Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Obligatory Oscar Post, Great Expectations, and the Opera

On most evenings there are large stacks of newspapers and men handing them out to all passerby (who want them) outside the tube. I picked one up last night and realized that the Oscars happened. Between the paper and a blog I follow (I'm not dedicated enough to do more research than that), I'll give y'all my take on the awards. Enjoy, and try not to judge my less than perfect fashion opinions.

What lovely overpriced outfits! 
Muted colors seem to be a thing this time around.
But Reese rocked that blue. Love it.
Kristen Stewart continued in her "I'm a bored zombie" look.
Jennifer Lawrence rocked on the left, but Zooey looks a little too much like a ten year old dressed as Wendy for Halloween for my taste. 
(Disclaimer: I love Zooey and typically wish I could dress like her.)
Of course, something awkward had to happen to Jennifer Lawrence.
So she fell, and because she's hilarious she totally pulled it off.

And now I'm bored of talking about the Oscars so let's move on.

Monday night we enjoyed a Jack the Ripper tour. Our tutor (american: professor) for British Life and Culture (essentially British history) class used to be in the police force here in London and wrote a book on the topic, so the tour was especially informative. I'll spare y'all the gory details and y'all can google it if you like.

Last night we went to see Great Expectations. There were a lot of good things and a lot of bad things about it. I have only started the book (and will resume and potentially finish it this summer), but those who love this work by Dickens called the ending atrocious. The end was moderately befuddled and completed with an air of incompleteness. The actors, however did fabulously and the execution of scene changes without any variety of a change in the backdrop proved impressive. 

Tonight we got all fancy and went to the opera! We saw Carmen, and it was exceptional. The theatre was huge, like the American Airlines edition of theatre (but totally not that big, let's be real here). The actors all did very well, and although a majority of the words couldn't be understood, the singing impressed me thoroughly. 
Emma and I finally took a non-blurry picture together too!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

No one has time for that

My wonderful friend Jase has this fantastic face he makes. We call it the Jase Face (shout out to Trace and his Trace Face), it's the perfect mix of hilarious and serious. We also have this joke where we say "no one has time for that" (if you don't get why this could be funny, it means that you're probably not over-invested in technology/YouTube/Facebook; don't worry about it). Anyway, all that to say-this happened. So now the big thing to do is imitate the Jase Face as often as possible.

We went to two shows this week: one was especially unfortunate, the other very enjoyable. Dear World, the first, featured what was probably supposed to be a whimsically quirky cast of characters. It was way weird, almost making sense but not really at all. However, Taylor and I ended up laughing at much of the theatrics (not with them, but at them). Luckily, Our Country's Good, which we attended last night turned out to be both pleasantly enlightening and hilarious. 

The theatre for Our Country's Good

Today we sought out the rain room, but the wait was six hours to get in, so we'll just have to hit that up another time. We did enjoy a very chilly walk around Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park, people and dog watching as we walked to the Peter Pan statue. 
We decided that Jase and I are honorary siblings.
One of my goals on this trip: to photobomb as many pictures as possible.
Thus, this picture came into being.
(Photobombing according to Macmillan Dictionary:
 "ruining [or, in my case, enhancing] other people's photos 
by making silly faces and/or moving into the background 
immediately before the photos are taken")

I loved getting to spend time with Emma and Taylor!
(and Jase, he took the picture)
I've become a crazy tea addict. Probably my fourth cup today.
Also, Lord of the Rings for class!!!
Annnd drying clothes by the window. Hostel problems.

I hope y'all have had a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Have You Ever Wondered...

...if whelm is a word in and of itself? We say overwhelm and underwhelm like there's some scale of whelm-ness.

These are the things I think about.

Also, here's a great post from a fabulous blog I follow about how to deal with being overwhelmed:

Oh, and to answer the question that I'm sure all of y'all were dying to hear the answer to: yes. Whelm is a word; the picture below is brought to you by the app (which I use surprisingly often, it's great).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Yay Paris!

  We all got up early Thursday morning
and headed over to our tube station
to take a train to Heathrow.
 After one long flight, a few train and metro rides,
a mild amount of stress, 
and a couple miles of walking in the rain (we couldn't find our street),
we finally found our hostel.
 Three of us got this little room!
It was very nice and I took the top bunk.
Our room was three flights of stairs down,
which is funny
because we live on the fourth floor in London.
It's great! 
 We went out to see the Eiffel Tower that evening!
Yay! All four of us!
Taylor and I were excited.
 We got pretty close.
 We watched as the sky got darker
and the tower began to light up!
After grabbing a bite to eat
we came back by
and enjoyed a little light show
of the glittering tower!

Highlights from day one: we happened to meet a very nice woman who currently lives in Paris, but originally was from New York. She was especially kind and explained some of the metro and gave a few tips for getting around Paris. 

The next morning we headed over to the Louvre
and saw the Mona Lisa!
 It was very cool to see all the gorgous artwork
and there were a few artists in the galleries
doing splendid repeats of the greats.
 The Louvre has the fanciest ceilings I've ever seen.
Viva La France
 It was a gorgeous day with gorgeous architecture!
 We got into St. Chappelle 
The stained glass windows were stunning.
Then we headed on over to Notre Dame.
There's sweet Caitlyn!!
We walked across the river.
It was absolutely lovely. 
We stopped for lunch and split a baguette!
 Taylor and I in front of the beautiful Pantheon. 
 The inside was lovely.
 We headed on over to a Luxembourg Garden/Palace area. 
 Fancy schmancy.
 We had the most wonderful weather!
We enjoyed the arch for the early evening, and hiked all the way to the top!
 The view was fantastic.

Highlights of day two: I didn't have any pictures from this, but we visited the Musee d'Orsay. It was huge, but we hit up the Impressionism exhibit, which was a majority of the entirety of the fifth floor. There were tons of Monet's paintings (he's one of my favorites), along with many Renior's (another favorite), and many others. We also stopped by to view several of Van Gogh's works. I loved it. And the view at the end of the day at the top of the arch provided the perfect mix of stunning and relaxing to end the day!

On Saturday we hit up Versailles! 
There was gold everywhere, on the gates and embellishments.
Everything was beautiful.
We were blessed with lovely sunshiny weather!
We got in to see the apartments
(which I don't think we were technically supposed to do with our museum passes
but they didn't check, so hey why not?)
Every room-overwhelmingly fancy
Everything-beautifully decorated
I can't even comprehend living in such a grand place
It's kind of sickening to me, to be honest
Too much fancy.
After a bite for lunch we came back to enjoy the gardens.
Taylor and I especially enjoyed the green statues.
 I love the outside.
 It was just lovely 
and these pictures
 didn't even capture half 
of the majesty which the gardens had to offer.

Highlights of day three: the gardens at Versailles. I could have spent days hiking, walking, biking, and just sitting and enjoying the wide open spaces, the trees, and the lovely ponds. That's something I hadn't realized I missed!

The following morning we walked around
and enjoyed our last tastes of Paris.
We ended up walking from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower.
 My last best friend picture with the tower.
We hit it off pretty well.

The most hilarious thing happened while we sat on a bench by the Eiffel Tower. A small group of people walked by, and this one guy appeared to be jamming to his own tune. He makes eye contact (because of course I'm people watching), does some hilarious dance moves, finishes it off with a flair and a point in my direction, and smirks as I burst out laughing. It was certainly interesting and I enjoyed the moment of camaraderie brought about by someone willing to look absolutely ridiculous and not care what anyone thinks about it. After enjoying Paris and being serenaded on the metro and in the streets several times by various musicians (pictures on facebook), we made our way back to the airport and finally arrived back home! Not going to lie, it's good to be back. I hope y'all had a lovely weekend too!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flying With Roses

Getting to Paris was, in and of itself, lots of fun and surprisingly not too crazy. We left at around 7 from the tube station close to our hostel, enjoying about an hour of sitting on the tube reading, studying, or listening to music before arriving at our terminal. Everything was pretty smooth, although getting through security took awhile since I'd accidentally left a bottle of bug spray (presumably from last summer-shout out to my lovely Horn Creek friends!), which I didn't even know I'd brought to London in the first place (shows what a thorough packer I am).

Once through, we realized that Heathrow contains a malls worth of stores-including some Harrod's shops. Outside of a perfume store stood a woman with a bunch of individually wrapped roses; she handed them out to women passing by while wishing them a happy valentines day! Super sweet of them to do that. Well of course Megan, Caitlyn, and I wanted in on this whole getting flowers thing (Taylor was off getting her Costa Coffee fix-which you'll understand if you've ever experienced their carmellow drink which I don't actually remember the name of at the moment....).

So Megan nonchalantly walks by, accepts a flower from the kind lady, and continues on before making a loop back to where we were sitting. Caitlyn follows suit a minute or two later. Either this woman was distracted, had a policy of only offering to every other woman who passed by, or simply didn't feel that Caitlyn needed a rose, because when Caitlyn walked by (making eye contact and making her intentions about getting that flower known) Caitlyn was disregarded and had to continue on in a walk of shame reminiscent of a roseless woman on The Bachelor. Well I of course decide to try for the rose, despite the risk I see before me of rejection, so I try to play it cool and end up with a lovely red rose. (Roses are my favorite).

We board, fly through the air for about 45 minutes, and land in Paris, France!! We gather ourselves and our belongings, grab at least one of every free brochure we see in the airport, finally figure out the machines for buying a ticket into the city, and after a couple transfers on the metro end up at the correct stop as instructed by the hostel.

As we go up the elevator to join the world above ground once again, a woman and her dog take our notice-he was a very cute dog. After a mere glance at us, the woman switches to English (and when I say English I mean American) and introduces herself, explaining that she's originally from New York. This kind lady was not only the first especially friendly person we encountered (besides a couple other American study abroad students who we chatted with in the airport for a couple minutes after they heard our accents), and she helpfully explained a few things about Paris transit before parting ways.

Somehow, probably a result of our restricted view due to the umbrellas and the rain, we missed the turn for the street on which our hostel was located. We meandered down a street for quite a while, until we reached the end of it before a bridge and realized that the street we were on was not in fact the correct one. We proceeded to walk the opposite direction, again to no avail. Finally I asked for help in a pharmacy (I was kind f navigating and therefore this was primarily my fault I believe). Two of the girls working there knew some English, and a customer in the store, who did not speak English, knew where I was trying to go. She conversed with the ladies working the pharmacy and they translated the explanation to me, even taking the time to draw a little map since pronunciation of words threw me off some.

Taylor, Megan, Caitlyn, and I finally arrived at the hostel (we had walked by the correct street twice before...oops), glad to be able to put our bags down and take a breather.

Caitlyn, Megan, and I had booked our room together, so we fortunately got our own three person room! A nice surprise after signing up online for a six woman dorm and not completely sure what to expect. Taylor, who had booked her flight and hostel after deciding at a later date to join us, ended up in another room (which is no biggie, she's a great sport about it). The funny thing about our room is that we have to go down three flights of stairs to get to it (no, we're not that far underground. The hostel is located on the side of a hill). Back at our hostel in London, Caitlyn and I live on the top floor, which is three flights up the stairs. Needless to say, we're definitely getting our workouts in!!

After letting our families know that we made it to our hostel in Paris alive and un-Taken, we headed off to see the Eiffel Tower and grab something to eat. It was gorgeous and slightly surreal. We watched as the sun went down and the lights began to show up on the tower before grabbing some dinner and walking back over to capture some shots of the tower lit up against the dark sky. At 8, we were shocked. Taylor noticed it first, there were tons of lights on the tower all turning off and on, providing a magical shimmering effect on the tower and ending the evening perfectly.

Today I started off my day with a breakfast of croissants and orange juice. Yum!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Weekend in Pictures: Baths and a New Year

Saturday was Bath time. Cheesy? Absolutely. But really, we went to the city of Bath, and I especially enjoyed the town. Upon arrival, some of us had the opportunity to go on a Jane Austen tour around the town. Our guide was great, and did a very efficient and enjoyable tour.

Jane Austen and I really bonded
 famous people used to stay there
and there were busloads of Asians frolicking about in the grass
 the houses here reflected the old Roman Colosseum 
with three different types of columns-one type on each level 
 does this take anyone else back to Jane Austin novels?
wish we could have seen the inside
 the river was very pretty
but it reminded me of a sad part of Les Mis (movie)
 it was just gorgeous
 grass doesn't look that vibrant in Texas
another gorgeous Cathedral

Following that, we ventured out on our own for lunch. Caitlyn, Taylor, Megan and I found a fantastic cafe-with surprisingly large portions (by UK standards) and good prices (again, by UK standards).

one word: delicious

We shopped (a term I use loosely, since we didn't really buy anything) around for awhile before meeting up outside the old Roman Baths. There was a fudge shop in the area which said "free samples" in the window. As I stood outside the shop deliberating the merits of going for the free sample without intention of a purchase, the man inside waved me in. I told him that I was only there for the free sample, and he appreciated my honesty but made me pay, in a way, for my frugality by making jests to and about me until I left the shop. I exited leaving some good natured "boo"'s behind me (since I really didn't buy anything) and hollering a "hope you have a good afternoon!" between chuckles.

We listened at our own pace to a kind of tour around the baths, explaining the old architecture, time period, and layout of the baths.

This morning proved to be especially exciting, as we headed over by Chinatown to watch the Chinese New Years parade before heading over to Trafalgar Square to check out the chaos there.

 some adorable girls were huddling in the telephone booth
for warmth 
it's real cold here
these precious boys were playing in the street
not the best thing
but their parents took care of them
and they're adorable 
China bus 
 the beginning of the parade
we were so excited to see the dragon!
 they'd come up to the kids
and they seemed to love it

 Trafalgar Square was all blocked off and full of people