Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Tragedy, Curry Night, and Amsterdam

First of all, I realize I have not been on for about two weeks now. Part of the reason for the delay is to the extremely upsetting incident that took place about a week and half ago when I was on a city bus. While reading a book I suddenly realized that water was dripping from my purse. I looked inside and half of my water bottle had spilled creating a small pool at the bottom of my bag. I could go every moment of disappointment but that would just amount to a very depressing blog. So, to make a long story short, I lost my phone, camera, and iPod to this sad water bottle accident. But I've moved on.

Next - over the past few weeks I have had some amazin
g food! On Valentines Day, which also happened to be the kick-off for the Chinese New Year week of celebration, I went to China Town with most of my roommates (those of us without a Valentine) and ate at a Chinese restaurant. Although I'm guessing Chinese here is not what it is like in China, it is a lot less grease-y and fried. And the rice is better. Last thursday night we went to Brick Lane in East London, known for it's East Indian population, and had curry night. Because it was a CAPA event we ate our appetizers while listening to a former teacher talk about the poor immigrants of Brick Lane. The curry was really good and so was the rest of the four course meal!

The next day my roommate and I took off for Amsterdam. On saturday we went to a couple small towns not too far away from the city in which we learned about the process of making Gouda (and yes we got to sample about 20 different flavors of Gouda) and saw clogs. A lot of clogs. When we
got back to Amsterdam we took a boat tour to the Ann Frank house, walked around a very boutique filled street and then made our way to some museums. Unfortunately museums cost about €15 in Amsterdam (about $16.50) and they close around 5 on
Saturdays. So we hung out for a while then went to the Red Light district to see what that was all about. Before going on this trip classmates had told me this was a very scary experience and that if you took pictures pimps would come out of dark alleys, grab your camera, and throw it in the canal. Yes, prostitutes in the windows was weird and kind of gross, but it was so busy, so touristy, and had cops hanging out on the corners that I can't imagine being scared. The next morning we left Amsterdam to goto Bruges, in which our tour guide and coach driver constantly made references to the movie In Bruges. I was a very cute place with AMAZING chocolate. We got waffles covered with chocolate and fruit as well as hot chocolate. I mean every other store in this town was a chocolate shop. And the half was lace shops. By the time I got back to London I had been in four countries in one day (the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the UK).
I leave for spring break on Friday - so yes I will be in Italy for a week (Venice, Florence, Pompei/Naples, and Rome). When I get back my wonderful friend Megan Gilmore is coming to visit me! then the weekend after that I just booked a trip to Scotland! What an exciting month March shall be! My biggest lesson so far - do not keep a water bottle in your purse.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The city that makes the money, and the city that spends it

This past week I feel as if I did very little when it comes to being a tourist, yet I managed to spent enough for the average tourist. London is actually divided into two cities, the city of London and Westminster. Most tourist attractions, political offices and basically the majority of the fun London activities take place in Westminster. Most of the businesses (including my internship) are in the city of London (at some points these two are divided by the Thames). Any ways, the saying (until the recent economic crisis) is that London makes the money and Westminster spends it. It makes sense until you take the tube over to High street Kensington or Oxford street. Both of these places have store after store and thousands of people crowding the sidewalks with shopping bags. I made it out alive yesterday, somewhat successfully, with a computer cord which will now allow us to watch movies through the TV for those rainy afternoons.

As for my tourist activities, on Friday a few of us went to the London Dungeons, which is a haunted house-like "tour" of London circa 1600-1700s. Actors coughing and sneezing from the plaque taught us about Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd. Earlier in the week I joined one of the Harry Potter walking tours (which was a bit difficult to get pictures of since it started at 7 p.m.). The tour was cool and entertaining since the tour guide yelled "IT'S A NORBERT!" every time she saw a statue of a dragon. Today some of us went to the Sherlock Holmes museum, which is located at the fictional character's address on Baker street (about a 10 minute walk from my flat). It was a little strange considering how many old manikins there were in each room, but cute at the same time (including the somewhat hard to understand old man taking on the role of Dr. Watson). We didn't make it to the Tate Modern but that is now at the top of my list for next weekend. Beatles tour is on thursday (although this tour is also starting at 7). This week I learned that the British will never show too much excitement either way about anything. On that note, the past week was not bad.