Sunday, 25 April 2010

Leaving London

I meant to update the blog BEFORE leaving London, but between stressing out about a volcano (which I never thought I would in my life) and finishing up with school, work, and sight-seeing I forgot and now I'm in Bahrain! But, to wrap up London, after I got back from Ireland I realized I had less than two weeks left and made a list of everything I wanted to do before I left. I got around to six (I think) museums including: The British Museum, V&A, Museum of Natural History, Tate Britain, The Museum of Film (or Movieum), and the Science Museum. All of the were really cool, although I can see where going to Natural History and Science would be much more fun (and entertaining) with someone under the age of 12. I also got to go to the BBC with a class. We got to view the newsroom (so cool), a game show being recorded, and more behind the scenes things. It was awesome. After going to CAPA's final goodbye dinner (both the formal buffet and the informal night of karaoke at the International Student House aka ISH) it was time to finish packing, do everything you could fit into one day, and start saying goodbye. On my last day I went to a Grace Kelly exhibit at the V&A which included many of her outfits, some jewelry, shoes, purses, etc. which, in general, was just very cool. Next I went to Regent's Park with two roommates, which at this time of the year is beautiful to walk around in, although the Queen's rose garden has not bloomed yet. We walked up Primerose Hill, which I am guessing is the highest point in London, and therefore makes an amazing view of the city. We went onto London bridge and hurried over to the Monument (made for the fire, and has 311 steps - I have a certificate to prove I climbed it) to get to the top as the London bride was opening. We just made it. We then went to the Orangery for afternoon tea (or late/rushed/one last thing to do in London afternoon tea in our case).

View of London Bridge from Monument

And then, being overly cautious just like the airlines, I left London for the airport around 10:30, which meant another night in an airport. I was fine with all of this until the next morning - before my flight was even assigned a gate - I saw a few people from CAPA I had saw when I was leaving and who were planning on leaving the following morning, meaning I probably did not have to stay the night. But I guess if I would have missed my flight I would have been more upset. My baggage has basically doubled. Not really, I might be exaggerating. Any ways I was very lucky to arrive, after I have no idea what the actual time was but I left London at 8:40 am and arrived in Bahrain at about 10:30 pm, to a very excited seven year old and the warmest weather I haven't experienced in a long time. I have only been here a day but I can already tell how much fun this week will be! I cannot imagine a better way to unwind from the most hectic semester in my life. At this point, I try to avoid thinking of my final, and probably most stressful, airport leg of my journey.

I am very excited to see many of you, chaps, and hopefully you can help me return to American life, I hear reverse culture shock is more difficult to go through than initial culture shock and the closer and closer I come to it, the more I think it will be true. I will consider buying internet in Amsterdam on my way back to update, but airport wi-fi is a bit of a rip-off.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Ireland & the Past Two Weeks

As the end of the semester approaches time has been moving faster and faster and I realized that I have not updated my blog in a couple weeks. Over the past two weeks I have visited a Mosque (with our Understanding Britain class), enjoyed the very exciting CAPA pub night, visited the National Gallery, attended Easter mass at Westminster Cathedral, walked along the Themes in common tourist form, AND most recently, I just got back from Ireland!

I felt the overwhelming need to visit Ireland before I left Europe (especially since I am so close). It was a quick trip, but still amazing! We took a few trains to the ferry that goes to Dublin. This was not the amazing part of the trip in any way. But after about 10 hours we arrived in Dublin at about 6 am. We spent little time in the city, taking a bus about 4 hours south to Cork, basically on the cost. Since the weather was so great the hostel suggested we travel a half hour outside of the city to Kinsale, known as the food capital of Ireland. After walker along the water we explored Fort Charles, another ancient structure in Europe! Next, taking advantage of this food situation, I had fish and chips, and they were amazing. The next day we went to Blarney, which is a cute small town known for the Blarney Castle, containing the Blarney stone. At the top of the castle you lay on your back and lower yourself down backwards, almost hanging - upside-down - facing the Blarney stone which you then kiss because it's good luck. While we were in line, there was an American family (Southern, 20-something-year-olds calling the older lady they were with 'Grandmama') and what I remember to be a young British family. These older ladies and gentleman lean back and kissed the stone. The children from the British family were next (about 8-10?) and they both refused to bend over backwards off a stone castle and kiss the stone. But moving on, I did and now I should be lucky. Next we walked to the Blarney Mansion - this castle has been owned by the same family since 1703 (!) and in the mid-1700s they decided they didn't like living in the castle so they did the obvious thing and built a mansion in walking distance from the ancient castle. We toured this mansion and quickly realized that this family still lived here and the tour was a bit strange. I can't imagine living in a house that had to constantly cleaned and have nothing laying around. But I think the tours is how they pay their bills.

We got back to Dublin later that night and quickly fit in St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Bank of Ireland. After having a Guinness and some garlic bread we headed back to the bus station to make our final journey to the airport, where we waited till 6:25 am to catch our plane to London. If you were wondering we were there from about 11pm-6am. And now with about 30 min (the pane ride) of sleep out of about the past 30 hours I am exhausted. I have also realized that I have two weeks left here in London, which I can only imagine will fly by - which means next post will be filled London tourist adventures (and maybe a bit about my upcoming trip to the BBC!) I'm not sure what kind of coverage the US gets but the UK is currently in the middle of electing (or possibly re-electing) and new prime minister and not only do they not have political advertisements (this was the first election EVER to have a debate) but the actually have parodies of what they ads would be like if they followed American format. Politics here can be entertaining, a lot less annoying, but occasionally quite ignorant (both Tony Blair and David Cameron have been quoted saying that the British class system doesn't exist.) Until next time, cheerio loves!