Liverpool, Manchester

I just got back from a two day trip to Manchester and Liverpool in North Western, England.

Obviously as the picture proclaims, the highlight of the trip for me was going to Liverpool and more specifically walking on the streets and places that the Fab-Four sang about, were influenced by and actually walked upon.

Yesterday we met outside at 8 a.m. and took a coach to Manchester.

More to come. . .


Liverpool and Manchester

Tomorrow, as a group we are travelling north to Manchester and Liverpool. We are staying all night in Liverpool. While there we are touring the docks that were fundamental to the slave and cotton trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. But, more importantly we are going to walk on the same streets that John, Paul, George and Ringo did while growing up in Liverpool. We are also going to the Cavern Club where they used to play their shows in the early 1960s.


Once again, here is a slideshow of some pictures I shot in Rome. For those of you on FACEBOOK you may have already perused all of them. ENJOY! Because I did.


Italy Slide Show

Here is a slide show of some of my photo's from Venice and Florence. If you have access to Facebook they are the same one;s in my album: Italia. For those that aren't on Facebook, I did this for you!


Final Day in Rome, Italy

Friday morning I awoke early to the sound of the constant sound of the sleep-apniated man in my room. It was 7 a.m. and I had a headache but, I arose and packed up my bag, grabbed my camera bag and headed out. Oh and I grabbed some breakfast on the way out the door, letting them know at the Ivanhoe Hostel that I wasn't coming back.

I made my way down Via Urbana and up to Via Corso, heading to Roma Termini; a.k.a. the central train and bus station. Asking the information guy where to buy a bus ticket to get to Roma Ciampino Airport was an adventure, as he wouldn't even let me finish, pointing me in the direction of where he thought I wanted to go. However, after taking his directions i soon found out that i was on the entirely wrong side of the station. But, I bought my ticket at Terravision for a 7 p.m. departure to Roma Ciampino for my 22:05 departure to London Stansted.

I sat at the espresso bar for a few minutes looking at what I could do for the remainder of the day and soon left heading toward Porta Pia, a large building and monument toward Piazza Repubblica. Making my way down the street I noted the warmth for it being only 8:30 and soon took off my jacket, which would not return to my back until 9 p.m.

Making my way down the Via Septembre I took in all I could in my final day in Rome including the scooters/mopeds/motorcycles, orange trees on the sides of the street, black brick roads, and Italian language both verbal and written on billboards.

I made it down to Porta Pia snapped a photo or two and then turned around and made my way back the way I can bypassing Piazza Repubblica and heading toward Quattro Fontane, where I turned right and headed toward the Spanish Steps.

Making my way down the hill toward the Spanish Steps, which have no connection to Spain whatsoever, I ran into a guy on the sidewalk that wouldn't yield and I almost got mad. OK, I just get tired of the fact that there is no system on the sidewalk in Italy to walk. In Britain you walk on the left, America is right; Italy needs to work on sidewalk system legislation.

Anyway, I made it to the Spanish Steps (at the top) and i continued on to the best view in Rome, in my opinion, at Pincio on top of PIazza del Popolo. From there I watched the annoying Rose guys attack the women around. I sat up there for about 30 minutes before a large group of Italian teenagers swarmed over where I was sitting and I got up and walked down the hill to Plazza del Popolo. There I sat by the fountains (all the while, in the sun) and listened to a group of Italian musicians playing music that included bits of the music from the Godfather.

I was starting to get hungry so I headed down Via Del Corso away from del Popolo. I stopped in at a McDonald's because I had found that that was the only place I could get into and go to the bathroom for free in Italy. So after that, while disregarding the food I continued walking down Via Corso. At one moment I thought how good it would be to go to market square, Campo Di Flori, which i had been the day before, and buy lunch and then eat it either there or at nearby Piazza Navona.

Once I made my way there, the sun beaming down (sounds good Indiana, doesn't it?), I made my way at about 1 p.m. to Campo Di Flori. I walked through the aisles and aisles of fresh fruit vendors, selling N. African Pears and grapes, S. African plums and my favorite: Sicilian Oranges. I bought two for 0.80 and ate them. I cannot describe how good they are but try and imagine the opposite of the bland oranges that we often get in Indiana. The insides of the oranges are often blood red, and are so sweet. After I couldn't find anything else I walked down Via dei Glubbonari and bought a piece of Margerita Pizza and ate it in park adjacent.

Soon after I continued walking, heading back toward the other side of town and back toward the bus station even though I had several hours. Taking my time I made my way finally back down to the river and back down to the ancient Roman forum. Having hit the forum from all angles, all I really wanted was to stumble upon a tour and hear a little more about this area of the world that I had come to enjoy so very much.

And, as luck would have it, walking along I heard the loud voice of an American giving information about the site where a large group of people were standing. I had found a tour and soon after the guide pronounced that anyone could join as the tour was free. I had found the guide almost 20 minutes into his tour of the forum but I thought it so strange that that was all I really wanted to do and it was granted right there.

I followed the guide around and listened to him talk about the ancient senate building, which is the best preserved ruin in the entire forum as well as the podium, still partially standing, across from the senate and its importance as a place where the greatest minds in ancient Rome would have spoke from.

He also talked about Mammertine prison where Peter and Paul were held prisoner before their executions, Peter's; where the Vatican is now, and Paul's in the very square we were standing. He then took us to one last spot where he talked about the greatest Roman of them all: Julius Caesar.

He talked it seemed in Fast Forward about the leadup to the fall of Rome and how Caesar had turned the Roman Empire into the greatest power the world had seen. He then incorporated 5 minutes of the finale of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar into the end before finally closing and announcing his other tours.

Come to find out the guy was a tour guide from Louisiana, who had his master's in historial theology and was just giving a free tour that day because the weather was so incredible nice. He did other tours including a walking tour of the Parthenon, Spanish Steps and more which I found out were no less than 20 Euro's a piece ($30). He also noted that he was the only tour guide mentioned in the New York Times for excellence in history of Rome and Washington D.C. where he also lived and worked. It was absolutely incredible.

After word I walked down toward the bus station and wandered around in the mall inside the terminal, prior to climbing on my bus and heading to the airport to fly out at 10 p.m. thus concluding my trip to Italy.

More to come about my adventure getting back to my flat. . .

Spring Training Prank

This is a video of a prank that was pulled on Philadelphia Phillies rookie pitcher Kyle Kendrick by teammate Brett Myers and the rest of his team. Check it out.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I found this today and it made me think of when I was younger watching this show with my Dad.

Sorry for the delay on the Roma stories I will get to it as soon as I can.





I'm back from my week in Italia. I will fill in where I left off in my story soon, but not this morning. I need to go to bed, I suppose.


Reds Spring Training

Even if I'm in a country (Italy) where most people don't even know how to play it, I have been keeping up on baseball and more importantly with those vicious RedLegs that are destined to be more than mediocre this year. And yes Chris they have been making moves; Just NOT overpaying for mediocre talent to hyper-inflate the payroll, as some other teams are.

Anyway, I noticed today as I was looking through the pictures of the first official FULL team practice in Sarasota how excited I am for baseball in general and my return to the U.S. in April just in time for the first week of the baseball season.

Some interesting reading for those of you that care and for those that should care are: this nice bit about Johnny Cueto and what Mario Soto thinks about him. Yeah, that Mario Soto. Also the contract extension progress or lack there of Adam Dunn. I personally think they are not going to be able to sign him to what he is worth long term; I see him in Houston or somewhere warm next year. And it looks like that one Uber-Prospect is impressive as well.

On a sad note, Joe Nuxhall did not get into the Hall this time but "his time will come," according to a few notable sources including the great one--Marty Brennaman. And even more sad; the death of Bob Howsam, the basic architect of the greatest baseball team of all time.

On a more fun note and back to Spring Training at least Juan Castro is good for something, tending to the new $40 million man.

Check out the daily photos of each days practices and events at Ed Smith here on the main tabs, third one down listed as: "Photos".

AND, lastly just look at these pictures of ol' Leatherpants at Washington Red...errr National's spring training complex. Jim Bowden, ohh Jim Bowden.

Photos acquired from: http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=SPT04, 20 February 2008

Italia: Tale 7

This morning I awoke to the sound of slamming doors and people snoring at 7 a.m. Soon after rising I realized that I was not going to get into the bathroom that I shared with the other 11 people so I left.

I had set up to meet Erin and Amy at the McDonald's in Piazza Repubblica. After standing at the counter of the McDonald's, attempting to get a pastry, for over 10 minutes I left and turned outside to run into Erin and Amy.

We took the Metro (Subway) to a stop just outside of the Vatican City, where we had planned to visit that day.

After exiting the Metro and heading toward the walls of the Vatican we were swarmed by the large amount of people that were doing the same thing we were doing.

More to come about the Vatican and the entirety of Rome. . .


Italia: Tale 6

It might have been the best place I've eaten the entire trip or maybe the best place I've sat down.

The place was close to the train station but offered a Penne Alpine pasta that I eagerly jumped upon. Coupled with the house red wine I had a wonderful meal for under 10 euro's. After we ate as a huge group, and had a good time with the waiters (which you will be able to see on Facebook in the next few days) I headed back to my hostel, pointing everyone else in the right direction and basically playing Dad or Mom depending upon how you look at it.

After I got back to my hostel I talked online before going to bed, in the comfort of my bed in the company of 10 other people.

The next morning I woke up (Today) and I headed for the train station to board the 9:09 a.m. train to Roma Termini. However, there was a bit of a problem when I got up; there was no supervisor of the (P.S. there is a guy freaking out at the front desk right now about his room and he lost some money). kind however, I left a note and the 20 Euro's I owed for the two nights before heading out.

I headed for the train station and boarded the train at 9:00 and just as soon as I had boarded and turned on my Ipod we had left. The trip was not that simple however, as it took 4 hours to reach Rome.

When I reached Roma Termini station I met up with a couple of people I had met in Florence from my London Centre group and we headed for the Coliseum.

To describe how incredible it was to turn and see the Coliseum is indescribable. We traveled down the roads (I can't pronounce them) we made our way to the entrance where we paid the 9 euro entrance fee and spent the next hour wandering around the inside and upstairs of the Coliseum. The entire time I had the sounds of Gladiator in my head and as silly as that is, it was truly powerful to walk into the centre of the huge building, almost 2000 years old, and seeing where people had come to watch the Gladiatore games.

After walking around the Coliseum we walked through all of the ancient ruins that are adjacent to the Coliseum including the Roman forum and several of the old remains of ancient government buildings.

Following that we headed in the direction of the Pantheon and several more sites. As it got dark we parted ways for our separate hostels and I came back here, where I'm typing now.

Once I got to the hostel, which is the size of a small storage container that you can rent along the side of an interstate, I checked in, noted the non-speaking English populous and then took a shower.


Italia: Tale 5

I awoke to the sound of snoring, however, I slept a bit more because I thought it was OK.

After i got up I dressed quickly and made my way out into the streets of Firenze. The first thing I thought I'd head for was the Ponte Vecchio and everything in between.

On the way I ran into the Duomo and what a sight it was. It was probably the largest church I have ever seen. After taking pictures and walking around the perimeter I made my way through more of the streets of Florence.

After seeing more and more of the old buildings and streets I found the river where the Ponte Vecchio was. At that point I heard a familiar sound; the English language. Soon after I asked the lady to take my picture we talked a bit about where we were from in the United States. She was from Washington state. The funny thing about the occurence was not the fact that she was American but, that she had a good friend that went to Ball State.

Soon after I lost her and her son, who I took a picture with in front of Ponte Vecchio. I then walked further across the river until I got to Jardin Di Boboli.

At that point I walked through the gardens and then up and up and up and up to the top of the terrace where I could see all of Florence. What an amazing sight.

After pictures, I sat and ate lunch (baguette bread) before I made my way down.

After I ate I made my way through more of Florence, taking in many of the old buildings, Fresco architecture in particular before making my way back to the hostel. Once there I took a shower; I know wow! And, then I sat on my bed for a while talked online, with free internet.

After I sat for a while I felt like I was wasting time. So, I took off for Piazza San Marco, Piazzale Michelangelo, and Piazza Republica.

As I stood on the edge of Piazza San Marco I heard: "Nathan!" "Nathan Sheets!" As if there was another Nathan in a few miles. And there were Erin Moody, Amy Buck and Michael Galeyn, all friends from the London Centre program. I had no idea that I would ever run into them, but it was absolutely hilarious.

I told them of my adventures and they told me of theirs before we took off for Piazza Republica. Once there and after the pictures we headed for Piazzale Michelangelo.

We climbed up and up and up and up and up: basically further than at the gardens earlier in the day. But once we were there, it was worth it.

The view from atop the hill or mountain, depending on how you look at it, was incredible and worth the climb and maybe worth the entire trip to Italy. We stayed up there until the sunset and then climbed back down. The pictures do more justice than I could ever think of.

We made our way back down with the intention of finding somewhere to eat.

Searching from one noodle place to another we settled upon a place. . .

Italia: Tale 4


Italia: tale 3

So where was I? I had just gotten pooped on after meeting some girls from the midlands.

Well, after that i made my way along a canal back to where I started and back to Piazzale Roma. I had the intention of buying some more of the baguette bread but after arriving I found that it must have been a popular item because, it was all gone. AND, at 0.59 a piece who can blame them.

So I was exhasuted at this point and it was getting dark so I walked toward Piazzale Roma and boarded a bus before the night buses started, because I wanted nothing to do with that again.

After arriving at La Alba D'Oro I told the lady at the front desk that my room was freezing the night before and she said that I should try the one next to it. I took the key to number 6 and Voici! There was heat, who would have thought I would need it so much in Italy, but it was a welcome relief. So I dumped my stuff and took back the other key to number 7.

After that I asked the lady again if there was anywhere to watch TV or play games or whatever. She said "only at the bar," so i headed to the bar/restaurant. There I was forced into ordering something to eat and instead of venturing outside the realm of my knowledge of Italian food, I chose spaghetti.

It was an awesome dish of spaghetti and was welcome with the bottle of water I got with it. While eating I watched the small 10" television in the back wall of the dimly lit restaurant, which was showing a football match between two Italian teams I had never heard of. However, I decided to watch the entire match before turning in.

The next day I wandered around a bit, went back to the grocery store and bought two baguettes and then settled on the dock before my train left at 1:43 p.m.

The train took about 3 hours to read Firenze (Florence) Rifredi station and after stepping off the platform I realized that I had not one clue where to go. The only thing I did know was that if I followed the train tracks further down the line, it would take me to the heart of Florence. So I did that and I walked and walked and walked.

After about 3 miles I figure, I arrived at Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station. From there I was able to find my hostel as it was getting dark by the directions on the sheet I had printed to confirm my registration at the hostel.

After arriving I found a very inviting atmosphere at Emerald Fields Hostel right off Via Nazionale close to SMN. I sat as the lady checked me into the system and soon after I met a guy by the name of Steve from Montreal, Canada. We talked for a while and soon after, right after I had connected to the free wireless internet, that I am taking advantage of right now, he asked me if I wanted to go to dinner with him and a young lady by the name of Alisha from Maine. I said yes and we went out to eat at a small Italian ristorante right off Nazionale. I had Tagliatelle Pesto, which sounds very good right now.

Afterwords we bought some Chianti before heading back to Emerald Fields.

Italia: Tale 2

As you guessed the warmth I was looking for was not delivered and being cold became more like being hot in my old dorm room.

So, to say the least I slept off and on, being cold, seeing my breath and becoming more and more disappointed. However, that is all I want to say about it.

The next day I got up early, try 7 a.m. and made my way to the main office. I paid for 30 minutes of internet, used 20 and then caught the bus into Venicia.

After a 30 minute bus ride, about the best thing I had done so far, I made it to Venice. And, once again, I was tired and cold. However, that would soon change as I made my way to the grocery store where I bought a baguette (0.57) and a bottle of red wine (1.49). I sat on the bank of one of the canals and had a breakfast fit for a King, or bum, however you look at it.

Soon after I made my way through streets and alleyways over bridges and across canal after canal. And then I found the one thing I had wanted to see; San Marco.

Soon after arriving the most impressive thing about the square was not the gold encrusted, distinctive architecture but the amount of pigeons on the square. I met some girls from the midlands (mid-England) and i laughed my butt off watching them interact with the pigeons, for which they had bought seed for 1 Euro.

So i laughed and got pooped on, literally and then left there after having the best time I had had in Italy up until that time.

More To Come. . .

Italia: Tale 1

When you think you have it all figured out and that everything is easy, reality smacks you in the face.

My reality came soon after stepping off the plane at Venice Treviso airport 15 February when I took holiday by myself during my term break at CWC in London.

When I made my way out of customs after the 1 hour 40 minute flight from London Stansted I noticed everything was small, which in my mind meant easy. This was not the case. As I found the ATVO bus, as I had read about online, during my preparation for the trip, I inquired the bus driver about where I should buy a ticket, to which he said “office!”

I bought my ticket, with my constant feeling of doubt growing, and got on the bus.

We made our way to Venice and arrived after heavy traffic, an hour later, having crossed the bridge from the mainland with the company of the bus “oo-ing” and “aw-ing.”

I myself, still doubting the trip, found little enjoyment in the journey but rather found other things to worry about, including how I would get to my hostel/campground and where I would buy my train ticket that would get me to Florence, my next destination.

After arrival at Piazzale Roma, the dead end point for all traffic in Venice, I began venturing. I could not help but feel a sense of enjoyment and ecstasy walking on the promenades and walks along the canals, I had looked at so many times in pictures.

I walked for about 3 hours before it got dark and then made my way back to Piazzale Roma to catch the bus that would take me directly to my hostel: Le Alba D’Oro in Ca’Noghera on the mainland. After finally arriving a bit late for the private bus that should have arrived at 7 p.m. I decided I would instead try some Venician wine and get something to eat.

I decided on a restaurant along a canal close to the Piazzale and ordered Lasagna, which was supposedly homemade and very good according to a waiter standing outside. That should have been my first clue as I decided to continue with my experience at the restaurant, where the waitress spoke all in English, a difference to all other people I have come in contact with so far.

The Lasagna came and along with a mandatory cup of “American” coffee I ate it with little enjoyment. Now, you are asking me what about that wine you said you were going to try. Well, I asked the waitress for a glass of red wine, however she said that was not possible and that if I wanted wine I had to buy an entire bottle. So I opted for the 2 Euro half cup of coffee.

The Lasagna was microwave heated and was LESS flavorful than the Lasagna I got on the plane ride from Chicago to London on February 8. And that is all I’m going to say about that except that it cost me 12.94.

Knowing that the private bus was coming to pick up those going to Alba D’Oro, I hurried to the bus stop. After 1 hour of waiting I searched through my bag for the number to Alba D’Oro, called, said “parla Inglais” and asked about where the bus was, to find out that it only ran April through October.

This was not the end of the line however; the best was yet to come. The lady told me that bus 4/ would take me directly to Ca’Noghera. So I bought a ticket telling the man that I wanted a one way ticket to that destination and got on a bus that said “4/.” However, as the bus took off at about 8:45 p.m. and began winding through the streets of mainland Venice, I soon felt as if I had made a mistake. After the bus obviously reached its final destination because of the drivers reaction after realizing I was still on the bus, I asked him about where to go to which he pointed to a stop and said “Four slash, FOUR slash!”

I exited and waited at a bus stop after that for another hour. It was cold to say the least and when the bus finally did arrive I hopped on sat down and continued to feel unsure.

When everyone got off and I was last on the bus yet again I inquired two gentlemen and they automatically knew I was going to ask about Alba D’Oro, as if this happens a lot, and said I should have stayed on one more stop, as the bus rolled out of sight. So then I walked about another 2 km before arriving at the sign that read “Alba D’Oro Camping.”

Thank God, I thought with a smile on my face. I walked into the office my backpack smacking the incredibly small door frame and said “parla Inglaise.” He gave me a key, explained where I was to go and then continued talking on the phone with someone else.

Incredibly cold and hoping for just a bit of warmth, I made my way, hat and key in hand, to my cabin. It was entitled “Pin 7.”



Well, I'm getting ready to head to Italy.

See you when I get there.


Cubs World Series; Oxymoron?

Absolutely hilarious. That is my assessment to a statement made from a guy that can't pitch himself out of a wet paper bag about a team that has had nearly a century of constant failure.

Apparently Ryan Dempster, or as I call him, 'Dumpster,' believes that the Cubbies are going to the world series.

He must be forgetting a couple things including the fact that the Cubs have not taken part in a World Series since 1945 and the fact that they have not won a fall classic since 1908; 100 years ago this year.

Perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot early, seeing that the Reds have less of a chance than the Cubs, well maybe, and the spring training hasn't started yet.

So, my response to Mr. Dumpster is: keep the predictions and blown saves and holds coming and your team will do what it does best; Lose.


Stonehenge and Salisbury

Just a few hours ago we arrived back to Leinster Gardens from a day trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury.

The trip to the world famous Stonehenge was nice but consisted of a mere circle of the perimeter of the ancient formation, accompanied with an audio tour that seemed to repeat itself.

I am glad for the opportunity but it was as I expected; a trip to an almost vacant field allowing for a photo opportunity and an early departure.

After staying at Stonehenge for about an hour we made a 10 minute journey to Salisbury a village of about 40,000 Englanders and the home of the famous Salisbury Cathedral.

After the brief tour, a large group of us headed to find some food.

Along with a couple people, who didn't feel like eating pizza in a large group, I found a pub and ordered a traditional English breakfast. It consisted of tea, baked beans, two eggs, two pieces of sausage, ham, 3 hashbrowns, toast, tomatoes and mushrooms.

I was full, to say the least and at a nice price of £7. A usual tightwad while in London, I eat the local fare during all the day trips. I figure I might as well.

After eating I wandered around for a while, looked at the impressive amount of Swans on the canal that ran through town, looked at some discount watches, the abundance of tourists and the old churches. I took my time and didn't feel like being a tourist but saw, what I felt was important before boarding the bus back to Leinster Gardens.



This is a group of musicians on Queen Street in Cardiff last weekend.

This is the barber surgeon outside of Cardiff Castle telling about the medieval beginnings of the barber.


Dr. Watson and me at Sherlock Holmes house.


Wales Vs. Scotland

I just got back from a day that fulfilled the weekend in Cardiff. As you don't know Wales played Scotland in Rugby, which is basically the national pastime here in Wales. We came to Wales not knowing that the match was this weekend and then ended up spending the day consuming ourselves in it.

Early this morning we started walking toward the town centre. Littering the streets were Welsh and Scottish fans in full regalia for their national teams.

The Scottish men in their kilts and funny hats and the Welsh in their red 'Brains Beer' jerseys and red and green scarves. Having a great time with only the atmosphere, we intended on going to the Gatekeeper, a pub near Millennium Stadium where the match was to be held. Before that we stumbled upon a sporting goods store selling authentic Welsh rugby jerseys for close to 10 pounds, so we both got one because they are really cool and I thought, what the heck.

So after that we headed back to the pub we had scouted out, got a burger and a Brain's S&A ale and watched the game.

P.S. I get it now; rugby that is.

More Cymru

Affecting to not be seen, was not in the agenda of the Scottish rogues that made the trip to Cardiff this weekend.

Walking the streets last night searching for ale and adventure, I noticed, well, it came with having to really search, the amount of men wearing kilts was asstounding.

I began wondering if this was only an aberration and a show of support for the Scottish rugby match today, and not a everyday occurrence. I truly don't know if Scottish people wear these silly skirts everyday to their jobs, church, or bowling. However, for what it is worth, coming to Wales and seeing a bunch of underwear lacking, skirt wearing, furry fanny pack toting, grown men was not what I was expecting.

Today, I figure to see more as one just past by me, here in the hostel. I also plan to see the sights not discovered in Cardiff.

Last night, I came back here and played with the free WIFI that was readily available and free of charge, a definite aberration, only to meet a group of German students who happened to be in Cardiff for the weekend.

As I am staying in a 12 bunk dorm style room, I met them after they inquired to where I was from. I told them and with that a response came that I receive from most of the people who ask. Of course they knew of the USA but only half knew about Indiana.

We continued talking about the upcoming elections in the US and previous travels we had taken and where we wanted to go from here. Jens (pronounced "Yens") was one of them but the other three I do not remember. After we talked for a while in the dorm room, while Alex played on his computer, we went out to the lobby to have a beer and talk some more. We talked about culture, fish N Chips, accents, ancestry, journalism, their trips to the US, and differences in traditions. It was quite fun, and an illustration of why staying in a hostel when traveling is important.

Oh, and Saves the Day has a new Tour List out for this spring and early Summer check it out: http://www.myspace.com/savestheday


Cymru Venture

Unbeknown-st to me there is a rugby match between Scotland and Wales this weekend in Cardiff, Wales, where I am. I seem to find myself in these cultural events every time I leave London. In Dublin it was the music festival and this weekend its rugby.

Anywho, I am here in Cardiff, the capital of Wales and economic center of this side of the United Kingdom.

Today I took an early bus (8 a.m.) from Victoria station in London to Cardiff central, arriving at just a bit past 11:15 a.m.

Initially I ventured around taking in the Cardiff Castle, or at least the out side of it (the free part) before walking along the river Taff all the way to Cardiff Bay. The weather today was almost too much to handle as there were bright blue skies, and temperatures hovering in the high 50s.

I walked back and eventually found my hostel, through an arduous process of discerning street names from blank facades, before asking residents who do not speak English.

The Nomad, as it is called is on Howard Gardens and is where I write from at this moment. When we checked in the owner was here and was quite a character if I may say, and I believe I may. There is a bar in our hostel, something I haven't run across yet, but it seems to be the most secure and nicest hostel I have been in yet.

Tomorrow, I plan on taking my time. I may perhaps hit some sites including the INSIDE of some of the castles for which Wales is known for prior to heading toward the stadium to a bar adjacent to watch Wales beat Scotland and send the skirt wearing, furry fanny pack wearing blokes back to the highlands.


This Week

This week I knew I had to get some tasks finished including a bit of school work.

Monday night we took a guided tour through the east end of London to follow the footsteps of the infamous Jack The Ripper. Meeting at Tower Hill station we headed out about 8 o'clock and snaked our way through the east side, making periodic stops to hear a continuing story about the murders that shook the east end in the fall and winter of 1888.

Our tour guide told us every we wanted to know in dark alley stops and next to buildings that Jack the Ripper would have passed by when he made some of the murders that have been made famous in legend and English culture. We learned all of the gory details, saw spots where some of the bodies were discovered and even walked through dark passage ways that Jack would have had to have gone through to escape the locations of his murders.

Tuesday, along with Caroline Cox, a fellow RHS XC runner, who is studying in St. Andrews, Scotland I toured the Sherlock Holmes museum and made a delicious version of Sheperd's Pie with lamb meat. Well, I wouldn't say delicious.

Wednesday was dictated by the fact that I got my spring break trip flights, and hostels booked. Details are as follows: Friday 15 Feb I fly into Venice, Italy. I am staying for two nights. Sunday morning I am taking a train to Florence, Italy, where I am spending two days of Wine induced Tuscan culture and most importantly, Food. Tuesday, I am taking a train to Rome to spend for three days before I fly back Friday evening.

Yesterday, our entire group met upstairs ( I live in the basement) and left via coach at 830 a.m. for Dungeness and Rye in Southeastern England.

Arriving in Dungeness first, we took only an hour to walk the beach and the small fishing point on the coast of England. The beach is special for its incredibly rocky beach. The houses litter nearly 1 km inland but are spread out in a rudimentary way. Although the awkward appearance the houses are some of the most desirable on the coast of England. As Lyndon put it, "Londoners queue up to get one."

We then traveled to Rye, a famous village nearly 2 km inland from the English channel, in one of the most historic areas of Europe. The village itself is nearly 2000 years old and has been controlled by the Normans, Saxons and several other groups through time.

We walked around and then ate at the Fish Shop to have, yes again, Fish N' Chips. This time however the English staple was served with mushy peas. The highlight of the day came when climbing the St. Mary's Church tower to get a view of Rye outward to the channel.

Following the climb and descent on the archaic steps and hallways, I had a traditional tea at Cobble's Tea Room.

This weekend, I am traveling to Wales to journey through the city of Cardiff. I will give updates as I am taking my computer with me to the Nomad Hostel.



Hello to everyone! Sorry for the lag on the blog lately. The problem is not for a lack of adventures it is probably due to how busy this program has kept us in the past few days and weeks.

I have spring break planned now, my biggest stress this semester, and will let you into what I've been doing this past week and what we saw at Dungeness and Rye yesterday.

Talk to you soon!

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