Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Les Mis!

So I went to see Les Miserables tonight. I had never seen les mis before and didn't know anything about it. But I loved it; great singing, special effects, and music. Go see it.
Shout out to Caitlin who was in London this week and invited me to go. I had a great time and am glad I got to see you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So this weekend wasn't anything too exciting, trying to not spend too much money since I go to Ireland Thursday.

But Friday night Sam, Jack, Mike and I went to a nearby theatre called Vue and watched Duplicity. Its the Clive Owen and Julia Roberts film. It just came out on Friday here, but I am guessing that's been out for a bit back home? Well I thought it was a great film. One of those that you could watch it a few times and each time you would catch something different. If Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Italian Job had a love child it would be this movie. Afterwards we wandered around for a little while and then went to the HobGoblin, a pub nearby that we had never been to before. It had a pretty cool atmosphere so we might go back there again.

Saturday, I "researched," i.e. sat on the computer and watched Youtube videos. I have 2 papers that are due not this monday but the next. The thing is that I wont be back in London, from Ireland, until monday morning. So I have to get both of them done before I leave. Which maybe if they weren't a big waste of time and dealt with topics I cared about...I would be working on them.

Today was a lot of procrastination mixed with actually work but progress is progress right?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fire in London

Ok, so yesterday I was sitting in my room contently and then I looked out the window to see a fire. It was located in the business district of London a little south or where I am staying. The building belonged to the Immigration and Appeals Commission. It took 75 fire fighters to tackle the blaze. The roof of the five storey building along with most of the fourth florr were set ablaze. No one was injured and everyone evacuated the building before the squad arrived. This is the photo I took from my room. It is from when the fire started to die down. When we originally noticed it the smoke was black and a bit larger.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm starting to slack

So I haven't done one of these in week. Yes, I am being a slacker.
Partially is because I ahvent done anything terribly exciting this week. I had class monday and tuesday....officially becoming my biggest waste of time.
Thursday the girls and I went out for dinner at a restaurant in Covent Garden (theatreland). I had salmon with rosemay and garlic potatoes and holladaise sauce; along with some raspberry and apple cake as dessert. Delicious! I don't usually get real food here just noodles and turkey sandwiches so this was a real treat. Afterwards we came back to NIDO but Sam and I wanted to go walk around. I was a really nice day here and London at night is gorgeous. We went down to the Thames Rover next to Parliament walked around for a while, got lost, and came back home. Early friday morning, Anthony, Dani's boyfriend, was arriving. It is his spring break so he is staying here for a week and then to the two of them are going to Amsterdam this weekend.
So, I got bored and decided to go down to oxford circus and did a little shopping. It was nothing special I just bought a couple of shirts and a necklace--and it was all under 9 pounds!
Saturday was gorgeous out! So I visited Hyde Park again. What can I say, I love that place. this time I explored a different part of it and watched a group of guys play football (soccer) for a while. I sat and read too, well, until it got a bit chilly and a couple with a baby came by and kept eyeing up my spot. HA. Afterwards I went up to Trafalger Spuare and walked around there for a little while. There was a celebration going on, but the commentaters were speaking in a language from the middle east, so I have no idea what it was for. After there I walked up to Holborn and came home. Sunday was a lazy day. We woke up early to go to the parade in Trafalgar Square for St. Patrick's Day. The parade was fun but nothing compared to those we see back home. They didn't even throw candy...well cans of guiness would have been more appropriate but you get the point. we stayed in the square for a little while. There they had bands playing some fun music. I bought a scarf as a souvenir and it now adorns my wall. But after that I came back to the room and worked on some journals that are due tomorrow. Dani and Anthony went to dinner anda movie so I enjoyed some alone time in the room and watched Darby O Gill and the Little People. You probably don't know what that is. It's a movie. Amazing one. Rent it. And later began to watch Watchmen. Today I wasted 2 hours in my literature class and just spent 3 pounds to print off 10 pages at the local internet cafe. They are pretty steep in prices for that here....I miss being able to do it at my university for free.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Amanda's visit and a celebrity run in....sort of

My friend Amanda who is currently studying in Sweden came to visit this last week. Her plane arrived in London late wednesday night. From there she had to take a train into the city and I picked her up from the terminal at Liverpool St. Station. This was a somewhat of a chore because her phone doesnt work in the UK so I had to stand around for a while and hope for the best. I was so excited to finally see a familiar face! We hoped on the last tube of the night and I dropped them off at their stop. Thursday, I took on the role of tour guide and spent the day showing Amanda around. I love fun facts so I definitely felt in my element. We started off the day with a jaunt through Hyde Park where Dani and I showed her the famous Peter Pan statue and the Princess Di Memorial. It was a gorgeous sunny/ warm day so she had some luck on her side when she came. After there we walked up back to Wellington Place where the famous Wellington Arch is placed along with several other memorials. From here we walked up to Buckingham Palace. I would like to say I timed out the day perfectly because when we got there they were about to start the changing of the guard but, it was luck. From there we thought we would walk to the nearest tube station to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. But before we knew it we could see the square so just walked up the couple of blocks. We didn't have enough time to see everything in there but Dani and I, as art students, gave her the cliffnotes version. We pointed out some famous paintings and I tried to add in my knowledge about them here and there. From here we decided to grab some lunch. We found a cafe that was still serving breakfast. Full English breakfast is to die for so we made her try it out; delicious. Moving on we headed to the British Museum. Here we had to also do a shortened tour. We pointed out the Rosetta Stone, crystal skull, Egyptian mummies, Roman architecture/ sculptures and ended with the Asia sectioned. Amanda loves Japanese culture so we gave her as much tie as wanted in this section. Then we headed back to NIDO where we showed Amanda "our hood" and building. We took a little rest here since we just walked end to end of london. Around dinner tine we took her to my favortie fish n' chips joint. It is this little hole in the wall diner on Chapel Market Rd. called Crown fish n' chips bar. Very classy. Amanda and her friend that came along, Caitlin, had tickets to see the Lion King at 7:30 so we hopped on the tube and took Amanda down to Covent Garden (Theatre Land). When we arrived her friend wasn't their yet so we waited and waited. At 8:00, the play had started 30 min. ago, her friend finally showed up. I was pretty mad for Amanda when her friend bearly gave an apology for her tardiness--I know I would have been mad if I paid for a show and missed the first half an hour. So, Dani and I went back to our room to rest and when the play was done we went to pick Amanda up from the theatre. From their we took the tube to Tower Hill. This is where we walked the Thames Path which runs from Tower Bridge to Parliament. Along the way you see the Tower of London, Globe theatre, Tate Modern, Dali Museum, Millenium Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral and many other historic sights. At night this city is gorgeous so it felt great to share that with Amanda. After our 2 hour walk we had to find a night bus to get back home which was practially impossible. Why? I don't know. We eventually had to get a taxi for part of the way but got her home in the end. the next morning she headed off to Glasgow to stay with my friend Alyssa before she headed back to Sweden.

Friday me and the gang went to a comedy club called The Funnyside. Here we saw three acts that were frickin' hilarious. I love British humor. Afterwards we stepped outside to see this huge swarm of people up the way with a ton of paprazzi snapping off pictures.So we walked up the block to see what or who the commotion was for. Come to find out the Michael Jackson was coming out of Oliver at that time. I didn't actually see him just the mini bus her got into. People were going crazy! One girl actually chased after his van too. I was worried for her because she didn't look very old and with his track record she probably should have been doing the opposite.

Saturday and Sunday were uneventful because I had homework and now have a cold of some sort. I think Amanda brought some Swedish plague with her that got me sick. And today I just had class, pretty exciting eh?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wales: Coasteering, Kayaking

Hey Guys. So these are some of the pictures from my camera I took with for the Coasteering and kayaking adventures. They are not necessarily in order but, Saturday afternoon we coasteered and Sunday morning our kayaking took place.

Me. All geared up and ready to go.

The climb down to the base.

Me. Off of one of our last jumps.

After one of the jumps. Man was the water cold at first.

Some of the cliffs/ rocks we jumped from.

More climbing.

Some action shots. I think this one is Mike, from the back him and Jack looked the same so I may be wrong.

More action. This is Tristan.

The beach we went to to begin kayaking.

A view from the water.

Putting the gear away. I was off bandaging the hands.

Some caves we got to check out.

Jack, Sam & Me. We were having a blast!

Me. Pre-accident. You can actually see the rocks behind me--that's where I wiped out.

The group. Alison, Dani, Jack, Mike, Me, Sam & Tristan.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wales: Pembrokeshire, St David

Well have I got some stories for you!
Friday was quite a doozy. We had a coach bus to take us to Wales, set to depart at noon. So we decided to meet in the lobby at 11:10/ 11:15ish which would give us plenty of time to get there. To my joy, not, when I showed up in the lobby with Dani, this other girl Alison had forgotten something and had to run back up to the room. So we waited for her and then headed off. We got down the steps outside my building when Alison once again noticed she forgot something, this time her allergy medication. I don't know if she had to chemically make the pills or what not herself but she sure took her sweet time to get it. As we were waiting, my friend Jack came back from his 11 o clock class. He originally was going to meet us at the station because we didn't know how late his class would get out. So we waited for him because he just had to run up and get his bags. All of this waiting put us about 10/ 15 min. behind schedule. So we jaunted to the tube station to hop a train down to the coach station. Just my luck the tube broke down when we were 1, I repeat 1, stop away from the coach. I was attempting to stay calm but inside I was completely nervous about missing our bus. Where the tube stopped was about a 15 min. walk and it was about 11:45/ 11:50 at this point. So we then made the judgement call to try and catch a bus over to the station. Luckily we didn't have to wait long. We hopped on the bus and headed over. As soon as the bus got us as close as possible we literally ran off the bus and down the street. It was like Home Alone when the family is running through the airport to catch their plane. Choas and I am sure we were quite the sight for onlookers. So we are running like mad men to get there. When we get to the station we look up on the terminal board to see where our bus was at and...our destination (Haverfordwest, Wales) wasn't up there. The bus had left. Multiple curse words ran through my mind.
The only other choice to get to Wales was to take a train. So we hopped back on the tube (different line) and went to Paddington station to catch a train. When we got to the ticket office they informed us that with a group rate (of 4 ppl.) it would be 44 pounds ($63) to take a one-way train to Wales. Yeah, my thoughts exactly; not the greatest amount I have ever been told. But we had no choice. So we got on that which got us to Wales on time.
So Friday night we headed to the lodge and had dinner. We could actually see stars! It was amazing! Being in the middle of Wales reminded me of being back home, Wisconsin. What a lovely way to be welcomed to the country. Upon arrival we were situated and assigned rooms. Very lovely decor. Another plus was the fact that dinner was served almost immediately. After dinner Libby, the activities coordinator, gave us some info about the weekend and we just relaxed and played some intense games of jenga and balderdash. What an amazing forst night.
Saturday morning we ate breakfast and then headed off for a 7 mile coastal hike. I have never been to Wales, or the UK for that matter, and was extremely excited for this hike. They drove us to a drop off point and we basically had to find our way back to the lodge. It was gorgeous, i have never seen anything like it. The ocean was a blue that one could only stare at. The cliffs were bright and each rich color pratically glowed in the sun. The best part is when my group and I took a wrong turn near the end that sent us off in the complete opposite direction of the lodge. Luckily the map they provided help us find our way home. Each person felt that they could set us on the right path and it became funny how none of us had any sense of direction. After walking down some roads and stopping a driver we arrived to the lodge about 30/45 min later than expected but we did fine.
Saturday afternoon we got all geared up to go coasteering. Coasteering is kind of hard to describe but in essence: you head to the coast, climb down to the water, jump in, swim to another cliff, jump off it, and head to the next cliff to do it again. Gettind dressed for coasteering is half the fun, really. Firts you must get geared up head to toe in a winter wet suit, life vest, helmet, booties and gloves. We all felt and looked like some odd gang of superhereos! The first thing we did was go into a little alcove where we bobbed in the water while the tide brought us up and down like an elevator, it was really cool. My friend Dani has a fear of drowning and elevators so this brought out those fears in her. The look on her face was priceless and wuite comical; her eyes all bugged out and mouth opened wide. We then headed to the cliffs to do some jumping. And this was incredible, I had never done anything like it before. My fear of heights came up here and there but after I relaxed and got into it I was having a blast. What an adrenaline rush and I felt like Evil Knievel! We ended the session with a jump off of a 30ft cliff too. It took me a little longer to take the leap but I did it and would do it again. This was my favorite activity of the weekend. It was at about this point that I fell in love with Wales. Words can describe my fondness for this place.
Saturday night was spent hanging out by the bonfire the lodge built for us. This weekend, a couple from New Zealand, living in London, was there as well. So it was nice to talk with and meet them . They were celebrating there 1 year wedding anniversary, and were completely adorable. Oh, and there children will be gorgeous by the looks of it.
Sunday we had one last session. Kayaking. I had never kayaked before, only canoed, so I was bit nervous, because I don't always have the best balance. But it was fine. They taught us some techniques and how to get out of the kayak quickly in case of emergency--little did I know I would need to use the latter later. We started of with a fun game of polo; my team won! It really was a test of balance to play the game. My friend Dani actually tipped herself over but no worries she was completely fine and we were still close to shore so she practically just hopped back in. We then went off and explored some caves and played around with the rocks. After a couple of hours, and 3 people tipping over there kayaks, the instructors (all two of them--very friendly and professional) found these two smaller rocks that we would be able to ride waves through. They showed us and it looked fun so I thought I'd give it a go. My first run through was quite fun so I wanted to go again. Cue the scary music. My second time around the instructor asked, "Do you want a bigger wave than last time?" and I, like and idiot said, "Yes!" So as I was riding the wave through when it crashed me against one of the rocks and pinned me on my side. I was trying to sit myself upright when a second wave crashed into me and tipped me over. I was a bit stuck but was able to wiggle out of my kayak. At this point, I was kind weirded out and trying to get my barrings but the instructors had already rushed over, got my kayak and paddle and were helping me out. They really were amazing and helped me feel completely safe. It took some effort but I got back in the kayak--which is a bit harder to do in the middle of the water where you can't touch the ground for leverage and you have to get back in feet first. But I got back in and the instructors decided to call it a day, it was near the end anyway. It wasn't til I was bring my kayak up on shore that I noticed how bad my hands got cut up and were now bleeding. The barnacles on the rocks are rather sharp and while I was holding the rocks to get myself upright they must have cut me up a little bit. After changing out of the wetsuit and some minor first aid. I was okay, but now hands look kinda like I tried to played rugby with a cheese grader. But I am fine just having troubles holding things...Oh, well makes for a better story, eh?
So after we got back and showered we ate lunch and hung around the lodge until it was time for them to take us back to the bus station. Where I actually made the bus to come home and seven and half hours later I was on the tube line that had broke down on Friday. Don't you just love when things come full circle? My Wales filled weekend was one of the best weekends of my life. I am already figuring out a way I can return and have more adventures. Amazing place. Oh and all of these pics are from my hike, I haven't developed my water-proof camera from coasteering and kayaking yet...those will come later.