31.1.08

Windsor Castle

Yesterday we went to Windsor Castle, one of the Queen's homes, and present there for nearly 1,000 years.

More to Come. . .

28.1.08

Ireland and Above


Sorry for the distance between posts but it came due to a time of great departure. Well, not really but I did go to Ireland and Northern Ireland this past weekend.

Along with my roommates I took a flight from London Heathrow Wednesday night to Dublin. The flight itself only took about an hour but we were delayed for over an hour, pushing our arrival into Dublin airport to about 1 a.m.

We hopped in a cab after "Rushing to the cash machine, still a bit mashed and lean, Then of course a mandatory car, drives by and splashes me. Get there the queue's outrageous, ladies taking ages. My rage is blowing gauges, how longs it take to validate your wages?At last my turn comes, press the 50 squid button . . . Insufficient funds."

Not really. I would like to think the english rap group The Streets for that.

We took the cab however, to the Ashfield House, a hostel in cenral Dublin. Nothing would have prepared me for what waited there.

I have never been one to be squeemish in any circumstance, however, in this case we arrived out front to the $15 a night hostel, decorated with spray paint on the outside, dark windows and a night club next door.

We entered and checked in at the front desk and then ventured up the rickedy steps to the "Ashfield Room," an 18 bunk room filled to capactity. And, knowing that it is now well past 1 a.m. everyone is asleep. It was a weird sensation sleeping in the same room with all of those people and honestly it took some time for me to fall asleep, but the second night it was just fine.

We awoke the first day and ate breakfast, met some girls from California in the kitchen of the hostel and then left for the information centre of Dublin. We found it, in an old church, bought tickets to the self-guided tour of the Guinness storehouse and then departed for the Guinness plant.

We arrived and took the tour, following the signs with information about the process that goes into the production of the distinct beer. We traveled up 7 full levels of information in the former storehouse for the Guinness product. Once at the top we were rewarded a complimentary pint of fresh Guinness and view to die for. From the top of the "gravity bar" the view included the whole of Dublin, the sea and the Wicklow Mountains.

After we took our time we ventured around Dublin the rest of the day until we settled early and tired back at the Ashfield House for another night of sleep.

Awaking earlier the second day we took off for Howth Point, a northern, more-rural part of Dublin, which I had read about online and in a magazine. For the 2 Euro ticket it was well worth the trip as my expectations of the countryside of Ireland were met.

It was an extremely blowey day and therefore the walk out along the pier was quite challenging. When we got there we snapped some pictures and surveyed the wonderful scenery; the island a mile off shore, the rolling hills back toward Dublin and the rocky bluffs to the North.

We spent the entire day climbing and walking around this charming village before eating a late lunch at Beshoff's Fish N' Chips and heading back to Dublin prior to sundown. That night we each bought a round of Guinness at The Berkely, a pub right across form our hostel for the night.

The sleep that night was interupted often abruptly by two guys speaking some slavic language and intended on reading each other comic books at 4 a.m.

I awoke at 6 a.m. and ventured to the Busarus bus station to catch a 7 a.m. bus to Belfast in N. Ireland. I slept a lot of the way to Belfast and arrived at around 9:30 a.m. Assessing the state of Belfast is like talking about a half-finished canvas. The city, which has had a history of turmoil, is rebuilding its waterfront and creating a city accessible and attractive to tourists and to the people who live there.

None the less I walked around from one end of the city to the other seeing the beautiful city hall, Queen's college, and the famous botanical gardens. It was worth the trip but was not near as tourist friendly as Dublin.

Saturday night I arrived back in Dublin and headed straight to find something to eat. I ended up at a pub and got a burger and chips with a Guinness while I listened to some traditional Irish music. Heading into the weekend we did not know that the weekend we chose out of the blue, was the Irish Trad Festival. Trad, for those of you not in the know, is the Gaelic word for the traditional Irish music that we all know.

After I finished eating I sat down up front and met an older gent who inquired into where I was from. His name was Barney and lived 10 miles outside of Dublin. We talked about the pub, school and where I lived and he listened with much interest. Afterword, I met back up with Alex and Hunter and we walked around the rest of the night throughout Temple Bar area, listening to the Irish music and having a good time.

By midnight I was exhausted, so I retired to my bed at Barnacle's Hostel on Temple Bar Lane, in preparation for the flight the next day.

21.1.08

Blood Pudding and RENT


I am really looking forward to classes at this point, and as I am going to Dublin, Ireland this weekend, there is more incentive to be excited about being over here, school and life, in general.

Today in British Life and Culture we tried a variation of British foods in addition to learning how to make a cup of tea the proper way for a working class person and a middle class person.

First on the tea, we learned these things about the working classes take on a cup of tea:
- Use Tea Bags
- Milk goes in first
- No saucer, just a mug
- never Lemon
- lots of sugar, if there is any

Middle Class

- Use Loose tea
- Milk goes in after
- cup and saucer
- Lemon or Milk, never both
- Small amount of sugar if any

After our tea lesson, that I might touch on more later, we took a break. After break we came back to find, at least 10 different foods to try. Foods that are essential to English culture.

We got to try the foods and write down what we either thought about them, what we thought they were made of or where we thought they originated.

Some of the foods represented were; Cheddar Cheese from Cheddar, England, Marmalade, Pork Pie, and Black Pudding. You know me, I tried them all and liked everything except the marmalade that was both salty and fishy, weird.

I even enjoyed the Black Pudding, AKA Black Sausage, AKA Blood Pudding, AKA, Pigs blood encased in intestin casing. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmm. Actually, it wasn't bad.

Lyndon said he grew up on the stuff.

After lunch we came back and watch the movie : Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. It was alright.

Tonight we went to see RENT at the Duke of York Theatre. I Loved it, but I can't say the same for my roommates, who in my opinion have narrow minds and narrow taste in the Arts. Give me football and givem Hell kind of attitude; if you know what I mean.

If you haven't seen RENT, you should. But, that is just me.

Black Pudding, as you can see is in sausage form and has spices and other herbs mixed in it. If you have had a classic sausage in intestinal wrap, you would get chewy-ness of the outside.

Pork Pie, tastes like scrappel with a pie shell. I liked it. But, I would have liked it warm rather than cold as they served it.



20.1.08

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Alex and I rolled on down to Great Portland Street Station and hopped on a bus to go to Stratford-Upon-Avon. If you are not familiar Stratford, it is where William Shakespeare was born, lived and died.

We took the trip with a bunch of people we didn't know through an organization called International Friends, which specializes in day and weekend trips for overseas visitors to London and the surrounding areas.

We toured Anne Hathaway's house outside of Stratford first. Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife.

The small house, which has the same slate floor as it did in the 1500s when it was built, housed more than 15 generations of Hathaway's until the early 1900s when it became an exhibit and was refurbished.

The tour guide not only gave us a tour of the house, she proceeded to explain the originals of such phrases, that the English speaking world use. Such as: Threshold, Board Table, and more.

We left the Hathaway house after about an hour and headed into Stratford. Along the way signs of the bus driver's, shall we say, inefficiencies, began to arise. Driving down the very windy and small lane, the driver almost side-swiped a defenseless Honda.

But, before long we were in Stratford and thoughts of his driving fleeted, as the rain came pouring down.

Soon after getting off the bus, I headed to see Shakespeare's birthplace which was situated at the center of town. I decided to just take pictures outside of the house, which looked a lot like the rest of the town, but had been kept up and allocated a spot in the center of town.

I decided not to go in because it was another 10 pounds that I didn't need to spend. However, if Shakespeare manger or whatever that he laid in with the original blanket was in there i might have reconsidered, but it wasn't, so i moved on.

After snap, snap, snap, I headed for the edge of town, which the tour guide said was quite a walk. Obviously she's never been to London, or Ball State for that matter. It was a mere 10 minute walk to the Holy Trinity Church.

Once there, as the rain came pouring down, not allowing me to use my video camera, we hurried into the church, paid the priest, situated half way up to the pulpit and walked in to see the final resting place of one, William Shakespeare.

It was kind of moving walking into the indoor tomb area that was roped off just for decendents of Shakespeare. I wish you could have seen it.

I have never been a huge Shakespeare buff, but have read 5 or so of his plays and was purely moved in seeing his grave that has set the same way for nearly 400 years.

After viewing the grave we walked back to town and mingled through the old parts and the new parts. However, i was quite dissapointed to see the amount of commercialism that had set itself upon this small town. I was sickened that rather than old stores and shops set up along the street ruled, it was made up of H & M, Subway, Pizza Hut, Mark's and Spencer and other commercial enterprises.

But, I'm glad we went and it was all worth the trip to see Shakespeare's grave and where he lived.

On the way home we got to watch, in entirety Shakespeare In Love, which I had never seen all the way through. Although, it depicted a view of Shakespeare that I'm sure was not exactly true.

However, driving home, the bus driver, obviously a bit taken from a few hours at the the pub, began to drive erratically, again. He swerved around cars to pass and drove in such a manner I have not seen since the last time, well, I was driving.

About 25 minutes outside of Stratford, we were driving past an Aldi's, who would have thought? And, I don't know if he was as stunned as I was to see this American institution in the UK, but swerved over a curb nearly took out another Honda, hit his breaks. . . then, heard a thud and down on the floor over the newly stopped bus lay the bus driver. He had fallen out of his seat down the stairs on the opposite side, but quickly hopped up and took off again, like nothing.

At first I had not one idea, of what had happened, and continued watching the movie.

It wasn't until we were walking back and I was telling Alex about it, that I reallized what had happened. Hilarious is a word for it, but strange might be even better.

19.1.08

Last Couple Days


Thursday . . .

I learned that class doesn't have to be in a classroom, whatsoever.

For Art History with Giovanni Aloi, we are meeting in a different museum/gallery every week for class.

This week we are meeting at the National Gallery, next week Tate Britain, then Tate Modern, etc. Cool, huh?

Thursday night I also took a long walk down to Soho, alone. With one roommate asleep and the other Clubbin' (more on that later) I was bored so I went out alone for a walk to Chinatown.

It was to be an Egg Roll quest, but I just came back and drank a beer and went to bed.

Friday . . .

I slept late after planning to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace. So, missed that, woke up, ate some corn flakes and we were off.

We took a couple trains to get to Islington, to find the Tattoo Parlor from London Ink, a show on TLC. After following Alex, in the wrong direction, we stopped looked at the map and then walked back the way we came. We soon found that if we had turned left instead of right we could have been at our destination in 5 minutes. No worries though. We found the shop, took some pictures, got some Ink, and headed back.

No we didn't really get a tattoo, Mum.

We hopped back on the train after I took a picture of the building which was used for Gringotts bank in the Harry Potter movies.

We headed down to Euston Station and to the Wellcome gallery. It was supposed to be a science/educational/modern-contemporary Art gallery.

It was all that and more as there were exhibits of everything form ancient masks to medicinal tools used in the 17th century.

After that, we left and headed to Buckingham Palace.

After wandering around outside the golden gates, we met the queen for tea before heading down the road to see Westminster Abbey. She is really nice in person, but a bit pretentious on the Tele.

We arrived at Westminster Abbey, w/o the queen, took some pictures, and fled home in a hurry.

We ate some rice, drank a beer and headed to Prince Edward Pub on Queensway to meet with the rest of our Ball State 'friends.'

After a few awkward conversations and an over priced ale, I walked back here in pursuit of finding the best Fish 'N Chips in London.

I headed out soon with Alex, on the mission for Fish N Chips to Costa's in Notting Hill.

At Costa's I asked the man whether the Haddock or Cod was better, he said Haddock; I went with Haddock.

Five minutes later i was walking down Notting Hill Gate burning the roof of my mouth on the freshly fried Chips N' succulent Haddock.

Twenty minutes later we arrived back here, I finished as we came in the door and then went to bed. For a first experience with Fish N Chips, I have to say I was impressed.

16.1.08

Walk Down The River Thames

Even though it gets dark at 4 p.m. (11 a.m. your time) there is time every day to note the splendor of this old city the people call: London.Photobucket

Today, as a group we met at the House of Parliament for a guided tour with our British Life and Culture professor, Lyndon Sly.

We started as he explained the architecture and history of the Palace of Westminster as the House of Parliament is also called, detailing that although the present building is not yet 200 years old, a palace has set on that ground for nearly 1000 years.

He told us that it once was an island with a tributary wrapped around the North side of where the palace now sits. However, as people used to dump their waste into the river in the old days, said tributary would be really smelly, as you can imagine what was floating in it.

We then walked on the south side as Lyndon explained the modern architecture that in most cases has now become classic and the city of London works to restore. Examples of buildings being restored after their initial use are: Tate Modern (former power station) Dali Universe, London Aquarium (old County Hall).

We passed by some statue people, for lack of better tag, which would move only if you put money in there hat below their feet.

Photobucket

We stopped for a good view, where one could see St. Paul's Cathedral, Ministry of Defence, OXO Tower, and just the beautiful view down the Thames.

We stopped for about 30 min. at the Tate Modern, where Alex and I took a few minutes to survey the exhibits on the 2nd floor. There I saw paintings by Rene Magritte, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso among others. I'm planning to go back to survey more, perhaps this weekend.

We continued on and crossed the Millennium bridge, a foot bridge built in 2000. Once we were on the other side we took a walk down the north side of the river before stopping to survey the south side, including the H.M.S. Belfast, the Tower Bridge and the new London City government building, a very modern building, that purists of London do not like seeing popping up.

We walked further down to our destination at the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. Passing by the Tower of London, originally built in 1076, was surreal because of the history of the Tower including the be-headings of traitors to the crown, to the many wives of King Henry VIII.

We saw Traitor's Gate, where the condemned were brought, after arriving from the river. The gate originally was raised in the year 1230.

After passing and taking more pictures than I need, as I will definitely be back to that spot, we reached our final destination, upon the Tower Bridge, where I took more pictures, as you can see it here.

Photobucket

Every day there has been a new adventure with new happenings. I hope to bring you more soon. Thanks for reading.

Photobucket video

Skype to the Rescue


A quick note to everyone out there that wants to talk to me or my parents or anyone that has discovered this brilliant program. If you have a microphone and can search for me. . . you can talk to me for free even when I'm almost 4,000 miles away.

15.1.08

Classes Start

To say the least, the first day of classes were hectic but bearable. Actually, it went pretty well.

Despite the fire alarm in the middle of our second class, British Life in Film, the classes were interesting and learning from a British professor is quite different.

We talked about the geography, history and slave trade of Britain. And we talked about Football clubs.

We watched an American movie about British life and culture during the second world war entitles: Mrs. Miniver. It was produced in 1942, so half of our class was asleep but I enjoyed the entire thing very much.

Last night we went to the Phoenix Theatre to see Blood Brothers, a musical, about two twins split after birth who become best friends. The musical took a strange and eerie turn due to the combination of English superstition and folklore, which said that if two twins ever find out they are twins after being split, they will automatically die.

It was superb, in my opinion, I thought the music that is still in my head, the acting, and the story were all really, really well put together.

If it ever is produced in the United States it is worth going to see. Maybe that is a good idea for the folks at Richmond Civic Theatre.

Just for fun:

Mind the gap. . . .Mind the gap. . . .Mind the gap. . . .Mind the gap. . ..

Riding the Underground this will ring in your ears. After you get on you may hear, "mind the closing doors."

TODAY,

We had class with Popovich, Media Law, yeah, yawn. We got on the bus after he let us out 15 min. late and arrived at the Maida Vale Centre of CWC 30 minutes + late, for our British Literature class.

We sat and talked to our teacher, about our majors and books we would like to look at. Her name is Nora Holder and she is Irish. She is really nice and she wants to set me up with some students she tutors who are interested in Journalism, to hear my take on my major and advice for them.

After she showed us around the building we took off, I came back here and crashed on my bed for a couple hours.

13.1.08

Uxbridge Arms, No Hugh Grant and Shopping for Grocery Stores


Last night was fun, but I'm sure nights like it will be few and far between.

Yesterday, after my adventure down to London Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, etc. I had full intention of going out and having a couple drinks at a pub in the heart of London.

The intention was to find a place that is more residential with more regulars and more like what London really is. I did some research, as I usually am the one to do, to fulfill the assignment that was given by our British life and culture class. I found the Uxbridge Arms in the heart of Notting Hill.

No I didn't see Hugh Grant, but I'm sure he was looking for me too, knowing that I am now in London.

Anyway, as it rained, as it has done every day we have been here, my roommates and I found Uxbridge Arms tucked away on Uxbridge Street, right off of Notting Hill Gate.

Quaint, cozy and full of obvious regulars just finishing up as we were just getting ready to get going. The inside reminded me of an English home with two fireplaces burning, football on the tele, and friendly people all the way around.

I settled down to a pint of Fuller's London Pride. A real ale choice that is served from old fashion casks, which have to be pumped out, and are served at room temperature, giving it a frothy delicious taste and drink-ability that in my opinion, our ordinary beer in the United States is void of.

Attempting to fulfill our assignment my roommate asked an older man with white hair pulled back in a pony tail, what he thought of all three of our football teams. He commenced to talk to us for nearly half an hour, telling us that at 11 the barmaid would come around and ask us to tip 'em back if we had any left, in attempt to close the pub. And he was exactly right, she did just that.

He talked about America, what he liked and didn't, including commentary on the upcoming elections, stating that someone with the name Obama, would never win due to his strange sounding name.

He offered more commentary that made us laugh, but wished us well when he finally left at about 11:15 p.m.

We left soon after, as the barmaid asked us to, and then we were off to find one last stop before turning in because it was only 11:30. We walked down Notting Hill Gate and turned left on Pembridge Gardens to Prince Albert pub.

We weren't there long before we met Kane, Aaron, and Tom. Kane was from South Africa, Aaron; New Zealand, and Tom from England. They had all met while working and living in London. They are all living in a Hostel about 2 blocks from where we are living.

We asked Tom what he thought of our teams, to which he answered jokingly to F--- off to me and Hunter my one roommate, whose team is Newcastle United. While his team is Liverpool F.C. he felt bad for my other roommate who drew Oldham Athletic A.F.C., who aren't very good, to say the least.

We talked to them about the U.S. and everything in between before midnight when Prince Albert closed. We wandered around a little afterward but then made it back here in time to watch some of the Patriots American Football team play on Alex's computer before turning in.

Today, I ventured out alone after I slept late. Taking the train to Green Street station on the other side of Hyde Park to see a grocery store and how it compared to the stores by us. I was really close to Buckingham Palace but didn't make it over there today.

Tomorrow we start classes and then its off to the races for this semester which I'm sure will fly by in an instant.

Cheers! until next time.

12.1.08

Day IV: Church Street to St. Paul's Cathedral


The plan was to get up early and venture to Church Street Market off Edgeware Road. But, after I couldn't sleep, again, I didn't rise until 11 a.m.

I left at around noon and made my way to the Bayswater tube station. On the way traffic was backed up a trifling amount for no particular reason. I hopped on the tube at Bayswater and took the District line to Edgeware Road.

I wandered for a about 15 minutes before asking a older lady vendor on Marlyebone Street, who gave me efficient directions to Edgeware Road and to the Church Street, about "a quarter's of an hours walk." (say in your best London-English accent)

Walking along the streets the past couple days have yielded anger and hostility to the people of this town. Who in their right mind would ever make streets in a town that are so windy and confusing? And then I remember that this city is close to 1000 years old in parts and the idea of blocks and four way stops is an invention of the 18th century, by none other than Thomas Jefferson.

I made it to the market in good time. Another thing that the market reflected, which I have failed to note this week is the range of cultures in every setting I've seen so far in this city. Strolling through the vegetable, fish, leather, purse, dry good, and flower vendors you see many different people with many different stories and perspectives.

I walked from one end to the other purchasing only a 99p bottle of dish soap.

Hopping on a train at Edgeware on the Bakerloo line, I marveled at the difference in all the stations I have seen so far. And, I've been here less than 4 days. I took the Bakerloo to Oxford Circus and changed trains to get on the Central Line to Bank before transferring yet again to the North line, south to London Bridge.

I took a wrong turn, with thoughts in mind of seeing London Bridge first, and headed toward the Tower Bridge.


From the view by the Scoop, an architecturally modern building, you could see the Tower Bridge, Tower of London and Swiss Re Tower.


I walked along the Thames, to London Bridge and then ventured around seeing the only remains of the original London Bridge in the courtyard of St. Magnus-the-Martyr Church, and then journeying over to see St. Paul's Cathedral.

I came back here, after stopping at Tesco, an obvious challenge every time I go. I did buy spaghetti, two cans of tomato sauce, rice, potatoes, and 3 banana's for
£6.60.

Tonight, we plan on going to a pub in Notting Hill for a class assignment, yes pub crawling for school, isn't it great.

Actually, on Tues. we were assigned each a Football (soccer) club to become a fan of because of its popularity in British culture. The assignment is to go to a pub, where natives can be found and strike up a conversation involving my team, Sunderland A.F.C.

To say that Londoners, and all British are just casual fans of one team is to say that I don't care a thing about eating and sleeping. They take it very seriously and I'm either going to get lucky when talking about Sunderland, or unlikely, which might be more interesting.

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

11.1.08

Day 3: Tralfagar Square to Big Ben


After the debacle with the alarm clock, yesterday, I set up my own using the Ipod dock speaker thing Andi bought me for Christmas. The alarm went off at 10 a.m. and I arose as my other two roommates continued to sleep for another hour.

We left at around 11:15 a.m. with clear intention of purchasing Oyster Passes for the month. We had to walk all the way to Paddington Station to purchase the passes and get on the brown rail also known as Bakerloo.

The passes, in my opinion, are very expensive. For a one month pass it is £98 (98 pounds) or close to $180. However, unlike New York with an Oyster pass, you can ride the double decker buses and the bendy buses.

After we got our passes we took Bakerloo to Charring Cross to Tralfagar Square. Oh, what a sight. We walked around the square, the place Londoners ring in the New Year, and then me and Alex went to the national gallery.

After an hour or so we walked down Parliament Road toward Big Ben and then found the only standing home of Ben Franklin.

As our program has activities built in, touring the house was one of our activities and it was cool but not super exciting.

I left there after the tour and then walked south across the river, which delivered a remarkable view of the north side of the river.

I snapped some pictures and then headed back as it has gotten dark very early here, like it does in early November in Indiana. However, the day was full of excitement from Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo to Alex's cooking tonight. Pray I do not get sick with food poisoning.

Nightwalk Down Bayswater

1:18 a.m. GMT


Tonight, me and Alex took a walk down Bayswater to see Marble Arch. We continued down Oxford and turned right onto North Audley Street to see the U.S. Embassy. We walked around the green that is in front of the embassy and which also contained the Canadian, Bahrain and Italian embassies. There was an interesting exhibit outside of the U.S. embassy. There were 2 people, on their own free will, locked in cages with the signage 'Close Guantanamo' out front. An obvious protest to the U.S.'s continued presence there, it was an seemingly powerful portrayal, assuming people stay in these cages 24 hours a day.

10.1.08

London day 2: Live and Learn


4:45 GMT

Today was started to the tune of banging on our front door. We had overslept the time we were supposed to assemble with the rest of our group to walk to CWC (City of Westminster College).

I was relying on my roommate's alarm on his phone and the fact that I usually rise with haste, especially on a holiday or trip. Life lesson number 1, never assume and that someone elses alarm or your past body clock will work.

However, we didn't awake on time and by the time I got outside our group was gone and all that was left was me and my two roomates and the GA (graduate assistant), who is partly chaperoning our term here in London.

So, he did his best to finding CWC, only to realize once we got there the college had totally moved to a new building. Something we were told but I assumed he remembered. Lesson 2, do not assume that a person of authority, such as a GA, will have any idea what he is doing either.

Once we got there we journeyed to the sixth floor and sat in on the Anglo-American Agency representative who gave us tips on living and everything else while being in London. We heard a guy named Rob, talk about cheap trips we could take, including a 3 day trip to Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick's day weekend. We also took a tour of the building and then we met Lyndon Sly, the English coordinator for our trip at CWC.

Lyndon Sly is a professor at CWC and he has been working with Ball State's London Centre for 4 semesters now. Sly told us about his expectations, and gave us a 'timetable' (schedule) of our classes.

At lunch time, Sly split us up into 5 groups and gave us two tasks each. The group tasks were as follows:

Group A
- Find out what a Geezer is, and bring back a currant bun (not the roll with raisins in it).
Group B
- Who is 'Old Bill'? Bring back a Sarny.
Group C
- What will not go south of the River (Thames)? What is 'shrapnel'?
Group D
- How do you get an A.S.B.O.? What is a 'banger'?
Group E (us)
- What is man flu? What are 'plasters,' bring back some?

So, if any of you in the huge numbers that read this blog want to guess at any of this please leave a comment below. I will have the answers later. Until then, Cheers!

The picture above is of the sandwich shop I ate at today. We walked in and weren't really sure what to order. We asked the young man, I believe a Moroccan, what he liked to get. He didn't understand at first but he finally said that the 'salted beef' was what he liked and was eating before we walked in. Me and one of my roomates tried it and it was very good. It was a corned beef mixed with pickles covered with a white creamy sauce. I ate it on a ciabatta bread sandwich, with a salad of lettuce, tomato's and olives with a balsamic dressing on it. It was all good and I even ate one of the olives. It was priced ok, about 3 pounds for the sandwich and salad.

9.1.08

London, day 1: the journey to the promised land


Day One

11:19 CST

Chicago

Well today was here before I realized it and REM’s “Leaving for New York,” was not appropriate for the trip I have departed on.

Awaking at 5 a.m. EST this morning, anxiety was the overbearing feeling for me, more prevalent than the gloomy and stressful feelings felt by my parents and Andi, my girlfriend.

Anyhow, we departed at around 6 a.m. and other than a stop at Starbucks in Greenfield, Ind. we arrived rather punctual to Indianapolis International Airport. Arrival was tough, talking to Andi one last time before handing my soon-to-be useless cell phone to my parents was tougher and departing from my parents, toughest.

But, as Jack Nicholson says in the timeless movie “Batman,” “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” In lighter terms it was a sad time but a time that had to happen for me to enjoy this wonderful trip, which will be, I’m sure, a once in a life time opportunity. (insert further clichés here)

So I boarded United flight 7659 for Chicago from Indianapolis at 10:22 EST after meeting some of my new “mates” from Ball State. The flight was quick and uneventful, except for a few minor things.

The “uneventful” flight did yield some interesting happenings including when a large Samoan guy asked to move my bag so he could put his bag in its spot (which was in my estimation the size of a 1962 Beetle), only to put mine on top of his and watch it drop nearly killing the unsuspecting lady in front of me. However, the flight took off rather quickly and my ears did not bother me one bit, no pressure and not a single pop.

The flight to Chicago, was like taking the roller coaster up the hill prior to the steep drop that is to come, without the steep drop. It was really like the chain on the coaster took us slowly up and then as soon it took us up, it was slowly heading down.

Whilst in the process of the climb and descent, an obvious bandwagon fan of the newly crowned Louisiana State University Tigers American Football team, talked behind me about a few different things including his own 1962 Beetle, that was destroyed in 1975 by a hail storm while in Texas, where the lady he was sitting next to was from.

After the landing, I discovered and then excitedly proclaimed that a coyote was on the runway and sure enough and all passengers lunged to the Western window to see the plane tilted on its side, well, not really. but, there really was a coyote on the runway.

Soon after that the seatbelt light turned off and we were allowed to turn on our cell phones and beepers, yes beepers. I thought it was hilarious the amount of times beepers were brought up on our 17 minute flight. An uncomfortable amount, let me assure you. I mean, do people really still carry beepers. Maybe they do. Or maybe they are coming back, like dark rimmed glasses and skinny jeans.

The LSU fan, an obvious threat to my safety or at least to my comfort-ability ( I don’t think that’s a word), at this time immediately receives a phone call and begins arguing with someone named Paul amount military weaponry and the necessity of switching to manual load when you are being fired upon. I believe words used included bloodbath, automatic switch and hollow point shells, all terms I thought were forbidden on an airplane.

Anywho, we pulled up to our gate nearly 20 minutes early, exited and after finding my new gate C16 here at Chicago O’Hare, and two trips to look at the price of coffee at Starbucks, I find my self her at gate C22, which is currently vacant.

Oh and I have about another four hours until my flight leaves for London Heathrow.

More to come later. . .


10:21 GMT Jan. 9

SO, we're here. Let me catch you up.


Our flight left a little late but took only about 7 hours to arrive into London Heathrow airport. The flight was full of festivities and NO sleep.

On the B777, we were guaranteed dinner, movies and xm radio. As it was all delivered I was able to watch two movies including Ratatouille and In the Wild. I enjoyed the XM radio, more on that later and the meal was lasagna with a romaine lettuce salad and brownie. I had my usual tomato juice and we were also served a continental breakfast that consisted of melon, grapes and a cherry tart.

Oh and a cup of coffee, but not near enough caffeine for this day that is only half over.

12:38 GMT

After we landed we waited for everyone to get off the plane. Then we waited to go through customs that was not very strenuous at all, exactly not what I was expecting. Then, we waited at the baggage claim, and strangely I discovered both of my bags, something more than half of my compatriots can not say. After we finally got through with filing missing baggage claims, we headed toward the exit, finding Popo and heading to the buses. We loaded one bus full of luggage, and sat on the other, as we embarked for an hour long journey from the outer reaches of London to the center of town where I presently sit.

After we got to the flat and unloaded I updated this post the first time. We went to the meeting where I was nearly about to fall asleep and then took our first walk down to Paddington tube station and then came back to Bayswater and took a small walk back to the flat.

2.1.08

Living in London


With only six days until I depart for London, here is some background information about what I will be doing, where I will be and other odds and ends.

Living quarters

I will be living at 33/34 Leinster Gardens in Paddington, London, England. This is right off of Paddington Green Police Station and about two blocks from Hyde Park.

This is what the flat rooms will look like. All the buildings on the block are set in this style, as many international students will be living on Leinster Gardens.

School

I will be attending City of Westminster College which is currently under construction. They will be replacing the main building, where all of my classes will be, within the next 2 to 3 years.

Departure

I will departing Tuesday, Jan. 8 from Indianapolis International Airport, at 10:15 EST. I will be flying to Chicago, which takes only about 15 minutes. I will then sit until 4 p.m. EST at which time I will be boarding United Airlines flight for London, Heathrow Airport. The flight will take about seven hours and at the time of arrival it will be about 6 a.m. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

Arrival

After arriving and exiting customs Dr. Mark Popovich will meet us at the gate. We will then board buses and head to our flats. After settling into our flats, we will immediately board more buses taking us around "the capital" as many Londoners call their city. Popo, as we call him at school, is wanting us to stay awake to overcome jet lag faster by keeping us awake that first day as long as possible.

Travel within London

Once we settle in we will purchase public transportation passes that will be good for the entire three months we will be in London. Transport for London is the public transportation system within the city. The London Underground is the subway line and the method of transportation which we will be utilizing the most. It is commonly referred to as "the tube."

More to come later. . .

blogger templates | Make Money Online