joyce and I headed to the Royal Mile for some shopping. It took a while before Joyce found her tartan scarf. Then it took me even longer to find the perfect Celtic knot necklace. I still needed to find something on the Campbell clan, heritage my man.

With the weather getting worse we headed to find food. We ended up eatting at Au Bar. Really nice. It had Brothurs Strawberry cidar and Magners. It was also an early night because the next day we had to get up early for our highland tour.

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Goodbye Paris

Still Easter Break

14 April 2009

Au revoir Paris. the first sound that registered was rain on the window, 4 am, then birds chirping 6 am. Ugh I couldn’t get back into a comfortable position so I got up and made sure that everything wa spacked. Once Joyce was up and packed we made our way down to breakfast. This was the only time that there were not huge lines and teenagers bitching about the food. With breakfast over we made our way to the RER that would take us to the airport. There were no stops like we had gettng into the city. There was plenty of time at the airport but not much to do. Oh there were places to eat but most of the shops were things that hosted expensive merchandise such as Chanel, Gucci, etc. Our flight home was nearly an hour late for take off, but some times these things happen.

To cut things short, when I made it back to my homestay, I ate, did laundry, checked my email and rested because the next day I was heading out to Edinburgh.

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Easter Break: Paris Day Four

13 April 2009

It was our last full day in Paris so we wanted to make is memorable. We got up early, ate our breakfast, then headed to the Eiffle Tower. Now some of you may be thinking that we circled around this thing a lot. Well we kind of did. But we stood in the already gathering lines to go up the tower. Lines opened at 9:30 am and with minds trying to fight off the chill in the air from a morning fod, we bought our tickets (3.50 euro) to climb to the first story. Yes, that’s right. Joyce and I climbed to the first storey of the Eiffle Tower. It was a little over 300 steps but so worth it.

A mist has settled over the city during ht enight so it was not worth it to climb to the upper levels. Do not grab the hand railing even if your instincts tells you that you should. You end up getting paint and rust on your palm and it just overall feels gross. At this level we could see this amazing undescribable view of the city. They also have indicators of some of the big icons of the city so Joyce and I did a ‘Where’s Waldo’ moment and tried to find the sites on each of the pictures. We were fairly successful. It was at the top of the tower that I filled up my memory card for the first time.

At the time the icon was getting a paint job and the boutique was being renovated. Also if you go on a chilly day the 3 euro hot choclate is the cheapest in the vicinity. This is for future reference.

Once we had recovered a bit we descended the steps. It actually took longer because there are more people trying to come up than go down. I did notice that the lines were longer then when we had to go up. (Not every line is the stairs so double check before getting in one).

We then made our way to the Pompidou Centre. Joyce got her shot of caffiene and we drank it in from of this industrial like building that hosts modern art. Outside of it is this amazing escalator that goes up, flattens out, goes up, until it reaches almos the top. It is kind of odd seeing something so modern surrounded by 18th century buildings.

It wasn’t too far to get to the fountains that I had wanted to see for such a long time. The lips that are a fountain, the ones we had searched for the day before have finally been found. The place is called Place Igor Stravinsky. It was really cool to see those modern fountains set up against St. Merry’s church, which is a gothic revival church. Unfortunately those famous lips weren’t working properly. But we had fun taking photos of Bonehead, Mermaid, Bowler Hat, Heart, Snake, and Birds. This area also has the cheaper scarfs just for future reference.

Place Igor Stravinsky

Place Igor Stravinsky

I had yet to get me anything, as ordered by my mother, so Joyce and I headed to rue de Rivioli because one of my guide books recommended it to us. After going through several stores we found some shoes for sale at place called Viviane Chaussures. I have finally found a pair of shoes that fit (as well as they can in Europe) and for only 10 euro. However, I still wanted a scarf and the one I really liked was near Louvre. We continued to walked down the street until we eventually hit the stand and I bought myself a Parisian scarf for 5 euro.

We ate lunch behind the Louvre and heard these beautiful church bells ringing for no apparent reason

It was after that when Joyce and I made our way back to our hostel (after being whistled out very loudly (hint not all that flattering when close by)) Yes we had time to explore more of the city but I had developed a blister on my foot and it was getting very painful to walk. We rested a while before buying our dinner at nearby grocery store on rue Dareau. Unfortunately I didn’t not eat well that night and I knew that I would regret it. I did…must eat healthier in the future.

I’m sure had our abroad proram director been with us, we would have seen much more of the city. As it is I was extremely pleased with what we saw because it was our choice and time. I’m also sure we woudln’t have seen some of the other sights as well, such as going up the Tower, which was something that everyone should try to do.

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Easter Break: Paris Day Three

12 April 2009

I woke up to the sound of rain pattering on the window. Then I heard the church bells ringing, it was Easter Sunday. Again Joyce and I ate at the hostel before beginning our adventures. We started out by seeing the Musee D’Orsay, which was celebrating 50 years. you really can tell that it use to be a train station. We then walked over the Seine and bought some postcards near the Louvre. These two galleries are across the river from each other. Walking across the bridges you can get some awe inspiring sights, the Eiffle Tower, at times Notre Dame, and a ton of other beautiful buildings. We got some ideas on what I could get as a souvenir, scarf and/or a new purse.

We then headed to Montmarte, which hosts the Moulin Rouge. Just so you know it is quiet expensive to get int, we did not. Why would I? After taking our photos we grabbed some chocolate filled crepes nearby. Even thought I was careful I still made a mess. Chocolate covered parts of my jeans and my black jacket. Then when I commented on how Joyce didn’t she said ‘because I’m careful.’ Not to think ill of her but some times that tone is rather patronizing and can come off as very rude to some people, because I was careful but unlucky. Again we looked in some more souvenir shops. tHis area can get  pricey so be careful. View this section of the city I realize that there are views from the movie Moulin Rouge that one cannot get.

It was then time for us to head back to the Arc, where we got some daylight photos of hte monument. But we made the long trek down the Champs Eylsee. I really wanted a photo of a pretty sign that said that. We eventually found it and had to be careful getting it because it faces one of the busiest streets in Paris and it is close to the curb. We continued to walk down the street and stopped in this park that looked like it had swings, you had to pay to use them. This park also had a theatre. It was here that I was like let’s try to find the place that has the water sprouting out of lips. We thought we had found it with the Museum of Modern Art. I mapped out the toute we needed to take.

Well getting out at the stop we needed to for the museum was no problem, as was finding the street. The problem was the outside of the museum. The fun fountains weren’t there. Okay so we thought it might be in the courtyard. Yuk no! The courtyard smelled of stale beer, piss, and vomit. There were beer cans and bottles discarded into corners. A few statues that were there were covered in graffiti. The only people enjoying the area were skateboarders. That’s not how a museum should be in my opinion.

Running across the street we crossed the Seine, yet again and walked towards the Bir-Hakeim metro station. Along the way we saw the Tower yet again and two carosels. One on one side of the river and the other on the other side. In less than 24 hours I would be climbing the stairs to the first level of the Tower. (Won’t my feet hurt then) We then got back on the number 6 line to our hostel to recover from the day and the one before.

 Joyce was in desperate need of a nap before we went out in search of food. It was during that nap that I realized just how much sun I have gotten while I’ve been here. Joyce got chilly during, which made me close the window and still I felt my face being very flushed. i was half tempted to take a shower while she slept but I didn’t want to disturb her.

It may seem like I did not do a lot but Joyce and I did venture into shops everywhere we went. Plus our feet were killing us and Joyce was really tired. We actually have seem quiet a bit for a short period of time. And there was also the next day.

After her namp we walked down the street to a small grocers and bought our dinner. This meal consisted of butter crackers, apples, and a can drink. Now I know it may not sound like a lot but it was rather filing. We started out by eating out in the courtyard at the hostel but without our jackets it got a bit cold so we moved into the bar. There we talked for a while, well the entirety of dinner lasted two hours. The bar eventually opened up and several groups had bottles of pink wine. Almost has me wishing that I could drink wine.

While looking through one of my guide books later on I read about the history of Paris. There are a couple of names that are similar to my family name: Childeric (there were three), Childbert (there were two), and Chilperic (there were two). Maybe in some weird way I’m related to thse people. Granted they were rulers of Paris ranging from 566 to 751 AD. It is further proof that I am Goddess (my friends should get the reference).

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Easter Break – Paris Day Two

11 April 2009

We had breakfast at the hostel, free coupons gotta love them. While there we discovered that young group travelers do no understand the concept of a queue. After our petit-dejuener we headed out to meet Sarah at Notre Dame. When trying to get back to the Metro I kind of got us a tad lost (I did look at a map just wrongly). So when we reached Notre Dame Sarah said ‘There you guys are. I’ve been looking for you frantically for 15 minutes.” She says this because usually I am early to meetings. So we get in a line to enter the cathedral, which goes rather quickly. When you’re entering the church a guy tells you no flash photography, but people have it going anyway. (You can pay to up into the bell tower and get a closer view of the gargoyles, we didn’t). At any minute we (well at least I) expected to see Quasimoto or Esmerelda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame to come out. That didn’t happen.

Aftewards, Sarah, Joyce, and I walked along the Seine towards the Louvre. I was expecting it to be wider like the Mississippi or the THames, I only saw it at one point like that. So the Louvre is HUGE! We were at the back end of it near the Pont Neuf Metro stop and didn’t even know it. We then walked into the Cour Carree, where there’s a water fountain in the middle. Then there was this amazing view of shadows and the glass Pyramid. There’s the famous entrance with fountains and water pools. We even got some cute photos of us with the pyramid. There was a quick looked around for the Rose line, we weren’t successful before joining the line to enter the museum. After paying the 9 euros to get in we made our way to the Denon wing. Our goal, tosee several Da Vinci’s and some Etruscan and Roman Antiquities along the way. We saw the Winged Vicotry of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa (which was crowded enough to make a person claustraphobic), and Madonna on the Rocks. From there we made our way to the Sully Wing (the back of the palace) and saw the coronation crow of Louis XV (or Napoleon’s not entirely sure anymore) and some Greek pottery. The last big stop on our tour was the Code of Hammurabi in the Richelieu wing. This is the first set of written laws peopleand I saw it! We then walked to the inverted pyramid that was also mentioned in the Da Vinci Code.

Louvre and Sarah

Louvre and Sarah

We got out into some wonderful sunlight at the Entrance Galiere du Carrousel and bought some pain aux chocolat for lunch. We then basked in the sunlight int he Tuileries Gardens eatting our baguets. Absolutely lovely.

It was after this that we made our way tot he Statue of Liberty. Now I know what you are thinking, we went to New York? NO. there is a smaller sister statue in Paris that faces New York. So we walked towards the Concorde, which has an obelisk in it. On our way there we saw this guy biking that looked like David Boreanez with less gell in his hair and a beard. Anyhoo we got out at Bir Hakeim metro stop and walked along the Seine again. On this walk there were a ton of amazing shots of the Eiffle Tower. We did get to the statue then walked back towards Eiffle.

With feet angrily protesting the walk we saw the Bir-Hakeim monument, which again offered another lovely view of the tower. The monument is about a French battle in Africa by the way. Sara got her photo of her with a yellow flower at this point. We then went in search of an ATM. I never realized how many there are in London until Paris. After getting cash we sat down in the Parc du Champs de Mars which is overlooked by Eifle.

We rested our feet for a good long while before finding dinner. (While sitting we saw this guy with the devil in his eyes trying to grab a flying rat with wings). We found a reasonably priced place call Oh Mie Ma. Sat and rested some more beofre searching for a beret for Joyce. We were eventually successful at a souvenir shop that had one that didn’t have Paris written on it. We then bought some ice crean at the bottom of the Tower, found a place to sit that was sheltered by the rain and waiting for the lights to come one.

Eventually they did and it was goregous. once we got our photos there we got on the number 6 line to go to the Arc de Triomph. As we were pulling out of the station we saw that it was all sparkly. Another beautiful view.

Glittering Eiffle

Glittering Eiffle

At the Arc, which was more difficult to get photos of (not as brightly lit), we saw the Champs Elysee, the Tower, several other streets, and the tomb of the unknown soldier. The tomb had a fire burning at it, very ceremonial I thought. Then my camera went ont he blink. It wouldn’t turn on and had a red flashing light. Panic! Since ther ewasn’t much I could do about it I put in m y purse and would deal with it later. Back at the Metro station Joyce and I said our goodbyes to Sarah who was leaving the next day. Together Joyce and I made our way back to our hostel and got off our feet, much to their pleasure.

As we were falling asleep church bells chimed. Nice way to lull off.

Posted by: jodester87 | April 19, 2009

Bonjour Paris

Easter Break 2009

April 10, 2009

A litler after one pm my friend and I arrived in Paris via Charles de Gaulle Airport. I’ve been wanting to visit the city since I started taking French when I was 13 years old. After getting up early in order to make it to Luton Airport on time, Joyce and I were rather tired. Every piece of advice we were given regarding Paris was forgotten. We ended up spending 48.40 euros on a 5 day pass (buses, trains, etc). Tear out my heart why don’t they. After figuring that out we got on an express train that was going to take us to the Denfert Rochereau stop on line B. Immediately getting on the train I’m hit with the putrid smell of piss and stale beer. Ew.  I also knew when we boarded the train that we were going to be late checking into our hostel. I had been hoping that it wouldn’t be too long. Well one stop after the airport the train was held at the platform. Don’t ask me why because I couldn’t understand the explaination.

We finally got underway and made it to Gare du Nord. After that is was smooth sailing to our stop. We could have switched line to gett off at a stop closer to our hostel but I just wanted to find the place. So we walked down Saint Jacques Boulevard and eventually found FIAP Jean Monnet. We checked in and rested before going out for dinner. The place is very much like a small dorm room. There are two bed, desks, closets, shelves, and a private bathroom. There’s a courtyard outback where people smoke and socialize. there’s not much of a view, ianly residential buildings. When we first walked in I had to open a window because it was stuffy. Joyce unpacked some of her things before taking a nap. We decided not to do much since we were both tired from our journey there. Joyce was falling asleep on the Metro. Our game plan for th time we are here is to not rush to see everything but thoroughly enjoy what we did see. Saturday we’ll meet up with Sarah at Notre Dame and spend the day with her. Hopefully this Easter Break won’t break my bank account.

We ate dinner at the cafeteria at the hostel. No bad pricing. Afterwards we explored the premises briefly before heading back to the room. We both needed a shower and relaxing before we explore the City of Love

(Off topice: If Rome is the Eternal City and Paris is the City of Love, what is London?)

Posted by: jodester87 | April 8, 2009

A Friend Visit

April 4-7 2009

So my friend Sarah, who is studying abroad in Ireland, came over to London for part of her Easter break and stayed with me. She got in late Saturday night. But the next day began three days of sightseeing.

On Sunday we went into Westminster area to see Big Ben and we had hoped a changing of the guards (they’re finally in their red uniforms people!) but alas it did not happen. So we made our way down the street to the National Gallery. Where I got a call from the director here in London saying I needed to meet a photographer at 4:30 at Westminster Tube Station because the school is updating its advertising. Anyway, Sarah and I looked through all these famous paintings. She was going I learned about this in a textbook! The last ones we saw were Van Gough’s Sunflowers and Monet’s Japanese Bridge thingy.

Just for reference sake Trafalgar Square is right outside the National Gallery so we both tried to climb the lions up there but it’s really crowded and really difficult to get on the lion’s back. You basically have to run up it, jump, and slither you’re way up. We didn’t succeed.

Well we met up with the photographer who is an alum of our school. For two hours we were at her disposal taking photographs with Big Ben, The London Eye, and Buckingham Palace as the background. We even got one of all seven or six of us girls in one of those red phonebooths and with a royal horse guard. Towards the end we were jumping in the air with the palace as a backdrop. We ran into some American military men returning from the middle east. In the pub one of them was actually really friendly and was talking to us and was looking at our eyes not our chest, which is a BIG plus sign in my book.

While we were taking all these photos people were giving us a wide birth as if we were actual models on a photoshoot. Look out America’s Next Top Model here we come.

Then several of us went out to a pub that night, where I tried Magners c idar. It wasn’t too bad but I prefer the strawberry kind. Then three of us had our first tequila shots. It didn’t burn as much as I was expecting it to.

On Monday I dropped Sarah off at the British Museum while I was in class. After a free lunch we went down to the Tower of London. It was extremely crowded. Helpful hint people go really early in the day or go in the winter months when the crowds aren’t that big. But we saw the White Tower, Bloody Tower, Beauchamps Tower, Salt Tower, Royal rooms, and a few things outside. Such as were Anne Boelyne lost her head, traitors gate, and the ravens. There needs to be a certain number of ravens there otherwise the monarchy falls. We couldn’t get into to see the crown jewels because the line was starting to wrap around several buildings and we had a limited amount of time we could be there because I had to go see Entertaining Mr. Sloane that night (which rocked and was funny).

The White Tower

The White Tower

We ended up buying a bottle of mead there. Advice: never buy mead at the Tower. After my play that night we opened the bottle and tried it because people had been raving about how great it was. First taste was good. It gradually got worse the more you drank it. I’m not riding it off just yet.

Then Tuesday…Sarah’s last day. We got up rather late because of a late night editing a friend’s thesis and having fun. We made our way to Westminister Abbey. There was a line in of course but for the price to get in it was much better and worth it than the Tower in my opinion. That actually sounds rather morbid…we went where people died and then we went where people are burried.

As I was telling Sarah about the architecture the guy in front of us said that he was learning a lot just by listening to us. “Oh my god! A north American accent!” The guy was from Canada and studying abroad in Glasgow. We ended up going around the Abbey with him. We saw several royals: Elizabeth 1, Mary 1, Henry 7, Henry 5, Richard 2, Mary Queen of Scots and others. We also saw Oliver Cromwell. But Sarah was at her cutest when we were in the poet’s corners. It was all ah! oh! yes! and oh my god!

The poet’s corner is where several literay figures are buried. Some people include: TS Elliott, George Elliott, Rudyard Kipling, Geoffry Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Laurence Olivier, Tennyson. There are also monuments to other figures who are not burried there such as Christopher Marlowe, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and Oliver Goldsmith to name a few.

Eventually we made our way around to where Sir Isaac Newton’s tomb is. Well there’s no photography allowed in the abbey but I managed to sneak in a photograph without being caught. Right near the tomb is also where Charles Darwin is buried. Now those of you who have seen The Da Vinci Code, you’ll notice that the area is different. That’s because they couldn’t get permission to film inside the Abbey so they had to film it elsewhere.

Isaac Newton's Tomb

Isaac Newton's Tomb

Then while I was on my architecture visit, Sarah went up to Camden Town and Regent’s Park with Charlotte. Joyce and I eventually caught back up with them. Then that night Sarah said goodbye as she caught her overnight bus to Edinburgh. I’ll see her again for a day in Paris. I can’t wait for Easter Break to start up. Won’t those post be long.

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