Ready, Set, LondON

Well, I officially have one week left in London. And this is by no means a count down, just a quick reflection on what I’ve experienced and what’s left for me to do during my last week of study abroad. I have met amazing people, and made friends for a lifetime. I think the people I met over here will always have a special place in my heart, because we shared this life changing experience together. I am so very thankful for that.

ImageImageImage

Here is my to do list for the next 7 days 🙂

(Note: I did not add “finish 3 finals”, but I do desperately need to fit that in somewhere.)

Image

I have so many memories that I still l want to share with you. I’ve been too busy taking in all London has to offer to do London justice on this blog. So, plan on lots of future posts 😉

Advertisements

Starbucks Green

In a sea of St. Patrick’s Day green in Dublin, Irleland, it is Starbucks that stands out above all else, my favorite color green 🙂 After a week of no Starbucks in Italy, I practically ran to the nearest Starbucks, standing in line for 20 minutes to get a latte. Well worth the wait, it revived me for a full day of drinking in Dublin. Initially I had no desire to spend St. Patricks day in Dublin, I didn’t think it was really going to be my scene. But, with a little push from my friends, I ended up in Ireland on St. Patricks day, with our flight leaving Pisa at 7:00 and arriving in Dublin at 8:45. I had an absolute blast, we had a lot of friends in Dublin on the big day, and we couldn’t have had more fun. I drank a Guinness and got my passport stamped in Dublin on St. Patricks Day. Life is good. We also had the best cab driver, his name was Hugh, and he gave us the low down on Dublin, a great map, and picked us up to go back to the airport. After a week of traveling and hostile living, we were ecstatic to stay at the Four Seasons. We all came back and took a the best showers and got a great night sleep. My only complaint, I wish we had a couple extra days there. I really want to see the countryside of Ireland, it’s so beautiful!

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Roman Holiday

One of the greatest weeks of my life, spent spring break in Italy, and ended it by celebrating St. Patricks in Dublin staying at the Four Seasons. Dreams do come true.

Sistine Chapel

   It was so surreal to see Michelangelo paintings in the Sistine Chapel, I’ve never seen artworks so beautiful and grand. They don’t allow pictures or talking really, and there’s lots of guards. I snuck a picture because I HAD to, sorry Rome. This room was very crowded, I’m glad it wasn’t summer!

Image

The Vatican
    The line moved really quickly when we went, and the Vatican is huge! It’s cool though, you see it in pictures so much you can’t believe you’re seeing it in person. You feel kind of tiny and out of place standing in it.
The Spanish Steps:
We hung out on every level for a little bit, just soaking in the atmosphere. This is where Gregory Peck convinces Audrey Hepburn to try gelato in Roman Holiday 🙂

The Trevi Fountain:
Just Beautiful. One of the most memorable places of the trip. On our way home one night, we walked by the Trevi Fountain, and just stopped and sat their for a little chatting. There were only a few other people there, and it was very quiet. Everything was still, it was nice 🙂

The Coliseum
   Delicious gummy snacks on the way…we have an obsession, and an ideal place for my panorama setting on my camera.
 
The Pantheon
   You just walk inside and take a peak at the skylight, it’s not super exciting. The outsides cool though… We thought we found the Pantheon the previous day, but we were really underwhelmed by it, and still handed our camera to a passerby and stood there smiling, then continued on….turns out it wasn’t the Panthenon, but some random building that looked historical, classic American tourist moment.
     For lunch we grabbed a slice of potato pizza #yum and gelato at Blue Ice. I gave up all forms of ice cream for lent, but when in Rome…It was Sunday, and with the  Vatican under my belt i figured just once would be okay. I tried coffee gelato….it was as expected, out of this world
Villa Borghese
Went to this amazing park at sunset, it was so beautiful.
Rome was a pretty big city, we decided  to walk everywhere so we definitely were tired at the end of the day. I couldn’t have gone at a better time, the beginning of march isn’t tourist season yet, and it’s not super hot. We had the most perfect weather 60-65 and sunny. It was like a dream. The Sistine chapel cost 8 euros with a student discount. The Coliseum cost 12 euros (no student discount). The pantheon and the Vatican did not charge. Rome is such a a beautiful city, the layout is crazy though, streets just jet out everywhere and then there’s a landmark everywhere you turn. We casually walked by the Trevi fountain like 10 times, life didn’t seem real. I never payed more than 20 euros for a meal in Rome, so I think if your cautious Rome can be affordable. Walking around is so magical, but because of the zillion side streets, it was definitely a little tricky to navigate. Let’s be honest, I didn’t contribute to our sense of direction at all. We began to refer to the leaders (Addi and Michelle) as Lewis and Clark…..they started calling me Sacajawea. I was the only one who could seem to open any of the doors with the 3 keys required to get into our hostile, so at last I like to think I was useful 🙂 These nick names all started when
Paige called someone navigating John Cabot, and none of us knew who that was including Paige so we laughed and obviously related this back to American history. The next day we googled who John Cabot was and apparently he was an Italian Navigator credited for finding parts of North America. The only part funnier than the fact that he was an Italian navigator of all places, is that when meeting up with Addi’s friend, she said she went to John Cabot University. We thought this was pretty hilarious, but after putting this into words I’m realising it was definitely a nerdy study abroad moment. We had such a blast in Rome, we wish we had one more day! My only regret, I didn’t see the mouth of truth, Roman Holiday movie reference 😦 I totally could of squeezed it in when I was by the collesium but I didn’t plan accordingly. I can’t wait to go back some day 🙂
Florence:
Going to Florence after Rome is funny because it’s SO much smaller. You walk through the central part of the city in like 10 minutes. The first day we walked around, we met up with friends and just soaked up the atmosphere. The grocery store next to our bed & breakfast was great! We picked up fresh parmesan, rolls, peppers, chicken, and salad to cook dinner with our friends that night, it was really nice. We decided to do the tourist stuff on Wednesday and took a day trip to Cinque Terre on Tuesday to go hiking. It was gorgeous out, I swear the Italian Gods were on our side because it had to be 70 degrees out sitting on a small coastal village 2 hours from Florence. We hiked around the area and took in all the sunshine we possibly could, I definitely missed the beach. I can’t imagine I’ll ever feel this care free in my life again, but at least I can say I am fully appreciating this time. If I wasn’t already in love with Italy, and shocked that me and Addi were on time for all 4 trains that we had to take during the day, I was blown away when Addi apparently left her iPhone at one of the train stations and they turned it into the police. She is the luckiest girl in ALL of Europe.
On Wednesday we went to see Michelangelo’s David and see the Duomo. Then we climbed all 414 steps to overlook the city. We got a nice lunch siting outside, pasta, veggies, bread, and wine for just 12€. I would no doubt be very large if I studied abroad in Italy. I met up with my friends from URI Kristen and Sam later on and we caught up, it was nice not feeling rushed in Italy. They took me to Gusta Pizza and they made my pizza heat shaped! It was so delicious, they made it in a brick stove oven with thick doughy crust…mmmm 🙂
On Thursday we went on a bike tour in Tuscany, I think it was my favourite day in Italy. They drove us up out of Florence and up into the hills of Tuscany to a vineyard. We  tasted wine and delicious bread and olive oil. Then we biked our way to lunch. It was beautiful biking down the hills overlooking Tuscany. After lunch we weren’t biking down hill anymore so it was a little tricky, and we were a bit over ambitious trying to go up a monstrous hill. It resulted in our bikes being thrown on the back of a van and us hiking up hill with our helmets. From there on it was a beautiful ride, and the perfect day.
On Friday we went to one more museum and then made our way to Pisa. Our only real reason for a stop there was that was the best priced flight from Italy to Dublin for St. Patty’s. It’s true, there’s nothing in Pisa besides the leaning tower of Pisa. We made the most of it though 🙂

Holla Holland!

Unlike Prague, I did know a few things about Amsterdam/Holland/Netherlands: weed is legal, wooden clogs, tulips, and wind mills. As you can guess that really doesn’t appeal much to me, and Amsterdam was not on the top of my list of must see places. However, Amsterdam is such an adorable city. It’s cobble stone everywhere, and EVERYONE rides there bike. By the central train station, there’s a 3 story parking garage…for bikes!

The pond in the center of town is frozen, and everyone was ice skating. Dutch people are super nice, and thankfully all speak English. The breakfast place near where we were staying, Bagels and Beans, was great because we could grab a bagel before heading off for the day. They had fresh squeezed orange juice, and I thought I was in heaven because I had a cold. I don’t even like orange juice, but the Vitamin C in Amsterdam is delicious:) We went to the Heineken Factory, Van Gogh Museum, and walked around the city taking it all in.

I’m really not much of a beer drinker, but the Heineken Factory was so much fun! It was super touristy, and I loved it…so many photo ops. We got two and half glasses with the tour…but I opted out of one of glasses to get my dragughtmaster certificate haha 🙂 I failed the first attempt with too much foam…I guess bar tending isn’t in my future.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the Van Gogh museum, but it was neat to see some more of his artwork. We saw a few of pieces in the Museum de Orsay in Paris. I think it’s kind of ironic that Van Gogh’s most famous painting (arguably), Starry Night, isn’t in the Van Gogh Museum, but is in New York.

I got my picture with the Amsterdam letters! Dreams do come true! haha I think it’s so ridiculous that they put this monument in the city…but I love it.

I hope to visit Amsterdam before I leave again, it’s only 45 min. from London. I would love to go back and see Anne Franks house, and maybe take a ride out to a tulip field or wind mills, I think that would be fun!

from paris to PRAGUE

I honestly had no idea what was in Prague, and really only went to celebrate a friends birthday. Nonetheless, I loved this city, it was really beautiful. I feel that it’s impressive that I can say this when it was only 15 degrees out at its warmest while I was there. It was REALLY cold. I had two things on my agenda while I was there: visit Prague Castle, and see the John Lennon wall. Unfortunately, I did neither. Fail.

I did go on a three hour walking tour, and almost thought I was going to die from the cold though! I survived…or as I like to think, I’m adapting. Thank goodness the tour guide was awesome…but I don’t think there’s enough layers in the world to stay warm when the temperatures drop to below 10 degrees.

Note: I was in Prague for a shorter amount of time than the other girls because I didn’t want to miss the Superbowl. So, they did Prague Castle the second day…and I watched the Giants win another Superbowl!! (They did have a six hour flight delay, and didn’t get home until 7 a.m., and one of them was a Giants fan…All’s well that ends well.)

Learning about the history of Prague was really funny. As they haven’t really had control of their own country until recently (or I think they do at least). The tour guide said his grandfather has lived in 7 “different countries” without ever moving. He also said that his two siblings and himself were all born in different territories, and they were all born in the same hospital.

The cold severely messed with my memory, or ability to listen, but some of my favorite things I did take away from the tour was…

The picture of the Astronomical Clock (the clock and astrology sign wheel on the tower) is supposedly “the most disappointing tourist attraction in Europe”. This really upset the city, so they decided to jazz it up by having a trumpet player, and windows with little characters that come out ringing a bell every hour. (However, for some reason I don’t remember, it wasn’t working while I was there). The tour guide didn’t understand how this could possibly have ranked worse than Stonehenge. I thought that was pretty hilarious…as Stonehenge is just rocks that nobody knows how they got there…and they’re in London.

Also, the really scary statue with the hood, and no face, I don’t remember what it’s significance was. But two people have tried to climb into it, and both were unsuccessful and had to be removed with medical assistance.

We also stayed in the best hostel/hotel? I don’t know what it was, it was more like a hotel than a hostel, but we found it on hostelworld.com, and it was quite inexpensive. It was so nice and cute though! They had the BEST breakfast. We were obsessed! 🙂

Everyone’s pretty friendly, and the city is gorgeous, I’d love to go back when the weather’s warmer some day 🙂

I’m a Tourist, and I couldn’t care less!

Yes those are the words Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire sang out as they ran around Paris to the Eiffel Tower. You might want to care a little bit, because the French are not exactly big fans of Americans…it’s true. But, it was so surreal standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. You see it in pictures your whole life, and it’s so big you can’t stop looking at it. Although you can go on it, it’s REALLY tall…I was perfectly content just looking at it, as I had no desire to be on it before, and the people looked awfully small all the way up there.

As much as I wish I could download each image individually, it just takes way too long! But if you’re in Paris and don’t feel up to going to the Louvre, then go to Museum De Orsay, it’s awesome! I saw Monet and Van Gogh paintings that I’ve only seen from the glossy pages of my text book, or draining slides of a powerpoint. In person it’s so much more grand!

Images above include the famous shopping street, Champs-Elysees, with the original Louis Vuitton. And I couldn’t resist capturing the absurd gated Abercrombie and Fitch that looked like it was in a palace with a line out the door? I don’t understand. At the end of the street, there was the Arc de Triomphe. Natalia Vodianova (translation: girl in underwear and bra) was on the back of every bus! She is after all a supermodel and the world of fashion, so I thought that was pretty cool.

The Notre Dame was cool, but I’m not too keen on gothic style architecture. So, naturally I thought the  Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Monmarte was more beautiful. We went on Sunday and got to walk through the church during a ceremony. I couldn’t take pictures inside of course, but the inside was beautiful too!

When I go back to Paris, I’m dying to see the Palace of Versailles, as I have an obsession with Marie Antoinnete.

Day Trip: Oxford

Woke up early and decided I wanted to go to Oxford, but I wasn’t sure how to get there/what to do there. So, Addi googled, and we found out we could catch a bus there round trip for 13 pounds at a nearby tube stop. So off we went!

While on the bus, with wi-fi of course, I googled “what to do in oxford.” I found a 2 hour walking tour free of charge that got great reviews, so we decided to catch the tour at 2. You’ll find these tours a lot in Europe, and they’re great because it’s usually students who give the tours, and you tip at the end based on how much you enjoyed it. This was the Footprints tour, and I highly recommend it, it was great!

I didn’t know but the University of Oxford is actually not one school, it’s made up of 38 different universities. In addition to learning about the schools and such, we saw the building that the Harry Potter dining hall is in, and the hospital scenes are in. 🙂 Apparently the wooden door, with the weird little elfish creature, inspired C.S. Lewis in The Chronicle of Narnia and the series The Lord of the Rings. Also Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in Oxford!

Greenwich

I went on a day trip to Greenwich, accessible from the Tube. You do have to take the overground, so it takes about 40-50 minutes to get there. Greenwich is right on the River  Thames and home to the Old Royal Navy College. Theres’ a National Maritime Museum and the Old Royal Greenwich Observatory. It has a huge park, a market, and a beautiful view of the city. They had the best make your own trail mix here: honey cashews, walnuts, dried cherries, dried cranberries, and dried bannanas=delicious!Part of the Old Royal Naval College, currently University of Greenwich and part of Trinity College of MusicLittle bit of a hike…The Time Ball!So so prettyThis was one of the earliest electrically driven public clocks and was installed in 1852The red time ball on top of Flamsteed House was one of the world’s first visual time signals. It was installed to enable navigators on ships in the Thames to check their marine chronometers.

Definitely making another trip back here, it’s so pretty!

My Fair Lady

I am really fortunate that one of professors that I have for two of my classes, Robin, likes to take us to museums and markets instead of sitting in class. Something that would NEVER happen at URI. Not that Rhode Island offers much, other than Slater Mill 😐 Also, I forgot my camera battery charger in the States, so I do apologize for the picture quality from my iPod. My mother was so kind as to mail me my battery, so soon enough I’ll be able to take more pictures 🙂

Markets to check out:

Portobello Market:

I recommend going on Friday morning. There’s a lot of great vintage finds here, from fur coats to unique rings. There’s shops nearby, and a Starbucks 🙂 There’s a big price range here, so depending on what you’re looking for, there’s something for everyone.

Camden Market

This is my favorite market thus far. I have been during the week, and on the weekend. And even though I’m not one for big crowds, I highly recommend going on a Sunday. There is SO much to see here. There’s vendors and shops everywhere. This market is quite popular, and it’s more modern than the others. This is not where you come to find vintage pieces, but there’s some amazing jewelry here…and I fell in love with too much:)

Covent Gardens

Oh I do love this area, it’s hard not to. There’s cobble stones everywhere, and you feel like you’re in a movie. Maybe that’s because you’ve seen My Fair Lady, and recognize this market as the market where Eliza Doolittle bought her flowers. She sold them on the steps of the modern day Opera House. Check this out on Monday morning! There’s loads of vendors selling vintage items at very cheap prices! I came here to look for a couple pieces to shoot for a still life in my styling class, and left satisfied. I also left very cold, because even though this an outdoor market, there’s a river that runs underneath it making it even colder. They use to store the flowers here, because it’s practically a refrigerator!

I still need to check out Brick Lane, Spitalfield, and Greenwich Market 🙂

I’ve been to London to see the Queen

Once again, Tony took us out on a Monumental London Walk. We got to see Buckingham Palace, and although it was probably the most tourist-like thing that I have done (minus the telephone picture…I had to.), I really truly enjoyed it! I did not get to go inside, because the Queen is living there right now and tours are only offered in the summer when she isn’t there, but the atmosphere was great! I really do want to see the inside, but I guess that’s only a reason to come back 😉