Monday, April 25, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
So apart from having bloody miserable weather, why was England so brilliant? Well, as I said, I am a huge history dork, so seeing Big Ben and Parliament was like a dream come true. Pictures simply don't do these icons justice. Not to mention, I was also able to see famous places like West Minister Abbey (home to 29 kings and queens alongside lots and lots of coffee mugs with Prince William and Kate’s adoring pictures for sale), St. Paul's Cathedral (which is the second largest cathedral in the world), The Tower of London (poor Lady Jane Grey…), Buckingham Palace (Everyone loves the Queen), Shakespeare’s Globe Theater (To be, or not to be. That is the question!), the infamous Abbey Road (BEATLESSSSS), and Tower Bridge.
West Minister Abbey - home to 29 kings and queens
In any great city, you have a great park. New York has Central, Madrid has Retiro, and London has Hyde. What I loved about Hyde was not the endless open fields of soccer players and wandering families, but the diverse atmospheres that came along with wandering the park. At one end of the park, you had people preaching – one lady "argued" politics, another man proclaimed the world of God, while another sang a song that I'm pretty sure only he understood - and then at another end you could completely escape the chaos of the city, and be immersed in trees and tranquility. A definite must visit.
If any of you have been to London, then undoubtedly you know of “The Tube”. For those of you who don’t, The Tube is essentially the subway and on any given business day has over 2 million people travel on it. Now I might be bias, not to mention I had some bad experiences, but while it is nice for getting around, compared to Madrid’s subway system it is cramped, dirty, and over crowded. The main reason I didn’t like it was due to price. In Madrid, it is one euro one way; in London, it is two pounds one way (mind you one pound is equivalent to approximately $1.60). Tube employees told us if we bought an “Oyster Card” (a pass we could use that caps off after 6 pounds of use everyday, but still allows you to continue traveling freely around the city would be our best bet). What they didn’t tell us was that you better make sure you properly “tap” out the card when you leave the station (you must tap in – charge of 1 pound, then when leaving tap out, another 1 pound). Because if you don’t do it properly– like myself and Matt did once – then they will charge you an extra 4 pounds and take away your cap, thus letting the slaughter begin on your money. In one day, we lost over 20 pounds…not to mention the additional money we paid then for day passes for the rest of the trip. In the end, thanks to the lovely system the city of London has established, I probably spent around $50-60 on transportation…needless to say, I was not a happy camper.
The stories of what went on in the Tube don’t stop there however, here is a nice summary: I sat next beautiful women, I sat next to not so beautiful women, I watched hobos crack open beers, I watched couples way to into PDA, I sat in eager anticipation, and I sat falling asleep on peoples shoulders. One could almost say, it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. But if there is one memory that resonates in my head of the Tube, it was when Matt and I first stumbled upon Victoria Station (the main station in Central London). Being the simple “Madridians” we are, we were not ready for “London Speed!”. In Madrid you see, we like to move at a nice, healthy pace. One that everyone can enjoy. Not London though! Ques were out the door. People were rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off. You could hardly hear yourself think! We were completely side swiped walking into the station. Being the ‘Mericans we are though, we were able to adapt and kick ass! Woo ha! Which was a good thing for us, because otherwise we would never have gotten our new - wonderful! – oyster cards!!! Eventually we got onto our train, and while waiting to be delivered to our destination, we saw a paper with the heading “AVOID VICTORIA STATION DURING RUSH HOUR”. I guess we didn’t get the memo…oops!
Another memorable moment in London was that the one weekend we decided to visit, also happened to be the same weekend that thousands of pissed off college students decided to let the government know what’s what. And while hanging around Parliament watching the police assemble for the protest…a memory floated into my head of my study abroad advisor. I remember she was quite serious, telling us, no no yelling at us – DO. NOT. Partake. In. Protests! Don’t be around them, don’t talk to them, don’t even think about them. Oops again!
For any Beatles fanatic, you must visit Abbey Road. We unfortunately didn’t get to it until nighttime. Not to mention we only had 3 people. But we didn’t let that get us down. We still took the picture, and we still did the famous walk across. Now we did have to do some recruiting of randos: one to take the picture, and one to be our Ringo. Lucky for us, there were two very nice Eastern Europeans just hanging around to fulfill these rolls.
My last little schpeal on London is in my opinion, one of the most brilliant museums – The British Museum. You see, having an empire and depriving other nations of their treasures takes a lot of work, and eventually you have so much of it, you have to put it somewhere! Hence, the British Museum J. It is full of artifacts from all over. Most mentionable are Greece, Macedonia, and of course, ancient Egypt. I am a HUGE history dork for ancient Egypt. Ever since I learned about King Tut’s curse in Mrs. Haslips second grade class, I have been obsessed with the Egyptian culture. So seeing real life mummies that included the once lover of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, Queen Cleopatra, was about as giddy as anyone will ever see me. I was also able to see the Rosetta Stone who’s residing place in England is actually very controversial. Not to mention, I was also able to see head busts of some of the most famous Roman Emperors like Julius Caesar, my hero - Augustus, Hadrian, and Aurelius. When in London, go to the British Museum.
Now on the opposite spectrum of being miserably cold, there is Seville, or how the Spanish call it, Sevilla. The weather was in the mid 60s, sunny, and all without one cloud in the sky. There is not much to say about Sevilla because it is mostly known for being so beautiful (beautiful weather accompanied by hundreds of orange and lemon trees). But its two main attractions were great to see. The first being the Cathedral of Seville (Catedral de Sevilla). The Cathedral of Seville is the third largest in the world (which means by the time I am done with my European adventure, I will have seen the three biggest cathedrals in the world!). It was absolutely gigantic, full of overly ornate statues and altars, and the above tomb of my main man, Christopher Columbus. The Cathedral has a gigantic tower (35 flights up!) that gave a great view of the city. Secondly, there was the palace of Alcazar. It was originally a Moorish palace, but now it is the home of the royal family when they come to visit Sevilla. The palace was mostly barren since the royal family was hanging out somewhere else, so in itself it wasn’t all to crazy, but the gardens that encompassed it were made for the gods. Orange, Lemon, and palm trees everywhere, peacocks wondering around without a care, waterfalls every which way, yeah, definitely made for the gods. Apart from that, my last two cents on Sevilla are not to eat the oranges off the trees. My group was so perplexed to why no one was not eating these delicious looking oranges. Until one night while in a slightly inebriated state, we decided to try a few. Trust me, they might look beautiful on the outside, but they are incredibly sour on the inside. I feel like I’ve heard that before about something else...;)
Hope you all are doing well at home. Sorry again it took so long to post this. I’m in Barcelona now and I promise I’ll post it by Wednesday next.
Miss you all a lot,
Monday, January 24, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Hey everyone! Sorry it has taken me so long to start this blog. I didn't expect I would be submitting my first post almost a week after I got to Madrid. Anyways, I got here safely and have been loving every minute. Madrid is unbelievable. The architecture is absolutely stunning, the food is great, and the sites are breath taking.