Sunday, September 26, 2010

Platform 9 3/4

Today, I went to see Platform 9 3/4! It was a little less exciting than I had anticipated, only because nothing magical happened. When I first spotted it, though, I have to admit that I screamed really loudly, "there it is!!" and identified myself immediately as one of those loud, American tourists. I got a couple pictures, which I'll post when I can.
The fact that I can not post pictures is pretty frustrating, but hopefully I'll be able to fix that sometime soon.
I also got some really great Italian food and started the quest for a guitar! (the hsop was closed, but now I know where it is)
Quite rainy today. School tomorrow. Still searching for: boots, and an umbrella and a few more sweaters, since it's much colder than I expected!
Corbin and I at Platform 9 3/4!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Portobello Market!

Today, I went to the fantastic Portobello Road Market. It was SO exciting and fun!
For 2 BP, I got a box of glow-in-the-dark stars and now Lauren and I have them in our room ( : (we aren't allowed to damage the walls by using tape or tacks, but the stars will come off easily. Other than them and a few paintings, our walls are bare.)

A little girl who lived in the apartment was selling little playdoh animals and drawings in the looby when I got home today! They were 2 pence each, but I gave her 50 p. So, now I have a very cute little brown playdoh snail on my nightstand ( :

Friday, September 24, 2010


Stratford was lovely, but the weather was not ( : No rain, so I can't really complain, but it was bitterly cold. Even my new pea coat didn't do much for it!
It was amazing to see Shakespeare's home. I could just imagine him growing up there. It was so exciting to see that the walls in his bedroom (which he shared with his brothers) were covered with cloths patterned with elves and fairies, which made me think of A Midsummer Night's Dream and imagined him running around with his brothers and sisters into all of the nooks and crannies or else sitting in his father's glove-making workshop.
We saw a great monologue by one of the people who works at Shekspeare's home. He asked if we had any requests and Will asked for Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech. The actor was actually so spectacular that I almost cried. (well, I DID cry in a kitchen , so maybe you all won't be taking me seriously anymore), but it was so moving!
We also got a very bad cream tea and learned to avoid places that aren't packed. The good places are full to bursting with long queues outside! After the horribly dry scone and bakwell tart I had, I was overjoyed to find a cute little place called "pasty presto" which had the most delicious, warm pasties. Well worth the wait in line. I found myself thinking that whoever invented the pasty should have been made a saint. I had one with Indian curry inside. perfect

We went to Anne Hathway's cottage, which was very nice and there were gardens and orchards which made all of us giddy. Corbin, who is from Sebastopol started robbing the apple trees and a lot of other people did the same. I felt like it was very wrong to do this, so I just took a bite off one and left it on the tree (#: Which may have been worse. I left an offering on the tree of a shiny nickel out of guilt, not wanting the ghost of Shakespeare to dog my steps for the rest of eternity.
I also saw Shakespeare's burial place, which was very cool too.

Phrases of the day:
"curfew"- from the French, "couvre feu", to 'cover the fire'. When the bell rang, people had to put out their fires for the night so that no fires would start.

"the stinking rich"- when rich people were buried, they didn't want to be put in the churchyard, they wanted to be buried right inside of the church. A few days after the burial, the church would smell very bad as decomposition began to happen (sorry if that upsets anyone's stomachs) and that's where the phrase comes from.

"turn the tables"- tables had a shiny side and a dull side in Shakespeare's time. When fine guests came over, you would display the shiny, polished sisde, but if you disliked someone or didn't want to impress them, you would leave the tabletop unturned and dine on the rough kitchen surface.

I learned a couple more, but I can't seem to remember them at the moment ( : I'll have to update this later!


The church where Shakespeare is buried

Thursday, September 23, 2010

London nights

Hey everybody! sorry I haven't posted anything lately! The internet at my apartment is truly awful. Went to a blues bar with a few friends tonight. Got home and am making pizza and chocolate lava cake from the British equivalent of a seven eleven. The food is VERY sketchy..../ : Sort of tentative about it.
Got a sudden yearning to play guitar. David let me borrow his for the night, but I think I'm going to buy my own while I'm here!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Brighton (by the Seaside)

Today, I went to Brighton!!
Started off the morning with Lauren and I sleeping through our alarm and running out the door somewhaat frantically.
Got to the bus stop and the bus was one hour late! When it finally turned up, we had another great guide who took us on the two hour drive to the sea ( :
We passed lots of pretty countryside and trees. Brighton was very sunny and a bit windy in the morning. It was a very charming town.
Kind George the 4th (son of King George the 5th who lost the US colonies and also went insane in his later years), the then Prince of Wales made Brighton famous in the 1700s (exact date?not suuure). Prince George of Wales was having an affair with a married (Catholic) woman in the sleepy little fishing village of Brighton. He began to extend her fishing house and it eventually became his own, private pleasure palace. Much of it was finished once his father died, making him the King of England. Anyhow, it was designed on the outside to look like a spectacular Indian palace, like the Taj Mahal and is decorated to the finest detail inside with Chinese interiors. It is very stunning and regal inside. The chandeliers in the rooms look like lotus blossoms and there are dragons EVERYWHERE.
(There was a really interesting exhibit going on inside while we were visiting: An artist had installed thousands of black, ceramic butterflies flitting about and resting all over the Palace Pavilion. It was to symbolise the frivolities and sins of King George the 4th who became quite fat and ill from indulging in wine and food and also had many affairs with women at court. The artist explained that butterflies are there and then gone, flitting away so quickly, like youth and health and especially life and that George's indulgences were basically fruitless because you can't take it with you.)
So, the Kitchen...
I got to the kitchen and held the audio thing up to my ear. It was large and impressive, with shiny copper things everywhere and huge wooden butcher's blocks. It featured two new inventions in George's time: a steam table and an automated rotisserie which used pulleys and levers to operate without the need for spit turners.
I got to a point where the audio guide pointed out a lavish menu that was once served in the (very grand) dining room. And, the chef at that time, in That very kitchen was none other than Antonin Careme, the FOUNDER of cooking as we know it, who discovered the seven sauces used in the culinary arts and (I think) designed the toque. I started tearing up so much. I couldn't even leave for minutes. I felt like such a food nerd (#;
Then, I had CREAM TEA in the palace! It was pretty inexpensive and the tea. It is so Delicious here!! I could get used to drinking British tea.
The beach is beautiful there. There is a pier with awesome food (fresh donuts) and cool boutiques and cafes (treacle brownie). Had LOTS of sugar today ( ; Bought Jordan a Brighton jawbreaker too!
Came home. Got some dumpling soup with Corbin. My new favorite restaurant is called "itsu" they have really yummy, cheap soup in enormous quantities.
Going to Harrods tomorrow hopefully. Much much homework to do!!! yikes

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Great things about London

1. Heated towel racks

2. Peanut butter on oreos. Yeah, you can get them at home, but the peanut butter here has something special ( :

3. The THEATER!!!

4. This restaurant called "Itsu" that has amazing, HUGE, scalding hot noodle soup bowls with vegetarian dumplings in a spicy, zesty lemongrass broth for only 4 pounds and 99p.

5. The money is pretty here

6. The palaces

7. The nightlife. It's neverending (maybe a bad thing as well as good)

8. The accents. Not Just British ones. SO many people from all around the world live here. It's really fascinating

9. Packs of cigarettes are required to have huge stickers on them that say things like "smoking kills" and "smoking is proven to cause lung cancer". So, they're making an effort. (Downside is, people still smoke a ton. I feel like a smoker sometimes just by proximity.)

10. The weather :D I know I may become disenchanted, but I love the weather so far. It can be frigid, but still have clear skies.

11. The people are really very friendly for the most part

12. I am so impressed by the way public services are run here. The parks and recreation, the arts, public transit. The museums are all FREE. You have to pay a fee often to see featured exhibits, but other than that, it's free. Students have lowered rates at theaters because the British government feels that it is important for young people to be exposed to the arts. And the tube is just phenomenal....well....sometimes, the train stops for minutes at a time in the tunnels and I swear to myself that I will never get on it again, but it really does run very smoothly and they make it almost condescendingly easy for everyone to get from place to place, above ground or below.

I haven't been doing too much in the way of tourism, so I plan to get out this week and weekend and see much more! I have a Lot of homework, which is keeping me quite busy.
Love to you all at home!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Been getting all settled in here. Moved into my apartment with my three other roommates. They're all really nice and fun!
Gone out to a bunch of pubs, learned how to play darts...
Let's see...
We had an absolutely fantastic bus tour of London the other day ( : The guide was hilarious and did not stop to breathe for a moment the whole time!
I have been taking the underground to school. It's fun and public transit over here is SO GOOD!! I wish we had that at home! But I guess things are way more spread out at home anyway ( : But it's just so reliable and easy.
Had some good food. They have a lot of vegetarian food here. There is really great pre-packaged food at every cafe and everything that is vegetarian has a huge "V" on it, so it's really a no-brainer ( ;
One of the pubs we went to has an open mic on Thursday nights, so I might go do that in the next few weeks.
I have yet to contact my family over here, but I hope to soon.
Been learning so much about London and life and my classes started yesterday. They're really good.
Much love to you all at home!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

England Day 2

So, today we had orientation. It was a long day and we talked about cultural differences. Got my box of textbooks and a nice letter from Mom. Thanks mom ( :
Got VERY familiar with the underground. My roommates and I think we're experts now. We went and bought towels and a bathmat and a laundry basket for our apartment!
We got a list of cultural activities and I signed up for ALL of them :D
Sightseeing tomorrow.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Just got settled into my apartment today! Very sleepy, so I'm going to bed! Hopefully will be able to upload all my pictures now that I'm here! Goodnight all!
Our Apartments

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The only thing that I dislike about Belgium (it's a really great place!) is this smell that the restaurants and even the streets around them have, that is sort of sweet and buttery. It smells like warm hospital food and I think that it must be the odor of their signature dish, mussels with french fries. I can smell it in the lobby of our hotel and the nearest restaurant is many doors down ( ;

A lot to catch up on!!

Okay, here it goes!
After my last post, we went to see the Eiffel Tower at night. We went up to the very top and it was really beautiful! I had champagne at the top (a few sips and let a friend finish it) which was really special!
After that, Lauren Pease, Mark and I helped someone jump-start their car, so we were running down the street laughing hysterically with a Frenchman yelling "Come on, faster!!" at us until the little car started. It was really fun!
Then, we went out to dinner at an Italian place.
The next morning, we went to the Louvre! We saw such incredible artwork. 
There was a bathroom called "point WC" there. You had to pay 2 euros and They had colored toilet paper and blasting music inside. It was an experience ( ;
Then we made our way by coach (4 hours...yuck. I slept, curled up in my bus seat) to Bruges. It was tiny and very cute! Sooo many chocolate shops!!! And, Melody, they are famous for their lace! I took pictures for you ( :
We had a great little tour. Then, our little group got dinner. I embarassed myself completely in front of the waiter, but then, as the evening progressed, we all embarrassed ourselves at least once! Unfortunately, I think we established ourselves as loud Americans pretty quickly. After dinner,  went to a tiny little pub and watched my friends get tipsy on local beer. Got lost in the quiet streets of Bruges and finally got to the hotel!
Slept in late and got breakfast and money with Alisha. We had AMAZING belgian waffles and fresh orange juice at a little bistro.
Then got lost (again!!) and got on the bus to Brussels! It's a big city, pretty fun!
Saw Mannekin Pis and have already had some awesome chocolate. That's where I am now, in our hotel lobby where they have free wifi. It is too slow to post any pictures or even to send an email with a picture, but I'll keep trying ( : Much love to you all at home!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In the city of lights

Last night, we went out again and had a boat ride on the Seine. I fell asleep with my head in my lap and Corbin (a new friend) fell asleep too. My other new friends, (Lauren, Alisha, Francis and Mark) decided to take pictures of us, so once my computer will let me upload those, I'll post them. Despite my total and complete exhaustion, we went out to dinner and ran around the city, trying to find catacombs and creepy tombs.  Didn't, but had fun. Went back to the hotel and went to sleep after my 31 hour (!!!!) day.
( :
 Today, we started the morning off with a tour. Well, actually my room-mate Alisha and I started off the day with the alarm not working and me waking up mysteriously a few minutes after it should have gone off, getting ready and then going down for a croissant with nutella and "jus de pamplemousse" (grapefruit juice). Our hotel is called "Citadines", near the Eiffel Tower.Then we got on a coach and taking an absolutely fantastic tour of the city. After the tour, we thought we were experts and proceeded to get lost many times today. But, the tour part:
We saw the Arch du Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Les Jardins du Luxembourge, viewed the Louvre from afar and went into Notre Dame Cathedral, which was gorgeous!
Wandered today. Finally (and accidentally) found my way to Laduree. Oh my gosh, I was in heaven. I took pictures, which I will post when I can. It was truly spectacular.
I have been speaking a mind-boggling amount of French and have found myself solving mine and other people's problems more times in an hour than I thought possible. My head hurts a little and I have to resist the natural urge to answer English in French and vice versa. I think I have improved a little, but my sentences are still totally broken. Meeting lots of nice Parisians ( and a couple of them who were a little less patient and accomodating) and eating amazing food.
I feel like I have been here for weeks, probably due to jetlag and just the foreign-ness of everything, taking in so many new things.
Paris has been very nice. I wish California had the same number of  open, public spaces.
Tomorrow morning, our itinerary includes going into the Louvre and then going on to Brussels by train. Going out tonight to see the Eiffel Tower and la Pyramide  in front of the Louvre light up.
What I learned today:
The metro gives you a receipt that looks exactly like a ticket, and when you hand it to a friend, they won't be able to get through the gates and you might all leave him behind by accident.
The word "prairie" is actually derived from French, from the words meaning "big field".
The wristwatch was invented by Cartier for an airplane pilot in the early days of aviation who asked him for assistance. He said that while in the air, the flight was so bumpy, he could not remove his hand even for an instant from the steering wheel to check his pocketwatch. Cartier responded, "we'll strap it on his wrist" and the wristwatch was invented.
The Eiffel Tower was hated by the French, who saw it simply as an ugly homage to industry, so the Parliament was preparing to tear it down when a general suggested that they mount a radio antenna on top. Radio was new at the time and the radio wires had to be fixed to the highest building in the city. The Eiffel Tower was, at that point, the tallest structure in the world and so, it was saved from demolition because of the invention of radio.
Guys who speak French sometimes assume you don't understand them and say impolite things ((but I couldn't remember how to say "You are rude" in French, so I had no way of enlightening them)).
The metro is worth it's weight in gold.
Love to all of you at home. Postcards on the way.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Hi Everybody! I'm safely to Paris. Been awake since 5 am Sunday morning. It is currently almost 5 pm here (almost 7 am CA time)
I have been appointed the translator for the entire group, as the only person who knows any French and have had many strange conversations with people of different nationalities and grasps of the English language. I know way more than I thought, but it's still nervewracking ( ;
(((Dad, I also talked to a Lebanese couple who sat next to me on the plane. I said "bittit kalimya aarabi?" and they got excited, but then that's all I could say! ( ;)))
I am so tired, to my bones. No sleep. Listened to my story on tape on the plane and watched "the last airbender" and "just wright".
Paris is huge! And confusing. The group of us got lost and trudged and trudged. It would have been exciting if we weren't so goshdarn tired.
I literally walked right by a patisserie on a hidden street that belongs to a great chef, Lenotre. I ate a delicious treat ( :
Also ordered beer and food for everyone else at a cafe. Pretty exciting stuff.
Going on a tour in about 40 minutes.
Goodnight loved ones!
Ps. Trying and trying to upload pictures, but the internet is a little too slow at the moment. Will soon! ( :

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two more days at home

Just two more days left! Where did the time go? Yikes
Got my clothes laid out for the big day!
All packed up

Armed with a Dictionary of Brit slang ( ;

All ready to go. Just need to ditch the butterflies!